Friday, February 24, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Richard Hamilton, Father of Pop Art.

 Heaventree of Stars
Some seven years ago, searching for artwork related to astrology I came across this print by English pop artist Richard Hamilton. Its title is from a quotation from James Joyce's Ulysses:
“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”

Richard Hamilton was dubbed "Father of Pop Art". It was he who coined a name for the genre in fact; he influenced many artists who came after. Mr Hamilton died, aged 89, in 2011. Today, 24 February is the anniversary of his birth in 1922, it seems appropriate to add to an old post of mine and re-air it.

Hamilton's best known work is a 1956 collage often cited as the beginning of English Pop Art: Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? It was originally intended to be a poster advertising a famous London exhibition, This Is Tomorrow.

'Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?'

From a piece by Fiona MacCarthy in The Guardian in 2014:
In Britain in that early postwar era there was a sudden thrilling influx of sophisticated, streamlined consumer goods from the US. It was bonanza time for British housewares, too, as the government-supported Council of Industrial Design (now the Design Council) campaigned to improve standards in British manufacturing and a new breed of industrial designers emerged from British art schools. In 1956, exactly coinciding with Hamilton's collage, the Design Centre opened in the Haymarket, a heaven for aspirational homemakers. There was even a royal seal of approval when Prince Philip's inaugural prize for elegant design was awarded to the Prestcold Packaway refrigerator.

But, as Hamilton was well aware, a backlash was beginning. Richard Hoggart, in The Uses of Literacy (1957), voiced the misgivings of many in lamenting the pervasive influence of American mass culture, "full of corrupt brightness, of improper appeals and moral evasions". There was a dawning consciousness that have-it-all housewives could be less than happy. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan's bestselling analysis of female domestic frustration, would be published in America in 1963. Labour-saving appliances were certainly seductive, but there was now a movement of suspicion and distrust that one might define as Tupperware resistance. As an artist, Hamilton thrived on this ambivalence.

That Hamilton was anti-capitalist is an understatement. But he still adored the uninhibited plenty of American culture. Like other contemporary artists, Allen Jones being an obvious example, he devoured and then recycled the imagery of popular American magazines. He spoke of this as "plundering the popular arts". By popular arts, Hamilton emphatically did not mean the folk arts, which turned him very squeamish. The neo‑romantics, the Kitchen Sink School and the St Ives artists were similar betes noires...........Hamilton's art contained the shock of the eclectic. His all-embracing attitudes caused widespread puzzlement. He challenged the traditional hierarchy of values, the purist view held by the British art establishment of what was proper subject matter for a work of art. Hamilton was a knowledgeable, deeply serious artist who loved and respected the great artists of the past. But he was also determinedly responsive to the modern. The critic David Sylvester, a friend of Hamilton's, described this as verging on madness, a consuming obsession with "modern living, modern technology, modern equipment, modern communications, modern materials, modern processes, modern attitudes"....

Hamilton took pride in variety. His work ranges from book illustration, for instance his 50-year stint illustrating James Joyce's Ulysses, through collages, sculptures, politically charged pictures, digital images, and straight-ahead painting. He was a friend of Paul McCartney and designed the now famous cover of the Beatles' White Album along with the poster which accompanies it. The album cover, one might think, needed little in the way of design, but the story goes that it was made deliberately simple after the uproar following a previous album cover showing the lads with butchered body parts and dolls' heads.


Richard Hamilton was born in London, UK, on 24 February 1922. No birth time available so a 12 noon chart is shown below.

Sun conjunct Venus and Uranus in Pisces; Moon (whatever the birth time)was in Aquarius with Mercury. It's all there, in a nutshell! Sun (self) Venus (art) Uranus(the unexpected, avant garde, eccentric) all closely linked in Pisces (imagination and dreams.) Moon (inner self) and Mercury (communication, mental process) in Aquarius, sign ruled by Uranus (as above).

As if all that weren't enough to describe him, there's a Yod (Finger of Fate) linking Saturn (work, business) and Neptune (creativity) via sextile, then connecting both planets via quincunx (150 degrees) to Uranus and Venus. This formation can be interpreted in astrology as a funnelling of the sextiled planets' blended characteristics through the planet(s) at the apex. So here, creativity (Neptune) and business (Saturn) are blended, and channelled into the world via art (Venus) in a changeable and often unconventional style (Uranus).


