12 Dec 2014

Travel: Pevensey Castle, Sussex

There are few places with such an incredibly rich history as Pevensey Castle and yet often so overlooked. True, much of the site lies in ruins - crumbling walls and decaying battlements - but look a little closer, spend a little time exploring, and the castle will unveil to you its secrets. Dungeons hidden down steep spirals of stone steps; towers dating back to the 1200s and other such relics of this coastal fortress's war-torn past remain, just waiting to be found. 
A potted history of a very old castle:
Incredibly, the site dates back to 290AD when the Romans constructed it as a Saxon Shore fort to protect from coastal invasions. With the demise of the Roman Empire the site fell into disuse, before being reoccupied by the Normans in 1066. Inside the original Roman walls, most of which still surround the castle to this day, the Normans constructed the Keep and other key areas of the castle. Pevensey Castle remained occupied, more or less constantly until the late 16th century when it was abandoned and left to crumble until the 1920s when it was acquired by the state. During World War Two, the site was garrisoned by the army to protect the flat lands of the coast from German invasion. Machine gun posts were cut into the walls of the castle which can still be seen today - usually with a pigeon or two huddled inside for warmth! 
Links with great works of literacy:
But if all this military history doesn't excite you, perhaps you would be interested to learn of the castle's literary links. Have you ever read (or watched) the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Detailing the magical adventures of the Pevensie children - that name, Pevensie, sound familiar? Apparently, inspired by local author Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill in which Pevensey Castle's East Gate* is described as 'England's Gate', C.S. Lewis used the town's name as the family name of the children in his book to tie in with the gateway theme of his tale. The only photo I have of the famous gate was taken on a very snowy day a few years ago, which makes the gate look like something straight out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (complete with old fashioned street light!) . . .
For any fans of the Chronicles of Narnia, or indeed the works of Rudyard Kipling, surely it's worth taking a wander through that historic East Gate to see if inspiration strikes?  
Exploring and adventuring: 
Once through the gate, the grounds of the castle are free to explore and consist mainly of rolling fields popular with local ramblers and dog walkers. From here you can view the moat and exterior of the castle itself, with that oh-so distinctive tower just across the draw-bridge staring down at passers by like a face with gaping holes where the eyes and mouth should be. You can even cross the draw-bridge and peek through at the innards of the castle beyond the gate - as I have done many a time growing up. The Roman walls of the castle which surround the fields are also free to approach, climb on, sit on... always popular with little-ones who can't resist clambering up to see the view over the farm land beyond. 
To explore inside the castle there is a small entrance fee payable at a hut within the grounds. Inside, initially there doesn't look to be much to see. But, explore a little further and you will happen across two deep, dark dungeons, an oubliette, a mound of giant stone boulders once used on enormous catapults to fend off attackers, and one of the few surviving Elizabethan iron cannons in the world. There's also an exhibition about the history of the site, with artifacts and treasures to enjoy, along with a reconstructed battlement that boasts wonderful views across the fields of Pevensey - this particular attraction is beautiful at sunset! 
All photos copyright Claire @ Lily in the Labyrinth

*From Puck of Pook's Hill (by Rudyard Kipling):
"If Fulke is given my Pevensey, which is England’s gate, what will he do with it? He is Norman at heart, and his heart is in Normandy, where he can kill peasants at his pleasure. He will open England’s gate to our sleepy Robert, as Odo and Mortain tried to do, and then there will be another landing and another Santlache. Therefore I cannot give up Pevensey."

20 Nov 2014

Seasonal: Cambric & Cream

Goose - £4.50
Heart - £6
Scotty Dog - £4.50

Lily Says: How pretty are these hanging decorations from Cambric & Cream? I spotted them when I was browsing the Christmas decoration pages of the John Lewis site and fell instantly in love! I've since discovered that the brand has its own presence on Not On The Highstreet and, of course, has its own website too!  Be sure to check it out for more pretty decorations, Christmas stockings, garlands and angels.

