Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘art’ category

happy new year!

I haven’t written anything here for a while, largely because I’m in the middle of trying to write an essay about Mrs Dalloway. Right now, I feel like I hate Virginia Woolf a bit, but I know from experience that I will probably forgive her again when I have finished writing the essay. That’s just how it goes. The essay isn’t actually due until 19 January (which, coincidentally, is also my birthday) but I have been trying to get as much written as possible before I go back to work tomorrow.

It’s now 2009. Today it’s very cold, and as I am writing this it is snowing a tiny, tiny bit. It’s a grey and dark day.

2008 has ended, and I don’t really know what I think about the last year. It was a funny one I think. It had a lot of good bits, but overall I feel it was a tough year, a year of hard work and graft. If I was going to represent it symbolically, it would be one of those big cart-horses, or possibly some sort of barefoot Victorian orphan getting sent down the mines or up chimneys. I hope that this year will be different, with less hard graft and more fun. I would like to feel a lot more healthy, have more energy, and spend more time sleeping. I am tempted to say I would like this year to be like a happy sloth, but I think it might be better to opt for something with a bit more vitality and ‘oomph’, like a poodle, or an iguana, or perhaps an anteater.

I haven’t actually made any new years resolutions, but if I was going to make any they would be along the lines of “eat more cake” (which I’m sure I saw suggested on a blog somewhere -can’t remember where though) or “more playing” (see Chris Cleave’s ‘Down with the Kids’ column in yesterday’s Guardian).

Here’s a few highlights from 2008:

Books: as always, too many to list, but off the top of my head, The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and pretty much anything by Haruki Murakami and Barbara Pym.

Exhibitions: many, many, many, but some that spring to mind are Peter Doig at Tate Britain, Pipilotti Rist at FACT, Made Up at Tate Liverpool especially the Drawing Room, The Intertwining Line at Cornerhouse, Made Up at The Bluecoat, and…erm… From Toad Hall to Pooh Corner at Seven Stories.

Watching: Juno, The Dark Knight, The Cat Returns, Little Dorrit, The Wire, Quatermass and the Pit

Listening to: CSS, Kraftwerk, Bat for Lashes, Stereolab, The Long Blondes, Squarepusher’s ‘Just a Souvenir’ album, old Kate Bush records, Birdsong Radio and of course the Ting Tings.

Events: again, far too many to list, but I must mention the very fine no point in not being friends, as well as of course, the Manchester Blog Awards at MLF.

Thing I missed but wish that I had not: the La Machine Spider in Liverpool.

Some other things I have appreciated and enjoyed this year include: blankets (especially my electric blanket); pyjamas; dark chocolate; rare moments of sunshine; the outside bit at The Bluecoat in Liverpool; my leopard print earrings; trains; cinnamon tea; the colour moss green; porridge for breakfast; ginger beer; knitting; long cardigans; Spritz Aperol; baths; vietnamese food; exploring London; my mum’s soup; mittens; making lists; chicken dinner with my favourite red cabbage; really nice pens; parks; naps.

free encouragement

I found another interesting web-based project recently, which seems very appropriate for my daily post of goodness. Booooooom! and Design for Mankind have joined forces to create Free encouragement, a project which is absolutely all about positivity and nice things. The idea behind the project is to counteract the negativity that we find “all around us these days… infesting the internet… taking over the big screen… showing up on your bank statement”.

The first part of the project, led by Booooooom!, has been the creation of an online ‘gallery of encouragement’ – anyone can submit their own personal encouraging messages to the project: “You can use this gallery to encourage a close friend or someone you just happened to pass by on the street. You can encourage a relative who may be ill or the girl who handed you your coffee this morning. You could even use this place to encourage yourself!” You can see the gallery here, which makes very entertaining reading. The images here are some of my personal favourites from the gallery.

The second half of the project, led by Design for Mankind, has not yet been announced – it’s veiled in mystery until it kicks off this Friday. I’m intrigued to see what will happen next, but there’s no doubt that it will certainly be cheerful.

I went back to work today. It was quite challenging, but I survived the day and made it home, despite the freezing cold, and nearly falling over on the ice about a hundred times on the short walk from the train station back to my house. Here are some other cheerful and lovely things from my day:

  • Frosty hedgerows and sunshine in the morning
  • Steak and kidney pudding, chips, gravy and peas for lunch (which really should have been on my ‘100 favourite things list I think) – greedy but good
  • This monkey
  • A forecast for 8 inches of snow tonight!

bunnies are best for bad moods

I am feeling cross today. I am in a bit of a bad temper. There are various reasons for this, but it is perhaps partly just an accumulation of little things. It’s been a long week and I have a very sore throat, and someone has stolen my recycling box from my front garden, and I have had a disaster with the blanket I am knitting for my friends’ baby, and my kitchen door has fallen off its hinges and my hair is not looking good today. None of these are especially important, but they are the kinds of small things that do sometimes put one in a bad mood.

There are lots of things I would quite like to be doing this weekend but I am not going to do any of them. Here are some of the things I would like to be doing:

I would like to be going to see the new play Peacock Boy by Crystal Stewart. Described as ‘a grubby adult fairy tale of desperation and deception’ this combination of live action, music and puppetry is on at Contact Theatre this weekend.

I would like to be going to look at lovely new artist’s books and publications at the Liverpool Artist’s Book Fair at Wolstenholme Projects this weekend.

I would like to be going to ‘Night of the Owl’ at A Foundation tonight. This event will offer the chance to see and hear some of the first results of a collaboration between the Owl Project and musicians Leafcutter John, Kaffe Matthews and Thor Magnusson to develop a new range of wooden instruments for live performance. It will also include performances from Philip Jeck, Tim Lambert and Simon Whetham as well as short films from Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan. There is more here.

Instead I have been staying inside, nourishing myself with cups of cinnamon tea and a hot water bottle, and reading The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard for the hundredth time, which is always very cheering. Sometimes small things can also put you in a better mood, especially if they are things like small fluffy bunnies.

I have also been looking at some good things on the internet. I have been listening to lovely live birdsong here, which can only be a very cheerful sort of thing.

I have also been reading about this interesting new project from the excellent if:book London, which describes itself as ‘an experiment in close-reading’: seven women, including Laura Kipnis and Naomi Alderman are reading The Golden Notebook by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, and will be carrying out an ongoing online conversation in the margins. The project went live on 10 November and it will be interesting to see how it develops: project objectives are to enable a culture of collaborative learning, and to explore the possibilities of carrying out complex conversations ‘messy, non-linear and complicated’ via the platforms offered by the web. I’m embarassed to admit that I’ve never actually read The Golden Notebook though it’s been on my ‘to read’ list for a long time – this project makes me want to go out and get myself a copy so I can read along.

And for moments when I feel a bit less intellectual, I have also been looking at pictures of other people’s breakfasts (mmm, breakfasts) and oh yes, of course, looking at photographs of bunnies. An orange rabbit is the best antidote to a bad mood. You can also try looking at silly photographs of dogs and videos of cats doing ridiculous things, of course. If a cat getting excited about putting its head in a box doesn’t cheer you up, then I’m afraid nothing will. It’s a fact.

In case you too are having a bad mood day and the bunnies haven’t done the trick, there’s some videos of a particularly entertaining cat called Maru doing that very thing here. I feel better already.

handmade nation

…along with the news of a very welcome election result, last week brought a message from America of a different sort to my door – an exciting parcel wrapped in brown paper.

Inside was a copy of a brand new book, Handmade Nation, sent to me all the way from Boston by lovely Meighan.

Meighan is the curator/author of the beautiful blog my love for you is a stampede of horses, where right now amongst many other things, you can find pictures from studio visits, images from artists’ sketchbooks, meercat brooches, a q&a with artist christian rex van minnen and temporary unicorn tattoos, plus new work from a huge range of emerging artists.


Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design
investigates today’s new wave of craft – a vibrant movement of artists, crafters and designers working with both traditional and nontraditional media to create highly innovative work that’s a world away from the traditions of floral embroidery and cross-stitch samplers. Authors Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerel have travelled 19,000 miles across the US to document this new craft revolution, which fuses traditional handcraft techniques with radical thinking, punk and anti-capitalist culture and the DIY ethos, and frequently crosses the boundary between craft and contemporary art. The book will also be accompanied by a documentary film of the same name due for release in 2009.

This beautifully-presented and inspiring book brings together profiles of 24 artists, designers and makers working with everything from embroidery to rug-hooking, shoe-making and paper-cutting, documenting their work, inspirations and methodologies as well as their work environments and processes. The profiles are accompanied by an interesting and thought-provoking selection of texts which explore the ‘handmade’ phenomenon in more detail, focussing on some of the related cultural and political issues. Essayists include Andrew Wagner of American Craft Magazine, Callie Janoff of the rather fabulously named Church of Craft, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com and Susan Beal, author of Super Crafty. Particularly interesting is the essay by Garth Johnson of extremecraft.com, ‘Down the Tubes: In Search of Internet Craft,’ which highlights the role of the online crafting community, emphasising the importance of the web both as a tool to market and sell products via sites like Etsy.com and as a platform to share ideas, network and collaborate.

With lovely illustrations and lettering by Kate Bingaman-Burt (including a beautiful timeline mapping the rise of craft’s new wave that evokes Sara Fannelli’s artist timeline at Tate Modern) Handmade Nation is a fascinating snapshot of the contemporary craft phenomenon in the US. The book also provides a valuable context for the movement, touching on the political ideologies at its heart; however, I would have been interested to read more critical writing unpacking some of these ideas in greater depth, investigating the potentially revolutionary agendas of craft’s new wave, and positing what the possible futures of the handmade movement might be. Altogether though, there’s no doubt that Handmade Nation is a hugely enjoyable read, packed with ideas and inspirations. Here’s to the continued rise of DIY, art, craft and design!

For more information about Handmade Nation check out the blog and the official website. There’s also a q&a with Faythe Levine on my love for you is a stampede of horses, and an interview with both authors in NYLON here. There are lots of other people jumping on the ‘craft’ bandwagon at the moment, most recently India Knight in last week’s Sunday Times with this article on ‘credit crunch chic’.

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Whilst I was checking out the Princeton Architectural Press website, I also spotted this new book, A Year of Mornings. The book documents another interesting blog-based projects, 3191, which has a good story behind it. On the morning of December 7, 2006, Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes each took a digital photo of everyday objects randomly arranged on their kitchen tables and, unbeknownst to one another, uploaded them to Flickr. Noticing a surprising similarity between their images, they decided to continue to document their respective mornings by posting one photo to a shared blog each weekday for a year – 3191, their site is named after the distance in miles between their homes in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon. This new book brings together a range of images from the original Year of Mornings project, but Maria and Stephanie have already embarked on a new collaborative photographic project, entitled A Year of Evenings, which you can see here.

the intertwining line

The Intertwining Line: Drawing as Subversive Art opened at Cornerhouse on Thursday night. This new exhibition curated by Tereza Kotyk explores the relationship between animation and contemporary drawing, bringing together a selection of short films and animations alongside work by artists such as Melanie Jackson and Catherine Bertola. The exhibition also features drawings by Rachel Goodyear, whose Girl on a chair (2008) is shown above, and Naomi Kashiwagi, who performed her gramaphone DJ set at the exhibition launch. Coincidentally both Rachel and Naomi have recently been shortlisted for the Individual Artist category in the art08 awards – you can check out the full shortlist here.

The exhibition also features Go – a series of thirty short animated ‘road movies’ by artist Rob Bailey following planes, trains, boats and cars travelling across land air and sea. Check out more of Rob’s work right here!

The exhibition continues until Sunday 11 January 2009.