Saturday, 11 September 2010

One Enchanting Video - 100 Legendary Trunks leads to a thousand more thoughts

This post was going to be a short one, but as I thought about it, I felt I wanted to share more. I've always loved the idea of looking at one thing through history - seeing how it itself changes, an object transforming to suit different things as times change, as well as changing reactions to it - what it means to contemporary people and in what different situations it is used. And how looking at and thinking about one thing can spark a thousand other thoughts.

All this seemed to come together when I watched this video on Lily and the Muse. This truly amazing video is actually part of an ad campaign for the Louis Vuitton book. Both look amazing, I love the video and think the book would make the perfect coffee table companion, to peruse over and dream. I was simply going to share the video and leave it at that. But it got me thinking about history and objects.

The video and book shares 100 legendary trunks, but they are all designer - a small slice of the bigger history. Louis Vuitton are using history to cement the idea of their brand, to evoke thoughts of luxury, heritage, and the past. They are, in the present day, cementing their brand, and making more sales by embracing their history, suggesting, perhaps, superiority and certainly the chance for buyers of the brand to feel part of something larger than just the material product. Looking at this could lead to cynicism, as heritage is blatantly used for commercial purposes. I feel differently, the video is just one of the ways that history can be enjoyed, thought about and embraced.

Reading the book, or simply watching the video (something many more can enjoy, if you, like me, cannot afford the book), can spark so many thoughts. On trunks themselves, how differently they were used in the past (on stage coaches, ships and trains. When men and women travelled with a retinue as well as their possessions. When diplomats in the 19th century, travelled the world, and India rode on elephants, their trunks behind them. Or when kings and queens travelled the country, their court moving with them. Or perhaps think about the men and women who emigrated, with all their worldly possessions in one trunk), compared to the present when we collect our luggage from impersonal suitcases as they circle the conveyor belt at an airport. That is simply the object, but it evokes other thoughts and feelings; ideas of travel, for pleasure, work or emigration. The movements of people that have always occurred, grand tours, trips to the seaside and our own memories of perfect holidays. Not to mention the thoughts of the people who used them and what they put inside.

Just looking at one thing, can mean being inspired by so much more.

Helen at Clio's Curiosities

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A visit to the past, via Lacock Abbey and village

I'm sure this cat posed for the photo

In the grounds leading to the Abbey

A wonderful collection of candles, in a shop full of so much lovely homemade soap

Some old photos on a table in the Abbey

The most glorious rocking horse and wallpaper
Taken from a shelf in a cabinet of curiosities

Don't you just love it when there's a dressing up room

Just done the garments and strick a pose

I loved loved loved this patchwork quilt

The courtyard in the Abbey

Just a few of the old cameras on display
This Saturday I went to Lacock and loved it so much, although it was certainly a surreal experience. The small town was totally quiet, no one about apart from a whole load of tourists and daytrippers milling around and enjoying one of our few days of sun. The village is total picture book fairytale, a proper chocolate box. It's as if the whole place is national trust, rather than just the museum, and abbey house on the outskirts. You can certainly feel the history as you wonder around, although certainly in a strange way. There was a lovely big old barns that had been preserved, and there was even, on that very day, a reunion for those evacuated there during the war! All the shops are quaint and full of rustic and homemade things and we were served in the bakery by women in period serving outfits before going on to have cream teas outside. I mean where could you feel the history more than in a place where Cranford was filmed and Colin Firth strutted around in when the BBC filmed Pride and Prejudice? And that was just the village.

Yes there was more. Lacock Abbey is breathtaking and certainly worth visiting if you can. It's even more steeped in history, you can see the layers, appreciate all that has gone on there. It really feels like something where so much has happened. All I can share is a potted history and hope that it inspires you to visit. The Abbey was founded by Ela of Salisbury in the 13th Century. Her husband witnessed the Magna Carta and she seems to have been a remarkable and powerful woman in her own right. When Henry VIII disbanded the nunnery that was there, part of the building was kept and attached to the grand house that was built there. And so today you can wonder round the Abbey (which was used in two of the Harry Potter films) and then walk straight into the house, which is decked out in former glory as so many National Trust properties are.

