I’ve just completed a redesign of the website for Robert Hartshorne, the composer who trades as ECG (Ex Cantibus Gaudium). Up until recently he’s the man who made all of the music for Thomas the Tank Engine, or Thomas and Friends as it’s now called. I first made a website for Robert back in 2000 and that was redesigned in 2007, so this is the third iteration. The new website is built in WordPress and uses video clips hosted with Vimeo and audio via SoundCloud. It’s so nice not to have to build custom audio players in Flash as I had to back in the old days.
Possibly the earliest depiction of St George in England is in the wall paintings at St Botolph’s Church, Hardham in West Sussex which date from the 12th century. Unusually, these paintings don’t show St George and the Dragon, (unless it was once in the space now taken up by the later window in the east wall of the nave). Those that do exist are of St George at the Battle of Antioch, St George before Datian (Diocletian) and St George on the Wheel.
St George before Datian is now partly obscured by the more recent doorway, but the other two murals remain clear.
St George at the Battle of Antioch is the first of the lower tier of paintings on the north nave wall. The saint is shown mounted upon a large white horse which he is reining in with his left hand, while with the right he has impaled a knight with his lance. There are traces of a group of armed figures at which the saint is riding, but unfortunately this part of the painting is very obscure. The lance bears at the reverse end a white four-tailed pennon, similar to those in the Bayeux Tapestry.
The other panel depicts the martyrdom of St George on the Wheel. His halo is more visible here than in the ‘Antioch’ panel. The legend relates how that, after enduring other cruel tortures for eight days the saint was bound to a wheel of swords but the wheel was broken by two angels who descended from heaven. George was executed by decapitation before Nicodemia’s city wall, on 23 April 303.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, here’s a photo of some graffiti on the General Post Office in Dublin on the 60th anniversary in 1976: Freedom Fighters Are Not Criminals.
Click on the image to see it larger.
Last night in Clapham there was a lantern-lit parade along the High Street (organised by Omnibus and Clapham BID) to celebrate the switch on of the Christmas lights. The parade started at Clapham North tube station and marched west towards Clapham Common. Outside the library the parade stopped to be joined by a stilt walker who led the way for the rest of the walk. The parade stopped on the small green behind Clapham Common tube station, where the crowd was entertained by the award-winning gospel choir Get Gospel and the raising of the lanterns.
It was a great little event for the kids (of all ages). Here’s a few photos for you to enjoy.
(Click on the photos to see them larger.)
Two poems that sum up the tragedy of it all.
Dulce et decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ words from an ode by the Roman poet Horace: ‘How sweet and honourable it is to die for one’s country’.
On Passing the New Menin Gate
Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate,
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.
Here was the world’s worst wound. And here with pride
‘Their name liveth for evermore’ the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
As these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.
I’ve just updated six of the 360° panoramas from my series of Cornish Parish Churches. The original panoramas were some of the first ones I ever made and although I thought they were quite good at the time I’d become increasingly dissatisfied with them. The ones I’ve replaced are St Ervan, St Mawgan, St Columb Major, St Columb Minor, St Wenn and Withiel.
I was very lucky at St Columb Major that the church warden was there as the rood screen entrance to the chancel is normally locked, but she was more than happy to let me in. The chancel roof is a particularly fine example of Victorian restoration.
I’ve just had the sad task of adding an obituary to the website of one of my clients. I first met Robert in 2003 when I designed the website for Metapraxis, the company he founded. In 2005 he approached me again to design a website for a book that he had written developing a new theory on the location of Homer’s Ithaca – Odysseus Unbound. Although I didn’t know him well, I liked him from the first time we met. He was a man of boundless energy and a true inspiration.
I’ve now been twice to see the Eric Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I love his work, particularly the watercolours of the chalk downland and chalk hill figures. But I find his depiction of the Cerne Abbas Giant extremely puzzling. The giant is painted brown, rather than gleaming chalk white.
It was painted in 1939 and some people have said that the figure was camouflaged to prevent German pilots using it as a landmark. But I thought that the hill figures weren’t covered over until early in 1940. In fact the exhibition catalogue states: “The following year [i.e. 1940 – the year after the painting was made] saw a mass turfing-over of chalk figures, to prevent enemy airmen using them as landmarks.” Despite searching for ages I can’t find any specific reference online that says exactly when the the Giant was camouflaged.
I’ve retouched a version of the painting to see what it would have looked like with the figure in white. Much as I like Ravilious’s painting, I think I would have preferred to see it this way.
Click on the images to see them larger and to fade from one to the other.
Also interesting is how much Ravilious has changed the vertical scale of the hillside in order to give a clearer view of the Giant. Compare with this photograph which I took in 2012 from much the same position.
LinkedIn has just reminded me that it’s 18 years since I’ve been working as a freelance website designer. And that reminded me that it’s 20 years since I made my first website – for the audio visual production company that I had at that time with my business partner Darryl Johnson. I can remember having loads of fun getting my head around table layouts and frames and probably loads of other things that would be anathema to web standards today. The first browser I used would have been Mosaic, but Netscape came along in 1994 and that’s the one I was using when I made the website in 1995. It’s quite amazing how far the web has come in just those few years.
A couple of days ago I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the medieval galleries. Many years ago I photographed some of the objects in the collection for a wide-screen audio visual programme at the English Romanesque Art 1066-1200 exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1984. This included the mitre which is thought to have belonged to Thomas Becket. Being allowed to handle that was a real thrill. The programme mainly depicted the architecture of the period, and I spent many days photographing some of the best Romanesque buildings in the country, including Durham cathedral where we were given a key and told “This key opens any door in the building – make yourselves at home”.
The galleries have been improved immensely since those days and the objects are now beautifully displayed. Here are some of my favourites.
(Click on the photos to see them larger.)