Jewellery brand of the month: Baccurelli

For a while now I’ve been thinking about writing a monthly blog post, “Jewellery brand of the month”, as I love shiny sparkly pretty things and it would give me an excuse to post loads of amazing pictures. I figured January was a good time to start, so without any more ado, I would like to present my first brand:

BACCURELLI

Baccurelli is a relatively new jewellery brand based in LA, operated by wife and husband team Meli and Hugo. I first became aware of the brand after seeing Instagram posts from several Tatty Devine fans I follow: the two brands are similar in that they both focus on acrylic jewellery, but they have a very different aesthetic. Baccurelli designs, created by Meli, are original, unique and lots of fun.

The name “Baccurelli” comes from the Roman god Bacchus and the famous designer Elsa Schiaparelli. The Baccurelli slogan is “Be your alter ego”, and their longer manifesto emphasises the fun nature of their jewellery:

You are gorgeous exactly as you are. There’s nothing you need to change or be. That’s what Baccurelli is all about. When you wear a Baccurelli piece you feel playful, happy and most of all FEARLESS. We make jewelry and accessories that bring out your alter ego and inspire you to dream big and not take life too seriously.

As I mentioned, the brand has only been around for a couple of years, but they have already built up an impressive array of jewellery. Early pieces include this unusual phone necklace…

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Rotary Phone Necklace

…and this amazing flamingo necklace, which is top of my wishlist.

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Croquet Anyone? Flamingo Necklace

The Valley of the Dolls collection was brought out last year (I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see “Valley of the Dolls” I immediately start humming the Marina and the Diamonds song from the Electra Heart album) and became a firm favourite among Baccurelli fans. It features real-life and fictional characters who are very different, but have one thing in common – they are all strong women.

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Bettie Page Brooch
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Frida Kahlo Brooch

The above are just two examples – other “Dolls” in the collection include Marilyn Monroe and Rosie the Riveter. They are available in both necklace and brooch form. You can also get charm necklaces featuring some of the dolls, which include other beautifully detailed charms, such as this one starring Louise Brooks:

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Louise’s 7 Treasures Charm Necklace

The Costume Party collection was launched late last year and it’s probably my favourite. The collection features favourite fictional superstars, including Morticia and Gomez, Superman and Wonder Woman, Glinda and Elphaba, and Jareth the Goblin King. These pieces are available in pairs or singly, as brooches or necklaces.

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“Witch Besties” Brooch Set
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Goblin King Brooch

Baccurelli are still selling on Etsy, but they have recently launched a website, as well as a brand new collection, Silkworms and Satire. I have my eye on a couple of pieces from this collection, especially this brooch:

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Victorian Lady “Eff You” Brooch

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can follow them in a variety of ways:

Website: baccurelli.com

Etsy: etsy.com/uk/shop/Baccurelli

Instagram: instagram.com/baccurelli

Facebook: facebook.com/baccurelli

Twitter: twitter.com/baccurelli

Havering Museum

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On the same day as I visited Redbridge Museum, I headed further east along the TfL Rail line (soon to be Crossrail) and ended up in Romford, where I popped into Havering Museum. This museum opened in 2010, on the site of the old Romford Brewery, and seems to be popular: a map in the foyer shows the location of various visitors, some of whom have visited from all over the world, including Russia and Indonesia.

The museum explores the history of the London borough of Havering, with the main exhibition spread across two rooms. Rather than being arranged in chronological order, the displays are divided by town: so Romford, Havering-atte-Bower, Rainham, Hornchurch and Upminster all get their own section. This is a different but interesting way to arrange the displays. Each section also has its own information sheet, so rather than being overwhelmed with information during your visit, you can take home the sheet and read it at your leisure.

I learned some interesting things during my visit: Romford was originally a Roman staging post called Durolitum, on the road from London to Colchester. The Golden Lion pub by the marketplace has existed since 1440, and is said to have been visited by Dick Turpin. The museum has an interesting selection of artefacts associated with the town.

When I visited, the temporary exhibition room was hosting paintings by a local artist, and there was also a travelling exhibition, Pop It In the Post by the National Postal Museum, including two examples of early pillar boxes.

