Monday, 28 September 2009

An ugly vintage duckling?!

The case of clearing and cleaning my gran's house continued yesterday, but this time it was without the vultures - a much more effective and worthwhile occurrence if I'm going to be truly blunt. Not only did things get sorted thoroughly but things got saved that might otherwise have been thrown away [see occurrence from last weekend somewhere scrolled further down this blog].

We'd been so clearly informed by the vultures that there really wasn't anything left in the attic after it had been re-insulated only a year or so before. Us being us, well that wasn't a line we were going to buy that easily. So once the ladders had been fixed in place and a head (my dad's) poked through the attic door a collection of boxes where only sat waiting to be uncovered. Pulled down from the darkness was to reveal my old mosses cot, old sleeping bags and wicker picnic hamper, two brownie cameras from pre 1935(ish), my granddads former 1942 Kershaw military WW2 binoculars and this randomly vintage clock.

It's geometry is somewhat art deco through its clearly marked lines and strong appearance. Set within its mahogany casing a regal brass face appears through its dusty glass plate. It's appearance is now somewhat marked through age, it's missing something from its base - a hidden compartment for its key perhaps? Its true age or even arrival within the family is unknown but its a clock which never as far as we know graced any mantelpiece. And now - many years one would think after it's construction, it's key is missing and so is it's pendulum, its chimes are lost.

It's face is what calls me, the format of the numbering reminds me some kinda Victorian letter-heading, something antique yet artistically formed in its black paint set against its brass plating.

Is it an ugly ducking however waiting to be restored? I love it's face, the box could be restored with a clean and fix, maybe even a key could be brought from somewhere and maybe one day it could chime again? Or is it just as my dad says - too bold and ugly?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Vanity delights

Picture me gifts
Sometimes some people or a someone just knows what you might like without even asking, they just have the connection and the inert understanding of what you might just adore. I wouldn't personally consider myself to be the easier person to buy anything for, anything small or large, I know myself from clothes shopping I can be a nightmare being so picky - putting items down before even trying them on. Just sometimes, someone just knows what makes you tick, then you just know that person is special.

I can't take any credit for these photographs, I've only enjoyed messing around with them on my flickr trying to restyle them into the glory of former postcards often ones created via using limestone [the proper name and technique currently escapes me]. A style fitting for the age and the beauty of these objects.

I just love everything about the green vanity hand mirror, it's shape, it's colours, its design. Everything about it speaks pure femininity, beauty and design. I just adore how the green hues and it's pattern on the reverse of the mirror radiates out from the base of where it's glass handle is attached.

The silver brushes are an art in their self, with the adorning embellishments upon their surface they shine and the glimmer against the light. Even the old glasses make me smile, they make me ponder who the wearer once was, what happened to them? How did they end up in the shop? In a way it takes a great person to not just through the glasses into the rubbish, rather they become a delight in such a great vintage shop.

Such objects just highlight and display the power and the importance of vintage finds. They allow the comparison of what we have now, we might live in a grab grab, all you can have society but do they really have the beauty that goes with them? Yet not only are this objects beautiful they are sturdy - they last the test of time.

If there was a wish I could tell it would be for more vintage shops, charity shops are great in their own right - they allow people to not only donate but they allow people to hunt out and seek retro clothes, books, ornaments and everything and they help most often then not people, establishments of countries in need of help. Yet for some reason over here in the North of England flea markets (accept the great one in Pickering - North Yorkshire) and vintage shops seem slightly limited. In London there is probably the customer and audience for such a market, its presence seems not to have spread to far northwards.

Such presents I could only ever adore ...

Flowery felt
I've been learning how to embroidery - mainly due from being given a tablecloth which seems rather old mainly because of the thickness of the linen - something in itself which seems a rarity. In searching around for various stitches I somehow managed to stumble upon these embroidered felt garden of amazingly vibrant flowers taken from Kayla Coo's Flickr page. They remind me of childhood days spent playing with felt, cutting and sewing, there is something childlike and feminine to these designs, flowers which would make a perfect embellishment to sewing and clothing.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Handbags, ebay and autumn light

Random handbags
We found a random handbag while sorting out my Gran's. Where its from or how old it is has become an intriguing mystery especially when my Gran rarely kept or used handbags, she had two favourites and that was that, this one was merely hidden upon a wardrobe shelf.

