Friday, 31 August 2018

August 2018

I feel like I'm cheating a little here. I always write these blogs on the last day of the month (or the first day of the next), but here I am on the THIRTIETH like some kind of cheat (at this entirely arbitrary game I have made for myself).

We have a guest tomorrow, and then over the weekend we're MOVING HOUSE what... So I figured I might not have time.

Might not have time. Story of my August, let me tell you.

Anyway, don’t wanna get all mopey on you, but autumn’s coming. (I do love heather though)

This is a really really terrible drawing, but let me tell you about this day — ages ago I made an arrangement to go hang out with an old school friend of mine who lives in Leeds who I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years (Hi Helen!)… It then turned out that my friend Paul was having the opening night of his exhibition in Manchester the same evening. Sure, Leeds and Manchester are pretty close right, and I live in between the two, sweet. Oh, and a client asked me if I’d come for a meeting in Leeds the same day so WHY NOT, EH.

Anyway, what resulted was a super intense day of a meeting which has proceeded to launch me into one of the most stressful, time consuming (but mostly fun) freelance projects of my career so far… Followed by an absolutely lovely catch up with Helen, and then a train dash over to Manchester to catch Paul’s wonderful riso-printed brutalism opening night. He does great work, and this illustration was my very poor late night attempt to vaguely emulate that. I am ashamed of how bad it is, but ho hum.

House stuff rumbles on, time to buy carpets. I got VERY EXCITED about having roads and railways on the office floor but was thwarted by them not anticipating that anyone would want to carpet a room that large in it. Still bitter. (At this point I truly believed I could have it and was very excited)

So here’s the theme for this month. August is the time when work at my main job gets absolutely the busiest. One of my main freelance clients is also in the education sector, so things get busy there too. Also aforementioned large new job for large new client. Also August is the month me and Alex go to Nine Worlds. Also we’re renovating this house. Also we’re moving house. Also I have a border collie. Also I have to continue to feed us all and keep the house clean (that last one has slipped, let me be honest — it’s very hard to summon up the motivation to clean when you know you’ll be leaving soon…)

Hard no to moths, thanks very much.

Also a long time ago, before I knew how busy I’d be, agreed to go meet internet friend (and IRL friend of Alex’s) Daisy in Bradford for a curry. I’m very glad I made the time to actually go because she is GREAT, and we had a lovely dinner. On my way home from the station I bumped into the whole Happy Valley Pride crew celebrating the first night of events this year, and got a very welcome ego boost of having them all gather round and tell me how happy they were with all the materials we’ve worked on together this year (I’ve been doing their stuff this year and last, and am delighted to work with them!)

I really hate painting. Really really. But after a lot of procrastination, and timed to fit with one of my favourite radio shows, I pushed ahead and did my room. I hated every moment of it but appreciated the sense of progress (and nice music).

Me and Alex loaded up all our bags and suitcases with boardgames and headed down to run the boardgames lounge at Nine Worlds! (Well, Alex does much more of that than me to be honest, I am mostly there for moral support, moderate packhorse abilities, and a nice free hotel room in central London for a couple of days)

This is a bad drawing of a particular feeling. When you return to a place that you'd forgotten had a strong emotional memory attached to it, and it washes over you like an unexpected wave as you round a corner.

Took myself to the Westfield shopping centre because I love shopping probably more than I should, and have far fewer opportunities to indulge these days. I'm not actually sure I'd ever been to a mall that huge/fancy before, was genuinely quite struck by it's architecture! Then back to the boardgames.

Important reminders.

It's brochures time! (I think I do a drawing like this every year). After a fun weekend at Nine Worlds, I headed back down to Brighton for a fun (but frantic) few days in the office getting this years brochures wrapped up.

Saw a cool caterpillar.

Got a tattoo. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and I decided to just DO IT. I’m 30 now. I can make these kinds of rash decisions. (Right?)
I’d been looking for an artist who worked in the style I wanted (relatively delicate blackwork with a specialism in botanical stuff), and happened to find the perfect person the previous time I was in Brighton. I commissioned her to create an illustration and it was exactly what I wanted — various plants that have meaning to me… One of the main ones was Brambles because I feel like I’ve spent much of my life stumbling through them, existing alongside, and as a child so much joy and excitement from going out picking blackberries each autumn…. I also feel like I broadly relate to them as a person — kind of stubborn and spiky and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop/go away, but also very productive and motivated and with small elements of niceness/prettiness in amongst the tangles. Also honeysuckle, which I’ve always loved the smell/look of, and it was one of my Nan’s favourite flowers. Poppies were another of my Nan’s favourites, and as a child I always enjoyed elaborately disassembling them and studying how they were put together. A couple of others in there too, just general British hedgerow stuff. In the last year or two I’ve been forced to re-embrace my childhood fascination with nature and the countryside. Somewhat against my will but it reminds me where I come from. Anyway, it’s all a tangle of thoughts, and as much as anything I just wanted something beautiful, and I'm happy that's exactly what I got. I really love it and it feels strange now to imagine my body without it — it’s quite large for a first tattoo, most of my upper left arm running down to my lower arm, but I didn’t want to do things by halves.

Anyway, it really didn't hurt that much and I actually quite enjoyed the process!

Then, home.

Home for FEELS (possibly hormonal)

Still panicking about my complete failure to make any meaningful progress on painting any of the house apart from my room, a bunch of wonderful friends came over to help us for a day. Heroes, all.

Even if I do NOTHING ELSE this year, I still feel like this is true.

More, ugh, no, ugh, etc

(For context, at this point I was working approx 9 hour work days, walking Charlie for at least 2 hours, and trying to squeeze in as many frantic hours of painting as I could around all of this)

I wish to go out of my way here and state that I am not normally like this. But sometimes a perfect confluence of hormones, tiredness, anxiety and general background stress combine that enable me to ENTIRELY CONVINCE MYSELF that I’ve offended someone beyond repair. Bloody read receipts.

Did I mention I'm very busy? Well yeah, somehow I also found time to make my first ever radio show/podcast this month too (mostly I want to learn a little bit more about how all of this stuff works, plus I love choosing music and mashing it together. I'm under no illusions that many people will want to listen, but if you do, you can find it here, and if you're into it, I'll be doing more.)

I like this one so much I might redraw it and turn it into a screen print to hang on my wall.

Alex saw this one and said ‘I really like it. You’re so SENTIMENTAL’
Lol. I have a very conflicted relationship with nature/the countryside, okay? (Also from Alex ‘I can’t believe you hate the countryside so much and yet you just got a load of it tattooed on you’)

A couple of days ago I heaved the entirely of mine and Alex’s record collections over to the other house. It was a LOT and I want it to be held on the record that I did this [strong arm emoji] (and then did this very satisfying drawing while watching the Great British Bake of in what felt like one of the chillest hours I've had this entire month)

Oh yeah, this weekend I managed to get a massive blister on the SOLE of my HEEL, what could I possibly have done to deserve this. Anyway, I just had to keep going, because Justin's away and Alex isn't doing so well at the moment, and it obviously proceeded to get worse, to the point where this morning I was concerned I wouldn't be able to walk Charlie at all. But you know what, I cut a donut shaped piece out of a maxi pad, stuck it around the blister, wore my cushioniest shoes and bought myself a WALKING POLE (it's over, I am middle aged), and things are going okay. (Also, Alex managed to do a short walk and a friend of ours came and helped out too, so hopefully that's been enough rest that I'll be better soon)

Goodness knows I'd better be, because we're moving house this weekend and then I'm going to THE NETHERLANDS!

Hi September.

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.