Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Show and tell: vintage ads and Aboriginal art

This week I am just doing a short little post with some show and tell. I love show and tell... have I mentioned that before?

Since it's my party and I'll cry if I want to - scrap that, its my blog and I'll write what I want to, I am straying from post this week to bring you some vintage ads from the April 1974 edition of National Geographic. I just had to share this advertisement with my archaeologist friends:
100 stone arrowheads for just $15!! We are wasting our time looking for stone tools in the field, we can just mail-order them! Who knew??

Turns out I don't have to stray too far beyond my favoured topic of stamps to bring you the arrowheads ad though, because right below it was another one that also caught my attention:
It has been a quiet (yet busy) week in my little post world, but I don't want to leave you empty handed, so here are some pretty stamps to ponder.

The above stamps are from 2003 and feature acrylic on canvas paintings created by the Papunya Tula artists of the Western Desert. These works are all recent paintings produced between 1999 and 2002 and my "2003 Collection of Australian Stamps" book explains "the painting movement has helped to preserve traditional cultural aspirations, protect tribal lands and revive inherited concepts of social order". All the artists are Pintupi people. I think the paintings, and the stamps, are exquisite.

In sharing the above contemporary works of Aboriginal artists, I also wanted to flag with you, lovely readers, an upcoming extra special blog post that will explore rock art. Should be fun! So watch this space!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Postcards from the Past: Archaeology and Family

In my last blog post on Sunday I mentioned that I had a massive week last week. As it turns out the above postcard represents a synergy of all that massive week contained! Let me explain...

My working week was massive, because I was taking part in another fieldwork session out past Ballarat on an old gold-rush era site (I blogged about it back in July here). It was our very last week of fieldwork last week, and we all felt like we were the stars of 'Time Team', with Tony Robinson in voice over saying something  along the lines of
"with only five days before this site is bull-dozed to make way for a new freeway, the archaeologists are working against the clock to find out what they can of this fascinating microcosm of life on the road to the goldfields in the 1860s..." 
There is a little bit of dramatic-license in there, but you get the drift. We were on a schedule. A road is being built. We worked like maniacs. Tony Robinson may or may not have been there. Here are some happy snaps:

It was a very fun week, and the archaeology was pretty interesting. Will found a coin from 1835, a pocket knife and a jet earring. Rach found an ink well. Ben found a bottle of some magical ointment that was a cure-all for gout, rheumatism and sore breasts! And I found some broken ceramics. Oh, and a sewing pin, when it pricked me in the finger. Dang! But what a fun week we had. Massively exhausting, but great fun.

Then, on Saturday, I turned around and drove back from whence I came, to Ballarat, in order to trawl through my Grandparents possessions, as they have just sold the family home. That was a massive day for all sorts of reasons. It is so sad to see the house go, as it has been in the family for generations. I loved spending all my school holidays there as a kid, playing in the garden with my cousins and sisters. My sister Emily got married in that garden a couple of years ago, and so the house holds all sorts of special memories. Here are some happy snaps of the house and garden "Glenholme":

My Grandma gave me her stamp collection, but I also took another special item of 'post' from the house... Great-Great-Great Aunty Mabel's postcard collection. There will be many more blog posts about Mabel's postcards, because they are so wonderful. She collected her postcards are from such exotic places as Ceylon, Zimbabwe, Norway and Hong Kong. The lady knew how to travel.

But as I was reading through them last night, I was super delighted to find the postcard from much closer to home, which I began this blog post with. This is a postcard Mabel received in 1905 from a party taking a picnic in an old 'Cobb and Co' coach right near the archaeological site I had spent my week digging up. So past and present, archaeology and memory, work and family life all meld together in the image on the front of the postcard, and the message scrawled to Mrs Cuthbert of Glenholme on the back. How absolutely lovely, and how absolutely thrilled I am.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Shipwrecks: Sunday Stamps

It may be a little morbid, but when I read that the theme this week for Sunday Stamps was "ships" I immediately thought of this beautiful presentation pack of stamps I have featuring shipwrecks.

