‘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.

‘Russian Doll’ – Remembering Female Victims of War

'The Russian Doll', red, black, blue and green Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘The Russian Doll’, red, black, blue and green Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Adopting the iconic image of the Russian doll, this drawing was made as a memorial to women and young girls  who were/are the victims of violence during war.  A Russian Doll painted with the tranquil scene of Ivan Shishkin’s ‘Morning in a Pine Forest’, 1889, one of Russia’s most popular paintings, is layered with the image of Russian soldiers fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad during WWII.  Now a well documented fact, graphically conveyed in such writings as Anthony Beevor’s ‘Berlin: The Downfall 1945’ 2002, this piece represents the genocidal rape perpetrated by the Red Army as it surged towards Berlin.  The novelist Vasily Grossman, a front line war correspondent with the Red Army, dismayed at the mass rape committed by so many Russian soldiers on not only German women but liberated Polish and Russian women wrote,

“Horror in the eyes of women and girls” (‘A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945’).

The consequences of such violations often resulted/result in suicide, unwanted pregnancies and lifelong psychological and physical scars. By layering a self-portrait as part of the Russian Doll’s face, thus bridging awareness between statics and reality, this representation suggests that during war violence is indiscriminate and targets females of all ages and backgrounds.  Often a strategic weapon of war that has been used in conflicts since records began, it is still common today, recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with many incidents of rape being reported in the current conflict in Iraq.   At the very edge of the drawing appear the legs of a young girl, a reminder of the very young victims of war rape.

For further images from this series please visit my website.

NEW WORK Coming Soon – Meet ‘Chernobyl Cat’

'Chernobyl Cat', biro on china figurine, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro on china figurine, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

New work is on its way!  Made late last year prototype ‘Chernobyl Cat’,  one of seven figurines, ‘The Dreamers’, original Biro drawings on china forms part of a wider project about life and death in the animal world, both naturally and at the hands of man.

A feral cat at play in an abandoned house within the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor dreams of birth mutations due to radiation.  The black biro drawing is made of layers from still images of ‘Chernobyl: Life in the Dead Zone’, Discovery Channel, 2007.  Nature in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl seems to be thriving with human interference now removed but scientist are polarised as to the fate of animals living in this area and their long-term survival from the catastrophic levels of radiation that still exist.  This is represented by a pattern of mutated cats and dolls as well as the cat’s natural predators, wolves and foxes – the conglomerated pattern suggests folk art patterns of Russia.

'Chernobyl Cat',Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

Inspired by Goya’s Los Caprichos, ‘The Dreamers’ represent the innocent physicality of sleep whilst the torrid kaleidoscope of dreams cascades through the brain.   ‘The Dreamers’ also represents the quiet moments of peace and daydreams before the inevitability of life’s realities steals ‘innocence’.  Dreams play out like films in our minds, abstract fragments of the brain’s data input of information and our fears and hopes.  Much of my work is based on the subject matter of loss through war and disaster or environmental destruction, represented in layered Biro drawings using stills from films often creating an abstracted phantasmagoria of images and thoughts.  Films transport and capture our minds just like dreams do; they face our fears, portray our hopes and can be therapeutic tools in our waking hours as dreams are deemed brain therapy in our sleep.

'Chernobyl Cat', biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

I made a random collection of figurines from local charity shops, so that my philosophy of simply using what is close at hand, such as a Biro for drawings was upheld with the choice of figurines available on each day.  Damaged and repaired figurines were still selected to retain the memory of the figurine’s previous life and owner.  Each figurine was then painted white, purifying them from the original manufacturers painted design and stripping each figurine back to the foundations of its physical representation thus creating a blank canvas.  This brings a sense of life to each figurine without the distraction of painted design before the original black Biro drawings are drawn onto the painted surface as well as white representing the purity of ‘a being’ at sleep.  An incredibly hard surface to draw on, these pieces were challenging and remain precious for the intimacy shared with each piece by holding them in my hands as I drew on them.

Further images will be released as this project continues.  

‘THRIVE’ an Inspirational Exhibition for SAVE WILD TIGERS!

