Rusalka Photo Set

Rusalka’s Song to the Moon

Rusalka, a Slavic folk tale set to music by Dvořák

Vulci, Rusalka shoot

Vulci Gorge – on the way to the location of Rusalka

Rusalka was suggested  to me by a professional opera singer who had herself performed the role in Dvořák’s eponymous opera. A folk tale found in the slavic world akin to Andersen’s Little Mermaid and equally tragic. Rusalka is a beautiful water sprite living in a lake who falls in love with a handsome prince, they kiss even though she knows this will result in his death, he dies and she is damned for ever as a deathly demon.

Vulci, Rusalka, Fiora

A hike up the gorge of the river Fiora is easy in August when the river is low

We went to one of my favourite locations, Vulci, but it was at the height of the August holiday season in 2016 and though usually deserted, this time there were several people around. We had to wait till the sun began to go down before we were on our own, by which we were closer to moonlight than I would have liked.

Rusalka Shoot

However, with a tripod I achieved the effect I was after – that the water should look like a dress or even a bridal train.

Rusalka, Song of the Moon by Patrick Richmond Nicholas,art photographer; inspired by Dvorak's opera and Beardsley's Peacock Skirt

Rusalka

Beardsley's Peacock Skirt

Aubrey Beardsley with his attention for balancing white and black was, as it were, by my side when I was composing the relationship of the rushing water to the reclining figure of Rusalka on the basalt rocks.
She has her feet in the stream, she has to, because should Rusalka leave the water entirely she will become mortal.

Beardsley’s ‘Peacock Skirt’ from the Salome illustrations of Wilde’s play, is in what he called his Japonesque manner, a hymn to the importance of line.

A huge poster hung in a friend’s room when I was at school and made a big impression on me as a teenager. The original is a minuscule  22.8×16.3cm, line block print on Japanese vellum.

Rusalka’s Song to the Moon on Youtube:

The post Rusalka’s Song to the Moon appeared first on Patrick Richmond Nicholas Art Photography  in Art Photography Inspiration

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Art Photography Inspiration – Luxe, Calme et … Choco Pie.

Nadia with “Luxe.calme et volupte”

Unusual connections sometimes can spark art photography inspiration and creativity. Baudelaire’s poem “Invitation du Voyage” and a news item about Choco Pie are behind the making of this image.

Luxe, Calme et Volupté comes from a line taken from Baudelaire’s poem Invitation du Voyage, but it was a news item about a chocolate confection popular in communist North Korea that inspired this image, the coveted Choco Pie.

Matisse painted “Luxe, calme et volupté” during his Fauve period near Saint Tropez. It is a line from Baudelaire’s “Invitation du Voyage”. Matisse throughout his life concerned himself with beauty and did his best to avoid politics and conflict. The poem is an invitation to leave the troubles of the humdrum and the violent, to an imaginary place of luxury, peace and pleasure, very much akin to Matisse’s desire: “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter.”

Franco-Charon

Franco – Charon

I met my model Nadia via Facebook. She had come across my website and FB fan page whilst still in Singapore; when she met her fiancee and moved to Rome she contacted me. I had  been mulling over the Choco Pie idea for over year since I had read an article about how a simple confection was subverting the regime in North Korea, so when I had the opportunity of using an oriental model the idea was all ready to go.

We went  the three of us, her fiancé came too and proved a very able assistant, to Montalto di Castro to a stretch of beach I call the Skeleton Coast. It is privately owned and is only accessible via boat. Franco the fisherman, looking more like Charon every year, ferried us over.

Art Photography Photo shooting preparation on an isolated beach

The driftwood can be extraordinarily picturesque and even sculptural, but you never know what you will find from one month to the next.

Nadia tests the log

Nadia tests the log

We tried out two logs, in the event we used the one in the background. Sadly the log I had wanted to use was no longer there, washed away in a storm.

Patrick Nicholas art photographer tries ballooni on a log

Patrick tries ballooning on the first log

web landscapes

the first log wasn’t skeletal enough – we try another log

 

Nadia on the log during the photo shooting

Nadia on the log – it looks like she is being grabbed by a giant hand

I placed a pack of coffee where I intended to insert the pack of Choco Pies and she held a biscuit in her hand without the packaging which was added later. I played around with the colours no end. At first I went for a sort of socialist drab before choosing the regime’s own colours, orange and red, also used on the poster of the film “The Interview”.

