Lilliput Mountain

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

ClaireComment
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D. H. Lawrence argues for a philosophical naturalism that trumps Christendom and relies on the romantic ideology that personal redemption and salvation is to be found through sex.

The novel mourns the loss of innocence caused by WW1 and laments the expansion of collieries in the British countryside. Lawrence captures the transformation of the landscape from ancient forests, to blackened mining towns where local villagers are degraded and debased by the industrial revolution’s hunger for coal. Aristocrats are also being transformed from custodians into destructive capitalists.

In stark comparison the two protagonists are innocents. Introverted and separate from contemporary values they are uniquely connected to nature where their shared sexuality is the purest expression of all that is good and free in a corrupted world. They are unorthodox custodians of a type of sacred relationship.

Lawrence’s narrative is completely persuasive in delivering his philosophy. Although we know almost nothing of the game keeper, his intellect and sensitivity hidden until the last page, the reader is sure to align with the lovers against a stiff traditionalist world and Lady Chatterly’s disabled and impotent husband. The ideology is seductive and irrepressibly romantic in an agnostic and individualised culture like ours. At the time of writing, D.H. Lawrence’s ideas were so revolutionary, and text so explicit the book was banned.

Lawrence has created a story, where the two protagonists are able to follow their own feelings and search for individual liberty without incurring excessive damage to others. His convenient narrative convinces of the rightness of their illicit love and the necessity of infidelity by playing to extremes. The problem with Lawrence’s narrative is its superficiality. By creating a fictionalised and convenient account of life it manages to circumvent the hard reality that sin has consequences that weigh not just the lovers themselves, but also onto subsequent generations.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover can be laid alongside the true life story of Lawrence’s seduction of Baroness Frieda von Richthofen. Their passionate connection convinced Frieda to leave her English husband and their three young children. The damage experienced by Earnest Weekly, Charles, Elsa and Joy, as explored in a novelised account, Frieda by Annabel Abbs, is catastrophic, damaging the lives and well-being of the entire family. The personal cost to Frieda, namely the loss of relationship with her children was compounded by violent abuse she experienced from Lawrence. Frieda is Lawrence’s inspiration behind the character of Connie, Lady Chatterly, and the novel a kind of philosophical exegesis on their relationship.

In the ninety six years since lady Chatterly’s lover was written, Lawrence’s ethical framework has become a cultural norm in the West, marking Lawrence as a pioneer of individualism. What the real life story of Freida shows is it is often the women and always the children who bear the lion’s share of the cost for individual freedom. Although written when he turned 40, Lawrence is arguing for a youthful version of reality, a head-strong individualism and unsustainable romantic ideal. These are philosophies that do not weather with time and are disproved by another twenty years of life experience. In order to sell his philosophy Lady Chatterly’s Lover can only convince within the confines of its artificial and constrained narrative. We are spared the suffering of Lord Chatterly, and the long term prospects of Connie and Mellor’s contentment or the effects on their child raised severed from extended family and community.

A far more mature reflection on the reality of sin and the true cost of infidelity is explored in Brideshead Revisited. Evelyn Waugh was also forty when he wrote Brideshead Revisited a book that mournfully explores all the optimism of youth in love, sex and friendship, but looks back with the sad wisdom of maturity. On reflection, Charles Ryder admits to the failures in his life which have been played out alongside two generations of the Flyte family; torn apart and damaged by their father’s infidelity. Ryder, broken by experience and loss, in a destroyed landscape of a battered old family estate at the end of WW2 finally surrenders to Christ, the a light by which the whole story is then suddenly illuminated.

simply the best

ClaireComment
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I never wanted to make cards. I thought they were boring and small and weirdly disposable items so when I had to make them I decided to make the best damn cards ever. These cards are on the best paper… 290 GSM water-colour cotton rag paper, which means when you touch them, you are transported back in time and you are an aristocrat, about to write with a quill on the most tactile delicious paper and they are going to be just the right size and have a completely 100% PCW recycled envelope so that no tree was hurt in the making of this paper product, they are cut by hand and made in small batches and a museum quality print in ultra-chrome inks.

I humbly present to you…

… the world clas quality greeting card.

Green & Bryksenkova

painting heroesClaire Hansen
'Fire Flies' by Rebecca Green

'Fire Flies' by Rebecca Green

I have been actively seeking to emulate my aesthetic heroes working to expand their awesomeness to both include and assimilate my paintings.

Two of my most favourite painters in the world are Rebecca Green and Yelena Bryksenova.

