At the start of the challenge, we got together in groups. As I was away on honeymoon at the time, I was teamed up with a group of 5 people I'd not met from across the university, which was fine by me and we agreed on the team name "Desperate Disparates" to show that we were a rag tag bunch of chancers.
I was really looking forward to getting started, and at the beginning of the challenge, the team leader sent an email around with our first team challenge, hoping to get us bonding.
"So," he said, "Who wants to try and make a logo for our team?"
Being the creative type, I decided this would be a good idea for me to have a go, and I figured that I'd get the first one out and let the others catch me up. So I started by doing a quick search for "Silhouette walker" and found an image of a silhouette of a woman walking a dog. I found the dog a little dull, so I looked for a monkey instead, cut the monkey out and put it on the end of a lead. A few tweaks later and I had the final creation ready to go, which I sent out to the whole team.
About half an hour later, I got an email back from one of the (female) participants, which was a reply to all that said something like
"I think this is an awful logo. Not to mention it's sexist"
I was aghast. I knew it wasn't the best work I'd done, but a reply to all email accusing me of being sexist?! I looked closely at the logo a few times trying to work out what I'd done wrong. I asked my colleagues at work and nobody could see anything wrong with it.
I then asked someone else, a black girl, who saw nothing at all wrong with it. When I mentioned that it had offended someone she scratched her chin and said "Oh yes! I see. It could be racist if you think about it. That woman is walking a monkey, which could be said to show white superiority over blacks!"
D'oh! What a minefield!
Anyway, I decided to let this blow over, and have never met the group I'm meant to be walking with, choosing instead to walk with my wonderful wife, who knows full well I'm neither racist nor sexist.
Then, this weekend, I was watching BBC iPlayer, and noticed a documentary about the Impressionist painters in France, which piqued my curiosity. The documentary talked about Georges Seurat, who painted scenes using lots of dots of colour. This technique of using points of colour was called "pointilism" and the commentator spoke about some of his best works, Bathers at Asnieres and Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
Immediately when they showed this picture, I was drawn to the woman with the parasol. She looked almost identical to my silhouette right down to having a monkey on a lead!
Apparently this latter piece, Seurat's most famous, was also a social commentary. According to Webexhibits
The Grande Jatte makes use of symbols. A monkey in French (and female) is known as “singesse,” denoting a prostitute. The smartly dressed woman is fishing — but for what? Then, as now, spectators have questioned Seurat’s meaning.
This agreed to what the narrator on the BBC had to say. Apparently "singesse" was a well known French slang term for prostitute in the 19th century! The woman with the monkey on the lead was, by extension, a prostitute! So there we have it. Apparently my piece, by some freak accident, was indeed as sexist as you can get!
*sigh* How was I to know I had a French art historian in the group...
Me and Elena went to a Polymer clay meetup yesterday and I made this necklace.
We beaded the whole thing then went and made leaves from Fimo polymer clay.
This was my first ever Fimo clay creation and I'm really proud of it!
A few years ago I made it into the Liverpool papers so I figured I should take a look there as well as on flickr.
To my huge surprise, I saw not me, but Elena, my wife on the site instead!
Here's only a small selection...
24 by Okami
Zentangle by Laura Podob
Trophy wife by Nhigh
61 by Mim4art
Little Big Stories - Graphic Narrative on a small scale"
Can you tell a story in words and pictures and fit it on a postcard? If so we want to see your stories!
As part of the graphic novel season at Westminster libraries, Westminster libraries and my REAL wall are holding a mailart show at Pimlico library, where we want to display postcard sized stories from YOU!
All of your "Little Big Stories" will go on display in Pimlico library in London for 2 weeks.
Full details can be found at The Westminster Libraries Blog. The deadline is March 11, 2011 and to submit work, just send your pieces to
Graphic Novel Mail Art Show
c/o my REAL wall
PO Box 63138
All pictures of the show and build up will be on my REAL wall
On the train home tonight I picked up a copy of London's Evening Standard and felt the need to take a pair of scissors and cut out all the headlines just to see what they looked like laid on top of each other.
Up til now I'd not yet made 2 pieces at once, but i'm 10 days or so behind in my own project so I wanted to make one piece I could pass off as 2, so I wanted to start by pasting all the newspaper headlines on a large card and cutting it in half.
Short of this I had no other ideas.
However, when I got home and started cutting, I couldn't help but read the headlines, and after a while I started to get a little depressed. All the larger type headlines were all totally grim or negative, with smaller title headings reserved for happier stories it seemed. It was as if the editor had hand picked the disasters and made them more important and news-worthy.
By the end of cutting out all the headlines I was thoroughly down and decided that the challenge of this piece was to make something beautiful from the monotone gloom that had jumped out of these pages, using only the raw material that the Evening Standard provided.
Luckily I like travelling and this cartoon air hostess was nice and colourful and the thought of 3 nights in Budapest cheered me up.
Think HAPPY thoughts editors, think HAPPY thoughts for goodness sakes!
So what else can get us over the doom and gloom of everyday news?
Why drink of course!
Wondering who to send this to, I decided it made most sense to send this to the editor of the Evening standard. No point us talking about how depressing the news is and not taking affirmative action I say!
I found the address in print on the letters page and was just about to write it out, when I thought "Chuh! Where's the fun in that?!"
Cue digging out the Evening standard and creating a "Ransom Note"
I've added my REAL name and phone number on the off chance they might want to publish it, but I suspect that I'm more likely to get a visit from the police.
I'll keep you posted...
Today me and Elena went out and bought a shape cutter, so I wanted to try it out and make a frame
Today's simple card is made from a very old photo I found in a box in Camden town last year framed in a piece of craft paper with old writing.
The words are from an Aerosmith tune. Paula sampled Aerosmith earlier, and with the historical theme, this could only be destined for her postbox!
Paula, the other side of this card is mildly collaged with pages you've sent, so the surprise isn't totally spoilt by posting here!
This is a bit of a 2 in one, as I'm a week behind, but I made the envelope for "In the Treetops" this morning and thought it was good enough to merit it's own number.
Here's to you Okadascat!
This little gem I made entirely from scraps of paper I've been collecting. I cut the face out from a newspaper this week, then sat down with it tonight and the rest of the piece just fell in place. Brown paper bag, purple card wrap and green card embossed in green glitter for the leaves.
This is going to one of my favourite artists in the whole world, Okadascat
Rani recently left a request for some photos to pimp, so enclosed herein are some photos I have printed out and find no use for, winging their way over to Minneapolis for that Rani pimpin!
I have used this tracing paper stencil of my friends under the front door arch at Canterbury cathedral in earlier pieces.
I didn't want to use the stencil again and wanted to incorporate it into a piece, so I glued it to a postcard with some interesting background.
The background was too dark so you couldn't see the shapes of the stencil, so I decided to go over it in Tippex. The effect was quite pleasing, but I must remember that Tippex isn't a fine medium!
Another miracle of natural design, the polar bear, this gigantic beast can somehow disguise itself against it's background and sneak up on its prey. Imagine having this thing sneak up on you, you'd feel like a bit of a fool right!
I have a little fear that has niggled at me for a while.
When people are accused of being racist, they usually hold up their hands and say "I can't be racist, I have LOADS of black friends!" in their defence.
I have plenty of black friends too, and therefore using this logic I can't possibly be racist. However, I do have no Jewish or gay friends and therefore I fear that people perceive me to be bigoted, anti-semitic and a homphobe. If asked I would point out that I have a few lesbian friends, but I get the impression this will only count against me.
I have been thinking of going to Bar Mitzvahs and gay clubs and approaching people. You can imagine the scene.
"Hello sir, are you gay?"
"Yes of course, this is the Pink Rainbow club and I'm wearing tight leather trousers"
"Great. Will you be my friend?"
This sexy little number (36) is going (obviously) to Frank Warren at Postsecret.
On a purely technical note, I was well pleased that the only word that managed to come out readable was the word "straight" I didn't notice this until I'd finished. Talk about serendity huh!
I want to try and economise on the amount of work taht goes into a piece by duplicating motifs where possible (although the repeating motif in piece 27 actually took ages to do)
I used tracing paper as usual on this one, but wanted to have Elena sitting on the beach with a twin sister (hey I gotta have my fantasies right...?)
Specifically I wanted them to look identical but not quite, so I retraced the hand in the reflection before scoring it for the final piece
Quick pencil sketch of some monkeys from September of the 2010 nature calendar on the wall at Elena's parents house.
Eyes are damn hard to do
While I was in Romania, the tabloid press were going wild over the exhumation of former crazy dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (told you they have too many vowels in Romanian didn't I Postmuse?)
Apparently, rumours have been flying around that his body was not buried, but perhaps taken out and chewed apart by dogs or somesuch, so his son took the metaphorical spade out and held a little family reunion.
When they popped the graves open, apparently Nicolae was still in pretty good shape, with his hair and everything looking like he was a regular Head and Shoulders user, but his wife Elena was not much more than a set of gold teeth.
DNA evidence apparently proved that they were indeed both dead.
Not one to let the tracing paper outline to go waste, I thought I'd mix and match today with some fineline pen action using the traced outline from piece 30 over some collaged maps and newspapers from Brasov.
The lady in the photo was apparently some really famous Romanian lady from Elenas youth and she was spotted in a Mongolian dress around town recently apparently.
Probably the nicest thing about this piece is the eye in the top right hand corner. As me and Elena sat making mailart, Elenas mum came in with this tiny little eye and said "I found this on the floor shortly after you left last time. I assume it's yours, although I haven't the faintest idea what it does. Here, take it back, you may be able to make use of it!"
And I did so straight away
"While in Romania, try and pick up some Romanian stuff and incorporate it into your mailart", I thought. Some little trinkets of cultural and geographical significance would be a good start, so I rooted through for things that I think of as Romanian, as an outsider, when I come to the country.
Obviously I had to put in a bit of map and a bit of newspaper, celebrating the New Year (Revelion), then I thought I'd cut out an Orthodox saint.
In the God-fearing family home this is apparently not a good thing to do I am told, and this piece was one that we didn't proudly display at the end of our trip to the folks. Heck I do still want to get married to her in March as planned!
At the start of 2010 we decided to keep track of all the money we found and tot it up at the end of the year. Whenever the change got a little unmanageable we swapped it for a larger denomination, but didn't spend or add a penny. Here's the total for 2010
Today was recycling day in Kew and Elena, not being one to see good cardstock and collage images going to waste picked up a whole bunch of Christmas cards due for the tip. This should be fun to create with!