‘War + Peace’, Selected Biro Drawings 2008 – 2014

'War + Peace', Selected Biro Drawings 2008 - 2014 by Jane Lee McCracken, Front Cover

‘War + Peace’, Selected Biro Drawings 2008 – 2014 Limited Edition Hardback Book by Jane Lee McCracken, 2014, Cover

Published today, I am delighted to say that 50 limited edition copies of my new book are now available.  Here is some information about ‘War + Peace’ and a look inside!

” ‘War + Peace’, by multimedia Artist Jane Lee McCracken brings together a selection of her intricate Biro drawings. This beautifully produced hardback book replicates every detail of Jane’s black and colour Biro drawings from several bodies of work spanning 6 years, including, ‘Tales from the East’, ‘The Woodcutter’s Cottage’, ‘In Homage to the Last Carnivores of Eurasia’ and her recent artwork for conservation projects. Inspired by her passion for childhood memoirs, fairy tales, travel, forests and animals and her continuing exploration of the themes of ‘war’ and ‘loss’, multimedia artist Jane makes multiplex, layered drawings in colour or black Biro, using her drawings as inspiration to create objects and installations.  Taking photographs of films and documentaries, her muse lily, people, animals and found objects as the foundation of her work, she builds complex layers of drawn images in Biro as if film still projections, resulting in monotone or colour abstracted pieces with an ethereal, cinematic quality.  Her aim is to make art that represents the beauty and brutal reality of life thus creating “memorials of lives lived, both human and animal and ways of life lost”. Evoking consideration of loss whether through war or disaster, her work draws upon empathy for the emotional or physical scars experienced by humans, animals or the environment.”

EDITION:

Limited Edition of 50 Hardback Books

Signed and numbered in gold with personal dedication option included

Original Gold Tiger Drawing produced in each copy

To purchase or for further information:

www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/shop/artbook

 Here is a taster of what’s inside! 

'War + Peace', Selected Biro Drawings 2008 - 2014, by Jane Lee McCracken, 'American Dream' 2014

‘American Dream’, ‘War + Peace’ 2014

 

'Our Forefathers' & 'Mummy Bear and Baby Bear', 'War + Peace', 2014

‘Our Forefathers’ & ‘Mummy Bear and Baby Bear’, ‘War + Peace’, 2014

'Butterfly Lover', 'War + Peace', 2014

‘Butterfly Lover’, ‘War + Peace’, 2014

'The Cupboard' & 'Sindy and the Troika', 'War + Peace', 2014

‘The Cupboard’ & ‘Sindy and the Troika’, ‘War + Peace’, 2014

'TV Screen II - Where Wolves and Bears Dare', 'War + Peace', 2014

‘TV Screen II – Where Wolves and Bears Dare’, ‘War + Peace’, 2014

'Shh, it's a Tiger!', 'War + Peace', 2014, Back Cover

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’, ‘War + Peace’, 2014, Back Cover

Original Gold Tiger Drawing in each book.

Original Gold Tiger Drawing in each book.

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The Wolf’s House

"The Wolf's House", 2012, black Biro drawings and mixed media by Jane Lee McCracken

“The Wolf’s House”, 2012, black Biro drawings and mixed media by Jane Lee McCracken

Outside a white-out blizzard howls, while war is waged through it.  Mrs Wolf throws open the door of ‘The Wolf’s House’ and looks out at the soldiers fighting around her cottage.

‘The Wolf’s House’ is symbolically one of the simplest pieces I have created for it simply asks “who is more civilised, man or animals?”.  A take on the iconic cuckoo clock, it was inspired by a cuckoo clock my father brought back to Scotland for me after a trip to Switzerland, when I was a child.

Black Biro drawing of Lily and 'Mrs Wolf'.  'Mrs Wolf' is made from a cast taken of wolf's head from my wedding cake-topper and the body of a vintage Polish Capeila doll as is 'Mr Wolf' who sits by the window.

Black Biro drawing of Lily and ‘Mrs Wolf’. ‘

The piece explores the juxtaposition of the roles of man and animals suggesting the idea of the ‘innocent’ instinctive nature of animals as opposed to the cerebrally determined brutal nature of man.  ‘The Wolf’s House’ is a beacon of light representing civilised society whilst chaos reigns outside; but it is occupied by wolves not humans.

"The Wolf's House", 2013, 'The Woodcutter's Cottage' exhibition, The Mercer Gallery, Harrogate

“The Wolf’s House”, 2013, ‘The Woodcutter’s Cottage’ exhibition, The Mercer Gallery, Harrogate.

Soldiers fight in the snow around the Wolf’s House whilst Mr and Mrs Wolf witness war, as animals of the forest play peacefully inside the house.  However there is an ever present threat from humans.