"The Interview "poster

“The Interview “poster

 

Choco Pie early version

the socialist drab version

Nadia in my picture is in a golden world of her own, yet to complete that feeling of peace and calm with an element of voluptuousness, she has in her hand a Choco Pie.

The coveted Choco Pie

The coveted Choco Pie

Choco Pie Korea

Individual Choco Pie

Could a humble marshmallow overturn the cruellest of communist dictatorships?

The Choco Pie has become something of a symbol of unattainable luxury in North Korea. The simple marshmallow confection in a gaudy red wrapper was imported into North Korea from the South and for a while was condoned by the Communist regime – indeed it was often used as a perk for workers who excelled themselves or exceeded production targets. Things turned sour however when Choco Pies began to be used as an alternative currency and dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime banned them.
South Koreans are a canny lot and they started to send over helium balloons carrying the outlawed confection, on one mass airlift 50 balloons carried 10,000 pies. North Korean soldiers have fired on the balloons and Kim Jong Un says he will shell the launching pad which is close to the border.
There is a precedent for ballooning consumer goods over the border: West Germany sent “mauerseglers” (wall sailors) over to the East – and maybe these ‘wall sailors’ along with Western TV did more to bring down Communism than military threats.
In North Korea where the skeletal hand of the totalitarian regime embraces  everyone, the humble Choco Pie is a taste from another world: luxe, calme et volupté.

Unusual connections sometime can spark art photography inspiration and creativity. Baudelaire’s poem “Invitation du Voyage” and a news item about Choco Pie are behind the making of this image.

 

See Luxe, Calme et Volupté on Patrick Richmond Nicholas – Art Photography Portfolio.

 

I asked the model Nadia to add a few words.

Nadia unwraps...Nadia

Nadia unwraps…Nadia

“Pleasure is made of simple things. What could perhaps illustrate this best? Inspired by a feud between North and South Korea, we kept this question in mind till the afternoon when we found ourselves on a tiny fisherman’s boat, bound for a strip of beach called Skeleton Shore. Washed up tree trunks bore eerie resemblances to bones of mythic or prehistoric animals. It was with this kind of curiosity that I first contacted Patrick.

Nadia with "Luxe.calme et volupte"

At home with her picture

I was fascinated by the way he spun his stories, melding Greek myths into his compositions and even a mention of Walt Whitman or two. I thought about what it meant to feel “illumed by a golden fire” of being part of a world sinking to rest, even if only for a while. With the sun on my body and the sound of the waves, ebbing and flowing as I lay in repose I felt all the pieces of me drift away, and just for a moment, I felt truly closer to bliss.”

 

 

The post Art Photography Inspiration – Luxe, Calme et Volupté. appeared first on Patrick Ricmond Nicholas Art Photography Blog

The inspiration behind art photography. Le Spectre de la Rose.

Art photography inspiration

Spectre De La Rose. By Patrick Richmond Nicholas

Poetry,  music and painting,  all converge in this photo-shoot, setting the mood for the final image.

This picture had its origins in the sight of a freshly painted blue boat on the shores of Lake Bolsena which reminded me of a painting by Carl Moll, a mysterious, unsettling picture of a blue boat in a flooded wood.
I had to ‘borrow’ the boat for the shoot, towing it into position between the trees. I needed a full moon between the trees and it had to be tethered between them. Luckily I did not have to wait long for the moon, but one vital ingredient was missing: the model. However, one day in mid-August Linda from Hungary walked into my gallery. She looked attentively at all my pictures on the wall so I asked if she would like to take part. She said she would be delighted and two days later we were waiting for moon rise over Bolsena.
The first shoot however was a failure. We made the mistake of having an Aperol-spritzer in a café beforehand so we got to the lake later than intended and it took me far longer than I had anticipated to manoeuvre the boat into position. By the time we started shooting it was almost dark. We returned the following night, this time with two assistants, my wife and a friend.

blue boat

blue boat first evening – way too dark

The following evening was the night before full moon and all went perfectly. I used a longish exposure of 1 second to blur the water and a gradual filter over the sky. I placed my Icelight near the stern to illuminate the boat from within. The gauzy veil is in fact the lace train from my grandmother’s wedding dress from 1924, the bridal knot is just visible. I have used it in other pictures.

