Friday 29 December 2017

India Comes To Coventry - Visiting The V&A's Crafts Of The Punjab Exhibition

All dressed up and somewhere to go! This week has seemed almost interminable so when we realised that today was probably the last chance we'd get to visit an exhibition we'd set our hearts on seeing, it was the perfect opportunity to jump in the van and shake off the twixmas apathy.

 On loan from the V&A's South Asian Collection, Crafts of The Punjab is currently on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry (the UK's City of Culture for 2021), just a forty minute drive from Walsall.

Yes, I know we'll have unlimited access to the most amazing of Indian crafts, textiles and artifacts in just over a week's time but I don't believe anyone can have too much of a good thing!

Even the armour is gorgeous.

The helmet below was made in Lahore in 1850 and features plumes of heron feathers.


Early photograph of Lahore circa 1855.

Ceramics, carvings and an ivory perfume bottle.

This watercolour was painted by a 16 year old boy. 

WEARING: Vintage USA-Made Farah wool jacket, 1960s Tootal scarf  & brogue boots (charity shopped); navy skinnies (retail); Leather baker boy cap (End of the Road festival, 2015)

Jon jealously guarding a nineteenth century woven silk textile.

This choli, kurta and dupatta set date from 1855 and are made from silk embroidered with silver wrapped thread. The choli (blouse) is so tiny.

These watercolours, completed in Jaipur in 1905 were copied directly from carpets made in the Mogul royal carpet workshop in Lahore in 1600.

I nearly passed out when I saw this beauty! This silk and mirror work skirt dates from 1850. 

This rosewood carving formed part of an over-mantel in a British officer's home.

These gloriously colourful textiles were made over 140 years ago.

This gents bullion work ceremonial coat from Amritsar dates from around 1850.

This carved table and mirror date back to the days of Queen Victoria but you'll still find artisans employing the same techniques all over India today.

The highlight of the exhibition for me was Maharaja Ranjit Singh's golden throne, made between 1805 and 1810 in Lahore which, before partition, was the capital city of the Punjab.

These gold earrings featuring miniatures painted on ivory come a close second. Dating between 1850 -1900 they were made in Delhi and gifted to the V&A. A near identical pair turned up on the Antiques Roadshow last year and were valued at tens of thousands of pounds.

This Maharani makes me feel under-dressed!

This waist sash (patka) dates to around 1835 and was made in Kashmir.

These watercolours were samples of art painted directly on the walls of palaces.

Early photographs of Amritsar dating from 1850.

Wah! The next time we get up close and personal to Indian antiquities will be in India - I can hardly wait!

The Crafts of the Punjab runs until 21st January, 2018.

10am - 4pm Monday - Saturday, 12 - 4pm Sundays) Admission FREE

WEARING: 1970s Collier Campbell for Liberty, London wool maxi dress and marabou trimmed capelet (present from G&T); Vintage Pakistani bullion work on velvet tote bag (jumble sale); Felted wool hat & original 1970s suede platform boots (Charity shopped); Brass bangles (Inherited from my mum)

Thanks for reading and see you in 2018!

Updated to link to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday and Judith for Hat Attack #54.

Friday 22 December 2017

The Woman In White

When I spotted this 1970s gown in a charity shop window a few weeks ago my heart skipped a beat. Sod the fact it was a wedding dress, it needed to be mine. I think the manager was rather amused by the way I stood, grinning inanely while I stroked the sleeves because he told me that I could have it for £15 instead of the £25 written on the label. I didn't need any time to think, I stripped the shop dummy myself, handed the cash over, stuffed the dress into my bag for life and continued on my merry way.

At home I was pleased to discover that it fitted perfectly and the surface marks on the skirt sponged off straight away. Originally the dress had an 8 foot train with a loop which would have been worn around the wrist as the bride walked up the aisle -  as I had no intention of wearing it as a wedding dress I unpicked the daisy braided trim, lopped off the excess fabric, re-hemmed both the skirt and the double underskirt underneath and reattached the braid. I had planned to dye it purple but I'm rather liking it off-white, I could be a Pre-Raphaelite lady...

Or even a pagan goddess

Which is a look I find far superior to a novelty Xmas jumper or a festive onesie.

Talking of Christmas - we're ready. Not that we need to do much - presents for each other (keeping to a self-imposed spending limit) and for six friends. The good thing about both being orphans is that the Xmas present shopping list is very small. We go to the curry house for our dinner with the Dead Relatives Society and have a three course Indian feast for £24.95. We don't eat breakfast or tea on Christmas Day, we're too stuffed! We usually meet the gang in 'Spoons on Boxing day for tea. We don't do a big shop or buy any special food in. We don't eat any more or any differently than we do the rest of the year. As I have done every year since Jon bought it me, I'll be on my Wii Fit on Xmas morning - I've a date with a bikini and a beach in less than a fortnight. Xmas decorations? The eagle-eyed amongst you spotted last year's pom-pom wreath in Wednesday's photos - that's the lot. No tinsel, no tree, no anything. 

Neither of us are into festive TV although I am very excited that to mark forty years since its release, the BBC are showing Saturday Night Fever tonight. I can't quite believe that I went to see it at the cinema when I was 11, clearly the door staff at Walsall's ABC were a bit lax at letting a child into an  X rated film. Can't say it did me much harm though, just look at what a balanced and sensible adult I turned into!

Whatever you get up to on 25th December, Jon, the cats & I wish you a Super Cool Yule.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Ready To Go - Travel Packing & Some 1970s Inspired Finds

The Seventies are dead...long live the '70s! By the frequency with which flamboyant sleeved tops & platform soled shoes are turning up in charity shops it seems that the craze for all things 1970s-inspired is on the wane and those of us who dress that way because we love it rather than because the fashion mags told us to can now snap up our favourite styles for a pittance.