Barmaids Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy from the "Sirens" episode of Ulysses.

The Transmogrification of Bloom (Ulysses)

Shock & Awe (Y'll know this one!)

English politician of the mid 20th century Hugh Gaitskell, disguised as Phantom of the Opera . Hamilton was furious about his refusal to get rid of Britain's nuclear deterrent.

Guggenheim in Chrome

Mick Jagger, and the art dealer Robert Fraser, in handcuffs following a drug raid ( from the Swingeing London series, 1967 - 1972)


Five Tyres Remoulded

The White Album + Insert

The Artist

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, National Security Adviser.

President Trump this week named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing Michael Flynn.

A look at the natal chart of the new national security adviser, with a little information as to how this gentleman is seen by another who knows him well - and how the Lt.General's chart links to the president's own.

From a piece at
by Christopher Woolf:

“H.R. is the most bull-headed, nicest, smartest, most ego-free person I think I have ever met,” says retired Army Col. John Nagl, who has known and worked with McMaster for more than 20 years.

“He is absolutely dedicated to taking care of America’s national interests,” adds Nagl. “Razor-sharp, and actually every once in a while even a little bit funny.”

As a soldier, Nagl says McMaster is the most demanding trainer of forces, and “the best implementer of both tactics and strategy, and the best military leader, I think, of his generation.”

Like McMaster, Nagl is a scholar, with a PhD. Together they helped reinvent the military’s counter-insurgency doctrine in 2006 and 2007, using techniques McMaster pioneered in Iraq's Tal Afar district with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2004. In addition to outstanding service in Iraq and Afghanistan, McMaster was awarded a silver star for gallantry and leadership during one of the largest tank battles since World War II, in the Gulf War in 1991.

But he has a reputation as a maverick..........

“The president has chosen a man who is absolutely unafraid to go toe-to-toe with anybody, including the president of the United States,” says Nagl. He will "fight absolutely tooth and nail for what he believes is right.”

As a serving soldier, Nagl expects McMaster to salute the president and execute his decisions to the best of his abilities. “But I tell you, I think the President is going to have a hard time convincing H.R. that he’s wrong.” .....

“He’s not ideological,” adds Nagl. “He understands, for instance, that while we are facing threat in radical Islamic extremism, the Islamic world is not our enemy.”

However, the president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, does see the world in ideological terms. Nagl does not disagree with the idea that McMaster may come into conflict with Bannon.

“I’d buy tickets to watch that fight,” he says.

Herbert Raymond McMaster born on July 24, 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chart set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available.

McMaster's Fixed Leo Sun and almost certain Taurus Moon (degree unknown without time of birth) indicates a strong-minded, tenacious, determined and at times stubborn nature, and that's brought out in the excerpts above. "Maverick" mentioned above is, I'd bet, related to Saturn in Aquarius in harmonious trine to Mars in Gemini. Saturn in Aquarius (its traditional sign of rulership) is also opposing Sun in its sign of rulership, Leo. What that adds, I suspect, is a certain intensity in relation to, yet a balancing of, needs of self with needs of others.

Venus conjunct Pluto in Virgo opposite Jupiter conjunct Chiron in Pisces...hmm? Another balancing act, a strange one: soft, sweet Venus joined with hard, dark Pluto balanced by wounded healer Chiron and expansive optimistic Jupiter. Make of that what you will!

There's more, but this is a brief, Twilight's eye view.

What particularly interested me to discover here was how, or whether, McMaster's and Trump's charts correlate at all.
 President Trump's natal chart

First I noticed that McMaster's Uranus at 29 Leo is tightly conjunct Donald Trump's ascendant degree and Regulus (Fixed Star); it's also conjunct Trump's natal Mars at 26 Leo.

Second: McMaster's natal Mercury is conjunct Trump's Venus/Saturn conjunction in Cancer.

Most important difference, between these two characters, as I see it, is that President Trump has Mutable Sun and Moon, whereas McMaster has Fixed Sun and Moon. McMaster is steadfast and determined, Trump is changeable, flexible, ultra-communcative. It's mainly the links in late Leo that can draw them McMaster's somewhat softer Mercury will understand Trump's softer, Cancerian side.

 Lt.Gen. McMaster and wife Katie host a Holiday party at Fort Benning Dec. 2016 Photo here by Ashley Cross/MCoE PAO

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WORDS (or, in this case, Word.)

Whenever we have cause to drive into our local hospital/medical providers complex I notice a hospital building with signage in large letters above the wide doorway: "PAVILION". I usually mutter to the husband, "Why do they call it a pavilion for goodness sake?" "Don't know" he responds. At last I've bothered to look into my wee mystery.

Pavilion, to me, indicates some kind of tent or marquee type impermanent structure with canvas walls - the kind sometimes used at weddings for housing the reception. Alternatively I recall a book by M. M. Kaye, also adapted as a movie some years ago : "The Far Pavilions". The pavilions in that case were, I think, the peaks of the Himalayas, which were to provide sanctuary.
"An epic tale of forbidden love during the British Raj. British botanist's son Ashton Pelham-Martyn is orphaned in India and raised to believe he's an Indian boy named Ashok. Anjuli is a neglected princess, condemned first to an unwanted marriage and then to suttee when her husband dies — but happiness beckons for Ash and Anjuli in the "far pavilions" of the Himalayas, away from the prejudices that have kept them apart. Brighton, on England's south coast, there's an ornate building: The Royal Pavilion (see below)
Royal Pavilion
Eccentric, extravagant, extraordinary…
One of the most exotically beautiful buildings in the British Isles, the Royal Pavilion is the magnificent former seaside residence of King George IV. Its fantastic domes and spires make it an easily recognizable icon, to both residents and visitors to Brighton & Hove alike. The story of the Royal Pavilion includes parties, hospitals and flower shows, contains influences from China, India and France, and includes characters as diverse as fishermen, monarchs and soldiers. As a unique palace, with a fascinating history and breathtaking decorations to discover, the Royal Pavilion has also played a key role in the development of Brighton and its international reputation for over 200 years.

The Oxford Dictionary informs me: that the word's origin is Middle English (denoting a large decorated tent): from Old French pavillon, from Latin papilio(n-) butterfly or tent.
A building or similar structure used for a specific purpose, in particular:
1.1British A building at a cricket ground or other sports ground, used for changing and taking refreshments.
1.2 A summer house or other decorative building used as a shelter in a park or large garden.
1.3 Used in the names of buildings used for theatrical or other entertainments:
‘the resort's Spa Pavilion’
1.4 A detached or semi-detached block at a hospital or other building complex:
‘the form of alternating pavilions also allows the site to be developed in depth’
1.5 A large tent with a peak and crenellated decorations, used at a show or fair.
1.6 A temporary building, stand, or other structure in which items are displayed at a trade exhibition:

So, the orignal meaning of pavilion has been expanded and modified over the centuries. The word comes up in the bible on several occasions, in its original meaning of tent, tabernacle or dwelling.
"He made darkness his secret place; his PAVILION round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire." ( Psalm 18:11-12 )

Pavilion Class is a very good and well-illustrated history of pavilions in the old meaning of the word.
Paintings exist illustrating tents and pavilions of various shapes and sizes through several centuries and numerous countries. This class will evaluate extant illustrations to glean what information we can about the types of tents and pavilions that were used, how they may have been supported and how they were decorated. The analysis will primarily look at tents and pavilions in the late medieval and the Renaissance time periods. Earlier than that, there are few illustrations and even fewer extant items available for research.

Pavilions were used for temporary living quarters, such as by noblemen on a military campaign and courtiers following the king on progress. It is likely that only the well-to-do with a significant train of their own servants would be carrying the large loads required to assemble and furnish a large pavilion. Lower classes in the campaign or progress would use simpler structures made by draping a large fabric over some rough sticks that were likely collected onsite. While a few simple shapes will be examined, most of the discussion on structure will apply to the more complex round pavilions seen in many of the illustrations.

