Friday, 17 October 2008

Hark Hark


HARK HARK the dogs do bark
The beggars are coming to town

Some in rags and some in jags

And one in a velvet gown


This nursery rhyme is an old one, and is said to have its origins in the society of Elizabethan England, when bands of wandering beggars were so numerous that people considered them a nuisance. "All through the Tudor reigns, the beggars coming to town preyed on the fears of dwellers in lonely farms and hamlets, and exercised the minds of magistrates, Privy Councillors and Parliaments"*.
These ragged and jagged vagabonds, sometimes with music amongst them and likely missing a limb or a wit or two would approach the town walls where the dogs would put up a great howling. I like these peripheral peoples as you know and I like nursery rhymes, and so I painted them in this oil painting on a lovely knotted piece of burr walnut a few years ago now.
Scattered at the beggars' feet are coins, real coins, stuck to the surface of the painting. They are whisper-thin slivers of old Arabic money I think, with holes in the tops from where they adorned a jingle-jangling costume. I bought them in an antique place in London even more years ago and still have a few left to use in something else.



This is the painting I have chosen for the first in the series of original painting sales that I mentioned a while ago. These are now our last six weeks in this little Scottish cottage .. we have planned and hope to be off for good by the beginning of December, and of course there are a million and one things to do before then. The truck is looking just lovely and Tui is working like a man possessed to get it ready, making a cupboard a day almost! I am finishing off clock orders and other things, I have an animation to get finished as well and on top of all that there's a house full of stuff that we've to squeeze into a truck! Therefore .. things will have to go! We cannot hang all the paintings I have here on the wooden walls of the wheely home, and so I thought to have a wee sale, so that anybody who might feel inclined can snap them up. These sales will help us get on our way too... for though we nip out weekly to earn a penny or three in town, it is usually spent before we get home on the weekly wood and screws for more house building, a bag or two of groceries and a thimbleful of diesel. I am selling these at a lower price than I usually do for original oil paintings on wood so that perhaps someone who might not have been able to afford it before can do this time.

I have always loved this piece of walnut wood with its coggly greened edges, and I like the dark almost halloweenish atmosphere in the nursery rhyme edge-of-town scene. I hope that one of you might like it too and want to take this topsy turvy bunch of marginal folk into your home. And if you do like them and have three hundred English pounds** to spare ... follow me ...


And if another painting takes your fancy instead, then hold your horses, there'll be more going for a song in the next few weeks. Meanwhile we are running about like a couple of barefooted bees on hot coals as the autumn leaves turn red and fall into the puddles ...

* taken from The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona & Peter Opie .. which suggests other political inspirations behind the rhyme as well as this one, but I liked this one best!
** indeed American Dollars and all other currencies are just as welcome!

16 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I think this painting is wonderfully evocative.
I remember this rhyme well from my childhood.
It was a little scary.

anthromama said...

I've always liked that rhyme for its rhythm and its wonderful consonants. I wish I could buy this piece! I especially like the man in the top hat.

laughingwolf said...

running out of praise for your creativity, rima :D

Vita said...

you find the best pieces of wood to paint on!
another beautiful piece.
Just yeasterday I was listening to a song, about Love (personified) who followed a begger and married him. A rather sad and disturbing song somehow it resembles me your painting.

Vickie said...

Wonderful painting. I'm not familiar with this nursery rhyme though. I hope this new adventure is all you want it to be.

Melanie said...

Beautiful work. I thought the nursery rhyme refered to the Civil War when the kings supporters dressed in velvet came around the towns asking for university coffers to be emptied and any other money the towns had. I'll have to get that book you cited it sounds fascinating. Mind you the Elizabethian time might fit- she was notoriously tight fisted and a lot of her Summer travelling did cut down on her having to feed her retinue at her own expense.

treehousejukebox said...

I had completely forgotten about it until I read this post, but my grandmother used to recite that rhyme!

Shelley Noble said...

Gorgeous! From your post, I'm wondering what sort of shoes bees normally wear!?~

Jess said...

How envious am I of the person will a full purse following you to your cash till! This is a gorgeous painting and those coins finish it off beautifully.
I was wondering what was happening to your animation you were working on, I'm glad to hear it's still around and growing! :)

Griffin said...

Hmm, of course these days that would be about right according to the Daily Mail who would expect beggars to turn up in Jags!!

I love this rhyme too and you've done something wonderful with it too. Reminds me also of that song, 'Gypsies, tramps and thieves' another song that is the ravings of the statics for the unstatics. A cupboard a day is some going. I imagine you and Tui covered in sawdust and wood shavings!! ... and the cats sleeping on top of you both!

Koldo said...

This is a lovely work, Rima. I love the atmosphere and the group composition, the colors and blue lights.
I was wondering what kind of music you like to listen to... There's an album from Ultramarine "United Kingdoms" with a couple of songs sang by Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine that I always think you'd like. They have an English folk medieval feeling that remind me of your works.

Mo'a said...

Wonderful piece of art...good luck with the sale.
Will you be living and traveling in your lovely truck?
That sounds like a great adventure.

Ciara said...

Oooh! Exciting changes ahead!

I have always loved this nursery rhyme, and your wonderful painting of it. I wish I could buy it. No I have doubt it will find a freindly wall to adorn!

Happy planning and packing! I guess this is where the countdown really begins!

tui said...

My Arty contact at the SAATCHI reckons that this painting is valued by those in the know at £300,000 ... what a bargain at 300 little gold things !
QUICK FOLKS grab it ;)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

The coinage addition is brilliant.

BT said...

Beautiful painting Rima. I love the idea of all those odd folk in all shapes and sized turning up at the town gates and frightening everyone! I do hope you sell the painting and manage to get all your jobs done for the real start of your adventure. You must come to Ireland!