A soft leather, the handbag material itself is now rather blotchy, with a small strap which hooks at either side, they are slightly rusty and old. With a small and well working clasp upon the front a pocket runs along it's length at the back. The handbag opens to reveal a purple (rather then the blue the camera has depicted) inlay - its colour is so vibrant and bright - far from a colour matching any of its modern contemporaries. A selection of small pockets align across the front, one holding what seems its original vanity mirror so neatly slotted into its pocket. Opening to three compartments, the middle one is tightly held by a clasp, to open it is to reveal something I've never come across in contemporary handbags - an internal hinged pocket, its colour the same as the inlay with a leatherette brown insides - perfect for loose chain.

Yet with no known history of it and with no information provided inside the handbag itself - no marks or names are presented its a little lost item of the past. Its possibly too worn to use but its a perfect accompaniment to my compact collection for a shiny vintage compact would be a fitting partner to slot into this handbag.

Is there even a way of dating handbags?! - all ideas and thoughts are kindly welcome

The eBay find
Somehow I've managed to keep away, or never really stumble across using eBay, even my parents managed to beat me to using that website. Even through the site is well established and used by the millions I've never really had a need to bid for anything. Until I thought of eBay as the perfect site and place to expand my recent collection of powder compacts. It's a hobby, well a collection I'm not going to get into just for economic or monetary value, more for the history, the shapes and designs of these individual cases. Somehow I'm even stopping myself from bidding for everything beautiful on there, my self control seems to have found new boundaries.

Justify FullSo to get the virtual ball rolling, a round Stratton compact caught my eye. With its blue top with paler blue and white flowers, their shapes outlined in the gold matching the casing, it is the classic Stratton compact with it's infamous stars on the bottom. Inside a clear mirror with the Stratton name is engraved into the upper casing. Going on to flick up the cover which keeps in place the powder case, its bottom is showing and is somewhat marked - but its nothing a cheap powder inlay couldn't fix.

It was the colour that got me, especially when the sun catches its top, its blueness is so bright and after going for 99p (plus the old postage) and a good little dust and rub this afternoon its a perfect little addition to my collection.

And a final little dressing table picture
I'm still missing my digital camera after it got landed into the bin after the white screen of death so I still have to resort to using the camera phone. For a 3MP LG camera phone it does a rather good job - the girl is just hoping she gets a proper camera for her birthday next week! Anyway, I was playing around with my phone while I was taking the above pictures of my compact and eyed up my mirror (also use to be my Gran's) which after a good fix of mending the hinges it now sits nice and proud on my dressing table. I just love how the autumnal evening sunshine casts its rays onto the mirror and how it creates an airy, hazy atmosphere into the room. It seems to give the mirror a kind of power, ancestral somewhat fitting to its heritage.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Singer song of pictures

I feel like I haven't posted any of my picture posts for a while, everything has been all crazy and up in the air that I haven't really had chance to search yet alone post any pictures. So many ideas and so little time. Yet I found this post half started in draft form so maybe not is the time to finish it off and make it somewhat publishable.

I've been messing around making strip after strip of patchwork for my cushion covers made from all sorts of materials and colours, and since I'm keeping the 1934 Singer Machine alive and well in full working order, I might as well use this as the basis for completing this post.

When thinking of the Great War thoughts are often turned to the allied forces, in turn this image captures German ladies stood and sitting, working behind their sewing machines in the German Wittenburg Singer factor in 1917-18. The skills of these women were employed to produce uniforms and armaments. Singer machines often came to visually represent the strength and power of the war time effort, with images often showcasing British women sewing in the same frame as the armed forces, the sewer and the Singer the force behind the war.

This 1924 postcard from Belgium is one I truly adore, the framing and the atmosphere of capturing this young lady holding together her sewing. The room in which she stands is bare apart from her most important pieces - her sewing machine, a small wooden chair and dressers mannequin. Her lipstick and curls radiate from the image as she holds our gaze, her beauty equals the delicacy of the dress she appears to be holding in place with further material draping over the edge of the desk of her Singer.

