An Embarrassing Tale of Glamour

Top: John Lewis
Belt and Skirt: Warehouse
Necklace: Creepyyeha

In the words of MIZZ magazine circa 1996 “I wanted the ground to swallow me up.”

I am absolutely fine with making a fool of myself so please enjoy the following mildly embarrassing story.

Last night I took this selfie before leaving the house to go and see Inside Out at my local cinema. (Go see it if you love crying) Naturally, I was totally full of myself and walking about as if I was Cher herself. Let me push someone over and shout “AS IF!” please just let me. I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a few years so I ended up being late for the film and getting in when it was dark and everyone was already sat down. It turns out this was much to my benefit.

The thing about this skirt, is that it’s a beautiful suede A-line skirt secured at the front, not with buttons, but with SNAPS. The good thing about snaps is that they’re really easy to snap on and off. The bad thing about snaps is that they’re really easy to snap on and off. So anyway, it was dark and the pre-film animated short was playing. I was shuffling past the people who were already sat down and my lovely skirt got caught on one of the seats. Pop pop POP the whole thing comes undone. I ended up shuffling to my seat carrying my drink, popcorn and skirt. Oops. Buy this skirt at your own risk!! Dress like a late 90s – early 2000’s teen dream heroine responsibly.

In which MCM Manchester was actually fun!

Last year I had a pretty miserable time at MCM; I didn’t have a really fun day, nothing at the stalls particularly interested me, I kept ending up lost and alone and I just generally didn’t have a fun time. This year was incredible in comparison! I went with way better people and had an amazing time. I also got to wear dark night guardian! I feel like we’re not seeing much of this print yet so it was fun to wear it, even if the outfit itself isn’t perfect.

My favourite part of the con, apart from hanging out with some really cool folks, was seeing Sarah Graley! ( I just discovered her art a few days before the actual con so it was such a good surprise to see her there. Whenever someone makes cute webcomics I tend to assume they are American for some reason?? I ended up buying her adorable take me out pizza print!

I also bumped into this adorable steampunk couple a few times and they were so cute I just had to get a photo with them! Steampunk had such a strong showing this year and what I particularly liked were the sheer variety of people wearing the style! There were people of all kinds of ages and backgrounds and bodytypes wearing really creative handmade pieces. I thought it was brilliant to see, I love a good bit of subculture. I would love to know what it is about steampunk that appeals to people in particular about steampunk, is it the elegancem the nostalgia? Does the industrial theme appeal to us up in the North? I’d love to know more, steampunk fans please contact me and chat!

I spent the day hanging out with my lolita friends and just generally enjoying a good old love of candid photos. Conventions are a great time for these kinds of photos because you can have someone super strange and ornate sat next to someone who just came in their normal clothes just to see what all this was about.

I also saw some friends from other communities who I haven’t seen in far too long! Michaela and Beccy looked amazingly cute in these matching sailor outfits so we got a photo next to the big octopus at the CEX stand. I think these two would look great together doing a photo shoot here at the Albert Dock. It also reminds me that I need to get my own sailor outfit together.

I am having so  much fun playing about with my new lens too! I took this picture just for fun but I love all of the different textures and it really reminded me of Marylin Minter’s work with the rough and close quality of it. I love the reflection in the glasses, the messy purple strands of hair, the dusty grey of the eye shadow, the slight peeling on the lips. I’d love to do a series of really close up textural things like this, yes please!

Makin’ art happen!

When I was working full time I’d find that after work, the gym and dinner I was often too tired to do the things I really wanted to. That’s sad, but I’m taking some time at the moment to catch up with that! I’m even cooking up a few projects; today I messaged some friends of mine to set up a new kind of art collective type thing and they all seem really interested. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some good news from that soon!

Recently I decided to do a fan art of one of my favourite films of all time: Kamikaze Girls. As a lolita fashion enthusiast this film is required reading. I’ve had it since I first discovered the fashion around 2006 but I’ve never been much of a fan art person, until now! Please enjoy the process pictures of this piece as I drew and digi-painted it! As usual, I liked it for about 5 minutes and then I saw someone else’s work and was totally unsatisfied!
If you wanna buy the finished piece, you can do so here:

We leave her flowers, she left us stones.

Last night I went to see Amy, the documentary about the life of Amy Winehouse. I want to get what I hated about the film out of the way because I really enjoyed the film but absolutely hated some of the editing to a point where it really detracted from the overall experience. I felt that the film presented itself as a found footage documentary. I would expect a film about Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald to look much the same, and that was really appropriate. However, at points where they wanted it to look a little bit more Hollywood maybe, or parts where they just had no footage to go on they would use these ridiculous polished zooms to illustrate movement from one place to another and it just clashed so hard with the rest of the film.

There was one particular sequence which I hated the most. It was a large zoom out from a taxi in New York to show the wider cityscape, which then became a sort of montage of magazine covers where the text of the magazines was edited in such a way that it popped out from the magazines. I hated that part so much. I can understand it as an editorial choice to show her rise to meteoric fame and all of the exposure that came with it but I just thought it looked horrible in contrast with the rest of the film. They also used the same panning shots over London a couple of times in a manner that my friend really aptly described as “a bit Eastenders” in that it kind of belittled the situations in the film as being soap-style dramatic rather than harrowing, real life dramatic.

I was also not a fan of the use of text on screen during the singing sequences. I don’t feel like it’s not nice to underestimate your audience and assume that they’re not capable of listening or understanding that they’re supposed to be paying attention to lyrics at this moment in time. The thing is, if you give us nothing to look at, we know we’re meant to listen. Silence can be really important sometimes, or a lack of image can be important too. Seeing the images of Amy’s handwriting overlaid with her singing the final lyrics was really interesting and beautiful and made the text on screen look like a 2002 windows movie maker video in comparison.

Questionable editing choices aside, the film was exactly as heartbreaking as I’d expected it to be. There were two huge nuggets of sadness left in my throat the end of it. The first was how often people around her failed her in the smallest and the biggest ways. I had no idea that Amy had bulimia, I was in high school during the height of her popularity so those kind of details could slip by me real easy. “I have this great diet” she told her parents. “I just eat whatever I want and then later I bring it all back up.” They both just passed it off as her being funny, like so many people would. Tragic. I felt a strange, bitter mix of pity and resentment for her father and at some point I just wished I could kick Blake in the teeth. “After this treatment by my wife for the past two years I didn’t think very much of myself but I’m a big man, I’m handsome” made me really want to kick him in the teeth. I think the phrase “I’m a big man” just makes my stomach acid boil. The way that Blake stayed with his girlfriend during Amy’s quiet fame and then came to her when she could pay for anything he could ever want; we’re given footage deliberately chosen to make us hate him and it’s very easy to do. Her father also, turning up to her retreat in St Lucia with cameras and sound crew when she just wanted her daddy. So many let downs.

The other big, gritty piece of sadness left in me at the end was the realisation that we, her fans, we’re also very complicit in her misery. This film leaves the viewer a great sense of guilt. We are shown mobile phone footage of the giant show in Belgrade where Amy simply refuses to sing. “Look at her, she’s drunk she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing” says someone in the crowd. We all did it. Look at her, she’s smashed she’s off her face she doesn’t know what she’s doing she’s such a fool she looks a mess she’s off her face. We all said it, we all made jokes and rolled our eyes when she was on the news. We were all willing participants in her misery.

One scene that really stuck with me after leaving the cinema was when Amy’s Grammy award win was announced by Tony Bennett and she pulled her best friend to the side of the stage and said “this is all so boring without drugs.” I felt my whole body drop. Pageantry, awards and fame were never of any interest to her. She just wanted to make music and all the other stuff around it was just stuff. Stuff she hated and found boring and drowned herself in drugs and booze to cope with.

“Boy I can sing!” She says to her bodyguard. “If I could give it all back just to walk down the street with no hassle…I would.”

What I See in the Blind Spots

My favourite thing to do in a gallery is to listen to other peoples’ conversations about the pieces. I love art and I also love making crude jokes; for me this presents a wonderful binary wherein I don’t take anything too seriously. I am very lucky to have friends that appreciate that when I’m stood in an almost silent exhibition saying “that thing totally looks like a huge axolotl in a party hat.” I hope other people enjoy listening to my conversations as much as I do to theirs.