I don't generally buy presentation packs, I find them cumbersome, so that is where I generally draw the line when it comes to stamp paraphernalia (gutterstrips: tick; FDCs: tick; presentation packs: buh-bow) but as with all lines in the sand that I draw for myself, I do shift the boundaries from time to time. (For instance, this time last year FDCs were in the "buh-bow" no-deal column, or on the wrong side of the line in the sand. Said line has since been adjusted). Anyhow, objections to presentation packs aside, I couldn't resist this particular presentation pack due to the rather lovely 1878 map that adorns the inside.
The stamps themselves are quite beautiful, I think. I like the muted colours, and that the images evoke the era by using contemporary engravings of the disasters. I have been to the cemetery that is the eternal resting place for many of the Loch Ard victims and it is quite a haunting place, situated on a very stunning, but treacherous and rugged coastline.
The Dunbar sank near the entrance to Port Jackson, on the 20 August 1857, as the stamp says. The stamp also indicates that 120 lives were lost. What it doesn't say is that there were only 121 people on board. Only one crewman survived the wreckage, because he was tossed by waves onto a rock ledge.

To counter the rather bleak topic of shipwrecks, I thought I would also share with you a 2004 issue of stamps that is bright and happy and reflects the romantic side of shipping.

I really like these steamer stamps, with their nod to art-deco styling and the bright colours of the travel posters. They make me want to voyage around the world at a leisurely pace while sipping cocktails on the deck.

In what was a massive end to a massive week, I acquired these stamps yesterday, whilst trawling through 100 years of family history stored in my Grandparents' house which was recently sold. Grandma Nellie collected the annual stamp books put out by Australia Post, and so this more recent part of her collection just made its way to me on the weekend. The books are pretty cool and have lots of detail about all the stamps issued in that year, as well as the actual mint stamps.

There will be more tales from my massive week and massive weekend soon on this blog... but for now, it is good night and good luck, fellow stampers and fellow bloggers.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Swedish treats: Forstadagsbrev Part 2

Earlier this week on my blog I was sharing some Swedish First Day Covers that my parents recently brought back as souvenirs for me.  As I was going through the process of putting them up, I realised that a couple of them were perfect for this week's Sunday Stamps, which is all about folk costumes and traditions. So for that reason I held off sharing them all at once, and now bring you Forstadagsbrev Part II.

This first cover features Swedish national costumes and quite a wonderful postmark. The little brochure inside the envelope explains that "all over the country costumes with local characteristics were worn by the farmers and peasants until the middle of the 19th century".  Apparently the apparel would always signal a woman's marital status, through the type of hair style or head dress worn.
Brooches were another important element of the costume, and therefore feature separately on two of the stamps. The 90 kroner stamp features a brooch from the province of Jamtland and the 1.30 kroner stamp comes from Smaland.

The second cover I want to share features Swedish folk art, and I think you will agree it is pretty beautiful. Again the postmark is worth noting, featuring an Adam and Eve motif.

But, that is not to overshadow the stamps themselves, of course:

The art is described as "Peasant Painting" and according to the brochure in the FDC, the style emerged in the mid-18th century and its heyday lasted for about a century.

That's it from me this Sunday, folks. I hope you have enjoyed this addition of Sunday Stamps... it is the first time in a little while I have managed to escape the confines of my own Australia-biased collection. I hope that spices things up a bit!

To check out what other bloggers have found inspiring in the way of folk traditions, click on the button below:

(And if you are extra keen to find out more about national costumes, you might be interested in this post from the very early days of my blog, when I looked at Mongolian traditional dress.)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Swedish treats: Forstadagsbrev Part 1

Last week I bought a desk. A beautiful wooden desk with seven drawers to hide all my stuff in. As a result, I spent the weekend finally unpacking the last box from my move to North Fitzroy... which happened four months ago!

Anyhow, as I was unpacking said box, I found these wonderful first day covers that my parents brought back from their trip to Sweden earlier this year. As they gave them to me just as I was moving, I put them in this box and promptly forgot all about their very existence. So, boy was I delighted when I found them the other day. This first one is my favourite, for three very good reasons:

             1) Map Postmark
             2) Viking ship stamps
             3) Map and flag illustration on envelope.

There is not much more you can ask for, in a first day cover, really. And this particular cover taught me the Swedish for first day cover:

I like the ring of it.

Now, I have always been partial to Vikings, but I am especially more so since watching the entire series 1 - 5 of True Blood over the course of the past two months... Those of you who have seen it will hear what I am saying, but basically, Eric Northman makes me want to move to Sweden. Anyhow, all desire for undead Viking Vampires aside, you have to admit the woodcut design viking ships featured on the stamp are pretty special.

