Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Joy of Eggs

Happy Easter my lovely readership, and hopefully you are just plunging yourself into a sizable hillock of chocolate in celebration of Jesus being not dead anymore.  Thinking about it, Jesus and chocolate are a bit of a tenuous link.  When I asked Lily-Rose (7 year old supermodel) why we have chocolate for Easter, she said it was because it was Jesus' favourite.  She's probably not wrong.  Anyway, turns out the Victorians and Edwardians weren't ones to shy away from a tenuous and often down-right weird Easter greeting and here is a selection for your enjoyment...

I think I'll start with the least strange of my collection, which should give you a clue as to what's to come.  The Easter week begins with Palm Sunday, and Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.  Now imagine that scene with rabbits and a donkey made out of Easter eggs and a tail of pussy willow.  Nothing says 'Easter' like a donkey made of eggs...

While we're talking about inappropriate use of eggs, they really shouldn't be used as wheels.  I love the little message written on the front egg - 'May Easter bring thee many Joys!'  Well, frankly, rather than 'many Joys' I think the first time he moves those pedals that child will walk with a limp for the rest of his life.  Really, what parent thinks that ovoid wheel are appropriate for a bike, unless they want to teach the child about suffering and hard work...

Moving on to inappropriate things to come out of eggs, think how scarring it would be to find this on the breakfast table.  Mind you, when buying your half dozen eggs, I'd be suspicious of the one huge, baby-sized egg in the box.  Unless of course I had bought the 'mixed size' ones from Sainsburys because they are a bit cheaper so I think you run the risk of something like a baby being inside...

I might be tempted to take them back to the shop if three singing working girls came out of my egg.  If the Woolson Spice Company ever send you an Easter gift it would be wise to treat it with caution.  At any moment it might break open and you'd have three more mouths to feed.  No wonder this one has been abandoned in the wild.  So sad.

Moving on from eggs to chicks, here are a couple of frankly odd cards.  Here we see a traumatised young chick being terrified by the clown chick of Easter.  I'm not just one of those people who says that clowns are scary for no reason.  I once got road raged by a children's entertainer in full clown make-up.  That sort of things stays with you longer than Tim Curry as Pennywise in It.

This one is titled 'Got Me a Hat, Chicks Dig Hats' and I think that the young fluffy chick looks far happier by being greeted by the Shaft of Easter Chicks, than by scary clown chick.  It occurs to me that the Easter-Tiding chicks are massive in proportion to their 'victims', rather like the sheep at the back of The Pretty Baa Lambs...

Surely that 'lamb' at the back is just a chap in a lamb costume?
Talking of lambs, obviously little baby sheeplings are another common symbol of Easter, all gambling in meadows and being not creepy at all...

Surely this is some sort of scene of devil worship? Nothing says Easter like the long-tailed devil lambs dancing outside their egg house as their ruler plays his clarinet of doom... Okay, I'm probably over-reacting, after all we all know who is the High Priest of Scary Easter symbolism...

Nothing says Easter like a rabbit with an egg for a body...
Rabbits are not an animal that I naturally associate with evil, but some of the Easter cards have the most disconcerting if not downright disturbing images involving Mr Bunny and his family, the above genetic mutation being one of them.  Again, I'm guessing the discussion went 'Easter means eggs and bunnies, so what could be more Easter-y than bunny eggs!'  Say no to Animal Testing, my friends.

Mrs Bunny doesn't look too happy about the amorous advances of Mr Bunny.  Again, apart from the fact that they are stood in an egg (why?) and they are bunnies, I'm not sure what this has to do with Easter, unless the 'Easter Greeting' they want you to have is slightly awkward and a little threatening.

Talking of 'threatening', these are the most disturbing pair I have ever seen.  They belong to a notorious Easter gang who will corner you in an alley and steal all your possessions.  I named the file of this picture 'Mr and Mrs Bunny will rob you blind'.  They remind me of the more chilling parts of Watership Down.  Especially Mrs Bunny.  She looks like she's hiding something vicious under her mopcap.

If you were in any doubt who rules Easter, take a look at this little slice of wrong.  The Easter Bunny Overlord will ride into town on his Goat (since when are goats involved in Easter?! It's a sign I tell you, a sign!) with his little chick captives, to enforce some Easter Joy.  Frankly, I'm too scared to say no.

