Do watch your step Your Majesty!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: boxy, flippant, limitrophe, roisting, toddling, mancipatory, and scolecid.

I wonder if the people, the masons and the tilers, who hundreds of years ago, designed those tiled floors in geometric patterns for cathedrals, churches, and posh people’s mansions, considered the final visual effect as just ‘nice’ decoration, or whether they intended them to look three-dimensional, and unsettling? Because some of them certainly do!
This can be a very powerful illusion, the floors seem to have regular drops and raised bits, about a foot deep, and they look as if they’d be very difficult to actually walk across.
I remember some years ago seeing on TV some big ‘state event’ in a cathedral somewhere (perhaps a wedding or a funeral of some person that we all apparently think is/was special in some way, and deserving of this grand performance and the concomitant media frenzy). I don’t think it could have been Westminster Abbey though, that has a fairly ordinary and innocuous black and white chequerboard  floor.
The camera viewed the scene from high above; as the procession of important folk in their gold, furs, and robes paused, ready to glide slowly down the aisle to the business end, I was thinking – No no, stop!… You’ll all fall down those jagged square holes and break your ankles!… Don’t go there!…
But of course, and some might say unfortunately, it was just a clever illusion and everything went off as planned – and a good time was had by all!…
Those tile patterns I recall were composed of squares and diamond shapes – rather like this – look, I’ve done a little drawing in my notebook for you:

PS: After doing a little bit of research I think the place mentioned above could have been Beverley Minster – I wouldn’t fancy walking on that floor!…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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9 Responses to Do watch your step Your Majesty!…

  1. Wow those floors really ARE confusing! It made me giggle imagining the queen playing a version of Hopscotch in all her regalia! Its like this now THAT messes with my head, haha!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      But, what I didn’t enlarge on in my post, and should have done, was – did those designers back then ‘intend’ it to be three-D? I suppose they must have, but it seems quite daring and it doesn’t seem to fit with the visual art of the time, does it? You could imagine the archbishop popping in to inspect the new floor and saying, ‘Hell! I’m not walking on that!…’

      • I suppose they must have done it deliberately…..even if “3D” wasn’t a thing back then. You can’t help but see it as that, no matter how hard you try (well, maybe its my eyes) but I can’t see it as 2D and flat. And no, it doesn’t fit in with the art of the times, but then these building weren’t exactly your average dwelling house…..

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Maybe they thought it was ‘magic’ – and of course it was ideal for churches…

      • Oh yes! of course…..maybe so the devil would lose his step or trip!

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Yes, that’s it!
        Or, perhaps walking on it would be like floating above obstacles, like an angel?…

  2. Dana Doran says:

    What a lovely photograph! (Not a crumb out of place on that table…so revealing in a forensic investigation sort of way). Hummm, were you thinking of a new project?
    Oh, Dave, trompe l’oeil, I’ve read, has been around since the Renaissance and was employed by architects in churches in order to create the illusion of more space…..interesting that the Scribbler included that black hole piece! Similar to the stonework here…perhaps it was desired to give a heightened feeling of the afterlife, falling into the depths of hell? As opposed to …..whatever….

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