The Wichita High School North home economics sewing class is captured in mid action. Surrounding the room are blackboards describing according to its accompanying captions sewing complementary colours and characteristics of bungalow architecture. Circa 1930 these young women sit eagerly working, leaning behind their desks, the treadle run singer sewing machines and sitting in their desks. 70 years later when I was at high school home economics was poorly taught, and to have a sewing machine for teach pupil was unknown, a few generations later the lost art of sewing and using a machine has more then sadly died especially in the throw-away society with the ease of replacing clothes and items so easily.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The case of the saved powder compacts

Vultures and the compacts
As it was noted the other day when sorting out and hunting through some of my grans' drawers (the kitchen ones I must state) we came also what is now known to be a 1960s Stratton Powder Compact, brass, engraved and rather pretty. Yesterday was the day of clearing out the personal possessions of my gran from clothes, pots, kitchen things, ornaments, everything and anything. And my did yesterday make me wish you could choose your family.

Without saying things what would probably result in me getting sued for liable two members (blood uncle and his wife) were literally vultures. That's the only way to explain it. Rather then sharing things by half or by allowing us to have a look-see, to say no we don't want that, it was all grab grab grab, or just being grabbed when our backs were turned. This kind of action leaves things, and has resulted in many an item going missing and purely vanishing - probably into the boot of his car. It's rather surprising how large the back of his car has become. Apparently because his daughter played with it when she was growing up is the reason for why he should get the sewing box, yet I didn't even get a say, or even asked if I wanted any of the toys (dominoes, cards and solitaire) that I spent hours and hours playing with as a child when I was around at my gran's.

Apart from the saved Stratton compact I didn't know my gran had anymore or that she had ever had any full stop. That was until me and the parents were taking tonnes of filled, cramped and heavy black bin bags to the tip. I'm a bit of a nosey person at times especially when half of these bags had been filled when we weren't in sight - what was in them was a mystery. So me being me I have to have a look. To which we find loads of clinque make up in the bag in which the Stratton compact was in (so glad I pulled that out when we found it) and four other unknown compacts, just lying there in the bottom of the bin bag. It shocks me not only how close they were to filling up the land fill, but the cheek of us not being allowed even a say in where they would end up.

Where and what a lot of things went remains a mystery - missing jewellery, missing vases, missing ornaments - I could continue.

Being an novice when it comes to compacts I just get intrigued and interested in their colours and their designs rather then their montery value. With an hour spent this afternoon cleaning them up, taking out the flaking makeup and giving the cases a good polish, a quick search on google would reveal a square Vogue Vanities as being one of the first British compact manufactures, alongside three nameless others, two featuring Gorey Castle in Jersey. Although their dates are unknown some come complete with broken powder, stiffer or puff, only the larger round Jersey compact is unused the other being formally attached to a keyring with its chain still in place its bottom possibly mother of pearl.

Saving these compacts from their doom of the landfill has created a new collection. Luckily they are something cheap and with the help of the Internet easy to collect, I don't mind if they aren't priceless, I'm not wanting to go into it for their value, just something to enjoy.

My thanks has to go to Jessica over at Chronically Vintage who linked me a delightful little recipe for refilling powder compacts which can be found here. Once I get around to finding some rubbing alcohol/surgical spirit, I may just have to have ago! Thanks once again!!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Random things, random finds ...

So lately, well a month or so ago I went to Ravenscar on the North Yorkshire Coast in itself its a place with history. As a planned town to maximise increasing coastal visits, plots for land were sold yet with the planners bankruptcy, the dream of a seaside town never came true. Now only the remains of the former station and the towns show houses remain. In one of these former show homes could be found a help-your-self-via-a50p-donation to second hand books could be found, within which I came across this Fontana edition of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago an edition coinciding with the release of the 1965 film staring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.

The copy is more then a little war torn, page after page is falling out in clumps and it has a lingering smell of paint for what you cover sheds with (name escapes me), but I'm refusing to throw it out, I'm like that. I'm becoming a bit of a mass hoarder.

