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 –
‘As she went on her way, gossamer threads, sun from bush to bush, barricaded her pathway, and as she broke through one after another of these fairy barricades she thought, ‘They’re trying to bind and keep me’. But the threads which were to bind her to hernative county were more enduring than gossamer. They were spun of love and kinship and cherished memories.’
Final paragraph from Change in the Village, Candleford Green , Larkrise to Candelford, written by Flora Thompson 1876 – 1947
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
Last year I researched the local fairy & folklore of Preston, coming across the story of the ‘Fairy Funeral’ based by St Marys church and Penwortham woods. This was included in the lecture I gave at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery for the ‘Enchanted Worlds’ fairy tale exhibition, and performed as a shadow theatre piece (see previous blogs July-Aug 09)
One bright Spring Sunday, I went to explore the area and follow the trail along the River Ribble and walk in whats left of the Penwortham Woods. The area of woods would of once covered a much larger area, and there were stories of little men with red caps climbing trees and sighted as recently as June 1964.
St Marys church yard
St Marys ancient church
st Marys Angel
Bowkers 1883 account of a funeral in Penwortham records that two men were walking home very late on a moonlit night from the Black Horse Pub by Penwortham woods. They heard the bells of St Marys church tolling for a funeral. It rang 26 times, the same age as Robin, one of the pair. They saw a group of small figures, dressed in black but wearing redcaps, carrying a little coffin. It contained a dead fairy that looked just like Robin! He cried out in alarm, but the procession vanished. Robin became depressed and a month later he fell off a haystack and died.