Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating Wombat Friday


As you probably already know by now, the phenomenon of Wombat Friday was begun by Stephanie PiƱa on her wonderful Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood website. It began with a stuffed wombat named Dante who would photobomb images of books and art prints every Friday. And it also frequently included food, preferrably cake. Very quickly, others joined in on the fun, including myself.

Wombats are quite photogenic when posed next to baked goods.

It became mandatory to obtain a stuffed wombat and we had many discussions about from where. (This was serious wombat business we were on, and yes, my co-workers at the bookstore thought I was nuts when I asked where I could find a wombat in Arizona.) People in Australia, of course, had it the easiest, but we non-Aussies managed to track ours down online from all sorts of sources. I finally got mine from Ebay, shipped from a toystore in Australia. I named her Christina, after everyone's favorite canvas-smashing poetess.

The staging and setups of the Friday wombat-fest became more and more elaborate as more people joined in. There was hilarious photoshopping and costumes and... well, see for yourself at the Wombat Friday Archives. Yes, it had become a madness, and a wildly creative one at that. The purpose of it was an appreciation for Pre-Raphaelite themed art and literature, combined with end-of-the-week looniness. (In my case, I posed Christina and my book collection next to bowls of my ludicrous attempts at homemade banana ice cream, and glasses of wine, among other things... but you'll see this silliness shortly.) The celebration became widespread enough to include even the National Trust and Red House, which began the Wombat Trail in order to introduce children to the wonderful works of William  Morris and his friends. (And grown-ups liked it too. *ahem* Kirsty Walker talks about it here on her always-addictive blog, The Kissed Mouth.) Their gift shop even began to include stuffed wombats.

Where Christina the Wombat typically resides:
High atop my Pre-Raphaelite bookshelf...
...Because of certain factors.
(My dog Ashi shows too keen of an interest
in wanting to "play" with Christina.)
But who knew a stuffed wombat could be controversial? (Kirsty addressed this conundrum quite brilliantly here.) This is how it became clear that wombats and Wombat Friday had officially arrived.

Though the wombat Top (notoriously named after William Morris, who was called "Topsy" by his close friends because of his abundant hair) is most associated with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, wombats were beloved by all of his circle, especially Morris' best friend Edward Burne-Jones. He famously drew the best wombat cartoons of the bunch and some were even found underneath the faded paintings of the Oxford Union Library.

In which I pose Christina the Wombat with Burne-Jones books...
and Keatsian nectarines...
                 And finally, below are some of the photos I staged for several different Wombat Fridays:

                                      Here are the more of the food-themed ones:

Trying for an Australian theme...?

The very first Pre-Raphaelite art book I ever purchased,
from the very first bookstore I ever worked.

One of my favorite books! And God, yes, strawberries...

Chocolate almond banana ice cream
(It broke my blender).
And I recommend all of these
Pre-Raph themed novels!
Homemade butter pecan ice cream
 made out of bananas.
Surprisingly good, especially if you
use coconut milk and maple syrup...
                                                                  Special occasions:
Christina the Wombat attends the 2013 Phoenix Comic Con and reads
up on her favorite topic while waiting for a panel to begin.

 Lizzie Siddal's birthday, of course.

And a  Romantic Poets theme.
The coffee cup has Byron's quote
on it: "Laugh while you can--
it is cheap medicine."

I invite you to join in the silly fun at the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood website, and on Twitter and Facebook. All it takes is a sense of humor, a love for art, books (and food doesn't hurt either)...

...and a wombat, of course.