In Black and White: My New Web Site

I consider myself an accidental writer. Having worked in the interior design industry for twenty-five years selling and marketing the esoteric and exquisite, I have seen it all change in the last few years. Now that much of what was special has been replaced by cartoonish mediocrity, I have turned to writing about what I still find unique about interior design. Please view a selection of my writings on my new website,

The Versatile Blogger Award: Celebrating Galicia

Thank you Coco from My Galician Garden, for nominating Porcelains and Peacocks to The Versatile Blogger Award. Rather than follow the rules of the award I will use this post to honor the culture of Galicia, Spain.

Located to the north of Portugal, the Galician language is descended from the Romance language Galician-Portuguese of the Middle Ages. From the twelfth to fourteenth centuries Galician-Portuguese was used to write the lyric poetry of Spain and Portugal. The Cantigas de Santa Maria were manuscripts written in Galician-Portuguese during the rein of Alonso X of Castile (1221-1264). The songs all mention the Virgin Mary and some are accompanied by colored miniatures showing musicians playing a wide variety of instruments. The language was also utilized for the Cantiga d'amigo, medieval erotic love poetry. Love is the theme of Galician painter's Xesús Rodríguez Corredoira (1889-1939) Love and its Pain which was influenced by the work of El Greco. A sixteenth century illustration of the coat of arms of the Galicia kingdom depicts a covered chalice on an azure field scattered with gold crosses.

Ennui: The Princess Who Never Smiled

"The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness."

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Porcelains and Peacocks has been remiss about postings lately and perhaps it had been due to a case of ennui. In the Russian fairy tale The Princess Who Never Smiled the subject of the story is so melancholy that she has never laughed. Her father the King offers her hand in marriage as a reward to the man who can amuse her. Those that fail have their skin stripped from their backs and salt rubbed into their wounds. Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926) shows The Unsmiling Tsarevna suffering the attentions of fortune seekers. Venetian painter Federico Zandomenegh (1841-1917) was influenced by his friendship with Edgar Degas concentrated on depicting women as seen in his pensive painting Languor. Regarded as one of Australia's greatest artists, Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) worked in many mediums. His voluptuous nudes such as the oil painting Languor were controversial at the time; in 1940 sixteen crates of his work were impounded by American officials and burned as pornography.

Mad as a Hatter: Illustrations of The Hatter

English author Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) created the fictional character of The Hatter for his book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass. Known culturally as the Mad Hatter, he attends A Mad Tea-Party and is referred to by the Cheshire Cat as mad. The colloquial phrase "Mad as a hatter" describes a crazy person but has ambiguous origins. It may relate to the hat making industry's use of mercury salts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Unaware of the consequences hatters used a mercury solution to transform rabbit fur into felt, breathing in toxic fumes in poorly ventilated workshops. Over time mercury poisoning effected the nervous system causing hallucinations, anxiety, irritability and depression; the hatters went mad.

Wearing multiple top hats, The Hatter is shown partaking in a Mad Tea-Party as illustrated by the American writer and author Blanche McManus (1870-1935), McMannus primarily authored and illustrated travel books. Fellow American illustrator and landscape painter Gertrude Kay (1884-1939) was also influenced by her foreign travels in her use of rich colors and strong compositions. English cartoonist and illustrator William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) came from a family of artists. He is best know for his drawings of eccentric machines.

Lewis may have also modeled his crazy hatter on Theophilus Carter (1825-1895) an eccentric furniture dealer and inventor who wore a top hat. Carter is remembered for inventing The Alarm Clock Bed which woke the sleeper up by tossing them into a bathtub filled with cold water.