I hate to use the phrase "life altering" - but both of these are great books that really challenge your perspective and way of thinking. I am still in the middle of The Alchemist and may review it on here soon but so far I am really gripped by it.
Hm I have been a bit slow on the blog posts this week which I can only blame on my own laziness. This is an article that a friend posted on Facebook that really appealed to the hopeless romantic in me though so I thought I would share!
A few summers ago, A Parisian apartment that had been abandoned and untouched for 70 years was discovered in the quarter of Pigalle. It's owner - Mrs. De Florian left Paris just before World War 2 broke out, locking up the apartment for good and eventually passing away in the South of France at the grand old age of 91. When her heirs called on professionals to take an inventory of The Parisian apartment, it was unlocked and the treasures inside re-discovered.
The team described unlocking the dusty apartment as an experience similar to 'stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty'
To further add to the romance of this story, a painting of a beautiful woman dressed in pink was also discovered. One of the team members suspected it may be of some value and was proved right when an expert historian confirmed that the calling card left alongside the painting was that of Giovanni Boldini - one of Paris' most prestigious and important painters of the Belle Epoque.
Alongside with the painting was a stack of old love letters tied with coloured ribbon. They revealed that the woman in the painting was Mrs de Florian's Grandmother, Marthe de Florian, who had been a famous French actress and socialite. She had been Boldini's muse and lover (in spite of him being married!)
The story inevitably caught the attention of the art world and later sold at auction for $3 million!
Overall an enchanting and intriguing story of two women and the revelation of a great love affair. Of course there are many questions that remain a mystery in spite of the room being now unlocked. Why did Mrs de Florian flee such a beautiful apartment never to return? What other secrets did both women keep locked away?
For Christmas and Birthdays, I like to try and hand make the presents I give whenever possible as to me it feels so much more personal and a good way to show the people I care about how much they mean to me. This Christmas was no exception and any spare time I had from work I spent creating and crafting! Below are some photos of the mittens that I hand made and embroidered for my Mom.
I used a wool blend for the outside of the mittens and lined it with pink fleecing so they were extra warm and snuggly! The lace was cut from an old vintage scarf.
I mentioned in a previous post that I would start featuring some of my favourite blogs so thought I would begin today with a beautiful Canadian blog that I have been reading pretty much daily now for around 2-3 years.
Poppytalk is an art and design blog with its own online marketplace - www.poppytalkhandmade.com which features artists and designers from around the world. (similar to Etsy except it is curated and themed each month)
Poppytalk is always my go to for DIY's and ideas for handmade presents - their step by step tutorials are accompanied by photographs or videos and even though they're simple to follow they produce great results.
Here are some of my favourite DIY's found via Poppytalk
On Saturday I watched a performance of 'Hansel and Gretel' at a theatre called The Tobacco Factory which is just down the road from my house. Last year we saw an excellent alternative version of Cinderella put on by The Travelling Light Company which was probably best and most original pieces of theatre I have ever watched so we were excited to see what The Tobacco Factory had to offer us this year.
Like 'Cinderella', The company of New International Encounter used a small cast of just 5 who were all amazingly multi talented and were each able to play a range of instruments (such as a huge double bass - shown in my illustration above) as well as singing, story telling and acting!
The play was humorous and charming and the style of performance worked particularly well in the small, intimate theatre space. My favourite part was when Hansel and Gretel first saw the Gingerbread house in the distance - a tiny dolls house version of the gingerbread house floated through the audience, complete with a tiny smoking chimney. Another highlight was the performance of The Wicked Witch who was hilarious and had some great lines which had both the adults and children laughing.
It's refreshing to see different approaches and styles of theatre, and as much as I love big west end musicals, there is something special about minimal, intimate productions like this one where you can really appreciate the craft of the actors and each element of the production and performance.
Above is an illustration I did based on photo that was on the front of the programme.
12 years after it was first published and in just time for the film release, I have recently finished reading Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi'. I don't know what stopped me from reading it before now but after seeing the trailer for the film and reading the excellent reviews I decided that I definitely wanted to read the book before seeing the film adaptation.
Perhaps most people already have a rough idea of the story (which I didn't at all) - but it is an account of the extraordinary survival of a young Indian boy stranded on a life boat with an Orang-utan, Hyena and a Zebra with a broken leg. Oh and a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that the character 'Richard Parker' was actually a tiger and not a person - maybe because the formality of the name, the clever way in which Martel writes or perhaps just because I am a bit dim; but in any case - the moment you come to realise the gravity of the leading character Pi's situation it becomes impossible to put this book down.
The story is so beautifully written, and although I'm sure the film which is shot in 3D will be pretty spectacular visually - it is worth reading the book anyway because it serves as such a good reminder of how powerful descriptive writing can be. It's not always necessary to have a literal re enactment or set of images to be able to perfectly picture or imagine a scene as is definitely the case with Martel's book.
Having said that I am looking forward to seeing the film and will post an update on how I think it compares with reading the book.
Another thing to mention is the parallel of spirituality and human brutality that runs as a theme throughout the story. The protagonist (Pi) is an intensely spiritual and religious character - yet inevitably his faith is tried at many points on his journey. In the epilogue there is a slight twist (of sorts) which I think serves as the perfect ending to the book - leaving the whole account as mysterious and open ended as religion and spirituality itself.
Below is a quote from the book and some illustrations that I found from various artists.
'Battle Of The Minds' - Andrea Offermann. Offermann submitted these images for a 2002 competition to illustrate Life Of Pi ran by The Times but lost out to Tomislav Torjanac.
Christmas seems a long time ago now and it definitely flew by far too quickly this year. I loved being with my family - I just wish I could have spent longer at home!
Since beginning this blog my posts have not been as frequent as I would like at all, and definitely one of my goals for this year is to change the format of it a little bit - hopefully to include more work of other artists and bloggers I follow as well as books, articles, stories, theatre, films - any source of inspiration!
Once I manage to take some better photographs (hopefully on Thursday) I will post some of the projects and presents I made over Christmas for family and friends. Also this week I will include posts about:
Hansel and Gretel The Life of Pi
My favourite blogs
Pin of the week
and thats all I can think of right now! My thinking is if I write on here what I intend to feature then there is no backing out and I have to post frequently (even though today this blog had a grand total of 1 pageview so its not as though I have thousands of expectant followers but still...)