Free flying of the mind: The Lorina Bulwer scroll

“I MISS LORINA BULWER AM A TRUE LOYAL PERSON….I MISS LORINA BULWER AM FREE.”

In this post I discuss the interesting, yet emotional, life and story of Lorina Bulwer, an inmate at the Great Yarmouth Workhouse. On arrival to the workhouse, Lorina was confined to the lunatic ward. She expressed her thoughts and feelings by stitching long monologues of capitalised words which are often considered as rambles, rants and in some cases, powerful nonsense. There are currently three known surviving “Lorina” samplers in Britain. I refer to Lorina by her first name in this post as her embroidered texts depict  a clear personality and a particular level of familiarity and modern day relevance.

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Women In Science: Madame Caplin’s Reformed Corset

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19th Century S&S Corset (Registered in Belgium) Image Courtesy of York Museums Trust

I have various historical interests and for my MA dissertation I decided to integrate my different interests and academic skills – focusing on the medical effects of dress reform and also putting a philosophical spin on it! The focus of my dissertation was the life and work of Madame Roxey Ann Caplin, a Canadian born writer and corset maker (or stay-maker, as Madame Caplin stated) who worked at 58 Berners Street, London throughout nearly the entire 19th Century. She was born in 1793 and died on the 2nd August 1888 – her long life was full of innovation, inspiration and individualism.

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Musing: Mathematical Beauty (Golden Ratio)

 

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Maths and beauty? Are the two really linked?

In a sense, yes.

The term ‘Golden Ratio’ was not used until the 1800s, but the mathematical
ratio, arguably, dates back to Ancient Greece.

It’s all to do with proportions. My limited knowledge of maths would be fibonacci-1601158__340.pngpoor at attempting to explain the real formulation, but a specific proportion also known as 1.618 is deemed to be ‘aesthetically pleasing.’ Rumour has it the proportions are embedded within the Parthenon, and the ratio has been proved to be within
nature – a spiral arrangement of leaves and ‘perfect flowers’.

Developments have extended the Golden Ratio to human faces, claiming to deem some human faces more pleasing than others. Historical examples which fit with the Golden ratio include the bust of Nefertiti and slightly later example of Audrey Hepburn – who ironically stated “I never thought I’d land in pictures with a face like mine.”
So what does this mean? That something is beautiful just because of it complies with the golden ratio? I mean, maths is either right or wrong…..

Nope, definitely not! golden-beauty

The formulation may be always right, and tested continually on different objects but what is ‘aesthetically pleasing’ is surely dependent on your own tastes or other individual qualities within those objects.

A flower may be beautiful with full petals which coincidentally falls into the proportion of the ratio – but so is a wilting flower, a brightly coloured flower, a fake flower.

And the Parthenon may be spectacular, perhaps for its equal columns, but also for its historical context and the beauty and interest of its ruins. Or maybe it’s not aesthetically pleasing to you at all.

As for faces – surely you are drawn to particular features of a face rather than proportion? You may be drawn to someone’s beautiful eyes or their unique beautiful smile. Individual qualities may not even be part of their face, but something deeper – their warmth, compassion or general personality.

Beauty is not dependent upon maths.

What do you think? 🙂