Fear not, the chicks have an escape plan.  We can all flee in the Zeppelin of Eastertide (no, it isn't steampunk) and be free of these strange and disturbing images which would probably puzzle Jesus as he tucked into his chocolate eggs on Easter morning (that's the proper breakfast for the newly-risen Saviour.  I wouldn't be offering him toast, he's just risen from the dead for goodness sake.  Get some cake out!)  I find it odd that the Victorians, so very overtly religious, managed to make their Easter cards so very secular and pagan.  After all, this is Easter, it's not obscure in terms of imagery...

Mind you, I suppose the overwhelming Easter image in Christian iconography is Jesus on the cross, dying, which isn't the most chipper and fluffy of images to shove on the front of a pastel coloured card.  Also Jesus being alive, like the image above, is difficult to make specific to Easter unless you show Mary being surprised in the garden.  Coupled with this may be the suspicion that any dwelling on the Christian imagery is dangerously near Popery (down with that sort of thing!) and you are far safer with chicks.  I suppose once you start moving into random elements of spring then any combination is possible and you are bound to start creeping into the surreal.  Mind you, it's not like they showed laughing children blowing each other up with a mortar loaded with eggs!  Oh....

Happy Easter!  I'll return on Friday as I am away this week looking after my Dad who is having an operation.  Remember to have your entries in to my competition to guess who I have knitted by 7.10am BST on Thursday 4th April when I am 40 years old.  40...sigh...I need to eat some chocolate...

See you on Friday!

Friday, 29 March 2013

A Day at Standen

Well, thank Wombat it's Friday!  Today the family Walker had a little roadtrip to Standen, a National Trust property in Surrey...

Don't be fooled by the hint of sunshine, it was freezing...
I was there for the contents and the house, Miss Walker was there for the Easter egg hunt so everyone was happy.

Standen was built in the 1890s for a London solicitor, James Beale and his large family (seven children, plus, later, their families too).  Beale chose Philip Webb to design the house, and Webb and Beale furnished and decorated with Morris and Co fabrics and wallpapers, together with their furniture and Victorian art pottery, such as William de Morgan.

The Victorian Drawing Room.  I was prepared to hide behind the chair and live there.
The house is room after room of beautiful Morris and Co carpets, wallpaper and fabrics.  Every possible pattern is displayed there in a way that helps you understand how breathtaking they are in situ.  I have a particular fondness for Trellis...

There are gorgeous long corridors papered with this, with birds darting between the rambling reach of the roses, and the little beetles hiding among the petals.  I made my daughter stand and look at a wall for an unforgivable amount of time because it was just so damn beautiful.  Really, Mr Morris intended us to see his design on a massive scale and it cannot be beaten.

I find there is something reassuring about a round window, possibly it was my 1970s, Tolkienesque upbringing in the 'Shire' (Wilt'shire' to be precise) and Arts and Craft architecture is rather resplendent with them, making even the grandest house seem cozy and homely.

Portrait of a Woman's Head (1867) D G Rossetti
Obviously, for a family that valued the Arts and Craft movement, the art they chose reflected their taste and Standen is filled with the most delicious pieces.  Take the above Rossetti which I had not seen before.  If I had to name the model I would go with a slightly odd picture of Jane Morris or maybe Keomi the Gypsy.  It doesn't really look like Ellen Smith who is the other dark haired model of this time, and all the other likely suspects were blonde or redhaired.

Drawing of a Seated Girl Edward Burne-Jones
Tapestry of St Agnes (1887) designed by Edward Burne-Jones
There are a lot of drawings and designs by Edward Burne-Jones, in keeping with the Morris and Co furnishings, and the tapestry of St Agnes is especially beautiful, with the figure by Burne-Jones and the foliage that surrounds her by Morris.  There are also works by T M Rooke, Ford Madox Brown, Frederick Sandys and so on and so on.  There is art on every wall and beautiful art pottery on every shelf making this a house to appreciate slowly so you don't miss a single beautiful thing.

The garden curves around the house on different levels so you can appreciate the house from all angles while walking through some beautifully tended, unpretentious woodland and garden.

The other side of Standen, again don't be fooled by the blue sky...
I can thoroughly recommend Standen, especially if you have enjoyed Wightwick Manor.  For further details, look to the National Trust website and see for yourself.

Part of the reason for our trip today was bribing Miss Walker (who was wearing her Easter Bunny mask) with the Easter Egg hunt they have on over the Easter weekend (jolly fine fun that was too).  Turns out, it's fun for wombats too...

