9 Dec 2015

The Arts: Before The Dawn set and costume design

Currently on display at London's V&A Museum in an exhibition entitled Make: Believe UK Design for Performance 2011-2015, are set designs by Dick Bird and costume designs by Robert Allsopp for Kate Bush's Before The Dawn shows. 
Included in the display is an intricately detailed model box for Bird's set construction seen during the Ninth Wave section of the show when Kate performed Watching You Without Me in a mock-up of a family living room, whilst murky waves rolled around the scene. Surrounding the model box were black and white drawings and photos of the sets and production - similar to those in the Before The Dawn programme. It was fascinating to see the designs up close. Working in the theatre / entertainment technology industry as I do for my day job, I am rather fascinated by set and costume design and love to see all the intricate details up close - especially when they are linked to shows and artists as close to my heart as Kate Bush! I've tried to show the details of the set design in my photos, which I hope you enjoy. 
Also on show as part of the exhibition were two of the Lords of the Waves (Fish People) costumes in a striking display as you enter the gallery space. Designed by Robert Allsopp, the intricate masks extend from the head and curve down the spine of the wearer in a haunting representation of a fish skeleton. A statement from Allsopp on display alongside the masks reads: "Kate's vision for the dream-like Ninth Wave element of the show included two sinister Lords of the Waves. Their role was both to observe and to control the action alongside a team of masked puppeteers who manipulated huge volumes of silk as waves. Drawing inspiration from a fish skull reference Kate had found, I created masks for the puppeteers and the two Lords, for whom I extended the skulls down to a fishy ribbed spine and tail. These were designed to flex with the performers' bodies, enhancing their movements. The masks were constructed in my workshop, from polyethylene foam material. Much of the task was undertaken by long-time associates Anthony Mason and Simon Warren." 
  The exhibition is open until 3 January 2016 - not long, so if you would like to see it then make sure you don't miss out! It showcases the work of numerous designers with various model boxes, costume designs, puppets and props on display. Well worth a visit this winter.  

More Kate Bush on Lily in the Labyrinth:
- Before The Dawn merchandise up close

All photos copyright Claire / Lily in the Labyrinth 2015. Please do not use without permission.

3 Dec 2015

Peg Dolls: Pinny's House

"In a little china house on a shelf in the sitting room, lives a tiny wooden doll no taller than a pin, and her name is Pinny . . ."
The reason behind my life-long obsession with wooden peg dolls, Pinny's House was broadcast on BBC1 from 1986 and told the story of Pinny - a wooden doll no bigger than a pin (hence her name) who lived in a delicate china house on a shelf next to a toy sail boat. Inhabiting the boat was Victor, the smallest wooden sailor in the world, and together the pair would go on fantastic journeys, often with the help of the children of the house - Tom and Jo. The tales were written and illustrated by Peter Firmin who also worked on such children's classics as The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. Each tale was animated and directed by Oliver Postgate, narrated by Matilda Thorpe and had music by Ar Log. Sadly it seems Pinny's House is often forgotten, but I remember it fondly and thank it for inspiring me, from a very young age, to find out more about wooden dolls. Though our dolls - Lily, Emily, Jessie and our very own Pinny - are not 'the size of a pin', they are from the same family of wooden dolls and share the same simple design, slim, jointed limbs and painted features. Over the years, I have also picked up three of the five published Pinny's House books - again, written and illustrated by Peter Firmin along with other miscellanea depicting these precious dolls, including a small, vintage mug featuring two dancing wooden dolls. My humble collection all began thanks to Pinny's House - a simple, gentle cartoon brought to life by the brilliant Postgate and Firmin. Long live Pinny! 
Above: My collection of Pinny's House books
Above: From the book, 'Pinny Finds A House'
Above: 'Victor is lonely' print by Peter Firmin
Above: The real Pinny and Victor - crafted by Peter Firmin from wood from a holly tree.

Watch an episode of Pinny's House:

More Pinny's House Online:
- Purchase Pinny's House prints directly from Peter Firmin.
- More information about Pinny's House via Little Gems.

Don't forget to check out my other posts on Antique Wooden Peg Dolls:
Peg Doll: Lily Labyrinth
Peg Doll: Jessie
Peg Doll: Emily
Two Dutch Dolls - Mini Pin

25 Nov 2015

Gift Guide: Cozy, calm and timeless

- Tranquility Mini Bath Oil - £8 - Neom
Kensington Cable Gloves - £15 - Accessorize 
Grey Check Blanket Scarf - £19 - Accessorize
Pale Grey Pom-Pom Bag Charm - £3.99 - New Look
Silver Knot Ring - £15 - Whistles
Double Pom Beanie Hat - £17 - Accessorize
Fair Isle Ballerina Slippers - £8 - F&F Tesco

Lily says: This Gift Guide features purse-friendly products - all under £20 - in gorgeous muted greys and soft lilacs. Personally I love these colours in the depths of winter; there's something cozy and timeless about them and they offer a break from the heavy reds, golds and greens of the season. My main goal was to find gifts and accessories that show you don't have to pay the earth to look wonderful this winter. The pom pom bag charm, for example, is a steal at £3.99 yet I've seen ones almost exactly the same selling for well over £25! Why pay so much for a trend-based accessory? I hope this proves useful and you find some inspiration for your Christmas shopping sprees! 

20 Nov 2015

Gift Guide: For dog lovers . . .

