Monday, January 28, 2013
Agnes Sampson was a Scottish healer and midwife known as the "wise wife of Keith." After James VI married Anne of Denmark and returned from Oslo, he brought with him the fear of black arts. Agnes was accused and 55 charges were made against her: raising the devil in the form of a black dog, digging up bones to make magic witchcraft powder, and commanding the devil to destroy one of James' ships.
Interrogated by the king himself, she was deprived of sleep, subjected to barbaric torture for days and under extreme duress she confessed. She was found guilty at her trial stripped, shaved and strangled. Then burned at the stake on January 28, 1591 at Castle Hill, Edinburgh. The naked ghost of Agnes is said to roam Holyrood Palace.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I assure You, there is No Lady in this Land that I better Love and Like.
said Queen Elizabeth I about Bess of Hardwick. The formidable and fashionable Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury. Bess of Hardwick, as she is known, was one of the best-connected -- and richest woman -- in Britain after the queen.
Married four times, she survived all her husbands and then returned to her family estate where she built two large houses... one for herself and a second for servants and visiting guests.
On October 4, 1597, Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury moved into her new house at Hardwick in Derbyshire. Construction began in 1590. It was the grand product of her collaboration with the famed Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson. This day is thought to have been Bess's 70th birthday*, also the day she chose to move into the unfinished grand house.
The house placed at the top of a steep hill with its tall window-filled towers revealed views for many miles of the surrounding countryside.
Hardwick reveals Bess's desire for personal expression -- Elizabethan courtly ritual and domestic custom are married with Smythson's architectural formalism and design.
Smythson and Bess thought about each season of the year from the lengthy warm days of summer to the dark and cold depths of winter. Smythson brilliantly managed how daylight would filter into Bess's environment. Alternating warm sunshine through the windows and the structurally sound piers.
The earliest galleries were designed to be protected corridors leading from one great room to another. But during the Elizabethan time they acquired another important function as a place for indoor exercise. Sixteenth-century doctors stressed the importance of daily walks and long galleries allowed for this when weather outside was frightening.
During the bitterly cold winters of this unusual Little Ice Age, there were fixed lights on the walls and large copper candlesticks as well as other candlesticks of various materials and sizes giving night time illumination to the magnificent house.
Bess also owned coal mines. Almost every room has a fireplace. 28 of them.
Bess wanted in her floor plan a grand processional route through the hall, up a dramatic and romantic stone staircase and into the High Great Chamber, the ceremonial center of her house.
The great chamber is Flooded light illuminates the rich decoration of tapestry covered walls and plaster relief friezes. Here the story of Diana depicted in relief running around the room symbolized Bess loyalty waiting for that royal visit from the queen, her friend.
As she waited, perhaps, she gazed upon the portraits of her former husbands and wondered without their powerful connections and immense wealth she could have never risen from an obscure daughter of an indigent squire to a grand countess and lady-in-waiting to the queen.
Though the queen never came, Hardwick Hall was the zenith of Bess's vision. A lasting triumph to us today.
* See Mary Lovell's Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder.
The Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, with the canopy supplied by Francis Lapierre.
All images from Country Life.
at 7:34 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2012
An American photographer and documentary photojournalist, she was one of the first original staff photographers at Time, Life and Fortune magazines. Noted for her coverage of WWII with ferocious visual intensity.
Bourke-White was the first female photographer to serve with the US armed forces. And the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union in 1930.
But it was her photographs of the the rural South during the Depression that we seem to remember the most.
She died of Parkinson's disease -- more people are diagnosed each year in alarming numbers.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
An 89-year-old Leica camera recently sold at Galerie Westlicht in Vienna, Austria for nearly $2.8 million. The anonymous bidder not only has one of 12 surviving models of the legendary 0-Series, but an important piece of women's history. 25 test models were originally made in 1923 as prototypes for the compact and durable Leica A which made its debut to the public the following year. But this prototype was more than just a camera. It served a symbol for the profound change women underwent in the 20th century.
The camera, once a complex, cumbersome instrument now became available to everyone. It was affordable. When it became apparent that the camera could record any kind of situation and experience -- that it was the source of an instant form of immortality -- everyone wanted one. It wasn’t just men but women who took up the camera and began recording images of their ordinary lives. These cameras were hand-held and fast-action and could capture a fleeting moment in time under a low light -- an expression, a gesture, a mood, a posture.
This camera was emblematic of widespread social changes. And photography was the field where these changes were most evident. Using their own cameras, women created their own portraits and self-portraits. More and more women altered the rules by which they had traditionally been regarded to terms they could understand and control. Interestingly enough.... the traditional male images of women began to correspondingly change.
Leica 0 series, number 116. Photo by Leonhard Foeger for Reuters.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Your characters have been called snaggletoothed and grotesque, which raised concerns from the sterile masses.
What many critics failed to see was the beauty and fantasy of your creatures and their stories.
I would sit alone in my room as a child studying your drawings and words and not feel so isolated.
"I refuse to lie to children.
I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence."
~ Maurice Sendak
RIP Maurice Sendak, you opened up my world as a child reading about Max and Jennie as an adult.