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Articles on this Page
- 03/17/15--12:20: _THE FIRST BUDS OF S...
- 04/01/15--11:37: _PAPIER-MACHE EASTER...
- 08/07/13--12:47: _STORYTELLER - Daisy...
- 08/06/13--07:20: _MELLOW YELLOW
- 04/28/15--09:15: _BLACKTHORN AT BELTA...
- 06/24/15--07:06: _SUMMERTIME BLUES
- 08/28/13--08:10: _I HAVE A DREAM
- 08/13/13--07:25: _BOOK PORTALS
- 08/16/13--11:16: _ARABIAN NIGHTS - in...
- 10/28/15--12:20: _Two Doors Down From...
- 11/04/15--11:55: _And Then There Were...
- 12/16/15--14:10: _in the Company of W...
- 02/06/16--09:17: _The Kindness of Str...
- 04/06/16--06:51: _David Bowie ~ The S...
- 04/15/16--05:48: _The Gothic Wardrobe
- 04/21/16--06:19: _Queen Elizabeth II ...
- 04/22/16--08:18: _Sweet Prince
- 04/28/16--02:33: _William Shakespeare...
- 06/30/16--03:02: _Mid Summer Dreaming
- 07/28/16--07:12: _Beatrix Potter ~ 15...
- 03/17/15--12:20: THE FIRST BUDS OF SPRING
- 04/01/15--11:37: PAPIER-MACHE EASTER EGGS
- 08/07/13--12:47: STORYTELLER - Daisy's Diamonds
- 08/06/13--07:20: MELLOW YELLOW
- 04/28/15--09:15: BLACKTHORN AT BELTAINE
- 06/24/15--07:06: SUMMERTIME BLUES
- "In a Wonderland they lie,
- Dreaming as the days go by,
- Dreaming as the summers die;
- Ever drifting down the stream--
- Lingering in the golden gleam--
- Life, what is it but a dream?"
- 08/28/13--08:10: I HAVE A DREAM
- 08/13/13--07:25: BOOK PORTALS
- 08/16/13--11:16: ARABIAN NIGHTS - in Holland Park
- 10/28/15--12:20: Two Doors Down From The Witch
- 11/04/15--11:55: And Then There Were Three
- 12/16/15--14:10: in the Company of Wolves
- 02/06/16--09:17: The Kindness of Strangers
- 04/06/16--06:51: David Bowie ~ The Stars Line Up
- 04/15/16--05:48: The Gothic Wardrobe
- 04/21/16--06:19: Queen Elizabeth II - 90th Birthday
- 04/22/16--08:18: Sweet Prince
- 04/28/16--02:33: William Shakespeare - For all time
- 06/30/16--03:02: Mid Summer Dreaming
- 07/28/16--07:12: Beatrix Potter ~ 150th Birthday
|The First Buds of Spring |
watercolour, 25 x 16 inches, signed and dated 1885
Lionel Percy Smythe
It is still very cold here but the first buds of Spring are opening bringing us hope that soon winter really will pass. It has been a mild Winter overall, with snow only coming in small amounts in January and February.
|Countryside Info website|
Blackbirds are everywhere gathering food for their young, when we drove at dusk we slowed right down for them because they fly very low from hedge to hedge across the road.
Before our holiday I visited one of my favourite art galleries and came across a catalogue from 2000 which caught my eye. The cover had the most exquisite watercolour on it, of a young girl in a wood with a blackbird in the bush beside her. The composition is soft and luminous and somehow conveys an air of melancholy. I found it quite poignant, the young girl perched on the brink of womanhood, and the Spring, both poised to bloom.
I'd been shopping all day and my bags and baskets were full but I had to have this. It was only a few pounds. I set off weighted down with my captures of the day towards the car.
|Royal Albert Primrose Hill teacup|
|Lionel Percy Smythe|
possibly also known as 'A Wood Nymph'
|Lionel Percy Smyth|
I have fallen in love with his work, and with this beautiful girl who lit up his paintings. I hope to see some of his pieces in galleries when I am feeling better and can travel again.
|Lionel Percy Smythe|
(love the flower collar on the dog)
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art HERE:
Chris Beetles Art Gallery
Royal Albert China
|Beautiful Easter shoot by Green Wedding Shoes.|
See their work Here:
|A charming Easter egg box|
|Mad March Hare from Graham & Green Here: |
Alice cloth ornament from Alice's Shop in Oxford. Here:
|This box is quite large and the lid is painted in|
an exquisite pattern of mille fleurs.
I keep another collection in it - Miracle jewellery.
|This little papier-mâché rabbit came from a shop in one of the |
fairy tale cottages in Carmel by the Sea, 20 years ago.
I love the cat shaped box, adorned with bright flowers.
As March ends you would expect Spring to be in full bloom, but it is not so here. I have seen no Deer in the woods, and few Hares, being mad or not. We have had very high winds (we do live on a hill) and rain with hail. It is a bitter biting wind as if the Snow Queen has grabbed hold of you with icy fingers and a sharp nail has pierced your skin.
|Kelly McMorris, Snow Queen book cover, |
for Stephen Player's Fantasy Illustration class
Published: February 02, 2013
Her website: Here:
|The Mad Tea Party Alice illustration by John Tenniel.|
The March Hare is wearing straw in his ears, a sign of madness!
|I love this painting, but do not know who created it. |
Please leave me a comment if you do!
|Carey Mulligan plays Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby|
Diamonds by Tiffany & Co
|Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson|
|The San Francisco Cliff House|
|Flappers Dancing the Charleston atop the Sherman Hotel|
Chicago, December 11, 1926
It is hard to think of a more romantic story than The Great Gatsby. Only a few equals come to mind, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights.
I have always been torn between F. Scott Fitzgerald's tragic hero whose dreams of eternal love are let down by squalid reality, and Hemingway's Earthy scars and all portrayal of life. I cannot shake from my mind the oft quoted literal exchange between the two of them via their books.
Fitzgerald is quoted as saying: “The rich are different from you and me.” And, Hemingway is quoted as responding: “Yes, they have more money."
While Hemingway had his inner demons. His incessant need to kill wild things and the loss of his wife in a car crash in Africa. At least he had his 6 toed cats, whose progeny still hold court for the tourists at his residence in Key West. Like Fitzgerald he became one of his own characters when he chose to take his boat out and shoot himself at sea.
|Hemingway and one of his cats|
|Like his books, the cats live on|
No summer ever goes by that I do not think of them both. And Zelda, or Daisy, come to think of it.
The ability of a storyteller to bring life to their creations which live on to enthral future generations long after their own demise is nothing short of magic. And it is rare.
|Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan|
Daisy Buchanan is one such character and one cannot help but know there is a lot of his wife Zelda in Daisy and a lot of himself in Gatsby.
To those who do not understand Gatsby must seem a loser. He fails in his dream and he loses the one thing he cared about, Daisy, who he did it all to obtain. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock which Gatsby is always reaching for symbolises the American Dream that money can bring you happiness and you will get your Daisy. He is not a loser, he stayed true to his dream and it is instead Daisy who lets the hero down. She choses money instead of love and she is happy with that. Is he a fool? Hemingway probably thought so and yet envied him.
Like Zelda Daisy is captivating and you cannot help but fall for her. Yet she is ultimately disappointing. But it was her ability to shine which attracted us. And of course she had great diamonds.
|The Tiffany Daisy ring for The Great Gatsby|
F. Scott-Fitzgerald was a customer of Tiffany's and Zelda and he both wore their jewels. For the film Tiffany gave archive access to the directors and created a collection which Zelda would have approved of.
You can watch a short video on youtube about how the collaboration was born and worked for the film.
Tiffany and The Great Gatsby
I'm pleased that the film has been remade to bring the story of Gatsby and Daisy, and F Scott-Fitzgerald and Zelda to a new generation, but it does not and cannot reach the intensity of the book. I don't think anyone ever will.
Although I have always loved art I have no talent in that sphere. From an early age I realised this (yet still delighted in art classes) and began to think in terms of colour and texture. I gathered and grouped items according to how they caught and reflected the light, how they felt underfoot or when stroked.
|Woman in Yellow|
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I still love being enveloped by colour. There is some thought that colours equate to scent, and it is easy to imagine. For me colours have auras.
|By The Style Files on Flicker|
I think Yellow is a hard colour to live with, often too bright, too weak or to uniform. Getting it right is difficult. Once upon a time I found a paint that was as marvellous as it's name, by the late great John Oliver, called Chinese Imperial Yellow. I painted all the walls in a small downstairs toilet in this, outlined the window in Turquoise and hung brass framed mirrors and pictures. It was a warm rich yellow that saturated your senses. By day it glowed with sunshine. The room was at the back of the house, off the kitchen. At night we left the door ajar and burned candles in mercury glass jars on the windowsill. The candles flickered on the glass casting shadows on the golden walls and the room glimmered like the dying embers of a fire. It hugged you. I shed tears when we sold the house and I had to paint the room in white to make it instantly saleable.
Our cottage is now so small all that remains of my Mellow Yellow days are accents. A glimmer here, a glow there. Isolde by Audrey Beardsley, some faded golden cushions on a pale green chair, and an old quilted throw made by an Auntie I never met.
|Isolde by Audrey Beardsley|
Aubrey Beardsley knew a thing or two about yellow. His illustrations for The Yellow Book, of which he was the Art Editor, are outstanding.
From the Wikipedia page.
The Yellow Book, published in London from 1894 to 1897 by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, later by John Lane alone, and edited by the American Henry Harland, was a quarterly literary periodical (priced at 5s.) that lent its name to the "Yellow Nineties".
It was a leading journal of the British 1890s; to some degree associated with Aestheticism and Decadence, the magazine contained a wide range of literary and artistic genres, poetry, short stories, essays, book illustrations, portraits, and reproductions of paintings. Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor, and he has been credited with the idea of the yellow cover, with its association with illicit French fiction of the period. He obtained works by such artists as Charles Conder, William Rothenstein, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert, and Philip Wilson Steer. The literary content was no less distinguished; authors who contributed were: Max Beerbohm, Arnold Bennett, "Baron Corvo", Ernest Dowson, George Gissing, Sir Edmund Gosse, Henry James, Richard Le Gallienne, Charlotte Mew, Arthur Symons, H. G. Wells, William Butler Yeats.
When Donovan released the album Mellow Yellow everyone wondered where he got the title from, and most guessed it was some kind of drug, probably hallucinogenic. They were wrong. Many rock stars were well educated and well read and their songs and album covers were strewn with literal references. They were the modern pre-Raphaelites. The phrase "mellow yellow" appears on page 719 of the first American edition of James Joyce's epic Ulysses, where it is used to refer to Mrs. Marion Bloom's buttocks. It has not been confirmed in print that Donovan got the phrase from there. However I did ask him once and he replied, "Probably." I still love this album and really wish that I had continued to move my vinyl copy from house to house with me.
Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.
(Puck of Pook’s Hill, by Rudyard Kipling, 1906)
|Munchkin our Main Coon avoiding getting the snow in his furry paws|
|Trees in the wood just beginning to have leaf|
I really adore the work of Lionel Percy Smythe. His gentle use of colour and light is exquisite. Here 'Spring' is cloaked in pale clothes with her green mantle lined in violet. The Blackbird held close. They are one of the first to nest, as early as January.
|Caught in the arms of icy Spring|
Lionel Percy Smythe, 1918
|Thorn Rose, 1975 by Errol Le Cain|
|The perfect May Queen|
Rapturously beautiful Evelyn Nesbit
Age 16, by Gertrude Käsebier
It is easy to understand why it was that our ancestors danced and crowned a May Queen.
|Queen Guinevere's Maying by John Collier|
The chill remains upon us but sun shines brightly, and birds are nesting. House Martins have returned to tend their little homes on our cottage, always a welcome sight each year. The Snow Drops and Daffodils are now faded and the Bluebells are just coming into blossom with our Apple Trees, soon the Blackthorn flowers will turn to Berry.
|A lovely vintage Blackberry brooch by Exquisite|
There is definitely a bustle in the hedgerow, as Robert Plant once sang. Things are afoot all over the place. Hopefully if the predicted cold spell does not materialise this weekend we will celebrate May Day with a bluebell walk. We should acknowledge the turning of the seasons, as our ancestors did. But if you stray into the woods remember the Rules of Faerie, do not stray from the path and do not eat or drink anything!
Some of my favourite images of this time of year.
|By Arthur Rackham, from|
Hans Christian Anderson's The Elf Mound
|Marc Bolan of T Rex|
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltaine .....
|The remarkable looking Palmate Newt larvae, from|
the magical Heligan Gardens.
|Abigail Edwards The Bramblewood plate|
|Candle lit sandcastle by the sea, source unknown.|
But for me water flows through the season and paints it from the blue, green and shimmering palette of the rivers, brooks and seas.
|Faded blue & green chest of drawers|
|An Art Nouveau brooch from my collection|
|Rich blue fringed velvet curtains|
|Magical shimmering sequinned fishes by Lainey Whitworth Art on Etsy|
I had to have one.
Her Etsy shop is Here:
|Buckled sparkly shoes from Top Shop|
|Raw silk embroidered bag from the magical Medieval Muse on Etsy |
Medieval Muse Etsy shop Here:
Silver and copper dusted, sea glass, the mermaid's tears, glowing in the sand. Surprising golden, violet or indigo skies. Always.
Strange Tempests gather. Inevitably Mermaids enter my thoughts.
|shells & tealights in mercury glass|
|Edward Arthur Fellowes Prynne|
|A superb John William Waterhouse Mermaid|
|Dolce & Gabbana, 2014|
|The Sirens - Edward Burne-Jones|
|Evening Dress, Mad Carpentier, 1940s|
But there is also that Midsummer Night's meeting. Water links summer themes, as does that other element, Air.
|Air, elemental leather mask|
From Fairy Magic on Etsy
|A Midsummer Night's Dream by Chad Gowey|
|William Morris & Co, The Brook tapestry|
|Titania by Arthur Rackham|
Of Pirates and Pan
|Peter Pan and the pirate ship, James Coleman|
|Johnny Depp, Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean|
The Curse of the Black Pearl
|Galleon topped thatched cottage, image by me|
|Clothes by Magnolia Pearl|
Alice, drowsily beside the Thames, her dreams conjuring a tale from Mr Carroll.
|Lewis Carroll and the Liddell family|
image by Lewis Carroll
|Bickleigh Cottage reflected in the river|
|Alice illustration by Amber Alexander|
|Swallows gathering mud for their nests|
|Alice's Cottage, the pale blues|
|My Cheshire cat apothecary bottle|
|And when she is grown, |
will Alice remember?
Meanwhile, Ophelia is gathering flowers for her watery grave.
|Spring collection Dries Van Noten|
|Ophelia by Kirsty Mitchell|
|Ophelia, Theodore von der Beek|
Somewhere a woman waits, while a Tempest brews.
|Miranda, John William waterhouse|
|The French Lieutenant's Woman|
From The witch's curse by W. S. Gilbert.|
illustrations by William Russell Flint. Published 1912
|Marikka Nakk Velvet Princess Coat|
|Colours of a tempest by Fired Earth|
Shhhh! We must be still now, Faerie Revels and sweet potions have overpowered all and they lie sleeping.
|Potent potions in tiny Czech apothecary bottles|
|Velvet robe by Toast|
|Sleeping Beauty, Henry Meynell Rheam|
|Titania Sleeps, by Frank Cadogan Cowper|
|Alice Liddell asleep by Lewis Carroll|
|Undine, Arthur Rackham|
by: Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
|Martin Luther King|
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
~ Bob Dylan
My family moved a lot but stayed in the same town. It was so hot the tarmac would melt and stick to your bare feet. Cars had no air conditioning and the seats burnt your legs if you were wearing shorts. I had a beach towel I would sit on. The outside world had not yet touched me. I was fascinated by the dark purplish red grapes on the vine at my Grandmother’s house, covered in wasps so dazzlingly bright they looked like moving jewels of black onyx and fiery amber. I was beginning to understand that our family were poor and that this limited my opportunities. My Mother made my clothes, they looked old fashioned and second hand. I dressed like a little girl and stood out against the worldly wise more mature girls and boys at the mixed sex predominantly black school. I was not alone in being poor, but I was rare on two counts, I was a white girl and my parents had married and were still married. Family life was fractured or non existent in our neighbourhood where we rented a small home. By 1963 music had already begun to weave a soundtrack to my life but it was all home grown, The Beatles and the British Invasion was not to happen until 1964. Cultures mixed, daring black boys taught white girls to dance, and Mexican and Puerto Rican girls taught us to speak Spanish and put on makeup. Their brothers took us for rides in their fantastic 1950s cars which had cost them a lot of labour and few months wages.
|The Supremes circa 1963|
Bob Dylan and Joan Baez |
during the 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom'August 28, 1963
|From ‘This Is the Day: The March on Washington’ by Photographer Leonard Freed|
|Real signs of the 60s|
I am certain that those who did not live in those times can never really understand what segregation was like and how just being seen with a black friend caused you to be an outcast from both black and white people. Even if you were a child. My best friend Cynthia was half black, her Mother a single white woman, her Father a black jazz musician. They had trouble finding a house to rent, landlords showed their disapproval by refusing to let to them. Cynthia and I had a lot of interests in common. I never fitted in either and always felt as if I were just passing through. I knew I was going somewhere but had no idea where, or when.
|photo by Brant Ward 'Summer of Love'|
I was no longer the innocent wide eyed child who looked and listened in wonder. I knew that Summer had gone.
