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Curate My Life: Classic Film

I know, I know. It’s been an age since I’ve updated this website. Completely my fault. Sorry.

It’s not that nothing has happened in the past year and a half (a lot has! I’ve put together a separate post about it!). It’s just that, for one reason or another, I haven’t had time – or motivation to blog much. But this changed when my friend Margaret Perry posted on Twitter about a project she is doing with her classmates at the University of York called #CurateMyLife. The objective, she explains, is to “connect the public with a sense of heritage and to see how their lives contribute to our understanding of culture.” The topic through which she has invited participants to share their personal sense of heritage is classic film. Fun, right?

Unfortunately, I’m not able to tick off every box as the majority of my classic film collection is back in California with my parents. (I moved back to London last September for a Museum Studies course and am set to stay long-term – more on that in the next post!) But here are some photos of things I do have with me, as well as a few unforgettable classic film-related memories.

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My Writing Process: A Blog Tour

Vivien Leigh book

Photo by Jodie Chapman

*Clears the cobwebs from the corners of my official website*. Phew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Not that nothing has been going on in the past six months – a lot has, in fact, but for one reason or another I haven’t written about it in this particular forum (see Viv and Larry for some updates about things that have happened since Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait was published, including lectures, and the co-curation of an exhibit at London’s National Portrait Gallery). However, last week I was tagged in a fun blogging meme by my lovely friend Casee of the book review site Literary Inklings, and it seems the perfect opportunity to get back to updating. The Writing Process Blog Tour asks authors to talk about, well, their personal writing process.

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Vivien Leigh: A Century of Fame Exhibit

topsham_vivien5

This autumn, Vivien Leigh fans the world over are celebrating the British actress’ 100th birthday. The tributes have kicked off in the cozy village of Topsham in Devon, where several of Vivien’s personal possessions are on display as part of the “Vivien Leigh: A Century of Fame” exhibit at the Topsham Museum.

“Vivien Leigh: A Century of Fame” highlights the connection between Vivien and Topsham, and includes items that explore her image as a film and stage star, as well as the woman behind the star image. The building itself was the former house of Dorothy Holman, the museum’s founder who also happened to be Vivien’s sister-in-law from her marriage to Leigh Holman. Vivien visited Dorothy in Topsham on several occasions. Her daughter, Suzanne, lived with Dorothy for a time during the war before being evacuated to Canada, and still has ties with the museum today.

I went down to Devon with Robbie and my friend Marissa on Saturday. We were met at the museum by director Rachel Nichols, who gave us a lively tour of the exhibit. On display are items from the museum’s permanent collection, including the dress Vivien wore to the premiere of Laurence Olivier’s film Richard III in 1956, and the nightgown she wore as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. The exhibit has been supplemented with items borrowed from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, the Bill Douglas Centre and Bristol Theatre Collection. Suzanne Farrington has also loaned some personal items, including family photographs and my favorite, a wooden model theatre purchased by Laurence Olivier in 1945 – believed to be German in origin – containing a small doll depicting Vivien Leigh as Sabina in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. It’s a small, but intimate space that allows visitors to get an intimate view of these treasures.

I was really glad to hear that the exhibit has attracted large numbers of people to the museum. It just goes to show that Vivien’s allure has transcended decades and generations. The items on display have the effect of making Vivien seem alive and current. Topsham is a beautiful place and I’d highly recommend going for a visit. “Vivien Leigh: A Century of Fame” runs until October 31. Admission is free.

All photos © Kendra Bean, 2013.