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  



  1. Brilliant post - thanks so much for sharing with Vis Monday. When George Bush got re-elected here in 2008, I crawled under my desk and cried. xo

  2. oops - I meant 2004! sry.

  3. These are just so beautiful my dear!! I can feel the melancholy, the colours and mood hit it just right. I thought for sure they would be gone and not re-elected, my shock when they announced the results. I suppose I'm up here in Scotland away from the trolls, but still those who have to directly suffer from them is not right. I really didn't understand the vote at all. These pictures perfectly reflect that. It also reminds me of the shows I used to watch as a child when they would tell ghost stories and look through books and the person in the book would suddenly start moving and come alive, that's what these pictures make me think of, like you will walk out of the picture soon. So brilliant. xx

  4. you always have the best themes to your outfit posts xx

  5. I know exactly how you feel. Who the hell voted for them? Somebody compared the Tories to Mumford and Sons. Everyone claims to hate them but they sell millions of records and headline festivals. Someone likes them!
    Anyway, that dress is gorgeous and you look every inch the fading Victorian glamour puss. Gorgeous. xxx

  6. I love the sepia of you against the vibrant green. Almost seems to say, that while you fade away, nature doesn't. Even through sadness the seasons come and go, leaves grow on trees. Very Julia Margaret C------. I don't want to say the C word, but you know who I mean. I love those French textile samples, they're gorgeous. Xxx

  7. What interests me about your photos is how you thought through in advance how what you wore would look in sepia tones. Hand-tinting would certainly add even another layer of interest. How easy it is to take for granted that women don't wear mourning clothes for long period of time anymore. Lots to think about here. Beautiful photos.

  8. Politics is always a sad story I'm afraid.

    / Avy

  9. I think we'll be in mourning for the next 5 years…especially when we focus on those who are poor/sick/needy. However, like you I am endeavouring to be engaged and active and involved.
    Your outfit also make me think of victorian memento mori tokens. It's an inspired, creative response to the onslaught of what comes next from the scary gargoyles of Conservative government.