John Luke (1906 - 1975) was born in Belfast and some of you, like me, have never heard of him until today. This talented modernist landscape artist, muralist, sculptor, printmaker and figurative painter worked in a shipyard before taking night classes at the Belfast School of Art. After winning a scholarship and a prize in the following year he went to London to study fine art painting, drawing and sculpture. During WWII he gave painting a break and retired to a cottage in Co. Armagh, making a living as an art teacher.
Luke spent his final years in poverty, misery and solitude in a flat in Belfast and died in 1975. Isn't it ironic that the highest price paid at auction for one of his paintings in 1999 was around £41,500? His artwork appear in several public and private collections from the Ulster Museum to the Queen's University in Belfast. This is my tribute to John Luke, one of the most brilliant Irish artists I've ever heard of.
This is one of my favourite films. Directed by Jordan Scott (Ridley's daughter!) and based on a novel (which I haven't read yet) by Sheila Kohler, Cracks is a beautifully composed coming-of-age drama, a lyrical and emotionally intense delirium from its tense atmosphere to the sophisticated setting. Set in 1934, it follows the story of Miss G, a young and spirited teacher, and her pupils at an English boarding school for girls in the countryside. The cool and sensual Miss G, played by Eva Green, is everything to the girls: enigmatic swimming instructor, charismatic teacher and mesmerising unorthodox role model. She fascinates and captivates her pupils, isolated from the world in that austere secluded school, with thrilling adventure stories of her romances and adventures around the world. Her students admire and respect her as she commands their lives. Everything changes upon the arrival of a new Spanish student - she is aristocratic and cultured, threatening and simultaneously desired. As the film goes on, the layers of Miss G and her own nature begin to unfold... and what a disturbing character she is! Innocence gets corrupted and ravished. Obsession and jealousy take place and tragedy ensues. Let's just say I've seen healthier teacher-pupil relationships. My jaw dropped at the wonderful costume design by Alison Byrne. Period styling at its best! Knitted cardigans, pinafores and exquisite collars portraying girlhood and innocence. The filming location is also idyllic, most of it in Ireland apparently. Oh, and the decoration is top notch.
Eva Green's performance is hypnotic - she looks beautifully haunting and magnetic in every shot. And yes, I fell in love with Miss G's inspiring sense of style right away: high-waisted trousers reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich, classy silhouettes featuring floaty flamboyance, artsy outfits giving off an avant-garde bohemian vibe, Hollywoodesque silky scarves with golden accents, richly textured fabrics like embellished velvet that looked fabulous on screen, glamourous shades of blue, green and grey... Downright delightful!
Oozing allure and passionate charm, Miss G's intriguing and quirky attitude is depicted so well through her exotic yet dramatic wardrobe, reflecting her personality and hinting at her dark secrets. She projects the idea of a well-travelled woman who teaches the girls in an unconventional way... Not everything is what it seems, however. If you haven't seen this film yet, go watch it.