I love the joy of mountains Wandering free with no concerns Every day I find food for this old body There’s leisure for thinking, nothing to do Often I carry an ancient book Sometimes I climb a rock pavilion To look down a thousand foot precipice Overhead are swirling clouds A cold moon chilly cold My body feels like a flying crane.
Han Shan

For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Monday, February 20, 2017


You remember how it feels after eating too many chocolates, or too much cream cake, too many curly fries? Queasy! That's how I feel reading around the net these days, or watching bits of late-night TV shows, live or via random video clips offered as...whatever.

TRUMP! Too much, far too much TRUMP!


Don't these people realise that, though some repetition assists in embedding an idea into brains, too much of it has the opposite result? I'm actually beginning to feel sorry for President Donald Trump. It's their fault! A year ago, even six months ago, I felt appalled that the position of President of the USA could ever be held by someone like Donald Trump. I was certain it would never be allowed to happen. It did. Sufficient numbers of We the People wanted it - and got it. Done. Deal. Under current US electoral law. Next? Day after day, week after week, month after month the same old same old from those who didn't get what they wanted.

Yes, we know he's unreliable, we know he tells fibs and tall tales, we know he panders, we know he's this, that and the other; if we don't know we've been down Alice's rabbit hole for 2 years. It feels that way in any case!

There's one lone voice out there, managing to remain focused and practical, on policies the country needs for the benefit of all: the voice of Senator Bernie Sanders. Headlines have continued to screech, causing hysterics among their readers, viewers, listeners, over one issue or another touched upon by President Trump, in Tweet, speech or a "he said/she said" (and there are a lot of those around).

For the gods' sake give it a rest people! We know, we know! You've become sickeningly boring and quite ineffectual through this constant parroting! We know how virtuous you all are, we get it but, as the Pythons once declared:

It's Music Monday: I really do wish I could've "made it more like the movies" for y'all, "some pretty Technicolor way it's never been"!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State

A look at the natal chart of the USA's new Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, noting a few pointers from online sources as to the kind of guy he is, as perceived by those who know him.

Two key factors routinely mentioned by commentators are Tillerson's long career in ExxonMobil - at retirement at the end of last year he was the company's CEO; and that, via his Exxon career, he has crafted close ties with Russia's President Putin. Neither factor is seen as being beneficial by many Democrats. He does consider that climate change is real - that's an improvement on the ideas of some of his colleagues in President Trump's cabinet. However, he qualifies his belief: “The increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited,” he answered to a question posed in his confirmation hearing.

What little I've gleaned about Secretary Tillerson's personality from a handful of articles online tells of a man who quietly projects power, discipline and control (NPR). Those who know Tillerson consistently describe a disciplined and effective communicator with an engineer’s logical approach to solving problems and the ethical compass of a Boy Scout. “What you see is what you get,” said John Stuart, a longtime Dallas banking executive who has known Tillerson for a decade. “He’s a straightforward, honest, honorable person.”

Tillerson is an Eagle Scout himself, and a longtime booster and national leader of the Boy Scouts organisation. He helped to engineer a recent change allowing gays to join the Boy Scouts.

From Dallas News:
More than 40 years after Rynd and Tillerson met, the memories that stand out for Rynd surrounding his former housemate revolve around one central concept: work. The Tejas Club was an old house that needed many repairs, and Tillerson would organize the projects, then complete them.

“He wasn’t just a delegator. This sounds corny, but he led by example. There was no project that was beneath him or too hard for him,” Rynd said. “He was busy -- if not busier than the rest of us. ... If it needed to be done, Rex signed up and got it done.”

Tillerson graduated in 1975 and weighed a higher-paying offer at a steel company. But in Exxon, he found a company whose highly regimented approach mirrored his own.

“It’s very demanding and competitive,” said Coll, the author. “It’s a very rule-driven institution. But it also requires something on the dealmaking side, a little bit of a sense of subtlety and resilience because most of these places where they work, these things don’t come easily.”

Tillerson worked for Exxon’s upstream division -- the rough-and-tumble business of exploring and developing new resources. His early days found him in East Texas, a time he later described as “sheer joy” in solving complex problems out on the oilfield.

He steadily rose through the ranks and by the 1990s, he landed career-defining assignments in places like Yemen and post-collapse Russia. theory that all sounds like good news! Does his natal chart reflect the above?

Born on 23 March 1952 in Wichita Falls, Texas. No time of birth known, chart is set for 12 noon.

