Just a quick post today about something I saw and thought my audience would, likewise, be interested to see. You may remember I did a post a while back on how the 19th century feather hat industry decimated bird populations and galvanized the masses into the early conservation movement. Well, this was just a small part of a larger movement sometimes called naturalism; where people tried to bring the splendor and perfection of nature indoors. The most recognizable examples of this trend are preserved birds, posed as if alive, under glass.
Photo from the Smithsonian Institution
I have always had a fascination with this style not only because of the cultural consequences of this particular movement but also because it is so inherently morbid. I think it’s pretty ghastly to have a whole bird arranged on your head (however much I appreciate the historical context), and there is something so counter intuitive to destroying and romanticizing what you admire. And while I have seen hundreds of examples of gaudy and perfectly laughable hats featuring the most absurd arrangements of birds and bird parts, I have never seen anything like these beautifully preserved earrings.
They even come with the original box!
Gold Hill is, now, a little known village about 40 miles east of Asheboro, but in the mid-19th century it was a boom town. Gold was discovered in 1824 on a farm and by the 1840’s the Carolina Gold Rush was on in Gold Hill. At its height Gold Hill could boast 23 Gold Mines including the Barnhardt and Randolph mines and was considered the richest mining property east of the Mississippi. The Charlotte mayor purportedly once said he hoped “one day Charlotte would be as big as Gold Hill.”
Just so you know, if you see these men they are just in utter despair and rage mixed with fear
My family and close friends have recently been made aware of this, and now I share it with you: Reader, I have re-read Jane Eyre. I first encountered this novel back in middle school: WOW, so much of this book was lost on my little 13-year-old mind. One of the many themes I caught this go round, which I did not my first, was the theme of phrenology that repeatedly inserted its head, most obtrusively to me a modern student of Victorian literature, into the narrative of this story. It is a little remembered pseudoscience (ehm- I use this word lightly) today, but in its day it was kind of a big deal. I thought, dear Reader, it might be fun to throw some light on the countenance of this lately unappreciated discipline and briefly look at how it has changed since the days of Bronte.
Individuality is located between the eyebrows. In case of a positive Individuality, the eyebrows may stand further apart
Today words like ‘countenance’ are understood in a sort of general way but are not in common use. Like, for example, the word sensibility (as in Sense and Sensibility), it doesn’t make much sense these days but in the 19th century it described someone who was exceptionally sensitive. It is easy for us to gloss over words like these as we have a general idea of what they mean, but we fail to appreciate the full cultural context. Let me return to countenance; judging it (as is often done in Victorian novels) was more than just gauging what mood a person was in- it is the tell tale signs of physiognomy manifest, the study of someone’s personality based on their outer appearance, particularly the face.
Wonder what a physiognomist would say about me?
I love the name of this blog post because it sounds, to me, like it should be the name of some Inn in 19th century London. It’s kind of misleading that way, buuuuttttt now that I have your attention let me tell you about my friends, Kate and Garrett, and the gift that I made for them.
Woot, woot! Congratulations to my friends Garrett and Kate. They finally got married!!!
To celebrate this auspicious day I decided to force upon my friends yet another piece of my charmingly crude folk-art-embroidery. And to do this, I enlisted the help of my brother so that they would feel more obligated to accept my misbegotten intentions with grace.
Kate, who you know from Fashaholics Anonymous, collects pigs (yep, fashion and pigs-everyone needs a hobby). Garrett, the photographer and web designer for the site, has an affinity for goats. Thus, I got the idea in my head of these two farm animals (pig and goat- not Kate and Garrett) feasting on a tiered wedding cake. Wouldn’t that make a great pattern for a hand towel of tea towel I thought? And so we come to the below project which I made as a part of their wedding gift:
I drafted my idea and went to my brother, Jonathan (I link to his blog as a formality, don’t expect any updates), to polish it up a bit since he is the better sketch artist. For the record: I can draw tolerably well- I just was doing a quick draft to convey the idea. I thought showing people my drawing versus his drawing would be a harmless, inoffensive laugh. However, the people I’ve shared this with thus far have been very concerned and seem to be amazed that it’s author is able to function in adult society (I can do this!). My brother’s drawing on the other hand gets ewes and ahhs galore- pishshaw! I could have done this if I really wanted to…
Before, During and After
When my brother was an art student at UNC Greensboro he once staged an impromptu art display at the Senior Art Shows at the Weatherspoon Art Museum (he was not a senior at the time). He crumpled up a few pieces of paper and piled them casually in the middle of a gallery and waited to see if anyone would remove his exhibit. UPDATE: Jonathan asked me to clarify that it was a graduate art show and he used a brick AND crumpled up paper. For visual aide I have provided the below artists conception of Jonathan’s project:
It took the curators several weeks to realize that his “Balled Paper: 2000: Paper and ink” was not intended to be legitimate art… But is it art in spite of itself you may ask…? No, that is not where this article is going- I bring this up because I am reminded that art criticism takes all forms by the recent Picasso vandalism.
