Friday, February 25, 2011

Bendigo Art Gallery - Home for Fashion Lovers !!

Here are two exhibitions to put in your calendars as "MUST SEE'S" and "NOT TO BE MISSED". Bendigo Regional Art Gallery obviously has an excellent relationship with the Victoria and Albert Museum of London, and regional Victoria are the fortunate recipients of this connection with two fantastic fashion exhibitions coming up this year and in early 2011. The first is the White Wedding Dress Exhibition - 200 Years of Wedding Fashions.
First of August to Eleventh of November 2011 at the Bendigo Regional Art Gallery

Exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

"Drawing on the V&A’s outstanding collection of wedding gowns from the early 1800s to the present day, the exhibition explores the history of the wedding dress using individual garments and their histories to illuminate the ways in which society has responded to economic, cultural and technological change.

The exhibition encompasses historical bridal dresses, veils, corsetry, millinery, shoes and other accessories as well as gowns by couturiers and designers including Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, Charles James, Zandra Rhodes, John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin, Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones."

The second exhibition was mentioned in today's Herald Sun and has me sooooooo excited !!! There are no details on the website yet, but here is the article promoting an exhibition next March (do they mean 2011 or 2012??????? I am assuming 2012 as the website does not mention it) of Grace Kelly clothing! Princess of glamorous 50's and early 60's style herself, - Grace Kelly !!! Oh, do I have to wait a whole year !!!! More details will be published as they come to hand.......

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The incredible Becky...

Have a good close look at these photographs. Beautiful black and white images of golden age Hollywood, done as comfy couch cushions. Look closely again. Can you figure out how they have been created?

I was completely blown away when I first saw these most incredible cushions, made by the lovely - and infinitely talented - Becky Argent. They are cross stitched from patterns made by Becky herself, and you should see how very intricate they are up close !!

Tiny, perfect stitches in shades of black, white and grey....for those of us who have dabbled in cross stitching before, imagine working only with those shades on a very intricate level.....and look at the amazing result! What a collection !!

Becky, these are simply priceless works of art and as a collection they are breathtaking. You must keep us posted with each new addition to the couch !!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Music of the moment....JD McPherson

I have just discovered the most wonderful new artist (or at least new to me !!) and had to share him with you..... JD McPherson. In a review by Chicago Radio stations WXRT they share that

"JD’s actually from Oklahoma, but according to the Hi-Style website, they brought JD to the big city of Chicago to record this album.......... If ’50s rock ‘n’ roll and/or old soul is your thing, this album should be a slam-dunk."

My words seem so inadiquate to describe what to me is the epitomy of a brilliant  50's  style artist , so check out this rockin film clip (click on the image below) - if it doesnt get your foot tapping then I would seriously consider booking into your local GP for a check may be dead.......

All I can say is get yourself a copy of Signs and Signifiers as soon as you can, because every track is a killer (my personal favourites are "North Side Gal" and "Scratching Circles").

If you have already heard of JD, then please comment as I'd love to know your opinion and favourite songs too ! And guys, how about getting JD out for Wintersun or Greazefest one day if we can? That would be sensational !

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homesteads of the Murray - Chapter One

 Towong Hill
It is said that A B “Banjo” Patterson was first introduced to the real life man from Snowy River, Jack Reily, by Walter Edward Mitchell. Thanks to the inspiration provided by Mr Reily, Australian literature has never been the same since, the beauty of the high country so richly captured in every line of the classic Australian story. As for Walter Edward Mitchell, his association with Australian literature went even further, for his son, Thomas, married Elyne Mitchell, author of the children’s classic Silver Brumby books. Surrounded by the hills of the Corryong countryside, in a wide valley with a majestic view to Mount Townsend capped in snow, Walter Mitchell’s station has provided the literary stimulation for close on 100 years.

Walter Mitchell was the youngest son of upper Murray cattle grazier, Thomas Mitchell, and was given the responsibility of managing the 17,000 acre station of Towong for the family. He is still remembered fondly as a warm natured man, and one who kept the loyalty of his station hands for years on end. It was to the Murray River Valley, where the Indi and Swampy Plains rivers meet to form the Murray, that Walter brought his bride, Winifred, in 1904. They had commenced construction on a beautiful house to begin married life, and awaited its completion at nearby Bringenbrong Station, another Mitchell family property.

“Towong Hill”, as the homestead became known, was designed by Walter’s brother in law, Soley Pack. It took two years to build and was completed in 1904. Bricks were kilned on sight, produced down by the rivers muddy shores in a paddock still referred to as “the brickciln”. A fine double storied dwelling of roughly 80 squares, with 8 spacious upstairs bedrooms, each possessing an open fireplace, for Walter and Winifreds planned family.
Thomas Walter Mitchell was ushered into the world of the cattle station in 1906, and was soon joined by a sister, Honour. In 1917, Walter Mitchell passed away and Winifred chose to purchase a house at Point Piper, taking her two small children away from the station, returning only for Christmas holidays. After their schooling in Sydney was complete, Thomas, Honour and Winifred headed for England, where Thomas was to study at Cambridge University. This was followed up with Law at Inns court, and he was soon called to the Bar of London. Meanwhile, at home in Australia, the beautiful isolated cattle station – reduced to 4,000acres due to subdivision for soldiers settlement – was being managed by faithful station hands and overseers.

By 1935, Thomas Mitchell had returned home to Australia, a successful Lawyer, and in that year he married city girl, Elyne Chauvel, and settled himself back at his childhood home, Towong Hill.
Elyne was born in Melbourne in 1913, her father, Sir Harry Chauvel, a renowned soldier and mitilary man. The Chauvel family were living in Europe at the outbreak of World War I, however they moved back to the peace of Australia after the great world turmoil had ended. It was on the shores of Point Lonsdale that her father taught her to ride, and the subsequent love of horses he instilled proved intoxicating for Elyne. In her move to the remote station with its federation homestead, Elyne found plenty of opportunity to enjoy her love of the gracious animals and their mountain world. Together Thomas and Elyne threw themselves into cattle station life - mustering, droving cattle to the Cudgewa railway station, aiding birthing ewes, shearing, enjoying blissful swims in the river on hot summer days and skiing in the Snowys in winter.
Skiing proved another great love of Elynes. Encouraged to take it up by Thomas, she proved a natural at the sport, wining the Canadian downhill skiing championship in 1938. She adored the mountains of her homeland, exploring them on skis or horseback whenever the opportunity availed itself.

However, living in the beautiful rolling hills, hidden valleys and breathtaking peaks of far eastern Victoria was not all aglow with good times. Life proved challenging for Elyne who gradually took on a more managerial role at the station while Thomas was away with his many political commitments as Country Party Member for Benambra, in State Parliament. In the winter, dense fogs would envelop the station for days on end. Mrs Mitchell recalls in her autobiography the trauma of trying to search for birthing ewes in smothered paddocks, with only the call of destructive crows to lead her to the newly born lambs and the mothers trying desperately to protect them.

Bushfires were also a threat. In 1939 a fierce blaze screamed down the valley while Thomas and Elyne were away skiing in Europe. Relatives were minding the homestead when the violent flames came. Miraculously, they kept the fire at bay and saved the house with garden hoses and buckets. The station land was not quite so fortunate. Fences everywhere were destroyed and needed to be replaced quickly. And what should the station hands find in almost every charred fence post they removed from its hole? The burnt remains of snakes, caught in the blaze and looking for refuge.
In 1952 fire struck once again. The “Towong Hill” household were fighting fires for days on end, exhausted and strung out. Then came the news that King George VI had passed away and his daughter , Elizabeth, was to take the throne. To anyone else fighting fires, this was simply world news arriving in the middle of personal disaster. For the Mitchell family at “Towong Hill”, it added extra pressure and stress. Thomas Mitchell was Attorney General at the time, and it was decreed that all State and Federal Cabinet members must swear allegiance to the new Queen immediately, or else the Government of the country could not proceed. Thomas was rushed from the fires and taken to Melbourne, a 6 hour trip at the best of times, swore his allegiance in his fire fighting garb, and rushed home again to continue fighting and eventually beat the blazes at “Towong Hill”.
Four children blessed the house on the hill with love and laughter. Elyne created her most well known work of fiction, “The Silver Brumby”, for her eldest daughter, Indi, who was named after the bubbling mountain river. Published in 1958, “The Silver Brumby” has never been out of print, as popular today as it ever was. Elyne Mitchell published 33 books in her lifetime, focusing mainly on the world of the Upper Murray, in which there is no lack of substance for inspiration. Long jaunts into the countryside on horseback were had by all the family, all sharing Elynes appreciation of things Australian and things beautiful.
Until her recent passing, Elyne spent everyday she could at Towong Hill, cuddling her collie dog Millie or enjoying her garden. It was here that she has wrote her charming and award winning literary works, in a room bathed with light that filtered through stained glass windows. Through those windows she had views stretching all the way to the Snowys. Magpies would chortle high in the cypress trees lining the drive. There was a certain magic in the hollyhocks, rose, iris and hydrangeas that would sway in the breezes of the old fashioned garden, and in the wisteria hanging dramatically over a quaint garden gate. Such was her home and world for 67 years.

There has been “movement at the station” for over 100 years, with the exuberance imparted from the families of Walter, Thomas and now, Elyne’s son John. The brumby’s of Elyne’s books continue to run wild and free in the mountains, and spirit of the mountains will continue through legacy to Australian literature of a great country woman.
** All photographs used in this article are by the incomparable Brooke Orchard at Brooke Orchard Photography - check out her highly awarded and nationally acclaimed talent !!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Living Dolls - Miss February

I am so very excited to share this months Living Doll with you - the totally adorable Ms Vicki !

What does 'vintage' mean to you?

Pre 1970s

What was it that first prompted your interest in vintage culture?