'The Wolf's House' roof detail, black Biro drawing of Lily on painted MDF

‘The Wolf’s House’ roof detail, black Biro drawing of Lily on painted MDF

Further inspiration for the piece came from a photograph of Russian soldiers fighting through a village towards Germany after the end of the battle of Stalingrad when the tide of war has changed.  I imagined a cottage somewhere in Eastern Europe encircled by soldiers fighting a brutal war.

Official USSR photograph of Red Army in combat WWII, Artist's own collection.

Official USSR photograph of Red Army in combat WWII, Artist’s own collection.

‘The Wolf’s House is a mixed media piece which includes original black Biro drawings of Lily drawn on painted, sanded MDF.  Model railway snow and glitter were used to create the winter snow scene on the roof and base.  Printed transfers on fabric formed the wallpaper of the interior walls, complete with propaganda posters specifically designed for the piece.  I sourced replica Russian F1 hand grenades which were then painted with white enamel as were the model soldiers, German Assault Infantry in winter gear and Russian Army Assault Infantry.  An authentic cuckoo clock chain bought from a clock shop holds the hand grenade weights of the clock.  ‘Mr and Mrs Wolf’ were made from casts taken of the wolves heads from my wedding cake-topper and the bodies of vintage Polish Capelia dolls bought on Ebay.

'The Wolf's House' interior

‘The Wolf’s House’ interior

Mr Wolf sits by the window surrounded by propaganda posters and watches bears, a wolf, a fox and a tiger cub playing together.

'The Wolf's House' interior shot through window.

‘The Wolf’s House’ interior shot through side window.

'The Wolf's House' interior shot through front window.

‘The Wolf’s House’ interior shot through front window.

Their play indicates that each species has it’s own social structure and behaviour which is rarely disregarded but whilst humans have a highly developed sense of morality, the moral codes by which we live are often breached.

'"Save Us!', Propaganda poster for the Wolf's House, photo montage by Jane Lee McCracken

‘”Save Us!’, 2012, Propaganda poster for the Wolf’s House, photo montage by Jane Lee McCracken

Ultimately the futures of many species’ are held in our hands and this is symbolised by ‘The Wolf’s House’ and the ever present battle around the house and its occupants.

Russian model soldiers fighting in the snow around 'The Wolf's House'

Russian model soldiers fighting in the snow around ‘The Wolf’s House’

Luxury Archival Pigment Prints of ‘Save Us!’ made by the excellent Jack Lowe studio are available to order from my website

'"Save Us!', Propaganda poster for the Wolf's House, photo montage by Jane Lee McCracken

‘”Save Us!’, Propaganda poster for the Wolf’s House, Archival Pigment Print

‘You Can Lead a Horse to Water…’ – Béla Tarr’s ‘TURIN HORSE’ in Kraków

'Sindy and the Troika', black Biro drawing , 2008, by Jane Lee McCracken symbolises possessions left behind when people flee their homes during war or disaster.

‘Sindy and the Troika’, black Biro drawing , 2008, by Jane Lee McCracken

Incessant winda dirge of clawing violins on repeat… ’Doom’ on his hands and knees, crawling ever closer with each sunset, along his impending trail of inevitable cataclysm, until finally he reaches the desolate cottage on the Hungarian plains.

Bela Tarr’s finale to his epic film-making career ‘Turin Horse’ is a triumph of Apocalyptic cinema.  In the beginning: a black screen and Tarr’s voice narrating a vigil of white text informs us that on 3rd January 1889 in Turin, Friedrich Nietzsche reached out to protect a horse being beaten by its owner, experienced a terminal breakdown and lived a further ‘silent and demented’ 10 years until his death… “We do not know what happened to the horse.”

Opening scene, 'Turin Horse', Béla Tarr, 2011

Opening scene, ‘Turin Horse’, Béla Tarr, 2011

The Wind Blows Where it Wishes: an elderly man driving his horse and cart, battle through an abrasive gale along a country road, escorted by Mihály Víg’s vulturous score, reminiscent of Philip Glass’s composition for ‘Candyman’, until they finally reach an isolated cottage.  A woman steps from the shadows of a barn to help the old man unbridle the horse and lead it to stable and rest.  The bait is eaten as we are reeled in by our temptation to find out what happens next…not much and yet so much.  No names, no histoire and a minimalist script, Béla Tarr leaves us virtually at the mercy of the mesmerising, monochrome cinematography of Fred Kelemen.