And yet a fire had been lit that will burn forever.
Thank you to the Rev Martin Luther King and to Cynthia and her Mother, wherever they are today. I hope their lives were filled with Joy and Freedom.
|This book proved impossible to resist.|
We had a third floor in our old cottage in Devon which was comprised of a large 3 roomed attic in the eaves. The smallest room became our study, the cats lounged on the mezzanine central room overlooking the stair rails and the largest room accidently became a library.
It was bliss, which alas, we had to give up due to the rather crippling mortgage. For 5 years we had collected books which lined all the walls, and more than half of them had to go when we downsized. We still have far too many books, and yet .... every now and then I must buy just one more.
I really need to live here, at Hereford Castle which has this magnificent Library. Even then I am certain that I could fill it in no time at all.
|My kind of room - Hereford Castle Library From Here:|
This latest acquisition is a rare edition of 'Nursery Tales, Told to the Children' by Amy Steadman with illustrations by Paul Woodroffe. Published by T.C. & E.C. Jack, London/E.P. Dutton & Co., New York circa 1910. This is Number 24 in the ‘Told to the Children’ series edited by Louey Chisholm.This uncommon edition of fairy tales, includes eight lovely colour plates by the British illustrator and stained-glass artist Paul Woodroffe (1875-1954).
John Russell Taylor writes of Woodroffe (in The Art Nouveau Book in Britain, 1966): “His first illustrations, closely imitative of Walter Crane, were for Ye Booke of Nursery Rhymes (1895) … with music by Joseph Moorat, a friend of [Laurence] Housman’s. He would seem to have been adopted early by the Housmans, Clemence engraving his illustrations to The Confessions of St Augustine (1900), which Laurence supplied with a title-page, and his illustrations to Laurence’s translation of Aucassin and Nicolette (1902) … Once removed from the direct Housman influence he drifted into other artistic activities …”
Nursery Tales dates from Woodroffe’s post-Housman period, the illustrations similar in style to those in his lavish colour-plate edition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, published in 1908.
I have only once seen this edition and that was many many years ago. Despite having no space on any of our shelves I had to buy it!
As you can see this is the tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.
We have had the best few weeks of summer. Long languid days and nights, humid rain showers, wild flowers, Bees, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Birds - and now the garden is full of change. It seems only yesterday the lush blooms of Peony, Damask Rose, Clematis and Honeysuckle were scenting the air and filling as far as the eye could see with colour. Now the seed heads of Lavender and Poppy have appeared and the upright stems have lain down. The Tree Bumblebees have flown their nest and only a few sleepy Wasps and gentle stripey Hoverflies remain. With Autumn on the way my thoughts always turn to the woods, and the fairy tales that tell of them.
|Red Riding Hood and The Wolf|
|Cinderella, her black cat and her Fairy Godmother|
in a red cape!
|Brunhild by George Frederic Watts |
Joanne Harris is one of my very favourite authors, I feel a part of her stories of Vianne Rocher and her daughters . If you have not done so read her books and see Chocolat. Her own website is here:
And she post witty and informative things on Tumblr, HERE:
|Dalziels Illustrated Arabian Nights Entertainments|
London: Ward, Lock, and Co. 1870.
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight `twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
|Leighton House Museum|
|Lord Leighton self portrait|
|Black gilded woodwork |
Photo by Colour Living
|Photo by Tina Bernstein|
from Colour Living
|Leighton House Arab Hall.|
This view shows the staircase to the upstairs rooms,
the wonderful turquoise tiles and the detailed mosaic floors.
|Photo by Tina Bernstein, Colour Living|
|John William Waterhouse, dolce far niente|
translation literally 'sweet doing nothing'.
|The Arab Hall showing the seating and the pool.|
Photographer: Will Pryce
|The domed ceiling in The Arab Hall|
|Casbah seating at the sides of the pool. |
Photo by Tina Bernstein from Colour Living.
|The balcony overlooking the Arab Hall is only revealed once you go upstairs,|
|The Arab Hall and fountain fascinated visitors since|
|The green silk room hung with paintings and lit from the skylight above. |
Photographer: Will Pryce
and a collection of Iznik pottery
with the fantastically painted bright blue wall.
You can just make out the print of Flaming June
|Lord Leighton's studio|
|Photo: FREDERIQUE CIFUENTES|
|One of the stained glass windows|
Photo by Tina Bernstein of Colour Living
|Lord Leighton by G.F. Watts|
|Flaming June herself|
I have posted about her previously
|Lord Leighton's small, austere bedroom|
Leighton House Museum is HERE:
Colour Living, the blog of house hunter, designer and writer Tina Bernstein is HERE:
Lord Leighton Wiki page is HERE:
|Two Doors Down|
Once upon a time in the 1980s I lived in an ordinary looking house in a terrace, (especially on a bright sunny day as this), in East Twickenham, by the river Thames, two doors down from The Witch.
June was a good Witch. She lived in the biggest house on our street, on the corner of our terrace. A large Edwardian with leaded glass winking in the windows and a little attic dormer. Suitably distressed it had a lovely porch with gingerbread pillers and red clay roof tiles. The entry hall was so large that there was a fireplace on one wall. The room was painted violet.
In those days I did not own a camera so sadly the images used here are borrowed, or from much later after June had died. Even then, looking sad without it's Witch it was still charming to me for I knew what enchanting times this house had known.
|The Witch's house, taken by me much later|
I know that many people believe that we do not hold to Halloween and Trick or Treat here in England - but that was not true of that road in Twickenham where The Witch had lived for those many years. I do not know just how many years that June lived in the house by the river, but each Halloween she opened her home to all the trick and treaters of the neighbourhood and she had thrilled (and scared) generations of local children.
She spent many days before All Hallows decorating the house, especially the old porch where there would be a skeleton and frightening music when you rang the bell. A specially prepared Halloween feast awaited those who dared to enter.
June had pointy toed lace up boots and always wore a long black dress with a cape or interesting cloak. And, of course, a pointy hat. She could cackle too, but usually just got a fit of giggles.
|pointy toed Witch boots|
|She was The Witch|
June's middle initial was E and the names of her four children all began with 'E'. I never did find out why. She loved children and always said that had her 4th pregnancy not been a difficult one she would have carried on having them for who knows how long. The thing she wanted more than anything was Grandchildren, and she did get them. One of her children had given her a framed photograph of Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch in Oz. I gave June my little felt mouse dressed in a Witch costume which was one of my most treaured possessions brought with me from San Francisco.
|Visiting June's house felt like coming home. |
The Practical Magic house.
The house endlessly fascinated me. The top floor was known as the nursery and was mostly given over to the children who had a train set which covered a vast area, always set up ready to play. Who would not love a house with both a cellar and an attic? It had French oak floors and the staircase rail was beautifully carved and twisted. Things were always being revealed to me there. One day we decided to enquire what was in the garage. It turned out to house a very old, very beautiful Alvis.
Along with Halloween and Margaret Hamilton, June also loved The Day of the Dead. On the top of a bookcase in the dining room sat a skeleton scene, arranged around a dining table at a meal. She loved Toucans and we marvelled at how she could drink Guinness even though she was a tiny Witch.
A good cook, as you would expect of a Witch, she liked collecting mushrooms and made the best mushroom soup I have ever tasted.
June was not the only magical being in the house at the end of the terrace. Her husband was a word wizard. He knew all sorts of things most people had forgotten. He could quote from Wilde, Shakespeare, Lewis Carrol and many obscure writings. He was an editor and a man well known for his charm and wit. During his working life he made magic for The Sunday Times, World of Interiors, and The Church Times. It was he who first introduced me to Edward Lear and to an antique/junk shop in St Margaret's called Cheney Galleries. I mostly kept a carved oak chair I bought there to remind me of him. On one visit there we found a small sketch which we believed was an Edward Lear. Alas, I do not know what became of that. He was a perfect host and loved having people over for drinks on New Years. On Halloween he stayed out of the way of all the Witches and Ghoulies. He could usually be found in a corner in an old chair, his glasses perched upon his nose behind a newspaper. When anyone was talking a bit of nonsense he had this way of raising one eyebrow and looking at them from over his glasses.
It was a wonderful community to live in and I miss those days. Sundays were spent at a local pub, a walk across the river over Richmond Bridge.
