Monday, 12 May 2014

The Magical Herbalist...

My new blog 'The Magical Herbalist' is finally here!

For those of you who wish to read & follow, just click on the link below. Much appreciated!

Thanks everyone xox

Monday, 17 March 2014

A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany Exhibition at London's Courtauld Gallery.

Being the little culture-vulture that I am, I couldn't resist heading out on what has been a rather unlikely seasonal start to sunshine-filled March, to view the 'A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany' exhibition, at London's supreme Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House.

'Tis the season for elegant wonderings, pleasure gardens & frolicking amongst the darling buds of Springtime, so armed with my camera & mandatory sketchbook (parasol & period costume optional), I threw-on my prettiest, vintage-inspired, salmon-pink summer dress from Collectif Clothing & one of their nifty-fifties accompanying cardigans, slipped my freshly pedicured tootsies into the vintage, cream wedges my lovely man bought me & made my way on an afternoon free of study...

After spending the past week or so having my brunette head buried deep in books on ancient magick in Herbalism & Phytotherapy, Holistic & Herbal Therapies, plant & flower uses in medicine, cooking etc (I'm becoming quite the little Herbalist). It was a lovely way to spend a day; breathing in the natural beauty around me & treating my magpie-peepers to romantic landscapes, fit for the likes of a fairytales, myths & legends.

I had been meaning to see this exhibition since I first heard about it last year. I was quite surprised to find an exhibition of the likes of one of my favourite British artists J.M.W Turner & German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich on display. They're seemingly more the subject of admiration within institutions as The National Gallery or The Tate Britain, I thought to myself as I purchased my ticket. I smiled pleasantly at one of the lady warders whose facial expression seemed to echo my thoughts. As if telepathically or psychically reading my mind, she began to inform me that the Courtauld's impressive collection stretches from the early Renaissance period, well into the 20th century. And what an elegant setting Somerset House was for such a collection...

Like many, when reflecting on previous exhibitions & displays at The Courtauld Gallery, you're most likely to be greeted by an array of the celebrated artistic works by Impressionists & Post-Impressionists, least likely a collection of British Romantic drawings & watercolours. What impressed me most about this collection, was the fantastic grouping of work silently & yet so powerfully depicting elements of German Romantic landscapes, painted by likes of the great Karl Friedrich Lessing & Caspar David Friedrich to name a few.

Caspar David Friedrich, Moonlit landscape, around 1808.
It was during the late eighteenth century & early nineteenth century that a number of German & British artists appeared on the scene, transforming landscape art in Europe into more romantic & appealing scenes, rather than that of pure observation. Landscape art took on a new level of meaning altogether. It evoked depths worthy of the esoteric, invoked the Deva (spirits of nature). Idealism replaced Realism; an art-form & way of observing that was certainly prized above all by their predecessors... What were eras scarred by the upheaval political revolutions, man & woman alike could gaze in awe at the beauty of what stood before them in all it's idealised & romantic grandeur, their minds wonder. They could, for a momentary gaze in time- ponder, reflect, muse, escape...

To me, these mater-pieces blend the beauty of the European landscape into a dreamy hue of the direct study of nature & the interpretation & limitless ability of the inner eye of the imagination; the third eye if you will. It appears to be a visual dialogue with nature. After all, the most beautiful things in this world are not seen by the naked eye, but are felt, depicted from a man's soul & imagination...

The bijous exhibition features a collection of twenty-six sketched drawings, watercolours & oil sketches. You are treated to the works of Carl Philipp Fohr & Johann Georg von Dillis, in addition to their British contemporaries; Turner, Constable, Samuel Palmer, Thomas Girtin & J.M.W Turner.

Carl Philipp Fohr, The Ruins of Hohenbaden, 1814-15.

'A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany' runs from the 30th of January to the 27th of April 2014.


30 January - 27 April 2014
John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
A ruined fort near Salerno (detail), c. 1782
The Courtauld Gallery.

Carl Philipp Fohr (1795-1818)
The Ruins of Hohenbaden, 1814-15
The Morgan Library and Museum

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Moonlit landscape (detail), c. 1808
The Morgan Library and Museum.

Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)
The Haunted Stream (detail), c. 1826
The Morgan Library and Museum.

Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808-1880)
Landscape with a cemetery and a church, 1837.
The Morgan Library and Museum.


Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
On Lake Lucerne, looking towards Fluelen, 1841.
The Courtauld Gallery.
More about A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany

                                                                    Lover-Doll Presley
                                                                            x TCB x

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A-Jumpin' An' A-Jivin' At The Hula Boogie Jive & Rock N Roll Dance Class.

