Monday, March 28, 2011

Give away!

Monday has gotten off to a slow start for me, but I've just bought some Easter eggs (as gifts! I have Border dark chocolate ginger biscuits to pacify myself). So time for a wee give-away to celebrate reaching 100 followers!

So there is a teNeues Paris city journal, Figs & Rouge geranium organic lip balm (my personal favourite), a rosemary and witch hazel facemask and a couple of postcards. Nothing extravagant, but a token of my genuine appreciation for you who actually read my sporadic postings! (Lula magazine not included, this photoshoot made a nicer backdrop that the worn pleather couch in our flat!)

To enter, you have to be a follower of my blog. Please leave your name and email address in a comment and recommend me a book or movie, you can tweet about if for an extra entry if you like, linking to this entry, I'm 'acertainsmile'.

I will pick the names out of a hat. The closing date is April 11th, two weeks from now! I will happily post internationally!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Persian carpet in the West

It's been a busy week for me, uni wise. I may have mentioned before that I am doing work placement at the Stoddard-Templeton archive here in Glasgow. I am working on cataloguing and contextualising their Persian carpet designs and sketches. So for the time being, I will forward you to the blog post I wrote on the Persian carpet in the West, featuring some of the designs from the Stoddard-Templeton archive, that I have catalogued.

Fragile design, entitled 'London Material', probably copied from a carpet held in a private residence.

The archive has vast amounts of material to be catalogued and repackaged, there are over one hundred drawers full of material, not only carpet designs and sketches but catalogues, photographs, patterns and business records, from over one hundred years of trading. It's been a rewarding experience so far, with dedicated and friendly people working in the archive.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March meanderings

Been feeling a little uninspired as of late. I've mostly been trying to get assignments in. I was ill last weekend as well and have been generally feeling quite tired. So I've just been watching repeats of That 70's Show and Big Love and using Fair Trade Fortnight as an excuse to buy two large bars of Green & Blacks chocolate on my weekly grocery shop.

I'll be hosting a little giveaway soon to celebrate reaching 100 followers.

So St. Patrick's Day for me was tamer than previous years. I had some friends over to dinner, I made Irish Stew (with the addition of Guinness), colcannon and carrot cake, using Crumbs for Dinner's recipe (highly, highly recommended!) We enjoyed some whiskey ginger & mint cocktails and had the craic.

Recently I also went on a day trip to the Scottish Museum of Costume at Shambellie House -

Hannah as the Dunce in the corner. They do recreations of Victorian classes for children's school groups that visit here, so obviously this is some evidence of that! Children really enjoy reenactments, so we're still big kids then!

They were shutting up the 'Marriage in the Movies' exhibition in preparation for their next exhibition, opening in April, about what the Land Girls and Lumber Jills of WW2 wore. A lot of mannequins were shrouded in these creepy dust veils, for storage.

'Willow Lady' sculpture in the grounds of Shambellie House, designed by Trevor Leat. This really ties in with the ideal of the house and its close affiliation with the landscape surrounding it.

These human like models were very popular in the 1970s. Interestingly they were based on the appearances of famous movie stars. This one is clearly Greta Garbo but there were a few others whose faces were similar and I just couldn't place them. What do you think of these sorts of mannequins - they are usual for action poses and 'personalizing' the costume, but are their facial expressions and make-up distracting? Are they too familiar to ethnographical mannequins (which obviously isn't their purpose)?

Shambellie House is a Victorian country house, originally built for the Stewart family in 1856. Charles Stewart donated his substantial costume collection to National Museums Scotland in 1977 and he also loaned Shambellie House to be used as a Museum of Costume, for the display of his collection.

Other things been keeping me busy recently include our student exhibition of studio ceramics (more on this at a later stage!)

(James Tower "Shell Form" stoneware sculptural form, 1981, Paisley Museum collection)

My camera might be getting on a bit, as I only seem to take blurry photos these days. Some day I'll get a nice camera. When I learn to take care of things! (That'll be a long time coming then.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Heroine: Emily Bronte & 'Wuthering Heights'

Emily Bronte was born on July 30th 1818 at Thornton, Bradford in Yorkshire, the fifth child of the six children.

Her most celebrated and indeed only novel, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell.

Illustration by Fritz Eichenberg for 1943 Random House edition.

For a clergyman's daughter, Emily harboured some curious views about life and death, and indeed the afterlife. The gothic workings of her mind are spilled out on the pages of Wuthering Heights. Her father, Patrick, encouraged his children's independent learning and even indulged Emily's refusal to attend Sunday services. Charlotte described her sister as 'a solitude-loving raven, no gentle dove'.

Wuthering Heights is a profound work of the imagination, brimming with 'wickedness' and 'villany'. Emily (although assumed to be a male) was described as an author 'who goes at once fearlessly into the moors and desolate places'. One critic advised that the book be burned.

