Divine Marchesa. A short story (submission in Norwegian for Ephemera Online magazine (c) 2019)
The moment i saw his bed, his spartan hard one-man bed, it flashed like lightning through me: I love him. The bed was antique, covered with hand-woven arabic carpet and decorated with corduroy cushions in bloodred, it stood on a heightened parapet like an altar in a tiny-small sleepchamber filled with oriental god sculptures and weapons in self-erected castle in Northern Italy. The bedroom belonged to long departed rebel and poet Gabrielle d’Annunzio. It was him I loved.
Oh, I was just sightseeing with a heavy camera belted across my shoulder like many others, having payed entrance fee. No, no concert on grand piano in big private concert hall with private portraits today, that is after extra fee and only once a week.
Earlier on I got a memory which led me on discovery journey through Riva del Garda villages, through white stone Limone and Salo, yes Salo that sounded like the title of Pazzolini movie about Sodom and Gomorra which I was too scared to watch, too red, sin or politics colour?
The memory was bright, it was a big mansion in Piemonte, and I was a guest, a female middle class writer, swiss or german but rather American on surface, Herzog…Hirzig…the name was vague memory as I was tiny unlike me now a century later, who was invited over to the nobility’s outpouring of excentrism grand extravaganza. The mansion was owned by Marchesa Casatti. He was there.
He was short and bold, and missing one eye which he had lost in a shooting episode. Right before was when Mussolini came to power. With black shirts and taste for la vialenza and extremism, he divinified Gabrielle. He saw him as a mouthpiece for his own grand-marche to save Europe from barbarians. He built himself a casle nearby, down by Garda lake, which he called “Italian Victories”, with a half buried in earth submarine and eclectic collection of world artefacts, as well as personal performance stage, on the money received from private benefectors and as payment for attempt to revive italian theatre and movie industry launching most ambicious in the scale of set decorations and length of narration mythology based story of a kidnapped child oracle. Yet when Mussolini came over to express admiration and took off his hat in the entrance hall, did not let him in and called “pleb”, to afterwards set a plaque over the hat hanger saying “Mussolini did not come beyond this point”.
I was there. She was there too, the divine Marchesa. I wanted him. But his heart belonged to her.
I did not go into regression, but after visit as a nothing suspecting tourist, the memories came clear as a movie You had starred in. I knew both the two of them, indeed many others at the mansion, like the futurist artists gang who wanted to manifest the arrival of the iron beast who came to capture humans in his claws to transform them into centrally controlled robots. Socialism was on expancive in Russia, so it was in Italy. Mussolini was inbetween Scylla and Harybda, flatsquashed between the two threatening each other cliffs: cultural nationalism and socialist democracy, but to the difference from Odysseus or Ulysses he “Did not come beyond that point” and was sqeezed and annihilated by the self-opposed two.
Right before that there was gathered by Gabrielle, like by Mussolini, a little army of young home-runaway nobility offsprings and artists and announced an independent state, held alive with supplies of cheap high quality wine and cocaine, on the border between Italy and Jugoslavia, an independent bohemian political formation. They did not last long, when italian government directed a proper army and forced them to capitulate.
It is then, after homecoming, I saw them both, at a costumed masquerade honouring heathen gods in a lakeside mansion in Piemont.
Sandy beach was losing itself in clear water, further pillared entrance of limestone shade of yellow palazzo, with upper chandeliers light illuminating the beach brighter than moon and stars, fortified from the rear with high rock, leaving only steep serpentine road access by a tiny automobile, by no means one of those huge monstrous five person royces needing own driver.
Marchesa Casatti was an eccentric person deeply caramelized in occultism, she was both a friend and a mentor for versatile range of personalities within Futurism, a laboratory of cosmic architects, and Golden Dawn, a black magick sect run by Aleister Crowley who kept to daily invocations to angels, demons and everything invisible inbetween the dimensions we know or we do not know of, was nearby in Sicily and was always seen around, but never face in face. Did I know him? Was I staying in Sicily, former capital of Renee d’Anjou holy kingdom, the one who brought to people the legend of Arcadia, the underground kingdom, entrance to which treasure and paradise hunters claimed to have found in Naples one time or another throughout centuries? Was I the one who famously made The Beast Himself eat my poo after he in his turn made me poo in public on a porcelain plate and serve it to his friends? I do not remember that. But I was here, in Piemont, an intoxicating italian evening, as one of Marchesa Casatti freuleins.