23 Oct 2014

Seasonal: Skeleton You Are My Friend

How wonderful are these pieces from Katherine's Collection?! Embellished skull trinkets and bags, glass hanging decorations, spooky owls and Day of the Dead related ornaments - I've died and gone to Halloween heaven! Katherine's Collection started life in 1991 with Katherine, a party planner, creating one of a kind pieces from her home. Today, the Northeast Ohio-based company employs the talents of a team of creatives and has grown from a well-kept secret to an international brand. I'm not sure of UK stockists (if you know any, please leave a comment!) but Selfridges do stock a few Katherine Collection items in their current Christmas range. 
- Large rhinestone skull 
Glass skull ornaments
Black and white skull bag
Owls on stands

Day of the Dead skeleton ornament in a box

20 Oct 2014

Accessories: Something wicked this way comes . . .

Above: Falconwright leather Ouija clutch bag - £50 - ASOS

Above: Lantern 'Trick or Treat' shoes - £25 - ASOS
- Face Lace 'Broomchicks' halloween false lashes - £10 - ASOS
-  Halloween lips clutch bag - £20 - ASOS
WhitePepper black cat bag - £45 - ASOS
Skeleton choker - £12.50 - Topshop
Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate Halloween treats - £2.50 - John Lewis
Cut-out mask - £20 - Topshop

Halloween posts are somewhat of an annual tradition here on Lily in the Labyrinth, and this year I'm treating you to a collection of accessories that could add a hint of Halloween to any outfit this October 31st. I love the Ouija board clutch bag and think FaceLace are killing it this year with their bewitching face stickers! What are your favourite Halloween finds so far this year?

2 Oct 2014

Accessories: Dressing like Downton

- Peter Pan faux-fur collar in dark purple, caramel, powder blue - £38 - Anthropologie
Helene Berman cloche in powder blue or sand - £58 - Anthropologie

Lily Says: It's that time of year again - the days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning crisp and orange and Downton Abbey is back on the box! I couldn't help but put together this post to highlight these very Downton-esque accessories currently available from Anthropoligie. I love the soft colour pallet - such a nice change from the plums, wines and deep greens currently dominating the highstreet! Go on, wrap up warm and imagine you're Lady Mary - or my favourite, the razor sharp Dowager!

25 Sep 2014

Accessories: Matchmaker

England's Glory box clutch - £1,295
Ship box clutch - £1,295
Ship cashmere and modal scarf - £295
Swan Vestas leather bag - £1,350

I don't know what it is, but there's something about matchboxes that makes me want to hoard them! So this collection of matchbox-inspired accessories from British designer Anya Hindmarch is right up my street! The box clutches are particularly inspired. What do you think? 

12 Sep 2014

Jewellery: Cloudbusting

As mentioned in my last post, I was recently lucky enough to see Kate Bush 'Before The Dawn'. It was such a special, one-off event that fell the day after my birthday, so my boyfriend treated me to this beautiful silver pendant at the show - as you can see above modeled by our two antique artist's dolls (inspired by the show). Below you can see it in more detail, along with another special item I picked up at the show . . . 
Above: The silver pendant features lyrics from Cloudbusting laser-cut into it in a beautiful font. I felt the chain it came on was too short and chunky, so have changed it for a longer, belcher chain which I feel suits the pendant (and me) much better. The lyrics read: Everytime it rains you're here in my head, like the sun coming out, I just know that something good is gonna happen. This is such a special item as it will always remind me of that wonderful night.
Above: The back of the necklace is stamped with (C) Kate Bush. 
Above: Cloudbusting pendant in silhouette. 
Above: Silver feather pin stamped with the KT Fellowship symbol. Another special item and one I will treasure forever. The feather motif relates to the latter part of the show during which Kate Bush performed An Endless Sky of Honey from Aerial - which is largely inspired by birds and birdsong.

Read more about my experience of Kate Bush - Before The Dawn by clicking here.

