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Mollie Sash Blog
  • Aug 29th, 2011


I love travelling it’s so inspirational and my recent trip to Malaysia and Indonesia was no exception. I have discovered some amazing places and even more amazing textiles which I will be sharing over the next few weeks.

Trishaws in Dutch Square Melaka

Melaka is Malaysia’s most historically interesting city. Under the Melaka Sultanates the city’s strategic position on the Straits made it one of South East Asia’s wealthiest trading ports. It was subsequently colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch and British all of whom left reminders of their rule.

Lined up outside the bright red Christ Church in Dutch Square are the colourful and highly decorated trishaws. Festooned with gawdy artificial flowers, elaborate canopies, umberellas, bells, whistles and even Barbie dolls. Most are equipped with their own car stereo systems blaring out all manner of music from local tunes to the latest hits.

Trishaw with Barbie Dolls

Trishaw with Barbie Dolls

Crossing the river you enter old Melaka. Here the Cheng Hoon Chinese Temple ( the oldest in Malaysia) is just down the road from the Mosque and the Hindu Temple reflecting the diverse ethnic and cultural traditions which co-exist.

Cheng Hoon Chinese Temple

Cheng Hoon Chinese Temple

Offerings at Cheng Hoon Temple

Wandering along the famous Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonkers St) it is Peranakan architecture which is most evident. Narrow shophouses with louvered shutters, elaborate plasterwork facades and brightly coloured ceramic tiles line the winding streets. Melaka is the centre of the Peranakan or Baba Nyonya culture. A unique community created when Chinese immigrants married Malay women and their cultures became intertwined. Melaka is a wonderful melting pot of different ethnic and cultural traditions.


The Exquisite hand beaded shoes worn by Peranaken women

  • Jul 18th, 2011

An Enchanted Woodland Walk

Water-cum-Jolly Dale that links Millers Dale and Monsal Dale is one of the most beautiful in the peak district.

Passing the old mill buildings and crossing the bridge you find yourself entering another world, a seemingly ‘secret garden’. A tranquil, secluded little dale on the river Wye. The narrow path skirts around the edge of the old millpond under overhanging limestone crags, which amplify and echo the calls of the numerous water birds.

As you follow the path the lake becomes a river and the valley narrows to a deep ravine as it winds it way through the dense woodland. The mood of the river alters, sometimes slow with foliage reflecting in it’s shimmering surface. Other times faster flowing with green weeds stretched in the direction of the flow.

Foliage reflected in the water

Huge ferns and cow parsley line the banks. Their distinctive smell pervades the air and the atmosphere is very primeval. Occasionally shards of sunlight break through the canopy to dance on the river surface like dainty water sprites. This is truly an enchanted woodland walk .

  • Jun 3rd, 2011

Holmfirth Film Festival – Chico and Rita

Holmfirth has had a long association with film making, Bamforth & co Ltd made their first monochramatic films in 1898, making them one of the pioneers of commercial films. The first world war caused Bamforth’s to cease film production in 1915. They were never to return to this field of entertainment with resources now being concentrated on postcard production. The popularity of these films led to a film industry which for a time surpassed that of Hollywood in terms of productivity and originality. So it is entirely fitting that Holmfirth should have it’s own film festival.

On Friday I saw the internationally acclaimed Chico and Rita an animated film set in Havana in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Javier Mariscal’s hand drawn backdrops brilliantly capture the spirit of Havana at that time. Using a pre-revolutionary photographic archive he was able to accurately recreate streetscenes down to the bar names, street posters and hoardings.

The warm palette of tobacco’s, blue’s and ochre shades evoke Havana’s tropical climate and sultry evenings. You can just imagine the glamourous celebrities of the day sipping mojito’s in Havana’s most fashionable clubs. These enchanting visuals are overlaid with the rather simplistic, but charming, love story of Chico and Rita. Following the love affair of pianist Chico and jazz singer Rita, the film dances from city to city. In New York the colour palette becomes much cooler, the neon signs of Time Square and the snowclad nightscapes emphasize the cultural differences between the two cities.

The film features an original sound track from the legendary Cuban musician Bebo Valdes. Real attention has been paid to the history of music with scenes of Rita performing at the Hotel Nacional and the Tropicana club in Havana. Many of the great names of Cuban and American jazz make cameo appearances Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Chano Pozo. As the Cuban revolution rumbles and the island is closed down to the rest of the world it portrays the impact this had on many of the musicians in Havana. Chico is seen shining shoes for a living. Following his rediscovery years later by a young singer Estelle he has chance to go to the US in search of Rita. There is of course a happy ending when Chico and Rita are reunited.

The visuals and the music are what make this film mesmerizing. It’s very nostalgic and perfectly captures the atmosphere of a city and it’s music at a particular moment in time. Havana is now definitely on my list of places to visit.

Find out more about Holmfirth Film Festival here.

  • May 23rd, 2011

Bluebell Woods

After an exceptionally cold December we had the mildest February for decades and a very dry, sunny March. As a result the bluebells have flowered a couple of weeks early this year. Sheltered beneath the newly forming canopy in the dappled shade these delicate little bell shaped flowers create a sea of shimmering blue. I love to wander through the ancient bluebell woods near my home they really epitomize the English countryside in Spring.

  • May 9th, 2011

Tribal Belly Dance

It was the Holmfirth Folk Festival over the weekend. An annual event which celebrates Britains rich folk heritage. There was a wonderfully diverse programme of dance. Many of the different styles of Morris dancing were represented from Molly to North West, Yorkshire Longsword, Rapper and Border. But the dancers that really captured my attention were the Urban Gypsies from Manchester, with their tribal belly dance. The group’s founder, Zehara, has developed her own unique style which is heavily influenced by African dance.

Aesthetically tribal belly dance is based on the richness of textiles and jewellery from North Africa, the Middle East and India. The costume does not aim to reproduce any given tribal group but instead conforms to western notions of ethnic fantasy. Black lace layered with fabric in earthy tones, madder, ochre and indigo. Block printed and tie dye patterns. Woollen tassels and pom-poms formed into elaborate hip adornments accentuate the fast energetic movements of the dancers. Tribal face markings and fabulous headdresses complete the look.

Tribal belly dancing is a modern and western phenomenon which first emerged on the west coast of the USA. Taking moves from Middle Eastern belly dancing and combining them with movements from other ethnic dance forms. I just love the eclectic nature of the costumes and the energy of the dance. It really transports you to a nomadic gathering in some distant desert land for a few minutes at least.

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