Thursday, 18 May 2017

Their Mortal Remains

On 13th May the V&A opened Their Mortal Remains, an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Pink Floyd's career. I'd been counting down the days until it opened since I first heard of it last year, and yesterday I was lucky enough to go.

A technical drawing by Nick from when he was studying architecture; a painting by Syd from 1965 and a letter he wrote for Jenny Spires; David Gilmour's Höfner Club 60 guitar and his first fuzz pedal.
BBC apperance contracts. Notice that Syd's crossed out on one of them.
Nick's diary: "Kingston College. Really a fairly good gig, partly because the support group was so boring that everyone was glad to see us."

Letter from David to his parents: "Dear Mum & Dad, This is just to reassure you about the fact that I am playing again and will probably be playing in the States in April. I should be in New York about 20th April for a week or more. As you can see I joined the Pink Floyd, don't worry about what the cuttings say the reasons are and the spelling of Gilmur. That was a mistake by the Publisaist."
Fender Precision bass which originally belonged to Roger Waters, which he sold to David Gilmour in the 70s and he still continues to use.

Nick Mason's shirts from the late '60s and the hat he always wore.
It's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good. Syd's bike from the 1980s

Nick and Roger, drawn by Roger Waters in Washington, June 10th '75.

I'm doing my dissertation on Gerald Scarfe's artwork for The Wall so was pleased that there were a few original pieces on display.

I took so many photos it was a challenge to narrow them down! It was a pretty big exhibition, I think I heard that there are 11 rooms in total. I expected it might take me about 2 hours to walk around, but it took me 4.5. It's advertised as an "audio and visual experience" and you're given a headset to wear which automatically knows which section you're in and will play accordingly. It's quite an elegant system as you forget you're wearing it, but it's not without it's faults; several times my headset had difficulty tuning in when I was standing right in front of something, and it would sometimes loose connectivity halfway through, so trying to listen to interviews was a little frustrating. That's my only complaint of the entire thing though, I absolutely loved it. I liked that the exhibition allowed you to move at your own pace, and the headsets made it a completely immersive, individual experience.

You enter the exhibition through a model of the Bedford van, and then are immediately immersed into the UFO Club with psychedelic liquid oil effects projected onto the ceiling. The next room is where it really begins, with a section on Syd Barrett and then a display dedicated to each album from Piper at the Gates of Dawn through to Dark Side of the Moon. The section on Syd is very small, but honestly I felt it was just enough. It didn't downplay or dismiss his part in the band, and it treated him respectfully instead of like an oddball curiosity project which I appreciated. There was no speculation or psychoanalysis, it simply explained his role and that he was unable to cope with fame and left.

After the display of Dark Side of the Moon the exhibition slowed down to tell more of their history between and during each album from Dark Side of the Moon through to The Endless River. My first thought was that I wished they had placed equal emphasis on the earlier period of the band, but then again I didn't feel the exhibition lacked anything and there's obviously only so much they can focus on so I think they got the balance right.

At the end of the exhibition you removed the headphones and went into a large room where their Live 8 performance was being projected onto the walls so you could sit on the floor and watch. After Live 8, they showed the promotional video for Arnold Layne, complete with additional oil projections. I really enjoyed this as a note to finish on as it highlighted both ends of the bands career - they're first ever release with Syd, up to their final reunion performance before the death of Rick.

After the end of it, I truly felt like I wanted to go straight back in and do the entire exhibition all over again. It was such a perfect day to be so deeply immersed in my favourite band, I felt almost under a spell when I left I was so happy.

Naturally you exit out into the gift shop! It's predominantly t shirts, remastered vinyl (ugh), button badges and books. I bought quite a few pins as I enjoy sticking them everywhere (I even bought duplicates of some), some postcards, a mug, a plush of Algie the pig which is probably my favourite thing for some inexplicable reason, and the official book of the exhibition which I can't wait to sit down and read. I did see a few other books I liked the look of, but they're not specific to the V&A and I didn't feel like lugging them round all day so I'll no doubt be ordering from Amazon soon.

