Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sprismatic Medal For Keeping A New Year's Resolution

Project 365 encourages creatives to produce a piece of work every day of the year. They are two weeks away from completing their 2010 resolution and one of my favourites has been posted by Nathan James Paige on his Ideas Man blog.
Posting one each day is quite some feat, especially as these aren't just sketches but often topical cartoons. His references to festivals show he may not have been in the best situation to post every day of the year but he's done it. Big fat respect and The Sprismatic Medal For Keeping A New Year's Resolution goes to Mr Paige.
Here's a sample of the 350 posted so far:

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sloths Aren't Sinful - They Simply Don't Do Stress

Sloths, these comically beautiful creatures have been given a bad name. The Bible hasn't helped the sloth's public image. Behaving like a sloth is, along with idleness, one of the deadly sins. They are quoted for being spiritually idle. And it's stuck. People who have never seen a Bible know sloths have a bad name.

How do we know they aren't concentrating on filling themselves with light and pondering the meaning of life as they lie there? We don't. They may know the meaning of life, which is why they look so relaxed. We don't speak Sloth so who knows?

Sloths do enough to feed themselves when they need to eat; reproduce to maintain the species and care for their young.

My feeling is they are scapegoats. There's nothing wrong with being chilled. As long as we do all we can to look after ourselves, and any dependents, then that's a good start.

If we are able to do that without getting stressed, running round in circles until we are worn out and "fit for nothing else", all the better.

Relax when you can ... be MORE like a sloth.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Got A Ten Year Career Plan Mapped Out?

As if the Autumn weather and long nights weren't enough, the media have launched into their bah humbug "We're doomed, we're all doomed" comfort zone.
As is traditional at this time of the year, just as the students have returned to uni all fresh and sparkling and raring to go (that's right isn't it?), we are getting reports of how few jobs there will be at the end of it. Well compared to a few years back, yes. But there are still a lot of people earning a living, some even love the work they're doing and many are earning a lot.
So hey, how about giving yourself a break and allowing yourself to think you too will be paid for your work too.
And ignore the "You've got to being doing brilliantly as soon as you leave university or you haven't a chance."
Yes, that would be good. But some people take a while to get established in whatever field. Many change their 'career path' altogether.
During one episode of Dragon's Den, after hearing an unsuccessful pitch from a young entrepreneur, Duncan Bannatyne said:
"I have to think back sometimes to what I was doing at that age.
I didn't have a business...I was pennyless. I didn't have a penny to my name. I lived on the beach did a bit of surfing. Worked in a bar in the night time. I didn't have a bank account till I was thirty."
If your dream is to be a millionaire by the time you are thirty, then I wish you well, but if you aren't you may just be a late starter.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Sprismatic Blog has been on Summer Break

A little bit of summer

This garland is from a collection by Lisa Piercy and as it made me feel instantly as though I was on holiday with my feet in cooling sand, I thought it was a perfect image to look at after the summer. 
This and other mood enhancing garlands can be seen on Lisa's news page and are titled land of serendipity

Friday, 16 July 2010

Sometimes the Shit leads to Awesome

This morning, artist Philip Dennis introduced me to Blu's latest film Big Bang Big Boom. The animation has stayed in my head ever since and when that happens I want to share but the subject matter didn't appear to fit the recent "All things bright and wonderful" tone of the Sprismatic Blog.
However it's concept blew me away. I've blown back now, still muttering "How many hours must that have taken?" and decided it fits more criteria for this blog than I'd realised.
Spoiler Alert: Watch the film before you read on.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

The current tag for Sprismatic is Sometimes the Shit Leads to Awesome. People destroying each other and blowing up the planet is shit but inspired an awesome interpretation.
Sprismatic aims to inspire, entertain, encourage and simplify. The only box Big Bang Big Boom didn't tick for me was obvious optimism but given an hour or two I could probably turn that one round too. It's all about the way we see things.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Profile of a Twitter User

Ciaran Duffy at NGO News explains this whole Twitter thing so well. I can't do the infographic justice in the space available on here so please click this link and click the image on the NGO page to read it. It's a special world for sure.

