Tuesday, 17 February 2009

ALONE - A poem by Pamela Colman Smith

Alone and in the midst of men,
Alone 'mid hills and valleys fair;
Alone upon a ship at sea;
Alone -- alone, and everywhere.
O many folk I see and know,S
o kind they are I scarce can tell,
But now alone on land and sea,
In spite of all I'm left to dwell.
In cities large -- in country lane,
Around the world -- 'tis all the same;
Across the sea from shore to shore.
Alone -- alone, for evermore.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Pamela Colman Smith - Happy Birthday

Pamela Colman Smith (16 Feb 1878-18 Sept 1951) was an artist, illustrator, and writer. She is best known for designing the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite.
P.C.S. was born in Pimlico, Middlesex (now London), England the daughter of an American merchant from Brooklyn, Charles Edward Smith and his American wife Corinne Colman. The family often moved around due to her father’s job with the West India Improvement Company and time was spent in London, Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York.
Her mother died when she was just 10 years old, and due to the absence of her father because of his work, she was taken under the wing of the Lyceum Theatre group (London) led by Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and Bram Stoker. Her later art work was much influenced by travelling around the country with the theatre group in her early teens.
By 1893, Smith had moved to Brooklyn, New York to be with her father and at the age of 15, she enrolled at the relatively new Pratt Institute and there studied art under the noted artist teacher Arthur Wesley Dow. Four years later she graduated and returning to England in 1899, she became a theatrical designer for a miniature theatre and an illustrator. She illustrated Ellen Terry's book on Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, The Russian Ballet, published in 1913. She joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1903 and met A.E.Waite.
In 1909, Waite commissioned P.C.Smith to produce a tarot deck with appeal to the world of art. The result was the unique Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck (Rider was the name of the publisher), which has become the world's most popular and well-known 78-card tarot deck. All of the cards depict full scenes with figures and symbols including the Minor Arcana, and with Smith's distinctive designs they have become the basis for the designs of many subsequent packs – commonly known as RW clones.
Pamela was also an author and wrote and illustrated several books about Jamaican folklore, including Annancy Stories (1902) which were about Jamaican versions of tales involving the traditional African folk figure Anansi the Spider. She also did a lot of illustrating for the work of William Butler Yeats and his brother Jack. Apart from the tarot deck, her artwork found little commercial success.
Pamela Colman Smith never married. After the end of the First World War (1914-18),she received an inheritance that made it possible for her to move to Cornwall, an area very popular with artists due to the quality of light and the lifestyle. She died in Bude, Cornwall on the 18th September 1951. After her death, all of her personal effects and belongings, including her paintings and drawings, were sold at auction to satisfy her debts which had mounted up.