Tuesday, 26 May 2015

French Riviera

Sunshine has finally hit Cornwall; the weather has been gorgeous all weekend. I made the most of it and spent yesterday on the beach eating pizza and sunning myself- something I very rarely do due to my pale pale complexion!

Now that the sun has come out to play I can get on with one of my ambitions for this year. It might seem a little strange but I cannot swim! I have tried very very hard to learn over the years but it's never gone very well at all. At the beginning of this year I vowed I'd learn, it's so silly to live right by the sea and not be able to hop in! I have a whole variety of vintage swimsuits which until now have been relegated to pool lounging but no longer; they will now get a chance to fulfil their true purpose. I've been so embarrassed for so long about not being able to swim that I hardly told a soul for years, I realised recently that quite a few people I know can't which made me feel a lot better about telling people. I've  met lots of people who have managed to overcome their worries and gone on to become keen swimmers. I'd love know if any of you have any advice or experience on learning to swim later in life? 

In honour of this momentous event (I haven't even stepped into a pool since I was 15 and had a panic attack on sports day when I was supposed to swim laps!) I donned my best 1920s riviera get-up and splashed around in a make-shift pool on my roof.

I've always loved the cool collected calm of Hockey's pool paintings and delightfully flat perspective. I dream of being able to jump in and swim about (hopefully soon..!)

A bigger splash, David Hockney, 1967
Source: 1 

Likewise with 1920s French Riviera posters. The Riviera has been on my mind a lot due to Riviera Style which opened this weekend at the Fashion & Textile Museum, I can't wait to visit when I'm in London in July. I'm also about to book a holiday, I've been umming and ahhing over the south of France or Spain (Barcelona probably). It's such a tough decision but these posters make me think perhaps France might win out. 

Source: 2
Source: 3

My outfit also takes hints from synchronised swimmers (they are after all the masters- I don't think I'll ever quite reach their heights.)
1950s synchronised swimmers
Source: 4
1950s synchronised swimmers
Source: 5

The jumpsuit I have had since I was about 14, handed down to me from my mum who used to wear it out and about in the 80s. I adore it and really wish it was a swimming costume (if anyone has any tip offs for 1920s bathing suits I'd be delighted!)

The scarf I'm wearing is a Collier Campbell one that my mum found in a charity shop and gave me for Christmas; needless to say I was very happy! My mum did used to have a Collier Campbell bag in the Cote d'Azure print which would have been wholly appropriate for this post, sadly in a moment of grumpy teenage huffiness I rejected it when it was offered to me.

Cote d'Azure, Collier Campbell
Source: 6
 I have no idea if I'll manage to learn to swim, I hope so, if not I'm quite happy with my make-shift pool and lounging on a towel sipping cocktails. I hope you're all having fun in the sun, I'm off to buy ingredients for a bbq now. Au revoir!

Outfit Details

1980s playsuit - belonged to my mum

knitted cloche hat - knitted by a friend to a 1920s pattern

Geometric scarf - Collier Campbell (via a charity shop)

Suede shoes - Fly


Monday, 18 May 2015

The Art of Mourning

These photographs seem so different to last set I posted here. My last post, pre-election, was fiery and optimistic; of course we all know what the results were- 5 more years of David and his bunch merry men. It's incredibly upsetting and disheartening, when I first heard the results I wanted to bury my head under a pillow and never rise again. Of course that is not at all realistic and one has to carry on. I've since embarked on lots of positive projects and I've been thinking of ways I can help and be kinder to those around me. 

The feelings I had on May 8th made make me think of all those women who have taken to their beds over the years and in turn those who remained in mourning dress for their entire lives. So here is my ode to those who will loose out under the rule of Dav Cam (clue: the poor, sick, young, elderly etcetcetc);  I am in mourning for what they will lose and what we could have gained had the voting system been fairer (sign this if you want to see a reform).

These images were inspired by early Autochromes (partly due to seeing these beautiful photographs by Mervyn O'Gorman last month), I love the ghostly quality to the colour and very soft focus.
Iris & Jane, 1914, Elthelreda Laing.
Source: 1

Source: 2
by Alphonese Van Besten
Source: 3

and of course Victorian Mourning photographs, which are beautiful and bizarre in equal quantities.

Source: 4

Whilst taking these I thought a lot about colour. There is the most beautiful book of Victorian textile samples at Central Saint Martin's Museum & Study Collection where I used to work. I used to love looking through it and seeing the astounding variety of colours that the Victorians used in their garments. They get such a bad rep for being all doom and gloom and dark colours, it really couldn't be further from the truth. They did of course love mourning dress but when not in mourning their clothes were a riot of colour. I can't find a picture of the beautiful book I loved so much but here are  some Jacquard samples from the V&A's collection. 

