back again

I thought maybe I could write something about this Romania trip, because it was really very good.
First time in a while that I have been on holiday just being on holiday and not doing something else then holiday-ing, and that was excellent.
We flew to Bukarest from a very sleepy Leipzig airport where Lufthansa gives you free coffee and newspapers, not even I could stress enough to be afraid of flying, the whole thing just being incredibly relaxed.
From Bukarest we took a train to Craiova from the impre
ssing trainstation, three hours of trainride over complete flat landscape, the slowest train I think I have ever been on, had time to fall asleep and wake up a million times. We went to Craiova because Timo has made the graphic design for a new exhibition space opening there called "Club Electroputere". A friend of ours, Alexandru Niculescu and his friend Adrian Bojenoiu are in charge and the first show was called "the Romanian Cultural Resolution", it was previously showed in Leipzig this spring and now they have taken it back home, the Club Electroputere was in an old building strangely fitted for an exhibition space with an old extremely hot cinema room, where they showed a brilliant film about the rise and fall of the Dacia cars, "My Beautiful Dacia" great film, see it if you can.
We spent some lazy days walking around Craiova and helping Alex with the show, we lived with his mum in one of the big blocks of flats so present in the city, sometimes with one floor painted
or one balcony at the time. Alex's mum cooked us an incredible amount of food and we looked at street dogs and took taxi's around the place since Alex insisted taxis was to best way to travel, more taxis and more food then I have had in my whole life probably. The opening was nice too and afterwards we left for the country side, a small village called Cetate which means little castle, and there we stayed in a little castle, an empty one a bit outside the village. It is meant to be turned into a residency space sometime soon but now it only has madrases inside and we slept outside on the beautiful balcony. That place was amazing, would love to go back there! Joachim and Timo went swimming in Donau and I made images most of the time, the place was just great, big empty stables, rabbits, two horses, a little crow, dogs and big deserted gardens.Happy days.
Then we got on a train back to Bukarest to see some of the city, Ceauşescu's mad palace that now hosts the parliament for example. This palace is huge, we walked around in ball rooms and congresshalls, in long corridors and one room more decorated then the other. The guide unfortunately only told us about how much marble had been used in building it, how many meters of red carpet (lots..) an how heavy the curtains were (500 kg) rather the actually telling about the fact that
Ceauşescu had torn down a huge part of Bukarest in order to build it, and how much it had cost to complete and where on earth he got the money from and what actually led up to his execution, I reckon that would have interested people more but I suppose that's the class in Romanian history and not in that of the palace. But he started building it in 1983 and that's so odd, the house is so "young" but because it's made up mainly of red carpets and marble it really doesn't feel like something coming out of the late 80s... Standing on one of the balconies and looking out on the "Champs Elysees" he had built in front of the palace gave me a very creepy feeling. Just mad.
Apart from that I think we mainly walked around and drank coffee and ate aubergine most of the time. We went to a bar on the top of the National Theatre and in the elevator saw a woman embroidering the Dacia cars, she had stepped right out of the film from the other night and now she was sitting in this elevator just like in the film, taking the beautiful young Bukarest crowd up to the top floor for the bar. It was great walking around all the streets of Bukarest, all the houses in different sizes and colors and the labyrinth feeling of the old parts, but the best part was being in that small castle on the country side seeing all the people on their horses and eating such delicious vegetables..i mean, they taste so good..but maybe everything tastes good when eaten on the Romanien countryside next to a long abandoned little castle where I never thought I would find myself. As we left the whole city was covered in rain rain rain rain and it felt rather good to be on a plane going above the clouds although I hate it and now we are back in Leipzig again. Tonight I might go and see a film about Wolfgang Tillmans in the great Luru Kino.
So, that was a small tale from Romania.


Backwards logic for a backwards image

The other day I went to get some photocopies at the Brixton's premier digital solution: XEROX. The solution is ran by a man with an indeterminate accent and wan, dusty complexion. He has greasy slicked back receding hair and glasses (ordinary glasses, not receding glasses) and teeth like a line of subsiding gravestones. He is gorgeous! I asked if he could reverse an image and, because the place is not self service, passed him the A4 drawing. Like a man helming a thick, irritating, talking computer in a 70's TV sci-fi show he pressed about 67 buttons, paused, applied ointment to his exhausted fingertip, then pressed 15 more buttons. The machine whirred, sighed then coughed out the mirror image. “Two pounds,” said the gorgeous man. “Two pounds,” I shrieked, “what for?” “It's reversed,” he said. “Reversed! It's the same ink on the same size of paper!” I heckled, knowing fine well that reversing things does not increase the value. I do not look in the mirror when feeling 676864.76 pounds (1 million dollars - but I feel its important to use British currency so you know exactly how much I value myself on these occasions) and think that's a 1353729.52 pound (2 million dollar) reflection. If anything I come down in price. Usually to around three or four quid. Life eh. Ho hum.


Hot weather, soap & short lived crime genres

Hot weather and work made me feel filthy today: this brought with it a desire to shower and this the recollection of how I always brought Grandma Jean soap for Christmas - not because she was smelly you understand but simply because, based on her first heartfelt thank you, I thought she liked the stuff. But did she? Years later I stayed at her home during my university summer holiday and, being innately inquisitive (nosey), unlocked the small wardrobe in the bedroom I was sleeping in. And what did I find? I found an immaculately constructed wall of soap bars that would have graced any Tetris championship. She had not used a single bloody block! Even the small fruit shaped hand soaps were cobbling a corner. 'Why why why?' I hollered, then more calmly, 'Yes why?' Well being a innately compelled to nasally intrude upon that which did not concern me (they were her soaps after all, who was I to stipulate how she used them? Indeed was it not at this time I was using the flailing limbs of drowning cat to help me achieve thoroughly bubbly baths [taps alone just do not get the job done]). Anyway I unbricked that potentially slippery wall and what did I find? Yes, that's right, a corpse... I'll not go into details (obviously she was using the soap tomb to cover the stench of the decay): the story, you might remember, was in the news and started the short lived crime fiction genre 'clean macabre,' which appealed to house proud women with a taste for the gruesome, and led to a rewrite of Macbeth featuring the line: 'Out damn spot! Ah yes it's gone now.' The subsequent Christmas, for a change, I gave Grandma Jean a toothbrush holder in celebration of her lovely teeth. She thanked me and revealed her teeth were false. Smile, gratitude: it seems the only true thing about Grandma Jean is my story.


Saturday night.

Encountered Brixton's drug scene outside KFC: the police tolerate it – anything to prevent the kids from getting hooked on nuggets. Dope heads or obese bodies, one of the dilemmas facing Lambeth Council. However the compromise has resulted in obese heads (disproportionately large heads perched on wilting bodies) which the victims - old and young - wheel around in prams.


Yesterday I watched 'Cracks' directed by Jordan Scott and starring Eva Green. It is a beautiful, sumptuous film with lots of lovely costumes and plummy British accents. I have not made my mind up about the script because I was too busy devouring all the imagery and scenery, wishing I was living in the 1930s. However I thought it linked quite nicely with all the posts about swimming recently.

p.s the title of the film is 30s slang for having a crush on someone.

Cranial deformation

Here are some different kinds of Incan cranial deformation in Marcajirca... To shape a skull like this you had to start on young skulls while they were still soft and then bind them with cloth and boards and things. I feel like these skulls would fit under the skin of some of my line drawings. I have an affinity for them. They all look coy in a way that I quite like.... maybe because they've been photographed like members of the Brady Bunch. But aren't they amazing?

photo courtesy of here


London then and now...

London: a city rich in history. 'Hih, yeah, we all knew that,' you say – but did we all knew (know) that the city was built in celebration of the capitalist board game Monopoly. Indeed in the early days a Monopoly board doubled as a map of the city and tourists could be seen holding aloft these playing mats while galavanting around the square in top hats, boots and other oversized markers. Fortunately the city quickly outgrew its ludicrous origins: the one-way dice-operated transport system was replaced by 'The Underground' (a series of warrens created by a giant coin operated rabbit that escaped its enclosure at London Zoo [to this day it has not been captured: some speculate it burrowed under the ocean to France, although there is no proof of that]) and the labyrynthine streets were made negotiable by the A-Z. However for those keen to see old London its not all change: to this day criminals fester in the city's jails desperately trying againt all odds (well 12:2 odds) to roll double six.

Monday Joy


Swedish Arts Swim Gents

Lovely Storyville documentary about the first men's synchronized swim team in Sweden. A club started by a bunch of not terribly athletic middle-aged men "in response to the meaninglessness of life." My friend's brother is on the team, and they've always intrigued me. This is the first time I've ever seen them and the visual of these hairy 30 or 40-something men sinking and floating gracefully in a bright blue pool is almost better than the one I'd constructed in my mind.

