Thursday, 17 May 2012

At The Pâtisserie Cafe

Upon reaching Paris, the owl historian apprentice decides to indulge herself in some sweet French pastry treats before she enrols into the French language school.

Friday, 20 April 2012



The owl historian apprentice has successfully time travelled to Paris and exclaimed "OUAH" ( like YES! Wow! in French). She's riding on cloud 9!

I used reproduction copies of an antique Parisian street map for the clouds, the big cloud is lined with French themed brass stampings, vintage watch faces and watch parts. A copper toned vintage tourist souvenir piece joins the owl as the focal point. Vintage pocket watch bezels are used as balloons here, well, this occasion definitely calls for some celebration! :D

This artwork measures 16 inches by 16 inches on canvas.

Monday, 9 April 2012

In The Time Tunnel

"In The Time Tunnel"

The time has been set to France in 1851. Contrary to popular time travelling beliefs, one does not travel at blasting speeds filled with blurry dizzy images. Instead everything is magnified and illuminated. One finds somewhat strange bizarre absurd sightings in the tunnel. Some of them are fellow time travellers while many are in fact old irretrievable memories and deep heartfelt sentiments. They, like anyone else, yearn to be remembered, not forgotten or forsaken. Memories which are retrieved will cease to loiter in the tunnel. The owl historian apprentice takes all she sees to heart.

This 2nd piece of the Time Travel collection measures 16 inches by 16 inches on canvas. Antique bisque figurines, vintage hardwares, clock watch parts and brass stampings are glued onto the canvas with trusty epoxy glue. I like how the owl look with the antique optical lens over her right eye :D

The Gears That Set History In Motion

"The Gears That Set History In Motion"

Finally, here's the first piece of my Owl Time Travel collection!

I made a wish on Christmas 2011 that I would wish to time travel to France in the 19th century, this 1st piece documents the moment when gears started shifting in my head for this possibility. It turned out quite different from the sketch that I showed in the previous posting, especially the background. I thought a dark and almost black background gives that mysterious sense of imagination.

This artwork measures 16 inches by 16 inches on canvas. The owl is embellished with vintage clock and watch parts acquired from a watch parts dealer from Eastern Europe. Her head is layered with mainly clock and watch gears, I added a bee in there too, inspired by the saying "I've got a bee in my bonnet!" !

Sunday, 18 March 2012

An Owl Begins Her Time Travel Journey

The last 2 months had been great fun and excitement as I searched local and online for supplies that I would need for my new collection of mixed media assemblage artworks. Ophelia the Owl also a historian apprentice is preparing her journey to France in the 19th century. Here's an initial sketch of how the 1st piece, "The Gears That Set History In Motion" may look like:

Sketchy Thoughts From My Journal

Something was definitely gearing up within Ophelia to go back to historical times. She could hardly wait to be a first eye witness to the arts and cultural happenings of that era, she had to experience it for herself! She has come up with a  list of people whom she wants to meet and places she wants to visit, she's still consolidating her list at this juncture, trying her very best to make the most out of this trip.

Here are the pics of what I had hunted and gathered for this purpose (just part of it):

Vintage Watch Faces

Vintage Small Clock And Watch Parts

Vintage Clock And Watch Gears

Vintage Keys And Hardwares

Vintage Bisque Doll Parts

Vintage Decorative Tourist Souvenir Piece

Will be working on the 1st piece on canvas this week, finished work will be updated here :D

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Have A Googly Valentine's Day!

I'm so delighted and pleased with my Valentine's Day gifts for this year!  A 3.5x 3.5 inches "Kewpieful" Kodak snapshot from the 1970s and an early 1900s postcard of a dolly with glass-like eyes from Germany :D

In the foreground of this photo is Cameo Kewpie doll with a sweet pleated dress and mary janes. She must be really tall, my guess is she must had been at least 20 inches tall or so. She was part of a Valentine's Day party decoration (scribblings behind the photo said so :D) together with several other Kewpie dolls on the altar-like shelf. They all have the googly side glancing eyes. Such a sweet Valentine's Day theme, lots of pinks, reds, hearts and I love how the antique looking ornate altar and mirror seemed to compliment the entire decorations. Besides being attracted to the Kewpie gathering, I'm taken by the wholesome-ness of this Valentine's Day party, all I can say is I would love to had been invited to this party.

This Valentine-themed postcard must be close to 100 years of age! I think this postcard company must had lots of fun manufacturing postcards like this one. Firstly, her eyes are made of a type of plastic which gives the eyes an expressive glass-like look. Secondly, a ribbon was glued at the back of the card so that one can hang it for all to see. Lastly, another ribbon was glued and pierced through to the front of the postcard (where the doll's hand is) and out comes the ribbon with a heart that says "Token Of Love". Everything about this postcard screams cuuuute, from her little fruitpunch cocktail parasol, her shiny golden curls to her watermelon-like smile and yes, absolutely made my day!

May you enjoy the sweet tokens of love this Feb 14th!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Monet's Garden In Giverny

The book Monet's garden in giverny: inventing the landscape proved to be a book filled with rich and insightful records of the impressionist master's life, painting endeavors and his passion for gardening at his giverny house (1883 - 1927).  I found the book to be very useful in helping me to have an insider's peek into how Monet went about designing the landscape, planting the flowers and making it into another masterpiece filled with nature's grandeur. It's time to get to know Monet as a gardener and not just  as a painter :D

The parts in the book that made me smile the most were the letters that Monet wrote back home to his wife, Alice while he was travelling, totally charming! His plants and flowers were constantly at the top of his mind, he worried about them, missed them, just like how a parent would treat a child.


14 October: Monet writes to Alice, from Kervilahouen:
"For the dahlias, I really don't think it's time to bring them in yet, but they could perhaps be labelled, because if there's a frost, it's impossible to know which color they are; lastly, I'm counting on you to do all the things I unfortunately haven't been able to tend t; I'd also like someone to collect a few sunflower seeds for me. (........) The damage to the garden you describe doesn't surprise me."

10 November: Monet to Alice:
"So tell me if the chrysanthemums I sowed are flowering; if so, and there are some pretty ones, please mark them with a bit of wool."


3 April: Monet to Alice, from Antibes:
"I forgot to tell you that for the chrysanthemums it would be a good idea to replant them in the vegetable garden, spaced well apart, so that they can grow, and on my return we'll plant them out; if a few hollyhocks have survived, look after them.


9 March: Monet to Alice From London
"I hope you found the house and the garden, and the greenhouse, all in good order; it would be good if you could keep an eye on everything from time to time; and that Pascal gets a bit used to having an eye kept on him, too; likewise, it would be good to know what is happening at Florimond garden, see if the vegetables are in good shape, and know what has been planted. Eugene ought to be go there twice a week; it would be a good idea to find out and go there the day he is there."

For Monet, everything was thoroughly controlled and mastered in his garden. The book went on to narrate the following:

"The head gardener, Felix Breuil, and his team of five would receive precise orders, passed on to Alice when the artist is not in giverny, and Monet even went so far as to finance the asphalting of the road through Giverny to stop the dust from soiling his sumptuous water lilies. The artist left nothing to chance, primarily because he knew his garden would be his outdoor studio. As soon as he planted the first flowers in 1883, his intention was to paint them: I've had gardening to do, which has taken up a bit of my time, picking some flowers to paint them when the weather is bad." And when he applied for the permit required to make the pond, it was again to have "things" to paint.........the Giverny garden became his quintessential motif at the turn of the century. From 1900 to his death in 1926, Monet painted, and bequeathed us, nearly 400 pictures, not counting the panels at the Orangerie in Paris. More than half these works were devoted to his garden."

Water Lilies 1916

Water Lilies 1904

Water Lily Pond, Symphony In Green, 1899

Monet's Garden At Giverny 1895

The Garden In Flower 1900

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Victor Hugo In Guernsey

The days of January have been filled with lots of reading and sourcing of materials for my up and coming solo art exhibition in Neilson Hay Library in Bangkok this September. I'll be showcasing a collection of artworks of an owl named Ophelia (also a historian apprentice)  and her time travel adventure impressions of France in the 19th century :D

Ophelia definitely has France's greatest writer of his age or some would say of all time, Victor Hugo on her list of  French people whom she would love to meet as she goes back into time.  A certain set of political circumstances during the second empire forced Victor Hugo, then a celebrated poet and writer, to leave France and live in exile that was to last nineteen years (1851-1870). First he lived in Brussels,then Jersey,then Guernsey. I was in particular very curious to find out how he spent his fifteen years in Guernsey, away from the tiresome and weary life of politics and the freedom to be himself. With the royalties earned from his remarkably successful first edition of  Les contemplations, the writer poet bought the Hauteville House for a sum of 24,000 francs. Through this purchase he acquired Guernsey citizenship with all the security attached to it.

Portrait of Victor Hugo while he was in Jersey, he was in his early 50s. Photo found in the book,The Life And Times Of Victor Hugo.

My deep curiosity in Victor Hugo's exile chapter led me to purchase this little booklet "Description Of Victor Hugo's House In Guernsey and Historical Notes" by Jean Sergent, I believe this booklet was printed in the 1960s. What I love most about this 16 pages booklet is its' casual approach of writing and inclusion of intimate details, it's like having a short film of Victor Hugo's exile chapter playing right before your eyes. Here are some of the notes which I extracted from the booklet:

"Hugo's mode of dressing was simple, his clothes were loose, but without carelessness. He liked low and soft-necked shirts, loose ties, broad-sleeved coats. When not exposing his bare head to the open air, because of rain or scorching sun, he wore a very large brimmed hat."

"He worked standing up and took long walks on most afternoons; his aim was to live near to Nature as possible. "

"Every morning, after a cold shower, he would sit at the breakfast table and while eating he would start to complete some drawings, then he would begin work in the strange study, looking like a lighthouse, at the top of the house and from which is easily seen St. Peter Port and its harbour, all the north of Guernsey, the sea, the nearby islands and, by the clear weather, the coast of France."