The exhibition is open until October 1st 2017 and entry is between £18-£22 depending on if you have a concession. It's well worth every penny in my mind, I completely recommend going if you're able to!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Fjällräven Kånken

I realise this is a bit of a different entry from me, but I just wanted to gush about my new bag! And as I always enjoy a good review before I invest in something I figured it might help someone out.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the Kånken backpack. I remember first seeing them years ago on the backs of European travellers in Disneyland Paris, but it seemed to take a while for them to catch on over here. I bought my yellow one 2 years ago, the summer before I was due to start university. I love the simple, kind of nerdy design and the single saturated colours they came in, and knowing I'd be lugging sketchbooks and art supplies to and fro everyday, I knew a backpack was an important investment. Also Kånken strongly advertise their back support, and my back is a huge issue for me and something that causes me a lot of pain. It makes my hips misalign and even pop out now and then, and I often have to wear a back brace (I don't know why writing that on my blog makes me feel uncomfortable, but there it is). I was skeptical over whether or not the Kånken was just another backpack, but it's proved invaluable to me over these two years. I can even load it up with heavy items from Aldi and carry it without issue, something unthinkable for me before.

The only issue I had with my Kånken was that it doesn't fit my 15.6" laptop in. Bummer! I usually end up carrying it in a tote, but I dread everyday I have to take my laptop into class and will often avoid it, which leads me to being less productive than I could be. I only recently learnt that Kånken make laptop specific backpacks. With them being so expensive and already having a perfectly good (albeit filthy dirty, seriously don't buy a light one) bag, I held back for a while. But then I found one on offer (in the colour I was lusting after, what serendipity!) and I couldn't resist. And I'm so happy with it!

I bought it in plum, and it's literally the colour of a red plum. It's delicious, and hopefully will better keep the dirt at bay! I bought the 17", as despite having a 15.6" laptop I'd read that the 15" bag won't fit a laptop bigger than 14.5" (so they're really for 13" MacBooks, not laptops). It has a separate concealed padded compartment at the back of the bag for the laptop, keeping it secure from your other items as well as being theft proof. The main compartment of the bag is the same as a regular Kånken, only bigger of course as it's a bigger bag overall. It also has padding on the straps to help your shoulders support the additional weight.

I realise this is sounding like a sponsored post, I only wish it were! I just really love my new backpack. And my old one, I will be using both depending on which size I need for which day.

My rigid, creased new one in size comparison to my softer, saggy Kånken Classic. This is why they get dirty, as they soften the protection disintegrates. I prefer the softer look, I just don't dig the embedded marks that won't come out!

One of the biggest things that almost stopped me from buying my new bag is knowing I've only got one year left of uni and whether I should just carry on for one more year as I have been. But I realised that's kind of silly - I'm going to have a career at the end of my course, and art careers are very computer based so I see it as an investment. Also because the laptop compartment is so sturdily padded, I could even carry artwork or prints in there without concern of them getting crumpled. You can even buy camera inserts which I'm really struggling not to buy 😬

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Its a Disney kind of day

I've really been missing Disneyland Paris recently and longing to go back, when I suddenly remembered I hadn't gotten my film photos developed from my last trip! I shot all of these photos using my Holga TIM 135 camera. I've had this camera for years, but I often forget about it and this was only my second roll of film using it. Usually if I shoot film I just use disposable cameras, so I expected the Holga to work similarly as it's almost like a toy. It's definitely a trial and error camera, I hope I'll get the hang of it eventually, but not many of my photos came out very well!

The biggest issue I had was blurriness, which is frustrating as I can't figure out why. I understand the parade photos being blurry as it's photographing movement, but some of the blurring just feels random and I can't work out the cause. Also this camera absolutely sucks in any low lighting, if it's not sunny don't bother. If it's indoors, don't bother.

I think the worst thing about this camera is because it's dual lens, you have to cover one lens up when you take a picture, then switch them for the next. This becomes really confusing very quickly as there's no way of knowing if you've already used both sides or are going to roll ahead leaving half of your image blank. Saying all of this though, I do really like the camera, it's definitely fun!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

I'd like to be under the sea

What do you think of the new look?

I still have a tab open with my old blog design and I’m not gonna lie, I kind of miss it. But I also really love this new one. My blog feels less cluttered, and like my posts have room to breathe. I made myself a separate art blog while I was at it, which you can view here: I’m not going to stop posting my art over here, but I figure I should have a more ‘professional’ separate space. I was at odds as to whether I ought to make separate Instagram/Twitter/etc accounts for my art, or just ‘rebrand’ myself towards more arty stuff. I always feel a bit torn with the concept of online identity, ever more since studying illustration and having it pressed on me by tutors. But honestly I hate the whole concept! I am not a ‘brand’, I am me, a multifaceted human being with varying interests. I don’t want to segregate my life up and filter myself into more consumable, PR friendly chunks. The main thing I’ve learnt hardest from my many years on social media is that when I’m forced into a box, I get bored of it in no time at all. And when I think to my favourite artists, bloggers, and internet people in general, they’re my favourites because they don’t filter themselves and they share a mixture of different aspects to themselves which allows me to connect them them as people. And that’s the kind of online presence I’d rather have, regardless of how ‘unprofessional’ it may be.

Anyhoo, I wanted to show you a few things, beginning with the bits I picked up when I visited the antiques centre. I managed to find two things that I've been after for the longest time: a '60s satellite chair and a Gladys Goose lamp.

Gladys is huge, probably the same size as a real adult goose. I got so many funny looks carrying her around that day! I've wanted a Gladys Goose lamp for many years, since I first saw one in the background of a film in a girls bedroom. I thought it such a quirky, fun thing and immediately researched. They were first in production in 1983, and although the original design is no longer in production, modern reproductions can be bought. Because the originals are so collectible they can sell for an awful lot of money, but the seller of mine obviously didn't realise as I got her for an absolute bargain. I couldn't be happier! She has a few age spots in her plastic, but she's getting on a bit so I can't blame her.

And my satellite chair. They had a couple, but the one I liked best just so happened to also be the cheapest. There was a blue one, but I felt red suited my decor better (you can't see it from here, but a lot of my things are orange or red). I almost missed it; I'd told my mum before going that I was on the look out for a satellite chair and to help me keep an eye out. In one of the stores I turned around to speak to her and saw she was standing right next to one unbeknownst to her. It was completely stacked up under a ton of tins and various kitchen equipment and filthy dirty. But I knew it was perfect! I took it into the garden with the hose and a scrubbing brush and got it back to being as good as new.

I also had to make a few things for a recent uni project, I don't usually share my academic work but I was pleased with how these came out. My theme was sea life, in case that wasn't obvious, and I drew the designs and had them screen printed onto fabric. I made a few cushions and a tote bag with the fabric. I added iridescent sequins to the strap of the tote bag as I thought it looked like fish scales. I made a few extras to keep behind for myself I liked them so much!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

An Introduction to Vinyl

I've been collecting vinyl for many years now. Being in my 20s, vinyl was already on it's way out when I was a small child so before I began collecting it for myself I had no prior introduction to the format. I first began collecting vinyl around 7/8 years ago, and back then secondhand was the only way to go as modern repressings didn't exist which I'm incredibly grateful for as it's a trap I never fell in to. However I fully appreciate how intimidating collecting second hand vinyl can feel, so as I've transitioned from hobbyist to serious collector and have had to learn everything myself the hard way, I thought I'd share some tips for any new collectors or people wanting to get more serious about the hobby!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I really want to point out that record collecting should be fun first and foremost! It should be a hobby you enjoy and not something you feel intimidated by all the "rules" for. Some people (particularly middle aged men in my experience) will act like gatekeepers to the hobby and act quite aggressively towards younger members of the community for "doing it wrong" and presume all younger people are automatically hipster posers. Pay them no mind and you do you, as long as you're practicing basic care of your records then there's no right or wrong, and remember that everyone had to start from somewhere! There's a difference between teaching someone how something's done, and trying act like the hobby is something "exclusive" that others are unwelcome to, and it's really unfortunate how prevalent that attitude is. Just because you weren't born in time to experience something the first time round doesn't mean you can't enjoy it now!