Jacquard-woven silk with a design of waterlilies, made by J & W Robinson & Co., about 1851, England. Source: 5

French textile samples
Source: 6

The dress I'm wearing is actually a dusky pink with black lace & velvet trims. The Victorians were truly masterful at thinking how certain colours would photograph in black & white and sepia. I tried to think this through too, particularly in my lipstick choice; the darkest shade I own, Inhibition by Topshop

I've had the dress for several years and have hardly worn it. It has a detachable bustle which looks fabulous but is rather difficult for moving around. However, I did rather enjoy swishing about in it so it might have to have a proper outing soon.  

I'm thinking of printing these and hand-tinting them too so they make an appearance soon. 

I hope you are all having a good start to the week, the rain is wild here so I'm going to stay in this evening and get some reading done! 

Linking up with Visible Monday

Outfit Details

Satin ex-theatre dress and bustle in victorian style - a Christmas gift

Staffordshire porcelain brooch - car boot sale

Hand shaped ring - Butler & Wilson  


Sunday, 3 May 2015


If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen I recently posted about my badge collection. I've always been a badge collector; as a child I collected them at every house, garden or event we visited and I've continued in that vein ever since. As a teenager I bought a collection of badges at a car boot sale for a fiver, within the box resided a complete history of every event, campaign and place the person had visited over a lifetime. Since then I've amassed hundreds more from exhibitions and car boots and a few choice ones from Ebay.

Recently I've been thinking about why I find badges so fascinating. I think what I love about them most is their ability to get across a very short, snappy message in just a few words or a carefully designed image. They can instantly align you with a movement or political party. They can help you make friends or enemies in seconds. I also love how they track both a personal and cultural history. I have so many that have messages that are completely lost in time; long lost campaigns to get children to pick up litter or say NO to strangers or my personal favourite 'WIMPEY WELCOME HOME'. 

Anyway, in possibly the most important election week ever I thought what better time to don every single badge I own. I've been feeling the need to shout out recently. A number of frustrating things have been happening but I've realised more than ever before that my mum's favourite phrase 'don't get sad get mad' is true (see below for the Bash Street Kid's version- Don't get even, Get MAD!). 

The outfit is mainly inspired by a number of groups; mainly subcultures- punks, casuals, skinheads they all used badges to get their message across (whether political or otherwise):

Source: 1
Source: 2
and protest groups and marches:
Source: 3 (watch Pride if you haven't already, a fab film about LGSM)
Source: 4  (walked past a CND shop in Exeter on Friday, amazed to see it was still in full force)
Also pearly kings and queens, for their abundant use of buttons to cover every possible space:

Source: 5
There are some badges that take on a life of their own, The Museum of London has a particularly good collection of political badges, here are some of my favourites:

Votes for Women, tin badge, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, 1909-1910

Nuclear Power No Thanks, designed by Ann Lund & Soren Lisburg, C.1980

I didn't Vote Tory, c.1979

The t-shirt I got at a kilo sale several years ago, it's my absolute favourite. The pattern is a rip of Collier Campbell's Bauhaus print (which they reproduced in several colour ways for Liberty) which in turn ripped off Gunta Stolzl's original tapestry

Collier Campbell's Bauhaus print, in original colour way, designed for Liberty, Source: V&A
Slit Tapestry Red/Green, 1927/8, Gunta Stolzl - Source: 6

I hope you'll be voting on Thursday. It really is of the upmost importance that you do, even if you feel compelled to spoil your ballot. I will be, I spent a long time umming about who I'd be voting for. Cornwall has been Lib Dem for longer than I've been in existence but thankfully due to their series of seriously big blunders I think it could change. My vote is on Green, they are the only party I have any hope in. I don't agree with everything they are proposing but over half will have to do. I'm feeling the need for radical change; if the Tories get in I've already made a pact to leave the country. It might seem drastic but I just don't think I can take another four years with hamface cam.

In other news I made this last night:

Getting What We Need (30 things an artist needs to survive)
You can't make it out too well, due to the terrible phone quality but it's: A woolly jumper, strength, patience, a diary, an espresso pot, a hot water bottle, blue tac, materials, a phone, R.E.S.P.E.C.T, water, space, gaffer tape, a brain, sleep, soap, ideas, string, shoes, time, love, food, a sense of humour, light, talent (?), energy, resistance, a roof over our head, a radio (tuned to 92.1 fm), money & bubble wrap (congrats to the first person who points out that there are 31 things...)

I hope you're all having excellent weekends. As you can tell I've been feeling frustrated it's changing though, and I always think you have to get a bit mad to incite change in your life. I'm planning a couple of trips away, I'm feeling a ardent need to escape and taste life elsewhere for a while.

Outfit Details

Levi 501s - Charity shop

Fcuk 1990s denim jacket - Car boot sale ( I have another of these that belonged to my mum in the 90s, probably the most worn item in my wardrobe as it's now in shreds)

1970s rip off Collier Campbell Bauhaus print t-shirt - Vintage Kilo Sale

Seasalt neckerchief - Seasalt sale shop

Vintage badges - car boot sales/ ebay