Very Friendly

Here’s some photographs I took of my friends’ band Very Friendly (an EP and hopefully album coming later this year) For a while we had intended to take some promo shots with a miserable day at the beach theme, and then the beach was suddenly covered in thick snow, so this happened over a lunch break. Harry eventually got warm again. Eventually.

Editing the photos was actually quite tricky. I took around a hundred, but with the snow flying around there were a lot with closed eyes or grimaces, and colour correction took a light hand. You have snow, water and skin, and you have to balance atmosphere with realistic skin tones.

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Actual Crimes

Actual Crimes 2 web

Last week I took some promo shots of my friends Kirsty and Aaron’s band Actual Crimes. They recently became a two piece after the departure of Lenny for a job in the US, but are hopefully becoming a three piece again in the near future. No expense was spared for this photo shoot, we bravely walked five minutes down the road to a brightly painted garage door, and devoted ourselves to posing for ooh, at least half an hour.

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Manchester: Northwest Zinefest 2015


Last weekend I went up to Manchester to do a stall and run a Zine 101 workshop at the first Northwest Zinefest. I had the luxury of a day off work, and enough money to take the train rather than coach, and stay at a bed and breakfast. The last time I was in Manchester was well over a decade ago, and it was nice to have a whole weekend rather than rush to and from the event.

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On Light Festival

on light sm

A few weeks ago, University College London held a light-themed street festival, with stalls run by the different university departments with demonstrations and free activities. My friend Mel was there to win a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest cyanotype print (she’s already the holder of the record, which she did as part of an arts festival in India earlier this year, but she wanted to beat her previous record).

kids cyanotypes sm

As you came in, there was a wall of small cyanotypes drying from the workshop going on.

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Sheffield Zine Fest this Saturday

WEB zinefest first print

This weekend I’m going up to Yorkshire to run a table and workshop at the Sheffield Zine Fest (Facebook event here) and see friends. I’ll have lots of issues of zines from both myself and Charlotte Richardson Andrews and some other goodies, and I’ll be running a workshop on getting started with zine-making (and my good pal Tukru will be running a hands-on minizine session).

The venue is in the centre of Sheffield, right next to the bus and train stations, and is disabled accessible. It also has an excellent slide and carpet that looks like astroturf. If you want to help promote the fair, there’s a whole load of different graphics for you to use here, designed by the lovely Chella, one of the organisers.

Slugs. Ugh.

ink drawing of a slug

I forgot to post this before. My friend Tukru does a freebie Halloween themed zine every year for her zine distro. She needed some extra pages and asked me to draw a monster, so I cobbled this together and scanned it in about 45 minutes. I hate slugs. Horrible things. In my final year of uni, I lived in a house which had seemed fine when viewed in the summer, but come winter turned out to have a real damp problem, and a slug problem in the kitchen. They’d somehow worm themselves into the kitchen overnight, so we had to put a thick circle of salt all along the perimeter of the room to keep them out. It looked like we’d taken up exorcism. I suppose it was a slug exorcism really. Despite my hatred of slugs, I’ve got a picture of them being alarmed at some salt that I should really finish.

Picking Blackberries

3 the spoils

A little while ago I went to visit my pál Erika (sorry, can’t resist the terrible pun) in Surrey for blackberry picking. Her friends Stephanie and Katja came down too, and we went out on a sunny day into the woods and picked some berries and had a picnic and drinks (for N. American readers, British woods aren’t very wild). Blackberries grow everywhere here at the end of August and most of September. They don’t belong to anyone, and it’s safe and legal to pick and eat them. I used to pick huge amounts of them when I was growing up. They’re also good for jam, pies, crumbles, coulis and wine-making. We made jam this time. Foxes also like them as much as humans.

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Ponder this to get nearer to nothing

Long time, no see. In the last week I started a new design job, had some major dental work done, and also moved. Busy. I now have a bit more money, and a lot more space though, which is always a good thing. I’ve got a fair few things to catch up with here. I’ve got films I took at Homespun Festival to develop and scan, and some illustration and sewing things to finish.