Girlie Stuff
Justify FullStarting the sort of some of my gran's things I've stumbled across some retro and some vintage finds that I want to big life back into. Like the Singer 1934 sewing machine that was hers, I've inherited a dressing table mirror, a very delicate and old cigarette holder, manicure set and the above empty glass perfume bottle and circa 1966 Stratton Powder compact. Identical to the one advertised upon Steptoes Dog this half used compact with glass mirror inlay has a gorgeous, delicate flowered engraving.

Does anyone know where either shops (UK based) or Online where you can purchase refills for such compacts? Is it still possible?

Buttons button buttons .... !!
You can't beat a day spent rumbling through tins of old buttons. I've been hunting for some which are unique - older the better kind of buttons to attach and sew onto the back of my patchwork cushions (yes I'm going well on the sewing front). Where these buttons have come from and how they ended up in my mams button box is unknown yet their age especially on the three in the picture above - the white, shiny black and green buttons is clearly marked through their war torn appearance. The colours and the vibrancy, the types and the styles of buttons are amazing, small, glass, dark, wooden, flowery and brass only mark out a few.

Two types have been earmarked for the patchwork cushions as decorations - a line of flowers and leaves and another of brass and metal former clothing buttons. Once the cushions are all sorted there will sure to be a blog hitting this page!

Alongside filling up the glass sweetie jar of beach found shells, I've now started a smaller jar to fill up with tiny buttons. Collected from my grans former collection I'm amazed at their colours and in a glass jar they look perfect!

Do I give into the laundry basket temptation?
Sitting outside a charity shop in my local town as been a very sun faded green, corner triangle basket. It's been sat there and I fear no one probably has even looked twice at it. This is in a charity shop were things rarely stay too long. It is worn out, its tired looking and it needs a bit of work. Yet I hearing its challenge, I'm hearing its calls to be fixed. At £7.50 maybe I should just risk it? It would be perfect to do up and let it sit in a corner. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Knowing my luck it won't be left by the time I get to go looking again.

Bulbs in a china cup
This slightly pulls together two ideas for old vintage china cups and flowers/bulbs that I've come across this week. First sited upon Queens of Vintage of reusing china mugs as a vintage reuse to create plant pots, Gardens World (the parents were watching it, I was merely in the same room) suggested using china cups as a place to grow spring bulbs. They both look pretty and delicate little ways to liven and jazz up a window still or table top!

Now the mission is to find a diamond bit for a drill to make some holes to let the water drain out of without it smashing the cupa to pieces, and some cheap, but pretty china cups. Oh and the bulbs!

And the final word goes to ...
I am, I admit a cat person and I grew up alongside Mr Tink. This is our newest housemate, I say new yet she's been hovering around for three years. As you can tell from the picture - shes rather shy!

Sometimes a girl has to rant

About the following ...

a) Super slow tourists in York of all places. People who don't know York - that old Viking haunt in Yorkshire, UK will not know how most of the streets still follow their original route on narrow, sometimes cobbled tightly packed streets, most often they are filled with bum-bag camera wielding tourists who are on the way to the "really big church" - yes Mr American that would be the Minster. Don't just stop in the middle of the road, gawking at the whatever, some of us have places to go. How to spot the tourist - well you'll probably end up being stuck behind one.

b) Why do people living in rural communities feel they need to know everything about each other and everyone that goes with it? Why do they turn against people who seek to improve their life, their mind and position, but by doing so makes them a social outcast?

c) Cash for gold adverts that adorn morning TV - yes sometimes even I watch the morning TV. Why would you sell your precious gold to such "companies", who are never going to probably give you anywhere near the decent price they are really worth. Stop living on peoples misfortunes.

d) People who argue via their facebook status - firstly grow up and act like an adult and deal which such matters in an adult fashion, why feel like broadcasting your whole issues and moral dilemmas and whatever to the general public, to your friends? Why go so low?!

e) The celebrity craze for adopting foreign children, one adopts one and then they all want too surely they could help more by donating money to an orphanage then merely "saving" one. They may be rich and famous but that doesn't give them the rights to flaunt and push over the established legal system of foreign countries. Additionally making people forget and misunderstand the need for people to adopt babies and children within their own country rather then seeking and running out to the developing world, pulling children from their home nation and culture.

f) Girls who wear too much make up - why? Why cake and coat your face so much that it glows orange alongside your eyes becoming sealed shut because of the layering of thick coat after coat of mascara. To say young and healthy your skin needs to breath ...

g) Which leads me onto the selling and the believed need by young girls for wanting anti-ageing products. Often I believe I'm the only one that thinks they don't work, especially on younger skin when you don't really need them. The key is in a healthy diet, drinking water and fresh air. Keep your self healthy and your body will reward you in the long term.

