Sunday, June 8, 2014

OH MY HAT!


Having been inspired by Billy Collins and an artist who loves hats I couldn't resist blogging  about the two of them. The artist is John Caple. 






I'm captivated by his mysterious paintings. There's a stillness about them that appeals to me.



Mary Miers wrote a charming article about him here. She interviewed him in his sitting room, darkened by half-pulled curtains and lit by candles. This and the fact that he paints at night in the lamplight made me think of the Billy Collins poem about Goya who fashioned a hat with candles around the brim to wear when painting at night.


Photo from the 1999 film Goya en Burdeos

CANDLE HAT by Billy Collins

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work at night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
he laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in," he would say, "I was painting myself",
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.



Oh my hat  ~ An expression of extreme emotion, used by those who retain the presence of mind to avoid causing offence by saying "Oh my God".    -   Urban Dictionary

34 comments:

  1. OMH! Bet he got a hot, and perhaps a singed, head occasionally. Love Goya's work, and now that you've introduced us, John Caple's too. That poem is wonderfully descriptive.

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    1. Imagine hot wax dripping onto his clothes .... or nose.

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  2. Interesting as usual, love the one with the horse, although his eyes are a little disturbing. I am not too sure about Goyas hat, take great it off and would be interesting.

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    1. Penny, Goya painted a portrait of himself wearing the hat but the candles are so small I decided to go with the images from the movie instead.

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  3. I will have to remember that saying. Oh my hat. I love hats. I will have to seek out more of this work.

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    1. My gran used that expression so I grew up with it and often use it myself.

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  4. I do like these mysterious pieces by John Caple. I had forgotten about Goya's hat, but now I'm wondering if it ever caught fire...

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    1. Sharmon I'm sure Goya must have had a few mishaps ... mishats? :-)

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  5. R- as you say paintings with mystery. B

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  6. quand une chose est réussi.. on dit chez nous..CHAPEAU! biz

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    1. That's so interesting ELFI. Chapeau!

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  7. I'm right there with you, Robyn. Interesting mysterious paintings...with a gloomy atmosphere.

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    1. Yes at first I did think they were a little gloomy but the more I look at them the more I feel intrigued and less gloomy.

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  8. the hat with candles reminds me of taking part in a Santa Lucia procession, December 13, 1983 in Paris
    girls dressed in white,processing through the streets with wreaths of candles on their heads. and snow. so beautiful

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  9. ... And when he tilts his head, to consider the "work"

    A new way of thinking that phrase " i am on fire tonight ".

    .
    Well deserved enjoyed write up on your sculptures.

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    1. Thanks M. Smiling at the thought of Goya with hot wax dripping off his hat.

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  10. Interesting and thought provoking, as always :)

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  11. I think I need a candle hat. ;)
    Great post! and now I am ready to say "oh my hat!" all the time. OMH! funny.

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    1. Karine, I think not. You will become so engrossed in your work that you will forget the candles are there until they catch fire to your hat.

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  12. I love Goya's hat! It does look dangerous though...xoxo

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    1. .... and I'm not sure that I would like hot wax in my hair.

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  13. Love the hat & I'm lucky enough to have a son called Billy Collins! Just catching up with (so many!) of your posts, sorry. Love the holiday post, wonderful & particularly the waters edge one. You can never blow your trumpet enough amongst friends ;)

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    1. Thanks Emma :-)
      I'm not surprised you enjoyed the water's edge post. Do you still live so close to the water's edge?

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  14. Love the candle hat! I embroidered each night by 12 candle light back in the early 80's living out in the bush with no electricity or running water

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    1. When living on the farm (during my childhood) I often wrote in my journal by candle light. Just as well I wasn't inspired to make a candle hat!

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  15. I am familiar with Billy Collins and his poetry and got to listen to his poetry readings in person a few years ago... but I did not know that Goya wore a candle hat when he painted at night. How inventive and wonderful... had not thought about the lack of electricity back then when artists tried to paint at night. Makes perfect sense now.

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