Quaker Artists 3

Ye Quakerre Weddynge

Ye Quakerre Weddynge (1894) is a pencil sketch on brown paper by Richard Morris Smith.  (Pictured below).  It shows the marriage ceremony of Bertrand Russell and Alys Pearsall Smith at the Westminster Friends Meetinghouse.  The guests were a mix of Friends and non-Friends, a few of the Quakers still in plain dress.  Humorous captions appear near many of the people as well as the warning, “Kyinde Friends are requested to observe that this does not purport to be a precisely accurate representation of a Ffriends silent meeting”.  Written descriptions of the event also differ from the sketch.  (The Meetingroom itself was bombed by the Luftwaffe in World War Two and had to be rebuilt after the war).  In 1999 a photograph of the drawing was donated to Britain’s National Portrait Gallery by Barbara Halpern.

Little is known about Richard Morris Smith.  He was a cousin of the bride. A caption in the lower right of the sketch refers to one person as, “Having no name for the gent on the right, he was dubbed Hon. Noisy Cloqueur”.  (He is yelling “Bravo”).  That is probably Smith.

Russell agreed to the wedding ceremony because Smith wanted it, but he was reluctant since he was an atheist.  (He joked that he was going to compose a poem, “From all Quaker weddings, Good Lord deliver us” and later recalled the experience as “terrifying”).   After a guest offered ministry about the Miracle at Cana during the ceremony, Smith, a temperance advocate, felt distinctly uncomfortable.  Smith adored Russell, calling her love for him “a kind of religion”.  Nevertheless, they divorced in 1921.  Smith never remarried, though Russell did so three times and also engaged in many affairs.

I thought Ye Quakerre Weddynge was delightful.  Some of the other captions read, “a Weightie Elderre (20 Stone)”, “Ye 2 naughtie Elderres” with one noting to the other, “Beholde how fayre shee bee”, and an adult admonishing two young girls, “Children don’t fidget”. 

Because the drawing is difficult to see unless you expand it, here is a link where you may do so: https://www.google.com/search?q=a+quaker+wedding+drawing&sxsrf=ALiCzsY0hcGZdIIKEDMhvTo315cYibwOrg:1667704235714&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7hL20ypj7AhVGEFkFHS9qBRwQ_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=1367&bih=842&dpr=1#imgrc=aUE_bCRy3oit1M

Gary Sandman

November 2022

Janet Hyland

Janet Hyland is an Irish painter and writer. Influenced by British artist L.S. Lowry, using “Lowry colors”, she paints in the naïve and icon traditions. She calls herself, more than anything, a sign painter and her pictures Plain Paintings. The Quaker Meeting, to the right, uses pastels and is mounted on wood. Pillars of Power is a painting of a Meeting for Worship that gathered on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral during the time of the Occupy encampment there. As well, many of her paintings are of English and foreign village scenes. Hyland writes a blog, Janet Hyland’s Paintings: Scribbles on Wood, commenting on Quakers, travel, painting, family, pop culture and her goth teenage years. Several of her paintings appear in the blog.

Hyland is an Irish Quaker. She first became involved in Friends during a memorable visit to the Jordans Meetinghouse as a teenager in the 1970’s. She said, “That night I stepped out of my safe sheltered world into the endless vistas of possibility”. In 2017 she gave a talk at Britain Yearly Meeting on “The Art Behind Icons”.

Janet Hyland’s paintings are delightful. The Quaker Meeting is a charming picture of Friends. But her daughter Jessy’s observations about the painting say it best:

“It’s bizarre Mum. It looks right but it’s all wrong. What have you done to me? I don’t look like that. And why is the room moving? They seem to be floating. And where’s the light coming from? There’s no real shadows. And what’s the daffodil doing between the dark twins. It sort of goes up through the man sitting bolt upright to the light above. That man’s leg is just an arch and he has no hands. And why are their eyes all open? What are they looking at? That bench is weighed down at one end which isn’t possible. Is that a young boy or girl sitting next to the old man? They sit together but they look the other way. Nothing is real and nothing fits, like things aren’t in proportion and other bits are missing…and yet it does sort of fit and it feels calm and peaceful.”

Hyland’s blog also contains wonderful pieces, especially “The Memory Twig Tree”.

