The Victoria and Albert Museum…

© Copyright Robin Webster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It has been 14 months since lockdown brought a halt to the activities that we used to enjoy and we are only now seeing the emergence of inside dining, theatre visits and shopping. One of my missed pastimes has been going to the museum, seeing exhibitions and being around people. I was booked to attend the Victoria and Albert Museum (Est. 1852) in South Kensington.

© Copyright Dome with Dale Chihuly’s contemporary sculpture- Drew Reynolds

My first trip back was on the 19th May 2021, I was surprised at the excitement I felt when showing my pre-booked ticket at the entrance and being allowed into the museum from the Exhibition Road entrance. It felt surreal walking towards the large glass doors of the museum, maybe not exactly Lewis Carrol’s vision but my own slide down the rabbit hole. I have been familiar with this museum for many years but being given the freedom and autonomy to make plans in booking and visiting still felt eerily uncanny. This feeling soon disappeared when I stepped into the museum and was welcomed back it felt like being taken under mother hen’s wing again.

The staff were immensely welcoming and helpful as though the galleries and exhibitions had been opened for me personally. The spark of excitement lit up greater as I wandered throughout the numerous rooms and corridors filled with artefacts and their corresponding labels. There were families, friends, museum workers and myself all grateful for the re-opening and welcoming back visitors to the previously silent and still museum.

Unfortunately, the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser was not yet open to the public (now open and extended to 31 December 2021), but I have managed to secure a ticket for July. I did manage to see the Bags: Inside Out which I would highly recommend for any fashion lovers out there, or those interested to see the process of bag making and history of the design of bags.

Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami ‘Eye Need You’ bag, Spring-Summer 2003. France (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

The V&A never fails to disappoint and even the Bags: Inside Out exhibition was eye opening to the bag novice, the tools used, the processes, the length of time from design to product. I especially liked the projected videos of processes being shown on the walls of the space in conjunction with the breakdown of parts of the bag. I found it fascinating.

I recall looking at a calligraphy set in the China room and a girl of about ten rushing past me to get a closer look, her blond ponytail swishing behind her as she looked intently at the objects on display before moving onto the next, her trainers thumping the floor as she moved from one section to another. It was this excitement that I loved, albeit mine a little more contained; the joy of seeing something new, learning something that you never would have known before and feeling part of something again after so many months cooped up at home. I walked through the newly refurbished Raphael Cartoon Court where the tapestry’s hang dwarfing myself and the other visitors (unfortunately I missed HRH Kate Middleton) the vastness of the court took me by surprise as I sat and looked on in awe. The Cast Courts and Medieval and Renaissance Rooms (1350-1600) always impress.

©Copyright Cast Courts V&A- Drew Reynolds

I also enjoyed walking through the Buddhism room, Sculpture Corridor, the John Majenski Garden where people were relaxing and having a coffee near the central pool. The weather had improved since my arrival and the sun shone, illuminating the  collections gloriously. I saw artists sitting sketching the sculptures, families walking hand in hand through the exhibits and pointing out objects of interest to one another. I saw a group of teenagers taking photographs of each other posing in the sculpture room mimicking the poses of those around them. There was a sense of ‘normality’ and joy at being able to participate in the first day of opening since lockdown in 2020. Even behind my mask I was smiling at everyone, even though they couldn’t see me.

©Copyright Topiary at the John Majenski Garden- Drew Reynolds

I was able to grab a swift lunch at the Members’ Room before heading out. I passed through the gift shop and browsed the merchandise, books, scarfs, postcards, something to fit every budget even mine. I would say a big thank you to the staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum for making my visit as a solo visitor warm and looking after me. I daresay that my next visit will be in the near future to try to see the many other rooms and levels that I was unable to fit into my 3 hour visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Falling High- Sarah May

 

…rising down into the deep”

Falling High
Artwork by Shahrukh Hussnain

Sarah May has already proven herself to be an established singer, songwriter and performer through her euphony of releases, Take Me Away, Fly, and Oops to name but a few tracks. Her latest release is just as compelling as she transitions her talents into an ambient electro chill out track. In previous interviews with Produced By a Girl Podcast she has expressed her love of house, dance, techno and electro as being favoured and influential genres.