Whenever I make a statement like that in an art gallery I get a little self concious because you’re not really supposed to have fun and make dumb statements in a gallery. Being flippant or giggly is not really encouraged but I’ve always thought that was wrong! The thing about this piece is that I see Picasso and influences of Goya like you’re supposed to and I understand that this piece is actually kind of nightmarish, I sat in front of it and looked at it for a long time assessing the shapes and themes and at the end of the day… I saw a really big axolotl in a party hat cruising over a really summery island. It’s okay if a particular piece of art doesn’t speak to you, even after you’ve read the curators notes. It doesn’t devalue the feelings put into that piece just because it doesn’t say that to you and once you see something it’s really difficult to un-see it.

Or so I’m telling myself anyway. I really enjoyed the exhibition overall actually and I learned so much about Jackson Pollock’s work. It was really interesting to learn about the different paints that he used and see the effects that they created on the page. One of my favourite pieces was actually an untitled work where he had painted the canvas white, then poured black paint onto the wet white paint in order to create an effect that I can only describe as black neon. It’s such a simple idea, every artist has to prime their canvas but to use that preparatory coat of paint as part of the effect for your painting, fantastic.

Summertime was another piece that I thought was brilliant. I sat in front of this one for a long time too. The length of the piece is so interesting and what I love is that it conjures the image of a lively garden party. I can picture loud jazz playing and lots of people dancing under a gazebo on a warm evening. Everyone is smiling and drinking, the mood is high. I really like that aspect of abstract art in that we give our brains a keyword for a title and some squiggles and we can imagine so much from that. I’m really jealous of this piece because Pollock knew exactly when to stop and when he was done. It’s so good to know when to just put things down and go “that’s enough” and it’s a skill that takes a long time to master because you have to shut up a pretty big word in your head that’s saying “ooh you could put a little more red there.”

My favourite piece of all was “A portrait and a dream.” I love pieces that combine misery and dreaminess. I love sad music, The Smiths are probably in my top 10 most listened to. I actually found this piece really quiet and sensual, more so than the more obviously sexual paintings. I loved the amount of negative space in the image and the contrast between the two sides, one including the black pouring which evoked, to me, a storm of butterflies and the other a solemn self portrait in colour. I think this was the piece I spent the longest in front of, which is saying something given that I stayed at the whole exhibition for about three hours.

Strawberry Tea and Happy Eid

My friend taught me how to do rolled hair to a half decent standard so I’ve been having a play around with a vintage/retro look lately. It’s been really fun walking around pretending to be some kind of siren of the silver screen, or in this case an adorable secretary.
Cardigan: Marks and Spencer

Dress: The Frilly Ninja

Brooch: Handmade

Shoes: Vivienne Westwood

The same friend also knitted me this adorable strawberry brooch for my birthday! It’s painfully cute and I wore it to go to a charity strawberry tea hosted by Sefton Women and Children’s Aid. I can’t resist dressing to a theme so when I heard the words “strawberry tea” I immediately whipped out the gingham. This dress is actually a lolita dress, but I’ve styled it so it looks more 50’s so I wouldn’t call this a lolita outfit really.
It was also Eid on Friday so I went out for dinner with my parents to Kasbah in Liverpool. I am not a practising muslim, but its important to my family so we always go out for Eid. Apparently every muslim in Liverpool was there because there was a huge queue outside the restaurant but we’d committed to the idea so we waited. I had tagine de Marrakesh and it was delicious! 
Just a short post today, hope you all had a lovely weekend.

My top 5 places to hang out in Manchester

I’ve been writing a few of these posts lately just because I’ve been travelling around a bit more and it’d been nice to go to all of my favourite haunts. I had no intentions of becoming any kind of travel writer but I guess this is a case of “write what you know.” I love Manchester’s Northern Quarter, so here’s some places you might have walked past before now, but you should totally pop into next time!

