After Chagall by Jane Pugh

After my last blog, I continued to think about my niece and her family and I decided to base one of my paintings on ‘Woman with a Bouquet’ by Chagall. I love the way he includes memories and objects and uses colour and texture to give a visual feast. I find that his paintings evoke memories of my own, and many of them are emotionally charged. I visited his work at the major exhibition Chagall: Modern Master at Tate Liverpool in 2013 several times. On one occasion I visited on my own, then with friends, and later with a group of adults on a coach trip that I organised. The experience was very influential, and those, in my art classes, who attended the exhibition, afterwards discussed their own amazing memories and produced some very thoughtful work.

But now it is my turn, and I am starting to focus on the idea of paintings which include objects with meaning, sometimes buried or secret, but of great relevance to the individual. The unfinished figures, the creatures and objects of the embroidery are a part of this.

Image 1. woman-with-a-bouquet-1910‘Woman with a Bouquet’ by Chagall

I sketched this and then drafted a design for my own painting. I then worked on a more finished one on my ideas sheet.

Image 2. Sketchbook


Image 3 Figures


Image 4 Figures

Image 5 Figures

Image 6 FiguresLife is quite hectic at the moment. Sometimes you seem to have a quiet time and then suddenly you are rushing around in response to the various demands of life. So our regular Ellipsis meetings with our updates and plans, as well as the regular blog entries, are important to keep me focussed and developing my work. I am finding it helpful to work in my studio at The Artworks where it is quiet and away from my domestic obligations! I usually photograph what I have done after each visit but one day took more photographs than I intended, and which have now, via Movie Maker, become my third animation. This, as you might imagine, is very time consuming but the outcome is fun, and gives me a great sense of achievement.


I Got Lost Here Too by Jane Pugh

In the middle of IKEA, in the children’s section, I found this note, and felt that it was worthy of attention.

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At this point I returned to the embroidery to examine more details from it, and felt that as I tried to research these elements, I was becoming lost too, like the child in the store.

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It was about then that the power of the Cockatrice and it’s fatal gaze brought to my mind the parlous state of the world at present, and of one character who might benefit from it’s attention.

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But as I mentioned before, I have continued to scrutinize elements from the embroidery, turning my attention to, first of all,

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and then,

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I have noticed the reoccurrence of headgear references running through my research and I have referred to this in my very short animation. It was inspired by the tulip in the young woman’s hand as well as by my four-year old great-neice who is astounding all her family and friends against all the odds.

The Unfinished by Jane Pugh

The Unfinished

I have continued to explore the idea of The Unfinished as I started to describe in my last blog; thoughts set in motion by the unfinished figures in the embroidery then moving on to my own unfinished projects. I have discovered a few facts about unfinished projects including the Zeigarnik effect. Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik (1900 –1988) was a Soviet psychologist and psychiatrist, who conducted a study on memory, in which she compared memory in relation to incomplete and complete tasks. She had found that incomplete tasks are easier to remember than successful ones. This is now known as the Zeigarnik effect.

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Thinking more about my unfinished patchwork quilt led me to add to my collection-of-ideas page. I am recording ideas as small paintings, sketches and collages using watercolours and mixed media and have included some of these in my previous blogs.

I began the patchwork quilt during the 1970’s and I have returned to it during different stages of my life. I began to wonder if it could be hanging around, unfinished, ‘to infinity and beyond’.

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Relating it to other objects from Bankfield, could I use it to make a basket based on the small painting which continues to intrigue me?

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Or a cloak of many colours…

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The eight pointed star which I used in the patchwork is also used in the collaged tea cosy, on one side only, so I took this and used it as a basis for another idea. Using masking fluid at different stages in the painting, and experimenting with methods of application, I explored the idea of it becoming alive and magical.

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References to the work of Karen and Julie keep occurring to me, affecting my own work. Fences and baler twine spoke to me as I was fixing a fence at the allotment, and a friend showed me a beautiful nest she had found in her garden.

Moving along by Jane Pugh

Moving along

After researching the embroidery and identifying the mythical creature as a cockatrice, I have been in touch with Agecroft Hall which had been rebuilt in Richmond, Virginia, and waiting to see if they can help in my quest to link the embroidery to the Langley family. I have been inspired by this beast as described in my notes below.

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I have also been making notes about the project on my phone, then exploring these ideas in my sketchbook. The secret life, including the unfinished nature, of the embroidery has caused me to contemplate some of my own unfinished projects.

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The End of the Beginning by Jane Pugh

I am still exploring and researching. I have not settled on one area to develop for the exhibition but am hoping that my route will evolve and resolve itself soon. During my final major show at college many years ago I found myself in a similar position, and I remember quoting Joshua Reynolds, who was in turn quoting James Harris (1709-80), an author of philosophical treatises, ‘Shall I feign a relish till I find a relish come?’ So, then, I did feign a relish, but this time I am hoping that I will find a relish come!

I spent some time examining the embroidery further; I am getting quite excited about this piece – which will become apparent shortly. First of all I spent time looking at the two buildings near the top, at either side.



Then I looked at the creatures illustrated in the embroidery – birds, caterpillars, bees and a lion as well as a mythical creature which I decided to look at first. At a cursory glance I thought it was a griffin (Griffin is coincidentally my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.) It took me some time to identify the creature. Eventually I came upon the details sketched out here in my notes. I have split the next page of my sketchbook into two parts so that I can explain the content – as I say I identified the creature by searching for ‘head of hen, tail of dragon.’ There seemed to be very little information about the cockatrice on line, except for lots of dungeon and dragon images.


