Embroidered Garden Flowers by Kazuo Aoki

Roost Books (to be published in January 2018). In the twenty-first century, while the traditional embroidery styles sashiko (“little stabs”) and nihon shishu (ornate symbolic stitchery), have continued to enchant and engross stitchers, there has also developed a less-stylised kind of Japanese decorative stitching. This popular kind of embellishment is more varied than the darning-style stitching of sashiko and less painstaking than the fine satin-stitch of nihon shishu. One category of modern Japanese embroidery often features ‘kawaii’ figures in stem and outline stitch – animals, people, household implements – and is popularly used on children’s clothing. Another school focuses on the botanical – landscapes, plants,…

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National Portrait Gallery

(Canberra, August 2017) Having breasted the paint-stripping wind blowing down the mountain and off Lake Burley Griffin, we wondered if this monument would rise to emblematise a great reference of images, or just amount to a pantheon of nonentities crowding Our Island Story? Actually, the galleries are small, but occasionally choice, and sometimes a laugh riot.  Little hordes of schoolchildren swept through on the hour (Canberra’s array of free stuff means almost every week there’s opportunity for a teaching free day or two) and little lessons were delivered by earnest folks who knew not what they were saying. Fortunately, P was…

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David Roche

June 27, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, CRAFT, LIFE, Ulalume |

Roche Museum, June 2017 The brochure for the David Roche Foundation notes that Roche (1930 – 2013) established it in 1999 “to be the recipient and custodian of the exceptional collection of antiques, paintings and objets d’art accumulated by him over his lifetime and to be preserved for future generations.” It is true that the museum holds some 3000 pieces, curated in the V & A style (one thing on top of another) with some strong pieces – porcelain by Chelsea, Meissen, Worcester and Sèvres, curious metal appliances, some Fabergé curios and pleasing period furniture… The Varnished Culture attended on a chilly…

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Black Lincoln Continental!

March 3, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRAFT, LIFE |

(photo c/- Joost J. Bakker)

You can keep your puerile, Ian Fleming-wet dreams about Aston Martins. Stow that yellow Rolls Royce and those Gatsby-roadsters. Forget fleets of pink Cadillacs and MGs in British racing green.  My fantasy car is a 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, with a moonroof and ‘opera windows’ (two little oval portholes in the back panels).  460 V-8 engine. Tinted windows; leather and cranberry-red Victoria velour interior.  So jet-black that (as Douglas Adams would say) light just falls into it. I don’t care that this hulking beauty may not be so easy to dock in a crowded parking garage.  I don’t care that the weight of the ’73 model (4,908…

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The Only Italian She Knew Was ‘Bvlgari’

December 6, 2016 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | ART, CRAFT |

Pain in the asp?

(Bvlgari exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, November 2016) Bvlgari was on show in a retrospective of necklaces, rings, tiaras, bracelets, watches etc., primarily from the 1940s to the 1970s. Actually, The Varnished Culture believes the statement headlining this post* to be apocryphal.  No one could spend as long in the Eternal City as Elizabeth Taylor did, making the film (Cleopatra) that almost bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox, without picking up at least a smattering of Italian.  At least the phrase, “Attenzione, Richard, ecco che arriva Eddie!“                 (What’s that rule against coveting, again?) Sotirios…

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