My painting the Night Twins is very much based on themes of animal rescue and connection that run through Green's paintings. I even replicated her beautiful feathery trees you can see above in "Fire Flies".  I admire Green's work so much because she paints such a wide variety of subjects and her colour work blows me away. I am colour blind, and so cognitively understand all images and subject matter in grey scale and absolutely struggle to achieve sophisticated colour work. Sadly, I rely heavily on my paint's tube labels!

I am comforted that Green admits to recolouring her paints over and over until she is perfectly happy, and that too much planning and pre-painting ( to determine colour and composition) often serves to take the fun out the creating. I agree! Too much planning, for me, often serves to kill the painting dead in the water and they end up perfectly planned never finished wannabes.

My painting Nancy's Book is inspired by 1940s Scottish country living, and stylistically draws heaps from Bryksenova's private lives series. Private moments of comfort, introversion, grief run throughout Bryksenova's paintings. I have studied her work intently and I love Bryksenkova's miniature decorative patterns, and folk art motifs that help to create a sense of place and space in her works. Bryksenova's paintings are exquisite little windows into peoples private moments. And of course, her colour work is exceptional and the perfection of the image below  *sighs*... so good!

Yelena Bryksenkova - private lives series

Yelena Bryksenkova - private lives series

 

You can buy Bryksenkova's prints here, and one day (hopefully) Rebecca Green will sell hers from here. 

the secret life of trees

painting processClaire Hansen

I started by looking a lot at paintings by my hero Diana Sudyka and thinking deeply about what I love about her wonderful work.  I am so struck by Diana’s use of black, it is so bold so strong and capitalises on the strengths of gouache as a medium. I also love that she paints trees and animals of the forest in such unique way. 

The forest is so special to me. I love trees so much that it hurts to consider them being harmed in any way. I started painting without our any real idea how the painting would turn out. I just thought, I want to paint a bit like Diana, I am going to use black and have birds and animals. 

When I came to painting the ground I was completely lost, so I just started to experiment and play and work with my mistakes. What started to emerge was a dream like soft mossy and fungi wonderland in miniature. 

Within the paint I searched for translucence, luminescence and transcendence in the fragile forest floor and ended up creating an environment not designed for humans. That is because we are too big heavy and loud for this kind of forest. This is a delicate place. A realm of barely there mushrooms, tiny flowers where even the fallow deer steps through gently.

The central tree reaches up the the heavens, roots into the earth, she has roots and wings but her branches also curl  downward to gently touch the fern fronds and stroke the mother deer. I feel that the deer is seeking a safe place to foal, and that she has found it, in this place where the white wallaby and white echidna also find sanctuary.

The forest ravens, butcher bird and the tiny tit are nestled in the tree. I hope that the birds connect us to our own feelings of spirit because our view of the forest is also on wing.

I have decided to call this painting "forest floor" which is pretty modest description of the wonderland that coats our forests. 

monsters of consumption

pop cultureClaire Hansen
Who wears white to school?

Who wears white to school?

Yesterday I re-watched all 5 Twilight films. And I am not ashamed and I will do it again someday. However, how awfully awkward are the amateurish plot devices and the endless inconsistencies in characterisation and mythos! It is a hack job at best, saved by the rolling shots of forests and snow caped mountains and a gorgeous soundtrack.

What struck me hardest on this viewing is the Cullen family’s arguably inappropriate display of wealth and privilege. As an out and proud critic of capitalism/imperialism and all forms of tyranny; I declare that there is no wealth that has not come at the expense of others. 

The Cullens’ must have ripped off a lot of folk over the years because they hold far more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources.

Awkward Plot Device
To be discrete; and to not draw attention to themselves; the Cullen kids attend high school over and over again. This is so they can start out aged 16 and reduce the probability that neighbours may notice over the next 10- 20 years how none of them look any older.  It is really important for vampires to blend in and to not be noticed as being different. It is so important that discretion is regulated by the self appointed police of the vampire world, the Volturi. It is also important that the Cullen’s live in small towns to be close to wild spaces to hunt wild animals to eat.

Plot Device: epic fail
Forks is a small town on the coast supported by tree felling and the fishing industry. Five foster kids, four who are coupled, attend the small local high-school. Edward, Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalee are all super beautiful, with perfectly styled hair, stiletto heels, designer clothes and select their vehicles from a private fleet of brand new European cars.  They are all white as ghosts and “weird” and speak as if they are from another time.  They don't come to school on sunny days, they never actually eat anything and they don't look or act like teenagers. They are not friends with other students and their family is not friends with any of the local families. Their dad works at the local hospital, and drives a “ I’m mega rich” car and shirts so shiny and well fitted they look hand spun by angels.  The Cullens are anything but discrete.

