28 Mar 2011

Where Children Sleep.

I Came across this wonderful collection of photographs by James Mollison, 'Where Children Sleep'.

Over 2 years Mollison photographed the bedrooms of children from all across the world. Accompanying them are portraits of the children and a small paragraph about there lives. Taking with a large format camera, these images are striking, both for their quality value and most importantly for their thought-provoking and more than often heart-breaking insight. I found the images to be incredibly moving and captivating - an instant add to the wish-list of Amazon books.

Some examples:

Indira, seven, lives with her parents, brother and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. At bedtime, the children share the mattress on the floor. Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was three. The family is very poor so everyone has to work. There are 150 other children working at the quarry. Indira works six hours a day and then helps her mother with household chores. She also attends school, 30 minutes’ walk away. Her favourite food is noodles. She would like to be a dancer when she grows up.

Kaya, four, lives with her parents in a small apartment in Tokyo, Japan. Her bedroom is lined from floor to ceiling with clothes and dolls. Kaya’s mother makes all her dresses – Kaya has 30 dresses and coats, 30 pairs of shoes and numerous wigs. When she goes to school, she has to wear a school uniform. Her favourite foods are meat, potatoes, strawberries and peaches. She wants to be a cartoonist when she grows up.

 Roathy, eight, lives on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His home sits on a huge rubbish dump. Roathy’s mattress is made from old tyres. Five thousand people live and work here. At six every morning, Roathy and hundreds of other children are given a shower at a local charity centre before they start work, scavenging for cans and plastic bottles, which are sold to a recycling company. Breakfast is often the only meal of the day.

 Home for this boy and his family is a mattress in a field on the outskirts of Rome, Italy. The family came from Romania by bus, after begging for money to pay for their tickets. When they arrived in Rome, they camped on private land, but the police threw them off. They have no identity papers, so cannot obtain legal work. The boy’s parents clean car windscreens at traffic lights. No one from his family has ever been to school.

You can look at more examples here: Telegraph article
and buy the book here: Amazon

23 Mar 2011

Word Festival

The Programme for this years, Word festival was announced today! The Word festival is a chance for people of Aberdeen to get some yummy culture without travelling out of the city. Wins all round.

For those not in the know, Word is a writers festival hosted by The university of Aberdeen. Each year a mixed bag of poets, writers and musicians come together and do talks, readings, performances. The likes of Carol Ann Duffy and  Jackie Kay have been involved (to name but a few lesbian writers :p)

The festival runs from 13-15 May. Just in time for the end of semester.

Last year's line up wasn't much to write home about, but this year looks pretty pretty good. I'm excited to see Margaret Atwood's name on the programme. I recently bought 'Year of the flood' but have yet to read it. Atwood is known for her feminism and mythological themes and her novels can be classified as science fiction. She writes beautiful things like this:

"I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary."
—Margaret Atwood.

Alasdair Gray is another exciting name to see. Not only because he's one of Scotland's best literature writers but because he is a man of many talents. I remember Steph Studying Lanark a few years ago, its huge and she spent like 3 whole days reading it. I mostly liked the artwork to be fair and haven't quite finished the book. None the less it will be interesting to hear him talk. He also has an exhibition of his artwork through out May in the Old Town house (Aberdeen uni campus/Old Aberdeen).

His art looks like this:


Another point of interest, but perhaps a personal one is Wayne Price. Wayne was Steph's creative writing lecturer at uni. He was the first person (barr me, of course) to take to Steph's writing and really pushed her to create and believe she could be a writer.  He also pushed us to start Epershand (our zine for local writers and artsits) and still insists now that when we have the time, we should make a proper go of it. He really is a lovely chap and apparently writes some great short stories (according to the Bridport Prize). He will be talking along side Billy O'Callaghan on the Saturday.
There really is so much on this year that's so great for Aberdeen to have: Ian Banks; Dermot Healy and Paul Trynka: David Bowie Night :D

I think I might check out these two things as well:

 These are the exhibitions that are on too:

Website HERE
Programme HERE

21 Mar 2011

Clearing my mind

Some photos from today and yesterday.

