Sunday, July 29, 2012

'Mistress of the Sea'

I've not been blogging much recently because I've been keeping my head down making a new website. 

So forthwith 'ta dah!' drum roll...

I am mightily proud to unveil the new website that I've made for Jenny Barden to support the launch of her fabulous novel 'Mistress of the Sea'. Jenny's book is a beautifully researched romantic tale of adventure and privateers, and I hope my website shows it off to its full potential.

The book is published by Ebury Press on 30th August 2012 and can pre-ordered on Amazon here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I'm blogging a couple of portraits that I did some time ago because I have just unearthed them from my mother's loft and they are about to wing their way to the sitters. (Better late than never!)

Peter has just moved into a new home and has donated the artwork from his previous home to his ex so it seems good timing.

Peter Lindsey Jones 16" x 20 " oil on board 1981
This painting of Kate was inscribed (in indelible pen) by my daughter whose Graduation we are attending next Tuesday! The daughter has got herself a very creditable First in Art, Event, Performance and was only two at the time of the inscription!  I'm just about to touch it out this evening, so this is the last look at it for posterity! It's quite handy since F has been at uni in Leeds and Kate who is Francesca's godmother lives and works in Yorkshire, so we are combining the outing.

Kate Wright ( neƩ Standen) 30" x 20" oil on canvas 1991

I need to unearth another one from 2001 to show some continuity in this set but nothing has immediately presented itself so I'll finish by  posting this one of Sherri because I really must get on with it! It doesn't look it but this one is four feet tall.

Sherriann Stephenson  48" x 40" oil on canvas
(Started 2011 WIP)

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Americanization of the Grimms' Fairy Tales

The Folklore Society presents: Professor Jack Zipes: "The Americanization of the Grimms' Fairy Tales", a public lecture in celebration of the bicentenary of the first publication of the Grimms' tales.

Wednesday 12 September, 5-7 p.m. at The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB.

This illustrated lecture is free and open to all, and is followed by refreshments. Prior booking is essential. For tickets, contact

Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion [Paperback]
Publication Date: 31 Aug 2011

From the publisher: The fairy tale is arguably one of the most important cultural and social influences on children's lives. But until the first publication of Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, little attention had been paid to the ways in which the writers and collectors of tales used traditional forms and genres in order to shape children's lives – their behavior, values, and relationship to society.

As Jack Zipes convincingly shows in this classic work, fairy tales have always been a powerful discourse, capable of being used to shape or destabilize attitudes and behavior within culture. How and why did certain authors try to influence children or social images of children? How were fairy tales shaped by the changes in European society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? Zipes examines famous writers of fairy tales such as Charles Perrault, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and L.Frank Baum and considers the extraordinary impact of Walt Disney on the genre as a fairy tale filmmaker.

 The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre [Hardcover]
Publication Date: 8 April 2012
From the Publisher: If there is one genre that has captured the imagination of people in all walks of life throughout the world, it is the fairy tale. Yet we still have great difficulty understanding how it originated, evolved, and spread--or why so many people cannot resist its appeal, no matter how it changes or what form it takes. In this book, renowned fairy-tale expert Jack Zipes presents a provocative new theory about why fairy tales were created and retold--and why they became such an indelible and infinitely adaptable part of cultures around the world.

Drawing on cognitive science, evolutionary theory, anthropology, psychology, literary theory, and other fields, Zipes presents a nuanced argument about how fairy tales originated in ancient oral cultures, how they evolved through the rise of literary culture and print, and how, in our own time, they continue to change through their adaptation in an ever-growing variety of media. In making his case, Zipes considers a wide range of fascinating examples, including fairy tales told, collected, and written by women in the nineteenth century; Catherine Breillat's film adaptation of Perrault's "Bluebeard"; and contemporary fairy-tale drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs that critique canonical print versions.

While we may never be able to fully explain fairy tales, The Irresistible Fairy Tale provides a powerful theory of how and why they evolved--and why we still use them to make meaning of our lives.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Loyalty Binds Me

Loyalty Binds MeLoyalty Binds Me by Joan Szechtman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book has a rather nice, Raymond Chandler pulp fiction vibe going on, which is good in its own right, but the historical and time slip aspects are something of a distraction from what is otherwise a good little thriller.

This is a sequel and I should perhaps have read the first book first, but I didn't, so I found the characters' unquestioning acceptance of the main time travel premise throughout the first third of the book to be somewhat odd.

The denouement at a re-enactment event is contrived and overall it would have benefited from a good deep edit by a British native, but I think this is a writer of some considerable potential to watch for the future, if not in this genre.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Visions of Isobel Gowdie

The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century ScotlandThe Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland by Emma Wilby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following the author’s rediscovery of the original confession transcripts, Wilby reappraises documents so strange and perplexing that authors such as Katharine Briggs labelled them as 'strange, mad outpourings'. 

Wilby conducts an in-depth analysis of the content of Isobel’s testimony, taking an interdisciplinary approach. She separates Isobel’s voice and beliefs from those of her interrogators and fuses together a hypothesis based on ‘dark’ shamanism, false-memory generation and mutual-dream experience, along with literature on marriage-covenant mysticism and protection-charm traditions in order to show how Isobel’s confessions might have reflected an actual self-identification as a practitioner of harmful magic.

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