11 Sep 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn

Last Friday, on September 5th, I was lucky enough to see Kate Bush perform Before The Dawn at Hammersmith Apollo. It was a night I will truly never forget and still can't quite believe actually happened! Since I was a child, Kate Bush has been a huge figure of inspiration in my life - her music and lyrics, her creativity, her discipline, her ground-breaking achievements as a woman in a male dominated industry - I even based a large part of my University dissertation on this last point. As she hadn't put on a show for 35 years, I had resigned myself to never seeing her perform live and then, at the start of the year when her return to stage was announced, I was astonished! My stomach was in knots for weeks as I waited for the tickets to go on sale and the concerts gained attention worldwide (rightly so - but it did put more pressure on ticket-buying!). But someone was smiling on me and I received an invite to purchase tickets through an exclusive fan pre-sale! Thankfully, I managed to get my boyfriend and I tickets for the Stalls, row F - which we assumed was six rows from the front until we arrived at the venue only to be lead right down to the front by the usher - one row from the stage, right on the isle! We couldn't believe our luck!
Above: The venue. I even went back a few days later to get better photos of it!
Soon enough, the house lights went down and the first chords of Lily sounded out and then - there she was! Kate Bush! Walking slowly on to the stage in time to the music, followed by her backing singers, bare-foot and smiling so widely! We, the audience, were on our feet cheering. I couldn't even blink - I didn't want to miss a thing! I think this is the only time in my life I have actually shed a happy tear. After Lily, Bertie - Kate's son and one of the backing singers for the show - shouted "It's in the trees! It's coming!" and, still smiling, Kate launched into Hounds of Love. One of my all-time favourite songs, it sounded phenomenal live - as did all of her songs, of course! This first part of the show ended after King of the Mountain with the drummer spinning, spinning spinning at the front of the stage until cannons of confetti exploded over us! Each piece of confetti was printed with words by Tennyson that had inspired The Ninth Wave - the production team had even gone so far as to replicate Tennyson's handwriting! Amazing attention to detail and so nice that the audience got a free little memento from the show (I got loads of the stuff as we got swamped in it, being so near the front). There followed a video segment of a coastguard sending a message about a ship in trouble at sea. We then watched a beautiful pre-recorded performance of And Dream of Sheep sung by Kate floating in the black sea in a lifejacket. As the song ended she slipped under the waves and appeared on stage which had transformed into a brooding underwater world. 
Above: Official show photography. Under The Ice.
Songs such as Under the Ice and Waking the Witch followed as Kate portrayed this woman lost at sea, in and out of consciousness, trying to stay alive as sinister fish people closed in on her. Watching You Without Me was performed after a brief skit between Bertie and his 'father' (one of the backing singers) at home squabbling about toad-in-the-hole before receiving news that Kate was lost at sea. She sang as a ghost watching over them, desparate to be with them but when she embraced Bertie her voice and the lights flickered violently.
Above: Official show photography. Watching You Without Me.
The act continued with the latter tracks from Hounds of Love as the story unfolded and the fish people finally got their hands on Kate, carrying her away. She soon re-emerged and the more upbeat numbers followed. The act (for it truly was a theatrical 'act') ended with Kate speaking to the audience. "We're so glad you like the show! We're going to take a break now - about 20 or 25 minutes, so we'll see you then." - It seemed such a nice, down-to-earth way to end what had been a very theatrical performance!
Above: Official show photography. Kate Bush.
Act two was a spellbinding performance of An Endless Sky of Honey - a beautiful collection of music, songs and birdsong that captures the essence of a summer's day and the spirit of birds. We watched it in a trance as a wonderful wooden puppet based on an artist's doll meandered around the stage, interacting with the band and getting humorously told to "piss off" by Bertie, now in the guise of a painter. Enormous paper birds glided across the stage whilst the huge screen at the rear of the stage showed slow motion footage of various garden birds in flight and 'the painter' worked on his over-sized canvas. Towering silver birch trees appeared on stage in a shower of real white feathers as Kate and the band slowly transformed into birds - Kate by donning a beautiful black wing on one arm and the band by wearing masks that looked like bird skulls. 
Above: Official show photography. An Endless Sky of Honey.
After the loudest, most loving applause I have ever heard, the encore began with Kate alone on stage at her piano singing Among Angels from 50 Words For Snow. It was a beautifully moving performance and as she sang a single white feather dislodged itself from one of the birch trees and landed perfectly on the edge of her piano - you couldn't have planned it better! After Among Angels Kate made her way across stage, saying "phew, I always get nervous for vocals like that," before welcoming her band and cast back on stage for one last song. Cloudbusting. Perfect! We were all on our feet, clapping along to a very upbeat version of the song and singing the melody when Kate asked us to. And with that, the show was sadly over - but everyone around us was in such high spirits, it had been an amazing experience. And can you believe it, Elton John had been sat a few rows behind us!
I'm so glad that the audience respected Kate's wishes not to take video and photography during the show - it was very refreshing not to see any phone screens waving in the air during the performance, and it did free us all to focus entirely on the show. I wish more artists would request this - but at the same time, sometimes it is nice to have your own memento. Let's just hope she releases a DVD! 
Above: Before The Dawn - Up in lights! 
Of course I couldn't resist the lure of the merchandise stand and picked up some beautiful pieces. Below you can see my Cloudbusting pendant modeled by two wooden artist's dolls - inspired by the show! Look out for my next blog post which will show my swag in more detail! 
Above: My Cloudbusting pendant modeled by our antique artist's dolls
Above: Tickets and confetti from the show
Above: The beautiful show programme with photography by Tim Walker

