Thursday, 30 June 2016

AMsterdAM n things

Maybe you are thinking "why does she bother posting on here so sporadically?" well I will let u kno, it is because I'm not very good at remembering separate events. Working full time in retail has really truncated my memories into one splodge of things from the last 10 months or so. Sorry if this format is beyond irritating but I like to make myself as unprofessional on here as is physically possible*.

:-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) *  :-) * 

Starting from today, let's have a look through what's been going on recently.
Pictured above is a chain bracelet that I made this evening after being taken on a train towards max frustration by crochet and a very misleadingly labelled pattern for a hippo. I bought the plastic loops for another purpose but got carried away when I realised that you could buy them in pink and orange rather than just the standard colours of black, red and white. It wasn't a massive job, it took me around 10 minutes stabbing at the openings with a biro (my left hand is covered in little marks) and threading them through. My wrist/ hand width can handle seven links. I'm starting to enjoy doing tiny bits of craft again after a long stretch of having virtually no creative outlet and bright, shiny bits of plastic always make my brain fizz so that would be my justification.

:-) *  
A jumble of things from a recent mini trip to Amsterdam and Utrecht. Viv and I decided to go on holiday to break up my working monotony/ to celebrate her birthday (a nicer reason). Here we are in a bookshop with multiple levels, halfway through being absolutely soaked through on our third and final day.  If you care to look a little closer, you will see that I am sporting a rather attractive wet-fringe-with-dry-hair style.

Whilst in The Netherlands, we had two enormously positive experiences among smaller spurts of joy (ooer):
(1) In the Stedelijk Museum
(2) In the Rietveld Schroder house.

I'm not sure which to talk about first but chronologically it would be point (1). We went on the first day after discussing our mutual disinterest in visiting the more obvious galleries (Van Gogh is not really up my street, especially not for 20 quid). Obviously, it being a design museum was what really grabbed our attention. I've found that recently I've become increasingly bored by the way that a lot of the main museums and galleries in London display their collections (the new Tate Modern wing rant can wait for another post). To make visits even more difficult, I'm not particularly interested in lots of periods of historical art unless there's a random bit of content that really grabs my attention (the first pieces of religious perspective painting, medieval artworks, abstract splodges in pleasing colour combinations) with design having a similar effect, albeit more frequently. I'm extremely reliant on my gut reaction to things. Maybe this is beside the point and you really don't care but sometimes something/one captures my imagination and I'll fall in love with an object or process or artist (or w/e) but a lot of the time I end up skimming over things if there isn't an instant emotional pull. Probably something to do with my internet-addled brain but I'm definitely not well informed enough to start going into that.

Anyway. The Stedelijk Museum gave us both a bit of excitement. We loved the varied exhibits, the clutter free rooms and the achievable size of the entire gallery. It's so refreshing to feel like you aren't being dwarfed by a museum but are still left satisfied at the end. Not that I think the V&A, for example, needs to downsize but I did feel comforted that although the building itself was vast, the curators hadn't felt the need to overload each space in a style not dissimilar to my Grandad's mantle.

A highlight that Viv also mentioned on her blog, was a series of beautifully still photographs by Jan Dibbets of the super shiny painted surfaces of cars (New Colour Studies, 1976/2012). This series, confidently spread over several rooms gave our post-flight post-coffee brains a moment to calm down and reflect on something that had a lovely visual stillness. Lots of the photographs are so closely zoomed in that they look like gradient colour paintings. I'm partial to things that are smooth and shiny, as demonstrated by the plastic bracelet, so it was refreshing to experience a very 'pop' aesthetic displayed in a calm, fanfare free format.

Something that neither of us realised before entering the museum was quite how confused we were about the chronology of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus and De Stijl. I'm still confused, despite us spending a good twenty minutes unpicking it. My sieve-like brain is not capable of remembering things as important as artistic movements when I'm in need of a nap. Something I can remember quite clearly is the deeply ingrained installation work by Jon Rafman. I don't have any photos apart from one of Viv looking appalled by a video piece but a picture wouldn't quite do the immersive experience justice. If you can imagine being in a room with blue ambient lighting, a raised ball pit with video screens hanging above it and a foamy bench that cocoons round you as you watch a video comprising of imagery that wouldn't be on the /b/ board of 4chan (don't Google it) crossed over with the aesthetic of Tumblr stars like Molly Soda then you may come close to what we experienced but I'm not sure that a description can really cover it. I felt a mixture of being super uncomfortable but also hazily relaxed by the physical environment of this particular exhibition. This was also one of the first rooms that we entered which might explain the physical and mental shock that we both experienced.

