8/20/2012

Medieval Inspiration

Tony and I recently visited the City of Norwich, an ancient Cathedral City, which also has a castle, built by the Normans over 900 years ago. You would expect buildings as old as that to be a ruin; they are in fact remarkably intact. The castle actually looks like it could be a recreation made for a film set, it is so perfect and undamaged.
Norwich is a truly beautiful city, so many treasures and so little time with just two days to pack in as much history, art, sight seeing and shopping as possible. We walked along the river, peered into gardens behind flint and stone walls, admired tapestries hung on castle walls and wandered around the cathedral and close.
As you would expect, the cathedral houses many magnificent features built to impress kings; Norwich being second only to London in importance. Despite all its grandeur, the thing that I loved most were the carved stone ceiling bosses, over one thousand and each one different. They reflected the thoughts, imaginations and understandings of the medieval mind. You might expect to see biblical scenes and characters like Noah, but you can also see strange mythical creatures, dragons, green men, and acrobats, thieves compete for attention. The carvings show some of their original colours and gold decoration, faded now but still vibrant and lively.
Filled with enthusiasm and inspiration on my return I set to work embellishing my owl prints. I finished the painting some time ago, you may remember I wrote about it previously. I had the prints professionally printed and was astounded to see what the newest digital printers are capable of, the colours reproduce perfectly and the paper used is comparable to the original watercolour paper, in fact it is almost impossible to tell the original from the reproduction. Rather than offer the prints untouched I decided to add some hand finished details. I used gold leaf on the crescent moon and gold paint and ink on the border decorations. I like to think that the addition of gold leaf and paint gives the prints a human touch and makes a connection with the artisans of the past. You can see the finished print here in my Etsy shop.

22 comments:

  1. Isn't it interesting what inspires us Valerie. I remember going to Norwich many years ago and being impressed.
    I went to Shandy Hall yesterday and an exhibition of Carry Akroyd's work (see my today's blog) and i have come home feeling totally inspired.

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  2. This will surely be a place which I'll visit someday! What a wonderful idea to add onto your prints with the spirits of the past. I'm sure one day, years and years from now, your paintings will inspire another generation of artists.

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  3. Beautiful print, Valerie.

    I spent 6 months studying art in Florence, for Christmas, I went to stay with friends in Norwich. Had a lovely visit and wander around that beautiful city. I think I would see so much more now with more mature eyes and not ones inundated with art and architecture from months in Italy! It was 1985, I think!!

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  4. Thank you for this post. Some of my husband's relatives come from this area, but I have never been to Norwich. After I've seen your photos I think we will have to plan a trip!

    P.S. Your paintings are amazing.

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  5. Oh, hubby grew up in Norwich (among many other places... he was an Air Force brat). Lovely to get a peek at the places I've heard about in family stories.

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  6. Such a long time since I was in Norwich but I remember the Cathedral, I seem to remember a connection with Edith Cavell, and the Castle. Your prints are wonderful:)

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  7. absolutely breathtaking!
    I would love to be with you, Val....I think about you sooo often. Maybe I need to plan a trip to England -
    a class at West Dean, or something. We could meet there....

    Love to you and Tony..
    xo

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  8. Now I want to go to Norwich where I haven't been for forty years.
    Love your illustrations as ever.

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  9. I'm so pleasd that you found inspiration in Norwich. I haven't revisited the Cathedral for a few years - when I do I will walk quietly to the memorial to Nurse Edith Cavell and sit quietly in the war memorial chapel - my dad was one of the craftsmen who made the beatiful oak seats and panels.
    Celia
    x

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  10. Never visited Norwich Val - love your images here and informative writing.

    The owl print is looking really good. Well done. Lesley x

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  11. Another city i hope to visit one day, I love topping up on inspiration. Castles, cathedrals & churches draw me in and i spend hours taking in all the detail, I always come home with oodles of photographs. I'm intrigued to know Valerie what gold paint do you use? Your prints have turned out beautifully, adore all the details x

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  12. It seems that Norwich holds a special place in so many hearts. Rosie and Celia, we did visit the memorial to Edith Cavell, a very remarkable woman indeed, I need to learn more about her.

    Thank you for all of your kind comments, always very much appreciated!

    Ruthie, you asked about paints. I used gold designers gouache Windsor and Newton, also Rich Pale Gold Ink by C Roberson and Co and Transfer gold leaf on top of Kolner Miniatum.

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  13. Positively stunning!!!!!!!!! Your work is amazing. I love the gilded touches!
    xo,
    Heather

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  14. Thanks Valerie - you brought back many happy memories of beautiful Norwich!

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  15. Dear Acornmoon - your artwork is exqusite - loved your sharing of Norwich as well. What a wonderful place to visit - hope I can get there someday. Take care and have a great week.

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  16. Your Owl prints are just stunning Valarie! I did not see them on your etsy page, do you still have some available? I have no doubt they were snatched up in the blink of an eye!

    It is great to visit your blog again, I am always in awe of your creations. I love hearing of the trips and adventures you go on, nothing like exploring to inspire!

    Stacey (dowhatyoulove)
    http://regenerativelifeskills.com/

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  17. Thanks everyone, it seems we all love Norwich.

    Stacey-There has been a good response to the owl prints, I hope to have more in stock soon. Thak you for your kind words.

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  18. I wondered why I couldn't see the new owl prints in your Etsy shop. It seems they are out of stock. I hope you'll get some in soon. This one would be wonderful for a friend.

    Julie

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  19. I forgot that Norwich had a castle. I remember the Cathedral but can not recall the castle. As a child we went to Norfolk every year. My parents rented a place on the Broads. We went to Norwich a lot but so long ago that I have forgotten. This post reminds me that its always fun to go back. So next time................
    Janice

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  20. I forgot that Norwich had a castle. I remember the Cathedral but can not recall the castle. As a child we went to Norfolk every year. My parents rented a place on the Broads. We went to Norwich a lot but so long ago that I have forgotten. This post reminds me that its always fun to go back. So next time................
    Janice

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