Sunday, 15 October 2017

Remember a Day

On Thursday I traveled to London to see Their Mortal Remains, the V&A's Pink Floyd exhibition, for one final time before it closes on the 15th. I'm lucky to have been a total of 3 times so far (you can read about my other visits here and here), and I'm going to miss this exhibition SO much. I can't even begin to put into words just how much I love Pink Floyd and what they mean to me, and so what this exhibition means to me. It just gives me the biggest buzz and makes me so happy to escape and just be completely and utterly immersed in my favourite band for a few hours. It renews my love and wonder for them all over again and makes me feel like I did when I first discovered them, and I'm going to miss that feeling so much. I have no idea how I'll recapture that without the exhibition. The closest thing I can describe it as is it's like Disneyland, but for Floyd fans. It's that same kind of magical escapism. I managed to spend 5 hours in there this visit and I have no idea where that time even went, I was in such a happy bubble making sure I took in absolutely every little thing before it's gone forever. I just love Pink Floyd so much, and this entire exhibition just highlights that so much and overwhelms me with adoration. I could never see it enough times.

I'll put most of these images under a cut as there's going to be A LOT, but I just want to remember this always. You'll have to excuse the red and green dots, it's the reflection of the audio guide around my neck!

Their Mortal Remains

As you begin the exhibition you enter through a model of their Bedford van which was the bands earliest mode of transport for all of their equipment. There's a photo of Nick loading his drumkit into it (which you can see clearer here - notice the band through the window in the background!) and a letter Syd Barrett wrote to his girlfriend of the time that mentions the van.

Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
Their Mortal Remains
A zine Syd made for a school friend

Their Mortal Remains

Really my only complaint about the entire exhibition, and has been since day 1, is that there isn't enough emphasis placed on Syd. Roger Waters himself has stated "We wouldn't of existed if it weren't for him", and as I know from first hand experience how few people are even aware of Syd's existence (the amount of times I've been condescendingly told by 'fans' that there's no member of Pink Floyd called Syd!) that I really feel his influence wasn't emphasized enough. After the first few rooms he's just never mentioned again, despite the fact that he inspired so much of the bands later content such as Wish You Were Here and a lot of The Wall and his shadow forever haunted them. At the very end of the exhibition there's a little tribute to Rick to mark his passing, and yet there's nothing like that for Syd which I thought was sad.

Their Mortal Remains

One of Nick Mason's technical drawings from his architecture studies, and an abstract painting by Syd.
"After two years at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, Syd Barrett came to London in 1964 to study at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. He was a prolific painter, and many people saw him as an artist first and a musician second. Although Pink Floyd's increasing success meant Syd left Camberwell early, he continued to paint for the rest of his life"

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Photo a day #1

I've really sucked at taking photos this past year, and it's something I've felt very aware of. I've always loved seeing people's project 365s and having a little peek into their world, and I remember trying to do it a few years ago. I'm not sure how I feel about committing to a whole year, but a month is definitely doable so here's the first part of October.

1/30 - Monday 2nd October

This was my first day back at uni, so you can imagine I was exhausted! Not only did my body have to re-adjust to waking up at 7am, we also had a full on day of dissertation planning. I was relieved to finally get home and have a cup of tea, especially as my lovely new Moomin mug had arrived from Finland. It's a recent release based on Tove Jansson's illustrations and it's moody atmosphere makes it feel perfect for this time of year.

2/30 - Tuesday 3rd October

As I said in my last post, recently I've gotten very much back into using my sketchbook every day. I usually take no notice of Inktober, but I decided this year it'd be a good excuse to practice. My aim isn't to create any finished pieces, I'm not even fussed about doing all of the days, I'm just taking the prompts as inspiration for doodles for my sketchbook. I doubt I'll share many as I'm doing them for me, a habit I'm very much enjoying getting back into instead of the absurd pressure to make everything for social media.

3/30 - Wednesday 4th October

I got concert tickets to see Roger Waters!! I can barely contain my excitement. I've been looking on with envy as he's toured North America this year, willing him to come back to his home country. I actually got tickets to see him twice as this feels like such a momentous occasion. I'll be seeing him in London at British Summer Time festival, and the very next day in Birmingham so I figured I'd make it a little road trip. I'm excited to see how the festival performance varies from his own set up and stage design. Also these dates are right before my birthday and I can't imagine a better way to celebrate turning 30.

4/30 - Thursday 5th October

I went to see It again. Despite a truly awful disrespectful audience who laughed, talked, ate loudly, belched, and played on their phones throughout the entire film (seriously, why are people so inconsiderate?) I loved the film just as much on a second viewing and am still just as obsessed with it. I haven't been able to make my way through as much of the book as I would have liked due to my dissertation reading, but I recently downloaded the audio book so we'll see how I get on with that. I've never used audio books before so I'm not sure how my concentration span will compare to actually reading it myself.