Hula Boogie Artwork
It's been awhile since I sat down in-front of the ol' laptop & typed away; a new blog post pouring out of my fingers tips into what I see before me, so I thought it was high-time that I got back to it. But, with so many things going on, what was I to find the time to write about? And then it hit me; why not create a post on my latest hobby... 'Jive' & 'Rock N Roll' dancing!

For any of you that know me personally, or for those who have read my blog posts before & 'About Me' section, you will only know too well about my love for all things 1930s-1960s, so after years of dressing in the style of all these bygone eras & staying up to the wee hours listening to my Elvis vinyls on my record player, clutching prettily-framed picture of my handsome boyfriend; fluffy pink mules on & vintage baby-doll draped over my body onto my plush, white carpet, I thought I should take up a few dance styles that I've always wanted to get into, to compliment my knowledge & love for these times & their cultural fashions.

There are tonnes of places in & around London that teach all sorts of vintage styles, but where was I to go & who & what would be right for me? Then, one cold & rainy evening, I was browsing Facebook for some groups & came across 'Hula Boogie'. They host vintage-themed dance nights & events etc., & as it just so happens, teach various dance styles, courtesy of the lovely Julie Miranda... How perfect! I've liked their group for awhile & their nights are great fun, so with no further delay, I visited their website. There, listed, they had various dance classes for beginners, to intermediate levels. I smiled to myself with glee. This is where I want to start, with 'Jive' dancing. It takes lots of practice, like most skills in life, but it's something that covers the basics of most standard 'Rock N Roll' moves & is straightforward enough for a beginner to pick up.
'Jive' dancing is a style of dance often referred to & more commonly classed as the lively & uninhibited variation of the 'Jitterbug'. What many people don't know, is that 'Jive' is actually one of the five, international Latin dances practiced & taught around the world:

"In competition it is danced at a speed of 176 beats per minute, although in some cases this is reduced to between 128 and 160 beats per minute.
Many of its basic patterns are similar to these of the East Coast Swing with the major difference of highly syncopated rhythm of the Triple Steps (Chasses), which use straight eighths in ECS and hard swing in Jive. To the players of swing music in the 1930s and 1940s "Jive" was an expression denoting glib or foolish talk. Or derived from the earlier generics for Giouba of the African dance Juba dance verbal tradition.
American soldiers brought Lindy Hop/Jitterbug to Europe around 1942, where this dance swiftly found a following among the young. In the United States the term Swing became the most common word used to describe the dance. In the UK variations in technique led to styles such as Boogie-Woogie and Swing Boogie, with "Jive" gradually emerging as the generic term." (Wikipedia).
At only £35 for three consecutive Tuesdays, I'd get one & a half hours of nothing but pure '50s energy & atmosphere. That sounded like the perfect combination for me, so after exchanging a few emails, I was booked-in to start a skill that I know would well & truly pay-off at every dance event I will ever go to! FOREVER! Well, until I'm too old to move & my knees give way hahaa!
Jive dancing!
Hoards of grey, seemingly generic looking, business-suit cladded men fumbling loudly through their fresh-smelling copies of the Evening Standard. Groups of expressionate & excited tourists bumping into everything as they attempt to squeeze their colourful rucksacks onto the already uncomfortably over-crowded train. The odd, tired student, ipod on, eyes closed, leaning against the train doors, or slumped into to their seat, seemingly unaware of which stop is theirs or not, sneaking in a much-needed nap after a day of lectures. All this pushed & shoved onto the rush hour Northern Line...

I embarked on my journey from my local; Camden Town Underground Station. I made sure I left with ample time ahead of me, knowing that the cruel mistress that is the London underground
planned a far from a pleasant journey for me. As I waited impatiently, tapping my toes on the platform, I imagined that I was a dame from one of those old, dreamy, black & white movies I admire so much; eagerly awaiting the steam train as is huffed & puffed its way towards me... White hanky on the ready! All of a sudden, I felt my thoughts drift to another scenario I preferred more than that; "Platform 9 & 3/4 ready for boarding the Hogwarts Express..." Those of you who are avid fans of Harry Potter like myself will know what I'm talking about. Wishing I was wheeling my cat or owl familiar, along with my trunk, my train of thought, if you pardon the pun, was derailed by a rather unexpected flash of your standard, London underground train, bodies blended as one in a dull array of mixed colour, faces melted & ghostly by the speed of the train. I glimpsed the board displaying the train times in its usual, dim yellow hue. Everything the same as always, but not my journey. This time, my destination was very different. This time my destination was the past!