Costumed party. I was dressed as A French Maid, La Belle Chocolatierre, “the pretty chocolatemaker”, in apron over short wide dress with petticoat and with a silver chocolatecup as a prop to carry around. I could have chosen something more frivolous, but was reserved by nature of character and was at such an event for the first time.
She was there as well, she was orchestrating the party. Wrapped in golden draperies, with a skull in her hand and a living python snake around shoulders as a moving boa. Her hair was wild and unmanageable, nose and whole profile sharp and directed forward, like of a priestess. A tiny orchestra of orphees with lyres was built in a circle. She made an entrance when the sun went down into the sea horizon and lit a circle of tall wax candles. She threw a handful of herbal incense in the flames and the terrace filled itself with fumes of illusive character creating unreal shapes of smoke, and kindling the fantasy as firework cascades to endless heights, creating the fog of lust and creatures in the shadows. Phantasmagoric poetic fume, which triggered our most subtle wishes and dreams. Then started the dance. The wild heathen dance, under the pillars of marble enspiralled in ivies, and the grapewine terrace. In the middle stood a huge several litres grail with wine in it. Everyone were coming over and filling their cups from it and joining in the macabre dance to lyre music. Those were the Greek goddesses, the wariors and the historic heroes, as well as characters from Marie-Antoinette and Louis the Fourteenth Court, and The Natural Kingdom characters: animals and birds.
He, Gabrielle, showed up last, calling upon whispers and hidden attention. He was dressed as pan, the forest god, in fur pants and with horns on the bald head. He took a sip of wine from the grail, and the whole scene transformed immediately into a metaphysical orgie.
He was asked for a dance by Marchesa. A sexual ecstatic dance. Their bodies enfawned each other and hands were wandering over sensual parts. All invited were watching, but when Marchesa went around with a cup offering with something more ample than ordinary wine, were joining the group dance, in circle.
Rhytmycal music, rhytmical movements. Rhythm, rhythm. Rhythm embraced the terrace, white marble terrace over the seashore, encircled in grapewine portals and seps disappearing away in the garden. More guests were wandering in the labyrinths, yes, both physical labyrinths of fertile garden, and the labyrinths of subconscious, of psyche. The dreams embraced the space like a dawn, as fog appeared in front us antique statues and shadows of antique heroes, of Heraclus and Andromeda. The Grail, the epicentre symbol in the party. The live and youth source, which has an ability to turn time and turn everyone drinking of, into antique heroes, dressed in courage and inspiration, beauty and passion. Grail, which in its ultimate search brings eternal life and eternal salvation. Grail, hidden, lost but not forgotten, though owned by her, real or fabled? We will never get to know.
The head went in a dizzy spin, the wine was acting upquicking and uprising. I was swept away by a roman hero in a toga in a similar rhythmic dance, the lyre players were supported now by Greek drummers in a rhythmical cacophonia.
In a pair dance, caleidoscopically swapping between the couples in a spontaneously fractal dance pattern, our pair bumped into Gabrielle, me being touched by his upper thigh in fur part of Pan pants. The fur was electric, or was it me being a cat with fur uprising in electric currents rubbed by igniting wand? The electricity of fur made me forget where I was.
I was facing a goat. No, not Pan, a creature with muscular goat thighs and human chest and head, not the devil, a similar one with horns on top of human head. An actual goat. I was pressured by someone’s command to go down on my knees and he entered me from the back while going up on back limbs, as if in an impulse to match a human two-legged way, and yes, he had his way.
I tried to remember who the commanding voice staging the obscene scene belonged to….it was familiar almost like a relative, a husband, a father….Aleister. It was Crowley’s scenario.
Is it the reason for me making him publically eat my poo at a public dinner, after he made me poo on a porcelain plate? Was it revenge act?
Then another dimention in time opened up. I was a priestess, one of the Grail Women he made walk around naked and be eventually worshipped in a half an hour long ceremony, but never get physically used for quenching lust. This time he did. It was not about lust, it was about virginity. He wanted to initiate someone into sex magick and selected me which he never did, but unlike other rituals, I had to have my eyes blindfolded. I reconed he was someone hugely important for secret services on this or that side of La Manche, all of which Aleister had dealings with.
