Sunday, 24 February 2013

Faces of Leicester

Another trip around Leicester City Centre and a few more faces that I thought I’d share. I’m afraid that they’re becoming an obsession and I intend to go on collecting them. Now that I’ve started, I see faces jumping out at me everywhere I look. Scary!

Working from left to right, top to bottom they are:

Relief panel from the City Rooms, Hotel Street, 1792-1800: a free copy of a once celebrated classical antique relief called the Borghese Dancers.

Figure holding a shield from the façade of Leicester Cathedral.

Half-figure in the entrance recess of the Victoria Coffee House (now Bistro de Paris), Granby Street. Designed by Edward Burgess in 1888.

Head of a Viking, Granby Street. 1903.

Architectural sculpture of a child’s head, Gallowtree Gate by Joseph Crossland McClure. 1907

Music, statue in a niche on the façade of the City Rooms by John Charles Felix Rossi and John Bingley. 1796

Decorative half-figure in corner of an entrance recess of a former warehouse built for Pfister and Vogel in Rutland Street. 1923.

Roundel with bust of Minerva by Samuel Barfield, Premier House, Rutland Street. 1875. Originally Tyler Brothers shoe and leather factory.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Finding one’s muse

Starting top left and going round clockwise: Melpomene, Thalia, Erato and Euterpe.

It has been too wet and muddy to walk in the country, so I walked around the city centre with my camera instead. It was a dreary day and Leicester wasn’t looking its best but I did manage to find my muse. In fact I found a complete set – above the shops on the facade of a building!

The building in question being the General News Room Building on the corner of Belvoir Street and Granby Street. Designed by Joseph Goddard in 1898 and now Grade II listed, it is covered with the most amazing statues and friezes.

I haven’t posted pictures of all nine muses. Unfortunately a couple escaped my lens so I’ll have to go back and try again. They’re rather nice though and deserve to be more widely appreciated.

The General News Room Building, Leicester

And if the muses don’t inspire, how about this menagerie spotted in High Street?

Sadly they don't build ’em like that any more.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Fashion Gallery

I'd like to give a quick mention to the Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville. Built on the site of a former colliery, it contains exhibits relating to the industrial history of Leicestershire and various items involving science, technology and transport. You can even take a tour around the old pit head buildings guided by a former mine worker.

However it’s their fashion gallery that I want to plug in this blog. I went a while back as part of my ongoing researches. There are many fascinating items including pieces from the Symington Collection of Corsetry, Foundation & Swimwear (a must if you’re into corsets!). 

The novel that I’ve been struggling to write is set in the early 1860s and I was there looking at clothes from around that period. I took a few photos. I apologise for the quality. They were taken with a compact camera and the flash reflected off the glass. I’ve since been lucky enough to be able to upgrade to a DSLR and now I’m a bit embarrassed by these photos but they were intended primarily for reference purposes.

1. Right: Cotton camisole, drawers and corded cotton corset worn with crinoline cage, 1860.

Left: Cotton chemise and cotton corset worn with bustle, 1875.

2. Crinolines from the late 1850s-early1860s. Hoops of cane, whalebone or steel were introduced in the mid 1850s to replace the heavy layers of petticoats needed to achieve the fashionable wide skirts of the day. Though lighter, care was needed when sitting or bending as they could tip up displaying the underwear beneath and drawers became essential. Because of their width there was also an increased danger from skirts catching alight. Through the 1860s the shape became narrower again and by the end of the decade the silhouette had shifted with the emphasis at the back.

3. Farm workers outfit of around 1860. The dress is made of striped cotton and would have probably been made by the wearer. Coarse linen aprons and over sleeves protected the dress from dirt and damage. The cotton bonnet protected the face and neck from the sun.

4. Left: Bodice and skirt printed with purple sprigs and flounced borders of seaweed patterned cotton. Made in the 1850s. 

Right: Fine cotton day dress printed with pale blue, brown and yellow check. From around 1845. From the 1820s onwards textile printing technology rapidly developed and printed fabrics became cheaper.

5. Summer outfit with a white cotton lawn blouse and purple checked skirt supported by a crinoline cage, from around 1864. The high waistband is covered by a broad sash of silk ribbon

6. Cream canvas summer boot with side lacing, 1856.

7. Bright blue silk bodice and skirt with tartan ribbon trim on the sleeves, worn with a tartan silk shawl. Dates from around 1857. Silk at this time was expensive and difficult to care for. Dirt and stains had to be carefully removed by expert laundry maids.

To see what else can be found in the Snibston fashion gallery view the youtube video below: