Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘writing’ category

making lists

As an avid list-maker, I like the look of this exhibition about lists, currently running at the Laurence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington D.C., discovered via the BBC website.

The exhibition includes hundreds of lists drawn up by modern artists, ranging from lists of ideas or paintings, right through to apparently straightforward ‘things to do’ lists. Amongst them is Picasso’s handwritten list of recommended artists for the historic 1913 Armory Show: amusingly, he couldn’t spell the name of his contemporary Marcel Duchamp. Other notable in the exhibition include architect Eero Saarinen’s list of attributes he found attractive in his wife (!) and Alfred Konrad’s illustrated list of what to pack for a trip to Rome and Egypt in 1962 (see above).

I’m finding further list-making inspiration at the Listography website where users can create a personal database of lists from to-do lists and wish lists through to High Fidelity-esque top tens ; and also on hula seventy‘s blog – a fellow list-maker, she is posting a new list every week, ranging from guilty pleasures to favourite words.

Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts and Other Artist’s Enumerations from the Archives of American Art runs until September 2010 (the chances of me getting to see it are non-existent, but luckily there will also be an exhibition catalogue).

[Image: Adolf Konrad’s packing list via the Archives of American Art ]

fourteen interventions: swedenborg house

On a very wet evening last week, I went along to the opening of a new site-specific exhibition, Fourteen Interventions, at Swedenborg House in Bloomsbury.

Swedenborg House is an intriguing place in itself: this elegant Bloomsbury listed building is the centre of operations for the Swedenborg Society, established in 1810, whose aim is to translate and publish the works of the idiosyncratic scientist, philosopher and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg. Fourteen Interventions is part of the society’s bicentennial celebrations – a series of site specific and site responsive artworks, dispersed throughout the four storey building to celebrate the space, its unique history, its architecture and its artefacts: the artists involved include Jeremy Deller, Olivia Plender, Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan, Bridget Smith. Brian Catling and Iain Sinclair.

At the crowded private view, it was difficult to get a good look at many of the artworks tucked away in unexpected corners of this rambling building, but I did get a chance to explore the installations in the basement store room, where mysterious voices emanated from speakers concealed within archive boxes, and flickering projections of blurred images were glimpsed in half-hidden spaces at the back of shelves.

I was especially interested in the combination of visual artworks with written texts throughout the exhibition: Sinclair’s commentaries on unusual and arcane objects from the society’s archives underlines the point that in such a unique and atmospheric context, there’s only a fine line between everyday object and artwork. In a building like this one, it can be difficult to see where site responsive artistic intervention begins and ends, and what is simply the fabric of the space itself.

Fourteen Interventions will be at Swedenborg House until 5 March.

27 things to do before I turn 28


Following my fairly unsuccessful list of 26 things to do before I turn 27, I thought it would be only right and proper to make a new list of things to do in my 27th year. However, having learned my lessons from last year, I decided to be slightly less ambitious with my plans this time. Who knows, I might even manage to actually achieve a few more of the following, rather more achievable goals for 2010…

Here are some of the things I’d like to do this year:

1. Knit a jumper
2. Keep a list of all the new books I read
3. Plant red geraniums in a window box
4. Go to the ballet
5. Swim at a London lido
6. Have an elegant afternoon tea
7. Start writing a new novel
8. See some live comedy
9. Go to London Zoo
10. Take a dance class
11. Learn to crotchet
12. Collaborate
13. Get a bicycle
14. Eat a lobster
15. Go to Rye in East Sussex
16. Make handmade Christmas presents
18. Read more non-fiction
19. Buy some art
20. Read the only book I still haven’t read from the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville (Strangers at Witchend)
21. Go on holiday
22. Bake a pie
23. Get published in print
24. Eat sushi
25. Swim in the sea
26. Create a handmade book
27. Go on the Eurostar

[Image via Tumblr here]

the birthday list


About this time last year, I wrote a list of 26 things I wanted to do before I turned 27. You can read the full list (which included everything from knitting a jumper to going to New York) here.

Unfortunately item #19 on my list (write a dissertation) proved to take up rather more of my time that I had naively anticipated, and so in the end, I never quite got round to doing many of the more ambitious things on my list. However, I did manage to tick off a grand total of 7 (!) things from my list, as follows…

#3 Sit around a midsummer bonfire

#25 Drink champagne
I’ll admit it’s largely been sparkling wine rather than actual champagne this year. But surely it’s the principle that’s important.

#26 Take a break
OK, it wasn’t quite as restful as I envisaged, what with a dissertation to write and job applications and interviews to deal with, but my two months by the sea in Dunbar did give me chance for many lie-ins and aimless meanderings through woods and along beaches.

#10 Go wild swimming
I was determined to swim in the sea at least once in Scotland this summer. I’ve never swum in the North Sea before, and can honestly say that it was possibly my coldest and most painful (yet strangely exhilirating) swimming experience ever.

#7 Practice the piano

#17 Find a lovely place to live
I always wanted to live in a flat in an old Georgian house on a quiet, leafy London street… and now I actually do! OK, so I didn’t imagine it would have a mildewed bathroom ceiling but you can’t have everything. This spring I’m planning to buy red geraniums for a window box – the perfect finishing touch to an unexpectedly lovely place to live.

… and finally…

#19 Write a dissertation
At last it’s finished. That’s all I’m saying on the subject

[Image by kristina♥kiessig via tumblr]

mostly truthful


I had a lovely time reading at the launch of Mostly Truthful at Lancaster Liftest on Saturday. I must admit I expected it to be a little bit nerve-wracking as opposed to enjoyable, but in the end it proved to be an altogether very pleasant experience. It was great to be back in Lancaster, in the pleasingly familiar surroundings of the (albeit newly refurbished) Storey Institute and the audience were fantastic, but most of all, I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear my fellow writers, Jane Routh, Adrian Slatcher and Kate Feld, reading from their work.

Editor Sarah Hymas describes Mostly Truthful as “Flax’s first adventure into creative non-fiction … a vibrant collection of voices that represent a slice of now, of us being on the brink, as always, of change.”

You can download the anthology, which also has an introduction by Jenn Ashworth, for free from the Litfest website here.