My boyfriend and I moved away from Twickenham and we parted ways. I did not see much of June but I kept in touch. I am very glad that June was still alive when Practical Magic, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were made into films. I hope that she was able to see them all, she would have loved knowing that the magic of storytelling was alive and had been handed to a new generation of children. The last Halloween she sent me a note to tell me that she was grounded due to being unwell. I meant to but I am not good at saying goodbye and I never saw her again.
|all white and neat now|
|a reminder of the once leaded glass windows|
|One of the ornate fireplaces survived the modernisation|
|Minerva and Morpheus Black|
|Mrs Black and her naughty kitten Isabella|
We have been a family of two cats since November two years ago when Mrs Black, missing both her late husband Morpheus, and their much loved kitten Isabella, decided to take in a lodger. He turned out to have quite a tale to tell. He was a distant relative of her late husband who had fallen on hard times when his elderly owner died and his old house was sold from under him. He had lived by various names but he explained in his letter to Mrs Black that his true name was Monsieur Munchkin Lestrange.
He very much regretted that the reputation of his ancient family had been tarnished by the behavior of cousin Bellatrix made famous when J.K Rowling collected the lore and wrote those Harry Potter books.
|Mssr Lestrange potrait|
by celebrated Dutch artist Marie Cecile Thijs
Munchkin had endured being cat napped from his home whie his mistress was gravely ill and bustled off to a new home 10 miles away. Desperate to return to his beloved mistress he escaped and wandered the miles between until some 6 months later he came home. Sadly his mistress had died. Cast out of his home by the new cruel owner who sent the dogs out to kill him, he took up residence in the gardens and solicited the assistance of a neighbour who had long admired the handsome half Maine Coon. Despite her family being allergic to cats, she fed him and helped him find Mrs Black. Nearly three years after the death of his mistress Munchkin finally came indoors to a life of total comfort.
|Mssr. Munchkin Lestrange|
|Mssr Lestrange in the graveyard|
Not being as companionable as Mrs Black had hoped she continued to long for a kitten to brighten her old age. One day, out of the blue, she said that if Munchkin were to pass on before her she would like, more than anything, to have a completely black kitten named Puff. I pondered this confession, and thought how typically considerate of her, knowing Munchkin hated other cats, she would wait until he had passed on. I mentally made a note to warn the husband that a black kitten may be in our future somewhere.
At the end of August while admiring the blood moon from a field at the bottom of our lane the husband and I noticed a young black cat catching a mouse. A bit startled by us she nevertheless carried the struggling mouse out of the field but she lost it in the lane. As I looked over towards her she meowed piteously and ran towards some old sheds which were once field shelters.
We then saw her about the village and in particular underneath our bird feeders at the front of our cottage. She was timid and would always run away. In mid-October things came to a head. Leaving the house to go out I saw the black cat jump onto the bird table to eat the fat balls which I had put out for the birds.
I put down a bowl of cat food. And so it began.
made from old compost bin, newspaper 7 straw.
Two weeks later after building a cat shelter from an old bin and feeding twice a day, we enticed the cat into our cottage with a bowl of food and shut the door. Since then it has lived in our spare bedroom in order to determine it's state of health before introducing it to Mrs Black and Munchkin.
The black cat is a she, between 6-9 months and absolutely, completely, black. Everywhere.
Her name is, of course, Puff. It seems that Mrs Black has been doing some conjuring and the magic of the season helped her to guide this poor homeless waif to her.
Puff passed initial vet checks but we anxiously waited the blood test results to be certain that she was clear of Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Aids. Both Mrs Black and Munchin have compromised immune systems and very heartbreakingly were Puff to have one of the fatal cat diseases she could not stay with us. It would be too much of a risk to them.
There was much celebrating when our vet rang to give us the all clear. Puff is not micro chipped, and we have no history for her. She is timid and frightened of people and although she will cuddle and purr she hides under the chest of drawers when we are not in the room and shies away when you first extend a hand. She has probably been lost or abandoned since a small kitten, but must have at some point been handled and loved for she is not completely feral. We are quite sad that whoever may have owned her before will not know that she is safe and loved not just by us but by Mrs Black.
The vet is unable to be sure if she has been spayed so we must wait and watch to see if she comes into heat. She could even be already pregnant, if she is, it is too early to tell. She is underweight and infested with parasites from the birds and mice which she ate to survive. She must be a very brave and remarkable cat to be able to look after herself from such a young age. But she will be fine and soon introductions can take place between her and Mrs Black. Munchkin no doubt will be completely unimpressed and insist this young cat has no access to 'his' studio in his garden.
We will need to hone our photography skills in order to get good images of Puff, she is so dark.
We are very grateful for being able to help this beautiful homeless cat.
|A mystical version of Santa Claus|
from Arthur Rackham's Book of Pictures published in 1913.
This painting was done in 1907, pen, ink & watercolour on paper, and is in a Private Collection.
Photo © Chris Beetles Ltd, London / The Bridgeman Art Library
I've long been fascinated by the symbolism of the colour red in folklore and how this permeates into our daily life, often without us realising. At this time of year if we think of red, it will be Santa Claus whose red costume springs to the mind of a lot of people.
|Stag hook with red stone and red + blue wool blanket. |
|Robin and holly|
|The Mystic Wood by John William Waterhouse|
All colours have meanings and the power to change our moods. Red is not a colour for wall flowers, it is primal, capable of elicting extreme reactions. How we feel about red today began in the distant past when red was known as the color of fire and blood, associated with Mars the God of war, and confusingly, both mahesty and liberty, therefore revolutions. It also symbolised passion as the colour of love, and of sin.
|Tudor Rose, Elizabethan lady in red velvet, |
Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester.
|Both majesty and revolutions|
|Immortal passion. Gary Oldman in the red cloak of Dracula. Terrifying.|
Even when used in small amounts it has a potent effect and a deep poignancy. Few colours can evoke such emotion.
This is a celebration of the colour red in a few of it's guises. The history and folklore of red has been academically covered by many and for those who wish to read more serious considerations I have included some links at the bottom of the page and am happy to add more should you know of good sources which I have left out.
I've collected lore about the colour red all of my life and am always delighted when another story appears where red is used. I do love them all.
Alas we have no snow this winter, it is just grey and very wet here in the English countryside. I long for that burst of red against a blanket of white, and this greyness inspired me to share some of my favourite reds.
|Little Red Riding Hood|
Sir John Everett Millais P.R.A.
The model is his daughter
oil on panel, 1864
35.5 by 25cm., 14 by 9¾in.
see bottom of page for details about this painting
|Sarah Moon's rendition. |
An urban black and white tale of dread.
The model is her daughter
Superb in it's simplicity.
|Tribute to Red|
from Surface View
|The Red Hat, Charles A Buchel, 1910|
|Imagine winter nights in this|
|The lore of Apples.|
|Bette Davis wears a red ball gown in 1938 and ruins her reputation|
as ladies should wear white
|Scarlett O'Hara on the red stairs|
Gone With The Wind 1939
|Modern Folklore. David Hemmings drives past the red buildings in Blow Up, 1967. |
Sammy Hagar pays tribute with his 'Red' album of the same street scene in 1977.
|Angela Carter. The Bloody Chamber, 1979|
new stories from the base of old ones
including In the Company of Wolves which became the Neil Jorden 1984 film
|Red Shoes & Ruby Slippers |
The Red Shoes (film 1948), The Wizard Of Oz (film 1939)
Vianne from Chocolat (2000) & The Lollipop Shoes (2007) by Joanne Harris
|For sheer poignancy, a real life story|
The girl in the red coat
Schindler's List 1993
For some it may be difficult to chose a favourite tale which has red at it's heart, but not for me. Thankfully the legacy lives on as new storytellers weave tales of dread and delight around bright red tendrils.
|Modern Red, in the Cotswolds|
detail from She Met a Wolf
|One version of Andrew Lang's Red Fairy Book|
bought from Abe's Books Here:
|The only known illustration from Golden Hood|
you can see clearly she is wearing a hood
and not cloak with a hood.
I tried to photograph a few of my Red Riding Hood pieces which I have collected for years, but Puff the half kitten rather got in the way. She likes to lay amongst them and because she is a magic cat the camera always focusses correctly upon her and not other subjects.
|Puff with my Red Riding Hood figures.|
This is a detail of the small Staffordshire figure. The Wolf seems rather shy as he is hiding under Red's skirt. This figurine is quite old and has a crack running through the bottom.
|Small Staffordshire 'Red' detail|
|Parian Ware 'Red' adorned by a Parrish Relic of Wolves|
|My little Red|
Further reading and sources:
Obviously any self respecting fan of Red, and of Wolves needs to read the tale as recorded firstly Charles Perrault, and later told and retold in different versions by the Brothers Grimm. The earliest known printed version was called Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, by Charles Perrault and may have had its origins in 17th-century French folklore. It is believed that it was he who introduced the red hood or cap, but it is not known whether this idea was his own, or came from folklore.
