Mary Poppins: Practically Perfect in Every Way

Mary Poppins london flying

‘A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ Mary Poppins said and changed the lives of all of us. It was back in 1964 where the iconic nanny, Mary Poppins, was transferred to the big Screen and we all became more familiar with her presence and her magical aura.  Mary Poppins represents a role model for the 60’s society, especially in Britain. In particular, ‘she was practically perfect in every way’. By using this phrase to characterize her, anyone can understand that in an age where the second-wave feminism is the protagonist, Mary Poppins came to our lives to show us the social change of the time .

Mary Poppins bag cherry lane street

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london mary poppins

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Poppins blew with the wind and she finally arrived at the 17 Cherry Tree Lane, where Mrs. Banks embraced the idea of having Poppins as a nanny for her kids. In particular, Mrs. Banks constitutes a representation of the Suffragettes of that era and she was the main reason that Poppins stayed at her house. On the other hand, Mr Banks was more cautious towards Poppins, as he represented the conservative father who values money and discipline more than anything else in life.

I couldn’t help but wonder! Does the arrival of Poppins at Mr. Banks house resulted in the restoration of the perceived norms? Or Poppins’ presence in their lives changed completely how the Banks family sees things and life? The answer is obvious; Mary Poppins’ impact leads to the disruption of the status quo in Mr. Banks family.  Poppins is the one that utilizes the tools of critical thinking and imagination, not to persuade the Banks’ children to see the world like anyone does, but instead of that she encourages them to find their own authentic perspective and explanation about the world. She is a magical nanny who proves that reality and imagination are not mutually exclusive.

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Banks Suffragettes

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So even though, Mary Poppins appears to be a proper guardian who embraces the idea of keeping the children in their ‘proper place’, in reality she is the one that creates opportunities for both the children and Mr. Banks to explore the unknown and a world of complexities where everything is connected. She represented a dynamic female role model in an era where women in Britain were trying to find their identity and place in a male-dominated society. However, still today Mary Poppins constitutes a symbol for the contemporary woman who is ‘practically perfectly in every way’, by trying not necessarily to follow the social norms, but by creating new norms and habits that will shape a better and inclusive world. A world in which everyone will know that ‘in every job that must be done there is an element of fun’ and in a world where ‘everything can happen if you let it’.

Who knows, maybe, 2018 is the year when Poppins will blow with the wind and arrive outside your door, and change your life completely…or maybe the new you finds Poppins in your unconscious and give yourself a chance to change by yourself your life with a dash of magic and a lot of faith in you!

 

banks children with Poppins

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cherry street blow with the wind

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poppins quote

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Vogue 100: A Century of Style

‘Fashion changes but style endures’. Coco Channel’s famous maxim seems particularly apt when considering the centenary of British Vogue. From its origins during the First World War to its present-day guise in the digital era, the personalities contained in its pages and the photographers who captured them, ranging from Marlene Dietrich by Cecil Beaton to Kate Moss by Mario Testino, are an extraordinary portrait of their age and comprise a panoramic view of the last century.

 

 

Many cultivated people and artists were the protagonists of British Vogue and they constituted flagships of different eras. One of them was Virginia Woolf who was photographed in the November Vogue issue in 1924, passing on 2 years later to ‘The Art of the Party’ era where the ‘Gatsby’ girls made their appearances in the high society parties wearing pearls and iconic hats. It was that time when Elsa Maxwell spoke about the ‘snob society’ that had been shaped in the habitus of the elite. In particular, she stated that: ‘Snobs are curiously incapable of gaiety perhaps because gaiety comes from the soul and snobs only take their soul à la meunière’.  This statement confesses a different aspect of the fabulous life of the elite that period. However, Vogue was there and the best photographers depicted some of the most beautiful moments of this time.

As anyone can see, it is not only the political beliefs that shape the style of the women in each period but also the new ideas and the vision that some of the designers had. Many art forms like cinema, theatre and fashion magazines like Vogue created a different type of woman in each era. But all of the depicted women, in all of their periods, preserved their smartness and femininity. But not only in the conventional way. Vogue hosted some of the most ambivalent and powerful female figures in the history. In particular, the magazine photographed female leaders and dominant figures from Queen Elizabeth II, to Princess Diana, Margaret Butcher, Barbra Streisand and many others.

 

All in all British Vogue celebrated a century of style last year in 2016. It is interesting to note that the National Portrait Gallery in London made a spectacular exhibition for the 100 years of British Vogue and the curator of this exhibition was Robin Muir. There, all the iconic moments of the cultural history were represented through the photographs of the magazine and one could also see that the protagonists of the magazine were women from different eras, who served as role models in the society. The beauty of these photographs is that they stay alive as the time goes by and they can speak to you only with their magical aura….again, for one more time, life mimics art and vice versa…and the transformative power of art can be seen that it is deeply woven into the fabric of our lives.

