Cultural Violets for Kids

My post for this month is shorter as I have been very busy moving house! Violet is a lovely colour, which is a mix of purple and pink, it’s also a plant and a name for girls, I like the colour because it’s vibrant and looks good in cooking or for artwork!

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of violet is ‘Violet Beauregarde’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This original story by Roald Dahl has been made into two different films Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory / Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2007] and a successful West End Musical. Violet is rude and obnoxious and obsessed with chewing gum. She doesn’t listen when Willy Wonka tells her to not eat the chewing gum in the ‘working progress’ room. When she eats the chewing gum she turn bright violet and swells up like a blueberry! She really should have listened to him!

This is my nomination for this month’s theme, if you like any of the above adaptations or original story then let us know.

Violet Literature

For our theme of violet this month I have decided to use examples of different kinds of love in literature as evident in three books I have recently reads and which have made an impression.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The Quality of Silence is fascinating on many different levels, though it could as a very intelligently crafted thriller. In this story, Yasmin sets off from the UK with her ten year old deaf daughter Ruby to find Ruby’s father (a wildlife photographer) who has disappeared in North Alaska. He was last seen in a remote village that has since been desecrated in a fire with no survivors found. The majority of people believe him to be dead apart from Yasmin and Ruby. With extreme tenacity or some would say foolishness, Yasmin sets off on her own with Ruby driving a huge truck to reach him, it then appears that they maybe being followed on the icy road North. This book focuses on three key themes. The first theme is ‘love;’ love of a wife for her husband and a daughter for her father. The second theme is ‘environmental issues’ particularly the issues around fracking (which though this book is set in Alaska resonates strongly here in the UK at the moment). The final theme is ‘feminism’ I would say as Yasmin bravely negotiates a very difficult ice road to reach her husband alone and in the constant darkness of an Arctic Winter.  What I love about this story was the character of Ruby is so fully formed you could believe that she was real and as a character with a disability she was not patronised at all but was savvy and smart and seemed to connect best with her father initially, as she felt her mother wanted her to pretend she wasn’t deaf even if this meant speaking instead of signing which she preferred to do as she felt that signing was her ‘real’ voice.

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

The Ecliptic is Wood’s second novel after The Bellwether Revivals, a book which I really enjoyed. It fits in with our theme in that it looks at an obsessive love for art and creation. This book is quite different to his first in that it follows the life of painter Elspeth ‘Knell’ Conroy and flits back and forth in time looking at how she became a gifted painter and her current life on a Mediterranean island-based exclusive artistic retreat. Her creative inspiration is lost and cannot be found until she discovers more about the newest guest at the retreat the mysterious and adolescent genius ‘Fullerton.’ The descriptions of places and settings are very vivid, you really feel like you are on the island or a coastal village in Scotland or the 1960s London Art Scene. The title itself refers to several allusions in the book (I won’t give them away) but this book plays cleverly with narration and viewpoint I found that it picked up particularly towards the last third of the book when I was up late reading it to the end! I don’t want to say much more about it to give any more away apart from recommend that you read it yourself as it an interesting journey excellently executed.

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah

The Narrow Bed: Culver Valley Crime Book 10 by Sophie Hannah is the latest book in her Culver Valley Crime series and is an intriguing plot, slightly differing in tone than her previous ones. Largely this story concerns itself with an obsessive love for books (which is not always a bad thing of course) but in this case turns our badly! There have been a series of murders of pairs of best friends which cause the Spilling police force to name the killer ‘Billy Dead Mates.’ Before the victims die they are given a copy of a plain white book with a single line quote from a poem on the last page. Allusions to literature are all over this story, radical feminist blogger Sondra Halliday starts to comment on the murders and labels the killer ‘misogynistic’ despite one of the victims being male. Halliday then receives letters and copies of books such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved which muddies the water even further. I think that the idea behind this story was very good though I have to admit that it was the first one of Hannah’s stories that I guessed who the murderer was before the end (not that it was blatantly obvious I just guessed and found I was right). Overall this is an entertaining read and a welcome addition to the Culver Valley Crime series.

These are my three choices for our theme this month, if you have any others then let us know at the usual places.

Violet Sunsets in The Affair

This month has been a strange one so far and I have had the flu so I’ve been quite behind in writing blog posts. The good news is that this has meant that I’ve had more time to read and catch up with watching films and TV shows. One I wanted to write about is the critically acclaimed series The Affair – Season 1 [DVD] [2014] I discovered that this series was created by the same team who worked on In Treatment – Complete HBO Season 1-3 [DVD] [2012]  which I thought was also excellent. Another bonus was that The Affair stars Ruth Wilson (one of my favourite actresses) so I thought that this show would be excellent and I was not wrong! The Affair relates to this month’s theme of violet as, to my mind, violet is the colour of romantic love and is also a sunset colour which is seen in beautiful shots on the sea’s horizon. It is also a hazy kind of colour which fits with the feel and look of this show.

The Affair is largely set in Montauk, Long Island and tells the story of the relationship between Alison Bailey (Ruth Wilson) a year round resident and Noah Solloway a summer visitor (Dominic West).

Montauk is presented in a hazy, dreamy kind of way, you get the sense that this is a place that is almost a frontier land, the “edge of the world” where normal rules don’t always apply.