Another Monday. Another vague blog

I feel like I have a million and one things to do today and I've forgotten half of them. I've got that stressed feeling. it's a bit overwhelming and I can't seem to just relax or clear my mind.

I've got so much to do and work out yet my mind wont let me access what it is I exactly need to do.

Materials are on my mind.

I think I'm doing to much, I need to look at everything and take one thing away at a time until I have just one thing to work on at a time. I feel like I've been doing this, but I'm obviously missing something.

I need to go back to basics.

I've been doing more black and white photography, mostly for my own pleasure. I want to concentrate on the tone and light.

Light is something I've always thought to be an important factor and such a beautiful thing, I've been working with natural light this past few days.

I feel like as a distraction, another part of me overtakes my mind into some cloud cuckoo land and reality seems so far away. I wouldn't mind so much if I could only get things done when I need to do them.

15 Mar 2011

Japan Tsunami appeal & a Japanese Cinema Blogathon

Through the red cross site you can give money as well find other ways to donate to the Japan Tsunami appeal. I urge everyone just to look and see what they can offer,  even taking old clothes etc to a red cross charity shop can help.

If like me you're the poorest of poor students, you can simply write, share a memory or celebrate the beauty that is Japanese cinema, In the hope the appeal will reach other people.

Japan Cinema and Cinema Fanatic are hosting a great blogathon this week to raise money for the relief effort in Japan.

 Although my favourite world cinema films are mostly Korean and French (Oldboy, I'm a cyborg, Amelie) there is no denying Japanese cinema has brought us many a great film with outstanding cinematography and original writing.

I first got into Japanese films the easy way - through a friend and 'Battle Royale'. The genius of the film and the mix of beauty and gore made it an instant favourite of mine. Films like Ichi the Killer, audition & Versus soon followed and I loved loved loved them.

Around the same time a group of pub friends turned me onto the magical world of Studio Ghibli, that should be watched by everyone, young and old. Spirited away was undoubtedly the most popular at the time and in a way still is but it was Howl's moving castle that really strung a note with me. The film is truly beautiful, to me unlike anything I had seen that kept the attention and imagination of both my adult self and inner child.

It became more apparent, as I made my way through the studio Ghibli collection, that these films and their genius weren't new but oh so unique. My favourite of all 'Grave of the fireflies' was made in 1988, when I was 3. The film which is an adaptation of a semi-autobiography by Akiyuki Nosaka is an incredibly profound, anti-war animation, Its completely heart-warming and heart breaking all at the same time. There really is no other film like this one.

I'm ever so grateful to have these films in my life, whether in Japanese with subs or dubbed in English.They hold some of the best writing and animation I've ever seen.

The purpose of the blogathon is a great one and I believe it to be a chance to represent that one film that represents your love for Japanese Cinema. So I'm going to represent the underdog in a way. Japan aren't really known for their comedy (as much as anime or horror) but this film really made me smile and came into my life when I really needed it.

'Turtles are surprisingly fast swimmers'

Made in 2005 by Miki Satoshi ('Adrift in Tokyo'), 'Turtles are surprisingly fast swimmers' didn't screen in the UK until 2008. I found it incredibly funny with great energy and the right amount of wit. Its strange and quirky and features the most boring spies in cinema.

The film follows suzume Katagura, a bored housewife who finds a teeny tiny sticker - "Spies wanted". intrigued she phones and later meets the advertisers/fellow spies. Juro Ueno plays the role really well and she is what makes the more effective scenes so enjoyable. I like this type of comedy, its not out to get lots n' lots of laughs, its not crude nor in your face. Its just wonderful and inspiring.

