Wednesday 22 April 2015

Kiss Me, I'm Four!

This weekend is the fourth birthday of The Kissed Mouth blog!  Goodness me, where has the time gone? It's been a busy old year as well, so here is my retrospective (posh word for 'clips show') of the last twelve months...

May 2014
So in May last year I had a bit of a think about whether all of Rossetti's gorgeous women were just versions of himself (which sounds very strange when I say it out loud...), I had a look at some pirates, had a bit of a potter in the garden, flaunted a smidge of public nudity with Lady Godiva, but my image has to be from my massive post about Tennyson and Pre-Raphaelite art...

Elaine Julia Margaret Cameron
I've spent a lot of the last year deep in research on Cameron and her work, not to mention her models, which has been a delight.  It's fed into the novel I've been working on, and will also help with the paper I'm writing for the Julia Margaret Cameron conference this summer.  This image featuring the beautiful May Prinsep, is one of the most complete of Cameron's photos, in my opinion.  It balances her ability to capture the beauty of her subject plus having just the right amount of setting to transport you.  It's incredible to think this was taken in her hen house, with only a few rugs and props.  Just beautiful.

At the beginning of June, I spent a mad day pursuing Tennyson around the Isle of Wight (let's ignore the fact he's been dead for over a century, these things aren't important in a relationship), wrote a sad piece on the beautiful Sophie Gray, reviewed The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress, 'Stand There!' She Shouted, and That Summer and wrote a piece on Ellen Terry, child bride and legendary actress.  Terry is one of those characters who defies all attempts to pigeonhole her: she was a child bride in a doomed marriage but escapes with dignity and good will to her husband. She was an actress, a mother, and a woman who gave us a defining portrayal of Lady Macbeth.  My image of the month, sadly, has to be this one...
Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1867) William Holman Hunt
Delaware chose to sell Isabella and the Pot of Basil at auction and it made half of the bottom of its asking price.  With no reserve, this beautiful work of art, which they had hope would make upwards of £10M, made £2.5M.  It cause howls of outrage from the Pre-Raphaelite community and made people worry about what Delaware would do next.  My worry was that they would sell parts of the collection that came to them via Fanny Cornforth.  It drew attention to the fact that works in public collections don't necessarily belong to the public when push comes to shove.  That is a sobering thought indeed.

This month I reviewed Elizabeth, The Virgin Queen and the Men Who Loved Her, did two posts on fairy tales, with imagery from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and felt all summer-y with a post about beautiful paintings of women who aren't sweating at all.  I also travelled up to Hoylandswaine and saw their mural in all its glory.  My image for the month has to be this gem...

The Wounded Cavalier William Shakespeare Burton
I already loved this painting but it is now central to a scene in my forthcoming novel, so I have a very special place in my heart for it. Without giving too much away, while recreating this scene for a photograph, a few truths are revealed to the participants. I can't wait for you to read it! Hopefully I'll bring it to you at the end of the year...

In the long, hot month of August I brought you some ladies lounging around doing nothing (myself included), the universal truth that no-one likes a biter, the steampunk madness of Dr Geof, and went on holiday to Cornwall, where my image of the month comes from...

On the Cornish Coast (1880) John Brett
Just the vividness of the colours takes me back to the wonderful week I had, visiting Jamaica Inn, going to Penlee House Art Gallery and eating far too many pasties (I regret nothing). Cornwall is a special place with an artistic pedigree that is eviable.  Everything looks beautiful and everywhere is full of paintings of the sea.  And pasties.  My Lord, I did eat a lot of pasties.

This month I was still going on about pasties (and Cornish miners), the Effie Gray movie, and worried about the outcome of the Scottish referendum (we stayed together! Hurrah!). I visited the Celtic Revival decorated church in the New Forest (which reminds me, I need to take my Dad to visit it) and reviewed The Lost Pre-Raphaelite (which if you haven't read yet, do so immediately). One of my favourite posts I've done this year has to be the one I did on knitting...

The Purple Stocking J J Shannon
Looking back at this post this painting is still one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  The halo of the metal plate, her concentration as she knits the stocking, it all adds up to a wonderful, delicate portrait of quiet industry. I bet she's never knitted a novelty Christmas hat.

This month I wrote a poem based on The Depths of the Sea by Edward Burne-Jones and I went to the opening of the exhibition about Rossetti's images of Jane Morris, as well as the opening of Dangerous Women. I also reviewed the game based on Strawberry Thief (that's right, a video game, I'm hip and down with the kids.  Well sort of), as well as talking about Rossetti's images of his models sleeping. Being a right cryer, I enjoyed doing a post about fellow-sobbers, from which I bring you this one...

The Restitution (1901) Remy Cogghe
I love the green of her dress and the gold of her hair, plus the mystery around the figures: why is she crying? What is the priest doing with the keys? I do love a problem picture, a picture that tells a story, that begs interpretation, that spins a tale for you to imagine.

With Blogvent fast approaching, I tackled images of praying and conversely got seduced into having some illicit liaisons (such larks!). The anniversary of the start of the Great War was remembered in a post about the Boer War and how it foreshadowed the conflict that was to come.  I also reviewed the gorgeous children's book Time and the Tapestry.  Many of you joined me in the utter frivolous naughiness of the work of Vittorio Reggianini...

