Saturday, 2 June 2012

I watched the sun rise in my teapot...

...even though the sky's gone a bit grey.

This however, cheered me up no end.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Girly with an edge... kind of my thing.
Here I am not only modelling for you the cheerful golden yellow we've painted our lounge (which makes me smile whenever I look at it), but more importantly my lil' cocktail-hat-cum-fascinator I made at the marvellous Button Tin with Gemma Nemer almost a month ago (see my post on the button! for when I went last time). And my, how time flies...

Gemma provided us with a treasure trove of vintage fabrics to choose from, and showed us how to make the ruffly rosettes which I adorned my headgear with. She kindly gave me a pair of vintage clip on earrings which were so me, and perfect for the centres of my rosettes. I brought along the chains, because for me, there is nothing in life that can't be improved by a few studs or chains!

I bought the dress on the same day, from Yella Brick Road -an emporium of weirdness and wonders that is basically what it would be like if my brain became a shop -spitting distance from the Button Tin in the Imperial Buildings in Rotherham (ladies spitting -now that's girly with an edge. Actually, I can't spit properly, I'm rubbish). It's by Iron Fist, and I simply had to buy it. It reminded me so much of imagery I use such as my butterfly/bones collaged combos -my obsession with sweet vs. sinister.

Like teaming scuffed up converse with a lace-trimmed slip when I was 17 (and dying to be Courtney Love), or getting my scribbled, drawn-with-a-biro effect love and kisses/let's cross out love and hate everybody tattoo -depending on which way you wanna look at it...

(now I just like how it reminds me of a bad time in my life I never ever want to go back to...)

And just to clear things up before you get over-excited, that square of flesh is the top centre of my back, and nothing else.

And I am so rock 'n' roll that I went all faint when the tattooist finished, and I had to get put in the recovery position!

It's like the fairy tales we were read to send us to sleep with sweet dreams of rabid wolves and murderous witches, the converging of opposites. Defiling the innocent, diluting the insane.

I suppose I like to reach the happy medium (funny, for someone who is never happy!)

The good little Christian girl who strives to be the perfect house wife and has imagined her wedding every day since she was five, whilst swearing like a trooper and stomping around to angry girl music.

I guess if I wasn't so conflicted I'd find it harder to stay strange...

Monday, 9 April 2012

Picture (im)Perfect

I have an unhealthy, bordering on damaging, obsession with perfection. Anyone who knows me, knows me to be picky and pedantic, but it's not like I do it on purpose. It's a coping strategy. I'm just trying to keep up.

I look at everyone else -stylish, successful, talented, people who are prolific in their art or craft -or whatever their field may be, people who are on the go all the time, people who juggle jobs and families and friendships and never let anything drop.

I have these ideas about other people, like that if one area of their life is perfect, or seems perfect, that must mean that everything about them is the same, even though I know this isn't true. And it means that I have to try and compete. I know people who are super-fit, but are complete flakes. I have friends who look amazing, but spend little time or effort on anything other than their appearance -hey, everyone knows that people with perfectly painted nails spend waaay too long sat still doing nothing (and clearly can't do DIY!) Some people have the most exciting social lives, but live in pits and exist off beans on toast. Others seem to have everything, but I pretty much know it's been bought on credit. I know this is the reality -that other people don't have extra hours in their days, or super-human energy levels (I have a skewed view of this because I've always been a sickly child, a wilting flower), but I want to be perfect at everything.

I want...

An immaculate home
A flawless appearance
Just the right amount of style (without seeming try-hard)
To cook everything from scratch
As for scratches, my car to be scratch free -and to be able to both drive it well and park it
To be nice to everyone (I know I'm not!)
To make maximum effort at work -and enjoy it!
To have a social life others envy (and no, I won't take photos, because I'll be too busy having fun!)
To still have time to be creative, and successful at it
To blog more than what seems like about twice a year!
To promote myself
To exercise and not hate it
To keep up with current affairs
To read
To remember things I've read/learned
To know what the heck I'm talking about -ever!
For my clothes to never be creased, my wash basket always to be empty
To never have a hair or a thread or anything out of place
To see family
To see friends
To spend just the right amount of money

Is this so much to ask?

I think my quests for order and perfection -not only fuel my crazy, but are also behind my collaging, collecting, assembling, arranging fixations. Taking disorder, the discarded, and making into something unified, composite, harmonious even. Like when I've cleaned the house from top to bottom and can smugly sit back -until I find something else that absolutely needs to be done.