But where's the one for a lot of the people I follow? Lets create a Schnort. We follow them because ... they make us laugh.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

From Running in Mud to Synchronicity

Don't you just love coincidences?
I suspect I get more excited than some because they make me quite buzzy and full of wow! but I've noticed people shrug and move on. It's these little-things-made-big that send me off to sleep at night with a contented sigh.
The down side (and here's the sods law rub) is I start to miss the buzz if I haven't noticed a coincidence recently. It's that old "to have light, there must be dark" thing and people who don't get too excited about such things, don't miss them so much.
I decided long ago to make the most of the highs and put up with the lows inbetween. But then a high for me can be bumping into someone I had been thinking about recently. It doesn't have to be an adrenaline fuelled event.
There was no synchronicity in my efforts to get to Glastonbury Festival* this year. Trying to arrange a ticket was like running in mud. But I've since had a coincidence which made me smile so this is a high:

Act I. Scene One:  You may have picked up somewhere along the way that I am currently operating on the Deadmau5 frequency. A recent Deadmau5 gig in Brixton jumped straight into one of my best top 5 gigs ever. Right now, he's the man and I'm not tired of playing his albums on continuous loop yet.

Act 1. Scene Two:  I started following @phstephenson on Twitter, at the recommendation of comedian @shappikhorsandi, because she makes me laugh and she said he makes her laugh. And he makes me laugh too. A lot.
Among all the informative tweets, a little daft something flashes up from @phstephenson and makes me snort too loudly. Here's two examples so you can see if you share my idea of a GSOH
Last night:
"Another great nights sleep ahead, with a woman whose hobbies include semaphore, break dancing, and conducting an invisible orchestra ... " (bit of background you may have missed - he adores his multi-hobbied wife)
and then a few minutes later, just as he's preparing to turn off the laptop, he shares a last thought:
"I want to make a TV programme, for all the poor bastards who are the 101st best ever in the world at something..."
He makes me smile while I'm supposed to be trying to make sense of research notes with too many thought provoking facts per para.

Act 1. Scene Three:  I checked @phstephenson's website link and he isn't playing at a comedy club near you tonight, but you may be wearing something his company, October Textiles, helped produce.
The Coincidence: First thing I noticed on October's Home page?

Deadmau5. Well, the bamboo fabric t-shirt I bought at "one of my top five gigs ever!".
I'm not a tour t-shirt kind of a girl normally but for me Hannah Morrison's design is different. 
It's also soft and obviously I have no problem advertising Deadmau5. 
So there's a connection between one of my current favourite tweeters and my current musical obsession. 
Fun coincidence (otherwise referred to as Isn't it a Small World?)

Meanwhile there's a synchronisation sub-plot building up for Act II which involves Ibiza and Deadmau5 and is starting to ripple. 
 *If you read my Glastonbury posting you will know I just couldn't get there this year, not for the want of trying, and eventually decided it wasn't meant to be.
My creed: "If it feels like you are running in mud look for another route. If all routes are muddy consider that you weren't meant to head in that direction and try another goal".
Plans to visit Ibiza seem to be working very differently. So I've decided to be excited by the possibility this is leading to a "meant to be".

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Share a Secret

Seducing emotional intimacy through film. Designing Lives' blog introduced me to two videos I've gone back to a few times this week. The first, Raoul Paulet's Crashing into Love, I linked to from Sprismatic's Facebook page and the second I'd like to share here.

Your Secret from Jean-Sebastien Monzani on Vimeo.
Jean-Sebastien Monzani's idea for Your Secret is so simple it made me want to rush off and learn how to make something similar. As this reaction is the essence of inspiration, I hope it has the same effect on at least one of you.
Or maybe you have a special someone you would like to share this video with. Simply beautiful.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Art in a Coffee Cup

Pretty dustings of cocoa powder aren't new. The chains have been using templates to brand their cappuccinos for a while now but a barista at an independant coffee shop has the opportunity to be creative.
This work of art is by a Brighton artist who works in a town centre venue inbetween gigs.

While her boss does a good line in hemp-leaf sprinkles, this awesome lady creates seascapes. I hope my photograph manages to give you enough detail to see the dark scattering as the beach; the waves crashing above and the water spraying into drops at the top?
Sometimes I think they're too good to drink, but I'm an addict so of course I do.
Oh and it tasted delicious too.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