For the alternative tale, The True History of Little Golden Hood from The Red Fairy Book, read more on Tales Of Faerie Here:and the complete tale on Sur La lune Fairytales Here:
I love the writing of author Joanne Harris and have read, and re-read all of her work. She weaves an intoxicating tale with subtle under and overtures. Her own website is Here:
Being a city girl originally I was immediately struck dumb (and captivated and frightened in equal parts) by the urban depiction of Sarah Moon's Red, Here:
Terri Windling who does not just write about the land of Faerie but embodies it has written so many informative and wondrous pieces on her blog, her article about Red, Here:
Kristin's wonderful site Tales of Faerie and her piece about Red. Here:
Article about Sammy Hagar's Red album and the Blow Up connection,
The Girl in the red coat, the real story, Here:
Parrish Relics own website, Here:
Surface View who offer wonderful art for your walls and home in all kinds of mediums,
Red Riding Hood by Sir John Everett Millais P.R.A.
This was sold at Sotheby's in a sale of British and Irish Art, 19 November 2013,for the amount of 98,500 GBP including the hammer price with the buyer's premium.
This note is from their catalogue of that sale.
"Painted in 1864, Red Riding Hood depicts the artist's eldest daughter Effie (later Mrs James), aged six, carrying a basket of vegetables and wild flowers, at the door of Grannie's house. It is one of a series of charming portraits of Effie, dressed in various costumes, including My First Sermon and My Second Sermon painted in 1863 and The Minuet of 1866 (private collection). He often used his daughters as models and Effie's sisters Mary and Carrie appear in Waking (Perth Art Gallery) and Sleeping (private collection) of 1865. As has been pointed out, 'With child models readily available Millais was able to give free expression to feelings of parental pride and joy, as well as offer comment on the growth of his offspring, with an eye on the market for endearing images of children.' (Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith, Millais, 2007, p.172) Millais was probably inspired to paint Red Riding Hood following the success of James Sant's Little Red Riding Hood of 1860 which had been printed in 1863 in the Illustrated London News as a large chromotype which resulted in the sale of vast numbers of the magazine. The subject was also painted by Watts and Landseer. The moment depicted by Millais captures the tension as Red Riding Hood is about to enter the house to find the wolf dressed in her grand-mother's clothes. However the horror and danger of the story that had been first told by Charles Perrault and retold by the Brothers Grimm, is only implied."
|'Catching Butterflies' by Colleen Parker|
|The Dyng Year, Albert Klingner|
We are well into the New Year, and although I do not like to commit to resolutions I think it is not a bad thing to just try harder to finish those things which mean something to us and enhance our lives, and possibly the life of someone else too.
People often ask me why that I write. I think most people who do so would agree with me that it fills some need. I simply must.
|Butterfly gloves by Tiny Owl Knits|
I almost always have thoughts floating round my head and must capture them and put them to paper or page before they fly away. I dislike things being forgotten whether that be people, places or words and images.
The past is full of wisdom and the older that we get we become full too. Where does it all go when we die? It is the ordinary folk who are often forgotten, and with them volumes of stories. So I think I write to share those stories.
|from the things we say|
|The Storyteller, Albert Anker (1850-1899)|
When I was little I was often sat enthralled by the old storytellers in my family, little did I think that one day it would fall to me to tell their tale along with those of many others, and my own.
I usually begin each new year looking backwards at the old one. Just briefly. I am not very good at goodbyes and I like to linger for a little while before moving on.
|Joan Crawford in an art deco revolving door|
The past to me is not a door which you shut firmly behind you. For me it is a revolving door which goes both ways. Always.
Like most of you, last year I said farewell to many familiar people and places. My world is less certain without the guideposts they provided and it will take more time for me to find my balance again. Over the next few weeks I want to try, very hard, to do them justice in putting a little of their stories to the page and sharing this with you so that hopefully, somewhere, sometime, someone will find them again.
Of course this year began with the death of two best beloved storytellers, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman. The loss is felt greatly by many, myself included, but then there are all of the little people who told stories quietly in smaller worlds and yet released them just as well.
Lost things often do become found and in so doing they are new again. If things such as us are remembered I believe we never completely die. Only a part of us does.
I posted last Spring about paper mache eggs and boxes (which I collect) and ended the post with a lovey painting that has haunted me for sometime. I asked readers to leave me a comment should anyone know whose artistic hand had created this piece. The original post is HERE:
|Woman by the fire|
Lionel Percy Smythe
And, someone did. Thank you very much to Paresh Dholakia! It was especially interesting for me to have the name of this artist, Lionel Percy Smythe, because this time last year his work touched me quite deeply when I accidently came across it on a gallery catalogue. I posted a bit about him, and the story of the painting in the catalogue,
I had not guessed at all that this too was by his hand and without the kindness of strangers I may have never known.
I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, is a line from Tennessee Williams'A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)
|Bowie fans lay flowers at the mural created in 2013 by Australian street artist James Cochran.|
The wall of Morley’s department store, in Tunstall Road, Brixton. It was
commissioned as part of the exhibition, 'The Many Faces of Bowie', at Opera Gallery.
|David Bowie by Bab Webbs|
The path out of the woods, just as the path in, is littered with mysterious things, wondrous adventures, and confusing signposts. As I grew up and began to leave what others declared were childish pastimes behind me, I thought I was turning the page upon those fairy tales, dark towers, haunting characters and glass slippers. But as is often the way, the path which I stumbled upon taking me out of childhood was as strewn with potent magic as all of those tales the Brothers Grimm collected and I cherished.
A real treat was to record favourite songs onto a rickety cassette player so that you could turn it up as loud as you liked out of range of your parents.
We often listened to the music which meant the most to us on very poor quality recordings, but it did not matter. It was thrilling. Music, art and fashion were all linked and because we were so young most of us middle class teenagers had not encountered any of this before.
How worldly the rock stars seemed to us, though in fact they were just a few years older. The subjects contained in their lyrics intrigued, and we investigated. It opened doors to new worlds we may not have discovered by ourselves.
Maybe we could be anything. (We could be heroes, just for one day)
|At home in Beckenham, early 70s|
Singers stick in the mind since they are centre stage. Marc Bolan, a minature perfectly formed member of the Faerie, Freddie Mercury, stunningly beautiful, elegant and graceful with a huge presence, Bryan Ferry, very masculine, handsome and charming. Robert Plant, as he himself proclaimed, 'a Golden God'. Mick Jagger, mesmerising and in command.
|The Winterland poster for David Bowie|
My friends and I did not meet, or even speak to David Bowie. But we did have the pleasure of watching him at close quarters. Because we knew the support band we were backstage when Bowie headlined in San Francisco in October 1972, at Bill Graham's Winterland.
|Bowie puts on his Ziggy Stardust face|
The Ziggy Stardust album followed in 1972.
We could only read in the English musical press how that Ziggy hysteria was in full swing in London where fans attended a show at The Rainbow dressed like Ziggy.
In the summer of 1972 he produced Lou Reed's Transformer which included the dark tale of Candy Darling taking her 'Walk On The Wild Side'.He had co-produced Iggy and The Stooges Raw Power. But that was New York, and we were San Francisco where things had a different sound and look. It took awhile for news of this extra terrestial with his Spiders From Mars to be beamed cross the hinterlands of America and land in laid back California. He was a fascinating enigma. Here was this other worldy being, somewhat ethereal, holding court over much harder edged creatures, sounds, looks and words.
He played two nights, October 27th and 28th and spent his days off in San Francisco where Mick Rock shot a promotonal film for The Jean Genie. The song was composed while travelling across the US on a chartered Greyhound bus, recorded in New York and released that November. The promo was filmed at an infamous flop house of a hotel called The Mars. It was located at 192 Fourth Street, corner of Howard, but has been demolished for some years. The location was already part of Northern California folklore, Jack Kerouac had stayed there. Bowie's presence added another layer. Later, in 1974 The Grateful Dead recorded "From the Mars Hotel" at the nearby Automatt. I can remember waiting for a bus in that part of the city and scurrying past The Mars fast. You did not wish to linger there.Although the seedier side of life in a metropolis has always fascinated me. An urban Grimms.
|The Mars Hotel, San Francisco|
|David and Cyrinda Foxe shooting the promo film |
by Mick Rock for The Jean Genie
You can read the whole post about the night, and Bowie's later days HERE:
Many of us would love to have a time machine to take us to the Hammersmith concert where Ziggy Stardust performed for the last time. I was in another country. I never saw Bowie again, tickets sold out, other events took precedence. I was left with a vision of Ziggy, and how he played guitar. Rumour suggested that Bowie had partly created the character from Jimi Hendrix. Many rockstars were otherworldly in those days. When The Who were on the Dick Cavett show he asked Roger Daltrey where he was from and Daltrey quickly replied, 'Mars'. There was so much stardust about.And I wanted to gather armfuls of it while I could.
