‘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.”


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:


 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.


‘The Cupboard’ – Remembering Civilians Caught up in War


'The Cupboard', original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘The Cupboard’, original black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

This simple drawing represents the memory of civilians caught up or lost during war.

During a stay in a cottage in Transylvania, Romania, whilst on a trip bear tracking this painted corner cupboard evoked to me the quiet beauty of how we go about embellishing the space we call home and the private and expressive meanings behind everything we display in that space.

For those caught up in war, losing perhaps what is perceived by others to be just a simple jug, but to the owner of the possession is perhaps a priceless gift given by a beloved grandmother, adds yet more painful loss to the devastation experienced.  Every object in our home tells a story and leaves behind a footprint of our existence.

For further pieces in this series please visit my website



The Transylvanian Miller, her Two Sons and ‘The Red Horse and the Wolf Cub’

'Red Horse and the Wolf Cub - After Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone', 2009, red and black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Red Horse and the Wolf Cub – After Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone’, 2009, red and black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Not Long Ago, there lived a Miller and her two sons in a watermill, in a hamlet near the Transylvanian village of Miklósvár.  The mill was the prettiest building in the hamlet with the most beautiful cottage garden and chickens clucking through the flower beds.  Although she was very old and very petite the Miller ran the mill as she had for many years with the help of her sons.  Her sons had the bluest eyes in the land and were very tall.  All she needed was contained in one small, dark room, her bed, her kitchen range, a table, a chair and her loom for weaving tapestries and rugs.

The Miller's room at the watermill, Transylvania, 2008

The Miller’s room at the watermill, Transylvania, 2008, Jane Lee McCracken

Sometimes she welcomed travellers to visit her mill to make extra leu.  One day a Scottish visitor and a Geordie visitor came to the mill.  She had baked them fresh pastries with jam which were delicious.  Her sons showed the visitors how the mill and its water wheel worked, then the Miller allowed the Scottish visitor to try weaving a rug on the loom.  Whilst weaving the visitor noticed a vibrant tapestry, hanging on the wall above the bed.  The tapestry depicted a fairy tale and underneath it the Miller sweetly slept in her bed each night.  When the tour was over the Miller stood in her garden in the sunshine waving goodbye to the visitors and her sons blinked their bright blue eyes”.

Wolf-tracking, Transylviania, 2008

Wolf-tracking, Transylviania, 2008, Jane Lee McCracken

So many aspects of our trip to Romania in 2008 have stayed with us, the breathtaking landscapes, the beautiful villages, wolf-tracking, bear-tracking and the friends we made and two wonderful nights spent with them in The Shed – a glorious watering hole in a Transylvanian village.

The Geordie and commonly known by himself, "George Bush",  The Shed, Transylvania, 2008

The Geordie and commonly known by himself, “George Bush”, The Shed, Transylvania, 2008

And the Miller and her mill.  I never forgot her standing in her garden waving to us.

The Miller's garden, Transylvania, 2008

The Miller’s garden, Transylvania, 2008, Jane Lee McCracken

During our Romanian adventure, partly in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor, (see 175 Steps with Patrick Leigh Fermor) we learned a lot about Communist oppression of the Romanian people, Communist State Terror and the purges resulting in many thousands of  lives lost at the hands of the Securitate – the Romanian Secret Police.  A tragically broken country and people, Romania only emerged from the shadow of Communism and Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime in 1989.

Cottage in mountain village, Transylvania, 2008

Cottage in mountain village, Transylvania, 2008, Jane Lee McCracken

Remembering the Miller and her precious fairy tale tapestry, I thought of the communist purges and the Romanian peoples forcibly torn from their homes by the Securitate and the possessions left behind in the many empty properties we saw across Romania, grave memorials of the state’s barbarity.

'Join the Red Army', 1920 Ukrainian recruitment poster, artist unknown

‘Join the Red Army’, 1920 Ukrainian recruitment poster, artist unknown

To commemorate such loss during the purges I decided to make ‘The Red Horse and the Wolf Cub’.  It represents an interpretation of mass produced prints made in the 20th century of a fictional fairy tale about a ‘wolf cub’ and a ‘red horse’ and is reminiscent of Soviet Propaganda posters.  The drawing signifies how subjective art is and once selected by an individual, and displayed in their home it becomes a statement of ‘this is my taste’.  When the art work is left behind on the walls of abandoned homes, the home-owners ‘taste’ is exhibited to a silent audience or rediscovered by soldiers, refugees, other villagers or by nature.  The drawing also pays homage to Ivan Bilibin’s illustrations, particularly ‘The Red Rider’ in the Russian tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful”.

'Red Rider', "Vasalisa the Beautiful", Ivan Bilibin, 1899

‘Red Rider’, “Vasalisa the Beautiful”, Ivan Bilibin, 1899

I wondered had the Miller loved fairy tales as a young girl just as I loved my first fairy tale book illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone.  Incorporating a drawing in red Biro of a gypsy horse after Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone, one of my favourite childhood illustrations, I placed Lily as a puppy playing the wolf cub, riding on the horse’s back.  On the saddle is a projection of a Russian animation of a wolf which the wolf cub is watching.

'Lily' aged 15 weeks during the photo shoot for 'The Red Horse and the Wolf Cub'

‘Lily’ aged 15 weeks during the photo shoot for ‘The Red Horse and the Wolf Cub’

The drawing also memorialises our wonderful trip to beautiful Romania.

