Wednesday, 1 August 2018

July 2018

I LOVE SUNSHINE and in much the same way that every other drawing I do in winter is about how much I hate rain, so it feels like every other drawing this month is about how happy I am that it's not raining. Sorry for being just the worst British-person-talking-about-the-weather cliché

This text is made out of some beautiful marbled paper remnants from my dear friend Lucy, the clever hands and brain behind Marmor Paperie!

I went into Manchester for the evening to catch my first ever Flim Nite — ‘a distorted adaptation of a popular film, retold through theatre, comedy, poetry and/or music’. I’ve been aware of these nights for a long time, having been following one of the creators in Twitter for years, but this was the first time since moving closer to Manchester that I’d managed to make it along. (Thanks to Kim for coaxing me…) This month was Men In Black, an old favourite of mine, and I have a whole new way of thinking about it thanks to some of the… unusual interpretations on offer

Some days are very mundane but also very good, and this was one. (Side note, I've had these gross skin tags on my neck for years — you've probably never seen them because I ALWAYS WEAR SCARVES no matter what the weather — and I got them burnt off with a hot wire at minor surgery, and let me tell you it was up there with getting ears syringed as one of the most grotesquely satisfying medical procedures out there)

Every Wednesday I go to the local creative co-working space the Egg Factory for a shared lunch. Most weeks the food's lovely, some weeks it's just three of us with some stale bread and a jar of mystery pickles, and some weeks it's EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD — this was one of the latter weeks.

Sometimes I walk one of our neighbours dog Nancy. She's great.

Exciting things: 1) Hannah came to visit for the first time in years, and she always has the best goss (this time was no exception) 2) I did an open studios event for the first time, so I guess I've 'made it' now? 3) We got a rice cooker and it's VERY GOOD

The Hebden Bridge Open Studios were on for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For a small town Hebden Bridge has a LOT of artists. Unlike in Brighton where these events tend towards open houses, (although there was always New England House studios too), in Hebden Bridge it's mostly artists working out of large collective studios in old mills. I was hosted by the aforementioned Egg Factory where I'm a member, along with Rachel (with her amazing stick and ink drawings), Amy (screenprinting maestro and signmaker extroadinaire) Hannah (who makes amazing weird sculptures out of chairs) and Pippa (who makes paper cuts more detailed than you can even imagine), lovelier folks you could not wish to meet.
After the Saturday day, we had a lovely barbecue in the sun outside the Egg Factory with all of us and our friends, and we sat outside until like NINE and didn't even get cold, the DREAM

Our friends Chris and Mel invited us over for dinner and fed us the most delicious vegan paella EVER (I mean, it happened to be vegan, it was the most delicious paella I've ever had full stop). I also got lots of interior design ideas/aspirations from their very lovely place.

I feel like when I was younger it was a lot easier to shift between different 'looks'. Now, when I wear clothes that don't fit with the aesthetic I've formed for myself, I feel weird and sad and uncomfortable, even if I really like the clothes in principle.

As part of our ongoing rice adventures, we made sushi for the first time ever. It was very badly made because none of us had any idea what we were doing, but also DELICIOUS which is what matters.

I had a craving to go on an outing, so I went on a day trip to nearby Saltaire...

"Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. Salt built neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. With the combination of quality housing, employment, recreation, educational facilities and social services the model town represented a landmark example of enlightened 19th century urban planning."

Basically, it's a super cute weird little town with loads of unusually giant/regal public buildings, and in the height of summer, it's absolutely beautiful. The old Salts Mill is also now home to a very large collection of David Hockney's art, including his recent ipad drawings of spring which have been printed off at huge scale and look incredible.

As you all know, nearly this whole month has just been glorious weather wise, and I just strolled round this place in the sun feeling thoroughly contented for an afternoon. Treats!

One of my favourite things about summer is how all the cats hang around outside. You don't see cats out and about in winter and that makes me sad.

'The boys'

I mean, google this if you're interested I guess. It's certainly helped me, I am VERY easily distracted and quite bad at staying on task for long. I'm far from perfect at this, but just trying has made a huge difference.

