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Art Nouveau – Alphonse Mucha exhibition, UEA.

 

F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur by Alfonse Mucha, 1897

F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur
Alfonse Mucha, 1897
(Public Domain image)

I’m a big fan of the Art Nouveau movement, especially the works of Alfonse Mucha, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Charles Horner. I have a number of reproductions of Mucha’s works and a few items of jewellery in the style of Mackintosh. Sadly I don’t have anything by Horner as even reproductions are expensive.

I love the organic shapes of Art Nouveau, far more than the more minimalistic style of the more popular Art Deco movement that followed it, although that’s not to say that I dislike Art Deco; I just don’t like it as much as I like Art Nouveau. I do particularly like the Streamline Moderne (aka Art Moderne) movement that evolved from Art Deco, although I think it would be fair to say I am a fan of the whole Raygun Gothic catchall retro-futuristic vibe. But I digress.

In a subsequent post I will show what I have of the above, but it will make this post too long if I do it here and, besides, it deserves a post of its own.

A month or so ago, I learned that I had a missed an exhibition of Alfonse Mucha’s work at the Russel-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth last year but that it was currently running at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) until 20th March, so a plan was hatched to visit my best friend Claire in Lowestoft again and for us to attend the exhibition.

Claire & Joanne, Besties Forever

Base credit: eugene-joe-c at DeviantArt

So, tickets were booked, time off work was booked, and a hotel was booked. The weeks dragged by somewhat until the weekend we had dubbed “Bestiefest” finally arrived.

I travelled up on Friday morning and the journey was not good. The M3 and M25 were ok, but the two lane M11 was a nightmare with loads of lorries doing elephant racing.

Here’s one of those maths questions for you – if a lorry travelling at 60.01 mph overtakes a lorry travelling at 59.99 mph on a two lane carriageway, how many miles of abject misery can they cause for other road users? Answers on a Carrier Pigeon or Stone Tablet please.

In the end it took me just over 4 hours to get to Claire’s, having set off around 10am. Although, in fairness, I did stop for 15 mins at a service station for a loo break, and also had a panicked switch from the A14 route to the A11 route because I thought I knew better than Google Navigation. I should learn to welcome my digital overlords, because I was wrong.

It was good to see Claire again, and we spent the afternoon just nattering and catching up. She had to pop out to get the kids from school mid-afternoon, so I took the opportunity to drive over to the hotel to check in, to freshen up, and change.

Off out for a night in

Off out for a night in

I had decided not to book myself into the same hotel as last time, but to use a Premier Inn. Upon arrival this proved to have been a good choice. Although Premier Inn are quite basic, the price was very keen, and the room turned out to have everything that I needed – a nice comfortable bed, a comfortable chair (a chaise longue, no less!) which also doubled as a place to put my suitcase, a small desk, and a small dressing table with illuminated mirror for doing my makeup. Everything I needed and nothing I didn’t need. The only thing lacking was a lift – lugging my suitcase up a flight of stairs was a bit of an inconvenience.

The downside of my choice was that, rather than being 5 mins from Claire I was now 15-20mins but, to be honest, the cost and benefits made that worth it. I just wish I could have the best of both worlds. As always.

It took me a little longer than I anticipated to unpack, freshen up and change, and although we weren’t going out that night I probably slightly overdressed but never mind. It was late afternoon before I got back to Claire.

We spent some more time nattering, and I also helped her with the new website for the band that she is in (the band is called ICONIC). She is developing with WordPress and was having a few problems with a few things, and I have some experience there so we were able to work on that together. In fact the rest of the day fairly flew by and I’m not entirely sure that we did a lot more besides that, apart breaking for dinner.

All too soon it was bedtime and I headed back to the hotel where I had a really good night’s sleep, which considering that I often suffer from insomnia was a nice bonus.

Alfonse Mucha exhibition. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts University of East Anglia

In quest of beauty

The next day I got over to Claire’s mid-morning, and a little while later we headed over to Norwich for the exhibition. We got there a little ahead of schedule and I spied a large Next store so we popped in there for a browse and a coffee, then headed over to UEA to arrive in time for our “slot” at the exhibition.

I went to university at a non-campus one, so entering the campus of UEA and driving round looking for the SCVA was a slightly new experience for me. In the end we found it, and even managed to find a space in the small car park with free parking that had been set aside for exhibition visitors. In fairness, had we not been able to park there then there were other car parks on-campus, and a free parking permit was available from the front desk of the Centre, but it would have been a little bit of a hassle of back-and-forth to go get one then go back and place it in the car, then back again. It was nice not to have to do that as no permit was required in the reserved car park.

