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Rigg's Cabinet of Curiosities

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”

Elizabethan Treasures : National Portrait Gallery

… tiny fire crackers of colour & astonishing detail …

Henri iii france hilliard miniature

Tucked into a pocket or worn next of the heart, Queen Elizabeth keep them wrapped in tissue in a cabinet, the language of miniatures has always been an intimate affair. Created for love, diplomacy and remembrance these limnings of Hilliard and Oliver display exquisite details and jewel like colours. Withe their roots in illuminated manuscripts, the size of these watercolours draws you in, making you concentrate to appreciate every detail. This attention creates an intimacy not Continue reading “Elizabethan Treasures : National Portrait Gallery”

Three Favourites from the Gordon Russell Design Museum

… delightful, hands on wander through c20th design …

utility furniture design gordon russell

Housed in one of the original workshops, the Gordon Russell Design Museum is a hands on experience. You can pull back and admire the smooth delivery of a drawer, peek inside the dressing tables and stroke the veneer Continue reading “Three Favourites from the Gordon Russell Design Museum”

Essex House Press : Court Barn Museum

… jewel like illustrations  & quixotic ideals …

keats st agnes arts and craft

One of the most important private presses of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Essex House Press was part of the Guild of Handicraft from 1898 when CR Ashbee bought the Kelmscott Presses from William Morris‘ Estate Continue reading “Essex House Press : Court Barn Museum”

Wilding : Isabella Tree

… fascinating and thought provoking …

wilding wildlife rewilding ecology green nature

This is a fascinating and engaging account of turning a 1400 hectare West Sussex estate into a wild nature reserve.

Passionate, detailed and thought provoking, Isabella argues Continue reading “Wilding : Isabella Tree”

Edward Burne-Jones : Tate Britain

… some astonishing works amongst the usual suspects …

perseus graiae burne-jones

Yes, I know all his portraits look the same (as Henry James put it: “this languishing type … which savours of monotony”) and walking from room to room can be a little like scoffing a whole box of chocolates BUT to see the two iconic series, Briar Rose and Perseus, Continue reading “Edward Burne-Jones : Tate Britain”

Fallible Justice : Laura Laakso

… tremendously satisfying urban fantasy …

fantasy fiction British wilderness

The detective is one of the Wild Folk, hurting and lonely in the city of an Olde London where magic reigns. Her apprentice is a Bird Shaman. They need to solve the murder and work out how the justice system can be corrupted before an innocent man is executed. They have five days.

Fallible Justice is a joy to read: intriguing characters and deft world building Continue reading “Fallible Justice : Laura Laakso”

Whistler and Nature : Compton Verney

A fascinating show of Whistler’s more intimate art …

Watercolour Date: late 19th century (made) Artist/Maker: Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903 (artist) Materials and Techniques: Watercolour Credit Line: Given by the Artist's Executrix Museum number: P.19-1934

Westgate. Signed with the butterfly monogram. Copyright : V&A.

Say the name: James Abbott McNeill Whistler and to most it will conjure up a series of  almost abstract experiments he called “Nocturnes” or his famous portrait of his mother  or perhaps, at a push, his society portraits. This exhibition changes all that for me. He really was such an extraordinaire painter and his watercolour sketches have completely Continue reading “Whistler and Nature : Compton Verney”

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