Q&A – Blogging, Music And The Secret Identities Of My Cat

QandA with Cassy Fry April 2015I told my Instagram followers they could ask me anything and they did! Here are my answers.

@fibrogeek asked: “What made you decide to start blogging? What is the best thing that has happened thanks to blogging? What one piece of advice to other bloggers be?”

In 2010 I was reading lots of vintage style blogs and I took part in a style challenge on Facebook. I wore a dress every day for a month and when it came to an end I started a blog to continue sharing my outfits and because I liked writing. I posted sporadically at first, and because I didn’t have that many outfits to post, and my health made getting dressed up and photographed difficult, I started to write about different things – my cultural influences, where I had been and what I had seen. Everything has evolved quite naturally from there. It began as a hobby, something just for fun, and is slowly turning into something more professional and purposeful, but still fun!

The best thing that has happened because of blogging is that it has helped me get my shit together! The last four years have been so tough and my life has changed massively. Connecting with like-minded people on line has made a huge difference during the times I have been isolated and lonely. Plus I’ve always wanted my blog to be a positive and honest space, so I try to share my best, but authentic self and that has been a really good practise for me. Once you tell the world how you see it, you owe it to yourself and your readers to live it.   

My one piece of advice to bloggers (myself included) is to connect with other bloggers and readers in real life whenever you can. Not everyone will turn into your new best friend and you might be surprised by who you do or don’t click with offline, but you are guaranteed to have a load of fun and get a ton of inspiration. Also it is just really lovely to spend time with people that share your ability to have a good conversation while simultaneously editing selfies for Instagram!    

@heleniumknits on instagram asked: “What’s your cat’s secret identity? (they all have one)”

Of course they do, cat identities are possibly even more complex than human ones!

Eddie has just had a haircut and it seems to be a massive weight off, he has so much energy now he is lighter and cooler, so he is channelling ‘sprightly Spring lamb’ this season. Eddie actually has a few secret identities, here are my favourites…

Lord Edward Fluffybottom – The little Lord knows he is one of those posh cats, therefore superior and entitled. Even if he was never going to be a best in show or the Downing Street cat, he is still better than his human servants (who inadvertently reinforce his worldview) and the street moggies (that he is terrified of even though he has never met any). He huffs at the riff-raff that surround him and expects to be served his cat treats with a silver spoon. This is the cat we once came home to find he had turned on the TV and was watching the Conservative Conference coverage. Of course, it is hard to tell what he actual political opinions are as he scowls at everyone.

Ed Valiant, Private Investigator – Eddie loves investigating, he likes to sniff everything and likes to observe humans as they do things. You can see his mind calculating and mystery solving as he tries work out how to climb the shelves to see what is in that box at the top. His nickname is stolen from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? because that film is genius, but he is more of a film noir anti-hero, with thoughts narrated in a deep no-nonsense American accent. Example: “I had a chance and I had to take it. The dame left the room, the cupboard was wide open, just like this case, and I knew the answers were inside.”

My Little Cowardly Lion – He gives it all that, picks a fight with you, saying “puttem up puttem up” and then completely freaks out and then hides. Plus he looks like a little lion.

@alubelle3 “If you were stranded on a desert island with 3 things, what would they be?”

I’d like three people please! I’d go totally mad on my own! A survival expert, a doctor and a handsome poetic musician would be nice! As I don’t think people count as ‘things’, I should choose some actual stuff. I have no idea what would be useful in this situation, but I’d like a life supply of a sun lotion with a high SPF, prescription sunglasses and a ukulele! (I would like a hairbrush too, but I’m assuming I could borrow one from a local mermaid).

Of course it is tempting to choose three items of Crown and Glory (Ali is a fellow member of the Glitterati), in that case it’d be the Shauna Tiara, Elbie Crown and my Mermaid Turban!

@nikkiloymusic Top 3 female artists?

I’m assuming this means music artists as Nikki is a singer/songwriter (check out her music). I like artists that write awesome lyrics that are good to sing/scream along to as well as speaking direct to my soul, make feisty, fun and innovative music, have an independent/DIY attitude and are artists in every sense of the word. I’m cheating and doing top 5 (it’s a High Fidelity thing!)

  1. Ani DiFranco
  2. Helen Love
  3. Kathleen Hanna
  4. Amanda Palmer
  5. Bjork

@helenthornber What is your proudest achievement so far this year and why?

