The journey described in "Misadventures with a Donkey in Spain" (1924) by Jan and Cora Gordon began with a search for a donkey to pull a cart containing their art materials. By the end of the journey they had "left a trail of 500 kilometres of perplexity across the provinces of Murcia, Almeria, Granada, and Malaga .."
In the summer of 2009 we followed in the footsteps of Cora, Jan and Colonel Geraldine the donkey (the story can be found here). We stayed in Vera, where an ancient and unusual guitar owned by the Gordons had been made in 1854 (more on the guitars can be found here and here). The grandson of Jan Gordon's godson can be seen studying a modern guitar in a Vera shop window here.
"Una ventana al pasado", Murcian donkey fair, reproduced in Vera al Dia, 18 Julio 2009.
During our stay in Vera we visited a temporary exhibition (in the Convento de la Victoria) of ancient photographs and found one evocative connection with the Gordons' Spanish journey. It shows a donkey fair of the 1920s, with three donkey carts visible, including a covered one very like that used by the Gordons. A group of panniers can be seen in the foreground and a good number of donkeys are available for inspection.
Many adventures later, arriving in Malaga at the end of their journey, the Gordons struggled to sell Colonel Geraldine and the cart; "It would have been easy to dispose of the donkey alone; several persons offered us the same price that we had paid for it .. but the cart was unwanted. It was not a Malagan cart, but a Murcian model."
Eventually "another gypsy was found, who offered us thirty-five duros, and we were now so tired of the business that the poor little Colonel was handed over to a group of very delighted speculators. We gave him a large feed of alfalfa grass, and as a last treat a whole orange. His days of splendour were over" and "Jo turned away to hide a tear."
Popular posts from this blog
Jan and Cora Gordon visited Albania in the summer of 1925 and in 1927 published the book " Two Vagabonds in Albania ." Two phrases from this book resonated when I first read it: " Now and again a wolf howled from far away, and somewhere a kid, lost or smelling some wolf-taint in the air, bleated with persistent terror " pg. 138. and " As we came down into the cultivated fields of the valley we found ourselves walking through clouds of red-winged grasshoppers, which sprang up on all sides with a clattering flight ." pg. 139 The book begins with "Don't stay in Durazzo." From Durazzo they made a clockwise loop to the south, passing through Tirana, Elbasan, Berat, Kelcyre, Permeti and Gjinokastro before returning north to Tirana. The second leg of the journey was an excursion to the north, from Scutari up into the mountains. Map of prominent places visited on the southern loop described in "Two Vagabonds in Albania"
Dazzle painting of ships has fascinated many since its first deployment during WW1, spawning numerous articles, books and imitations. The artist and writer Jan Gordon was one of the original protagonists; he designed dazzle patterns, wrote about the principles and practice of the art, and remembered those days fondly when later dedicating one of his books to a dazzle painting colleague, Steven Spurrier. One of the dazzle designs produced by Jan Gordon was that for HMS Southampton and I discuss below the available information on this design. I also recently bought the book " A Naval Lieutenant 1914-1918," which gives an account of the wartime experiences of the Southampton, with several contemporary comments on camouflage and dazzle. Camouflage of ships in WW1 At the beginning of WW1 in 1914 , Stephen King-Hall (as "Etienne"), serving on HMS Southampton , recalled, " After the big sweep we all went to Loch Ewe to coal, and here I remember noticing the ba
Jan Gordon 's book, " The Ostwald Colour System, An Elementary Introduction " (1938, Reeves & Sons) is very rarely seen. This work was the only one missing from the list of Jan Gordon's books produced for his memorial exhibition in 1944 . Gordon begins with, " To understand sufficiently how the Ostwald Colour system was constructed and to understand how it may be used is not, I believe, as difficult as many would have us think ." The book cover He recommends the system to artists, " making them more keenly aware of the properties of colours in harmonious associations " and also for use in schools, " by helping pupils to realise what a colour is, what it can do and how it may be combined with other colours ." The achromatic scale and the 8 hues and 24 colour circle (left) and isotint, isotone and isovalent circles (right) "The Ostwald system creates a colour space based on dominant wavelength, purity, and l