And speaking of ships, this next cover features the Vasa, sunk in 1628 and now housed in a museum in Stockholm.
File:The Vasa from the Bow.jpg
The ship in the museum
The Vasa is a war ship from the time in the 17th century when the Swedes were a force to be reckoned with, and had acquired power over much of the Baltic area. In 1961 the shipwreck was salvaged, and the stamps feature some of the different sculptures that would have adorned the ship.

I visited the museum in Stockholm that houses the Vasa in 2006, and I have to say that it was one of the highlights of my stay in the city. Not only is the Vasa fascinating because it represents a time in history when Sweden was an imperial power and because the ship is almost a microcosm of society, but the thought of the archaeology of an underwater salvage is enough to float my boat (sorry! I couldn't help it!).  The pamphlet that comes with the FDC (issued in 1969) states "the restoration of the ship continues - a puzzle with more than 10,000 pieces." And that right there, my friends, is why I love archaeology!

Since I have actually been to see the ship featured on the stamp, I am doubly pleased that Mum and Dad picked this one out as a souvenir to bring back for me. It is pretty great, you have to agree.

There is one last FDC that I am going to share with you now from my little Swedish collection, just because I think it is beautiful:

The stamps on this last cover illustrate scenes from the Arctic Circle, in northern Sweden, where on the summer solstice the sun is above the horizon for 24 hours.

The one showing the Northern Lights is my favourite of the group... and it has taught me yet more Swedish: 
The Northern Lights - totally up there on my list of things/places that I simply must see before I die.

Thanks for tuning into I heart post for another week... and watch this space for still more Swedish delights in Part II of this post, which I will be uploading on Sunday. Until then, keep it real, nerds and hipsters. Over and Out. H.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Lighthouses: Sunday Stamps

Hello friends in the blogosphere! Today's theme on Viridian's Sunday Stamps is "civic architecture" and I have to admit, that got me quite excited (Bridges! Monuments! and Buildings, oh my!). So what to choose?


It has to be said that lighthouses are awesome. This first set of stamps are totally awesome because not only do they depict lighthouses - there is a map image of the location of the lighthouse in the stamp's background. And everyone knows I love a map on a stamp. Nicely designed stamps, right?

Lighthouses are such striking structures, there is something mesmerising about them (it could be the almost hypnotic effect of their light beams being thrown out and around, but I think it is more than that). They are built in precarious locations on rugged cliff-faces, with views of the wild ocean. Intrinsic to their existence is the reminder of the dangers of seafaring. So there is something poetic and romantic in the very nature of the lighthouse. Lighthouses are just incredible - they defy the elements.

This second set of stamps was released in 2006 and shows lighthouses built in different eras. Although the occupation of lighthouse-keeper has been made redundant by new technologies and solar power, not too much has changed in their design. Part of what is captivating about lighthouses is that the elegant towered structures represent, in a way, the incredible skill of the people who managed to engineer such a structure in what is usually a geographically hostile and isolated location! 

Two years ago my friends and I did a wonderful day hike into the lighthouse at Wilsons Promontory National Park. The lighthouse and its little peninsular are now officially run as a national park, and the old lighthouse keeper is employed as a park ranger, who takes tourists (like us) up the lighthouse, to hear about the operation of the lighthouse, and what his daily life as a lighthouse keeper was like in times past. The lighthouse and its associated cottages were well worth the six-hour walk in to see it.

Wilsons Prom Lighthouse

I like the thought of hiking to many more lighthouses in the future. Currently near the top of my list of "lighthouses to visit" is the one at Gabo Island, off the east coast of Victoria. If anyone has any suggestions of other lighthouses I should add to this list, I would love to hear them.

Hope you have enjoyed looking at and pondering lighthouses with me this week. To see how others chose to  explore the topic of civic architecture, check out the other blogs through the Sunday Stamps button below.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Back in the USSR

Check out these treasures from the USSR I found amongst the stamps in the little album I bought home from Indonesia recently. I didn't mean to acquire Russian stamps as souvenirs from my trip to Indonesia, but there you go. It just happened.

But aren't they just lovely? Isn't the typography wonderful? Don't the colours make your heart sing?

I went to Russia back in 2006. It was amazing. I didn't buy any post though. Don't know what I was thinking. I did, however, take great delight when signing my postcards with "From Russia With Love"! So not all was lost on the postal front. But now I have my very own soviet birds from 1962 within my collection. I don't think I could have found nicer stamps if I had tried!