Saturday, 29 June 2013

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life

 'The painter, the true painter, will be the one who can seize from the life of the present its epic dimension and make us see and understand, in colour and contour, how great and poetic we are in our neckties and patent-leather boots.' -Chareles Baudelaire

I'd been looking forward to seeing this exhibition at the Tate Britain for a while now and wasn't disappointed when I finally saw it.  

I really love Lowry's work, the wry beauty of his depictions, his attention to detail, his use of colour, the way he captures people; the working class crowds in roves, in front of an immaculately crafted industrial dystopia.

'I've got a one-track mind' Lowry once stated 'I only deal with poverty. Always with gloom.' Interestingly enough, although, Lowry's vision was one of 'poverty and gloom,' the grimness of the daily round was offset by the energy and animation of life acted out on the pavement. 'Accidents interest me' he said. 'What fascinates me is the people they attract.... the patterns those people form, an atmosphere of tension when something's happened. Where there's a quarrel there's always a crowd...' 

Lowry's ruined landscapes were visually incredible and quite affecting. They had an apocalyptic quality about them, the natural had been overridden by the man- made, the 'dark Satanic mills' stretched as far as the eye can see. It's said ' the end of it the sense of waste and catastrophe gave way to a rueful almost admiring recognition of the ugly grandeur of the industrial scene.'

L.S. Lowry River Scene (Industrial Landscape) 1935
'It seemed a world from which vegetation had been banished; nothing existed except smoke, shale, ice, mud ashes and foul water...'
-George Orwell

Lowry's paintings depicting the social life of Labour Britain were rather animated and cartoonish and to me stood out from his other works. I really love this painting... the casualties of modern life...there's something morbidly fascinating about it...

just smile, yeah.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

In Monochrome

...kind of a grey day, if you weren't beside me, it would have been black...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Classic River Scene old friend and I went by Samuel Palmers birth place in Surrey Square off the Old Kent Road...

Time is a strange entity indeed

'Empowered Women' Afternoon Tea

“It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” -African proverb 

I had been working with colleagues to put on this event for a quite a while. I couldn't be more relieved when it finally happened. It was great! During the day there were important talks given by a number of inspiring Somali Women including a journalist, a lawyer, a film-maker and a politician. There were also a number of videos shown on key topics such as FGM and GBV. The event was in aid of Somali Women's higher education and all the money raised on the day will go towards university scholarships, enabling bright young women to continue on studying their chosen subjects, some of which include Veterinary Science, Law and Shariah. 

The latter part of the day focused on the spirituality and creativity on Somali women, with moving performances by young Somali poets, there was also singing and dancing.

The turn-out was pretty good (around 70 women came) and the atmosphere was incredible. The highlights of the day for me, were the poetry performances by Farah G and Fatima Abdul and also the talk given by film-maker Sadia Ahmed who I had been liaising with for a while. Her documentary trailer on the journey of rape victims was really affecting and created a lot of passionate discussion.

I also really enjoyed meeting so many inspiring and interesting women! And failing miserably at dancing Somali-style! I was so chuffed that I got to wear a dirac to the event, traditional Somali dress. I kept tripping up on it, but it was so cool! the attire, the people, the culture! I finally feel like I've passed the initiation period and have officially made that transition to Somali!

For those of you not familiar with Farah Gabdon's work, it's worth checking out her website, she's a truly talented poet...

Just as we don’t all run at the same speed, we don’t all peak at the same time. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Do you, be calm, be easy. When your time comes, your light will be blinding! -Farah Gabdon favourite pic of the day...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Yoko Ono's Meltdown | Activism Weekend

 "Time is running out for the planet. The only option is do something or do nothing... I believe in people. People change things." - Yoko Ono

I went along to the first day of Activism Weekend at the South Bank Centre on Saturday. It was pretty extraordinary (def £15 well spent!) I came away feeling thoroughly overloaded with information. I also came away feeling very very inspired. It was strange for me to try to put in context all that I learnt on the day and at the same time relate the theoretic's and the stories relayed to my own personal journey of activism/ art/ writing/ politics. 

On top of that it was a challenge to try to make sense of some of the very interesting conversations on social media and communications. David Babbs (director of 38 degrees) talked quite a bit about people power and the ability to mobilise the masses through new technology. During the talks on 'Technology and Activism' I picked up quite a lot on the unifying power of social media and found myself again relating certain topics back to my life, in particular my job as a communications officer. 

There were also some really interesting discussions on personal responsibility and the need for artists and non-artists to share and convey and to be active. In fact the one thing I took away from the day, was just that; the need for us as individuals to be free-thinking and active.  

As a student I could probably be described as an activist. I remember going around school when I was in year 11 taping Stop the War flyers all over the windows and doors (I got in a lot of trouble for this) and then working with others to take it outside to the wider world. I used to attend all sorts of protests and demo's and public and underground meetings. Then at university, I took a different approach; I established a newsletter as a platform for discussion and debate. Not to long after I gained funding, I remember one of the issues had to be withdrawn because it was deemed too 'radical' at which point I moved away from writing and towards other more 'legitimate' and 'safe' art practises such as film/ photography. After University, I went in a completely different direction. I developed a quieter and more personal form of art and even now, through much of my writing and photography I try to make a difference (however small that may be). Through conversation, through my work, I really try to push people to think for themselves, -to think a little differently. 

As someone who's always been branded an outsider by the mainstream (coloured/ muslim/ youth/ from souf london) I think I can pretty much tick off every minority box. That's not to say life is about boxes, it isn't. It isn't about ticking boxes, or living in/ within the confines of boxes. I mean I think so much of life is about honesty, being honest with yourself about yourself and being honest with others. Nonetheless being consigned/ branded, being told constantly what you believe/ who you are and what you are by external forces, really does push you to go deeper, in a way that I think 'insiders' may never understand.

