Category Archives: Art

April 10, 2016

March Favourites

Papworth family in Flaine, March 2016March seemed so long when we were in it, so I can’t believe we’re already 10 days into April! I spent wonderful weekends in Bath and Oxford with friends and a week skiing in the French Alps with my family. My London-based recommendations are a little thin on the ground this month, but I still have plenty to share…

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February 14, 2016

Indie Mags: The Lifted Brow

The Lifted Brow issue 28 cover

Welcome back to my ‘Indie Mags’ series! I’ve got a big pile of magazines I’ve been reading over Christmas and January that I can’t wait to share with you. First up, is The Lifted Brow, a quarterly Australian magazine of literature, design and visual art. It’s also the first magazine sent to me through my STACK subscription – a Christmas present from my fiancé Dan!

The Lifted Brow is probably not something I would have picked up or ordered myself, so I’m glad STACK are helping to push me out of my comfort-zone of adventure/travel/lifestyle independent magazines to discover new ones.

The Lifted Brow with stack packaging January 2016

The Lifted Brow We hope your day is as nice as your bum

The Lifted Brow is actually an Australian literary organisation, with their main publication being the eponymous The Lifted Brow magazine. As they are largely publish Australian writers’ and artists’ work, there were some references that were lost on me – however, it was so refreshing to have an Australian viewpoint and a whole new pool of literary and artistic talent to discover!

The Lifted Brow refugee article The Lifted Brow Vile Bodies cartoon and story The Lifted Brow poems on black background The Lifted Brow cartoons inside issue 28

It was really exciting to see so many cartoons in The Lifted Brow, a narrative form that often is viewed as ‘childish’ and is neglected in print for adults. I believe comics are the fusion of storytelling and art and I really enjoyed how The Lifted Brow used them so effectively to explore challenging topics like refugees’ experiences; a sex and relationship advice column between a mother and son, and philosophical questions such as ‘what is art?’.

I agree with the publisher of The Lifted Brow, Sam Cooney, who says the magazine is for ‘people who want a magazine to attack their minds and not just caress their egos’. There is no pretentiousness to The Lifted Brow, no glossy sheen on either the words, pictures or format. It’s a magazine that feels pulled in so many directions and under so many influences and sort of defies categorisation.

Yet, everything in issue 28 is grouped under the cohesive theme of art: from an article about Elizabeth Gould, a Victorian artist who risked her life to study and draw the Australian birdlife, to the powerful ‘Refugee art project’. So many disparate voices and concerns are joined together in this issue of The Lifted Brow. It’s certainly a magazine that made me think.

The Lifted Brow with Stack mug January 2016


January 24, 2016

Lights On: Lumiere London

Lumiere London Oxford StreetLast week there was a free outdoor light festival on across central London called Lumiere. I popped over to Oxford Street last Saturday, taking advantage of living so close by. I’ve lived in London since April but it still feels strange to me, perhaps because I travel out of London for work, not to need a ‘tourist day out’ to do something touristy any more!

My favourite instillation was the one suspended over Oxford Street. It changed colour gradually, swaying gently and mesmerisingly. The fish/dragon puppets around Regent’s Street were also really fun. We saw a few other exhibits, but, as they were in tight spaces with lots of people moving in and out, it was harder to stop and get drawn in by the artwork.

The festival was produced by Artichoke, and has previously been to Durham and Derry-Londonderry. It was a huge hit in London, and a great way to get out and about in January, so I’m hoping it will come again next winter, or visit other UK cities soon!

Lumiere London Oxford Street over buildingsLumiere London bird boxes light installationLumiere London dragon fish light puppets in skyLumiere London children's drawings in parkLumiere London lights over Oxford Street pink, green and yellow

May 24, 2015

5ftinf Open House & Shed

5ftinf shed

I’ve been following @5ftinf, otherwise known as Philippa Stanton, on Instagram and love her photos of ‘The Table’ where she scatters flower petals, stationery, maps and other lovely vintage objects and arranges them them in pleasing pattern and colour combinations on a big wooden table in her home.

Philippa is an artist based in Brighton and every year exhibits her paintings at home as part of the Brighton and Hove’s Artists’ Open Houses festival in May. Mum and I popped down to Brighton yesterday on the last weekend of the festival to take a peek backstage at our favourite Instagram account.

5ftinf open house

5ftinf open house

In her home, Philippa was exhibiting her paintings, Instagram prints and lovely notebooks and lamps covered with vintage maps, as well as other artists’ wares (Holly Bell’s ceramics, Sophie Abbott’s paintings and Holly Murray’s leather purses were some of my favourites).

