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This cute illustration of a young witch (surely an innocent apprentice!), with her cat and pumpkin carriage, takes us back to the early 20th century when greeting card illustration was highly inventive and extremely popular. I have given her a new lease of life with a starry night background.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Dame Ellen Terry as Volumnia in Coriolanus Card

This signed photograph of Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Volumnia in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is a treasured possession, left to me by the actress Rosamund Burne [? – 1975]. Ros was a close friend of my mother, Benedicta Leigh — both had worked together on stage in the Midlands during the late forties and early fifties. They remained friends until Ros died ‘in harness’ in 1975 while playing Queen Mary in a production of Crown Matrimonial by Royce Ryton.

Contained in a weathered, black leather frame, the photograph provides an evocative link to a long-gone generation of actors. Sadly, I have no knowledge of the picture’s provenance, other than that it was mounted and framed by art dealers and frame makers T & R Annan and Sons, established in Glasgow by photographer Thomas Annan in 1855.

It is addressed to “Winnie – In affectionate remembrance of Ellen Terry – 1902” but who was ‘Winnie’? Was she an admiring member of the audience, a fellow actress, a theatrical landlady, perhaps?

The phrase “affectionate remembrance” suggests a reasonably close association. Could it possibly be Miss Winifred Emery (1861-1024) who, wrote Miss Terry in her memoirs (The Story of My Life – Recollections & Reflections), “came to us for The Belle’s Stratagem and played the part that I had played years before at the Haymarket. She was bewitching, and in her white wig in the ball-room, beautiful as well. She knew how to bear herself on the stage instinctively, and could dance a minuet to perfection. The daughter of Sam Emery, a great comedian in a day of comedians, and the granddaughter of the Emery, it was not surprising that she should show aptitude for the stage.”

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winifred Emery married Cyril Maude who was famous for his ability in light comedies from the pens of such as Frederick Lonsdale. Though born in 1862, Maude was still working as late as 1947, appearing as the Old Admiral in the film version of Rattigan’s While the Sun Shines, directed by Anthony Asquith.

Could Ros Burne have met or worked with either Winifred or Cyril and been given the picture by ‘Winnie’ herself if, indeed, this is the correct Winifred? It is just possible, even though Winifred died in 1924, for Ros was born in the early years of the 20th century and had not, to my knowledge, even reached the age of twenty when she started learning the ropes under the watchful eye of Lilian Baylis at the Old Vic.

I may never discover the full story behind the framed photograph but nothing can diminish the joy I take in its possession.

What is without doubt is that the signature is genuine and that Ellen Terry played Volumnia at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1901 opposite Sir Henry Irving as Coriolanus. Her diary entry for 16 April, one of several recorded in her memoirs, reads: “The critics who wrote their notices at the dress-rehearsal, and complained of my playing pranks with the text, were a little premature. Oh, how bad it makes one feel to find that they all think my Volumnia ‘sweet’, and I thought I was fierce, contemptuous, overbearing. Worse, I felt as if I must be appearing like a cabman rating his Drury Lane wife!” By 20 April, however, she feels she is “beginning to play Volumnia a little better.”

The actress later comments on parents in Shakespeare’s plays: “How many times Shakespeare draws fathers and daughters, and how little stock he seems to take of mothers! Portia and Desdemona, Cordelia, Rosalind and Miranda, Lady Macbeth, Queen Katherine and Hermione, Ophelia, Jessica, Hero, and many more are daughters of fathers, but of their mothers we hear nothing. My own daughter called my attention to this fact quite recently, and it is really a singular fact. Of mothers of sons there are plenty of examples: Constance, Volumnia, the Countess Roussillon, Gertrude; but if there are mothers of daughters at all, they are poor examples, like Juliet’s mother and Mrs. Page.”

She goes on to wonder “if in all the many hundreds of books written on Shakespeare and his plays this point has been taken up?” Having once written a paper on ‘Letters in Shakespeare’s Plays’, which she had thought to be the first of its kind, she was given a rude awakening when she received a letter from a lady from Oxford who said she was “mistaken in thinking that there was no other contribution to the subject”. Enclosed was an essay of the lady’s own which led the actress to conclude that someone must have already addressed “Shakespeare’s patronage of fathers and neglect of mothers!” She wonders what the mothers of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia were like: “I think Lear must have married twice.”

Sarah Vernon © 29-04-05

  • This is a revised version of an article first published on the Rogues & Vagabonds website 29-04-05 and transferred to the R&V blog on 29-03-13
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


As some of you know, our summer holidays as children were spent in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight where I now live. The other week I trundled round on my mobility scooter visiting my favourite haunts. This shot of Bembridge Lifeboat Station through the trees is just where the steps lead down to the beach and to the exact spot we invariably used for swimming.

It is true the original photograph is rather appealing and some of you on Facebook have already seen it as my header but true to form, I had to play.

I used two textures from Design Cuts — a yellow-based and a green-based one. I ran the photograph through Topaz Impression three or four times to produce different effects. I chose to layer ‘Cezanne 1’ and ’Cavedweller’ (as you do) and blended them with the textures to produce a digital painting. I hope it pleases you as much as it did me in its creation.

Part of a paper read to the Ladies of Shanklin Evening Institute, October 1951.

“It is quite possible that some among you are quite ignorant of everything connected with Lifeboat work […] I have no intention of going back into remote history, or to the founding of the Institution in 1824.  Moreover, I expect you will think that I have gone back quite far enough if I commence with the time of your grandfathers, and I select that particular time because it was then that the proud reputation of the Lifeboat Institution was built up, on the great hearts and stout muscles of the grand old men who served as crews for the small pulling and sailing lifeboats stationed round our coasts.  But to really understand the heroism of these grand old fellows, and to give them full credit for their marvellous rescues, and for their self-sacrificing efforts, one must be possessed of…” Bembridge Lifeboat

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Apples And Pears In A Hallway Framed Print from Fine Art America

The photograph I used as my starting point was taken a year ago at an erstwhile (and that’s another story to be told when I’m ready) friend’s hallway. I threw together a couple of books — vintage copies of Jane Austen’s Emma and Northanger Abbey that I bought from the shop attached to Chawton House in Steventon — a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey whisky and a wooden ‘bothy’ bowl that I bought from Garden Trading; I’ve since bought several more! The lilies were already on the hall table.

As is my way, I added a couple of textures from Design Cuts and some apples from an image by Leti Kugler at Unsplash.

Oh, I nearly forgot. Some of you might recognise the print on the wall. Yes, it’s Copper Pear.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


You have no idea just how peachy it has been to create a piece of art with my new vision after spending so many months re-blogging earlier pieces and promoting those which have sold. My heart and soul are leaping with joy. Just as well in view of the unconscionable state prevailing in the UK after a general election. I am reminded of my favourite quote from erstwhile US President Jimmy Carter (and there are many to choose from) which says it all when one thinks of Prime Minister Theresa May’s parentage: the daughter of a vicar no less. “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values because you don’t.’

The original is a photochrom from the Library of Congress of the entrance to the harbour at St. Malo in France taken between 1890 and 1900. I duplicated the image, ran the jpg through the Topaz Impressions Abstraction II filter, which I added as a third layer before topping with one of my yellow textures. I made use of a variety of Photoshop blends such as Darken, Lighter Colour and Screen.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfilment centres in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Chinese Lantern Surrounded © Sarah Vernon Framed Print at Redbubble

Look at me, Ma — I have created something else out of The Fruit Look! A few subtractions, a few additions with the ephemera from Design Cuts and the Biodiversity Library on Flickr and I have done something different. It’s recycling if you will.


“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name – we call it recycling.” Neil LaBute (playwright)


Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Can I see again? No, but there are odd moments of clearer vision that enable me to work in fits and starts. In this instance, I have come up with a collage, The Fruit Look.


“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Helen Keller [1880-1968]


Ephemera used to create this collage is from Design Cuts and the Biodiversity Library on Flickr.

I have not yet uploaded it to my galleries, except for Crated, but if you’re interested,, do bookmark the page and return in a few days for all the other links.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Update: Well, I’ve no idea what happened but this post originally included a couple of paragraphs about how happy I was that Mary Smith of My Dad’s a Goldfish had bought four Jungle Look cushions for her living room sofa. And don’t they look splendid! I recommended that you visit her website about looking after her father who had dementia, a recounting that offers humour (sometimes black) and comfort for anyone in a similar situation. I can’t remember what else I said but I’m sure it was interesting and amusing! Thank you, Mary.

dscf0838

© Mary Smith

dscf0839

© Mary Smith

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I had a two-day window last week during which I could see rather better than usual. I read a book and created the piece below. Back to ‘normal’ now, though!

I blended and tweaked two images from Wikimedia. One is advertising a French event on 14th July 1915 in aid of The Great War. The other is a fashion illustration from Journal des dames et des modes, 1913, by H. Robert Dammy. Both are delightful in their own right but blending them together was a fascinating process and enhanced the Art Deco effect.

I can’t pretend it’s my favourite period in the history of the decorative arts when it comes to architecture and interior design but the fashion and illustration of the time has a place in my heart.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Vintage Puss in Boots Christmas Montage Wrapping Paper
Vintage Puss in Boots Christmas Montage Wrapping Paper
by FirstNightDesign

I know you don’t want to hear this but some people are already preparing for Christmas, as witness my selling Vintage Puss in Boots Christmas Montage Wrapping Paper.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I was surprised to discover that I have never added Beulah, Peel Me A Grape to this blog. Or the WordPress search isn’t working properly! Do I need to tell you where the title comes from? No, I thought not.

While you can find all kinds of gifts and products with this design in my other online galleries (as in the links below), I have chosen to feature what is available at Fine Art America.

And now I’m going to go back on my avowed intention and show you a Rickshaw Messenger Bag from Zazzle because I like it so much!

Vintage lady and grapes courtesy of The Graphics Fairy with my own textures added.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


The original vintage photograph is a view from campanile San Marco, Venice, Italy ca. 1895, and it is divine, I confess. But how could someone like me resist ageing it further? 

Venice Observed Throw Pillow
Venice Observed Throw Pillow by FirstNightDesign

The title I have chosen is a play on the name of a verse piece by Christopher Fry, Venus Observed, which premiered in 1950 at the St James’ Theatre in London and was directed by Laurence Olivier, who also starred. The cast also included such names as Rachel Kempson (mother of Vanessa Redgrave and her late siblings), the irreplaceable Denholm Elliott, and Brenda de Banzie whom film buffs will remember from Hobson’s Choice.

Of course, it might have been a nod to Mary McCarthy’s 1963 book about the sinking city, Venice Observed, but it isn’t. Naturally, it’s not — I’m an actress, dah-lings!

I’ve layered texture Divine-4 from Design Cuts over the top in Overlay mode (Photoshop) and duplicated the photograph which I’ve put in Multiply mode.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m  not sure about this piece. Are you?

Extreme Vogue © Sarah Vernon

Extreme Vogue © Sarah Vernon

The starting point was a vintage Vogue cover from Wikimedia and a couple of textures from my arsenal. I love the colours that have been produced by adding these backgrounds but I need some other opinions before I decide to upload it to my galleries. Thank you in anticipation!



Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions. Chanakya

“Daffodowndilly
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

“Yellow is a very favorable vibration for mental or intellectual activity, as it promotes a clear state of mind. Yellow heightens your awareness and alleviates depression, sadness, or any kind of despondency. Yellow vibration foods are: pineapples, bananas, grapefruit, lemons and corn.”
Tae Yun Kim, The First Element: Secrets to Maximizing Your Energy

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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