1950’s Girls Annuals: the Homemaker

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Seventy years on from when the girls annual of the 1950’s were being read in the  pink bedrooms of the post-second world war generation we look back at there content. Where they looking to inspire the girls who would grow up to lead second-wave feminism through the seventies, or were they looking to indoctrinate the next generation of Housewives?

Girls literature of the 1950’s painted a world of domestic bliss. The role of sewing, the adoration of flowers and the wearing of impractical clothing prevailed across the pages of mid-century girls annuals. Poems encourage the practice of cleaning, baking, being house-proud, having the most perfect hair and awaiting the kiss of a man. The role of the party planner is put forward, a caregiver role projected. However, not to be forgotten in Britain, the concept of making tea in a crisis is ever-present.

Pressures on young girls to be lady-like

The continual pressures on young girls to be lady-like. Any matters of rebellion from this notion are lame and akin to stories of naughty schoolgirls. Images of impractical sports clothing, skirts worn for tennis and golf. Dancing is in full costume and skiing is shown to be gentle and relaxing. With sports like rowing, women simple sit back as men take the oars. Similar scenes are shown with motor vehicles, males are strong and take the wheel, steering away from danger and girls watch on. Generally, the women are beautiful, appear to be sunning themselves as the men do all the work. They are gorgeous, pale-skinned, flushed cheeks with bouncy blond hair adorning their slim bodies. Looks of women pleading with men as they carry all the heavy items. Delicate women prevail as they receive kisses on the hand from admiring men. Many of the tales inscribed simply escalate to men saving the day as the women look on in awe.

Boys literature of the period was in starch contrast to that of girls. They masqueraded daring adventures, escapades and the dangers of warfare so prevalent on the minds of those growing up in the years which were the aftermath of World War Two. Presenting depictions of action sports, space exploration and tackling monsters. Many of the tales bore similarities to the ever-popular Westerns of the time, cowboys, Indians and hunting. Cops and Robbers was an ever-present theme. We were also introduced to the world of large, expensive motorcars, Bentley’s of the era. Top athletes, racing and highly competitive sports dominated the pages of the 1950’s annuals. Men were shown to be strong and capable, getting into fights and adventures took place across the globe. Incidentally, many of the representations of black people were tribal in origin. Images of women seem simply to depict a gorgeous girl who sits there as the man wins her with his actions. Cigars are also present, as a male indulgence, not something to be discouraged. Work and logic puzzles were headlined around ‘Shoot’ and ‘Hit’, evoking a strong sense of competition. Practical skills were encouraged through narrative’ around tools and making exercises were played out.

Contemporary girls literature has modified immensely from the 1950’s. Positive, empowering statements ‘I can’ and ‘You can do anything’ embrace our pages. Girls are now dressed as action figures and take on space exploration. Females from ethnic minorities are now included and girls vary greatly in their appearance. We are presented with different faith groups and the idea of unconventional family groups are put forward. Those with disabilities are shown and take on powerful roles.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them.

Inspirational positions and occupations are presented as life choices. Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them. Positive real-life role models are presented through photography and text. Girls are shown to be practical, using tools and building projects. The former male domains of math’s and science are promoted, the aesthetics of wearing goggles for experiments put in a positive light. Environmentalism is a new agenda, current affairs and politics are embarrassed. Tea parties are now of the fair trade variety and healthy pursuits of foraging for food are encouraged, taking from the male hunter, gatherer role. Making projects develop skills in science, numeracy levels and encouraging activism.

The nostalgia of the fifties is enjoyable to re-collect, the role of the mother and the home-maker not to be discredited, contemporary girls literature id clearly more inspirational. Modern-day girls Annuals promote positive female aspirations, leadership and activism, not being lady-like and waiting for a man to save the day. Female literal sources which will create a more positive power balance for women of the future.

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Sinister Smiles

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Sinister Smiles

Folded over
Strapped down
Sectioned off
Cajoled, centrally

Dropped down from a disheveled Heaven
Tossed out of Godliness
Rejected from comfort provision for the afterlife
No longer good enough, surplus to requirements

Perhaps pushed out of a boot
Uphill reversing, then shoveled out the back way
Redundant of domestic interior requirements
Rendering green space urban wasteland

Alternatively, a body encasement
A wrap-around, makeshift coffin
A heroin-induced fatality
Disposed of under the extremities of degradation

But from the sinister tatters
We see a smiling face
From the angled geometrics
A striking grin works through
Turning the corners of our mouths
We smile back at the sinister grins face!

 

 

Sinister Smiles is a flash fiction works in response to the mattress shown in the image above. The image was originally posted on social media and the comment made helped to generate the literal works. Originally located in Everton Park, Liverpool, the mattress is no longer present and appears to have been disposed of by the authorities.