Let Lily Know: If you have been to see Kate Bush perform live or are a fan of her then I would love to hear from you in the comments :) I hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy post!

26 Aug 2014

Home: Yolande Beer Ceramics

We purchased this little earthenware bowl and jug from the wonderful gift shop at Charleston House on our recent visit (which you can read about here). They are the work of Sussex-based artist Yolande Beer, who creates brush-decorated ceramics often adorned with wonderfully lively figures and patterns in her unique, free hand style. I love the unusual, waved shape of this jug (see the image below) and the vibrant green of the stripes. The free style of the stripes tie in perfectly with where we bought this set from - Charleston, where Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's free-hand work is similar in that nothing had to be perfect - in fact, it's often the imperfections that make things more beautiful!
Yolande Beer trained in three-dimensional design in Brighton and after five years as a Brighton Studio-Potter was awarded a sponsorship to travel to Japan where she spent a year brush-decorating tableware and preparing for a solo show in Tokyo. Since her return to the UK in the 90s, Yolande has featured in numerous shops and exhibitions and in recent years has enjoyed the teaching side of her profession - tutoring children and adults alike. For more information on Yolande and her work, make sure you visit her website
Other examples of Yolande's work:
These four images are from Yolande's website.

More about the artist . . .

13 Aug 2014

Lily Loves: Jennie Sharman-Cox

I'm often drawn to slightly macabre, creepy old trinkets and treasures - a quick look at my ever-growing Inside the Imagination Pinterest board will tell you that much. So when I came across the work of Jennie Sharman-Cox on Etsy, it was love at first sight! Since then, Jennie and I have been in contact and I am delighted to be able to share more about her wonderful work with you . . .
Curiosity Boxes . . .
 Above: Doorway
Jennie has worked with textiles for many years, from making theatrical costumes to designing beautifully detailed Edwardian-style teddy bears. A collector by nature, she has always had a passion for anything old and interesting. She comments: "Most recently my love of vintage fabric and antique paraphernalia has led to two new areas of work, my bespoke jewellery collection and my boxes of curiosity." 
Above: Labour of Love
"I started making boxes in 2011 as I explored the idea of confinement and restriction through the assemblage of found objects. By delving into our curious fascination with death, religion and the macabre, via gothic Victoriana, taxidermy, with a bit of theatre thrown in, I found that one object led to another and stories began to emerge. In our secular age we are still searching for the meaning of life and death, so setting my work within a shrine-like box, I am able to use religious iconography to explore and present my thoughts."
 Above: Lady Bones
"I use mainly antique and vintage found objects, fabrics etc - many of which I have gathered together over the years, although I construct the interiors of the boxes and make anything else required from clay, wood, card or fabric. The detail is very important to me."
"Part of the fun for me is to rummage and find things in all sorts of places, I trawl antique markets, junk shops, even old sheds for just that right little bit, if something speaks to me I tuck it away, everything finds its place in the end."
Above: Bird Woman #2
Jennie's sense of theatre and the macabre is certainly evident in these amazing art boxes! It was Doorway that first grabbed my attention (the first image of this post) - a doll, stripped of its clothing, peering (nervously or menacingly?) around a doorway in a seemingly derelict house - there are so many avenues the imagination can go down from that scenario! 