 

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

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’,  Siberian Tiger, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, luxury fine English china plate by Jane Lee McCracken made by THE NEW ENGLISH, Stoke-on-Trent

On 20th May 2014 Save Wild Tigers, an incredible organisation dedicated to saving the worlds last remaining wild tigers will be holding an auction dinner of tiger inspired artwork at the Mango Tree, London.  ‘THRIVE’, a unique and inspirational exhibition of this artwork, made by 20 artists will be shown from 14th – 19th May at the Sanderson Hotel, London.

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I feel exceptionally privileged that a new piece of work made specially for Save Wild Tigers will be exhibited in THRIVE alongside a group of amazing artists and their tiger artwork, curated by exceptional multimedia artist Lauren Baker.

When I was a wee girl tigers were already endangered.  In the mid 1970s after reading that the Caspian Tiger was thought to be extinct I wrote to a company whose advertising campaigns featured a tiger, to ask if they were helping save tigers.  It seemed logical to a child that if a company used an endangered animal in its advertising they must be donating some of their profit to conserve tigers.  I didn’t receive a reply.  By the time the company was donating towards tiger conservation in the 1990s, I was driving tube trains on the Northern Line and still hoping I could do something to help wild tigers.  After all how can we look ourselves in the mirror as a species if we don’t try to save one of the most beautiful and iconic animals on the planet.

Save Wild Tigers is a incredibly innovative organisation who work tirelessly to raise funds which “go directly to targeted and critical tiger conservation projects that make a real difference” including the Born Free Foundation and the Environmental Investigation Agency.  Save Wild Tigers actively encourage people to get involved in helping to save tigers – from artists and other creatives to tiny tigers of our younger generations.

'Shh, it's a Tiger!' and 'Bang!', Siberian tiger luxury fine china plate diptych by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’ and ‘Bang!’, Siberian tiger “In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia” luxury fine china plate diptych by Jane Lee McCracken made by THE NEW ENGLISH, Stoke-on-Trent

Since pledging the second Biro drawing in a new diptych of South China Tigers for the next two plates in my ceramics series, I have written my own tiger legend especially for Save Wild Tigers.  The drawing will be revealed after the exhibition opening.  A luxury limited edition series of 20 archival pigment prints of the drawing made by master printmaker Jack Lowe Studio will be available to purchase with ALL profits donated to Save Wild Tigers.  Plates No.1 of ‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’ and ‘Bang!’ will also be auctioned on the 20th of May.

Thank you Save Wild Tigers for all your hard work saving tigers and for including my work in your inspirational exhibition!

'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, 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

 

 

‘Bang!’ – Odyssey of the Siberian Tiger

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

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

‘Bang!’ is the second drawing in my diptych, ‘Siberian Tiger’, which is part of my luxury fine English china plate and print series. Inspired by the elusive Amur tiger, stealing through the forests of Ussuriland in Scottish film maker Gordon Buchanan’s beautifully shot film ‘Amba, the Russian Tiger’, 2008, a tiger skull placed beside a walking Siberian tiger is layered with a projected image of a group of revolutionary Red Army soldiers posing with a tiger they have shot.  The target of the sniper rifle in the foliage of ‘Shh, it’s a Tiger! is revealed as the walking tiger in ‘Bang!’ through the symbolic bullet hole in the skull.

'Shh, it's a Tiger!' and 'Bang!', Siberian tiger luxury fine china plate diptych by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’ and ‘Bang!’, Siberian tiger luxury fine china plate diptych by Jane Lee McCracken

The simplicity of this drawing which juxtaposes the complexity of ‘Shh, it’s a Tiger!’ carries an epic message, unless the illegal hunting of tigers by poachers is halted, Siberian Tigers will no longer roam the forests of Ussuriland.  Around 400 Amur Tigers remain in the wild.  Wildlife crime remains one of the greatest threats to their survival. For further information about the Amur Tiger please click on this link to WWF’s website

'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

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

“Bang!”, Siberian 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 Website_header_panel_94ef2d8a-1f22-4c1f-b100-2d63e2e8fe93_1024x1024

‘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

 

Where’s Daddy Bear?