5ftinf open house5ftinf open house5ftinf garden

Outside in the back garden there was the fantastic 5ftinf shed to explore! Every year Philippa’s little potting shed is transformed into an art installation. This year was in collaboration with West Elm, a beautiful furniture company, and on the theme of ‘nesting’.

A notice outside the shed explained how the installation was inspired by The Barbican’s ‘Magnificent Obsessions’ exhibition as collecting seems to be a natural inclination for artists. Philippa also explains on her blog that that she experiences colours with more than just one sense due to having synaesthesia and the ordered-by-colour collections are her expression of a safe creative space or ‘human nest’.5ftinf garden5ftinf garden5ftinf shed5ftinf shed

There was so much to look at – from lines of Penguin books arranged in a rainbow of shades, shelf sections with objects and books grouped by colour with lots of harmonising tones, to a nest hanging from the ceiling. I loved spotting the toy cars and vintage tins and pieces of fruit in each colour collection – I don’t know whether it was intentional to have some of the similar objects reflected in other colour sections around the shed. For my Mum, she enjoyed spotting things she remembered from her childhood, like the blue sellotape tin! Everything was all so beautifully and cleverly organised.5ftinf shed5ftinf shed5ftinf shed5ftinf shed5ftinf shed 5ftinf shed 5ftinf shed DSCF2536-1024

5ftinf shed 5ftinf shed

It was so nice to meet Philippa, see ‘The Table’ in real life and experience the inspiring 5ftinf Shed installation. I’m itching to arrange my books in colour order now! 5ftinf shed

5ftinf Instagram
64 Sandgate Instagram (for Philippa’s Artist Open Houses pictures)
5ftinf blog
Philippa Stanton’s website
Brighton and Hove Artists’ Open Houses
5ftinf shop 



March 13, 2015

Is this the end of IdeasTap?

Ideastap charity logo

I had some very sad news delivered to my inbox on Monday. After six years of being an absolutely fantastic arts charity, supporting and funding arts organisations and creatives across the UK, IdeasTap have announced that they’ll be closing on 2nd June.

Set up in 2008 at the beginning of the financial crisis, IdeasTap have become a complete lifeline for young artists, performers, producers, writers and literally any creative to get a foot up in the arts. IdeasTap’s website hosts a community of likeminded people that they offer funding, advertise jobs and opportunities to; provide a ‘Spa’ of training and workshops for – everything from acting skills to marketing; and a constant stream of career advice, articles and case studies from those people already working within the arts. There’s also the opportunity to use IdeasTap’s amazing office space, something which is invaluable to funded arts organisations for whom paying office overheads just doesn’t make any financial sense.

On Monday Peter De Haan, the founder of IdeasTap, explained in The Huffington Post that IdeasTap doesn’t have the funding to continue. But IdeasTap’s 200,000 members aren’t giving up easily and have quickly set up a campaign ‘Save IdeasTap’ to stop the closure from happening. I know first hand that getting experience in the arts isn’t easy, particularly juggling unpaid or part-time opportunities with other jobs that will pay the bills.

If you don’t know about IdeasTap, go and have a look at their website and see all of the fantastic support and advice they provide for emerging artists. If you’re interested the Save IdeasTap campaign they have a website, Twitter and Facebook group to get involved with by writing to your MP, brainstorming ways to save the charity or organising an event to raise awareness.

As the government make heavy cuts to the arts, the closure of IdeasTap is a clear impact of those decisions, one that will only further discourage people from following a creative career. I just hope that we don’t have to wait until there’s none left to see the value of arts and culture in our lives!


August 30, 2014

Coastal Currents 2014

Coastal Currents 2014Last year I spent an incredible couple of weekends working at Coastal Currents, a visual arts festival in St Leonards and Hastings and unbelievably it’s back already, running from 29th August – 14th September!

This is the second year Creative Coast and Home Live Art have teamed up to produce Coastal Currents, bringing together local open studios, exhibitions and interactive live art. I really enjoyed my time at Coastal Currents last year (you can read about 2013 events Walking Stories, Worktable, Bodies in Urban Spaces and Boogaloo Stu if you like!). This year looks like it will have just as moving and spectacular artwork, such as Meltdown, Points of View and Kate McGwire. Once I’ve shifted my summer holiday cold (more about that in my next post..) I’ll be going down to see some weekend events.

All the artwork is free and there’s also some great ways to get involved over next weekend such as a bike tour of the open studios. And if you need any more persuading the Blue Dophin Fish Bar in Hastings does amazing fish and chips!

