Archive | December, 2012

Dragons and good cheer

19 Dec

Anwen Cooper and I have been to Chelmsford County Hall  in Essex. We had a very interesting meeting with Nigel Brown , Maria Medlycott and  Adrian Gascoyne from the Shaping Places and Making Places Team for Essex County Council, discussing their current projects and EnglaID projects and  ideas on public engagement .During the meeting , I reflected on how interesting it is that people write notes, how they arrange these thoughts on a identical ( usually) white A4 pieces of paper, but how these arrangements vary considerably. I have seen arrows, circles, underlinings in different colours, stars , squares etc.., and at  the end of this two hour long , productive meeting,  on a piece of paper by  Maria’s side : a beautiful dragon had been drawn:

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This , strangely , does not seem to be entirely unusual in the world of archaeology , Letty Ten Harkel , from the EnglaID team in Oxford has been known to draw dragons amongst her notes:

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and Chris Green ( also from EnglaID) carries a dragon around with him, fiercely  guarding his thoughts on the the cover of his note book:

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Maria Medlycott has even got a map, which may be very helpful if you are going Dragon spotting in Essex:

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Why is it that Dragon images persist ? if you happen to goggle ‘Dragon’ and ‘National Gallery’ , there are 46 entries. By far the most chilling and brilliant, to my mind , is the painting of St Michael by Piero Della Francesca ( the artist and mathematical theorist ) painted on wood in 1469 as part of an altarpiece for  S. Agostiono in Sansepolcro.

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Almost like a mathematical  equation, the top half of the picture is painted in calm , heavenly blue, which seems frighteningly unrelated to the bottom half of the picture. Here, St Michael is wearing blood red shoes holding the Dragon , ‘Worm’ , or serpent down in its headless state, ( like an eel?), the snake like head is held in the left hand , the red mouth and red shoes linking the bloodiness of the gaping mouth to  the power of the posture below. This calm and yet violent image differs from Ucello’s St George and the Dragon painted only a year later , set in a strange landscape with a princess leading the dragon on a leash :

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But coming back to Chelmsford, Thank you for a very positive meeting touching on such varied subjects as Landscape Characterisation , the major project in the Stour Valley ‘Managing a Masterpiece ‘ , EnglaID public engagement ideas, and Dragons ..Happy Xmas !!

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