I am going to make a resolution to try and post here more regularly than once a week but it’s sometimes so hard to find the time. Here’s a few sporadic events from another busy week: apologies for the stream-of-consciousness style rambling:
…I went to see the lovely new Ceri Hand gallery in Liverpool and the most uncanny current exhibition by artist Doug Jones.
…I also saw the New Ends, Old Beginnings exhibition at Open Eye Gallery and the Bluecoat – my highlights were the beautiful photographs by Lara Baladi.
… I went to the launch of the new exhibition at Cornerhouse – Masaki Fujihata’s ‘The Conquest of Imperfection’. It’s great fun – definitely recommended if you get chance to check it out.
… I re-read my old Virago edition of Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel in anticipation of the new film adaptation which I think comes out later this month. I haven’t read it since I was a teenager and had forgotten what a spectacularly peculiar book it is. I have mixed feelings about it: it’s a pretty depressing read but also oddly compelling. I’ll be interested to see how they attempt to transfer the book – and the character of Angel herself in particular – onto the big screen.
… I also had quite a lot of my hair chopped off. It was a bit scary. I didn’t think I’d be that bothered – after all, it’s only hair, it grows back – but I actually felt strangely emotional about it. I’m starting to get used to it now, but I have felt very tired ever since – I am starting to suspect that my hair contained all my strength, Sampson-style. It also worked very well as a substantial blonde security blanket – very good for hiding behind. I’ve not exactly got a ‘short back and sides’ now, but even so, it is a bit of a shock to the system.
… And I marvelled at knitting wizardry from my friends Rachael Elwell and Sarah Hardacre. Check their lovely and very inspiring new artyarn blog out here. They have been commissioned by New Islington festival to knit guerilla art. They are making tree cozies! They have knitted a chandelier! I love it…
I was planning to tidy up the house today but instead I have been making a mess (see above). Sometimes it’s good to make a mess.
I’ve had the day off today, so as well as making a mess, I have been eating crumpets and drinking tea and going for slightly damp walks and not bothering to put any make up on, and just generally doing the sort of things it is nice to do when you don’t have to go to work on a Monday.
It’s been a good weekend. I’ve been feeling a bit weary, mainly because I went out on Saturday night for my friend Jamie‘s 30th birthday. I am not very good at staying up late, and so I was particularly tired on Sunday – also because I had been dancing a little too enthusiastically to the musical stylings of Mr Scruff (who didn’t look anything like I thought he would, though saying that, I’m not sure quite what I thought he would look like – a bit like one of his illustrations, perhaps?) and because I had exceeded my usual 2-beer limit. Yes, that’s right. I had three beers. THREE. I am a party animal.
So I spent most of yesterday lying on the sofa and being very lazy. I bought myself an ELLE which is a bit of a treat for me: I have a slight addiction to fashion magazines but have recently been trying to wean myself off them. I then got very, very cross with a ridiculous article in said ELLE magazine where they had asked three high-achieving businesswomen to keep food diaries of everything they ate for a week. One of the women thought nothing of going for a 50-mile bike ride without any breakfast. She did have a latte afterwards, but sometimes no lunch. Another one snacked on delightful-sounding things like soya yoghurts, but ate practically no carbohydrates, like, ever. A third one did manage a diet coke once in a while, and also ate some fries, but still seemed to think that “a green salad” constituted a reasonable dinner. It was awful. I just wanted to scream “eat a potato, for heaven’s sake!! have a piece of toast!!” The worst thing about it was that the article presented it as if all this was really quite normal. There was a nutritionist saying things like “it’s a good idea to eat breakfast” and “why not combine carbohydrate with your protein?” but basically, the general attitude was that it was completely normal, if not healthy, to eat practically nothing all day except a few almonds and maybe a banana if you’re feeling really crazy, and to shun all forms of carbohydrate as if it was the devil’s spawn. Which, when you think about it, is actually very irresponsible. I’m all for healthy eating, but don’t enough girls (and women) seem to have food hang-ups (not to mention out and out eating disorders) without a magazine suggesting that practically starving yourself is completely normal behaviour, and indeed might help you get ahead in the business world?!?
Clearly I am never going to be a successful businesswoman. After reading this, I was so disturbed I had to eat an enormous sunday dinner (cooked by my most wonderful boyfriend whilst I lay on the sofa being enraged)- roast chicken with gravy, roast potatoes (lots), braised red cabbage and carrots. And then a large bowl of apple crumble for pudding as well. It was very, very delicious and I was very, very full.
After this, I thankfully found a much more sane article in the same magazine by a very sensible chap called Walter Kirn. He writes:
Maura… was not a fussy eater, and it showed in her hips. It also showed in her face, radiant with the happiness that comes from filling up on pasta and not leaping up afterwards to go running. This distinguished her from the other girls I dated during my first two years at college. They were slimmer than Maura, their features more symmetrical, but their facial expressions were harder and more anxious, particularly at meal times. Salad without dressing will do that to you.
Salad without dressing, indeed. What’s the point of that?
“…you are a detective. your mission is to document and observe the world around you as if you’ve never seen it before…”
The wonderful Keri Smith has announced a new book! How to be an Explorer of the World is all about exploring, collecting, observing and documenting the things around us. As with most of Smith’s work, it’s all about enjoying the mystery, inspiration and fascination of the seemingly ordinary and everyday. There’s a tempting little teaser for the new book online here, though unfortunately it won’t be out here in the UK until November. However, in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying keeping up with Smith’s well-loved blog, the wish jar journal.
Keri Smith describes herself as “an author/illustrator turned guerilla artist.” As an illustrator, she has worked for a wide variety of clients from Random House to the New York Times, but she has gained particular success as a blogger and author writing about creativity in its broadest sense, and perhaps most especially about the fun and importance of creative and artistic play. There is a certain childlike naivety to Smith’s work, which works well with her distinctive illustrative style: titles such as Living Out Loud may strike the reader as twee in places, advocating everything from painting pebbles in the back garden to making paper dolls in the quest to enjoy a creative life to the full. However, looking beyond the surface, Smith’s books are also highly inspirational, referencing everything and everyone from eastern philosophy to John Cage and Charles and Ray Eames. In a recent interview, Smith explains her commitment to writing about creativity: “I love the idea of creating books that give people more of a direct experience with life instead of walking through it passively. Get up out of your chair and take a look at things around you… Turn off the TV… there is no time to waste. Aren’t we all just aching for a bit of adventure?”
It is this “sense of adventure” that Smith’s books aim to encapsulate, becoming a playful call to arms to artists of all kinds. As well as Living Out Loud, my personal highlights would be the ever-popular Guerilla Art Kit and Wreck This Journal, a book filled with prompts telling the reader how to systematically ‘destroy’ the entire book. As Smith explains “in this book good does not exist. The goal is to fill it up, to shift your perception of the blank page and the journal itself into a place for experimentation. Into a place… to do those things you were taught to never do (make a mess, destroy, fold down pages, write in books, play with dirt). This book IS the place.” I treated myself to a copy earlier this year and have been thoroughly enjoying the destructive process, which feels enjoyably subversive and just generally naughty in a very good way. Check this out:
(You can see more journal wrecking inspiration at the wreck this journal website here.)
My friend Claire and I have recently started up a writing group. It is called ‘Plots and Plans’, partly because we like plotting and planning, and partly because it sounds a bit like ‘pots and pans’.
Yesterday we had our second group meeting. We played some writing games and the results were quite entertaining. This is my favourite – a collective ‘consequences’ effort by Mike Haines, Duncan Hay, James Major, Claire Symonds and myself.
You were ill in the Commodore Suite. You’d been eating cheese again, the orange kind. Microwaves and mayonnaise and cheese don’t mix! And I’m sorry to tell you that orange just isn’t your colour. I have a feeling we have reached a stalemate – I am a castle and you’ve become a queen. But you pawned our chess board and bought all the cheese, which was stupid, because as I mentioned, it makes you sick. And now I can’t play chess, which is unfortunate, since my life’s ambition has always been to become a Grand Master. You and your cheese thwarted my dreams. Until I discovered my new love for table tennis, a sport of speed, agility and strength. I am now the world table tennis champion. So thanks for thwarting my dreams: you inadvertently helped me to conquer the world. In your face.
I would like to write a short story. I would like to write one of those short stories which is only a few lines long and isn’t really about anything, but leaves you thinking, “oh, that was very clever”. One of those short stories where nothing much actually happens. And you’re not actually sure whether it even is a story really, or not.