You may remember my every-so-often 'I need to paint more' ponderings.

So I tried, and enjoyed myself, revelling in the gloss and the texture and the tactile experience of oil onto canvas, building up layer upon layer, until, Miss Perfect, I put a brushstroke wrong, and haven't beared to work on it since...

(See offending area encircled in red, which incidentally, to people I've asked, apparently has nothing wrong with it)

So I've taken the motif and interpretted it in collage. See, told you it kept me sane. Or, I just can't stop myself.

I've blogged about my 'hands' fascination not so long ago 'hand-made' blog post, and I'm enjoying using them to depict simplified tree forms.

When we eventually get some decent light (because my camera and my photography skills are far from perfect!), and if I can ever take the time out from my exhausting, self-inflicted schedule, I may share some photos of the new piece.

Until then I guess I'll keep tying myself in knots, being practically perfect -at most, if not all, things.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Balls to that!

Life lately has been about as jet-setting as it gets. For me, anyway. I can't live out of a suitcase, and all that packing and unpacking, and travel, is tiresome -especially if you're going by Megabus!
Last weekend I went to London for one of my oldest friends' (old as in long time, not old in age!) Katherine's birthday.

As I waited for her to meet me on her tea break, to provide me with keys and a map to her cute little flat, I pretended to be posh and wandered around Selfridges on Bond Street, practically drooling my way around the food hall, and receiving my fortune from the 'Word-a-Coaster' which currently dominates the Orchard Street window.

Now I'm not one for clairvoyance (Alex thinks I'm mental when I suggest it's 'of the devil'), but I due like I bit of conceptualism.

Apparently all the fortunes are unique, just like ours really. And although I am dainty, but far from light-footed, I think I'll be saving my little piece of limited edition, numbered art!

Saturday saw us visiting Tate Modern for the Yayoi Kusama show, and the theme of balls, or dots, continued.

(Do you think I'm wearing enough pattern?!)

Kusama's vibrant and varied career encompasses painting, collage, performance, sculpture, etc, etc, which I really admire -myself being someone who likes to dabble in different disciplines.

Her more recent painting remind me of aboriginal art. I was both impressed and envious of her friendship with (hero) Joseph Cornell -he donated her with collage materials and even gave her gifts of his own work -some of which was displayed (I reckon I could have slipped one into my bag!). Balls of an entirely different variety featured in her 1960's 'happenings' -the 1967 film 'Kusama's Self-Obliteration' was shown, the climax of which was writhing bodies painting each other with dots and descending into what can only be described as orgy. Kat and I showed exactly our level of maturity as we could hardly stifle our giggles. And I call myself a Fine Art graduate!

Our favourite bit was the installation 'I'm Here, but Nothing' which was a typical set up of a living room (sweet retro furniture), lit by UV black lights. The interior was covered with little fluorescent dot stickers which glowed, looking like some sort of domestic plague, and was described as a 'visual shorthand' for Kusama's 'hallucinatory visions'. I just like the idea of an artist having motifs that they constantly return to -like branding, or a tag, where you can look at it and instantly think... yeah, that's their work.

If I was more amused than nauseated by the orgiastic happenings, I was disorientated to the point of queasiness, but equally delighted, by the 'Infinity Mirrored Room'. Maybe that was as much due to the multiple reflections of myself as it was the lights.

Thankfully I was very much recovered for dinner at Bistrotheque -chicory, pork and pear slaw with crackling, hake with chorizo, razor clams and braised baby gem lettuce, and chocolate delice (or was the 'dice'?!) with mascarpone and an almond tuille.

More pretending to be posh then! Next time it's the Wolseley...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Face Paint.

This week I realised that instead of my pretty much constant make-up serving to make me look more groomed and grown-up, it's been masking flaws by way of making me look...younger! How and when did this happen? I may be 30, but I more often than not still get asked for ID when out of an evening visiting the choicest nightspots.

It may be because my fragile skin has been chapped beyond recognition by the biting Netherlandish air. Never have I felt cold as such experienced when trekking through Amsterdam in a blizzard between Waterlooplein and the Van Gogh Museum. Snow can be horizontal and razor sharp.

Alex and I only ever seem to holiday when and where it's freezing cold. Often in February around the time of his birthday. I don't know if it's because it's exactly 6 months away from my birthday, so gives me something to brighten the winter months, or if it stems from my distaste for overly hot weather -my Mum is still highly amused by my behaviour on a holiday to Italy in an August heatwave, during which I turned 17. I spent the majority of the time either at the shower block or beneath a parasol. The day we visited Venice I was positively wilting! Or if it comes from my confusion about and misunderstanding of why my fellow Brits seem to vacate our fair Isles at the time of year when our own weather is at its best...?

