helenic: (inspiral)

A couple of weeks ago I did facepainting at Planet Angel for the first time since December last year. I had a moment last week when I was saving [personal profile] olithered's photos of our Glastonbury installation to my hard drive (I still lament the loss of mine, but it is excellent to have some at all). I opened my "art" folder, looked for the "2009" subfolder, and realised that I hadn't created one yet. I hadn't done a single artwork so far this year.

Facepainting at Angel reminded me of that. Everyone commented how long it's been since they've seen me; it was the first time I'd worked it this year. I went to the Party in March with Denny, but wasn't crewing, and working Planet Angel is like working Glastonbury: a completely different and more rewarding experience, albeit on a smaller scale. The break was good for me, though. When they invited me to come back (due to a long story which resulted in the regular facepainter being forcibly ejected and told never to darken their doors again) I managed to negotiate shorter hours - 11pm-3am rather than 10pm-5am- with [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii taking the second half of the night from 2-5am. This made the whole experience far more pleasant for everyone; I didn't get over-tired, bored and cranky with the punters I was painting, and I got to dance and see people, and it was lovely.

It was a good weekend to go back, as loads of friends were there I hadn't seen in ages: [livejournal.com profile] anarquistador, back from Australia for a couple of weeks for the first time since he went home over year ago; [livejournal.com profile] bluedevi, [livejournal.com profile] innocent_irony who I hadn't seen since the Stonehenge rite we went to for [personal profile] bard's 30th; [livejournal.com profile] tephramancy who has been hermitting the last couple of months, and Laura WINOLJ, who is my ongoing unrequited PA girlcrush, and who I hadn't seen since the last time I was there. After I finished working, it was lovely to sit out in the garden with the girls, also including [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and her friend Jenny: all awesome women from completely different areas of my life, none of whom I see often enough. We smoked and gossiped and laughed and talked about some surprisingly intimate and difficult things, and it was affirming and brilliant.

The other thing that made that Planet Angel particularly fantastic was the music. I kept walking through rooms just as a classic tune was coming on. After I'd finished working I wandered into the Meltdown Room just in time for some happy 90s anthems that just made me bounce and grin like a loon; I caught Cellardore's Adagio for Breaks as I was heading out of the crew area through the Funky Room, and had to stop and dance to it. Then I decided to head out and find my people in the garden, so I went back to the crew area to get my jumper. As I came down the steps, laden with my bag and outdoor clothes, Cellardore was playing his filthy drum and bass Baker Street mix, and I just dumped my coat on the edge of my dancefloor and started skanking like a loon; he segued straight into his Tubulur Bells mix, even dirtier than the one before, like some sort of fantastically feel-good nostalgia session. After that finished I decided to keep going and get outside, but as I stepped into the Ibiza Bar an extended d&b remix of Faithless' Insomnia came on, so once again I dumped all my stuff on the floor and threw myself into it with abandon.

Cellardore's stuff isn't available for sale yet, but he's signed to Acidic Records (run by some friends-of-friends) and there should be something released soon. I adore everything I've ever heard him play. It's driving, filthy, melodic, bass-led mixes of classical and breaks and jazz and just, he explodes genre and the rhythms make your brain fizz and your heart jump and your blood sing; it makes me want to dance and laugh and punch things and close my eyes and cry, all at the same time. I have spent most of today streaming his stuff on repeat. Listen for yourself, let me know what you think.

helenic: (Default)

I've had "Write dw post about Glastonbury/OG/EVERYTHING" on my to do list for two weeks now, and I need to do work in the remaining computer hours of today rather than write one, and those of you who are on Twitter and FB know the gist anyway. But I've just written a catch-up email to a friend, which I thought I may as well copy and paste bits here as a placeholder sort of thing:

--

Glastonbury: I was there! It was awesome! Pendulum rocked my little world. Although I came home with no phone, which I don't really mind except when I need to make calls. The only thing I'm really gutted about is that all my Glastonbury photos were on it, including all the ones I carefully took of our art installation because I forgot to take decent pics of it last year, and really regretted not having them for my website. So that's a bit shit. Waiting to hear back from the lost property people before I declare it properly lost, but I have insurance, so I should be able to sort out a replacement as soon as I decide it's worth doing.

