Personal Encounters with Decorative Objects

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A 10th-Anniversary Collection

Editorial by John Fleming

THIS ISSUE OF ORNAMENTUM follows the technique of mosaic construction through the material history of the decorative arts in the production of objects. The picture it provides leads in many directions into the imaginative and creative things we make, collect, preserve, discard, and destroy. Each of these objects opens upon multiple perspectives …

Anniversary

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Editorial by John Fleming

ORNAMENTUM celebrates 10 years of publication in 2015 as it continues to record our delight in the pursuit and pleasure of discovering and promoting interest in the decorative arts in Canada. This retrospective adventure maintains our ongoing off-angle approach to the many aspects of the decorative arts and the images they create of our historical …

Sport and the Decorative Arts

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Editorial by John Fleming

I
N THE WORLD of entertainment today, sport appears to play an ever-expanding role in the opiate spaces of the public imagination. In the end, however, most sports can be reduced to the same principle of conflict, a multiplicity of obvious or sublimated analogues of war, contact sports and computer avatars, traditional games of the …

Editorial: Botanical Art

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Editorial by John Fleming

A
LTHOUGH THE DECORATIVE IMPULSE in its earliest historic manifestations may be ascribed to human understanding of natural forms and forces as signs with mythic, religious, and spiritual meanings— sun discs, phases of the moon, wave-like repetitions, and the like— it seems generally accepted that the origins of botanical illustration arose as a technique of …

Editorial: Utilities in the City

John Fleming
H
OWEVER SIMPLE A STREET OBJECT in an urban setting may be in form and function, it carries through its material presence an innate aesthetic content, within the concrete manifestation of services provided in a public space. From a plain, apparently unadorned lamp standard (pure function perhaps) to an Art Nouveau subway entrance in an identifiable style (direct …

Cocktail Culture in a Postmodern World

Editorial by John Fleming

In this issue we touch upon a few of the physical avatars of alcohol and the decorative persuasions of advertising and practice in promoting its use in social contexts. As current linguistic clichés would have it, “what goes around, comes around,” in this instance, the revival of the cocktail culture of the art deco period between …

Architecture and the Decorative

Editorial by John Fleming

Until the mid-19th century, architecture in the formal European tradition, as opposed to the vernacular, generally followed classical concepts of structure and style. Where structure was function realized, style was made manifest through the non-functional, usually aesthetic and decorative characteristics that distinguished period, culture, and taste. Thus the five classical orders of Greek and Roman antiquity …

The Decorative View of Locomotion

Editorial by John Fleming

The “invention of the wheel, which doesn’t look at all like a leg” (Guillaume Apollinaire), sums up in a few words what is undoubtedly one of humanity’s most useful scientific concepts. Continuous rotary motion through the simplicity and formal elegance of the circle harnesses human energy and natural forces such as wind and water to devices …

Alphabets as Ornament in the Making of Decorated Paper and Objects

Editorial by John Fleming and Marian Bradshaw

In this issue we choose among a multiplicity of examples in which the graphic and the decorative arts intersect, overlap and combine in surprising ways. The graphic arts are centred upon writing and drawing, most commonly in the sense of linguistic sign systems, ranging from the hieroglyphics of early Egypt through calligraphic Chinese …