Monday, 29 May 2017

The Mystery Hotel

Visiting the funfair is turning into a bit of a ritual. Here is last year's visit. I love the way the rides are cleverly packaged and I love the new striped awning that wasn't there last year. In my opinion, the fairground aesthetic just keeps on winning.

Monday, 22 May 2017

To the peninsula my friends

To the Peninsula my friends*

To the Peninsula my friends,
the old one goes to ground
A whole new swathe of London
standing on the stirring ice
Scuffed knees and drowsy bees
in those stark and sullen solitudes

A cascade of irises,
The roar of heavy, distant surf
Towers cut like prisms
safe return doubtful
The naked soul of man
wrapped by the river Thames

Big, eclectic and original
The end of the axis
By endurance we conquer
vistas that never tire
Months of continuous darkness
15,000 new homes

* Inspired by the "Ernest Shackleton Lodge" ( pictured above) that I saw on my walk along the rapidly developing Greenwich Peninsula, I decided to combine quotes by the polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton, with the language of property development brochures to make a poem.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

So long, and thanks for all the fish

I walked into the Tate to see a member of staff holding an inflatable fish. 

This was after seeing a striped man trying to outdo St Paul's with his pointy hat.

At first sight unsettling, this image is benign: people enjoying merging and emerging from the water spray installation outside the Tate

These workmen at the Tate are responsible for your Seele (German word for soul). However, they are not buying at the moment. I tried. 

When you step inside, the 'book' is in fact a video installation showing unpublished photos of built spaces: urban, corporate, detailed. mundane, and epic side by side. In short, wonderful and insightful. This part of Tillman's show is off the turbine Hall and as far as I know this part is free entry. 

The former power station supports life: a bush. Actually, Peregrine Falcons have been spotted hunting pigeons from the tower.

you know it is a good show when the staff are still enjoying it

A surreal part of the day, seeing Wolfgang Tillmans in person who kindly signed the catalogue for me.

Perhaps the best slogan of all time?

 Scorched earth policy applied to design - Berliner U -Bahn seating

I obviously came late to the inflatable fish party: The Tate roof.

This aerial image is like a map of somewhere else
Canary Wharf. When you know the formative structure of the building is going to be more interesting looking than the building itself

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Edinburgh and Elsewhere

Last weekend I took part with the Edinburgh and Elsewhere team at the Artists' BookMarket at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh.  We really enjoyed the atmosphere of the book fair, chats with visitors and other book artists. I picked up quite a few books myself.

I launched my new book 'Fleetway', a story inspired by a failed roll of film and set at the Cammo estate in Edinburgh, in an edition of 100. 

It was designed by Julia Stone, the creative director of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place.

From this Friday, 'Fleetway' will be for sale at the Summerhall shop in Edinburgh. 

The Edinburgh and Elsewhere team are continuing their collaboration at the upcoming Artist' Books and 'Zine Fair BOOKMARKS on the 29 March 2017 at Edinburgh College of Art. 

from left to right, Edinburgh and Elsewhere team: me, Elaine Robson, Yi-Chieh Chui, Gerard O'Brien 

We will continue to sell issues of Elsewhere at Artists' Book Fairs. Alternatively you can buy them online here

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Snow globe

In London this Christmas I picked up a snow globe of the London Eye as a present for my son's friend. It has the millennium eye in it, at least a crude representation of it daubed in primary colours. A little world encapsulated and portable, where we can change the weather at will. In some globes it is snowing, in others it is even glittering. The snow globe is tacky and ubiquitous, you can find even cities pretty much devoid of snow, like Dubai and Bangkok in them. Yet take one in your hands and you suspend disbelief just as the liquid-air suspends fake snow and it feels personal, magical.

Arriving at Oslo which we visited at New Year, there was no snow at first, disappointingly for the kids. We visited a ski centre high in the mountains around Oslo where a machine was pumping out fake snow, creating its own snow-globe world for sports enthusiasts. While my husband and younger son went skiing, I queued a long time for an expensive pizza with my pre-teen son who had opted out of skiing. Everything I did seemed to cause him embarrassment. When I asked two Norwegian lads if we could share their table in the crowded lodge, it was as if I had taken off my clothes and danced on the table tops, he was so mortified. Admittedly, I felt out of place amongst sports enthusiasts and I was not sure if I was breaking any unspoken rules of Norwegian social etiquette just by being me. My son's preteen embarrassment aside, I admit an urge to shake things up when I feel the pressure of conformity upon me, and my son's mood added to that. The jazzy chaos of flakes is the answer to stasis in the snow globe.

I felt more at ease in the Vulkan district of Oslo, a former industrial area we visited along the river Akerselva. It is a newer development in Oslo with innovative and sustainable architecture built on the idea of sharing resources, amenities and equipment amongst its residents. These include schools, cultural centres, offices and food-halls. Alongside green initiatives like car-sharing, it also two urban bee-hives designed by the Snøhetta, the firm of architects responsible for the Oslo Opera House. Over the bridge from this area, my eye was caught by a former wheat elevator, now student accommodation and an intriguing playground, with its vertical poles like pick-up-sticks.

I didn't see any snow globes on my visit to Oslo. Perhaps with snow being so commonplace, it is the last thing that needs to be conjured. In my photos I pictured an alternative snow-globe, one with glowing colours to see off the winter gloom, set against the night sky, peaceful but not still, with a layer of crisp snow on the ground. Stirring, but not shaken.