I managed to make it to the Science Museum‘s exhibition The Sun: Living With Our Star before it closed. The exhibition looks at the history of humanity’s knowledge and beliefs surrounding the Sun and the part it plays in our actual and our imaginative lives.
Early humanity’s belief in sun gods searched for explanations as to why the Sun appeared to rise and set every day; we see statues of sun gods from various cultures, including one of the Sun being pulled across the sky by a chariot. In the early sixteenth century, Copernicus challenged the idea that the Sun went round the Earth, supported by Newton 200 years later. From the earliest times, sundials were used to tell the time: there are examples from the Anglo-Saxon era on display. Later, the development of clocks made the Sun less important for telling the time, and nowadays standard time is taken from a network of atomic clocks.
From the earliest times the Sun has been associated with good health. Apollo was the Greek God of the Sun, light, truth and healing, while apothecary shops often had the Sun as their symbol. In the 1880s, scientists learned that ultraviolet light can kill TB bacteria: sunbathing was encouraged, and sanatoriums were opened, often in places like the Swiss Alps, emphasising fresh air, sunlight and good food. Later, suntans became fashionable, as holidays in the UK and abroad were seen as a sign of wealth.
On the other hand, sun exposure has risks, many of which have always been known about. In recent times there have been campaigns to reduce sun exposure and lower levels of skin cancer. Inuit people have been using snow goggles to protect their eyes from the glare of the Sun for thousands of years; the first sunglasses as we know them were used by Venetian gondoliers in the 1700s. Sunglasses became fashionable in the 1950s but rarely offered ultraviolet protection; modern ones are usually UV-resistant.
The exhibition explored how we have taken power from the Sun, using it for heat and electricity. The Olympic torch from the 2012 Olympics was on display: each time the ceremony is held the torch is initially ignited by sunlight, with a curved mirror used to focus the flame. The Sun was responsible for one of our biggest energy sources, coal, which is made of plants and vegetation buried and transformed over millions of years. Interestingly, even in the nineteenth century some people were aware that resources such as coal were finite: a book from 1867 warns that coal will not last forever. More recently, solar power has been used as an energy source, and there have been attempts to recreate the Sun on earth with nuclear fusion: a project called ZETA aimed to do just that in the 1950s, though the claim of success in 1958 was later proved false.
The final section of the exhibition looked at how we have observed the Sun over the years and discovered more about it. The Sun is made of hydrogen and helium, discovered by splitting light into a rainbow structure through the use of a prism; this conclusion was first put forward by astronomy student Cecilia Payne in 1925. More recently, the European Space Agency Solar Orbiter is one of the most ambitious solar missions ever attempted, aiming to fly closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury. It is hoped that the mission will help us understand the origins of the solar wind.
Jewellery of the exhibition
To this exhibition I wore my Eclectic Eccentricity Helios Vintage Sun Necklace, along with a pair of brass star earrings from the same store and a sterling silver sunstone ring from now-defunct jewellery store Cheap Frills.
Today I’m going to write about one of my favourite brands:
Hello Crumpet is run by Claire, originally based in the UK but now located in the Netherlands. Due to its focus on literature and Shakespeare, it’s a brand that I particularly love, and some brooches are even available via the Shakespeare’s Globe shop!
The brand is named after founder Claire’s cat Crumpet, so it seems only natural that a cat brooch is available.
Many brooches are Harry Potter-themed, including this Tales of Beedle the Bard book brooch.
For Easter this year, this gorgeous Lindt-style bunny brooch was available.
Game of Thrones fans will like this “Winter is coming” brooch.
This awesome skull brooch brings to mind the famous quotation, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” and is available at the Globe shop along with others, including an ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ brooch!
Today I’m going to write about another British brand:
LITTLE PIG JEWELLERY DESIGN
Little Pig Jewellery Design is run by Emma who makes quirky, fun acrylic jewellery. As the name suggests, pigs make up a large part of her inspiration but there are plenty of other cute designs too! I haven’t made a purchase from this shop yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
I love this Three Little Pigs necklace.
This Fairy Door brooch is super cute.
I also love this Scalloped Heart brooch.
These Ding Dong Bell earrings are super fun.
Finally, I love these Party Ring Biscuit brooches. I want to get several and wear them all to a retro birthday party.
Find Little Pig Jewellery Design at the following locations:
The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution is a free exhibition at the Science Museum, looking at the life and death of the Russian royal family during the Russian Revolution. It explores their family life in the years running up to Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, the family’s murder in Ekaterinburg in 1917, and the eventual identification of their remains using DNA technology.
