15 Jan 2017

The Romantic Regency era

Happy 2017 to all

As someone who enjoys change, I've always liked the idea of the 'New Year' and so far no two have ever been the same, thank goodness!  So for my first post of the year, here's an update from the drawing board and another foray backward through the years to the time which inspired these latest designs.

When I was thinking up these illustrations, I was looking around for ideas that would have a romance about them.  The image of a grand Regency-style manor house with twinkling lights popped into my head and I knew it would be a perfect image for a lampshade.  And what a treat it would be for me sketch up some new patterns while dreaming away about my favourite period dramas..!

The romantic and racy Regency era.

What do most people remember of when they think of the Regency Era?  Our minds fill with images of empire line gowns, horse-drawn carriages and exquisite neo-classical mansions... With everything and everyone being in their own proper place, displaying dignity and decorum.  It is particularly ironic then that the only reason that 'Regency' exists at all as an era, is because during this time Britain's king - George III - had gone completely mad.  As he spent more time talking to inanimate objects than governing the country, his son was sworn in as the 'Prince Regent', marking the start of this highly romanticised time.

Perhaps Jane Austen springs straight to mind, with her sharp portraits of the elegant-yet-stifled society in which she lived?  In fact, Austen is just the most famous of a large host of popular authors of the time.  It started in 1814, when there came a revolution in terms of print manufacturing.  The invention of 'steam-printing' meant that the number of pages-printed-per-hour turned from 200 to 1100, overnight.

Jordan's bestselling books exist thanks to you, Koenig
Isn't it fascinating how a purely technological advancement can have such a profound effect on the arts?  The so-called "fashionable novel" was born out of this lucky invention, meaning that cheaply manufactured stories of high society were now freely available to all the public, changing the readership of the country forever.  Within twenty years, the weekly 'Illlustrated London News' would begin publication, shocking society with it's flashy and frivolous articles but nonetheless gathering up 26,000 eager readers on its first issue alone (no hashtags!).  Some might even see this the first gossipy trickle that would cement the British media's cut-throat and snarky reputation to this very day.

I just love this place where art and science meet.  Could the inventor of the steam-printer ever have dreamed where his invention would lead the world?  Perhaps he did.  But I imagine he was probably too busy with his head in facts and figures to wonder.

I do enjoy my little research projects and I'm going to be sharing my inspirations from history with every new collection - so if you are a regular visitor here, expect more art and education coming up for 2017!

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