Thursday, December 25, 2008

Old English Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas to all! When I was a child this was probably my favourite Christmas Carol. Long before I saw my first Disney movie, I was fascinated by the idea of talking animals, so the idea that animals could speak on Christmas Eve was particularly attractive to me. I still remember it from a little cassette tape and book of Christmas Carols that I carried around with me for MONTHS leading up to Christmas. The tape was played so much that it always warbled during this song (and during my other favourites, the "Wassailing Song," "Good King Wenceslas" and "The Holy and the Ivy". I guess even then I had a thing for Old English Carols!

The Friendly Beasts
Jesus, our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude;
And the friendly beasts around Him stood.
Jesus, our brother, kind and good.

"I," said the Donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried His mother to Bethlehem town."
"I," said the Donkey, shaggy and brown.

"I," said the Cow, all white and red,
"I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head."
"I," said the Cow, all white and red.

"I," said the Sheep, with the curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the Sheep, with the curly horn.

"I," said the Dove, from the rafters high,
"I cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I."
"I," said the Dove, from the rafters high.

Thus every beast by some glad spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
The gift he gave Emmanuel.

Image courtesy of the Tate Gallery. It's "The Adoration" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and was painted between 1858 and 1864. I had actually never seen this painting before today! I just love the strong Medieval quality that it has. I'm so glad I found it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Death, Taxes and Pre-Raphaelite Art

What do death and taxes have to do with Pre-Raphealite Art?

It seems that in today's tough economic times, Britain's millionaires are turning to their art collections when it comes time to pay the tax man. The U.K. Treasury recently accepted an art collection worth over £15 million ($22.4 million) as payment in lieu of inheritance tax. The collection of rare artworks includes paintings by J.M.W. Turner (including the watercolor Carisbrook Castle) as well as some fabulous works by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Among the more eccentric items in the collection is the embroidered undershirt owned by British naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson--now there's a conversation piece.

The good news is that at least a few of these objects will now be in the public domain. The Treasury has announced that several of the paintings will be returning to the five National Trust houses from which they originally come.

For more information: U.K. Receives £15M Collection in Lieu of Death Duties at
Image: JMW Turner, Carisbrook Castle, 1827(in Public domain)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waltham Forest Council announces Plan to Restore Land Around the William Morris Gallery

The Waltham Forest Council has unveiled plans to help restore the land around the William Morris Gallery. The good news is that they will be working to restore historic planting areas around the gallery and working to repair the bridge from the historic gardens. The bad news is that it sounds like they will be turning the place into a bit of a concrete jungle (there are plans for massive additions to the parking area).

There will be a series of exhibitions at the William Morris Gallery on December 4, 2008 (that's tomorrow!) from 3:30-7:00 pm to discuss the proposal. Apparently that is the time to ask questions about their plans. On December 9, the exhibition will move to the Horizon Cafe in Aveling Park, Walthamstow, and it will be open until 31 May 2009. Council experts will be answering questions on Thursday 11 December and Thursday 18 December between 1pm-3.30pm, and further dates when officers will be in the cafe will be published late December.

I would be really interested to hear what some of my readers from the UK and that neighborhood think about the proposal. Please let me know if any of you attend! To see full details of the council's plans, check out their newsletter (in pdf).

You can also read more about it on the Waltham Forest website.