Life Lately

2016 teething, so far:

Tears, existential angst, joining a philosophy class, leaving a philosophy class, leaving my job, dating again, visiting friends more, focusing on uni, trying to get into yoga, saying thankyou not sorry, visiting my family more, cooking, riding my bike, reconnecting with lost friends, enjoying the sunshine, sending bad but hilarious selfies, cracking jokes, eating out, reading my horoscope, remembering you can’t be there for everyone, resting, putting down books that are too heavy, exploring London, experiencing what a relationship can be, going to Devon for my birthday with a bunch of my best friends, planning a European jaunt with Emma, realising that maybe fashion isn’t my thing, buying ice cream and eating straight from the tub...

Sometimes, it's the little things all over again.

Sacred Heart


Let’s break my radio silence on here with a hark back to Paris again. This time, we’re at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. A beautiful church slash tourist attraction, in the Montmartre area of Paris. Since it was one of Margaux’s favourite places in her hometown, she very enthusiastically wanted to take me there. And I, ever the obliging guest, let her do so.

From the base of the hill, Sacre-Cœur stands proud; it dominates like a three-tier cake, except much less edible. It looks as delicious as a cake though, with the cream brickwork, pointed domes and corniced features. Once we’d walked to the top, and snapped the obligatory selfies to a backdrop of Paris, we sat down on the steps to take a breath and talk for a moment too.

As we sat, just gazing around at everyone surrounding us, a man stood up on the wall before us. Beside him, a stereo and in his arms, a football. The music started. Instrumental and grand, it coalesced with the heat of the sun and the view overlooking the city. Then, the tricks began. The ball glided between his feet, arms, chest and head, and for 5 minutes at least, we were all transfixed. Myself, Margaux and everyone around us. I’m told such sights are fairly common by the Sacré-Cœur, but since this was new to me, I was rather impressed.

The crescendo came when the man scaled the lamp-post next to him. He, as you can see from the one photo I managed to capture below, posed and continued his tricks whilst suspended from the light. Bearing in mind that he was above a hefty drop, it’s not surprising there was a collective intake of breath the one moment he very nearly fell. However, ever composed, he saved his grip and then slowly came down to finish off his performance.

It was, as you can imagine, quite a moment. After that, we went inside the Basilica. There is something beautiful about the stillness that churches often have. The hum that bounces around the architecture, the quiet prayer or contemplation and the gentle lighting that illuminates the space. And inside, Sacré-Cœur excels at delivering all three.

Visiting Sacré-Cœur was, to return to my cake analogy, a tasty treat. Without really trying, the day delivered many moments which allowed us to stop. And with that, I see why Margaux was so enthusiastic about taking me there.


The Basilica
A visit to Sacré-Cœur in Paris, August 2015.

Gargoyles


I mentioned in the Abstract Landscapes review that I visited Paris this summer. The second time in my life thus far, and a short trip, spent with a housemate who'd gone home for the holiday.

There are two loose memories from eleven-year-old me in Paris. One involves being terrified of falling between the stairs, whilst walking up the Eiffel tower. And the other, was of going to Notre Dame. This memory is incredibly fuzzy. Yet, it was the architecture that captured me, with that strange feeling of awe perhaps.

So this summer, visiting Notre Dame again was very much on the agenda. My first day in Paris was a tourist day. The day when I wandered the streets and the Seine alone, and covered all the tourist activities I could. Notre Dame was ticked off my list in the afternoon. I opted not to go inside, as much like last time, the queue to enter was hefty.

Outside Notre Dame, I ate an ice cream. I texted my mum, to tell her I was eating an ice cream. Then I sat for a while and listened to all the languages that passed by. Being outside the cathedral was enough. I walked again. I marvelled at the intricacy, and raised an eyebrow at the gargoyles. Most of all, I took pictures. I guess gothic art & architecture is something that I've liked for a while.