"Mummy Bear and Baby Bear", Brown Bears, 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013 black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

“Mummy Bear and Baby Bear”, Brown Bears, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013 black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

As part of the Brown Bears diptych for my luxury china plate series “In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia”, ‘Mummy Bear and Baby Bear’ highlights the practice of den hunting in Russia where hibernating adult bears are woken by dogs and shot as they emerge from their den, resulting in the orphaning of cubs if the female bear has produced a litter. Using Anselm Kiefer’s painting, ‘Parsifal III’, 1973 as the underlying layer of the drawing, this piece depicts not only the physical painted elements of Kiefer’s dark den like attic but also Kiefer’s symbolism, his bold challenges on recent history and the fact that Kiefer’s attic represents the origin of time. This signifies for me age-old relationships between man and animals, both good and evil.

'Mummy Bear and Baby Bear', Brown Bears, luxury fine English china plate by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Mummy Bear and Baby Bear’, Brown Bears, luxury fine English china plate by Jane Lee McCracken

Kiefer’s portrayal of the ‘Parsifal Saga’ and Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ Opera include the symbolic ‘holy spear’ which in this drawing penetrates the cub’s neck creating Jung’s ‘Amfortas Wound’, the wound that never heals. The representation of the ‘Amfortas Wound’ not only suggests that man historically as a species continues to repeat controversial behaviour despite knowledge of its consequences, but also implies the pain of ‘loss’ that never completely heals. In the centre of the piece are a mother bear and her cub, a drawing montage of Viktor Koretsky’s 1942 WWII propaganda poster “Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!”. The drawing parallels not only the interpretation of the fairy tale ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ which moralises key needs for both humans and bears such as food, safety and shelter but also asks “where’s Daddy bear?”, is he also a victim of den hunting? The gun thrust into the faces of Mummy bear and Baby Bear is a WWII Russian PPSH41 Sub Machine gun replacing the German bayonet in Koretsky’s original poster suggesting ‘Friendly Fire’ on Brown Bears as it is Russian business deals that continue the practice of den hunting and result in the hunting of Russia’s national symbol.

Sadly the original black Biro drawing was damaged but thankfully not before the image in its original form reached THE NEW ENGLISH to be made into plates.  This plate and the the beautiful luxury prints made by Jack Lowe Studio are therefore very special to me on a personal level.

 

"Mummy Bear and Baby Bear", Brown Bears, 'In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia', 2013 black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

“Mummy Bear and Baby Bear”, Brown Bears, ‘In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia’, 2013 black Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

For plate enquiries please contact:

jane@janeleemccracken.co.uk

For plate sales please visit THE NEW ENGLISH

For luxury Archival Pigment prints made to order by master printmaker Jack Lowe Studio please visit my shop

‘Kaboom! Where Did All The Animals Go?’ – WAR AND WILDLIFE

Kaboom where did all the animals go - Copy

The catastrophe of war affects not only humans but wildlife also. During war, landscapes are destroyed.  Within every square foot of a landscape there is some form of life.  Every shell that exploded in the fields of Flanders in WWI, every mortar detonated in the forests of the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge, had a direct impact on the eco-system within each area.  The insects, the small mammal populations, the birds, the large mammal populations – the blind fear inflicted upon them is yet another tragedy of war.

Where do the animals go?  Many of them are killed as their habitats are destroyed.  Others evacuate the area.  It is a subject that is rarely discussed as the impingement of war on humans takes precedence.

'Lying Stag' by Nymphenburg, Germany, Artist's own collection

‘Lying Stag’ by Nymphenburg, Germany, Artist’s own collection

I wanted to make a memorial to all the animals that have been affected and will continue to be affected during each outbreak of war.  Creating a halcyon forest scene of peace and tranquility, my drawing features an exquisite bisque ‘Lying Stag’ by Nymphenburg, Germany, designed by August Göhring in 1939.  Deer are the epitome of elegance and exude an aura of serenity – but their fine, slender features betray the fragility not only of their own bodies that can so easily be broken but echo the delicacy of the ecosystems they inhabit.  The fragility of porcelain symbolises the fracturable nature of ecosystems, so easily shattered.

The Emerald City, 'The Wizard of Oz', Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Emerald City, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1939

I decided to draw the porcelain stag as if it were made of ethereal Uranium glass, not only representing the green of forests but also the colour of the Emerald City in the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’, 1939, thus creating a halo of wonderment as we encounter the stag lying amongst the beauty of a pristine forest.   The Emerald City seems a place of beauty and promise like the forest in the drawing, but it is an illusion masking the true reality of life behind the green walls, as war creeps ever closer to the hooves of the restful stag.  A carved section of my Grandmother’s dressing table, circa 1940 reflects the harmonious relationship man is capable of having with forests, managing them properly so that sustainable wood is used for the making of furniture and carving of objects.

