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32 posts categorized "Spring Festival"

14 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights - Inspired by... vinyl records

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When we hosted a show and tell of our vinyl record collection back in November the feedback was so positive I knew we had to run it again. I love spotlighting our massive vinyl collection (over 240,000!) because it always surprises people who think we're just a very serious library full of books (which is only partly true). So in the spirit of Spring Festival, creativity, discovery and inspiration our curator of pop music Andy Linehan dug deep into our archive and brought out some real gems to illustrate the history of the album to an audience of graphic designers, filmmakers and curious music lovers. 

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Those tubes are wax cylinders - developed by Thomas Edison in the late 1880s. 

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Left: Jeremy Deller’s English Magic EP, the musical soundtrack to a film made by Dellar for the British Pavilion at the 2013 Biennale di Venezia. Limited triple vinyl edition, ours is #78 of 300 hand-signed and numbered by Deller with sleeve artwork designed by Deller including a 10x10” photographic print hand tipped on the front cover.

Right: An LP by Man, a 1970s Welsh rock band, with a fold-out hand-drawn map of Wales with features and places important to the band. (Photographs by Luca Sage)

Andy also showed us these two weird and wonderful albums:

Atom Earth Mother Ancient Faith    Sounds of Silence

Left: Atom Earth Mother’s Ancient Faith, a double LP plus CD and insert housed in a hand-built, fire-branded wooden box. Limited edition of 250 copies. (Via boomkat)

Right: Sounds of Silence, a compilation of “silent” tracks from various artists including Crass, Andy Warhol, John Lennon and Orbital which puns on the title of a Simon & Garfunkel LP and rips off its cover. (Via dummymag)

Yes, you can listen to vinyl at the British Library - simply need to register for a Reader Pass. Find out more about our Listening and Viewing Services and our Sound Archive.

More good stuff:

Watch this video of radio presenter Tom Ravenscroft visiting our basements where we store our vinyl collection. 

 

07 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights - Telling stories on Twitter

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We ran an experimental storytelling workshop as part of Spring Festival called History Relived. We wanted to explore a new way of telling stories using digital platforms and archives so we used The British Newspaper Archive and Twitter. The result: eight stories ranging from a murder mystery, a divorce case and one that involves a horse ruining a dinner party. You can view them all here

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Here's Chris Dymond from Crossover Labs explaining the day's activities. 

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Exploring the British Newspaper Archive. Some groups also used the Library's Flickr photostream which includes over 1 million images that are free from copyright restrictions. 

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BBC tech writer Bill Thompson joined us!

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This group had a lot of fun - you could hear them laughing from anywhere in the Conference Centre. (Their story is the one with the horse in it.) Filmmakers, television producers, creative writing students and other creative practitioners took part. 

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Creating new Twitter accounts. This is Heinrich Weichmann @HeiWei93 a cigar-loving German who moves to Kansas with his wife Birgit Weichmann @BirgWeich. A whirlwind affair unfolds involving #schnitzel, #RailroadCommencementGala and complications with a family inheritance. Inspired by a newspaper article from 1893.

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In the end every group presented and we looked at their story's Twitter feed. Lots of laughter again.

Whether you're working in film, television, documentary, writing fiction or non-fiction, The British Newspaper Archive is a fantastic resource for exploring histories and getting inspiration for new work. I could see a lot of BNA articles translated into Downton Abbey episodes, e.g. or a period feature film like Sherlock Holmes. The archive is massive - over 240 titles and 7 million pages - so it can be overwhelming. I recommend checking out the BNA's blog to get  a flavour of what's available. Enjoy!

Many thanks to our partners Sheffield Doc/Fest and Crossover Labs and the British Newspaper Archive for giving us free access to the service. 

 All photos by Luca Sage

03 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights and all that jazz

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Spring Festival 2014 is officially finished and we had a fabulous time! Here are some photos from the most popular event Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age which began with a talk by the ever so stylish Amber Jane Butchart and Christopher Laverty and ended with roaring cocktail party. 

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Amber referring to the Library's vintage magazine collection. I don't know anyone who looks as good as her in a turban. 