I was very impressed with my visit to Havering Museum, which struck me as being a cut above most local museums, well laid out and with very friendly and enthusiastic staff. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

FACTS

Address: 19-21 High Street, Romford, RM1 1JU

Website: haveringmuseum.org.uk

Opening Hours: 11-5 Wed-Sat

Prices: £2.50 adults, £2 senior citizens; children free

Redbridge Museum

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As part of my Tube jaunt to the east, I decided to check out a few of the small museums on my list. Redbridge Museum is the local museum for the town of Redbridge: it opened in 2000 and is located above the library near the town centre.

In common with many local museums, the main collection is displayed in chronological order, looking at the history of the town through the ages. It does this in reverse, beginning with recent history and going back through the centuries via two World Wars and the Industrial Revolution. There are two reconstructed rooms to show what life would have been like in different periods of the town’s history.

What I really liked about the museum was the effort they make to include the community in the displays. A changing display at the entrance explores different significant figures from the town. The current celebrated resident is Fauja Singh, who is (as far as is known) the oldest marathon runner in the world. He ran his first marathon aged 89 and only retired from long-distance running aged 101!

Redbridge Museum is currently hosting a temporary exhibition called Ice Age Ilford, which includes a life-size replica of the skull of a mammoth found in Ilford, as well as several fossilised bones uncovered during the Victorian era. Many of these bones are now cared for by the Natural History Museum and the British Geological Survey, and this is a rare chance to see them in their original home. There is also information about what the area would have looked like over 200,000 years ago, and a little about the Victorians responsible for the fossil discoveries.

Redbridge Museum is a nice little local museum and is well worth visiting if you’re in the area.

FACTS

Address: 2nd Floor Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1EA

Website: www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/leisure_and_libraries/culture/redbridge_museum

Opening Hours: 10-5 Tues-Fri, 10-4 Sat

Prices: Free

Celts: Art and Identity – British Museum

The Celts: Art and Identity exhibition at the British Museum looked at the history of the Celtic identity and what it means to be Celtic today. I was interested to learn that the name “Celts” was originally used by the ancient Greeks to refer to the “barbarians” in the north: it was a cultural label rather than an ethnic identity, and was adopted by the people of the modern Celtic nations.

The exhibition has been organised in partnership with National Museums Scotland, and traces the history of the Celts from 2,500 years ago to the present day. I was interested in the art and culture of the early Celts: helmets, shields and other artefacts are decorated with distinctive patterns, stylised as opposed to the increasingly realistic artworks of the Greeks and Romans. Many of the artefacts uncovered (some of which have come from the Thames, while others have been excavated from mainland Europe) have patterns relating to possibly mythical figures, though what they symbolise exactly is sadly lost to history. This is particularly apparent in the gorgeous Gundestrup cauldron, a breathtakingly detailed item on loan from the National Museum of Denmark.

Celtic culture survived throughout the Iron Age and the Roman conquest. Celtic art was influenced by Roman traditions, although it remained distinctive. As Christianity spread throughout Europe and Britain, Irish, Welsh and Scottish monasteries adopted many Celtic styles, in particular leading to the Celtic crosses that have become such a strong emblem for Celtic culture.

By the Victorian era, the Industrial Revolution made the lives of the Celts seem like very long ago indeed. Victorians were fascinated by Celtic culture, and reinvented it in literature and art: the poems of the supposed Celtic bard Ossian, and the Celtic-influenced designs of Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art, were particularly popular. I especially liked the statue meant to represent a noble Celtic warrior, standing proud in a kilt, but sporting a suspiciously Victorian moustache!

The exhibition ended in the modern day, looking at how Celtic culture is celebrated today, with clips from parades, football shirts and comic books. I really enjoyed this comprehensive and interesting exhibition.

 

An Evening with Ramin Karimloo – Union Chapel

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Union Chapel

I’ve written before about how much I love Ramin Karimloo, and I’ve been looking forward to his Union Chapel concert for months: he hasn’t performed in the UK for several years, owing to his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway, followed by a stint in Japan. I was not the only one to be excited by the news, as the concert was sold out really quickly, so I was very happy to have got a ticket.