Jewellery . . .
Above: Lovers Eye - glass eye and vintage pearl brooch
Sitting perfectly at ease next to Jennie's creepy curiosity boxes are her stunning jewellery creations. Jennie's first jewellery collection launched in 2010 and, as testament to her immense talent, early pieces were chosen for the 'Bling' exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. To me Jennie's jewellery evokes the grim fascination Victorians had with mourning jewellery, which often involved working a lock of a dead loved one's hair into a brooch or pendant. In Jennie's work, glass eyes are nestled into beds of beautiful pearls and diamantes and again, open up so many avenues for the imagination. Military elements also feature in Jennie's jewellery design, often alongside skulls and skeletons . . .
Above: Skull & Crown - beaded vintage diamante-encrusted necklace
Jennie says: "Having worked with textiles for so long it seemed quite natural when I began to make jewellery, that it should be fabric based and hand stitched. I was itching to incorporate some of my antique military badges, braid and metal insignia along with a few skulls and eyes, into wearable pieces so I started experimenting."
Above: Crown - dramatic military-style necklace with crown, skull and gold braid
"I like to use antique and vintage components as much as possible, old linens and grosgrain, layered with lace, vintage faux gems and pearls, seed beads, military regalia, glass eyes and skulls. My life long passion for collecting old and interesting things has been inspirational in my work and the detail is all important to me. Each piece is entirely hand stitched and takes many hours of work, but I love to sew!"
Above: Military-style brooch with gold and silver wire crest and vintage diamantes

If, like me, you love intricately detailed jewellery and trinkets with a twist - that can truly ignite the imagination - then please make sure you check out more of Jennie's work via the links below . . .

 More Jennie . . .

4 Aug 2014

Jewellery: Feel More Love Boutique*

If you're heading out for a picnic this summer, you don't have to restrict the treats to your picnic hamper! How about popping some Dolly Mix around your wrist, a pair of strawberries on your ears and a Custard Cream around your neck? Don't worry - I've not lost the plot or been in the sun too long without a hat - I'm simply appreciating the work of jewellery designer Elizabeth Dyer of Feel More Love Boutique. A master in the art of Polymer clay, Elizabeth creates these fun pieces of jewellery that would be perfect for picnics, festivals and parties! 
Above: One of these things is not like the others... Custard Cream necklace from FeelMoreLoveBoutique.

Elizabeth was kind enough to send Lily in the Labyrinth a couple of items to review. Firstly, the fun Custard Cream necklace. I was impressed upon receiving it to see how detailed the item was! If it weren't for the silver chain protruding from the top-centre of the piece, you could easily mistake it for a real biscuit! The same size as a real Custard Cream, the necklace has weight to it without being too heavy and sits on a silver plated link chain that falls mid-chest. 
Above: Amazing detail - you'd be hard pushed to tell this apart from a real Custard Cream!

Elizabeth told Lily in the Labyrinth: "My work is inspired by pop culture and the world around me. If it looks tasty and/or cute - I usually want to immortalise it in some way so that it can be worn forever. I am also inspired by Japanese culture and 'Kawaii'. I absolutely love all things miniature, so anything that I can scale down and make tiny is great! Most of my jewellery is made from polymer clay. It's a fab material to work with because it's very versatile and with a bit of patience, skill and knowledge, can literally be made into anything."
Above: Side view - I've never been so tempted to eat Polymer clay! 

As well as the Polymer pieces, Feel More Love Boutique also stocks a range of other trinkets and treasures. I particularly like these Lego Lightsaber earrings and can think of several sci-fi loving friends who would love to receive these as a gift!
Above: Fun, Lego Lightsaber earrings which come in a range of colours.