The Interruption Vittorio Reggianini
With so much satin as to render all the participants a slip-risk, Reggianini did countless gorgeous ladies flirting, giggling, passing notes and falling under available handsome men. Nice work if you can get it...

Ah Blogvent, the annual madness...I have been challenged to do an entire month of Muff references this year and rename it 'Muffvent'. For goodness sake. Mind you, I absolutely will do that. I also got to see the wonderful Victorian Obsession exhibition at Leighton House and I can still smell that rose room.  I love that the gallery took experiencing the picture to a different sensory level and would be delighted to see more experimenting with this enhancing of the picture experience.  My suggestion would be to have a Reggianini retrospective with handsome satin-clad gentlemen for me to swoon under.  I regret nothing.

Anyway, of all the Blogvent images, I have to pick this one...

The Snow Maidens (1913) Henrietta Rae
 This boob-tastic snow scene raises some questions about health and safety and frostbite.  I love snowdrops too, but I can't say I've been tempted to sit amongst them nude.  Tulips however are another matter. And they are in my front garden.

In the new year I wrote a post on images of night and a saucy little number on poor Andromeda, the dragon-snack and bondage queen. I examined an artist's attitude to self portraits (thank you, Lovis Corinth, I think you will stay with me a while and not in a good way) and reviewed the catalogue for the Art & Soul exhibition.  Jolly good fun was had with John Collier, whose art is never dull...

Clytemnestra (1914) John Collier
An interesting artist, Collier was both establishment and bonkers avant garde.  His works included images of famous beardy men and puzzle pictures that do indeed puzzle.  The above image was banned because it was too shocking to show the knife-and-bristols combo.  I rather like her skirt, do you think the knife comes with it?

Looking back at February, I covered some of my favourite subjects.  I did a whole weekend devoted to illustrating Tennyson's poems, a subject very dear to my heart since my Masters thesis all those years ago.  I also reviewed the novel Afterimage and the Liberating Fashion exhibition. I talked about Fair Rosamund and the trouble with love potions, but the most comments I got came because of this fellow...

The Moon Nymph Luis Falero
So. Much. Nudity.  I'm sure I caused some of my gentlemen readers to keel over because of how shocking it all was.  Scandalous! Disgraceful! Jolly pretty, tho'....

The year was behaving itself quite well up until this point.  March came in very pleasantly with a review of Robert Stephen Parry's splendid new novel The Hours Before, followed by some jolly posts on the wives and girlfriends of military types.  I visited three exhibitions in London, Silver and Salt, Sculpture Victorious, and my favourite, the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.  Then this happened...

Chichester Cemetery, Plot 133/32
When I discovered the truth behind Fanny Cornforth's final years it was the end of a very long chapter for me.  Fanny and I have been together for twenty years and I have lost count the number of times I have talked about her, given people information about her, passed people copies of her letters and her exhibition catalogue, all of which I had sought out in endless hours of research all done in my own time.  Fanny enabled me to meet the most wonderful people, some of whom I count as my closest friends and she is the reason I started this blog four years ago.   I'm so glad I could share my discoveries with you because as long as I have been with Fanny, I have wanted to share her life with others.  I love seeing that other people want to research her, that others write blog posts and articles on her.  She is my favourite stunner, the patron saint of overlooked women and the more people who love her, the happier I am.

After I made you all cry in March, I brought you a review of the exhibition of the year so far, Mucha: In Quest of Beauty at the Russell-Cotes in Bournemouth.  It's on all summer, get there if you possibly can, you won't regret it.  I also went off to Lincoln and pursued Alfred Lord Tennyson a bit more (he loves it really), and looked at the visual life of Alice Liddell. My image of this month has to be this one...

Lissa, My First Success
I got to emulate Julia Margaret Cameron and swish around Dimbola Lodge taking and developing glass plates.  It was a wonderful experience and made me unnecessarily overexcited about the Julia Margaret Cameron bicentennial conference in July and the V&A exhibition in the autumn.  Not only that, but I now have a deeper understanding of what it's like to be a Victorian photographer which will come in handy with my new novel We Are Villains All, published later this year. Set in the quiet market town home of poet Maxwell Wainwright, someone has a reason for revenge. The arrival of photographer Brough Fawley brings everyone's emotions into focus and unleashes a vengeful spirit that will bring tragedy to everyone...

Well, I'm going to be giving a talk at Mrs Middleton's Shop in Freshwater on the Isle of  Wight on Saturday and then I'm writing a load of articles on Fanny Cornforth.  After that I'm giving a paper on the maids of Dimbola Lodge at the conference. It's going to be a very long summer. Thank you for reading this, thank you for being with me for the last four years because I'd be awfully lonely without you all. I have a lovely double-post planned for the first weekend of May, so see you next week...


  1. Dear Kirsty
    Many congratulations on your fourth year and here's to many more. I have really enjoyed the journeys you have taken me on through your fascinating blog posts.
    Best wishes

  2. Ellie, the pleasure is all mine. Without lovely types like your good self I'm just a woman on her own, rambling on about art and making far too many boob jokes. Your company makes me appear vaguely sane.

  3. Blogaversary! I like that word, sounds like an excuse for cake!

  4. Enjoy your tea and cake, Kirsty, you've certainly earned it!


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx