Quick drawing to show I’m still alive. I’ve been reading some of the original works. It struck me that the casting of BBC Sherlock is actually comparatively timeless and I couldn’t resist trying out the actors in period style. It also strikes me that the episodes that stick more closely to actual Conan Doyle plots are better (beady eyed look at Steven Moffat and his ego).
Figures drawn (NOT TRACED) in Photoshop. Background uses a screenshot that’s been filtered and then partially redrawn. I am very happy with John’s face but a bit sad that the fashion for big whiskers had died out by 1894 so his mustache is relatively subdued!
I’m beginning to think that the other person in his relationship being anti-social may be important to John.
Throughout the show, we see John framed as the compassionate, nurturing one. The one who holds Sherlock to social standards, who gets him to behave like less of an ass, or at least more courteous.
But that’s not really right, is it? That’s not compassion. That’s propriety. They can be the same thing, but they aren’t always. And this is something the show sometimes highlights. ”That’s kind, isn’t it?” “No, Sherlock, that’s not kind.” Because sometimes, the white lies and omissions propriety encourages us to indulge in avoid wounds.
But also, “Will caring about them help save them?” Because sometimes, propriety—getting wound up because you know you’re supposed to, because you’re supposed to care and express your caring emotionally—is a distraction from doing the things that will actually help.
And in “Many Happy Returns,” Sherlock says that John’s friends don’t like him. And you know what? They don’t, really. Justly so, because honestly John is a bit of a jackass. He almost blows off Mike at the beginning of ASiP. He turns his nose up very rudely at Donovan over the ‘state of your knees’ thing. He’s awful with and sometimes to his girlfriends. He snaps at Mrs. Hudson (and remember her comment at Christmas in ASiB? The one time of the year when Sherlock and John have to treat her nicely? I mean, I don’t think they’re terrible to her or she probably wouldn’t love them the way she does, but that is the comment of a woman used to being taken for granted), he punches a DCI, jumps on board Sherlock’s “childish mocking of Mycroft” train (granted Mycroft kind of invites it; I’d be hard-pressed not to poke some holes in his hot air balloon).
And we think it all makes sense, because most of the time we’re seeing the world through John’s eyes. Because in any single event, we can usually find some reason to justify his behavior. But what he doesn’t invite us to think about is how his behavior really looks to people outside him—especially in the collective, as the way he generally lives his life and treats the people around him. Imagine being Donovan, standing in that doorway, having just been publicly humiliated by Sherlock because you had the gall to express (admittedly through name-calling) your disapproval of how much he gets off on people dying—and here’s this dude neither you nor Sherlock actually know, and he walks up to you, looks you in the eyes, looks at your knees, gives you a snide look and follows the crazy guy inside.
If I were Donovan, that’d kind of ruin my night. But she still shows concern for John’s well-being on his way out. She’s tougher than I am.
And at the beginning of HLV, after a mere month of not being in touch with Sherlock or careening after him on cases (a month is not a long time! Even people with best friends and close family can sometimes find a month falling by the wayside), John is twitchy, frenetic, closed-off, rude and snappish with a woman—one of his neighbors, whose son has gone missing!—who has come to them for help.
Is this supposed to be new? Are we supposed to believe that John never got twitchy or nasty at people like this before? Or, looking back through the series, do we see that this is a pattern of behavior he’s always had, but it was just eclipsed by the levels Sherlock took it to?
(I invite you to remember John’s reaction in TGG when that little kid was reading off the countdown. He was concerned, yes, and I’m sure that was genuine (because being a dick is not the same as being evil), but he was also completely hyped and excited, getting off on the danger to another person. It was okay, because Sherlock saved the kid just in time, and then we got John’s little “Oh, Sherlock, oh” reaction which has been likened with some justification to his O-face.)
So you know what? John’s kind of a dick. But significantly, he’s a much smaller dick (ahahahaha AHAHAHAHAHA haha ha sorry, it’s just funny on so many levels) than Sherlock—or, probably, Major Sholto, that poor bastard. John is bad at emotions, but he’s good at normal, good at propriety, good at greasing the social wheels. When someone else is being jittery and impatient and wound up for him, it’s so much easier for John to be patient, compassionate, nurturing and respectable. And those are all things that John wants to be/wants to believe he is.
"Because what is a moon without light to reflect?"
Star!John and Moon!Sherlock or just imaginatively coloured Johnlock doodle whatever you fancy :) (I done it in like 20 mins so y’know give me some leeway!)