5/30 - Friday 6th October

A full day at uni, I was truly exhausted after my first week back but I'm feeling excited about my final year. This page from my class sketchbook is what I worked on for most of the day, we've had to create a drink name from a pre-selected set of words and design the label.

6/30 - Saturday 7th October

I took my weekend fairly easy, and on Saturday I just popped to the craft shop for some wool and sewing bits and pieces. It was truly autumnal day with absolutely miserable weather, just how I like it!

7/30 - Sunday 8th October

I've spent most of today knitting and watching YouTube videos. I've lost my gloves, so decided I'd make my own this year. I've never knitted on double ended needles before, and it's funny as I can remember looking at them in the craft shop just this summer and wondering what on earth you'd do with those. It's actually quite simple once you get the hang of it!

Friday, 29 September 2017

September favourites ♡

I've been wanting to start this for a while, I think it's really healthy to take stock and appreciate all of the things you've enjoyed each month, even if those things may not look like much to an outsider.

1. Gouache. I've been watching a lot of art YouTubers over summer and they really made me want to finally try this paint. I generally paint with watercolours or acrylics, and gouache is supposed to be somewhere between the two. I bought my first set this month, and guys, I've found my favourite medium. I can't stop using it. I love how vivid it is, how it plays with other mediums, and it's pushing me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way. I've never been confident with my colour selections before, but for some reason every colour I mix with gouache just works.

2. My sketchbook. I've only ever completed about two sketchbooks in my entire life. I always fill in a few pages, then give up as I loose momentum and don't want to 'mess it up'. And yet for some reason I can't put my sketchbook down at the moment. I've stopped being so precious about what I put in it and I'm just enjoying using it so much. I'm far from completing it, but I'm finally at a point where I can imagine it happening and that's quite exciting. I'm excited to see my art grow and my progress. I aim to do Inktober next month, so I shall definitely be keeping it up.

3. Tea. I've always enjoyed tea, but I tend to drink more coffee for the caffine and tea falls by the wayside. I've really been enjoying it this past month, whether that be sitting down with a good cup of proper English tea (preferably PG Tips), or a warming cup of herbal. Blackcurrant and camomile is my favourite at the moment, although I have to create it myself using two tea bags!

4. Charity shopping. I'm no stranger to charity shopping, I've gotten it down to a fine art over the years of trawling for vintage, but it's a temperamental hobby to say the least. It tends to be either all of nothing, and I'm having a particularly lucky spell. I found a beautiful woolen dress that fits me just right, a snuggly pink duffle coat, an angora sweater, and numerous scarves and home wares.

5. Knitting. I've been buying far too many balls of wool, but it's such a relaxing way to unwind.

6. Autumn. My favourite season. I've been looking forward to autumn throughout most of summer and I couldn't be happier now it's actually here. The leaves, the acorns and chestnuts and conkers, the seasonal food, the miserable weather, foraging for berries. I love it all. I come alive in this season.

7. Being home. I have to leave soon to go back to uni. I'm going to miss it so much.

8. It. I forgot to add this to my drawing (even though it's featured heavily in my sketchbook this month!) but I've been obsessed with It since I saw the film earlier this month. It was such a good adaptation, and I'm loving how many people are discovering the story through it as it's one of my favourite novels. I'm currently giving it a re-read!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Balanced on the biggest wave

I'm travel back to uni on Saturday in preparation for my 3rd year. I'm not looking forward to it, the closer the date draws nearer, the more I feel the band around my midsection tighten with anxiety. To say I haven't enjoyed my uni experience would be an understatement, and it's made ever harder by the blissfully long summer breaks. I know I'll be OK when I'm actually there, but I prefer being here so much more. However I'm determined to try and make the most of my final year, the knowledge of how little there is left and how quickly it will pass causes me just as much anxiety. 8 months isn't very long at all. I have ideas of what I'd like to put in motion for then, but I'm playing it close to my chest. I'm trying to focus on the now.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Beep, beep, Richie

I've been a massive fan of Stephen King ever since I first read The Shining when I was 15. I've read most of his work (except The Dark Tower series as I get intimidated by how huge it is!) and It has always been one of my favourites. It's the quickest I've ever read 1200 pages, I was gripped from the go. I wasn't familiar with the film version starring Tim Curry when I first read the book, so I didn't really know what I was getting into other than something about a killer clown. Horror is my favourite genre, I'm well acclimatised to it so it's rare for me to feel scared of a book. It is the only one to actually give me nightmares.