Helvoetsluys; J.W.M.Turner

Helvoetsluys – the City of Utrecht Going to Sea exhibited 1832 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Tokyo Fuji Art Museum http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/TW0948

Later on  when I was working on the picture in Photoshop  I realised I had a number of bluish pictures and  wondered what I could do to add a bit of colour that would not seem out of place. The famous incident of Turner’s red buoy came to mind. The story goes that Turner’s rival Constable was exhibiting his painting fifteen years in the making of the opening of Westminster Bridge at The Royal Academy. Turner, who was notorious for his last minute touching up during the varnishing days, thought his painting, that had taken him just a few months, looked rather monochromatic alongside Constable’s colourful scene; he added a red buoy, transforming his picture at a stroke. The upstaged Constable remarked despondently that Turner ” had been here and fired a gun.”

floating rose

the rose

I was at a loss however to find an equivalent to Turner’s buoy, until I realised that the music I was listening to was Berlioz’s “Le spectre de la rose”. I bought a fine red rose worthy of a summer ball and cast it into the water of Lake Bolsena.
The title “Spectre de la rose” comes from a poem by Théophil Gautier, Berlioz’s friend and neighbour. It is one of a cycle of six called “Les nuits d’été”. The poem is unusual in that it is written from the rose’s point of view, and the ghost of a rose at that.

O you, who caused my death:
Without the power to chase it away,
You will be visited every night by my ghost,
Which will dance at your bedside.

Set to music by Berlioz, it is beautifully languorous, the quintessence of Mid-Nineteenth Century Romanticism. Four of the songs in “Les nuits d’été” including “Spectre de la rose” are sombre and tell of romantic longing whilst the first and last quite up-lifting.
The image of Linda, arms outstretched, looking across the lake, is oneiric, dreamlike. Water in dreams is a female element and represents birth while the boat usually suggests the resolution of seemingly intractable problems, as well as the more obvious journeying.
Linda the twenty-one year old student had been doing an unpaid board and lodging summer job in Italy, the way I too had started out in Italy 35 years ago. She was uncertain about her future and what path to follow. Dissatisfied with landlocked Hungary, she has taken the boat and set off on her voyage, she is now in Paris; I suppose I am the ghost of the rose.

Here lies a rose,
Of which all kings may be jealous.”

Dämmerung

Carl Moll "Götterdämerung"

Carl Moll “Dämmerung”  Twilight 1900

Carl Moll was friend and colleague of Klimt as well as a founder member of the Secession. He was Alma Schindler’s stepfather, she later married Gustav Mahler and notwithstanding two Jewish husbands and a half-jewish daughter, manifested an unrepentant anti-semitism typical of the time. The Vienna of those days was a maelstrom of psychological, artistic, cultural and political currents unique in world history, but the tragedy of 1914 was to destroy the fin de siècle euphoria along with millions of lives; after the war Moll became an enthusiastic Nazi and committed suicide with his daughter, Alma’s half-sister Maria, when the Russians entered Vienna in 1945. His blue boat had drifted from twilight into the heart of darkness.

 

 

Open your closed eyelid
Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream!
I am the ghost of the rose
That you wore last night at the ball.
You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls
Of silvery tears from the watering-can,
And, among the sparkling festivities,
You carried me the entire night.

O you, who caused my death:
Without the power to chase it away,
You will be visited every night by my ghost,
Which will dance at your bedside.
But fear nothing; I demand
Neither Mass nor De Profundis;
This mild perfume is my soul,
And I’ve come from Paradise.

My destiny is worthy of envy;
And to have a fate so fine,
More than one would give his life
For on your breast I have my tomb,
And on the alabaster where I rest,
A poet with a kiss
Wrote: “Here lies a rose,
Of which all kings may be jealous.

“Le spectre de la rose”  The Ghost of the Rose
Théophile Gautier

The post The inspiration behind art photography. Le Spectre de la Rose. appeared first on Patrick Ricmond Nicholas Art Photography Blog

On The Beach

on_the_beach.PatrickNicholasWe set off to take a photo on the beach in mid October despite the awful weather because this was the last opportunity of the year. We had planned to take the picture back in 2007 when I met her shortly after opening my gallery in Orvieto, though something had always conspired to postpone time after time. She loved the sea and would be photographed nowhere else, so notwithstanding the wind and rain we decided to chance it.

When we arrived at Montalto di Castro my chosen location on the Tyrrhenian coast, the fisherman would not take us across the river Fiora to the other side, it was too fast, too much in flood and loaded with tree trunks and flotsam. So we went for a drive further up the coast, lightning storms on our right, storm clouds blowing in from the sea on our left.