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Andy Warhol: More than anything people just want stars.

andy warhol

Since the ancient years until today, in the capitalist societies, it is undoubtable the fact that stars play an important role in terms of society and the way it is structured. Celebrities have great influence upon people’s lives. They serve as role models in a society.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the modern meaning of the term celebrity, actually derives from the fall of gods and the rise of democratic governments and secular societies. The root of the word celebrity derives from the latin word celere from which the English word celerity derives meaning ‘swift’. The latin roots indicate a relationship in which a person is marked out as possessing singularity and a social structure in which the character of fame is fleeting.

Based on the latter it could be argued that stars, or celebrities could reflect the internal operation mechanism of a society. Moreover, they have the power to suggest and introduce new cultural norms and shape different perceptions of reality. In particular, the first celebrities who managed to establish new norms and considered themselves as descendants of Gods, were Alexander the Great and the Romans. These celebrities constituted the leading figures, the pedagogues of the ancient world.

In our era celebrities still retain the aforementioned qualities but they are expressed in different ways due to our democratic, capitalist regime. Additionally, the rise of celebrities in our western world is related to the decline in the organized religion. In particular, people feel the need to believe in something that has superior skills and powers. After religion, it is celebrities who have come to undertake this role in popular culture. A statement that confesses this divine power that stars have upon our lives, derives from John Lennon who in 1996 said that Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’. During that era, ill people believed that if they could but only touch Lennon, they could be cured immediately.

 

10th February 1964: Two excited girls in Beatles sweatshirts, amongst a crowd of fans in New York, welcoming the group as they arrive at the airport. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Just Like Jesus and the emperors of the ancient world, celebrities not only have divine characteristics but they also have a human aspect that makes them appealing to the people. As Leo Bandy argues:” Alexander remains the earliest example of paradoxical fame in which the authority of a hero is yet a model for support of ordinary human nature’. When people see this social profile, they automatically feel that the celebrity is not a distant stranger, but rather a familiar person which deserves admiration and glory. This is one of the many reasons for the fact that people want stars in their life.

Furthermore, celebrities are the informal life coaches in our lives. Stars like Angelina Jolie, Bono, Elton John, Madonna, David Bowie etc. through the difficulties that they confronted in their lives they give courage to other people to go on. However, it is not only that…with the financial support, they help children from undeveloped countries with philanthropic activities and some of them have already built Institutions and Hospitals. An example to support this argument is Elton John, who established the Elton John AIDS FOUNDATION.

 

As a consequence of the aforementioned, I could not help but wonder…was Warhol right? Is it true what he said? That more than anything people just want stars? Is it true that they are important in terms of society? That they give us the sense of escapism and the aura of superiority? Of course it is…we see it everyday. But in the end of the day…what about us? Τhe commoners…(as Bowie said) Could we be heroes just for one day? Be the stars in our own lives?

B945H6 Andy Warhol, artist, portrait, himself, white background
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Women’s Body & Discipline Notions in the Consumerist Western World

Women's body notions in the consumerist western world

In modern life, it is common knowledge the fact that the female body within the consumer western world constitutes a multidimensional and important issue as far as the self- identity, social, historical, and political aspects are concerned. In particular, in a capitalist regime, a woman’s body is manipulated through disciplinary approaches which try to make it more useful, more multi-functional and more beautiful compared to the past.

Women in today’s world have to be beautiful, strong, intelligent, with developed skills and attitudes. They have to combine work, household chores, the raising of their children and be ‘sexy’ at the same time. That is why a ‘multi-functional body’ is demanded in our era.

 

vintage women's body

Furthermore, femininity is truly connected with the body. An example to support this argument is the Hollywood industry which supports the idea of ‘free-yourself’ through your body. In particular, Hollywood and the Media World have contributed to the construction of femininity through the celebrity idols, the cosmetic surgery programs they promote, like Nip Tuck, and series like Sex and the City. All these emphasize the importance of a ‘good’ body in a consumerist society, which is ready to be loved and appreciated by others.

Carrie Bradshaw bodynip tuck body standards

It is interesting to note that this ‘look good – feel good’ approach to life demonstrates the power that is given to the female body. For this reason, consumerism conveys the message that the more products the women buy, the more feminine, sexual and better their bodies will be. The body is, therefore, the tool for women to taste life and experience a brand new ‘hedonistic lifestyle’. The body of a woman can make her feel attractive, confident and she could be included in the category lifestyle of the ‘Martini people’.

According to the aforementioned, I could not help but wonder…has the patriarchal structure of the society that Christianity and others religions support really changed throughout the years? Or Consumerism and Neoliberalism still promote the male-dominated society by sexualising women through their bodies and making them feel accountable only when they accomplish what the advertisements say….?  The only thing that is unquestionable is that femininity which is expressed through the body constitutes a social construct….thus as Simone De Beauvoir once said: ‘ A woman’s body is her situation, not her destiny’.