I have always felt from a young age that I didn’t “fit in” to the norm & always felt different. I was taken to my first Wintersun in 1997 & was introduced to the rockabilly scene. It was like a lightbulb went off over my head. “That’s it!” I thought “This is who I am”. The music, the fashion & the attitude of the people in ‘scene’ was exactly what I had been craving. It truly felt like a big void in my life had been filled. I ditched the flannel shirts & army boots for day dresses & red lippie from that day forth.

What is your favourite era, and do you 'live it' every day? In what ways?

My favourite era would have to be the 1950s. I just love the design of everything from a wall clock, the cars, the furniture, the advertising, textiles.. everything! To me it seems such an exciting decade that is filled with beautiful colours & patterns that scream happiness.

Although I would love to live completely in the era, alas it is not very practical. In my day to day life I normally wear clothing that is a retro look. My hair & makeup is always done true to era. My home is a weatherboard that was built in 1952. Although it has the mod-cons the majority of furniture & decorative items are either 1940s/1950s vintage or vintage inspired.

Tell us about your favourite item of vintage clothing, kitchenalia, music, furniture or whatever !

I do love my house. The original owners built it in 1952 & lived in it until we bought it in 2009. It is still completely original from the kitchen with it’s pastel blue/yellow stove to the atomic light fixtures.

My favourite clothing item would have to be a classic 49er Pendleton Jacket. They are my addiction. My other favourite thing is marcasite jewellery particularly brooches.

Can you share with us why vintage culture continues to hold such appeal for you?

Unlike ‘modern’ fashion which seems to just jump in & out of fads, vintage style is timeless. I just don’t feel right in modern look clothing. Everything these days is just so mass produced, cheap & trashy looking.

Do you have any tips for anyone starting out in the vintage scene?

Surf the net for inspiration. In this age of Google & YouTube there really is no excuse for not knowing what style represents certain eras. Also, don’t be afraid of those gals that look like total glamour-pusses. They are human too. Go up to them & ask them questions like “Where do you buy your frocks?” & “How do you do your hair?”.

Or go to the Lindy Charm School.

Now is your chance to provide us with an overview of who you are and what you do.
I would call myself a rockabilly, swing, wanna-be punk rude girl, daggy woman with a hint of bogan. I don’t have any tattoos or piercings. I don’t really conform to the pressure of what is considered ‘in’. In fact, if somebody tells me that a certain thing is the ‘new’ cool thing I will usually do the opposite.

I really can’t relate to ‘modern’ culture and find most of it quite disgusting.

I am on a never-ending quest to find the perfect red lipstick, black eyeliner & drop of Merlot.

I am actually quite shy in social situations & normally fret for a few hours before going out. I live a nice quiet life in the beautiful bayside town of Redcliffe with my wonderful husband Mick (The Big Fella), my two staffie cross dogs called Bovver Boi & Sabi and my cat, the evil pookah called Harvey.

I love old British cars & I would LOVE to own a Hillman Minx.

Finally, what or who inspires you and why?

I very much love a classic vintage look that is not fussy & too over the top. I’m not really attracted to wild atomic print things & prefer a simple understated style. My favourite style icons are either Katharine Hepburn or Grace Kelly.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wintersun 2011 is coming !!!

Oh goody goody - it's on it's way!!! Wintersun 2011 !!! This year all the fun, friends and good times are at Port MacQuarie in northern NSW, Australia. Keep the long weekend in June free (11, 12 and 13) and make sure you get there if you are a lover of nostalgia or vintage culture - we are talking about the biggest nostalgia and vintage cultural festival in Australia after all!!!

Here are some of the wonderful events we can all look forward to this year - participate where ever you can to enjoy yourself all the more!!!

Movie of the Moment - Anna Karenina

Last night I watched the 1948 version of the classic Tolstoy novel "Anna Karenina" and was absolutely moved to tears. Such a glorious adaption of an out and out heart wrenching story of love, society, marriage, choices and, one of my favourite topics at the moment, the tender frailty of the human spirit. I chose to borrow this film from my local library because I ADORE Vivien Leigh, but I ended up loving this film as a movie in its own right.

Having said that, Vivien is her thoroughly captivating self, acting with perfect timing and sensitivity to the title character, and mesmerising her audience with her unfathomable beauty. In a review of the earlier Greta Garbo version of the story, it was said that "Garbo herself, (was) perhaps a bit too self-possessed and headstrong, (and) could never represent the character of Anna, a woman carried away on passion, lust and impending tragedy." Certainly Vivien could carry such a role, as her own life showed all the elements of passion, sensitivity and human frailty that epitomised the tragic heroine, Anna Karenina.

The costuming in this film, by Cecil Beaton and set in the late 1800's, is breathtaking, extravagant and stunning. The sets impressive, in places stark, elegant and cold as fits the subject. The supporting actors are astute and, of course, the story is brilliant. This tale has been billed as the greatest love story of all time.
If you are after a beautiful, cosy night in, then chase down a copy of this film. You most certainly wont regret it.
Below are some costume stills from Anna Karenina - I couldn't resist sharing them with you all, they are so divine!
4.5 Choc Tops

Quote of the month - February 2011

"It isnt the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones."

Jean Webster
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