Sophie Blackall from Aldous Huxley's Childrens Book
Here are two links to Brainpickings, the brain child of Maria Popova, a cultural curator and curious mind at large,
Brain Pickings is a discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.
She states ‘Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.’
Shes curated a curious collection of childrens books by ‘adult authors’ with beautiful illustrations. Its been very timely to look at these while i have been researching & developing interactive theatre play sessions for early years children in a pilot programme linking the Western Australian State Library Peter Williams original illustration collection with play & arts activities.And I hope to produce childrens picture books in the future. See the blog below for my early years creative work –
I have briefly mentioned the obsession of the Victorians and artist/photographers fascination with creating images of dead children in the main historical points. From the ‘carriage to the coffin’ was the fate of over 30% of 19th century children. The Victorian celebration of death meant that postmortem photographs, carte de visit or cabinet cards were often displayed prominently on the mantlepiece in the home, as well as in memento mori in the form of brooches and lockets with a photo and a lock of the deceased’s hair. Queen Victoria, the ‘Widow of Windsor’ after Prince Alberts death in 1861 retreated into melancholy seclusion for a decade, and made mourning fashionable big business, with women expected to wear widow’s black then purple for at least 2 years.
In most Victorian post-mortem photography, the deceased children were shown peacefully sleeping, especially precious, since little or no pictures were taken before their death. Most children were propped up and surrounded by their toys to give a more lifelike feel. Sometimes the parents or siblings were shown posed with the deceased child. A single negative could produce multiple prints enabling the family to send the picture to other relatives. Most pictures were thought to be a keepsake rather than an alarming reminder of short mortality.
These poignant, post mortem photos antique baby photos from the Victorian era are a relic from the past which is highly collectable today. The images are forevercharged with deeply felt emotions which still reverberate in the viewers mind today.
‘Sleeping Beauty – memorial photography’ by Stanley Burns
Fantastic exhibition just opened in Preston at the Harris Museum with a restored Yardworks model and remastered historical footage of the cotton mills and site. Industrial Revolutionaries is curated by Laura Briggs
Horrockses Mill Workers
Annie Hill was a 12 year old half-timer working at Horrockses in 1906. Like many children her age, she worked half a day in the mill before going to school for the rest of the day.
Annie was one of thousands of people who worked in Lancashire’s cotton industry.
But she was unusual in one way – she had her portrait painted. Annie worked at Horrockses famous Yard Works in Preston and was there during the 1913 Royal Visit.
Horrockses Yard Works
Horrockses Yard Works in Preston grew from one factory in 1791 to a huge complex of mills by 1913.
This model, seen in the exhibition, was made by workers at Horrockses for the Royal visit of King George V and Queen Mary on 8 July 1913.
The model is an important record of the site in Preston as none of the buildings have survived.
Now only a few boundary walls remain of this once famous Yard Works site, which employed thousands and attracted the attention of Royalty.
The Royal couple came to Horrockses because the company was world famous and one of the largest cotton manufacturers in the world.
Last Wednesday, I gave a talk on the connections between the Yardworks and local fairy mythology in Lancashire at the Harris Museum in Preston as part of the ‘Enchanted Worlds’ exhibition that is currently showing. The talk was well received and I lots of positive comments afterwards. I may post extracts from the talk later, or short extracts on video. In the meantime, here is an edited version of the ten minute shadow performance I created during the day with Adam Bennett, shadow puppeteering with myself, and Tom Woolsgrove, live music to accompany the talk.
Today, I went to walk in the woods which have grown up by the wall of the site. And look what i found! I think they symbolise the spirits of the cotton children, who were worked to death all those years ago and are running amok on the overgrown waste land. No idea how many there might be, will keep you informed of any more sightings.