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Chris is obsessed with the costumes in HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Here he's detailing the show's exquisite suit tailoring - see how the pattern on Nucky Thompson/Steve Buscemi's jacket is perfectly lined up? Nice. I think Chris himself looks like a character from the show! 

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'Always well-dressed, not always well-behaved' - our fabulous cocktail party hosts - The Vintage Mafia.  

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Alex Mendham & His Orchestra provided the jazzy tunes. They were wearing authentic suits from the 1920s. 

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Darling, of course we danced The Charleston! 

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Ladies getting their hair and make-up done by Pretty Me Vintage.

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A lovely couple in Hanson Leatherby's studio. 

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Lots of ladies in pretty hairpieces.

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Dancing shoes! That's me in ASOS gold brogues and my colleague Pam in Vivienne Westwood getting silly in The Mighty Booth. 

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A handsome couple. I think men should always wear a flower in their jackets...

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... and women should always wear flowers in their hair. Isn't she gorgeous?  

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The Vintage News interviewing Amber. They use cameras from the 1920s/30s that really work!

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And why not put a vintage car on the piazza?

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Ain't this guy cool? 

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What we drank: French 75, Mary Pickford, Manhattan

Short film coming soon - follow me at @BL_Creative.

All photos by Luca Sage

28 March 2014

Spring Festival: History Relived - Storytelling workshop

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As part of Spring Festival we are hosting History Relived a storytelling workshop with our friends at Sheffield Doc/Fest and Crossover Labs. 

Throughout the day participants will be tweeting their stories from the point of view of fictional characters they create inspired by the British Newspaper Archive. 

You can follow along and help tell the story! The official Twitter account is @History_Relived and we're using the hashtag #HistoryRelived 

The stories will be curated on Storify

More info about the workshop:

Twitter in the 1890s – what would it look like? What events would people tweet about?

We are surrounded by digital platforms that we use every day, to check what's new, to share pictures and films, to comment and recommend. But what happens when you use them to tell stories? We will challenge participants to use items from the Library's British Newspaper Archive (BNA) as a starting point for entertainment that they will create using twitter accounts to re-enact historical events.

This is a highly entertaining activity that often forms part of a Crossover Lab, the day will be fun and competitive - but it also has a point: we will be examining the nature of interactive media, lifting the lid on where creativity comes from and exploring techniques for telling stories across multiple platforms whilst opening up the archives to give the participants, and people following along, a glimpse of its treasures.

Here's an example of what may come out of the workshop using an aritcle from the Illustrated Police News dated Saturday 15th October 1892

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About the British Newspaper Archive (BNA)
The British Newspaper Archive provides online access to local and regional newspapers from Britain and Ireland, dating back to the 1700s. The newspapers are fully searchable and can reveal fascinating forgotten stories from the past. The website is a partnership project between the British Library and DC Thomson Family History.

The BNA have kindly given workshop particpiants free access to the archives for the day. All images used are published courtesy of the BNA. Hat tip to the BNA! 

In partnership with Sheffield Doc/Fest, Crossover Labs
Supported by The British Newspaper Archive 

 

25 March 2014

Live webcast: Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age

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Our Spring Festival Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age talk is sold out but the good news is you can tune in via live webcast! Just click here to sign up and watch the talk for free (from the comfort of your glamorous pad - like the mademoiselle below!) on Friday, 28 March from 18.30 - 20.00 London time. 

If you're on Twitter, send us your questions with the hashtag #BLSpring and follow me @BL_Creative.

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Paris in the 1920s via Images Online

There are still tickets available for the cocktail party afterwards here. The 'always well-dress, not always well-behaved' Vintage Mafia are hosting. 

Step into our boudoir and get your hair done in Jazz Age style by Pretty Me Vintage before getting snapped in Hanson Leatherby’s Travelling Portrait Studio. The Vintage News will be interviewing the glitziest guests and Alex Mendham & His Orchestra - the UK’s foremost deco era dance band – will make you Charleston the night away!

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Alex Mendham & His Orchestra 

24 March 2014

Winner of The Sound Edit short film competition: Honeycomb (Plodge)

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Back in October we launched our second short film competition The Sound Edit: British Accents and Dialects at the London Film Festival with IdeasTap. In January we short listed ten entrants who were given £500 to make a film inspired by our sound archive and today I'm very happy to announce the winning entry. Drumroll please....