"However, it is certain that during the fifteen years spent at Hauteville House, Victor Hugo has written many works of good quality, most composed of several volumes, such as La Legende des Siecles (1859), Les Miserables (1862), William Shakespeare (1860), Les Chansons des Rues et des Bois (1865), Les Travailleurs de la Mer (1866), L'Homme qui rit (1869)....."

"Now let us go back to the year 1856 and the settling down of Victor Hugo at Hauteville House. His aim, as we said before, was that his house should not resemble any other and also that shapes, styles and colors should be in keeping with his tastes and thus surround him with some kind of spiritual comfort favourable to his work."

"All his spare time during the last months of 1856 and for most of the year 1857 was devoted to the purchase in antique shops of sideboards, chests,benches and cabinets, which he would hardly use as they were, but had them dismantled, reassembling them according to his ideas, not conforming to any known style......At that time the shops of Guernsey were still well supplied with goods obtained from centuries of piracy; French, Spanish, Dutch and Italian furniture could be found freely in the Island...."

"Thus we may say of Hauteville House that its' complete appearance is due to the creative power and the restless life of its' master. It tells about him as the cocoon tells of the insect. For its evocatory power as well as for its perculiar beauty one cannot visit Hauteville House without being moved, without feeling the emotion of entering the intimate abode of a very great man."

Hauteville House is unique, the tapsestry room is my favourite. The house looks more like a museum to me, a work of art and poetry by the master. So intrigued was I with the style and decor philosophy that I started a small collection of Hauteville House postcards from the early 1900s. I have not completed the entire collection of all the rooms in the house, below are 7 postcards of 7 different rooms.

The Red Drawing Room

The Blue Drawing Room

The Tapestry Room

The Dining Room

The Oak Gallery

The Study

The Resting Room

 Hugo lived in Hauteville House until 1870, when he returned to France after the fall of the Second Empire, but he stayed here again for a year in 1872-73, for a week in 1875 and for four months in 1878.

In March 1927, the centenary year of the Romantic Movement, the house was donated to the City of Paris by the poet’s descendants Jeanne, Jean, Marguerite and François.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

I've been charmed by the idea of returning to the days of the 19th century lately :D  Marjolein Turin, a fashion designer from Netherlands and owner of the brand Somnia Romantica, constructs exquisite clothings of that century that will make one eager to hop into a time machine in search of a victorian adventure. Marjolein's handmade pieces are inspired by history, often based on authentic patterns in her collection. Through this brand, she hopes to bring a touch of nostalgy and dreamy elegance into today's modern and hectic world. I must say she has successfully done that :D

Thanks to Marjolein, I have the liberty to share some of her inspiring creations here. I'm in no way affiliated to her shop nor have I been paid any advertising fees to write this post, I'm just someone who has fallen head over heels with her works and hopes to wear some of them in the not too distant future :D She has a wider collection at her shop  which I'm certain you will have a great time browsing. All her pieces are made to order, you can be sure that each piece will be lovingly tailored to suit your requirements, using only quality materials. I'm impressed by the comments and feedback left by her customers:

Dearest Marjolein, I wanted to send you a very positive feedback for your items, as I feel you are just the best in your trade for your work. When items arrived it was decorated in such a lovely box with a beautiful note. They items were sewn so beautifully and with love, your taste for materials is exquisite. I am so in love with my two peices that came from you, they will be heirlooms someday. I also saved the beautiful tags and brouchures from your shoppe for keep sakes. They fit beautifully. thank you again, Michelle Webster

Hi, I wanted to let you know how much I LOVE this blouse. It fits perfectly, and is soooooo flattering. You have a fan and repeat customer as soon as I can afford it. Thank you so much for the care you put into making this, and checking with me during the process. Stunning.

Absolutely beautiful! I've never had an item of clothing fit me this well, or accentuate the right parts of me as this has done. Highly recommend this seller! Excellent communication also!

an absolute delight to work with! and my ivory petticoat/skirt is beyond gorgeous. the fabric is soft and luxurious, it hangs beautifully, and feels like i am wearing a cloud! she worked very quickly in order to ship my item and have it arrive by a specified date (which it did). i cannot wait to order another item in the future (i already have my eye on a couple of items)!

The blouse is beautiful and so well made. Marjolein was a pleasure to work with and so very considerate. The craftsmanship and design of the blouse is outstanding!

Top Frances, victorian, burlesque, steampunk, black lace, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Blouse Calais,victorian,steampunk, visual kei, black lace, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Blouse Frances, victorian, steampunk, burlesque, lolita, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Capelet Noir, victorian, steampunk, edwardian, black lace, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Skirt Flora, victorian, fantasy, steampunk, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Skirt Silene, Fantasy, Victorian, Steampunk, Gothic, black, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Petticoat long, victorian, burlesque, steampunk, tule,Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Dress Asinina, victorian, goth, fantasy, lolita, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Dress Lourdes, victorian, goth, burlesque, halloween, a-symmetric, faux stretch leather, Somnia Romantica by Marjolein Turin

Have a day filled with dreamy nostalgic elegance!