'Red Horse and the Wolf Cub - After Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone', 2009, red and black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Red Horse and the Wolf Cub – After Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone’, 2009, red and black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Luxurious Archival Pigment limited edition prints of ‘The Red Horse and the Wolf Cub’, made by the excellent Jack Lowe Studio are available from my website

175 Steps with Patrick Leigh Fermor

'R and Lily bookmark and "Between the Woods and the Water"

‘R and Lily bookmark and “Between the Woods and the Water”

Sighișoara, Transylvania, 31 August, 2008 … Have brought Patrick to be reunited with Angéla.  He’s in my bag!  As our feet touch the first step of the Scholars’ Stairway, a wooden covered staircase built in 1642 boasting 175 steps which lead to the ‘School on the Hill’ … we notice the sweetest old woman crowned in a floral headscarf, shyly concealed behind the ornate entrance.  She is holding a basket with four of the rosiest, plumpest apples (Snow White would have discarded the wicked Queen’s offering as windfall on first gaze of these!). She is selling them just as others are standing on the streets of the beautiful Saxon citadel, trading their house hold possessions or fruit from their garden, all swallowed by a cerulean sky. Not meaning to offend we give her lei and leave her the apple she offers so she can sell it to someone else and make more money.  As she begins to understand our international mime, she smiles the warmest toothless smile and thanks us – “mulţumesc”.  The steps are hard work, too many Vogue cigarettes!  I’m on the steps finally after dreaming of seeing what you saw! The sun is setting as we reach the top of the staircase.  The ‘Church on the Hill’ welcomes us too.  The gravestones are on fire.  I take out ‘Between the Woods and the Water’, Patrick Leigh Fermor from my bag and read pages 156-158.  But it’s page 154 that I’ve marked with a photo of R and Lily…”

'The Scholars Staircase', Sighisoara, 2008

‘The Scholars Staircase’, Sighisoara, 2008

‘We put up at an inn with gables and leaded windows in a square lifted high above the roofs and the triple cincture of the town wall and dined at a heavy oak table in the Gastzimmer.  The glasses held a cool local wine that washed down trout caught that afternoon, and every sight and sound – the voices, the wine-glasses, the stone mugs and the furniture shining with the polish of a couple of centuries – brought it closer to a Weinstube by the Rhine or the Necker.  When István retired, Angéla and I sat on in the great smokey room holding hands, deeply aware that it was the last night but one of our journey.  There are times when hours are more precious than diamonds.  The gable-windows upstairs surveyed a vision of unreality.  The moon had triumphed over the mute fireworks to the east and the north and all the dimensions had been re-shuffled.  We lent on the sill, and when Angéla turned her head, her face was bisected for a moment, one half silver, the other caught by the gold glow of lamplight indoors.’ (“Between the Woods and the Water”, p 154)

Balasha Cantacuzene (Angéla), Romanian Princess

Balasha Cantacuzene (Angéla), Romanian Princess

"Sighisoara", 2008

“Sighisoara”, 2008

"R, Ciuc beer and ceramic candleholder of the Shoemaker's House, Sighisoara", 2008

“R, Ciuc beer and ceramic candleholder of the Shoemaker’s House, Sighisoara”, 2008

Our trip to Romania in 2008 in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor had a profound affect on me and I began my own journey making a series of work called “Tales from the East” upon our return.  “The Cupboard” a drawing from this series, was of a painted corner cupboard in the Szekély style that furnished the blue cottage we stayed in at Micloșoara, Transylvania.

"The Cupboard", black Biro drawing, 2009 by Jane Lee McCracken http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_4657731.html

“The Cupboard”, black Biro drawing, 2009 by Jane Lee McCracken

Before I discovered Patrick Leigh Fermor, “A Time of Gifts”, Proust was the most beautiful writer I had read, he wrote art.  Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ethereal prose is so exquisite and rich I only ever managed two pages at each sitting in order to savour every phrase and image conjured. Patrick Leigh Fermor began his epic walk from Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933 when he was just 18 years old and chronicled his journey in “A Time of Gifts” and its sequel “Between the Woods and the Water”.  He feeds our thoughts of run away travel, of exotic Europa with its diverse landscapes, cultures and jewels of buildings and people, of halcyon times lost forever to war.  But above all it’s the sense of freedom he bestows as he roams across a blithe youth full of promise and adventure, capturing and bottling his journey as a gift for us of an inimitable perfume and through its fragrant notes he gives us back our own precious lost hours.

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor

N.B. My husband bought me Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor and although I wanted to read it I delayed, waiting for news about “the last book”.  Leigh Fermor planned a third volume about the final part of his journey to Constantinople but suffering from writer’s block he was unable to finish it in his life time.  ‘The Broken Road From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos’ has been published post-humously bringing together two texts he left behind.  I hope Santa is good to me!  But there’s another reason I haven’t read his biography yet.  Patrick Leigh Fermor is the boy walking through pre-war Europe, the soldier and hero of WWII in “Ill Met By Moonlight”, W. Stanley Moss, and the intellectual who gave us “Mani” and “Roumeli”; he is legendary and maybe I’d rather he remains for me as the person he presents through his own beautiful words.

"A Time For Gifts", Patrick Leigh Fermor

“A Time of Gifts”, Patrick Leigh Fermor

For further information about ‘The Cupboard’ drawing please visit:  http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_4657731.html

Luxury Archival Pigment Prints of ‘The Cupboard’ are available from:  http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_11377802.html