My Current Favourite Things part 1

♥ Debating with friends on whether Lee Miller was a feminist or not. Granted, she was successful at a time where women just got the right to vote, but she was sometimes reliant on men…and was best friends with Picasso….discuss.
♥ The new Primal Scream album! “It’s Alright. It’s OK” makes me dance.

♥ Icelandic band The Dead Skeletons – their music, Nonni’s watercolours and their channel DEAD TV.
My friend Alice’s blog post on our evening at Ms. Cupcake’s Book Launch Party. It really was that fun!! And Ms. Cupcake also inscribed my book. 🙂 Here is a bonus photo of me, Alice and our friends surrounded by vegan cakes, ice cream and cocktails:

♥ Teapigs’ “Super Fruit” Tea. I must be becoming British when fancy tea makes me happy. (Note: I never drank tea before moving here)
♥ Chai Lattes from Belle Amie. The more you like cinnamon, the more amazing they are.
♥ London riot grrl bands like Skinny Girl Diet and the still-new club night Bloody Ice Cream.

♥ This Tatty Devine Cherry Blossom necklace. My birthday is in July….ahem. Or if someone really has money to burn, there’s this large version of the Cherry Blossom necklace which I’m convinced I could rock!
♥ Hanging out with my baby nephew.
♥ My friend Maria’s backpack:

♥ This poster of Minneapolis by Albie Designs. All of her city posters are awesome.
♥ The idea that this woman got paid to raise geese as astronauts and put them in a moon analogue…watch the documentary!
♥ Random bubbles floating above the Thames…

♥ ….and thinking of upcoming travels with my husband. As much as I love the internet, I sometimes love being away from it too. xoxox

Miss Led

One of my favourite portrait artists is Miss Led, an illustrator from London. I can’t even remember how I discovered her work, but I did, and I think it’s really amazing and inspirational. She’s recently done live painting at The Book Club, her work has been displayed in the Saatchi Gallery and she’s currently a part of the Praxis N16 Art Show, which I attended with a couple friends last weekend! The show is very small, but Miss Led’s illustrations and the other works there are pretty good. Plus, they sell drinks and fairy cakes, and sometimes there’s live music! You can’t lose.

These prints are all for sale at her shop.

The Praxis N16 Art Show is going until tomorrow…so if you’re in the Stoke Newington area of London, check it out! xoxox

David Bowie Is Changing Your Perception About Gender Norms

There has been much talk about the “David Bowie Is” exhibition currently at the V&A Museum in London. I originally didn’t want to post about it because what else can be said? Well, I finally saw the exhibit with my friend Maria a few days ago and it definitely lived up to the hype! I have been to a few V&A exhibitions before but never one so elaborate and complete with intelligent audio guides that automatically switch music or narrative depending on where you are! I won’t say too much else as I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t been, but one issue that both Maria and I talked about afterwards was that if David Bowie was a woman, she probably wouldn’t have been as successful.

We argue that while we love the fact that Bowie was gender-bending from the late 1960s on, and really promoting that you should be yourself, at the same time it still seems more socially acceptable for men to break the gender role norms. I am all for equal rights for everyone, that’s why it bothers me that there is a gender divide, even within drag. For example, look at all the mainstream male rock stars/artists/comedians who have dressed in drag: Freddie Mercury, Andy Warhol, Peter Kay, Eddie Izzard, Grayson Perry, Noel Fielding, Elton John, Boy George, The Rolling Stones and Nicky Wire, to name just a few. Apparently women dressing in drag was popular from the early 1900s – 1940s. Unsurprisingly, the 1940s was also the time where strong female Hollywood movie roles that went to the likes of Mae West and Greta Garbo changed in favour of more docile roles played by actresses such as Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield (Complicated Women is a great book about this). Anyway, I can’t think of many more recent mainstream female artists challenging gender roles and being hugely successful – except Tilda Swinton (is she mainstream?), Annie Lennox, Grace Jones and Lady Gaga with her alter ego “Jo Calderone”, who appeared and then disappeared pretty quickly. There actually was an Annie Lennox exhibit at the V&A recently, but it was nowhere near the current Bowie extravaganza.