See you on Sunday for some rather disturbing Easter pictures...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Cruelty of Hope

When is a closed box not a closed box?  The obvious answer is ‘When it’s a Jar’.  Apologies for the terrible joke but there is a reason and that reason is today’s subject: Pandora.

Pandora (1878) D G Rossetti
If you love the Pre-Raphaelites (and I take it you lot do) you will of course be familiar with Rossetti’s images of Pandora.  Monumental and unknowable, Jane Morris cradles that golden box with oddly tense fingers.  I always though that what Rossetti leaves out from the face he often expresses in those long, supple hands and Pandora’s mistake is evident in the weird tension of her fingers, unsure if they are prising the box open or desperately trying to shut it.  Rossetti loved the image of Pandora, returning to it over and over again...

Pandora (1870) D G Rossetti

Pandora (1869) D G Rossetti
It was when I was searching for these images I found the most beautiful modern representation of Rossetti’s Pandora

Splendid, anyway back to the story.  I began to think about Rossetti, Jane and Pandora and what it all meant.  For an artist to return to a subject repeatedly, you have to wonder if there is a meaning for them, a deeper resonance than just the making of beautiful images.  What do we know of Pandora?

Pandora (1898) J W Waterhouse
In Greek Mythology, Pandora was the first human woman, created as a punishment for the theft of fire.  In most versions of the story, she opens the box, which is a present from the Gods, out of curiosity (those women!  T’uh), although in some stories Pandora just chucks the box down and lets out all the bad stuff in malice.  Look again at Rossetti’s paintings of Jane Morris – she is looking at us, or at some unseen thing, not at the box which she is opening.  We the viewer are the object of her curiosity, about how we will react to all the ills of the world spilling out between her long, agile fingers.  It is possible to read this as Jane (the muse rather than the actual woman) unleashed the ills into Rossetti’s life, which coincided with (but was not directly the cause of) his decline in mental and physical health.

Study for Pandora Henry Rheam
The ‘feckless’ Pandora is a more traditional and common image: a nosy woman unwittingly destroying humanity, the Greek Eve, just because she couldn't resist a snoop.  It is easy to see a Victorian reading of female character in Pandora’s inability to do as she is told.  She is a cautionary tale for womankind, but also counterspeaks of the power of women.  She may be the incompetent wrecker of humanity, but that power is left in her hands.  Pandora, the woman, has the opportunity and the power to rain destruction down on everyone.

Opened up a Pandora's Box F S Church
I love the variation in the vessel that Pandora opens.  While properly a jar, the phrase ‘Pandora’s box’ is a metaphor for something innocuous that contains terrible power.  In Church’s illustration, it appears to be ‘Pandora’s Ottoman’ and you get the impression that there is a vast amount of evil inside, enough to ruin the world.  I think the horror of opening one of the smaller vessels would be the magician’s trick of endless plague and terror pouring from the tiny box.

Pandora Lawrence Alma Tadema
Also, it does seem rather necessary for Pandora to be naked, but I’m not judging.  Possibly she thought she’d left her pants in the box?  Anyhow, as we all know, the last thing out of the box was Hope.  Interpretation for this is that Hope is a salve for the evils, if not a cure.  It makes us resilient because we hope for the best in the face of all the evils that surround us.  There seems much argument as to whether life was ‘Hope’-less before the box was opened or whether we simply didn’t need Hope because it implies the need for a light at the end of a tunnel.  Mind you, look at Rossetti’s Pandora and I think a third query could be raised.  Maybe Hope is in itself an ill.  Did Rossetti ‘hope’ for a future with Jane but that hope was itself a torment?  Did Jane give Rossetti hope but that hope would have involved his friend being elsewhere, dead or absent and both of those tormented Rossetti?  I think a very interesting relationship that is often overlooked is that between Rossetti and William Morris.  We see only a seducer and a cuckolded husband, but there is something in Rossetti’s images of Jane that hints at a torment beyond adultery.  Again I have to mention Rossetti’s grief at the death of his wombat ‘Top’, just at the point when his relationship with Jane was moving into a second phase, more serious and destructive with the advent of Kelmscott and Iceland.  If Rossetti had no hope to be with Jane then their relationship would have remained an infatuation, but the hope of fulfilment meant the crushing of others in its path – the memory of Elizabeth, William and Jane’s marriage, Fanny’s hope of her relationship with Rossetti.

