Outfit Post: Enjoying Tropical England…

I haven’t really felt like blogging much in post-brexit vote England, the rainy weather pretty much reflects my mood on the whole thing – even though my outfit is the exact opposite. I know I don’t look what people consider to be “foreign” whatever that is, but my family are immigrants who came here in 91/92 to flee a war in our home country. For a long time I have been very proud to be a citizen of this country but at the moment I am bit anxious, a bit unsure as to whether I feel safe and who in the streets would tell me to leave if they knew where I was born. I’m very lucky to have the privilege that I do in being white and having an English accent, so I try and use these traits to speak for people who cannot speak for themselves in this country and this language and who have been and will be scapegoated and picked on in this country in the future. I feel lucky to live in Liverpool which is such an accepting and friendly place. I am trying to be positive and hopeful and remain outspoken on issues which affect other people who come to this country as refugees and immigrants such as myself but for now please just have patience and let me heal  and please enjoy these photos of a lovely day at the Tate Liverpool.

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Keepin’ it 100! (I went to see the Vogue 100)

Did you enjoy my RuPaul reference just then? I did.

Last weekend I went down to London, coincidentally but maybe not coincidentally on the same day that the new dover street market opened. But also because I wanted to see the Vogue 100. My boyf wanted to go Tate Britain and see Tracy Emin’s bed so we went to the Tate Britain too, and I’m really glad we did because the artwork above “The Bank Fax-Back service” is my favourite piece of art that I have seen in a long time! The artwork is a selection of press releases that have been sent back to their writers with teacher-style comments all around them. It’s exactly my level of humour and I think it’s brilliant. I also have my own interns in my new position and I have to remind myself to leave better notes for them than I do for my own work. (Instead of “make this less shit” remember to write “rephrase this to improve the flow”)

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30s Evening Wear at The Lady Lever Gallery

Seeing dresses on mannequins in a gallery always gives me a strange feeling. We see dresses on mannequins all the time around us in shop windows and yet put them in a gallery and we feel the need to pay close attention to them and take close up shots of them. Would I take close ups of mannequins in Toshop? Probably not, but then the lighting isn’t half as good. It’s all context I suppose.

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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! (http://sarahgraley.com/) 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: http://www.redbubble.com/people/nadinao/works/15660938-kamikaze-girls-friends-forever

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.

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.