I also call this what happens when I can’t sleep and have toothache haha
Not really sure how to do the “quote and reblog” thing and retain all the original content, so I’m just going to link to the amazing “birds on wallpaper” meta:
I don’t want to disturb you or set you up for additional post-graduate work, stepfordgeek, but, IMO, it’s definitely a cuckoo. Not only that, but I’d say it’s an Anglicized take on the Chinese cuckoo. Because this image is for sale on Amazon: “The Heavenly Chinese Cuckoo.” And the bird on Mary’s wallpaper is pretty damned close to being this bird, Chinese Cuckoo as drawn by a Brit:
Another variation, listed as a “rare bird print” for sale among other similar watercolors.
Here’s the “Common cuckoo.”
An actual photo of a Thai cuckoo. (The real European and Chinese ones are nowhere near as pretty as the wallpaper ones or the British-drawn ones.)
And here’s Mary’s wallpaper bird:
Here’s an article about “Cuckoo Lore in Chinese Sources.”
So, either complete genius and subtext and planned giveaway to baby resolution… or just a really big coincidence. Because they like chinoiserie. And birds. And flowers.
I have studied Arwel’s work. It is not a coincidence. It can’t be. He is entirely too conscious of wallpaper and this whole “the walls are talking” thing to not use it. Think back to the twin toiles. That flat would have been better served with a sixties inspired wallpaper. I have seen a few black and white sixties inspired florals when I was looking for that paper.
That toile is so so so out of place it isn’t even funny anymore. It took me six months to even think that it might be a toile. Because no one in their right minds uses toile there. And he used one that he had used earlier in a different colour. That is all I need to know about his work being “coincidence”. He may not go that deep in flats that belong to a witness or so because their character may not be that important to be commented upon in that way, but for main characters and important scenes? That is not a coincidence.
Looking at his choices and what is on the market in general he has a clear line. I cannot put it in words because I cannot summarise the vast choice he has and what he decides to use in the end. But he makes the walls sing.
The design of this wallpaper itself was found in a stairwell in a manor house and has been reconstructed from what little remained. The colour we see on the show is not the original colour, so we cannot go by the blue. The blue was not the original, the original was in pink and yellow tones. But the shape says cuckoo. The designer seems to be unknown, so it could be a Chinese import or a British design. I’m heavily leaning towards British though. Late 19th century and the general style say British version of Chinoiserie motif.
So we are currently stuck at “recoloured late 19th century British version of a Chinoiserie cuckoo”.
We have a verdict on the bird question.
I have sent pictures of the wallpaper to the head of the East Asian Art History Department of Zurich university. That is the most qualified person I could find in this country. I’d love to get a second opinion on the matter so if you know anyone who can judge this then write to them!
In the interest of science I did not make any suggestions but simply asked “what kind of bird is this?”
The answer: it’s a golden pheasant.
so, imtooticky, mid0nz, thursdayj, redbuttonhole, bandersnatchmycummerbund and everyone who wants to play along, let’s start our debate again with the great points about pheasants tardis-stowaway made a few days ago in this post:
-Pheasants are colorful, attractive birds, so they often symbolize sexuality and libido. This is the bedroom of two people who like to get it on. ;) In connection with that, pheasants can symbolize fertility and creativity.
-Especially in Chinese culture, it looks like pheasants represent nobility and refinement. Living with Mary represents a more “respectable” lifestyle than John’s bachelor pad with Sherlock.
-Despite the gaudy feathers, pheasants (especially the less-colorful females) are excellent at vanishing into the underbrush, so they can also be symbols of protection and concealment. Mary is certainly hiding a lot of secrets. Pheasants are game birds, favorite targets of hunters. People from Mary’s old life would come after her if they knew where she was; her lies are not merely to win John’s affection but to protect both of them from the danger if the truth got out.
The question is, how does the pheasant relate to the context we see it in? If we can debate this for days and need a professor of East Asian art history to settle the debate, what did Arwel do? Does he know what kind of bird it is? Does it make a difference? Is anyone even supposed to look up what bird this is?
that is really an excellent question— does it matter more what kind of bird it really is or what it suggests to someone casually looking at it? I mean, after all we barely see this very backgrounded set detail…
That said, do we think they told Arwel what they didn’t even tell Amanda Abbington, ie the truth of Mary’s arc? this pheasant may well be just a pheasant, or be meant to symbolize the benign things we see above. Also I’d like to take this moment to point out that that wallpaper swatch contains TWO birds— a large bird associated with hunting and sex, and a smaller bird that is some kind of wren or something which are generally associated with domesticity and femininity…
….also there’s a prominent butterfly. Menacing the pheasant? The oft hunted pheasant being menaced by the innocent and “harmless” pretty little butterfly, and yes now I’m just wandering off the rails and being cracky I apologize…
One of the first lessons any of my employees gets is
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern”.
This rule of thumb holds true in many situations and it helps to spot oddities and find things that do not…
Also: the wiki page about cuckold talks about “wearing the horns of a cuckold” - and we did get the pic of Mary with those horns in TSoT.
