My Memory Palace of 1001 Nights
And many more strange and wondrous sights
For October revealed
With copper that's been annealed
Toy theatre goes to new heights
Snug as a bug
In a cheerful rug
Intense jewel colours that glow
Research and homeschool
Japanese joins that are so cool
In some of London's interesting shows
Birds of a feather
It's all coming together
With kids that just go with the flow
The 30 birds' structure
And milk that is ruptured
And some worms you'll be so glad to know...
...I'm happy to finally introduce the main cornerstone of my PhD research into the 1001 Arabian Nights: this is my Memory Palace for the 1001 Nights...
...Imagining the 1001 Arabian Nights as frozen architecture, as an ancient, once-inhabited and now desolate city and as a memory palace of forgotten stories set in a cold desert where time, stone and art stand testament to a lost civilisation...
…This epic body of research uses the frame story and motifs of the 1001 Arabian Nights to generate 1001 paintings and artworks and proposes a new, visual reading of the Nights. Shahrazad, the storyteller, survives by telling King Shahriyar a series of 1001 nested tales that end on an interesting cliffhanger, so he is compelled to keep her alive. She relies on her memory and creativity. The transformation of Shahriyar mirrors the magical acts of transformation in the Nights.
Researching how memory operates in the Nights coupled with ancient and medieval ideas about memory I made my 1001 Nights Memory Palace as a mode of reading and engaging with the Nights through architecture. My memory palace, which will contain 1001 paintings and artworks, distils the world through art as Shahrazad presented her picture of life to Shahriyar. I base many of its architectural features on traditional Indian and Islamic architecture including the function of the column.
The 1001 paintings will include oil paintings, miniature paintings and Chinese paintings. In acknowledging the many cultural and linguistic roots of the Nights, I aim to raise awareness of the Indo-Persian manuscript painting traditions which were coeval with the Nights and my Memory Palace is an exercise in decentralisation and decolonisation. The work asks: Why is it important that Shahrazad is a woman?; What is the transformative potential of the Nights?; Can paintings and artworks function as Mirrors for Princes?...
…speaking of the digital realm coupled with imagination, here are some castles in the sky with embedded QR codes that are entirely handpainted. I think of the jump between the virtual world and the physical world as a form of modern marginalia. Carpet Pages V: Code is coming soon...
...The Court of Gayumars is almost 70% done I'd say. The Gayumars inspired rocks on the right - painted on vellum - is 100% done. Shown here for colour comparison. Those rich, vibrant colours are a hallmark of miniature painting...
...and rich, bright colours are also the hallmark of beautiful and rare birds such as the Green Magpie below. We will paint 30 Birds in the 30 days of November. Above are some study images I took at London's Natural History Museum on the structure of birds. It still amazes me that they are related to dinosaurs (our current homeschool topic). Book any, or all, of the 30 Birds here:
...I am also enjoying browsing the collection of toy theatres and archives during myresidencyat Pollock's Toy Museum in Fitzrovia. My toy theatre for the 1001 Nights won't be ready for this Christmas, but I'm aiming for Christmas 2023! Above are examples of tinselling - adding decorative shiny bits to a toy theatre of posters of famous actors of the day. This was done with great care and back in the day you could buy pre-cut and stamped designs to stick on. This is a dying tradition. The design process for my theatre is a long one - I have to get it right before it is produced as it has to all fit together smoothly and easily - and I'm consulting my designer husband Patrik Prazmari (who is also the son of a theatre director himself: Jozef Prazmari of Czechoslovakia) every step of the way. The famous Czech toy theatre is its own genre and I'm learning about the subtle differences of each country's traditions. German toy theatres were huge! A bit too big for me, even though mine is not small (since it has to contain 1001 Nights!). I'm actually quite partial to the English toy theatre tradition, smaller sizes for a more intimate atmosphere...
…toy theatres were printed on copper. I'm teaching oil on copper at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts next month too https://princes-foundation.org/school-of-traditional-arts/open-programme/rachels-flowers-oil-painting-on-copper-inspired-by-rachel-ruysch-e01591 and The Perfect Brush has a few copper sheets cut to the golden section available...
…above was a wonderful exhibition at the Japan Centre in Kensington called The Carpenter's Line. I absolutely loved this unique show dedicated to Japanese joinery, basically. What amazing craftspeople - all the latticework above is actually joinery, a form of putting wood together so that it holds without the use of nails or screws. It's beautiful and it reminded me of why I love miniature painting - a strange link perhaps as I don't do anything woody (although Mr Prazmari does) - it reminded me of how these people obviously took pleasure in their craft and making the lines perfect. Even though they were made to work 330 days per year as part of their training (oh yes)...