As I grew up, moved around and lived my own life David Bowie was part of the soundtrack in the background. I never knew him, but he often touched me. In hard times when I felt out of my comfort zone,a stranger living in a suburban town where I felt I did not belong, I reached for his music.
|Bowie and Cyrinda, San Francisco|
|Earthling tour, wearing Alexander McQueen, 1997.|
Maybe, just maybe, my favourite photo of him
Since he has died the press have struggled with words, failing to capture what he was, who he was. All that he was and could be. What a massive legacy he left us.
'Chameleon' has often been used to describe him. It's true he had a changable quality, but not like a chameleon who alters to be invisible in it's surroundings to protect itself from predators.
Bowie was not hiding, he enjoyed being in plain sight, though he teased us with his role playing and his clues. He was storytelling.
He was shapeshifting. He was mercurial.
He knew he could show us things we had not even dreamed of.
I did not love every song or era which Bowie presented to us. But often I would return to it later. I would not have even said that he was my favourite artist, and yet I know that everything that he did was absolutely astonishing. He was not a rock star, he was more, so much more. He was a master of the craft. An Artist who brought so much to his work, who lived in many cultures and places. Shape shifting, shedding skins and taking on new ones.
|Mr. Fish's Man Dress, designed by British fashion designer Michael Fish. |
the cover of the U.K. release of The Man Who Sold The World
It is especially interesting to me to look back now and realise that although "The Jean Genie" spent 13 weeks in the UK charts, and peaked at no. 2, as Bowie's biggest hit thus far, in the US the best it achieved back then was No. 71. It took most of America a very long time to get Bowie, but he still chose to live there. And oh how England missed him.
|DCI Gene Hunt, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes|
|A line of his character Gareth, The Goblin King, from Labyrinth|
We hadn't forgotten about him, we missed him. And then, in January 2013 he returned as quietly as he had gone. And it was as if he had never left us. The single 'Where Are we Now' appeared on iTunes on his 66th birthday, with no explanation, as if we had conjured it. The timing and the method was his own idea. The video has all of his old magic, puppets and snippets from his life. He left Tony Visconti to be what one reporter called, 'his voice on Earth' and field questions from the press.
‘The Stars Are Out’ was the second single and the video for the song appeared in February. It's a beautifully filmed and bizarre story (by Canadian Director Floria Sigismondi)with Bowie and Tilda Swinton as a handsome, immaculately dressed older couple living in a perfect home. For some reason it is fascinating to watch them shopping, perfectly attired and coiffed, bringing their goods home in a plain brown paper bag to the small but classic kitchen. Tilda's stroke of pale blue eyeliner is genius. They do ordinary things so elegantly but watching this confirms your suspicions that David Bowie could never have been ordinary. Their lives are magazine covers until they are 'bothered' by young neighbours who follow, haunt and torment them. The characters slip in and out of each other's roles, the older Bowie meets the younger one, and the perfect Tilda, driven mad by 'the stars' ends up serving raw chicken to her husband. Andreja Pejic and Saskia de Brauw are 'the stars' who make their life a nightmare. A young Bowie is played in the video by Iselin Steiro. Maybe this was his way of saying how that we never escape the past, it is always a part of us. This must have been great fun to film and I have not yet tired of watching it.
|The Stars (are out tonight)|
|'The Next Day' video characters gathered|
Later in 2013 'The Next Day' was on the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize list for Album of the year, and Bowie premiered a video to another single he had released from the album, 'Love is Lost'. The footage included wooden puppets of Pierrot and The Thin White Duke created for him by Jim Henson's Creature Shop for an unreleased video in the past. It was Bowie's idea, written, and shot in his New York office just a week before the awards ceremony. Apparently the cost of creating the video was a mere $12.99, the flash drive he bought to be able to save the video onto his camera.
All of the personas which he created remain untouched by time, somehow as fresh as when new, whole for him, and for us, to revisit. Bowie was always comfortable flitting in and out of his past, time travel was easy for him. New generations can wonder. Bowie was a master storyteller in the very best tradition. Each of his fans have their favourite period, but most of us were touched by them all.
|Bowie and Twiggy, the cover for Pin Ups, 1973|
|Diamond Dogs 1974|
|In 1978 Bowie narrated Peter and the Wolf|
with the Philadelphia Orchestra
|Ashes to Ashes,1980|
The Blue Clown, or Pierrot, was made for Bowie by costume designer Natasha Korniloff
for his Ashes to Ashes video, and was also used on the cover of Scary Monsters.
|The man Who Fell to Earth |
Nic Roeg's science fiction film
|In mime makeup, 1968|
by Ray Stevenson
|The Man Who Fell to Earth|
Although outrageous when young, Bowie aged gracefully. A rarity amongst rock stars and celebrities. He was unlike others. More than all of that. He transcended categories. That beautiful bone structure. The fascination in his voice. The straight at us gaze.
Just days after his death, Suzy Menkes from Vogue would say in a tribute to him, "He pushed boundaries that by now have grown into an entire fashion landscape".
|Tweeter Center, Tinley Park,|
Photo by Adam Bielawski.
|backstage at the Glastonbury Festival, |
coat designed by Alexander McQueen
June 25, 2000
|With his daughter, 2000|
Camera press, Brian Aris
|a ragged suit and scarf in 2004|
his last tour
Kate Moss channelled Bowie for the cover of French Vogue in January 2012.
German Vogue also paid homage to Bowie as Daphne Guinness donned Ziggy Stardust makeup and was snapped by photographer Brian Adams.
In March 2012, The Crown Estate unveilled a commemorative plaque to David Bowie’s creation, Ziggy Stardust, marking the 40th anniversary of his album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars’.
|23 Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, London, W1|
shot by the late Brian Ward in black and white and then hand coloured by artist Terry Pastor.
23 March – 11 August 2013. 'David Bowie is' exhibition spanning his whole career at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The David Bowie Archive gave unprecedented access to the V&A who featured handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie's own instruments. It was the fastest selling exhibition in the long history of the museum.
The exhibition is now touring internationally.
|David Bowie at the V&A, the fastest-selling exhibition in the museum's history|
Louis Vuitton's October 2013 advert L'Invitation Au Voyage gives
a nod to the ballroom scene from Labyrinth.
|David looks right at home in Louis Vuitton's costumed|
|One of three images chosen for Nothing Has Changed 2014|
designer Jonathan Barnbrook
|Thought to be the last photograph session.|
For Black Star, by his friend Jimmy King
Wearing a Thom Browne suit
|David and Iman|
I am so sorry that his life was not longer than it was and my heart breaks for his wife, children and all of those fortunate enough to have known and worked with him. I am glad that he had found haven with his family and that he also found the energy and inspiration at the end to work once more.
Looking back while writing this, listening to his music, watching the videos, reading tributes, remembering. It becomes impossible to include everything, it is so vast. And I did not set out to write a definitive guide to David Bowie. Just to bow before him, say thank you and share some of my own favourite images and times in his life.
He did so very much and also refused offers of this much again for work he either did not wish to be a part of, or was not able to complete in his time allocated. We know that there would have been so much more to come had his light not gone out.
He liked to revisit many of the stories which he previously told us. The single he released unexpectedly in 2013, 'Where Are We Now' was full of references about his days in Berlin. Now there are even more hints to unravel. Characters, costumes, places and traces of songs of which he, and we, are fond. His last wonderful gift to us, and a massive legacy, which may take us sometime to understand fully. What it means to each of us is immeasurable.
|The girl with the cat tail. |
In a Labyrinth like landscape
Remember the cat like girl in the Absolute Beginners video?
|Major Tom, alien landscape and the girl with the tail|
|Is Major Tom a jewelled skull?|
Some of the best Tributes:
|"We're painting our faces and dressing in thoughts"|
Tori Amos, on twitter January 11th
|The Shepherds Bush Empire|
|farewell from Brixton Acadamy|
|Poignant fan photograph. Saying goodbye.|
|The Stars Look Very Different Today|
The New Yorker
|Paper Angels left by fan in Manchester|
|Remembered by fans and friends. Kate Moss.|
|London newstand following his death|
|The very emotional tribute at the Brit Music Awards|
Sources: I like to credit sources and have done my best, but have failed in many in this post. This may be a post that I revisit after time has passed. If anything I have shared belongs to someone uncredited I am more than happy to include if you let me know.
And on this subject I must say a thank you to my friendAbigail who posted on facebook the quote from Shakespeare. In doing so she perfectly captured how many of us felt and sparked the idea for this piece.
"For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings"
~ Act 3, Scene 2, Richard II, William Shakespeare
A Tumblr account
Did this tumblr page belong to Bowie?
Interesting theory here about a tumblr page which surfaced just before Bowie released his material to the public. Beautifully fascinating.