One thing seems sure, Rossetti’s Pandora has no mercy for us, no pity, no compassion.  That box is opening, ready or not.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A Poem for World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day, so here is a quick poem dedicated to the girl at the back left of Rossetti's The Beloved (The Bride), just in case you were wondering what she was thinking about...

Always and Never: The girl at the back left in The Beloved (1865) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I doubt our eyes will meet,
You will not see my face today,
Another’s in my place today,
Another’s in my seat.

While I’m behind the bride,
You will not see my heart today
As I am torn apart today
As I draw back and hide.

We crowd around your love,
Their faces filled with bliss for you
And I am dreading this, for you,
I was the perfect dove.

When you and she are one,
I will be crushed to dust, my love,
A cloud of thwarted lust, my love,
And my heart will be done.

You will not look at me,
But you will know I burn for you,
And you will know I yearn for you,
And you will not be free.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Review of 'Wildish' by Robert Parry

You may ask what a review of a book set in Georgian England is doing on a Victorian art blog. The answer is two-fold: Firstly, it is the third book by Robert Parry, author of The Arrow Chest, a book about a Victorian artist of a distinctly Pre-Raphaelite persuasion.  Secondly, I’m not era-ist when it comes to a good read, and Wildish, published today, is a good read.  In fact, it is an astonishing read, and here’s why.

Jacobites 1745 (1874) John Pettie
Set in 1745 during the Jacobean uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, it centres on Matthew Wildish, a poet and Master Wig Maker who has an aspiration to fly.  Not in the conventional sense, you understand, but in a rather more ground-based, metaphoric manner which involves a sonnet series and heavenly bodies.  Added to this is the approaching spectre of war which might destroy the comfortable, libidinous lifestyle that Mr Wildish has endeavoured to secure for himself, and the terrible realisation that after all, he might be in love.

Bonnie Prince Charlie (1898) John Pettie
It’s no coincidence that Mr Wildish also makes masks for use at masquerades, as hiding and pretence are themes of the book.  The Jacobite rebels that march towards London are led by ‘The Young Pretender’ and Mr Wildish himself is pretending to be merely a dissolute libertine whilst he continues to curtail his seductions with acts of kindness and bravery.  The charm and appeal of Wildish is that the central character is a good person, albeit hidden inside a reckless saucepot.  In order to follow him through almost 600 pages of his life, you need to feel able to invest and Matthew Wildish is definitely worthy of your time.  He is a marvellous, mixed-up man, who is brave enough to risk his life in order to infiltrate a brutal army of rebels, but feels powerless in the face of a determined woman. 

The things I love the most about Wildish are the contrasts. The descriptions of the excesses of London are personified in characters such as Lucy Armstrong, who is a gorgeously presented woman, Matthew’s ‘Sun’, whose business is pleasure of all types.  Against this are the passages regarding life in the Jacobite army, desperate yet determined, driven on through all manner of dehumanising plights by the claim of a beautiful young man who would be King.

The continued themes of escape and survival threads through the book, from ‘the man who would fly’ in the opening chapter, to Matthew’s dealings with Lady Snatchal, then the rather more serious affairs of war, dealing with those that live and the fate of those at Culloden.  Just as Mr Parry never stints on the romance, he also reports war in the most certain terms for the visceral sack of nasty it is.

I was surprised by a couple of things when reading Wildish.  Firstly, it is a very funny book.  I didn’t expect to laugh so much and one of my favourite quotes has to be:
‘...expired in the arms of a whore; lying all cold in that horrid place while I have been here listening to a hornpipe with a man under my skirts. I am so ashamed!’ (p.520)
Thank you Mr Parry for the amount of snorty-sniggering I did at that.

The Fugitive Jacobite (1874) William Frederick Yeames
The other thing I didn’t expect was just how saucy it was.  In an age when I roll my eyes at the books on display in the supermarket book section, it was a pleasure to read something that reminded me of some of the naughtier 18th century novels I have read.  I giggled, blushed and learnt something, which is how it should be.

To sum up, Wildish is a big novel that goes by in a heartbeat.  You feel investment in the characters, even the less obvious ones touch your heart with their victories and tragedies.  The humour of it all highlights how damn cruel life can be at times, and how the most wicked actions betray a desire for hope.  Robert Parry has done the unthinkable in my mind, which is to surpass The Arrow Chest with a hefty romp filled with lust, bravery, honour, hope and as many different kinds of love as there are colours in the rainbow.

