‘Our Forefathers, Our Loss’ – Panthera Pardus Orientalis

'Our Forefathers', Amur Leopard, 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013, Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Our Forefathers’, Amur Leopard, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013, Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

One of the most endangered big cats in the world in the world inspired Biro drawings for my plate diptych of Amur Leopards.

European exploration from the 15th century onwards saw the beginnings of plundering the natural world and its legacy that has been inherited to date. A fragmented drawing of Rembrandt’s etching, ‘The Windmill’, 1641 symbolises the depiction in European art during the 15th to the 17th centuries of new and exciting discoveries from distant lands and represents man’s fascination with collecting and hunting exotic species.  As few as 45 Amur Leopards exist in the wilds of Ussuriland in Russia at present and only an estimated 7-12 individuals remain in China.

'Our Forefathers' and 'Our Loss', Amur Leopard 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia' luxury fine English china plate series

‘Our Forefathers’ and ‘Our Loss’, Amur Leopard ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’ luxury fine English china plate series

Still photographs taken of the leopard from Cartier’s 2012 advertisement, L’Odyssée de CartierBruno Aveillan depict the beauty of leopard species’  in ‘Our Loss’ and convey the possible loss of wild leopard sub species such as the Amur Leopard whilst questioning the training of wild animals to perform for human gratification.

'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', Luxury Fine English China Plate Series by Jane Lee McCracken

‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, Luxury Fine English China Plate Series by Jane Lee McCracken

For plate enquiries please contact:

jane@janeleemccracken.co.uk

For plate sales please visit THE NEW ENGLISH

'Our Forefathers', Amur Leopard, 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013, Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Our Forefathers’, Amur Leopard, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013, Archival Pigment Print

For luxury Archival Pigment prints made to order by the UK’s best master printmaker Jack Lowe Studio please visit my shop

'Our Forefathers' and ''Our Loss', Amur Leopard 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', luxury fine English china plate series by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Our Forefathers’ and ”Our Loss’, Amur Leopard ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, luxury fine English china plate series by Jane Lee McCracken

 

 

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’ – Amba, Guardian of the Forest

"Shh, it's a Tiger!", Siberian Tiger, 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013, black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

“Shh, it’s a Tiger!”, Siberian Tiger, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013, black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

As part of my china and print series ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’ the first Biro drawing in the Siberian Tiger diptych was inspired by two things – a drawing by an old master and an iconic image of India.

‘Landscape with a Woodland Pool’, Albrecht Dürer, 1496

The synonymous image of a Royal Bengal tiger bathing in a pool in Ranthambore National Park, India with its majestic ruined palaces, was the basis for my Russian fantasy of the Siberian tiger. Albrecht Dürer’s beautiful and beguiling drawing Landscape with a Woodland Pool 1496, a photograph of a forest pool in Ussuriland and Ivan Shishkin’s painting, ‘The Forest of Countess Mordvinova’, 1891, form the inspiration for the background drawing layers, creating the fantastical setting for a bathing Siberian Tiger.

'Countess Mordvinov's Forest (Лес графини Мордвиновой)', Ivan Shishkin, 1891, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

‘Countess Mordvinov’s Forest (Лес графини Мордвиновой)’, Ivan Shishkin, 1891, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

At the edge of the lake sits a Dacha birdcage from my own collection.  Reclining inside is a Siberian tiger, further suggesting the image of Royal Bengal tigers shading inside Indian palaces but also indicating the thousands of tigers kept in captivity in comparison with so few remaining wild tigers.  A giant Siberian tiger sweeps through the forest background, emulating the Udege and Nanai name for the tiger “Amba”, ‘Guardian of the Forest’.  Breaking through the forest is a cavalry of Red Army soldiers symbolising the devastation wreaked on the Siberian Tiger population, which was almost extinguished by both Red and White Armies around Vladivostok during the Russian Revolution.

'Shh, it's a Tiger!', luxury fine English china plate by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’, luxury fine English china plate by Jane Lee McCracken

On the right walks a tiger beside an Udege woman from a still photograph I took of ‘Amba the Russian Tiger‘, 2008, Gordon Buchanan, proclaiming the fragility of not only the tiger population but the indigenous people of Ussuriland.  The tiger in the pool looks beyond a sniper rifle hidden in the foliage, outside the picture towards ‘Bang!’ the second drawing in the Siberian Tiger diptych.  A skull with a bullet hole depicted in ‘Bang!’ indicates what the tiger in the pool is watching, a tiger hunt!