The exhibition was small, but was well presented. There were examples of Mucha’s artwork throughout his career and also examples of his sculpture and jewellery on display. In the corner was a television showing a loop of a documentary about him which ran for around 20-30 mins, so we sat and watched that and it was very interesting and I learnt things about Mucha that I did not know. It’s made me want to read the book I have on him in more detail as I confess that I had only skimmed it until now.

After we had finished at the exhibition we went down to the gift shop. I very much wanted the weighty 168-page paperback guide that went with the exhibition (£16) and they also had some very good quality mounted reproductions of some of Mucha’s art. I have wanted some of these for a while but have been very wary of buying online – when I enquired of one seller on Amazon Marketplace a while back as to the provenance of their pictures they told me that they printed them themselves on an Epson printer on ‘high quality paper’, so being able to see the quality, and to see that they had been commissioned by the Mucha Foundation, was a big selling point. They weren’t cheap, though – £25 for a larger size and £15 for a smaller size. There were also some unmounted posters of A2 size for a more reasonable £12 each. There were also various books on Mucha, including a book of posters whose quality was very good (£12).

In the end, after an awful lot of pondering, I limited myself to one larger print, one medium print, the guide, the poster book, and a poster. This came to a not unsubstantial £80, but I could very easily have spent double that.

Purchases

Purchases

Even now I’m not convinced I chose the right prints, particularly Bieres de la Meuse which I already own as a metal sign. I think I should have chosen a different one, and perhaps given in to my desire to buy more of the prints. I justified the decision not to at the time as I rationalised that I could cut out the posters in the poster book and frame them, but now I am not so sure.

It was early afternoon by now so we popped into Norwich for a light lunch and then dropped in on one of Claire’s friends who was looking forward to meeting me as she’d heard lots about me. We seemed to get on really well, so that was nice. Then after a little while we headed on back to Claire’s.

A little later we popped out for a curry (and a natter, of course. Lots of nattering on this weekend). The portions were really big and at the end of the meal they asked us if we wanted the leftovers to be bagged up. They were so nice about it, and we felt so guilty for leaving really nice food, that we accepted.

BFFs

BFFs

By now it was getting late and I headed back to the hotel after. Again, I had a good night’s sleep – there must be something about those Premier Inn mattresses after all.

I was a little later getting over to Claire’s on Sunday morning as I overslept a little, plus I had to pack up and check out.

We spent much of the day nattering (yet more. I know) and working on the website and the like. Lunch was jacket potatoes plus all the leftover curry and sides from the night before, which was really nice and filling.

By mid afternoon I felt it was time for me to hit the road, not just because I had a long journey but also because I felt that Claire’s poor hubby had been somewhat neglected due to me being around so much and taking up so much of Claire’s time, and I thought that he would appreciate some time with her. So I left around 3pm.

The journey back was as expected, with the M25 being rather a nightmare. It didn’t help that idiot drivers like the one in a white VW Tourag were bullying their way into gaps that weren’t there and causing everyone to brake. At times we were reduced to walking pace, then back up to speed again for no reason – almost certainly the “traffic ripple effect”. But I got home eventually, about 3hr30 after setting off. That left me with the evening to wind down and prepare myself for the coming week.

And that was my weekend. Not quite as packed as the last time, but very enjoyable and I was very happy.

 

 

 

 

Posted by on 19th March 2016 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Social

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Project Reorganise

It’s been well over a month (6 weeks, in fact) since I last posted, and a few people have asked me what I have been up to and said that I should post it on a blog post. I confess that I have been wary of turning this blog into a “Dear Diary” one which is why I have held off a little.

So, what have I been up to since my last post?

For quite a while now, I’ve been rather ‘treading water’ in my house. I’ve bought the odd picture here and there, the odd houseplant here and there, have moved various items of furniture around, but haven’t made any really major changes since my divorce.

Over the past few years, as I have embraced all facets of myself, I’ve come to realise how much I love Art Nouveau and the whole vintage aesthetic. I also have come to appreciate Shabby Chic, whimsy, and quite a feminine vibe. It started with a few little trinkets and accessories around the house here and there, and then recently has coalesced into a grand plan for my bedroom.

The plan, which is already well-progressed, is to move the heavy antique pine furniture in my bedroom into the back bedroom, where the wardrobes from the same set already are, to end up with all pieces from the set in the same room. It should make for a really nice themed guest room. Who knows, maybe I might even have some guests over to enjoy it.

That leaves my own bedroom, and the plan is to go for a rustic sort-of Shabby Chic look but without going all the way to half-broken mismatched furniture. So a sort of “Shabbyish Chic”. 😀

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for suitable furniture and finally found what I think to be ideal in a branch of What Not Antiques. It’s a bedroom furniture set called Claremont that is made from solid reclaimed timber in a rustic style. Unlike true Shabby Chic, everything matches, but this is what I want.

