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Photography

Portraits: Cambridge Mill Road Winter Fair 2019

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Photography

Why Does The Horse Hold Its Head Out Like That

This is a New Forest horse, or to be more exact, it is a photographic representation of a New Forest horse.

The horse is walking along, as you can perhaps tell.

I wonder whether someone who knows horses and horse behaviour can say what the angle of the horse’s head indicates?

It is not held high and it is not bent to graze, so what dictates that the horse holds its head out in front like that?

Maybe I simply never noticed that that’s what horses do when they walk? But I don’t think so.

Maybe it is the breed?

Second Version Of Horse

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Photography

Acanthus Leaves

These are Acanthus leaves, not that I knew it when I photographed them in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College today. I asked one of the gardeners and he referred me to the head gardener who was repotting a bush. The bush was one of two bushes, a pair, that had been in pots that dated from 1642 (or some similar date). One of the pots had broken into nine pieces and we agreed that four hundred years was pretty good going for a pot. So, because one of the two pots had broken apart, the gardeners had to repot both bushes in new pots.

So they were repotting the bushes and I asked what the plant was (I had taken a snap on my phone so that I could show him). When he said it was an Acanthus, my mind span off into my schooldays, being taught the elements of Greek architecture, with Acanthus leaves decorating Corinthian columns. Could I still trot out Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, the stages in Greek column design? Almost.

Clarification

Here are the shrubs, min-trees, (?) in the pots. I looked at them again today and if I had to say what they are I would hazard a guess that they are Yew. But I am not sure. I looked for a gardener to ask but couldn’t find one. Maybe next time.

And here is a leaf I felt and bent over. Thin as paper, bends easily, not what I expected – I expected something stiffer.

The entrance to the Fellows' Garden at Christ's College in Cambridge, with the gate flanked by shrubs in pots - mentioned in the article
An acanthus leaf bent over to show how rigid or otherwise it is.
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Photography

Sugar comfits: the original confetti

a table in the Feast & Fast exhibition on at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition describes itself as presenting novel approaches to understanding the history and culture of food and eating.

This is a table in the Feast & Fast exhibition on at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition describes itself as presenting novel approaches to understanding the history and culture of food and eating. The explanation for the table is interesting

A Sugar Banquet for an English Renaissance Wedding

Combining historic objects with replica food items, this recreation of an early 1600s banquet by food historian lvan Day explores some forgotten English dining and bridal traditions. In Renaissance England, a ‘banquet’ meant both a large formal dinner and the confectionery course afterwards, often served in a small garden building called a banqueting house. Sugary preserves, candies, comfits, figurative gingerbreads, wafers, and biscuits — like those shown here made from original moulds or designs — were eaten with a sweet spiced wine called hippocras. The centre of the table was adorned with a sugar paste or marzipan ‘conceit often in the form of an animal, bird or Duilding, here a miniature version of the banqueting house at Melford Hall, Suffolk, surrounded by a marzipan knot garden after designs in William Lawson’s The Country Housewives Garden of 1618.

Renaissance banquets were full of anusement and games. Songs and poems were painted onto the underside of wooden trenchers, like those displayed here, or included with small gifts inside some of the food. some banquet table items were designed to deceive. Here the fashionable footed stands (tazze) and blue-and-white Chinese dishes are not made from porcelain but sugar paste, so they could be eaten alongside the ‘real’ food. But even some of this was fake: the walnuts and their shells, and the bacon and eggs are from sugar. The sugar-paste gloves (mimicking the perfumed kid gloves traditionally given to wedding guests), the silver-gilt cup with gilded rosemary tied with ‘bride’ knots, the pair of bride knives (given by the groom to his bride), and the Sugar comfits (the original confetti thrown over the happy couple) are forgotten English wedding traditions.

Sugar comfits (the original confetti thrown over the happy couple) – that is something I learned. And that a ‘banquet’ meant both a large formal dinner and the confectionery course afterwards, often served in a small garden building called a banqueting house.

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Photography

Plane Trees, Pembroke College, Cambridge

A line of London plane trees, Pembroke College, Cambridge, winter 2019
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Photography

Busts On Plinths

I took this photograph because it seems to me that the people depicted have not been afforded the dignity they deserve, even though they are dead and not aware of how they are being treated. They are to the right of a door leading to a gallery, at the top of a wide staircase. They were dignitaries in their day, and now they are shunted off to a corridor. It doesn’t seem too far a stretch to ‘heads on pikes’. Well, that is too melodramatic, but still.

You might not see it that way, of course.

Because I am interested in etymology, I looked up plinth and bust.

Plinth: a heavy base supporting a statue or vase, from the Greek plinthos, squared brick or stone.

Bust: a sculpture of the upper torso and head, from Latin bustum “funeral monument, tomb,” originally “funeral pyre, place where corpses are burned.

I didn’t expect the derivation from funeral pyre to the upper torso and head.. How did that come about? And who burned corpses? Was it a Greek habit? I thought the Greeks buried their dead.

The Metropolitan Museum says as follows:

The Greeks believed that at the moment of death, the psyche, or spirit of the dead, left the body as a little breath or puff of wind. The deceased was then prepared for burial according to the time-honored rituals. Ancient literary sources emphasize the necessity of a proper burial and refer to the omission of burial rites as an insult to human dignity (Iliad 23: 71). Relatives of the deceased, primarily women, conducted the elaborate burial rituals that were customarily of three parts: the prothesis (laying out of the body, the ekphora (funeral procession), and the interment of the body or cremated remains of the deceased. 

So when would the body be cremated? Plainly the text envisages that they were cremated, and not ‘burned’ as in an accident, in a fire, but the bodies burned.