Coastal Currents Visual Arts festival 29th August – 14th September 2014, St Leonards and Hastings. All events are free.

January 27, 2014

500 WORDS 2014

500wordsBBC Radio Two’s annual short story competition for kids, 500 WORDS, is open for submissions again, and, although not eligible to take part, I’m pretty excited about the contest this year!

I listen to Chris Evans’s Breakfast Show on weekday mornings, so last year I caught the hype about 500 WORDS 2013, and read the winning stories on Radio 2’s website. The entries were carefully crafted narratives with moving, surprising and sometimes shocking subjects. I honestly wouldn’t have guessed that such hard-hitting and astutely perceptive stories were written by children aged 13 and under.

The top 50 stories from previous years have since been turned into audio clips read by BBC Radio Drama Company and are well worth a listen!

There are loads of fantastic resources to inspire this year’s young writers on BBC Radio Two’s website and the opportunity to become a judge if you’re a teacher or librarian (or retired teacher or librarian). I wish I was eligible as an English graduate!



October 11, 2013

Willi Dorner’s Bodies in Urban Spaces

The acclaimed choreographer Willi Dorner’s work was showcased at Coastal Currents Festival with ‘Bodies in Urban Spaces’. A sculptural trail of brightly coloured human bodies led us around Hastings performing dynamic shapes in surprising places.

ImageImage ImageImageImageImage


October 2, 2013

Walking Stories at Coastal Currents Festival

Despite managing the bookings for Charlotte Spencer’s Walking Stories project as part of Coastal Currents Visual Arts festival in Hastings, I had no real idea of what to expect when I met the other participants at the beautiful Alexandra Park last weekend.

Beforehand, I’d watched Charlotte’s film about the project in Coastal Currents’ pop-up cinema where she explained that the idea for the participatory performances came after her brother created an audio treasure trail for her. It did feel a bit like a treasure hunt with audio clues as we suspended our own decisions and followed the spoken instructions. It wasn’t a traditional hunt since Charlotte had planned no destination for us to reach; the experience of the journey was what we were seeking.

Around twenty other participants and I formed a temporary community once we had put our headphones on and we began a journey together from one end of Alexandra Park to the cafe in the middle. Our mp3 players were synced together and provided us with our own internal soundtrack of brilliant music and gentle spoken instructions, and also an invisible thread that joined us together as a collective.

Gradually, it became clear that we were all small elements of this larger group. Some people’s audio tracks told them to wait while others urged them forwards. We separated and came together multiple times during the hour long walk. Towards the end of the walk, the destination seemed to fold inwards and exist within the group as we ran or walked in a circular formation together. Our world was momentarily defined by the boundaries of the group, rather than a fixed point on the horizon.

I found this a totally different unique way to experience the environment of the park. Instead of using pre-existing landmarks such as the bandstand, paths and trees to trace our journey, we created our own. I looked back at a space –  where we had paused to gather objects of interest: leaves, grass, flowers and discarded trail tickets and created pathways between our piles of objects with more leaves, grass and twigs – and was surprised that we had travelled only a few hundred yards. Rather than travel in a straight line we’d used the space in such surprising ways to get to our next destination that it felt like we had travelled much further.

I felt held together as part of a temporary community by the audio track but also very separate, unable to communicate verbally with anyone else as the headphones blocked out other sounds and I was concentrating on the instructions I was given. This juxtaposition heightened my senses; I noticed the scent of flowers, the way the current pulsed the water though a stream, the enjoyment on a man’s face as he spun on the spot and fell to the ground laughing. One woman remarked to me after the performance that the headphones gave us a feeling of protection,.we felt able to be silly, explore and respond to our environment in new ways as we were protected from feeling self conscious by the headphones and rest of the group.

There seems to be no simple way to interpret Walking Stories. It made me think a lot about journeys and made me examine how we usually think about the journeys we take and the narrative of our lives as linear experiences. The narration of Walking Stories asked me to think about the tracks we were making and the tracks that had been made before and it got me thinking about how we were making tracks in the earth and listening to an audio track in our ears that was setting the pace for our journey. We imprinted our invisible tracks on top of other peoples, and this is true for the audio track that I listened to as well; it has been listened to before and will be listened to again.

I’d love to take part in Walking Stories again if I get the chance. It was meditative, creative, relaxing and exhilarating all within one free hour of roaming in an outdoor space with some very comfortable headphones on my ears. Charlotte Spencer’s website is the best way to find out about upcoming participatory performances of Walking Stories (although she doesn’t have any further events listed at the moment) and to find out more about her inspiring creative work.