I am indeed well: I discovered on Monday that my long-term design contract with OG is still ongoing, despite my premonitions of doom, and they didn't try and lower my rate or anything, I just got a bit of a telling off for putting them bottom of the priority list during the last few hectic months. Which was perfectly fair, and now they're my only contract hopefully the next few months will be less hectic? Although given Denny is relying on me to go into business with him, and expects me to do a reasonable proportion of the work, when I already have a zillion careers and he's relying on this for his sole income, I suspect that hope is a vain one.... still, going into business with Denny! I have been trying to talk him into teaming up with me for web development awesomeness for ages, so yay for that. Now I just need to make the website, which I am in fact meant to be doing right this second.

Speaking of boyfriends though, Glastonbury was AWESOME for me and Chris, we just sort of walked around in a dazed whirl of me going "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE HERE" and him going "I'M SO GLAD YOU BROUGHT ME" ,and he had a whale of a time making benches out of split log with his BARE HANDS (v manly, esp considering a week's growth of festival beard), and we spent ages in the green crafts field learning to turn wood with pedal-powered lathes and make paints out of earth and similar hippyish pursuits, and mostly we were just looking at everything going "we can do that! in fact, we will!" and working out when is the soonest we can afford to move out of London and build an eco-home. It was awesome.

And then I got back to London and, rather than last year when I had total culture-shock and got really depressed at how my life is totally unlike Glastonbury and I just wanted to live there forever, this year I came home to my blooming shady garden and good career prospects and Denny being sweet to me, and my mum gave me homebrewed elderflower champagne and John Seymour's book on self-sufficient farming and homemaking for my birthday, and reading that totally eased re-entry. So, I am feeling actually kind of well-adjusted and like my life is going in the right direction, which is brilliant.

--

Now, I should get cracking with that website. There's lots more to say about Glastonbury, but I don't actually know if anyone's interested, so if you're desperate to know more let me know, and I will try to find the time and energy to write something. Perhaps even before next year's festival. Miracles might happen.

helenic: (Default)

Stef replied to my cringing email apologising for not sorting out her Glastonbury ticket refund with laughter, hugs and reassurances. I called to check that you can't transfer ownership, but she's confident we'll work something out one way or another. She still hasn't sent me her photo ID picture, but perhaps she doesn't have it. I'm barely in touch with her, so I'm just going to have to leave that one till she gets back to me.

I did finally chase up the Glastonbury people about whether our crew tickets were confirmed. Which was very interesting: I had a long and fruitful chat which I wish I'd had a few weeks ago, but apparently someone was meant to get in touch with me and the message got lost along the way. Filthy hippies.

We've been allocated to the Green Futures Field to do general field decoration as an independent team. The Green Futures Field is the campaign central: lots of charity and NGO stalls, eco issues, everything based on sustainable energy with lots of info on that. Stef apparently asked them for six tickets, so they've assumed that we have six people able to turn up and make something beautiful. I don't know if Stef had anyone in mind but we need to confirm names by Wednesday.

They want our team to arrive on Sunday 22nd June, giving us three days until the festival opens to the public on Wednesday 25th. They can provide space for us to camp together and some food, but we'll basically need to self-cater. Then we'll be going crazy on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday making the field as beautiful as we can - he wasn't very clear on the details of this but it sounds like any ideas we have on how to use the space will be valuable - there might be someone there directing us, there might not. They can provide some materials but any we can bring with us would be useful. There'll be fences and banners to paint, grottos to fill with interesting sparkle, and basically a huge four-acre space to make as pretty as we can, presumably with the help of other teams.

Everything needs to be ready to launch by Wednesday 25th, so we need our bit to be presentable by then, although we can add to it over the next few days if we fancy it.

I've emailled all this to Stef, because I'm not actually sure if she realised how much time she'd be needed for and I don't know if she has that much leave. The other question is, who's going to take the other four tickets? I'm hoping Simon will be up for one, although I haven't managed to get through to his phone to ask him yet. If any of you fancy spending the days leading up to Glastonbury making pretty things, in exchange for a free ticket and the whole festival free to enjoy yourselves, let me know!

I'm really glad this is actually happening, especially as I still haven't heard back from the Secret Garden Party and I don't want to put loads of work into Glitterbugs if we don't actually get to do it, but on the other hand we're getting increasingly pushed for time ... I'm wondering if we could actually use a lot of the Glitterbugs ideas for the Green Futures field, and then ship it all back to London and finish it up in time for the SGP three weeks later.

