Sunday, 30 December 2012

Eric Ravilious

I quite recently stumbled across the work of Eric Ravilious, (thanks to Robert Macfarlane's, The Old Ways). Ravilious's paintings, especially his South Downs landscapes are incredibly beautiful and his life story is even more so. I've taken the following excerpts from The Old Ways. I can't recommend this book enough, (especially to those of you interested in path-following) it's full of inspiration!

Ravilious was a watercolourist, engraver and muralist, one of the best known English artists of the 1930's, a follower of old paths and tracks, a votary of whiteness and remoteness, and a visionary of the everyday. Strangers called him Eric. Friends called him Ravilious. Close friends called him 'The Boy': a Peter-Panish nickname - a charm against ageing, a chrism against death. He was handsome: an angular face, large dark eyes a sloped nose, dark hair, long fingers always holding brush, pen or cigarette. He liked tennis, billiards, propellers, winter, the shadowlessness  of sea light, northerliness, ceramic, boxwood, crystal and ice. Fastidious but also impetuous, he had a habit of putting his head out of train windows and losing his hat to the wind. 

For most of Ravilious's life, the Downs satisfied his landscape needs. Especially in winter, when beech hangers stood out like ink strokes in a watercolour, they embodied his aesthetic ideal: crisp lines, the fall of pale light on pale land. The Downs, with their soft and equalizing sunlight, their pathways and their loneliness  primed Ravilious's imagination. They informed his whole outlook and way of painting. Through them, he grew to cherish certain landscape characteristics: crisp flowing lines, an aura of detachment from the lived world.  Ravilious always seemed to be slightly somewhere else, as if he lived a private life which did not completely coincide with material existence....' 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Lake

I took this one of the lake at Mercers Country Park today in Surrey. I'm looking forward to going back another time when it's actually open. I sort of had to break in...

Friday, 28 December 2012

Impaled at the Sales

I've been working on another fairly demented monologue. I hope you enjoy this one- told by a young, highly delirious and misunderstood woman named Margo... 

Impaled at the Sales: It Cut Right Through

So look, let me tell how it happened. You're not going to believe it! It was insane. How I came, to find myself in this completely bizarre situation. It was bizarre, even for me. I can see, you're growing impatient, so I'll just get on with it. I'll get on with the story. I should warn you though, it gets a bit gory- in parts. Anyway I found myself at Westfield in Stratford on Boxing day. I don't really know why I was there, of course I never know why I'm anywhere. But I was there, that much is for sure, though I wasn't really there. I don't know. Let me explain, see I suffer from this condition, well that's was my doctor calls it, he calls it a condition. I'd describe it more as a default way of living- a state of unbeing. It's a mission, explaining it. It's 'real' name is depersonalisation. This condition, it's called depersonalisation. That's a chunky word right there, seven syllables, can you believe that? De-per-son-al-i-sa-tion. I'm a de-person and (alisation), that's a negative right? That's what they put in front of bad words like de-sturbed and de-luded and de-pressed. Hmm, I wonder does that mean I'm less than a person? Forget that, let me break it down for you, in other words depersonalisation- it means- being whacked, smacked, out of it, out of your head, kind of already dead, spaced... whatever you want to call it. It comes and goes. You're not going to get it. You're not going to understand. I don't even know why I'm bothering. Oh God, I did it again, didn't I? I went on off on one, a tangent. I'm a rampant blithering fool. Right, let me just get on with it, let me get on with my story. 

So there I was, caught in the crowds at Westfield on Boxing Day. It was noisy, totally and completely manic. I didn't panic. I never do. Nah, I just felt like Zach Braff at the beginning of Garden State, remember when he was sitting on the plane and the music played, that strange Hindi song, faraway and trippy, he just stared on, eyes half open, as everyone around him- the people, they all yelled and screamed and gasped, he showed no emotion, he was spaced out, somewhere else, but then he awoke. In the film, he woke up. But I didn't. In Stratfield, I mean Westford, I mean Westfield, see I just stayed that way- spaced out, displaced, where was I again? Ah yeah, the story. 