The platform was pilling-up with the unsuspecting sardines, ready for the tin that will be their guide home. I took a deep breath & prepared my energy fields for their unwanted invasion of sweaty armpits, loud chews & bad breaths. I edged my way through, looking for an opening. Being a mere 5ft 1" & a bit, I don't expect to be seen by many. I'm usually stepped on or near suffocated, but this time I managed to use my size to my advantage & squeezed through a little opening, trotting onto the carriage with a little more space & surprisingly enough, a seat?! I made sure no elderly, children, or pregnant were waiting for a seat before I took my destined place. It was at this moment I realised random people staring at me. This displeased me greatly. I don't like eyes on me, especially on a train! Don't people realise that's really creepy? You will look like a stalker, or a purve, so really, it's never a good thing! I glimpsed a flash of my reflection against the blacked-out backdrop of the speeding train, checking myself for marks on my face, or a unicorn horn perhaps, judging the looks I was getting by one woman. I felt like Gary Sparrow from 'Goodnight Sweetheart' stepping out of the war-torn, Blitz-abused East End of London, back into the 1990s, forgetting to change back into his current attire... Ah, of course. It made more sense to me now, as I sat their in my faux-fur lined cape coat, tropical silk flowers adorning my styled & coiffed hair. I was in retro Tiki-mode for my 1950s 'Jive' & 'Rock N Roll' dance class. I guess it's far more acceptable these days & that you go unnoticed by wearing your trousers round your thighs with your child-size boxers on show than it is to dress from the past? Each to their own I suppose...

"Next Stop, Leicester Square. Change here for the Piccadilly Line." I awaited my cue like an starlet on-set. As soon as the automated fem-bot sounding voice muttered those words through the noisy conversations of hopeful promotions, dinner plans & female bitchiness about their unknowing, so-called friends, I leaped to my feet to escape. Checking my sheer, black, Eiffel Tower stockings for any runs or catches, my eyes worryingly searching for what clearly wasn't there, I made my way to the next platform & what would be my final stop; Covent Garden...

On leaving the station, a small group of random, young men gathered near, began to shout out what I suppose was meant to be compliments, followed by wolf-whistles & "whey-heys!!" I guess a lady dressing head-to-toe in black; a pencil skirt, peplum top & heeled pumps was a little different from the usual female attire of today; which leaves very little to the imagination! Either way, some men today really don't know how to address a lady. Not all of us want to be yelled at & bated like prized cattle, thank you very much! I ignored, but felt like Marilyn doing what seemed like her eternal walk at the end of the film 'Niagara', away from the group, still yelling... By this time I felt the butterflies that clearly live in my tummy start to a-flutter. They always make an appearance when it comes to things I'm excited & yet, so nervous about. Dance classes, me? It had been absolute years since I did anything like this & at 27, I wondered how well I'd remember what it was like. My days at Sylvia Young Drama School of Acting, Singing & Dance ended abruptly all those years ago. I loved everything, except the constant competition & rivalry between kids & the many mothers that seemed to be fulfilling their dreams through their pressured sons & daughters. Plus, I wanted to be an archaeologist, which I later became, so I allowed these practices to become a passion, rather than a career path.

My thoughts drifted from one memory to another, as I passed the beauty of 'The Royal Opera House', my favourite perfumery 'Penhaligon's' & the Lyceum Theatre... Before I knew it I found myself arriving at the venue: The old 'Savoy Tupp' public house in Savoy Street, just near the Strand. My walk towards the venue was steeped in a downwards-facing hill. I was greeted by a stunning, dimly-lit view of The River Thames & it's surrounded embankments ahead of me; the gentle lights glistening blurred colours onto the calm current of the river. London really is the best city in the world, I gushed... After work drinks were taking place & small bands of smokers were taking their drinks outside. You know that 'crowd sound' of mixed noises & voices you always seem to hear in busy places? Well, this place sounded no different. It can't always be that same people, so I jokingly wondered if it was a recording, like canned laughter, that was played everywhere I go! Well, it was far too cold for me to stand around musing, so I pushed open the heavy door & made my way upstairs to where I needed to be. Back in time to the jumpin' an a-jivin' days of the 1950s...

As I entered the quiet room, I realised  I was the first student to arrive! Luckily I was greeted by a delightful hug from one of the two wonderful instructors for the night; the vivacious life force & Tiki Queen that is Julie Miranda. I could see this lady & the gent that accompanied her were unfazed by the night ahead & when I saw these two in motion with their confidence & fluidity that can only be gained through years of passion & practice, my excitement grew. Just think, I thought to myself, in three weeks I'd be an achieved Jiver & ready to move onto more intermediate moves. I couldn't wait for the night ahead!

