Wednesday, 18 May 2016

European




An extremely speedy set of pictures taken in between the rain storms today. It's just over a month until my birthday, this year it falls on another important day: The EU Referendum. I was pretty sad when I heard it'd be on my birthday, it could tarnish the day forever more! Nevermind I thought at least I can have a very well themed birthday party. So on the 23rd having crossed my paper I'll be munching on European snacks and celebrating all that is great about the EU with all my favourite people. I'll also hopefully be celebrating the near arrival of my Irish passport. I've been meaning to apply for dual citizenship for years so this has given me the incentive to do it. I'm really hoping we decide to stay, there are a multitude of reasons why. There are so many great things the EU have bought us LIDL for one! Cheap and easy travel! Al fresco dining! The working time directive! 

Either way my Irish passport is a very useful item, and I treasure the fact I am in the lucky position to be able to hold two passports. If we do decided to leave, there is a strong possibility that I'll upsticks back to Ireland.  




The outfit inspiration is all my favourite souvenirs from Europe: a Portuguese apron, a German brooch, Turkish slippers and Italian silk scarves. My costume for my party will be a little different to this, hopefully I can take some snaps that I can share with you all. It's going to be pretty mad (lots fake fruit and vegetables are involved.)  I've asked all guests to dress up so fingers crossed! 

If you haven't signed up to vote, and are eligible to do so, you can still do so in time to vote in the referendum. You have until the 7th of May, sign up here!




I'm off to London for a week with work this Saturday, and then off in France, and then London again so this'll be my last post for a while I think! Hoping to get some great snaps in France. I'm off to Saint Paul de Vence so send me tips if you've stayed there or nearby! I can't wait, it's my first time in the South of France! 





Outfit Details

1970s dress - Vintage Kilo Sale
Embroidered souvenir apron - Salvation Army
Souvenir scarves - belonged to my Great Aunt
Brocade slippers - Istanbul


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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Body hair




I took these photographs on a long hot day last summer as part of a project that subsequently didn't happen (I won't name names...) Anyway I didn't ever post them because I for a while held out that it might happen and then it was Winter and it felt terribly unseasonable to post such sunny photographs. I was pretty happy with this set of images; the theme was the biggest insecurity in your body that you've overcome. I wrote a little piece at the time to go alongside it: 


I've spent years taming it, struggling to get it under control; my biggest insecurity is my body hair. A small amount of very prominent Italian genes means I'm blessed with quite a lot of it. I've felt impossibly awkward about it since  hitting puberty and have spent far too much time obsessing over it. Over the last years I've started to deal with my demons. I've grown my underarm hair for extended periods (I still sometimes cave and shave it all off). Under arm hair has always been the most scary for me. Mine is very dark and fairly noticeable. What made me have a change in heart? Seeing women like Petra CollinsMolly Soda and Miley Cyrus wear theirs with pride and promote a positive attitude towards it. I've started to slowly realise that everyone has it, it's not gross or scary but part of being a woman. Many chose to rid themselves of it completely. I find shaving such a bother, in fact I find it completely tedious, that it's such a relief to no longer feel the pressure to have to ALWAYS do it! I really only ever shave it so others don't stare but recently I've started to care a lot less about that too. I bought this dress last year and a year ago I wouldn't of dreamed of wearing it out without shaving my armpits. Now I'm throwing caution to the wind and doing just that... I appreciate that body hair isn't for everyone but for me relaxing my routine has made me much more comfortable in my body.

A year on not a lot has changed I still feel like it's good to be chiller about these things, sometimes I rid myself and that's fine, other times I can't be bothered and that's fine too. Either way I think nobody should be made to feel gross//uncomfortable//sad about their choices because both are great! It's all about what makes you happy in this life, so embrace your right to choose - we are after all very lucky have that right (which is not afforded to all women out there).





This dress is pretty magnificent I purchased it from a friend and vintage seller in Falmouth, she told me it had been specially made for a dear friend in Mexico in the 1970s. On buying it I wasn't sure if it would fit but it did/does and I couldn't be happier. It's the perfect summer dress, I'm so looking forward to parading around the South of France in it (I'm off there in June- send me tips for St-Paul de Vence!) The embroidery is amazing, very intricate and SO vibrant - my favourite sort.  It does have a couple of stains on the top and skirt and I had planned to embroider over these but I actually rather like them, (I always like garments that show their history)...maybe in time I'll cover them up but for now they're safe.