So why is it more acceptable in our society for men to break the gender rules? After some research, I found a Drag King stating “We live in a society that sexualizes femininity, so to have a woman dress as a man breaks those norms and mainstream society has a difficult time seeing women in masculine roles,” while on Yahoo! Answers (always a source of entertainment) somebody said because “women enjoy it less” and another person said “Drag Kings don’t sing as well”. Right. OK. I’ll go with the statement about society sexualizing femininity, as I agree.

Anyway, I do really recommend the Bowie exhibit. You can still get tickets in person at the V&A if you’re lucky. The exhibit is wonderful, and to celebrate Bowie in his gender-bending glory, have some videos:

& lastly, I couldn’t leave the exhibit with some Bowie gifts….

If you haven’t guessed from the postcard and the above video, I really love “Life On Mars”. xoxo

Scrapbooks from long ago…

When moving from NYC to Glasgow and then to multiple flats in London, I stupidly threw away my scrapbooks. I so need to start doing this again. I think my upcoming travels through Europe, Iceland and beyond will be a good inspiration + great time to start collecting things. I went around Selfridges yesterday looking for new moleskines for scrapbooking, only to realise I wasn’t going to pay over £20 for a notebook (I know, I know, don’t shop at Selfridges while on a budget). I’ll find the right notebooks somewhere soon. In the meantime, here are the lonely remains of my old scrapbooks. Why didn’t I take more photos of them?

My new favourite dress.

Who says you need to spend a lot of money to like the way you look? Not me. I bought this black & white polka dot dress for £5 at a jumble sale held at the London music venue, The Lexington, back in January. I have no idea what size it is. The girl who was selling it just kinda threw it at me (in a nice way) and said “I know you’ll fit into it!”. So I took it home, put it in my wardrobe until the cold weather went away (and that took a long, long time…). Finally, a few weeks ago I tried it on and voi la! I love it. Best £5 ever spent.

Here I’m wearing it in Brighton two weeks ago (it goes well with my black cardigan)

& last week at Bowie Weekend at the V&A. Yes, our faces are painted a la Aladdin Sane.


Light Painting

During this wonderful, sunny bank holiday – my husband Daniel and I ventured out to Wandsworth Common after dark and did some light drawing – using this light stick that he made as well as a bunch of fairy lights wrapped together with tape to swing around for making spheres and for “drawing”.

After 2 hours in the cold next to the duck pond (the ducks probably thought they were trippin…), these were our results:

I had to draw a heart.

The rest can be found on Daniel’s flickr page.

George Catlin at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is one of those places in London where I don’t normally think of when deciding to go to an art exhibit, but everytime I go I really enjoy it there. My husband and I already saw the much-hyped, and excellent May Ray exhibit, which is still showing until the end of this month. Then yesterday we stopped in again and this time ended up in the free exhibit on George Catlin’s American Indian portraits. George Catlin, who was from Pennsylvania, traveled to the Western US in the 1830s-1840s and painted portraits of the different tribes he encountered. One interesting piece of information was he found a tribe which is in present-day North Dakota. This tribe had paler skin and some had blue eyes. His theory is that they were descendents of a mythical Welsh settlement from the 1100s. This settlement is indeed mythical, as archeologists deny this settlement existed.

So, I didn’t have any expectations, and I really loved the portraits. Of course, I might be biased. I studied American Indian cultures and history for awhile. Even so, I recommend it to anyone who happens to be in central London and wants to check out a free exhibition. Besides, right outside is that controversial portrait of Kate Middleton, which you can see for yourself. I honestly don’t think it’s that bad.

an Indian woman from the North Dakotan tribe thought to descended from ancient Welsh settlers.

Head Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe

The George Catlin exhibit runs until 23 June.