Monday, 14 September 2015

Pastoral Idyll

In my last post I mentioned that this weekend is the Gyllyngdune tea festival and that my mum and I will be whipping up dresses made from tea bag fabric. It was procured for workshop from the marvellous scrap store (they have them all over the country, they are a must for anyone working in arts education ). Mr Horniman former owner of Gyllyngdune was heir to the Horniman's tea empire, and his father invented the tea bag so it's extremely fitting to be using the fabric.

In preparation for the weekend, we spent yesterday (in between cooking lunch for 5) crafting an ensemble from the fabric. I have to say my mum was mostly responsible for this remarkable first try as I had to stand very still as she wrapped and taped it around me! 

The outcome brings to mind the concoctions of Charles Frederick Worth, master couturier and favourite of Empress Eugenie and various other dames, empresses and queens of the mid 19th century. The tea bag fabric naturally lends itself to Worth style frothiness; it looks wonderful when layered with tissue and shaped into soft folds. 

Empress Eugenie, Winterhalter, 1854
Source: 1

 These paintings are a little earlier but they bring to mind Worth's dresses, and Winterhalter is known to have painted Empress Eugenie in Worth.
Olga Von Wurttemburg, Wintehalter, circa 1856
Source: 2

The photographs will act as source material for the workshop hopefully inspiring an array of gowns and interesting postures for our Tableau Vivant. We'll also hopefully have a variety of fresh blooms to make corsages; just like the Hydrangea I have slotted into my sash.

 The setting of them reminds me of Hameau de la Reine in Versailles, Marie Antoinette's garden. Based on a scene of pastoral bliss it was filled with lambs, apple trees and baskets of flowers. I found that a giant fan purchased at a car boot and an ivy curtain were sufficient for setting the scene (although I wouldn't have minded at all if somebody had handed me a lamb!)

Lastly this ever popular and ever so slightly kitsch painting by Fragonard provided lots of inspiration for the postures. If you ever have the chance visit the Wallace Collection and see it for real, it's much nicer than the tea towel and tin reproductions (although I rather like them too...!)

The Swing, Fragonard, 1767
Source: 3

I hope you had a marvellous weekend and weren't too put out by all that rain. Amazingly we managed to snap all these in a howling storm. We managed to take them in about 5 minutes which has to be record timing! Astounding what can be achieved when you are cold and wet!

                                                     Linking up with Visible Monday

Outfit Details

Tea bag fabric dress & turban - rustled up by Penny MacBeth
Giant hand painted fan - car boot sale
Mint green duck tape - The Range (also available from Hobbycraft)
Jelly shoes - juju footwear



  1. I absolutely love that dress!! And knowing it's made from recycled material only adds value to how lovely it all is xx

  2. What fabulous photos!


  3. Gorgeous! You look incredible.
    When I saw "teabag" in your Facebook link i was imagining the corsets my friend Liz creates from used teabags. When they're dried they take on the texture of leather and make incredible patchwork pieces. xxx

    1. Those sound utterly fab! I would love to see them! X

  4. That fan is incredibly beautiful!


  5. Just gorgeous and the dress is fabulous.x

  6. You look like a yummy whipped cream cake. That always goes nicely with tea.

  7. What fantastic outfit and photos, Lally! You're just amazing!

  8. Earl Grey is bound to pursue you... you look so steamy, delicate and fragrant!

  9. That dress is so lovely! You looks so peaceful and elegant. Hard to believe there was a raging storm going on while these were snapped!

  10. It's like you dropped to today's Earth from another time and place. I just want to sigh when I see you. Where are those farm animals when you need them?!
    Truly magnificent and I love the cross-lines you weave with the paintings. The fan. Oh my! And mint green duct tape is not something you usually see in a What I Wore list. Maybe it should be. Stunning dress, your Mum is a genius too.

  11. You are a true princess, a queen of magic