The cinematography reminded me at times of an Edward Hopper painting, the light is so illuminating but takes time to shine on the true nature of the characters involved. Interestingly a republished book called Montauk by Max Frisch is set to be released later on this spring, as it also concerns an affair with an older male writer and a younger woman set in the same place I wonder if this story was influential to the creators or is it just a coincidence?

The Affair is like peeling back layers of an onion, each episode is split into Noah’ s point of view and Allison’s point of view and reveals a little more with every episode (similar to  the episode set up in In Treatment). One of the funniest things you instantly notice is how from Noah’s viewpoint, Alison is always wearing sexier clothes and more make up and is usually much more flirty with Noah than from her viewpoint where he is the flirty one and she is wearing much less make up with scruffier hair and plainer clothes! The second series apparently also contains the viewpoint of Cole Lockhart, Allison’s ex-husband and Helen Butler Noah’s ex-wife. I will have to wait for this to be released as a box set to view as I don’t have Sky but hear it has been getting good reviews so far.

There is a dark side however to this show that I won’t give away, the two leads are attracted to each other because although Noah loves his wife and family, as a state schoolteacher, he feels emasculated by financially relying on Helen’s obnoxious father and believes that Helen is disappointed with him. Alison is attracted to Noah because at first he doesn’t know her history, he is a visitor who knows nothing about her past and she looks up to him and makes him feel better about himself. Neither of them have ever had an affair before but are attracted to each other instantly.

Both of the leads are fantastic, especially as they are both English actors playing Americans. Ruth Wilson though in particular is exceptional, and deserves nomination and accolades for her role as she really inhabits the character of Alison and makes her believable. If like me, you’ve been sick this month (or if you haven’t and have a weekend spare) then I would definitely recommend watching The Affair as it is probably one of the best TV series I have ever seen!

Let us know what you think and feel about this show, do you want to see it if you haven’t already done so? Maybe you are following the new series? If so how does it compare to the first? Send us a comment or tweet @Cultural_LC or email us @culturallifeconnection@gmail.com

Violet – A Rich History

Violet is an interesting colour that takes on many different meanings depending on the time and place. The western world associates the colour with Royalty and privilege. Also, in China, the colour violet is seen as the colour of harmony within the universe, as it is a mix of the yin and yang colours of blue and red. In any case it is a vibrant striking colour that has very important meanings throughout the world.

Violet as a Royal Colour

Perhaps one of the greatest associations with violet, comes from that of royalty. The image of a kings crown, with its purple fabric may come to mind. Indeed, many pieces of Jewellery and Watches use a purple inlay, to indicate a luxurious product, but where does this association come from?

Purple was once fairly commonplace, in fact it was the first colour that people used! This can be seen from cave paintings that employ the readily available manganese metal. The use of purple continued amongst many people, however at the beginnings of the Roman Empire there was a law created that banned the wearing of the colour purple for everyone except the Emperor. It was this that created the idea of violet being a colour of exclusivity. This continued to be used in purple velvets often worn by European Kings and Queens.

Violet is also one of the deepest and most impactful colours, especially when combined with its complementary yellows and oranges, this was used to great effect by the 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh.

Painting of the Imperial State Crown of Queen Victoria
Painting of the Imperial State Crown of Queen Victoria

Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom

Vincent Van Gogh’s famous paintings The Starry Night and Vincent’s bedroom in Arles are examples whereby the colour Violet is used to compliment the rich yellow tones in the picture. The latter painting’s violet wall colour is much more noticeable now it has been restored, as mentioned in the mainstream media.

Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night
Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night, 1889
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Vincent van Gogh – Vincent’s bedroom in Arles, 1889

The colour violet is one that has many different meanings whether it be a symbol of extravagance or an colour to give a bold, dramatic impact to a painting. In any case it is not easily forgotten. Please comment if you know of any other associations with the colour violet that you have.

‘Violet’ in Gardening

Violet is a soft purple colour that right at the end of the visible light spectrum. In the natural world it is seen on flowers, fruits and in the sky at the setting of the sun. A rather curious and vivid colour that has fascinated and enthused people for millennia.

In the gardening scene we are perhaps most familiar with Violets (Viola) and Lavender. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Violet is present in a great many flowers and the fruits of the Beautyberry plant (Callicarpa).

Violas (Violets and Pansies)

Violas are probably best known as annual bedding plants and have been a staple of tubs and containers for many years. They come in a variety of colours but we as gardeners are probably most familiar with Pansies (Viola Tricolor).

Japanese Anemone

Japanese Anemones (Anemone Hupehensis) have a wide variety of colours but the Violet coloured flowers on some varieties can be particularly pleasing.

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Violet Japanese Anemone

Lavender

Lavender, depending on the species, the growing conditions and the cultivar can have anything from a strong indigo to a pale violet colour and pretty much everything in between. There are also white varieties available which can certainly make a contrast with interspersed plantings of violet and white lavender.

Iris

Some Irises, particularly Iris Reticulata has a wonderful variable shade violet coloured flower that contrasts so well with the yellow and white markings on the lower petals. Being a dwarf Iris variety they take well to being container grown.

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Iris Reticulata

Violet is the perfect colour to contrast against white and can be a good complement to pink. It provides a perfect distinction amid the green foliage.