 

  • Written and produced by Sarah May
  • Mixed and mastered by James Preston
  • Artwork by Shahrukh Hussnain

The title itself is an oxymoron and fits perfectly with the lyrics. The juxtaposition of “Falling High” with “…into the deep…”  is emphasised through the song with a beat that builds as the track progresses surrounding and holding the listener throughout. The incremental progression of the track adds layers for the audience through the ambient almost meditative feel.

“I’m falling high into the deep” although contradictory enables the listener to embrace the euphoric graduation of the track throughout to its crescendo. Sarah consistently delivers polished music and this is no exception, it may deviate in style from her previous tracks but the creativity and effort put into her music is self evident, well constructed and a joy to listen to.

The track starts softly but builds progressing into an exemplary piece that wouldn’t be out of place on the club circuits of Berlin, London or Ibiza.

Falling High is Sarah’s first release of the year, and I am excited to see her creative talents continue to flourish throughout 2020, as with most creative mediums the hunger for more is greatly outstripped by the ability to create, produce and release. When I hear of Sarah May’s next track release I shall keep you all updated, until then I await patiently.

Tinsel Review

Tinsel Review aims to bring a dialogue to the worlds of fashion, film and television by looking at specific pieces shown within film and television. This blog hopes to convey a space for those interested in fashion and media with which to promote creativity as well as general interest whether looking at classic fashion in film, more contemporary fashion on television or high end looks showcased through science fiction and fashion films.

Charlotte

    She didn’t hate herself, however she hated the body that had been her prison for the past eighteen years. She hated the frame, gait, weight, descriptions of ‘volumocity’, ‘filling out’ or ‘womanly’. Her body had first betrayed her at the age of twelve, the lone affirmation of womanhood was gifted to her but towed a trailer of fear, mistrust and repulsion. Most girls would have welcomed such a growth but for Charlie (formerly Charlotte) was left with an empty pain, a bruised and aching stress within. Her auburn hair sat neatly atop her freckled face, pretty chocolate brown eyes nestled either side of her nose which sat above her small thin lips. She felt that as far as her cohort went, that she was of average build, stature and looks. However, this was not her body. Her hips were wider where they should have been narrow; her waist cinched i where it should have been in alignment with her chest, which had itself broken their silent vow by erupting in two masses of tissue that reminded Charlie of her repulsion at herself daily. 

Her pendulous breasts were heavy and disgusting. She had tried unsuccessfully to bind them with medical wrap but two became four as she pulled tighter on the dressing. Her sister was feminine, the epitome of womanhood, cheerleader, high school sweetheart and soon to be mother. The tick boxes had been aligned and ticked off chronologically. Even menstrual cramps were more bearable than having to exist in this skin. A defunct and incorrect body, a body that had served some form of purpose until puberty, but one that had never been a ‘correct fit’ but growing up had been more tolerable than that.

    How could Charlie convey to her parents that their straight A daughter resented her existence and fantasised about ending it all. Would she hurl herself off of Devil’s Drop into the rapids below? The force would surely bash her skull in. A train track? To cut up his lump of flesh, in an attempt to rectify what had gone so wrong. Poison as a female was all too obvious. If I had wanted to become another statistic I would have conformed and crossed off the life milestones as her sister had done. 

    Her father ran a gardening business, her mother had a part time job doing the accounts for a family run funeral parlour in town.

Charlie knew that she wasn’t gay, s/he was in the wrong body, but s/he was attracted to women. Up until this point s/he had presented as female, been forced to live as female, pigeonholed as female…but he was not female.

    College had been an opportunity for freedom, the safety of education, of being a swat or nerd had allowed Charlie the excuse of avoiding social gatherings, the disappointment of his first time with a boy, being tomorrow’s gossip and being labelled as frigid because she wouldn’t put out. The fear of being touched when the sensation of your own hand on your own body horrors you. No, no, no. For Charlie education was the leveller, indiscriminate of age, sex, orientation or ‘other’ (I have no language for this yet). At home I was called Charlotte, at college it would be Charlie.