This black top was £2 from Scope last week. Deadly boring on the coat hanger but perfect with the £1.99 zig-zag print bell bottoms I bought from a charity shop in the Autumn.

I usually wear this 1970s maxi with nothing more than a heap of ethnic jewellery and a pair of shoes but today I'm winterising it with a flared sleeve top, new with the original shop tags still attached, which I found in the clearance charity shop on Friday for £3. I remember salivating over these suede platforms in Topshop a few years ago so I was thrilled to find a pair in my size for £2 - a saving of around £58! Like I always say, if you wait long enough, the object of your desire will always turn up in a charity shop.

Ready to go? You bet! With just over a fortnight to go my India bag is packed. Here's my final cut. Gone is the denim waistcoat, my Dollyrockers skirt and the 1970s Miss Selfridge crochet vest - I've been ruthless!

Clockwise from top left: Three crochet bikinis; 1970s Chelsea Girl block printed maxi skirt ; Indian kimono sleeve maxi dress; Crinkle cotton maxi with ladder detail; Butterfly vest; Aztec print column dress; Cotton zip-up bustier; Vintage block printed tunic ; Black cotton tiered maxi ; Bejewelled Indian tunic top; Crochet halterneck; Indian waistcoat trimmed with mirrors & pom-poms.
Yes, that's 35 days worth of clothing. Don't worry, if the NEW dresses I'm taking fall to bits along the way I can guarantee that there will be plenty of shopping opportunities.

 Three bags - not pictured is the massive tote bag I use as a beach bag I made from a 1970s curtain ; a selection of Indian scarves & sarongs plus my new Polarised sunglasses (recently bought from eBay). I have terrible trouble with my feet when we're away, it doesn't matter how regularly I've worn my sandals, after a couple of days in India my feet are a mass of blisters - this year I'm taking no chances and taking four pairs. There's my silver Birkis, the £3 Havianas from eBay (don't bother with cheapo flip flops, these really are good), some rose gold leather chappals which I bought in Mumbai back in 2015 and will probably be replaced this year (I usually pay around £3.50 for a new pair) and the bronze leather gladiator sandals were from a charity shop a couple of years ago. I bought the straw hat from eBay for our last trip, it's foldable and ideal for squashing into my beach bag.

My jewellery (and the belt Kelly gave me when she popped by to see us in London back in September). It goes without saying that I'll be travelling in my rings & bangles - I stick them on after I've gone through the X-Ray machine - not that it matters, the screws in my hip always set the alarms off. That's five necklaces, four pairs of earrings, a couple of toe rings, anklets and armlets.

Here's the toiletries. Other than the sun stuff I never buy new, I take whatever is in the bathroom and replace it when it runs out. I'll carry tissues, hand sanitiser, toothbrushes & tooth powder and mozzie repellent in my handbag along with my reading glasses, sunglasses and e-reader.

The make-up - Tweezers, Sleek creme blusher, Barry M kohl, lip & nail paint (toes only when I'm travelling) and a pencil sharpener. I apply individual lashes the day before I fly and replace them as and when they fall out.

The make-up, toiletries and jewellery as well as a pack of black hair elastics and a couple of hair screws (HERE) comfortably fit in these two bags. Both can be hung up which is essential when you're staying in a titchy beach hut with limited space.

WEARING: Vintage Alexander Clare of London Crimplene maxi dress (99p, eBay, 2013); Contemporary knitted top with flared sleeves (£3, Cancer UK); 1970s Sheffield Stainless Steel pendant (Car boot sale)

I've decided to make my own Xmas wrapping paper this year so I've got 16 metres of brown paper to block print before the weekend. Nothing like leaving stuff to the last minute, is there?

I'll leave you with the inspiration behind today's blog title, Hurts - one of my current musical obsessions.

See you soon!

Monday 18 December 2017

Proud Mary - Today's Outfit Plus Some Charity Shop Tat

It's the Dead Relatives Society bash. Jon & I and the rest of us orphans are off to Spoons shortly for a festive all-dayer. I know what you're thinking - they do this most Mondays, it's hardly festive - but this time we've got the added attraction of the Wetherspoons' Xmas menu (I'm having mushroom risotto). It's a bit of practice really, we'll be regrouping a week today for dinner in the curry house. 

My dress was a birthday present from G&T. It's Crimplene and perfect for protecting me from today's wintry chill.  Note the footwear - yes, the snow & ice have finally melted!

The Welsh Wool cape has been hanging around the stockroom for a while so I decided it needed a bit of Vixification and added a fake fur collar salvaged from a vintage 1960s coat well past its best as well as a metallic black frog fastener bought from the market. The choker is actually some vintage braid, I've sewn press studs to and embellished with a buckle from a tatty 1960s bikini.

Remember me telling you about the tacky Virgin Mary in Friday's post? Well here she is. She's just shy of two feet tall, made of glitter-encrusted plastic and adorned with a real palm leaf. She was £5 - of course I had to have her. I'm surprised you even asked!

Plastic Mary and Pom-poms. I could say that they're my Xmas decorations but they'll probably stay up all year. Considering that we're a pair of rampant atheists we've got quite the collection of religious statuettes and pictures scattered around the house, we just can't help ourselves.

WEARING: Vintage Crimplene maxi with Vixified Welsh Wool cape and handmade choker, 1970s suede platforms & felted wool hat (both charity shopped)

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday. Pop over there, Patti's rocking a Kinky Melon maxi.

See you soon!

PS Thanks for the beautiful card, Jo from Canberra in Australia. Big love back to you and yours. xxx