1. Bon Bon Chocolate Boutique, John Street

 Once you step into this place you’ll fall in love, I guarantee it. The smell of chocolate just makes you relax and smile immediately. It seats about 10 people and always has this lovely relaxed atmosphere, you will never feel rushed to leave. The decor is absolutely lovely, everything about this place makes me feel like I’m Amelie Poulain every time I walk in. Even the other people that go could be characters in Amelie. Have a piece of their flourless chocolate cake with a bottle of fentimans or go chocolate overdose with their own dairy free hot chocolate. Chocolate heaven.

2. Junk Shop, Dale Street

I love adorable vintage shops and this one tops my list for adorable-ness. The door handle is an old telephone, so that should give you a hint of the vibe this place has. Their selection is really cute and a lot of it is upcycled for a more modern fit. They also do sewing classes so if you’re in Manchester rather than visiting it’s a pretty cool place to be!

3. Salford Zine Library at Nexus Art Cafe, Dale Street

Zines are a thing again you know! My favourite zine/small press publication is a beautiful piece of work called “Butt Springstreen” dedicated to Bruce Springsteen’s butt. I feel like the author of this, zine, CJ Reay, and I truly connect on a spiritual level. Butts aside, Nexus art cafe is a lovely place to hang out but if you walk through it you’ll get to Salford Zine library. Sit down, chill out and pick up one of hundreds of those homespun beauties. They’re not long to read, the room is peaceful and it’s nice to take a moment away from the bustling city and just get absorbed in reading for a while.

4. Travelling Man Comics, Dale Street

So Junk Shop, Nexus and Travelling Man are actually all next door to each other which makes them seem less like hidden gems and more like a fairly obvious goldmine. We’ve discussed before that I am a big nerd and love hanging out in comic book shops and this place is one of my favourites. Reason number one that it’s my favourite is because this is where I spotted copies of Butt Springsteen available to buy and reason number 2 is that it’s a lovely, welcoming place to be. I’ve had great conversations with shop staff where I didn’t feel like my nerd credentials were being questioned and they were genuinely helpful, interesting, lovely people. Oddly enough, that’s rare. They also keep a good stuck of Pusheen plushies and nobody could ever say that was a bad thing.

5. Fred Aldous, Lever Street

This is not just a really cool three floor art and crafts shop, of which one floor is just different kinds of paper. JUST PAPER! No, no, I also got asked to take an outfit picture there one time by a local blogger. YAS. Seriously though, anything you are into making, they will have the equipment to make it. I’ve been very tempted by resin kits, candle making, handbag supplies, leather working material, ceramic paints, crochet needles…. There is not enough time in the world for all of the hobbies I potentially could take up by just being in Fred Aldous for too long. They also have a lasercutting lab and a photography studio downstairs! It’s basically a really good hub for a creativity and you will totally find 94824013 new hobbies just by being there.

Other honourable mentions: Home Sweet Home, Oklahoma and the strange little General Store on Edge Street that has all of their stock beautifully arranged in a Wes Anderson fashion.

Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I’ve been viciously applying for jobs!! No luck so far…

My top 5 places to hang out in London

I loved living in London. Even though I was a broke student doing a masters degree and working a job with rubbish hours that barely covered my rent, I adored waking up on my free days and getting out into the city. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I did have a student oyster card which made my travel super cheap! Here’s a list of 5 places in the city centre that I loved to hang out.

1. Gosh! Comics on Berwick Street

I was working at Harvey Nichols when I was told about Gosh! Comics. It was described to me as a comic book shop that felt “more grown up.” Having been there a few times, I can attest to that grown up is a good description of this store. It’s not that it feels serious, it’s more that it feels homely. You can sit quietly on their benches and lead through something without being disturbed. You don’t have to stand up, you can take your time and enjoy the atmosphere of the place. They have a great selection of interesting reads for adults and children too. It’s just a super nice place to be at. I also really like their wall of small press comics and zines.

