Living in the past

This is interesting, from The Strand (Canada)

1.-Gatsby-Garden-Party-at-Spadina-House-2013-Maddy-de-Sousa-720x480This past September, I learned of a couple in Washington state who live their lives as though it were the late Victorian era.

The wife, Sarah A. Chrisman, published an article on Vox titled, “I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.” In the article, she outlines the material aspects of their daily lives—they use an icebox instead of a refrigerator, for example, and both wear period-appropriate clothing, and Chrisman explains how and why they came to live this way. Both Sarah and her husband study history and work as consultants and speakers on late Victorian life. They claim that by living their everyday lives with antiques from the time, they gain special insight into the lives of late Victorian people as a form of primary source study. They love the era, admire its perceived aesthetic and ideals, and simply like living this way. Chrisman ends the piece by recalling some of the negative reactions they’ve received from other people, ranging from relatively mild (her husband’s “hand-knit wool swim trunks raise more than a few eyebrows”) to the decidedly more serious (including a threatening letter repeating the word “kill”).

Trying to recreate the past in one’s present is not a recent phenomenon. The modern historical re-enactment movement emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with a renewed interest beginning in the 1990s. Generally, the term “historical re-enactment” refers to the re-enactment of a particular historic event or activity as it was performed during a period of time, often with participants portraying real historical personages. American Civil War re-enactments are a good example. “Living history” is the portrayal of the broader everyday life of a given period, with participants generally representing “types,” rather than specific historical figures. The interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg, and the show The 1900 House and its numerous spin-offs are examples of this.

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Victoriana: The Art of Revival

ef3ad2cf87fd6f07900eb52210436b9bThe Victorian Era is such a strong landmark in literature, politics, morality and aesthetics so it come as no real surprise that an exhibition featuring graphic design, film, photography, ceramics, taxidermy, furniture, textiles and fine art with multi-media show that explores work inspired by the 19th century and created over the last 20 years, highlighting the ongoing influence of the Victorian age.

‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ brings together 28 major contemporary artists who encapsulate the many forms and motivations of modern takes on Victorian style. These include Yinka Shonibare, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Dan Hillier, Paul St. George, Rob Ryan, Kitty Valentine and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

I have to say it looks interesting…so hopefully I will see you there!!

The exhibition is from Saturday 7 September to Sunday 8 December at the City of London Guildhall, London EC2P 2EJ. T 020 7606 3030 for further details.

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