Argh! Helen is a coach so asks the best, difficult but useful, questions! This is so hard as I feel like I have set lots of things in motion this year, but not got to the actual achievement bit yet! However, I am proud that I have handled a series of personal crises and difficult situations with grace (I think! Not sure if I’m a reliable judge of this, but I’m feeling positive about it!)

In terms of things I have actually done – I’m really proud of my collaborations – the 10 Things I Am Afraid To Tell You posts and #InspirApril challenge. Collaborating has pushed me out of my control freak comfort zone and given me a real boost of confidence, inspiration and enthusiasm.

I am also really proud that I am finally sharing some of my (less bad) poetry. I have so much really bad poetry hidden away (and I’m not being modest, some of it is horrifically cringeworthy) as I have written for years, but not shared. I procrastinate like Hamlet, but have faced the fact that if I want to write, I need to put something out there. My blog posts have only got better because I kept publishing them and learning as I went. Sharing something that isn’t perfect, or that I might decide I don’t like later, is part of the process and is always going to be preferable to stabbing your ex-girlfriend’s dad in your mother’s chamber. Thanks for the perspective Mr Shakespeare.

And thanks everyone for your questions – I might do this again one day as I really enjoyed it! If you can’t wait ’til then, you can always hit me up with questions in the comments!

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How To Write On A T-Shirt

How to get DIY Creative on your clothes‘How to write on a t-shirt’ feels like a weird title as it seems kind of obvious – you get a pen and write. But you’d be surprised about how many simple DIY creative projects I’ve messed up! Take nothing for granted. 

I have a few creative projects bubbling outside of this blog – I’m working on a zine, I’ve been sharing some of my bad poetry on Instagram and I’m playing with putting my words onto stuff, hence this blog post. This website is my little window to the world, as my creative life evolves so will this blog – no big revamp in the immediate future, just a plan to get gradually more awesome. I’ve taken the first step and sharpened up my manifesto. The second might actually be a bit of crafty procrastination – customise a t-shirt!

Cassy Fry DIY Creative Customised Tee

What you need
Get a t-shirt, some fabric pens (I recommend Sharpie Stained), a pencil, ruler or any stencils/templates and something to stretch your fabric over that you don’t mind getting stained (I used a tray).

Prepare
I doodle some design ideas so I know what kind of style I’m going for. I don’t work these up too much as I don’t want my sketches to be better than the finished product! Then put on t-shirt to work out where you want your text or doodles and mark it with a pencil.

How to write on a t-shirtWrite
Keep the fabric stretched and flat. Use a ruler when you want straight lines. Create shapes with clean sweeps and then make then bolder and tidy them up. It is easier to add than take away, so slow and steady wins the race. 

Make mistakes
Just go with any mistakes, it is part of the DIY aesthetic! I dropped the damn pen, which left a little ink blotch, so I did it again a few more times around the text! Go with the creative flow.

Have fun
Add some colour or details as you go. Be playful!

That’s it! I love customising stuff, I think I’m going to be writing on all the things for a while! 

Five Amazing Artists On Etsy

Etsy Artists featured on Cassy Fry dot com

I love buying directly from artists and DIY creative types. I often start buying small items, badges, postcards and the like, before I invest in a larger piece. I get a bit of a buzz from supporting creative people, both financially and by giving their work a happy home. I love surrounding myself with beautiful, quirky things that make me feel, so I’m always in the mood for buying art! In fact in the process of compiling this blog post, I brought the textile vampire teeth pictured above from artist Emily Tull, as well as adding a load of prints and zines to my wishlist. For the sake of my bank balance, I decided to stop at five of my favourite Etsy artists, but there are so many fabulous creative people selling work on the site from all across the world, so there is something to suit all budgets and tastes. 

Arty Emily

Etsy Artists - Emily TullArtist Emily Tull is based in Kent and her textile and embroidery work is even more gorgeous in real life. My favourites include her crow and skull, because I like the contrast of delicate and dark, but she also makes beautiful birds and bees. I also love her photographic work, which you can pick up for a snip in greeting card or postcard form. Aside from today’s purchase I already own one of her Disco Ducks (pictured at the top of this post) – this is a bathroom art must-have for everyone everywhere! If that isn’t enough, she also makes a selection of quirky jewellery featuring two of my favourite ‘B’ icons – Barbie and Bowie. 