And you know me, I do love a hefty romp.

Wildish is released today and will be available from Amazon shortly...

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Wildish Wombat Friday...

Fanny the Wombat would like to remind you that Wildish by Robert Parry is published on Monday, and my review will appear then.

She would also like to point you that she is going to eat that enormous slice of cake.  Alone.  With no help from me.  Honest.

See you on Monday...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Buy a Bunce

Struggling for an idea for someone's birthday?  Wondering where you can buy a golden work of art from one of the lesser known female Pre-Raphaelite artists?  I have an answer for you, m'dears...

Hill House Antiques and Decorative Arts have this rather splendid Kate Bunce oil in its original tabernacle frame for sale at present.  It shows a courting couple (in possibly 18th century clothes, hard to tell in the image) strolling in a park with a peacock in the foreground. 

I think the frame is the star of this understated but beautiful picture, with the most gorgeous golden display of leaves and berries across the top of the arches.

Musica (1898) Kate Bunce
Kate Bunce is probably best known for Melody (Musica) and a number of her pictures are in Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum.  She was the daughter of John Thackeray Bunce, newspaper proprietor and chairman of the City Art Gallery in Birmingham. She was a prize winning student at the Birmingham School of Art in the 1880’s and was later greatly influenced by the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones (also from Birmingham). Associate of the Birmingham Society of Artists from 1888 and a founder-member in 1901 of the Birmingham based Society of Painters in Tempera.  Her association with the Birmingham art scene has meant her pictures are considered more decorative rather than being given the weight they possibly deserve. 

It's unusual for Bunce's work to come on the market and so for £6,500 you can buy an oil by a Pre-Raphaelite Sister, and in such an astonishing frame.  If you want more information, contact the lovely people at Hill House, you know, if you have any big birthday's coming up...not that I'm hinting...

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Preciousness of What Survives

Sometimes the most beautiful things are stumbled upon when you least expect it.  It was so with an obituary of Edward Burne-Jones, found by a turn of a page in Volume 4 of The Architectural Review from 1898.  I was admiring the various plates of illustration of buildings, new in their construction yet built in the fabulous Arts and Craft style.  'Exciting and radical developments' in architecture referred to Art Nouveau and the more organic, rounded styles of houses, which is rather gorgeous indeed.  Anyway, I was flipping through admiring all the houses I wanted to buy and I came across an obituary, written by the editor of the Review, Henry Wilson, together with an illustrated piece by Harold Rathbone.

Tiara (1908) Henry Wilson

Harold Rathbone W H Hunt
Burne-Jones died in June 1898.  The Review covered the months June to November of that year.  Henry Wilson and Harold Rathbone were both friends of Burne-Jones which is why I think this piece is so moving.  Starting with Wilson, he was an architect, jeweler and designer, who became the first editor of the Review in 1896.  Wilson had not worked directly with Burne-Jones, but they had both worked on buildings such as Holy Trinity Sloane Street, with Burne-Jones providing designs for stained glass and Wilson designing interior fixings and metalwork. 

The aspect of the obituary that is most striking is that it isn’t so much a review of Ned’s life but an examination of the nature of such a loss.  Published at the end of 1898, almost six months after Burne-Jones' death, Wilson acknowledged that his obituary came late, ‘when the funeral pyre is out and the last valediction over’, but his piece is more than a mere list of Burne-Jones’ achievements.  It would be easy to feel that no words could possibly express the loss: imagine that you had lived in a time when the paintings of Burne-Jones emerged, one by one, each a thing of inexpressible beauty, then one day there would be no more.  Wilson lists King Cophetua, The Chant d’Amour, and The Beguiling of Merlin and states that their ‘mysterious completeness of realisation’ makes one think of ‘still waters tree-shaded under evening light’. The afterlife of Ned’s work is a key theme, as Wilson feels his obituary is almost superfluous – Burne-Jones is his own obituary: ‘Of all men, the artist perhaps need fear oblivion least…he writes his memoirs on our minds and his works are reimprinted for many generations.’ As Wilson says ‘Death has this sweetness, that, while it removes a life, it makes a memory’ and in this way Death has not robbed the world of Burne-Jones as much as completing the collection of his work, presenting it to us, his followers, as a fait accompli to be appreciated in its entirety.  There is a sense that possibly we could not appreciate the man in his lifetime, but after his death we can step back and see the whole in all its splendour.  In this, it is not simply an act ‘to lessen the sense of loss by showing the preciousness of what survives’, but a defiance of death as the loss of Burne-Jones or even of his work will never remove the influence, continued by heredity.