I'm not one really for reviews so I wont spoil the movie nor do it injustice for anyone who hasn't seen it. So here is the trailer:

Lastly I'd like to give a shout out to 'Candy Candy'. It was the animation of my childhood. Although Candy was an orphan she was my hero. I still have my original VHS tape, and treasure it dearly.

Please use the links above to support where and when you can or at the very least encourage others and take part in the blogathon.

14 Mar 2011


You know sometimes when you say a word and it doesn't sound like a word, of course it sounds like a word but its a strange word and you repeat it over and over, then slower and slower and then normal speed again but with a questioning tone. It just doesnt sound right. I have that right now with 'Monday'.

Anyway today is Monday and I feel a little under the weather. I have Steph's cold from last week. I'm not to bad just not entirely well. Today I wanted to go print my finished (YES FINISHED) photo collection for this weeks crit. I rather do like my photos I do, I think I'll print them tomorrow though, once I work out which paper I want to use.

These are a few pictures (and if your american pic-tooores) of the making a merkin process.


Out of a potential katribitrillion ideas for the design of a merkin I settled for 21 designs and made 15 of them. I photographed 12 of them. Edited 10 of them and settled for a final 8. Which I see working in a 5 or 7 set but I like my 8 so right now its 8.


My favourite finished photo (but not merkin) is this one:

I wanted to work within the fashion aesthetic restraints of photography and keep it modern and fun. I chose to represent this because of the influence the industry has on woman. I've crossed into the notion of self grooming and extreme beauty (stemming from a piece I'm working on with Vajazzling).

With the set complete I can see that my vision is reached. I set out to make this collection and I've done it. I feel happy with it, I really do. In terms of other things I'm working on this doesn't come close to how personal they are. This piece to me serves its purpose and shows another side to my practice and aesthetic.

Looking at the set I can see that how I've been influenced. Completely positively I've learnt not to be afraid of my vision and aesthetic. Its what I envisioned for the set and I like the commercial aspect. It fits.

13 Mar 2011


On Friday, Steph and I took the train to Edinburgh to see the wonderful 'Iron & Wine'.

As well as taking the train, we stayed in a hotel! Oh la la! No big deal, I know, but usually we're forced into taking the megabus and staying in youth hostels, because we've spent any available money on getting gig tickets in the first place. The worst for us was seeing Amanda Palmer at the fringe festival 2008. We had no where to stay at all! With an open invitation to the after party at the bongo club, we couldn't refuse. I think we got one drink between us during the many cabaret acts. At 5am the club closed and the train station opened shorty after. We huddled together and tried to get a few hours sleep on the cold metal seats before making our way to the... bus station.

On a completely different end to the scale, one time Steph got an invitation to the orange book awards in London. They paid for our flights and we got to stay in the Park Plaza. We dressed up all fancy and made our way to the awards. The situations we find ourselves in amuse us. Although the night wasn't terrible exciting we drank the best champagne and ate mini pots of food. We rubbed shoulders with the likes of Agnes Deyn, Geri Halliwell (HA), the less famous blonde from Ab Fab and lots of woman writer types. We actually left early so we could enjoy a night in the amazing hotel.

Any ways this time round was neither like those extremes. we just wanted to enjoy a weekend together, where we didn't have to think about anything. We spent part of the day in vintage shops around the Grassmarket and visited the red door gallery.

As usually, we managed our way to a front row spot for Iron & Wine. I was so excited, we hadn't seen a live band play since Yeah Yeah Yeahs over a year ago. Iron & Wine have written some of my favourite songs of all time. They hold that deep emotional romanticism that I love. However as the set went on it came apparent that the band had changed somewhat. The gig remind me of when I saw Bob Dylan back in 2007, he changed the arrangement of nearly every song, rendering some of them unrecognisable and just over the top with percussions and electronics. This is exactly what Iron and Wine did. I don't know if I was more annoyed or relieved they didn't play any of my favourite songs. As far as a live music goes though, they played amazingly and with such skill and love. It was worth it alone to just hear this line:
"Someday drawing you different, may I be weaved in your hair?"