'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', Luxury Fine English China Plate Series by Jane Lee McCracken

‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, Luxury Fine English China Plate Series by Jane Lee McCracken


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For plate enquiries please contact:

jane@janeleemccracken.co.uk

For plate sales please visit THE NEW ENGLISH

'Shh, it's a Tiger!', Archival Pigment Print

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’, Archival Pigment Print

For luxury Archival Pigment prints made to order by the UK’s best master printmaker Jack Lowe Studio please visit my shop

 

‘ATKA’, Ambassador Wolf Art PRINT – Wolf Conservation Center, NY

'Atka', signed and numbered luxury Archival Pigment Print

‘Atka’, 2013 Luxury Archival Pigment Print by Jane Lee McCracken

Prints of ‘Atka’, Ambassador Wolf of the Wolf Conservation Center, NY are now available to order with ALL profits donated to WWC, helping to protect wolves.

Luxurious Archival Pigment Prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm from the original Biro drawing of ‘Atka’ by artist Jane Lee McCracken are especially made to order crafted by prestigious photographer and printmaker http://mrjacklowe.com/ one of the best printmaker’s in the UK.

To purchase an ‘Atka’ print or for further information:

www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/shop/conservation art prints

'Atka', detail of black Biro drawing, 2013

‘Atka’, 2013, detail of black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Magnificent Atka has dedicated his life to educating people about protecting his wild brothers and sisters. Wolves in America are having a bit of a hard time and need all the help they can get.  

That’s why the original Biro drawing of ‘Atka’ was created and winged its way from Newcastle, England to New York State for WCC Wine and Wolves fundraiser on 12th December 2013.  Since 1999 WCC has been teaching people about wolves and their role in the environment.

If you’re not familiar with WCC already, have a look at the sterling work they do for wolves http://nywolf.org/

'Atka' Ambassador Wolf, photo courtesy of WCC

‘Atka’ Ambassador Wolf, photo courtesy of WCC

To War…

'TV Screen III - "East Meets West, Forests Memories"', colour Biro drawing, 2010 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘TV Screen III – “East Meets West, Forests’ Memories”‘, colour Biro drawing, 2010 by Jane Lee McCracken

With nights drawing darker and the days colder and thoughts of when will it snow again ever present, reflections of winter and watching war films as a wee girl with my father, having just returned from a foreign land on business, are rekindled.  Whether it was the colours of epic explosions or the excitement of machine gun fire, war was a romantic notion and my father’s passion for war films passed to the next generation.

My beloved Grandmother on her wedding day to my Grandfather, 1st April 1939

My beloved Grandmother on her wedding day to my wonderful Grandfather, April 1939, Elie

My grandmother often talked about ‘The War’ unsurprisingly as WWII ended only 23 years before I was born and memories of rationing were still in their mere infancy at 14 years.  She mostly talked about how my Grandfather who died when I was four, was ‘never the same after The War’ – he was ground crew on Lancaster Bombers in Lincolnshire, badly injured when hit by the wing of a Lysander aircraft and I guess waited in vain for friends to return from bombing missions – how could he be the same, was anyone?

N.B. 10th December 2013 – “Two Years after retiring, my Dad died of kidney cancer.  He spent his last few moments, my mum at his side counting in the lancs from some hellish raid or other; F Fox, V Victor, B Baker and so on. I guess it troubled him whether a lanc was lost with all its crew…”  Extract about my Grandfather from my uncle’s newly published wonderful book ‘Wrapped in Rugby’, Douglas S. Bruce http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wrapped-Rugby-Douglas-Scott-Bruce/dp/1492154326

'Where Eagles Dare' quilt square detail from 'The Woodcutter's Quilt' made by Jane Lee McCracken for 'The Woodcutter's Cottage' Exhibition 2012 http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_10019238.html

‘Where Eagles Dare’ quilt square detail from ‘The Woodcutter’s Quilt’ made by Jane Lee McCracken for ‘The Woodcutter’s Cottage’ Exhibition 2012 http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_10019238.html

'The Woodcutter's Cottage' Exhibition at the Mercer Art Gallery, 2013. Installation includes 'The Woodcutter's Quilt', 'Woodcutter's Giant Pillow', 'British Moth Throw', my Grandmother's Scottish Queen size bed and dressing table circa 1950, British Moth prints entomology case in drawer of dressing table and 'Red Riding Hood's Cloak' suspended.