Gary Sandman

October 2022

A Photograph of Lucretia Mott

A photograph of Lucretia Mott was taken around 1875.  It depicts her in a traditional Quaker bonnet and dress with a shawl, seated.  The photographer was Frederick Gutekunst, the “dean of American photographers”, who took the pictures of many celebrated personages, including Lincoln, Whitman, Longfellow and Grant.  In addition, he was known for his photographs of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Gettysburg battlefield.  The original photograph rests now in the Library of Congress.  Three other photographs and two paintings also show Mott, either as an individual or in a group.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a member of Abington (PYM) Meeting.  Raised a Nantucket Quaker, she attended the Nine Partners Friends School.  In 1821 she became a Quaker minister, and in 1827 she joined with other Friends to form the Hicksite branch of Quakers.  She was also a clerk of the Philadelphia Women’s Yearly Meeting and helped found Swarthmore College.  Mott was a prominent abolitionist and feminist, participating in the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Equal Rights Association.  She assisted slaves to escape through the Underground Railroad.  During the 1838 Pennsylvania Hall riot she was threatened with violence by a pro-slavery mob.  A pacifist, Mott was active in the Universal Peace Union, of which she was vice-president. The Portrait Monument in the United States Capitol Rotunda commemorates her, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. 

The Lucretia Mott photograph is striking, a clear picture of Lucretia Mott’s indomitable spirit.

Gary Sandman

September 2022

Edward Sorel

Edward Sorel (b. 1929) is an American cartoonist and writer. His work usually focuses on political topics, though occasionally it touches on other subjects, and it is enlivened with his sardonic humor. The cartoons are pen-and-ink sketches, filled out with watercolors and pastels. The best of them, in his words, are “spontaneous drawings”. Among the numerous magazines in which his work has appeared are The Nation, The Village Voice, Esquire and Vanity Fair. Sorel has published children’s books, Hollywood histories and autobiographies, in collaboration with others or on his own, including Johnny-on-the-Spot, Superpen: the Cartoons and Caricatures of Edward Sorel and Profusely Illustrated: a Memoir. He is also known for his mural at the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village. Sorel has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, the Art Institute of Boston and Galerie Bartsch & Chariau. His honors include the Auguste St. Gaudens Medal for Professional Achievement, the Page One Award and the National Cartoonist Society Advertising and Illustration Award.

Sorel began attending Morningside Meeting in New York City in 1963. After he separated from his first wife and lost his job, he had been going through a dark period. Ed Hilpern, his therapist and a member of the Meeting, recommended that he explore Quaker worship. He met Nancy Caldwell, the love of his life, at the Meeting, and they were married there in 1965. (Below is a cartoon of the Sunday morning they met). Sorel participated in anti-Vietnam War marches in Washington DC with Friends and joined with them when they walked across the Peace Bridge at Rochester to deliver medical supplies for North and South Vietnamese civilians to Canadians Friends, who had agreed to forward the supplies. When he and his family moved upstate in the early 1970’s, they attended Bulls Head-Oswego Meeting. A gleeful atheist, Sorel is known for his anticlerical cartoons and has sat on the board of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He felt, however, that he could become a member of the Friends because of Quaker social witness.

I have always loved Edward Sorel’s cartoons. I first saw them in Ramparts magazine in the mid-1960’s and enjoy them still in The New Yorker magazine. And I was delighted to see the cartoon below. I had worshiped at Morningside Meeting several times when I lived in New York City.

A quote from Sorel about his first Friends Meeting for Worship:

“What I remember best is the silence. It seemed to charge the room with a connectedness of yearning”.

Gary Sandman

August 2022

Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb (1775-1834) was a British essayist, critic, playwright and poet. A leading figure in the Romantic Movement, he wrote in an intensely personal and emotional style. His Essays of Elia offered reminiscences of his life and was a best seller of the day. His Tales of Shakespeare, co-written with his sister Mary, presented bowdlerized versions of the plays for young people and was also very popular. Lamb was the friend of many Romantic artists: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and William Hazlitt. He suffered greatly in his life, enduring periods of mental illness.