The windows have finally gone into the roof of our new house. I tried to paint the bright sun shining in onto the plaster and plasterboard (but my painting skills still have a long way to go)

I travelled up to Edinburgh to visit our friend Jess, who I hadn't seen since she moved away from Brighton a few months before we moved up north, so probably a couple of years now. Her and Ryan also live with two of my favourite doggos out there, Stompy and May, who I used to hang out with a lot when we all lived in Brighton. It was lovely to see them again. Stompy is old now though. Which is disconcerting.

Jess was part of the team organising the first Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist bookfair, and she asked if I'd oversee the zine table and sell some of my zines. I'm probably feminist enough but definitely not anarchist enough, so felt like a bit of an imposter, but everyone was very nice and lots of people bought my silly things, so it was a worthwhile outing.

RIDICULOUSLY, given that I now live right in the middle of the country, so travelling from end to end shouldn't be something I do any more, I then got the train from Edinburgh all the way down to Brighton, via London. Luckily I like trains. I stopped in briefly to Somerset House en route, who were hosting Process, a weekend of zine related exhibits and talks and workshops and stalls. It was pretty good although I wish I'd had a bit more time to actually go to some of the specific things that were part of it.

And then, Brighton. My love!

I stayed with my friends Kris and Jonny who live out near Patcham. That meant a 30 – 45 min bus journey into work each morning, which is fine, fun even, but damn... 8am and already 23+ degrees, those buses got SWEATY

I LOVE HEATWAVE. Kept getting really annoyed with everyone being all 'oh, wish it would rain' — NEVER

Look, I know it's all global warming, I know everything's fucked, I know this is the beginning of a long, slow, painful end, and it's only going to get worse, but I am going to bloody well enjoy it while it's still tolerable.

Oh yeah, I'm getting a tattoo soon. Mentioned to my senior designer that I might be having a 1/3 life crisis and he was like '1/3? You'll be lucky!' which was HELPFUL. I fully intend to live until 90.

I am not ready for it to rain again, but obviously Hebden Bridge has other ideas.

I mean I'm pretty certain Charlie ALWAYS wants a walk, but what if I'm wrong?!

For Justin's birthday I made him a gift that was a zine containing all the visual diaries he's ever appeared in since I started doing this 5.5 years ago. It nearly caused him to have a full nostalgia breakdown. I guess this drawing can be the first in the updated volume I'll make for him in a few more years... (I still can't draw him to look like he actually looks though)

Mum and Dad came to visit, and me and Alex went to see Chk Chk Chk (!!!) at the Trades Club in the evening. It was one of the sweatiest shows I've ever been to. There's been a lot of that this month though. And I am A-OKAY with it.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

June 2018

Oh JUNE! The sun's out! I'm having a lovely time!

So, I really like Instagram. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. Maybe at some point it will turn toxic as seems to be the inevitable fate of any successful social network (I mean maybe? I still love Twitter too though), but right now, Instagram still feels like a super positive place... Not the kind of fake positive that it's often accused of, although there's no doubt that I curate an optimistic vision of my life there to an extent... But for me, and the people I follow, it just feels like a place that avoids the political heaviness of Twitter and the vacuous nothingness of Facebook and gets to the heart of where we are and what we're doing, and genuinely helps me feel closer to friends in far flung places through good stuff and bad stuff and all the interesting stuff that sits somewhere in between. I was walking with Charlie up near Heptonstall (looking at my phone, obviously, why would I be looking at the same view I've seen hundreds of times, or nature, ha, nope) and saw a picture posted from a friend passing through a small town in South Africa, of a beautiful cerulean blue sky and whitewashed walls through a window. I sent back a picture of the scenery I was seeing at that precise moment, to say hi. It's just MAGIC that we can have these views into each others lives. Maybe I'm sentimental, but I am constantly appreciating it. (And I love your instagram stories)

Just idly speculating about what it would be like if there were just suddenly LOADS OF NEW VEGETABLES

I hate DIY, and I suck at it. The new house needs things doing it and I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that if Alex/Justin/other kindly friends won’t do it, and I don’t have enough money to pay someone else to do it once the loft conversation is done, I’m just gonna have to live with things bad, because… I just can’t. Uuuuughhhhh

Some days are just a cacophany of failure.

Alex got lots of treats on their birthday including some river swimming in their super cute new swimming costume, a weird cake by me, an amazing vegan moussaka by Chris, and lots of other lovely people to visit.