Make Blackout Poetry

Etsy Artists - Make Blackout Poetry

I follow Make Blackout Poetry on Instagram, which is currently my favourite way of following artists. You get to see work, behind the scenes and get to know the artist. It is also great if you love the artist’s style, but they haven’t created the piece you were meant to own yet. I’ve started to make my own black out poems now, but I still *need* a piece from John Carroll, because his work has inspired me so much. Pictured above – Infinite Sadness, Eclectic Persona, Prepare to Launch, and Life Disappears – they are all fab, but I actually have two of these on my must-have wishlist – can you guess which ones?   

Betty Turbo

Etsy Artists - Betty TurboMy darling artist sister sent me a Spike card (because i LOVE him!) and the amazing Eat Fashion zine by Betty Turbo, and so I discovered my new favourite artist.  How much do I want to cuddle the s’Morrissey cushion?! As well as zines, plushy homewares and cool cards, she makes fun, sweet and inspirational prints, like this No Time For Crappy Thoughts one. So damn cute! 

Charlotte Thomson Art

Etsy Artists - Charlotte ThomsonTwo things I love – pin ups and fairytales – so I think Charlotte Thomson‘s cheeky watercolour illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland are amazing. You can get them as prints or cards. Charlotte is another artist I follow on Instagram after I saw the live scribing for the Blogcademy – sadly not the weekend I went

The Kat and Monocle 

Etsy Artists - The Kat and MonocleYou didn’t expect to get through this post without some cat art! I adore these illustrated kitties on fine china by The Kat and Monocle. You can get The Duchess on a mug or the darling Mr Bojangles on a plate. I first discovered these at Borough Market on the Blogcadette Meet Up and I really want to save some pennies towards getting a piece of commissioned china featuring my own cat! There are also doggie designs available, if you aren’t a cat person (although I cannot understand how that would be possible!). 

What are your favourite pieces from what I have featured? And what other Etsy artists do I need to know about? 

Images of products featured belong to the Etsy shops credited. This post contains some affiliate links – see my disclaimer for info about these – but be assured I only share things I think are amazing! 

Choosing My Path Through A Maze Of Dance and Art

Maze - Jasmin Vardimon Company and Turner ContemporaryI was lucky enough to attend the preview of Maze at the Margate Winter Gardens on Friday; an exciting collaboration between Jasmin Vardimon and Turner Contemporary bringing together dance theatre and visual arts. I was invited through Ideas Test rather than as reviewer, but it was such a magical experience and so many people have been asking me about it, I had to write something about my immersive adventure through the labyrinth (spoiler alert – I didn’t find the Goblin King).  

I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than some kind of maze involving dance and something interactive. Being asked to “leave inhibitions behind and immerse yourself in the unknown” can make you feel a bit apprehensive, but I was also a little excited and very intrigued. 

The Maze experience is different for everyone. You choose your own path and navigate the labyrinth by yourself. Leaving your everyday baggage (and shoes) at the door and entering alone shifts you away from your own world and into one that feels like a fairy-tale, and a fantasy adventure film, and a manifestation of a weird and uneasy Lynchian dream.

You are beckoned when it is your turn to enter the maze and at the end of the corridor, you are faced with two paths and one decision. I was lured to the left by a siren-like dancer, who led me into the labyrinth only is disappear giggling like a naughty nymph. I was alone, surrounded by walls of foam, but before I could take in my surroundings, another dancer held out her hand.

I was gently pulled through a fabric door and suddenly I was surrounded by beautiful dancers, all dressed in white, whispering “choose your path” as they spun around me. The changing faces and circling sounds were enchanting and just as the spell started to disorientate me, I was whisked out and left alone once more, as if I just imagined it.

At this point, I felt like the heroine of one of my favourite books or films. It allowed me to surrender to a sense of mischievous adventure. This was a story, normal life rules don’t apply. I slowly but purposefully made my way through the maze, allowing myself to be curious to look round the corner, to crawl through a small space just because I hadn’t been that way yet.  

The maze is constructed from all this amazing foam, huge sculptures that look cold and edgy like icebergs, but soft and spongy as your mattress. It is flexible and moveable, you can squeeze through narrow corridors. There were gaps and holes and strange shapes, eerily lit. There were branches and tree stumps, adding to the enchanted woodland feeling, but there was also scaffolding above and a foam equivalent of a padded cell with a dancer throwing himself around. The maze wasn’t sealed in, so the ornate ceiling and chandeliers are visible. I liked this as the contrast was beautiful, the space didn’t feel too claustrophobic and it still felt like an alternate reality inside a familiar space.