I think in the interests of sanity, I'll cut this off here and come back to it another day. I hope you are well.

*I'm sorry, I don't, I'm saddened by endless articles about Brexit/ Labour falling apart/ the prospect of Michael Gove becoming PM etc and want to put something online that's a bit more exciting, silly and hopeful.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Get out of the way Zayn/ a messy post

I am feeling a bit groggy because of my uterus today so here are some things that have happened recently/ that I am enjoying so that I don't just complain graphically about the texture of things rapidly exiting my body. Obviously I am in no fit state to be coherent so please enjoy a random hodge podge of brightly coloured/ silly things that I've been ogling in the last few weeks/ days/ mins in the style of a blog from 2009 not the super polished 2016.

_____________________________________    :-)   ______________________________________

Vitas- 7th Element

This song has sort of taken over recently. I'm not sure how it has managed to slip through the net for so long. I really like his outfit, the lights, the dancers, his facial expressions, the repetitiveness of the song, the routine... Vitas is also helping me to gear up for Eurovision.

 u make me crazy wen u act so kool 

I have just ordered an iPhone case with this picture of Wham! that I stole from Google images. If I wanted to rationalise this, I could say that George and Andrew have provided a musical backdrop for everything in the maternal side of my parentage- holidays, decorating, trips to Ikea and then further through into my fave online formed friendship with Kate. What was actually happening when I found this pic was that I was trying to find a good Pierre et Gilles pic but there weren't any in a high enough resolution to warrant being plastered on to my phone any time soon so I 'settled' for this instead.

Jonathan Meades

Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloody Mindedness is doing the rounds on iPlayer again. It is good news, mainly because I forgot how good it was and also because I have watched 100% of the Andrew Graham Dixon docs available on the internet and I don't think I can warrant watching him and Giorgio Locatelli gorge their way around Italy for the fifth time just yet. 

The style of this series always gets me, the delivery matches the visual unapologetically. When I saw JM speak both at the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall a couple of years ago, he didn't stray too far from this very direct way of delivering his thoughts. It also makes a change to experience a programme which doesn't feel at all dumbed down. Meades never assumes that the viewer is an incapable tool and because of this, you never feel like he's leaving out vast swathes of opinion or fact in order to make himself more palatable to the general viewing public.

Count Buckules's Podcast

Adam Buxton's podcast is the only one I listen to, mainly because I am still in mourning over the Adam & Joe show ending. The last episode featuring Sara Pascoe was especially good so here is a link to it.
Kinder Eggs

I'll stop waffling like an idiot now and leave you with my latest Kinder Surprise obsession. I will only say that I've never seen Star Wars (:-0) but the idea of heads sandwiched onto spacecraft really made me laugh so here is a photo of the leaflet that came with my Han Solo dangly thing. 

-bye pals-

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Candy and Andy

It's pretty hard work trying to find out about these books. I was introduced to them by a pair of twins at an exhibition of collectors held by one of my old tutors. They were exhibiting their personal collection of things that related back to twins, so obviously Candy and Andy fit well into this remit. Immediately, I fell in love with the late 1960s books. The two men generously explained what they'd managed to find out about the characters and I, enthusiastically (obviously), expressed my interest in things of this ilk. Everybody else that I was with had the standard response of complete and utter horror on seeing the uncanny dolls in their real world setting. This is partly what has prompted me to write this post, I can't be the only one who likes the style of things like this, finding them funny rather than scary.

As soon as I left the exhibition I started searching on eBay to see if there were any books lurking around online for me to snap up. Evidently there were, so I dutifully bid on whatever I could find over the next year or so. There are still a couple of books left for me to get my mits on due to hardened 'Fandersons' bidding more money than I can part with at present but I'm definitely getting there.

So, where to get information about the twins and their parents, the Bearandas. The most helpful source that I've found has been from the 'Age of Uncertainty' blog. Although there are a few other blog posts knocking around online, it seems as though Gerry Anderson's fans are either uninterested in these works or are trying to sweep them under the rug of other things from the 60s and 70s ready to be forgotten. My plan is to go through the books one by one and highlight particular things that draw my attention. The wording of the stories is also part of the fun. Mainly, I want there to be a resource online for people who are in a similar position to the one I was- incredibly intrigued but finding it difficult to gain more knowledge of the series. Hopefully I'll be putting up a post a week showing each of the four books that I've managed to collect so far, with more information as I come across it.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

I'm back (I think????)

Botticelli Reimagined- V&A, Saturday 5th March 2016

Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t done any writing besides the typical nonsensical lists that I like to leave scattered everywhere and anywhere I have access to a pen since around this time last year! Hopefully it doesn’t sound too conceited or embarrassing but w/e, this is pretty inconsequential and I’m not trying to be the next big critical thinker in this space. Please excuse any terrible grammar or formatting mistakes.

For a far more eloquent review, please see Vivien's post.


The other Saturday, Viv, Chris and I trundled down to South Kensington to go and have a look at the much anticipated (by us at least) Botticelli Reimagined. After a quick pitstop at Greggs beforehand for a sausage, bean and cheese melt, we somehow managed to get ourselves to the gallery ready for opening at 10:30. I don’t know why, but being in the ‘first’ group to see something, be it a film, exhibition or otherwise always makes the experience feel more real- going without everybody else’s opinions floating around really helps me to enjoy what’s happening in the immediacy of the moment rather than through a second or often third hand perspective.

As you enter Botticelli Reimagined, you’re confronted by an elevated screen playing the part of Baron Münchausen by Terry Gilliam where Uma Thurman is emerging, Venus-like, from a shell whilst Eric Idle et al. ogle her. It’s impossible not to feel in awe of Thurman in this clip. She encompasses everything that the original icon ‘Birth of Venus’ allows. She is visibly glowing with beauty- whether self aware of purport rated by the viewer, I’m not so sure. As a 24 year old woman, it did make me feel a mixture of insecurity, envy and pure admiration. Thurman appeals as a stock image of beauty. Having watched the accompanying programme on the BBC recently, I can’t help but feel like Venus has been given more agency than she actually has. The programme decides that Venus (/Aphrodite) is meeting the viewer’s gaze and inviting them in. However, my personal feeling is that an attractive woman cannot have control over her situation purely through her looks/ being gawped at by men and women alike. Much as a Page 3 model isn’t in total control of the way she is viewed, ultimately it is the viewer who gets to decide on the implications of their thoughts and physical reaction to high levels of physical beauty.

My favourite painting in the exhibition, Yin Xin’s “After Botticelli”, was the only work in the entire exhibition that stopped me in my tracks. The painting repositions beauty ideals by featuring a woman of a different ethnicity to Botticelli’s Venus- a woman of Asian heritage. Aside from the usual questions of pushing out beauty of a purely western standard, the painting had several depths of technique which really caught me off guard. A beautiful sea foamy texture covered the top layers of the canvas, bringing you right into Venus’ shell. The close crop of her the familiar yet distinguishable face takes you away from seeing Venus purely as a body, she became an individual being. The ‘knowing’ look intensifies as you get closer to her face, there is no hiding from Venus in this painting- you can’t look away to admire the setting of the shell and carefully placed hands. I felt much more of a human connection with Yin Xin’s Venus than any of the others featured. That isn’t to say that I didn’t really enjoy the rest of the works in the ‘inspired by’ first room, it was my favourite actually, but this work really took me by surprise.

The placing of the D&G outfits near such a painting, also ‘questioning beauty ideals’, felt insufficient after other such engaging pieces. As a group, we felt that the looks didn’t and couldn’t possibly address this simply by fragmenting The Birth of Venus and collaging the image over a dress and suit. This is not to say that they didn’t deserve to be in the exhibition, I just feel that a beautiful model wearing highly crafted, and let’s not forget incredibly expensive, items of clothing cannot readdress beauty standards in existence alone.

With regards to the rest of the exhibition, I did feel slightly put out. Often the works featured felt shoe horned in. As Chris pointed out, any painting with flowing fabric was labelled as ‘Botticellian’, which really made me wonder if most of the images featured needed to be shown. I suppose the whole exhibition is dedicated to his wide ranging influence but was there really a need to show so many Pre-Raphaelite artworks? Who knows. personal tastes and preferences obviously play a huge part in the enjoyment of things like this and I can’t deny that my tastes skew way towards more contemporary styles.

Right at the end of the exhibition, after a rather odd room of paintings mainly labelled with ‘attributed to Botticelli’s workshop’, you are greeted by two studies for Birth of Venus. The paintings offer differing body shapes and slightly varying tones- for example beautiful golden hair on one Venus and a fleshier body on the other. Both images offer respite from the variety of the rest of the exhibits. It felt like such a strong and fresh pair of internally lit figurative paintings and restored my faith in painting after a slightly odd and confusing experience.