 I did leave a little disappointed though as I had expected to feel... actually just, feel. I didn't.

The next day we returned to vintage shopping and visited the Fruit market gallery. We saw the Jean-Marc Bustamante exhibition and got to experience the Martin Creed elevator that we missed when we saw his exhibition in the summer. The rain and snow was quite bad so de decided not to see the Jeff Koons exhibition - something I already regret but I'm sure we will go back. Instead we went to Fopp and spent our rent money in books. I prayed I would find 'Just Kids' By Patti Smith and I did, Steph also found many William Burroughs books, but settled for buying only one.  I miss Fopp.

On the train home I read 100 pages of 'Just Kids' and cried from the start. It's the best book I've ever read, including my Ali Smith collection. Having just got into Mapplethorpes work and understand it instead of only observing it and rekindling my love of Patti Smith music, this book is everything I need right now, not just because its only natural to read further into the lives of people you admire but because I believe things happen at the right time when you need them most. Watching Jonathan Caouette's 'Tarnation' and hearing 'The Dresden Dolls' for the first time are examples of this.

I will finish the book today and perhaps write a lot more about it, I'm just a litle overwhelmed right now at how perfect it is.

"Much has been said about Robert, and more will be added.  Young men will adopt his gait.  Young girls will wear white dresses and mourn his curls. He will be condemned and adored.  His excesses damned or romanticized.  In the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artists.  It will not fall away.  Man cannot judge it.  For art sings of God, and ultimately belongs to him."

10 Mar 2011

Working on a merkin...

a few actually. Today I will be making lots of lovely vagina wigs. I have gathered all my materials and the sewing machine is out.

The plan is to use as much of the materials I had access too/fetched. I will stay true to my initial ideas and the fashion aesthetic I want to work with. However I'm sure there will be huge disasters and pleasant surprises.

Fingers crossed! I'm excited!

8 Mar 2011


A lot of my influences are obvious. Everyone and there dog knows that Amanda Palmer is my ultimate influence in life. For various reasons. Its also easy to spot artists I draw from when you see my work, but I want to take a minute to share my love for the not so obvious influences.

Starting with the classic John Hughes movie, 'Pretty in Pink':

and then some MGM musicals. I really wanted to watch Anchors Aweigh last night but it wasn't in its box (tisk tisk)

so we watched my favourite 'On the Town'

To finish we watched 'Singing in the rain'. I think although a popular choice and the main song being quite frankly overrated in comparison to other songs in it. it really is magical. And I enjoy the story line as well as the mad crazy dancing. Why don't people dance like this anymore?

My favourite song is this one:

Everything in its right place.

There comes a point in every blog where a certain level of honesty and trust is recognised. I think it's fair to say I'm not one to hold back in this sort of situations and I like to combine my personal life with my professional life. I'll be the first to say that when it comes to me, the line is so blurred its actually more of a gradient. I'm happy with that. I know myself well and my limits, I don't think I ever cross into embarrassing/cringe territory of truth. I hope (?) ...

With that said, I made a decision.

I quit my job, It's more of a leave of absent - a "break" is what we're calling it. With all the cuts and council in a mess I can see this being indefinite though. I have mixed feelings about this but there was such a huge wave of relief after my discussion with my boss that all other feelings hardly register.

Honestly... I'm not happy. And I'm finding it so hard to just say, so there it is.

I'm incredibly grateful for all I have, I'm so connected and in love with what I do and where I am in the art world. I would never give that up or jeopardise it, just to surrender to any mental illness/emotional disorder. I know I'm a strong person but there really are no ways to describe what depression can do to your head and physically too.

7 years ago I was first hospitalised with mental illness that was diagnosed as manic depression and PDSD. I spent 3 weeks on a ward. It was a truly terrifying experience, not just for me but my family too. I promised myself I would NEVER allow something to overcome me as strongly as that did.

