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hare rabbit bunny victorian drawing keith harrop

Unique Victorian Memories: Alligators in Top Hats & Swans in Long Dresses

hare rabbit bunny victorian drawing keith harrop

An elegant hare stands, relaxed with paws in pockets, and stares at the viewer. Antiqued Victorian-style drawing by Keith Harrop

Imagine that you’re in your attic, whether or not you have one. In the corner, there’s an old box. And inside the box are photos of people from 150 years ago, from the Victorian era of England.

Only they’re not people; they’re animals. There’s an alligator in a top hat. A hare, paws in pocket, with a golden chain to his watch fob. A kingfisher in long dress, sitting by a pond.

Who are these . . . people? Are they relatives? And if so, from mom’s side or dad’s?

kingfisher bird dress pond drawing Victorian keith harrop

In the perfect hat and elegant dress, a kingfisher sits with pole by the pond. Victorian-style drawing by Keith Harrop.

You have just entered the Anicurio Collection of Keith Harrop, a North Idaho artist who, since his childhood in Stoke-on-Trent, England, has peopled his world with unique characters from his imagination. As a young boy, he worked under self-enforced weekly deadlines, creating comic books that he published for an audience of one, his older brother, Steve.

Determination and Imagination

“My family was poor,” Harrop remembers. “But oddly, I never actually realized we were until many years later. I know that may sound strange. But we were so loved and cared for by our parents that it was never relevant. We just accepted what we had.”

And while what he didn’t have a lot of were artist materials, that lack didn’t stop him from spending almost every night drawing and painting.

“I didn’t have a sketchbook, so I would spend a lot of time drawing on the back of long pieces of old, rolled up wall paper.

“I do remember my first sketchbook. My Dad, who worked for a bus company, made it for me. The pages were old bus timetables, blank on one side and print on the other. A cardboard cover and shoe laces holding it together. I filled that book from beginning to end with ideas and sketches.

two swans dresses sisters hugging keith harrop

Sisters? Friends? Two swans in elegant dress stand side by side for the camera. Victorian-style drawing by Keith Harrop.

“But I packed my creative side away as I grew older. England has a way of doing that to you.”

Upon emigrating to the U.S. in his adulthood, however, Harrop picked up pencil and paintbrush again, reconnecting with his old self and making art a central part of his life. He became art director and creative director in the places he worked, and eventually transitioned to full-time independent artist.

The Anicurio Victorian Collection

“My paintings deal each with one moment, one story, or one emotion only,” Harrop says. The Anicurio Collection, which he developed last year, grew out of his enthrallment with old, stained, and aged Victorian and Edwardian photos.

“I’m fascinated with the introduction of photography to the Victorian Era. It was the first time that people of all classes could enjoy equality because previously, only the rich were able to present themselves in portraiture, via oil paintings.

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The top of fashion, an elegant alligator sits with cane and smile. Victorian-style drawing by Keith Harrop.

“But now, if only for an instant, people of all classes could wear their nicest outfit, stand in front of the same backdrop, and present themselves in their best light. Almost eliminating social class.”

And so he created his own Victorian and Edwardian images, with the unique twist that his subjects are animals. Well-dressed animals.

“I want this series to suggest something that was rediscovered by the viewer. An inherited artifact from a mysterious benefactor?” Or something stumbled upon in that musty attic, laying at the bottom a chest, buried beneath old dusty clothes and fading hand-written notes.

“Each original illustration is carefully hand drawn in pencil,” Harrop says. “Once finished, I age and treat them with various dye methods, to resemble an old, dusty, antique, Victorian photograph.” Tea, coffee, soy sauce, or lemon juice and a heat gun transform a drawing finished five minutes ago to an historical image long buried in an aging chest.

A Positive Reception

Harrop introduced the collection in the second quarter of 2021 by sending out postcard samples. Gratified by their reception, he developed a line of prints and post cards. He recently showed these at the Museum of Art and Culture in Spokane, in conjunction with the Downton Abbey exhibit there. He sells his work throughout the U.S., as well as to collectors in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Denmark.

Like people in old photographs, each character in Harrop’s Anicurio Collection has a story. And, like the people who discover those old photos, we often don’t know what that story is, who those . . . people are. That’s the delight of it — creating the stories, using our imaginations, joining with Harrop in exploring this magical, mythical Victorian world.

