All posts filed under: Reviews: resources, books, museums

Friday Reads: Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

I first encountered Molly Make-Believe in the December 1911 issue of the Girl’s Own Paper. I started reading it, and was utterly enchanted: the writing wasn’t genius, but the whole effect was so charming, and frivolous, and very, very period. I devoured the exposition with much mirth.  I chuckled at the introductory sentence, which rivaled the infamous “it was a dark and stormy night” (I have always dreamed of eating a vapid grapefruit, haven’t you?). I met Carl Stanton, our atypically bedridden hero, suffering from a most unromantic case of rheumatism described with writing that suffered from a most amusing case of over-use of adjectives, some most alarmingly mis-applied. I met Carl’s not-quite-fiance Cornelia: the epitome of 1910s beauty, “big and bland and blond and beautiful”,  off to warmer climes, because every girl like Cornelia must go off to warmer climes for winter, sick fiance or no. I followed along as Carl encountered ‘The Serial Letter Co’, which made me gasp in delight.  Talk about the best pen-pal ever.  I want to subscribe to all …

Unveiling unveiled: how a fashion exhibition travels around the world

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a very special media event at Te Papa in conjunction with Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Dresses. At the event we oversaw the opening of the crate containing the spectacular 1933 Norman Hartnell dress worn by Margaret Whigham, later Duchess of Argyll (yes, that Duchess of Argyll) for her first wedding. The whole media event is part of a wider movement in the museum world to ‘de-mystify’ museums – to allow the public to see a little of what goes on to make exhibitions happen, and to display fragile objects.  It’s a movement I heartily approve of: I feel the more we know about historical objects, the more we will feel connected to them and responsible for their care. I’ve worked in museums, and been intimately involved with the transport of objects and exhibition install, but the wonder of seeing an exquisite, fragile, quite old object travel huge distances and go on display never fails to thrill me.  Every time is a privilege, …

Friday Reads: Flora Klickmann and her flower patch

I have a confession.  Sometime I buy old books in op shops just because the books are pretty. I know. This is usually a really stupid habit, because our house is quite small, and I generally have to give the books back to op shops when I realise they are less fun to read than to look at. Sometimes though, my “Oooh…bookey pogey bait” habit pays off, because I end up buying books that I have never heard of which turn out to be fantastic. One of these fantastic and unexpected finds was two books by Flora Klickmann: The Flower-Patch Among the Hills and Between the Larch-woods and the Weir. I really almost didn’t buy the books.  They were $5 each, and I’d never heard of Klickmann.  And they weren’t actually that pretty. But I did, and they are fabulous. Klickmann was the editor of the Girls Own Paper in London, and the first book (The Flower-Patch) started out as articles for the magazine.  This means that both books are more a series of anecdotes …