Lamb was greatly interested in Quakers. He called himself “an Honorary Friend” and “half a Quaker”. Widely read in Friends literature, he was especially moved by Woolman’s Journal and Penn’s No Cross, No Crown. He was also close to many Quakers, including the poets Bernard Barton and Charles Lloyd. He compared Friends to the Desert Fathers, early Christian hermits, whose contemplative practices he felt had parallels with Friends worship. Lamb was not a Friend, however. Initially he drew back from the Quakers after he heard a Friend give ministry in what he felt was a negative manner, and in the end he felt that he was unable to become a Quaker because of their cultural narrowness in that time.

Charles Lamb was an insightful writer. His writings on Quakers, especially “The Quaker’s Meeting”, remain of interest.

A quote:

“Reader, would’st thou know what true peace and quiet mean; would’st thou find a refuge from the noises and clamours of the multitude; would’st thou enjoy at once solitude and society; would’st thou possess the depth of thy own spirit in stillness, without being shut out from the consolatory faces of thy species; would’st thou be alone, and yet accompanied; solitary, yet not desolate; singular, yet not without some to keep thee in countenance; a unit in aggregate; a simple in composite:—come with me into a Quaker’s Meeting”.

Gary Sandman

July 2022

Ron Waddams

Ron Waddams (1920-2010) was a British painter. His work featured swooping, colorful figures, reminiscent of Miró and Matisse, while his themes centered around spiritual and social concerns, especially non-violence. The paintings are in acrylic on a hardwood base. A latecomer, Waddams spent most of his career as a graphic designer and became a professional artist only after he retired. His paintings are now displayed at the Palestinian Mission in London and the Bridgeman Art Library, among other sites.

Waddams was an attender at Jordans (BrYM) Meeting for many years, finally becoming a member in 1978. He first exhibited his paintings at the Jordans Meetinghouse. The Larren Art Trust now oversees his works, using any income to benefit the Friends Peace Testimony and the United Nations Association UK Trust.

I loved Ron Waddams’ paintings. It was difficult to choose just one to share. Finally, I picked out two: “Live Adventurously” (left), based on a British Quaker saying, and “Jordans Quaker Meeting 2” (right). This is fine art.

Gary Sandman

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard (b. 1989) is a British model, activist, television personality and YouTuber. She first became known in 2008 for her appearance in Britain’s Missing Top Model, a television program about models with disabilities, and followed that as a host on local Bristol television. In 2011 she began creating videos for a YouTube channel, focusing on vintage beauty and fashion and on LGBTQ and disability issues. At last count she had over 900,000 subscribers. Kellgren-Fozard is deaf and suffers from a litany of illnesses: hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsy, Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and mixed connective tissue disease. There have been times when she has had to use crutches or a wheelchair. She was awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Worcester for her work in disability awareness.

Kellgren-Fozard was raised a Friend at Frenchay Quaker Meeting in Bristol. Her grandmother had been helped by American Quakers, and her parents are Friends. As a child, she attended Sidcot Friends School. Kellgren-Fozard and her fiancé were married at Frenchay Meeting in 2016. Because of the acceptance she felt and the values she learned, she speaks fondly of Friends. Her YouTube channel contains several videos about Quakerism, especially her upbringing as a Friend.

I liked Jessica Kellgren-Fozard’s videos. I am not greatly interested in vintage beauty and fashion but I thought her positive and vivacious manner was charming. (She calls herself a “jolly lesbian version of a vintage Hollywood sweetheart.”) And I found her chatty Quaker videos delightful.

A link to her “Oh God… Let’s Talk About My Religion // What Is Quakerism?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8RDjg0Mhyw.

Gary Sandman

The Underground Railroad Painting

The Underground Railroad painting (1893) was painted by Charles Webber. It shows abolitionists helping slaves escape to Canada. The abolitionists are Levi Coffin, Catherine Coffin and Hannah Haydock, right to left; the other abolitionists and the slaves are unknown. The scene takes place at Levi Coffin’s farm outside Cincinnati in mid-winter. First exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair, the work caused a sensation. It also inspired Wilbur Henry Siebert to write The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom, the earliest scholarly book on the subject. The painting is in oil. It hangs now in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Levi Coffin, a Friend, was known as the “President of the Underground Railroad” and assisted over 3000 slaves to escape. Catherine Coffin and Hannah Haydock, also Friends, were active in the Underground Railroad, too.