The Male Virgin was strangely mature for his age, I would give him over 30, even with eyes closed I felt him being not that tall and absolutely not dignified in gender attributes, but with intensity I never sensed before, it was quick as well, it was over quickly, too quickly for me to understand anything, and I was let retreat to my own devices. His name was sounding in my ears, but I could not discern it…Adonai, Delphi…Adolphi? Yes, that was what they were calling him.
I flipped forward in time to the table scene, and my poo on a porcelain plate. I remembered The Male Virgin and his zeal and intensity. I realized I had polluted him with orgones of a goat which I was made to copulate with before the Sex Initiation ritual. I realized it was a set up from Aleister, something that could cause anything from madness to ruin. I felt sinister plan of the Most Evil on Earth from inside and made him eat my poo.
And Gabrielle? He sensed it all, he heard rumours, he was watching over all like an archangel he was named after, without being one, maybe like a man-poet. All was happening near his heart of Italy.
I came back to now.
I was in a castle dedicated to Italian Victories, by magnificent Garda lake together with other tourists from around the globe. It was nearing sunset. The sun was hanging low over gabrielles historic garden as an eternal and unreachable Grail.
A House to Die In. On Mausoleums in Art
A Mausoleum was a prominent burial tradition dating to ancient Egypt, when the remains were placed in a specially designed building, mostly pyramidal.
But it got paid tribute in our time as well. We all know that communist leaders would balsam the body of a leader, be it Lenin or Mao, and place in a special air tight construction with tourists walking around in a line inside a granite serene looking construction meaning to create flair of recognition and overnatural admiration and costing a fortune to maintain.
This is not what I would like to focus on, it is a modern western phenomena in art world, a way for an artist to immortalise himself.
Here in Dean cemetery in Edinburgh we see a crypt shaped as a pyramid. Dean Cemetery is a famous resting place for prominent figures of culture, and although the owner of pyramid is unknown to me, he paid tribute to Egyptian tradition in this obscure way.
Another famous example of a Mausoleum is burial of Emanuel Vineland, brother of sculptor Gustav Vineland famous for Oslo Sculpture Park in Frogner, himself a prominent artist. He created a crypt before his own death, decorated it with vast profound frescos dealing with topics of mundane and eternal existence, and ordered to place his ashes in a sculptured egg in the middle of mausoleum after his death. The construction holds special temperature and acoustics, making it a perfect place for preservation of his fresco artwork and ashes, creating a glorious solemn atmosphere of eternal.
Another interesting experiment which caused lots of contradiction was Bjarne Melgaard#s sketches House To Die In, presumably a post/mortem artwork who want to build mausoleum on the grounds of studio of another, alike Emanuel Vineland, iconic Norwegian painter, Edward Munch, in Ekely. The project caused lots of controversy because it would erupt romantic surroundings by post/modernist vision of unrelated to Munch contemporary artist.
I myself quite liked the sketches. Formed as a asteroid, it reminded of that cosmic connection we all have. Every Man and Woman is a star. A meteorite was used to decorate burials by ancient melts, are dedicated own sales at Sothesbys and is featured in closinames Bond Spectre, being a matter of pride and collectable of a billionaire villain.
In Bjarne Melgaards case the Meteorite shaped glass structure is surrounded, or rather held like titans, by something looking between extraterrestrials and Japanese anime figures, in contrast white/black. Whether he is planning to put his remains or ashes there, I do not know.
I visited Bjarne Melgaard exhibition in Fine Art Gallery in Oslo and in Tadeusz in London. I was perplexed by hypnotic soundtrack of something reminding poetry “Thelma, tell meg, Thelma feels meg” *Thelma, tell me Thelma save me. Thelma was a heroine of new Norwegian film production about teleportation, waking same topic.
Temptations of St. Anthony
I was in a bit of artistic limbo, when a guardian voice, funnily, of an american president, asked “What is the strongest artwork You had done in your childhood or teens which had been lost?” I said, “Truly illustrations to Temptations of St.Anthony by Gustave Flaubert”, to which he said “Why dont You redo it then”. Some people talk to guardian voices, You know, like character of Stendahl’s Red and Black talked to Napoleon, which is fine if they come with good ideas and do not get You into trouble like Stendahl’s character.