Anything anyone else what's to let off? Rant along below!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Je t'aime on a postcard

Simple and effective, the words of love are the same across boundaries. Few words are required to make the biggest and most lasting of statements. The postcards origins and age I have little idea, yet its understated colours and its declaration to be passed to your lover is one which still resonates over the decades.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


When life gets crazy or I want to hide from the world I turn to old films, I loose myself in them through their simplicity and their glamour. Most often then not it's a film with Ginger Rogers. It was this all singing, dancing and gorgeous actress who, when dancing alongside Fred Astaire really got me in to the oldies, her dancing and style was, and remains as mesmerising over 70 years since the steps were captured on film. She was as talented as she was beautiful.

Born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16th 1911, it was through her mothers love of Hollywood which sparked Ginger's (a nickname gained after her younger cousins couldn't say her first name) interest in theatre spending her time dancing and singing to on-stage performances while waiting for her mother. Becoming the stand in for the travelling vaudeville act of Eddie Foy, Ginger later went on to win a six month touring contract. While her first marriage to Jack Pepper with whom she began her own vaudeville touring act failed, when Ginger and her mother arrived in New York she stayed, earning a radio contract and her Broadway début.

At the age of 19 she became the newest Hollywood star after being snapped up by George and Ira Gershwin to star in Broadway's Crazy Girl (1929) a production were Fred Astaire (her later dancing partner) was hired to choreograph the dancing. Yet it wasn't until her casting in her breakthrough film 42nd Street (1933) and later staring alongside Astaire in Flying Down to Rio (1933) that her name and status grew.

Fred became her greatest dancing partner, although their working relationship is said to have been rocky, they produced nine musical films across the six years to 1939 and the later reuniting for a final time to star in Barkley's of Broadway in 1949. By the 1940's however Ginger wanted to turn to more serious acting, and while winning the Academy Award of Best Actress in Kitty Foyle (1940) by the end of the decade her career was in steady decline. Her concluding work was often in minor supporting roles, featuring alongside Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant in Monkey Business (1952).

Marrying five times, Ginger died in 1995 at the 83.

Images taken from Life magazine online

Monday, 14 September 2009

Shells, shells shells!!

I have a bit of a growing obsession - yes another one, but where this one came from I'm not too sure - yet its one inspired by nature and is free to collect. It developed from my holidays in Northumberland with the parents this summer - dragged alone to get me "away" from my dissertation. Picked up on the way we spent a week in Amble, a little seaside port historically expanding through exporting the regions coal. Within the wider county context, Northumberland and its coast is amazing, its tranquil, clam and serene, the people are amazingly friendly and the rock pools are a delight.

While I can spend hours searching in rock pools, I never can find anything in them, even when trying to draw them out with old dry bread - a trick even the BBC One show tried - and I guess if they did it then it must work. Apparently not - or the Geordie creepy crawlies hiding under the seaweed covered rocks aren't fooled too easily, or they prefer M&S bread?!

While Amble may not have had the longest or long stretches of sandy yellow beach itself (travel further down the road and Durridge Bay will provide you with that - ah bad memories of the Plank) it has a chest of shells of all shapes, colours and sizes, carry on a few days later and a trip to Holy Island and the collection grew and grew. For the past three weekends I've called for the parents to wander along the delights of the East Yorkshire coast to continue my collection have all been painted, only to add to my collection.

My collection is mainly made up of the typical British seaside shells you can pick up along the east coast - of limpets (rough edged to worn out and smooth) to purpley-blue mussels, cockles to curly wurly ones (their names I fail to know). While I will not profess to being any geek or knowledgeable source of information regarding shells - I don't really know how they are made tbh (in turn I make up random names for them) I've always being interested in them their shapes and their amazing colours. I have often collected them from the beaches but with no real intentions or ideas of what to do with them afterwards.