...from hard wood and hard work to whimsy and frivolousness - at the Wallace Collection's exhibition on Disney I learnt that Fragonard's famous swing was featured in Frozen (which I haven't seen - I have 2 boys who are just not that into Disney princesses!). I also saw amazing draughtspersonship - you can say what you like about Disney and it's full of problems but the animators sure had drawing skills. Every single sparkle in Cinderella was hand-drawn. Several times as her dress transformed from rags to princess robe. So you have to admire that patience too - it is not that far away from miniature painting and Walt himself was hugely inspired by fairytales and went on massive book-buying trips to Europe. While this wasn't my favourite exhibition of the month - somehow I too am not that into princesses - there is always something to be appreciated or at least learnt with anything we see. Also, Disney's Aladdin was actually quite good. And Moana was brilliant - more recent, a young girl who saves her entire community and lots of turquoise water and islands (of course!).
My own film Snow was broadcast as part of the Testcard show (only live ephemerally for a period of time last month). All my painting films to date can be viewed here: https://www.theperfectbrush.co.uk/copy-of-look...
...The best characters in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast are the mother teapot and her son the cup. Really, I loved these when I was a little girl watching the movie in the cinema, they had so much character. And the best Disney character of all time and space by far for me is the flying carpet in Aladdin. I wish I had one! I don't, but I do imagine my rugs to be animated fairly often. I even painted one. I try not to give advice but if there is one general piece of advice I feel confident in giving it is this: Always stay in touch with your inner child. So important. Come tell us about your childhood loves in our monthly meetings. The Zoom link is via the Forum https://www.miniaturepaintingforum.com or here's the direct link:
Vaishali Prazmari is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Vaishali Prazmari's Monthly Miniature Meeting 22.11.22 - nice palindromic date!
Time: Nov 22, 2022 18:00 London
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Meeting ID: 853 5022 2153
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...nice to see my little Happy Carpet again (oil on linen), above. Below is more whimsy in the form of a dessert with gold leaf which melted when chocolate was poured over it. Can't get more Rococo than that. And a meme that my friend and I invented: 'Hold on darling, Mama is having a VR experience' - one for our modern day! Great that little Kashi was in the sandpit with me. Below that is our homeschool blackboard with important 0 times table for Caspian and the even more important diplodocus. The zero times table has always flummoxed me. I still don't understand it - if you multiply something by nothing then surely that something still remains? The only reason I got my Maths GCSE is because I decided to suspend my disbelief, and just accept it. I definitely don't agree with it. Someone please explain to me why 1 x 0 = 0, and not 1!!! The best kinds of suspension of disbelief are when museums play make-believe with kids and take them on virtual specimen-finding expeditions, or, of course, when kids make up their own fantasies with toy theatres...
… part of the magic of childhood is the ability to half-believe too. So you can be digging a fossil while knowing that it is from a National Geographic kit, but also imagining that it is a real paleontological dig. (Actually in those kits the fossils ARE real, just the context is not!) Maybe this is the key to Santa Claus - real, and yet not real at the same time, and our eldest seems to have no problem accepting both facts. Nothing is stranger than nature anyway. Take the bone-eating snot flower worm, for instance. I'll repeat that for emphasis: it's a bone-eating, snot flower worm. !!!!!!!! Sometimes when doing bedtime reading I fall asleep myself with the kids but at this I sat bolt upright. Whaaaaaat?!!!
...the icing on the cake is that tiny males live inside females. !!!!!! I have no words, I am still digesting all of these facts. Luckily for the bone-eating snot flower males, the females are not digesting them (I think)...
...I'll leave you with the 1.5 seconds of kids ruminating on numbers while doing their counting meditation I invented as I tried to meditate alone but then had company burst into the room. All that can really be concluded from the above exercise is that the recent iPhone is able to take photos faster than the speed of light, the split second when both kids were sitting down and pretending to meditate. Acting 'as if' is a good strategy however and hopefully they will be able to do 2 seconds in future. It reminds me of Edgerton's Milk Drop photos below and beneath (c/o the Met Museum of Art) - they sum up the precise amount of time my kids are able to ponder the meaning of life, their place in the universe and their part in the grand scheme of things. They don't need to, because they are Flow itself.