Follow the Yellow

beware: this post may be bad for you

…’bad for women’ is one of the things someone searched for on google which brought them here. I can’t imagine why that should be, but perhaps, unbeknownst to me, this is actually very dangerous and subersive. Perhaps it is a bad influence. Perhaps it should come with a warning at the top in big, scary, flashing red letters: BAD FOR WOMEN. Maybe it is bad for women, or indeed… even men (shock!). Perhaps it’s just too pink and there are too many bunnies, you know, in a sort of dangerous and subversive way.

Or maybe it’s the red shoes that do it. Red shoes have after all been known to be a little dangerous on occasion.

Now for a few messages to some of the other visitors who made there way here via the magic of google search:

to the person who searched ‘leopard tights’: I really hope you meant leopard PRINT tights, not tights FOR leopards. I don’t think that would be practical. It would also be quite weird.

to the person who searched ‘boeuf bourginnone’: I’m very sorry there are no boeuf recipes here. I bet you were expecting lots of nice beefy, stewy-type things, and then you wound up here where there were mainly just pictures of rabbits, and not even stewed ones at that. Actually, I can’t remember ever having actually written anything about boeuf, but it does sound like something I would do.

And finally, to the person who searched ‘you know what they say about girls in red shoes’: what they say, actually, is that they are extremely stylish and fabulous. And that’s really all there is to it.

And last of all, here’s a picture of Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes, just because why not?

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.

3 things to read online on 3 november

1. Rainy City Stories is Manchester’s interactive literary cityscape. Go here at once to read commissioned stories by Nicholas Royle and Jackie Kay amongst others, as well as excellent new contributions from Richard Barrett, Socrates Adams-Florou and Jenn Ashworth.

Jenn’s story made me feel ashamed because I frequent Cornerhouse and have been known to lay claim to a ‘dairy intolerance’. Thankfully I do not own anything from American Apparel. I did once go in but was scared away by the plethora of neon leggings on display.

2. The Pygmy Giant has been reborn in a new incarnation, hosted by WordPress. It looks pretty. You can find it here.

3. Flax have launched an exciting new blog project which may have something to do with writers Jenn Ashworth and Tolu Ogunlesi. Check out the brand new blogs Adorna Shine and Desiderus without further ado.

I am already intrigued by the case-book of Desiderus. And I have to admit I am ‘adoring’ Adorna. It’s the sparkly star cursor that does it. And the pink. And the picture of the dog. And the fact that she likes cheese triangles.

4. Six sentences brings me tiny six-sentence stories to brighten my day.

I tried to submit something to them recently but it turned out that I could not count to six.

Apparently I cannot count to three either.

Oh dear.