An old concrete construction, possibly an uncompleted marina, a common enough site on the Italian coast, seemed to offer a possibility for a seascape.
Several things came to mind in this bleak and stormy place. I grew up by the sea, my father was in the navy, he used the expression ‘on the beach’ meaning never to go to sea again, career’s end. The desolate concrete pontoon reminded me of the cover of Nevil Shute’s book On the Beach about a group of individuals waiting for a spreading nuclear cloud from the Northern Hemisphere to overcome the last surviving humans in Australia.

On_the_beach.Nevil_Shute

On The Beach

I thought of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the heroine standing forlorn on the Cobb at Lyme Regis.

I took a shot with a neutral density filter and showed the result to he; she was impressed.

The wind was howling, the breakers crashing, the spray blowing, “what about it?” For a moment she thought I was joking, but then she realised that this was the moment.

She stood almost as still as a figure-head for several minutes, waves breaking over her, soaked with spray, covered from head to foot in seaweed! I was completely unable to make myself heard. I took eight shots in just a few minutes and beckoned her back. We had done it.

The weather worsened. As we sat in the car looking at the shots on the computer, the sky darkened, the storm surged in on us.

This is the time of year when the ancient Greek poet Hesiod warned seafarers to haul in their boats as the Pleiades appeared in the autumn sky, the stars known in mythology as The Seven Sisters.

The Lost Pleiad, Bouguereau

The Lost Pleiad, Bouguereau

And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy sees,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep
and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine-dark sea
but, as I bid you, remember to work on the land.

Hesiod, Works and Days 700 BC

We drove past the ruins of the Etruscan city of Vulci and the more recent mediaeval castle. I stopped to take a photo of the lightning storm behind the castle. The Etruscans of two and a half thousand years ago identified twelve different kinds lightning to divine the will of the Gods. The essentially primitive Etruscans differed from the later more sophisticated Romans with a system of belief that involved understanding and living in harmony with nature.

Vulci_lightning-flash

Vulci thunderstorm. The castle was a customs post between Tuscany and The Papal States

Storms have worsened of late and this summer in Italy was the wettest on record. Now autumn was bringing flooding and chaos. We headed home through the lightning storm, streams broke their banks, torrents appeared from nowhere, trees had fallen across roads, roads were blocked, it took hours to get home.

A woman stands alone on the beach, but in actual fact she is not alone. She remembers when she was little, standing weeping on the beach holding her father’s hand as the autumns storm rolled in obscuring The Pleiades. The stars will emerge again he reassures her.
In Whitman’s poem On the Beach at Night a father and little daughter are staring up at the autumn sky. She weeps in fear of the gathering storm, he comforts her, removes her tears, reassures her that the stars will not be long gone; more than this he assures her of something older than the stars.

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.

On the Beach at Night  by Walt Whitman

I would like to reassure my eleven year old daughter that I will always be with her, standing beside her for the rest of her life; as long as she remembers me I shall be there in spirit. Love the great survivor, spreading like a radio wave out through the universe beyond Jupiter and the Pleiades for ever and ever, a father and daughter holding hands till kingdom come.

Eve of Destruction

RokebyVenus

Venus at her Mirror by Velàzquez 1651

A hundred years ago few anywhere suspected that the most deadly war of all time was about to break out in six months time. What occupied the minds of Britons was whether women should be awarded the vote or not, the disruptive campaign the Suffragettes were carrying out and the Liberal government’s heavy handed reaction to it.
One Suffragette had died throwing herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby the year before and on 10 March 1914 the recently acquired Rokeby Venus by Velazquez was slashed and bashed seven times with a meat cleaver by Mary Richardson a militant Suffragette.

Rokeby Venus as she was in March 1914

Rokeby Venus as she was in March 1914

The Times reported ‘Slasher Mary’ as she was dubbed, as saying
I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history. Justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas. Mrs. Pankhurst seeks to procure justice for womanhood, and for this she is being slowly murdered by a Government of Iscariot politicians.

Sadly, acts of vandalism are not rare in the art world. The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen has been decapitated (twice), blown up and even suffered the ignominy of having a dildo welded to her hand; Ofili’s elephant dung garlanded ‘Holy Virgin Mary’ had common or garden horse manure thrown at it; Andre’s ‘Equivalent VIII’ (aka ‘A Pile of Bricks’) had green ink thrown at it; the list is a long one.

Depending on where you stand politically or where you place yourself in the art world influences whether you begrudgingly condone the act or not. If you are in the conceptual art camp you will abhor the fact that Tracy Emin’s unmade bed was repeatedly bounced on by two men in their underwear, while as one blogger said after the attempt on the Mona Lisa in 2009  ‘It’s not to say I endorse vandalism of art–although I’ll distract the guards if anyone fancies slashing a Pre-Raphelite work’.

Richardson was sent down for six months (the maximum term). When she was released the lights had gone out all over Europe and the movement devoted itself to the war effort.  After the war Richardson briefly became leader of the women’s section of the British Union of Fascists. She may have perpetrated what appeared to be a wholly political act in 1914, but in an interview two world wars and 100 million deaths later, in 1952, she appeared to give a more feminist justification,
I didn’t like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long.

I did a take on this picture in 2005 which I call You Tube. There is a behind the scenes video of the shoot on…………YouTube.

You Tube

You Tube

Would it bother bother me if someone slashed my picture? Not really,  it is after all a photographic print – I can always do another.

Private View

In London over Christmas I paid a visit to the London Museum with my wife and 10 year old daughter and what did we run across quite unexpectedly?

Protein Man London-PatrickNicholas

The placard in the London Museum. ‘Eight Passion Proteins’ leaflets are just visible behind the glass

This, the actual placard that the so called Protein Man paraded up and down Oxford St, London for 25 years. His name was Stanley Green, a harmless eccentric who waged a solitary campaign against lust which he attributed to over indulgence in animal protein. He served in the Royal Navy and was more shocked by his fellow matelots obsession with sex than by anything else he experienced in six years of  wartime service.

He handed out leaflets to anyone who would take them although they officially cost 6d when he started and 20 pence at the end of his career in the nineteen eighties. He always wore a mac, rain or shine, as so many people spat on him.
I re-encountered Mr Green whilst lying in the bathtub trying to come up with an idea based on Lautrec’s ‘Woman pulling up her stocking’. I suddenly heard his voice, which sounded rather as if he were being throttled, ‘More lentils, Less Lust’ one of his stock phrases.

From Mr Green’s point of view Oxford Street was the front line, Soho with its strip clubs, peepshows and girls, was right next door.

saucy traffic_wardens

saucy traffic wardens

These pictures were taken outside the side entrance of Great Marlborough St Police Station on the edge of Soho in about 1979. I was stepping out of Sky Photo Labs opposite when the two traffic wardens started whistling the stripper song and then proceeded to raise their skirts. I took five pics before they carried on down Great Marlborough Street amazing the passers by.

saucy traffic-wardens

a knees up while humming the stripper’s song

Sadly (for us) they did not bump into Stanley Green who no doubt was close by at the time. What the impromptu show was all about I have no idea, but I was privileged to have a private view. As Stanley Green himself said, ‘Passion can be a great torment.’

Sirenetta

siren

Siren: award winning picture of Rosita 1993

Sirens and mermaids in English are two different creatures but one in the same in Italian. Both belong to the menagerie of mythological females who lure men to their doom. In the case of the siren it is her voice that holds the fatal power, with the mermaid her sensuality.

Etruscan Mermaid

Etruscan Mermaid

That said the pagan mermaids like those depicted by the Etruscans appear to have no negative connotations implying a more balanced sexuality than in this opinion by the aptly named Jesuit Cornelius Lapide, who said of Woman, “her glance is that of the fabled basilisk, her voice a siren’s voice—with her voice she enchants, with her beauty she deprives of reason—voice and sight alike deal destruction and death.”siren.1993.PatrickNicholas.800px

One gets used to seeing the final print in a frame or in this case on a book cover, but it never fails to send a slight shiver through me to look at the original negative or transparency after many years have gone by – in this case exactly 20 years. Even handling film these days makes me feel, momentarily at least, nostalgic for a bygone age. In this case it was Ilford FP4 developed by myself. I took just one roll of 10 shots, I did not seem to shoot much film in those days, probably because I hated developing; all that mucking about threading spirals and mixing chemicals.

The print was toned blue, then I bleached it between the legs to enhance the fish tail effect. It was destined to be on the cover of a recipe book called “Se il pesce avesse le cosce“. The cover picture had to be slightly saucy in line with the title which roughly translates as “If Only Fish had Thighs” – the recipes had a slightly erotic flavour. Finally I copied out one of the recipes from the book diagonally with a soft pencil.

I entered it into the competition held annually by the prestigious Association of Photographers in London which I had just joined. It was the only time in twenty-five years of participating that I was accepted – beginners luck.

It was subsequently litho-printed in a limited edition but sadly the original print is lost.

The limited edition Belle book is on sale here