Welcome to the sixth edition of The Beagle For Beauty! If you’re new to this space I’m delighted to have you join me for our arty adventures. This newsletter is my gift to you, it’s my way of sharing not only my photography but also the lovely things I’ve collected throughout the month which I hope you’ll find grace your world with sparkle. There is sparkle to be found if we look for it and sometimes we just need a little helper to point the sparkle out. Yes there is a lot of darkness in the world but we must continue to light a candle.
I’m hoping to implement some changes in the coming weeks that will see me return to writing on my blog whilst being able to separate TBFB newsletter from the jacquiwakelam.com domain. I’ve secured beagleforbeauty.com for future use which will allow me to identify and deliver to differing audiences. I am as passionate about encouraging Christian women and mums as I am my photography but appreciate not everyone desires both. Hopefully this will streamline things. You’re more than welcome to subscribe to both!
If you recall last month I shared three images themed The Beauty In Afterlife, it seems I have an appreciation, dare I say love, for what others might deem dead things. This isn’t a new fad. I promised you last month (or maybe it was on IG?) to share a funny childhood memory which my mum loves to remind me of!
I was about four years old visiting the local farmer’s market with my mum and sister. We lived in the heart of the Hampshire countryside and so the market was bustling with country life; endless stalls and stands brimming with foods, kitchen ware, furniture, livestock, and I wanted to see the rabbits. As we made our rounds mum took me to the pet section, but when presented before the hutches with all the hoppity boppity bunnies I wasn’t happy at all, “No mum, not these ones!”. Mum was a little perplexed, “I don’t know what you mean then darling”, confused, she continued on with our shopping. We were about to leave and passed one of the last stands, the butcher, “There! Up there! Bunnies!” I cried excitedly, jumping and pointing above the butcher’s head with all eagerness , there, a cluster of hanging deceased rabbits! I have no idea what was going through my infant mind other than these bunnies didn’t move and that gave me opportunity to actually touch their silken fur, to appreciate and admire them in wonder at length. Mum must have looked at me with a little horror and probably fretted for the future of my soul! :D II’m delighted to say my soul is ok and am also delighted to now share with you this month’s Still Life (dead nature) continuing my love of dead things: Bird And Blossom, and in doing so invite you to meet Brad, (Brad Bird, it’s a movie thing). Brad is a Great Tit and part of their distinctive characteristics are noted as having olive upperparts and yellow underparts, for some reason when I read that I was sure it said yellow underpants! So here’s Brad in his yellow underpants :) I’ve wanted a bird for my work for several months and this January my hubby got me Brad for my birthday. I was very fortunate to come across an incredible taxidermist in the UK on IG, Elle Kaye. Elle’s work is stunning but also her ethos was very much aligned with my desires; to acquire a bird naturally sourced i.e. which died of natural causes. I love that Elle’s specimens are beautifully memorialised and can ‘live on’ for further appreciation.
I was inspired in this composition by a little oil painting (pic below) I saw and loved the idea of pairing spring blossom alongside my little Brad. From this smaller concept grew my vision. Do you see the decayed leaf to the left? I call these leaf lace. The once occupied shell and sawn piece of wood contrasts the vibrant pinks of the petals and lush greens in the moss, not to mention those yellow underpants! The imagery of life which has gone before alongside the promise of new beginnings and the constancy of the seasons, these bring us comfort. We are all part of a larger constant and faithful narrative. As the dull leaves interweave with the vivid moss of the nest I am reminded that I myself am woven into a pattern of things.
Elle wrote a very informative post on her IG this month about the meaning and origins of the use of taxidermy in art, I think you’ll find it fascinating too and have included it here with Elle’s permission. Go check out her IG, she’s the one who could pass for a supermodel!
