Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Arts / Culture Archive



March 2014

Bill Cunningham: Facades

Written by , Posted in Arts / Culture, Biographies / Style Icons

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GM Building, New York City. Photograph by Bill Cunningham, via New York Historical Society.

GM Building, New York City. Photograph by Bill Cunningham, via New York Historical Society.

Cannot wait to check out Bill Cunningham’s Facades exhibit at the New York Historical Society Museum! As much a landmark of New York City streets as the subjects in his photographs, Cunningham has dedicated a lifetime to capturing a whole history of the city’s architecture and fashion scene. What makes his images really stand out is how natural they are; there’s nothing too posed or too expected.

Bill Cunningham: Facades opened last week at the New York Historical Society Museum and runs through June 15. Facades follows Cunningham’s photographic essay of the same name, in which he paired models in period costumes throughout different historical settings throughout the city. Interestingly enough, one of the models featured in Cunningham’s Facades essay was his own muse, Editta Sherman.

Besides the artistic significance, the photographic essay indirectly touches on a pensive period in New York City’s history, where there was a lot of focus on the urban landscape. The collection features 88 prints (which Cunningham originally donated to the Society back in 1976).

Bill Cunningham’s Facades is on exhibit at the Historical Society Museum March 14-June 15, 2014. You can find more information here: http://www.nyhistory.org/




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January 2014

National Bird Day

Written by , Posted in Arts / Culture, Gardening, Quote of the Day

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Depending where in the world you live, Bird Day is celebrated annually on January 5th, or on May 4th. Some bird lovers use both occasions to celebrate their fascination with members of the feathered family, and why not?

Blue-throated Goldentail

Blue-throated Goldentail (Hylocharis eliciae). Photo from The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

I wouldn’t call myself an avid birdwatcher, but from a young age, I’ve always had an appreciation for fine-feathered, two-legged, warm-blooded little vertebrates. It all started with this book my Mum kept close at hand, called A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies by Roger Tory Peterson. [Sidebar: Peterson was this incredible artist, and one of the founding fathers of the environmental movement in the 20th century. A naturalist and ornithologist, he illustrated countless images of birds and other creations in nature, and made learning about them easier for people like you and me.] As a child, I spent hours looking through A Field Guide to the Birds, analyzing the shapes and features of several species from cardinals to cuckoos.


Cardinal image from The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

So, favourite type of bird? Hard to say, really. There are those common birds that can frequently be seen flitting through the yard — like the Cardinal and the Blue Jay — and then there are those gems that are more of a rarity — like Bluebirds and Hummingbirds. Regardless of what type of bird, I feel fortunate to live out in the country where birds are part of the landscape. There is something about seeing birds in their element that truly helps one appreciate the beauty of nature. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of work each day, and getting outside to take a deep breath in nature is one of the simplest but most profound joys.

This quote from Roger Tory Peterson really sums up the significance of birds:

Birds undeniably contribute to our pleasure and standard of living. But they also are sensitive indicators of the environment, a sort of “ecological litmus paper,” and hence more meaningful than just chickadees and cardinals to brighten the suburban garden, grouse and ducks to fill the sportsman’s bag, or rare warblers and shorebirds to be ticked off on the birder’s checklist. The observation of birds leads inevitably to environmental awareness.

You can learn more about The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History here.

Buy Field Guide to Birds East of the Rockies by Roger Tory Peterson on Amazon.ca

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December 2013

Downton Abbey Costumes at Winterthur Museum

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Crawley sisters

Edith, Sybil, and Mary, of Downton Abbey. ITV image.

For my friends across the pond in the UK, Downton Abbey‘s series 4 has just come to a close — and I’ve been trying my darndest to avoid all the spoilers floating around online — but here in North America, many of us are just eagerly anticipating the 4th series, which premieres this Sunday night on PBS.

I’m waiting for all my burning questions to be answered this season — who will step in to play father to baby George in the wake of Matthew’s untimely demise? Will Lady Edith’s life remain scandal-free, or will season 4 bring more adventure down her path? What excitement will Rose stir up? What changes will be forced among the servants with the evolution of the 20s? — so I’m particularly delighted for the continuing chapter of this period drama. A fan from the beginning (click here to read my first post related to the show), this is one series that I count a classic.

Lady Edith's wedding dress.

Lady Edith’s wedding dress. ITV image.

Downtown Abbey costume designer Caroline McCall does an incredible job of researching period costumes and drawing inspiration from classic designers for each of the Downton character’s wardrobes. You can imagine then, that the announcement of a Downton Abbey exhibit at Winterthur Museum in Delaware is a real thrill for North American Downton fans. Featuring some of the most popular costumes from the show (think Lady Edith’s wedding dress, and Lady Mary’s engagement dress), this will mark the first time that any of the Downton designs have been displayed on this side of the Atlantic. And what could be a more fitting place to debut the ‘Costumes of Downton Abbey‘ than Winterthur, which was the childhood home of famed horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont.

Lady Mary's engagement dress

Embroidery detailing on Lady Mary’s engagement dress. Cosprop Ltd., London image.

The Downton Abbey exhibit at Winterthur will include forty historically-inspired costumes from the show, as well as photos and vignettes from Downton Abbey and the historical era around which the series is based. More than just a Downton exhibit, running parallel at Winterthur will be a series of lectures and workshops about country house life in Britain and the States during the first part of the 20th century.

So, I guess a field trip to Delaware is in order for 2014, yes?

The ‘Costumes of Downton Abbey‘ exhibit runs March 1, 2014-January 4, 2015 at Winterthur Museum in Delaware.