I'd heard good things about the original 1990 mini-series, but felt let down when I actually saw it. The book wasn't well translated to screen, it just ended up a confusing mess that I wasn't sure I'd of kept up with had I not already read it. The acting was corny, and Pennywise himself absolutely laughable, far too hammed up and not even slightly threatening. I'm sure it was good when it was released, but it hasn't aged well to say the least.

I was excited about the new film as soon as I heard of it, doubly so when I saw the teaser images of Pennywise. It seemed to be quite divisive. Some, like me, absolutely adored the new look. Others said it didn't look friendly enough and lacked the charm of Tim Curry's. As much as I dislike the 1990 version, I understand that view. He doesn't look friendly to kids, which is the entire point of him taking on the guise of a clown. But my biggest issue with the original version though was that he didn't look threatening enough. Him suddenly turning evil just didn't work, it looked like a comedy.

Having now seen the film, I love the new look, and the new film. I'm not usually fond of screen adaptations of Stephen King's work, the only ones I've liked are The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile which aren't really horrors. Most of them just don't work. I know I've only seen it once and am writing this liteally after getting back from the cinema, but I think It is already up there on my favourite movies list. It was that good.

It's been a couple of years since I read the book so my memory isn't as fresh as it could be, but it kept a lot of my favourite scenes and the plot flowed really well. I also prefer that it's been cut into two "chapters" - this film told the story of The Losers Club as kids, when they first discover It. The second will tell the story of when It comes back and they must fight it as adults. The book tells the two stories simultaneously, which works for a book, but not the screen which is where a lot of the original mini series issues lie as it confuses the plot.

I thought it was so well acted by the kids, often children in movies can just come across as obnoxious but everyone was perfect. And I love Pennywise, I'm not familiar with Bill SkarsgÄrd's other work so this was my first introduction to him and I wasn't let down. Despite the previous concerns from other fans that he looked too threatening to appeal to the kids in the first place, he was charming when the role called for it. During the opening scene where he talks to Georgie, it was easy to see why he'd think to trust him. He was jovial and friendly and seemed like the fairground clown you'd expect, but with that ever underlying feeling that somethings off (and not just because he's in a drain!). And when he's haunting the characters he was feral, literally preying on them. His voice, his movements and mannerisms, everything was perfect. The CGI was really seamless to, it felt like he really was moving and elongating and transforming without a single thought of 'well that's not real'. Disbelief completely suspended.

There were the odd bits here and there that I felt could of been stronger or expanded on. Some of the characters could of been developed better (Henry and Mike especially), and I wish they'd spent some more time delving into the history of It and it's hold over Derry. I was so desperate for them to expand more on The Black Spot instead of brushing over it, of It's influence over the adults of the town instead of simply making it so they just can't see him. I also found the objectification of Beverly uncomfortable and how she was used as bait, and missed the overall importance of imagination. But overall there's so much the film gets just right and I'm really happy with it. I can't wait for chapter 2! And maybe with any luck they'll delve more into the horrors of Derry itself in that one (and I must re-read the book again!)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Summer's almost gone

Autumn is my favourite month, and I try my hardest not to wish time away and enjoy the last drops of summer. However it feels like Autumn is well and truly upon us at last. There's a still crispness to the air that wasn't there before, it's like I can smell the upcoming season from the trees. The leaves may not have yet turned, but the fruits and berries are getting fatter. I went foraging for apples down the lane and baked my finds into an apple crumble cake.

With a dusting of cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of salted caramel or blackcurrant curd.

Hearing of Chester Bennington's death last month hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. I was a huge fan of Linkin Park as a young teenager, I was even in their fan club and street team, LP Underground. I hadn't listened to any of their music in well over 10 years, but the evening I learnt Chester had died I went straight on YouTube to search for my old favourite tracks. It lead to a nostalgia session of my favourite bands from my young teenage years, and I rediscovered HIM.

HIM were my favourite band for many years throughout most of my teenage years. I'd listened to them more recently than the others, but not for a good 5 or 6 years at least (I believe I stopped just after the release of Screamworks. Not because I disliked it, I just drifted away onto other things). I admit to not first discovering HIM until the release of Love Metal like the rest of the UK (I still think The Funeral of Hearts is an absolutely beautiful track and is one of my favourites, I've been playing it on repeat) but their first album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 was always my favourite. I've really been getting back into them these past few weeks, and it broke my heart finding out they're doing a farewell tour this year and calling it a day (although I completely understand and support their reasoning). It felt like fate I should rediscover this band that meant so much to me for so long just before they disband.

Naturally upon rediscovering a band I love, my first instinct as a vinyl collector is to check if their albums have been released on the format. I didn't hold out much hope, so was really pleased when I discovered they had!

It turns out they've released two separate box sets of their first 4 albums: Lashes To Ashes, Lust To Dust in 2014, and back in 2005 they'd released a box set version of And Love Said No. I was a huge fan when the CD compilation of And Love Said No was released, but I guess I just took no notice of the box set if I even knew it existed as I didn't know anything about vinyl back then.

I've been on the hunt for either of these box sets for a couple of weeks, and as you can see I managed to get And Love Said No for an absolute steal. It's in pristine condition, the previous owner said they'd never played it and I believe them. I do like HIM's later albums, but the first 4 have always been my favourite. I can't describe how excited I am to have this in my collection. I know what the soundtrack to my autumn is going to be! I can't wait to curl up with my record player and endless cups of tea as the nights draw in.

Now I just need to try and get a ticket for one of their final shows, wish me luck!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

'Maybe my passion is nothing special, but at least it's mine'

It's funny, I used to be able to sit down and blog about just about anything. I'd update numerous times a week about my thoughts and experiences, and yet now I feel like I just don't know how to do that anymore. I've forgotten how to document, what to even say. I've built walls around myself and become too self aware of who might be reading and what image of myself I might be conveying. I don't know when I got so guarded and self critical, but I'd love to stop over analyzing and second guessing myself and just blog freely like I used to about anything I fancy.

I've always been fascinated with Finland. When I was a teenager almost all of my favourite musicians and bands were Finnish. My favourite artist and writer (Tove Jansson) is Finnish. One of my closest friends in college was Finnish. A lot of my favourite bloggers have been Finnish. I have no idea why but it's a country and culture that's kept crossing my path and I've connected to a lot for many years.

I've always wanted to learn Finnish, but it's often described as one of the most difficult languages in the world. It's of the Finno-Ugric languages which are unrelated to most others. I decided 'it's supposed to be hard' is a pretty pathetic excuse not to try something so I decided to give it a go. This book and audio set by Terttu Leney is quite highly recommended by linguists so I'm hoping for the best. One of the first sentences in the book is "Don't believe people who tell you Finnish is difficult", and I have to say I've been getting along with it really well so far.

I've attempted to learn languages many times over the years; I studied German at school but didn't feel enthusiastic about it, and I've attempted to teach myself French and Japanese without much success. I can never get past the phase of translating each word for word from English to the other language as I'm speaking it so it never feels natural, but I've also only ever learnt it very sporadically. I'm planning on visiting Finland early 2018 so hopefully this will help keep me motivated and give my learning purpose. I fully believe immersion is key so I'm really trying to absorb myself in as much Finnish as possible.

I've splurged on a bit of tech lately. I'm not a 'gamer', but I've always enjoyed playing on Nintendo DS. I enjoy how portable it is and all of my favourite games are released for it. I bought the new Nintendo 2DS XL. I've wanted an XL model for years for the larger screen but have held back as I have a perfectly good 3DS. I prefer the 2D models so as the 2DS XL can play 3DS games it felt perfect. I also finally bought Animal Crossing New Leaf. Better late than never! It's exactly the type of game I enjoy so I'm not sure why it took me so long.

I also bought a secondhand Wacom Cintiq for my artwork. Earlier this year I bought an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as I'd heard they were better than a Cintiq, but it's decision I'd come to regret. The iPad may be more portable, but I'm restricted by how much battery power I have which can drain quickly when it's used constantly. I've also grown tired of constantly having to transfer files between my computer and iPad, and also I simply don't like the feeling of drawing on glass, it doesn't feel natural to me. The Cintiq is textured to feel more like paper, it plugs into the wall so there's no power issue, and as it's attached to my computer my files are right there. It's an absolute dream to use and I couldn't be happier with it, it's made me feel excited about digital art again.

I've been struggling a lot with my art lately and feeling unmotivated. I've gotten myself into a real perfectionists mindset so I'm too scared to even begin anything for fear of it not turning out perfectly. I've forgotten how to just make a mess in a sketchbook, forgotten that no one has to see my sketchbook but me so I have total freedom. I think I'm finally breaking out of it at long last. I was looking through an old art tumblr account of mine that I haven't updated in about 5 years and remembering how much fun I used to have with my artwork, before it started to feel like work. I've also been watching a lot of illustrators on YouTube. I've always had a handful in my subscriptions, now it's almost exclusively all I watch. I'm thinking of taking my own channel in that direction, but I'm also thinking of stopping YouTube altogether so we'll see I guess.