Saturday, 27 May 2017

'Neath the gay illuminations all along the promenade

Just the other week I popped to Brighton. It's quite far from where I live so I stayed in a cheap and cheerful little hotel for the night and made a proper little trip out of it. I spent the majority of my childhood in Surrey and Sussex, so growing up Brighton was tediously familiar as my mum would take me there several times a year. However I hadn't been since I was probably about 12 or so, and going there as a kid you obviously don't fully appreciate whats around you - especially not beyond the pier and ice cream! Brighton has a reputation for being good if you're interested in antiques, vintage, and general quirky stuff so I was excited to visit for the nostalgia as well as seeing what it had to offer.

As a former ride operator at a theme park, I wouldn't be caught dead on pier rides. Especially not something that has the potential to throw me into the ocean at a single malfunction.

The architecture on the pier is just beautiful, there's so many intricate little details.

The derelict West Pier was my favourite landmark. There's something about places having fallen into disrepair and completely abandoned that I find really aesthetically pleasing. It first opened in 1866, and closed in 1975 after the owners could no longer keep up with maintenance costs. It fell into disrepair and bits of the structure began eroding and falling away. There were plans to renovate it and bring it back to life, but in 2003 it caught fire. There are still talks of rebuilding it, but I personally hope they leave it as it is.

Brighton Pavilion. I didn't go in as I didn't want to pay the entrance fee, but I had a little wander around the grounds.

I popped into the Sea Life centre, which I was a bit gutted with to be honest, my local aquarium is much better at a fraction of the entrance cost. I love a good aquarium, but there was very little there. I was also appalled that they specifically advertised a Giant Pacific Octopus in an "Octopus hideout" on a poster outside the aquarium. Neither of these things are inside the aquarium, they got rid of both a few months ago yet continue to advertise it?! It was what drew me in as octopus are one of my favourite animals so I felt very short changed.

This little guy kept smiling at me :)

I was impressed with the green anaconda. You can't really tell he's underwater in this photo, but if you look closely you can see little fish swimming around.

I love how piranha appear to almost sparkle.

I had some pretty mixed feelings about the trip overall. I enjoyed the pier and the amount of nostalgia I got from it - so much of the sea front is just how I remember. Walking along the pier I even felt anxious about the gaps between the planks just like I did when I was little. Most of all I loved how flat Brighton is, how even when I was in the centre of town I could look down the street and see nothing but wide open ocean on the horizon. There's something about the ocean that makes me feel so free and at peace, and to see it so clearly whenever I looked in the right direction is a feeling I can't even describe.

I looked around The Lanes which I'd heard so much about, but it proved anticlimactic. Maybe if I hadn't lived up North for so long I'd feel differently, but Brighton Lanes is basically every town and village in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. More expensive, but most of the same stuff available and aesthetically identical. I don't know specifically what I was expecting, but I've heard it hyped so much and heard about all of the wondrous array of shops and boutiques available selling all manner of things...and it was just exactly like where I shop every single day but with hiked up prices.

I had a fun time and I'm ever so glad I went as now I remember what it's like, and it was worth it for the nostalgia alone. But I'm not in any hurry to go back either. I had wanted to go to Margate at some point as it has a similar reputation, but the allure has now gone. I think I'll just stick to Cleethorpes.

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 - their 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 😬
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