James Spinney for his film Honeycomb (Plodge). 

Plodge_Sound clip from British Library Evolving English WordBank

James's boldly experimental short wordlessly captures the dialect term ‘plodge’ both visually and sonically. We were captivated by his  quietly innovative and meditative visual method and we wanted to watch it again and again. 

'Plodge', to the anonymous member of the public who recorded the word at our Evolving English exhibition, means to to wade through water.  

Many congratulations James! 

We are screening Honeycomb on Monday, 31 March at our Spring Festival Inspiring Filmmakers event with four award-winning short films including Beat starring Ben Whishaw. You can also hear stories and mingle with acclaimed filmmakers Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Celia Barnett (all eight Harry Potter films!), Tony Noble (Moon) and up and coming director Jamie Stone (Orbit Ever After). This event is in partnership with the good people at Cinema Jam and Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival.  For more information and to book tickets click here

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Stills from 'Honeycomb (Plodge)' directed by James Spinney 

About James Spinney

James studied English Literature to MA level and now works as a freelance editor.  With directing partner Peter Middleton, his short film Rainfall was nominated for the ICA Experimental Film Award and won the Best Short Award at Hot Docs 2013.  The follow up - Notes on Blindness - was commissioned by the New York Times Op-Docs and selected for Sundance and SXSW 2014.  James and Peter are currently developing Notes on Blindness into a feature film. 



21 March 2014

Costumes in film: dark Hollywood glitz, that green Atonement dress, Barbarella's PVC bodysuit

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Dear Readers,

Spring Festival is only a week away - don’t miss our Inspiring Filmmakers event with screenwriter/director Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), art department researcher Celia Barnett (all eight Harry Potter films!), production designer Tony Noble (Moon) and up and coming director Jamie Stone (Orbit Ever After). More info and tickets here

Today’s guest blog on film costumes is written by students from Central Saint Martins Fashion History and Theory course.

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard (1950) was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the 20th century. Directed by Billy Wilder, it tells the tragic come-back story of fading silent movie star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and the troubled companionship she finds in Joe Gillis (William Holden), a struggling screenwriter. The costumes were designed by Academy Award winner Edith Head.

A real icon of the silent-film era, Swanson fit the role of Norma perfectly. References to Swanson’s film career are dotted throughout the film and her personal photographs decorate Norma’s fictional mansion. Head later said that she had drawn on Swanson’s expertise and authenticity when designing her costumes.

The costumes epitomise the darker side of mid-century Hollywood glitz. Head’s designs for Norma resembled Christian Dior’s New Look of the late 1940s, combined with hints of Jazz Age glamour. Norma's signature look is leopard print. The first time we meet Norma, she is dressed in a sweeping house gown trimmed with leopard and topped with a leopard turban. Later, we see her dressed head-to-toe in leopard fabric whilst lounging by the pool.

The dramatic final scene reveals Norma dressed in what is arguably her most significant costume: an off the shoulder glittering evening gown with a jewelled snake bracelet coiled around her arm and sequins sprinkled over her bare shoulder.  - Jihane Dyer 

 


Atonement

Ian McEwan’s Atonement, tells the tale of forbidden love and family conflict before, during, and after World War II. The novel, published in 2001, was adapted into a film in 2007 by director Joe Wright. Both works harmoniously introduce us to the confident aristocrat Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley), her sister and aspiring writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and their housekeeper's promising son, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy).

Nearly a character itself is Cecilia's iconic, green silk gown. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, (Pride & Prejudice, 2005 and Anna Karenina, 2012) created the provocative dress with a flowing bias cut that transforms within different scenes. Durran added slits to allow for movement in that intense sex scene. The knot that decorated the front of the dress is a nod to a classic 1930s design and was used to symbolise Cecilia's virginity. In 2008 Durran won a Bafta for Best Costume Design.  - Angelina Todd


 


Barbarella

The 1968 cult classic Barbarella starring Jane Fonda takes us on a futuristic fantasy journey in her shag pile spaceship to seek out missing scientist Durand Durand. While the plot remains a fairly simplistic sequence of Fonda getting herself into danger, it does lead to a showcase of incredible outfits.