“Did you know that the term still life, ‘nature morte’, in French; translates as “dead nature”? I’ve always found it interesting to look at how artists portrayed dead animals as the subject for their studies. This was a particularly popular sub-genre in seventeenth‐century European still‐life painting, and particularly in Dutch and Flemish painting. However much earlier, Vanitas themes throughout art are repeated and continuous. This is art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of ephemerality and death. In the 15th century these were explicit, with Memento Mori motifs becoming something of an obsession in society. This resurfaces again in a big way in 19th century Victoriana. For many decades, still life has occupied the lowest rung of the hierarchy of genres, but yet is continuously popular with buyers and has quietly remained in fashion. It has also been depicted in different iterations in every century that has passed. It was said in the 17th Century by historiographer André Félibien, “he who paints living animals is more estimable than those who only represent dead things without movement”. In the same vein, I’ve been told it’s disrespectful to take photographs of dead animals (but yet the mounted one is fine? P.S. News flash, I’m a taxidermist. In my opinion, putting a lens on a dead animal as the subject of a painting or a photograph only cements the intention to memorialise it, to somehow preserve it in that still frame. To somehow display the poetry and beauty of that creature in that moment. If still-life had disappeared from art history shortly after its conception, I might be convinced, but I’m here in 2021 posting my “dead nature” so I’m thinking it might be here to stay. P.S. Art is subjective. This is just my opinion. You do you.” - Elle Kaye, taxidermist and educator
You’ll be seeing more of Brad in my work and other additions I’m dreaming of. Now without further ado, this month’s other beauty finds just for you.
Watching: In looking back this month I’ve seen another theme unfolding, women; successful women, strong women, women who have either overcome incredible adversity, discrimination, gender stereotypes, all very inspiring in their stories. Serena was an insightful documentary, looking at her career pre-marriage and pre-motherhood. Then there’s Penguin Bloom, based on a true story. Get your tissues ready! I haven’t read the book but hear it’s deeply moving. I do love stories which reveal the fragility of our human frame yet the unstoppable divine spark which causes us to rise up when we choose to tap into it. These spur me on toward a better version of myself.
The Chosen series is streaming Episode 1 of Season 2 Easter Day! I am anticipating that deeply, it’s moved me like nothing before in it’s retelling and depiction of Jesus imho. Look out for that. They have a free app you can stream from or in the link provided they stream on YouTube also.
Reading: I have three lovely books which I’ve begun reading this month, all gifted to me. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Gentle And Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane C. Ortland. And finally Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle.
Gentle and Lowly is unwrapping the heart of Jesus in such a new a fresh way, it’s hitting deep in all the right ways. If you struggle knowing and receiving God’s love then this is for you. I can also recommend the bible study You Are Loved by Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt.
Listening to: I’ve got quite an eclectic playlist this month, maybe it’s the moving out of winter into spring and feeling like I still have a foot in each season weather-wise? A particular favourite though is Mood by John McLaughlin, turn that up and let it sweep you into its arms. Another favourite is Oh Lord Listen To My Prayer by Margaret Lizza and Kevin Mayhew Ltd. I stepped into a little local church (pic above) the other day for a moment of peace and reflection and this was playing, ah it scooped me up and into a sweet spot. I’ve also included an acoustic piano version on the playlist.
Inspiring: These are made of sugar, yes they are!
Photography: Kilian Schoenberger, can you believe Kilian is colourblind and so focuses only on the shapes his images are creating! Be sure to look through his galleries and click on the full size images. This is a favourite of mine.
Art: Redemption by Julius LeBlanc Stewart captured my imagination this week. Does she represent the bride, her clothes are white, is that only representing her forgiveness of sins? Tell me what you think.
Poetry: As part of my Lent journey this poem engaged my imagination, I hope you enjoy it too.
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑜𝑢𝑙’𝑠 𝐺𝑎𝑟𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 ~ 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑡 𝐶𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑠ℎ Great Nature clothes the soul, which is but thin, With fleshly garments, which the Fates do spin; And when these garments are grown old and bear, with sickness torn, Death takes them off with care, And folds them up in peace and quiet rest, And lays them safe within an earthly chest: Then scours them well and makes them sweet and clean, Fit for the soul to wear those clothes again.
I encourage you to read that slowly a few times over, there’s so much rich imagery in there. And finally, my closing image is of a flat lay project. Using most of the dried roses I’d collected all last year this came together better than expected, even a couple of my butterflies made an appearance, can you spot them? I loathed to throw them away so I’m really happy I’ve now enabled them to live on.
Well in hindsight it seems this month has a definite theme: death and resurrection, life after death, and this is my true fascination; that things can live on after death, that after decay comes rebirth, from destruction a new life. Seems fitting after all, Happy Easter everyone! Jacqui x
Snapshots from this month: 1. My recently turned 16yo still knows how to play! 2. Studio space. 3. Mother's Day gift. 4. Alba, literally a bump on a log! 5. The locals have been at it again. 6. Spring. 7. Sunsets, no filter. 8. Afternoon light. 9. Local church.