Friday, April 18, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Edward James and His Folly, Las Pozas.

Commenter "mike" alerted me to today's Arty Farty Friday subject - thanks mike!
Edward James and his creation in Las Pozas, Mexico.

My goodness, though, this guy was such an amazing character, where to begin, there's so much!?
For any passing reader with just under an hour to spare, this video is excellent, and features the man himself:

For passing readers in more of a hurry: I'll begin at the end, at Las Pozas and work backwards.

Las Pozas was Edward James' folly. In England it's not unusual to find follies, they're smallish ornamental structures such as a tower, sculptured column, or a fancy quirky gazebo, they're always in the middle of nowhere, constructed by wealthy landowners or members of the aristocracy, and for reasons best known to themselves. Follies. Los Pozas was a folly of huge proportion, a peculiar but beautiful sculpture garden covering acres of Mexican jungle where Edward James had originally intended to breed orchids, but after unexpected frost killed off his plants, he began creating his wonderful folly.

A few examples - for more just type Las Pozas into Google Image search box, or at YouTube (if you can stand the adverts now almost universally inserted before content!)

Edward James was the epitome of an eccentric Englishman. Born in 1907 into a wealthy family background. His grandfather, an American millionaire had married a mining heiress, before the couple moved to England. One of their sons was Edward James' father, who married an English gal said to have been the illegitimate daughter of Edward VII, she became Edward James' mother.
James went to Eton, and Oxford University but was unhappy in both environments, despite his wealth and privilege. He wandered into the then London literary high society of Sitwells, Mitfords and Cunards, Noel Coward and John Betjeman, of Agustus John and Randolph Churchill. James was said to have been charming, lively and a good raconteur, ridiculously generous on occasion, with periods of introversion.

 Hat-tip Mondoblogo
He wrote poetry and some novels, became friends with avant-garde artists of the day, such as Dali and Magritte. He appears in one of Magritte's well-known paintings:

 Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite, 1937)  by  Belgian surrealist René Magritte.  It was commissioned by poet and Magritte patron Edward James and considered to be a portrait of James .

Quinky-dink sidelight - in a DVD set of a past TV series, Eli Stone we're watching currently, during the opening credits what seems like a loose version of this painting is shown. We recognised it as a nod to Magritte's painting, but had no idea of the painting's connection to Edward James - until I began preparing this post.

He met and married dancer Tilly Losch. The marriage was doomed. Tilly sued for separation, charging homosexuality among other things. James countersued, accusing her of adultery with Prince Serge Obolensky. Back then, this was not something a gentleman did. James moved to Europe. Polite society had shunned him. In 1939, with war brewing, he moved to the USA. In Taos, New Mexico, he lived among a community of artists there including D H Lawrence and his wife, Frieda.

Throughout his life he gave money freely to all manner of painters and writers; he built clinics for poor nuns, bought houses in Hollywood and Malibu, land in Mexico, and supported an assortment of freeloaders. In the late 1940s James eventually found his dream situation in the Mexican jungle. There he adopted a local family and set about building a “stairway to imagination”, as he once put it, in plant and stone. He himself lived in a tiny apartment, a bedroom, living room and porch on two stories. On one wall he scrawled in pencil his poem "This Shell": "My house grows like the chambered nautilus...." His huge and incredibly valuable collection of artworks, his lands in England , America and Mexico, houses from California to Scotland all abandoned for a tiny "doll's tree house where a man could hide".

He died in 1984 after a stroke, while on a return visit to Europe. In 1964, Edward James had conveyed his family mansion, West Dean, art collection and Estate to The Edward James Foundation, a charitable educational trust. The creation of such a trust averted the fragmentation that death duties would have dictated and allowed the materialisation of Edward's vision: creating a community where the Estate supports a college dedicated to the arts and crafts. In 1971, Edward James's vision became a reality when the gates of his family Estate were opened under the auspices of West Dean College. (See HERE).

(General information sources HERE and HERE)


Born on 16 August 1907 in the south of England, probably at his family's mansion, West Dean, near Chichester, Sussex.

