‘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.

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‘The Sideboard II’ – Remembering Children Affected by War

'The Sideboard II', 2009, red Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCrackenThis triptych portrays memories of a small child at play in a sideboard, within the safety of ‘home’, before the onset of war. It was inspired by the girl in the red coat from the film ‘Schindler’s List’, 1993, Steven Spielberg, as she wanders through the Kraków Ghetto while it is being ‘cleared’’. The Artist uses her niece to model for this piece to highlight the indiscriminate nature of war and how it can affect ‘anyone’ and to provoke understanding of loss by seeing victims as individuals and not statistics.

‘The Sideboard II’,  red Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

This triptych of Biro drawings portrays memories of a small child at play with a sideboard, within the safety of ‘home’, before the onset of war – perhaps a cottage in a small village in Eastern Europe.

It was inspired by the ‘girl in the red coat’ from the film ‘Schindler’s List’, 1993, Steven Spielberg, as she wanders through the Kraków Ghetto while it is being ‘cleared’ by German soldiers in 1943.

'The Sideboard I, II & III', black and red Biro drawings by Jane Lee McCracken

‘The Sideboard I, II & III’, black and red Biro drawings by Jane Lee McCracken

With my sister’s permission I used photos I had taken of my niece at play in the family kitchen as reference for the drawings.   These pieces highlight the indiscriminate nature of war and how it can affect ‘anyone’ and attempt to convey understanding of loss by seeing victims as individuals and not statistics.

For further images from this series please visit my website.

‘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

 

 

‘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

‘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

“Save Us!” – The Wolves Propaganda Poster

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

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

Originally conceived as the design for a miniature poster to adorn the interior walls of ‘The Wolf’s House’,  ‘”Save Us!” Propaganda Poster’ is a photo montage using prints of my original black Biro drawings of Lily, as a puppy and as a mature dog.  Her lupine features as well as her trusting expression seemed to lend perfectly to the theme of the poster.

The foundation for this piece is the famous Soviet World War II propaganda poster by Viktor Koretsky, “Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!”, 1942.  Although the Russian cyrillic translation for “Red Army Soldiers” has been removed from the design, I have left a trace of where it was originally placed, indicating the war I envisaged the inhabitants of The Wolf’s House to be planning or already waging against humans.  Retaining the Russian translation for “Save Us!” from Koretsky’s original poster in my design, incites a message that is woven throughout the symbolism of The Wolf’s House, promoting conservation of threatened species.

"Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!", original 1942 Soviet WWII propaganda poster by

“Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!”, original 1942 Soviet WWII propaganda poster by

The Kafka-esque images I imagined of wolves holding secret meetings in ‘The Wolf’s House’, planning their epic battle against humans were perhaps triggered not only by my drawing of 2010,  “TV Screen III – ‘East Meets West, Forests’ Memories'” but also by my husband’s description of  the music video for ‘There, There’, 2003, whilst we were listening to Radiohead’s ‘Hail to the Thief’ during a car journey to Scotland.  His description was powerful as I didn’t get round to watching the video until last year, a year after the creation of The Wolf’s House.

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

‘”Save Us!’, Propaganda Poster’, Archival Pigment Print

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

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