'Daughter' trudging to the well in 'Turin Horse', Béla Tarr, 2011

‘Daughter’ trudging to the well, ‘Turin Horse’, Béla Tarr, 2011

From the unbuttoning and buttoning of tattered clothes, folding of linen and the skinning by hand of hot boiled potatoes to reach the piping flesh; the daughter’s gruelling daily walk to the well in the prophetic wind to fetch water, we watch almost as if in real time 6 days of peasant hardship, grind and repetitive misery, that are the lives of an old man and his daughter in their dark, aged cottage whilst Abaddon rages outside.  Tarr’s appreciation of such adversity brings us perhaps as close as we can come to watching how our 19th century peasant forebears lived, and is almost the triumph of the film.  In parallel, Tarr’s vision gives us what Van Gogh gave us with ‘The Potato Eaters’ a wish to spare us nothing,

'The Potato Eaters', Vincent Van Gogh, 1885

‘The Potato Eaters’, Vincent Van Gogh, 1885

“You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labor and — that they have thus honestly earned their food. I wanted it to give the idea of a wholly different way of life from ours — civilized people. So I certainly don’t want everyone just to admire it or approve of it without knowing why.”, Vincent Van Gogh“Letter 497”, The Letters, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Almost the triumph of the film, but not quite.

Whilst the camera focuses on a black blizzard of bird-like leaves wheeling through the foreground, the father and daughter leading their horse, their well now empty of water, attempt to escape the world counting down to oblivion.  As their tragic out of focus figures wrestle along the distant horizon of a ridge with a single tree, I can feel the gentle breath from Lily’s canine nose on my hand as she lies beside me on the sofa. Like the quiet grace of the ‘horse’, Lily’s reassuring, measured breaths during that bleak scene reinforce the innocence humanity literally holds in its hands, a ‘key point’ of Tarr’s film.

'Horse', 'Turin Horse', Béla Tarr, 2011

‘Horse’, ‘Turin Horse’, Béla Tarr, 2011

And Darkness was on the Face of the Deep: The triumph of the film is the horse. Her dignity, the majesty with which her whole being seems to say ‘humanity you led us all to this, and now there is not even water to drink’.  The horse is our prophet, her intelligence far surpasses ours as she warns us life as we know it is over, that we have lost light and we are now plunging back into the darkness before creation, by man’s hand and Nature’s.

“The key point is that the humanity, all of us, including me, are responsible for destruction of the world. But there is also a force above human at work – the gale blowing throughout the film – that is also destroying the world. So both humanity and a higher force are destroying the world.” Bela Tarr, 2011

Bar in Kraków, 2007

Bar in Kraków, 2007

Watching ‘Turin Horse’ reminded me of a drawing I did in 2008 after a trip to  Kraków, ‘Sindy and the Troika’, which visited a theme I have often explored; fear and transpiration from the approach of a warring army.  We were staying in Kazimierz, which was once the heart of Jewish Kraków until the Nazis mercilessly ‘cleared’ the ghetto in WWII, depicted in Steven Spielberg’s film ‘Schindler’s List’, sending most of its Jewish inhabitants to their demise in nearby death camps like Auschwitz.

Kraków bar with Singer sewing machine as table, 2007

Me in another Kazimierz bar furnished with Singer sewing machine tables, Kraków, 2007

Kazimierz is now a vibrant art and cafe culture district and it was whilst in one of the many beautiful bars, which include bars like ‘Singer’ furnished with Singer sewing machine tables, that I found inspiration for the drawing.  I often contemplate the hellish fear that must overtake people when they are awaiting the onslaught of an enemy army. Documentaries are an audio visual record of this, but sitting in a room, that was originally a ghetto room where probably too many inhabited too few square feet, was sobering even with several Żubrówka‘s sunk accompanied by Polish cigarettes.

Kraków bar, 2007

Kraków bar, 2007

The room seemed to have been left just as if its inhabitants had walked out the door to find food, although perhaps they weren’t searching for food, perhaps they had fled from what must almost feel like the invasion of an alien army of super-humans from another planet as their wrath seems beyond that of civilised members of our own species.

Tapestry in Kraków bar, 2007

Vintage Russian Tapestry in Kraków bar, 2007

The bar owners had decorated the bar with a kitsch vintage tapestry of wolves hunting a man driving a troika.  I wondered where the tapestry had come from, I imagined it as the type of possession left by fleeing civilians not just across Poland but Europe – a cottage perhaps where the inhabitants left their favourite tapestry and their children’s toys for the hellfire of the oncoming German army or from fear of retaliation from the Allied Armies.

Official USSR photograph of Red Army in combat WWII, Artist's own collection.

The end of the Battle of Stalingrad turns the tide of war and the Red Army begin their offensive and fight their way to Berlin, often taking revenge for the inconceivable brutality perpetrated by the Wehrmacht on Russian civilians.  Official USSR photograph of Russian soldiers in combat, WWII, 1944, Artist’s own collection.

In the drawing the dishevelled, handless Sindy doll represents the brutality often waged upon civilian populations during war as well as the memories of children at play before fate’s hand led them to their destiny.  The tapestry symbolises life preceding war, of a beautiful forest and traditions and landscapes lost forever to war.  And like the father and daughter in ‘Turin Horse’, many families met their uncertain fates together.