I think I was in Top Shop when it happened, or H&M. Honestly I wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. So there I was swaying from side to side in a sea of people; faceless, nameless people and then someone must have pushed me. I'm not talking a gentle push, I'm talking one great big violent mammoth push. Actually it must have been a whole crowd of people. Anyway I felt something go through me. I didn't feel it, because somehow I stopped feeling a long time ago, remember that depersonalisation stuff I was telling you about? I didn't feel it, but I sensed it. Something was wrong, and then I looked down. I looked down in horror (I think it was horror) at the metal hook protruding from my stomach, there was blood, it seeped all around- spreading and staining. I touched it, I touched the parts around the silver, red covered my hands. It was sticky- not nice. To be honest I couldn't remember much pain. Though I imagined it, I imagined it and then it became real. Well not really real, but dream-like real. The closest to real I get. That was the closest to pain I got. It came in waves, the pain, it was a searing pain. It leaped within and I just weeped in sheer terror, I think it was terror, it might just have been what I thought was terror but was really actually something completely different, maybe like relief or ecstasy or maybe it was nothingness, who knows. 

Anyway I remember thinking, and laughing in my head- gosh, what a sad and funny thing, to be here impaled at the sale! By a cold metallic rail, with a hook at its end (no less) and all around the people were still swaying, still moving and grabbing and pushing and pushing and pushing and saying, stuff. Was I the only casualty in that madness, that sadness, I thought? I'm still not sure. But oh it was so sad, the state of the world reflected in that small microcosm. That store. And see the metal slid right through my body, really the body was not mine. But it was still mine. Like, mine. And because of their greed I was just bleeding, bleed, bleed, bleed. Gosh, was it really that necessary, for those people, those nameless, faceless people, to be so unkind for an item of clothing, some fabric weaved together by a poor soul on a different continent, some different world, India or one of them other poor countries like Japan... I mean could that be real. I wonder what real is. Those people, were they being for real? Were they really so fervent and desperate and longing for material. And they call me mad. Gosh, how sad! How. Sad. (I know about sadness.) Sadness, I think, is also another word for depersonalisation. (A less-used one though).

So back to the story, there I was bleeding, in fact by this time a small pool of blood had gathered around my ankles but no one noticed me. Why would they? I don't know what happened then, I screamed, a loud screamed. I screamed out- 'consumers of the world, you have consumed me!' But grab and go! They did not slow, let me tell you that, they sure as heck did not slow. They took NO notice, the bleeding idiots, them crazed fools! Society has rules, you know. And leaving me hanging (literally) is a violation of one of those rules. The men and women (yes both) were all around, and there I was bound to that railing. I was stuck. I was bleeding. The bright lights were feeding into my delirium (another word, for what I've got, I'm sorry I forgot to tell you that one as well) Oh and the noise too, did I mention the noise? It was loud, so loud, that my screams couldn't be heard or fathomed. Dude, I was doomed. Completely! Anyway all this fuss, for some clothes, some cheap clothes and they are so cheap, in a dirty way too, I don't mean to judge I just mean to say, there was a time we didn't care about this stuff. A time before my time perhaps, my nan said. She said it wasn't like this back then, back in them old days. Good days they were, she said. I mean didn't they realise, all those one hundred thousand people in that silly store, that they all looked EXACTLY the same. How lame, is that??

So the pool of blood continued to build by my feet, it rose by a number of inches every few minutes. I was mildly aware, (and I didn't really care) that I was dying. I was dying in a store at the Boxing day sale in Westford, Stratfields. How weird, right? Anyway I sort of felt like a martyr, I thought well hey, at least my dying might change something, when someone does finally notice there's a piece of metal sticking out of my middle and a pool of blood at my feet. So I thought, till then I'll just keep still  Anyway in the end I realised it was just another one of my weird visions. Did I mention, I have visions sometimes? Anyway it was just another episode (a head trip). They come and go. Sort of like my condition. I wasn't martyred. I didn't die, not there, not in Forever 21, it was Forever 21 by the way. I found out afterwards. Ha, that would have been a tragic way to die (even though I'm sort of already dead). Errr, why am I telling you this?

Walk the Dog

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Jumping Bum

This monologue was inspired by the jumping man of Wimbledon. I really enjoyed writing this- hope you enjoy reading it! 
The Jumping Bum

People of this City, do you know me? Of course you do. People of the City, of course you do! I'm that abnormal jumping bum and every night I travel to a different street in this city and I do what I love to do. I do the only thing I know how to do. I jump. You see me jump. You laugh at me. You point too. You watch on. I jump. I jump because I am the jumping bum and because I love jumping. I love drinking whiskey too and eating spoonfuls of sugar, but I like jumping best. That boy needs therapy! Sir, I jump through time and reality and I often jump into different spheres of existing. I jump on your bed- every night when you're not there. I break into your house and I jump on your bed. Sometimes I take my shoes off, sometimes I don't. I won't apologise. 

People of this City, it's all in the jump. Its about how high you can go, how low you can drop- its about the satisfaction of the execution of that one perfect jump. It's the taste of that jump, it tastes so sweet. Oh if only you knew! It's about getting high- naturally, mentally, physically, astronomically and geologically and it's the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane. As I jump, sometimes I looks at your faces, ah the shock, as I quietly speed forwards, your heart jumps, your body follows and then I jump. It's knowing when to jump and what to jump over, you have to pick the right moment. Do you know people,  my raggedy and tangled ginger hair jumps with me, every strand of it, and this old bomber jacket, green and crusty jumps too, it sticks to my body, the muscles tighten and I jump. You're a nut! You're crazy in the coconut! It's that sublime satisfaction I receive; lucid and transitory, of being out the system- your system. Your system of not jumping- of taking strides, walking, maybe running. You're system doesn't allow for you to hop or leap or fart or jump. I do all of these. I take great pleasure from doing all of these. I am a jumper. I jump higher every time. I pounce like a tiger on all those unsuspecting benches and you gazelles look on, innocent human deer, doe-eyed afraid, afraid of jumping and afraid of someone who jumps. People, you are afraid of me! Admit it, you are afraid I will jump on you, or over you. My jumping scares you, it shakes you to the core, some of you at least, maybe a few. How can you be so easily rattled by me. It's just jumping. I'm only jumping. I'm the jumping bum, you see I jump- it's who I am. It's me. I jump I jump. That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic. That boy needs therapy, purely psychosomatic. That boy needs therapy. 

And as I do, jump that is, thousands of images cross this mind, as I leap, the skyscrapers leap too, they uproot, themselves, and the trees and we jump in a line. The pebble falls in and makes a splash, that clever pebble, it jumps into the water and the waters jump up too, millions of drops, they jump, I jump and the sea waves too- one great raging jump, I jump in rage and I when I jump, I see the children on the trampolines in far off countries jump, every coloured child jumps and I jump and I jump and as I jump I feel connected to all those other jumpers, to the droplets of water and the skyscraper in my mind, the rubble flies, it doesn't jump. It thumps you on the head. It knocks you to the ground. You're stumped non-jumper. And do you know, children, I sometimes think of Carlton and Will in Fresh Prince jumping on it. Jump on it. I jump, they jump too, and so do the kangaroos. And I like leaping and dropping and the jockeys on their horses they jump. He was white as a sheet. And he also made false teeth. I jump off ladders at nightfall and cars too- the alarm goes off, noise waves start jumping onwards and onwards and I run. I run and jump. The light jumps too sometimes, them neon lights and the street lights too, they refract, they jump. You people laugh at my jumping but sometimes you're scared too. Did I say that already? Did I say that you're scared I'll jump you. Jump. Life is about jumping. It's about making that jump. Stop being a lump, stop being a silly lump and jump, higher and higher. It feels good. Trust me. I would not lie to you people. I want you to jump once so you will understand what it means. That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic. What it means to jump. I want you to feel that rush you get as you zip down that street through the crowds and you make a jump, any jump and you think about the next one. 

I grab a red-bull or a can of coke or something on the way, nick it, it's in the pocket, that baggy pocket, if I drop it, I'll open the can and that liquid will jump, a frenzy of fizz will run down. Jumping, you see, it's all about building yourself up and letting yourself go. It's a metaphor for life you know. You know it is- my life, your life, the afterlife, the life of a star, the life of a tree. People, don't you know that trees jump, their wooden arms and legs in the wind, but its not the kind of jump you would understand. I jump because I'm happy. I jump because I'm free. I jump because I can. I jump when I need a wee. I have legs. I have strong legs that are good for jumping. They're made for jumping. Life is a series of jumps, fast and unpredictable. It's about breaking away from your oppressive rules, you know what I'm saying. A jump of joy, the decent of loneliness. I go, I go, I go- over bins, over benches, over ladders and over fences- over any obstacle big enough, small enough. Oh it's about the raggedness of the jump- that crazed jerky madness- freeze frame, I stop, I look, I go, I go, I go- like that one superhero. Did I mention it's about being high, mentally and physically high. I sigh, I die, I jump. I jump. I jump. I jump. That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic! I like the darkness, the traffic, the lights, I like the herds of white horses, galloping forwards, with me, thud, thud, thud. Oh it's the release, the freedom. It's passing over another hurdle. I've passed over so many. The challenge, the jump. I am a jumping bum- an Olympiad of sorts. Where are my medals? I bet you stole them!

My thoughts are jumping now, the moon I wonder is it drawing me in. I'm lunar, the tides are jumping, drawing closer, drawing further away. Oh and there goes another shooting stars, it jumps across the sky, a bounding leap and I jump with it and I am a shooting star and I will make it. I jump from the lifeboat to safety, away from death. I jump. There are no boundaries. Sir, care to tell me what better thing there is to do in life than jump? I've jumped all over. Can you think of anything else that talks, other than a person? Hello hello hello hello Ha ha ha ha ha !!!! I jump in my dreams when I sleep. The world jumps with me, one gigantic synchronised jump, seven billion people and we jump and we jump and we all dart and we all search and we all jump. You didn't understand a single word of that, did you?

I sing because I'm free.....

Monday, 17 December 2012

London Wetland Centre

I went along to the London Wetland Centre today with a mate. It was a beautiful day, a bit strange being back though... I didn't realise how much I missed it- the walk through the woodlands, bird-watching in the observatory, hanging out in hides, the people! Ah I guess everything happens for a reason...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Just Another Day in London

A friend, Kim Y and I spent the day together before she headed back to Berlin. We wandered all around London, went to a few exhibitions and watched the sunset over the docklands from a cable car. It was a really beautiful day... Kim Yaged is an award winning writer and photographer and all round cool person! Def worth checking out her work:

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Oxford: City of Dreaming Spires

I went to Oxford with some mates on Saturday. A really beautifully place- we visited the colleges, churches, markets, the museum and even managed to go for a bit of a walk by the canal (by which time it was dark!) It was quite different to Cambridge, but equally stunning I think...

Monday, 3 December 2012

This (Super) Natural City

I went along to visit a few nature reserves today with a mate from the London Wildlife Trust. We went to Addington Hills, Brockley Nature Reserve, Nunhead Cemetery and some chalk grassland sites further South. It was amazing to see such a variation of reserves in one day.

I've been visiting a lot of London sites lately, last week I took a trip to the London Wetlands Centre, East Reservoir and Camley Street Natural Park. It's easy to forget just how many green spaces there are in London! Def worth venturing out to discover some of them. Think this might be my favourite photo of the day...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Death: A Self-Portrait

A friend took me along to see this exhibition at the Welcome Collection today. Quite strange actually, I've been thinking a lot about death lately (as you do!) and to see this exhibition really brought home some of the ideas that have crossed my mind, from the transience of life and the certainty of death and to social attitudes towards mortality. I found Room 3 on 'Violent Death' to be particularly disconcerting. I studied Goya's work quite closely whilst undertaking the course Art, War and Terror at Goldsmiths and found his work to be horrifying but enthralling at the same time. Anyway I'd really recommend a visit. The exhibition is on till the end of February. I've included some info from the website and a trailer of the exhibition below.

Our major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world. Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya will be displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains will be juxtaposed with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead. From a group of ancient Incan skulls, to a spectacular chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey, this singular collection, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, opens a window upon our enduring desire to make peace with death.