So, this is my postcard from Notre Dame. I'm glad I chose to visit again.


Gargoyles & Flying Butresses
An outside view of Notre Dame in Paris, August 2015.

Abstract Landscapes

Digital seems to be having a moment of late; at least in my corner of the world. Whether it's former Loft pal, Yinka, co-curating Future Curious, or the recent Digital Disturbances exhibition at my current university; the crossover of technology and humanity has become a hot topic in the art & design world.

This interregation of digital spheres and humankind has been fascinating me for a while, though in ways that I'm only just beginning to grasp. I have written here before about outfit blogging, and about reliance on technology for communicating. I’ve also, in more academic contexts, written about social media and body image, and meditated on fashion blogs. (What can I say, fashion has been my thing) The digital world is captivating. You’re reading these words on a screen, through a network of connected computers and via a web browser. It’s an incredible mathematical and engineering feat, quite frankly. But what exactly does it mean to be human with these riveting new toys?

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A Brief Fancy Dress History

A few years ago, my good friend Jon had a blog. Upon it, he once wrote about his entire backlog of fancy dress costumes, which struck me as an idea worth thieving. In the time since, he has of course ditched the blog in favour of amusing videos, so there is no evidence of this.

Nevertheless it happened, and as my work and this space has recently been feeling a bit heavy, I think we ought to talk about something silly instead. Today is the day the idea thievery happens, and we shall delve into my own backlog of fancy dress. Plus, with halloween coming up, it seems perfectly apt.


2007: Book launch of Harry Potter 7. Mary & I dressed as Hagrid and Buckbeak. We were the oldest in costume. I wore a wig on my face, she wore sparkly leggings… I’m not sure what more I can say.

2010: Dandy Man. Readers of my old blog may remember this one. The first year of university, my flatmate had a superhero themed party. We all left our costumes to the last minute and make-do-and-mend came into full force. One friend went as “box man” in a cardboard box. I think I got the better deal.

2011: Toucan. Once upon a time, I went to visit my friend at Oxford. She took me to a bop. It was jungle themed. The end.

2011: Jon’s 21st and halloween. We dressed as clowns. I wore my liquorice allsorts shirt, courtesy of Mary’s Dad. It rained when we left the house. Bedraggled clowns entered the club we landed in.

2012: Techno Starfish. Carly’s birthday was “Under the Sea” themed. I bought some poor quality, yet oh so shiny fabric from seemingly the only fabric shop in Bristol. My first attempt at a starfish costume went wrong. The second attempt saw me working for 5 hours on the day of the party to stitch up the magic you see above. The costume got recycled 8 months later for a “Space” themed evening. Waste not, want not.

2012: Noah’s Ark party. My pal Dan and I share a birthday. So for our 21st, we decided to share a party. I decided the theme was Noah’s Ark, Dan agreed and much fun was had. My costume was a lion and that is the most terrifying face I could muster, apparently. I’m sure I’d get exiled from my pride if I really were a lion. Anyway, there were peacocks, zebras, bears, doves, two people who came as one another and God. We threw another party for our 22nd, which was Myths & Legends themed. Sadly, my Woodland Nymph costume was crap and few photos were taken.

2014: New Year. After that, there was a long fancy dress break. Until the New Year's Eve just gone. The theme was "the future" and I made a shiny mirror dress. You can read more about that one here. Needless to say, it was a costume that rustled, as much as it shined.


So there we have it. A brief history of my fancy dress outfits.

How about yourselves? Any costume highlights or lowlights? Or perhaps a Halloween special you're working on right now?

Earthenware Two

No 2: Lived in Colour
Ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Earthenware

No. 1 – Of Blacks & Whites
Ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

A Blue Period

It’s a little know fact that the Au Lazuli project stemmed partially from a dream. A dream filled with awe, the likes of which I’ve only fleetingly experienced before. This night was much like any October night in late 2012. A little chilly, and terribly lethargic after a day spent at university, fretting (a lot) over what to make.