   

As a child I resented the frocks and outfits that my mother would inflict on me (and my sister), two years apart and dressing us the same, when inside we couldn’t have been farther apart. My sister liked dance and drawing, whereas I would lose hours exploring the river that cut through the woods at the back of our house or tinkering with old lawnmower engines in the garage with Dad. He liked that I showed an interest in the ‘family business’, but would often mention that outdoor work was not womans work. ‘Get your Mom to teach you accounts, then you will be able to do mine!’ he didn’t mean any harm, just didn’t know why I was so interested, the usual gender norm assumptions floated across the the dining table, family events, strangers in the street.

‘You’ll make a lucky boy very happy one of these days…’- Mrs Reed the elderly widow down the road.

‘Why not focus on a more womanly subject than engineering?’-Mom.

‘You’ll have to find a guy as clever as yo to keep up with ya…’ – Dad.

It wasn’t their fault, just a small town mentality, cisgendered and majoratively heterosexual town in Ohio. Population 9,925.

    We were not a God fearing family but Mom would drag us to church twice a month. She believed that it taught right from wrong, good morals and kept us out of trouble. She was right on the latter. Mom would get dressed in her pearls and twin set earrings, her formal dress and suite blazer, her red hair casually coiffed and Sunday hat with a sky blue bow perched atop to complete the look. I had a Sunday dress that made me feel nauseous every time I put it on, or even think about it now. Checkered blue with, knee length with frill detailing on the neckline and cut off at the shoulders. I wore the dress regularly but it never failed to feel unnatural, nearly as much as I felt about my own body. Yet this was an extreme of the performativity that I had worked on at home for the previous eighteen years. Alice bands were practical, the shortest that I was allowed my hair was shoulder length. But with college on the horizon this was about to change. I noticed girls more than boys, but the idea of labelling myself as a lesbian didn’t feel right. I noticed attractive men but I didn’t feel that yearning of closeness or a want of closeness that I had when looking at women. I am not a woman, I am not a lesbian. I have no language to describe me. But out of everybody I know myself, my mind, my essence of being, of this I have never been uncertain.

College offers a path to financial freedom, independence from others and more importantly being free of the reliance on a man for anything. I don’t want children, I don’t necessarily want marriage, but I do want to be able to buy and curate a little part of the world to call my own.

Do You?

I don’t want my friend to be fearful of walking home.

I don’t want my fiancé to be terrified of being alone with her boss.

I don’t want my colleague to feel silenced or less than.

I don’t want my neighbour to be afraid and dictated by dusk. 

I don’t want my partner to be wolf whistled when walking to the shop for some milk.

I don’t want my Grandmother ignored or disregarded because of her sex.

I don’t want my mother to be the butt of a joke between blokes.

I don’t want my sister to be leered at and made to feel uncomfortable.

I don’t want my daughter to change her wardrobe to prevent being attacked.

Do you?…

Wee Ditty

So Day 1 back to work amid COVID-19 was interesting. I got the train to Charing Cross with wary commuters, wrapped up in medical masks, gloves and scarfs. People are attempting to social distance but on a train which is barely 1 meter across trying to navigate the seating plan is an effort in itself. 

I change at London Bridge for my connecting train, everybody is so eager to exit the carriage that social distancing is flouted, especially on the escalators. I do what I can but it’s definitely less than 1 meter apart. Walking up the strand in the early morning is eerie to say the least. There are a few rough sleepers congregated near to the Sainsbury’s, I see a couple helping one another to put on medical masks. The air smells fresh, smells less polluted, a couple of vehicles can be seen in the distance, swerving and turning off the main road.. in spite of the movement on the street it feels apocalyptic.

Most of the shops and restaurants are closed, nobody running for coffee, picking up a hit sandwich for breakfast before hitting the office for the day. Checking my watch I see it’s 8am, I need to hurry up and get myself to work. A jogger passes me Lycra running shirt and a yellow top, headphones in and talking, I don’t recognise the language… but the intonation could be followed… he was on the phone to a loved one, a parent, grandparent, sibling it doesn’t matter. The wind blows and chills me, my fingers numb, the contents of my bag for life a bottle of water, jar of coffee, home made soup and an umbrella are my rations for the working day.

