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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Derek Jarman’s landscapes


Landscape with Marble Mountain (1967).

1968 – The Lisson Gallery

I have been painting landscapes fairly consistently since I left school, and during that time they’ve changed a great deal. At first they were sparked off by holidays with Aunt Isobel at Kilve in North Somerset. I painted the red-brown earth and dark green of the Quantock Hills, which are at their brightest under the stormy grey skies which blow up over the Bristol Channel. In these paintings there are megaliths and standing stones and clumps of beech trees. By 1965 this has all changed. Oil paint is out. Aquatec, the new acrylic paint, in. The canvas is no longer rough brown flax, but a smooth white cotton duck. The use of rulers and masking tape produces a metrical precision, and replaces improvisation.

I began a series of landscapes which were larger—you have to paint large at the Slade or nobody notices. They have flat red grounds, blue skies, above eye-tricking imagery: Trompe l’oeil water, real taps, classical statues. The largest of these canvases, nine feet by seven, wins the Peter Stuyvesant award for painting at the Young Contemporaries show at the Tate in May 1967.

Since then things have changed again, and at my one-man show, my first one-man show at the Lisson, the canvases have become linear and perfectly balanced. There are no longer any figures or objects, and definitely no jokes. The canvases which are left raw resemble marble through which a grid of lines has been scored.

Derek Jarman, Dancing Ledge (1991)

I don’t have a book of Derek Jarman’s paintings so the pictures featured here—taken from the BBC’s collection of public artworks in Britain—are the only examples I’ve seen of his landscapes. These are surprisingly minimal compared to the richly textured Super-8 films he started making in the early 1970s, but then his painting—which is only one facet of his artistic output—went through several distinct periods. It’s notable that he mentions painting standing stones from an early age given their presence in the Avebury series below, and in his beguiling short, A Journey to Avebury (1971).

(Note: Landscape with Marble Mountain is shown on the BBC site as a portrait picture which would appear to be an error. I’ve taken the liberty of rotating the image anti-clockwise.)


Landscape with a Blue Pool (1967).


Landscape (no date).


Landscape II (no date).


Avebury Series No.2 (1973).


Avebury Series No.4 (1973).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Derek Jarman album covers
Ostia, a film by Julian Cole
Derek Jarman In The Key Of Blue
The Dream Machine
Jarman (all this maddening beauty)
Sebastiane by Derek Jarman
A Journey to Avebury by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s music videos
Derek Jarman’s Neutron
Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee
The Tempest illustrated
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman at the Serpentine
The Angelic Conversation
The life and work of Derek Jarman




Cameron Stalheim’s artwork is entitled “and then I saw Colby on the Street and my fantasy died”. There’s also a mermaid among his remarkable sculptures but mermen are a less common sight, especially when genitally equipped as this one is. See further details at his website.


Previously on { feuilleton }


The art of Sergey Solomko, 1867–1928



A few choice pieces by a Russian illustrator and costume designer. Typically for me, the selection includes a profusion of wings and feathers. The siren-like Sirin appear in Russian legends, and are worthy of a post of their own.


Blue Bird (Sirin).



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Berlin bookplates


Not all the bookplates here are German, the selection includes examples from Franz von Bayros and Walter Crane. The plates are from the 1907 proceedings of the Ex Libris Association of Berlin. I’d not seen anything by Mathilde Ade before but a quick search reveals her to have been a prolific bookplate illustrator. There’s more of her work here (and that blog is also worth a browse).



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Library of Congress bookplates


Artist: Phil May (1895).

The bookplates housed at the Library of Congress aren’t all available for online viewing which is a shame when their collection includes notable examples such as these. Three of the plates here were designed by the artists whose books they identified; two of the others are for writers—Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jack London—while the sixth one is for Charlie Chaplin. The artists’ plates look like continuations of the work of their creators which makes them less interesting than those of the writers and actor, all three of which say something about the way these men saw themselves reflected in their work: the pantheon of characters from Burroughs’ fiction; Chaplin’s poor boy conquering London; and Jack London’s lone wolf daring you to try to steal his book.


Artist: Frederic Remington (between 1880? and 1909).


Artist: Studley Burroughs (between 1914 and 1922).

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin