Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween Photos!

What a perfect excuse to trawl through the infamous and my favourite Life Magazine for some Halloween inspired vintage photographs! Over here in the UK I think the promise and the magic of Halloween is only ever increasing, while its moving away from the original pagan festival its a night of the dark, the mysterious and hidden promises!

I remember trick or treating as a child and having a bucket of water thrown over myself and my friend from the bathroom window and the howl of laughter as we were drenched. Looking back it was a happy time!

[In 1940 the guests of the American radio actress Doris Dudley enjoy an eventful Halloween party. Photographed by John Philips the guests include (left to right) the radio actress Adelaide Klien, Doris Dudley, an unknown male guest and Joan Havoc - her facial expression is priceless!!]

[The same party as above Doris Dudley and June Havoc are captured chatting and relaxing after the party]
[Student from Fricot Ranch School enjoy and celebrate Halloween in a cave based party. Taken in 1958 by Nat Farbam we are the guests of witches; ghouls; bats and masks]
[A child is captured in his skeleton costume all set for Halloween in 1960]

[Hubert Humphery, the former vice President under President Lydon (I think) is captured in 1964 enjoying a mid flight Halloween party]

Have a spooky Halloween!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Shirley and I

Whenever I see old pictures of myself from my childhood, say of me four and under, I'm always shocked at how much I look like Shirley Temple [the infamous innocent looking child actress].

And its not only me and my eyes which think this. The ringlets for curly hair has been a trait passed down one side of my family, yet get to the age of six and a shorter hair cut they vanished. I still have some element of my natural curl left, but not as good, or as pretty as they once were. But then maybe all young children with ringlet hair look like little Ms Temple.

Its good to see pictures of your childhood to see where your from, how you've changed, how you once were. I was a child always dressed in dresses of all kinds, I was a go happy, ribbon in my hair, red shoe wearing child. Its weird in comparison - as you can tell from yesterdays post I'm not the best, or the most confident in wearing dresses, yet I still love red shoes!

[Shirley Temple, image taken from here]
[Peek a boo! Me and Shirley even share the same dress it seems!]
[Such skinny legs, curly leg and pretty shoes!]

And while I remember, I hope you all have a fabulous Halloween!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

My hatred of shopping ...

Okay, I'll admit it - I hate clothes shopping, I have a horrid, horrid time trying to find anything at goes anywhere near suiting me. There's probably a few reasons why -

  • a) My head still thinks I'm two sizes larger then I am. Being once a 16 my head when picking things thinks I'm still that size and I'm therefore still relearning what things suit a size 12.
  • b) I have big boobs - and I hate them, even after loosing weight they haven't decreased - oh how I wish they would. They really are the vain of my life!
  • c) I am an hourglass figure even with larger boobs I have hips [of which I like - they keep my jeans up half the time]. But clothes just don't seem to fit, when I say this I mean dresses in particular and skirts to an extent. I WANT to be able to wear them! But they never fit/hang/style right. They'll fit on the boobs but just drown me out.
So today it feels like I wasted five hours of my life [mind you being unemployed I don't have anything else to do] clothes shopping for my graduation. I could of gone down the monochrome black and white look, which if anyone knows the associated football team of Newcastle it really would have been appropriate. Instead I went for purple, it's my favourite colour anyway.

But I just don't know if I now like it. In the shop when I tried it on it looked great! Now at home I'm not too sure, I have the fear it makes me look bigger then I actually am.

[Up close its a mixture of material and styles, it is very pretty]
It definitely needs black tights and more then probably some kinda hold me in scaffolding from the old M&S. I still don't know if I like it, hmmm. Maybe its because I'm not use to seeing me in a dress, or its too short, or the wrong colour, or makes me look all boob. But at least with graduations the gowns are always too big so they'll hide whatever I wear anyway!

Maybe it'll grow on me, until then back to the trousers and wishing I had legs like Betty Grable [but then again don't we all!].

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Postcard From the Past

[click for larger, and clearer image]
Through sorting out the half of my grans old photograph albums we stumbled across an old postcard sent to my granddad from his grandma. Capturing Hirst Wood near Skipton in West Yorkshire - where his grandma lived, we're assume from the postmark that the postcard was sent to my granddad in Hull, East Yorkshire in the September of 1930. Stamping the penny red stamp at possibly 6 or 8 [?] AM [if anyone else can read this any better - I'd be glad to hear your thoughts!].

I think the simplicity of this post should be left in stating the note between grandma and grandson ... sometimes simplicity is best ....

"Dear Arthur,
How would you life to go rambling in this wood?
That is what I've been doing,
With love,

Monday, 26 October 2009

Mr and Mrs Andrews

Let me introduce you to Mr and Mrs Andrews. This couple, immersed in their country estate have followed and popped up in my life, rather a few times. In a way they are my inspiration, they point me in the right direction, just knowing they are there, looking on and watching helps a little.

I was inspired to post this after reading on the Madeleine Wunderkammer's delightful blog and post regarding her adventures in the National Gallery down in London. The National Gallery is additionally where Mr and Mrs Andrews proudly hang, surveying and watching the endless streams of art onlookers. They have come a far way since being painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1750. As an artist, Gainsborough made his name with two main passions in his work - that of portraiture and landscape, which in turn Mr and Mrs Andrews encompass.

[Mr and Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough 1750. Image taken from the National Gallery, London]

The marriage between Robert Andrews who at the age of twenty two wed his sixteen year old bride Francis Carter occurred two years before this oil painting was commissioned in 1748. The couple sit in their "unmistakably English" landscape, of the fertile lands of Andrews estate in North Essex underneath an oak tree, one which still grows in the same position even today.

I first came across the couple when I was in Secondary School between English Literature and Art classes, of the greats and the talents of old masters, of old art styles. With a leaning towards older, more historical art over its modern contemporaries the relationship and the surroundings of man and wife has always intrigued me. Now they seem to pop up at the most random of times, or in retrospect not really so random. Through my geography degree the first reappeared through the possibilities of studying the landscape, yet not something I thought of until I began my Masters Degree and properly studied and read up on the workings and analysis of the landscape as a feminine entity, of how artist representations marginalise the feminine from the view.

And this occurs to an extent within Mr and Mrs Andrews, but with an all important twist. Within this work the landscape is masculine, it is Mr Andrews standing within his landscape. He's stood looking active, dog at foot. While he benefits from the fortunes of his fertile landscape, none of his workers are depicted, only the lush fields. The masculine is dominant and active, the feminine in turn is considered to be passive, merely seating. Mrs Andrews is just a feature in the landscape, her husband its owner.

In some manners, Mrs Andrews is a passive feminine figure in her husbands landscape. She herself remains unfinished, the brown patch on her lap is debated as space for either sewing or child. She is sandwiched between tree and the rococo bench, sitting and subjected to the masculine gaze of her spectators.

And here lies the turn.

Traditionally women within landscape imagery are narrated as rarely returning the masculine gaze. Their eyes are normally turned away, downtrodden, looking out from the sides of the frame. There rarely looking back at us. Mrs Andrews returns our gaze, she looks straight at us, questioning and returning our look. She may be passive in their landscape, yet as a body, she remains somewhat empowered.

Mrs Andrews reminds me of the need to do my visual research, she reminds me that women really aren't as passive as first conceived within discourses.

And if you ever get to the National Gallery, do tell Mr and Mrs Andrews I said a welcoming hello, I will no doubt be stumbling over them again sometime soon.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Stitch, stitch, stitch!

I often resist the consumer urge to think about Christmas till after Bonfire night [November 5th], battling the constant media and store advertising to spurge, to buy now, to stock up and decorate. Yet this year I'm battling against time to finish this table cloth of Christmas designs. Although its not huge, its only really a centre piece, yet its large enough to require a lot of time, thought and consideration.

Moreover in the process I've had to learn how to embroider. While I've been cross stitching for years since being taught by my mam and producing a pile of work that still awaits mounting. I've never been able to embroider, or really never been given the opportunity or even reason to learn. Until this tablecloth was offered after sorting out my gran sewing things in her passing. So now i'm trying to find tune the workings of steam, buttonhole and satin stitches, anything more currently passes me by ... at least I only have to follow the lines!

So it's now become my mission, choosing the silks was half a task but now I'm battling against time. While I have two months left, I have boarders, lines, squirrels, robins, Christmas trees and mistletoe to finish, I may however be finishing it on Christmas Eve!

Christmas sewing

Does anyone else embroider? Doing any sewing projects?

Hope you all have a delightful weekend!

[Laptop update: I'm still on the old one, still hitting the random keys and it turns on. While I do have some replacements in mine, money is rather tight and I'm trying to make this one work as long as I can. And while it still works my posts will continue! It will take more then a half dead laptop to stop me and my blog!! Thanks to all of you who helped and left comments with regards to my technical hitch, means a lot!!]