Artist's still photograph of a deer from 'A Prophet', Jacques Audiard, 2009

Artist’s still photograph of a deer from ‘A Prophet’, Jacques Audiard, 2009

But a drawing of a still from the film ‘A Prophet’, 2009, Jacques Audiard of a herd of deer running down a road, caught in the headlights of a car before the film continues to show one of the deer brutally run over, represents the onslaught of war.

Still photograph of this morning's Sky News bulletin as the crisis deepens in Ukraine.  Ukrainain soldiers attempt to negotiate command of their headquarters with Russian soldiers who fired into the air upon their unarmed, flag carrying approach.

Still photograph of this morning’s Sky News bulletin as the crisis deepens in Ukraine. Ukrainain soldiers attempt to negotiate command of their headquarters with Russian soldiers who fired into the air upon their unarmed, flag carrying approach.

With crisis looming in Ukraine, war is never far from any of us.  It is in our nature to feud with one another.  One twitchy pull of the trigger on a gun can release the bullet that sparks the conflagration of war.  The consequences affect every living organism that encounters the fallout from that one bullet.

As I wrote the words above I happened to look up at the television and saw the images caught in my photograph of the Sky News bulletin about the Ukraine crisis and watched as a Russian soldier fired into the air at unarmed Ukrainian soldiers as they approached to try and negotiate with the Russians.  It seemed a strange and poignant co-incidence.

Kaboom where did all the animals go - Copy

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

From Moscow with Love

'The Russian Doll', red, blue, green and black Biro drawing, 2008 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘The Russian Doll’, red, blue, green and black Biro drawing, 2008 by Jane Lee McCracken

The Russian Doll… Back in my home town of Edinburgh in 2005, with money in my pocket and a premeditated mission to visit ‘The Russian Shop’, my target was a Russian doll and successful return to Northumberland the same day with my own matryoshka.

The little shop on St Mary’s Street just off the High Street was overflowing with an impressive array of magnificent Russian dolls, lacquer boxes and wooden toys.  I wanted a special doll, something unique.   All the dolls were wearing coats of glistening varnish, except one which had a matt finish – she had the prettiest face, and on her body was a representation of Ivan Shishkin’s painting ‘Morning in a Pine Forest’, 1889. All her children had Russian landscape paintings on their bodies too and the same pretty face as their mother.  This was my doll!

Russian doll and her four children on 'The Wolf's House', mixed media, 2012, by Jane Lee McCracken

Russian doll and her four children on “The Wolf’s House”, mixed media, 2012, by Jane Lee McCracken

I took her to the counter to pay and the shop owner pointed to a woman I had noticed earlier who was sitting at a small desk painting a lacquer box. “This is the artist who made your doll, she has just flown in from Moscow this morning to give a demonstration of her work”.  Such excitement, such a lovely, gentle woman, we spoke to one another about her art and like a child holding out an autograph book to a living legend, I held out my dolI and asked if she would sign a dedication. “To Jane, with Love, 2005” it says.

'All I have left', 2001

“All I have Left”, 2001

Found objects and my own possessions feature a lot in my work.  I love the simplicity of using what is close at hand, a Biro, my dog Lily, objects I find on Ebay.  Working on  a series of drawings from 2008 called ‘Tales from the East’, I wanted to employ the iconic image of the Russian doll and create my own doll.  I used my Russian/Scottish doll as inspiration and a photograph from 2001 of myself, that was made for a series of digital montages called ‘All I have Left’ .

"Red Riding", All I have left' 2002, digital montage

‘”Red Riding”, All I have Left Series’ 2002, by Jane Lee McCracken, digital montage using artist’s photograph of the Black Forest

Like all my work, the drawing of “The Russian Doll” made with red, blue, green and black Biro acts on several levels and is symbolic of issues relating to war.  The self-portrait layered over the doll’s face, represents ordinary women “like you and me”.

For further information about the symbolism of this piece please visit my website: :http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_4657711.html

Luxury Archival Pigment Prints crafted by http://mrjacklowe.com/  are available from my shop:http://www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/photo_8181965.html

'The Russian Doll', Archival Pigment Print

“The Russian Doll”, Archival Pigment Print series