Then – a breakthrough from Wikipedia – useful pieces of information, most interesting to me being the sentence in italics:

The cockatrice was first described in its current form in the late fourteenth century.


It has the reputed ability to kill people by either looking at them—”the death-darting eye of Cockatrice”—touching them, or sometimes breathing on them.

It was repeated in the late-medieval bestiaries that the weasel is the only animal that is immune to the glance of a cockatrice. It was also thought that a cockatrice would die instantly upon hearing a rooster crow,  and according to legend, having a cockatrice look at itself in a mirror is one of the few sure-fire ways to kill it.

The cockatrice was also said to fly using the set of wings affixed to its back.

In heraldry

Arthur Fox-Davies describes the cockatrice as “comparatively rare” in heraldry.

It was the heraldic beast of the Langleys of Agecroft Hall in Lancashire, England as far back as the 14th century.

It is also the symbol of 3 (Fighter) Squadron, a fighter squadron of the Royal Air Force.

In Shakespeare’s play “Richard III”, the Duchess of York compares her son Richard to a cockatrice:

O ill-dispersing wind of misery!
O my accursed womb, the bed of death!
A cockatrice hast thou hatch’d to the world,
Whose unavoided eye is murderous.


Argent, a cockatrice volant sable, crested, membered, and beaked–LANGLEY, Lancaster


And so, I began to wonder, could there be a link between the embroidery and Agecroft Hall? Looking at the image of the embroidered cockatrice it certainly looks to be confidently drawn with a strong vision. Could the reference for it have been copied from something the maker had seen? My next step will be to contact Agecroft Hall and follow this lead further.

Stuck in the middle of the beginning by Jane Pugh


I am still recording and developing ideas, and researching online.

The Bankfield Tea Cosy

After earlier sketches of me and my family wearing objects from the collection, I am painting a self-portrait with the tea-cosy as a hat. It seemed a good size for the purpose; very decorative, and a possible, even likely, secret life for a tea cosy. Objects can affect people. We can’t usually see how in a visual way, so I am exploring this idea.


I looked online and found a number of other people wearing tea cosies:


David Mitchell. There is, in some years, a national ‘Wear a tea cosy on your head’ day. Various charities use this as a fund raising event and brainstrust, a UK based brain tumour support charity, is encouraging everyone to host tea-related events for a tea-fest from 20th to 27th February 2017, which includes the wearing of a tea cosy.

This one appears to be worked in cross-stitch.


Burt Kwouk, best known for his role in the Pink Panther films as well as Last of the Summer Wine and Tenko, wearing a tea cosy on his head to promote an anti-poverty fundraising event, the Big Tea Cosy, 2009.

The white pattern is embroidered onto a black ground. It is closer in form and design to the one at Bankfield.


I found this image of a man in a woolly hat from the Church of St.   Cadoc at Llancarfan, 15 miles from Cardiff. These late 15th century wall-paintings were uncovered recently. Archaeologists confirm that he is wearing a Monmouth Cap. Captain Fluellen, Shakespeare’s Welshman at Agincourt, celebrated his Welsh soldiers who were wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps. They are still made for general use and   for re-enactments.

The wall painting of the hat has resonances of the painting of the small basket, especially when it is upside down.


Church of St. Cadoc Llancarfan images    The last time I looked for this site, Google information said that the site may be hacked, so check before looking here.


The Seven Stages in Man’s Life


This mural below, showing the seven deadly sins, is also a wall painting from the Church of St. Cadoc in Wales .It must have been a colourful addition to the sermons. The artist has produced the most amazing monsters, similar to ancient and contemporary ones which are still used to teach, terrify and control us. It is in sections, which has echoes of The Seven Stages in Man’s Life from Bankfield.


Other such monsters include Alien, 1979, the three headed dog, Fluffy, from Harry Potter,screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-19-59-20screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-19-59-27

as well as the Hydra and Cerberus from the Twelve Labours of Hercules in Greek mythology.

My journey continues. I am following a winding path.


The Middle of the Beginning by Jane Pugh


After visiting Bankfield with Julie, and poring over the various treasures, and revealing these in my last blog, I needed to formulate a plan.  At our meeting earlier that day with Karen and Julie, something that Karen had said helped me, now, to move forward. It was that we don’t have to follow up every idea we have, we can hold back on some, and this knowledge lifted some of the pressure to choose a direction.

So my plan is to record some of my many and diverse ideas and a direction might come out of the process. I decided to use my studio at Artworks as it is a quiet and separate place where I can concentrate, and make a start on this next stage.

I made more notes in my sketchbook and started to formulate ideas.


Then I started to put down my ideas as they arose, first of all the small basket in the painting. What could it’s life have been? screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-09-58-41

During another project I experimented with left-over snippets of silk, gold and cotton threads which was placed loosely then laminated to show the basket, golden ladle and lotus seed head.




The doll as a Basket-Head with the Shakuhachi flute. Absence of ego.

I combined a purse I had seen in Koln with the sun from the Elizabethan embroidery. I like the idea that the top slips down to partly cover the purse. And it looks ready to run off.screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-09-59-12