Metelkova

 

Street art in Ljubljana

Metelkova is an area in the centre of Ljubljana that was originally a military barracks, then was squatted in the early 90s when the Yugoslav army pulled out after Slovenia declared independence, and is now full of social centres, workshops and gig venues. (And a hostel where I stayed overnight before crossing the border to Klagenfurt for work).

The most famous area like this is Christiania in Copenhagen. I was very disappointed with Christiania when I visited last year. I liked some of the buildings there, but the central market area was sleazy and tacky and there was an aggressive atmosphere, and the place it most honestly reminded me of was the red light district in Amsterdam. Maybe its glory days were in the 60s and 70s when it was founded.

Metelkova is a different proposition. It had a friendly and relaxed attitude, and I never felt any qualms about wandering round by myself, an atmosphere probably helped by the fact that the city government takes a generally positive attitude to its existence. They still don’t pay any rent, but no-one seems to care. It was clean and pleasant- people seemed to respect the communal space.

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Three new zines

I’ve got three new zines out . Each one is £2 (roughly 2.50 in USD or Euro) and available here.

Fanzine Ynfytyn 21
30 page 1/4 sized perzine on green paper

Going to Paris when you are broke, and managing to do it while the Charlie Hebdo shootings are going on.

  • Free Eurostar tickets
  • Walking miles and miles
  • French music magazines
  • €30 a night central Paris hotels, whose colour scheme can only be described as “depressed Willy Wonka”
  • Père Lachaise, Montmartre, Canal St Martin, St-Germain, Quartier Latin, Île St Louis, Jardin Luxembourg and a convenient view of the Eiffel Tower
  • Accidentally getting caught in a march of 1 million people
  • Zazie dans le Métro and other French film recommendations

Fanzine Ynfytyn 29
24 page 1/4 sized perzine on yellow paper

About Northern Italy. Travelling for work, and a last-minute trip to Lake Garda. You can see my photos of Lake Garda here.

  • Italy in the 90s
  • Getting sent to the wrong side of Italy by my job
  • Legnago, the most boring place in Italy
  • The joys of Italian electrics
  • Lake Garda then and now
  • The Name of the Rose
  • Catullus and an impromptu Latin lesson
  • Shadows of Fascism on Lake Garda
  • Invisible Cities

Film Photography 101
24 page 1/4 sized zine on green paper teaching you all the basics of film photography in a friendly jargon-free way.

  • Vintage camera types
  • How to fix common issues with second-hand cameras
  • How to clean vintage cameras
  • Lenses explained
  • Film types and sizes
  • Cross-processing
  • Uses of filters
  • Aperture explained
  • Shutter speed explained
  • The Sunny 16 rule
  • Exposure and EV rating
  • Tips for portraits
  • Tips for landscapes
  • The Rule of Thirds

 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Deer

You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

Our final stop in Japan before flying home from Osaka was Nara. In the 700s it was the capital of Japan, at the time when Buddhism really became established in Japan. Nowadays as well as Buddhism, it’s known for the tame deer who live in the forest park surrounding the temples and shrines. We stayed in a hostel in the forest. It seemed a short walk from the train station, but we ended up walking along dark forest paths dragging cases seemingly forever, with deer staring at us accusingly like something out of Princess Mononoke. (The hostel turned out to be a pretty weird place too).

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Okunoshima- Rabbit Island

You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

While I was in Japan we visited the island of Okunoshima. In the Second World War it was a top secret chemical weapons plant, but now is a nature reserve famous for its free-ranging tame rabbits, who are probably the descendants of the lab rabbits.

On the ferry out to the semi-tropical, fern-covered island, we joked about it being like Jurassic Park but with rabid fluffy bunnies. They turned out to be even tamer than I had expected, probably tamer than a lot of pet rabbits. They’ve never seen predators, and all their experience of humans is being petted and fed in return for being friendly, so if you even sit down, a load of rabbits will pile onto your lap.

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Naoshima

(Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture on the beach)

I won a competition last year for free plane tickets to Japan, and went with my friend Vicky for just under three weeks in March, using a rail pass to explore the main island of Honshu and staying in hostels (and a spell in a hotel in Kyoto that came with the flights). Apart from the free flights we were totally broke, so a lot of the focus of the trip was on free or low cost attractions like scenery and museums and making maximum use of the rail pass rather than restaurants, bars or shopping. You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

Naoshima is tiny idyllic island in the Seto Inland sea devoted to modern art. The opening of the Benesse modern art museum (owned by the same organisation as Berlitz language schools) revived the island’s fortunes, although it’s still a small and quiet place with only a few villages and a lot of old people.

We visited the museum, but no pictures were allowed inside, so these are all of the rest of the island. I’ve made a post of some of the artists in the collection here.

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Kyoto Shrines and Temples

torii sm

Kyoto is famous for its Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, many of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. There are so many in the city that even though I spent a whole day walking round different sites, I only saw a small percentage of them. People place stones on these Shinto torii gates for good luck. You can also see my photos of ema good luck plaques here.

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Prophecy Girl

5 sm

I took some photos of my friend Tukru, Finn of Finns, Suomi of the Suomalainen, performing some songs. Band members failed to materialise in rehearsal, so it was solo time to try the songs out in front of an audience. The lighting was a bit tricky, as there was nothing but one red spotlight, so I went for black and white. Tukru claims the genre is “Awkward Crybabycore”. Check out the twitter account for the band for more upcoming news.

1 sm

4 sm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Print Sale!

print samplesI’m moving house in the near future, and have been decluttering and getting rid of or selling things quite a bit. I found a thick A3 folder with prints in, so I’m having a big print sale to clear them. All 10×8 prints are £5, and A3 posters are £8, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. UK postage is free, and international shipping is automatically calculated by weight.

Kerguelen v2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got it on, your favorite tee, it never looked as good on you as it looks on me

4th sept web

(Ex-army shirt from military surplus store a very long time ago, dark denim skirt from Oasis last year, black tights who knows, shoes from Dr Martens 3 years ago. Necklace made by Mika Hallor. Hair in desperate need of a haircut.)

“I thought we had an understanding there
That wouldn’t leave too soon
Figure it over and you’ll find out where
Your green shirt’s gone”

Talking of 90s revival, I realised that the clothes I was wearing yesterday were something I could easily have been wearing 20 years ago. This isn’t the actual shirt I had as a teenager (that one, like all of them, inexplicably had a German flag on the arm), but it’s pretty much the same. I got this one from an army surplus store at some point in my 20s for £4, but by mistake they gave me two, so it essentially cost me £2. I recently saw some identical shirts in Topshop for about £40. Sometimes it pays to be a loser who never throws anything away. Until about five years ago I actually did have a top I’d been wearing since the early 90s. It was a burgundy and black ribbed thing that seemed to be made of near-indestructible material.

A lot of bloggers make slightly shady money by taking photos of themselves in clothes that are currently in stores (often sent as a free sample by the manufacturer), and then using a special tracking link that gives them commission for every click and purchase. Distasteful hyper-capitalist ethics of turning your life into a walking advert aside, I would be hopeless at that. Most of my stuff is second hand or home-made, and I hang on to clothes I like forever if they still fit and are in good condition (I’m pretty ruthless at giving unworn things to charity shops though). A couple of times a year I go on a big (unpleasant and stressful) shopping trip and stock up on basic things like jeans from chain stores (ok mostly Muji or Topshop to be honest), and that’s kind of it. Probably by the time I’d notice a trend it would be on its way out.

Talking of army surplus clothing in my youth, when I was a teenager I also had one of those army jumpers with the fabric covered shoulders. Almost everyone else I knew did as well. Oh yeah, I also had one of those canvas army bags that I used as a school bag. That was also the thing. Why did I even bother going to other shops? (Not that there is much selection in my hometown, it’s a decrepit shipbuilding town that went into a massive decline in the 80s). They clearly had everything I needed in the local army surplus shop.

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General wandering round Copenhagen

plant window sm

About 6 weeks ago I went on a short break to Denmark and Sweden. It shows how busy I’ve been lately that it’s taken me so long to post these. I unexpectedly had some extra holiday days I had to use up quickly before the end of my work contract, and none of my friends were free to travel on the specific weekend I had to use them, so I went by myself. I saw cheap flights to Copenhagen, and booked them on a whim, on the grounds that I’d never been to Denmark before, and it was also easy to visit Sweden from Copenhagen. I also have a danish friend Sanne I used to work with in London, so I arranged to meet up with her while I was there and drink some Mikkeller beer at normal prices (rather than the exorbitant prices they charge in the UK). (Good luck with the PhD viva Sanne!). I liked Denmark a lot, although I’m not sure if I’d want to live there. They seem very set in their ways. In fact it reminded me a lot of Austria, but with sea rather than mountains.

While I was there I spent a lot of time wandering round Copenhagen, visited Malmö and Lund in Sweden, and Helsingør along the coast, and also visited the Louisiana Art Museum and the Roskilde Viking Museum, which were also great. Denmark is not the greatest place to be a vegetarian without a kitchen (they are not so hot on the concepts of bacon or mayo free food or accurate labelling), and I had the worst hotel bed I’ve ever slept in (you can’t expect a lot for £30 a night in Scandinavia, esp if you have a problem with your AirBnB account and have to stick to hotels) and got a big tick bite on my leg, but I had a great time. There are a lot more photos, a few more blog posts, and a zine to come from this trip.

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