For brevity's sake I'm looking only for indications of eccentricity in the natal chart of Edward James. It's set for 12 noon as birth time isn't known. Moon would have been somewhere in Scorpio though, whatever time he came into the world.

Eccentricity in astrology is usually reflected by the position of Uranus; here Uranus conjoins Mars in Capricorn, the duo is opposed by Neptune (imagination, creativity) in Cancer. That, I'd say, was the "epicentre" of James' eccentricity. The three intensely personal planets (Sun, Mercury, Venus) in dramatic Leo, though not harmoniously situated in relation to Uranus, had to have input into the way his eccentricity would manifest. What could be more dramatic and theatrical in nature (pure Leo) than his beautiful jungle follies?


mike said...

Thanks, Twilight! His las Pozas estate is something else...I fell in love with it via the photographs, then the story of its creation. I can almost "taste" the appears to be magical, enchanted, and otherworldly. I'm not a traveler any more, but this is a place I would certainly enjoy. It will be in the upper ten of things on my "to do" list, when I win the lottery...LOL.

Agreed with you astrological assessment...that Mars conjunct Uranus is a bit unusual. A lot of action potential for eccentricity, indeed. Pure conjecture, since there's no way of knowing, but if he was born a couple of hours before sunrise, some or all of the planets in the 9th house of your provided noon chart would be in his first house, which would place Mars-Uranus in his seventh house. This would fit his larger-than-life persona and his peculiar penchant in relationships. He has a smaller first house, compared to ninth, due to the latitude of birth, so moving those ninth house planets to the first house, could place the Sun and Venus in second house, which is very indicative of accumulated wealth. I've cast charts for several individuals that have natal Venus in second house...all have accumulated material wealth. Pure speculation, however...LOL.

I, too, was aware of "Not to be Reproduced" by Magritte, but didn't know the artist's subject. I like and appreciate that quirky painting.

See you in las Pozas someday...

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

This was an interesting read. I like knowing about other 7's= thats those of us born on the 7th 16th or 25.. it never fails that a few words show up every time- eccentric, reclusive and relationship challenged lol.. seriously, every single time. usually also extremely artistic to the point of obsession:(
There have been many times thru the years that I have reused to eat because the energy required to digest food takes away greatly from one's ability to Focus and have creative thoughts. see what I mean about obsessive.
opps looks like I got o topic:)
now I need to go see if my "natal venus is in the second house so I'll know i I'll accumlate any wealth, like MIKE said.. gosh I hope so.

LB said...

What a great post on a fascinating character, Twilight.:) I watched the documentary and enjoyed it too.

What impressed me most was how Edward James seems to have transformed his grief and disillusionment by using his resources (and genius) to create a bigger world for himself, one in which he was free to express his own unique character, while inviting others to share in his good fortune. He created a family.

Watching and listening, I also picked up on the strong combination of Scorpio and Gemini energies - a blend I'm very familiar with.

mike ~ I hope you're right about Venus in the 2nd.:) Mine's opposite the South Node, so sometimes it's about letting go and/or sharing.

LB said...

Adding ~ I said he created a family, but maybe it was more like a *kingdom*.

Twilight said...

mike ~ What a wonderful place to visit!
It'd be good to have his birth time. I'd not be surprised to find Saturn in Pisces rising - but i like your ideas too.

Las Pozas is bucket-listed, but it'll be in another dimension - or another lifetime. ;-)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Glad you enjoyed it. :-)
I'm not well-versed in numerology, but your 25 seems to fit. I'm a "9" (27), a would-be mystic once told me that, and said that the fact scared him! LOL!!!

Twilight said...

LB ~ He came over as a charismatic kind of guy I thought. I got more of a Leo vibe from him, but that was probably partly due to him realising he was being filmed. :-)

I admired the way he dealt with his estate at the end of his life.

JD said...

Thanks for reminding me, Twilight!
He was a famous name in the sixties as an art collector and I wondered what happened to him - or maybe it was me losing touch by wandering the world myself :)

Twilight said...

JD ~ Glad it was of interest. I hadn't heard of him before. The internet has opened up so many avenues we were unable to wander down for one reason or another in past decades. :-)