Saturday, 31 May 2014

Whingin' Mingin and the evil one

This is a post for my sister. Who though interesting enough and technologically savy have both decided not to have a twitter account and have in fact eschewed social media all together*.

However working together (for the first time in their lives) they would like to remind my sister that they are more interesting that any moggy she may currently be cuddling

We have the fat (old) lumux/lummox

...and the basket case who is constantly confused as to whether a plastic bag...
 or paper bag...

or box constitutes a basket. 

Never have two pussy cats looked so innocently at one another. 

In the naughty corner:

Patrolling the roof (and pretending she can't get herself down)

just plain crazy
 Learning to share...
because it's essential when there's only one heater on.

 Sunning oneself.

Dominating the vacuum cleaner

Pretending that she can dominate her sister.

Dominating the parcel shelf.

Sleepy time

The only comfy spot. For once she found a soft bunny rabbit to cuddle as opposed to her usual hardback book.
Model looks.

And, in case you've forgotten...

*Mingin did at one point have a My Space account until she realised she would be expected to befriend her sister. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Rediscovering Charles James

I'm a museum nerd, just slightly.
Unfortunately, not to the extent that I have surreptitiously hosted birthday parties within the four walls of my favourite museum, but just enough to keep tabs on the exciting exhibitions around the world that I can't get to, thereby depressing me completely.

The one that initiated the recent bout of depression is Charles James: Beyond Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I discovered the exhibition through the media on this year's Met Gala, and was thrilled to see that appreciation of the beauty and skill of James' constructions is becoming mainstream again after so many years.

Though each dress is in keeping with the general styles of the era, at the same time each one is in a league of its own, standing out as a sculptural masterpiece.

One of the explanations for this is that James did not design to flatter his customers' figure. Rather than taking an imperfect body and using his skills to hide the flaws and emphasis the virtues, he would create an ideal, flattering shape with built-in corsets and bombast so that it was perfect, before draping it in fullsome layers of fabrics. This means that many of his later gowns could quite literally stand up on their own, some weighing as much as 50 pounds.

However the rigidity of the shell and underlying engineering was cocooned in soft drapery that gave the visual impression of complete weightlessness, gliding on air, provided the wearer herself had the grace and sophistication to carry it off.

*The delight in seeing Marisa Tomei wear an original Charles James to the 2011 Academy Awards was dulled by the lack of poise with which she wore the dress. In fact, I felt she made the dress appear almost lifeless, even when compared with a museum mannequin.

Unfortunately, James was not the most diplomatic of couturiers and was equally at home being charming or insulting and abusive towards the very women who were his clients. However for these women, the magic of wearing one of his dresses and achieving that memorable grand entrance into a ballroom made it all worthwhile. As Marc Jacobs said [James] understood human nature, how people want to adorn themselves and be spectacular.  

While James is known for his sculpted ball gowns and cocktail dresses, he is also renown for the fluidity of his early evening gowns and coats. Although still finely sculpted, his coats and jackets demonstrate a surprising softness through the cut of the shoulders or the way the heavy fabric has been allowed to hang before morphing into pleats and hems. Curving lapels were preferred to harsher rectilinear lines, while pockets and pleats are hidden into seams to address practicality and provide some flex and movement to the piece. 

Though Charles James has been appreciated by the fashion world for many years, and his few designs (he only designed about 1000 pieces over a 50 year career) were painted, and photographed  by the leading fashion photographers of the day, it is really only Cecil Beaton's photo below that seems to be recognisable to the general public. And even then they don't necessarily realise that the exquisite gowns are all Charles James. 

Hopefully this exhibition will correct that. 

*Most of the images of gowns are from the The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Historical Homes of Perth

It isn't until you start looking, start digging that you discover them; the houses and homesteads that tie in with the history of Perth and beyond.

I remember knowing about Tranby House, possibly due to a school outing. But its always been there, hovering at the back of my knowledge of Perth History. Only recently have the others been added, due to research actively undertaken or a chance picture hanging on the back of the toilet door. 

While many of these are run by the National Trust and receive some publicity when the Perth Heritage festival is on, others slip through the cracks and almost disappear altogether. 

Ford Street.
Woodbridge 6056 WA

Located at the River's edge between the playing fields of Guildford Grammar and Governor Stirling School this house was built in 1885 by Charles Harper, gentleman farmer of the surrounding land. In fact it was in the Billiards Room of this house that Guildford Grammar began, to combat complaints as to the unruliness of his sons on the train to Hale.

In fact, from the verandahs, one gets a beautiful view across the playing fields (in this age, devoid of sheep) and across the Swan to a flat plain covered in vines.  

Peninsula Farm (Tranby House)
Johnson Road
Maylands 6051 WA

Tranby House is Perth's oldest homestead, built 10 years after settlement to replace two earlier homes in this location.
I haven't visited the house in years, aside from a recent high tea at the attached cafe.

Halliday House
114 King William Street

I'm sad to say I didn't find this house as stimulating as some of the others; though a beautiful house, the rooms were virtually bare by the standards of the time and you had to be incessantly curious to draw out the history of the house.

Samson House
corner Ord Street & Ellen Street

Though now managed by the National Trust (it was previously managed by the WA Museum), this house is officially closed to the public barring the occasional open day when it is well worth a visit. The house and contents are rather exquisite even if the gardens would benefit from some attention. Pay careful attention to the private cinema, and well just outside the old back door. 

Azelia Ley Homestead
Davilak Avenue
Hamilton Hill

A beautiful old house set in the middle of parklands, crammed full of family history and era-appropriate paraphernalia. This museum does a beautiful job of tell the story of the Manning family and if packed full of artefacts many people would remember from their own childhoods. Well worth a visit. My visit is recorded here.

Woodloes Homestead
Woodloes Street

I missed visiting during the Heritage festival this year as I was inundated with other events. However if the website is anything to go by this 1871 homestead, built by wealthy settlers is open on Sundays between February and December. So hopefully I will be visiting soon.

Government House
St Georges Terrace

While this is an historic house, it is still operational and lived in by the current Governor of Perth and his/her family. For this reason it is only occasionally opened to the public. I understand the next open day will be in October but keep your eyes on their website for details.

As I went to publish this, I discovered another:

Curtin Family Home
24 Jarrad Street

A National Trust property that is rarely opened to the public and does not have much presence on the Trust website. Not sure when it will next be open.

** will update this post when I discover more.

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