With the burden comes a blessing. My determination and will. Not only to overcome, but to succeed and live. I believe that's what I've done ever since.

So to take it back to now, Its spotting things early enough to control it. I know I couldn't continue the way I was so I have to take a step back from the stress of work. It wasn't fair on anyone to be there. Today is my last shift and its with my film making group. We're lucky to have the support of SHMU. That way I know the group will continue and the young people will get a lot from it. All the same it will be hard.

Money will be so tight, and the summer will be a worry but for comedy value, here is a list of all the ways me and Steph have considered making money:

* Obviously first - sell commercial type photographic work, or fine art works, or book in a few children photo shoots. I wont do another wedding though.

* Sell things on Ebay.

* Play online poker. (I'm actually good at poker)

* Steph will play online *cough*Bingo*cough*

* Set up a day tarot reading phone line.

* use said phone line to run sex phone line at night.

* Become lab rats for medical science.

In all seriousness though, money will be a problem but its not something we are going to worry about to much. I've decided to drop my contract phone now that its ending and we will eat tesco value vegetable stir fry for 6 months.

I'm just grateful to be where I am, with the people I know and love. A weight has shifted and I feel like I can concentrate a bit better already.

Now I will bury this blog deep within the rest :) 

6 Mar 2011

Keith Edmier

Doing some research today and I came across this.

Keith Edmier shows himself inside his mother’s womb in "Beverly Edmier, 1967."

Pissing in the river.

This week  has been quite slow but with a few very nice moments and good news too, which has given me a wee boost.

I'm really excited about some of my ideas now. I can see things forming in new ways. They seem to come from a more mature place but carry a fun element. I just think I'm understanding a lot more now - about what I'm working with and also how I work with them.

The studio seems to be quite busy with a lot of great ideas kicking about. I think the crit is going to be a good one, I can't wait to see what everyone's been working on.  Fingers crossed I can get what I want to show finished for it.

The sun has been out this week, It makes me smile. I've been wearing my canvas shoes. It feels so nice to walk around feeling the ground beneath me. I think I've really needed that feeling.

Yesterday I cleaned... A LOT! I enjoy cleaning, it helps me think but I can also get quite obsessed. Never the less I went for it yesterday. It was almost as though I was cleaning out my mind of all the shit blocking any real flow. Steph has been quite ill this week so I've been 'nurse Laura' too. Sorting all our stuff out has helped her too. She hates cleaning. We have quite a large room in the flat we share just now. Its huge, we have like our own floor so it kinda feels like we have our own house again. I miss our old house. Anyway I sorted out our room into sections. I made Steph her own work area, she's always complaining my cameras are all over the place. So now she has the whole desk for writing. I also organised our books, Made a wee library of sorts. I made myself a work area but its' more about having all my materials in one place and wall space to look at my work. I'm trying to get out this bedroom studio routine. The next two weeks are going to be about getting out and into the studio and things.

Today is all about getting myself organised for tomorrow. I wanted to get my mind straight so this week can be busy and hands on without to much questioning. I also wanted to update my blog so I could get all my thoughts out and carry on. Job done *tick*

Steph has been reading some Kathy Acker and thought I would really like her work. I do. Its tremendous but quite difficult to read, both in subject and style.

"I'm no longer a child and I still want to be, to live with the pirates. Because I want to live forever in wonder. The difference between me as a child and me as an adult is this and only this: when I was a child, I longed to travel into, to live in wonder. Now, I know, as much as I can know anything, that to travel into wonder is to be wonder. So it matters little whether I travel by plane, by rowboat, or by book. Or, by dream. I do not see, for there is no I to see. That is what the pirates know. There is only seeing and, in order to go to see, one must be a pirate."
Kathy Acker

I am listening to Patti Smith today. Here she is live with 'Pissing in the river':