2. Orbital Comics on Great Newport Street

Can you tell I like hanging out in comic book shops? Hop off at Leicester Square and you’re basically there. Orbital is apparently kind of easy to miss, which I learnt during a conversation with two Londoners who had never heard of it. Orbital gets special snaps for being the only comic book shop I’ve ever walked into where they’ve had two women on the till at one time and never made a big deal of it. Their social media isn’t like “oooh look at all our female staff wooo!! They’re just doing it right. They also have a small gallery space which hosts different art shows.

Orbital was the place where I learned that if you just jump into other peoples conversations when you’re on your own they will stare at you. Don’t interrupt a conversation between a small, nerdy guy and a member of staff like “omg are you talking about fallout 3?? I love that game!! So much fun!” The small guy will stare at you. He will not be happy about the interruption. He is not there to make friends. Oops.

3. Arigato Japanese Supermarket on Brewer Street

Don’t get me wrong, I love Japan Centre. If I’m in the city centre I will always drop into Japan Centre to get fresh takoyaki (even though I’m not supposed to eat it) and hoard as much melon soda as I possibly can. However, you just have to love a cute, family run place like Arigato. It’s important to support little mom-and-pop shops too! The supermarket section has everything you would need for someone interested in Japanese cooking and a few fun treats for people who love Japanese flavours. I am a big fan of yuzu sake and black sesame ice cream. They also make sushi bento fresh in store and you can sit in their small dining area to eat it. The staff are lovely and the food is so reasonably priced and good that I go back there time and time again.

4. Dover Street Market on Dover Street, Mayfair

I am two kinds of nerd. I am a traditional manga loving basement dweller and an atrocious theatrics loving fashion nerd. Dover Street Market caters to that second type of nerd. Dover Street Market is far too cool and yet somehow they are not unwelcoming at all. I had a great conversation about Louis Vuitton collaboration bags with a member of staff there who was super friendly and down to earth. There is also a café up on the very top floor where you can hang out and read lots of lovely thick, interesting magazines. I like that a lot of different kinds of people hang out there. There were a pair of business people discussing their latest venture, an old lady in a shawl having a salad, a pair of instagram obsessed rich girls and a small group of quiet artists and musicians last time I went. All four floors are interesting and have a kind of different theme to them, it’s just a really fun place to walk around. At the time I was stunned that they had a bracelet that cost about the same amount as my masters degree.

5. The Photographers Gallery, Ramillies Street 

I bought my camera just over a year ago and I would like to think that I’ve improved a lot in that time. This week I just got a brand new lens for my birthday so I hope to keep improving. I was initially kind of scared to take up photography as a hobby because I’d heard so many people talk derogatively about “quirky girls who like Florence and the Machine and wear dresses with owls on and like photography” but then I remembered fuck those people and that I can do whatever I like. If you’re in the city centre, right on Oxford street, and want to go somewhere quiet away from the madding crowd then turn off towards Soho and go this gallery. Inspiration aplenty, really cool exhibitions, lovely atmosphere and right in the middle of London too. When you’re done and your mind is fed with one of their “describe what you see” cards you can either go back to the rushing river that is Oxford street or keep going on to Rockit vintage. Up to you.

I went to see Mcqueen Savage Beauty and now my life is a senseless mess devoid of any future

Over a year ago I spent two hours at my job refreshing the computer and my phone in order to try and buy tickets for Savage Beauty at the V&A. I refreshed the web page on the computer, I refreshed the web page on my phone, I rang the ticket line while refreshing on the computer. I needed those tickets. I needed them. Eventually I got through to the web page. Should I try and get tickets for the first day or another day? I settled on getting them for my birthday. Happy birthday to me.