The soundscape was amazing, unobtrusively altering the mood. I started to feel different, wary, there were more people to encounter, both audience and dancers, more happening and more to take in. There was an unpredictability, a darkness to the magic and scenes of mild peril. Characters emerged, one with a maniacal laugh. Hands poked through gaps in the foam. A couple call urgently to each other. 

There were times when we gathered together as an audience, seeking safety in numbers or just trying not to get in the way, to watch wonderfully choreographed dance pieces, the performers taking on the quality of a forest or the foam landscape. Watching groups of dancers performing so close is fascinating. You can feel the vibrations of their movement on the floor just in front of you.

Then I sought a quieter corner and found a lady with a sign offering a free souvenir, I choose ‘feelings’. She stood behind me, told me to close my eyes and let her lead me, guiding my hand alone the foam, until she disappeared.  

While I loved the whole experience, it was the intimate individual moments that made it special and that helped me to lose my inhibitions and submit to the experience. Still when a girl in boxing gloves held out her hand, I was reluctant. She waited patiently, we held eye contact, we slowly smiled and my anxiety passed. She stood me against the foam wall and raised her gloves and stared me straight in the eye, then threw a slow motion punch as her glove connected with the foam next to my head, the music stopped and everyone froze.

A more jovial tune started playing, the kind that makes you feel like you’re on a fairground ride, and she removed her gloves and asked me to dance. We swayed hand in hand. A line of us – dancers and audience. The professionals did some fancy floor work while we held their hands. Then we all danced out of the maze together.

Maze is on at the Margate Winter Gardens until 15 April 2015.

The Best Of #InspirApril… so far!

Cassy Fry InspirApril

#InspirApril is go! It has been incredible seeing other people join in with the challenge, sharing imaginative interpretations and putting their personal twists on the prompts. I’ve been so inspired by all the creativity. Just check out the #InspirApril tag on Instagram. 

My six prompts are all done (and my own efforts are pictured above). Luckily we still have lots more to go from my creative collaborators! But before I hand you over to Nikki’s section of the challenge, I’m sharing some of my favourites! Selecting these was more challenging than the challenge itself! This post could easily have contained about 400 photos! 

Day One – My Style
You might seem a theme here, as I am obviously drawn to the musician look. I love @LindsBass‘s look “black, (faux) leather,studs, graphic t’s, more black, sneakers, and more black”. I’m thrilled this challenge is connecting me with so many awesome new people. Musical instruments as accessories definitely work, as demonstrated by @dooaddams and @davewilliamoakes@rubyweddings brought some super bright colour and a crown into the stylish proceedings and I just love @little_lawro‘s “never take life too seriously” style. And finally… proof that you can be sexy in sweats from @_nicolebanks_.

InspirApril My Style

Day Two – Favourite Lyrics
I love Joan Jett so glad she got a suitably feisty feature from @world_o_stuff. I’m also partial to a bit of ‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads, so I adored the picture from @that_amanda_jones captioned “this is not my beautiful house”. Meanwhile @joperryjasmine shared some sensual Prince lyrics, while @forkandgood for sent us dreamers ‘Over the Rainbow’! I loved the way @cherryallen792 decorated her favourite lyrics and I was so moved by @fifiifif posting Elbow lyrics that remind her of her dad. 

InspirApril Fave Lyrics

Day Three – Daring Design
Gotta love a bit of Pinterest worthy interior design, and I’m such a sucker for an elephant, especially pink ones in spectacles, so I love this shot by @louis_ugalde. The picture of the beautiful roof at the British Museum taken by @timbuckle81 was exactly what I hoped for from this prompt!  Love all those curvy lines! Good to see some technological design too, posted by @davewilliamoakes. I wasn’t expecting the elephant of surprise from @daisyhollands, but I guess that is exactly why her office needed this signage. @howIpartied shared some truly dreamy designs in these pictures of mid-century modern houses and this page from a 1969 book owned by @rachelalmost showing a Boot’s Branches children’s fancy dress is just marvellous! 