In so many ways, I feel like I'm incredibly privileged to be in this unique place, where I can really experiment with ideas and philosophies and practises. I feel like I've had the space to develop this kind of unique vision, just by existing outside the 'norm.' Anyway it's strange when you try to map out your journey in certain contexts especially if you've undertaken so many separate journeys.... I still feel like I have so much to learn in terms of figuring out my role in all this. 

Ah I've gone off on a tangent again, so during the day I went to three talks of which I've included more information about below. The highlight for me was when two members of Pussy Riot, covered in their bright coloured balaclavas came out and spoke about activism and the need to do it for yourself and to just be fearless and to have the courage to do and say what you believe is right. I also really enjoyed listening to the inspirational Jenny Sealey talk about disability and the arts/ and the effect the cuts had on Graeae and also the mainstreams ignorance and unwillingness to take on disabled actors...

Anyway, it was a very informative and inspiring day... I've included information on the talks I attended below as well as some pictures I took. 

Art and Activism

A panel discussion exploring the different ways artists respond to complex social issues, political situations and important personal causes. Chaired by Shami Chakrabarti, the panellists are artist Bob and Roberta Smith; Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company Jenny Sealey; and Heather Ackroyd, of artist partnership Ackroyd & Harvey.

Technology and Activism

This panel explore some of the ways that activists are successfully using new technologies and tactics to change the status quo and some of the barriers they face. Chaired by Olivia Solon, Associate Editor of, the panellists are author and activist Cory Doctorow; Director of The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at DEMOS Jamie Bartlett; and Executive Director of 38 Degrees David Babbs.

Let’s start a Pussy Riot Book Launch

 Pussy Riot members made a shock appearance
Loud, controversial, fearless — Pussy Riot undoubtedly ushered in a new era of feminism and political freedom with their protest acts. Their dialogue continues in this new book Let’s Start A Pussy Riotwith contributions from Yoko Ono and over 30 other artists – and, exclusively for Meltdown, expands beyond the pages.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Half a Moon live life inside, a Nash painting...


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

...still wandering, still wondering...

And as I wandered, I wondered...will the the novelty of London ever wear off? Hmm, I don't think so. I've been walking through the heart of the city nearly every day for over two months now and still the sights haven't gotten the least bit old or tiresome. I guess that's because London is a city (like so many others) that's always evolving, always changing.

Though often I wander through the same areas, they're never really the same- I mean the sky is different, the clouds, the light, the hues of colour, the crowds, the people, the buskers, the songs the buskers sings, the magician switches places with the entertainer, the clown disappears and in his place another settles, a Romanian drifter wooing children with a snake, a plump smiley far-eastern woman selling peanuts. Diversity. To me, the most beautiful thing about London is its diversity- the people, colours, languages, markets, the food, flags, fusion, art- always different, always changing and so are we....

Sadly, I sort of knew it was too good to last, working and wandering in the heartland. In a couple of weeks, the charity I work for will be moving offices to Hanger Lane and though a part of me is looking forward to exploring and getting to know West London a bit better (always kind of eluded me), I know I'm really going to miss being at the centre of everything. A few recent pictures....

-red rally/ yellow's too-

...photobomb... this one...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Museum of London: Estuary (and walking)

A friend of mine who works at the Museum of London told me about this exhibition and said that I would like it... she was right! It was incredible! I've always had this strange affinity with water, wherever I go I'm always drawn to nearby lakes, reservoirs, bogs, creeks, and rivers. The thames estuary in particular has always fascinated me. Over the years I've travelled to/ and walked along a number of different areas dotted along the estuary. I remember one trip I took in winter to Canvey Island years ago. The landscape was beyond otherworldly, shrouded in fog, remote and timeless.

The exhibition itself was really varied. My favourite part was John Smith's film installation, I think I must have spent over half an hour watching the sea, it was really memorising and reminded me of a section I recently read in the latest issue of 'Country Walking;' 'I remembered what someone once told me about not needing a TV in a house with a sea view, as the sights out your window were far more rich and involving and indeed changeable.' 

Jock McFadyen's paintings were beautiful too, I don't want to give away too much, I really can't recommend this exhibition enough; informative, inspiring and free.

After we visited the exhibition, my sister and I decided to explore the docklands and got the DLR to Pontoon Dock where we visited the very beautiful Thames Barrier park. We then travelled back to West India Quay where we met my friend who after lunch took us on a walk to Limehouse Basin, from there we followed the Limehouse Cut towards Bow. It was really fascinating. Every time I begin to feel like I know London, I'm exposed to parts I never even knew existed! My friend Halima (who works for the Museum) runs walks in east London/ docklands area and has also produced a series of downloadable audio recordings on her website which you can listen to.

Check out her amazing website, I would def recommend downloading the recordings onto your ipod/ phone and trying out on some of these walks for yourself...

I've included some info about the exhibition as well as some of the pictures I took on the day.

Estuary brings together the work of 12 artists who have been inspired by the outer limits of the Thames where the river becomes the sea. The exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the Museum of London Docklands, a converted Georgian warehouse on West India Quay. 

With its dramatic landscape – desolate mudflats and saltmarshes, vast open skies, container ports, power stations and seaside resorts – the Estuary has long been a rich source of inspiration for artists and writers. Through film, photography, painting and printmaking, the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition offer new insight into this often overlooked, yet utterly compelling, environment and the people that live and work there.

the ship that followed the crow

...far beyond the wind farm, lies the red forts of shivering sands...

bronze, a shade green