‘The Woodcutter’s Cottage’ Exhibition at the Mercer Art Gallery, 2013. Installation includes ‘The Woodcutter’s Quilt’, ‘Woodcutter’s Giant Pillow’, ‘British Moth Throw’, my Grandmother’s Scottish Queen size bed and dressing table circa 1950, British Moth prints entomology case in drawer of dressing table and ‘Red Riding Hood’s Cloak’ suspended.

To this day ‘Where Eagles Dare’, MGM, 1968 remains one of my favourite films.  The wind howling round the Bavarian Alps, the beautiful glare and hardship of the inexorably falling snow, hues of blue from azure to midnight, brilliant orange explosions, brilliant Richard Burton; cool Clint Eastwood a ‘second rate punk’, the fairy tale ‘Schloss Adler’ with its warren of hallways and monumental fireplace, a secret aspiration to be Mary Ure’s MI6 agent ‘Mary Ellison’ and that cable car!  From beginning to end with its dramatic score and the faint rat-a-tat drum beat crescendo in the opening seconds it is still one of the most exciting and gripping films I have seen.  (My family recently discovered a forgotten memory that my father had once shared a lift in the Inter-Continental Hotel, Budapest, with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1970s not long after ‘Where Eagles Dare’ was made – in our excitement that such movie royalty had briefly entered life’s theatre we foolishly asked “was she really beautiful?” and in his concise, ‘Meldrew-esque’ way he replied “yes” and swiftly moved on to mention how charming they both were while sharing a lift conversation with him – through his simple affirmation we knew she was truly beautiful!)

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of 'Where Eagles Dare', 1968

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of ‘Where Eagles Dare’, 1968

As I grew older the romantic excitement of war increasingly paled and was replaced by horror after spending many years viewing the reality of war through documentaries.  What most prevails is the individual suffering of so many caught up in the decisions and actions of so few.  Over 60 million dead during WWII, the holocaust, the painful displacement of people and their loss of everything they once knew, the horror that their eyes transmitted, not to mention the incalculable loss of wildlife, livestock and pets, in many of our present cosy bubbles how can we truly understand what war and such loss is like?  We can’t.

'Russian Man, "Ivan's Childhood", Andrei Tarkovsky, 1957', detail of quilt square from 'The Woodcutter's Quilt', 2012

‘Russian Man, “Ivan’s Childhood”, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1957’, detail of quilt square from ‘The Woodcutter’s Quilt’, 2012

'The Sideboard II' red Biro drawing, 2008 by Jane Lee McCracken, inspired by the girl in the red coat, 'Schindler's List', 1993, Steven Spielberg http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_4657718.html

‘The Sideboard II’ red Biro drawing, 2008 by Jane Lee McCracken, inspired by the girl in the red coat, ‘Schindler’s List’, 1993, Steven Spielberg http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_4657718.html

'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.

I began to try representing individual suffering through my work and create memorials to lives lived and ways of life lost, both human and animal not just through war but disasters, environmental destruction, to empathise with reality and not the Siberia of statistics.   Some years ago I had watched an English soldier relating a particular experience in a WWII documentary.  Towards the end of the war, in battle he had shot a German soldier dead on a road.  When he went over to check the body, he saw it was just a young boy and placed in the buttonhole of the boy’s uniform was Edelweiss still blooming.  Edelweiss does not last more than a couple of hours when picked fresh off the mountains so he knew that the boy had come down from his mountain home that morning to war.  Tears of futility fell down the old man’s cheeks.

