Monday, 22 October 2007

Marie Antointette ~ An international round robin

Back in early July 2007 I was invited to join a round robin art journal on the theme of Marie Antoinette with 3 lovely girls from across the oceans. Natasha in Australia, Holly and Heather from America and me in England making the group of 4 girls. The essence of the round robin would be that unlike other journals this one would travel 3 continents, Europe, America and Australasia. Each girl will fill in 4 pages of their journal and then send off to the next girl. We will all end up with our own art journals featuring all 4 girls work, showing our interpretation of the life and loves of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France.

The journal has a luxurious silk velvet bow, a Fleur De lye's motif on the front of the journal represents the french royal family and is covered in real silver, and the journal is aptly tied with silky ribbon with a crown motif. This picture represents us 4 girls in the court of Versailles, dressed in our finery. I've created a pocket to house 4 cards which will hold information about each of us. Marie Antonia was born in Austria 1755 to Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. She came from a large happy family.

Our story begins in 1770, at age 14, Marie Antoinette (renamed by the french) left her homeland and travelled to the extremely formal French palace of Versailles to be married to the shy 15 year old Dauphin (crown prince) of France to cement an alliance between Austria and France. I have created Marie Antoinette in a doll like appearance for this first page. An innocent girl wearing her sweet Austrian fashions. She looks across to the pretty bluebird in the gold gilded cage. She admires the beauty of this little bird unaware of the similarities between them.
She wears delicate french linen embellished with dainty jewels and has silky hair tied up with pink bows. Her hat is made from sweet pink velvet, with Japanese papers to imitate the feathers that should have been there (Australian customs rules interfered with my original hat full of feathers and swans down - oh the do's and don'ts with customs lol).Under her skirt are some pretty little velvet shoes with jewels atop. Rumours but are they true? Pages 2 & 3 reflect Marie Antoinette’s lavish lifestyle with rumours of indiscreet liaisons, parties and extravagant spending resulting in a growing resentment among the French people.
The 1785-86 ‘Affair of the Diamond Necklace’, a scandal in which she was accused of having an affair with a cardinal in order to obtain a costly diamond necklace, further discredited her and reflected on the monarchy. Although the queen did not purchase the necklace her name was vilified all over France and led to her downfall.

I have dyed velvet in pale and dark greys and embellished with vintage black jet from old costumes to highlight the dark mood of public opinion towards Marie. The lavish fabrics, papers and jewels highlight the extravagant nature of the court of Versailles.
Marie Antointette was quoted as saying to the starving “if they have no bread let them eat cake” this was not true. For page 3 I have created a lavish display of cakes using creative embroidery techniques, fusing fabric, burning and foiling, using velvets and sheer fabrics and for the cake stand a decadent real silver glitter.
This last page is quite a poignant one, it is the time of the French Revolution.Marie Antoinette was a devoted mother, and of the 4 children that she bared only 2 survived. As Marie matured she became less extravagant softening her image by wearing simple gowns and posing for portraits with her children, but her efforts had little effect on the unforgiving public. Her unpopularity helped lead to the overthrow of the monarchy when Parisian's stormed the Tuileries palace on Aug. 10, 1792. The family were imprisoned.
From being a doll like image arriving at Versailles, Marie Antoinette is now a real woman.

She is a devoted mother and clutches pictures of her 2 children, knowing her fate and that she will never see her children again. The red wax seal stamp depicts the Fleur De lye representing the royal house of France with the little crown indicating that this is the French queen who is being led to madam guillotine.
Louis XVI was executed in January 1793, and Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16 of that year. She was charged with aiding the enemy and inciting civil war. Her son died in prison of Tuberculosis and her daughter, the only survivor was married a French Duke.

The muse for this page is one of my daughters, posing with a skirt to give the flow of the dress, and embellished with vintage ribbon, lace and Japanese lacy paper with vintage french sheet music as a background reflecting the glad feelings of the French people (although the music translates as the cross king). The hair is curly sheep’s wool and I have deliberately kept it undecorated to emphasis the less extravagant image of the queen in this period of her life.
I chose to finish my pages with a memorial to Marie Antoinette. I have deliberately chosen torn scraps of pretty french fabric as a background symbolising the royalty stripped of their finery, with a floral wreath with vintage flowers and trim from a vintage petticoat, broken jewels a silver heart representing the loves that were lost and a little plaque to remember.Her initials hang below in gold to emphasise the importance of her position.

Marie Antoinette the last Queen of France.

(See Flickr on the side bar - you can enlarge pictures for better look)

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Ribbons galore

I went visiting a favorite haunt of mine that I had not visited in about 4 years. I wondered if the old favorite shops would still be there. Not all of them but lucky for me one shop was. I happened upon a suitcase full of beautiful ribbons, lots of them still on rolls. Look at the grey taffeta. I love it and will be using it in my round robin with Heather, Holly and Natasha, and that yellow taffeta has pinked edges. Reminds me of some of the beautiful dresses that I saw in a museum in Bath.

I thought this ribbon was apt considering Marie Antoinette is playing a big part in my creativeness at the moment.

I had to buy this hat, the velvet is so gorgeous to touch and the palest blue, one of my favourite
It orginally came from Bond Street in London, though I don't know what age it is - maybe someone out in blogland knows:)

Well to finish on - how about this for pure glitter heaven. Glass Glitter (do we sell it in England cos I can't find in anywhere - and the staff in Hobbycraft just look at me as if I have 2 heads when I ask for it? )

The taller bottles are real silver (pure decadence) If you don't already know by now you can get this from my sweet round robin friend Heather.