But no lace!

It’s sad to see the decline of antique shops. I used to spend a lot of time on Sunday afternoons, going through what seemed to be endless rooms of antiques, vintage and junk. I guess eBay changed that somewhat, plus changing tastes and so on.

Still, there are places you can go to browse and recently we acquired a new thing for our house - a Victorian pressed glass bonbon dish! This might seem odd, as I’m always banging on about 1930s this or 1940s that, but there is a link. In the late ‘30s, some designers turned away from the somewhat hostile modernist aesthetic (think Bauhaus, Le Corbusier etc) and picked through the wealth of beauty found in the baroque, the rococco, and the Victorian.

It became fashionable to have the odd bit of Victoriana, usually something slightly grotesque, like ceramic vases in the form of a lady’s hand holding a horn, or large twirling shells on piles of coral. There’s something a bit whimsical about such things, though I admit perhaps a bit arch. But there you are.

So here is our new bonbon dish, and following it, is a Royal Worcester vase, which I purchased online a while back (what was I saying about declining antique shops?).

WH Heppel & Co, 1875

WH Heppel & Co, 1875

Royal Worcester, late 19th century

Royal Worcester, late 19th century

A New Obsession


That's all I need to say. Barkcloth. I've been poring over barkcloth samples for the last couple of weeks with a shameless enthusiasm and I can't see my excitement in seeing these beautiful fabrics diminishing in any way. 

Recently, a friend of ours made an amazing skirt out of barkcloth with a scene of deer in a forest. It was gorgeous and she looked swell in this dazzling fabric.  So, it got us thinking...

We have a couple of 1950s TV chairs we would like to have reupholstered and so this started my barkcloth journey/pilgrimage/crusade as we wanted something which melded the 1950s design of the chairs with something a bit older, perhaps a 40s style fabric. Barkcloth was used through the 30s to the 50s for a range of uses but particularly upholstery and curtains.

What particularly appealed to us was the exuberant designs, lavish swirls and feathers, make believe flowers, vivid colours in unexpected combinations.  We also loved the gorgeous modern take on toile, bright scenes of waterfalls, ruins, mansions, forests and yachts. How could anyone resist?

So, here is my first purchase - not even for the chairs! No, this will be for cushions, but look at it!

Apologies for the photo, I whipped it out of its envelope and snapped it as soon as possible!

This fabric is the sort used for curtains along the art deco style hotels of South Beach, Miami in the 1930s, so it doesn't come more highly recommended!

King Penguin Books

An Inspiration

We like to collect stuff and more often than not, our collections come from items made or designed between the wars. Our small, incomplete collection of King Penguin books is an example. We can spot one of these beauties across a room full of aggressive bookworms at a book sale! Printed between 1939 and 1959, the series ran to 76 volumes (sigh) covering a diverse range of topics from the natural world to antiques. The text is usually very worthy but the covers are brilliant! What does that say about me! 

The colours and designs are a rich source of inspiration.  I was going through the books and it made me think of autumn and lying in the grass under falling leaves. I know this might sound like a shameless segue, but it did prompt me to make another batch of our woodsy Arcadia eau de cologne.  Such are the links in daydreamy trails of thought.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

Royal Adelaide Show

Another extravaganza!

Part of our spring ritual is to visit the Royal Adelaide Show.  When we went yesterday, it was a beautiful clear day, very crowded and full of things to see.  

We always visit the floral displays, the crafts, the baking, the birds and the Grand Parade.  We always buy a freshly squeezed orange juice, buy daffodils from Hancock's and have tea at the CWA cafe.  I look forward to these simple pleasures every year.

This year, it was the 175th anniversary of the Royal Adelaide Show, something I had to think twice about - 175 years?! 

The bonus this year was a stage show put on in the Goyder Pavilion.   "175 Years of Fashion" promised to be an interesting display of costumes from those years, a fashion parade, or so we thought.  It proved to be a dazzlingly camp dance extravaganza of dubious historical accuracy.  The routines, gymnastics and glitter more than made up for the lapses in detail and the show was well received by the audience of city and country folk who crowded around the stage.

I highly recommend a visit.  The show has a rare connection with the past and is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in nostalgia and to eat lots of sugary food.  I even love the promotional campaign for the show this year.  It has collage, old photographs and flowers - of course I love it!   Here it is;

A Brief Holiday

Through the grainy, hyper-coloured lens of Harinezumi

My partner and I have just returned from a short holiday to Melbourne.   We drove along the Great Ocean Road, which has to be one of the world's great coastal drives, and I took along my bag of cameras, including the Harinezumi.  This little toy digital camera has a number of effects but they all come out looking roughly like a super 8 film, faded or saturated with time. 

We arrived in Melbourne via Geelong.  I hadn't been to Geelong before, and I loved it.  It had a lot of great domestic architecture and was very atmospheric.  I felt the past, being in Geelong.  Of particular note was the Eastern Beach precinct.   It was a dream for nostalgics, with sweeping lawns, a brilliant blue paddling pool, handsome red brick kiosks, brightly coloured picnic seating and, best of all, a whimsical fountain of joy!   The fountain itself was wonderful to look at, with lots of shells and stylised dolphins, but surrounding these were four large water birds standing on turtles!

We also visited the Heide Museum of Modern Art.  There was a wonderful exhibition of work by Emily Floyd called "Far Rainbow".  The exhibition was made up of a number of different media; prints, wood sculptures, a slide show, even grass matting!  I thought it captured an idyllic early 1970s feel with its primary colours and wooden toy-like shapes.  Of course, there is a more substantial reading of the work, but you can find this out for yourself here!  The two snaps below were taken at the exhibition (no flash, of course).

Winter's Last Hurrah

...out on a rainy night

I was sitting at my desk sorting through some old photographs and there was a box of Smokey Joe sitting on a pile of books next to me.  The soft smokey scent of cade and vetiver reminded me of the smell of tobacco pipes, overcoats, old port and the sound of distant trains clickety clacking over the tracks on a cold, silent night.  Of course, I thought of this gentleman.  A found photo of a young man taken somewhere in Germany in the early 30s, it is so atmospheric with his face wonderfully lit by the dim street-lights.  Moody and melancholy.

Feel the mood with Al Bowly singing Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen:


Jolly Hockeysticks

Some time ago, I was fortunate enough to come across a bunch of autograph books at a local market.  

The books date from between 1935 and 1941 and document a series of interstate trips taken by schoolgirls and their teachers.  I gather they were travelling to compete in sporting events.  Here, one girl has collected a photographic memento of her trip, collecting the photographs of her pals and escorts and filling the books with signatures, addresses and cute little notes.  It really is a lovely collection, you can sense the girls' excitement and this is sometimes displayed in the way they sit for their photographs.

I have my favourites, including one girl by the name of Elvey, who seems quite mischievous.  You can see her pulling a face in the montage below.  She is in most of the books and you get to see her grow.  By the later books, she is one of the 'trainers', proudly displaying her carefully curled hair.

1930s Women in Resort Wear.  In London!

Yes, pity the young women in this clip of a 1930s fashion show on some barge floating on the chilly Thames.  It doesn't reek glamour, but the models look swell.  Who wants to dress appropriately anyway, much better to always look like you've just stepped off a yacht in the Bahamas.