So now I have jars, big old sweetie glass jars and a tin of varnish hunted out from my dads garage (I did start with clear nail varnish but it wasn't as shiny) I coat them all, even coloured stones and they shine, they fill up my jars and due to all their colours they are rather impressive to look at. I want to fill up vases of them, line them up on a window-still and let the light shine upon their edges.

The Northumberbia curly wurly shells

So if you want shells of all kinds then Northumberland is the coast to head for, otherwise so is Filey for mussels, Flamborough for Limpets. Just don't head for Spurn Point - there really is nothing. Only the shells where hermit crabs live in and if you want them shells - well you have to take the crabs with you!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

VINTAGE: Singer Adverts

Through inheriting my Singer Sewing Machine (see previous post) I thought I'd use it as the main inspiration for searching around the internet (via the good old google search) to look for anything random to do with singer machines, then I stumbled upon the following advertisements;

1936 black and white advisement for a "modern" electric machine, one allowing the modern women the perfect way to make her own wardrobe.

1959 and the introduction of the family into the frame alongside the advertisements for portable sewing machines, especially designed to aid the function and needs of young and growing families.

Friday, 11 September 2009

VINTAGE: Singer Sewing Machine

Growing up, this old sewing machine lived in the bottom of my Gran's wardrobe. Hidden under empty bags and scarf's this Singer sewing machine rarely saw the light of day the older my gran got. When it did come out from the deepthest depths, we use to work together on her kitchen table, sewing curtains or taking up hems. With my Gran's death (I blogged about her illness the other week - saddly things took a turn for the worse) the machine has now passed into my hands, while I remember the golden drawings on the machines side the silver engraving on the face plate, I've always remembered this as a beautiful working machine.

With a few alterations from my grandad expanding the box upon which the plate box is embedded, its sunken little holder comes with two working and original bobbins and bobbin case and replacement needles, yet its case if it ever had one is long since missing. With a quick dust and a bit of oil in the right places, its near enough looking and most importantly running, like new. Once converted from its original treadle workings, its now electronically powered although the balance wheel needs a spin every now and again to get it turning.

Starting in 1851, the Singer Manufacturing Company (this name is painted in gold paint upon the top of my machine) was launched in New York following the patent of Singer's first locksmith machine. By 1890, Singer could claim to be holding an 80% share of all global sewing machine sales, employing thousands of workers. Using it's serial number embedded upon a small plate upon the box plate a good search on the Singer Company's website reveals this machine to be part of the Y-Series produced at the Kilbowie factory, Scotland in 1934.

For an old girl reaching her 75th birthday this year, she still sews like a dream, her plating still engraved and shining. While she may only have one stitch and one speed I'm proud to be her new owner. And she will be used, rather then hiding her away in the loft or sitting her aside to gather dust, she will be a working machine and an object of beauty, with a task in hand already of patchwork cushion covers.

Also as a weird coincidence one of my mams old books hidden away in the bookcase is the Big Book of Needlecraft published only a year after my Singer rolled off the production line. Now they have to be kept together, they complement each other, the book narrating the change from treadle to electric, naming the machines key parts, its oiling points and common sewing mishaps.

All ideas of anything else to sew are always welcome ...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My Picture Obsession

My blog has started to become the one places to keep and show images which fascinate me. While I've always been interested in pictures, art and photographs, it has only been through the last year while studying for my Masters degree that I began seeing beyond the image as merely something capturing and documenting a time, a person or a place. The image could be something to use as a resource for credible research.

As a somewhat researcher in training - the image and the visual medium is a way of seeing beyond, of looking both historically and at the present. Images can allow the rereading or critiquing of society, its practices and population. Nevertheless to many in academia the image is marginal, rather then considering an image as something to capture a place or a person with contemporary digital technologies and websites such as twitter and facebook allowing the mass circulation of amateur images in numbers never reached before. We are a visual society, we learn through images and everyone knows the infamous "a picture speaks a thousand words". Yet the visual within academia is a marginal medium, one criticised for undermining the scientific worthiness of a discipline - sociology especially.