But first, it would be good to determine: are they from mom’s side, or dad’s?

Wenaha GalleryKeith Harrop is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 1, 2021 through January 3, 2022.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

 

acyrlic-pour-earrings-necklace-kristen-hanafin

Acrylic Pour Magic — Brother & Sister Create

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Colors shift and change with the light in Kristen Hanafin’s acrylic pour jewelry.

As anyone with a sibling knows, brothers and sisters agree on some things, and don’t on others. That’s the magic of family.

For acrylic pour painters Kristen Hanafin and Matt Harri, they work separately — she in her College Place studio and he in his Walla Walla one — but are constantly sharing ideas back and forth. The media itself is fascinating, employing a wide variety of techniques that invites experimentation.

“A major benefit of pours which also relates to its challenges is the versatility,” Hanafin says. “It is really only limited by your imagination.”

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Colors ebb and flow with fluidity and grace in Matt Harri’s abstract acrylic pours, such as Blue Yellow Green.

Hanafin had been interested in acrylic pour for years. It wasn’t until her brother mentioned that he was doing it, however, that she jumped into it herself.

“I invited myself over for a lesson and was instantly hooked!”

She got into making jewelry shortly after, as a means of expanding the variety of ways pour painting can be expressed.

“The jewelry making is extra special because I recycle the leftover paint from canvas pours, so there is less waste, which is something I always try to be conscious of.”

No End to Creativity

What to make is almost as unlimited as how to make it. Hanafin creates earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in acrylic pour, along with key chains, hair pins, book marks, note cards, and notebooks. Meanwhile, her brother plays with sparkle and shine in his acrylic pour paintings, some of which use white space as part of the design, while others completely cover with paint. There is a sense of fluidity and movement, a burst of color that ebbs and flows through the substrate.

And though the images are abstract, the human imagination is quick to do what it does best: imagine. One image looks like a planet in outer space, another like waves on the seashore. In still another, there is a sense of clouds in the sky.

In addition to sharing an interest in the same artistic medium, the siblings also share another important element: they are nephew and niece to Ed Harri, the late co-owner of Wenaha Gallery, and Pat, his wife and current owner.

“Ed loved color and creativity,” Pat says. “He found acrylic pour to be a unique and unusual expression of both. He would have been pleased to see Matt and Kristen’s work at the gallery, and I am pleased for him — and them.”

Wenaha GalleryKristen Hanafin and Matt Harri are the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from June 8 through June 27, 2020.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

daydreamer imagining boy student morgan weistling

Stay Imaginative — Daydreamer by Morgan Weistling

daydreamer imaginative boy student morgan weistling

His body is behind the school desk, but his imaginative mind, is someplace else, someplace far, far more interesting. Daydreamer, limited edition giclee canvas by Morgan Weistling.

We all like to think that we are imaginative. And indeed, so should we all be, because human beings were created to think, contemplate, imagine, design, and innovate.

But the “entertainment” world — encapsulated by movies, TV, advertising, and social media — has done much to drain imagination from our souls. Content to sit before a screen, absorbing the thoughts of others, we mentally atrophy to the point that we passively accept what we are told. Our eyes are glazed, our bodies tired.

From our youngest years, as well, we are trained to subvert our imagination, ostensibly so that we can learn “important” things: science, math, social studies, dry history from a textbook, essay writing from a formula. Many a child has been scolded for daydreaming when they should be listening, letting their minds fly to faraway, fascinating places when their fingers should be filling out workbook pages.

Artist Morgan Weistling understands the mind of the imaginative child, and in his artwork, Daydreamer, he captures that faraway look we surprise on someone who is engaging in pleasant thought that has little to do with their immediate surroundings. Consistently, we are scolded for daydreaming, as if it were a bad, unnatural thing to do. But a mind that does not daydream is one that does not wonder; a mind that does not wonder is one that does not ask questions; and a mind that does not ask questions is one that too easily accepts the answers that are pushed upon it.

An imaginative mind is an active mind. It runs ahead of the crowd, and refuses to be part of the masses.

Stay Imaginative — And Stay Thinking

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Daydreamer by Morgan Weistling. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Morgan Weistling are at this link.

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