InspirApril Daring Design

Day Four – Write a Poem
I think this was a really tough prompt. I already write poetry, but sharing one was hard! I was so happy so many people gave it a go and that my insta-feed was full of wonderful words. A big bravo to all, but especially @pinkminddreams – sharing a self portrait poem is just so Instagram! (and I mean that in the good way!) I was glad to see some fridge poetry from @rachelalmost and another poignant personal contribution from @fifiifif – I’m looking forward to seeing some more cat-related poetry from her at a later date! @heleniumknits drafted a deliciously dark poem in just 5 minutes and I adore it! Then onto, umm… a poem about a grumpy unicorn, yes please! Love you for that @jennyhall81. Last, but not least, I found @roseslittlegarden‘s poem really inspiring: “there’s always sunlight left for us to see”

InspirApril Write a Poem

Day Five – Art You Own
Another goodie – I am fascinated by the art people choose to invest in for themselves and also what they define as art. @pocketforsweets shared door latches from the cottage she was staying in, saying they are “tiny works of art”. I love this inspirational cuppa print owned by @wardrobeangel (it is by artist @_ellamasters_) and a suitably seasonal share from @teatimetreatery – a painting of her bunnies Elvis and Belvedere (excellent rabbit names!) by her sister-in-law. I think tattoos are some of the most interesting and relevant contemporary art, so I was delighted to see so much ink! @bettybabydoll posted a small selection of the artwork that adorns her skin. This painted cymbal owned by @rowenaroberts is amazing, I’m quite taken with it. I love DIY, I love retro, I love sisters making art for each other, so obviously I love the vintage bottle tops turned into art for @lulu_burt by her sister.

InspirApril Art You Own

Day Six – Creative Stylish Selfie
Damn, you’re all so gorgeous! I love this shot of @msemmalloyd taken by @borderraider, beautiful work, as is this incredibly stunning shot of @dooaddams. I love the creative use of the camera phone by @nilsabab. Lots of you shared your fabulous faces, but a creative selfie is perfect for the coy and the enigmatic. @davewilliamoakes, @sebasbn_ and @rachelalmost all worked distance and angle to full arty potential. Wonderful!   

InspirApril Creative Stylish Selfie

Thanks to everyone taking part – you are making it InspirApril-ional! It is not too late to join in, you can start any time, catch up with ones you missed or just dive straight into the middle of the fun.  I also have some insta-surprises to share with a few participants – keep an eye on @cassyfry if you’re suitably intrigued! 

#InspirApril

Best of days 7-12, Best of days 13-18

Adventure To… The Shell Grotto in Margate

Cassy Fry in Shell GrottoAs today’s InspirApril prompt is ‘Daring Design’, I was inspired to visit the Shell Grotto in Margate. It is an incredible construction, made from an amazing 4.6 million shells.

It was discovered in 1835, but nobody knows who made it, when or why. Was it a temple, a secret meeting place or a folly? I love that we don’t know and can make wild speculations! The walls and ceilings are covered in shells, making elaborate patterns and symbolic designs.

The whole space is weird and utterly wonderful. The Altar Room was gorgeous and definitely had a magical atmosphere and I loved the Dome which let in natural light.

In the tea room, there is a beautiful shell lady and a huge shell dinosaur head! And as I exited through the gift shop, I obviously had to get myself a novelty shell animal!

 

 

The Lyrics Inside My Sketch Pad

From Five Years by David BowieIt’s #InspirApril and day two is favourite lyrics. When I wrote that prompt, I was thinking about you. I wanted to know what lyrics you love. I’m fascinated by the words that capture our hearts and imagination, the lines that resonate, make us laugh or cry or wish we had written them. I kind of forgot that I’d have to pick a favourite lyric to share myself. Turns out, that is a difficult task. I like lyrics that are poetic, pretty, clever, feisty, funny or pun-y. Most of my favourite bands and musicians are wonderful wordsmiths that produce strong lyrical content. So I have added an unnecessary gravity to what should be a bit of insta-fun. 

I have been obsessed with lyrics since I was a kid. When I was at primary school, I hoped for rainy days so I could stay inside at break time, I’d write out the words to my favourite songs to help me remember them. As a teenager, I doodled song lyrics and titles over my pencil case and school books and I typed up lines from songs and stuck them all over my bedroom walls. Basically, before I read poetry, I listened to pop music. 

I feel a bit self conscious admitting this, but I still doodle my favourite lyrics. When I had surgery last year I rediscovered the joy of colouring, drawing and doodling just for fun. It was only a matter of time before I started scribbling lyrics again. I do it to distract, soothe and switch off. It feels a bit weird to share them in a blog post, because I’m no artist, but I love these lines and found it hard to pick. In the end, the one I did decide to post to Instagram as my official Day Two #InspirApril post was Carter USM, because they are my favourite band and Jim Bob has written so many amazing lyrics. It had to be them. I still couldn’t pick just one line though! 