The most embarrassingly awkward birthday party ever

The most embarrassingly awkward birthday party ever

Fat Piggery and Greed
Why are the Cullen’s such conspicuous consumers? Surely this is fatally incompatible with the whole premise of seeking to blend in and go unnoticed?

Don't you think:
 a) this is really insensitive of them making everyone else in Forks feel like untouchable peasants?
b) this is really stupid because it makes them like local celebrities?
c) they could be doing a lot more to support local businesses, sustainability and environment?
d) the excessive bloated consumption of those with disposable income is a major player in accelerating climate change, deforestation, loss of animal habitats, intensive farming, and a general degradation of the earth leading in the direction of a dead planet. Are the Cullens among the worst example of this kind of individualistic and excessive consumption?

What kind of values do the Cullen's really have? Are we supposed to think they are saints because they don't eat humans but rather eat endangered species? They actively reduce the already diminished populations of bears, wolves and cougars.

Charlie and the Quileutes
Let’s contrast the Cullen family with Bella’s dad. Charlie lives simply in a small house, drives an 15 year old American made police car and is best friends with Billy and Harry and knows the name of everyone in town. The two Quileute houses we see on the reservation, Billy and Sam and Emily's are small, simple making a minimal environmental impact.  We can see that Charlie and the Quileutes are resourceful, restoring a ute for Bella and Jacob scrapes recycled resources together to restore vintage cars and bikes.  Apart from the reckless destruction of 100s of pairs of shorts in the film by the shape-shifters; the Quileute and Charlie are supporting local community and the environment. Jacob has “ know how”, whereas Edward only has “ buy how”.

happy times in Jake's dad's shed

happy times in Jake's dad's shed

Bella’s Guilded Cage
In New Moon and Eclipse we see Bella spending time with the Quileute community, where she is accepted in her old clothes, old ute and pony tail. She laughs, teases, eats and sits about the fire to share in the Quileute stories.  There is always a feeling of warmth and friendliness and joy when Bella is with Jacob and his people.

This is in direct opposition to Bella with the Cullen’s. where she exhibits low self worth, hides her feelings, is lied to and controlled by Edward and is dressed like a doll by Alice so that Bella better fits into their awkward and cold aristocratic world. The Cullen's mock Bella's old ute and on engagement Edward insists she drives a custom made European car, further separating her from her local community. Bella is forced into uncomfortable stiletto heels and married in an ostentatious garden wedding and designer gown creating a gulf between Bella and her previous community. Akin to joining a totalitarian cult, by coupling with Edward, Bella is ultimately completely separated from her mother, father, friends and community.

At the end of the books/films there is a sense that Bella can balance the two worlds. That she can be both vampire-consumer-monster and a part of Charlie's and the Quileute world. This is a falsity because it is shown in Eclipse that vampires residing in the region destabilises the Quileute tribe by activating the wolf shape shifting abilities in even small children and attracts more vampires resulting in multiple murders.

CONCLUSION: the Cullen lifestyle is grossly greedy, and representative of the bloated consumerism that is destroying our planet. By choosing the Cullen lifestyle over that of her parents and friends; Bella intentionally severed herself from community, any sense of environmental consciousness, friends and family and became just another monster of consumption. She also arguably loses her soul by becoming a demonic, inhuman creature. Shame Bella...

Shape-shifter, immortal hybrid child and vampire, just another family Christmas at Billy's place

Shape-shifter, immortal hybrid child and vampire, just another family Christmas at Billy's place

tea + cake = happy

Lutruwita (Tasmania)Claire HansenComment
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I drink too much tea. It is shameful really. Some days I completely forget to drink anything that is not heated, infused and oftentimes soy-milky.  But no one can deny that tea, whether black, green, herbal or otherwise; really is something very special.

When I was a kid on the farm, my Nan and Pop lived just a few paddocks away. I was always keen to visit Nanny because she celebrated almost every visit with a tea ceremony. An aluminum and bakelite tea pot, Bushells loose leaf scooped into the pot, a small tea strainer, tea cups with saucers. Nan mixed her own powdered milk each morning, so her tea had a very unique flavour. The big draw card was that tea was always served with a selection of her own farm kitchen baking; perhaps raspberry jam sponge, coconut slice and butter biscuits. If it was morning tea of afternoon tea we would be joined by Pop, who would come in from his yard duties of sweeping the concrete paths, the old apple sheds and listening to the cricket on his wireless radio.

I don't know whether Nan would approve of us using tea bags, but here it is a beautiful original one of a kind, never to be repeated illustrated tea brooch by Hamish and one of the most favourite that we have made because it makes me smile every time.

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