Sunday, 5 December 2010

A place poised somewhere between gentle neglect and downright dereliction

Victorion poverty, sources unknown

Paulo Roversi . Model Lindsey Wixsom

"The east end of London is the hell of poverty. Like an enormous black, motionless, giant kracken, the poverty of London lies there in lurking silence and encircles with its mighty tenticles, the might and wealth of the city"
J H Mackay's The Anarchists (1891)

I was on my way to visit a friend in London last Christmas, after a frantic phone call from her telling me that she was ill with ‘the fear’, and had degenerated to living like some rancid fallen character in a costume drama. Frankly, when I arrived at the flat, as I expected she was reasonably ok, and that spending 4 days lying in the suburbs on a chaise lounge drinking gin through a straw, did not constitute real insanity or warrant real concern. We spent most of our lives doing this. So after trekking over to South London without a jacket, I was at least expecting a bit of starvation and misery and scurvy. A bit more like Dickens, with at least one individual perishing horribly in a workhouse, collapsing with consumption, or throwing themselves into the fire-place in the name of unrequited love. Even Jane Eyre involves crawling through the countryside, eating pig-food. Or was it pig-shit? I don’t remember.

I have always had a macabre fascination with Victorian London, especially around Christmas. I feel that Christmas in London has remained the same for centuries. In this post I just wanted to add some images and words that I have been collecting to inspire an 'Oliver Twist' shoot.

When I was little, my mum used to tell me this poem at Christmas, it is the last poem in Shakespears 'Loves Labours Lost'. I know it is the wrong era, but you get the picture.

When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,Tu-who
Tu-whit, tu-who - a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-who
Tu-whit, tu-who - a merry note
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot,

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, England

Scene from Oliver Twist

Eugenio Recuenco

Unknown source

Galliano menswear, Spring 2011

Galliano fall 2007, make up by Pat McGrath

Galliano fall 2007, make up by Pat McGrath

Above are some great examples of modern fashion, paying homage to the Victorian era.

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