Follow the Yellow

this week I have mostly been looking at…

On Thursday night I went to check out the private view of Broadcast Yourself, the new exhibition at Cornerhouse.

On Friday, I headed over to International 3 for the launch of Artranspennine08, an exhibition taking place across various locations across the transpennine route over the next two months, which will include work by a number of my pals.

Afterwards, I went along to the preview of the MMU Degree Show, where I picked up all these lovely postcards. My favourite piece in this year’s show was by Amy Davies, a student on the Interactive Arts degree programme: a whimsical and beautiful installation made up of hundreds of images cut from old Ladybird books that appeared to be growing across the gallery wall. However, I have to admit that it’s always the sketchbooks that I like best. Looking at them makes me wish I had chosen to study art or design – actually, I haven’t even got a GCSE in art. I think I decided not to study it because I felt I wasn’t good enough: teachers were always telling me that my work was ‘too messy’ and I knew I couldn’t draw ‘properly’ (i.e. draw things that looked ‘real’) so I felt it wasn’t for me. I didn’t realise that being messy and making work that didn’t look exactly the same as everyone else’s could actually be a good thing. But now, I look at all those sketchbooks and I feel quite envious – I want to make a sketchbook too!

this week I have also been…

reading: mainly The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of her other novels, I was impressed by the back-in-time structure of the book. At first I didn’t find the characters especially engaging, but by the end, I was completely engrossed and I found myself wanting to go straight back to the beginning to see how it all fitted together. For me, wanting to start all over again the moment you’ve finished is always the mark of a good read.

I have also been browsing a newly-discovered blog, hulaseventy (full of lovely photographs) and the latest issue of the mighty fine Blanket magazine.

listening to: CSS and the Juno soundtrack whilst sitting on the bus and gazing out of the window trying to spot the unexpected secret things that no one else is noticing: hidden fragments of graffiti; a bird swaying on a t-v aerial; wild flowers growing on a building site; an abandoned bicycle with no wheels (one of the saddest sights of the city); and, predictably enough, any passers-by with particularly cool shoes.

eating: homemade burgers and sweet potato wedges; pineapple and mango for breakfast; my favourite vegan pizza at Cornerhouse; udon noodles with king prawn, ginger and spring onions; and erm… jammie dodgers.

and most importantly of all, sleeping: as much as is humanly possible.

the beginning

follow the yellow brick road is named after a kind of diary I had when I was little, which brought together writing, drawing and all kinds of different things I made. It was mainly stories and poems (my personal favourite is entitled “greenfly” – “i am a greenfly/I live on a rose/I eat all the little bugs/And I am as happy as a greenfly”) but also collections of stickers or pressed leaves, drawings of animals, slightly strange “fashion illustrations” and all manner of other things. I kept it all together in a big blue and red ring-binder with the title ‘The Yellow Brick Road’ on the front in peeling Lettraset.

I would like to think this space can be something similar – a place for writing, but also a collage of ideas, thoughts, images, general amblings and meanderings. I’m just going to see where it leads…

Feel The Fear and do it anyway?

Today I made a decision to do something which has absolutely terrified me for years. I have signed up for a creative writing workshop – a two day novel-based course coming up in the next couple of weeks.

To anyone else that might not sound so scary, but I have always been petrified by the idea of sharing my writing with strangers. I don’t know what it is I am so afraid of, but the very thought of it gives me The Fear. However it’s far too late now – I’ve decided to take the plunge. Also I have already paid, so I’m going to have to go through with it and be brave.

With that in mind, I am back here again. It’s not so very adventurous I know, given that (so far!) I would estimate my current readership to be a grand total of nil. However, it’s still a step in the right direction.

In view of all this creative fear and angst, I’ve unearthed my copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for artistic inspiration and support. I always find it a particularly peculiar book – perhaps just because I’m not always comfortable with the terminology used and the approach Cameron takes – there’s a bit too much about God and it has that slightly discomfiting ‘self-help’ quality to it. However, there’s no doubt that it’s a great source of inspiration to get going or to carry on when the going gets tough. It’s a good place to go for straight-to-the-point advice that always hits home: today I opened the book to read mistakes are necessary… progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves.

Couldn’t be better advice. As The Fear looms like a nightmare monster, I’m taking a quote from Henry David Thoreau as my motto: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!