First up, a pet peeve of mine I just want to put out there immediately: the plural of vinyl is vinyl. Not vinyls. You don't go shopping for vinyls, you don't have a collection of vinyls, it's always vinyl whether you're referring to one or twenty.

When you first begin looking at vinyl you'll see that they come in a variety of sizes and play at different speeds. Your standard records and most of what you buy will most likely be 12 inch LPs (albums) which play at speed 33.3 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). Most records will state which speed they're supposed to be played at, but not all will and unfortunately you can't always tell by the size alone. Most singles and EPs are 7 inches and play at 45 RPM (which is why they get called 45s), but you can also buy 12 inch singles which usually also play at 45 RPM. You can also buy 10 inch records but they're much less common. Some records play at 78 RPM but these are pre-1950s, and shellac not vinyl, so probably not something you'll ever have to worry about.

Most vinyl is black, but it can come in just about any colour imaginable and some even have pictures on the disc. They can also come in all different shapes, but these are usually singles only as the shape will make it difficult to fit on your turntable otherwise. Colour and picture vinyl is very pretty, but the standard black is what actually sounds best which is why it remains the most common and some people can be a bit snobby about coloured vinyl.

Sometimes when you buy 7 inch records you'll see that they have a massive hole in the middle and might wonder how the hell you're supposed to play that. This is something that really perplexed me when I was starting out, and didn't understand why they differed as some of my 7 inches were normal sized. It's to do with the different record companies originally wanting you to use their machine to play it, and you'll also see jukeboxes require records with the larger hole, but the bottom line is it isn't something you have to worry about at all - you just use a 45 adapter which looks like this:

Just pop it into the centre of your record and it'll fit on a regular spindle!

Speaking of which, lets get on to the basics of record players. If you've looked around the internet you'll of no doubt seen that there's a lot of hate for Crosley record players, and I'm sorry to say that this hate is entirely valid. Crosleys can genuinely cause your records damage. You can't change the weight of the tone arm, and because it's too heavy it will gradually wear away at the grooves of your vinyl. Also, please believe me when I say that they do not sound good. I know, I used to have one! On many of my vintage stereo records the stylus (needle) couldn't pick up both channels of sound. So for example, when listening to A Day In The Life by The Beatles, I'd only be able to hear John's vocals and the drum beat, I couldn't hear Paul's vocals or any guitar...and that sucked! What's the point in even listening to vinyl if you can't hear it properly?

There's a myth that buying a Crosley is the cheap, affordable option and the usual defense of them is "but it's all I can afford!" They're really not that cheap though, the cheapest model is around £60-£70. For a little over £100 you could get a good vintage turntable, receiver and speakers for second hand and it won't sound tinny and will pick up all stereo channels. If you're going to do something, it's worth saving up that little bit more and doing it properly.

Please don't pick your record player on how "aesthetic" it is, it just isn't worth it and you'll really regret paying so much for it when you're listening to only half a song! Scout out car boot sales, your older relatives attics, eBay, and secondhand electrical stores (I bought my receiver from one of these stores for only £10!) You can still purchase brand new stylus' from places like Amazon. If you want to buy a brand new record player Audio Technica are the best brand to look at and cover a wide variety of budgets.

When it comes to storing your records, you've probably seen that most people store them on their side. It's really important never to store them stacked on top of each other, as the weight of the records on top of each other will put pressure on them and bend them out of shape, and if they're out of shape then your turntable won't be able to play them. Warping doesn't have to be drastic for it to seriously damage your record, so it's best to do all you can to avoid it.

Another care tip is to clean your records - even if it's a brand new one, it still needs cleaning! Even if it looks clean it still needs cleaning! Dust is the devil, and if you play a dirty record the pressure of the needle can embed the dirt into the grooves which will affect the sound. It's also important to never touch the grooves for similar reasons - your skin has natural oils, and you really don't want to spread that all over your record. Hold your record either by the centre label, or around the very outer edges where the grooves haven't started yet.

Cleaning records is really simple. It's best to use an actual cleaning solution - I use and recommend this stuff. It lasts for ages as you don't need to use much - just spray directly onto your disc a couple of times, and use a soft microfibre cloth to wipe around the disc. It's really important to go around the disc in the same direction as the grooves than across which can be damaging. There's all kinds of fancy tools you can get for cleaning records, but this is really the basics of all you need to do, anything else is optional. I also have a special little brush that I use to keep dust at bay, and I also have a little brush (which is actually a clean makeup brush) which I use to clean the stylus, but the cleaning solution and cloth are the most vital.

I'm going to create a Part 2 to this post which will be all about actually collecting records; what to look for, how to get started, where to buy it, how cheap it can be, matrix numbers decoded, and all of that good stuff. I didn't want to overwhelm and confuse this initial post with too much information, and I feel it's a broad enough topic worthy of a blog series.

If you have any questions about vinyl or record players/turntables, if something I've said isn't clear and you'd like me to expand on it, or if there's anything you'd like to see covered in a future post on vinyl, please feel free to ask! This can sometimes be a bit of a dry topic and I want it to be as accessible as possible. Vinyl is my absolute passion, and I love getting to share it with as many people as possible! ♥

(And happy Record Store Day!)

Friday, 14 April 2017

A day in the life

Back in the day on my old blog I used to occasionally do photo-an-hour posts, and it's something I've wanted to bring back for a while. I always love reading these kinds of posts from others, mostly because I'm nosy and love seeing what people get up to on the day to day, and also because it feels so intimate and personal. Blogging can feel very superficial sometimes, and I always enjoy any opportunity to get to know the person behind the blog better. I also enjoy creating these posts as it's a really fun way to document the little things of your day and try and see the beauty in the mundane.

8.30 - I always begin my day by getting ready first. I'm slow to wake up, and I just find the process of putting on my makeup and selecting an outfit a great bit of 'me' time before I feel awake enough to face the world.

9.45 - My mum and I headed out to a huge antiques centre for the day, and jumped in the car early to make the most of the day. (Disclaimer: my mum took this photo. Don't drive and snap kids!)

10.30 - We arrived, and first port of call was to admire the blossoming cherry trees edging the car park. I used to see these trees all of the time when I lived in London but I don't really see them up North so it felt a bit nostalgic.

11.30 - Still antiquing! We spent a good chunk of the day here. We were at Hemswell Antiques which I'm really lucky to live not too far from. There's about 7 huge sprawling antique centres all housed right next to each other, and it's absolute bliss! Some of it is a bit more expensive, but honestly it's fun just to look round.

12.30 -

1.30 -

2.30 -

3.30 - With my car boot fully loaded, we finally left for home. I'll show you the goodies in another post!

4.15 - Got home to see my Amazon order had arrived. I'd been meaning to purchase this on vinyl for absolutely years, but buying brand new vinyl never appeals to me much and is so overpriced I always put it off.

5.00 - Went for a walk through the fields before dinner. It's such an idyllic spot, it's one of my favourite things to do. I appreciate it all the more since moving away.

I got quite ill in the evening (that spoonie life) so stopped taking photographs and just chilled on the sofa. But there you have it! My days look pretty different when I'm in my student flat so that'll be a fun comparison. I'm looking forward to creating more of these posts from time to time.
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