Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Port Sunlight and The Lady Lever Gallery

As I still have the photos from my week off in April I thought I'd get them in to a post. Above is the Lady Lever Art Gallery, situated within Port Sunlight Garden Village, near Liverpool; 900 houses set in 130 acres of landscaping started in 1888, by William Hesketh Lever, the philanthropist owner of Lever Brothers. The Garden Village was a totally new concept in housing factory workers - in this case the work force of the soap manufacturer which later became the multinational Unilever. Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) was also a devoted patron of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the Gallery was specially built to house his huge collection of art works so that even the most humble worker could see and appreciate them.

The village is full of focal pointed, wide vistas and neatly arranged avenues of trees. The rows of neat little houses appear like a perfect film set; conjuring a by-gone quintessential "Englishness" from a charming mish mash of architectural styles. It was a dazzling sunny day when we visited and it was impossible not to feel as though we were experiencing a glorious Little England from a chocolate box ... or somewhere in a dream!
This bench was opposite to a magnificent war memorial.It was sad to see so many of the same surnames listed for both wars.

Visit the Port Sunlight website for more details here:

There is a museum all about the community, past and present, which I'll definitely visit next time (also a hotel, self catering accommodation and shops) but I was excited to be visiting the art gallery itself.You see, inside, on permanent display are paintings I've drooled over ever since becoming first acquainted with them through taking an Art History O/A level at age 17**. These are works by The Pre-Raphaelites; luminaries such as John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones to name the principal few. I can't really over-state how much I love their paintings - and luckily my husband (also an ex-art student) shares my enthusiasm.In fact I need to curb it (!) or I'll start typing pages of rapture which could really bore a lot of you! (By the way I hope some UK readers watched the recent Perspectives programme on ITV, where Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber waxed lyrical about them!!) I've since noticed that some photography is permitted inside the gallery with prior agreements - well, we'll have to go again then. Soon!

What to tell you about the exhibition, which is laid out in a series of grand rooms; galleried in the centre, and includes sculptures and furniture? Here you can see the famous little Pears soap boy with his bubble pipe (Millais) exquisite studies of Jane Morris (Rosetti) "The Tree of Forgiveness" (Burne-Jones ; spectacular and unmissable) "The Black Brunswicker" and "Spring - Apple Blossoms" (romance and beauty from Millais again) and the astonishing "The Scapegoat" (Holman Hunt.) I actually felt over-whelmed standing in front of the last, and it doesn't seem sooo very long ago that I drew thumbnail sketches of it to illustrate an essay!

Apart from Pre-Raphaelite paintings there are fine collections of ancient art, some Joshua Reynolds (doesn't float my boat but hey!) lovely Gainsboroughs and lots of beautiful and priceless Wedgwood.

Lord Leverhulme was completely forward thinking and practical about advertising and "branding" his wares too - often he would buy a painting and then re-produce it on posters for sunlight soap, with the addition of the essential product, which really offended some artists, but I think he really believed in art for the masses.Thank Goodness he did :0)

TaTa For Now, Ruth XX    click here for more info' on the Lady Lever Art Gallery

** Yup, I got a grade A - what a swot!

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Australian Creative Design Awards- Nomination!!

The 2011 Awards theme was "Celebrating Beatrix Potter"; a dream for me as I am a life-long fan of Miss P's work, so I was totally over-the-moon to hear that my entry was nominated through to the last ten! I can now reveal her to the world :-
"Miss Velvetina Water Vole"

I decided I would try to create a water vole quite soon after registering for the competition. These gorgeous little creatures are having a really tough time to survive in the UK, although in Beatrix' time it would've been a common sight to see the little rodents busily swimming and scurrying about our many waterways and rivers. She is my invention of a Beatrix Potter character - I imagined her bustling along with a bag full of calling cards; visiting all the little homes of riverbank neighbours, and living life in a social whirl of Edwardian etiquette.I think she'd be most particular about her silk "hair" ribbon and the one tied in a bow on her tail. In my story they would be always coming tiresomely undone as she swam hither and thither! Maybe her sweet little slippers would conspire to float away continuously too ... and her frothy lace collar would get very drippy! What would her Mama say?!

To see all the wonderful entries in the competition together, and place a vote for your favourite in the "People's Photographic Choice", visit here  and click on the rabbit.I'm sure everyone would agree with me that they are a fantastically diverse group of critters! The voting will be open until 4th June.Best of all, every entry will be available for purchase from 1st  to the 5th June - first come first served!

We will find out the winners from the hands on judging on June 5th. In the meantime here's a link to view the 10 nominees. Congratulations to them, and all the participants. Also, many thanks to Sandi for organising this prestigious competition.

With very Happy Hugs,
Ruth xxx