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28 Feb 2010

Amazing presents

The old ball and chain went to a Vintage Fair today and picked me up some great presents: a cross (they really should put a loop at the bottom as well as the top- its difficult to hang the way I like it. They really are excluding a whole market by not adding that extra loop- makes good money/business sense), a few postcards and this tiny camera viewer- how the hell they found this in the whole fair is beyond me...I can only assume that someone 'up there' wanted them to find it. Spooky huh...

One of my fav' pieces was this postcard, my wife had no idea I liked this artist and the story behind him that is so sad and fascinating:

"Wain was born in 1860 in London and went to the West London School of Art as a young man. He married a woman ten years his elder, but tragically she died of cancer only 3 years later. He did most of his major work as an illustrator in the years before World War I, publishing books and postcards and games, all of his uniquely human cats which became his obsession.

He had a run of employment and fame and modest fortune from his cat art (starting in 1901 there was even a Louis Wain Annual!).

But by 1916 he was almost flat broke and in increasingly desperate circumstances. Never one to play to current vogue, his drawings were out of fashion and were slowly getting weirder.

By 1924 he was committed to the Middlesex County Asylum for the Insane. He continued to draw, and in some ways did some of his most astonishing work there.

It was a cat named Peter, whom he nicknamed Peter The Great, that was given to he and his wife as a gift by his sisters, that he spent hours studying and sketching during the long hours and years of his wife's illness. In retrospect, this tragedy was the formative event of his life, being both the wellspring of his genius, and the fount of his obsession and madness.

Louis Wain died on the 4th of July in 1939. His work is only known today among a certain circle of afficianados; both cat people, outsider art fans, and anyone like myself lucky enough to have known Sally Cruikshank back in the early 80's in Los Angeles!

It's great when people share their personal passions and obsessions. We learn so much about the vast world we live in. "

william Horbert

This is the most treasured postcard my wife gave to me today.