About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)

 

 

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 Lily Tomlin

 

 

 

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Entries in Arts & Crafts (2)

Friday
Jan092015

Nuts in May

After being cooped up in the flat with a nasty cold, my boyfriend and I decided to get into nature and combine a visit to the Watts Chapel and Gallery in Compton, Surrey, with a walk along the North Downs of the Surrey Heathlands.

A pretty start to the walk.With the Time Out Country Walks, Vol. 2 guidebook in hand, it was a short train ride to Guildford.

With my boyfriend striding along down the trail, and me dawdling yards behind, looking for ‘fairy doors’ and peering into rabbit burrows, I had visions of Keith from the 1975 Mike Leigh film, "Nuts in May" (link to film below), bellowing “Come along, Candice Marie” to his straggling wife who, like me, delights in small natural wonders.

Natural bark formation or fairy door? All of the woodland creatures must have been hibernating since we didn't see a single one.The Watts Chapel and Gallery is along the way.

Interior of Watts Gallery. The Watts Gallery opened in 1904 to display the works of the Victorian painter, philanthropist and social reformer G. F. Watts (1817-1904). The Gallery houses paintings, sculpture, drawings, and memorabilia and was built near the winter home of Watts and his wife Mary (1849-1938), also an artist.

The much-reproduced "Hope" of 1886

The original, gigantic plaster model of Lord Alfred Tennyson (and his dog) by G. F. Watts. The War of the Mushrooms, watercolor by Elena Polenova ©Vasily Polenov Fine Art Museum and Fine Art and National Park There was an exhibition of the Russian Arts & Crafts artist and designer Elena Polenova, whose fairy-tale paintings and folkloric furniture I had never seen before.

Down the road is the Watts Cemetery Chapel. It is a little gem with an odd combination of Byzantine, Art Nouveau and Celtic elements. Around 1900, Mary Watts founded The Potters’ Arts Guild in Compton. Prior to that, she held Terracotta Home Arts Classes for local villagers in Compoton. Following her designs, they created the reliefs for the Chapel.

Metalwork on doors by George Tunstal Redmayne (1840-1912).The interior is encrusted with angels on a background of sinuous vines and trees. I couldn’t photograph the Chapel to do it justice, but you can watch a 2-minute video to see the incredible detail.

We didn’t have time to explore the cemetery around the chapel. I would have loved to see more of the tombstones, like this one, made by the Compton pottery.

We had to hurry if we didn’t want to be finding our way in the dark. Fortunately the last leg of the trail was straightforward.

By then, it was 4pm and the moon was already shining in the sky (and being reflected in the canal). At the end of the trail, we sat at a picnic table in the dark and ate our better-late-than-never packed lunch before catching the train home.

It was great to learn more about G. F. Watts. He commissioned a memorial to everyday men and women who had lost their lives helping others.

The memorial, built in 1900, is located in Postman’s Park, just down the street from my boyfriend’s flat.

Doulton tile panels tell tragic tales of Victorian heros and heroines.

Not great quality, but you can watch the entire "Nuts in May" film on YouTube. It was also on UK television recently.

Wednesday
May292013

Liberty's re-visited

Back in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, I visited London several times a year, mostly for my job. For the first few years, I didn’t really know anyone in the city and, in my free time, spent hours and hours just walking around, visiting museums, bookstores, tearooms, and vegetarian cafes.

Liberty & Co. was always on my list. I could while away hours in there, looking at fabrics, rugs, Indian furniture, Arts & Crafts decorative arts, and books. There was a cafeteria-style tearoom on the basement level where learned to take milk in my tea and discovered millionaire’s shortbread (before I became vegan). I couldn’t afford much at Liberty’s, but the dollar was strong enough back then that I was able to buy some of their signature-print items as gifts.

I've popped into Liberty's in recent years and have seen many changes since I used to haunt its floors decades ago. The bookshop is gone, the lower level tearoom is gone, and there’s pretty much nothing in the store that I can afford these days. I decided to spend a little more time there today, on the 3rd and 4th floors which house fabric and ethnic and Arts & Crafts furnishings.

I love that there is still a department that sells ribbon, buttons, and sewing notions in addition to its famous printed fabrics.

The annual Arts & Crafts exhibition was on and prices have risen since the days when I used to source furniture, metalwork and ceramics from this period for a museum.

I own a couple ceramic tiles like those above. They were designed by J. Moyr Smith and depict scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. My U.K. trips provided opportunities to add to my collection of Victorian tiles, however I rarely paid more than $5 and never more than $15-20. These at Liberty were priced at £125 each.

You can view more pieces in the exhibition here.

Long-sleeve t-shirt, thrifted, Goodwill. 1960s woven belt, thrifted, Goodwill. Cotton patchwork wrap skirt sold by a non-profit that trained former sex workers to sew, bought at a fair trade bazaar ages ago for $15. Necklace made by my mother. Bangles from India. Clogs painted by me, thrifted, Goodwill. By coincidence I was wearing a belt and skirt that looked right at home in Liberty’s rugs and carpet department!

* I believe the name is just "Liberty London" now, but since I'm stuck in the 19th century, I still think of it as "Liberty & Co."