The Union Chapel is a beautiful venue, a working chapel which also hosts gigs, talks and other assorted events. It can be a bit chilly inside, but you’re allowed to take a cup of tea to your seat and watch the show, which helps create a cosy atmosphere. I must be getting old – this sounds very appealing compared to the traditional concert experience of moshing with a can of lager!

Ramin himself sounded incredible, but then I hadn’t expected anything less. He opened the show with “‘Til I Hear You Sing”, which is one of my favourite Andrew Lloyd Webber songs, and sang several musical numbers including “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” and “Bring Him Home”, which he performed as a duet with Hadley Fraser, who was present on stage for the entire concert. What I love about Ramin, though, is that he is so versatile – over the last few years he has branched out from musical theatre, and his gig included original songs and covers ranging from country and bluegrass to rock.

The concert was such a brilliant experience, and I’m really glad I made the effort to go. Who knows when Ramin will be back in the UK again? I’ve added the setlist at the bottom of this post: I would encourage you to go and look up the list on YouTube, to discover why this man is so amazing.

Setlist

1. Till I Hear You Sing

2. Traveller’s Eyes

3. On The Road to Find Out/Wild World

4. Driftwood

5. Broken

6. Letting The Last One Go

7. Constant Angel

8. State Lines (with Ashleigh Gray)

9. Bring Him Home (with Hadley Fraser)

10. We’re All In This Together

11. Wings

12. Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’

13. Do You Hear The People Sing?

14. Murder In The City

15. I Wish The Wars Were All Over

16. Will The Circle Be Unbroken

Encore

17. Losing

18. Wagon Wheel

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Hornsey Town Hall Tour

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After visiting Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End for a show last year, I became interested in this beautiful building, and was keen to explore it in more depth. I signed up for a tour, organised by Crouch End Walks, to learn more.

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We met in the building’s foyer at 2pm and our guide began the tour by taking us outside to observe the front of the building and its beautiful façade, which harks back to the area’s rural past. Inside, we admired the modernist style of the foyer, which still has the original ticket desks and glass panels designed for function rather than form. The building was designed by R. H. Uren, a New Zealand-born architect who was only twenty-seven at the time of the design in 1933. It was influenced by European modernist architecture and radically broke away from the traditional Victorian design of previous town halls.

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We were taken through the building, starting with the ground floor space currently being used as a cafe, into the large hall which has been used for concerts, dances and shows. The Kinks were one of the bands who played here in their early days. Our guide told us of her own memories attending a pantomime here as a small child. Today, the hall is very cold and clearly needs work done to it, but it’s easy to see that with a bit of TLC it could be a lovely space once again.

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The open staircase and foyer spaces of the building are lovely, being ornate but spacious, well lit and stylish. The Art Deco influence is particularly strong here. We were able to see inside the former Mayor’s parlour, a very comfortable-looking room indeed.

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Along the corridor, we found ourselves in a large space with a fine view over the front of the town hall. This room can be divided into three, or left as one large space. We also got to see inside the council chamber, which still has the original (very comfortable) seats.

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The future of the Hall is uncertain: it is currently used by a variety of arts organisations, but whether it continues to be used for performances and events or sold off to be converted into luxury flats, only time will tell. It would be a shame if it stopped being a public building, as it is beautiful and unique, a valuable community asset for the people of Crouch End and beyond.

Clockmakers’ Museum

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Originally assembled by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, the Clockmakers’ Museum is the world’s oldest clock and watch collection. Once located at the Guildhall, it can now be seen on the second floor of the Science Museum in South Kensington. It looks good in its new home, with chronological (naturally) displays of the history of clock and watch-making in London.

The Clockmakers’ Company (a Guild) was founded in London in 1620, with a Royal Charter granted in 1631. The museum contains many beautiful clocks and watches, demonstrating the fine workmanship and beautiful design that helped to make London the centre of the timepiece-making world for several centuries, until it lost out to the cheaper countries of continental Europe.

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One of the museum’s stunning clocks

I liked looking at the beautiful watches and clocks, still working after hundreds of years, and was impressed with the earliest examples of the clockmaker’s craft. There were even sundials! I was particularly fond of the eighteenth and nineteenth century ladies’ pocket watches, beautifully decorated, and was also very interested to see a clock which belonged to the Discovery and was taken to Antarctica.