I wrote a little bit in my America trip blog about legendary club night Low End Theory, which has been running each Wednesday night for over a decade and has been the home of/launchpad for so much incredible music out of LA... and it was just accounced this month that the founders have decided to bring it to a close with just 10 final nights. I am EMOTIONAL about this, just feeling so ridiculously lucky that I got to get there once before it ended (JUST in time as well, if I'd waited even another few months I'd have missed my chance), and also LONGING to be back in LA for one of these last few shows (not gonna happen, obvs)

The eternal question. (The answer obviously being: doggo)

Feeling this way a lot at the moment. But mostly it's a good thing I think...?

Never let it be said that me and Alex don't know how to treat ourselves to a romantic hot date (to the post office, Network Rail consultation meeting, and then rounded off with a handful of weird treats from Nisa and a little wander along the canal before putting Alex on a train to go play some boardgames)
(Honestly though this was all very lovely)

Got a skip! And a lot of my new house is in it! (Having earlier said I hate DIY, any DIY has basically been on hold for most of this month as actual professional builders are in there right now gutting and renovating the attic space which is VERY EXCITING and I am mostly just standing back and keeping out the way and letting them get on with it while hoping for the best)

I barely watch any TV or films, but somehow managed to make time that week in particular to watch loads of 'The Good Fight', a surprisingly excellent 'The Good Wife' spin off with Alex (and Charlie)

Hair is very long as this point but I'm kind of intrigued by just how long I can get it before it either just... stops, or I get too annoyed with it, so I persist.

This is not a very good drawing but, as it says, I LOVE LONDON. The weird thing I wasn't prepared for with Hebden Bridge is that it actually doesn't feel nearly as far from London as I thought it might when I moved here. It's like 45 minutes to Leeds and then 2 hours 15 minutes from Leeds to Kings Cross. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but I do the Leeds train so often that it usually kind of flies by without me even noticing, and then the Leeds to London train is, 99% of the time, one of the chillest train journeys possible — I have a specific seat that I like which I almost invariably get all to myself, it has a plug socket and there's no one sat opposite, and it's just CHILLLL, like a rare time when I just take some headspace for myself and relax. So yeah, I like going to London, it's fast and easy and surprisingly affordable if you book in advance.

Anyway, basically I decided to go down to London just overnight, for various reasons, to see/meet friends, and on a whim, decided to swing by one of my favourite old uni friends Lucy's open studios night where she makes her beautiful marbled notebooks as Marmor Paperie (go buy her lovely things). It was so wonderful to see her actual studio and have a catch up!

Also had a lovely time staying with Zoe and Dan and eating delicious vegan pizza, and just generally being in London, in the summer, in the warm, with friends.

The next day, me and Zoe went to see the University of Brighton's Graphic Design and Illustration degree show in London. (I graduated from there, uh, EIGHT YEARS AGO how did THAT happen). There's always the degree show in Brighton at the uni itself, but then every year there's always also one up in London (funded and organised with great stress by the students themselves), as we were told we needed to do that in order to get a job (LOL that went well for me then). Anyway, I was super happy to get a chance to see what the cool kids are up to these days. (I was never one of the cool kids)

Joe Armon-Jones was playing an in-store at Rough Trade East close by too, which was just wonderful. I proceeded to also spend too much money on records (including getting his signed by him), and a lovely dress from nearby Collectif in Spitalfields market (I have worn it loads though, so already feeling it was a sensible purchase. Perhaps.)

(In the above bit where I was all smug about how easy and cheap it can be to get down to London, it should also be noted that I always spend way too much whenever I visit, so maybe I shouldn't actually go TOO often.)

Anyway, late afternoon I met up with Alfred who had just landed in London from fun times at Sonar in Barcelona. He was taking a few days out from work and travels to hang out in Yorkshire, so we got the train back north together.

I say a few days out from work... I mean, he still had work to do, and so did I, but for both of us that's work that can be done from afar sometimes. I so very enjoyed listening to him build music while I did my silly drawings. But constructive criticism of people you like... It's a fun game of honesty vs. tact, huh (Luckily he's very good so it's not like I have to be mean. Because I can and will be mean if I have to, even if I really like you)

But anyway, there was time for some scenic strolling too.

