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Rigg's Cabinet of Curiosities

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thorntonrigg

Aston Hall, Birmingham

… is this Birmingham’s best kept secret? …

aston birmingham jacobean strapwork

Aston Hall is an astonishing Jacobean mansion that practically nobody’s heard of. A c17th contemporary described it as: “A noble fabric which for its beauty and state much exceedeth anything in these parts.”* It has some of the finest

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3 Bird details from the Marshall Collection : Ashmolean Museum

… beautiful birds from an outstanding porcelain collection …

porcelain worcester c17th

The Ashmolean holds the extraordinary Marshall Collection. This huge bequest of early Worcester porcelain was presented Continue reading “3 Bird details from the Marshall Collection : Ashmolean Museum”

Echo Murder : Laura Laakso

… intriguing page turner …

fantasy ghosts finnish

Yannia, the detective, is one of the Wild Folk who should be with her conclave but … it’s complicated. Her father is dying and she is not ready to take her place in the pack – nor at the side of her betrothed, Dearon.

Instead she is in Olde London trying to solve a murder that hasn’t quite happened yet.

Continue reading “Echo Murder : Laura Laakso”

A Martinware Tortoise & a dejected Satan : Ashmolean Museum

… two favourites from The PreRaphaelite Room …

preraf18008

The star which dominates the room is The Prioress’s Tale Cabinet, designed by Philip Webb and decorated by Edward Burne-Jones. He gave it as a wedding present to William Morris on his marriage to Jane Burden in 1858. However I like to truffle out some of the more over looked pieces in this gallery – and discover Continue reading “A Martinware Tortoise & a dejected Satan : Ashmolean Museum”

William Simmonds: Court Barn Museum

… exquisite animals and one astonishing angel …

wood mouse william simmonds arts and crafts

The Court Barn Museum’s current exhibition displays an array of Arts and Crafts delights from William Simmonds including a number of extraordinary wood carvings which contemporary critics likened to Japanese Netsuke: smooth, polished, small images of nature including a wren encased in a box of furled leaves, a crouching group of leverets and this dormouse (above). This very personal exhibition includes Continue reading “William Simmonds: Court Barn Museum”

Grayson Perry : Landscapes : Croome Court

… thought provoking cartography …

Grayson Perry map

William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, bought the finest works of art and worked closely with Capability Brown to create the gardener’s “first and most favourite” landscape park. Continuing this vision, the exhibition in the Tapestry Room and Library of Croome Court shows three tapestries and two etchings by Grayson Perry centring around the theme of landscapes and identity. Continue reading “Grayson Perry : Landscapes : Croome Court”

Invisible Agents : Nadine Akkerman

… pioneering archive archaeology …

seventeenth century spies agents women

With this exhilarating and meticulously researched account, Nadine leads the reader through thickets of ciphers and pages of correspondence to highlight the contribution female agents made to the field of espionage during the seventeenth century. Most of these women have been been discounted or silenced Continue reading “Invisible Agents : Nadine Akkerman”

Behind closed doors: Conserving Chastleton tour

… fascinating peek behind the tapestries …

tapestry Arras Fettiplace

Barbara Clutton-Brock, the last owner, often said that “poverty is a great preservative” and a previous owner when showing visitors around in the 1940s was fond of explaining the shabby appearance by saying how the family had lost all their money in the war – not the recent World War but the Civil Wars of the c17th. Continue reading “Behind closed doors: Conserving Chastleton tour”

Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud : Compton Verney

… capturing the luminosity of childhood …

Van Dyck Daughters of Charles I portrait royalty

Compton Verney excels at finding a fresh angle and by gathering a wonderful selection of art to create an absorbing, worthwhile exhibition. The spread of the show starts with a very fine Hans Holbein‘s preparatory sketch Continue reading “Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud : Compton Verney”

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