My most treasured possessions are those that were either super cheap, scoured at car boot sales and charity shops or found deep in my Grandma's cupboards and parent's attic. Admittedly it is usually Mother Lola that sources these beauties for me, forever feeding my crazy collection habits. Some of her most excellent finds include a Kennett & Lindsell dressmaker's dummy for 50p in an church hall auction, a doe-eyed yellow glass horse, various Lloyd Loom chairs and these delightful prints from the 60s by Dallas Simpson which adorn my bedroom walls.
I find these pictures inspirational in a number of ways. Apart from their ability to transport me back to my own idyllic childhood these kids are also rather stylish in their breton stripes, ribbons and lace, plus they all have great hair. In fact the gal in the nightdress reminds me lots of my sister-in-law Ellie with her raven locks piled high atop her head (Ellen's excellent musings can be found here at Vagabondiana).
Unfortunately I know very little about their origins. Poor Dallas, there is hardly a mention to be found on the internet about this mistress of mass-market kitsch. Not even a Wikipedia entry! Thankfully Wayne Hemingway righted this wrong with his book: Just Above the Mantlepiece: Mass Market Masterpieces published in 2002. It has however proven to be a rather elusive text, Amazon is flogging used copies from £55-£155 so it probably won't be joining my bookshelf any time soon. However I did come across this quote from him:
“I have seen (mass-market art) celebrated in a post-modernist ironic way and I have been saddened by its inclusion in kitsch iconography. Let’s not celebrate it for these reasons. Value deserves to be restored to a genre derided by certain members of the art elite and respect should be given to artists whose work broadened the horizons of collecting to reach the working class, making this art form available to a wider public than ever before.”
I also found this Guardian article from 2000 'Wayne's World' which describes the origins of Wayne's obsession with everyday art.
'he remembers growing up in as a lad in his grandmother's house in Morecambe. Ida Hemingway was, he says, 'an appreciator and collector of mass-market masterpieces'. She picked them up from Freemans catalogues and Argos, and over the years the collection spread from her chimney breast to the rest of the house'.
Well, what's good enough for Ida, is good enough for me, she sounds like she had taste, just like my very own Grandma Lola. Hopefully one day Dallas will be remembered for the true artist she was/is??