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Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

The Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg has a series of six magnificent wool and silk tapestries, made between 1593 and 1604 that tell the story of Zeeland’s most important sea battles fought against the Spanish during the Eighty Years’ War (1568 – 1648). The tapestries are vast in size and the sea battles depicted are very epic indeed…

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

… but as I don’t know much about ships or care much for battles I was most interested in the small, beautiful details at the water’s edge…

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

… and the flora and fauna depicted in the tapestries’ intricate borders.

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

There are many other fascinating and beautiful artefacts to be found at the Zeeuws Museum, presented in a fresh & simple manner which works beautifully to enhance the history, the detail, and the (long lost) craftsmanship of the objects.

I usually try to make a note of the things I am inspired by and photograph in museums… but on this trip I was short of time and eager to see as much as I could. Apologies therefore that I cannot provide much information on, or attribution for, several of the objects pictured below.

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

[top: carved ivory comb ?]
[bottom: mummy of a child (organic material, textile, wood, paint), Egyptian, c.332]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

[top: the Egyptian mummy again]
[bottom: more intricately carved ivory… wish I’d made a note of what this thing is! A Chinese puzzle ball, perhaps?]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

colour parallels…
[top: painting, Dutch, 19th Century ?]
[bottom: ceremonial woman’s blouse or huipil (cotton, silk), K’iche Maya / Quetzaltenago, Guatemala, 1930-1940]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

a very beautiful stitch sampler… hard to believe it was made almost 120 years ago – the patterns and colours (especially that almost-fluorescent pink!) seem very contemporary [Netherlands, 1896 ?]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

[pig mask worn by a dancer during harvest rituals (wood, rattan, feathers, mirror glass), Dayak / Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia, 1930 – 1960]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

[top: Guido Lippens ‘Memento’ (oil on panel, sawn, burnt), Middelburg, 2002-2003]
[bottom: monkey skulls ?]

Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, Zeeland

[top: war hat (rattan, leather, teeth, shells), Lesser Sunda Islands,
Indonesia, 1850 – 1900]
[bottom: shards of ancient green glass ?]

Here are just a handful of the many and varied wonderful objects that caught my eye on a recent visit to the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology in Oxford. I was particularly drawn to the beautiful, fragile remnants of cloth in the museum’s textile displays and (as you no doubt might’ve already guessed if you’ve visited here before) am always a sucker for anything incorporating creature-inspired representations.

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

of the water
(top) Makara, Mathura region (northern India), AD 350-450, terracotta plaque (The makara is an auspicious aquatic monster, symbolising water and fertility)
(bottom) Pottery rhyta (vessel for drinking or pouring offerings) in the form of a fish, Sasanian, AD 225-650, Iran

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

vessels
(top) Rounded clear glass flask, eastern Mediterranean?, AD 200-300 (?)
(middle) Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) ceramic containers
(bottom) A pewter dinner service from Appleford, c. AD 300-400 (This large service is made of pewter, an alloy of tin and lead [both metals mined by the Romans in south-west Britain]. Inscriptions on two of the plates and a written record suggest that this service was owned by people of Celtic origin who used Latin and enjoyed a Roman lifestyle. The tableware was hidden in a well when the Thames Valley became unstable in the last years of Roman occupation, about AD 400. Some of the plates were over 100 years old at the time of burial)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

this (modern) fabric was part of a display describing Japanese textile weaving and dyeing techniques that, surprisingly in a museum, was accompanied by a sign inviting the viewer to “Please Touch”. On turning the fabric over I was delighted to find this thickly layered web of threads on its reverse side – such order from such (apparent) chaos!

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

strikingly similar colour palettes, across time and place
(top) Portrait of a woman in a dress worked with flowers (detail), Cornelius Jonson (English, 1593-1661), after 1618, oil on panel
(bottom) Fragment of a large cloth, perhaps intended as a hanging, Roman, c.AD 300-400 (Woven in undyed linen, the cloth is decorated with tapestry wool bands of brightly coloured flowers and foliage)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

enigmatic gazes
(top) The Buddha, Gandhāra (now parts of Northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan), c.AD 200
(bottom) Statue of a bearded man, Wadi Bayhan, Yemen (ancient Kingdom of Qataban), calcite-alabaster, possibly 300 BC – AD 200
(Funerary statue. The large holes in the eyes contain traces of bitumen that once held shell inlays in place)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

spiritual discipline
(top) Head of an ascetic, Gandhāra, AD 300-400, unfired clay
(bottom) Hand and forearm of the Buddha (detail), Mathura, AD 100-200, sandstone

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

(gorgeous!) Ikat cloth, Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan), 1800s – 1900s, silk (Derived from the Malay word mengikat [“to tie”], the term ikat defines a textile-patterning technique in which parts of the warp and/or weft are knotted to protect them from dye penetration. The careful planning of the dyeing process is the key to the realisation of the vibrant decorative patterns that characterise ikats)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

lacework
(top) The lacemaker (detail), Bernhard Keilhau (1624-1687), oil on canvas
(bottom) Sampler, 1660, England, silk on linen (whitework including cut work and pulled work, with needlepoint and needle-woven fillings, signed by the maker “Mary Parker 1660”)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

blooming
(top) Gentle Spring (detail), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), oil on canvas
(bottom) Plate with carnations, roses and leaves imitating Iznik ceramics, Venice or Padua, c.1600-1650