And still there's more. In the nineteenth century the house was owned by the Talbots. Fox Talbot invented the photo negative! And so we have two of my favourite things - history and photography. There is a small museum there that is so well done, half box of curiosity with interesting things to show and tell, half exploratory and explanatory, sharing what occurred and its significance. It's a joy to walk around and brilliant that they have a changing gallery space above. I loved the exhibition on significant negatives that was on, so fascinating to see photos entirely differently.

So, I am now in love with Lacock (despite the strange feeling of the village itself) and had a wonderful day - especially with the new Vignette app I downloaded for my HTC phone (available on Android marketplace and the iPhone equivalent). It was so fun to play around with the settings and I think the photos turned out great!

Helen at Clio's Curiosities

Saturday, 4 September 2010

So you wish you could sew...

It seems that there a lot of things that have gotten lost in the past - like the fact that once, sewing was something known by everybody (well, every woman). And I now a lot of people who wish they could create something themselves. I'm one of these people. Inspired by volunteering at the Quilt Museum in York I even wanted to get my own sewing machine and do some of my own projects - sadly me and my mum decided against it at the last minute. I'm going into my final year of University and my spare time is already filled to the brim with other projects that I couldn't add another thing to the mix.

This is why this project is brilliant. I know my blog is not yet very established, but after seeing it in the blogoshpere I couldn't help but share it (also there's a prize. I won't lie, that made my attention linger once I realised I couldn't actually do it myself).

The idea is simple, starting on 27th September and going on until the 4th November, Drucilla and Mathlyd will take you through step by step personal tutorials via a password accessed blog to teach you to sew and embroider. What could be better? Add to the fact that the inspiration came from the glamorous twenties and you'll be creating your own sleep sets (a pillow case, camosile and shorts), and you have a perfect combination.

So head to their blog and take a look.

Helen at Clio's Curiosities

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Reactions to The Illusionist: when history steps in and claims the present


Last week I went with my family to see The Illusionist and it is truly breathtaking. And of course, it's certainly historical. It itself was created, as my dad was quick to often point out, from the unfinished script of Jaques Tati that was written in 1956. He was a French filmaker, director and comedian and the main character of the Illusionist is based on him. This is something I'd loved to know more about, but as I didn't know much at the time, it is not what struck a cord in me.

Directed by Sylvain Chomet (of Belleville Rendezvous - or The Triplets of Belleville if you're not from England like me) the film is typically full of breathtaking animation and artistic swoons. With little dialogue the plot is comparitively simple. Set in the 1950s it follows an old magician performer who travels from Paris to Edinburgh, via a remote Scottish village where he meets a young woman called Alice. She's entranced by the magic he performs, a stark comparision to the world that faces him in the Scottish capital at a time when the old delights are pushed aside for more modern entertainment.

Aside from the beauty of the story and art direction (which should make it worthwhile to watch for any history and art lover), the story captures what it means when one historical or cultural era is replaced by something new. It's hard not to feel for the characters who find they can no longer make a living from the old entertainments (we are also introduced into the lives of a ventriloquist and a trio trapese artists aside from the beginning to be forgotten illusionist). The film seems to comment on how modern societies can brutally push aside past amusements, no longer relishing them, gradually letting them disapear.

There is certainly a melancoly and wistful air to the film, the sense of regret and change is not subtle. To me this seemed somewhat depressing, especially when it is clear that today's society does have one eye on the past, and that things aren't so dismissing as was depicted in the film. If not then many less people would have seen the itself, less would have been entranced with it and attracted to it. The vintage revival is occuring, not just in the blog world but in influencing contemporary and 'new' lifestyle as well. People watch  films, read books, and gorge on the historical features and snapshots into the past. Yes, there is less of place for the old entertainment represented in the film, but there is still a place. It seems to me that people are increasingly embracing alternatives to the modern aspects of our lives. This weekend I also went to the theatre, not to see a play, but in the intimate setting I was one of many captivated by the magicians performing on stage. There was no modern techniques, just the old fashioned magic (or tricks). It was wonderful.

I guess things are always going to move on and away, some things will get left behind, but they will not be forgotten. And they may certainly be enjoyed again.

So look the stills and go and enjoy the film, tell me what you thought and how you reacted to the clear movement of time, as a present man's world increasingly became part of history. And also tell, or think about, if there is something you've done recently where you've felt the touch of the past?

Helen at Clio's Curiosities