'TV Screen III - "East Meets West, Forests Memories"', detail, colour Biros, 2010

‘TV Screen III – “East Meets West, Forests Memories”‘, detail, colour Biros, 2010

This memory was the catalyst for creating ‘TV screen III – East Meets West, Forests’ Memories’, that and a passion for forests.  Drawn in colour Biro, this piece took five months to produce and was inspired from stills of films such as ‘Band of Brothers’, 2001, HBO,  ‘The Red and the White’, 1967, Miklós Jancsó, ‘Come and See’, 1985, Elem Klimov and of course Lily in a starring role as the white wolf or the faithful dog.  This drawing was made to symbolise and consider that both good and bad people exist within all sides of a conflict and to imagine the conflicts as well as the facets of ‘life’ witnessed by mighty forests across Europe.  It ultimately represents how nature fights back and survives no matter what human destruction is plied on it and in the end how futile war is and how little we learn from our mistakes.  Viva nature!

For more information on this piece and its symbolism please visit my website via this link:

http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_5698743.html

Luxury Archival Pigment Prints of this piece crafted by prestigious photographer and print-maker http://mrjacklowe.com/ are available to buy from my website via this link:

http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_7578872.html

Lily White

'"Sweet". Wolves. In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013. original black Biro drawing

‘”Sweet”, Wolves, In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013, original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Post genesis I wanted a white dog.  Well here she is above, the beautiful, wonder dog, Lily.

Yearnings for a white dog were borne from my early addiction to watching television, specifically foreign import programmes such as the hauntingly scored ‘Belle and Sebastian’, France, 1965 and the visually beautiful ‘White Horses’, Hanns Wiedmann, 1965, Germany/Yugoslavia.   Tintin’s Snowy was a particular inspiration.

Aged two being given my beloved Dirk as a birthday present, a Labrador puppy named after one of my mother’s favourite film stars surname Bogart, presented me with a problem, Dirk was black.  But circumstances did not deter and I seized the chance to create my first white dog in a ‘Frankenstein-ial’ effort several months after my birthday.  The beautiful, black puppy and I were in the kitchen of the family homestead in Scotland with my father who was glossing the doors – white.  The doorbell rang and my father clearly not blessed with powers of the second sight left us unattended with a huge tin of gloss paint and a paintbrush.

I distinctly remember Dirk allowing me to paint him while he lay in his wicker basket, he was the most gentle of dogs.  Thoughts of those white dogs I loved Belle and Snowy, sailed through my mind like white furry clouds at each stroke of my goal.  I remember chirping to Dirk as painting commenced although I have no idea what words of reassurance passed between us to put him at ease.  Having managed to get a good way through blanching Dirk before the conversation at the front door ended, my father finally discovered the white metamorphoses that had been created in his absence.  Tears of horror dissolved into the dismay of ‘what am I going to do?’! What he did – he took turpentine and covered Dirk in it. Naturally the turpentine inflicted some pain.

Dirk took control of the situation, ran into the garden and rolled in the earth.  This stripped the paint from his coat and soothed the irritation of turpentine on his skin.  It took a full year of supplementing his diet with olive oil to rejuvenate his black coat and till the day he died, traces of white paint remained on his basket.  I miss him.

Dirk exacted his revenge for the turpentine bath several weeks later when he frenziedly tried to dig through the kitchen wall removing all the newly pasted orange wallpaper in a ‘left on my own protest’.

Several things were cultivated in those first couple of years, my deep love for animals with their consummate loyalty, honest instinct and heart wrenching innocence and my love of films and musings of travel, all entities that I use today in my work.

N.B.  My husband didn’t deliberately choose Lily as a birthday gift for me (old habits die hard) because she was white.  On the contrary she was born with a dark grey mask but Northern Inuit masks can fade and rather like a cygnet to a swan Lily’s grey mask faded and disappeared to leave her face almost white apart from the palest gold ears that reveal themselves in the winter.

'Lily', 2008, original black Biro drawing of Lily aged 14 weeks by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Lily’, 2008, original black Biro drawing of Lily aged 14 weeks by Jane Lee McCracken

Crafted by master photographer and printmaker http://mrjacklowe.com/ – luxurious Archival Pigment Prints of ‘Sweet’ are available to buy from my online shop.:

http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_11766659.html

"'Sweet', Wolves, In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia", 2013, Archival Pigment Print from original black Biro drawing

Archival Pigment Print from original Biro drawing of “‘Sweet’, Wolves, In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia”, 2013, 44cm x 44cm

Limited Edition china plates will be available soon.

'"Sweet", Wolves, In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia' Limited Edition China Plate Series, 2013

‘”Sweet”, Wolves, In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’ Limited Edition China Plate Series, 2013