'Sindy and the Troika', black Biro drawing , 2008, by Jane Lee McCracken symbolises possessions left behind when people flee their homes during war or disaster.

‘Sindy and the Troika’, black Biro drawing , 2008, by Jane Lee McCracken symbolises possessions left behind when people flee their homes during war or disaster.

For further information and Luxury Archival Prints made to order by one of the best printmaker’s in the UK Jack Lowe Studio please visit my website.

Pets Home Alone during War and Disaster – New Art PRINT

'Lily', 2009, original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Lily’, 2009, original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

During war and disaster pets are often left behind to fend for themselves.  Fleeting opportunity in which to escape leaves little time to garner pets whom instinctively may bolt from fear.   Panic-stricken people often seize personal possessions and furniture instead of animals – although sometimes the heart strings just aren’t long enough.  For those who adore their pets it’s hard to imagine the pain experienced during such times when an owner is not able to locate a beloved animal, left only with the angst and speculation of what happened to them.

My drawing entitled ‘Lily’ represents pets that are left behind during war and disaster; the dog’s owner took the furniture instead.

'"A girl holding her dog in a devastated neighborhood in Warsaw, Poland, 5 Sep 1939" by Julien Bryan'

‘”A girl holding her dog in a devastated neighborhood in Warsaw, Poland, 5 Sep 1939″ by Julien Bryan’

Some pets are kept close during flight or rescued in the aftermath of the event – their moving stories recounted or their images captured on film or in photographs.  During WWII, the little girl standing in shock amongst the devastation of Warsaw in 1939 holds her dog close, comforted by his presence.  The determination and strength worn on the face of a French woman leading her horse whilst her dogs follow under cover of a cart full of possessions.

19 July 1940, Refugees escaping France WWII

19 July 1940, Refugees escaping France WWII

Woman and her Dog outside her bombed house, Grozny, Chechnya 1995. Photograph by Yuri Gripas

Woman and her Dog outside her bombed house, Grozny, Chechnya 1995. Photograph by Yuri Gripas

In 1995 Grozny, Chechnya, with her dog next to her a woman despairs at the bombing of her home whilst an evacuee in a truck says goodbye to his dog.

Russian man, Grozny, Chechnya says goodbye to his dog, 1995. Chechen forces. (AP Photo)

Russian man, Grozny, Chechnya says goodbye to his dog, 1995. Chechen forces. (AP Photo)

Cat Survivors of the 2011 Tsunami, Tashirojima (Cat Island), Japan

Cat Survivors of the 2011 Tsunami, Tashirojima (Cat Island), Japan

Around the world concern was raised for the feline occupants of Tashirojima or ‘Cat Island’, Japan during the 2011 Tsunami.  But many of the cats survived, cared for by people of the small community of 100 islanders, still outnumbered by their feline friends.  In 2013 a dog survived 3 days buried under rubble following an earthquake in Lalu Village in Hetuo Township Dingxi, China and was eventually recovered by villagers and rescue teams.

Dog rescued after 3 days buried under rubble after earthquake Lalu Village in Hetuo Township, Dingxi, China 2013

Dog rescued after 3 days buried under rubble after earthquake, Dingxi, China 2013

The dog in the drawing is my own dog, Lily.  She lies on the memory of a chair representing owners who took furniture and personal belongings instead of their pet leaving the family dog to fend for itself amongst the wreckage of war and disaster.

DNA of Northern Inuits and other Malamute breeds is closer to Gray Wolf DNA than many other dog breeds.  Dogs who give many of us unequivocal companionship were domesticated from wolves thousands of years ago.

In light of this all profits from each print sold will be donated to ‘The Wolves and Humans Foundation’.

The Wolves and Humans Foundation is a UK based charity dedicated to the conservation of Europe’s large carnivores wolves, bears and lynx. Wolves and Humans work with people and local communities to find practical solutions to co-existence with wolves and other large carnivores, thereby helping long-term conservation of these species. For further information please visit http://www.wolvesandhumans.org/index.htm

'Lily', 2009, original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Lily’, 2012/2014 Archival Limited and Open Edition Pigment Print Series’, Jane Lee McCracken

Archival Pigment Prints are available in two sizes –

NEW A4 Print – signed and numbered luxurious Archival Pigment Prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm of ‘Lily’ are especially crafted to order by one of the best printmaker’s in the UK Jack Lowe Studio and are available to purchase for £35 inclusive P&P from my website shop

A3 Limited Edition of 200 – signed and numbered luxurious Archival Pigment Prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm of ‘Lily’ crafted by one of the best printmaker’s in the UK Jack Lowe Studio and are available to purchase for £55 inclusive P&P from my website shop