I don’t care if you can draw or what your handwriting is like, just write out your favourite lyrics, snap them and share them, or take a photo inspired by them and tag them #InspirApril so I can see them! 

Link Love: Creative Tips, Old Tattoos and Inspiring Reading

Stylish, creative and inspiring links for your reading pleasure…

Link Love

33 tips for creative people
A whole heap of handy advice and creative inspiration, from finding new ideas to believing in yourself. 

This jewellery made from decayed graffiti found in Detroit is amazing
I love the concept, seeing how it is created and the whole ethos behind this creative company. Check out http://www.rebelnell.com 

Springsteen’s Reading List
The Boss has read some great books, although I am not enthused about all of them. I studied Moby Dick and it almost bored me to death (ok I may be exaggerating… it definitely sent me to sleep though). However I will add some of these texts to my own reading list, basically because Bruce has read them! 

Let’s make plink-y music together
This is a rather nifty site which allows you to make twinkly winkly, plinky plonky music with other users. So simple I can use it, even if I don’t understand what I am doing, and it is kind of hypnotic.  

How will your ink look as you age? Pretty awesome actually
If you have a tattoo (and I got a new one this month – post about that coming soon!), then you will have been asked by someone “aren’t you worried about what it will look like when you’re old?”, answer: no. But if you’re curious, it is going to look amazing. 

These ’10 Things I’m Afraid To Tell You’ posts are catching
I love it when something I post encourages someone else to try something new, even more so when they are already someone I admire. Make sure you check out Sarah’s blog – she is all kinds of brilliant.

I love this new feature on Beak Up Crafts
Spend 5 minutes with visual artist and designer Ima Pico.

So happy to be included in this list of ‘Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Blog’
And new blogger on the block, Clover included me in this fab line up of bloggers that inspired her to start blogging. She only started hers this month and it is off to a promising start with lots of lovely stylish, cultural stuff! One to watch…

You Must Meet… Esa Evans, Lady Muck

You Must Meet… is a series of blog posts introducing you to stylish and creative people that you simply just have to know about.

Lady_Muck_Samuel_Wiles_Media

Even though we live just 5 miles apart, I discovered Lady Muck of Whitstable on line back in 2012. Of course, as soon as I found out about Lady Muck, I noticed her jewellery everywhere. Many of my favourite boutiques, galleries and gift shops stock her designs, so I regularly find myself saying “ooh that’s lovely, oh of course, it’s by Lady Muck”.

I love supporting creative people; the best bit about shopping with small businesses is that you get to invest in and make a connection with an artist, designer and all-round inspiring person, as well as getting something super stylish for yourself or loved ones. 

Esa Evans is the talent behind Lady Muck, designing and making contemporary jewellery for interesting people. Her laser cut designs are brought to life in gold-plated or powder coated stainless steel, colourful acrylics or cherrywood. Her work is beautiful, classic yet quirky and inspired by myth, nature and art. It’s no surprise that it seems to resonate well with her customers, who she described as a cultured artistic crowd who appreciate good design (more than happy to be included in that group, especially as Lauren Laverne is in there too!). 

I like to think they’re miniature pieces of art to be worn and enjoyed by all – Esa Evans, Lady Muck

It’s not all just for the girls either. Esa designs cuff-links inspired by the men in her life (so they will always be witty, good-looking and strong!)

bee_cuff

Esa still gets a buzz from seeing people wear her jewellery (and not just the bees!) and being asked to create bespoke collections. She has designed collections for the National Museum of Wales, The Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the National Theatre in London and she is currently working on a very exciting project with Horace Panter Art.

Picture 10923

But like most creative people, Esa didn’t originally imagine herself making jewellery when she studied Fine Art. Her practice has developed over time. She actually worked in Social Services for some years, where her creative skills were put to good use working with children and young people. After having her own children, she discovered those skills extended to jewellery making and using laser cut acrylic and wood gave her a unique way to show her ideas.    

Now she is developing a metals collection and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support it (there is 12 days left at the time of typing, so get over there and pledge – I picked the rose gold ants as my reward, but I only get them if she reaches her target and gets funded!). I’m really excited about this latest collection, I love seeing how Esa’s work has evolved and look forward to growing my Lady Muck collection. 