On BBC iPlayer now... here

Disposable Clothing

Manufactured in 1979 were these beautiful, stylish 'Disposable' Swimsuits. For those of us who forgot our swimsuits when on holiday...? I found them- his and hers- in a thrift store in Philadelphia for $3 each.
The packaging said they were disposable (up to three wears) but durable too. I'm not entirely sure who wants disposable swimwear, but I love the idea and I dont know why. Especially when it looks So Good.
Its not as if packing a swimsuit is particularly large or heavy or inconvenient... is it?

Sally Mann

Sally Mann opened her solo show at The Photographers' Gallery last night. Her luminescent prints emit a glow. Her large glass negatives present a gentle shift in focus, which crosses most of her frames. Each presents a very tactile image broken frequently by imperfection.

I loved the pictures, my eyes enjoyed monochrome imagery for a change, my heart enjoyed the care taken to make the pictures with an ancient process*, and the reality in the analogue prints created in me a sense of relief.
She consistenly depicts a delicate pain in beauty, and for me tore visual symbolism from stereotype.
Go see.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collodion_process *

Albino Peacock

There's an albino peacock at the Science Museum. It's more exciting to me than a unicorn or even a dolphin leaping in a lagoon with a rainbow and a sunset.



After a week in Glasgow I'm hard at work trying to think of another project to incorporate all of our talents and our Glaswegians including Ben and his screenprinting and, our most recent acquisition from Glasgow, Richard. Hopefully, we can combine to make a magazine/newspaper with writing and illustration...

On the way to Romania

After the lovely weekend in Berlin this week is rushing forward at top speed. I am trying to get a million things done at the same time and therefore achieving next to nothing.Tomorrow morning at 6 me, Joachim and Timo fly to Romania. They have both been there before but I haven't and I think it will be great, feels very good to travel outside my usual triangel Britain-Sweden-Germany.
In Berlin I discovered the galleries behind Hamburger Bahnhof and got strangely disgusted by Damien Hirst's installation of two glass cabinets full with flies, a bleeding cowhead and some plastic chairs. The sound, small flame and fall every time a fly flew into the electrical grill was rather disturbing when watched repeatedly and so close. I decided to wait with the Biennale and instead walked around the city with Tim. We made it to the opening mentioned below in the evening, a show curated by Silja Leifsdottir, also a Glasgow School of Art graduate. She had done a fine work and the Grimm Projects had two beautiful rooms, so it looked very good. I particularly liked the odd feeling of touching a giant floating stone in a small bath and the way Kristina showed her slide in the room on a paper attached to strings, very elegant.
For those of you who are in London, there's a small image of mine in the new issue of Brand magazine, so have a look at that if you can come across it. Today I am packing and arranging a lot of things before leaving, I want to rebuild my studio into a stage, paint the walls and pick up some wood to get started. So, time to head off now and see how far I get today. Maybe you will hear from me in Romania, or maybe afterwards in a week. ciao

I drew the whole world today.



This is really quite devastating but helps to put the oil spill in the gulf into perspective. David Mccandles hammers the unimaginable scale and tragedy of this home more than all the articles. I feel like I should stop drawing and contribute more tangibly, or fight, or just feel bad.


More Maps.


Multitasking and technology

There was quite an interesting article in the New York Times about how technology (specifically the multitasking that it invites) affects our brains. Among other things some studies have found that people who rate themselves as big multitaskers actually perform worse at tasks you'd think multitasking would develop. You can test yourself and see how you rank in focus and in switching tasks. I scored surprisingly well considering I first meant to read this article online almost a week ago, and then finally read it in the New York Times bit of the Observer whilst painting my nails, drinking coffee and organizing my Sunday...

I'm a total sucker for tests.


Sigmar Polke 1941 - 2010.

From clockwise, top left:
  1. Untitled (series Höhere Wesen befehlen) 1965.
  2. Six uranium stone photographs 1982.
  3. Richter - ab sept ständig im kino.
  4. Untitled (Punkte und Streifenformen 1965.


Berlin fun

The last week has been pure summer in Leipzig, swimming in lakes and seeing the one new biergarden open after the other, this place is absolutely beautiful right now but still Im heading to Berlin on adventures tomorrow. The exhibition above is opening and that should be great and the 6th Berlin Biennale is happening too.
Just came home after a rather nice evening watching a theater play in the park and then some VM, as it is starting today. Sweden is having a crap year, no Eurovision song contest and no soccer.. so I suppose I have to find some other country to support, that or watch every game.
But watching them outside in lovely warm summer evenings in the new beautiful biergarden next to a small canal and an empty factory in plagwitz is actually really tempting.. Getting an early train tomorrow so should try and pack some things and go to sleep.
Great to have Berlin just a small train ride away. Needless to say Im very much looking forward to it!

