Christmas Pearls: winter light


This picture, taken in the forest in Boxing Day, made me think of the descriptions of frost fairs in Virginia Woolf’s book, “Orlando”:

 “All the time they seemed to be skating on fathomless depths of air, so blue the ice had become; and so glassy smooth was it that they sped quicker and quicker to the city with the white gulls circling about them, and cutting in the air with their wings the very same sweeps that they cut on the ice with their skates.”

Frost fairs on the frozen river Thames enabled the city’s residents to skate or glide on ice before modern processes were invented to create ice rinks in the late nineteenth century. With the invention of processes to make and maintain indoor ice rinks, the popularity of skating grew in the 1920s and 30s. Fashioning Winter celebrates the glamour of city skating with a display of skates and pictures, curated by Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts at the Museum of London.

In her 1928 novel, Orlando, dedicated to Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf added to the romance of skating when she set London’s frost fair as the backdrop for Orlando’s love affair with the Russian princess, Sasha, herself dressed in “velvet and pearls”.


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