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One of the earliest examples of clockmaking

It was interesting to see how timepieces developed over time, starting out as rather large objects but gradually becoming smaller and smaller, eventually leading to the wristwatch that we know today, although larger clocks have not yet gone out of fashion. The museum ended with a look at current cutting-edge watch technology and design – despite the proliferation of smartphones it doesn’t look as though more traditional timepieces are going to die out any time soon.

FACTS

Address: Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD

Website: sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/plan_your_visit/exhibitions/clockmakers-museum

Opening Hours: 10-6 Mon-Sat

Prices: Free

Gathered Leaves: The Photographs of Alec Soth – Science Museum

I had some time left at the weekend so popped into the Science Museum to visit the exhibition Gathered Leaves: The Photographs of Alec Soth. The exhibition, which takes place in the Museum’s Media Space, showcases works by one of the world’s most famous documentary photographers, including pictures from four collections: Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014).

I’m no photography expert but I admired the poignant, intimate pictures, capturing the personalities of characters across America and the different, often vast landscapes. The collection of Mississippi images was my favourite, with its echoes of great American literature such as the work of Mark Twain. Definitely worth seeing.

House of Illustration

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The House of Illustration is a relatively new gallery in the recently redeveloped Granary Square in King’s Cross. It is home to changing exhibitions covering the history of illustration in all its forms: recent exhibitions have included images from Ladybird books and the work of Quentin Blake.

I visited in order to see the Main Gallery exhibition, E. H. Shepard: An Illustrator’s War. Shepard is perhaps best known for his classic illustrations of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories, probably as well-known as the books themselves. I had no idea until very recently that he also produced a great deal of work while serving in the trenches of the First World War.

Shepard’s distinctive style is evident in these wartime artworks, but the subject matter is very different. His pictures include humorous images of soldiers trying to make the best of life in the trenches, stark pictures of bare landscapes, and even topographical works used for strategic purposes. Many of his cartoons were sent to Punch and other publications. Shepard also spent time in Italy towards the end of the war, producing fascinating drawings of the scenes he witnessed, and meeting none other than the author Ernest Hemingway. Some of his work was more personal: he drew pictures in his diaries and in letters to his wife, which are on display for the first time. It was fascinating to see this different side to the familiar illustrator.

While in the building I also visited the exhibition in the South Gallery, Lauren Child’s Dolls’ House. Childs is an author and illustrator most famous for the Charlie and Lola books – I’ve heard of these books even though I don’t have anything to do with small children, which suggests that they are pretty successful. Childs has been working on her own dolls’ house for over 30 years, and it is beautiful – extremely detailed. Alongside the house, sets from the author’s works are displayed: the book The Princess and the Pea was made with photographs of three-dimensional miniature sets.

The House of Illustration is well worth a visit, possibly more than one, as the constantly changing exhibitions ensure that you are likely to go back again and again.

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FACTS

Address: 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH

Website: houseofillustration.org.uk

Opening Hours: 10-6 Tues-Sun

Prices: £7.70 adults, £5.50 concessions, £4.40 children; half price for Art Fund members

Ben Uri Gallery

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After visiting a very interesting exhibition at Somerset House last year, Out of Chaos – Ben Uri: 100 Years in London, I decided to visit the actual Ben Uri Gallery which is located in north London.

The Ben Uri Gallery is an art museum focusing on the work of artists of Jewish descent. It also focuses on the universal themes within these artists’ work, such as identity and migration. The Gallery displays its materials in a programme of temporary exhibitions; the exhibition I saw, which has just ended, was entitled Rothenstein’s Relevance: Sir William Rothenstein and His Circle. It contained impressive works, many of which looked at the concept of Jewish religious worship; others were more traditional portraits or drawing room scenes.

I was surprised at how small the Gallery actually is: it consists of one small ground floor room and another, larger, basement space. Still, with free entry it is certainly worth popping in.

FACTS

Address: 108A Boundary Road, London, NW8 0RH

Website: benuri.org.uk

Opening Hours: 1-5.30 Mon, 10-5.30 Tues-Fri, 11-5 Sat-Sun

Prices: Free