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)
Here’s an illustration of a car park in Bracknell. Like the one I did yesterday, the original artwork was a pen and ink drawing, and the colour was added digitally. It’s available as a print in three different sizes, from £6 to £30.
(If you want to colour the picture in yourself, then the same artwork is also available in colouring book form.)
The photos it’s based on can be seen here. I took them in 2005. At the time I was studying at the University of Reading, and working part-time in a camera shop/photo lab. Every so often they would send me to cover the Bracknell branch. Bracknell is a New Town near Reading built in the 1960s, with a reputation for being bleak At the time I took the pictures, 60s Brutalist buildings were still considered ugly by many, before the reassessment that Brutalism has had in the last few years. The concrete wasn’t green in real life anyway, that’s just from the chemical process used on the film.
The shop was in a windowless 60s shopping centre, and there was no staff room, so rather than eat my lunch in a cupboard I would go and wander amongst the concrete. I haven’t been to Bracknell since 2006 or so, so I have no idea if it’s the same or different nowadays- I know that the mirrored 3M building in my photos has been demolished for sure. In 2005 the centre of Bracknell felt completely dead, it would be interesting to see if that’s still the case now.
I don’t currently have any pets. Landlords in London who allow cats or dogs are a rare breed. My housemate has a tropical aquarium, and I don’t fancy getting hamsters or mice, and don’t have space for rats. So no pets other than fish for us.
My mum has two cats, Oscar and Mitzi. Oscar decided at some point I was his person, and he gets very disappointed when I visit and turn out to not be moving in. I got his hopes up too much when I housesat for a couple of weeks in 2013. They are brother and sister, from the same litter. The mother is a Bengal cat, the father a Siamese. Oscar has come out almost completely Siamese though.
My mum retired and came into some money, and bought a house in a small town in France, so the cats now have their own passports. (Small french towns are full of older english people- all the young french people want to go Paris or London.) There’s an english family who live on a farm near her, who have a really friendly ragged old ginger barn cat named Henry. Henry likes to come in to my mum’s place, and sleep on the bed or sofa with her two cats (as close as they will let him- Henry gets flea treatments, so it’s ok if they did) and have a taste of their food. Oscar and Mitzi don’t get aggressive or territorial with him, they just sit there with mortified politeness like they’re going “well we didn’t invite him, but it would be rude to throw him out, can’t you do something?” like they’re children whose parents have organised a playdate with another kid they don’t like, while Henry purrs away like a rusty engine.
While I was in Paris I visited the famous Père Lachaise cemetery, and took a lot of photos both monochrome and colour, which I will post later. One roll, however, turned out to be half-used already and I ended up with double exposures. It turned out I’d already taken photos of a place called Domfront in Normandy with it. Domfront is a bit of a ghost town, which made me laugh to get double exposures of a literal graveyard over a figurative one.
I also went to the Library of Birmingham. Initially I went to see the Daniel Meadows exhibition, but the building was so large and impressive that I ended up spending a lot of time there, and didn’t end up going to the City Museum. It has nine floors, multiple exhibition spaces and two roof gardens.
While I was walking around the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, I saw the most amazing car park inside a demolished building. The roof and front wall were gone, but the side walls and floor were still there, with fire exit signs hanging off the walls, and cars parked on top of chipped floor tiles.
Last week I went to Birmingham for the day. I got some cheap train tickets in the sale, it was only a fiver each way. I had bought them at the same time as my tickets for my ill-fated Glasgow trip the week before (got tickets to see my friend Chloe in Glasgow for £30 return, missed the train by 1 minute due to transport holdup, and Virgin wanted £140 for a new single, so I had to forget about it). Every time I’ve been to Euston recently, I’ve thought “hmm, I haven’t been to Birmingham for over a decade, it’s not far away, I should go there”. So I did.
While in Kirchberg-am-Wechsel we were given a tour of a disused church perched up on the mountainside. It has suffered a lot of misfortune over the years (if you can read German there is a wikipedia article here), it burnt down and was rebuilt twice, and is furnished with all kinds of leftovers from other churches, which makes it more interesting.
Every so often I like to write on here about things I like, and why I like them. I’ve (finally) been finishing my zine about Vienna, and there’s a section about Hundertwasser in there, but I didn’t really have enough space to say everything that I wanted to say, and in a b&w zine obviously you totally miss out on the colours, which are a major part of his work, so here is a longer thing about him and his work. I’ve visited the Kunsthaus/Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna quite a few times, and I wrote about one of my visits here. I first came across his work in 2001, when I was 16/17, and bought a £3 book from a discount shop because it looked interesting from a quick flick through. I’m glad I did! All the pictures in this entry are either taken by me, or come from hundertwasser.at. I don’t feel like I’ve really caught my exact favourites here, but collecting images from lots of different sources and making sure they were all credited properly would have taken a long, long time. Here’s an overview of some things.