This ‘destiny’ is defined by the people and their culture…but ultimately what is really worth to mention is that all the disciplinary approaches that have been detected through all of those years regarding the body, hide one of humanity’s greatest fears  — the fear of death. As a consequence, consumerism exploits the fear of growing old and makes people and particularly women feel that they will be more loved and live longer if they take care of their bodies by implementing certain advice that the mechanism of society gives to them.

Finally the Love Your Body syndrome (LYB) suggests that in today’s era, you go straight from the gym to the therapist’s couch to work on instilling the proper compulsory self body love. Thus, as you see, today the emphasis is given upon teaching the masses not what to think, but how to think’!

 

are you beach body ready

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British Library & October Gallery: Family Day-Festival of Maps

Festival of Maps

Since we live in an increasingly diverse society, the messages that the world conveys seem truly mixed. Teaching children to recognize the choices an artist or a designer makes in portraying a subject, helps them understand the concept that what they see maybe someone’s own interpretation of reality. That is why art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize and use visual information to interact with the world and how to make choices based on their new experience.

An example to support the above argument is an event that I was fortunate enough to be a part of it a couple of days ago. In particular, I assisted in managing an educational workshop which took place at the British Library and it was organised by the former in collaboration with October Gallery, a contemporary art gallery which has pioneered the development of the transavantgarde, the trans-cultural avant-garde. The artists featured in this gallery had created a project specially designed for the disabled children and their families. In particular, the children had to create little birds with pieces of paper and after that, they had to decorate them with various pieces of colourful paper and delicate gold leaves. Furthermore, they could also create their own stamps and fill them with black ink and then put them wherever they wanted on the world map, which was designed by our special artist named Georgie.

Have a quick look at what happened that day… It is so amazing what kids can create! Don’t you agree?

Festival of Maps

These art-making workshops of the British Library Family programme emphasized the importance of art in the development of the child. Thus, learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young age. Furthermore for very young children, making art provides opportunities to further develop their vocabulary by learning new words for colours, shapes and actions. It also helps them making substantial decisions. In particular, according to a report by Americans for the arts, art education enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills. That is to say that if they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a greater chance to blossom.

Additionally, art education is essential when it comes to disabled children, it helps them develop their senses and it is also considered a part of expressive therapy. Thus, the aim is to create an inclusive society with vision, mission, and values and make the disabled kids feel more integrated into the ordinary world. Consequently, if we give them the opportunities to create, they will and they will do it really well and we will be both proud of them and ourselves!

 

Enjoy some photos that I took from the magical venue of the British Library that hosted the event!

Festival of Maps

Festival of Maps

 

 

 

 

 

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Transfanshional Lab – The Talk: London College of Fashion

In modern life, where everything changes ever so immensely and our digital era contributes to the transformation of almost everything, from relationships to science, there is still something that remains pure to its purpose, that is art and fashion. Human imagination, feelings, vision and thoughts are expressed through art and fashion in our popular culture today.

It is undoubtable the fact that,in our era, we have a plethora of choices to express ourselves and develop our creativity, and fashion as an art sector came to conquer the neoliberal world. Thus, it is all about vision. You imagine a world and all of a sudden you make it real. It is, therefore, the expression of our inner selves and our personal style and interpretation of reality. This latter statement of realisation came into my mind when I visited London College of Fashion last week, to attend a talk, titled the Transfashional Lab.

 

Here is the entrance of  London College of Fashion. It is stunning isn’t it ?

In particular, this seminar illustrated the different ways in which fashion and art influenced Austian, Polish and British culture. All of the lecturers have respectable positions at Museums as curators, eg. Victoria & Albert museum, or others derived from the fashion industry and the publishing sector, eg. Elle magazine, Vogue etc. I was so happy for being there, and had the chance to see them and talk to them regarding the history of fashion.

What really impressed me, in the third round of the talk, was that in London, fashion and nightclubbing have had a complementary relationship, all of those years. The nightlife in London especially in the 1970s was characterized by the punk fashion phenomenon, as all the nightclubs were full of ‘punk’ Londoners. At this specific time one of the most well known and fabulous british designers in our era, was a messiah and a pioneer in the 70’s, this was Vivienne Westwood. She was one of the architecs of the punk fashion phenomenon and through her creations she was trying to make a statement in the concurrent regime in some way.

It was years later, in 1981-1982 when Westwood made her first catwalk show, called ‘Pirates’. In ‘Pirates’, she was inspired from native Americans, the plundering history and the Third World. That is the reason why she created historical dresses and from that moment in her career she developped ethnic cutting techniques which are based on rectangles. Check out some photos that I took during the Talk regarding Westwood!

Westwood’s clothes express a dynamic combination with the body and she continues to integrate this in with historical cuts.

As a consequence of this example, we can see that fashion is influenced by history, the ordinary lives of the people, the different eras, the gestures and the movements, in other words fashion is culture and the creation of art is the highest purpose of a designer, a painter, or any other kind of artist.

Take another look at more photos form the Talk! I hope you like them! XOXO Vogueaddictedgirl!

 

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