Archive for the ‘Wabi’ Category

Buckets and all: National Trust collections online

December 20, 2011

Leather fire bucket painted with the royal arms, at Scotney Castle, Kent. ©National Trust

The National Trust has just made another small step towards making its collections more accessible: our object database, including fine and decorative art, furniture and household and estate parafernalia is now available online as National Trust Collections.

Small metal bucket at Standen, West Sussex. ©National Trust

This is very much a work in progress. Although almost three quarters of a million items are currently available online, more are still being added and we will probably end up with closer to a million.

Mahogany and brass turf bucket, mid-eighteenth-century, at Ardress House, Co Armagh. ©National Trust

Some records are more extensive and complete than others, but several people (of which I am one) are constantly checking and improving descriptions and adding images. We thought it would be better to show you what has been recorded so far, warts and all, rather than wait until everything is perfect.

Child's metal bucket, at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton. ©National Trust

So do let us know if you spot anything that can be improved – either by emailing or by contacting me.

Leather fire bucket at Florence Court, Co Fermanagh, with the 'E' of the Earl of Enniskillen, the owner of the house. ©National Trust

Equally, we hope you will enjoy browsing the collections and discovering the beautiful, weird and wonderful objects lurking in the various historic houses of the National Trust. If you have a specific research interest there are various ways you can search, such as by historic house, by object category, or by date. Happy treasure-hunting!

The wabi of Great Chalfield

October 25, 2010

©Emile de Bruijn

As I was previously writing a post about Great Chalfield Manor and its canine mistress, it struck me how much this house and its garden embody the Japanese concept of wabi.

©Emile de Bruijn

Wabi stands for a humble beauty, the look of objects showing the signs of wear and patina. 

©Emile de Bruijn

Wabi can express a sense of melancholy, of sobriety and spareness.

©Emile de Bruijn

But by stripping away the more obvious trappings of beauty, wabi also exposes the fundamental vitality hidden in natural materials.

©Emile de Bruijn

Major Robert Fuller and his architect Sir Harold Brakspear seem to have had a very similar ideal in mind when they restored Great Chalfield in the late nineteenth century.

©Emile de Bruijn

And today Patsy Floyd maintains the garden in the same spirit, with flowers emerging from between flagstones and lush greenery contrasting with lichen-covered stonework. 

©Emile de Bruijn

It would be interesting to find out if Japanese visitors experience Great Chalfield in this way, or whether they see it as exotically ‘English’.