I'm interested in everyone's reactions to this, body hair is always a conversation divider...  Whatever your choice I think you are all delightful, thank you for always reading and commenting such lovely things, I always read them all and feel honoured to know so many fab and vivacious women!





Outfit Details

1970s embroidered dress - Kitty Gubbins Vintage Flea Market
Gold hooped earrings - Urban Outfitters
Floral headdress - Penny MacBeth

Backgrounds

all paintings by me

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Good Ladies of Galway




I've mentioned a few times that I  was born and spent my early formative years in Ireland. When we lived in Galway my mum started an all girl early music group with 3 friends (Maura Walsh, Anne Smith and Kate Mac Maghnuis)- The Good Ladies of Galway. They played a mixture of medieval instruments including gemshorns, recorders, fiddles... In 1996, the year before we departed for England, they founded The Early Music Festival. After we left Galway the festival continued but The Good Ladies disbanded.

This year is an extra special year; the 21st anniversary of the festival. This year's festival celebrates women (hurrah!!) and to mark this special year The Good Ladies are reforming for one night only. If you are a Galway dweller check out the programme of events here and book tickets to see The Good Ladies here.

As well as playing with The Good Ladies my mum and Maura Walsh have always made the costumes for The Good Ladies. They have always been pretty fabulous, from Hennin to Surcoat, they have made a multitude of costumes over the years. Here are two of my favourite pictures from their archive:



For their latest incarnation my mum has made 4 glorious green frocks and jewellery to accompany. I in fine tradition donned one of them and tried to perfect my medieval stare whilst wielding a handful of beautiful fake blooms. 




I say in fine tradition because the various offspring of The Good Ladies have always been roped into wearing medieval costumes for parades, performances and publicity. I'm sure it's had some bearing on my love of dressing up now, and I'm sure in no small part influenced my decision to become a fashion historian. Here I am in a miniature jesters costume standing by a slightly terrifying mannequin dressed in a galloping horse costume that my mum made my brother.


And here I am with my brother, George, on the far right, and the daughter and niece of another member of The Good Ladies. The sweetest picture, I'm really not sure what we were up to. It looks as if we have been instructed to wait patiently (and George is having difficulty doing so!)


 I sadly won't be able to catch The Good Ladies this time but I have heard a sneaky rumour that it                                  might be recorded in which case I'll be sure to share it with you all!

   In the meantime you can check out their Facebook page which is home to a wonderful array of                                                                  photographs from across the years.



Outfit Details

Everything made by Penny MacBeth

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Monday, 2 May 2016

Bluebell






May has always been my favourite month: bluebells, wild garlic, the promise of sunshine and lush green grass from April's rain! Growing up in Ireland it had the added bonus of being the last month of school before the holidays (for real!! Irish summer holidays were 3 months long when I was a child!) Every year I feel so happy come the 1st of May; summer is on it's way. I love Mayday celebrations and always try to do something special to mark the day. 

In celebration of the start of this year's May I spent yesterday gallivanting around Enys Gardens, a country estate that lies about a mile away from my house. It's a beautiful sprawling estate with gorgeous wild flowers and a tea room that serves great cake (it's also outside which is very amusing; even in the rain it's packed with tea drinkers!) 

The 1st of May is the beginning of their week long bluebell festival. There was also an art fair in the house this weekend, so it was a double whammy of fun. The house is generally closed but they have a few open days across the year for craft and art sales. It's crumbly and falling apart in the most glorious way, they are currently restoring it all and doing a marvelous job - it is not a National Trust style renovation but instead a very sensitive affair with everything being done properly. I think it's fab when houses open in a slightly mangled state, I love being able to see the bare bones of a building! I actually hope they keep it like this as it's a lot more interesting than the trussed up houses you generally encounter.





For the excursion I wore this beautiful blue frock that my ma bought me for Christmas, it's been much too chilly thus far to take it on an outing, and although it drizzled all day it was actually not too chilly yesterday. I felt very lady of the manor trotting about in this ensemble. I spotted this breathtaking Rhododendron bush out of a window at the top of the house and knew it was a must as a backdrop. A sign with 'keep off the grass, naturalising bulbs' stopped me in my tracks so I had to hover on the edge politely rather than dash into the blooms as I had hoped!













One of my favourite areas of Enys' ground's is the crystal grotto. It's a wonderfully mystical place, and one I feel I'll be revisiting in a future post, it's far too good not to have a post all of it's own. Crystal grotto's were a favourite of 19th century gardeners, they work best at night lit by candlelight, the rocks sparkle and shine creating an altogether magical feeling. I really hope that Enys will do a nighttime opening at some point, I'd love to see the grotto sparkling!  