Lady_Muck_Samuel_Wiles_Media

You can shop for Lady Muck loveliness on http://www.ladymuck.org.uk or find it in Turner Contemporary Margate, Taking the Plunge Whitstable, The Wellcome Trust London and many other stockists across the UK and on line platforms.

Esa is also a fellow cat lady of Instagram, which means she is one of my favourite insta-people, you’ll find her @ladymuckstuff there, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t forget to pledge your support for her Kickstarter and if you haven’t already, you have until 31 March 2015 to enter my Pineapple Pendant giveaway!

Copyright of the photographs and art works included in this post belongs to Esa Evans, please do not reproduce without permission. 

Theatre Review: Standby For Tape Back-up at The Marlowe Studio

Standby For Tape Back-up

I read one sentence of marketing material and knew this was going to be my kind of show. Of course. there were some attractive adjectives deployed, but the clause that clinched it was… “one man tries to draw his entire life story out of the images on a singular video tape”.  

Obviously the video tape appealed to my retro sensibilities and I’m also a sucker for a one man or one woman show. But creating a complex narrative, telling a life story from one videotape? Well, that got me seriously intrigued. I love a good story. I look for them everywhere and when you look, you will usually find. And I found a good one on my visit to the Marlowe Studio last week to see Ross Sutherland‘s Standby For Tape Back-up.

As I took my seat, Sutherland was on the left side of the stage and there was a TV and video on the right. On screen and on a larger projection behind was The Wizard Of Oz (one of my favourite films – I was delighted!). The opening sequence was playing, but it was muted and instead, we heard Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon played over the sepia scenes; the synchronicity was stunning and slightly spooky). It was enchanting seeing the familiar film footage in a new light. It set the perfect tone for Ross’s life story, the search for significance and a performance of patterns, repetition and coincidence.  

If you’re anything like me, at this point you are wondering what on earth was on that video tape and how it could possibly contain his life story. The footage included some 80s and 90s gems – one and a half films, one quiz show, two sit-coms and an old bank ad – we were treated to some ghostbusting, zombie dancing and crystal hunting. Plenty of material to inspire a nostalgic and entertaining show, but more significantly, the tape had belonged to his late Grandfather. After his death, the tape found its way into Sutherland’s loft, where it stayed until a series of events led him to watch it repeatedly. It was Ross’s last connection to his Grandad, and these programmes were things they had watched together. Viewing them in this new light, they seemed to be steeped in uncharacteristic existential angst – I’ll certainly never think of the Fresh Prince in the same way again. 

Part storytelling, part poetry, a bit dark, but never morbid; this show is seriously clever and funny, layered with meanings and memories. The spoken word captures the circling of the human mind, always analysing and processing patterns. Sutherland’s timing with the tech was spot on, he coolly and repeatedly made the basket, in a way that the Fresh Prince can only dream about. The tech all worked perfectly and I am assuming some considerable effort went into this as I can’t remember a time when we watched a video at school without some awkward ‘teacher versus tech’ moment. 

The show left me moved, but more disturbingly, as I walked to the car park I noticed I was humming Crockett’s Theme. It has been on a loop in my head for a week now and is driving me slowly insane! Originally an 80s hit from Miami Vice, it was re-appropriated for full yuppie potential in the early 90s NatWest adverts. Sutherland’s poetic treatment of the ad was actually one of my favourite parts of the show. At first glimpse I was delighted to see the ad, excited just because I remembered it. Then, as it repeated, overlaid with new words, I began to see it in it’s cultural context, then heard how it related to Ross’s experience of working in a bank and finally I added my own experience and memories on top and it spun through my mind as if it was part of me. 

Maybe it resonated because I worked in a bank once (or actually twice), in what is surely the most middle class student summer job ever. Being a bank clerk wasn’t for me though and after two stints behind the counter, the next job I opted for was cleaning trains, much more enjoyable and rewarding. 

There were plenty of moments in the show that chimed with my own life – in part maybe because we are the same age and nationality, but ultimately, this is a tale of connections, not just between Ross and his Grandad, but between all of us. The pop culture we all consume. but also the stories we seek and the meanings we place on the world. Because although each life has it’s unique layering of narrative, but there is a finite amount of plot developments and twists to go round and we are all looking for answers to the same anxieties and human dilemmas.

It is fantastic to see this kind of writing programmed at the Marlowe. Obviously, I recommend that, if you can, you go see this wonderful show, it’s on tour now.

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