Monday, 25 April 2016

Kiss Me, I'm 5!

Well, look, this is getting ridiculous!  This nonsense has been going on now for five years and for some reason you lovely people have been good enough to humour me by keeping me company.  So, today The Kissed Mouth blog is half a decade old so here is my annual review of the year...

May 2015
I kicked off my year with posts on saucy Venus and people in disguise, but for the bank holiday I loved bringing you two posts on the Pre-Raphaelite beauty and everso well-connected May Prinsep.  I adore research that involves me ending up in graveyards and there was certainly lots of that as I visited churches and photographed memorial stones, together with showing you images of her from childhood to old age.  I'm thorough, I'll give you that.  Anyway, my favourite image has to be one of Julia Margaret Cameron's, if only for its stunning simplicity...

All Her Paths Are Peace (1866) Julia Margaret Cameron
June 2015
Into the summer and I reached my 500th blog post, which was all very exciting.  I got to talk to you about the amazing Sarah Ackland, pioneer of colour photography and creator of gorgeous pictures like this one, my pick of the month...

Flora (1910) Sarah Acland
I also talked about Julia Margaret Cameron rather a lot because it was her birthday so I did a couple of posts on the use of fabric and jewellery in her photographs, a subject that has continued to fascinate me and will crop up again in my upcoming book. I also got to do a bit of reviewing in June, reading a lovely book on Arts and Crafts stained glass and saw a film about Sherlock Holmes being my Dad.  Seriously, it's uncanny...

July 2015
Into the long, hot summer holiday and I gave a paper at the Julia Margaret Cameron conference in Portsmouth and met lots of smashing new people, I reviewed Marta Weiss' catalogue for the V&A exhibition on JMC and talked about a new play all about Rossetti's women that was up at the Edinburgh Festival.  I also raised blood-pressures with a naughty piece all about harems (steady now) and possible readings of The Lady of Shalott with reference to a horror film called It Follows.  The most fun I had all month was researching the controversy over this scandalous work of art.  Brace yourselves...

The Annunciation (1876-79) Edward Burne-Jones
The slanging match that erupted over the works of Burne-Jones exhibited at the 1879 Grosvenor Gallery exhibition is puzzling and funny now but must have left many people smarting as the establishment and the new crowd clashed over what was 'good taste' and who should dictate it. Looking at pictures like The Annuciation and the Pygmalion cycle it's hard to see why people reacted so badly but the very public scrap tells us much about the artistic scene and how much people had invested in it.

August 2015
I had the pleasure of talking to Victoria Olsen about Julia Margaret Cameron in August, as well as visiting the Richard Dadd exhibition at the Watts' Gallery.  They do such marvellous exhibitions at the Watts', I seem to be always looking forward to their next show.  Because it was the summer holidays, I was commuting by train rather than car and so felt inspired to write a piece about Victorian rail travel and how much more classy it seemed than barrelling about the south coast with only a bottle of pop and a Kindle to keep you sane.  I also explored Rossetti's dodgy reputation in the 20th century which was not as bad as you'd think but swiftly dwindled before the 1960s revival.  What gave me the most fun of the month was chasing after the lovely Annie Louisa Swynnerton, and finding her grave not far from where I work.  Her work is so gorgeous it was an absolute pleasure finding out more about the woman behind such works as this one...

Sense of Sight (1895) Annie Swynnerton
As you will probably know by now, I love finding the graves of artists and models and am currently after another one to show you at some point. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in this pasttime and it is lovely to hear from you when you go and see the final resting place of someone we've talked about here.

September 2015
Into the autumn, I reviewed a couple more books - Ophelia's Muse and Red: The Natural History of the Redhead, which was all very Pre-Raphaelite-y.  I talked about Mary Watts' sister, the poet Christina Fraser Tytler, who posed for Julia Margaret Cameron.  Also in Cameron news, I brought you a little known story of how Mary Hillier stood up in court in the case of a silver spoon stolen from Dimbola Lodge.  In rather more personal posts, I talked about transforming yourself into a tree (should the need arise) and the horror that seems to be felt over aging and the ruination of muses. It was this month that I first showed you the last picture of Fanny Cornforth, which has to be my picture of the month.  Good old Fan...

Sarah Hughes, aka Fanny Cornforth (1907)
October 2015
I seem to have spent a lot of October at the cinema and reading as I reviewed Suffragette and Crimson Peak (both spankingly good films) and read The Looking Glass House all of which I enjoyed.  I talked about poor old Alfred, Lord Tennyson dying, and my weakness for man damsels expressed through images of Hylas and the Nymphs.

Hylas and the Nipples (1896) J W Waterhouse
Seriously, I'm a sturdy girl, I will rescue you and there will be no escape.  That sounded less threatening in my head...