So i went to the library, ordered Flaubert and got mesmerised by both advanced occult depth of the play and the fact that my edition was illustrated by Rochegrosse, my otherwise recent artistic passion.
Unexpected link lead to this work. While working on biography of Marchesa Casatti i learned about scandalous Paris production of Temptations of St.Anthony to music of Claude Debussy, starring Marchesa as Queen of Sheeba and bisexual malelooking Sarah Bernhard as St.Anthony, taken down by police and even attended by Marcel Proust, otherwise never leaving soundisolated room.
So Queen of Sheeba was decided as central motif. So was Orphic Egg, both having origins in the play plot.
A friend suggested, why not use St.Anthory chapel ruins on Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh, as setting. Too touristy, i thought, too obvious. But that led me to knowledge that hermit St Anthony was one of favourite saints in mediaeval Scotland. I searched and found Chapel og St.Anthony in Murthly, dating to 14 century, ruined and rebuilt in late romantic period, but remaining catholic throughout time. It is situated on the grounds of Murthly Castle, rebuilt in same time, now being venue of weddings of like of Middleton family friends, but going back far enough to be mentioned in Macbeth.
Murthly is spelled in gaelic as Mortlaich. Mortlake, thought i? How accurate is the fact of immortal Mortlake of John Dee being in Richmond, not Scoton river Thames and not Tay, sounding similar to be confused that early in history. I have not checked and promise to do that.
But i came to another interesting train of thought. Same friend mentioned that hurricane, causing scattering of Spanish Armada, was conjured by scottish witches, not by John Dee as common legend says. Scottish witches? I got into studying navigation maps of Armada, and came to conclusion that hurricane’s epicenter could not have been Richmond, London. Fifeshire in Highlands indeed.
The castle belongs to a family called Stewarts of Grandtully, as well as the St.Marys chapel of Grandtully in Pitcairn, Grandtully being placename where clan originates. Grandtully is spelled in gaelic Gar-An-Tulli, yes, the last part possibly rendering Thule of germans. ‘Gar’ dictionaries translate as anything from ‘little’ to ‘sword’, giving root to name Gary, but same friend enlightened: In esoteric gaelic Gar means ‘light’, yes, he said, like in ‘Gar-U-Salem’ (Jerusalem). Salem is known to be the place of Tabernacle of Melchizedek, and later merged with Jerusalem. Merged, but not alltogether, as according to Latter Day Saints, it disappeared, as they call it, ‘translated’, into higher realm. Light of Salem teleported into Light of Thule, the ultimate fronteer, for safekeeping till the latter days?
The motifs of S.Anthony’s hallusination bubbles are frescos from St.Marys of Grandtully in Pitcairn, a secret gathering place of Kinghts Templars built as far back as 12-13, frescos dated as 16th century, humouristically, or esoterically, nicknamed by researchers as “pregnant angels’, ‘Queen of Heaven holding a blond or ginger babygirl instead of a boy’ and Black Madonna (yes, known from France and described in latest Michelle Huillebecque dystopia Submission) with grail and egg, all of which i discovered, unfolded and sketched live after i painted in the models in the triptych, all authentic.
The left part comprises the pictish stonecarving. It was a high climb and it is located some climbing steps towards St.Davids well, featured in central piece. I insist it is a star map of constellations Orion and Taurus, the brightest being Betlegeuse known as the star of Bethlehem as it is brightest in Rome on 25. December, the Anchor known from Fisher King (grailkeeper) symbol, very obvious, The Three Kings, here not so aligned, leading to Aldebaran in Taurus known as Masonic Tau, buildingstone. The location is village of Weem, archaic for Womb. Does the map show towards the birth of Savior?
Interesting fact. Temptations of St.Anthony was painted by many: Bosch, Dali, mostly featuring distorted cosciousness. It was, unnoticed, painted by Tennier, yes, the one mentioned in Abbot Sauniere scrolls together with Poussin, also off public knowledge. Teniers interpretation indeed features a pregnant woman.
I was not planning to paint a pregnant woman. Thus happened that two scheduled models could not participate, and only Tanya Fraser, a former artist and Dundee art college graduate, agreed to pose. She gas a rare condition, unoperateable cysts, that make her look highly pregnant while she is not. Pregnant angels were led upon after.
I am opening all information I encoded in the triptych in writing, because unlike with Poussins paintings, not sure anyone would be able to decipher it precisely.
