Friday, 16 September 2011

Greece - Roadside Shrines

So, I've just had a lovely week of all inclusive wonderfulness and 30odd degree heat (LUSH!) but I am now back and don't worry my little shrine obsession didn't go very far. I remember many years ago when I visited Greece being fascinated by these often ornate little boxes by the side of the road. Co-incidentally I had decided to E-mail a friend of mine who I met when I was last in Greece about these objects for some more information. 

She informed me they were memorials for people who had died and were often tended to by family members lighting candles and sometimes even writing letters. The boxes seemed to be full of images of Byzantine Icons (Saints as I understand it) and personal items. I felt a bit weird about photographing them so I saw far more than I photographed. As you can imagine they're all placed in dangerous places as they are accident sites so not the easiest things to get to and when they were in towns I was worried about seeming disrespectful by the local community with less than no knowledge of Greek! 
So these are the images I have collected of a few I saw. 

This was the closest memorial to my hotel on the side of a busy road. As you can see there are various images of byzantine icons and burners to be lit by relatives or friends. The plastic bottles often contained oil or flammable substances to fuel a flame. 

This second example seemed a lot more personal to me with less bought for purpose items and was far more accessible so an enclosed front had been included. This was less ornate in appearance. 

There were many many examples that I drive past or saw at a distance that I just think are beautiful and intriguing items that I would love to know more about. There were some great shops in Rhethymnon which was the nearest town to where I was staying selling fab Byzantine items which I think would be for the purpose of these shrines. I bought some and did get some very strange looks lol When I get chance in natural light I will put them on here to look at. There were also large roadside shops selling the empty memorial boxes in all shapes colours and sizes in brick and wood mostly. They looked very grand. 

I also visited a Monastery in Margarites where I lit a candle for my late father and enjoyed the beautiful imagery on the walls. 

 I have never been particularly religious myself but have a particular interest in religious imagery and I have some old bibles mostly for their history and the messages to love ones inside the front covers always intrigue me. It seems to me that the memorials by the roadside are stunning examples of memorials and tributes to a love one. It struck me how they didn't seem at all depressing or tampered with in any way by the roadside. Unfortunately, such a think in Britain would probably be vandalised. Their is a great sense of respect in the Greek culture and this is a ritual as part of their nationality that I greatly admire. 

I wish to learn a bit more about the Byzantine icons and what a few of them mean and I will post some of my icon pieces on here soon. 


Wednesday, 7 September 2011


shrine (Latinscrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old Frenchescrin "box or case")[1] is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deityancestorheromartyrsaintdaemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idolsrelics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated.[2] A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar. Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including ChristianityIslamHinduismBuddhismWiccaChinese folk religion and Shinto, as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial.[3] Shrines can be found in various settings, such as churchestemplescemeteries, or in the home, although portable shrines are also found in some cultures.[4]

nicho is an object of Latin American folk art. Nichos are made from mixed media and traditionally combine elements from Roman Catholicismmestizo spirituality, and popular culture. Characteristically "nicho" objects have different names throughout Central and South America: they may be called retablo or by other local names. Also see article onPeruvian Retablos, a style that encompasses several different portable forms not discussed here.
In South America, it is common to see decorative boxes called "nichos" set upon tables and pedestals to display religious icons. These boxes may serve as a religious altar (to mark a significant religious event) or to honor a patron saint.
Nicho art originated as a popular adaptation of the Roman Catholic retablo tradition of painting patron saints on wood or tin. Unlike the large, flat panels of retablo, nichos are small and built in shadow box style. Common structural conventions include hinged doors, carved borders, and multiple panels. Within the box there is a key object or central figure for whose honor or memory the nicho has been created. Nichos are usually painted with striking colors, often contrasting bright and dark, and tend towards garish. In addition to painted designs, nichos are decorated with all variety of images and objects from religious and popular culture, especially depictions of the Virgin Mary, saints, the sacred heart, figures from loteriaDia de los Muertos characters and objects, and folk heroes.

Quick research on Wikipedia. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Quirky Little things I own

Well I'm in the bat cave and I'm hungover so I thought Id get my blog on and let you know about some quirky kewl bits and bobs I've come across recently. Some of which I have NO idea what to do with. My Aunt and her fiancee run a Medieval Festival in Lanark which in turn means they go to all sorts of fairs and trade shows and have fab old authentic traders that every so often have great pieces of kit for you're average joe!  

 Rosalind found me these buttons from Tinkers Tailor. Which I have decided I'm going to find maybe an old black cardie of mine or raid the charity shops and find a cardie and substitute these buttons in. They will look awesome. I was also thinking maybe they could be used in a little Nicho or Shrine memorial box. What do you think?
23x16mm 60pence each
Pewter large Skull Buttons

Next we have some stuff purchased in Angel Islington vintage market some time ago. More through intrigue and imagery than anything. 

A Jesus Tag - Got damaged in transit on my way home :(
Really liked the imagery on this tag. Wording says, "*I Will Bless Every Place* Where A Picture Of My Heart Shall Be Set Up And Honoured" Just thought it was interesting could be used in collage.

From the same stall I bought 

Three slides of diagrams. As some of you may know ~I have a morbid fascination with anatomy and old medical books and I purchased these slides due to an echo of anatomical diagrams within my books. They are however diagrams of parts of plants. I rooted through a whole box and picked these three due to similarities with male and female body parts :) See Close ups below. 

All of the above (3 slides AND the Jesus tag) cost me £9. Which i thought was a bargain. I want to try and scan and enlarge and print the images and maybe collage or draw over?

Last but not least my recent purchase from the Worcester Flea which is a small vintage market in the town centre. 

As you may have seen in my previous posts I've been thinking about new small art projects and one of the themes I'm going to look at is shrines and memorials. I have been thinking about small portable pieces of art that can be carried by a person than are filled with mixed media images to remind of beliefs and strength and past memories.  

 I found this hinged tin at the Flea for the bargain price of £8. Its a very old toffee tin. I like the way its worn a bit on the front. The hinge fits well and its a snug closure. I was thinking of maybe lining this and   filling it with some contents a bit like a collage with a 3D centre piece possibly or maybe a photograph?

Thats all for now. I will post some research into shrines and memorials soon. 


Friday, 2 September 2011

Thoughts and general ramblings

I've decided (I've been thinking about this for a really long time but really tonight has made me certain) that from this September i.e NOW, I will start working towards many little arty projects some through work, to make myself more prepared to apply for Art Therapy next September 2012. I turn 26 at the end of this month (this is not a midlife crisis lol) and when I originally graduated from DMU in Fine Art in 2008 I applied to study Art Therapy at Derby university. I was told at the time that I was too young in my feedback and I would be more prepared come 25 or so. Although I did not necessarily agree at the time I could see where they were coming from. A lot of the other applicants were older than me (considerably in some cases) and had a lot of work experience. Although coming from a degree I was strong in my Art background and had a consistent body of work. Since this set back I have almost scrapped the idea, due to the fact that in full time work (48hrs a week 12hr shifts) I have struggled to see how I can create conceptual  work to a consistent standard in my spare time whilst allowing myself down time also (needed!). I have decided its time to work towards it and allowing myself a year in which to do so is plenty of time to prepare and also raise some effort in funds towards this.

The universities that offered this course when I applied were few and more have probably taken on the course since. SO, as well as tattoo flash type art work (that I enjoy and have an interest in but have not much substance behind them) I will be doing small projects covering varied periods of time, some involving the service users that I support at work. Thus providing a varied base of work over a year long period.

This is the theory anyway :S I have put together a brief photography project through work fairly recently for the young people to have cameras and take pictures that they want to take to see what we get and using the results to do collage and drawing work from. (I will post the full brief further down the line) I have had a positive response from staff and young people who want to take part (I should say I work with 16-25s with Autism and challenging behavior) and am waiting on some disposable cameras being ordered. I have chosen to do it this way to remove any materialistic value from the camera to encourage it to be taken and carried more freely with them. Also limiting the exposures and making it more personal to them, they can be left with complete responsibility of the camera.

Anyway after this epiphany (caused by a small amount of alcohol and a colleague leaving for pastures new in "that lahndin"). I shall start to think of themes and areas of interest I can work on through photography research, pen, ink and collage. Its quite exciting. I also have friends setting up life drawing in the area which I will think about going to and some tattoo/pen and ink work thats been on the back  burner for a while which needs finishing so time to get off my ass I think...............



Also I will be blogging my way through all this don't you worry. Second Burlesque show on Sunday too! Miss Hilton Presents is going well :D