Hands-on experience can’t be beat. Hands are quite handy to have and they’ve been immortalised in art for a long time. I was reminded of this fact when two coincidences coincided recently.


looking at various cave arts (you know—Lascaux, Chauvet, Altamira and oodles of others). Thanks to the magic of the web I’ve been able to gawk at cave art from many different places around the globe.

I stand both awed and humbled by the talents and skills of those dumb brute stone-age savages—some of the works they so casually flipped off hundreds of feet underground after traversing hundreds of subterranean yards often on their knees or backs and lit only by (by what? Candles? Rush torches? Moose-skull lanterns powered by clean burning natural goo of some kind?) artificial lights and equipped with the perennial favourite red ochre … these dumb brute savages produced works that a hundred years of expert tuition would never be able to inculcate in me. They, Sir or Madame, were artists.


I know facts that they don’t (oh … really?) such as “Pluto is the smallest planet of nine in our solar system” (okay,dammit— it used to be a fact—now it’s not a fact, but facts are fashion anyway so don’t sweat it) … bugger:   on with the show~!

GORE Gore's handiest alleyway

is a wee town in Southland. Gore used to be famous for its Gorons (louts:  GORe morONS) but someone clamped down sometime and now the Gorons are no longer. Their handiwork lingers in the form of ageless graffiti in some of the alleyways and byways, but I found in one particular wee alley that not even a Goron has* seen fit to over paint some modern outdoor ‘cave art’—neatly done (I believe) by schoolkids with spray cans and all psychologically official.


and back to those caves … here’s a wee shot (sadly I lost the source so can’t give it a credit or byline) dated to dumb brute stone-age savages of roughly ten thousand years ago, in Borneo.

Borneo, 10,000 years


anything especially noticeable about it, or this next dumb brute etc etc masterpiece? Yeah, me too … but wait, it gets better—

Argentina, Rio Pinturas

—and it’s from (according to my  scribbled notes) half a world away, in Argentina. I vaguely think it may be older too, but don’t quote me.

This next one Chauvet, 30,000 + yrs ago is definitely a tad older—it hails from Chauvet in France. Somewhere between thirty and thirty-two thousand years old. Say roughly eight times to JC**  and back, time wise. Note that it appears as if the guy/guyette spray-painted it on, too (lacking a thumb, ouch).


can take a mouthful of ochre (yuk) and spray an outline through a straw. But if you want real art — you know, perspective and shading and full use of formations and stuff in artwork, I suggest you pop over to Chauvet and a few of those others. I’d give you some webbies to visit but the dreaded Spouse has just been in to nag me again about my overdue jog … (I get away with twice but a third try is not a good idea).


If you look at mediaeval European artwork there’s a singular lack of perspective and such things that dumb brute stone-age savages were not only aware of but used to superb effect tens of millennia ago.

And if you look at that Gore-alley snap above … it seems that only the technology has changed; there’s hope for us yet …



*  yet

** Julius Caesar



6 thoughts on “HANDS ON

  1. Did you also notice that most of the hand outlines in the art pre-JC are of left hands? Except if course for the French example with the half-thumb? You might assume that this is because most of the population would favour the right hand being right-handed and all, or may it was just a left hand pursuit. Maybe Monsieur/Madamme Alfum was choosing to break the social mould, or just didn’t know of the left hand rule. Maybe they didn’t have a left hand, and almost lost the right one by the looks of it!
    We shall never know.

    1. Interesting that one site (somewhere~!) pointed out that the fingers in their examples were long, slender, and above all, feminine

      Makes one think, no?

  2. Lascaux and Altamira are also exceptional for their use of depressions and bulges in the rock to give a 3D appearance. John E. Pfieffer wrote a brilliant book on it all. Dig it up if you can.

    1. Haven’t seen the book but there are some brilliant webbies about them. I copied across oodles of images and for a long time they were my screensavers.
      They just blow my mind, not only the art itself but the ‘how’ of it all … at the time we were all dumb ape-men with big clubs.

      Just Amazon-searched it: ‘The Creative Explosion’ … is that the one?

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