So it's good to get it finally confirmed. But it does leave a whole host of other questions. Especially if Stef can't actually get the time off work - I don't think she'd realised it would be a whole week away. I'm definitely up for this one even if she can't make it - a week messing around with paint in a field with a bunch of hippies sounds like EXACTLY the holiday I need. Assuming I can pull a team together, that is. Go on, you know you want to. We might even be able to hire a van and split the cost between us - Simon could possibly drive it - to make getting there easier and save us lugging art supplies and tents on the train. Plus it's my birthday on the Saturday of the festival itself, and now I know my crew job will have finished by then, I intend to PARTY. Come and help me? :)

EDIT: More than enough offers now, thankyou to everyone who's commented! I'm going to have enough trouble working out who to take up on their offer as it is ... although if any of you don't end up on our team and are still desperate to do it, feel free to organise yourselves and email Sam at gff dot org dot uk to register your interest :)

helenic: (polkadot!)

A couple of weeks ago I went over to the warehouse to help Stef paint her bedroom. The warehouse is a huge, bohemian space in Hackney with twelve residents. The landlord is in the music industry; bought the place as a shell and built all the rooms inside. Downstairs is the basement, bike store and recording studio; upstairs is a huge communal open-plan lounge and kitchen space, bordered with mismatched sofas and one wall lined with a long, heavy wooden banquet table. The windows stretch up to the ceiling, eclectic bits of furniture skirt the edges of the room (including leather-upholstered folding chairs of the kind one might expect to find in an early 20th century bus or cinema, a bunch of old-school lockers, odd little chests of drawers and a couple of bookcases) and there are half-finished canvasses propped up all around the walls. The roof is slanted and a high ceiling is measured by wooden beams stretching through the middle of the space.

The bedrooms are tesselated into corners, no floor or ceiling the same height as another. The walls and floors are constructed out of wood and chipboard; metal beams and staircases lend an industrial, futuristic feel. Some of the rooms are enormous, stretching from front to back of the warehouse. There is a communal bathroom downstairs, dark-tiled with a huge tropical plant with rubbery dark green leaves taking up the whole of one corner. The bath is free-standing on four ornate feet; at the first warehouse party I came to it was candlelit and strewn with rosepetals. There's a tiny cabin shower-room upstairs with a perpetually damp floor, and Stef's room is next to this. She travels so much that she needs somewhere with low enough rent that she can afford to keep the room while she's out of the country. Her room is a bed-width space tall enough to stand in, with awkward metal rungs leading up the wall beside the window to a cabin bed built into the very rafters of the building. Bed above, bed-sized space underneath. That's it. There's no furniture except a low shelf/desk space under the window, made out of chipboard resting on car tyres. The walls are covered in paint, mannequins draped with chunky African jewellry, and clothes are bundled everywhere.

She shows me some of her artwork - postcard prints of minutely detailled, decorative art. Figurative studies in the style of henna tattoos, every inch of paper covered with tiny, beautiful decorative designs that shape the contours of body and background. Some are layered with translucent paper bearing subtly different designs, the visible layers combining to create three-dimensional structure. She works in pen and ink, calligraphy ink, acrylic and glass paint. The walls downstairs in her cabin are already sprawling with paint in similar designs. Birds and tiny figures are glimpsed among the endless floriate swirls and spirals. The resulting effect is reminiscent of illustrated manuscripts. She wants to paint the tiny, angular walls above the upstairs bed.

navigating the space )

tea dragons

Apr. 4th, 2008 03:52 pm
helenic: (Default)

Stef came round on Wednesday to stay up all night making a big painty mess, which is something I haven't done in far too long. I finally got the chance to play with the beautiful set of Chinese watercolour brushes which [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl and [livejournal.com profile] mejoff gave me the winter solstice before last, and which I've carefully carried with me ever since, but been too scared to start using them without feeling like I knew what I was doing. Stef randomly gave me two similar brushes (although without the cunning changeable tips), a roll of linen-soft watercolour paper and a block of ink, which were the missing ingredients I'd been waiting for. She also gave me the confidence to just start messing around with it all, reassuring me that it wasn't sacrilegious to use them without knowing the proper brush forms.



Working with beautiful tools has a pleasure all its own. The ink block is embossed with gold and resisted all our attempts to grind it. We tried knives, a pestle and mortar, even smashing it with a hammer, but it appeared to be made of iron or something. We eventually resorted to tipping a bit of water into a saucer and scrubbing the end of the ink block into the water until we got the dilution we wanted, and then basically using it as a watercolour block. The ink has a dry, musty smell reminiscent of mouldy bread.

I made a pot of fruit tea to drink while we were painting, which had a beautiful dusky dark pink colour in the cup. "I want to paint with it," I said in confusion, "but I also want to drink it!" Eventually I realised I could get another saucer and tip some tea into it. The pink colour it left on the paper was lovely and subtle and changed as it dried, fading from a warm crimson pink to a pale rose.





Tea Dragons
Ink and tea on watercolour paper, 28" x 18"
(with Stefania Bounajuti)


They aren't sure which way up they prefer to be, so I've given each of them the limelight in turn.

helenic: (100% acid free.)

These paintings fell out of my head on the Sunday just before New Year's Eve, when I was hanging out at the House of Fun with Denny, Chris and Jay. I was in a strange, solitary, focussed mood, although I'd been grounded very effectively by a beautiful massage from J.

Earlier on in the day I'd been playing with a set of wooden building blocks which [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk and [livejournal.com profile] dakeyras had given me for my birthday the year before last. The little blocks were of London buildings, including generic skyscrapers and icons from the London skyline - the Eye, Big Ben etc. I was setting up skylines along the stripes of J's zebra-print rug as if the white and black pattern represented the Thames and its banks. Along the top of the skylines, I lined up the tiny wooden cars that came with the set, and the buses, which looked to me as if they were elephants.

The image of elephants making their way in a long line along the London skyline hooked my imagination. I moved my game to Denny's glass desk, where the blue light of his binary LED clock cast strange, futuristic light along the little wooden streets I was creating, reflecting from the glass and back up on the pale wood as if the city was floating in a black lake. We had Mirrormask playing soundlessly on the big flatscreen monitor (with psytrance providing a weirdly appropriate soundtrack), and as the images on the screen changed so did the light bathing my little apolocalyptic landscape in beautiful, otherworldly hues. I tried to capture the effect by borrowing J's camera, but I'm not sure if any of them came out well. I'll get the photos off him this weekend and go through them. Later that evening, though, after a pleasingly zen game of Sac Noir, I had a strong urge to play with paints, so Denny set me up on the floor with the carpet protected by a old duvet. I painted for several hours straight - I'm not sure how long exactly. I've never worked in watercolours before, unless you count the foamy water-based tempura block acrylics we used at secondary school. I'd only brought some with me on a whim - I think the little carry case originated in a bag of unwanted art stuff I inherited from [livejournal.com profile] mostly_a_cat and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn.

These are completely new, for me, in terms of style and medium. They fell out of my head without thinking about what I was doing at all. I don't know if I could recreate this style or if I'm going to try and develop it. But I love it.



I of V: March of the Elephants
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

This version of the image is sketchy and imperfect, but I'm still in love with the idea. There's a germ of children's book here, I think. In my head there's something very powerfully emotive about the image of the elephants picking their way, one by one, across the rooftops of the sinking city at the world's end. I'm not sure where they're going, but I can almost hear their trumpeting.






II of V: Indian Elephant
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

Expanding on the elephant theme. What's the name of those Indian ceremonial robes, the heavily embroidered textiles with mirrored sequins and things? Chris thought it was called jhaldi or jaldi, but Wikipedia hasn't heard of it. Is it Punjabi? Urdu? Anyway, this elephant appears to be wearing some. I don't know where this image came from, but I wish the inside of my head looked like this all the time.






III of V: Pipe Dreams
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

At this point I started making my companions pose for me. They're very long-suffering and patient, my friends are. This is [livejournal.com profile] romauld, for anyone who doesn't recognise him. I love the minimalist, stylised face, but it all went a bit wrong when I added the pipe, it came out far too heavy. I really wanted to do a hookah pipe, but I didn't know what one looked like. Never mind eh. I like the absinthe-chartreuse green, it's very bohemian.






IV of V: Two Headed Dragon
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

I think this my favourite of the lot. It's a portrait of [livejournal.com profile] mr_magicfingers and the conflict I perceive in his personality. I wanted to paint him as a Chinese dragon, and this is what came out. The two heads were an accident - I started with the one on the left, wasn't happy with it, started again on the right and ended up using both.






V of V: Ubuntu Wrangling
Watercolour on primed paper
10" x 14"

[livejournal.com profile] dennyd was installing Ubuntu on his computer (apparently he was getting bored with Debian), so I took advantage of the fact that he was sitting still for more than two minutes to paint him. This tends to happen when you leave people in the room with me for any length of time. At least I didn't paint on him.













Click on the images to view bigger versions. All of these are for sale, and I'm going to be turning at least the second one into prints/greetings cards. Not sure about the others, it depends on interest. If no-one buys them they'll probably end up on the walls of the Pembury along with everything else I'm producing at the moment :)

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