This weekend I was supposed to go to the Jabberwocky Festival in London, which was cancelled two days before it was due to happen. I planned to see Neutral Milk Hotel, Caribou, Panda Bear, Electric Wizard, Forest Swords, the Van Pelt, Thee Oh Sees, Sun Kil Moon and the Ex. My friend Chloe was coming down from Glasgow to stay with me. She decided to come down anyway because the train tickets were non-refundable, and to see what bands we could, prioritising the bands that rarely play in the UK. Top of the list was the Van Pelt, because they split up in the 90s, and haven’t played more than a handful of shows in that time. Some helpful person set up a facebook group, and there was a mad scramble to book new shows for stranded bands, and then another mad scramble to book tickets for things, and then sell or pass on tickets when you realised you’d double booked yourself. Luckily I happened to be at a computer when all the tickets for replacement gigs were going on sale, because they went so quickly.

Initially we were going to see the Van Pelt at a free all-dayer a pub was putting on, but that would have been a nightmare with the amount of people and the small capacity venue (and added to that the fact I’ve been suffering with on and off painful sinus/throat/ear/teeth trouble from having so much done to my teeth this week), so we were glad when they announced a ticketed show. I’ve been to a lot of ATP festivals and gigs over the years, but I think this fiasco will be the end of them.

I borrowed Sultans of Sentiment off someone when I was at uni about 10 years ago, and copied it onto the computer. A decade, and 3 computers later it disappeared along the wayside somewhere along with some other great albums. In fact I’d kind of forgotten how great they were until I saw the festival lineup back in the winter and I was all “Oh yeah, that album was brilliant, I’ve got to see them”. It was possibly better this way, as we got to see them do a headline set, rather than a short afternoon set at the festival. The gig was excellent, they basically played every song they had, and we were down the front in a small venue. Probably one of my gigs of the year. I tried to take some b&w pics, but the lighting was mostly red, which is a disaster in low-light situations, but I wasn’t that bothered, because I was there to listen. You should listen to this album. I saw a review once that described it as “poetic post-punk” which I think sums it up well. Literary, but with depth of feeling. Particularly Nanzen Kills a Cat and Yamato (Where People Really Die)

[spotify id=”spotify:album:3pq6qQZZ20LCUDDcjwhK3X” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Frozy, Dog Legs and Los Cripis

Last night I went to see my friends Frozy play with Dog Legs and Los Cripis. Los Cripis are from Argentina, but play over in the UK quite frequently. I don’t know any other bands from Argentina, so they can be my favourite one. I tried to take some photos, but the lighting in the bar was appalling, and I don’t like to disturb people with flash, so here’s a music video instead. Don’t watch it if you don’t like blood. Los Cripis have an album out now, and Frozy have one coming soon. Why not give them some money?

Wake and walk and talk and take

More like wake and talk and work and talk and work lately. I’ve been working teaching on a residential course in an ex nunnery near St Albans this week. I’ve worked for the company for a few years on and off, teaching the odd course here and there. Most of their work is residential, so I just do it occasionally. They hire out beautiful historical buildings and teenagers from abroad come for 2 week holidays. You take them out on field trips, give them lessons about cultural topics, and to improve their practical use of English, and do a creative project with them. This time we have been doing film-making. Last week they did a detective story, this week horror stories. No, you can’t see them, because of child protection rules at the job.

The hours are long and you live in work and see no-one but your students and co-workers for 2 weeks, but the work is satisfying and well-paid, and meals and laundry and cleaning are taken care of, so all you have to do is concentrate on the work. The food at this place has been surprisingly good too. I couldn’t do it long term though, you’d feel like you’d been institutionalised. I return to London on Saturday and start a new Summer teaching job on Monday. It will be good to be earning proper money for a while.

1. Circumambient- Grimes
<3 Claire Boucher.

2. Anyone Can Have a Good Time- Owls
Owls! Owls! They’re playing in London in September! Also Kingston in a pub, I’m not sure why. I’ve always wondered why this song isn’t on the album though, it’s great.

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