Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Twin Tragedy

The last month has been a sad one for British acting, as two iconic figures from the golden age of the British screen passed away. Angharad Rees and Simon Ward became familiar faces to UK cinemagoers and fans of TV drama via a series of fine performances in a string of films and television serials of the Sixties and Seventies. Mainstream media outlets highlighted their roles in domestic TV productions, identifying Rees with the character of the passionate serving girl Demelza in Poldark, and Ward with parts like Bishop Gardiner in the recent series The Tudors, both BBC period dramas.

Yet cult film fans remember them fondly for rather darker performances, particularly for Hammer Films, the UK’s legendary Gothic horror specialist. In 1971, Angharad took the leading role of Saucy Jack’s daughter in Hands of the Ripper. It was a part which showcased her versatility, as a delicate English rose with some wickedly dangerous thorns. In 1969, the dashing Mr Ward made his film speaking debut as one of Baron Frankenstein’s most memorable assistants in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, playing a young doctor named Karl, blackmailed by the Baron into assisting in his fiendish experiments. Some, including the film’s distinguished director Terence Fisher, regard Frankenstein Must be Destroyed as Hammer’s greatest exercise in celluloid Gothic.

To commemorate the passing of these two irreplaceable performers, you might care to join us and watch a DVD double-bill of these two ripe vintage slices of Hammer horror. If you’d like to immerse yourself yet further in the worlds of Jack the Ripper and Baron Frankenstein, we might have just the thing. Those fascinated by the Ripper will adore our grisly but elegant Jack’s Tally pendant, while Frankenstein fiends should check out Igor’s Knife Switch, our eye-catching earring inspired by the Baron’s brutish assistant.

You can purchase both of the above items by visiting our recommended dealers page at www.alchemyengland.com/buy

London 2012 Olympics

London’s 2012 Summer Olympics will be the biggest event in the UK this year. It’s the third time that England’s capital has hosted the games and very soon almost 200 countries will be competing against each other in 26 different sporting activities. We’re are now just 2 days away from the massive opening ceremony, which will kick-start the competitive event.
 
The Olympic games originated in Ancient Greece where they were held every four years at Olympia in honour of Zeus, the king of their gods. They are believed to have begun around 776 BC as a much smaller event with fewer, male-only participants. Back then, you’d have been just as likely to see athletes taking part in chariot racing as wrestling! Naturally, times have changed and nowadays not only are women allowed to compete but we’ve also got inspiring events such as the Paralympic Games too.

 In honour of the Olympics’ origins, Alchemy invites you to explore two famous Hellenic myths through our English-crafted jewellery. The Gorgon’s Eye ring [R.153] and belt buckle [B.77] both pay homage to the snake-haired gorgon Medusa and Icarus Ex Machina necklace [P.556] is a steampunk interpretation of Icarus’ wax and feather wings as created by his dad!

 

You can order the Gorgon’s Eye Beltbuckles by browsing our recommended online dealers at

www.alchemyengland.com/buy

French to confiscate British crown jewels

In one of the more unorthodox diplomatic initiatives of recent years, a French petition is being submitted to Her Majesty the Queen of England, demanding the Crown Jewels. The petition originates from Angers, a city around 300km west of Paris, which was once capital of the historic province of Anjou. This lies at the root of the demand, as Anjou was ancestral home to the Plantagenet dynasty, the family that ruled England for much of the Middle Ages. Such distinguished monarchs as Richard the Lionheart and Henry V, hero of Agincourt, all descended from the Plantagenet line.

That line was severed in 1499, when Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, was beheaded at the command of Henry VII, the first of England’s Tudor kings. Now the citizens of Angers want compensation for this 500-year-old injustice. With interest… This would be a considerable sum, but in recognition of the difficult times we now face, they are willing to accept a substitute. Namely the British Crown Jewels. A spokesman for Angers council confessed that, while their petition had ‘little chance of success’, it was worth reminding Britons of the ‘state crime’ of Edward’s ‘unfair and horrible death’, and encouraged tourists to visit the city.

The petition already has several hundred signatures, and though we at Alchemy wouldn’t support the campaign as it stands, we certainly do approve of visiting beautiful historic cities like Angers, which boasts a wealth of stunning medieval architecture. We also like to draw attention to – and inspiration from – Europe’s rich historical heritage. Such as with our ornate Plantagenet wine glass, the perfect receptacle with which to toast England’s most esteemed medieval dynasty.
To buy your very own visit www.alchemyengland.com/buy

Part II Of Exclusive Liisa Ladouceur interview, Canada’s First Lady of Goth

Goth seems better accepted now than it’s ever been – would you agree, and if so, do you think there are any potential pitfalls to such acceptance?