Oh HO! nice catch! the horns of the cuckold are generally worn by the man, who is considered the cuckolded party, but it’s got an associative flair that I like…
Johnlock - Bathtimez!
Just a quick colored piece to say I’m still here. I’m in the middle of moving (had to unpack all my art crap and use a cat carrier as a desk to draw this >___>) so I’ve not had a lot of time to draw.
I actually used a ref for this because kissing is hard >:| (http://troyisnaked.tumblr.com/post/27677568379)
One of the first lessons any of my employees gets is
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern”.
This rule of thumb holds true in many situations and it helps to spot oddities and find things that do not fit among big bundles of data. It is a rule I have internalised a long time ago and that runs in the back of my mind at all times, so it is not surprising that my “Three times is a pattern” alarm suddenly went off during TEH.
It is the third time we see the flat of a woman that is somewhat close to Sherlock (I do not count Kitty Riley in this) and the third time this woman has a wallpaper with birds on it. Coincidence? The universe – or in our case Arwel Wyn Jones - is rarely that lazy. We are talking about a man who puts glass skulls in the background of a scene and pins phoenixes on walls that remain invisible. Just because he can.
So where do we see birds on wallpaper? I do not count the walls at the wedding since they are technically a mural and not wallpaper.
The first person we see near bird wallpaper is Mrs Hudson. On the walls outside 221A we see finches.
This fits with her image. She’s a little old lady. Harmless. Like a finch. Just your garden variety landlady-not-housekeeper. That’s what she broadcasts to the outside world (hence the finches are outside her flat). We learn that this is not quite true when we see her through Magnussen’s eyes.
The second bird wallpaper we see is in Irene Adler’s bathroom. Mind you, it is not her private bedroom. This bedroom is her workplace. This bathroom is directly attached to her workplace but it is slightly hidden away.
I do not know enough about birds to be sure what kind of bird it is but If I had to guess I’d say it is a Chinese bird of paradise. Which is a good fit for Irene. Her sitting room is very respectable, like Irene in public in her impeccable outfits. The bedroom gets the Devil Damask treatment which is again a good fit for a dominatrix. Yet when all layers are away she is still an exotic bird. The naked woman Sherlock Holmes could not figure out. A very exotic specimen indeed.
We had coincidence, we had happenstance but for a pattern we need three instances, so what is number three?
It’s the wallpaper in Mary and John’s bedroom.
So what about that wallpaper? Especially in the colourway that Arwel has chosen for his set, the birds evoke parrots. A wall full of colourful parrots. What do parrots do? They repeat words and phrases.
What does Mary do when we first see her in front of this wallpaper? (gif borrowed from amygloriousponds)
She repeats a sentence she must have heard someone else say. Other people have pointed out the striking similarities between Mary’s and Magnussen’s phrases.
Mary parrots a phrase she clearly must have heard someone else say, while sitting in front of a wall of parrots - a wallpaper pattern that is not that good a choice for a bedroom. It is entirely too busy, people usually want a calm and relaxing room, not such a busy wall full of birds. This is a very interesting turnout indeed.
Arwel Wyn Jones knows his wallpaper.
Arwel choosing the parrot wallpaper for this room is – on the surface - very odd. This is not a pattern that is appropriate for a bedroom. If the pattern had only been chosen with its effect on camera in mind, there would have been countless other choices that would have worked better in the context of a bedroom.
(Trust me on that. In the last 16 months I have read more than two dozen monographies on the history of wallpaper design and usage. On top of that I have looked at roughly a million wallpaper pattern swatches. Yes you have read correctly. One million swatches. No, I am not kidding. It was all for science. And the masterpost)
So when I say that he could have chosen dozens of other spectacular patterns that are currently on the market, but went for one that is not only slightly off within the context it is being presented in, but that simultaneously fits into a meta-narrative pattern.
“The flat of any woman that is of importance to Sherlock has wallpaper with birds on it and those birds make a statement about her personality”.
Going with that pattern I would not be surprised to find something like this somewhere near Mummy Holmes next time:
oh what a brilliant catch. I completely forgot about the porn magazine. So many birds everywhere.
I’m trying to find a boom that deals with birds on wallpaper, but I fear I’m going to have to write that one myself.
the idea that Mary is repeating something Magnussen said is a great one; there is definitely something weird going on there! But let’s move on to BIRDS— the parrot theory is good but that doesn’t actually look like a parrot to me. You know what it does look like though? A cuckoo!!!
the cuckoo is, of course, the bird famous for putting their eggs in other birds’ nests to be raised with their own children, and the source of the word cuckold (“Cuckold historically referred to a husband with an adulterous wife and is still often used with this meaning. In evolutionary biology, the term cuckold is also applied to males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own” —wikipedia)