Arched: the Mural

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Arched: the Mural was a design submitted for Leeds Kirkgate Market, proposed by Alison Little.

The Mural draws inspiration from the cast iron Victorian arches which adorn the interior of Kirkgate Market.

The central notion of a triangular structure frame is core to the composition. This is to be painted in gold acrylics to echo the lettering used for the entrance from New York Street. The gold tones to complement the lacquered woods used within the traditional interior.

Each section of the triangular arch to be hand-painted, again using acrylics, to represent goods retailing within the nineteenth-century shopper’s paradise.

The mass of strawberries symbolise the fresh produce in terms of food and drink on sale throughout the market. The strawberries of fruit bowls, the flavours of smoothies and the toppings of cakes. Delight within the mural.

The next section presents a mass of yellow buttons, the earth tones working in tandem with the golds of the outer structure. The buttons represent the haberdasheries stalls which are a staple of markets throughout the country. New demands for these stalls being met by the modern trends of ‘Make do and mend’ as opposed to the mass consumer cultures of fast fashion retail and its environmental impact.

A clothing rail, close up in vision, is depicted in the next three-sided space. The concept of the rail being inverted upwards implying movement, the idea of flipping through rails at pace. Again some golden tones intruded to the fabrics, complimenting the colour pallet, suggestions of vintage items to highlight the individual flavours of the modern market place.

Adjacent to this the jewellery sellers defy their small dimensions by making a glimmering appearance. Gold chains hung at a ninety-degree angle to the clothing counterpart. Chain mail which will bring some shine to the design.

Lowering the tone slightly we have some brass clattering its way in. Hardware sellers are presented through the screws, nuts and bolts in addition to the never forgotten washers.

We finish off with the fresh flowers, introducing more colours, delicacy and transparencies to the brushwork of the acrylics.

All these combine to make the completed arch, this is then replicated many times to create the mural. Potentially, the design of each arch could differ to represent goods from each stall-holder on consultation. The geometric forms can spread across the entranceway, interior, exterior or both. Materials to include the use of artists acrylics and yacht varnish to ensure a lasting finish.

A dynamic mural, one which can expand or compact and adapt to its location: Kirkgate Market.

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More about Leeds Kirkgate Market

Williamson’s Tunnels on…..

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Last month a part of Heritage Week, Friends of Williamson Tunnels took us deep down into the hollows of Edge Hill to view the latest of their excavation work and forever new findings.

The Williamson’s Tunnels were created over four decades starting from the early 1800s. Joseph Williamson, the man behind the labyrinth of passageways was believed to have started life in nearby Warrington, probably around 1769. Presumably, being of little means, he was sent to Liverpool to find work at the grand age of eleven. He gained employment with the wealthy tobacco merchant Richard Tate. Over time he rose through the ranks and eventually married the merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth. Eventually, he acquired the company from Richard Tate Junior after the death of his Father. In the early 1800s, Joseph and Elizabeth move the then suburbs of Manson Street and the tunnelling began. There are numerous theories behind the purpose of these tunnels, the most likely being for the excavation of sandstone which is used extensively in building constructed of the period.

On this fine Heritage week exploration, we were taken down into the latest of the excavations on Paddington. The once site of former Paddington Gardens tenements was demolished to make way for student Halls not long after the turn of the Millennium. The tunnels look to have been under a commercial building, the entrance possible a though way from a bakery.

. a philanthropist by default…


Williamson was a philanthropist by default, through the construction work he provided much-needed jobs for local people and ensured they became highly skilled. It is thought that many of those who burrowed the network went onto work for the railways, the first line being laid between Edge Lane and Manchester in 1829.

The tour started at the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels main HQ in Mason Street. We took a quick look at the remains of the Manor house where the Williamson’ resided before heading down the road to Paddington. After carefully making our way down the damp gangway we embraced the stalactites ever so familiar with tunnel structures. Harsh lights illuminated former access passages as we headed to the main chambers.

..a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in…

Used as a Victorian dumping ground for many years the chambers host an array of artefacts from bygone era’s. Bottomless glass drinking vessels, bodiless dolls heads, various tea taking vessels and a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in.

As we head down and deeper into Edge Hill the magnitude of the tunnel network was hard not to be overwhelmed by in its full glory. Ever-present drippings of water, which are drained daily, join us as we look around in awe.

A magnificent tour and a big shout out to the Friends of Williams Tunnels!

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More about Friend of Williamson’s Tunnels

More about Heritage Open Days

Graphic Art: Leeds

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Graphic Art: Leeds was a banner design proposal put forward for North Street in Leeds city centre.

A graphic art piece which will excite and reflect the modern, dynamic, newly cosmopolitan city of Leeds.

The backing tones and the image of greenery reflect the cities status as the unofficial capital of Yorkshire. An image of the Yorkshire Dales, flourishing green fields and neatly crisscrossing hedgerows. Green pod-like representations are added, floating across the parameters of the banner surface. The pods vary in the tone of green to aid the visibility of textual format present. The lower section projects darker tones, the upper lighter shades. Thus, presenting the concept of a natural landscape where the horizon of the land reduces to the blues, or more often, grey’s of the sky.

‘Leeds’ as a heading uses a hand styled script, but is equally rather bold, Artlis font in principle location. A tonal use of yellow draws on the artistic nature of North Street.

The 5 headings feature elements of Leeds’ to be expanded upon, cosmopolitan status. They reflect the nature of the business’ present in the major artery of city centre streets. Non-alignment of the titles are to suggest a dynamic motion. The concept of them being flashed before your eyes in the ever-changing city.

‘Culture’ identifies with Leeds’ strong involvement with the arts. The home of Henry Moore and the birthplace of Damien Hirst, both leading names in British art. The Henry Moore Institue and the Leeds City Art Gallery both highly prestigious within the creative spectrum. A vibrant music scene, an unrivalled club-culture and the major Leeds Festival which partners with its Southern counterpart: Reading. Introducing some performance from the Playhouse, Leeds is a cultural haven.

Equally, a city steeped in ‘History’ presenting an industrial heritage. The former mills of the textiles traditions that expanded rapidly during the Industrial revolution.

‘Shopping’ ‘Food’ and ‘Drink’ represent the business’ present in North St. The clothing retailers, the restaurants and cafe’s, the bars and pubs which align the major city-centre thoroughfare.

Consultation with the business present would allow for modifications to be conducted. The use of yellow could be adapted if a tone of greater significance was proposed. The titles could be added to or reduced, the descriptive word re-applied.

A artists approach which can strengthen and more than meet the needs of the city in which it is intended to compliment.

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A Respectable Woman

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A Respectable Woman is the latest poem penned by Alison Little around the theme of Truth for National Poetry Day 2019. It was performed by Alison at the Life Rooms in Walton and for Sefton Slams at Crosby Library.

 

A Respectable Woman

Respectable, woman I am
Married, my working man
Toddler hand, baby in pram
Nightly, I cook up scran

Cleaned daily, house gleams
Sparkle, blinds align
Domesticity, I beam
Other tasks benign

Respectable, woman I am

Indulging, drink I never
Curse those who do
Frolics, not me, ever
Bars, the fallen go

Narcotics blamed for all
Because of drugs!
The route of all downfall
‘She’s off it’ I shrug

Respectable, fat through childbirth

Gateaux, farm food supply
In fat pants, I squeeze
For dinner I deep fat fry
Weight gain ease

Obesity: giving birth
Fat blamed, motherhood
Woman’ purpose on Earth
Hefty means good

Children, reflect parenting
Ensure they behave
I scream, shout, demanding
Blamed, early grave

Mortgage renders responsible
Better than those amid
Marriage equals respectable
Only role, provide kid’

Respectable: I got Married

Every bride is beautiful
Fat pant’ looks, dismay
Nightly groom uses tool
Every dog has its day!

Alison Little

More about National Poetry Day

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Redesign: Hockney: Westminster Abbey

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A year ago this week David Hockney’ stained glass window design to mark the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second was revealed.

The window received many reviews, many positive, many negative.

The Queen was claimed by Hockney to Say:

‘An amazing brightness and clarity, it is a simple, utterly recognisable, direct scene.


From Hockney’ birthplace, the Yorkshire Post stated:

‘It looks like it was painted by a six-year-old.’

 

The Dean, the Very Revd John Hall declared:

‘There’s absolutely no harm in having something which is particularly vibrant and different.’

 

And, I myself, reviewed the window in my article ‘Hockney Smokney’ classified it as being a ‘National Blunder’ in addition to:

 

‘Some kind of organic jellyfish-like form surrounded by randomly positioned pods which bear no relation to the framework of the glass.’

 

So, one year on I have taken it upon myself to create a new design for the window.

and….

..it was much more difficult than I initially imagined….

I have kept with the theme of the Queen and her love for the countryside. More abstract in design I introduced yellows to the uppermost section to imply sunlight. The main bodies of the windows beginning with greens of the land, raising to blues of the sky over the higher sections. The circular elements have the potential to be formed through glass blowing, they introduce the idea of flowers or perhaps blossom. The organic nature of the layout suggests the motion and that of falling.

The result:

I have managed some subtleties.

Is it fit for the Abbey?

No, indeed it is not, perhaps an early concept which could be developed into something of greater standing.

 

Hockeys

Hockney Smokney!