I really enjoy doing interviews with artists. You will find quite a few of them here as well as stuff about festivals, street art, exhibitions etc.
It's more than half way through our season in Hrafntinnusker and although you might have some romantic notion of it being quiet or even lonely at the top of the mountain, that really couldn't be further from the truth. I'd been craving a little anonymity; somewhere people don't look at me twice and I can ignore them too. Ironically, it's often easier to find solitude in the city.
I had never seen Reykjavik in the sunshine before. Sorry, but I don't have words, only the photos...
Probably aged seven or eight, the first time I came across a stuffed animal I made my Mum hide it behind the sofa, I wouldn't look at the mummy in the Tutankhamun exhibition (Dorchester, not Egypt) and finding a dead sheep on the beach gave me nightmares. More recently I stopped eating meat for all the sensible environmental reasons, but partly also just so I wouldn't have to think about dead things while I chewed anymore; an ancient building full of them shouldn't have held much appeal...
Jason has been living in China for almost as long as I've known him. I don't think he intended to be there for so long, but something about Beijing has obviously reeled him in. I first asked him if he would do an interview for me, about his life there and photography, on the 3rd of January 2015; between the two of us, we have managed to string it out until now... I think it was worth the wait. I particularly love his photos of lights and rain in the darkness and for me, his answers are a rare insight into a idea I once considered for myself. We cannot be everywhere and do everything in the same lifetime, so it's good when our friends can be some places for us. I hope you enjoy the read.
When I first met Hannah, I was already a bit of a mess. For months, we lived in a muddy industrial estate, slipping past each-other like grinning ships in the night.
"How are you?!"
Both of us were in our twenties, trying somehow to manage teams of volunteers in the never ending battle
to provide aid and a little more dignity to the inhabitants of the now-demolished "Jungle" refugee camp. Whereas I was mostly a deranged clothing and bedding woman, Hannah worked in "Calais Kitchens". This home-grown set up provided tinned food, ingredients and a degree of independence to the whole camp. They were inspirational as an organisation and Hannah's smiling, approachable demeanour appeared to surround her as a bubble of calm (whatever she might have been feeling like inside).
Though I could probably dedicate this blog to the creativity of Calais volunteers for the rest of the decade, I've been particularly struck by Hannah's style. She will not appreciate the comparison to Picasso and I have never made such a leap before without implying that someone was meaning to imitate his work; she isn't. The level of energy she exudes in her drawings make it obvious that this is purely her. I'm a little in awe.
Only ever spending any time together at busy music festivals and other people's parties, it took me almost a year to learn about this part of Helen's life.
Often secret talents turn out to be infinity more rewarding once discovered than those you've been hearing too much about - Helen's designs and illustrations are addictive. Sometimes using computer manipulation as well as more traditional techniques, I usually have no idea how she has created a finished piece, but that only adds to the intrigue.
Floating around the restaurant with an enviable aura of calm, Laura never seemed repressed by the sometimes stiflingly misogynistic atmosphere of our work place half a decade ago. After her smile, I first noticed her tattoos- a tall ship, mermaids and an intricately twined circle on her back. Getting to know her a little better, I learnt she designed them herself. I've been in awe ever since and could not be more excited to introduce you. This is Laura Wilson.
Were you artistic as a child? How did you get into illustration?
I wanted to be an artist from a really early age! Art was my favourite subject at school from when I was very young, and it was something I’d spend hours each evening doing. I drew an awful lot of mermaids! I had a few years during my teens when I gave into the ‘art isn’t a viable career option’ rhetoric that sensible adults were telling me, but eventually I decided that following my passion was worth not being as financially stable as I might be if I chose a different career path!
Mention you're from England to any continental European and after mocking you for your cooking, they will most likely mention the weather. Although our continuous drizzle is often exaggerated, several days of downpour have the potential to make life very miserable if you're sleeping in a tent. After several summers of English music festivals, these are my tips for embracing the mud and enjoying the party regardless...
Trundling along on the megabus, somewhere between Bristol and London, I only started talking to Louis Masai after we broke down. Far from the usual delays, we were entertained by a teenage dance troupe and previously unconnected folk band who just happened to be travelling back from Plymouth together. I felt the hour slip by with little resentment and only once back on the bus realised how close I was coming to missing my connections to Vienna that night. Ice broken by the bizarre situation, I began to learn a little about Louis' work. After nearly a year of following him on social media, I recently decided to ask him for an interview. This is what I learnt...
After discovering his impossibly detailed pen and ink drawings, doodles I could get lost in for hours, I'm incredibly excited to introduce Olivier. His intricate layers of disproportionately sized wildlife weave together into the masterpieces you can see below. Though this website is never going to do his pictures justice, the playful twist on an environmental theme seemed perfect. I'll hope you'll enjoy getting to know the artist a little better as much as I have.
Approaching the end of July, somewhere in the countryside near Cambridge, England, an otherwise sleepy patch of farm land transforms into the Secret Garden Party. Stages hatch out from the fields, gigantic circus tents are pitched in clusters and psychedelic bunting stretches overhead. People abandon their mundane lives for a few days to loose themselves down the metaphorical rabbit hole.
Before experiencing Ottery St Mary's unique Guy Fawkes celebration, I couldn't have imagined such an event could possibly have survived Britain's nanny state long enough to pass on its legacy. For a first-timer the spectacle is confusing; the village is flooded with spectators, after the enthusiastic locals, a crowd of primarily drunken young people from the surrounding area. The mood is impatient as we strain our necks in anticipation, until a plume of smoke and roaring flames give away the tar barrel's spot. This quietness is the tell tale calm. As the barrel comes up above shoulder height, the furnace seems to mill about in the distance for an eternity. Is this what we've come to see?
Let your mind drift for a moment however and you're likely to find yourself alone in the dragon's pathway...
Three years ago my weirdo friends and I experienced Boomtown Fair in it's relative infancy. Ramshackle constructions lined the streets as hoards of wide-eyed inhabitants bumbled around in a mixture of wonder and confusion.
The gigantic spider Arcadia was our focal point. Grown from recycled metal, it had flaming acrobats twirling from its legs and heavy drum and bass bursting from its chest. We were mesmerised.
Two of my many dodgy Arcadia photos from 2012...
With its hidden meanings, revolutionary techniques and pieces that you just "might not get", the art world can sometimes seem pretentious. Although street-art is a different scene, I'd always assumed the artists would think themselves a little too cool to talk to me. That was until D7606 commented on my blog to thank me for featuring his work. I was so excited to be directly contacted by him. His crayola coloured pop-art paste ups brighten the grimy walls they adorn in such a fun way, that I wondered where he was coming from. Here's a little insight into his world...
Having spent a week or so hopping from one nasty, [relatively] expensive accommodation to another, we were heading to Samaipata in the hopes of finding a peaceful campsite. Being enormously ripped off on a long, hot day of buses, I was feeling quite miserable by the time we arrived. It was dark, raining, everything was soggy and I wasn't appreciating being stuck back in our one-man tent. Balancing electronics and valuables on a mountain of shoes, under waterproof coats in our 'porch' to stop the water from destroying them didn't lead to the most restful night's sleep.
Waking up groggy with sun, I found El Jardin more intriguing than I could have imagined...
Bouncing along in the back of a fish-truck we watched the parched, cactus territory along the coastline turn to lush forest. With isolated micro-climates changing the scenery from place to place, Ecuador is amazingly varied for its size. Winter is warmer than Summer here, but the only season I didn't want to miss was when Humpback Whales come to mate. We'd spotted a few from the beach at Puerto Cayo, but it's hard to get a sense of scale at distance and I really wanted to see them up close.
There have been few places in the world that have brought tears to my eyes when it came to time to leave. As I'm sure I've made quite obvious in my last four(?!) posts about La Esperanza, Dan and I really loved living there. This post isn't going to be very informative, but mostly a thank-you to the friends who made us feel so welcome in the village.
We finished painting the house just in time for fiesta of San Juan. This was the third fiesta we'd been part of in La Esperanza and by far the most extravagant. There were lavishly decorated vehicles throwing out sweets and roses for spectators and several parties of costumed dancers; everyone was wearing their finery and some people even brought their animals along to display.
With a mildly dangerous reputation and generally miserable weather, Bogota isn't somewhere I'd have been attracted to had it not been our entry point into Colombia. At a first glance it isn't the prettiest city. The mountains to the East make the skyline impressive from some angles, but the streets generally look a little unloved. Give the city a chance though and look a little closer, Bogota's soul lives in it's people.
I'd never even heard of Pitch, but had been looking for somewhere to see my hero Bonobo and figured that we could do worse than hopping on the bus to Amsterdam. With no real expectations, money or knowledge of the majority of acts, it could have gone either way.
In fact, despite having to camp off site, Pitch turned out to be the easiest and most consistently enjoyable festival I went to all summer. It was relaxed, friendly and a manageable size, but with varied enough music to keep the weekend exciting.
...I'm tempted to make some sort of joke about 'perfect Pitch', but am worried I might lose some of you.
I wrote this post a couple of years ago, so ignore the dates.
I'm going to introduce my series of 'Festival Fact Files' with a bit of a banger. Glastonbury is the biggest, muddiest and undoubtedly most exhausting of all the festivals I've ever been to, so why is it breaking my heart this much to watch the resale date sale past?* Although its size can be a little overwhelming at first, Glastonbury is unbeatable for its unique combination of friendly atmosphere, variety of performances and incredible line-up. I've been lucky enough to make it to the last four, but this year I'll leave the tickets for you- resales are on the 24th and 27th April. Get on it!
I'm neither an architect nor a proper photographer, but I couldn't help but fall in love with these intricate designs. Click on the tiles below for full images...