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The History of the Union Jack

The Union Jack

The Union Jack

The “Union flag”, commonly known as the “Union Jack”, is the flag of the United Kingdom. The terms “Union flag” and “Union Jack” are both historically correct for describing the national flag of the United Kingdom. Whether to call it the “Union flag” or the “Union Jack” is a matter of debate by many but “Union Jack” is now sanctioned by use, has appeared in official use and is confirmed as the national flag by Parliament. It remains the popular term.

The current design of the Union flag dates from the Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of the three national flags: the red cross of Saint George, the red saltire of Saint Patrick’s Flag, both superimposed on the Flag of Scotland. The Union flag is normally twice as long as it is wide, a ratio of 1:2. In the United Kingdom land flags are normally a ratio of 3:5; the Union flag can also be made in this shape, but is 1:2 for most purposes. The three component crosses that make up the Union flag are sized as follows: the white diagonal St Andrew’s Cross and the red diagonal St Patrick’s Cross sit side-by-side along the centre-lines of the diagonals. They each have a width of 1⁄15 of the flag’s height with a 1⁄30 flag height fimbriation. The crosses are slightly pinwheeled with St Andrew’s Cross leading in the clockwise direction. The centre-lines of the diagonals must meet in the centre. The three crosses retain their thickness whether they are shown with a ratio of 3:5 or 1:2.

The origins of the Union flag date back to 1603, when James VI of Scotland inherited the English and Irish thrones (as James I), thereby uniting the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland in a personal union (which remained separate states). On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree, according to which the flag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George’s Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew’s Cross), would be joined together, forming the flag of Great Britain and first union flag. The flag was variously known as the King’s Jack, the Jack Flag or simply the Jack, and by 1674 was being called His Majesty’s Jack. Incidentally there is no uniquely Welsh element to the Union flag. This is because Wales was part of the Kingdom of England when the flag was created in 1606.

The Union flag retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada and it is used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union flag also appears in the canton (upper left-hand quarter) of the flags of several nations and territories that were former British colonies. The British Army’s flag is the Union flag, but in 1938, a “British Army Non-Ceremonial Flag” was devised, featuring a lion on crossed blades with the St Edward’s Crown on a red background. This design is used at recruiting and military or sporting events when the Army needs to be identified but where the reverence and ceremony due to the regimental flags and the Union flag would be inappropriate.

The Union flag is generally only flown on public buildings on days marking the birthdays of members of the Royal Family, the wedding anniversary of the monarch, Commonwealth Day, Accession Day, Coronation Day, the Queen’s official birthday, Remembrance Sunday and on the days of the State Opening and prorogation of Parliament. It is also flown at half mast from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (save for Proclamation Day), or upon command of the Sovereign.

The Union flag is a brand icon and has been used by many music artists ranging from The Who, Freddie Mercury, Morrissey, Oasis, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, to the pop girl group the Spice Girls. It is commonly used on computer software and internet pages as an icon representing a choice of the English language where a choice among multiple languages may be presented to the user. The Union flag has also been embroidered on various “Reebok” equipment as a mark of the brand’s British origin.

You can buy a Union Jack canvas print from Modern Canvas Art. Take a look also at our Who canvas print and Oasis canvas print, both depicting the Union Jack.

Categories: History, Subjects | Tags: ,

Wayne Rooney’s 2011 “Goal of the Season”

Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick v Man City at Old Trafford in February 2011

Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick v Man City at Old Trafford in February 2011

Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick goal against Man City the season before last was voted best goal of the Premier League in 2011. You can buy this Wayne Rooney pop art canvas print from Modern Canvas Art.

Hundreds of thousand fans from all over the world voted for the award, which was created to celebrate the 20th season of the Premier League. Rooney’s spectacular strike in February 2011 received 26% of the vote. Dennis Bergkamp (19%) was second for his 2002 goal at Newcastle, and Thierry Henry (15%) against Manchester United was third.

Rooney was delighted with the award. “I grew up watching the Premier League so to be voted the best goal in the history of the Premier League is a great feeling,” Rooney said. “There’s so many good goals in that shortlist, goals that I watched in my living room as a kid: Alan Shearer’s goal, Paolo Di Canio’s, Tony Yeboah’s, David Beckham’s. “To be competing with them and winning is a great honour for me and something I’m very proud of. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the fans that voted for me.”

Rooney hailed the derby bicycle kick winner as best goal of his professional career. Rooney had struck in the 77th minute after David Silva’s fortunate equaliser had cancelled out Nani’s first-half opener for United. The England striker said it had been an instinctive finish from Nani’s cross. “I saw it come into the box and thought ‘why not?’, Rooney told Sky Sports. “I was trying to get in a good position for when Nani crossed it. Nine times out of 10 they go over the crossbar. Today it ended up in the top corner. It is instinct. You don’t have time to think about it. Thankfully it finished up in the top corner.” Asked when he had last scored with an overhead kick, Rooney replied: “In school I think. It’s the first one since I started playing professionally.”

