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.
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.
I spent most of August in Germany, teaching some school workshops and going to Documenta art fair along the way. My first assignment was in rural Nordrhein-Westfalen. The agency has a tendency to book you on flights at brutal times early on a Sunday, so instead I booked my own flight to Cologne on a Friday evening, and claimed it back off them. I have been to Cologne loads of times, and my colleagues were flying into Düsseldorf, which I had never visited. So I decided to stay in Düsseldorf, do a bit of sightseeing, and then meet up with the others before heading to the Sauerland. (A delayed flight and the questionable joy of rural DB trains on Sundays meant that that turned out to be a bit more complicated than planned, but everyone got there in the end).
I can’t say I knew much about Düsseldorf. It’s in the Rheinland, the most densely populated part of Germany, it’s a rich place with a big financial industry, Kraftwerk come from there, they say isch rather than ich (check out Kraftwerk’s Neonlischt), and they have an intense rivalry with their better-looking and more famous neighbour Cologne (to the extent of selling postcards everywhere saying “Düsseldorf statt Köln”- Düsseldorf instead of Cologne. Nice try Düsseldorf).
The centre of Düsseldorf is very posh- the Königsallee is full of expensive designer shops, and there are lots of expensive restaurants and gleaming modern corporate headquarters. It wasn’t really my thing. There are a surprising number of Japanese restaurants too- which I did avail myself of. There was cool looking modern art museum, but I got there too late for it to be worth paying to get in. The rest of the city isn’t quite so gleaming though, just kind of bog-standard Germany, and I stayed in quite a nice hotel for €30. There were a weirdly high number of stag and hen-dos/exam celebration groups in town too. There was an annoying group of Bavarian boys in lederhosen at my hotel. The sarcastic manager pointed them out to me and said “look, there’s some Bavarians in their famous sexy lederhosen. As a free gift from the hotel, you can pick one. None of their mothers will mind”. I declined.
And to round off my stuff from Croatia, here’s some sketchbook notes from Zadar museum and Trogir. Hobotnica (pronounced hobotnitsa) is Croatian for octopus. It’s a good word.
So here’s my playlist from Croatia- it goes with the zine I wrote about the trip. I just seemed to want to listen to nothing but David Lynch type music and the Deftones the whole time I was there. Also features an honorable mention for Iron Maiden, this time not playing simultaneously with Bieber.
So here’s the last of my pictures from Croatia. This time of Trogir, a town up the coast from Split. I went there on the bus, on a whim really, and was glad I did. I wrote about it a bit more in the zine I made recently about Croatia and Slovenia. There’s a harbour, a Venetian castle, and an island with a nature reserve (that I didn’t really have time or motivation to explore in the heat).
If you keep walking out of Split you end up on the Marjan peninsula. The first time I visited I made the mistake of climbing up to the peak in 35c heat. After that I sensibly took the coast road. I’ve written about it in my Croatia/Slovenia zine as well.
It’s dotted with little chapels and memorials.
Here’s the view of Split from the top.
Lots of pine and cedar trees.
If you walk up the top way, you have to climb through these steep, narrow streets first, which remind me of Naples.
The rocky coast.
Here’s some photos from my trip to Croatia this summer. It was a real last minute thing, I suddenly had a week free in a packed summer of teaching engagements and still didn’t actually live anywhere yet, so I bought a cheap flight to Croatia and did some sightseeing (before returning to Slovenia ten days later for work). Here’s some pictures of Split. I wrote more about the trip in a zine- available here, so I’ll leave the longer writing in there and just show the photos.
This summer I had to chance to go to both Documenta in Kassel and the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. Here’s my photos from one of the Ljubljana Biennial exhibitions that allowed photos. The theme of this Biennial was this poem by Slovenian writer Jure Deleta (and inspiration from Karel Destovnik). There was no overall curator of the festival this time, previous winners of prizes were allowed to each choose an artist to take part. Ljubljana is a small, easy-going city, and so was the art festival, although the artwork and exhibition presentation were high quality. None of the stress of Documenta. I have written a zine about my trips to Slovenia and Croatia this summer, available here, and am in the process of writing one about my time in Germany.
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.