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Funnily enough, just after I bought the Claremont items I was in House of Fraser and saw a very similarly styled chest of drawers to the 7-drawer low & wide one. However, unlike the one I had just bought, this was all smooth melamine-faced board with smooth drawer runners and shiny handles, and completely lacked any character. And, ironically, it wasn’t a huge amount cheaper either. So although what I have bought is fairly expensive, I’m really pleased with it. It also comes with an extremely comprehensive insurance-based 5-year warranty which even covers it for having a glass of red wine spilled down it – if they can’t remove the stain they’ll replace the item.

Bed

Bed

I don’t want everything to be matching, though – I felt that would be just too much. I envisaged the bed being a metal-framed one, possibly in a Victorian wrought iron style – perhaps black with brass detailing. Benson’s for Beds had something sort-of suitable and, better yet, it was in their sale for £199 rather than the usual price of twice that. For the price, it was ok. However, I really had my heart set on something antique with some character and on Saturday I found just that at Victorian Dreams, which is a company based in Hampshire who specialise in sourcing and restoring antique beds. Although the prices were way outside what I was planning on spending, I found the most awesome bed with the help of the owner of the shop, and she gave me a good discount to help me afford it too. The bed dates from the early 1900’s and is apparently Portuguese in origin, and I’m so excited about how it’s going to fit in with the style that I have chosen.

The plan is to have the low, wide, chest of drawers across the foot of the bed, which is why a high foot was quite important to me. By my measurements the top of the chest should come to exactly the base of the vase on the bed, which is ideal.

Butterfly Lamp

Butterfly Lamp

Whilst this has been going on, I’ve been visiting various Antiques and Collectables fairs around the Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey area, ranging from small village halls to large Sports Halls, looking for things to complement the look I’m going for. There are probably too many to mention here but notable purchases include a gorgeous Tiffany-style butterfly lamp and a mirror featuring artwork by Alphonse Mucha. I also bought a cheap table lamp also in a Tiffany style to use as a bedside lamp.

Mucha Mirror

Mucha Mirror

At one show I bumped into Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery again, who was the person selling the Charles Horner necklace that I mentioned in a previous post. I bought a lovely earring and bracelet set off her, and was chatting to her about the Charles Horner necklace but it was quite clear she didn’t remember me. It was only when I got home that I realised that I was in guy mode this time and that I had chatted to her in girl mode originally. No wonder she didn’t recognise me!
A few weeks later I was at another fair and she was at that one too, and I was in guy mode again, so I went up to her and she instantly recognised me. I explained the situation and it was like a light bulb came on over her head and there was a look of relief on her face. She said she did remember the conversation and that I had been wearing a really lovely necklace when we’d been talking about the Charles Horner one, which indeed I had.
The thing that I found the most nice is that she totally took it in her stride and didn’t so much as bat an eyelid over the concept. How wonderful! I think it is yet more evidence that Society as a whole (the decent members thereof, at least) are much more tolerant to transgenderism these days.

Rose mirror

Rose mirror

Another purchase was a gorgeous mirror, although with the design of the room starting to mutate out of Shabby Chic and towards a more vintage bronze look (what with the Tiffany-style lamps, the bed, the handles on the furniture, and one of the candidates for the chandelier light fittings I’m considering), I’m starting to be concerned that it still fits. But I really like it so I think it will stay.

The furniture and the bed both arrive next weekend, and once installed there will be a little more still to do, but I will be sure to post pics when it’s all done. I’m not planning to re-decorate or re-carpet, but I do want to fit some coving to soften the feel of the room and make it less boxy.

Not only have I been pretty remiss on this blog, but I’ve also been remiss on going out in girl mode and taking pics for my Flickr. I think I’ve only done it once or twice since my last blog post. I’m at the stage right now where it is no big deal whether I do or don’t. Much as I love the clothes and jewellery of girl mode, it is a complete palaver and if I’m absolutely honest, after a long week at work I can’t really be bothered on a weekend. Especially in the cold weather we’ve been having, I just like to dress up warm and comfortable, and I can do that much more easily in guy mode than girl mode. There may also be some confidence issues too, but I think it is more down to the fact that warm clothing doesn’t really flatter any woman, although I do think I look particularly chunky in my more recent pics even though I’ve put no more than 5lbs back on. That’s well on the way to coming off again though, so perhaps by the time Spring comes I will be in a place where I want to resume.

I recently got to a stage where I considered stopping buying any more dangling earrings because I think I probably buy them more often than I wear them! So I told myself that I had two options – either stop buying them and start wearing what I have, or else say that I am collecting them. So, a Collector of Nice Earrings I now am. 🙂

I will have to photograph them all and make a static gallery-style page on this blog, I think. Something to do one day.