Click here to find out more about Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

Click here to find out when Downton Abbey series 4 is airing on PBS in your area.



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May 2013

Agatha Christie’s Greenway Garden

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Agatha Christie's Greenway

The Queen of Crime herself called it the loveliest place in the world: Greenway house and garden are an absolute must-see for any Agatha Christie fan (or gardening enthusiast). Purchased by Christie and husband Max Mallowan in 1938, Greenway is located in Devon, England, on the River Dart, and the home and grounds inspired settings and surroundings in several of Agatha Christie’s novels.


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April 2013

Mariinsky II

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Mariinsky II Theatre Exterior

In exactly 10 days, the Mariinsky II grand opening happens in St. Petersburg, and so will begin a whole new era in the history of the famed theatre.

The new Mariinsky Theatre is a work of art, from its Jura limestone exterior with floor-to-ceiling windows to its breath-taking two-story interior lobby with rear-lit onyx stone walls and custom Swarovski chandeliers. From the lobby, a glass staircase connects the entire structure.

Mariinsky Theatre II Auditorium

The new opera house in St. Petersburg was designed by Jack Diamond and his team at Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Canadian design firm behind the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto and Maison Symphonique in Montreal. And while initially there was controversy over the building’s exterior being too modern and too much a departure from the city’s traditional architecture, once you take a look at the inside, the new Mariinsky Theatre proves itself true to classic theatre style. In keeping with the concept of 18th and 19th century opera houses, the Mariinsky II auditorium features a more traditional horseshoe shape as well as three balcony levels, an orchestra pit (with a moveable acoustic wall), and Swarovski accent lights.

Mariinsky II Theatre Onyx Lobby

For those concerned about the new structure abandoning traditional Russian architecture, Diamond and his team made sure proper homage was paid, and the entire foyer provides views of nearby Dekabristov Street, and more importantly, the original Mariinsky Theatre across the Kryukov canal.

The inaugural opening festivities will include performances by renowned musicians, dancers, and opera singers such as Placido Domingo, Mikhail Petrenko, Diana Vishneva, and the Children’s Chorus. The audience attending during the Gala opening May 2-4 is said to include the original Mariinsky Theatre staff, WW II veterans, and members of St. Petersburg’s artistic society.

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June 2012

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012

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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion at night by Iwan Baan

London is just awash with adventure this Summer. Not only is the city playing host to the Summer Olympics, but the Serpentine Gallery is presenting — as part of Festival London 2012 — its twelfth commission in the Gallery’s annual architectural program. Open from June 2012 through to October, this year’s Pavilion is the product of famed architectural duo Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei. The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion marks the first time this trio has collaborated on UK soil.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012

In a departure from past program’s, this year’s Pavilion actually allows visitors to analyze the history behind previous Serpentine Pavilion presentations. The design is absolutely extraordinary (just check these photos). For those of you wondering what exactly this great work of art is, here are the answers to the 5 W’s on the project:

  • Who: The architects who designed the 2012 Pavilion are Swiss design duo Herzog & de Meuron, and Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei. You may remember back in 2008 when the trio created the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics. 
  • What: Annual program (in its twelfth year) put on by the Serpentine Gallery
  • Where: The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion can be found on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London.
  • When: The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is open from June to October 2012.
  • Why: Each year the gallery commissions some of the most famed architects in the universe to create a temporary, seasonal structure that is open to the public during the day and hosts events in the evening such as “Park Nights”.
  • Also, How: This year’s structure was actually created beneath the gallery’s lawn, with steps going down into a cork interior. The temporary building has twelve columns that represent each of the previous Pavilions as well as this year’s, and also includes an eye-catching floating roof with a reflective pool. Incredible.
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September 2010

VOGUE Archive Collection Prints

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Printed with UltraChrome inks on 16 inch x 20 inch exhibition paper, these Vogue Archive Collection prints are certainly a must-have for any fashion aficionado.

Hand-selected by Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, these Vogue prints come in a designer box that includes a signed letter from the editrix herself. Fabulous, right? The fashion-forward prints are exclusive to Net-A-Porter, and trust me; I’ve an inkling these Vogue Archive Collection prints will go fast. They’re limited edition and feature five classic American style icons.

Who are the photo subjects, you ask?


  • Jacqueline Bouvier;
  • Grace Kelly;
  • Ali MacGraw;
  • C.Z. Guest;
  • Babe Paley.
Whilst my favourite is a portrait of the regal beauty Grace Kelly, I must say there is something so very fascinating and enthralling about the portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier in her earlier years.
VOGUE Archive Collection Set of Five Prints, $3200, Net-A-Porter
Prints available individually for $700



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August 2010

Omer Arbel Wins Ronald J. Thom Award

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Vancouver-based designer Omer Arbel has been recognized with a prestigious honour: For his part in designing the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic medals, Arbel was recognized with the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement from the Canada Council for the Arts. It’s a pretty amazing feat for the 34 year old, who works primarily as an architect and industrial designer.

The Ronald J. Thom Award is given out once every two years to a Canadian designer who is demonstrative of talent and focus on the arts and architecture. The prize is $10000.

In an interview with the CBC, Arbel said he was “honoured” to be recognized with this award.

Not familiar with Omer Arbel? He’s the creator of many things, probably his most popular work being the 2.4 Chair and Series 14 Chandelier. He studied at U of Waterloo, and opened his namesake design house OAO (Omer Arbel Office) in 2005. He also owns BOCCI, the contemporary design firm in Vancouver.

Congratulations, Omer! And thank you for your inspirational work.


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