Monday, August 15, 2016

Art, art,!

Keeping in line with our weird and wonderful stamp theme I stumbled upon some beautiful examples of mythical inspired art on a set of stamps issued by Royal Mail in 2009. RM commissioned Artist Dave McKean and novelist Neil Gaiman of The Sandman comic fame to design these beautiful works of art and the presentation pack that they came in. The series depicts a dragon, mermaids, fairies and pixies as well as a giant hurling a boulder to name a few. The artwork and accompanying write up are all derived from British folklore and tales.

According to Wikipedia, David "Dave" McKean (born 29 December 1963) is an English illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician. His work incorporates drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture. McKean's projects include directing an original feature titled Luna and a book with the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, born Neil Richard Gaiman (10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theater, and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

(From Left to Right: Neil, Dave)

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the stamps are inspired by British folklore from years gone by. The first stamp issued was the fire breathing dragon whose origins are heavily rooted in Welsh culture. According to UTAOT, "Vortigern, King of the Britons, encountered a red dragon and a white dragon fighting in a deep underground. The white dragon fled, leaving the red dragon victorious – the king took the creature to be his emblem." 

The next stamp issued is the Unicorn and although there is much speculation there is no concrete proof that Unicorns ever existed (one can dream though). The horn of the unicorn, known as an alicorn, was once a much prized trophy usually removed from the carcass of a Narwhal. 

Pixies were depicted on the next stamp in the set and are primarily found in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. According to UTAOT, "Dartmoor is thought to be a particularly popular place, with a sighting in 1897 of a small figure wearing red and blue clothing – he quickly vanished when he realized that he had been spotted."

Up next is the giant Albion who, according to Holinshed’s Chronicle, once ruled Britain, before his defeat in battle with Hercules in Devon which paved the way for humans to colonize Britain. Myths pertaining to giants persist throughout British literature and folklore. Such is the case in Lord of the Rings where two rock giants are locked in battle tossing stones at one another whilst the helpless Frodo and gang try to climb The Misty Mountain.

The second to last stamp issued is that depicting the malevolent mermaid who would lure fishermen in boats to their deaths by singing to them from rocks in the sea and watching them drown as they tried to reach the beautiful melody.

The last stamp issued is that of Mab, queen of the fairy people. She was depicted famously in a speech by Mercutio in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" where in her describes her as a midnight prankster who plays tricks on sleeping men whilst driven by a team of atomies.

Below is the actual stamp artwork depicted on the stamps:

(Here we have a Pixie taking his sweet ride out for a spin along the forest floor. This guy's a real hot rod!) 

(All hail Queen Mab and her frightening Hitchcockian birds!) 

(This guy has a serious case of heartburn!)

(Behold, the giant with the most fashionable beard in the land!) 

(The earliest form of Yoga ever recorded!)

(And who can forget the majestic unicorn, frolicking through the blood of her enemies!) 

And of course my home and native land got in on the action long before Britain with this Canada #1289 - Sasquatch (1990) 39¢ issued in 1990. 

Stay cool stamp geeks! 

- Peace 

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