 

Posted by on 6th March 2015 in Diary, Home furnishing, Transgender

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Take another Five

20th Century & Art Deco fair

20th Century & Art Deco fair

On Sunday I was back at the Woking Leisure Centre for another of Take Five‘s fairs, this time for a 20th Century, Art Nouveau and Art Deco fair. These are generally less packed with stalls than the “flea, antiques & collectors” markets but the sellers tend to have more expensive and larger items for sale.

I went in knowing from previous experience that I would be unlikely to find something that I both liked and could afford, and that was certainly the case. There were some lovely pieces but were way outside my price range. Rather amusingly I also saw a few items that had also been in the ‘flea, antiques & collectors’ market a few weeks previously. I guess there is some overlap between the two.

One thing that did catch my eye was an absolutely gorgeous Art Nouveau necklace, which I asked to look at. As the seller took it out of the display case to show it to me, she said it was an original Charles Horner dating from around 1908, and at that point I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to afford it.
As we chatted she remarked on the necklace that I was wearing and how pretty it was, and I mentioned that I had bought it for next to nothing. She then said that this one was going to be a little more and the very best price she could do was £220. I winced, and explained that I really just buy stuff on aesthetics and I don’t really know anything about anything, and I don’t buy to sell on; I buy to wear. She said she totally understood, and that she thought I had a very good eye given the fact I liked this necklace and also given the necklace I was wearing.

I asked if she could write down the name of the creator of the necklace for me, so I could read up on him and if I could possibly take a picture of it to remind me how beautiful it is, so she wrote down the name ‘Charles Horner’ on her business card and said that there was a picture on her website. Her name is Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery, and when I got home I visited her website and saw that the necklace is for sale there for £285 so she really was giving me her best price and I appreciate that, and also appreciate the amount of time she spent chatting to me; a thoroughly nice lady. It’s just a shame that it was just way outside of my price range. I confess I was really tempted though. I do hope this doesn’t turn out to be another of life’s little missed opportunities.

A little disheartened, I moved on and eventually came across a necklace that I thought was quite nice, and which the seller said was probably from the 1920’s. The best price she could do was £20. I said I’d have a think and come back to her, and continued to wander around. At some point a live male singer began to sing to a backing track (you can see the microphone in the centre of the pic above if you look hard), which was really nice and gave a lovely atmosphere despite the fact we were all in a Sports Hall.

Fan necklace

Go on then

Eventually I finished my tour of the stalls, and I returned to the cheaper necklace and after a little pondering said “ah go on then” to the seller and gave her a £20 note. It was probably a little more than I wanted to pay but I consider it a consolation prize for the fact I couldn’t afford the Charles Horner necklace.

After that, it was a drive from Woking to Basingstoke, via Lightwater to the M3, because I had to take that sequin dress back and only had one day left to do so. I made good time despite the M3 being on a 50mph speed limit with Average Speed Cameras due to the extensive roadworks they are doing, and eventually I arrived at Festival Place.

I took the sequin dress back to Top Shop and they gave me a full refund for the £68 I paid for it (I notice it is now £40 in the sales) without any quibble. When the sales girl asked me if there was anything wrong with it I said there wasn’t, it just wasn’t right for me. She nodded and said that this is always the problem with t-shirt dresses and that she prefers a more fitted waist. I agreed and said that was exactly why I was returning it. So in some ways I felt quite vindicated by her comment. Which was nice.

I wandered round the shops but nothing much caught my eye apart from this awesome pop art canvas of Iron Man. I knew the moment I saw it that I had to have it, and the fact it was only £15 was a bonus. So I bought that and returned to the car to stow it, and then went back down to wander the shops some more.

Iron Man canvas

Iron Man canvas

I came across a very strange thing in one shop. It was one of those pop-up clothes shops that sells all sorts of brands and they had my ‘Gold & Grey Mesh Flower Print Dress’ that I had bought from Quiz. Only the label didn’t say Quiz; it said Stella Morgan. I’ve done a little detective work on this since, and it seems legitimate – Tesco are also selling it branded as Stella Morgan under their F&F range.
The shop had the Gold & Grey, and also a Black & Blue. My research online has shown that the usual colours are Black & Grey and Gold & Grey, but I can’t find the Black & Blue online anywhere, which is a pity as if I’d known that I might have been tempted to buy it despite it being £39.99 as it looked stunning in Black & Blue, but it might work in Black & Grey too. I notice that Tesco have just reduced the Black & Grey to £30 in their online sale so I might buy that as I really do love the Gold & Grey that I have.

I’m still a little confused by the fact that this dress is by Quiz with some sellers (including Amazon) and Stella Morgan with others. Clearly there is some re-branding going on.

Anyway, I didn’t find anything else, and decided I was done. But before I went home I took an obligatory selfie because, well, you have to don’t you? 🙂
You can see the pic on Flickr (click here), and can see the necklace I was wearing too – the one Amita complimented me on.

 

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