Top3Tuesday: Bielle Bellingham

Bielle Bellingham

Bielle Bellingham is a writer, stylist, strategist and creative hustler. Having been the Editor-in-Chief at ELLE Decoration for the last two years, she is soon moving into a new role as Creative Director at Cordova Productions. With a background in art history, interior design, visual culture and digital media, Bielle is an Afro-optimist with a voracious appetite for beauty in all its guises.  When she isn’t knee-deep in magazines and books, sourcing for her next shoot, writing about design, or grappling with the way aesthetics find meaning in our lives, you’ll find her on the mountains pounding the trails, or trying to learn the ukulele.

In this Top3Tuesday, we caught up with the extremely busy Editor to find out what keeps her inspired.

3. The Pre-Raphaelites

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais
Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

I was, and remain, a student of art history. The first time I really fell truly in love with my studies at varsity -when the penny dropped so to say- was when I took a course lectured by the drop-dead-gorgeous Rosalind Malandrinos on the brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites. I think it was probably an intoxicating confluence of factors that left me with such a fond impression of the rather capricious, secret society of Victorian artists and poets operating from 1848, which included heady love affairs, long nights in the library and an uncomfortable dissatisfaction with it all.

Having been mostly complacent in the act of receiving prescribed information and education up until then, it suddenly dawned on me how sexy it was to interrogate what we are told is beautiful, and to seek new versions of beauty. (The name Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood implies the collective’s resistance to the Royal Academy’s endorsement of the Renaissance master Raphael.
Amongst many of the characteristics of the principal members (John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti et al), they found themselves ironically positioned between a reverence for the past and an acute excitement for the future. Critics debated as to whether or not they were self-consciously avant-garde or retrogressive. They favoured medieval subjects, female beauty, sexual desire and altered states of consciousness–something I am fascinated by at the moment. They experimented with rich detail, penetrating colours and intricate compositions. I have since fallen in love with many art movements and their protagonists, but… the Pre-Raphaelites.

2. The Colour Chartreuse

Teyonah Parris in a chartreuse Christian Siriano. © Jay Clendenin. Los Angeles Times
Teyonah Parris in a chartreuse Christian Siriano. © Jay Clendenin. Los Angeles Times

I wouldn’t go as far to say that I have synesthesia, but I am incredibly susceptible to the persuasive magnetism of colour.  Each phase of my life is characterised by a love affair with a certain colour, or combination thereof. At the moment, I am unashamedly infatuated with chartreuse, that liminal brilliant shade of yellowish green, or greenish yellow. It’s a somewhat fetid shade –not quite fresh– almost ugly in fact… but invigoratingly sassy. I am battling to figure out exactly why I am almost helplessly drawn to this colour, but I suspect it has something to do with its extraordinary capacity to create electric combinations. Pair it with a ghostly shade of pink and you literally have me weak at the knees… not to mention when you temper it with a rusty tone, or perhaps a little nautical navy.

Why should you care? You don’t have to… I just hope that you have found the colour that alters your frequency in the same way. If not, best you get on that.

1. My Art Deco Onyx Ring

Bielle's onyx ring
Bielle’s onyx ring

Jewelry is an ageless and universal form of enhancement, and its power to advance social perceptions and boost self-image cannot be underestimated. As a visual discipline falling somewhere between sculpture, fashion and armour, I personally am eternally indebted to its charming utility.
Growing up, I either wanted to be a jewelry designer or a doctor (I still plan on being both someday). Having always been a bit of a magpie, the Art Deco onyx ring that my mum had made for me for my 21st birthday is perhaps one of the most ‘empowering’ examples of design that I own. Made from the melted gold of my ancestors, this exquisite fusion of metal and stone surpasses adornment, catapulting itself into the realm of coping mechanisms.

Ok, perhaps I am being a touch dramatic, but I cannot overstate its well-designed, practical value to me.

Inspired by Art Deco design, the ring is also compelling evidence of the way in which zeitgeists are crystalised in the designed artifacts of the time. Jewelry design between the 1920s and 1950s was characteristically pioneering and dazzling; geometric patterns paid homage to the machine age and traces of the East found their way into Western designs. All of which, if you stare long and hard enough at the ring that never leaves my right hand, you could possibly fathom.