Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Sunday

I spent Easter sunday at home and it was a lovely contrast to my busy bee time in London.  My Mum and I headed out to my favourite pub in the world (top picture) where we had cups of tea, hot pittas with humus, read the paper, basked in the sun, and then took patient Louis on a walk up in the hills by Lake Windermere.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

London part 1

I went to London last week to do research for my history MA at two V&A Archives: Blythe House and the Royal Institute of British Architects and also at the National Portrait Gallery.

It was so sunny the whole time I was there. I did think a bit about maybe I would like to move there when I finish my MA, but then I almost decided I don't think I want to.  I am a bit of a country mouse really...and felt quite happy to go home at the end of my trip!

Day 1
On my first day I went to the Royal College of Art Library which was not what I had thought it would be at all.  For some reason I imagined it being very grand and it was actually a little scruffy and very normal. The staff were really lovely and the library was much quieter than mine so I managed to get on with my work easily.

After that I went to the National Portrait Gallery Archives. I didn't get to go look at the Gallery itself as I didn't have time.  The Archive section of the Gallery is housed seperately, just to the side of the National Portrait Gallery and again the staff were lovely, and it was all very professional and well run. (I didn't find it quite so fascinating as the eerie Blythe House I went to the next day though...) Although the NPG Archives is obviously predominantly about the portraits, I was actually looking at their photography collections.  The problem about my course is I get very very sidetracked wanting to know about the stories and romances of the people involved in the nineteenth century (everyone seemed to live such interesting lives - take the Pre-Raphaelites for example!) and there are dozens of photographs in the NPG that I could spend weeks looking at.  It isn't really very useful to me in terms of writing academic essays for my course though!

Day 2

Blythe House Archives, Kensington

I spent the most of my time at the Blythe House Archives.  The building itself was fascinating and very spooky and eerie.  You have to speak on an intercom to be let into a concrete courtyard at the back of the huge main building, and then follow signs around the building to a small reception where you are given a swipe card.  Then you make your way down a few corridors with directions to the Blythe House Reading Room.  Compared to the V&A Blythe House was quite dusty and dated, and didn't have the professional finish that the V&A has but this made it more interesting - for example the walls are covered with old posters from the V&A from throughout the twentieth century advertising exhibtions for 50p!  I also really need to stop being distracted by what other people are looking at when I am there...!

I've been reading about Blythe House's history since I got back and have found out the whole building is blacked out to preserve the objects stored there, from the Science Museum, the British Museum, and the V&A.  Just imagine all of the weird and wonderful objects crammed in there! I found myself trying to peer out of various windows and down corridors to try and see things, but everything was very quiet and hidden away.  So intriguing!  

In the evening my cousin and I went to Soho where I tried my first Hummingbird Bakery cupcake - red velvet.  Very tasty!  After that we went out for dinner at Mildred's vegetarian restaurant in Soho.  

(Photo found online)

I did enjoy my meal, I had a Burrito and Becky had their sweet potato curry, but it wasn't anything special really although I had a lovely time catching up with Becky.  (Nowhere near as good as a meal cooked by Tom though!) I don't know anything about eating out in London obviously as I don't live there but the one other vegetarian place I have eaten in Soho, last November, was AMAZING.  I would 100% recommend this place - Vita Organic (especially to veggies obviously). It was probably one of my favourite ever meals.  You just go up to the counter and get scoop fulls of all sorts of various dishes... each one delicious. 

(Photo found online)

Anyways I will update about Day 3 & 4 tomorrow because I am off to eat golden Easter bunnies and laze around sleepily now!


Happy Easter! I am back from London now and am enjoying being very lazy.

I will post my London pictures soon.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Blackwell Arts and Crafts House

I went to the Lake District this weekend which is where my family home is. It is so relaxing at home and I easily get into the routine of lying around reading in the sun and eating lots of tasty food.  

I am also researching (well need to!) arts and crafts in the Lake District during the late nineteenth century and John Ruskin's involvement for my MA. I used research as an excuse to go to the Blackwell Arts and Crafts House in Bowness.  It was designed by M.H Bailie Scott between 1897-1900 and is now a Grade I listed building.  My favourite room is the White Drawing room because when I walk into it I feel it embodies the ideals of the movement I have been reading about, whilst at the same time being incredibly aesthetically pleasing.  Anyways, I've always liked Blackwell a lot, but was particularly excited to go today because they advertised that they had a Julia Margaret Cameron exhibit on. 

Julia Margaret Cameron was the photographer of the 1860s in my opinion. (She wasn't that highly regarded during her life.) Cameron photographed all of the 'celebrities' such as Tennyson, Darwin etc and was also the great aunt of Virginia Woolf!  I adore the intimacy of her work to pieces, and her method of intentionally having the lens out of focus to capture the soul of the sitter.  I am most fond of  her photographs of women, and her less successful illustrated allegories which have a strong Pre-Raphaelite focus (who I have a love hate relationship with.)

I knew that they only had a few of her photographs on loan but was disappointed, although I almost expected it, that the pieces displayed were of the men she photographed alone:  Tennyson etc.  I find this so disappointing because I think her portraits of women are so important to really understanding her work.  Aside from this, through places such as Blackwell continuing to select purely photographs of men from the nineteenth century, the history of the women is again forgotten.  Still, it reminded me of the importance of seeing things in the flesh in comparison to on a computer screen, particularly when analysing the work for essays, because although she is often dismissed as 'amateur' through her haphazard style, I found her work suprisingly organised, and categorised (matching gold bordered edges, perfect pencil name and date).

I also got chatting to some women who were evacuated there during World War 2 and the house became a school.  They had memories of the Headteacher flooding the back yard with water to freeze and form an ice skating rink for them in the Winter! 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Essays, essays, essays

Sorry I have been ill!
Hello Easter holidays... reading, reading, reading. Essays, essays, essays!