Friday, 6 September 2013

Elephant No. 4: Guest Artist Peter Gould

I've known Peter on and off since grade school—in fact, he used to live over the back fence when we were kids. In high school, we both got kicked out of art class for refusing to draw hockey players and ponies. In response, he went on to become a bona fide artist, while I studied art at university.

Today, Peter spends more than half of his time as an artist, with a specialty in what he likes to call digital "etoons", although he also produces everything from quick sketches to wall-sized canvases. The images below are some of my favourites from his prolific output.

From the time of my original Elephant a Day blog, Peter has been one of my greatest supporters, producing a couple of wonderful elephant etoons along the way. The one at the top of this post is from a couple of days ago; the one below is from October 2011.

And this was my birthday card last year, which Peter felt was inferior due to the office drawing program he was stuck with that day.

In addition to creating elephant etoons—I suspect partly to amuse me and his friends—Peter has produced comic strips, cartoons, paintings and short films, and dabbles in everything from t-shirts to shower curtains. He leans towards dayglo colours and funky characters, and can usually be found either with a pack of markers or a Wacom tablet. He had his first solo exhibition this summer here in Ottawa, and will be exhibiting again in a group show this December.

When not making art, Peter can usually be found making the scene at dim sum joints, South Asian restaurants and cocktail lounges.

Elephant Lore of the Day
The elephant automaton clock below dates from 1600–1625, and is of German manufacture. Made of gilt metal with enamelling, it once served as a table decoration.

When the clock struck the hour, the elephant's eyes would rotate, and the Turkish figures on top would move around in a circle. As if that wasn't enough, the elephant's mahout raised and lowered his arm, propelling the elephant across the table. Glass portholes on either side of the elephant's clock tower reveal the inner workings that bring the elephant to life.

Augsburg, where the elephant was made, was an important European centre for metalwork and the production of automata. Augsburg clocks are renowned for their high-quality engraving and chasing, as well as the complicated precision of their clockwork mechanisms.

An automaton of this quality was likely owned by a member of the nobility or a royal. Today, the elephant is housed at the Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago, and is known as the "D'Arcy Elephant".

The D'Arcy Clock, ca. 1600–1625.
S.J. Martin Darcy Collection,
Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago

Interestingly, it is thought that the popularity of automata influenced the spread of Christianity in the East. According to the Loyola University Museum of Art, "From the time China first had contact with the West, clocks were in high demand─particularly those featuring automata. Father Matteo Ricci and other Jesuits were permitted to settle in Peking in 1601 largely on account of the curious clocks and watches they brought with them. Later, when there was discussion of sending the missionaries home, the Jesuits were allowed to stay for an extended period in return for helping to keep the clocks running."

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

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