I would agree that the typical Goth style has become more acceptable, at least in North America and Western Europe. How many Vogue spreads have featured haute gothic fashion stylings? How often do pop stars turn up in black hair and Morticia Addams type dresses on the red carpet? More than ever. If this means young people aren’t hassled at school for dressing like Dracula or turned down for jobs because they have wacky hair and skull jewellery, I’m all for it. The world is in general a rather beige and boring place, and can’t see why a wider embrace of the dark aesthetic would have a drawback. I’m really not precious or protective of it, although many Goths are. In fact, I wish Goth was even more accepted, so that young people in the Middle East and Latin America and the rest of the world could express themselves as well without harassment.

Most agree that Goth should be fun, but can you cross a line where it all becomes too camp and trivial? Is there a serious point to it all?

Of course it’s serious. It’s a part of one’s identity, a source of pride and passion. But if you are going to go outside at the height of summer in a velvet mourning cloak and two tonnes of eyeliner, you had better be able to laugh at yourself.

What positive impact has Goth had on your life personally over the years?

Well first off the music changed my life, for the better. After seeing Love and Rockets, The Cult and the Cure on television a whole new world opened up to me – punk and new wave and noise and industrial and all the rest. That has been the soundtrack to my adolescence and adulthood and I suspect will be my funeral playlist as well. I learned to be a writer and editor by publishing a Goth fanzine, which connected me to fascinating people from all over the world. The fashion we call Goth has given me the opportunity to indulge my obsessions with death, romance, fetishism and rebellion in a way that simply reading scary stories at home by candlelight never could. Most importantly, it gave me the perfect excuse to write my first book, for which I’ll be eternally grateful. Which, if that whole “meet and marry a vampire” thing works out for me, may prove to be a very long time indeed.

Encyclopedia Gothica is published by ECW and available from all the regular book outlets.
To further explore Liisa’s world, check out her website at http://www.liisaladouceur.com/

Liisa Ladouceur interview, Canada’s First Lady of Goth

Liisa Ladouceur, Canada’s First Lady of Goth

We’ve recently found ourselves engrossed in Encyclopedia Gothica, an A-Z of all things dark and beautiful by the Canadian journalist, poet, DJ and dedicated Goth Liisa Ladouceur. A witty insider’s guide to the scene, the book features over 600 spooky entries, from ‘Absinthe’ to ‘Zombies’, with eerie artwork by the talented Toronto illustrator Ghoulish Gary Pullin. Of course, Liisa includes an entry for the Alchemy design studios, which we took as an ideal opportunity to turn the tables, and check out just how many Goth points Liisa has…

The ‘What is Goth?’ question has become something of a faux pas in many Gothic circles – why do you think this is and what inspired you to grasp this particular nettle?

You can’t avoid it! The general public and insiders alike seem perplexed by what exactly this whole Goth thing is. I was recently stopped in the supermarket of my small hometown by a friend of the family who wanted to know if it was a religion, a cult. That was a fun exchange of ideas. Goths themselves meanwhile are obsessed with defining what is and isn’t Goth, from music to shades of lipstick. How else are you going to collect your Goth points? For me, I felt the best way to answer the question was to try and define as many elements of the subculture as I could: the bands, the clothes, the slang and in-jokes. And I certainly hope once you’ve read the Encyclopedia you have you own answer.

Most Goths seem more exercised by what isn’t Goth than what is – what do you think isn’t Goth – I’m thinking here not of mainstream misapprehensions so much as anything embraced by mainstream Goth subculture (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) that you personally cannot abide…

I’m pretty sure that Emo is not at all Goth, so that confusion prickles me. Also, self-proclaimed “real vampires” are delusional. Both groups are free to do as they choose, but they have nothing to do with the Goth that I love.

Why do you think so many of Goth’s seminal musical icons – from Robert Smith of the Cure and Siouxsie, to Nick Cave and Andrew Eldritch of the Sisters of Mercy – have disowned the subculture so vocally?

Musicians – all artists, really – seem to despise being categorized, and I can’t say I blame them. Because once you are labelled one thing, people can’t see you as anything else, and it can be the kiss of death. Especially if – like the Cure – you pre-date a particular genre or scene, I can understand why you’d find it curious or downright offensive to be slapped with the tag. (I’m reminded here of how Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath reject the term heavy metal for their music, while being considered the ultimate metal bands by many.) I recently had the opportunity to ask Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees directly why he hated being described as Goth and he answered, “Have you seen the bands who call themselves Goth on MySpace?” The man has a point.

For part 2 of the interview, please check back next week…