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 Fran├žois.

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!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wearable Owl Art Necklaces

This limited edition necklace series of my owl artwork is now available here 

The owl image is encased in a clear glass dome that measures 1 inch wide. The glass dome is then mounted securely on an antique bronze crown bezel setting, simple yet elegant. A matching 18 inches antique bronze cable chain with lobster clasp comes attached to each of the pendants. Be sure to check out the rings,brooches and bobby pins here too!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

What's On My Mind These Days

An owl also a historian apprentice and soon to be time traveller prepares herself for a trip to France in the 19th century. She listed some French people and landmarks whom she would like to encounter during this trip.

1) Victor Hugo during his exile stay in Guernsey where he wrote the novel Toilers Of The Sea, using Guernsey and the Channel Islands as his setting....a visit to his Hauteville house is a must :D

2) Monet's garden in Giverny, the garden is a masterpiece by itself! Stroll in his garden and observe Monet as he goes about his role as a fervent gardener, catch on his passion for art, for beauty and also to pick up a few gardening tips.

3) Emile Jumeau and his famous BeBe Jumeau Dolls, visit his doll factory and be wowed by the exquisite process of making these dolls.

4) Les Puces De Saint Quen, Paris antique flea market! A wealth of history and treasures to be uncovered in this place!

5) Eugene Atget as he explores and documents Paris's historic streets and squares with his camera. His works have the ability to move the viewer, feels like watching a drama or reading a poem.

 She hopes to complete recording her findings and impressions of these visits on canvases by the close of 2012 :D