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

more unexpected colour harmonies
(top) The Burn, November – the Cucullen Hills (detail), John William Inchbold (1830-1888), oil on canvas (The view from Sligachan, looking southwards over the Sligachan Burn towards the Cuillin Hills… in the autumn of 1855)
(bottom) Samurai helmet (ceremonial), Japan, 1560,
iron, lacquer, silk, gilt metal (?)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

feathered, antlered
(top)
zoomorphic brooches, bronze inlaid with coloured enamel,
Roman Period (Britain), AD 43 – 410 (?)
(bottom) Assyrian ‘winged genie’ relief; carved from ‘Mosul marble’ (gypsum), Nimrud, Iraq, Reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883-859 BC

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Information about each piece has been derived from the captions that accompany them in the museum. A ‘(?)’ indicates that I’m unsure of the details… having failed to take a proper note of them at the time of viewing!

early morning spider web

Every morning when I go in to my office/studio to start work I notice that the spiders (or one particularly prolific spider!?) have spun a network of webs between the railings of the little roof terrace outside my window. During the day the wind blows (or the rain washes) the webs away, but every morning they’re back, beautiful and complex and shining in the early morning sunshine.

early morning spider webs

early morning spider web

The spiders create an almost impenetrable network of webs making it none too safe to be a small flying insect in these parts. A couple of mornings ago I noticed a bee struggling in one of the webs amidst several ensnared and already immobile corpses. Although I know I probably shouldn’t have (spiders have to eat too… but in my defence they already had such a feast waiting in their webs) I helped the bee disentangle himself and, as he flew away, I thought about all the tasty honey he was off to make :)

bee, busily gathering the raw materials for a honey-making session...

[This is not THE bee but, I presume, one of his hive-buddies. THE bee was a little shaken after his run in with the web and, understandably, didn’t hang around to pose for photographs]

While on the subject of spiders and honey I recently came across this magnificent textile (via Bioephemera). It is woven from the silk of over a million wild Madagascan spiders.  I find it, and in particular its naturally golden honey colour, absolutely mesmerising. Apparently the spiders were all released back in to the wild after making their silk donations, and hopefully felt no ill-effects. They can certainly be very proud of their work!

spider silk textile from Madagascar

[The three pictures above are from the American Museum of Natural History website and are © Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley]

The textile is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History. I wish I could see (or, better still, touch) it first hand!

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September is upon us (!) and this is an illustration I made towards the end of last year for @essie_letterpress ‘s 2017 Artist’s Almanac. The almanac is produced in South Africa and the only stipulation for the illustration (apart from colour and sizing guidelines) was that it should fit a Southern hemisphere timeline… September is early springtime in South Africa, when the remarkable fynbos wildflowers begin to bloom and southern right whales migrate through SA’s coastal waters where they can be seen frolicking close to shore.
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The almanac’s cover illustration (partially pictured here) is by the talented @ikronk
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#south_africa #spring #cetacea #eubalaena_australis #baleen #whale #southern_right_whale #tail_sailing through a #garland of #fynbos #flowers #gazania #quaqua #stapelia #pelargonium_incarnatum #ornithogalum #lachenalia #spiloxene #romulea #oncosiphon #euphorbia #lapeirousia #protea #flora #pattern #artistsalmanac #calendar2017 #two_colour #illustration #letterpress Our brave, beautiful boy… happy to be back home after his first cancer treatment @mcvoordieren earlier this week.
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If you’ve got any healing good vibes to spare (I know that’s a big ask in this perennially tough world) please send them Gira’s way ☄💙🐈
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#gira #cat #greeneyes #steady_gaze #inscrutable #manga_eyes #studiomate #best_fur_buddy #positive_energy #healing #lymphoma #enzyme_injections #fuckcancer #catsofinstagram A profoundly pleasing polar bear…
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'Orso’ by Simona Vergani (1998, white Carrara marble, h 350cm) can be found in Amsterdam’s Erasmuspark, and is definitely one of the coolest ❄🐧❄ public sculptures I’ve encountered!
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#polar_bear #ijsbeer #ursus_maritimus #vulnerable #habitat_loss #climate_change #paws #orso #sculpture #carved #white #carrara #marble #blue #summer_sky #amsterdam #erasmuspark Inquisitive, pale-eyed visitors at my studio window #jackdaw #corvidae #communing_with_crows #balancing_act #black #bird #pitch #roof_tiles #terracotta #earth_tones #summer_green Good morning moon, good morning cumulus congestus #moon #morning #clouds #cumulus #blue #sky #dutch_sky Some tigery goodness in honour of Global Tiger Day today! A day held annually on 29 July to raise awareness for tiger conservation around the world.
I made this screenprint several years ago to raise funds for wild cat conservation organisation Panthera (@pantheracats). You can support the crucial work they do at www.panthera.org, or if you fancy one of these screenprints they’re available to buy in my shop – I donate 100% of the proceeds of every sale to Panthera (www.etsy.com/shop/sakurasnow)
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#tiger #big_cats #wild_cats #endangered #conservation #panthera #panthera_tigris #leopard #panthera_pardus #panthera_pair
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#donation #screenprinting #silkscreen #serigraph #zeefdruk #screen_printing #printmaking #handmade #ink #pattern #stripes #spots

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