My birthday is the 3rd of July and I bought the tickets for the 4th. It’s now the 6th and I am still reeling. I didn’t know I would be so deeply affected. Pictures or sketching weren’t allowed but I did see people trying to do both. Hopefully words will be enough to explain the experience and any pictures I can find online.
I don’t really want to do this as a play by play of each room; so instead I’ll just take you through the moments which affected me the most.
Is it possible to imbue clothes with sadness? I am not sure if we can weave tears into thread but I felt them welling up in my eyes. I remember seeing this collection in 2010 and weeping. I felt like some great owl had lain itself down, its once light feathers heavy and its breath heaving because it knew the  time had come. It’s heart was no longer restless and it fell like a gentle cloud. I remember feeling pain from the contrast of soft and hard. Solemn angels rest peacefully on the shoulders of two of the dresses. The fabric on one starts stiff, like marble columns and flows down into soft silky pleats. How dare it be so hard and soft and resolute and ready to go.
One of the dresses I would have really liked to see is a blood red gown with a pattern of houndstooth flying out into sharp sparrows from the horny of plenty collection. That dress has always stuck with me. There was a strongly tailored jacket with sparrows swooping around all over it but it wasn’t that dress and that was okay. I saw about five other dresses that I didn’t expect to see. The first one was dress number 13, the white, paint covered gown from his 1999 show. I had read somewhere a long while ago that it had been found on the floor in the Mcqueen archives in a state. When I saw it rotating slowly in the middle of the cabinet of curiosities room I was quite shocked!
I also can’t believe I got to see the antler headpiece from 2009. It’s an image I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of times in books but when you look at photographs in books you can often forget that the item in the picture is real. That pair of antlers, I feel is a truly iconic image that a lot of people would recognise, so seeing the actual piece was particularly surreal. I also enjoyed the commentary; basically it said “we spent so many hours making this thin, detailed scarf that cost about £2,300 or something and then we just jabbed the antlers through it because we thought it would look good effectively wasting all that money.” That is resplendent and ridiculous but now it’s one of the most famous pieces. Another dress I wasn’t expecting to see was the dress covered totally in flowers that fell apart down the runway. I thought the whole thing was real flowers, when actually it was a mix of silk flowers and real flowers sewn on in a way that some of them would definitely fall off and others would definitely stay on.

The cabinet of curiosities room was incredible, even though it was so crowded you couldn’t really stand and read the information like the rest of the areas. It was so high and narrow, it felt insurmountable. I felt like the need to crane your neck was deliberate and the room was designed to make you spin around. If you wanted to see something high up you could crane up to it, or you could look up to something high on the other side of the room. There was a constant oscillation between trying to crane your neck, trying took look down and trying to look somewhere else. It was appropriately chaotic. I went to the exhibition with my auntie and I’m really glad that I did because it gave me a much deeper insight into the music that was being played. In the room she was immediately like “oh this is the song from Rosmary’s baby, this is the song from deliverance, this is the song from Schindler’s list.” I was so unsettled by the loop of scissors snipping that was being played that the other music barely registered with me. 
There were some rooms where famous moments from fashion shows had been recreated. There was a part where you could all gather to watch the hologram of Kate Moss twirl around in a beautiful dress that looked like seafoam inside a glass pyramid and another part where the reflective box staged in the centre of the VOSS collection was reproduced. I can’t tell you what I was expecting when I went in, but it wasn’t that. I don’t know, it was magical. I couldn’t handle being so close to things that I wasn’t even entirely sure were real.
The collection was brutal and beautiful; Savage Beauty was definitely the perfect title for it. However, now I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve seen things I couldn’t believe and I’ll never achieve that kind of eye-searing beauty myself, I don’t think. I couldn’t believe how close they let you get to some of the pieces! I left feeling dizzy and bereft. What am I supposed to do now that I’ve seen it all? I’ve waited for over and year and now it’s all done. I suppose that’s the thing about the death of someone great, it leaves you feeling very bereft and not sure how to move on.

It’s birthday eve!

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday and lately I feel amazing because I’ve been pretty much managing to do all the things that I said I would do with my unemployment. My blog posts are pretty regular and I’m actually doing lots of art too! I even managed to make that one video, with hopefully more to come!

One of my closest friends asked me to design her tattoo for her so I actually did it, why not right? I’m really nervous about her getting it but I’m happy enough with it and she really likes it so I guess that’s good enough. Mostly I’m just really happy that one person likes my stuff and wants it on their body. Wow. What do you think?

I am going to try and keep this short and sweet but for reasons to do with my past birthdays and the celebration of life are really important to me. I always get really retrospective and you know what, even though I don’t have a job at the moment I am much, much happier than I was at this time last year. I’m really happy.