Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A little twist on the Royal Wedding

Following the release of my first blog post, which was actually one of the most pleasurable artistic releases I have been involved with and I must say I am proper fired up to put down some more words of wisdom (figuratively speaking of course). Lance ask for a royal wedding post, which in the first instance I was a little reserved about as despite the importance of the occasion, it already has, as with any such events been more than a little over done by the media and every media vehicle so really what more to say!!

Then I thought why not, and why not put a little twist on it. Having enjoyed enormously those bits that I did managed to watch with Yana at every opportunity pulling me in to any coffee shop she could that was showing the event, you do have to say that us English do know how to do pomp and ceremony like no one else, what a show and yes I too loved The Dress also and I partially loved how the maid of honour looked, and not just the curves, the white on white chose was wholly appropriate and a lovely twist on tradition really hope this spills over to main stream weddings as we all have been witness to the dreadfully attired and utterly uncoordinated maid of honour and probably on more than one occasion.

I also thought the decision to go with the Alexander Mc Queen design house was both a wonderfully subtle tip to the excellence design talent that exists in the UK, and that, that has always traditionally been here. As for the girls on the day, those subtle design details exemplary finishing’s and little coordinated elements between the outfits where a real joy. RIP Alexander hope your smiling now, please do your selves a favour check the web site out www.alexandramcquen.com and have a particular look at the savage beauty project, femininity and power revisited stunning and a subject I will return to in later posts.

Savage Beauty

After puffing my chest out and feeling proud to be British, a felling not so PC these days, it got me thinking again about a few of the question I have often asked whist rediscovering myself here in Bulgaria. You know already I love history and that the hidden history of these lands enthrals me, well having watched the marriage of an English Prince to his English Rose it reminded me that as a result of my inherent curiosity and research I have discovered some very interesting, surprising and somewhat unexplained links between England and Bulgaria.

We all know about the war of the Rose’s and how through marriage the countries warring tribes united, well this leeds to the blending of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster and thus the creation of the Tudor Rose and the term she’s an English Rose is meant to infer innocence and beauty clear of skin and soul, calmer of men. Hence to this day the Rose remains one of the enduring and strongest symbols of our nation.

Tudor rose, created out of combining the 
white rose of York and red rose of Lancaster

If you have travelled to Bulgaria you will also know that the Rose here is also an emanate symbol and source of national pride, but for different reasons. The Bulgaria Rose as a result of the unique climate and soil conditions here particularly in the Kazanlak region, is world-renowned as the most superior source of rose oil there is, and is almost exclusively used in all the best perfumes, per gram being worth 3 times that of gold.

The Bulgarian Rose

But I bet you did not know that the roses renowned in each country are from the same genetic source, that being the Rosa-damascena, which in its original form came out of Persia or Syria to be more precise.

The Crusader Robert de Brie is more oftern given credit for bringing the Damask rose from Syria to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to Damascus, Syria. Stories then follow that say the Romans subsequently brought the rose to England, and a further accounts suggest that the physician of Henry VIII gave him a Damask rose, as a present, around 1540.

Following on from this and as we approach St Georges day it also intrigued me as to why St George a classic symbol of our nation is in fact the patron Saint of England, what you say! Well St George is almost exclusively an Eastern European Saint where the Christian Orthodox religion prevails and as such in Western Europe England is on its own in celebrating his Saint-hood?

My personal favorite image of St George and the Dragon by 
Paolo Uccello and one of the closest depiction's to the original
dragon fable.
Let me give further back ground to my questioning and its reasoning, so lets look at who was St George well for sure he was not English, we was in fact born a Christian in Lod, Syria which is now Cappadocia eastern Turkey during the 3rd century and at the age of 14 after his parents died he joined the Roman army to serve the pagan Emperor Diocletian whom his father had served before him, George became well know for resisting his emperors attempts to convert his and all those who served under him from their Christian faith, finally paying with his life, being beheaded in Palestine April 23 303AD, and it was April 23, 1222 that the council of oxford England declared this day April 23rd was to be St Georges Day, Why? What was he to England, the religion of chose in these days was far from Christian Orthodox! Understand my question now, is there some unknown link/reasoning. Yes we where a Christian / Catholic based nation by why out of step with the rest of Western Europe with George.

By the way the whole dragon slaying thing (stories brought back by the Crusaders) is and will continue to be subject to much conjecture, but what I can tell you is that there are only two places in the world where St George is depicted on a church fresco not on a horse, and one of them is in a tiny little church in the village Dobarsko just 12km outside of Bansko! (This church and village will be the subject of future blogs).

Completing my trilogy of English / Bulgarian connection is the three Lions emblem, classic Englishness for sure well its also classic if not some what forgotten Bulgaria and uniquely such between our two countries, interested well read on. Most historians accept that in the 12th century Richard the Lion heart when he cam to power through combining both Norman symbolism from the 11th Century and probably a little artistic licence creating the 3 lions passent emblem mostly its believed to indicate the new unity of the lands.
Pictorial history of the English 3 lions emblem 
Whilst heralded a great English King Richard the Lion Heart was in fact born in France and spoke exclusively French, spending in this entire life 1 year if that on English soil. Famous or infamous for the 3rd crusade it is during this time he and his crusaders fort there way through old Europe and what was then the Byzantine Empire  which fully encompassed Bulgaria as it was then.

The route of the 3rd Crusade taken by Richard the Lion Heart here marked in Red and passing right through Bulgaria lands
It is during these times that some, and what I believe to be, important contact was made with the Bulgarian leaders and people of the day, as if you look at the image below made by a noted Arab traveller and then this link http://heraldika-bg.org/gallery_armorial.htm you see and recognize the almost completely over looked and uncanny resemblances that follows Tsar to Tsar almost right up to the most recent and current reinvention of the Bulgarian coat of arms. What do you think?

The 14th century Coat of Arms of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Shishman noted and recorded by anonymous Arab traveler of the day.

So to conclude am I romantically looking for reasons as to why I feel so comfortable (aside from my beautiful wife) on these shores and why so many other English I know and meet feel the same with out really being able to put there finger on any tangible explanation for these feelings, as for sure its a discussion I have very often, or are there really historical and genetic links as yet disclosed just waiting for a new generation to discover.    

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love, Life, Design and the Undiscovered Bulgaria

I have often thought about writing and believed I had a story to tell but as a dyslexic its kind of daunting, even with the advent of the computer, Microsoft-word and spell check. All the words and idea’s are there but its getting them to paper (so to speak). As I am a self confessed IT/social media idiot and have only recently understood what Facebook and Twitter where really all about, but when I did I fell for the concept completely as a vehicle for people to connect and communicate like never before, including little old me.

I have chosen to label this blog rather long windily but never the less I believe appropriately, as Love, Life, Design and the Undiscovered Bulgaria. Stick with me on this and all, I promise will be revealed. 

Design and the world around me has always been a obsessive part of my life and in the words of Paulo Coelho, I have always walk slowly with eyes wide open, not always liking what I have seen, but looking never the less. If you look you will see, the wonder that surrounds you and see that design in all its facets touches every part of your life, embrace it, enjoy it and use it to enhance your being.

Now this might all sound a little religious or intense, well yes it is and its my intention to help everyone I can, to see why, for example have you ever seen and badly designed/considered or under detailed church of any faith or denomination, NO, why because beauty is in design and design is a beautiful thing, with Mother Nature being at the head of the game in every way.

Just look at the geometry of this stunning 1980's church with its 78m high ceiling in the Hailgrimur church in Reykjavik Iceland, the architect has used references and influences from the nature of the region to produce this fabulously detailed architectural interior thats the more beautiful for its simplicity. can you see the organic references? and absolutely no frescos but in no way the less for it.
In this blog I want to, for those that wish to follow, show why I am passionate about what I do, why I do it, and why it influences my life and how I live it, who I love and how I love them and why I fall and keep falling in love every day with Bulgaria and life. 

For example today whilst picking up some 2.5mm electrical cable for a project, I noticed amid all the relatively non descript ordinary electrical items something different something interesting an electrical plug! What you say, yes an everyday item but fabulously re-invented, it gave me real pleasure to look at and hold and I had to buy one straight away, dashing home to change one of my existing plugs to this one! Is he mad you say? No not by my reckoning someone somewhere had taken time and energy to take a basic perfectly functional item and turn it into something interesting and tactile, the least I could do was recognise this and enjoy it.

The IPhone of electrical plugs, the Legrand unit is elegantly proportioned ergonomically considered and tastefully branded, look how the cable exits just off centre so cool and just looks great sticking out my wall. (you want one dont you)

Now it might seem a totally disconnected and unrelated example but it’s in noticing and enjoying the little things that are sometimes, right there in front you, that make life that little bit more fun and interesting, the same can be said of Bulgaria look deeper, look beyond the obvious and the negative and behold your be amazed.