It’s Not Just Chocolates

Easter, as you may have forgotten, not known, or not thought about, is not all about chocolate and Easter bunnies! It is not a free vacation from work that the government has decided to give us out of the goodness of its heart, so that we can go away for long weekends and eat a lot of chocolate and hot cross buns.

It is in fact a Christian holiday celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus – which is the bedrock of Christian faith. One famous, oft-quoted verse in the Bible sums it up: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

As an accompaniment to the cute little boy with his bunnies, here are some religious themed Victorian cards, and an example of Easter scrapbooking. I love the look of these, from the bright colours to the textured paper and embossing techniques the publishers of the day used – they are so tactile and appropriately chocolate-boxy.

It does amuse me however how Anglo-Saxon Jesus looks – did it not occur to anyone in Victorian times that Jesus, born to a Jewish family, would have had dark skin and hair? I do like his and the angel’s robes however – I hope angels do get to have polka dots on their gowns if they like.

I hope you are having a wonderful Easter!


A Sweet Easter

Here is some Easter cuteness in a rare depiction of a boy in a Victorian scrapbooking card feeding his pet rabbits. I love his innocent expression and rosy cheeks, and his striped socks and gleaming boots. It’s such a sweet, gentle image. I hope you are having a very Good Friday and a happy Easter.  


Tropic April

A tropical Carmen Miranda complete with little frog makes a cheerful April greeting. I wonder if this lady is daydreaming of synchronised swimming or the like? She looks like she should be.

This month’s Frankie calendar page features the painting Julie Blue’s Marvellous New Swim Cap by Janet Hill. Hill is a Canadian artist whose work is displayed in private collections all round the world, as well as featured in editorials and corporate collateral. Her colour palette is warm and rich, her style nostalgic and engaging.

You can see more of her work on her website, or purchase a print in her Etsy shop, including Julie Blue.

Happy April!


Decoding Thoughts

Psst She Said, Helena Turinski 2015Psst she said.
The Pistols aren’t revealing secrets.
That which was once thought forbidden forever is trapped in conversations.
The first thing you’ll need is a pen to decode thought
and make your own word play
for there are no secrets here any more.

I really love assembling my random poems. It’s such an exciting and serendipitous process that evolves rapidly as I snatch up cut-out words that seem to fit whatever I am weaving under my hand. I never know where a poem is going to go either. I haven’t actually ‘written’ any for a while because I have such a huge backlog of poems that I have yet to turn into collages.

The words obviously inform the pictures, but sometimes the pictures themselves add an extraordinary power to one’s perception of the poem, such as in this image. The women were cut out from some innocuous advertisement, although for what I can’t recall. The blackness of the figures adds such a sinister tone, especially with the highlighted white teeth, as does the gun pointed directly at the smiling woman’s head; the metaphors are obvious. The strange and stark contrasts make me chuckle – that’s what society is like sometimes – but we should never ignore the undercurrents.


Shipboard Romance

One of my biggest fantasies about living in the glamorous 1920s and 30s must always have been travelling abroad on a great ocean liner. Imagine the dramatic skies with seabirds wheeling overhead; the feeling of the ship moving beneath you; fascinating shipboard companions and amusing deck games; quaint cabins and trunks full of exquisite clothes of the magical era between the wars. Thus it was the cover illustrations that made today’s purchase of Ideal Book for Girls absolutely irresistible. The covers of this vintage 1920s teen girl’s storybook evoke the absolute romance and excitement of going abroad on holiday by ship.

I had a tiny taste of it a few years ago when I realised a long-held ambition: crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Europe to Africa. I went by ferry, and it was only a short trip of a few hours, but still! I can only imagine the excitement of a young girl packing to go on holiday and being given this book to read on the journey.

I can only imagine the excitement of a young girl packing to go on holiday and being given this book to read on the journey.

I hoped this book would be full of girls having exciting adventures, but alas, these are very moral tales told in a perfunctory style, which makes me suspect each author was handed a particular moral theme by the publisher and told to write a story around it. How the reader got there didn’t really matter, as long as they arrived in a few pages.

There is a good reason this book is entitled ‘Ideal’ Book for Girls! I wonder if that young girl found herself somewhat dissatisfied when she came to the end of it?

However … let’s focus on the good stuff, which are the illustrations. I really love the back cover in particular, and am full of admiration that the spine has a separate illustration too, but it is all of 4cm wide. Page three shows a pretty watercolour of The Book-Worm lounging in a hammock, nose buried in a book. (Note the extra-long skirt fabric modestly covering the left leg.)

The rest of the illustrations throughout the book are in black and white, the drawing style so evocative of a bygone era – surely no such innocent 15 year olds exist in the world anywhere anymore. The title page illustration is very sweet, although like the bookworm, it bears no relation to the events in the stories, which are mostly set in senior high school.

I did enjoy the fact that all the schoolgirls and teachers have bobbed, marcelled hair. Though most of the characters are schoolgirls wearing uniforms, there are a few touches of contemporary fashion in the details of teachers’ outfits. In this age of very individual style, it’s quite fascinating to remember that once upon a time practically everyone dressed in the established mode.