Without knowing his time of birth only a sketchy outline is possible, Moon's exact position and rising sign cannot be established. First thing I noticed - no planets in Earth signs, I found that surprising. The unknown rising sign might provide an Earthy footing.

His lifetime career closely connected to oil is nicely represented by Saturn and Neptune close together, close enough to be termed conjunct, in Libra. Saturn links to career, Neptune links (among other things) to oil.

His natal Sun, Mercury and Jupiter are all in Aries, sign known as the initiator, with the Saturn/Neptune conjunction opposite, providing a balancing, steadying factor to any native Aries impulsiveness. Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Aries reflects the important part international travel (Jupiter) has always played in his career, and will continue to do so as Secretary of State.

I see that, in his natal chart, there are two challenging square aspects to Uranus, planet of the unexpected and eccentricity - in Secretary Tillerson's case this is no bad thing. We have quite enough eccentricity and unexpectedness emanating from President Trump - we need no more, and especially not from the Secretary of State! It's interesting, though, to note that transiting Uranus, at 21 Aries, is currently conjunct Tillerson's natal Mercury/Jupiter. Change is, indeed, visiting his life, both planet-wise and in reality!

At 12 noon on Secretary Tillerson's date of birth Moon was at 5 Pisces; for natal Moon to have been in Aquarius his time of birth would need to have been in the very early hours - not a lot later than 1 AM; it seems most likely that natal Moon was in early Pisces, reflecting a more gentle and imaginative inner-self than his dynamic Aries core-self.

Due to comments on his personality quoted above, I'd bet on a solid Earthy rising sign (Capricorn, Virgo or Taurus), alternatively Saturn in Libra sitting on the ascendant with Neptune close by.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Carrie Ann Baade

Carrie Ann Baade's surreal oil paintings, rich with allegory inspired by literature and art history are peculiar, discomforting but intriguing. The artist's own website, portfolio & archive is HERE. Or, for a quick look at some of her work see
The oddly disturbing royal portraits of Carrie Ann Baade by Ann VanderMeer. More examples, in one place, can be seen at the Google Image page HERE

As a single example, I like this one, it's one of the least depressing and easier to interpret:
Lady or Tiger

This 51 second video shows a few more samples of detail from her artworks.

From a piece at - which also has a series of illustrations attached.

SNIP ....admittedly, her work is complex. It is rich with symbols and it speaks to traditions of the past. And when somebody is as hyper-intellectual as Baade – you can be certain that she has a wealth of commentary, both in her work and in her life.

Baade is not an erudite, even though she is a professor. She is not pedantic, despite her rich vocabulary, love of creating sniglets (made-up words) and knowledge about the history of art. She is not crazy, but she will admit to having lived a pungent and somewhat extraordinary life.

Working with traditional painting techniques, Baade is a steward of history. At times she employs the works of old masters in her paintings. In this she is interested in creating a meta-narrative of a work, commenting on its original context as well as its contemporary relevance.

For Baade, her picture planes are compact. And this is exactly her aim – to pack her canvases with as much information as is possible. At once hyperbolic and overly-dramatic (placing your head on the body of Christ certainly is just that), Baade has an astute interest in being a storyteller. And with her rich color palate, on her canvases and in her life – the aim is for something extraordinary. The aim is to live a life less than commonplace.

ASTROLOGY: A 12 noon chart only, for a brief look in relation to the artist's style - no time of birth known so Moon and rising sign will not be as shown.
Born on 18 February 1974 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A Grand Trine predominates - in Air signs - linking Sun conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius to Saturn in Gemini and Uranus in Libra. An Airy circuit combining the two rulers of Aquarius, Saturn and Uranus = traditional and modern; that must give extra significance to this particular Grand Trine, bearing in mind Ms Baade's style does combine traditional painting style with modern/avant garde surrealist subject matter. Venus, planet of the arts in Capricorn (Saturn-ruled) echoes again the traditional link, Capricorn and Saturn have links to tradition, time etc. Venus is also semi-sextile Sun/Jupiter, hightlighting a kind of hybrid combination, which sometimes might be an uncomfortable link, but here has been cleverly combined - perhaps thanks to that Grand Trine in Air (mental acuity).