Another thing. While sketching the Betlegeuse pictish stone, my clock winded backwards. I did not notice it until I came late for a train, after waiting for it with two coffees. It was a Michael Kors mechanic battery driven clock,it was not as suggested by someone winter time automatic adjustment failure as the clock had not only different hour, but minutes, the battety was new and the watch was running smoothly before and after.
The riddle of Menzies Clan: Magdalene legacy
This evening i had one of my revelatory trances when i had to process lots of linguistic information.
A visit to little Perthshire village called Weem, archaic for Womb, would not allow it to leave it. The village is the heritage territory of clan Menzies, rumoured to have been family of mother of Pontius Pilate (father being a roman officer) and according to long lost friend Barry Dunford claiming bloodline of Mary Magdalene primarily, rather than Sinclairs or Stuarts known for DaVinci Code.
Here are my results.
Magdala or Magdalena means a person from Magda or Magadan, also spelled Mageddon. Yes, same word root as in “Armageddon”, where Ar (hebrew Har means mountain). Not widely known, but term Armageddon is mentioned in Bible only once, and only in Revelations, which is not part of Old or New Testament, but a later addition.
According to hebrew scholar Abraim.publications, proper hebrew name is thus Har Megiddo, referring to Canannite town of Megiddo or Megiddon, of which prefix Me- the scholar omits, and root Giddo he traces to name of Tribe of Gad, translated as “fortune”.
Here is what i came up with. Gaelic is rumored by locals to be a form of semitic, which any linguist would put to laughter, but me, having lived in Scotland for five years, seeing how many, coincidential might be, phonetic similarities words have, would not deny it alltogether.
Gaelic for Misfortune is Mì-àgh, where iagh is root for “fortune” and mi is negation, possibly linked to latin mal (malady, malnutrition).
Hebrew scholar Abraim omits explanation of prefix in Me-giddo, could it thus be not just “fortune”, but Mis-fortune, an event we traditionally see as Armageddon?
Here is what i further came up with. Family crest of clan Menzies comprizes two letters M, could be just initials for Menzies, but why twice? Mary Magdalene initials? The name of clan did not let me go and i had a revelation: Menasseh. Menzies derives from Menasseh, lost brother half-tribe comprising together with Tribe of Ephrahim the House of Joseph. Surprise:wiki quotes Talmud depiction of the flag of the Tribe, being that of black background with A UNICORN on it.
By coincidence i looked at a map of ancient Israel and had a shock: Megiddo is historically situated on the territory of Tribe of Menasseh.
House of Cards: building Orkadian Identity
House of Cards and Local portrait by Stanley Cursiter
Skech from early period, Stanley Cursiter
Stanley Cursiter is a person not known to modern audience. I stumbled upon his grand painting House of Cards in Museum of Kirkwall, was mesmerised by subtle merging between cubist architectural sense and classical softness and fluidity, and stepping stone by stepping stone, his story unfolded.
Born in Orkney, he had vast knowledge to strange and soaked in mystery history of Orkneys, to later, in spite of not having academic arts degree, become in 1948 director of National Galleries of Scotland, be appointed as His Majesty’s Painter and Limmer, and initiate foundation of Scottish Modern Art Gallery, now occupying two buildings in Dean Village.
He has given the grandfather of a person I had a chance to meet, the mansion owner next to Scara Brae Megalithic Village, a strange Viking artifact, presumably a calendar; called his permanent house guest herring gull he was feeding, “Sigurd”, and invested in reconstruction of St.Rognvald’s chapel in St.Magnus cathedral, Kirkwall.
Viking calendar, private
I need to take a tiny swing back in history. Old days Orkney, rumoured by historian Neil Oliver to be as fertile and vastly populated that is was the actual capital of prehistoric Europe, was invaded by Vikings under king Harald the FairHair, who added the islands to Norway, while making his cousin, Earl Rognvald, the first Earl of Orkney, who’s cousin in turn, St.Magnus, is still venerated in Norway as one of Catholic Saints, having amongst others a dedicated shrine in Trondheim Cathedral. Later on, the Orkney Earls participated in Jerusalem Crusades which were depicted in poetry of Earl Kari Kohlsson of same family, took up family name Rollo deriving from longer version “Rongvald”, married to French /Norman nobility on way back from Jerusalem and took up family name Sinclair, under which Earls of Orkney, Caithness and Roslyn are known to present day, not the least through famous polpularisation in Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. All the family timeline is recorded in Orkneyinga Saga, of islandic origin.
