Tag Archives: art

HELLO & Goodbye, August!

The month has gotten away from me! We’ve been too busy feasting on heirloom tomatoes, sandwiched between homemade bread with salty potato chips on the side. We’ve baked pies and ate our weight in summer cherries and vanilla ice cream. We’ve hiked and planted flowers in new flower pots and danced around the house to whatever was playing and generally let the day steer our direction. We’ve been soaking up the sun and just enjoying the art of being before school begins anew. But, I’ll be back soon with lots to share.

{Image Janet Hill, Julie’s Marvelous New Swim Cap // Pinned HERE}

Seven

Out of the one hundred or so houses on our street, there are only seven houses left with Christmas lights still up. Not everyone on our street decorates their house, but enough do, to make our little street feel festive. As I walked to meet Mr. Michie after work last night, the street felt so very dreary. Those seven houses were a welcoming glow in the dark.

Our little house still has twinkle lights up and the decorations are still hanging. They will come down soon, but I’m soaking every last drop out of them that I can. January is such a dark month, it feels that we need all the twinkle and glow that we can get.

Once the decorations do come down and the house is thoroughly cleaned, there will be more candles out and some tiny twinkle lights still tucked here and there. It in this sparseness of winter that I feel the most need to fill our home with light. It is something that I always notice when we are in Denmark. Candles lit in restaurants and coffee shops all day; peering in through windows as we wind our way back to our little nest for the evening and spying rooms a glow with candlelight. Even one little candle shines with a warmth and hue that makes even the darkest spaces feel cozy and inviting.

If my weather checker is correct it appears that snow is on the horizon for us near the end of the month and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for at least one good snow day. A day with no school and the streets are quiet and the sounds of sledding can be heard and inside there is candles, music, laughter, homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and movie watching underneath a pile of blankets.

{Andrew Davidson // Pinned HERE}

The In-between Days

Reading through various blogs and scrolling through Instagram, oohing and aaahing at people’s photos of snow, which I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for, I’ve seen many people who have discussed their dislike for this time between Christmas and New Year’s. The general feeling is that we are in a holding pattern, just circling, waiting for the next year to begin. That these are the wasted days before the next big hoorah.

I don’t feel that way at all during this “in-between” time. I think this is the chance to truly relax, to enjoy the season. For the world is quieter around you and you can take it all in. There is a natural slowness to our rhythms at this time and I savour that pace.

Unlike others I’ve seen who took down their decorations on the 26th, ours are still going strong and they will continue to do so until Epiphany (January 6th) and to be honest, maybe a little longer than that. Then the twinkle lights shall be replaced by more candles and a handful of spring blooms. But we are still in winter and I don’t wish away these days. I like to revel and appreciate the season that I’m within.

These “in-between” days also hold another kind of magic for us, as today one of the inhabitants of this little cottage celebrates a birthday. So there is a cake cooling on the counter, dough rising on the stove and a birthday meal soon to be prepared as per the birthday boy’s wishes.

But, everything is still being done at a languid pace as we continue to enjoy the last drops that this year has to offer. And I think that is how it should be.

{Linocut Vanessa Lubach // Pinned HERE}

Dennis Severs’ House

Yesterday, I had a long time wish fulfilled. Wishes being fulfilled are magical in themselves, but this wish was extra special. For many, many moons I have wanted to visit 18 Folgate Street, the former home of Dennis Severs. Yesterday, as a glorious ending to our Thanksgiving weekend and as a start to our Christmas celebrations we headed out to Spitalfields, in the biting Sunday morning air and joined the already formed line waiting to enter behind those coal black doors.

You are not allowed to photograph inside the home; the image above is my only snap of this building. The house belongs to itself, it is its own person, it has its own soul. Yesterday, was their first Christmas opening day. The gas lantern outside was bedecked with pine boughs and red satin ribbons. Christmas trees stood guard at either side of the entrance. It was charming and felt very Dickensian.

You enter into the house in small groups. As you travel through the rooms, you make your way in silence. Your journey takes you through time. The fireplaces are lit with wood or coal. The only light sources in the house, come from a combination of natural light through the windows and the flickering glow of candles.

Each room is its own experience. The smell of a fire in the kitchen, intermingled with the heady scent from the bowls filled with raisins and citrus on the main table, soon to be turned into something delectable by the cook, no doubt. The tapping of the faucet in the sink was a cheery kerplunk, as vegetables waited in a strainer to be washed. There was fresh bread, a slice already cut off, ready to be stabbed with a toasting fork and held over the fire. A gingerbread man garland was strung above the fireplace, their faces smiling out at you from the candlelight glow around the room. It was cozy, it was warm and inviting after waiting outside in the cold, it was the kind of place you would want to come and have a cup of tea and a chat, or simply curl up by the fire in a chair.

As you made your way up through the house, each room had its own sights, smells and sounds. I was even lucky enough to spy Madge, the resident cat. Who was sitting so perfectly still underneath a chair with the white winter light streaming over her fur, for a moment, I thought she wasn’t real. But, her ears twitched and I bent down to rub her silky ebony fur and was rewarded with a long purr before she dashed down the hallway.

As you enter each room, it is as if the occupants of that room have just slipped out a hidden door and you are trespassing into their world. A letter half finished on the table, the ink still wet on the nib, a cup of tea going cold or the sound of carriage wheels going by. Every element in each space works to create the perfect atmosphere for it to exist within.

The house has a motto: Aut Visum Aut Non!: “You either see it or you don’t.” I saw it. This house spoke to me in such a way. I understood her. I was fascinated watching others travel through the house, who didn’t appear to get it. Or maybe to them, they were getting it. But I think they were seeing, but not really “seeing”.

Etched into the wall of one room in particular is a pyramid. If you didn’t stand in the right place, you might have just missed it. There was a hole in the wall above it and as I peered through a glowing eye was looking back at me. No other person seemed to take that in. They seemed to move about with quick glances. Maybe it is the art historian in me that makes me stop and study? Each room was like a painting. It told a story. It was a puzzle to dissect.

The final room on our journey was the Victorian Parlour and it was so gorgeously decorated for Christmas. The strawberry red velvet curtains against the heavy floral wallpaper were the perfect backdrop for the tabletop tree that was bedecked with ornaments and candles yet to be lit. A box of glass ornaments sat patiently by, waiting for their turn to be hung. A holly and pine garland was strung over the mantel and along the walls. The green leaves with twinges of white gave the room an even more inviting warmth.

As we left the room, I noticed Dennis Severs’ baseball cap sitting on a little corner table, it made me smile. We made our way back down the entrance hall, that from one wall to the other was strung across with boughs of pine and red satin ribbons, that would dance in the breeze every time the door opened. We thanked one of our gracious hosts and out the door we went into the harsh winter light and as the door closed behind us, the spell was broken. Like Alice, in reverse we had stepped through the looking glass back into our world, but I wanted to step back into the world of 18 Folgate Street.

We took a moment to don hats and gloves and then made our way to Spitalfields Market. Everything was too loud, too many people; I wanted to go somewhere quiet to sit and think about all I had just seen. This house spoke to me, I’m still pondering it this morning. I think I will be pondering the magic behind those doors for a long time to come. I am utterly enchanted.

See images from inside the house via their Instagram account.

18 Folgate Street {Wikipedia}

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Frida on White Bench, Nickolas Muray, 1939

A few months ago, Mr. Michie surprised me with tickets to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. She has long been one of my favourite artists and someone that I feel an unexplainable deep connection to. Our tickets were for an early morning entry, which was perfect. It was busy, but not too busy; so you had the luxury of lingering over a piece without the worry you were in someone else’s way.

The show was beautifully presented and laid out in manner that represented and reflected significant stages in her life. There were photographs taken by her father I had never seen before as well as some of her earlier sketches and drawings. There was film footage of her and Diego Rivera at their home, La Casa Azul in Mexico. The Kodachrome colours of the film gave it such a vibrant and dreamy hue.

Upon Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband placed many of her personal belongings inside a bathroom in their home and locked them away. La Casa Azul later became a museum to Kahlo’s life. Shortly before his death in 1957, Rivera made a request to a close friend, Dolores Olmedo, that this room containing Kahlo’s intimate belongings should remain locked for the next fifteen years. Olmedo, seriously took Diego Rivera’s request to heart and decided to keep the room sealed until her death in 2002. It was only after Dolores Olmedo’s death that the museum was able to gain access to the sealed bathroom and then began the process of cataloguing the hundreds of items that had been placed within those walls and frozen in time. As a curator and art historian, that would have been a dream job to have been a part of.

As you moved into the last two rooms of the exhibition, her personal possessions were front and center. The six cases that held some of her most intimate things were laid out in two rows of three. It gave the impression of being within a dormitory as the display cases themselves were beds; replicas of her bed. The irony was not lost on me that her bed was a place that she spent a good deal of time within due to her injuries and multiple surgeries and now her possessions were laid out on a “mattress” between the four posters of these faux beds. The outer walls of this room were lined with photographs and personal letters.

Left: Prosthetic leg with leather boot, 1953 – 4, Mexico. Right: Plaster corset, about 1954, Mexico. Photographs by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Compact and powderpuff with blusher in ‘Clear Red’; Seal-fast nail varnish top coat; Lastron nail varnishes in ‘Frosted Snow Pink’ and ‘Frosted Pink Lightening’; lipstick in ‘Everything’s Rosy’. Photograph by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Just to name a few things, displayed within those cases were her Revlon nail polish bottles, lipstick, sunglasses, Pond’s cold cream, shoes, her plaster corsets that she painted, her prosthetic leg, crutches, and perfume bottles. It was extraordinary to me that these things still existed and the condition they were in, was astounding! If you are very, very lucky an artist’s palette or a few bits of paint that they used might still exist, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine someone’s make-up still being in existence.

The final room of the exhibition contained a huge case in the center of the room, displaying her clothes, with self-portraits, jewellery and other objects along the outer walls. To see so many items of her clothing in person that she had been photographed wearing was phenomenal. To have stared at photographs of her for most of my life and then to see that very outfit in front of my eyes was almost beyond belief.

One thing that struck me in this room was a necklace that had been created out of different sized pieces of jade. At the center hung a carved jade hand that was formed into a fist. It was quite large and I wondered if the weight of that around her neck ever bothered her? Anything that would have put pressure on her spine must have been uncomfortable, but yet she wore the necklace any way.

In a way she curated her own life and her pain through not only her artwork, but her clothing. Each item carefully chosen, colourful lipstick and nail polish carefully applied. Her hair braided in a very specific way with ribbons worked into it. There was an intimacy to this show, it almost bordered at times on being too intimate, like I had snuck into a place I shouldn’t be and opened the dresser drawers and rifled through them. It was an incredibly unique perspective on a woman that I have long admired and in a strange way, seeing so many of her personal belongings almost made her more mythical than not.

*As I enter exhibitions it is sometimes difficult to take off my curator/art historian “hat”, in the back of my mind I’m always considering the layout, I watch how others interact with the displays, or move around the exhibition, I pay attention to signage and font usage… One thing I was fascinated by within this show were the mannequins that were dressed with her clothes. The video below is a captivating look into how the V&A created them. Enjoy!

Hello, Friday!

“Hello, Friday! We’ve been waiting on you all week!”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been waiting for Friday all week! This week has been a roller coaster, but we’ve marched on.

Mr. Michie surprised me ages ago with tickets to see an exhibition of one of my favourite artists, Frida Kahlo. There is an exhibition at the V&A of her personal things. So that’s on the weekend agenda as well as cooking together, listening to music, enjoying the sunshine and soaking up life.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday, wherever you may be today! 

{Image FOUND //  Pinned HERE}