Ma Chambre

So here’s my room. I moved to this small unfurnished flat in October, and until the New Year I didn’t have a bed or enough shelves, so everything was in boxes all over the place, and it didn’t look great. The other room has both the living room stuff and my desk, which isn’t ideal. Photos of that will have to wait because it’s currently covered in a load of paperwork and art stuff.

Pictures stuck to the wall- an assortment of postcards, photos I’ve taken, and prints friends have given me. I found the 70s bedsheets when I was clearing out my nan’s house (I now have about 7 different duvet covers because of this). The cushions were a gift from Morocco.

The chest of drawers also came from my grandparent’s house. The glowing thing on the left is one of those essential oil vaporisers. I mostly use a mix of lemongrass, cedar and bergamot oils in it (I have one in the other room too)

This flat has no storage outside of the kitchen cupboards. I would love to have an actual wardrobe and get rid of the clothes rail. See the edge of the fake Marimekko curtain. I realised when I moved that I actually previously had it hung up upside down, and the hem is weighted with a chain.

Lots and lots of books and cameras. The shelves are modular ones from Muji made of recycled paper. Each row is a separate unit. Every time I move house I think “my life would be so much simpler if I wasn’t interested in books, music or art- I’d have no stuff” (The records and art stuff are in the other room). I guess you can weigh up that trade-off yourself.

 

Dawnwalker

So I recently did some artwork for an album cover- Human Ruins by Dawnwalker (featuring Dane Cross from Sacred Son, who caused an incredible fuss last with the Black Metal fanboys with his choice of album artwork) . I did the moons and runes, and someone else did the photograph and logo. Photos courtesy of Mark from the band.

Hear a track:

New print- Sheep Skull

So here’s a new illustration I did. It’s actually based on a drawing I did when I was 17 that I found while sorting out some paperwork recently. You can buy monochrome and colour prints for £3-£30 over on the shop.

I’ve also uploaded the artwork to Society 6 to create tshirts, vinyl stickers and other goodies– please note, if you order, the goods are printed and shipped by the printing company rather than me.

January Playlist

The second half of January has been a bad time for me, with a lot of very difficult things to deal with. I’ve been low on energy for doing anything much creative. Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been listening to lately though.

 

1) Queen of Borrowed Light- Wolves in the Throne Room

I was really disappointed with the most recent Wolves in the Throne Room album. I mean I guess it’s nice that they stopped trying to be a pale copy of Brian Eno, but the new stuff was really generic. Enjoy this instead.

2) Mouth Breather- Jesus Lizard

This song is about Britt Walford from Slint. He might be great at drums and songwriting, but don’t let him mind your house. There will be plumbing incidents.

3) I Am Living Death- Institute

Great new punk/post-punk from Texas.

4) Real World- Hüsker Dü

Great old punk from Minnesota. RIP Grant Hart.

5) Cross the Breeze- Sonic Youth

6) Закрой за мной дверь (Zakroy za mnoy dver’ / Close the door behind me) – Kino

This song from the 80s is incredibly well-known in Russia. Viktor Tsoi is kind of their Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain rolled into one. In the early 80s he was repressed for his music- they had stopped sending people to the Gulag or falsely imprisoning them in mental institutions, but if you did anything to displease the authorities suddenly you would lose your university place and your job applications would always be unsuccessful. Tsoi was kicked out of art school and given a job as janitor of his own block of flats for lyrics like “well this train isn’t going anywhere anyone wants to go” and continually pushing the very tight limits of what was allowed in public performance. By the late 80s under Gorbachev he was allowed to get away with lyrics demanding outright political change and became hugely successful in the USSR, but then died in a road accident less than a year after the Berlin Wall came down. You can see the lyrics in Russian & English here.

7) Abschied (farewell)- Nico

Nico on the other hand was a deeply unpleasant person, even if I enjoy her music. I’ve never really understood why people call the Marble Index “unlistenable” or an “ordeal”. It’s quite a soothing album really. I like the baroque style of this song- which extends to the lyrics, full of old-fashioned literary words like harren and verzehren. The words and translation are here.

8) Master Song- Leonard Cohen

I listened to Leonard Cohen non-stop when I lived in Budapest, and it fits the city and its atmosphere pretty well. I miss Hungary a lot, but no way could I live there under the current far-right (and increasingly actually fascist) government. The sooner Viktor Orbán is out the better.

9) Translate- Suuns

The soundtrack to walking over frozen rivers in the Czech Republic last year

10) Oh Yeah- Can

11) Pig- Sparklehorse

It’s still sad what happened to Mark Linkous.