Stanley Cursiter knew this story well, and was captured by it. Here is an abstract from his biography: “Throughout his busy retirement, Cursiter was also broadcasting regularly on local and national radio, and writing many articles, and even some short stories. He was resident celebrity; the spokesman for Orkney, turned to whenever information was needed on cultural or historical questions or any kind of public debate required a rational and architectural response.
The project that probably meant most to him, however, was when he was given the opportunity to make a significant contributing to a building he had loved all his life. In 1965 he proposed and designed the St.Rognvald’s Chapel in the east end of the choir of St.Magnus Cathedral; a labour of love which stands as a permanent memorial to his contribution to local heritage. He designed a pulpit, a communion table and lectern, incorporating some wooden panels of 16th and 17th centuries, and the three distinctive figures that stand behind them representing the founding fathers of the Cathedral: The Norse earl Rognvald, his father Kol, and bishop William the Old, first bishop to be associated with the cathedral. Some of the wood used for new carvings had been found in the Cathedral crypt by Cursiter. “
During his time as a youth in London, he dedicated himself to study of illuminated books, amongst others, Manuscript of Henry III and Arthur, King of Britain, and illustrated in Arts and Crafts style George Eliot’s scenes from Clerical Life.
His portraits of local persons of prominence and their family members are still decorating many private collections throughout Scotland.
His portraiture in a step away from gentle realist society style of Sargent portraits towards more graphic Scottish Colorists like People, who he wrote a monograph about. Still in the time between two World Wars his painterly style retains incredible cerenity and vital stability.
Answering to an open call by Poets and Artists publication about a themed “Venus” issue, i decided to participate. Open calls to me are not a competitive challenge, but an idea for work, an opportunity to explore a theme.
Venus is obviously associated with iconic Boticcelli tempera, although it had been rendered endlessly over the ages. I came across a story once, that Venus came out of a severed penis of a male god (Neptune?) which gives the subtle erotic explanation of metaphoric meaning of foam she, more commonly, appears from.
I never found any reference to this story, either in Virgil or Ovid. It might have been someone’s modern fantasy.
Still in my painting both the foam and the Venus-shell are present.
A more biologically correct version of a Venus-shell is a clam shell, also known as christian symbol further pointing to Magdalelene, and familiar as a prize one receives after completing a piligrimage to Santiago de Compostella, in its turn having Roslyn as first, or reversed, final destination in old days. It is often seen as decoration of altars, a symbol integrted as jewelry, or a randomly scattered object in christian artworks. Mine is more of a fantasy oyster shell, having venus as a little hidden pearl, just about to come out.
Edvard Munch Studio in Ekely, Oslo
Edvard Munch bought the estate Ekely, a former plant nursery at Skøyen on the outskirts of Oslo, in 1916. Ekely became his permanent residence until his death in 1944, and here he finally had enough space for his work. It consisted of two buildings, a main house, and studios, built especially for him after own drawings by his architect friend. It has fantastic high half glass ceiling giving cold luminous atmosphere of norwegian sun.
(Photo from 1916)
After artis’t death the main building got demolished and the studios stood in ruins until recently, when Munch Museum gave support to open studios for visitors.
Also, the studios are now let to artists and for painting groups. The exhibition of works of modern artists in residence is on the walls, as all Edvard Munch possessions had been stored in Munch Museum under desolation years.
(c) Carl-Martin Sandvold who also administers live figure drawing sessions at Ekely
For a model at evening live figure drawing sessions we have a fantastic young russian ballerina from Yoshkar-Ola, which is a very exotic place. She did some yoga poses and very expressive character short poses for this weeks evening session.
(Edvard Munch Studio in Ekely, view from outside. Photos and sketches by Natasha Kimstatsch)
Just in time for premiere of film D.Strange, on William Fettes-Douglas
I was mentioning the scottish family of Douglas-Hamilton and the famous ancestor Douglas, who together with Sinclair headed the crusade to Jerusalem carrying a cask with heart of Robert the Bruce which gave them victory in battles and guided to find and bring back to Scotland, according to the legend, unknown treasures of templars, after which on return to Scotland the families became very rich (in fact, two of most powerful) and received their titles and lands around Edinburgh.
Now i am going to draw attention to another Douglas, this time artist Fettes-Douglas. Coming from family of founders of Fettes College which later educated hundreds of prominent members of british elite from James Bond prototype to Tony Blair, his works exhibit unprecedental knowledge, read initiation, into mysteries of occult. There is not a hint of vague fantasy in his works, they are detailed depictions of alchemic process and occult ceremonies.
Scottish social scene of the period was full of occult societies and organisations, but none of them were ever open about the rituals. Fettes-Douglas is probably the only artist, apart from Rembrandt, who has insight into alchemic “kitchen” and knows what he is talking about. His colors also follow alchemic scene, this one called “The Alchemist” being in emerald green, while Rembrandt kept to secretive sketchy black-white etching. But please study the seal appearing in the ray of light in Rembrand’s etching – it is for real and he knew what he was drawing!
Dr. Faustus, Rembrandt
From the Scottish Rite of Masonry to Hellfire Club, floating gradually into Golden Dawn, Scotland was the cradle of occult. They knew rituals from necromancy to transmutation of metals, most practices lost otherwise in 15-16 century. This painting by Fettes-Douglas represents such a ritual, and the objects point towards artist-s own initiation into the mysteries.
Now, to the new Marvel blockbuster Dr.Strange: we see there same seals as in Rembrandt’s etching, which proves that it is not modern fantasy imagination, but glimpses into lost reality. Lost, or?
Channel the Spirits, on Georgiana Houghton in Courtauld Gallery
As some migt know, i had started my artistic career by channeling dead artists. When i was taking the very frist class, untutored, i was getting tuition from a spirit of pre-raphaelites. It is very good solution for chosen sensitive souls when quality tuition is not available.
With people who paint by channeling, their expectation and the result often differ, the works being mostly abstract or some other way different from the hand of the artist they are channeling. In my case i used too bright colours. I also hesitated with putting in the pupils of eyes, as if the information was coming from there. Nevertheless, i am very proud of it, as it is first, completely untutored experiment of mature person who was never taught before, guided in advice by departed John Everett Milais, with only model and artist supervisor present.
Portrait in studio, 2010
Another famous person who was painting guided by spirits is Aleister Crowley. He depicted the spirits themselves, aliens, and painted esoteric frescos on walls of OTO mansion in Sicily.
This summer Courtauld gallery of Somerset House saw exhibition of Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings, who created a series of spirit guided abstract pieces in 1860s-70s. Starting from spirit of her uncle, she moved to deeper realization of Godhead-trinity. The drawings are very musical, and we know that many music pieces, from masonic to Paul mcCartney’s Yesterday, are being dictated by spirits or come in sleep as well.
Most of my own paintings’ motifs still come in sleep on the moment of awakeing, so that i can rememebr them and carry through execution, although studying the technique too thoroughly in the analytical atelier method does make the thin and gentle bond with spirit world weaker.
Memorial blog entry for Christopher Van Schaak, the person who made me my first silverpoint pen
Last week close friends gathered in a garden of mansion near Temple, Midlothians to plant a memorial palm tree for Chris Van Schaak, who passed away after lung infection which he caught treating a rose in his garden in rainy weather, over half a year ago.
Christopher was a person who made for me by hand my first silverpoint appliance, and who accompanied me on a road trip to Borders looking for Merlins grave and baptism stone, which we both identified.
He probably identified himself with Merlin a little, maybe the astral meeting exploded the vortex of wisdom and carried him away into the realm of ancients.
Posting abstracts from memorial speech by his friend, photos from palm ceremony and some silverpoints i had done on a journey to Merlindale, Stobo.
“Christopher van Schaack would surely want to have been thought of for his labours and for his legacy. I thought I knew a bit about Artists materials. It was all readymade out of acrylics and pastels and chalks and inks and oils and pencils and wax and it came in pretty tubs and tubes and plastic pots that you could buy at Artists suppliers. You did not consider where it came from. In his choosing to create using the old methods of grinding down minerals at source to acquire pigmentation for painting – when just about everyone else had turned their back on this as a viable method and indeed forgot or held it in modern contempt – Christopher van Schaack was utterly unique in the Art world. At that level of unique in the sense that his was of a kind of weird esoteric genius and a labour of love. He truly believed in his Art.
Others I have talked to do so too.
I was fortunate to be able to help him one afternoon. All we were doing were making explanatory labels for some completed artworks that were due to be used for a forthcoming exhibition to be held in London. You will some of you recall that Christopher was dyslexic and needed assistance with reading and writing. So there he is dictating to me the names of the minerals that had produced these pigments used in his
pictures! The only one to my shame I can recall now was the lovely sounding mineral, “Chrysacolla.” Very difficult to spell. That is some of Christopher’s important legacy.”
“There was something old fashioned and Thomas Hardy-esque about Christopher and the way he would dress for special occasions with his bow tie. Perhaps he had been born in the wrong time period. It was during the time when our sun was in the constellation of Sagittarius that he was born in 1947. To a well to do Southern family from Birmingham Alabama in the US. They had owned plantations and also apparently slaves. His grandfather was a doctor. He had a stormy relationship with his father, though, who according to one source, kind of abandoned him. His mother, Margaret and he were very close though and they maintained a special connection up to her death in 2008. She was a noted researcher, writer and curator in the field of fine arts and a specialist in 19th Century furniture. Christopher also had a sister, Anne Hope but she died earlier. One senses that there is a family tragedy to be found there.
Christopher being a child of the sixties went in a more diverse direction than most. This is born out by his knowledge of many people who were movers and shakers of the American counter-culture and of the Art world and the acting world of the 80’s 60s and 70s. Warhol for example. Or Peter Fonda. Country Joe, Edie Sedgwick. Jack Nicolson. Then the earlier surrealist, De Chirico who he had met and studied under. Christopher through the Art world was in fact acquainted with quite a few names. And also some highly connected and powerful top flight US familes through his associations. The strength of his own convictions alone can tell you that Christopher was certainly one who might be considered not just of the counterculture but “radical.” He was often to be found venting to us on the subjects of the CIA, (did you ever hear the story of how they tried to recruit him?) Or of the Chemtrails in the Sky, or of Syria, False flags? What he considered was the, “Global warming hoax.” You name it. MK ULtra, “the evil Royal Family.”
“They’re all morons! Ruled by Satan!”
But people told me he would talk about these subjects and then mysteriously after they had discounted them as paranoid nonsense he’d be proven right in some manner. Not always though…
He moved from The South state of Alabama over to West Port in Connecticut where he developed a love of sailing and retained strong associations with that Eastern Seaboard of the United States all his life. I have said that I would speak for some of those who knew him intimately and cannot be here with us today. Anthony the son of Stevan Dohanos an acclaimed and noted social realist painter is now a fair-trade cocoa
farmer in his beloved Hawaii. Then he was a radical and fellow painter. He had been at the boarding school Avon Hills Connecticut with Christopher in 1966-1967 and had dated the same girl in Westport as Christopher. In Southport Connecticut they had sailed together as children: He had this to say:
“Christopher was a classy guy, he was a gentleman.. And generous.. I remember he gave my father a few gifts.. The one time I remember he gave my dad a bag full of Old Pocket watch Faces.. And he gave me a whole bag of Silver dollars once.. Lol.. I helped him get to Hawaii in ’69 . I have a photograph of him, 19 years old or so in Alabama and he looks like a young Marlon Brando!”
Anthony told me that within the American counterculture Christopher was in fact instrumental in setting up Health food stores in Hawaii and also bicycle racks. Anthony was in Glasgow at the time and got Christopher his ticket. They swapped in fact. Christopher to Europe, Anthony to Hawaii. Christopher lived in a famous “let it all hang out” type hippie commune called “Taylor camp” in Maui, Hawaii in 1969 at the time.
To sketch this biography out briefly now. I apologise for any errors. I will do better next time. He had then lived in a sort of villa upon the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy and also in Switzerland (the details absent) with Christine, his wife. There they began to raise his two sons, Justin Ten Haaf and Manolis Ten Haaf. There it was too that he rode horses. Afterward he moved over to a house in Amsterdam. There he continued with his art work until he came finally to his beloved Scotland in 1980. This proved an inspiration to him. In Glasgow he started to make his etchings. Then later at Edinburgh in the Printmakers studio.”
from left: Gordon, neighbour, George, KT chevalier, me, Author of speech, John, Chris’s art agent