Rooney’s strike ensured United bounced back after losing their unbeaten record to Wolves the week before. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Rooney’s winner as the best goal he had seen at Old Trafford. “It was stunning,” he said.

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For those who may not know what a bicycle kick is, it is a physical move made by throwing the body up into the air, making a shearing movement with the legs to get one leg in front of the other without holding on to the ground. The move can either be done backwards or sideways. Performing a bicycle kick can be quite dangerous when performed incorrectly as a player must take care to brace himself with his arms as he lands back on the ground. The difficulty of the move makes it unanticipated and the player runs the potential risk of getting hurt or harming another player. However, as described by BBC Sport, this is one of the acrobatic moves that makes the game much “richer.” The common English name comes from the two legs that look as if they are pedaling a bicycle, with one leg going forward to the ball and the other backward to create an opposite moment. In football it is thought to be so difficult that even Pele has described it has not easy to do. As such, only a few players have been able to perform the move (either as a defensive or offensive play) in an official football match making it one of the most praised plays in the game, especially when a goal is managed to be scored from it.

You may be interested to know that the following strikers have scored more than once from a bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match:

* David Arellano
* Peter Crouch (yes – Peter Crouch!)
* Klaus Fischer
* Leonidas
* Carlo Parola
* Pele
* Billy Bremner
* Hugo Sanchez
* Ramon Unzaga
* Alejandro Villanueva
* Uwe Seeler
* Wayne Rooney
* Ronaldinho
* Jean-Pierre Papin

Categories: Pop Art, Sport | Tags: , ,

The Story of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt - buy it as a canvas print from Modern Canvas Art

“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt – buy it as a canvas print from Modern Canvas Art. Alternatively we can had paint it for you.

The Kiss is one one the most well-known paintings by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, the print versions of which can be found in many peoples homes today. Although the painting today is one of the most popular and recognisable works of art by Klimt, it was painted soon after his three-part Vienna Ceiling series which created a scandal at the time. By contrast The Kiss was enthusiastically received, and bought immediately.

The Kiss was painted by Gustav Klimt between 1907 and 1908, and was the highpoint of his “Golden Period”, when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, locked in intimacy, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes, while the rest of the painting dissolves into shimmering, extravagant flat patterning. The work is made up of a conventional oil paint with layers of gold leaf, which makes it perfectly in place in today’s modern home. The use of gold leaf gives it a decadence and evocative appearance.

The painting is now in the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere museum in the Belvedere palace, Vienna, and is widely considered a masterpiece of the early modern period. It is a symbol of Viennese Art Nouveau and is considered Klimt’s most popular work.

Gustav Klimt was 45 years old when he painted The Kiss. At the time he was still living with his mother and two unmarried sisters. In contrast to his respectable appearance, he is thought to have fathered at least three illegitmate children and was known to have an extreme sexual appetite.

While The Kiss reflects Klimt’s fascination with eroticism, it differs from other paintings of his where women are typically seen as femme fatales. The Kiss depicts a strong female with the most colourful body, not just an object of desire. Yet there is also a tenderness in the tight embrace within which she is held.

The two figures are entwined at the edge of a patch of flowery meadow. The man wears a robe with black and white rectangles irregularly placed on gold leaf decorated with spirals. He wears a crown of vines while the woman is shown in a tight-fitting dress with flower-like motifs on a background of parallel wavy lines. Her hair is sprinkled with flowers and is worn up in a halo-like circle that highlights her face, and is continued under her chin by what seems to be a necklace of flowers.

It is thought that Klimt and a companion of his may have modeled for the work but this has not been proven. Klimt’s use of gold and silver leaf was inspired by a trip he had made to a church in Italy in 1903 where he was fascinated with the brilliance of the gold mosaics that he saw there.

You can buy reproductions in the form of The Kiss canvas print and The Kiss canvas painting from Modern Canvas art

Categories: Art World | Tags: , ,

Bristol Street Art Project – “See No Evil”

Graffiti art in Nelson Street, Bristol - part of the "See No Evil" project

Graffiti art in Nelson Street, Bristol – part of the “See No Evil” project

“See No Evil” is a collection of works of public art by multiple graffiti artists, located in and around Nelson Street, Bristol, UK. The initial event to create the artwork took place over the weekend of 20/21 August 2011 and was possibly Europe’s largest street art festival at the time. The street was mostly repainted in a repeat event in 2012.

The See no Evil graffiti art project comprises murals of various sizes, some painted on tower blocks, including a 10-storey office block, representing elements and style of the street art world. The works were created under a road closure, using scaffolding and aerial work platforms, supporting the claim, that Bristol may be the current international centre of the urban art movement. Bristol has a well established and thriving urban art scene, with many walls around the city decorated over the years by artistic graffiti, notably around the Stokes Croft area, often by local but international respected urban artists like Inkie and Banksy.

