Anna Karenina @ Ham House


Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is one of my favourite books. When the film starring Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson was announced I was beyond excited to see it. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed and felt that it would have served better as a silent movie. Joe Wright’s interpretation was visually stunning but the script was lacklustre.

Upon hearing about an exhibition of the costumes at Ham House I jumped on the opportunity to go and see them. Some of the filming was filmed in the South West London National Trust sight and it is somewhere worth a visit.

Whilst being able to see the costumes first hand is a wonderful experience, Ham House is not easy to get too and is also quite expensive for the viewing of just six garments. That said, Jacqueline Durran’s designs are stunning and in mentioning the not so cheap ticket entry, I must remind myself that these costumes did win an oscar. What struck me most was how much shorter Knightley must be than we are lead to believe by her films.

Ham House itself also stars in the film and is a treasure trove of history, Van Dyck artwork and breathtaking scenery on the bank of the Thames. However I recommend visiting on a warm day, it isn’t heated and the outside gardens are worth a wander around!

The Anna Karenina costumes at Ham House are on display until 4 April

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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