How I shall survive not being at Glastonbury Festival

This is especially for all the sleepy souls who crawled out of bed early one cold winter's morning to apply for tickets to Glastonbury Festival this year and couldn't get through to ticket sales before the dreaded Sold Out message.
That'll be me then.
Well we did actually get through but for some reason the system only recognised one out of three registration numbers, even though they're the same as last years.
Then there was the possibility of working there which didn't happen. We entered competitions but I'm very pleased for all the people who won the numerous competitions for tickets (Gnash ... no really, I am, because most of them had only been to V and Reading or Leeds festivals before).
I finally got the message. I'm not meant to be there this year!
With hindsight I will know why not. There comes a stage when sayings like "Stop trying to flog a dead horse" remind me that if something is not happening, it isn't meant to be.
It was harsh on Monday watching my van, full of happy campers, heading off on an adventure without me. And I'm undecided about whether I will be able to watch any online* or TV coverage without a deep sense of loss bubbling in my stomach.
It's the united-in-happiness atmosphere isn't it? That's what I'm already missing. That's what people who have never been don't understand. And yes I've met some people who have been to the festival in the past and didn't like it but thousands of people do. Even the muddy years created fond memories of coping and laughing together in adversity.
It's an intense experience.

The festival and the site feeds the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that can not be shrugged off as booze and drugs induced. Ask any child whether they enjoyed themselves and they will have a very definite answer.
Not many people answer "It was alright". (OK that's enough of how bloomin wonderful it is! ed)
How to survive the next few days? Well I've tried looking at people's pics of the queues to get in (which look awful) but that didn't help, because it's worth the journey.

I've told myself I'm pleased for them all, and I am. I'm glad they have a sunshine forecast for a change. I've done the: "You're lucky you've been at all" bit and remembering that it's a small dot in the year. A spec in the grand scheme of the world. But if you too have experienced Pilton during festival week you will understand - right now it aches.
So while all the magazines have been publishing guides to surviving festivals, I would like to share my plans for surviving not getting a ticket to a festival:
Between Thursday and Monday:
I've filled my diary with work, a good cause and friends who, coincidentally, were also there last year.
I shall savour a shower everyday.
Wear a fresh outfit or two each day.
Drink loads of cold tap water.
Appreciate every visit to a clean, plumbed toilet with toilet paper (and make the most of the running water to wash my hands afterwards).
Eat only fresh food that would go off without refridgeration. (No canned food or fast food).
Watch the England match on Sunday, where I know I will have a good view of the screen.
Text and call frequently - taking advantage of the chance to recharge my phone and appreciate the unjammed network.
Watch the new Gorillaz video for "On Melancholy Hill".

Enjoy every night's sleep I have in a bed.
And I'm visualising I'm there next year with everyone, either as a punter or working. But I'm there! See you there.

* For online read facebook, twitter, news reports, emails (from excited bands with set times over the weekend) and that's without the temptation to visit the festivals live stream.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Good night Spring, Good morning Summer

As the sun rises on Monday morning, Spring becomes Summer. If you aren't taking advantage of the opportunity to walk among the Stonehenge stones tonight, and you haven't got a 24-hours-of-day-light celebration booked in Alaska, what have you got planned for the hours before sunrise tomorrow? For some of us it will be work or feed the baby, but for most of us it will be "Sleep!"

I have a feeling that would be a bit of a waste of a special time. The end of Spring brings with it a time to do an audit of where/who we are and where/what we would like to be by the end of the Summer. It's a good time to give ourselves a bit of a talking to.
If you really can't face setting your alarm to be awake at sunrise (about 4.40am in the UK) then have a moment of peaceful reflection before you go to sleep tonight.
Spend some time patting yourself on the back for your good bits, thank your god, the universe, or your lucky stars for all the parts of your life for which you are grateful and spoil yourself with a moment of excitement about the possibilites for what the Summer may hold. Fantasise, day dream and be open to some sunshine moments.
Happy Summer Solstice.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Toy Story and The Wire Mash-Up

"From the makers of Finding Nemo and Generation Kill" for fans of The Wire . . . sheeeeeeeeiit

via Jason Kottke

Friday, 18 June 2010

The second person on the dancefloor is the hero

Are you a leader, a first-follower or happiest when part of the crowd?
You walk into a club and the music is banging but no one is dancing. You are really feeling it and desperate to leap onto the floor and throw your body round in uninhibited abandon.
Do you think "Ah sod it" and make the most of having so much space to jump round? Or do you stand watching - wishing someone else was dancing and then, when one lone soul arrives on the floor, do you join them or do you wait until many more have followed his lead before you dance?

You arrive at the opening of a new shop, keen to be one of the first 100 to receive a free gift. There's no one else queueing yet. Do you start the queue or do you walk around the block until someone else has started the queue or do wait until there is a small queue and you are able to blend in behind it?
There's a new fashion for collarless shirts. You like the trend but no one you know is wearing it yet. Will you be the first or will you wait until a couple of your mates take the lead? Or will you wait until its a common choice? 
In a community, 90% want to be mainstream. Their security comes when they feel they are part of the human pack and they know how they are expected to behave.
They know the rules and even the rule breakers are happy because they consider themselves to be the retrogrades of the group but still identify themselves as being within that group.
The other 10% pursue security while being sincere to their instinct. They don't seek to be different from the group and are content to follow the group's rules if it matches their own but they can not function if it is against their sense of right and wrong. This is based on a gut feeling more than logic.
They may start the dancing because they just have to move with the beat or they will spontaneously combust.

They may start the queue, because they are really keen to get the free gift and they may be the first to wear the collarless shirt, just because they like it. They are prepared to stand out and set themself up for ridicule if that's what it takes for them to be able to follow their instinct. The second person to join them on the dancefloor, join the queue and wear the shirt is the brave one. This person is often from the crowd and prepared to step out of the crowd to join the first person. The second person is saying to the crowd, come on - it's fine. We can do this.
In this video, Derek Sivers illustrates how human's respond and highlights how it isn't necessarily the
first person in the queue, on the dancefloor or wearing the new style that is a leader of something new. It's the next few people who join in and encourage others to do the same who make the difference. One person on their own can just be a weirdo. A few people make it a collective of value.

Notice Derek's theory that after a good proportion of the crowd have joined the activity, others join in because they want to be part of the larger group, which is no longer the seated group but the dancing group.
This insight has been used by marketeers, religious leaders and politicians for years but it's fun to stand back and get an idea of just how we react and which part we role in a community be it at work, play or within our family.  
Big up for the second person on the dancefloor. You are the unsung hero.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

By creative licence: Humphrey hearts John

This is turning into National Lernert and Sander Day on Sprismatic, but here's something completely different from the previous post. They have created these posters for this year's Amsterdam Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Pink Film Days, 2010. The website dedicated to these directors and artists is It shows.

Feed good coffin association

Now here's an idea ... we should use coffins more in every day life so that they don't always have such a sad association ... one of my favourite wake-me-up websites It's Nice That introduced me to this video:
Coffin Poser from Lernert and Sander on Vimeo.
I'm going to quote It's Nice That's piece word for word, with big fat honours to them, because I can't improve on this:
"Coffins, stark operating rooms, heavy trance music and conveyor belts aren't the classic ingredients for a feel-good Monday morning music video. Unless Dutch duo Lernert and Sander get hold of them. The piece was released towards the end of last year for band Aux Raus and charts the unusual culinary skills of two pretty intimidating looking chaps with an urge to bake. Tip for the rushed - there's some nice camera work at 2.10".
Thank you It's Nice That. It is.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A week of optimism, the gruesome and the awesome

This week has been Sunrise Celebration festival: lots of smiley, friendly people and good brain food. Optimism.
Big Brother 11: lots of smiley, (possibly faux) friendly people and skincare adverts. Enticingly gruesome.
And the World Cup Opening Ceremony: lots of smiley, friendly people and a real tear-jerker moment when children performed the logo finale. Awesome. 
Sunrise was such good brain food that I am still writing up my notes*, let alone turning those thoughts into something useful. Freelancers can spend so much time kicking themselves up the backside and backburning projects that don't have an immediate form, that I forget sometimes how useful working with others is for unlocking thoughts and making sense of information. I met some incredible people who jogged my brain cells into life with renewed focus and a laugh. So I suppose I've just come back from the equivalent of an informal summer school with my students, my colleagues, my teachers and my mentors. 
Big Brother's return is welcome. I don't hold with the idea it's mindless pap designed to keep us too busy to notice the horrors of life we should be addressing instead. Most people have enough challenges in their lives to be fully in the moment most of the time, but what BB does is to offer something everyone can have an opinion on for the sake of bonding or bantering without causing the sort of heated argument that sex, politics and religion can. We don't have to watch it everyday. 
And, although my experience of the football World Cup is likely to be limited to listening to a load of angry bumble bees** in the background. I'm pleased it's here. I wish England's team well and it would be lovely if they could repeat 1966 but meanwhile let's just be happy for the excitement so many are feeling, right now, today. And as someone who was round when apartheid prevented South Africa from competing - it's brilliant that they are hosting. I looked at the closeups of the smiling Black South Africans in the opening ceremony and wondered if any of them were the kids we always saw playing football in a "Blacks Only" park in Johannesburg, twenty years ago. That's the result. 

*  These notes will take form within a newsletter from the website, if you would like to subscribe to the newsletters click this link and send a contact message.
** It's the hooters. The football is being watched on a screen behind me and all I can hear is ... close your eyes when watching your next match ... Angry bumble bees?!

Creatives can embrace a business day

Creativity and Business, two words which don't always sit happily together. In our minds, things-to-do like admin, bookkeeping and documents with lots of small print can build into something resembling Dad-O-Graphic's latest graphic. Read Parenthood as Practical Stuff.

image: Gabriel Solomons
A little tip for freelance creatives who are just starting out, (i.e. haven't reached the stage where they employ the help of business advisors) diary a practical day into your week. Some weeks appointments and deadlines demand immediate attention but, as a normal routine for planning the week, I can recommend this:

In your mind tell yourself, say, Tuesday is Practical Day.
Throughout the rest of the week every time you think of something "dullsville/brain stretching", add it to a list and forget about it until Tuesday. Same with important but non-urgent post: Make one pile of all mail and and another for filing to be done.
Set up a Practical Day folder in your emails and drop relevant unurgent emails into it.
Anything that you find difficult to switch into while working (e.g. domestic and work administration) is saved for Tuesday.
This works in the highly creative mind because it really is difficult to switch between one side of the brain and the other and tasks take longer.
However, by waking up in non-creative mode and getting down to what needs to be done, the super efficient side of you will work faster. You could always try giving it a more exciting name than Practical Day to make the day seem more worth getting up for, but it works both ways.
Just sometimes it's nice to wake up and know that we don't have to try and produce something of beauty, relevance, importance or value for one day.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sight Unseen's blog gets it oh so right

Love these guys. Sight Unseen pay such respectful homage to their subject that it makes me wish I were an inspiring designer just to see how they described my work.  Their introduction to fashion and textile designers Patternity shows they get them:

image: Patternity's Shift Table
"For Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, pattern is everywhere — in the flaking paint of street bollards and the crisscrossing beams of scaffolding, in the fashion photography of Mel Bles and the banded stiletto heels of Parisian shoemaker Walter Steiger". 
Packed with illustrations and facts, Sight Unseen, you are a favourite for sure.

It's what Thatcher and Regan tried to do - but with cakes

I'm more a blue girl myself but you don't have to love pink to appreciate this Blog. It is creating a special relationship across the pond. Not in a creepy "get-a-room" way Thatcher and Regan did it  ... but with cakes.

Made with Pink "comparing the differences between baking and crafts in North America and the UK, while doing it with PINK"
On this site we can even compare the equipement available in the UK and USA by visiting the two online shops. Maybe if we can celebrate our differences by understanding them, cakes are as good a place to start as any. Cupcakes have a whole ontrend revival thing going for them at the moment and there's some scrummy imagery but this really caught my eye ...

I know the hair bow leans more towards a Minnie than a Deadmau5

but with just a little variation on the icing ...  they could be perfect for the hardcore electro muso in your life. And here's a tenuous link for you - Deadmau5 is based in Toronto. Not the USA, but it's still on the otherside of the pond.

DIY idea to get rid of heavy-load-gorilla-arms

If you live a pretty straight-line cycling existence, this could be the bike for you. Apparently it's not too good at turning corners but maybe, with a little practice and forward route planning, it could be really useful. No more unbalanced loads back from the market or on the way to the recycle bays. It's made from two items that often get dumped at tips, so could be very cheap to make.

This comes from a the Instructables website. The site is filled with ideas for those who have DIY dexterity (that'll be people not like me then). Members share their ideas for recycling projects and this cart-bike was built by Ryan McFarland. So first map your straight route and hooray, no more gorilla shopping arms.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Donkeys, a working watermill & electric hookup

Testing testing. Can you read me? I'm deep in the north Somerset countryside, challenging my iPhone to stick with me through my efforts to post this week.I haven't quite got it right so my apologies to you and to my former editor who taught me better. Style issues.

After a few days off-grid, we've settled for a few days calm down on a farm surrounded by nature. Trees, mating ducks, flowering bushes -that sort of thing. So how to take advantage of some time out, with the luxury of the van being hooked up to 24 hour electricity? As soon as we arrived, instead of exploring the beautiful surroundings, we were digging chargers out to breathe life back into our gadgets. Shameful! It is good to know we are recharged and contactable in an emergency but with that luxury comes the temptation to 'just check' everything from the results of the Eurovision Song Contest to facebook.
I chatted to the four resident donkeys earlier, and yes they were soaking wet so they had some reason to look soulful and hard done by but I thought of the TV appeals to send money for overworked and under watered asses in baking hot conditions and these are lucky donkeys. Then I thought of how many hours we stare at screens and this week we don't have to. Time to be grateful for the technology but only use it a little. I can recommend tuning into BBC Radio Wales too. Good music but don't understand the bits in between. We're off grid again on Thursday at Sunrise Celebration festival. Many of the people whose work I follow on-line will be giving talks. It'll be strange not to be able to pause them while I get a cup of tea.

Please Like me, Follow me and by the way ... can we be Friends?

You know how it's considered bad to be needy? Needy as in "Pleeeeeeese be my friend". Not attractive is it?! That was before the dawning of the age of In the good old days (four years ago), you set up your website and hoped it hit the mark.
Excitement built up when people would send messages via the contact form. Hooray! Someone's finding the website and communicating via it. Then one day it made Google Search page one and all was good in the virtual world.

Then bang. Google Analytics started to tell me actually how many people visited my site, which pages they arrived from, how long they stayed and where they went next. (Actually even Google Analytics isn't that clever - how does it know whether the page was read and refered back to or left open on a computer while the viewer had a shower, cooked supper and met friends for drinks? Or at the very least went to the toilet and made themselves a coffee?) But it's all good fun and keeps us on our toes. And we do get a very useful insite (sic) into what is of interest to our readers.
But now? Now we have to have Followers and be Liked. The goal posts keep changing faster than a drug dealers phone number (Yes, I learnt so much from The Wire). Within one year I've had three different Facebook pages for Sprismatic and have caused utter confusion among many of the members of the Group. The Group wall postings were liked instead of the Fan Page. I don't like causing angst and it broke my heart to see the chaos I'd caused. Apologies to you all.

Eventually I gave into pressure and threw myself into Twitterland. Quite like it actually. I'm following all sorts of people who share their work, thoughts and laughs. Educating, entertaining and inspiring. Ah but then I realised it wasn't all about who we followed, it's all about how many thousands follow us. Tricky one that. If I follow certain people, retweet that many times and do the whole follow friday thing then I can bump up my followers. Lovely. For now I'll stick to posting what I think may be of interest and hope even that isn't too much information for my followers. As it is each tweet flashes up here, there and cyberwhere from the Facebook Fan Page, through to this blog and up again on the home page of my website.

And breathe. To be honest, I love it all. I love being allowed a window into the thoughts and work of these incredible people. We build up our own media resource, chosen to reflect our interests and concerns and hear from them directly instead of an interpreted, abridged and often altered version in one newspaper or one tv channel. I just don't like having to need followers like some self obsessed guru seeking affirmation.
So to you all, thank you for liking, loving, friending, following and not blocking me. And if you aren't doing all of these yet, please do. I really DO need you. Peace, love and (I'll try to keep it) light.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The story of the golden parasol

OK the last post was all about the British countryside and the possibility of rain - and then I saw this. This is the image I would like to share with you to celebrate summer:

image: clickclickjim

It's from a new posting from Creative Director, Lisa Piercy's website, showcasing some of her recent creations.
I love this parasol. Instantly I had a picture in my mind of the parasol sitting in the corner of a room in a hot, hot country. I could hear the crickets outside the window, feel the humid heat and see the girl coming forward to pick up the parasol and join the celebratory parade coming past her house. That parasol smacks of a very special party. Is it her wedding? Or is she joining lots of other people carrying the same parasol? What story do you think the beautiful, golden parasol has?

We may need telepathy until the first week of June

After spending the autumn, winter and spring embracing everything Apple I'm about to see what it is like to go pretty well cold turkey. I'm going back to seeking out internet cafes while on the road, but please do keep messaging and I'll catch up with you within a few days, hopefully.
I'm off in the van to Cornwall via three possible stopovers, for Run To The Sun this weekend in Newquay. They still have tickets available if you fancy a little drive and some dub step and if you don't drive there's a lift share tie in.

On Friday there will be a Cruise to the site, starting from Reading and collecting cars, classic cars and VW buses en route but I don't think I'll be joining them. We have a speed all of our own depending on hills and warm up.

If not in Newquay, hopefully we will see some of you at Sunrise Celebration   Festival in Somerset the following weekend, 3rd - 6th June? There were still tickets available for this too, last time I checked.

Sunrise is one of my favourite festivals for being relaxed, informative and fun. And yet small enough to nip back to the van to change if the weather breaks.
So the one thing these coming two weeks have in common is it's all about the sun. Here's hoping ... wellies, check. Rainproofs, check. Sunhat, check. Circus themed outfit for Saturday at Sunrise, check. See you there? Yay Roadtrip.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Bristol's Urban Paint Festival

And while we're on the subject of spray cans, Bristol has a brilliant family weekend coming up on June 5th and 6th. The Urban Paint Festival have chosen a poignant choice of image for their poster - the weekend is aiming to raise aweness of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.
If you are Avon way, go and have some fun at Upfest Tobacco Factory. Facebook fan page

Monday, 24 May 2010

Be a lean mean spraying machine

If, like me, you wonder how graffiti artists manage to achieve such control of a spray can, there's a weekend of opportunity in Brighton this bank holiday weekend. Grafik Warfare Street Art Collective and Geisha Arts are offering workshops in the art of the spray can. Limited spaces, see this poster for booking details:

And here's something some of the artists did earlier:

This wall was the work of a few artists but I'm a bit in love with Bot the Robot by Sinna One. This wall was created over the recent Street Art weekend. Two days, chilly winds and a fair bit of drizzle later:

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hardcore Handmades

Now I'm all for cutesy. Give me a pic of a puppy who's been adopted by a cat and I may pin it on my notice board, but I'm not too good on sweeeeet art and crafts. I like my handmades a bit more hardcore. A little dark or distressed. Rough round the ages. For some reason (and maybe you can tell me why?) my blog seems to be sandwiched between very pink, perfect and fluffy American craft blogs on Blogger. And that was before I posted the sewing machine story.

I do not have the fingers for needlework. Imagine trying to thread a needle in gardening gloves and you will understand. So I'm in awe of every one of my Blogger neighbours' abilities, talent and creations but I don't normally get drawn in to stay, by their images. However, I've gone one stage further with the Cut Out + Keep site and have even subscribed to access the articles. (It got me with the cover of this London Issue Snippets cover).

Snippets is their online magazine, featuring music, art, craft, fashion, Indie and DIY.
If you don't know them and you aren't all toes for fingers, give them a view. If only for more stunning images like this one of chiffon flowers.
The latest Snippets issue is Glitz and Glam: How to make your GaGa accessories and the definitely not cutesy

Audrey Kitching shares some ideas. Both of which may prove particularly useful if you are planning your costumes for the festivals. The theme for Bestival is Fantasy and Fact or Fiction has been chosen by Secret Garden Party. Maybe you will find some ideas within this issue but I can recommend having a look through the online magazine's archives. And there's a fine piece on celebration cakes gone wrong - something gardening-glove-hands here can empathise with ...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Awesome lady of the week

Awesome amazing person of my week ... the lady who took a year to track me down (through change of surname, three cities and numerous addresses) to keep a promise.
Seven years ago I sold her a sewing machine for £20 at a car boot sale, with the understanding if her mum didn't like it, I'd like it back.
Last year her mum died and she remembered her promise to return it to me.

It's a classic car among sewing machines and these old workhorses are revered so I hope she sells it for a big profit*. Would I have gone to that much trouble to keep a promise? Honestly no. I would have returned it if it wasn't immediately right for my mum but six years later?
I'd have found it a more convenient new home six years down the line. I'm humbled.
*And if proof were needed of the love for this machine.

image: Rudolf Couture

Thursday, 13 May 2010

When I grow up - I don't want to be a princess

My birthday outing was to Kensington Palace to experience the Wild Work's Enchanted Palace production. There's a melancholy smell to the Palace rooms, even before the story of the sad princesses is related.
The intention is to send little creepy chills down our spines. If the dim lighting, a crown floating above a dress and a Vivienne Westwood gown running down stairs doesn't do it, then the whispers and chatter coming from hidden speakers may help.
The exhibition is beautifully executed and I was mesmerised by Stephen Jones' headresses floating from the ceiling. And yes, I was enchanted by the ethereal room sets but I vowed never to go there after dark. 
Enchanted Palace is an anti-dote to all the sickly sweet, marshmallow, princess paraphernalia favoured by toy manufactures. 
Children like Fairy Tales, and they are often dark and pretty scary. I think they'll love the exhibition and will be way less affected than I was. I just felt so sad for the princesses. Another reminder that money and priviledge ain't all it's cracked up to be. Was that the intention in this "time of economic crisis"? 
Enchanted Palace is expected to run until February 2011. Photography isn't allowed, but there's a good photo story of the exhibit's creation on Wild Work's website.

Maybe this IS what it's all about

So far this week, inbetween working and celebrating my birthday, I've had two mind stretching hours of serious conversation with financiers; discussed an extrastentialist therapist's need to put people in a box and danced to a Beyonce video while hearing out a guy's reasons for returning to England, after four years in Spain. They all have very different concerns and priorities but they had one thing in common. They were looking for THE answer.
The work that I do has always been hard for me to "put in a box". It's a bit like trying to squeeze a ball of silly putty into a too-small tub. Just when people think they've got me into the tub, another bit pops out. How I work changes depending on other people's needs.
Happily others are better at recommending me than I am at defining myself. But one thing I do is help people sort out their thoughts and feel hopeful.
And then I opened this card this morning and laughed so loud:

Brilliant. Ah ... what if? Drop the worries - it's all about the Hokey Cokey/Pokey.
Here's an example of how it could well be . . . Filmed last week, during the current confusion in Greece.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Brighton : The Beautiful and the Canned : 8 May - 9 May

This weekend, more than fifty artists will be creating amazing murals (some over 10 metres high) round the streets of Brighton, using spray cans.
How do they do it? I am in awe of these men and women. I can't create such detail with a dainty paintbrush and yet they have given our streets some of the city's most photographed images. I'm not in awe of people who just spray their initials all over the place. I think even I could manage that and the only thing they have in common with these artists is, they can all hold an aerosol. 
I had a similar sense of stunned respect for Rolf Harris as he dib dabbed paint on an enormous canvas with a 8" paint brush and stood back to reveal . . . a kangeroo bouncing towards Ayres Rock.
The Beautiful and the Canned is being organised by Wet Paint Productions as part of Brighton Festival Fringe. Here's a map showing where to watch the artists working and see their finished work afterwards.
Wet Paint's website gives more information.

Festivals - they're not all laughing cause they're mashed, OK?

This is what happy looks like. Yay! Festival time is here.
Festie season starts early where I live. It began a few weeks ago, as soon as the first of the festival workers returned from their winter travels.
The buzz and excitement this creates depends on your attitude to festivals. For some it marks the beginning of months of bumping round the country in lumpy-field-battered vans; hard 18 hour days of setting up, sparkling for the public and taking everything down again.
For others it means anticipation, excitement, "party party!" followed by come down and depression followed by anticipation, excitement, "party party!" come down and depression.
The Other Side Magazine have a brilliant Festival Edition online which helps newbies to understand the basics of festivals. Tips like "Don't bother taking an ex-army tent. Yes, they're sturdy and roomy, but they're heavy. Far better to take a flimsy supermarket affair in your pocket, and crash out in other people's tents anyway." Useful stuff like that. The articles are for festival veterans too, to help get in the mood and work out which of the Festival People we are. Well none of them of course, but we recognise each type. Funny that.

So spread the word. Not everyone understands. Festivals are not all about getting rinsed by too much cider and tripping on the latest chemical compound. People don't have to travel far from home to do that.
That's not the reason thousands explode with impatience, as they tick off the days on their calendars. It's because they are waiting for those few days at their favourite festival, where they know they can be themselves; have a laugh with their mates and just go with the flow.
Clocks don't exist, because even catching the bands they really wanted to see becomes less important than just enjoying whatever diversion they stumble across. (Like appreciating a busking badger, which was one of many created by artist B-FACED for last year's Secret Garden Party).

image: copyright B-FACED
At many of the festivals the mobile phone networks crash at the peak, so everyone learns to either stick together or hope they will meet up back at the tent at some stage. It's very liberating.
Some media have great fun promoting the idea of all festival goers as being drunk/drugged/fluffy air heads. They normally use a photo of a few exuberant, decorated, party monsters to illustrate their theory.
But the reality is they are not all off their heads. Many of them will have consumed no more alcohol than their grandpas would while watching a cricket match with their cool boxes. Many have worked hard for most of the year to pay for their ticket and they're having fun, festie style. Some press shots show the tired and emotional, but my bet's on those pics being taken after the subjects have had three days of walking miles; jumping up and down infront of the main stage; taking part in the fancy dress parade; making an art collage; winning the tug-of-war contest and entering the Mr and Mrs competition on the small stage. There's too much going on to sleep much.

Festivals. Sometimes muddy, sometimes overwhelming, but so worth it for the break from daily responsibilites and concerns.
We'll have more of that please.