Read, Watch and Listen

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Ichthyosaur

Digital Photograph 2015

©Rose Ferraby

Fossils give us a very immediate connection with a distant past and a deeper understanding of the land. This Ichthyosaur is just one of many wonderful specimens in the Etches Collection (Kimmeridge, Dorset). Framed by ribs, the skeletal traces of its last meal can still be seen. A tiny snapshot in time, captured forever.

 

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Purbeck Collection

Digital Photograph 2015

©Rose Ferraby

Collections of archaeological and geological material in museums offer us different ways of engaging with the elements of the land. Over the course of my research on the Jurassic Coast, I was struck by the number of small, personal museums. The artefacts were woven with stories and memories, reflected in their imaginative and aesthetic curation. This is one of the cabinets in Charlie Newman’s museum at the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers, Purbeck.

 

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Foreword by Anna Neagle, 'How to be a Good Hostess'

London: Spillers Flour Limited, c.1950. Kerry Group, plc.

Possessing no other qualification than celebrity, popular British film actress Anna Neagle (1904-1986) helped to glamorise the act of baking on behalf of the Spiller’s flour brand. This foreword engages charismatic legitimation, being powerfully personalised in the form of a letter, beginning ‘How lovely to see you’ and ending with an autograph ‘Yours sincerely, Anna Neagle’. It bears comparison, therefore, with the graphic and textual techniques of the numerous film magazines of the era.

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Cover, 'Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Entertaining: How to Have Guests - And Enjoy Them'

New York: Golden Press, 1959. Illustrated by Peter Spier. Courtesy of General Mills Archives.

Published advice is sometimes given by invented authors, such as Betty Crocker. This cover resembles needlepoint, a home craft typically applied to domestic soft furnishings and accessories. The imagery emphasises traditional home comforts: a red-roofed home set in landscaped garden with a white picket fence is framed with a cartouche showing a teapot, roast turkey, leg of ham, pink iced celebration cake, pineapple (symbol of welcome). The cover features Crocker’s ‘signature’, and a possessive title, exemplifying charismatic legitimisation.

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Back cover, Sarah Maclean, 'Pan Book of Etiquette and Good Manners'

London: Pan, 1962.

This back cover juxtaposes a pensive woman with a number of questions, implying that these are the questions on her mind. A box at the top of the questions asks ‘How often do you stop to wonder -’ thereby connecting the woman shown, with the reader. In this example visual imagery is used to provide a representative for the reader and to make the questions asked, and answered, in the text, more direct and vivid.

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Textile sample registered by H C McCrea & Co on 1 June 1875

BT 43/414/291681. This textile design in the Anglo-Japanese style uses decorative motifs associated with Japanese art, and geometric design has given way to an asymmetrical pattern. Although it is not possible to attribute the design, a number of Aesthetic designers were working in this style in the mid-1870s. Christopher Dresser undertook detailed studies of Japanese design and was particularly productive at this period, designing hundreds of textiles for a range of manufacturers. H C McCrea had connections with key designers, and it seems reasonable to speculate that this design might be by Dresser.

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‘The Sunflower’ wallpaper designed by Bruce Talbert

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 22 January 1878. Bruce Talbert was one of the most prolific and influential designers of the nineteenth century, who designed furniture and metalwork as well as wallpapers and textiles. His ‘sunflower’ series of wallpapers were his most popular, and his style, with its use of flat patterns and sharply delineated flowers, fruit and leaves, was much imitated. This design was displayed at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878, where it won a gold medal. The sunflower was perhaps the most popular and enduring motif of the Aesthetic movement, appearing in wallpapers, textiles, ceramics and even in the external brickwork of buildings.

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Swan, rush and iris design for a wallpaper dado by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 16 August 1877. BT 43/101/313051. This is one of Walter Crane’s earliest wallpaper designs, and was intended as a dado. Crane was the first President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, and believed passionately that design and craftsmanship deserved to be regarded on an equal footing with the ‘fine arts’. This is reflected in the pictorial quality of designs such as ‘Swan, rush and iris’, which demonstrate his mastery of flat pattern design. Crane was introduced to Metford Warner, the proprietor of Jeffrey & Co, by the designer Bruce Talbert, and became one of their most important designers.

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‘Star’ wallpaper by designed by E W Godwin

Registered by William Watt on 21 July 1876. BT 43/101/302033. Godwin showed a strong interest in wallpaper design, providing patterns for several leading companies. He produced wallpapers in a wide range of styles, but while highly original, his work was in keeping with the precepts of the design reformers, with designs such as ‘Star’ – one of only a few surviving examples of his wallpapers – featuring flat, conventionalised natural forms. Asymmetry was closely associated with Anglo-Japanese design, and was in sharp contrast to the strict symmetry found in the work of designers like Owen Jones.

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‘Anemone’ furniture fabric design by William Morris

Registered by ‘William Morris trading under the style of Morris & Co’ on 8 February 1876. BT 43/372/298226. This original design is for a woven wool and silk fabric. It demonstrates Morris’ use of natural forms and motifs, which were the result of his careful study of the natural world, within flat, stylised patterns. Like Pugin, Morris believed in ‘truth to materials’, saying that he tried ‘to make woollen substances as woollen as possible, cotton as cottony as possible, and so on.’ At the time this design was registered, Morris was experimenting with different dyes, in particular indigo, as an alternative to the newer chemical dyes.

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