William Bishop Ford

A common form of art in the 16th-19th century was portrait miniatures. Women would keep them of their husbands who were in the army or away and men would carry ones to remind them of their families. Another popular use was to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

Because of the enormous sentimental value and personal attachment to portrait miniatures I was determined to find myself one. Even though I cannot express how much I adore these tiny masterpieces, I was a bit nervous about acquiring one. For the same reasons I love them (their personal value), I also feel that it is difficult to possess something that meant so much to someone.

View main image

It took me about a year to find the perfect one, but eventually I did. The one I found was of three whippets. Perfect, I thought, because animals have a very close connection with their owners, but it is not like I am carrying someone’s husband around on my collar.

(this one’s mine!! =D)

When I first purchased my portrait miniature, I was unaware of who had painted it or how old it was. The back on it had been replaced at some point in time (probably very early 20th century), and was sealed. Being too afraid to remove the backing, for fear of damaging the piece, I decided to research it solely on its technique, medium, and subject.

I was genuinely shocked when I found who I was definite is the artist. I never expected to be able to come up with a definite answer, but there is no doubt about it…my miniature was painted by William Bishop Ford.

View main image

Ford was a British artist who lived between the years of 1832 and 1922. He was a specialist painter of miniature enamels. He apprenticed under William Essex (who perfected the technique of reverse essex glass painting, which is how mine if done). His subjects included many animals as well as people, and the framing used is unmistakable.

This piece has become one of my most prized possessions. I feel such a personal connection to it and am proud to wear it frequently.

-C

Photo Credits:

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery & my collection

The Gaza Zoo

 

I have always thought that opening up a zoo of taxidermy would be a wonderful idea. Getting to touch dangerous or exotic animals would be such a mesmerizing experience! However, I recently came across a taxidermy zoo that isn’t quite as enchanting as I expected…

At the Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip, animals that die are stuffed and then put back on display. Normally, I would cringe at the usage of the word “stuffed” when discussing taxidermy; however in this case that is exactly what is done. Professional taxidermists as well as supplies are scarce here, so the animals are preserved using sawdust and formaldehyde. This grotesque method has led to the animals missing chunks of skin, eyes, and even limbs. This crude method was learned online.

This abundance of decaying animals can be in part due to the lack of veterinary attention (medical advice is given over the phone from a vet in Egypt), hunger, and the dangerous conditions associated with the Gaza Strip.

Conditions don’t improve much for the living animals. In an attempt to create a zebra display, donkeys were painted with stripes. The cages are assembled from fences that surrounded a Jewish settlement in Israel that was dismantled in 2005.

Anti-Israeli propaganda disguised as humorous human interest?

The only animals on display native to the area are the birds. All of the other animals were smuggled in.

Although it is somewhat morbid and macabre, this zoo does provide an otherwise unattainable experience for local children. Many of them would otherwise never get to experience these animals, and even in their despicable state, they are a treat to see.

-C

Photos:

http://exchangegoldforcash.com/money/u-s-government/president/2012-election/breitbart/stuffed-animals-join-live-ones-in-gaza-zoo/

http://www.3news.co.nz/Gaza-zoo-Stuffed-animals-join-live-ones/tabid/1160/articleID/251436/Default.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/blogs/id/n5Zre9kI3CQ

http://undhimmi.com/2009/10/09/friday-photo-those-evil-zebra-denying-jooz/

http://circusnospin.blogspot.com/2012/04/gaza-zoo-puts-stuffed-animals-in-cages.html