Issue #26: September, 2022

Forget-Me-Not by Ann Richmond - An artwork of an armoured Dodo pulling a nautilus shell. Painted in the artist's unique style... Framing available.

Dear Subscriber…

Loss…

…Seems an appropriate theme right now. Just when we all thought that Covid was behind us, and life could ‘get back to normal’ (whatever ‘normal means to you), our nation has entered yet another cycle of upheaval.

Yet the shock of the new will soon fade. Time will heal all, as it always does. And daily life? That too will carry on: for it is the burden of those who follow, to remember…

Amidst such sadness, it seems almost trite to talk about anything else.

Yet here we are: carrying on… It seems oddly appropriate then, that I bring you a new work from Ann that celebrates loss. Or, should I say, loss from our perspective for, as we shall see, ‘lost’ is perhaps the LAST thing our unlikely heroes believe themselves to be. Cold, maybe. But lost?

Never.


Forget-Me-Not

Forget-Me-Not…

Most things that are ‘lost’, will never be found. That much is true.

But ‘Most’ isn’t ‘All’, is it?

So what about the rest?

That was the original idea for this beautiful work. The thought that somewhere inhospitably remote, lurks the last Dodo…

And if he’s out there… What has he been doing all this time?

As this initial sketch shows clearly, Ann had the idea for the Dodo set in her mind from the very beginning. About the only major difference from this sketch to the finished work, is that the Bush-Baby riding in the howdah upon its back, was quickly substituted for a Red Squirrel, for reasons of colour contrast.

The idea of the Nautilus was more of a joint effort. We’re fascinated by these ‘living fossils’; as much by their iridescent patterns as their elegantly-evolved forms. Ann has harboured ambitions to paint one for YEARS, so this project felt like the completion of a circle.

Forget-Me-Not

Most things that are lost will never be found. But what about the rest?

Do you think the Dodo considers himself lost? Can we be sure that there isn’t a lonely soul braving the cold winds & deep snow of a remote mountain valley? Towing a beautiful – though weather-beaten – Nautilus shell, suspended by a balloon? And that within, resides a few ‘long-lost’ treasures from the Great Library of Alexandria?

We’re so sure of ourselves – and of our place in the world – that we discount the possibility. Yet when have we ever stopped to consider things from the Dodo’s perspective? After all, he knows exactly where he is, where he’s going and what he’s going to do when he gets there!

And the painting’s title ‘Forget-Me-Not’? Look closely at the Dodo’s snowy footprints… With each step, sprigs of Forget-Me-Nots appear as if by magic! They’re telling us not to forget the things that we hold precious. The memories that we make and the stories we inherit. We should hold them close & take joy from what – and wherever – we find it.

Just like the Dodo…

Let’s begin with the Dodo, shall we?

I love his cheeky, almost sardonic expression, don’t you? Ann tells me that she tried her best to keep a serious look on his face, but that she kept returning to the hint of a smile and that mischievous, glinting eye. A special mention here, for the soft, downy feathers about his neck; beautifully done.

Over the few short years we’ve been developing the project, the one request I think we get asked more than any other, is ‘Will you ever paint a Dragon?’

Well, the audience is always right, so we decided to finally give-in… And make a dragon out of the little lampshade!

I LOVE the way our familiar Glow-Worm bulb is shaped here; looks like the dragon is ‘breathing it out’… Also, note the little pair of wings further down the (wonky) lamp-stand. We laughed at this, for it looks as if the Dodo has bumped into more than one obstacle over the years and couldn’t straighten things out!

The Dodo couldn’t ask for a more loyal & steadfast companion than a Red Squirrel. He wears a padded waistcoat for extra warmth and a Fez, like all the characters of importance in our world.

‘But’, I hear you cry: ‘Shouldn’t the Dodo be the most important?’

To which I say: ‘Who’s reading the map..?’ Maybe the picture should’ve been titled Backseat Driver

A clear view here, of the pocket-watch hanging from the Dodo’s saddle. While the hour shown is, by itself, of no consequence, Ann wanted to convey a couple of ideas – or notions – about the nature of time itself.

