Monday, 19 September 2016

Ancient Scent

As summer draws to a close and Autumn has firmly set in I've looking back at all the things I've done and woweee has it been busy. August was especially packed. I had the Happy Tat sale which was a delight and then a mammoth car boot sale, and I'm now entering the new season feeling a whole lot lighter and brighter. 

 I've also been knee deep in preparations for Ancient Scent which is coming up at the beginning of October (7th-10th). We've had so many wonderful and fortuitous things happen around the project. The launch evening will take place on October 8th and will include a full programme of discussion, readings and performances. We're very lucky to have Richard Shillitoe and Marcus Williamson (both Ithell Colquhoun experts and enthusiasts) lending us some real deal Ithell Colquhoun's for the evening and holding a short discussion alongside member of Ancient Scent, Steve Patterson. 

About month ago my mum, Penny MacBeth, who is also a part of Ancient Scent, received a forwarded email through a curator and friend at Penlee House Gallery and Museum detailing that Peter Owen Press were soon to re-launch Ithell Colquhoun's two travelogues The Crying of the Wind and The Living Stones with a new foreword by Stewart Lee.  Penlee held the first retrospective of Colquhoun's work last January but weren't looking for any further Colquhoun events. After many emails, a trip to the Peter Owen offices and a few calls we arranged to also host the launch of the two books at our launch of the exhibition. It's incredibly exciting that the books will be re-launched, and we feel very honoured to have them present at our evening. The Living Stones is how I first discovered Colquhoun, through a dusty old copy from the library. It had me gripped from beginning to end, it is beautifully evocative depiction of Cornwall in the early-mid fifties and indeed it has much that we could learn from today in it. I think I've quoted this passage here before but it's still my absolute favourite, Ithell Colquhoun on fox hunting:

If I can explain my feeling on the subject of 'blood sports' without priggishness, I would say that the human race can never enjoy the freedom of the cosmos until it ceases to exploit the other races with which it must share it's life. In other words, you cannot count on benevolence in your surroundings unless you practice harmlessness yourself. (The Living Stones, 1957, p.119)

My own work for Ancient Scent has been progressing very well. I've spent lots of time in the studio immersed in my alter ego, Hector Nit's, World. This foamy, cavernous landscape will provide the backdrop for the animals I've made to stand against. 

I've been worrying a lot what I might wear for the evenings proceedings, I have grand plans for a watercoloured outfit. However, I did also just buy this magical Bella Freud suit from ebay and it might just be my favourite ensemble ever. It had its first outing to some old friends' wedding last weekend and it was a joy to wear. 

As well as making the rocky landscape I've been busy making t-shirts to sell. I'll probably put most of them up in my shop, Happy Tat, afterwards so I'll let you all know!

The final, and extremely delightful, piece of fortune that was handed to us was this beautiful photograph of Ithell taken by Alastair Thain in 1985. We received an email from the same curator at Penlee stating they'd found it just after a phone call we'd made about the exhibition to them... We'll now have it on show for the duration of the exhibition!

If you'd like to visit Ancient Scent, details are below. Anyone wishing to attend the launch party or interested in more information about the project/launch please email me.

Outfit Details

1990s pink velvet suit - Bella Freud via ebay
Cupie doll t-shirt - Meadham Kirchoff X Topshop 
Brogues - Nicole Farhi via charity shop
1950s pink velvet turban hat - vintage shop

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Postcards from Europe: Cyprus

When I plucked Cyprus from the hat I struggled to think of anything I knew about the country... haloumi? beautiful stamped coins? That was about it. A little investigation led me to a number of intriguing details, including the use of kohl on their eyes to detract flies and the sun's glare. I also discovered their wonderful laces made in the town Lefkara and most excitingly of all their wonderful folk dress. Cypriot folk dress is quite different to any other European dress, it's very Turkish in its influence... even the Greek Cypriot dress has touches... but let's slide over that...

The element I liked most was the pantaloons that poke out from beneath the dresses
Greek Cypriot: source 1

Turkish Cypriot: source 2
and the waistcoats that the men wear. The waistcoat I'm wearing was a gift from my mum earlier this year, she picked it up in a local chazza. I'm pretty sure it's a genuine Cypriot one, it's very lovely thick green velvet with a wonderful braid around the the edging. I think it's early 19th century, quite a bargain for a tenner!

Source: 3
During the course of this post I have been reading an awful lot on the history of Cyprus and it's utterly fascinating, it's definitely somewhere I need to read lots more about to fully understand it's history. It's very long, and quite checkered.

I'll be taking a break from Eu postcards for a short while as I have two upcoming events that require a fair amount of attention. First up is my Happy Tat sale at the end of August, if you're in Cornwall please do pop by (email me for more details), and of course Ancient Scent in early October. Ancient Scent is shaping up to be a great thing indeed, I'm fresh back from an open air oil drum firing in Lamorna last weekend. A truly magical affair. We fired pinch pots, and other weird and wonderful objects in an old oil drum, it was very wild and wonderful.

I hope you are all well, and I promise to try and post in between making, travelling and what not over the next few weeks.

Outfit Details

Cypriot velvet waistcoat - charity shop
1970s Indian block print dress - car boot sale
Bloomers - vintage sale
Scarf - Zara
Earrings - birthday gift from a friend


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Postcards from Europe: France

Bonjour! Here is the second installment of my Postcards from Europe series (read here for info about the project). The second European state I decided to tackle was France. I love France, I've visited twice; once to Paris and once to the south. I want to go back a thousand more times. The glorious food is enough on it's own but coupled with the weather, beautiful fauna and copious amounts of delicious (and cheap) wine it really has taken my heart in a big way. I'm hoping to take another trip there next summer, my boyfriend is currently learning to drive so the hope is us and a few friends will trek over there.

Of course another of my major interests in France is it's fascinating textile history; from silks to linens to printed cottons, it has a long and tangled history. I constantly find prints that I love and find that they originally hail from the French, for instance the fabric of this dress.* I knew it was French in style (it reminded me so much of Provencal lavender bags). However, it turns out it definitely is French and is a fabric designed by Charles Demery who designed for the French house Souleiado (read this article for more info on him). They sold (and sell) their fabrics wholesale so it seems very likely that Susan Small used their fabrics. In recent years Cath Kidston has ripped them off in a major way, I hadn't really realised (doh) until today how similar her prints are to Southern French cottons. 

*As you might of guessed this dress is the counterpart to the other Susan Small dress

I took inspiration from a couple of images but mainly the below, I loved the black scarf against the Fleur print dress and the yellow flowers (I used St John's Wort because they are my birthday flower and are currently out in abundance):
Source: 1

Behind me you can glimpse a tiny bit of our newly mosaiced cob oven (thanks ma!)
I've also begun a mural in the garden, so I'll put together a little post on it all soon.

My mum has also been working hard on her 14 countries, a few of you asked me to share hers too so here they are:

Romania (Penny MacBeth, 2016)

Spain (Penny MacBeth, 2016)
I'll be back very soon with another postcard from Europe, until then Au Revoir! 

Outfit Details

Provencal 1970s Susan Small dress - Ebay
Printed cotton shirt - Celia Birtwell for Uniqlo
Black shawl - Zara 
Straw hat - Topshop

Friday, 22 July 2016

Eden Project

Hello! Summer has finally hit here in Cornwall, you'd be right to think these pictures look a little too tropical though... I spent yesterday wandering around The Eden Project. I'm sure most of you here in England have heard of it but for those who haven't (and those further afield) it's a botanical tropical and mediterranean series of gardens set in two huge biomes. I spent a lot of time there as a teen but until yesterday hadn't visited in about 6/7 years. Those years have definitely done it a favour, it was so much more luscious, the palms are now towering and the fauna was off the scale great. I think we hit it at the best possible season, everything is just still in flower and it's yet heaving with visitors.

The biomes are temperature controlled, so they are heated according to the area they are exemplifying. The tropical biome is my favourite (and always has been) it's incredibly humid and steamy, so it's very easy to feel you've been transported halfway across the globe. At first it feels a little overwhelming but you soon acclimatise and it always feels a bit sad to come back to the normal temperature of Cornwall!

Of course for the day I had to wear an outfit that did the beautiful backdrop justice, I opted for this glorious kaftan that I picked up in a charity shop just before I went to France. It was perfect as it allowed me to stay cool in the humidity (I totally pitied all the jeans wearers - if you are visiting definitely dress lightly, especially in Summer as it gets hotter due to the sun shining on the biomes). The headwrap is actually a scarf from Lush, usually used to wrap up their lovely smellies it makes the perfect wrap for bad (and good) hair days. I've worn it so much since I received it for my birthday.  

I was going for a sort of Matisse meets Gauguin look; lots of pattern, lots of colour and a tassels for good measure.

Madras Rouge, Matisse, 1907 (source: 1)
Nave, Nave Moe, Gauguin, 1894 (source: 2)

There is also the Mediterranean biome, this was so much better than I remembered. It's much cooler in temperature and they now have a pizza restaurant in the biome so you can eat amongst the magical plants (we were so sad when we realised as we had just eaten lunch outside!) They have an amazing array of cacti, grape vines and, my favourite, a vegetable patch of tomatoes, aubergines and other med delights!

I'll be back very soon with more of Postcards from Europe series. Hope you're all well!

Outfit Details

Cotton kaftan - charity shop
Lovebird headscarf - Lush
Raffia earrings - Mango 
Beaded necklace - car boot sale