I guess this marginalisation and salient acknowledgement for using the visual is what made me want to develop and use this resource within my own research., rather then merely an object to supplement the narrative. Images can trigger memories and associations, as a prop within an interview images can project perceptions and experiences a convectional interview may not. An image can create comparisons, new approaches and therefore new insights.

This blog has allowed me to publish, even only virtually pictures which intrigue me and keep my mind ticking over. I have an immense fear of my mind freezing since finishing my Masters and whatever that occurs around the corner to challenge and push my mind. One of the key semiotic thinkers Roland Barthes, a thinker who continued the original conception of this visual methodology, argued for the need of visual researchers - for that is what we become, to use images which intrigue them, images which spree them on to think, to wonder and ones which amaze them. These images I publish on here are ones which fit that category to me, they interest me, they push my mind and they allow me to continue how I think about the visual as a basis for any future research.

My ambition is to become a credible and experienced visual researcher, I know to do so and to become successful I'm battling against the criticisms of more established qualitative methodologies even of content analysis. The original marginalisation of the image within research and my own personal interest is what drives me, and I guess you should always follow where your drive takes you and challenge those that seek to judge your approach, not to battle down their beliefs upon them but to try and allow them to see other possibilities, other ways of looking outside the box, of seeing the world around them.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Coloured London Blitz

Although coloured photographic film was available, the majority of visual records of wartime life, warfare and people remained captured in black and white with the rare exception coming from magazine publications, such again as Life magazine. Across TV and radio - most especially the BBC there has been a big recent screening of the outbreak of war with German 70 years ago. And I guess to some extent this has increased my interest in trying to hunt out and capture on my blog images regarding the more personal home and feminine side of the war.

Yet as most of the war time images are black and white in nature, it was a pleasant surprise to find these images taken in September 1940 of the carnage and fallout of Nazi bombs upon the streets, landmarks and homes of London by William Vandivert upon the website for Life magazine.

A small number of onlookers peer into the immense crater of the bomb causing a London double decker bus, we can only now assume, to drive into. The bus stop sign perches upright, the only normality in the sea of destruction of the shop fronts in the background.

Smoke from burning fires creates a hazy outlook towards St Paul's, a landscape of burnt out buildings, only the faded and greying cream façades maintaining their domination of the scene. the greying skies matching and the tension and atmospheric scene of wartime London.

Busy flat cap and waistcoating wearing workers try and clear up the rumble from a strike on what seems to be a private dwelling. The sturdy houses either side maintain their upright positioning, seemingly unaware of the hit next door, only the patterned and yellow wallpaper of the fallen house remains attached to the dwelling on the left, the opened doorways. The new space allowing us to look through to what appears to be, yet another bombed out residential street behind the trees. We can only question if the occupiers survived.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Wartime Feminine Spirit

During the same time of finding the image of the movie theatre showing Gone With the Wind (see the post below) Life magazine has a mass of images recording wartime London. Through my own visual interests and research exploring representations of femininties within contemporary images, I'm often drawn to comparisons historically and across societies. While most often subservient and passive to the control and power of the masculine body, it is often the feminine body which maintains and holds together the backbone of society, continuing norms and practices, this can most especially be seen and considered during WWII.

With many of the working aged male population fighting the terror of Hitler and Nazism, women became the working hands and labour in maintaining British ways of life, of working the fields, nursing, driving ambulances, working in the factories through to serving as Wrens.

These images captured by B. Scherman in September 1941, offer a femininity in touch with serving the nation but of maintaining both Britishness and their own pleasure and femininity of being a women even within a war.

Sat peacefully reading a magazine in a deserted space in London, this women wearing her Women's Auxiliary Air Force uniform sits alongside her gas mask marking the constant threat of possible German raids even when trying to catch a quiet five minutes.

The limited number of delivery boys is most overtly shown within this image of a young women her tricycle parked up as she delivers towels. Her femininity is redressed into an all in one playsuit, the surrounding streets edge in V for Victory signs and war time advertisements - even one for a theatre.

In Trafalgar Square, War Time love still has time to blossom with an English girl sitting and relaxing alongside her lover - a solider for the Canadian Army. For the moment the fear of the war is forgotten as they relax against the edge of the monument. Who knows the ending of their story? Did he return home safe?

