I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle based on the novel by Dodie Smith Book and lyrics Teresa Howard music Steven Edis

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Pre-Raphaelites Episode 2

Episode two of the BBC 4 Pre-Raphaelite documentary series focuses on the innovative way that the PRB handled landscape painting. The programme stressed how the PRB pre-dated the French Impressionists by ten years in their methods. It explained how they started to actually paint landscapes outdoors using pre-prepared paint carried in pigs bladders so that their work would have even more naturalism and spontaneity. One of the most beautiful and detailed of these paintings was Millais' painting of Ophelia (above). Lizzie Siddal was the model for Ophelia, lying in a tin bath. Lizzie was so dedicated that even when the candles around the bath went out she still continued to keep up her position in the bath of freezing water and became very ill afterwards. POSSESSED would have been incomplete without this story and the significance of it in her life.

The programme is on again tonight but you can also view it on iplayer.

Rossetti in the Subway

The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Website sent me this picture today. It is a copy of Rossetti's painting 'The Beloved' on tiles at Pimlico Station. The photo was taken by Jack Challem. I haven't been to see it myself yet but will have to think of an excuse to go to the Tate Britain again just to look at it.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Pre-Raphaelites BBC 4

Last night saw the beginning of the BBC documentary series The Pre-Raphaelites which you can still view on BBC iplayer. If you click on the title above it will take you straight there.

The series is produced by Franny Moyle, author of the book Desperate Romantics, and is a taster of what is to come in her forthcoming TV drama series of the same name. Desperate Romantics, the Drama and the book bring to life the relationships of the Pre-Raphaelites. This documentary series is more concerned with their art, described simply, and punchily with brief comments from well known Pre-Raphaelite Scholars like Alison Smith from the Tate, Jan Marsh the writer and Prof. Elizabeth Prettejohn. I presume it is an attempt inform us about the movement and to whet out appetites before the drama begins.

Episode 1 looks at the origins of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt. It discusses their first revolutionary paintings that hit the headlines and were received with horror, until John Ruskin came along to champion them. The programme explains that is was the Raphael-ites, the followers of Raphael who the PRB were turning away from, rather than Raphael himself who they saw as a great artist. The word "Audacious" seems to be the buzz word of the programme!

The next episode which looks at the way the PRB transformed landscape painting, ten years before the French Impressionists, and can be viewed on BBC 4 at 8.30 on Tuesday 23rd June and on Wednesday 24th June at 7.30pm.

The Rossetti painting above is entitled Ecce Ancilla Domini! Also known as The Annunciation. It shows Christina Rossetti posing as the Virgin Mary in what was to be a highly criticised work depicting the religious story in a naturalistic and symbolic way, which was very shocking to a Victorian public. It was also one of Rossetti's series of "white Pictures" experimenting with luminous white backgrounds a direct reversal of the dark murky style the Royal Academy preferred for imitating old masters.

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Last week I went to see The Pre-Raphaelite Live Canon, directed by Helen Eastman, at the Finborough Theatre. This was a performance of the poetry of William Morris, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, George Meredith, Elizabeth Siddal and Algernon Swinburne. It was performed by Charles de Bromhead, Curtis Jordan and Anthony Shuster. Some of William Morris's poetry had been set to music by Jerome de Bromhead, one of Ireland's leading contemporary composers.

It was a very moving evening with poetry and a capella singing, performed with exceptional finesse and emotional integrity. I especially liked the Morris poetry set to Jerome de Bromhead's music. It is rare to see poetry performed in such an entertaining and exciting way and I hope that there will be more events like this.

The Finborough Canon ended on 1st June but this is a touring show with other poetry Canon's including the Romantics and Metaphysical Poets. When I find out when the next showing is I will put it up on the site.


Steve and I worked on the structure of the new show together and I have now finished the first draft of the book. We are having a private reading on 10th July to see how the book is coming along. In the meantime we are also working on the songs. This is a very different show from Possessed, with a predominantly younger cast and is set in the 1930's.