Thursday, March 02, 2006
Battle of Kawanaka-jima by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
This print is the center panel of a triptych and is reproduced by courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. I had the photograph commissioned with permission from the V&A where the original print (if there is such a thing from a woodcut) is stored and I used it in the design of a book cover. The woodcut dates from c1856.
No fewer than five battles were fought at Kawanaka-jima between 1553 and 1561 (the Sengoku Period) by Takeda Shingen of Kai province and Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo province at this plain which is located in the north of Shinano Province, very near the modern-day city of Nagano. The fourth battle was the fiercest. Heavy losses were sustained by each side but the outcome(s) were inconclusive. I cannot be sure which encounter this picture represents: the battle was a popular topic with Japanese historical artists and many versions exist.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Despite my advancing years I do make attempts to stay tuned into popular culture. It was thus with interest that I read of the phenomenon of the Arctic Monkeys, a popular electric beat group, that is selling more records than the Beatles. I duly forked out for their album (I bought a CD as it wasn't available at the iTunes store) and gave it a spin. Well I have to say that I don't really understand the hype. They sound like a well-produced indie band but are certainly not up there with Jagger-Richards or Lennon-McCartney. Some songs are quite catchy,though, and I quite like the ditty, Fake Tales from San Francisco. I'll give them a 6.5 out of 10: at least they are better than that droning, sanctimonious, bunch of mingers, U2. From now on I'm going to stick to stick to Corelli, Coltane and Cesaria Evora.