In what seems a world and a situation far from the horrors of fighting or the bombed out homes which littered London probably only streets away from this Soho Restaurant. The waitress offering the male his food, another looking out onto the street.

Only the 'S' sign for an available air raid shelter demarks this street and even era as something abnormal. Figures slowly walk in an everyday manner along this what looks like a residential London street, the smartly dressed women, her coat fitted and her hand gasping her black handbag sauntering along this street. Her pale coat echoing the whiteness of the pole - marking the lost innocence of the period.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


Random evenings leave me to randomly stumble across the Internet, sometimes looking for old pictures of film stars, movie prints but sometimes just more normal things, to hunt down pictures of places I've been to or lived. Although the people and the age of the image remain nameless and unknown on the majority of the prints I've found upon Old UK Photos they capture a changing era.
Here at Filey, this image captures a lady and three children only one of which - a young boy wearing his cap, look back yet not directly at us. With the high tide lapping by the slop back to the promenade, the children look down into the waves. We can only imagine the warning suggestions to keep back from the sea coming from their guardian or mother behind them, her hands gripping and pulling up her long skirt to save the material from the seas wetness. Yet in the background a hazy figure hangs daringly, his hand gripping into the rung of the metal railings.

Again at Filey this is a scene still captured with endless pony and donkey rides up and along the beach. The lines of unhappy looking pony's can still be seen today as they are so truly visualised in this images the girl in the foreground her face painted in shadow as she sits side-saddle awaiting her ride.

Bridlington in the 1890s showcases the ability and role of the British seaside in being a space for the masses highlighted through the vast numbers of people filling the scene, most especially in the mid ground of people spilling down into the sea. In the foreground our eyes are drawn to capturing the smartly suited men and delicately women carrying their parasols to shade from the suns glare, both sexes leisurely strolling and catching the sea air, and atmosphere credited for improving the health.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The One

In the lulls of daytime TV one of my watching delights that I will confess to, is watching The Wright Stuff on a morning on Channel 5 - its the only reason why I ever watch the channel. The show is often rather random, mixing up a skip through the morning papers, featuring debates regarding the most hard hitting, non reality based topics you could think of. Often there's something light-hearted topic about marriage, love or dating, and today one question was about "the one". Does everyone have a special person they are seeking to find and spend the rest of their life with? Do they even exist in the first place? How do you even know when the One has turned up and they are standing right in front of you? Or is it only when they are slipping away that something kicks in your head, the cogs turn and you realise just what you do have, that this is the person you willing to fight to keep?

According to the show - the statistics from which I'm remembering off the top of my head as a quick search upon google is being rather fruitless claimed (in whatever crazy sample this "research" used) that 2/3 of men, compared to 1 in 5 women, believed everyone has a One. A special person to spend forever with. But why is it that men are more believing?

I guess this is where we need to think about soul mates? Is there even such a thing? Google 'soul mates' or 'finding the one' and you'll get endless numbers of virtual pages about how to find, and how to keep that magical person. We probably perceive the One to be based upon a union based on love, but is there something more? Something deeper when the honeymoon period of any romance passes that creates the joining of two beings? Or in reality it is something more tangible? Of sharing the same personal and social backgrounds, interests and dreams? Is the one - your soul mate, the person you can see you at your worse? Who will see you moody and tired, who will stand by you good and the bad.

To a point I thought the plank might have been the one - well he was somewhere near close to imagining what the One would be like. I could be me, mad, random, laughing, I could talk about uni, life and whatever dreams I am. At the time he was the One, but now in retrospect he really wasn't - he diminished every thought I had about politics, about life and my views on things, I daydreamed too much and I didn't understand enough about sport. Furthermore he hated my love for old things. My heart was misleading me.

When you find your soul mate do you just know is it just the gut inert feeling that you get when you see, talk to or be with them? You start to feel safe, yourself and secure, most importantly you just know that they are there. I guess the key is to be open minded and patient and accept the people that come into your life - whether they come to be your soul mate or just as a friend to be the person that they are, not what you want them to be.

And I guess one day he'll tap me on my shoulder and I'll just know he's my soul mate and that I want him to stick around for forever.