Autumn Colours

The one thing I love about autumn is the colours, the ever changing colours of the leaves before they steady flutter to the ground beneath them. The changing temperatures between night and day creates the most beautiful and all natural collection of Mother Natures beauty. Alongside the growth and the energy of Spring, I truly believe Autumn is just as majestic.

From the greens to yellows, oranges, browns to pink and reds nature is truly showing us its beauty. To be able to capture Autumn and nature as it changes is always worthy of a posting.

Autumn Colours
Autumn Colours

Friday, 23 October 2009

High Bouncing Lover

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry 'Lover, gold hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!'

Thomas Parke d'Invillers

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Mirror and Brushes

Back in the end of September, I posted about three vintage finds I just love here on my blog, I posted them because I just adored them, they were finds i'd just love to call mine because they were so delightful and pretty, and in their own way, a little different. Fate turns out, with the help of JJ they are now mine! Yey!

Vintage Vintage

The two brushes are silver, their tops adorned with flowers and swirls, in the middle of the largest of the pair two initials of WW are engraved, possibly the name of its former owner. The mirror itself appears to be a simple hand mirror, its handle made of glass, its backing pearly and green, somewhat art deco in style, yet its simplicity can be changed with the pushing up of the handle. Attached to the back of the mirror with a ball jolt the handle can be positioned right against the back.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Girl and the Mule

Even with technical hitches I still have to blog. Word on the laptop is well, its having a turn of slightly wanting work - hit random keys when its starting and it wants to work. But for the future, the hard drive is on its last legs and my blogging will get back to normal service once I buy a new one!

How could I not post such an adorable little picture, a girl sat at her dolls house table, doll on hand, her cereal and milk before her as she offers a carrot through the window or leading him when she peddles her bike. This image taken by Allan Grant in 1950 from Life Magazine capturing a series of images documenting a young girl and her activities, leading, riding and feeding with what we can assume is her 'pet' horse/mule.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Technical Hitch

Due to the delights in the ease of modern technology giving up [oh they don't make things like they use to] my laptop has ceased to work another day. So while I'm "borrowing" the parents my posting may come a little hit and miss till I can grow a money tree to buy my own!
Hopefully this won't be for too long and I will be coming back to check [daily I'm hoping] and see what everyone else is up too!
And if anyone in the UK knows of any decent laptop deals on the go at the moment then I'd love to know about them!
Happy blogging!

Image taken from here.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

My Marhill Compact

Marhill, was once one of the leading manufactures of mother of pearl gifts and accessories for the glamorous 1950s women, producing stylish and practical powder compacts, mirrors, lipstick holders to cigarette holders and cases. Based upon 5th Avenue in New York, Marhill regularly came to fashion and produce powder compacts adorned with a single, and complete sheet of mother of pearl decoration most popular during the 1950s. Anyone can have a quick search on ebay and just see how rare and therefore how hard it is to purchase or even find a Marhill compact.

And there is presented the most divine and glamorous addition to my vintage powder compact collection from my own special addition, JJ [to whom I also have to thank for the pictures]. Upon the sea and swirls of the ever changing, light flickering mother of pearl cover, changing from whites to pinks to greens and blues to simple yet perfect butterflies casting their flight. Opening the case reveals the infamous Marhill purple sticker and the golden plate to cover the loose powder.

When you find someone who just knows what you adore, who just knows what will make you happy, then you know your onto something special. And this compact is just so pretty, so feminine and already ever so loved.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

My Guilty Strictly Pleasure

Since starting as as student [what feels like years and years ago now] I've been a fan of the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing. By taking a bunch of male and female B and C list celebrities, partner them up with professional dance partners and have four professional judges and you get a show for all the family.

Far from being the fan of "reality" tv, or following a "journey" its the performances, the dresses and the dances. My knowledge of dances itself is limited to musicals and Fred and Ginger Rogers but just being able to see something that is entertaining, fun and bringing dancing back to the masses.

As for my favourite this year, I'm backing the former Eastenders star Natalie Cassidy she just has a passion and excitement for the dancing that is riveting.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Within These Walls #2

Surfing around on Flikr I came across a photo entitled "within these walls" capturing the end of a row of terraced homes in the east end of Newcastle.

Portrayed straight on the rest of the street remains hidden, only this demolished home can be seen, its former home, decoration its former wallpapered and painted walls remain as if it was the last part of its former owners where clinging on. Yet even the wallpaper is peeling away to reveal is layers of life, its former colours, former shades and the tastes of its former owners - its other life. Each room has a different shade of vibrancy, their original fireplaces somewhat covered up, yet the greenest and the sense of how established the grass before the house is, reminds us this hasn't been a home for quite some time.

This image alone reminds me of the importance of the home in our everyday life. Its where we come back to relax, to entertain, to establish and settle our roots. Another post of mine in previous weeks focused upon the role and the importance of the kitchen table in establishing and maintaining the family household. Now I invite you to take a trip around the home. Continuing from the kitchen we venture into the living room.

The living room, additionally termed the lounge, sitting room, parlour or front room depending on your class and your country is often the space for entertaining, relaxing, playing, reading and watching TV, furnished with sofas, rugs, fireplaces. While once the living room may have been the place for family games, playing boardgames, laughing and joking, today numerous elements of "modern technology" which the living room, and sadly to a point - modern life is becoming increasingly focused around most especially - the TV. Rather then playing games, the TV is becoming the entertainment slave, the thing to keep the children out of mischief.

[Unless otherwise stated all images are taken from Life Magazine]

Even the stars relax in their living room as shown within a collection for Life entitled "Olivier & Wife", the partnership between Lawrence Olivier and then wife and Gone with the Wind star Vivien Leigh curled up on their sofa with their pet cat. Taken in London in 1946 by Hans Wild, the pet cat becomes the centre point of the image, highlighting the relaxing, the importance of the living room as a place to sit back.

Mrs Goldwyn stands, cigarette in hand in her living room in 1952 in an image taken by Gjon Mili. The wife of Samuel Goldwyn an American film director dresses elegantly, adorning her pearls as if to entertain the viewers or perhaps awaiting the rival of her guests.

This image most overtly highlights one of my opening points. While in 1954 when this image of the Waidmann's children a girl sitting on the floor perhaps alongside her two brothers, a child watching the TV may have been more strictly controlled with only a certain allowance of hours a day to watch the children orientated programmes. Now the TV is the thing to keep child out of trouble, rather then playing with children, the TV can do it itself but at the risk of children loosing their proper childhood. The living room is becoming the home of the TV.

From left to right sits Princesses Cecille, Marie des Neiges and Marie-Therese, Prince Xavier's daughters sat happy and chatting in the sitting room of their family home of Ligniers France in 1959. Behind them hang Old Master paintings, possibly of their ancestors while they chat on hard back chairs.

Sitting in the living room designed by her father - the architect Eliot Noyes, Derry sits upon the fireplace playing with her accordion in the sunlight cast through the windows. According to the original caption provided by Life Magazine, this image taken by George Silk in 1963, captures in the foreground a vase holding various pretty and delicate shades of pink carnations designed by Pablo Picasso.

Original photograph removed form the internet apparently.

A Tyneside family from North Shields poses for Sirkka Liisa Konttien in May 1981, at according to the clock sat upon the chimney breast at nearly 2:30 in the afternoon. Mother sits, a son on her lap alongside a further three chirpy and smiley yet somewhat regimented children sitting crossed legged on the rugged floor. Only fathers crossed legs appearing out of the right of the frame reveals his presence and one again the TV, while sidelined to the corner of the room will be the entertainment hotspot.

As a space the living room allows families to get together, sadly though often around the tv - that is the draw back of modern life. Yet its uses are many fold, yet maybe they are fading.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I Miss Newcastle!!

There I've said it ... I'm missing Newcastle, I don't know if its because I'm hating the change of moving to the countryside and back "home" but I miss the city, its buzz and its life. Its oh so quiet in the countryside. Its the place where I feel I belong. So I'm reminiscing by looking through old photographs of the city, but mostly focusing on the people - the Geordies.

I need to get back up there, somehow, some way, its the only place I seem to feel settled.

Capturing the launching of the World Unicorn ship in 1973, this image is part of the "river project" collection by Sirkka Liisa Konitten. Looking back now it recalls and documents a city and way of life built around the River Tyne which made the cities fortunes. It was a city of industry, of power and community. I first saw the launching of this ship in a film by Amber, it all seemed out of a movie as the massive hulk of the ship towered over the terraced streets of the east end of the city. I just adore how this little moggy is sat in the middle of the quiet street, the only signs of life to be found at the far end.

Peaceable Kingdoms additionally taken from the online collection of Amber. In this picture taken by Peter Fryer a young, what appears a girl sits up on a chair looking over the ricky wooden fence at the neighbouring allotment owner. His expression shows a happy, cheerful situation and atmosphere between these two characters.

Taken in 1959 along Park Road in the west end of Newcastle down in Scotswood, I just love the happy stance, the friendly, loving hold between the girls. Maybe they are friends? Or sisters standing for a family portrait. Are they wearing their Sunday best? Their shiny clean shoes and their happy smiling faces as a seagull circles above them. Again from the Amber collection of Newcastle based images.

Far from seeing line upon line of yellow buses and taxis now outside the Theatre Royal along Grey Street, a line of elephants are paraded down the street, perhaps down to the quayside.

A group of young children play with junk in front of the looming Byker Bridge taken in 1971 by the Swedish photographer then living in the area - Sirkka Liisa Konttien. With the Ouseburn [now a site of major redevelopment] hidden away in the valley below, the looming towers of the city centre hide in the hazy background.

Back in Scotswood this picture looks down what was once Clara Street towards Dustan Power Station over the River Tyne. Capturing a soggy, drizzly [and often typical Newcastle day] a child strides up the steep road, a dog rushing out of the frame, perhaps her mother looking, encouraging her tired child on. Row upon row of these terraced streets where demolished through large scale regeneration plans, often plans that never saw the light of day, at the expense of ruining many communities. 

Update - all the pictures that were used in this blog when it was first written have since been taken offline from whatever sources they were taken from.

York Help Required

I'm posting this in the vain hope that someone might just be able to help. After moving back to the area i'm out of sorts at knowing where any vintage or vintage inspired shops can be found in York. I'm just hoping that someone could pass on some shops or places they know of?

I need a look in a good old fashioned and inspired shop!!

[York Minster 1942 Life Magazine]

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

My Able Grable - Miss Scarlett Street Blouse

I'm the kinda girl that rarely ever wins much, BUT via Able Grable [the most delightful vintage 1930s and 1940s reproduction collection with their very own blog]. Through spotting the "name the new house model" competition, which I just had to suggest Betty in honour of my favourite Betty, Ms Betty Grable. In addition to be hot like the pin up star that Betty was, was to be credited as an "able Grable".

And, as you guessed my suggestion won! And for my prize I was delightfully presented with the most divine Miss Scarlett Street black satin blouse, which arrived yesterday. With the excitement of a child at Christmas, I just adore the amazing cut, shape and texture of this blouse, the images and the blouse I just had to share - even if my hair was having a funny day.

My bow went a little floppy and one sided!

Clothes list:
Necklace - Sliverado
Blouse - Able Grable
Trousers - H&M

Thank you Able Grable!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Byker Reinvented

In 1983 photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, one of the key founders of the Amber collective documenting Newcastle past and present, published an now infamous collection of one of the poor marked areas of the east end of Newcastle - that of, and entitled Byker. Documenting the terraced streets which she lived among for seven years, her work captures the hazy lines of row upon row of working class homes, the people and the faces, three of which can be seen below.

Twenty years on Konttinen has returned to the ground which created and marked her fortune, yet Byker has changed in her absence. Living across the street in Heaton as a student, Byker was always on my doorstop, while the streets showed is downturn, its marginalisation away from the city centre and the reinvestment provided to other areas of the city Byker is a melting pot for cultures.

Many of the original streets documented in 1983 no longer exist, redevelopers bulldozed the terraced streets, the communities pushed apart to make way for intended redevelopment and building of the Byker Wall. Now her works focuses upon this "wall" of flats. While granted the dedication upon UNESCO's list of outstanding 20th century buildings, Byker Wall is credited with poor living conditions and lacking a sustainable community. Konttinen herself states she was drawn to the hard to let flats, ones often let out to refugee families.

The aim of this revisit to Byker is clearly noted, and in sharp contrast to the former black and white images these pictures and people are documented in vivid sharp colours.

"I wanted to give the people living in these flats a photograph they would be proud to present to the world, something to introduce themselves to their neighbours. People don't often know the people who live next door. It's my little fantasy, creating a virtual community through these portraits."

[Lee Hill, a teacher, and Betty Hill, an artist Byker 2006]

"The man ... at first he seemed a typical Byker lad, but he had a Lebanese grandmother. They were about to move out, and the whole place was in boxes. ... his dog, a bull terrier, appeared from the kitchen and leapt up onto the seat; the father started blowing soap bubbles. The dog got so excited – snapping, trying to catch the bubbles" (Cited from The Guardian)

[Colin 2009]

Monday, 12 October 2009

An autumnal Yorkshire walk

Yorkshire countryside, a camera, the autumn colours and messing around on flikr and you end up with images capturing the changing seasons and the reason for a good escape into the countryside.