Saturday, February 26, 2011

In The Crystal Palace: what's in a name?

As you can tell from the previous post, Robin and I recently opened a new Etsy shop together. I thought I'd write a little bit about the sources of inspiration connected to the shop's name. We kicked around a few other names for the shop before choosing In The Crystal Palace. We wanted a name with a clear Victorian association, and something that suggested a poetic, mysterious, and other-worldly atmosphere. We are also huge fans of Joseph Cornell's (1903-1972) work. His construction (below) ties these ideas together beautifully:

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Pink Palace), c. 1946-48, Construction, 10 x 16 7/16 x 3 1/4 in.

As luck would have it, we went to Barnes and Noble in Hilton Head, SC earlier this week and bought Bill Bryson's (1951 -) new book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Can you guess what subject Mr. Bryson writes about in his first chapter? The Crystal Palace. Here's an excerpt:

"In the autumn of 1850, in Hyde Park in London, there arose a most extraordinary structure: a giant iron-and-glass greenhouse covering nineteen acres of ground and containing within its airy vastness enough room for four St. Paul's Cathedrals. For the short time of its existence, it was the biggest building on Earth. Known formally as the Palace of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, it was incontestably magnificent, but all the more so for being so sudden, so startlingly glassy, so gloriously and unexpectedly there. Douglas Jerrold, a columnist for the weekly magazine Punch, dubbed it the Crystal Palace, and the name stuck.

The finished building was precisely 1,851 feet long (in celebration of the year), 408 feet across, and almost 110 feet high along its central spine--spacious enough to enclose a much admired avenue of elms that would otherwise have had to be felled. Because of its size, the structure required a lot of inputs--293,655 panes of glass, 33,000 iron trusses, and tens of thousands of feet of wooden flooring--yet thanks to Paxton's methods [Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) English architect, designed the Crystal Palace], the final cost came in at an exceedingly agreeable £80,000. From start to finish, the work took just under thirty-five weeks. St. Paul's Cathedral had taken thirty-five years.

The Crystal Palace was at once the world's largest building and its lightest, most ethereal one. Today we are used to encountering glass in volume, but to someone living in 1851 the idea of strolling through cubic acres of airy light inside a building was dazzling--indeed, giddying. The arriving visitor's first sight of the Exhibition Hall from afar, glinting and transparent, is really beyond our imagining. It would have seemed as delicate and evanescent, as miraculously improbable, as a soap bubble. To anyone arriving at Hyde Park, the first sight of the Crystal Palace, floating above the trees, sparkling in sunshine, would have been a moment of knee-weakening slendor."

And then it all burned down . . .

Watching the blaze, Winston Churchill said, "This is the end of an age."

(Source for image: Joseph Cornell, edited by Kynaston McShine, essays by Dawn Ades, et al., published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York © 1980; Source for quote: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, published by Doubleday, New York © 2010)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In The Crystal Palace: our new Etsy shop

"Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy . . ."


Robin Miller and I recently opened a new shop together on Etsy. In The Crystal Palace (inthecrystalpalace, if you search by sellers on Etsy) offers a selection of our mixed media assemblages. Here's a sample of our wares:

Robin Miller / Solar Eclipse of 1851 / 2011 / mixed media / 6-1/8 x 4 x 2-1/4 in.

Robin Miller / Adoration of the Aerialist / 2011 / mixed media / 4-3/4 x 6-1/2 x 2-3/4 in.

Perhaps the two works below look strangely familiar to you?

Kym Hepworth / Mary Had A Little Lamb / 2011 / mixed media / 10 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 3 in.

Kym Hepworth / Vamp! (Louise Brooks) / 2011 / mixed media / 15 7/8 x 12 x 3 1/2 in.

We'll be adding new work soon.
Come buy, come buy

Friday, February 11, 2011

lover's credo

each day is Valentine's Day

so why wait?

Happy Friday!

The Replacements - Kiss Me On The Bus

Paul Westerberg - Kiss Me On The Bus

Thursday, February 3, 2011

zombie trivia

Here's a little known art history secret: she's running away from zombies!

Niccolò Dell'Arca, The Lamentation (detail), c. 1485-90, Terracotta, lifesize, Sta. Maria della Vita, Bologna

(source for image: History of Art by H. W. Janson - 5th ed., revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson, published by Prentice Hall, Inc. and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York © 1995)

The Runaways - I Love Playing With Fire

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 2/2/11

The thermometer doesn't lie. I might. It's supposed to reach 70 degrees today in Savannah.

Kym Hepworth, daffodils, skeletons and zombie apocalypse!

excerpt from Zombie Apocalypse! created by Stephen Jones (entry from Maddy Wood's diary, age 13, dated Sunday, May 5):

"A thin stream of smoke rose up from the carpet and stank of burning. Maybe that's what made me look down. It must have been. She'd dropped her cigarette and it was burning a black hole in the carpet. It stank like plastic. I remember thinking that mum wouldn't like that and then I saw dad's shoes sticking out from behind the sofa and his feet were kind of shaking. There was a wet sound too, something slick and horrid and greedy, an then George gasped and started pulling me back. I remember his hand was hot and mine was cold. I remember peering over the back of the sofa and seeing dad.

Mum was straddling him. She looked funny with her skirt all hitched up and her tights torn. Mum's neat and tidy. She likes to look presentable. But this wasn't mum. It just looked like her. There was a knife in her shoulder. It was one of the ones from the block in the kitchen and it was right in to the hilt, but she didn't seem to notice it.

The vase from the coffee table was smashed around her and her hair was soaking wet and a daffodil hung loosely across the back of her untidy bun. The base was still in dad's hand, but his grip had gone. Water ran down mum's face and made pink paths through the crimson that smeared her chin. She didn't look at us, but buried her head back into dad's shoulder with a hiss. She sounded like a snake. It was yuk.

Dad let out a soft sigh. No scream or anything. But it was enough to make us run. . . ."

(source for quote: Zombie Apocalypse! created by Stephen Jones with Peter Atkins, Pat Cadigan, et al., published by Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia, PA © 2010)

Kym Hepworth, skeleton, daffodils and zombies

The Zombies - Tell Her No

Kym Hepworth, daffodil stems, skeleton and zombies (run!!!)

Del Shannon - Runaway

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 2/1/11

Kym Hepworth, daffodils day 12

Kym Hepworth, vanitas

Kym Hepworth, day after day

Badfinger - Day After Day

Kym Hepworth, detail of daffodils on day 12

Kym Hepworth, cloudy day