Emily was most at home on the wild moors, much like a heroine from her own work. Her intense love for the Yorkshire landscape that surrounded her is reflected in Wuthering Heights. The sharp northern air, the springiness of the heather and the gloom of the desolate moors are all set out in such lush and graphic detail. Words were Emily's oils and the paper upon which she wrote her canvas. The gothic eeriness of Emily's descriptions of interiors and landscapes in Wuthering Heights conjure up associations with Plath's psychic landscapes. Emily was influenced by the metaphysical works of Lord Byron and Walter Scott, her own childhood experiences at boarding school, the death of her mother and siblings. The macabre and unnatural excited her ghoulish imagination.

Still of the Wuthering Heights from 2009's Wuthering Heights adaption.

For you see, Wuthering Heights is no mere romance gone sour, it's the story of more than one woman's life, the characters are tangled in an emotional and ultimately destructive web their author has created for them and for herself. It poses moral questions; questions the existence of God and an afterlife, it struggles to find the boundaries between obsession and love, ideals of masculinity and femininity are Emily's dark creativity is all encompassing, perhaps exacerbated by her own seclusion from the world outside her own immediate physical and emotional world.

Wuthering Heights, 1970.

Wuthering Heights, 1992.

The lives of the Bronte's was an ill-fated one, two sisters died in their childhood (1825) and the only brother Branwell's dependence on drink and opium heightened his sense of self pity and worthlessness. Emily passed away in December 1848, aged thirty years old. Branwell had died three months beforehand of consumption, at thirty-one. Anne died the next year, aged twenty-nine and Charlotte followed her sisters six years later in March 1855. Patrick Bronte outlived all his children, he died at Haworth in 1861, aged eighty-four.

I've found people either love it or hate it, and isn't it great that Emily was able to rouse such opposing emotions in her readers?! Of course I'm the former! This book is a rebel yell against the feminine constraints of Victorian society. Sexual frustration, violence, resentment, human frailty, suffering and mortality all come into cruel play in this ultimate gothic 'romance'. (If you like your romance ultimately destructive and leaving you feel distressed that is). I like to feel that Emily built a little of herself into Heathcliff, it was how she could masquerade in male form and give the (intellectual) finger to the patriarchy by making him as brutal as possible.

"I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart; but really with it, and in it." (Wuthering Heights, 1847, Emily Bronte).

Further reading:
Bronte Sisters, Haworth
Emily Bronte, Poet of Solitude
Wuthering Heights community

Wuthering Heights, 2009.

Film/tv adaptions:
Wuthering Heights, 1939
Abismos de pasión, 1954
Wuthering Heights, 1970
Wuthering Heights (TV), 1978
Hurlevent, 1985
Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, 1992
Wuthering Heights (TV), 1998
Sparkhouse (TV), 2002
Cime tempestose (TV), 2004
Wuthering Heights (TV), 2009
Wuthering Heights, 2011

Wuthering Heights, 1992.

I wrote this to celebrate my heroine Emily Bronte, on International Women's Day 2011.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Gunne Girl

My love affair with the indomitable prairie dress goes back many years. Yet it's not an item of clothing I've ever worn myself, I don't feel I'm brave or bohemian enough. Do you ever admire a look (1970s prairie girl in this case) but know you'll never wear it because if you bought it, it wouldn't mix with the rest of your wardrobe and it would be out of your clothing comfort zone? That's how I feel about these beautiful things. It's just not practical for me wearing a long flowing dress, whilst toting an uncomfortable and ugly backpack on my way to college. Clothing like this is wasted in a library. It speaks to me of days spent lying in the sun, being young and care-free.

Enough of these excuses! When the weather gets warmer I'm going to have a go at this, because at Christmas I received a delightful package from the beautiful Khrystyna containing a delightful Gunne dress, with an exciting, wench-like lace up bodice! Watch this space.

I've wanted to write about Gunne dresses for a while. I own one Gunne Sax skirt and now a dress in my 'collection'. There's so many things I want to say about these beautiful, iconic gowns! I feel like theres a wealth of influences that I couldn't possibly cover in one post, so consider this the first of many.

Here I am going to highlight my Gunne inspiration, a girl who truly embodies the Gunne spirit. Khrystyna of Food, Flora and Felines !

Khrystyna lives in Cork with her boyfriend in their curiosity shop of an apartment and often wanders out into the countryside/wilderness much like the heroine of a Laura Ingalls book.

Isn't she a dream?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Horsing around

Another day of being lazy. I am a sloth these days. Going to uni these days involve pants, boots and a comfy jumper.

Jumper, charity shop. Pants, uniqlo. Boots, camper.

Bed hair

I found this jumper in a charity shop at home for €2.50 over the Christmas. I've only ever ridden a horse once before my life and was certainly never a member of any pony club. I never bought those sappy magazines when I was a kid either. But who is to know that I'm not? Esp. in my pony club jumper - 'Calliaghstown Branch - Irish Pony Club'.

I did cry when I read Black Beauty though.