The science used to identify the remains of the Romanov family is the main point of the exhibition, but there is plenty of filler leading up to that, much of which I already knew having read up on Russian history and visited the St Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg where the family are now buried. However, there was a very interesting display showing how Queen Victoria passed on hemophilia to many of her children and grandchildren. The DNA section was also fascinating, showing how DNA from living royals including Prince Philip was used as a comparison to enable scientists to identify the remains.
In any case, it’s a free exhibition and well worth a visit.
This brand is based in the US, a hugely popular brand with a large following:
Tangerine Menagerie was founded by designer Julia several years ago, focusing on retro-inspired brooches. She started out on Etsy before moving to her own website, and her brooches are among the most popular in the groups I belong to. They are pricier than most, but the workmanship and detail – every brooch is handmade and hand-painted by Julia herself – make the cost worth it.
These brooches are extremely difficult to get hold of, selling out within seconds of going on sale. To be successful you need to be on the website as soon as they are released – usually only one or two designs at a time are available. Alternatively, Julia runs a lottery offering people the opportunity to win a chance to buy a brooch – this is brilliant for people with slower Internet connections, or who can’t always get online at the time of release.
I personally own two Tangerine Menagerie brooches – a witch and an Alice book – both purchased before they became super popular. I’ve never tried to buy one since demand skyrocketed, but I will certainly give it a go in the future, if one of my wishlist items becomes available!
Top of the list is the Alice brooch. This has been through several different designs over the years and this is the most recent.
I also want this gorgeous Painted Rose Tree brooch, which continues the Wonderland theme. A Cheshire cat, a dodo and a white rabbit have also been available over the years.
Jane Eyre is my favourite novel, so this brooch is high on my wishlist.
Birds and animals are popular choices for this brand; I particularly love this Chickadee brooch.
The Olivia Corsage brooch is a flower design, relatively unusual for this brand, but it’s beautiful.
The exhibition Edward Burne-Jones: Pre-Raphaelite Visionary at Tate Britain looks at the career of Burne-Jones (1833-1898), taking a partly chronological and partly thematic approach to his life and work. There are sections on Burne-Jones as an apprentice and as a draughtsman, revealing another, humorous side to the artist. One room looks at the pictures Burne-Jones chose for exhibition, including some of his most famous works, such as King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid. Another explores the portraits he painted of family and friends, while one striking room displays his Briar Rose series of panels. Burne-Jones isn’t my favourite Pre-Raphaelite, but I enjoyed the exhibition.
Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War is an exhibition at the British Library that I knew I definitely wanted to see. Though the Anglo-Saxon era is not my favourite, I did study history for my degree and to some extent all periods of history are interesting to me.
Anglo-Saxon settlers from northern Europe came to Britain in the 5th century, eventually forming several kingdoms that would one day become England. The exhibition brings together manuscripts and artefacts that help to illuminate this exciting period of history.
The exhibition has some amazing treasures on display, including Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the Domesday Book, and artefacts from the Sutton Hoo burial ground. It takes a broadly chronological approach, looking at how the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms developed from the first arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes to the Norman Conquest.
The Anglo-Saxon era was not static; different kingdoms gained and lost power over the centuries. Early in the era, the kingdom of Northumbria was in the ascendant, while later on, Mercia became the most powerful. By the tenth century, King Aethelstan was exercising power over most of what is now England and south-east Scotland.
The exhibition emphasises the multicultural links of the Anglo-Saxon world, with connections to Ireland and mainland Europe, and its literary, artistic and scientific developments. It is a fascinating exhibition, showing that even a world over 1,000 years old can still be relevant to ours.
After a brief December hiatus, my ‘Jewellery brand of the month’ posts are back. When I was trying to decide on a brand to showcase in January, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already looked at:
With a background in womenswear, textiles and accessories, Rosa Pietsch started making and selling her own jewellery in 2012. Her designs, inspired by vintage prints and contemporary shapes, are unique, unlike anything else in the world of acrylic jewellery. Amazingly, I only own one of her pieces, but there are several more on my wishlist, some of which I have mentioned below.
I’ve had dinosaurs on the brain since going to see a 25th anniversary screening of Jurassic Park at the Prince Charles Cinema a few weeks ago, so was very happy to have the opportunity to check out an even earlier example of dinosaurs in cinema. The Lost World, based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel and directed by Harry O. Hoyt, was made in 1925; once thought lost, it has now largely been recovered, and was shown at the BFI Southbank with an accompanying live piano score from Lucky Dog Picturehouse.
I absolutely loved this movie; the animation was incredibly impressive for the time and I particularly loved the section which saw the diplodocus rampaging through the streets of London. I believe it’s available on YouTube, and it’s well worth a watch.