Read more about Bowie and all of his material from these sites:
David Bowie Official Site
VOGUE MAGAZINE 11 January 2016, Gender Blending - David Bowie Fashion Legacy,by Suzy Menkes HERE:
Red Cotton Candy - A very good post on how he influenced fashion, beautifully illustrated with images HERE:
Michael Collins Morton's blog Nonfiction HERE:
|The elaborate carvings at the top of The Gothic Wardrobe|
of vine leaves, gothic arches and Tudor roses
I'm busy Spring cleaning and have just dusted the carvings on this Gothic Wardrobe. Which reminded me that I have yet to tell this tale. Being an Autumn child this season usually brings me interesting adventures and forays. Last Autumn we found ourselves making a very long drive to pick up a magical wardrobe which I found for sale on ebay.
This post could have been called 'the haunted dressing table', as the antiques dealer we bought this gorgeous and unusual cupboard from shared a very scary tale with us about a dressing table she had bought from a seller who insisted that it was haunted. A ticket which she found in a drawer led her to believe the story of the piece of furniture. But, this post is just about our wardrobe, which we love. Perhaps another time the storyteller may allow me to share her tale.
|The Gothic Cottages|
prettiest cottage of those in which we live
The workers cottages in which we live are known locally and on history pages as 'the gothic cottages'. They are rather simple, nothing elaborate, but they do echo some gothic design in their front doors, leaded windows and the garden paths of black stone bricks.
|Mrs Black strikes a pose in a gothic leaded window|
|An oak carving of a Queen's Head|
|My husband's gothic mantle clock|
which strikes prettily at the hour
|One of my gothic candlesticks|
|A little gothic Owl|
But I longed for something larger. And then I found it!
|Strawberry Hill by Johann Muntz|
When we lived near London we were walking distance to Horace Walpole's famous Strawberry Hill, the fantastical gothic house which he had built in Georgian times. In those days it was in need of refurbishment but it has since been saved and is as resplendent as it was in his day.
The moment that I saw the wardrobe on ebay it reminded me of Strawberry Hill.
|Strawberry Hill library bookcase detail|
|The Gothic Wardrobe carvings|
|A niche at Strawberry Hill|
|A carved gothic arch on our wardrobe|
|The Gothic Wardrobe in all it's glory|
I love dark wood, especially oak, and it had been painted, but the colours highlighted the carvings and the pale blue would go so well in the newly painted spare bedroom. There is a purity to pale blue shades, they seem to shine with an eerie ethereal light that is both haunting and illuminating. A bedroom has been painted in Farrow and Ball 'Borrowed Light' and if you saw how it reflects the light in the mornings and at dusk you would know that the name is perfect.
How many times have you seen something which really delighted you and which better judgement prevented you from having? These are some of mine.
|Gothic looking Royal Albert roses teacup|
|Art Deco black cat brooch|
|This red velvet Opera coat on Etsy. Sigh.|
Yes, me too, the long list of beautiful things forsaken, yet remembered. I had to have it.
|The Gothic Wardrobe|
|Black & White with leaded windows in Ledbury|
|Hampton Court Castle|
Being solid oak it took four of us to lift it into the back of our car. The seller did warn us, (while stiffling a giggle) that it was extremely heavy when I mentioned that I hoped it would go upstairs in our spare bedroom. We had to remove the door to lift it into our cottage. I can laugh now, but it was definitely an adventure. Despite measuring we found that it would not go up our small winding stairs. It was just that bit too wide, and far too heavy. Sigh. It would have looked so beautiful in the bedroom.
|One of our old galleon models sits on top of The Gothic Wardrobe.|
It dwells in our garden room taking up a whole wall. The previous owner of our cottage loved blue and this room has pale bue/grey tiling and window blinds. We use this room as a dining room and have an old oak carved table and bench which are more Arts and Crafts, but goes well with the wardrobe. Technically it will cease to be a wardrobe soon as we plan to add more shelves as storage for china and food items. An old model of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind sits upon the top of it.
|It's beautiful right down to the bottom|
where a small heart is carved into the heavy oak
I've had to sell a very nice mid century, wallpapered kitchen cupboard to make room for this, but I think the old cupboard suits us better. Upon asking if there was any history for it the seller told us that she had bought it at a local sale but that her Mother had said that she had seen cupboards just like in churches by the confessionals where you would hang your coats. I'd love to know more about it and if anyone has ever come across one similar please leave me a comment.
So .... what am I going to put on that wall in the bedroom? Watch this space.
The website of Strawberry Hill is HERE:
Read and see sumptous photos of Strawberry Hill on Jacqueline@Home
|The Queen Mother with the then Princess Elizabeth, 1937|
Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II.
This week seems to be one of anniversaries, some good and some bad. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte, the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare who is believed to have died on what would have been his 52nd birthday, and of course, the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest reigning monarch. Which is perhaps all the more remarkable because she was not born to be Queen.
|In the beginning|
Princess Elizabeth in her pram in 1929
I understand that not everyone believes that having a monarchy rather than a republic benefits ordinary people. But I do. Having been born in a country without monarchy and now lived more than half of my life in Britain I have seen what differences there are and I prefer the royals, for better or for worse. It is a misunderstanding to believe that getting rid of a monarchy will make it's citizens more equal. All that will happen is that the castles will fall down or be lived in by politicians without any sense of duty or history.
|Princess Elizabeth aged 7, 1933|
Philipe de Laszlo
And anyway who wants a collection of political memorabilia when you can have a royal collection?
There is nothing like a crown, as I am certain William Shakespeare would agree.
|Queen Elizabeth I, |
Coronation portrait by unknown artist
National Gallery London
|The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II|
Some of my favourite moments, and portraits in the long life of Queen Elizabeth II.
|Formal portrait by William Dargie|
|By David Poole|
|The official Diamond Jubilee portrait|
|Riding down the course before racing|
at Royal Ascot 1961
|Riding in Windsor Great Park|
|Epsom Derby Meeting, with the Queen Mother. |
"I told you that would win!"
|Daniel Craig picks her up! |
(under the watchful eyes of those Corgies)
|The Queen's homebred fily Estimate wins the|
Ascot Gold Cup for her.
If you enjoy the momarchy you might like to read two other posts about them.
The story of how we went to London to see the Queen on the Diamond Jubilee in 2012,
And you can read about The Sport of Kings, Here:
|Prince in his Little Red Corvette.|
Growing up in California in a fairly poor family and a run down area I had to find entertainment which cost nothing. A favourite past time was walking to the Boulevard and watching cars go by. There was a well to do neighborhood nearby and I could always tell which cars came from there. One in particular which I loved. A Little Red Corvette.
|The man pushed boundaries|
but he sure could dress
Life was hard and childhood was short. Even before a lot of them left school they had children to feed and too many bills to pay. Most of the kids who attended this school did not dream of other lives, or doing great things. They knew their reality and they just wanted to survive the best that they could. And have some fun. They lived life fast, as if they were scared that it would run out before they had used it all up. They taught me so much and imparted the most important lesson upon me - You have to dance, and love hard, while you can.
By the time that Prince came onto the scene I had been grown up for a very long time and was living in a different country. Listening to him brought back memories of those early days, how free it was when we danced. And when I first heard Little Red Corvette I was mesmerised. Those lyrics, at once risky and liberating. He was the Prince of one night stands. The love child of 'Will you still love me tomorrow' and Little Richard.
|Prince and his magic wardrobe|
|All gold leaf, with serpent eyeliner, like a Jackie Morris painting|
|bedecked, bejewelled, embellished|
As news of his death was released shocked fans began to pay tribute. City Halls lit up with purple lights and twitter sang his story.
|San Francisco City Hall illuminated for Prince|
|Hard Rock Cafe, New York|
New York's Hard Rock cafe paid tribute to him by featuring his lyrics on the front of its restaurant in the heart of Times Square - in the city where he announced just last month that he would be writing a memoir.
Projected on a purple background the sign read:
Tori Amos in concert in 2014. I love how she has combined her version of Little Red Corvette with Stay With Me, the torch song by Shakespeare's Sister. The sound quality is not great, but close your eyes and listen. If only Prince could have stayed a little longer.
The idea to turn City Hall in San Francisco purple came from local writer Eve Batey, who made her request on Twitter.
Jack Hamilton writes
The story behind Little Red Corvette
|William Shakespeare detail from The Cobbe portrait|
Known to be Shakespeare
"He was not of an age, but for all time."
