Thursday, 9 December 2010

Grimefest in Hong Kong - sleep no.1

I arrived on Nathan Road Monday morning it’s 9am and Chung King Mansions is a blackest tooth on the strip. It’s fairly quiet yet there is still a hoard of ethic men, both disapproving and objectifying in their lingering glances.

After a sleep I head out to dinner at a Tiffany’s place it’s late night before I return, yet before arriving at the relative safety (save a little insect-y) of my tiny room I must run the gauntlet The men like the insects have multiplied an overwhelming number of African, Indian, Eastern, Asian men who make up the occupants of this crumbling dirty block are out, its peak time and there is not another single (or otherwise) female in sight. I stroll up with my white legs on display looking every bit the obvious tourist complete with passport, camera, wad of cash - I’m surrounded by fifteen dodgy looking men. The queue for the lift lasts a lifetime; I feel eyes on me from all directions. The elderly lift arrives, we squash in and it buckles under the weight, the full lift light flashes scornfully, a man with a bowl of pilau rice grunts and departs the cubicle. The CCTV is broken, there is no video evidence to protect me, and the eyes of the fellow passengers are aimed below my face directly at my chest. 2nd floor, 4th floor, 6th floor - I get out, disorientated I head off in the wrong direction, wait for the doors to close, perform a quick u-turn and I’m in my guest house, well not my guest house, I booked under a different name, yet this was the one I was allocated, like the BA and Quantas code share there was no choice as to where I ended up.

I have woken to drilling; constant and yet varying in pressure, a multitude of vibrations (reportedly this was the quiet block). 4,000 people live in Chung King it is a total dump. Justifiably down there with the cheapest accommodation in Kowloon.

I head off with three objectives (all consumer based – we are in Hong Kong after all) – new camera, battery for my laptop and a mobile phone for China. My challenge serves as a reminder of my foreign status, nothing is simple nothing is quick. I wander with purpose to several stores, yet soon my energy wanes, a wild goose chase through a dense metropolis of neon and hawkers, “you want tailor miss?” “Copy Rolex lady?” “Hostel lady?” My tasks lead me into a hidden building, armed with the address of a laptop repair centre I find myself on the 11th floor of yet another dodgy eastern looking building. Ahead are two open doors with pink lights glowing, outside lingers a man confused and embarrassed by my presence, he is on the phone, I move closer to the doorway, inside a series of rooms, more pink lights, I think I’m in the wrong place. Excited by my find and disappointed with my lack of camera I leave with a smirk on my face (so that’s why that old man started talking in Chinese at me when I headed out of the lift). My buying trip isn’t going well, I try to barter with the mobile phone street sellers but they seem pretty moody. Disheartened by time running away I wander down a side street into my fourth camera store, on display an array of lens options - Hassleblad, Leica, Cannon fill the room. I feel reassured by the content and consult my authorised dealer list provided to me at Cannon showroom earlier, bingo! It’s the real deal! I exit 10 minutes later financially and emotionally lighter, yet with the weight of a G12 dangling round my neck. The ‘nice man at the camera store’ also tells me where I need to go next – a further 10 minutes later I am back on Nathan Road with the coveted laptop battery in my backpack. Seizing the wave of contentment I sack off the mobile phone purchase and head off to the star ferry with sight seeing on the agenda.

my first shot of the harbour, I already heart my precious picture taking device

Thursday, 25 November 2010


The chaos has well and truly descended on my world, in a vain attempt to maintain order I have a pile for each category - traveling, charity, storage and shipping, this becomes confusing. Having to make decisions on sentimental items, clothing that I may or may not yearn for at a later date, fully aware that I will be kicking myself for the items eagerly sought and shed with haste. The bigger omnipresent mind engulfing sentiment is the unknown - what am I doing? why am I leaving my home behind, my world is good my head spinning with all the possible scenarios that await me down under. I guess I should be excited and I am, if only I could complete the packing then my life might feel a little clearer. Here is my room, perhaps a reflection of my current head space.

On the plus side I have spent the evening drinking red wine with a Melbourne/London friend talking through the finer points of life downunderover.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Back from the brink

Sorry for falling off the radar I have been momentarily out of action *(sickness related)./ But have no fear I'm back! This evening there are two openings of interest to report on...

My friend Vikrum who looks after the Apiary Studios on Hackney Road is hosting an exhibition entitled 'Come meet the strangers' a collection of works, live performance and installation by photographer Iulia Filipovscaia who explores the interplay between different mediums as a reflection of our increasingly technological based reality. With live photography, screenings and new developments in her 'o' project, the evening appears intriguing.

Iulia's images are from past works

39-39 open there doors this evening a fun shop with a concept store ethos, located 2-4 Old Street. The 'made in the uk' leather gloves featured on their blog look great. And I’m pleased to report I've made it onto their site in the style pages, good choice my friend. Must make sure I don't wear the same outfit tonight. With Gareth Pugh behind the decks there is sure to be some dancing involved.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Horsing around

I like to escape the bubble of east London as much as possible; it is good for the soul. Country air blows perspective into life and makes all the inconsequential matters appear less visible. Ever since I missed the opportunity of the play scheme trip to go horse riding aged 10, I have been trying to make it up to myself. I long to be able to ride well, a heroine in a fantasy masterpiece, mounting my stead with assured dexterity before galloping off a impressive pace to save those in peril. Perhaps a symptom my dreams have been punctuated by horse based adventures of late. I was delighted to be invited to Coggeshall or Coggashael (as referred to in the Doomsday book), with Emma, to visit her family. The town, a Roman settlement dating from 31BC, is founded on ancient lay lines. It has three pubs, two local food stores and a dog shit alley, no town is complete without a dog shit alley. This particular alley connects the Woolpack pub (home of rowdy locals dancing on the bar to karaoke) to Emma's house, convenient when staggering home in the dark. Post staggering I woke early with excitement today was the day horsey and I would become one. It didn’t go quite to plan, my horse sensing my inability decided to play up a little, I was so happy to be straddled to the horse it could have bucked me and I wouldn’t have minded. The lesson began and my thighs and balance simultaneously sprung into action, I desperately wanted to acquire as much skill as soon as humanly possible. I’ve been on horses before, however it wasn’t quite the same; trekking horses follow the same route most days and require little direction. I had to lead the horse, cajoling into submission whilst I bounced purposely in rhythm. It was wonderful I wanted more; posthumously I was glad I didn’t. For three days post ride I took a john Wayne stance as my inner thighs recovered from such a feat, even an hour and a half walk home from work did little to ease the ache. Now the recovery is complete I look to the future with relish as the prospect of my next dalliance looms closer.

Foal and I chewing the fat, out of the 68 horses at Raine Riding School I think he liked me the most.

The Chapel Inn, 16th Century, the heart of town, this is where all the action occurs.

The conservative club, I didn't stumble accross a labour club.. nice building, shame about the contents.
I want to live in a house like this
The halloween weather lingers as the night draws in a truly mystical experience

Friday, 5 November 2010

From Deptford With Love, Bearspace Gallery.

Before the expansion of the east London line Deptford market and the delights of New Cross seemed slightly unobtainable - a tiresome trek negatively imbalanced. Yet on a rainy Friday Sarah and I decided to investigate. To our delight the overground remained pristine and speedy, upon arrival the grey skies applauded us with a light sideways shower. Seeking refuge in a cute train cabin cafe with inventive vegetarian dishes; where we debated the finer points in life. We stumbled upon a slightly grubby and charmingly random shop with an eccentric occupied by an eccentric save cantankerous attendant. On offer were a random array of foodstuffs and toiletries. I went for glass jarred items only, once I was sure they were in date and left pleased with my cut price larder.

On the main strip is the rather wonderful Bearspace gallery (once an old pub), inside, a considered selection of art fastidiously arranged for the maximum space/impact ratio. The invigilator’s dog (a cute shaggy yappy type puppy) merrily sought us out as playmates, helping himself to my belongings, including my wet brolly comfortably locked in his jaw, dragging them across the floor, stopping only to chew the freshly painted plinth. God I wish I were that dog.

We never quite made it to Deptford market as it was practically closed by the time we hauled our slovenly arses down there. Instead we scratched the surface of the notable art scene; home to Goldsmiths the area is brimming with galleries, as the rain did its worst we ran for the cover of the tube. Check out the Deptford Art Map for prompts on where to go.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

New speak or recycled ideas? Saatchi Art Now...

We went to the private view for the new exhibition: Newspeak: British Art Now (part two) at the Saatchi Gallery, it was engaging, well some of it. Other works failed to grab my attention or if they did it was for the wrong reasons, obviously topical pieces, which seemed somewhat out of date, sensationalist art that had simply lost its effect due to overexposure. The venue is huge, three floors with an excellent, well stocked shop. There was however enough to make it worth the traipse from north east to south west, here are my highlights (I had half an hour, two glasses of wine and a tour guide for the adventure).

Tessa Farmer, brilliant name, great piece of art, intricately put together, with comical consideration.

Zoniel marvelling

We loved the quality of the painting, old school discipline with a modern subject matter.

