At least it’s almost finished. I want to put this artists’
book into two exhibitions that are on at the same time so I need to print off
and assemble another set of puppets, book and box. I also need to work out a
way of exhibiting the puppets so that the strings can be pulled but at the same
time stop too much manhandling.
But the exhibitions aren’t until the beginning of
October so there’s time.
I also want to do some printing before then
I’ve been working on a set of images that can be framed in
off the shelf sized frames. My cunning plan is that I can have a set of frames
that go from exhibition to exhibition and just change the prints that are in
them. Saves on cost and takes a lot less room in storage.
So far I have linear sketches. I’m going to use these play and
experiment with over the next few weeks with monoprint, etching and collagraph.
In the meantime should you want to read the text of Gentleman Jim you can click here
Trying to lose the long frock I started considering what types
of employment might be available to a woman without a skirt. I thought about
the circus, acting and music hall. Music hall developed out of entertainment in
public houses during the time frame I’m looking at so it seemed apt.
I thought that a music hall dancer (not the sort of thing a
nice middle class family would consider acceptable for their daughter) could be
used in teetotal literature to present a character that had started on the
slippery slope of drinking and had to take such employment or alternatively as
someone whose choice of employment might have set her off on that route.
Actresses and entertainers, in some respectable circles,
were considered as synonymous with prostitutes but I thought that they could be
written/talked about in a way that ‘fallen women’ couldn’t. On a frivolous
level I thought visually they would be more interesting and after all I am
making children’s toys (sort of).
I’ve developed a dancer, dressed as a soldier, monoprinted,
then scanned and overlaid the black drawing lines on the computer.
Toy puppets of music hall dancers don’t necessarily fit the
brief of ‘teetotal’ but I think I can manage that.
The teetotal movement made use of both printed ephemera, (certificates
to the band of hope etc) and morally improving literature to get their point
across. So my dancers will come with a booklet or broadsheet telling the story
of Gentleman Jim’s Daughters.
wrote his cautionary tales as a tongue in cheek tribute to Victorian moralising
children’s literature. I’m aiming at that sort of style though I think it’ll
probably end up more like William McGonagall
Last week I went back to thinking about what I wanted to make as an end piece for this project.I liked the interactive nature of the thaumatropes but I was
not happy with the amount of empty space I needed to leave around the figure in
order to make it fit into the tankard.
I had started to investigate board games and had also
thought about card games but this would mean an awful lot of work both in the
art work and the development of a whole game. In the time frame I have
(exhibition at the beginning of October and images needed for the associated
book even earlier) that isn’t practical.
On an instagram post I saw Pollock’s toy puppet theatres and
was very tempted (I may well come back to these at a later date). The thought
of puppets made me think of Jumping Jacks, they are interactive, contemporary
with the teetotal movement and have the benefit of being stand alone, they
don’t need scenery or other extra pieces.
So I had a go at turning my drunk into one
And then I started to think about female figures. Somehow
the idea of the rolling drunk gentleman as a mildly amusing, if salutary,
children’s toy is acceptable in the way that a drunken destitute woman isn’t.
While researching I had come across the story of Mary Anne Pearce, who was at one time mistress
to Lord Barrymore but it didn’t end well . You can find the image of the
broadsheet telling her story at the National Library of Scotland DigitalCollection
I’m not sure at what point she started drinking but thought
she might serve as a lesson to young Victorian women. I decided to portray her
in party mode (but perhaps after a few glasses) before she fell too far down
the social scale.
I thought she needed skirts down to her ankles for her party
frock but for jumping jacks to be effective all four limbs have to be seen
moving so I added a layer of complexity and she moves her skirts to show off
her legs. It sort of works but she does tend to get the edges of her legs stuck
behind the washers on her skirts.