A squirrel perhaps?

A squirrel perhaps?

The event was organized by respected Bristol street artist Inkie (Tom Bingle) who emerged (like Bansky) out of Bristol’s 1980’s graffiti scene. Nelson Street was chosen because it was depressing and run down, a nondescript corridor of bleak, grey buildings between Broadmead and Colston Square in the city centre. The project had the support of Bristol City Council as there were no development plans for the area at the time and it was seen as an eyesore. Two years previously an exhibition at the City Museum and Art Gallery had attracted large crowds so it was hoped that a street art project might help regenerate an urban area.

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The name ‘See No Evil’ relates to the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Also relevant is the fact that the work covers the old magistrates’ court and Police station. In fact Inkie was once sentenced in the very court he was then invited to paint over as the ringleader of 75 plus artists in UK’s largest graffiti bust known as Operation Anderson.

A total of 72 graffiti artists were invited to take part, including twenty of the world’s leading artists.

Painted just to the left of a Chinese restaurant -

Painted just to the left of a Chinese restaurant – “Shanghai Nights”

Considered a huge success in 2011, arrangements were made by Inkie for the repainting of the street in August 2012, as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. See No Evil 2012 began on 13th August and involved 45 selected artists, 3,500 cans of spray paint and 700 litres of paint, taking place over the course of 7 days. Members of the public were able to vote, via an internet poll, for their preferred works. The winners included a suited man pouring a tin of red paint, a wolf boy, and a woman and child. See No Evil at Nelson Street will remain Europe’s largest open air street art gallery, bringing an inner city street to life with huge murals until next summer. Even though See No Evil has received criticism from some quarters, there can be no doubt that it successfully rejuvenated a very run down area of Bristol and generated enough publicity to turn it into one of Bristol’s biggest tourist attractions.

View plenty more graffiti art on canvas from Modern Canvas Art.

Categories: Graffiti Art | Tags: ,

A Brief History of Pop Art in Britain and America

Andy Warhol's famous

Andy Warhol’s famous “Campbell’s Soup” Pop Art

After the Second World War there followed a huge transitional period across Europe and the United States. Major reconstruction was the order of the day across Europe and, slowly, an increasing prosperity and abundance was enjoyed by the populous in these territories. It was the dawn of a new era, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the emerging “consumer” society gave rise to a demand in goods that were simply unobtainable until then.

British pop art can trace its roots back to the mid 1950s. A small independent group comprising notable artists at that time together with critics in the art world put together an exhibition which was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1956. This exhibition was a focus on the topic of cheap consumer products and the role that they played in modern life. Although it didn’t seem like it then, the exhibition was a major step forward in the art world and a huge departure from what had gone before it. The erstwhile critic, Lawrence Alloway (1926-1992) hailed it as the birth of something new and in 1958 he christened this distinctive style by naming it “Pop Art“, a short form of “popular art”, i.e. art depicting popular culture.

Key figures in the British pop art scene that followed were Richard Hamilton (b. 1922) whose work depicted cars, pin-up models and electric appliances, amongst others. Peter Blake (b. 1932), on the other hand, concentrated on comic strips and pop singers while the magazine collector Eduardo Paolozzi (b. 1924) produced impressive collage prints by recycling and integrating old advertisement material with comic-strip images.

As for the US, during the 1950s the art world was dominated by “Abstract Expressionism”. It was until the early 1960s when art critics and American artists alike began to embrace Pop Art and give this new style of art their own inimitable American “take”. In 1962, an exhibition entitled “New Realists” was held at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. This was ground-breaking in America, not least because the exhibition featured work from artists including Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929), Jim Dine (b. 1935) and James Rosenquist (b. 1933). Of these, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg went on to become key figures on the pop art world. Warhol became a household name.

Indeed, Warhol’s fame elevated in 1962 after his “Campbell’s Soup Cans” work was produced and featured in separate works – firstly as individual “cans” and then the same cans aligned in immaculate rows. Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, possibly the biggest 60s female icons at the time, were also given the “Warhol treatment” in which he silk screened their images, altered the colours and reproduced them in repeated patterns.

Roy Lichtenstein was very much a “comic-strip” artist and produced masses of works using imagery from comics. Starting out in 1960, he painted vastly-inflated images of comic-strip frames formed from the dots of colour newsprint. During the same year, Oldenburg set about carving his own niche in the pop art world, creating large, painted plaster sculptures of sandwiches and cakes ! These were soon followed by huge plastic appliances that were softened to allow them to give a distinctive “droop”. All of it was designed explore the nature of “consumer culture” that was sweeping the nations on both sides of the Atlantic.

With mass consumer commercialism on the rise at an alarming pace (and seemingly with no end in sight) “Pop Art” remains very much alive and is perhaps even more poignant and thought-provoking today as it was even in the mid twentieth century. You can buy from a large variety of pop art prints at Modern Canvas Art.

Categories: Art World, Pop Art | Tags: ,

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