I hope you are all feeling excited for May - I've just looked out of the window and the rain has stopped and miraculously the sun has popped out, hurrah! I'm off to make wild garlic pesto, I collected lots yesterday morning from Glasney Valley, yummm! Have a very happy bank holiday, see you soon.


Linking to Visible Monday



Outfit Details

1930s blue velvet dress - Christmas present (from a chazza!)

Blue velvet boots - H&M sale

Necklace - nabbed from my mum's wardrobe 

Matte blue nail varnish - Mariachi from Topshop

Ex-theatre hire floral silk coat - Angels costume sale

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Following the Ancient Scent





I've mentioned the project Ancient Scent very briefly in a couple of posts now. but I felt it was time to explore it in a little more depth (given that I'm spending a lot of time on it currently!) The project is a year long artist led series of sessions that will culminate in an exhibition in October. The sessions explore the methodology and surrealist techniques of the artist Ithell Colquhoun. In particular the methods that she mentioned in her 1949 essay Mantic Stain. Colquhoun lived in Cornwall from the 1950s until her death in 1988, first at Vow Cave in Lamorna and then later on in Stone Cross Cottage in Paul. Our project sessions all take place in Lamorna Village Hall, a mere 5 minutes from her little hut (which is now rather fancy....)

Ithell is/was an enormously intriguing character. I first encountered her work through her psychogeographical book The Living Stones - where she takes the reader on a walk through the Cornwall. Her writing is extremely evocative, she writes nature in the most enticing way, after reading it I was convinced I just wanted to give up modern life and step into a caravan buried somewhere in Lamorna Valley, wash in a stream and paint everyday (to be honest it still sounds pretty great...) If you can get your hands on it, and you are so inclined to read such things, definitely do - it was an extremely formative read for me (and I've subsequently re-read it twice). It's a fantastic picture of a very particular period but she was also extremely forward-thinking and I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the ideas she was putting forward, particularly note-worthy are her remarks on fox hunting in the chapter 'Hound-Voice' in which she follows a hunt through the valley:

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)

I have to admit that her painting is much much less interesting to me. I find it a little clumsy and although I can completely admire and find interest in the place it was coming from, I don't generally like the final outcome. However, that is not to say I am not interested in it! I think she was enormously talented in so many ways, and another example of a woman who was quashed by her male contemporaries so really, to me at least, it doesn't matter if I don't like her work visually. I feel I've connected with her in so many other senses, she almost feels like a dear friend.





Lamorna, for those of you who don't know it, is the most magical place. It's been home to countless artist's colonies beginning with Alfred Munnings, Laura and Harold Knight, and of course Lamorna Birch in the early 20th century. Since then it has been host to a revolving selection of painters/writers/poets & sculptors. The valley certainly has a mysterious draw, it's wonderfully wild, I love it. It's full to the brim with intriguing characters and the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery, and being in it's mists it's easy to see why it has pulled so many people in.

This weekend marked our second session for the project. This time we took a walk through the valley to experiment with Frottage - The Technique of taking of a rubbing from an uneven surface to provide random forms which can be interpreted and developed, and then worked with Collage.

We stopped along the way to take a few snaps. Again I'm wearing my new shirt/coat/dress, I haven't really taken it off since my last post! I was originally wearing turquoise jelly shoes but some sensible part of my brain decided I should change shoes incase it was muddy (this was the first sunny day in Cornwall for some time). It wasn't at all muddy and I really wish I'd not listened to the very small sensible bit of my brain as I'd of liked to paddle in the stream.










On our wander we stumbled on this free chair, shortly before this we had encountered a elf-like man who appeared from behind a bush. He was intrigued as to what we were doing (frottage!) and we explained. He was delightful, explaining that he was tending a garden, hacking at the brambles that appeared without fail each year. It wasn't until the end of our conversation that we realised he was holding an axe in his hand. That's Lamorna for you, wonderfully bizarre. 




After such a glorious day I felt extremely full of ideas and excitement to get started on some new work. I mentioned in my last post that I, along with the rest of the group, have taken an alter ego so below are some pictures of a piece Hector Nit is working on called Cryptic Colouration. Keep an eye on my instagram for more pictures/ videos of what Hector is up to.







 Outfit Details

Turquoise cotton shirt dress - Phool via a charity shop

Floral cotton trousers - Petticoat Lane Market


1960s cotton neckerchief - Vintage Kilo Sale




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