I’ve been having a bit of a clear out this week, and was wondering what to do with the many pages I tear out of magazines for inspiration or because I simply like the design, photography or colours, when I remembered a video I’d bookmarked about making recycled envelopes.
I used to make envelopes all the time, but it’s a habit that seems to have fallen by the wayside, and I was happy to pick it up again. Printing out a template and labels to stick on seemed to me at odds with the idea of recycling and unconsumption, so I just did as I would normally and cut around an old envelope.
I used some pages that I tore out of a Tate magazine a few years ago, featuring prints of ‘weeds’ by the artist Michael Landy (I put weeds in scare quotes, as to Landy they are not only weeds but symbols of survival of the underclasses and diaspora, amongst other things).
Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but I think they made great envelopes:
The one on my left is my favourite, because of the positioning of the weeds on the top half of the envelope, leaving a clear blank space at the bottom for a hand-written address. I also like the reverse, with Michael Landy’s inscription following the form of the weed’s root:
I made lots of other more colourful envelopes from my magazine pages pile, but I did not photograph them, as I liked my Michael Landy ones so much, I wanted them to have a post to themselves. But watch out friends, you might get some strange looking envelopes landing on your doormats in the next while!
Linking up with White Lily Green‘s Handmade Thursday.
Last Wednesday, I popped into a charity shop I had not been in before, and was very glad I did, as I found this week’s Magpie Monday purchase (it doesn’t matter that I bought it on a Wednesday does it?)
I was delighted with this large, beautifully-framed print of Auguste Rodin’s Danseuse cambodgienne de face, 1906. I love all of Rodin’s drawings of Cambodian dancers, and even have a box of writing paper with one on!
The framed print cost £8 in the charity shop. I bought a print from the Musée Rodin, Paris, in the past, which I think was about £20 and that was over fifteen years ago, and was unframed, so if you add the cost of framing on top, I think you will agree this is a great bargain at £8!
Rodin’s drawings interest me in many ways, not least because of the artist’s connections with Vienna. Rodin was a corresponding member of the Vienna Secession, and was a regular contributor to the group’s annual exhibitions from 1898. In the 9th Secession exhibition of 1901, Rodin had several major sculptures on show in the central room, including his Burghers of Calais, Balzac, and Eve.
Rodin was very influential in Vienna’s artistic circles – you can definitely see some similarities between his drawings and those of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele – and perhaps was influenced himself by Klimt. I love the story, reported by the journalist Berta Zuckerkandl, of Rodin’s visit in 1902 to Vienna’s amusement park, the Prater, in the company of Klimt. As the pair listened to an orchestra playing Schubert (at Klimt’s request), surrounded by attractive women:
‘Rodin leaned over to Klimt and said: “I have never before experienced such an atmosphere – your tragic and magnificent Beethoven fresco; your unforgettable, temple-like exhibition, and now this garden, these women, this music [...] and round it all this gay, childlike happiness [...]. What is the reason for it all?” And Klimt slowly nodded his beautiful head and answered only one word, “Austria”.‘
(cited in Tag Gronberg, Vienna, City of Modernity, 1890-1914, (2007) p.81)
Another reason that I am interested in Rodin’s Cambodian dancers drawings, is that one of the topics that fascinates me is the relationship between modernist art and non-Western culture, particularly in the age of colonialism and imperialism. Rodin first saw the Cambodian dancers in Paris in July 1906, where they visited as part of the first state visit by King Sisowath of Cambodia (Cambodia had been a French colony since 1887). The dancers had been performing at the Colonial Exhibition in Marseille, and Rodin followed them back there, where he spent less than a week producing around 150 drawings and watercolours.
The drawings are so delicate yet full of life, and it seems strange to me that such things of beauty are connected with the perhaps not so beautiful practice of displaying non-Western peoples, especially from the colonies, as ‘live exhibits’ in colonial exhibitions, and other large-scale international exhibitions, across Europe. Austria, despite having no colonial holdings abroad, was no stranger to this phenomenon. Between 1872 and 1910, 48 such ‘people shows’ (‘Völkerschauen‘) took place in Vienna, mostly in the Prater. Some of my older magpie finds are postcards from the Ethiopian Village at Vienna’s First International Hunting Exhibition of 1910.
Apologies for the history lesson, but I thought I would explain why I like my Magpie Monday find so much! Plus it looks great on the wall of my study :) Please pop over to Missie Lizzie’s blog to see the rest of today’s pickings.