William Shakespeare is a man for all seasons though in truth we barely know the man himself at all. Many of the images purported to be of him are not confirmed, and although we believe that he was born on the 23rd of April and also died on that date 52 years later, this too is only a best guess. It is amazing that so few details exist of a man whose words remain woven deeply within the tapestry of so many of our lives.
|The Grafton Portrait,|
possibly the young Shakespeare
how we see The Bard
Shakespeare In Love
We often quote him in our daily language, without even knowing it. Much of the art created to illustrate his characters is familar to us all. Artists continue to illustrate his words and writers to pay homage to his lines with new poems, plays and novels spun from fragments of him.
|A best beloved Shakeseare painting|
The ethereal Miranda from The Tempest
John William Waterhouse
|A Midsummer Night's Dream|
|Royal Doulton plate|
|Michael Fassbender and Marion Corillard in a magnificent version of MacBeth|
Many are the actors who have graced the stage and screen as one of his players or paid tribute to his time in films about him.
|Judi Dench, a magnificent Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love|
So much has been written about his skill to conjure images with words that I doubt I can add anything to the tributes for him in this 400th anniversary of his death.
|* copyright RSC and the BBC|
There will be events throughout the year, both large and small to commemorate him and his work, some of which I am lucky enough to be attending. This special celebration, by the Royal Shakespeare Company, conceived and directed by Gregory Doran and hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate may remain my favourite. A wonderful cast of players took part, (with a surprise appearance from Prince Charles!) the content was inspiring, the stage imaginative and the costumes magical.
|Ralph Fiennes at Shakespeare's house in Straford|
* copyright RSC and the BBC
It was lovely to see that in an attempt to bring it to a wider audience than those who could be present at Stratford it was screened at cinemas around the world, shown live on the BBC and it will be available to buy on DVD shortly from the RSC Shop.
|Fairy wings, glimmering|
* copyright RSC and the BBC
|To Be, or Not To Be|
Hamlet with Judi Dench, Tim Minchin, Harriet Walker, David Tennant, Paapa Essiedu, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear & Sir Ian Mckellan.
* Photo by Helen Maybanks copyright RSC
It is splendid throughout with scenes from many of Shakespeare's most loved plays including Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Twelth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and, the Scottish Play. My own favourites are at the end when Dame Helen Mirren, David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Dame Judi Dench and David Suchet speak the parts of Prospero, Puck, Titania and Oberon and bid us goodnight. Bravo to the whole company!
|Dame Helen Mirren as Prospero|
dressed all in black against a black starry stage
* copyright RSC and the BBC
These our actors, As I foretold you,
were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers,
the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples,
the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff As dreams are made on,
and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1
|David Tennant as Puck|
* copyright RSC and the BBC
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow’d house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
A Midsummer-Night’s Dream
Act V. Scene II.
|David Suchet & Judi Dench|
Oberon & Titania
* copyright RSC and the BBC
Oberon. Through the house give glimmering light
By the dead and drowsy fire;
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty after me
Sing and dance it trippingly.
Titania. First, rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
Oberon. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
Ever shall in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest.
Make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.
[Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and Train.
|Oberon & Titania and a sea of fairy lights|
* copyright RSC and the BBC
|David Tennant and cast|
* copyright RSC and the BBC
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I’m an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends
And Robin shall restore amends.
Images marked by a * are copyright of the RSC and the BBC
Watch Again, Until the 23rd of May, you can watch it on the BBC iplayer, Here:
Read more about the Royal Shakespeare Company, Here:
Read More about this tribute Here:
In the Daily Mail, Here:
This summer in the English countryside has seen no sign of Flaming June. It has been a landscape of muddy blues and greens and purple haze. As June comes to a rainy end we revisit the revelries which happened on one warm night.
Did you bring your Beasts with you?
The previous post to this was a tribute to William Shakespeare, who I never tire of. As you may have guessed ~ this is a favourite book of mine from Rare Books.
Please ~ do not despair
Indeed we too care ~
All images will be credited to owners and creators in due course, once we have recovered from the Midsummer Night's Dream!
|Beatrix Potter levels her strong gaze at the camera as a child|
I hate missing anniversaries, and of course as history steadfastly carries on further down the path the chances to stand still to enjoy an anniversary becomes more scarce.
|Beatrix aged 10|
I love the little pointy hat!
But this one seems impossible to ignore. Resist the pull of time to take just a moment to remember the magic of Beatrix Potter on what is her 150th birthday.
|Beatrix Potter book shelf, from Stella Books,|
where you can usually purcahse vintage copies of the books.
As a child I did not come into contact with the wonderful words and illustrations she created. Alice, Oz and Wind in the Willows were my childhood companions. My first encounter with Beatrix Potter's world came much later when I began to spend a lot of time in libraries and back tracked to all the children's literature that I had missed.
Beatrix often claimed that this book was her favourite and she certainly put a lot into the research for the text and llustrations. The story was born in May 1894 during a visit to her cousin Caroline Hutton at Harescombe Grange, which lies five miles south of Gloucester. There she heard the tale of John Pritchard (1877-1934) a very poor Gloucester tailor commissioned to make a suit for the new mayor. When he fell ill it looked as if the suit would not be completed in time. But he returned to his shop on the Monday morning to find the suit completed except for one buttonhole. A note attached read, "No more twist". His assistants had finished the coat in the night, but Pritchard encouraged a fiction that fairies had done the work and the incident became a local legend. The real Pritchard lived at the same time as Beatrix, but she set her tale in the 18th century and made her poor tailor an old one so poor that he could only afford to rent the kitchen in the house where he lived near to his shop.
|The new suit for the mayor|
"Her sketches are so accurate that it is possible to identify the original garments, including the mayor’s waistcoat, ‘worked with poppies and corn-flowers’, in the V&A’s collections."
She visited the costume department at the South Kensington Museum to observe details of 18th century dress.
I come from a long line of seamstresses stretching back farther than I know. My love of textile began in my early years playing at my Great Grandmother's feet with velvet and silk scraps she used for making patchwork quilts. We sewed because of being poor not because of any great talent or need to create. But still, there was a kind of stitch witchery at work as being able to do so gave us great satisfaction as we honed our skills.
No surprise then that my favourite Potter illustrations are those which involve the art of stitching. The Tailor Of Gloucester is so delightful. I love Mice (remember the sewing Mice in Cinderella?) and the illustrations of them are so charming. I also love how the unsuspecting Tailor has help to finish his wares, and the drawings of Simpkin the Tailor's Cat are wonderful. As are the architectural illustrations. Beatrix Potter was a lady of immense talent. (The latest drawings found at Melford Hall are masterful).
|From The Tailor of Gloucester
Simpkin and The Tailor set out for work
|The Tailor at work, with help from the Mice!|
|The Tailor off home.|
|Simpkin and his master|
|Beatrix Potter with Her Pet Mouse Xarifa, 1885. Cotsen Children's Library. |
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Princeton University Library
This book always makes me smile when I take it from the shelf and find once more the little Mice amongst the wonderfully pretty china that I should very much like on my own china dresser.
|Simpkin hides the twist from the Tailor|
|Out stepped a lively Mouse who made a curtsey to the Tailor.|
|The gentleman Mouse bows.|
|Beswick tailor Mouse|
I was late to discover Potter but as soon as I did I knew she was a keeper. I cherish the book I have and a Beswick Mouse inspired by her story.
|The Beatrix Potter Shop & Museum in Gloucester|
|Simpkin in a drawer in the shop!|
Their own website says, "After an appeal in the local newspaper, in 2006 funds were raised to purchase the freehold of the building. The heritage behind the House of the Tailor of Gloucester is secure. It is now a museum with a gift shop run by volunteers. Visitors may enjoy the tailor’s kitchen where Simpkin keeps watch over his captured mice. Upstairs they can read a brief history of the original tailor, John Prichard, and view a small collection of Potter memorabilia. After watching the automaton where the mice work on the waistcoat, there is the shop where there is hopefully something for everyone. This magical experience is free and everyone can enjoy it."
I loved Miss Potter the 2006 film about her life and work and think that it captured her as I feel that she was. That twinkle in her eye, the smile at the corners of her mouth, and finally the sorrow which haunted her for the rest of her life when her fiancé died so young. She was a strong woman, and looking at the photograohs of her as a child I note that she had no fear of the camera. her gaze is steady.
I'm so glad that the great gift which she left to history, and the home she gave to the National Trust preserve her memory and her work for future generations to enjoy.
|Beatrix and her Brother Bertram|
|The most wonderful shot of her
Beatrix aged 25 with rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, 1891. © Frederick Warne & Co.
|From Miss Potter|
Victoria and Albert Museum, Here:
Her Wiki page, Here:
Stella Books, Here:
The Tailor Of Gloucester shop, Here:
Recently found unknown sketches by her, at the National Trust property Melford Hall
Read about them, Here:
A really lovely article about the book, from 2012, which includes the pages that were edited out of the pubished book about how Simpkin wanderedr the streets in the snow on Christmas Eve and could hear the animals talking . on Tyger.com, Here: