Sunday, 15 March 2020

Italian Comic

There is a default Facebook page on Balintore Castle here. Neither did I create this page, nor have I added content. However, checking this page out today, I spotted this wonderful illustration which has been made the page's title picture around a week ago:

Father Brown moonlighting at Balintore Castle

This is by a talented graphic artist called Werner Maresta from Genoa who now lives in Granada. The work was done for the cover of a "Father Brown" detective comic based on the short stories by G.K.Chesterton. The comic, published by an Italian company Renoir Comics, may be found here. The front cover is shown below:

cover of Father Brown comic

Surfing around, I spotted another version of Balintore Castle, by the same artist. 

Balintore Castle by Werner Maresta

By an amazing coincidence, illustration is one of my favourite art forms. This is for several reasons. Firstly, most illustrations are not intended to be "art" in the rarefied sense. They tell a story or serve an illustrative purpose. In short they are functional, so the pressure to have any of the high-bar attributes of art is off. 

However, in the execution art can sometimes be injected, and there's no doubt these images are graphic art of the highest order showing a confidence and boldness of handling, as well as a conciseness of expression. The book cover is handled in just four colours. As well as black and white, there is a blue to conjure up a gothic night, and a warmer yellow to introduce character: our eponymous hero Father Brown.

The second reason I like such graphic art is to be a bit of a maverick. The more people call it "not proper art", the more I will like it. :-)

The third reason I like illustration is its ability to concisely conjure-up mood, which is often useful in the fantasy genre. Could any oil painting do better? Book illustrations should not dominate the text, so it is often important that illustrations hint and suggest rather than fully tell. 

By another amazing coincidence, Werner is involved in his own architectural reconstruction project using authentic materials to build a mediaeval Genoese palace at a scale of 1:50.

Bite of Spring

While I may not be Stravinsky in the kitchen (or indeed for that matter on the podium) on Friday past the monthly Balintore Castle dinner party took place to celebrate the near arrival of Spring.

Clarence the lion door knocker greets guests in his spring flower ensemble.

These events were designed to cheer-up me and my friends, throughout the long, cold and dark winter season of 2019/2020. It will be interesting to how observe how these events will morph going forward into the Summer, and there have been initial discussions about holding a larger pop-up affair. However, this time round it was a small gathering: including some friends of friends who had come to last year's open day, but wanted to see the castle and more recent works in greater detail. I was only too happy to oblige.

table set for guests

Friend of Balintore, Elise, volunteered to do the flowers and the pudding. I was only too happy to relinquish control of said items.  The starter was baked aubergine with feta and pomegranate. 

baked aubergine, feta and pomegranate starter
spring flower centrepiece

The main was roast haunch of venison, with Thai sweet potato satay curry for the veggies. However, the best course was Elise's dessert. Her cheesecake with daubed with rhubarb in a ginger syrup; strawberries;  some pomegranate seeds stolen from the starter and even some dried roses brought by a friend from Iran. And to gild the lily, there was an accompanying rhubarb sorbet. One guest declared this to be a 5-star pudding, and he was not wrong. I dream of the pop-up upholding this standard. :-)

Elise's 5-star cheesecake dessert

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Spring Wreath

Clarence the lion door knocker is modelling his spring collection. This seasonal wreath was woven by friend of Balintore, Elise. Though spring is not yet fully here, the change-over from a winter to a spring wreath is to herald the imminent arrival of new life and new growth, that joyously feel just over the horizon.

Clarence be-wreathed