I say 'come visit in the summer', and I mean it, because that's when Hebden Bridge is at it's best, and I want visitors to see it like that... But also please come visit in the winter too, because that's when I get sad and need cheering up with fun guests. Basically come visit all year is what I'm saying. We have a lovely guest room, all the boardgames, and the best dog.

Alfred had a show in Manchester on Tuesday, and I love excuses to hang out in Manchester. Ate loads of tasty food, did a good dance, met some lovely people.

I love Rummikub. Alex bought me a beautiful Rummikub set a few years ago, but no one I live with or regularly associate with (including Alex) likes playing it, so on the rare occasions I happen to find someone who does, I am HYPE

On Friday I headed back down to London again and it was A LOT. Alfred had flown to Berlin the previous day for a show, and then back to London for the last show this tour, so we met again for that. The show was at Village Underground which is in some ways a great venue, but in some ways heavy going. The sound system there is almost painful at times (maybe I am just weak), and shows there tend towards very lateness. This tour Alfred was travelling with Panoptes, his new visual show, which you can get an idea of in this video. Setup in Village Underground did not go entirely to plan, but got there in the end, and a little time over to stroll round some vintage shops in Brick Lane and another visit to Rough Trade East (I managed not to buy anything this time though). The show was laaaate, as expected, although an amazing lineup with Kutmah, Jameszoo and Lefto also on the bill, but I suck at late nights. (I mean, I say I suck, I stayed up till 5am with zero alcohol, drugs, caffiene or any other form of stimulants so I guess I did okay...)
After the show finished at 4am, Alfred had a car at 4.30 for a 7am flight from Heathrow, so goodbyes tired and short and rushed, and then strange walk through Shoreditch/Hoxton back to Dan and Zoe's place... The day after solstice, so already light at that hour, strange intermingling of early shift workers starting their days and revellers still on their nights out.

So yeah. I went to bed at 5am, was briskly awoken by my body at around 9 because come on, it's 9, it's time to get up, even on only 4 hours sleep, apparently that's how things are for me now. Because of hilarious fun timing of everything all at once, my friend Reggie was also in town, so we went for some lunch and a stroll through the Barbican (where I took this picture of him which I think is really great:

Then that night, went to his show at the Spiegeltent on the Southbank, and afterwards, yeah, sure, dim sum at 2am with him and loads of other lovely people because what even is this weird life. Ate so much dim sum I felt sick and couldn't face getting into a taxi so stayed out till 4am again, WAHEY! (Maybe I'm going to get really party in my 30s)

Obviously woke up again at like 8 or 9 because that's how my body works these days, and went to lie in the park with Nat and have a cry. Sometimes there's nothing more glorious than lying in the park in the sunshine in one of your favourite cities with one of your favourite people having a good cry because you've barely had any sleep and everything's a bit much but in the best possible way.

Popped in to say hi to Lauren and then hopped on the overground down to George and Wes's place where I got to eat a very nice amount of pizza before getting another train down to Brighton, somehow, not passing out with tiredness.

Brighton Brighton Brighton I STILL LOVE YOU TOO! Delighted to be back in the office for a few days, and wonderful catchup with Hannah and Tristan in the evening. Plus, as is my way when returning, trying to fit in all my favourite foods that I miss — La Choza mexican for lunch then Pizzaface pizza for dinner.

But hey GUESS WHAT, blight of my life since moving North for some reason, another bloody cold. I really don't understand it — I'm healthier in almost every way than I ever have been, but possibly just less exposed to germs than I was when living in the city, so every little thing catches me out. (And sleep deprivation probably didn't help my immune response)

For this one specifically, Justin was to blame — he bought it home, Alfred caught it, and then I caught it from Alfred — so for once it wasn't a public transport cold, but still. It's nice to know the supply chain I guess...

Anyway, delicious bibimbap at Namul's with Zoe for lunch and then v v excited to sample Wagamama's new vegan seitan Katsu curry which was everything I had dreamed and more.

I persist, along the same theme, basically.

And then, back home. Still ill, but sufficient fun had that I'm generally in high spirits regardless.

Continuing to medicate with best foods — Hebden Bridge's new Tibetan kitchen serves exemplary momos, which I am very excited about.

As discussed, visit in the summer. Today, everyone's visiting. The house is full and SO IS MY HEART

Sorry. Gross. I've had a lovely month. I'll stop being so smug soon. July probably won't be as good but that would take a lot I guess.