November 2015
Well, looking at the posts I had a very busy November.  I went to Prague, which was lovely and full of Art Nouveau stuff. I reviewed a load of exhibitions including two Julia Margaret Cameron shows and one all about animals.  I brought you the sad story of Mary Kellaway, the third Mary in Julia Margaret Cameron's household. I also accepted my fate as the researcher who ends up in asylums, figuratively speaking.  Mind you, the biggest thing that happened to me in November was the launch of my new novel We Are Villains All...

Flipping heck! I wrote another book!  Huzzah!
Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed my novel and please, if you enjoyed We Are Villains All, pop a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  You might just encourage someone else to read it and that in turn means I can afford more gin and stockings.

December 2015
December can only mean one thing, Blogvent, but last year we had Muffvent instead as apparently I'm not innuendo-filled enough.  I blame you lot, you saucepots.

Woman with a Muff (1912) Edward Okuń
She is not going to keep warm dressed like that... Moving on...

January 2016
Happy new year! I spent the month talking about Victorian images of Tudors, we saw the aftermath of attending a ball.  If we learnt anything it was that even if you are wearing a mask, it all still counts and will end in tears.  Honestly, I don't care what he promised you while you were waltzing, he was just after a fondle of your corset.  I also had a chat with you about Frank Cadogan Cowper, the Pre-Raphaelite who didn't let a little thing like the twentieth century stop him.  It was while I was looking for his grave in Cirencester that I found my image of the month...

It was such a beautiful grave that I had to find out more and I brought you the story of a woman whose talented children honoured her with their art.  Obviously, as it's me we ended up in an asylum again, but when you read the story of Mary Ann Gibbons, I defy you not to be deeply touched.

February 2016
I saw a couple of lovely exhibitions in February, but really what February was about this year was our first chance to remember the day Fanny Cornforth died and so we had our first 'Fanny-versary' with a week of posts about Fanny, our perception of her and what she means in the whole Pre-Raphaelite story. My favourite post was one I've been meaning to do for ages, all about how I think Monna Vanna is secretly Fanny Cornforth...

Monna Vanna (1865) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I saw Monna Vanna at the weekend when I visited the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition in Liverpool where she is hanging opposite Venus Verticordia.  Although both female figures are the typical Rossetti idealisation, you'd be hard-pressed to say that Alexa was definitely the model for both.  I'm so Fanny-centric, obviously I'll say that Monna Vanna is Fanny, but it is worth considering...

March 2016
March was a month of splendid books, with reviews on a new look at the photography of Lewis Carroll, the catalogue of the Liverpool exhibition, and a new Victorian novel by Robert Stephen Parry.  Oddly enough, it was five years ago, around the time I started this blog, that the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood website did a read-along with The Arrow Chest, Robert's other Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite-y novel which got me hooked on his work. Anyway, also in March I got to talk about the splendidly named Agnes Mangles, and I helped Dimbola with the identification of a plaque...

Mary Gilbert (c.1910-1919) Muriel Ida Perrin
An awful lot of work this year has been towards my new biography of Mary Hillier, maid and muse of Julia Margaret Cameron and I have had enormous fun discovering more and more details about the beautiful face of much of Cameron's work.

April 2016
Anyway, here we are in April and it's all gone quite Brontë this month what with it being Charlotte's 200th birthday.  I saw the gorgeous French bio-pic from the 70s with some of the most lovely hair you will ever see on screen.  I also saw the Marie Stillman exhibition at the Watts and told you all about the English Switzerland, but my image for this month has to be this...

Charlotte Brontë (c.1869-1895)William Bright Morris (after George Richmond)
I love a mystery and so when Mr Walker asked me to find out more about the Russell-Cotes copy of the George Richmond portrait of Charlotte Brontë, how could I refuse?  I love digging around to find the answer because the story of how Charlotte's publisher ended up with a copy of her portrait is proper Victorian romance, proving that very few things are  as straightforward as you'd think.  Actually, that's a pretty good summing up of what The Kissed Mouth blog is all about really.  While there are stories to be told, I'll be delighted to tell them and if you have the time, I'd be grateful for your company.

Hurrah, I'm five! Kisses all round!


  1. Happy Anniversary. Keep up the good Work.

  2. Happy Anniversary!

  3. Dear Kirsty
    Congratulations and here's to many more blog posts.
    Best wishes

  4. Amazing to think it's 5 years! I first came across your blog in October of that year and been following on and off since then. Thanks so much for all you put into this. I love digging through your old posts, such a treasure trove of delights!

  5. A wonderful summing up of how lovely your blog is and quite how much it deserves to be five years old and still going strong.

  6. Thank you, my lovelies, and may I continue to entertain you all for a good few years more!

  7. I've just found your beautiful blog and look forward to reading more of your posts!

  8. Thank you everyone and welcome aboard, Jane!


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