Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Feast for the Eyes

Welcome to the exotic and strange entrance to our kitchen...

Over the years we have heard odd rumors of what our kitchen looked like before it was renovated. Whispers of a nightmarish island of yellow linoleum surrounded by a sea of orange shag carpet, accented with brown appliances and Formica counter tops in fetching (retching?) shades of biodegrading tropical fruit.

The Sense of Taste / Jan Brueghel, the Elder 1618.
(This painting perfectly captures our dream kitchen...complete with a beastly servant)

Now we could laugh this off as some sick joke or creepy urban legend. We could, if it were not for the utterly disturbing KITCHEN CABINETS that somehow avoided removal!!! The aforementioned cabinets are coated with a strange rubbery brown paint that is now flaking away to expose an even stranger pressed wood composite material what was surely manufactured by the aliens at Area 51 (or perhaps at Studio 54 for that matter…) We will NOT describe the evil shelf paper that we found lurking in the lower cabinets for it will only give you nightmares. Suffice to say that brown daisies such as depicted could only grow at a sewage treatment facility or a defective nuclear power plant.
This brought us to quite a design quandary. When it came to decorating the kitchen, it became rapidly apparent that the cupboards were going to be quite difficult to disguise, so we decided on the tried and true design tactic of “SENSORY PERCEPTION OVERLOAD”. Upon a moment of critical reflection it appears our kitchen resembles a scene from Christina Rossetti’s lovely poem “The Goblin Market.”
Perhaps it is the entrance framed by a cloth of gold drapery beautifully tarnished to resemble bronze tinged iridescent beetle wings (complete with a gargoyle masked valance.) Or maybe it is the celestial skyscape (otherwise known as the ceiling). A glittering collection of colored glass lanterns, stars and moons that dangle mere inches overhead and have been known to jingle seductively when someone runs through the hallway (not that we encourage that sort of behavior around here…)

A few friends from Seraph + Splendor’s Kitchen Menagerie…

Small bits and pieces of counter space are left untouched by the encroachment of a bewildering folk art menagerie. Seriously, if one is in need of the stock pot or an extra set of wine glass, one must be prepared to move a three foot tall embroidered bull, an antique winged elephant and a pig on wheels. Bowls of enchanted fruit outnumber the “real” fruit bowls 3 to 1 at last count, and there are an exorbitant number of wooden frogs for such a limited space. (Don’t ask…no one is quite sure how the frog collection began or if there is a humane way to stop it…this probably is a good time to state that Seraph puts up with a lot of nonsense around here, and that’s one of the reasons we love him so much!)

For further inspiration, we have included these wicked and sublime centerpieces (below) created by Jim Hartley, a Memphis based formal designer. Now, precious ones, now tell us of your interesting kitchen experiences…

Avatars of powers from four worlds
Bathed me in jewels of belief
I drink the nectar of Goddess - my eternal mistress
I am Shiva, Hadit or Beast himself
And multitude of forms surpasses myself
I kneel before Isis, I - her god and slave
Coiled serpent lifts up his head and looks in my eyes
Third power and third eye create the One

(“Ceremony of Shiva” by Behemoth)

Trampled Under Foot

Some of you might remember a semi-disparaging comment we made about our carpets in our last post. It seem as though our carpets have taken great offence to this and have been conspiring against us from that day forward. Not a day has gone by when they have not tripped us, tormented us and called us mean names. We would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to them. Now, hopefully things can get back to normal (?) around here…

Both makes and unmakes the worlds
In ceaseless combinations
Spinning on the woven carpet of time

(“As He Creates So He Destroys” by Nile)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Organically Grown

Is that spring we feel in the air? We certainly hope not, being as we prefer all things murky and full of gloom…This in fact brings us nicely to our next subject at hand. It seems as if we have been trapped in doors for eons this winter. Perhaps due to this our minds have started (?) to stray, but we have made some interesting observations about our surroundings.

Now who among doesn’t think that at times our furnishings have minds of their own. Who can explain the phenomena of The Proverbial Tilting Picture? You know the one that you have to straighten several times a day. Ours happens to be a landscape that slants to one side as if it is its trying to look out the window and spy on the neighbors.

