‘War’ – New Multi-media Project

Photo image of new colour Biro drawing in progress

Photo image of new colour Biro drawing in progress

After a year making art for conservation, a new body of work on the subject of war is in progress!

This multi-media project inspired by found images, objects and films will explore the impact of ‘war’ on humans and animals in a series of pieces examining the emotional and physical implications of war, eternally memorializing the subjects featured.

With an ongoing theme aiming to view victims as individuals not statistics, ‘War’ will consider in-depth the equality of suffering between both animals and humans as well as analyzing the word ‘war’ in other contexts.

Keep up to date with project progress at:

www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/news

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‘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.

‘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

What the Children Saw – ‘LORE’ and Generation War Child

'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’, 2009, red Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken part of a “triptych (which) portrays memories of a small child at play using a sideboard, within the safety of ‘home’, before the onset of war… 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’. This piece highlights the indiscriminate nature of war and how it can affect ‘anyone’ and provokes understanding of loss by seeing victims as individuals and not statistics.”

No child should see what generations of children growing up during war have seen or are seeing.  Their eyes are forced to soak up the bloody spillage engendered by the very generations who are supposed to guide them safely to adulthood.  ‘Collective guilt’ particularly after WWII often dictates a rule of silence leaving many children and young adults unable to express the horror they have witnessed.  Dealing inwardly with a recurring nightmare spawned from observing the grotesquery of war, can cause psychological catastrophe for many and a lifetime of suffering.

Saskia 'Lore', 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland’s 2012 film presents us not only with all of the above but ultimately shares a reality that has echoed down the years, ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’, Plato

Lore and her siblings, 'Lore', Cate Shortland, 2012

‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

Through a fluttering curtained window into the cinematically exquisite trampled fairy tale of a fleeing Nazi family, teenage Lore turns her beautiful face towards the camera and commences the unravelling of her contorted mind of lies.  The chorally haunted forests of Schwarzwald provide the setting for an epic journey’s beginning, as Lore’s high ranking Nazi parents disappear into the forests deep in the American enclave, leaving their five children to find a way through the aftermath of WWII to Grandmother’s in Hamburg.  The extraorindary Saskia Rosendahl’s ‘Lore’ is forced to confront her Nazi indoctrination, anti-Semitism and hero-worshipping of her father whom she discovers to be a war criminal responsible for genocide; she witnesses the scaling denial of a nation, all whilst leading her young brothers, including baby Peter and her younger sister Liesel to safety.

'Lore',

Saskia Rosendahl’s ‘Lore’, Cate Shortland, 2012

Adam Arkapaw’s stunning cinematography often gentle and sun-blanched, has wisps of Gerhard Richter’s paintings flickering through it.  A motion parallel to Richter’s ‘Betty’, 1988 (Richter was himself a child during WWII) and homage to his blurred photo-paintings echo throughout the film especially in the sequence when Lore dances with her sister Liesel.

'Betty', 1988, Gerhard Richter

‘Betty’, Gerhard Richter, 1988

Many refugees experienced chance, often fleeting encounters with strangers who changed the course of their lives in the unwinding chaos of WWII Europe.  A Jewish concentration camp survivor, Kai Malina’s ‘Thomas’, covets Lore and eventually becomes the siblings guardian angel whilst Lore’s beliefs and body crumble in the rubble and decay of ‘Gomorrah’. The greatest achievement of this impressive film, for there are many, is to communicate a picture of what discovering the unfolding horror show of war looks like, as if we too are there sharing the unearthing with the children.  This film gifts us within a closer proximity than others of its ilk, of trying to comprehend the aftershock of WWII.

Lore and her siblings, 'Lore', 2012

Lore and her siblings, ‘Lore’, 2012

It is often impossible to put into words something you have never seen or experienced yourself, but “A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound”, Ivan Turgenev. Perhaps images more than words help us ‘the unexperienced fortunates’ gain any sort of understanding of what witnessing the horror of war actually means.

Detail of Julien Bryan's "Ten-year-old Polish girl Kazimiera Mika mourning the death of her sister, caused by strafing German aircraft, near Warsaw, Poland. 13 Sep 1939"

Detail of Julien Bryan’s “Ten-year-old Polish girl Kazimiera Mika mourning the death of her sister, caused by strafing German aircraft, near Warsaw, Poland. 13 Sep 1939”

For further information about ‘The Sideboard’ triptych, please visit my website