The Underground Railroad painting is a stirring, epic work. As well, it could almost be a photograph of an actual escape. Charles Webber, a friend of the Coffins, also participated in the Underground Railroad. Fascinatingly, the man holding the horses’ reins resembles a self-portrait of Webber. He may have painted himself into the picture.

Gary Sandman

April 2022

The Mary Dyer Icon

An icon of Mary Dyer has been painted by William Hart McNichols.  It shows Dyer in a plain dress, a thin red cross clutched in her right hand, a halo surrounding her head, sunlight bursting through the clouds above.  At the top appear the words, “Hagia Maria” (Holy Mary).  Dyer’s face is imaginary; it is unknown what she looked like.  The painting is acrylic on wood.

Mary Dyer (c. 1611-1660) was a Quaker who was hung in Boston.  The Massachusetts Bay Colony authorities killed her because Quakers were not allowed in the colony.  A statue of her rests now in front of the Massachusetts state capitol building. 

William Hart McNichols (b. 1949) is a prolific painter of icons and children’s book illustrations.  He is also a poet and writer.  His books of icons include The Bride: Images of the Church, Christ All Merciful, You Will Be My Witnesses and Mother of God Similar To Fire.  As a Jesuit priest, he was active in the Vietnam antiwar movement and in AIDS hospice work.  He left the Society of Jesus after he spoke out as a gay man, though he remains a priest in the Archdiocese of New Mexico.

The Mary Dyer icon is a poignant depiction.  Icons are not meant to be worshipped.  They are like snapshots in scrapbooks, remembrances of people who are important to us.  This icon does that.  I felt I was in Dyer’s presence.  Spending time with the painting is a tender experience. 

A quote from McNichols:

“You gaze on the icon, but it gazes on you, too”.

Gary Sandman

March 2022

Francis Hole

Francis Hole told a story once in his Touching the Earth program: a Professor of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, one day he was lying on his stomach on a patch of grass on the campus.  He was examining the ground for worms.  After a time, he glimpsed a pair of feet nearby.  He looked up and saw a teary-eyed coed staring at him.  She murmured, “You poor man!”, scurried over, placed a dollar by him and dashed away.  Smiling, Francis noted, “I guess she thought I was drunk!”

Francis Hole (1913-2002) was a musician, puppeteer, writer and teacher.  He was known for his contribution to recording the soils and their properties in the Wisconsin region.  He was also known for his use of humorous talks and arts to popularize soil science, employing his violin and puppets, especially in the Touching the Earth program.  Another high point of his career was his campaign to get Antigo Silt Loam recognized as the official state soil of Wisconsin.  Francis published over 50 books on technical and pedagogical aspects of soil science.  His work led him to be dubbed the “Ambassador of Soils” and the “Poet Laureate of Soil Science”.  He, on the other hand, always introduced himself as “Francis D. Hole, TNS” (Temporarily Not Soil).

Francis Hole grew up a Quaker in Friends Churches in Richmond, Indiana.  He attended Haverford College and Earlham College, where he first participated in unprogrammed worship.  During World War Two, he was a conscientious objector, serving on a trail-clearing crew in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and as an assistant in U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratories.  In 1946 Francis became one of the founding members of Madison (NYM) Meeting.  (He stated that he liked Madison Friends very much, not the least because it was marvelous that scholarly people could be silent most of the time).   He wrote for Friends Journal and other Quaker publications, and he co-wrote, with Ellie Shacter, A Little Journal of Devotions Out of Quaker Worship, a collection of spiritual messages. He was also a regular speaker at Friends events.

I saw Francis Hole perform his Touching the Earth program at Friends General Conference Gathering, and I danced when he played his violin for square-dances at Northern Yearly Meeting at Wild Rose.  He struck me as sprightly and wise, one of those wonderful older Friends I met when I first came into Friends Meetings in the early 1970’s.  They were the kind of people I wanted to grow up to be.

Below is a link to an interview with Francis Hole.  There’s not much talk about art but I was touched to see one of those older Friends again.

And a quote:

“Green vegetation and the ground on which we step are bathed in sunlight – but not plant roots, not our own Inner Light. They work in blessed darkness.”

Gary Sandman

February 2020