Our February trips have included Paris, Whitby and Glasgow -the latter is a close contender for coldest holiday ever, and if it wasn't for a kindly IMAX manager sharing the last taxi running, we would have been stranded, yet again in a blizzard -do you see the pattern emerging? -and quite possibly perished from hypothermia.

Unfortunately on the latest trip, the climate rendered me incapable of either removing my gloves, or pausing to take many photgraphs of the surprisingly beautiful (I didn't know what to expect!) Amsterdam. But then, at least I'm not the sort that believe if a photo wasn't taken it didn't happen. Memories count more than a million bunches of megapixels.

I haven't flown many times, so I remain fascinated by the snowy peaks of clouds glimsped through the plane windows, and so inkeeping with our wintery theme.

I also had no idea that Amsterdam was such a destination for deliciousness. I'm no great adventurer, and I swear by my DK Eyewitness Travel guides. How terribly mainstream! And this time we went as far as to eat at 2 restaurants the guide recommended -and weren't disappointed! Fondue and entrecotes at Cafe Bern were the ideal way to thaw out two tremoring travellers.

Plus we had the privilege of sharing pastries with some of the locals...

I'd read that Amsterdam is full of both pigeons and stray cats. Sadly we only made two new friends of the feline variety, but were treated one day to a pre-breakfast spectacle of half a bloodied mouse. Fortunately being 'straight edge (!)' I wasn't nursing any narcotic nausea from the night before!

I also went quite mainstream (for me) in my enjoyment of the Van Gogh Museum. I can be a bit snobby with my art when I want to be, and deny my enjoyment of the artists the world and his dog love, but I have to say, a desire to paint again has been ignited (I recall feeling similar stirrings but a couple of years back-

('all cried out' post, October 2009)

and now I'm feeling inspired enough to have a root through my art cupboard and see if I still have any oil paints hiding there. It's about time I took a break from intricacy, and daubed paint on canvas with wild abandon...

Vincent Van Gogh, 'Wheatfield with Crows', 1890

I shall definitely visit Amsterdam again, although perhaps when it's slightly more temperate. I was able to do the two things I most desperately wanted to -along with Van Gogh there was the Anne Frank House. I was moved to tears. I am now reading her diaries, and am intrigued by what the teenaged mind is capable of when subjected to such extreme, heightened situations. Not that I want to in any way mitigate the horrors of the holocaust, or liken the experiences of the occupants of the secret annexe to the triviality of an American TV show, but I can really see why Angela Chase from 'My So-Called Life' was shown to identify with Anne.

"I'm starting to like Anne Frank."
"Is she a sophomore, too?"
"No, she's dead."

So anyway, until the weather warms and I venture across the Noordzee again, I'll occupy myself with painting, whether the surface is canvas, or my fair and flimsy face.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Of Corpse

My latest masterpiece (?!) in progress...

This is my happy face, by the way.

The inspiration is the Surrealist 'exquisite corpse' -like that old parlour game we all played as children. Players fold a piece of paper and take it turns to each draw a section of the body, resulting in fanstastical beasts, horrific chimeras or comedy gold.

Joan Miro

More contemporary examples by Jake and Dinos Chapman

Surrealism was all about creating a sense of bewilderment with unexpected juxtapositions. Like the random imagery of dreams. I try to use that kind of idea in my collages, and often find that the less obsessive thought I put into what objects or images go together, the better. It seems more natural, more automatic. Trying to avoid the censoring parts of our brains.

Although you will see that I dressed to match my art work, so not so random after all.

I will re-attach the lids to the boxes, and fix the boxes together, for a result almost like when a magician cuts his assistant into half or three. I always thought 'My Glamorous Assistant' would be a good name for a band. My friend Natalie used to be a magician's assistant. She could tell you some stories about that... 

I do a similar idea with the folded paper at work as a self esteem exercise. With a group, we each start with a piece of paper, which is passed around the group for each participant to write something positive about the person whose piece of paper it is. Each person folds the paper to cover their comment, then passes it on to the next. When everyone gets their paper back they are left with a page of the lovely things that others think about them.

I'm not sure the Surrealists would approve of such niceness, but this is my struggle -the dark and the delightful.