Based on a comic book tale, Barbarella required costumes that embody a glamorous vision of the future and also represent a sense of comic surrealism. French costume designer Jacques Fonteray, took influence from the work of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne who was known for his of use innovative materials. As a result, costumes were made from PVC, Perspex and chain mail. Rabanne was personally involved in creating a green dress made of linked plastic tiles, which gave Fonda an almost reptilian-like appearance while still carrying a 1960s silhouette.  - Hannah Beach

 

For a full line-up of Spring Festival events visit: bl.uk/spring 

 

06 March 2014

Amber Jane Butchart and Christopher Laverty's favourite accessories

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When I first met fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart and blogger Christopher Laverty at the British Library I felt a little under-dressed and under-accessorised. (My workwear consists of a basic skater dress, Adidas trainers and sometimes a bracelet.)  These two KNOW HOW TO DRESS. They are also film costume experts. You can hear them wax lyrical about their favourite fashion pieces from 1920s-30s films at our Spring Festival event Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion & Film in the Jazz Age. Here they kindly share their favourite accessories. 

Amber's favourite accessories

Mine would have to be the turban! (OBVS) My favourite stockists are: Akhu Designs for incredible prints and West African vibrance, Alice Edgeley for high-octane glamour and Silken Favours who mainly do blouses but also sometimes turbans in amazing prints. 

Amber Jane Butchart wears Akhu Designs
Amber in Akhu Design 

Gloria Swanson wore great turbans and head wraps in the 1920s.

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Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard 1950

Another favourite accessory would be the skeleton! As modelled brilliantly by Theda Bara below.

Theda Bara

Lastly, Josephine Baker's banana skirt. I love it so much that a friend and I made one along with a Carmen Miranda fruit headdress.

Josephine Baker banana dress
 


Christopher's favourite accessories 

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Clothes on Film blogger Christopher Laverty via Vogue Shot

Braces:

What the Americans call ‘suspenders’. Belts were more of a utility garment during the 1920s, so you would often see them combined with braces on manual workers, which of course is considered a big no-no nowadays. For me it’s all about comfort. Braces combined with a natural waist (read high) trouser hang better, don’t pinch, and arguably look more masculine. Clip-on braces are a bit naff with trousers but work fine with jeans. Once you’ve tried braces you won’t go back. Gentlemen, your crotch will thank you.


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Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes 

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African dandies photographed by Hanif Abdur-Rahim

Pocket Square:

Basically the generic name for a handkerchief stuffed in the top pocket of your suit jacket. You see this look all over Boardwalk Empire. The idea of the handkerchief is that it is supposed to represent a flower. This is why the folded over, angular shape seen in Mad Men and the like can seem a bit, well, square. Just hold a (silk) handkerchief between your thumb and forefinger, pull the fabric through the clenched fist of your other hand – a bit like a magician, fold over, stick it in your jacket pocket and you’re done. This is the British ‘tucked in’ style which is far easier to manage throughout the day. Avoid matching your pocket square to your tie though, unless you’re going for a very specific, and perhaps ironic, look. 

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Michael K Williams in Boardwalk Empire

Cufflinks:
 
I prefer the simple swivel bar type, but with as gaudier a jewel as possible. I think because you do not see the end of the shirt cuff, and as such the cufflink, all the time it gives licence to be ostentatious. After all if you are not going to have fun with your cufflinks, why wear them at all? Buttons are certainly easier to fasten and a lot less fuss when you want to roll your shirt sleeves up. Incidentally, while I’m on the subject, always roll your shirt sleeves up if warm, never ever wear a short sleeve shirt and tie. To be honest if you ever take off your suit jacket, rolling up your sleeves is a good idea. The jacket is made to be worn at all times, not removed when the central heating is too high; if you must remove it, rolling the sleeves kind of embraces the casualness.

Now back to cufflinks: for my own personal taste I avoid any cufflinks with words, logos, or god forbid, jokes. Keep it gold, ensure the stone is large (onyx if you’re not that brave), and pop ‘em with pride.

Michael-Caine-in-Get-Carter_front-big-cufflinks_for-Inspired-by-blogMichael Caine in Get Carter, 1971

Meet Amber and Christopher at Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age on Friday, 28 March at the British Library - tickets here