Thursday, 19 May 2011

Flying back in time, Aesthetic style

Last year’s Chelsea Flower Show brought out the bees and the bugs, though I didn’t see any dragonflies – apart from our Art Nouveau style brooch. This year, we’ve another dragonfly brooch at ShopCurious, with more of an arts and craftsy feel…Curiously appropriate in view of the Cult of Beauty exhibition, currently showing at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

A whole host of Aesthetic themed events around town are cashing in on the popularity of the show. Last night, I popped down to a preview of Liberty’s annual Arts and Crafts exhibition at their Regent Street Store, held in association with specialist dealer, Patch Rogers.

The pieces on offer include Aesthetic furniture, books and objets d’art – all the sorts of things that would have been available at Liberty & Co when they were originally produced.

Some of the items were a little out of my price bracket, like this edition of Salome by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. Apparently, Wilde dedicated his play to Sarah Bernhardt, who appeared in private performances of the banned production, in London and Paris.

Slightly more reasonable was this stylish Aesthetic movement panel in its original oak frame, dating from around 1895.

And, talking of dragonflies, some motifs appear more widely than others on the items – like the peacock, an ancient icon of beauty that’s often seen on antique Persian ceramics. The totemic symbols of the V&A exhibition, sunflowers and lilies, are also very much in evidence.

As for social butterflies, there was another rather more happening event at the store last night, where designer Richard Nicoll (right) held court over a fashionable crowd of shoppers etc, including the likes of Henry Holland.

Thinking of the dragonfly, symbol of enlightenment and freedom, reminded me that the Aesthetic movement was based upon a feeling that the world was becoming increasingly ugly and commercial. Artists of the time were looking for something fresh and more naturally beautiful…

Are you?


worm said...

lovely, I do like all that aesthetic stuff - although I like it even better when described in the french term 'decandence'

Jan said...

Interesting period.
Not to everyone's taste.
I happen to like too.