Tuesday 4 March 2008

I've only been to Angouleme the once, in 2005, and my favourite part was the medieval cathedral.

My particular interest is the subject of the grotesques around the edges of the roof, which I photographed to the best of my ordinary camera's ability, knowing I could zoom and try to clarify later in photoshop.

In the Romanesque period the corbels, those jutting stone blocks whose purpose was to 'support a superincumbent weight' would be decorated with images of lust and folly. They are not to be confused with the more elaborate gargoyles, or water spout decorations, of the later Gothic period.

There is often an appealingly simple and direct humorous quality to this class of carvings, and they are not at all well documented. For instance, the books on this cathedral don't say anything about them otherwise I wouldn't have had to walk around the building in the rain. If I found myself in Europe more often I would go on journeys just to photograph this kind of sculpture. And I'd buy a more suitable camera

It's not clear in my photo but it can be verified by comparison with the type from other locations that this little chap is gripping his thighs tightly in order to show us his anus.

And I'm not sure what is going on here, though the configuration suggests a fornicating couple, as seen elsewhere.

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Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Why were the artists allowed to cut loose like that in an otherwise highly restrictive religious society? A leftover of the more open Pagan era?

4 March 2008 at 18:39:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Society then was religious but not necessarily restrictive in the prudish Victorian sense. See The Canterbury Tales for some old-fashioned medieval bawdiness.

Figures depicting the sin of lust abound on medieval churches as does the image of Sheela Na Gig, described at the Sheela Na Gig Project as "an old woman squatting and pulling apart her vulva". That may be the arse-flaunting figure that Eddie photographed. Or it may simply be someone flaunting their arse....

4 March 2008 at 21:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

We are quite restrictive nowadays, relying on smarm more than honesty and openess when it comes to sex.

5 March 2008 at 07:48:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

Openness in the Sheela Na Gig sense of the word? Quite a bit of that on youporn, I can tell you.

5 March 2008 at 10:05:00 GMT-5  
Blogger smiler747 said...

Hi Eddie,

Stuart Green here, you may dimly recall me as the editor of UK comics 'zine Speakeasy and later Blast! back in the early 90s.

I have been trying to get an email address from you from Frank Plowright, and Nick Abadzis, but both of them directed me here.

Anyway, I have spent the intervening years managing bands. I'm currently managing a band called These New Puritans, who are fans of yours. They have a teeny, weeny two page project that they would love you to draw for little money.

It would be great if you could drop me a line if you're interested. If not, keep well, and keep drawing.


5 March 2008 at 12:27:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Tommy! said...

Thanks for posting these pix of the CORBELS, they're pretty interesting.

BATMAN FAN? Visit The Bat-Blog!

Thanks, Tommy

18 March 2008 at 16:58:00 GMT-5  

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