I went to bed earlier, around 10pm. Snuggled deep into my quilts and cocooned myself into the enveloping warmth. Sleep came quickly; atypical for me compared to most nights, where it can sometimes be a struggle to fall into a slumber. Yet this night, sleep came easily and before long, a dream state arose. I’ve no doubt that I dreamt a good many dreams that night, yet most evade me except this:

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The Power Out

Well, it's raining. My room has somewhat annoyingly sprung a leak, and of course, there's been a power cut along our road. Rather than enduring the feeling of damp bones, as drops from the ceiling echo into the bowl placed below; I've evacuated to the kitchen, where I now sit with a candle, paper and a pen. Dinner is bubbling away on the stove (we have gas, thankfully) and I'm stealing this unexpected pocket of time to write something, anything really. It's all very antiquated. A relic of eras gone by.

Power cuts are peculiar, in that they show you just how much of your life has come to rely on electricity. Your instinct is to groan. Mild irritation before rationality hits; it's temporary. A disgruntled house-mate, newly returned from a trip away, has left to shower at a friend's house. Seemingly simple conveniences, like washing, have been taken away by the outage. Power showers, you understand – another luxury, much like insignificant others that have come to punctuate daily existence, in the time and place I live right now.

To be exacting about it, the candles lighting my page and the pen held in my grasp are very much technologies too. I've recently begun reading Living in a Technological Culture, by Mary Tiles and Hans Oberdiek. A twenty-year old text, that is speaking to some loose thoughts of late. Our lives are shaped and formed by technologies; and in taking this from a person, are we stripping the human from their being? I'd like to believe we are more than that; more than the artifice that has become naturalised into insignificance. Yet today, when the power cuts, I'm reminded of how much my life requires technology. How much human history has been defined by technology. And that what I do, simply everyday things, presupposes the certainty of having a flow of power. It's surreal to think about how we lived without this. If only because I've never known a world without electric technology.

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A Dash Of Colour

Plant Life
A small selection of snapshots from the last few months.

An Ode to Trees

The Black & White Edition

I'm not a natural portrait maker. I've not yet perfected the technique of capturing moments, without a human subject becoming self-conscious by my camera's presence. Given the ubiquity of the camera phone, it amuses me how people react to a "proper" camera still. Simply the looming prospect of a 50mm f1.8 lens is enough to raise some hackles. And I once worked as a photographer.

I get it, of course. In heavy irony, I am no different. A camera enters. I recoil, and coif my hair; grimace and then fake a brilliant grin. Adjustments. Your likeness is being captured.

Trees, on the other hand, won't hide. Unlike people.

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Citations #2

Citations is an ongoing series where I attempt to unravel the multitude of influences that pave the way to now. In these posts, I trace the people, things and experiences which shaped my thinking, and form the underpinnings of a creative outlook. You can view more of the series here.


Worn Fashion Journal

Worn, worn, worn... how many words can I entangle today to express how much adoration I hold for you? Or perhaps that should be held, since the final issue landed with a thud through my post box in January. What struck me then, was that this was an opportune moment to reflect on the publication. Delve into those bits of the Worn ethos that I've subconsciously nicked from every issue I've read, and resonate still today.

Worn Journal has a core, maybe cult, following and doubtless, some reading here may count yourselves amongst them. I came to Worn in 2009; when, through the joys of Twitter, I was sent a review copy for the tiny blog I kept at the time. The only remnant of that review is the photograph at the top, but suffice to say reading that issue was enough to hook me into Worn's World. Back issues and subscriptions were bought, and copies remain amongst the treasured possessions on my bookshelf. Maybe you'll have similar stories.

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Unintended Pattern

Patterns appear when you're not looking
Miscellaneous moments and things over the last few years.

Latinate

Postcards from Italy
Rome - Florence - Venice, September 2011.