Just for fun here is a picture of my brother.. okay so not my brother- but rather my brother’s cat:
My Brother Jonathan: who shamelessly hides his internet presence behind adorable pictures of cats
Okay, so first of all, I am sorry I haven’t posted in a million months, it was a hard winter and a busy spring. But I am finally getting around to feeling like writing and reading again. With that said, I haven’t been idle; I’ve had several fun projects that I cannot wait to share. However, for my return to blogging I wanted to talk about some big news I read about today on my personal blogging hero’s website, Austenonly authored by J Wakefield. Ms. Wakefield is well read and researched about all things Austen, and her knowledge base really comes through in her writing. Her blog posts cover everything from Austen’s contemporaries, Georgian and Regency England, culture, medicine, fashion and other interesting tidbits even loosely associated with Jane Austen. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of Austen there is something to glean from each and every post.
But what caught my eye this morning was her blog post about the disputed Rice Portrait. Please, please, please follow the link to read the full article. Ms. Wakefield presents a very nice paraphrase of the portrait’s history, along with an argument for its authenticity. However, the short of it is this (the paraphrase of a paraphrase if you will):
The portrait was purportedly painted by portrait artist Ozias Humphry, and was commissioned while Jane was visiting her great-uncle, Francis Austen, in 1789. She would have been 13 at the time. It was passed down in the Kent Austen family until 1817 when it was given to a close friend of Francis Austen’s grandson, Thomas Harding-Newman, as a wedding present. Harding- Newman incorrectly credited painter Johan Zaffany with the execution of this painting. Unfortunately, this caused problems for the painting’s eventual owners, the Rice family, further down the road when they tried to authenticate the painting in the 1940’s. Since that time the painting has been a source of controversy and debate.
R&F has turned one!!! It was about this time last year that the blog made its debut with the now legendary chocolate heart post! Don’t remember the original symbol of love and affection? Check out the post here.
It been a crazy year, most notably because of the loss of my townhouse in a fire, but this blog has been such a fun little outlet. Below are some of my favorite moments, in no particular order, from my first year in blogging:
This post’s idea comes from my brother Jonathan, who recently moved, and has been on a mission to decorate at little to no cost ever since. The best way to do this, he has found, is to use his creativity to make or repurpose items that are both artistic, but also functional. As you can see, no detail proved too small. He even made his own coasters.
Hong Kong Vintage
Meatloaf at Dish
Crab Cake at Dish
Last weekend Sherif and I headed to Charlotte to see his folks, and while we were there we were fortunate enough to meet up with two of his old friends in the Thomas Ave neighborhood. We stopped into Dish, an unassuming concrete diner, for lunch. The exterior appearance of this place in no way hints at the hearty, tasty food served. Inside a mix of art nouveau prints, framed pictures of kittens and mounted plates welcome you into this cozy spot, and each lunch entrée is served with a homemade biscuit and a deviled egg. Simply put: it feels like home. I got the meatloaf, which was amazing and slathered in gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet collards.
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
On New Year’s Eve Sherif and I decided to head down to Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park and Eco Center for our favorite day trip. Even though it was late December the park was not suffering from a lack of activity and the temperature was phenomenal!!! My loyal readers may recall when last we went to Sylvan Heights the Black Swans already had hatched some lil’ swans, and the Great Argus Pheasant was prancin’ about in the hopes of impressing a mate. This year, the weather has been so mild the black swans had already laid eggs, and while the Pheasant was not displaying yet, we did hear some awesome kookaburra calls:
- Demoiselle Crane