A somewhere project by Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie

Mrs Starkey Bence

Monday, October 31, 2005 – 11:10 AM
by Karen

The irrepressable mistress of the tudor and wartime house enjoys an early tipple!

A difficult day in 1942 ...

Sunday, October 30, 2005 – 1:10 AM
by Nina

Karen leads the party following our cloaked leader up to the house at the end of a long day. Sometimes once we actually get here we're so worn out by last min. prep it's hard to enjoy being here with everything from the right head scarf to authentic drawing materials in place.

Meanwhile ...

Saturday, October 29, 2005 – 8:10 PM
by Nina

Patrick the owner of kentwell leads the public on a ghostly tour ....

Film show ...

Saturday, October 29, 2005 – 8:10 PM
by Nina

As i type this in to my mobile we're all sitting watching an evening film show of amazing material shot during the war ... Everyone shouting out as their 'characters' feature!

day before
Friday, October 28, 2005 – 12:10 PM by Jenn

polishing more polishing and yet more polishing - difficult to do when baby wants to help!br /checking all my facts to make sure that my persona of Section leader Scott is all present and correct. I always get a sick feeling in my stomach before I do this in case I get anything ...

stockings, socks
Thursday, October 27, 2005 – 2:10 PM by Jenn

I tried on the lisle stockings - they're so horrible to wear and certainly not attractive no wonder some people wore ankle socks almost the whole time. I suppose I could always go for the ankle sock and wellie boot combo that my sister sported so winningly in August! However I ...

It's been a long time
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 – 6:10 PM by Jenn

Since I wrote anything but the next event looms large and I feel I should write something before 1940s event at kentwell.br /I am really busy at the moment getting stuff ready for the October - received today with great excitement a 1941 copy of Punch and some gorgeous lisle ...

Preparation ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 – 10:10 AM
by Nina

That's what u need ... As any kentwell WW 2 resident will tell u this week! If you are reading this we are prepared 4 mobile to blog updates ... Here's hoping

War Artists

Sunday, October 23, 2005 – 6:10 PM
by Nina

When did you say your O level is?
When did you say your O level is?
Charcoal drawing, not that easy when out of practice!

It seems from our conversations with other re-enactors that there are two very different ways of developing 'back stories' for roles. Some people relish the reading up on characters and developing personalities that may be different to their own, and to a certain extent at Kentwell the gentry in Tudor times all need to follow this model as they are re-enacting the lives of real and 'known' personalities who've lived at the house.

The approach I'm personally more interested in, is those who to a certain extent try to imagine themselves living during the given time. Many of the re-enactors who favour this approach tend to have roles which involve a good deal of practical skills - such as cooking or making - where in a way your 'research' is as much about the 'doing' of something as the 'knowing' about it.

Our WW II roles seem to need a combination of these two approaches, I very much want to try and picture how it would have been for us to live then as artists, but in order to do this feel like I need to know more about how artists lived but more importantly thought at that time.

This week we discovered some real evidence to back up our hunch that the Royal College of Art (where I teach now and in 1942!) was indeed evacuated to the Ambleside in the Lake District during the war (very near where Karen lives now). My 'getting it right' excitement at finding the Ambleside facts was rather dashed by the completely conservative (even for that time) examples of work that illustrate the little catalogue "Artist as Evacuee" that documents the staff and student work from this time. Somehow the thought of being conservative landscape etchers even in 1942 doesn't seem that appealing!

During research certain scraps of information do 'lodge' with you, and suddenly the period feels much nearer. I've always been keen on Eric Ravilious's work - but didn't realise he actually went missing in 1942 during a trip to Iceland in service as a war artist & whilst on the staff role of the RCA. Imagining your contemporary colleagues lost during an aeroplane patrol does serve to bring the whole experience closer.

'getting it right'

Sunday, October 23, 2005 – 6:10 PM
by Nina

1942 gossip ...
1942 gossip ...
Photo: John Podpadec

Whilst some of our other bloggers have been back in Tudor Times, we have been focussing on our footage shot to date and preparing to return to 1942 this coming weekend. Our last trip there was the first time we'd joined a WW II re-enactment, and, as Karen said at the time, it takes a while to grow confident with your period name never mind your 'back-story'.

One of the fascinating things I find in talking to people about their Kentwell lives is what shapes their characters in each period and how they develop these stories. Our 'tudor aunt' Kate commented that what she really likes about WW II is 'getting it right' and being able to act on her research in full confidence. So for example when they introduce powdered egg into the kitchen this happens in the right '1942 week', and of course with original recipes. This kind of tudor-accuracy is, she thinks, almost impossible.

I've now started experiences flashes of this 'research' satisfaction with some of our WW II reading ... I recently romped through Joan Wyndham's "Love Lessons". It's certainly not a complex read (in fact more like a 1940's London art school diary meets 'Jacky' magazine with a touch of 'Hello') but thoroughly enjoyable and to some extent obviously based on her real diaries from the start of the war. Like me, she went to Chelsea Art school, prompted it seems (and unlike me) by the desire for a studio space in Fulham in which to cook kidney suppers and narrowly avoid her various older and rather revolting sounding male-artist suitors ...

Anyway the details of her London war time life have at least started to help me imagine myself back in time.

sometime later