12) Corpse Pose- Unwound

13) Night Goat- Melvins

14) Chromakey Dreamcoat- Boards of Canada

15) Etna- Sunn O)) & Boris

Around the Winter Solstice I always seem to want to listen to nothing but Sunn O)) and Earth. Let your ears take a soothing bath.

16) I Troldskog Faren Vild- Ulver

I like Ulver but am also aware that they are in some (many?) ways cheesy. The lyrics on this album are in Ye Olde Fairy Tale Norwegian and are actually pretty ridiculous (but let’s let them off, they were teenagers when they did this album). Enjoy them here.

Die grade Linie ist die unschöpferische Linie

 

Just before Christmas I ran a Hundertwasser-themed workshop as a fundraiser for 101 Social Club. (If you are not familiar with Austrian artist, architect, environmentalist and cranky old hippy Friedensreich Hundertwasser, I have written about him quite a few times- you can find the entries here) People had food and drink, learnt about Hundertwasser’s work and philosophies, and did three different casual art activities- collaborative line making, resist painting, and creating architectural models of Hundertwasser-style buildings out of recycled materials. All while listening to the fine selection of Can, Neu, Fennesz, Cluster, Faust and other artists from the playlist below (I had it on shuffle on the night)


The severed hands and wall paintings were fortuitously left over from another event.
Collaborative line-making. Everyone draws at the same time, traversing the paper back and forth. You can’t take your pen off the paper, draw straight lines or cross over any lines.
Resist painting with wax and watered down black acrylic (indian ink works better, but I couldn’t get hold of a big enough or cheap enough bottle in time)
Creating architectural masterpieces in teams.

Domestic Abuse Support All-dayer fundraising gig

(Tuli from Gang)

I recently went to a local gig put on by Art’s Cool raising money for the local domestic abuse support charity. It was an all-dayer, with half the lineup being local Kent bands, and the other half being from Leeds. The next day they did it all again, but in Leeds, and raising money for an education charity there. I missed the first band, but they were kind of a supergroup made up of members from the different Leeds bands. The promoter also handily made this Spotify playlist of all the bands.


 

The lighting was a bit difficult, being mostly magenta and strongly focused on one side of the stage. How easy it was to photograph the band members depended strongly on how much they moved and where they happened to be standing, and varied dramatically from act to act. When I take gig photos I like to try to have at least one photo of each band member (which can be hard with drummers positioned far back), and as flattering as possible, especially when it’s smaller bands who may not have many nice live photos of themselves. So I took, and deleted a lot of photos (and didn’t get as many usable photos of some of the bands such as Chest Pains as I would have liked). Here they are, in order of running on the day. There are links to each band’s facebook fan page in each title.

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Trying to be nicer to myself

Today is the last day of my 32nd year on the planet. As someone with a mid-January birthday, I particularly hate how January is assigned to be the hate-yourself-and-vow-to-change-everything-about-yourself-in-a-punitive-way month. Rather than futile and harmful diet and gym plans, I’m trying to be nicer to myself and less viciously self-critical about my appearance.

It’s hard though when you live in a society that actively wants you to hate your appearance. As a woman you constantly receive the message that the only thing that matters about you is your appearance, and it isn’t good enough, and will never be good enough. I try my best to avoid harmful media, whether it be traditional or online, but it’s a constant onslaught, and you’d have to be a hermit in a cave to avoid it completely.

I was going to write a lot more in-depth about the topic and was drafting and thinking about things all afternoon, but it was just exhausting and made me feel really sad, and I ended up deleting it all, especially as it was stirring up memories of some horrible, horrible things men have said to me over the years (such as “you are so horribly overweight, I’m embarrassed to be seen with you in the street” when I was the same weight I am now).

So yeah, I guess all I’ll say is be nice to others, and try to be nicer to yourself, despite the onslaught of messages telling you not to be.

Büren-Harth

Here’s some more photos from Germany. From Harth in Nordrhein-Westfalen to be more precise. It’s a small village in the Sauerland, a scenic forest region about a hundred miles east of Cologne, popular for hiking and cycling. I was there for a week to teach a holiday course in a school in the local small town of Büren. It was a pretty good week- nice weather, good kids, and cheap food and drink in the inn we were staying in. The only real fly in the ointment was when one of the parents tried to put me down on the insurance when his child broke her phone. Casual insurance fraud (and insurance policies/claims for everything) is a national sport in Germany though.

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2017 in photos

In 2017 I went to ten different countries, and was rarely in one place for longer than a week between January and September, which is both exciting and unsettling. Here’s where I went and what I did, using my Instagram photos (because I don’t have camera photos of everything, and even when I do, I haven’t edited all of them). Obviously loads and loads of images under the cut. If you’re wondering how I went to so many countries, I work for an agency that sends me to teach school workshops abroad, my mum lives in France, and I won the plane tickets to Japan.

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