For a start, both the Dodo and the Nautilus are themselves both creatures ‘out of time’. In our understanding, the Dodo is ‘extinct’ (although I think our Dodo would have something strong to say about that…). In addition, the Nautilus is, like the Coelacanth, a living fossil: a creature that’s managed to survive through the aeons, as if immune to the passage of time.

Then there’s the notion that time itself can seem ‘elastic’, depending on the circumstances. We’ve all had days – if not YEARS – when time just zips past. When our experiences come at such a frantic rate, that everything jumbles up in our memories. The last few years have certainly proved that!

But consider how a child sees the world… Those long, hot summers when school seemed a distant memory when set against playing with friends and ‘exploring the world’…

As I mentioned earlier, neither the Dodo or the Squirrel ‘feel lost’. In fact, they might not have been wandering for all that long in their universe. But to us?

Lifetimes have passed.

Before we go on, a word on the delicate ‘verdigris’ affect given to the Dodo’s armoured saddle. Exposed to the unforgiving elements, the finish isn’t as pristine these days. You can see some rust-spots have begun to appear; look elsewhere and you’ll see that one or two of the jewelled decorations are missing!

An aquatic member of the Cephalopod family, the Nautilus is at least 500 million years old; little wonder it’s classed as a ‘living fossil’. When living, the animal itself dwells within the shell like a snail, using a set of muscular ‘tentacles’ for feeding and a ‘water jet’ for propulsion, in which seawater is squirted at pressure, from a muscular vent; similar to how an Octopus propels itself.

Only the shell remains in Ann’s painting, being towed as a ‘trailer’ by the Dodo. In reality, the shell itself would only carry its stripes on the upper side, with the underside left grey / white. This gives it camouflage when viewed from either above or below by predators. However, Ann has taken artistic licence in our example, to extend the stripes. She used a metallic paint for the stripes, with shark-grey tones for the shadows and we’ve worked hard to preserve some of that iridescent shimmer in the photos, although it’s not a patch on seeing the real thing.

At the front, stuffed into a tiger-striped cargo-net, are all the belongings the Dodo & the Squirrel have brought along for the trip. Amongst the items, are a classic wooden trunk, a couple of bedrolls and a mysterious red sack…

At the rear, you can see a collection of precious scrolls stuffed into the shell’s voluminous interior. I mentioned the idea of ‘loss’ at the outset of this Newsletter and it’s not just the Dodo we consider lost. Take the contents of the Great Library of Alexandria, for instance. Centuries of knowledge, lore & wisdom, lost to the invading horde…

But again… What if some of the Collection were saved? Entrusted to those who could keep their secrets in perpetuity? What if it were given into the care…

…Of a Dodo?

Rather than show the whole balloon, as in ‘Life’s a Breeze’, we decided to only show a portion for this one. After all, we reckon your own imaginations are good enough to finish the rest!

Have you noticed the patch? They’ve been out here a while, so along with the rust & missing decoration elsewhere, it seems only natural that our heroes have had to patch-up the canopy!

We used Tibetan prayer flags back in ‘Pearls of Wisdom’, to add a little ‘strategic’ colour & they make another appearance here, as decoration for the ropes. What isn’t seen in this view however, is the very last flag on the right. Go back a few entries and you’ll see it: the Squirrel’s freshly-laundered vest!

And the birds? Snow Buntings; again with delicately painted armoured collars in a style we’ve seen more than once.

Last but not least, we should look at the Dodo’s snowy footsteps. For every step he takes, a sprig or two of Forget-Me-Nots springs forth!

Is it magic? Or coincidence? I know which I believe, but what about you?

Then again, if you were looking carefully, the clue was hiding in plain sight all along..!



We’re at the Craft Fair, Cirencester EVERY SATURDAY in the run-up to Xmas… Our LAST DAY is on December 3rd…


‘Work-in-Progress’

Midnight Messenger…


Well, that’s it for now: we hope you enjoyed this month’s Newsletter.

If you find yourself at a loose end and you’re able to visit us in Cirencester one Saturday, we’d love to see you!

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Ann paints animals wearing ornate armour & Gary unearths wonders with AI. We ship both Original Artworks and our superb Fine-Art Prints worldwide, from the Otherwurlde Studio, here in Wiltshire, Southern England.
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