30 May 2014

From Behind The Glass

Hellooo again!

In my last post I likened myself to Loyd Grossman (which was rather funny) but this time I've ditched Loyd and I'm just me.
I'm Natalie, a Conservation and Engagement Assistant with the South Lakes Property and from my previous post you may have gained a small inkling that I really like the more quirky, unusual and well.. weird objects. I find enjoyment in the stories and reasoning (or lack of) behind each artefact and in my opinion it really is the small details that make or break a visit. I suppose you could say that when it comes to objects and the properties that house them I like a good mystery and the gossip that goes with it!
That is why I love my job in preventative conservation. I am lucky to be able to rummage through cabinets and display cases and I get to find lots of cool things and learn their stores. Thanks to these blogs posts I get to share them with you which I love!

It's easy to spot the big 'in your face' objects when doing a spot of visiting - I sometimes imagine them jumping out at shouting “Look at me!!” and you always do. But what about the smaller pieces that are concealed in cabinets and cases?

Through this post I'm going to share a few with you :)

Check this little brooch out! 

I found it completely by accident as I was flipping through a room list one quiet afternoon earlier this month, but it could definitely be one of my new favourite things in the house. It's a bit tricky to see at Hill Top but if you look closely you can see it in the ivory cabinet in the New Room. But wait, there is more to this than meets the eye and many of our visitors, volunteers and staff don't always know it's secret.

The front is pretty but nothing out of the ordinary, the profile of Hermes' head sits on a coral background but flip it over and there is a tiny lock of hair in the back.

This is a mourning brooch. Appearing in the 18th Century and very fashionable back in the Victorian era, it wasn't uncommon to incorporate the hair or portrait of a loved one into jewellery as a sign of respect and as a way to remember them.
I love how the hair has been carefully curled, I think it shows how much this person meant to it's wearer. 

Personally I think these kinds of things are super interesting and intriguing, it would be wonderful if we were able to find out who it belonged to; the hair and the brooch but unfortunately I don't think this would be possible.
I would love to think it belongs to a relative, Beatrix inherited the ivory and her immediate family certainly lived during the correct period to have such an item so maybe, just maybe it there could be a direct link?

Not in a cabinet or case, this next one is technically behind glass in the fact that it is in a frame! Perhaps you've spotted this hanging in the bedroom? 

Love is in the air? <3
To me, it brings up more questions than it answers! It's a needlework sampler but who are 'OD' and 'LB' and was it really 'A Token of Love' between two lovers? Or just a practice piece as the different little sections with individual patterns that don't appear to repeat would suggest? The truth is that I just don't know, the hopeless romantic in me hopes it's the former..
This is definitely a case for a pair of amateur super sleuths, we need to get Jessica Fletcher and Colombo to investigate!

Last month I introduced you to my (yes, I've claimed him) little chap who I found over winter, the one with the wire legs and the red hat who sits patiently in the sitting room cabinet smiling at visitors. Well, there is another one I had my eye on whilst putting everything back before we opened for the season.

There are some people who will be of the opinion that he's rather.. well, horrible (I'm not sure what this says about my taste in things) but it's unusual and a little bit cheeky and as usual I like it!

Cheeky.. err.. monkey?
It's a Netsuke, which in Japanese means 'root' or 'to attach'.

Please correct me if I have this wrong but from a spot of research I've found out that Netsuke's are miniature sculptures created in 17th Century Japan, they are carved and are button like toggles which help to secure containers hung on cord to a man's kimono. This is supported by the fact that Beatrix's has 2 holes in the back where presumably the cord would have gone through.

He is a petite fellow but see if you can spot him next time you're at Hill Top, he'll be poking his tongue out at you from his cabinet in the New Room.

I'm glad I remembered about this gorgeous little box which sits on the shelf above Beatrix's marbles, it's too pretty to keep to myself. For conservation reasons it has to be kept out of the light as much as possible, the box itself is made from card and the image is a watercolour so it is incredibly delicate and this is one of the reasons why he's kept out of direct light. This is a really good thing because it's stunning, but it does also mean that it is slightly obscured from view.

Ooooh fancy!

At first sight it doesn't give much away, I mean he looks like a snazzy chap with his coral coloured trousers and butterfly catching net but what it could be?

If we open it up it becomes a little more curious, I didn't have a clue what it was when I first saw it but I had someone there to give me a tiny tip and then it all made total sense. What you can see is a set of different sized rings that fit into one another, a bit like Russian dolls.

Hold onto the biggest ring and it all falls into place, literally. By holding this one the other smaller rings also drop onto one another and create a nacky travel cup! They always say the best ideas are the simplest ones and in this case I would have to agree.

I can't decide which part I like more, the beautiful box that it is housed in or what's inside.. I do know that if I saw this up for sale I would definitely put an offer in for it.

What I'm beginning to realise whilst researching and writing these blog posts is that whether Beatrix bought, found or was given objects there is no real pattern to them or to her collection but that doesn't matter - everything has it's own story to tell and secrets to divulge.

That's it from me for now but check back next month when I'll have some more Potter possessions to share with you. In the mean time, if you're planning on visiting Hill Top don't forget to look deep into the cabinets, you never know what you might see!

Ta ta for now!

Words and pictures by Natalie :)