On the facing page was placed this:

It was what caught my eye.  Stark and beautiful in its monochrome rendering is a poem dedicated to Burne-Jones’ memory, his ‘Immortal Gifts’, echoing Wilson’s assertion that the man’s soul is transported in death to his works and therein is his immortality.  The reference to Morris, who had died only a couple of years previously, brings forward the vision of two men working for a better life, ‘a Paradise on Earth’.  Burne-Jones’ attitude to his knighthood, not to mention the attitude of his ‘friends’ over the matter, has always meant that it’s not really considered a true part of him, but Harold Rathbone pairs the notion of Arthurian chivalry and magic with knighthood, Burne-Jones’ knighthood, then it is touching to think that he was considered their Arthur, their unwilling, self-effacing leader, but a leader none the less.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones 1st Bt (1898) Philip Burne-Jones

The reason I found the obituary so interesting is that it speaks not only to the contemporaries, those that knew Burne-Jones, but also to those of us who only know him through his work.  Obituaries, more often than not, are rather dry affairs, listing a proud scroll of achievement by someone who obviously feels they need reciting.  The beauty of Wilson and Rathbone's joint piece is the emotion barely hidden, and the loss felt and defended.  Wilson accuses fellow architects of not giving Burne-Jones a building to make his own, to cover the surfaces with his art and skill, crating a 'priceless treasure house'.  He regrets that 'only when Death stoops from her sky and swings him from our sight do we realise too late our opportunities'.  Though Burne-Jones is gone and you and I will never meet him, never see a new work come from his brush, his art is still around us and the influence is in our hearts forever.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful - Is it Just Me?

Do not read this before you have seen Oz: The Great and Powerful because it contains what may or may not be a spoiler.  You have been warned...

Is it just me or does the costume designer of the new Disney spectacular reveal a plot point a bit early?  As soon as I saw a central character's costume in this rather splendid blockbuster I suspected there was more to her than met the eye.  It all started in 1999 with one of my favourite films of all time, Sleepy Hollow...

The lovely and utter not evil Mrs Van Tassel, who isn't evil.  At all.
As soon as Miranda Richardson appeared I knew she was evil even though as the wife of Baltus Van Tassel, she was being a sweet and lovely hostess.  It was the dress, the damn evil sorceress dress, straight from Sidonia Von Bork by Burne-Jones...

Sidonia Von Bork 1560 (1860) Edward Burne-Jones
All those interweaving circles like a web, a mesh to ensnare, to entangle your victim; Sidonia wears her true nature not only on her sleeve but all over her skirt.  It kind of ruined Sleepy Hollow for me (even though it is a brilliant film) on the first showing, as I was not surprised when I should have been about an hour later.  Incidentally, I have a comic-book-loving friend, Claire, who feels the same about Unbreakable where she argues that the first time she saw one of the central characters, his costume completely gave him away and made the rest of the film fairly pointless.

So, on to today, and the Walker family are sitting in our local multiplex watching this rather lovely film, Oz: The Great and Powerful.  The magician, Oz crash-lands in the magical land that holds his name and is found by the beautiful and good Theodora in her red velvet ensemble....

Back she and the magician Oz go to the Emerald City and meet the serious and innocent Theodora's rather more worldly sister Evanora...

Right, I'm not spoilering anything to point out that you can probably work out which of these witches of Oz is the evil one by the poster.  Black sparkles? Check.  Dark nails? Check.  Rachel Weiss is definitely looking dodgy from the start.  However, not long after, Theodora has a little costume change...

Oh come on!  I sat there thinking 'Oh, so Theodora is going to turn out to be evil then...'  Yes it's a bit more stylised but the costume designer has to have been influenced by Sidonia as well as wedding ring quilting. Or is it just a coincidence?  I grant you that it isn't quite as obvious as the Sleepy Hollow costume, but the moment I saw the interlocking circles, I knew things were going to get green and warty before we'd done.

Was I right?  Well....

Curse you Pre-Raphaelite inspired costume designers!  You're as bad as the woman who sat next to me in The Sixth Sense and five minutes in said 'Oh, he's dead, isn't he?'

Thank goodness Kevin Spacey doesn't wear that dress in The Usual Suspects or else that film would have been over quickly for me...