Spot the difference

Good sense of depth, the print jumped out at you from across the room

Fairly tried and tested gathering of symbolic artifacts, yet on a massive scale, the piece raised contention as to the skill required to create said art.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Oozing hearts, pierced nipples, spots and all...

Eat your own heart out at Maiden was resounding success with people queuing down the road on the opening night and following days, alas its all over now, fingers crossed for next Halloween.

The launch was quite a racous affair with metal band The Defiled opening the shop, they smashed up a massive cake and hacked into a finger with a cleaver.

Oozing hearts by Lilli Vanilli

My pals, Matt and Natalie represent, loving the gifts on offer

The after party was held at Electricity Showrooms, gotta love the light up dance floor, (they filmed common people here, way back when).

Complimentary pre-tox potions (with added vodka) courtesy of Alibi, although unsure as to the effectiveness of the pre-tox, perhaps it was the tequila forced down my throat by Matt tipped me over the edge.

Love this bath boobie massacre sponge by Holly Andrews

Friday, 29 October 2010

Boom Town for Crack Magazine

Friday night and I’m sat outside Milton Keynes train station, it rains as I watch as festival goers arrive and leave, I pick them out easily amongst the sea of trackies and 90’s emo kids. Concrete and glass surrounds, two and a half hours pass and finally a transit van comes hurtling around into the car park and into the bus lane. My suitcase is thrown in the back; a rum and ginger (heavy on the rum) is thrust in my hand and we’re off.

The festival; Boomtown Fair, the location; a field in the grounds of a classical show house built in the 1600’s, now home to Stowe School and a garden centre. We enter through an impressively long drive and there’s an obelisk in the distance. We’re ushered into park behind the Lion’s Den (reggae tent). In the van behind are Tom and Luke from Wales soon to be our wingmen for the weekend. Already a culture has been established, we trade cider for mushrooms and water for, well, other stuff. It’s a good trade and seals our friendship.

We are led into the night, I adopt the customary Friday night policy of getting totally obliterated sans supper, after my losing my mind in a dance tent post The Wurzels, I spend daybreak dry retching in the woods. Wide-eyed and belly aching we head back into town to explore the realities of daylight; failing to recover the brand new coat gifted to Lucy a day ago, she winces.

You can read more of my write up for Crack magazine by clicking here.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Time for tea, now who would like a vagina cake?

Deep in the dungeon of Maiden the famed gift shop on Shoreditch High Street,
sits a room full of devilish sweet stuff waiting to be devoured.

Only if you are 18+ can you enter and experience the 666 sugar filled delights on offer.

Be quick though, the pop up store will be gone once the bewitching hour is through (Sunday 31st),
this may be the only chance to purchase the vagina cake of your dreams.

I was down at the venue last night and was blown away by the effort put into the decor, thick red plastic draping, similar to an abattoir, not that I’ve been to an abattoir and metal cages. A lot of love has been put into the shop fit, very excited about the launch this evening; it's going to be a fun party. I shall report back with photographs.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fright Night!

Emma and I arrived at Staines train station under a pelting sky, with hailstones raining down on us, laughing we ran for cover. The bus pulls up and the disability ramp isn’t working, we have a celebrity disabled unable to embark, she was on Location, Location apparently (according to Emma), hers was the biggest budget they had to spend 1.5M, she did have a fancy electronic wheelchair so I didn’t question it. Much procrastination, 20 minutes later the expensive and rather heavy wheelchair is lifted on the bus just as another bus arrive and were off. Tickets in hand we sail in, joining the queue jump ticket queue, pole (front) position for Stealth, Nemesis and Saw fast track tickets in hand, we’re off.

Stealth 0-80mph in under 2 seconds

Emma post Stealth

Tidal Wave, we abstained from the water rides, boring I know

Style Spotting

Five rollercoaster’s, four horror mazes, two sneaky push ins, one burger king and half a tub of fizzy sweets later I feel amazing, it’s dark, there are chav’s everywhere, some with fake blood, I feel thirteen. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday, my insides and neck hurt but it was worth it. On route home we pause by the fruit and vegetable stall at Liverpool Street a vague attempt to undo the neglect we stock up on pears and pomegranates.

Grease - inspiration to many

The Sunday Air Fair doesn’t run on a Sunday,

located at P3 - the underground aircraft hanger linked to Westminster University - it features the work of 60 artists, from 20 young galleries from around the world. On at the same time as Freize it’s free to get in. I wandered around the vast vertical space absorbing all on offer, mostly quality accessible stuff, although a few were too obscure for my art school learnings. I delighted in the closeness of the works, each gallery bringing something new and fresh, Lemoncello, schleicher+lange, luettgenmeijer, were particularly exciting.

Man at work

With £50 artist made cocktails on offer....................................................