Notes from the Underground: Inside the Strange World of Russian Hermits —> voc.tv/1cVi05Z

It wasn’t exactly a trip to Walden Pond, but three years ago, photographer Danila Tkachenko left the modern world to explore the hinterlands in Russia and Ukraine. His goal: to document the solitary lives of people who have left society behind. His work resulted in a moving collection of portraits, which earned him first prize in the prestigious 2014 World Press Photo contest. I spoke with Tkachenko about what drives people to leave the world and his own quest for solitude.


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D'Oyly Carte Opera Company

—When I Was A Lad


I grew so rich that I was sent

By a pocket borough into Parliament.

I always voted at my party’s call,

And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.

He never thought of thinking for himself at all.

Sir Joseph. I thought so little, they rewarded me

By making me the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

He thought so little, they rewarded he

By making him the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

Enjoying all the airs from “that infernal nonsense Pinafore” this fine Sunday afternoon.

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NT Wright answering the question: “What is the Gospel?”

"One of the funny things about the Christian faith and about the Bible is that it seems to be designed that every generation needs to chew it through afresh. None of us can live on what was done before because the culture is always changing. Language is always changing. The pressure points of people are always changing. We all have to grow up. We all have to think it through. There can be no passengers. The only way that happens for most of us is when we are faced with new situations which demand that we think afresh what we say and what we mean by it…."

Spend your next 15 minutes learning about this very important question.

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Credits first! These wonderful photos were taken by Kris of What A Big Camera. You can find more of his work on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhatABigCamera

Labyrinth is an incredibly beautiful movie with an important underlying story. It explores the transition from childhood to adulthood, delving into the difficulties that come along with that. A feeling of not quite belonging in either category, battling feelings and situations that seem just a little beyond your years. For me, though, the most important message is one of self empowerment and strength. Learning who you are and what you stand for can be difficult, but to me it is intrinsic to living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

For these reasons Labyrinth is one of my all time favourite movies, and from the time I learnt that cosplay existed I knew I had to make Sarah’s dress from the infamous masquerade ball scene. As beautiful and whimsical as the dress in the movie is, the design has a distinctly 80s feel to it and I wanted to try to create a less dated, more timeless version that was still immediately recognisable.

To do this, I set about deciding what the most important parts of the dress were and what aspects could be altered. The silhouette is very important in all fashion design, so I knew I had to keep that very true to the original. That wasn’t a problem for me - I love puffy sleeves! Instead of lustrous silver organza, though, I decided to play with different fabrics to achieve a whimsical, blue tinged and floaty effect. For the accents I decided to steer clear of the original amber coloured jewelery and trims and instead opted to take inspiration from the movie by adding “bubble” rhinestones and crystal ball buttons. I really wanted to keep as much freedom of movement as possible in a giant ball gown, so I kept the sleeves separate from the bodice.

The bodice is white bridal satin, lined in white and drafted by draping on my new body form. In the interest of comfort I decided to avoid a corseted bodice, using spiral steel boning only as support and to help keep it’s shape. The bodice closes with an open ended zip, covered by an extra panel with false buttons. Once it was completed I hand sewed white lace and individually added over 300 rhinestones.

The skirt is made up of three visible layers. The base is baby blue bridal satin, followed by a lustre fairy organza in purple and finished with a separate overskirt in white crystal organza. I kept this overskirt separate just in case it rips or gets dirty at a convention so that rather than taking apart the entire skirt I would only need to replace the top layer. A 6 hoop hoop skirt provides the puff underneath and a small amount of rhinestones are scattered over the top layer.

The sleeves are the same three layers, sewn together at the edges of the piece. The puffs at the top are two layers each, skipping the bridal satin and using only the organza to keep them puffy and slightly transparent.

The hair was pretty crazy! I wanted to use my own hair as much as possible in order to keep a natural hair line. There was no way my hair was getting that much volume though! I wanted to avoid teasing my hair as much as possible. I started by curling all my natural hair at the ends, added a large hair rat and covered it with a single large strip hair extension and let the top layers of my natural hair cover it. Pulling back my fringe into a slight quiff and gluing it into place with hairspray and bobby pins finished the base. From there it was a matter of adding my wire headpiece, silver leaf charms and ribbon. Done!

I’m looking forward to wearing this cosplay to a convention this year. My weakness for big dresses is becoming more and more obvious. A huge bonus is being able to wear flats underneath all those skirts!

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The Book of Kells. 
High resolution scans of The Book of Kells are now available online from  Trinity College. Amazing.


The Book of Kells.

High resolution scans of The Book of Kells are now available online from Trinity College. Amazing.