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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Super cool hipster archives

Since I started this blog, all those double digit weeks ago, I have been plagued by the same question.
'But Eliza, where are the Waddesdon archives?'
It seems that people are obsessed with archives, and are desperate to understand the storage capabilities of institutions like Waddesdon for maintaining them.

I'd put that in my archive

You could say that archives are the new short film making. Ask any wickedly dressed Berlin-loving youth what they do in their spare time and you can bet that their answer will either be going to archives or maintaining some sort of archive themselves.

‘I got your snapchat, mate, but why were you up at 3am’

‘Got into some crazy archiving and just couldn’t stop’

(sample conversation)

In light of this, last week I paid a fleeting visit to the Waddesdon Archives, ‘Windmill Hill’, where the architect Stephen Marshall was dropping in for a cup of tea and a natter with the guides.
The atmosphere was (obviously) electric.


Open by appointment and for the odd concert, this incredible building, erupting out of architecture predating the Manor itself, is full of bolshy pieces of modern art. Angus Fairhurst’s A Couple of Differences Between Thinking & Feeling (2000) quite literally ape those that are using the reading room, as they sit seductively lit by Fernando Campana’s Broken Dreams lights (2010).Personally, I like to play a quick game of spot the Kapoor.

See it? See it?

Outside are slated rolling hills designed by Richard Long, and a pair of umbrellas by Michael Craig-Martin (2011), that mock the British weather with their false promise of protection.

Spot the gardener is another classic Windmill Hill game

Of course, we fitted in a few games of ‘Art Historians sitting on chairs’ whilst we were there, before badgering Stephen for more information on his design. He was charming, it was charming, and hopefully we were charming. What a National Trust afternoon….

Spot the Kapoor round 2

Catch you on the flip side!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Spring has sprung at Waddesdon Manor

Spring has officially (?!) sprung at Waddesdon Manor, and the new Archive Intern Rebecca and I have been out and about in the grounds soaking up the rays! Not much art historical info for you today, just lots of pictures of the beautiful C19th landscape, with us two (and lots of other excited weekenders) clambering around in it!

Perfect spot for a family shot!

Rebecca and daffodils
Standing on a Stephen Cox, giving peacocks a run for their money

The beaaautiful dairy. Unfortunately cowless, but home to some very lovely weddings!

Home farm feeling hot, hot, hot


The gardens are already open, but the manor is reopening on the 26th, so hope to see lots of you then! 
Catch you on the flip side! 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Mini-me Mini-you; Miniatures at Waddesdon

Everybody loves miniature things- from the Horniman Museum's miniature dogs (feat. in this article I wrote for 1883 Magazine), to miniature food (mini burgers anyone?), to those tiny useless rubbers everyone played with in primary school, it seems that our brains are hard wired to respond to the small and the vulnerable. Tiny objects allow us to be protective, and, reciprocally, make us feel powerful. 

At Waddesdon we have some amazing tiny things; teeny weeny furniture, cups, animals, little men. But the objects I want to throw a spotlight on this week are the collection of miniature paintings, due to go on display for the first time in years at the start of next season (March 26th).

Why, hello there.
Peter Oliver (c.1594-1647), Portrait of an unknown man, 1627, watercolour on vellum © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Whilst studying at Oxford, I was lucky enough to be taught by Hanneke Grootenboer, an Art Historian who has written a flurry of brilliant essays on the miniature. She always talks about the intimacy of these images- little visions of your lover, your queen or your kin, thumbed over, kissed and held. 

I like to think that some of the unknown men in our portraits gave these images to their lovers, who apparently liked the 'pallid, been out all night look'. Check out that ruff! I, for one, am hoping for a revival... 

Who? Me?
Atrributed to Isaac Oliver (c.1565-1617), Anne of Denmark, c.1605, watercolour on vellum© The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

This attractive lady is Queen Anne of Denmark, who married King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) when she was just fourteen. History books haven't been too kind to her- she has often been written off as frivolous- but her great patronage of the arts defines our vision of Jacobean England. She also wore some pretty fantastic gear, this flowery concoction included. 

Jared Leto, anyone?
Samuel Cooper (1609-1672), Portrait of a Young Man (Possibly Lord Fauconberg), 1662, watercolour on vellum © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

This gentlemen is perhaps a little more to my taste than ol' bug eyes above (although, we're clutching at straws here). Cooper, the artist, was famed for his portraits of Oliver Cromwell, and there's something slightly dictator-esque about this gentlemen, although we think that the sitter could be Lord Fauconberg, who married Cromwell's third daughter, Mary and loved a centre parting. Lord Fauconberg, or J. Leto, it's a toss-up. 

The real mystery isn't 'who is this', but 'what is he leaning on'
After Gerlach Flicke (fl. 1545-1558, Portrait of a Man, 1569, watercolour on vellum © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

And then this man- who I'd definitely keep on my chain. The motto written on the armillary sphere reads 'SO.CHE.IO.SONO', which my big sister has kindly translated for me as 'I know I am understood'. Sounds like just my kind of guy.... 

Next week I'll be preparing for opening, so get excited for lots of covers coming off, and secrets being revealed

Catch you on the flip side!