Monday, 19 January 2009
And Now for Something Completely Different
I can't think of anything more removed from the austere elegance of Holgar Eriksson than the figure above.
Several years ago I was toying with the idea of the Seven Years Wars in the Balkans, (as you do). Well I was at Partizan and after a lunch of several glasses of their sub zero lager, I fell into conversation with that smooth tongued charmer, Andy at Old Glory UK. In a blur money changed hands and I took away several bags of the 'Brand New' Turkish line. With a dreadful hangover I unwrapped my purchases !!!!! Hurriedly I wrapped them up again and put them at the back of the shelf. Of course ideas for them have crossed my mind since then; scaring children, putting one in a sock to deal with intruders that sort of thing but they have stayed firmly packed in their box.
Until last week, I was painting some Charles Stadden Grenadiers and musing upon my fictional nation of Bohemia/ Moravia. I was wondering about the eastern borders surely they would be composed of mountains and impenetrable forests and not a million miles from Transylvania.
I don't suppose anyone remembers the BBC children's series of the sixties, tales from Europe. They were foreign films that depicted fairy tales that took pace in a sinister and incomprehensible landscape of forests and goblins and trolls and ogres.
It occurred to me that if I was to explore this a little I could have a setting in which frontier raids and brush warfare could thrive. All I needed was a generic Balkan style range to depict the barely human inhabitants if the great forest.
To think is to act, out came the neglected figures and a big brush. Crudely and quickly painted and they are exactly right for what want. I put a partially painted Stadden figure from my painting table alongside to give an idea of scale.
Looking around at the blogs and sites of the established Imaginations, it did occur to me that a historian of the modern school might be tempted to describe them as 'Euro centric'. Most of the rulers look to the courts of France and Prussia as models for their civilised and elegant activities. In Bohemia and Moravia we are forced to be much more aware of the Nations beyond the dark forests; Muscovy, Tartary and of course the ever threatening Ottomans.
To be honest I did feel a slight twinge of uneasiness about creating a Germanic state which regards its Eastern neighbours as primitive barbarians. The trouble is that what you want are terrifying shapes moving in the forest. Slaving parties raiding frontier villages to sell the inhabitants to the Turks. Sacred Oaks stained with the blood of human sacrifices and mysterious Shamans.
What you definitely don't want are a gentle pastoral folk famed for their nose flute music and interesting birch bark paintings.