I see a lady in a beautifully fitted navy winter coat buckled at the waist smoking a cigarette as she made her way to her destination on the opposite side of the road. Her brown hair casually coifed and designer sunglasses resting on the tip of her small nose. A homeless man tries to make conversation… I couldn’t hear what he said, but spare change or a cigarette are the best guess. She waves him away and proceeds to make her way down the Strand… her nonchalant gesture palmed off the man, with his sky blue sleeping bag slung over his left shoulder. Were the lady and I even experiencing the same street? The same London? Possibly not but we were definitely in the same pandemic held fear… the same fear that had now been added to those less fortunate souls… the waft of desperation danced freely along the wind, as it blew down the same street, encircling us three individual souls trying to get through a new way of life.

Take Me Away- Sarah May

…Comfort me dancing in the rain…

The latest release by Sarah May Take Me Away deviates from her previous releases of tackling social issues such as mental health, feminism and sexism lightened through her use of humor. Take Me Away reflects Sarah’s love of techno with a prominent beat, synths and effects when combined with her voice creates a song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Berlin club scene let alone London.

Sarah is obviously a creative force to be admired and Take Me Away stands as an accomplished piece from a differing facet of her music tastes. Take Me Away opens with the title lyrics in an almost meditative chant before building the layers of music that washes the listener in an ambient and encompassing journey.

Similarly Sarah’s previous releases her music continues to offer an expressive escapism for her fans as well as herself. Her upbeat electronic work in Take Me Away adds to the permeating effect her music has on the listener as she continues to ooze creativity with a momentum of brilliance behind her.

Take Me Away illustrates the breadth of creative talent Sarah has, as well as expanding the relationship of artist to audience through the medium of music. Sarah’s work consistently welcomes and encourages the listener to partake in her journey, her accessible lyrics and polished creative talents are evocative and reflective allowing the listener/audience a release and rest bite from the wet and windy November weather.

Catch Sarah May’s interview on the Produced by a Girl podcast to find out about her influences, creative process and the personality behind the voice.

Fly- Sarah May

I can’t fly, but I’m willing to try….

Sarah May Fly
Sarah May’s next instalment…

Sarah May’s latest song Fly encapsulates in the beginning a somber tone with a heart of hope, as always her lyrics tell of a deeply personal journey is easily relatable, adding to her allure as an artist.

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Oops… by Sarah May

Oops

I can’t wait for Sarah May’s next Release Oops…

Oops- Sarah May

 

Sarah May’s individualistic and honest style of songwriting exemplifies what good artistry is about. Her clear and at times raw messages are enveloped by catchy melodies that take the listener on a journey that they’re all are able to understand.

 

Sarah is a born and bred Londoner who discovered her passion for music at a young age. She has an active interest in contemporary culture, politics and obviously music. She has recently returned from Taiwan after a two-year stint of travelling and exploring south-east Asia and intends to be gigging a few times a week. She may well be at an open mic night near you.

 

Themes of female empowerment, patriarchal double standards and the yearning of unrequited love list but a few of the topics tackled in her music. Whether acoustic or accompanied by a jaunty synth beat Sarah May’s transparent and sometimes hauntingly powerful vocals stay with you even after listening (in a good way).

 

Sarah’s honest and unashamedly frank style demonstrates the authenticity that I enjoy and I shall be awaiting Oops to drop shortly (available on all major platforms).

 

Other titles include:

Because I Turned Your Down [Explicit]:

 

Nothing To You [Explicit]:

Mary Stuart: Queen of Scotland… and Runway

A life cut short through loss, betrayal leading to imprisonment and finally execution doesn’t fill me with positivity.

However…

There have been a many depictions of Mary Stuart in film from Katharine Hepburn in Mary Queen of Scotland (1936) to Das Herz der Königin (The Heart of the Queen) (1940) a 1940’s German interpretation which saw Zara Leander in a historical musical role, yet one of the aspects of the movies that abide (majoritively) to the sixteenth century fashions also find themselves seeping into the creations of luxury designers.

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Shaken and Stirred Style: Classic to Contemporary Bond

Bond,…James Bond

I was brought up in a family where the Bond films were predominant on the television form Dr. No (1962) to Spectre (2015). Cinema trips would be organised when a new Bond film is released and the broadcasting of the films in the franchise would be enjoyed throughout the year.

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