Aside from jewellery making and running her shop, Elizabeth also hosts workshops for those wishing to learn more about jewellery making and working with Polymer clay. I asked Elizabeth how she came to work so closely with colourful clay and set up Feel More Love: "Colourful, funky and unique objects have always been an interest of mine. As a child my mother made polymer clay miniatures for my Sylvanian Families to play with, so I have always been familiar with polymer clay as a material. I began using it to make my own jewellery just for myself, family and friends when I was at university in 2007/2008. I could never find the jewellery that I wanted to wear in high street shops, so I just started experimenting with clay. When I graduated from MA Fine Art in 2011 I opened a pop-up shop with a fashion designer friend (we ran it together for 6 months) selling our own art and design work, along with the work of other talented designers and crafters. It was then that I realised how popular my jewellery really was. When we closed the shop down and went our separate ways, I decided to open my own business - rather than a physical shop, an online shop - also attending and selling my work at fairs and festivals. To add to this I run craft workshops and host jewellery making parties for people of all ages and abilities in Leicestershire and The Midlands."
Above: FeelMoreLove Boutique packaging.

The webshop opened in July 2012, with the Etsy store following in August 2012. After initially concentrating on selling her products directly through her own website, Elizabeth recently made the decision to put more time into Etsy and is already seeing the benefits: "I seem to be getting more traffic and sales on Etsy and I like the idea that I am part of a community of crafters, rather than just another online shop getting lost in the billions on Google!" I couldn't agree more, Etsy is a great way to build interest in your handmade and vintage products and connect with other creatives! If it wasn't for Etsy I wouldn't have come across Elizabeth's shop on a lazy Sunday 'favouriting' session! :) 

Thank you Elizabeth for these items :) Now I'm off to the shops as I have a rather large craving for a certain type of biscuit! 

Feel even more love! Follow the links . . .
Facebook | Twitter | Etsy | Website | Blog | Pinterest

1 Aug 2014

Travel: Charleston, Sussex (Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant)

On a beautifully warm and sunny day recently I visited Charleston - a rather unique farmhouse situated near Lewes, Sussex. Once the home of artist Vanessa Bell, her husband Clive Bell, her artist friend and lover Duncan Grant, their collective children and countless other creatives of the day, Charleston is perhaps best known as a famous haunt of the Bloomsbury set. Inside, almost every surface of the house is painted with Bell and Grant's signature marks of cross hatch, circles and more. Doors and door frames, fireplaces, walls - even the spines of box files - almost nothing escaped the paint brush and I defy anyone to step through the doors of Charleston and not feel hugely inspired!   
Our guide, Angie, was fantastic and really brought the house to life with tales of life at Charleston. Vanessa Bell's sister Virginia Woolf (who lived at nearby Monks House) was a regular visitor, as were other such creatives and visionaries of the era - many of whom are depicted in portraits by Bell and Grant throughout the house. What I particularly loved about Charleston was the feeling that these people were serious about art, but not precious about it. Things didn't have to be perfect - you could see dribbles of paint running from chevrons and lines painted on the walls; shapes didn't have to be precise. A room once used as Vanessa's bedroom (before being turned into a library for Clive Bell), had walls painted black and Indian red - quite a departure for a woman who grew up in a strict Victorian household. Above the window, Vanessa's on-off lover Duncan Grant had painted a cockerel to wake her; below the window a dog to guard her. A tender and fun detail. For me, the highlight of the tour was definitely the art studio - such a wonderfully light space enthused with so much creative energy! I found myself wishing everyone else on the tour would melt away for a while so I could have a good rummage, set up an easel and get painting! I must admit, as soon as I got home I did get my art materials out and start painting for the first time in quite a while.
Photography is not allowed in the house, but the grardens were also beautiful so I hope you enjoy these shots I took . . .

Above: The art studio (at the rear of the shot).
In all, it Charleston is an inspiring place to visit, particularly if you have any interest in art - or unusual old properties. This collection of people clearly lived life as they wanted - they didn't have conventional relationships, rules of house or ways of doing things, and we can only be thankful that this wonderfully painted portrait of the past has been preserved for us to enjoy all these years later.  

Related posts: Monks House (home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf).
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