Whether it’s The Escape Artist Carpets creeping incrementally towards the door (as if planning yet ANOTHER daring getaway), or The Disobedient Draperies (…“we said POOL on the floor, not DROOL on the floor, you evil silken beasts”…) our interior is reminiscent of a three ring circus but without juggling clowns or bears in skirts (as of yet…)

Now we are sure that everyone has had similar furniture related injuries, bruises from bad natured ottomans and wicked sofa legs, bumps from deliberately low hanging fixtures and getting ones toe stuck in the headboard tufting (…wait, maybe we shouldn’t mention that one…) Some of this might be human error, but who is to say that your furniture isn’t playing tricks on you, dear ones?

To further explore the organic (and perhaps sentient) nature of furniture we have mingled the photos of the brilliant German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865 - 1932). His intriguing photos invite you into a microcosm that is difficult to perceive with the naked eye. Plants take on a nearly architectural perspective that is both beautiful and menacing (much like our slipper chairs, but that is another story…)

We are a bit attached to our above mentioned headboard for many and various reasons… BUT we must admit we rather lust after one of these wrought iron beds. The one on the left brings to mind vampires, blindfolds and floggers (whoever staged the photo with WHITE BED LINENS certainly deserves a spanking indeed.) The bed on the right still gives us impure thoughts, but we are trying to be respectful because it is Italian and from the 17th century.

Now this furniture seems perfectly fit for Oberon and Titania’s fairy court.

These luscious and dreamy illustrations evoke a certain nostalgia for a time when furniture was fierce and brooding and apparently detailed with serrated blades and basilisk eyes. If we were you, we would not recommend looking that bed directly in the eyes or turning your back on the sideboard…

As the face of glacier your mountains tower against the sunset
Unforgetting what was made a bond so strong and ever so real...
The statue watches the kingdom your giant wings make all beneath
I'm staring forth the raventhrone I know I'm at the heart of winter...

(“At The Heart of Winter” by Immortal)

Gilding the Willy Part III

It seems as if someone has been reading our mind again and agrees that the perfect sofa would combine damask with gilded servitude

What am I?
“You’re a slave”
Forever submissive
Forever in holy chains

(“Doomed to Walk the Earth as a Slave of the Living Dead” by Carpathian Forest

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Book Worship Volume VII

Deborah Turbeville’s Newport Remembered

Firstly we must state that this is a love letter of sorts, to the genius of Deborah Turberville and to all things beautiful and sublime. This book cast a spell on us from the moment we saw it and is truly a favorite from our personal library. Largely rendered in sepia with clever use of rough edges, pins and masking tape, Turbeville explores the hazy roomscapes of the Gilded Age and grants them the mystery and otherworldly air that they so richly (no pun intended) deserve.

This book is a photographic journey through the turn of the century mansions located in Newport, Rhode Island. Of special note are the photographs of the Breakers in its glorious Renaissance styled majesty and of the breathtaking Marble House, which has (for better or worse) come to epitomize the Gilded Age. If you are looking for a rant about excessive opulence, obscene self indulgence and the general wickedness of the wealthy you had best look elsewhere (we are sure you need not look far these days). The fore mentioned issues simply do not pertain to the point at hand. Beauty and grandeur exist in their own right and are (while a luxury) beneficial to the human spirit.

We have seen many and various images of the residences of the Gilded Age. In our humble opinion, Deborah Turbeville’s are the first contemporary photographs to capture their true ethereal essence. Reminiscent of a forbidden glimpse into a lavish Fey Court where, if you were to partake in the merriment you will be trapped forever (we would gladly oblige…)

Turbeville’s photographs pull you into this enchantment with her expert use of depth of field, soft focus and double exposure. We are humbled by what is perceived through her eyes, and then translated through the camera lens. Whether the portrayal of minute detail that would otherwise be lost in a sea of opulence or the capturing of sweeping panoramas that a mere mortal could never confine to a single frame, each image is entirely enthralling…

Deborah Turberville’s Newport Remembered
Text by Louis Auchincloss
© 1994 Harry N. Abrams Inc. New York

You, who like the moon at night
Haunted my mortal heart...
You who made these ancient walls
Shine like divine marble

(“Mesmerized” by Celtic Frost)

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