Thankfully I was blessed with a group full of wonderful & friendly guys & gals in my class, so my nerves eased more & more as the night progressed. As did my skills. I did worry about how comfortable I'd feel dancing with random gentleman, as I've only ever danced with either my daddy or my amazing boyfriend, but as my man's 6ft4" & has his martial arts class is on the same day, I found myself braving my rather prudent nature when it came to dancing with other men & accepting the unavoidable challenge ahead... We progressed from one set of moves to another, laughing, messing up & even becoming exceedingly good like Mr. Kipling's French Fancies! Before I knew it, the tiring lesson was over. I left the class that night buzzing, despite the fact that my silk flower adornment was battered & had clearly seen better days. Well, saying that, she was introduced to the real world of 'Jive' dancing; a change of scene from her usual journey on my head to work, on a date night with my man, or at sedentary social gatherings. I suppose this was a taster of what was to come? Not only did I meet some lovely fellow pupils, but I was on my way to learning a skill I'll have for life & that I'll know & love to dance from that night on...

                                                                  Lots of love,

                                                            Lover-Doll Presley

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Timeless Glamour of Bellville Sassoon

Tourists with dark, damp backpacks carrying soggy maps, reminiscent of old newspapers that lie defeated in the murky, grey gutters of old London Town. The city's business folk in their fine, tailoring, locals & shoppers alike, all gathered & huddled in their dozens under the high arches of London Bridge Underground Station, into what appeared to be a unified montage of wet faces & clothes. Desperately seeking shelter.

Rain cascaded from the grey rooftops of Tooley Street; the clouds, ever-filling vessels of rainwater. This was the start to what would become a day full of the colourful elegance of The Fashion & Textile Museum's exhibition on the Bellville Sassoon collection...

Cars sped-by in flashes of wet colour. Vans & motorcycles all passed by in a blur through my dampened, black lashes. Despite the pink umbrella that sheltered me; wrapped-up all warm, the merciless skies continued its tirade if torment onto the mere mortals the resided below the heavens; ruining boots, freshly-coiffed heads, trouser hems & the odd, spray-tanned bare legs, now streaky & somewhat orange, that were still clinging to the hope that the long-gone, warm, summer sunshine would return for another brief spell. No such luck!

Through tunnels under construction & blockaded roads appearing from dark corners like something from an apocalyptic zombie movie, the pink brilliance of The Fashion & Textile Museum appeared out of the fading distance. No amount of rain could dampen my excitement! An array of sparkling, delicately crafted, glamour of a bygone era awaited my magpie-peepers...

After purchasing my ticket, I made my way into the first room of dresses on display. It was a room of royal dresses, a me; being a fan of the monarchy, it was a delight to see stunning dresses that were once worn by princesses, aristocrats & ladies alike.

The atmosphere felt alive with the wonderful memories that seemed to still cling to the array of dresses & gowns, yet I couldn't help but feel a little sad & sombre as I drifted from one display to another. A classical rendition of Moon River, synonymous with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's, gently played, seemingly accompanying my journey through time & elegance, as each gown's finery progressed to a new level of delicateness.

Each mannequin stood glowing-white; simple, poised & plain. Her fine garment represented her. It was sad to see each stunning gown, once so alive with the movement & life of the body of the lady who once wore it, remain so silent, unmoved, almost frozen in time. As if they would remain in that single moment of joy the wearer felt; captured. It was a shame to know that each masterpiece was standing there, never to be worn again to a royal affair, a ball or a soiree. Perhaps that's for the best. Like a lady's wedding dress; worn once, memorable & specific to that special occasion, kept to its very best, there to be admired, preserved...

For over half a century, Bellville Sassoon has been synonymous with high fashion, timeless elegance & luxury quality.

Since the 1960s, Bellville Sassoon has become Britain’s foremost couture label. Belinda Bellville, the founder, found her designer equal in David Sassoon. In time the pair teamed-up with Lorcan Mullany, a fellow designer & began to dress some of the world’s most famous & stylish women, including Princess Diana of Wales.

The plethora of dresses adorning each mannequin traced the opulent history of British glamour; from the couture houses of the late 1950s, to the variety of celebrities who became fond clients of Bellville Sassoon. It also features a section on the influence of the 'ready-to-wear' culture & Vogue patterns of the time...

The Exhibition runs from the 20 September 2013 – 11 January 2014

Lots of love,
Lover-Doll Presley
x TCB x