- Billie Teapot - £32 - Cath Kidston
Schnauzer Glass Bauble - £6 - John Lewis
Dog Print Wash Bag - £10 - John Lewis
Bulldog Glass Globe - £19.95 - Liberty
Black Scottie Dog Decoration - £3.95 - Liberty
Woodland Rose Sausage Dog Dish - £15 - Cath Kidston 
Show Dogs Passport Holder - £4.50 - Harrods
Retriever Decoration - £29.95 - Coral & Tusk

Lily says: It's the first of my series of carefully selected Gift Guides for Christmas 2015 and what better subject to start with than 'Dog Lovers'? Here are a selection of adorable dog-themed gifts and decorations currently available out there - personally I love the Schnauzer Decoration (which I have actually now bought, whoops!) and the Sausage Dog Dish. Are you a dog person? If so, do let me know which of these picks is your favourite!  

13 Nov 2015

Jewellery: Hoot hoot

- Owl Ring - £165 - Zoe & Morgan

Lily says: This handmade Sterling Silver ring is carved with intricate detail to depict a beautiful owl that encompasses the wearer's finger with its wings. I love it! I imagine I would wear it on my index finger as a statement piece, were I lucky enough to own it. Hoot hoot!

11 Nov 2015

Christmas wrapping

- Holiday snow scene wrapping (3 sheets) - Rifle Paper - £6.95 - Tea and Kate
Candy cane gift tags (set of 20) - Meri Meri - £9 - ASOS
May your treetops glisten card - £2.50 - Paperchase
Kitsch christmas cards (4 designs set of 24) - £5 - M&S

Lily says: It's good to be prepared, so what better time than now to stock up on your cards and gift wrap for the season! Here is a little selection of some nice Christmas cards and wrapping that I've spotted so far this season. What do you think?

12 Oct 2015

Home: Danish Wooden Vikings

By now, you're probably aware of my love of wooden dolls - but this isn't limited to antique peg dolls. Another collection my family has been harbouring is this hoard of Danish wooden vikings...
Here is our proud hoard of Danish vikings! 
Let's meet the Vikings . . .
Above: Eric -We've had this Viking in our family the longest. My parents bought it in Odense, Denmark, about 23 years ago as a gift for my Grandad. The Viking lived with my Grandparents for years and years until, sadly they both passed away and this little warrior came back into my parent's possession. He's been through the wars a bit - both his horns are somewhat damaged - but he is the real heart of our collection; the first of our Viking hoard! 
Above: Big Red - This Viking was found perched up high on top of a glass cabinet in a dark corner of Lewes Flea Market, and - along with White Beard (below) - is the newest addition to the hoard. He is made of teak with rabbit hair and holds his spear and shield proudly! 
Above: White Beard - Both White Beard and Big Red were found at the same time, in the same place. I wonder how long they'd stood there in the Flea Market before we happened upon them? Again, he is made of teak with rabbit hair beard and red felt cloak. His horns, shield and spear are in perfect condition. 
Above L-R: The smallest members of the gang - Olaf, the Viking with the wooden horns, I picked up in Copenhagen in 2009, whilst Sven and Thor came to us via Etsy. I imagine that lanky Sven and short and stout Thor are rather clumsy little characters, always one step behind and getting into scrapes! 

14 Sep 2015

Photography: Kew Gardens, London

Here are a selection of photographs I took on a recent visit to Kew Gardens (Richmond, London). My favourite photo is that of the beautiful orange dahlias above. This photo was even featured on the official Kew Gardens Instagram account where is gained quite a lot of attention, which I wasn't expecting and was a lovely surprise! The variety of dahlia, if you're interested, is 'David Howard'.  
I love taking photos of bees - I have such a soft spot for them! I waited for this little bee to crawl around the flower then snapped away - until it flew at my face then I ran away screaming. Haha.
This happy little robin popped out of a tree to pose for a while. Just so happens that it was a fir tree so the overall effect is rather Christmassy!
This building was a treat to photograph from all angles. 
Another bee - well, I couldn't resist. I think this bee was a little sugar-drunk! 

1 Sep 2015

Travel: Batemans, Burwash - Sussex

Bateman's in the Sussex village of Burwash, was once home to Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling and I was lucky enough to pay this beautiful property a visit this summer - the first time since I was a child! I didn't remember much about the place other than there had been a strange necklace full of carved animals and symbols, tucked away in a cabinet that had inspired me to hunt out one similar - yes, even as a child I loved jewellery! The necklace in question is the Alphabet Necklace from Kipling's 'How The Alphabet Was Made' (Just So Stories), and I'm happy to say it's still there on display. The house itself is intriguing, and it was a delight to see Kipling's writing desk and waste paper bin overflowing with crumpled papers (see below). The grounds surrounding the house are beautiful - perfectly calm and tranquil. I would highly recommend a visit, but if my words don't convince you, perhaps these photos I took will . . .
The House
Above: A bust of Rudyard Kipling.
Above: Rudyard Kipling's writing desk.
Above: A beautiful old typewriter in Rudyard Kipling's study.
Above: A waste paper basket overflowing with crumpled pages of writing - it is believed Rudyard Kipling's maid would burn the contents of the bin as it filled up several times a day yet nothing with Kipling's handwriting on could leave the house, else it might be sold for a profit. 
Above: Details. 
Above: Beautiful bouquets of flowers were scattered around the house.
Above: Kipling's son John's bedroom.
Above: Details of John's en-suite.
Above: On  a widow sill - a Harden Star Hand Grenade fire extinguisher made of blue glass, with instructions on how to use it. 

The Beautiful Grounds

The Mill
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