What the cat bought in.

It was with a mixture of pride and disgust that I greeted the kitty this morning. Pride, because I am practically his mother in a human's body and it was his first kill. Disgust, because he killed something so small and beautiful. I have tried to identify it, and I think it's a Grey Wagtail, making it even worse because they are on amber status on the RSPB site. Needless to say he was a very very happy kitty.

When the sun was shining

Drawing day in the park last Friday, when it was glorious and beaming.

print print

Just enjoying the loot from my visit to the lovely Ben's screenprinting studio and seeing all of the prints he's been making for everyone everyone...Talk of collaborations and test prints to come. Also enjoying the newish cd from Sparkling Shadazz (this link doesn't do them justice, but it's a start) that's all beautifully hand-screenprinted and designed by Ben. I won't let anyone else open it and I will never unstick the sticker....nuh uh.


New Places.

Dinner at Rachael's new flat on Saturday night. Don't worry she is getting her dangerous looking antique cooker replaced very soon. I highly recommend Hackney Downs as a lovely place to live!

On the buses.

On the 67 it is very hard to draw in straight lines. This I have learnt.


In Glasgow now with Izzie. We've been piecing together a little project in between Jack's squeals of 'Mummy' and 'Cuddle.' Here's a wee preview. It's a pepper-sprayer! Hopefully more to come. Inspired by Lewis Carroll's photography... I want to make more sets and such... I'm thinking of making a series of paper weaponry....


Belegged House

Just made Esben a baby-grow on occasion of his birth. Was quite pleased with it. I got to use the t-shirt design skills that I've been honing in my workshop... Could happily do lots more. Have another newborn to bequeath a little thing to, so that's a start.

Magnificent Maps.

Today has been completely awesome for several reasons. Let me tell you my top 10 things of today:
  1. I woke up at 5.30 am with a hungry belly and snook downstairs for a snack of coco pops, which was made even better with the company of the kitty. We then both wriggled back into bed, after a few cat-in-hair adjustments, and slept til ten.
  2. Upon waking Joe made me a sausage sandwich and ketchup. He hates ketchup.
  3. I met up with Sophia in Somerstown and wolfed down a yummy croque-monsieur, whilst avoiding becoming involved in an altercation between the barman and a poor boy collecting market research clutching a box of choc-ices. Overhearing guide book local knowledge and straining to catch more about windows.
  4. At the jumble sale I bought Zola's 'Nana', a beautiful dinky little Sekonda watch made in the USSR and a pearl bird brooch. Score!
  5. The sun shone.
  6. Cappuccino, Earl Grey and two cigarettes in the sun.
  7. Visiting 'Magnificent Maps' at the British Library and learning it was free. I highly recommend you visit if you can. It was a-mazing! Maps are cool, and don't let anyone tell you different. My head is still mapping the possibilities...(hm excuse the pun.) p.s the website for the exhibition is an interactive map adventure, be sure to have a play.
  8. Bumping into unexpected old and/or new friends is always an unexpected joy and/or leg shaking.
  9. Not being wholly satisfied with the British Library's selection of map posters - really, they need to get their act together - but buying Wenceslaus Hollar's Map of London. see picture.
  10. More tea, drawing, tuna-cheese toasty and Antonioni's 'Blow Up'.

  • 3.6.10

    Molteni & C

    Grafik Magazine recently reviewed the Molteni catalogue and my illustrations that are inside.

    A surprise discovery.

    Stumbled across this billboard in Hackney Central the other day. Was odd because I was the only person who knew it was my drawings, to complete strangers I look like a M&S enthusiast or a loon. Either way, I was happy.


    My ethics for happy eggs go out the window when I see a lovely package like this... How fickle.


    back from amsterdam

    Finally I get to update. Am back in a very rainy Leipzig, has the volcano ash something to do with this? After a week of
    absolute sunshine in Amsterdam, where the exhibition is now up and running. Some images here at Gabriel Rolt's webpage
    I feel quite happy now when all three parts are finished and all three catalogs are made. A rare feeling so I
    had to congratulate myself with a pat on the shoulder and then immediately move on to something else. Now I am trying to write, apply and get to grips with the german bureaucracy, which proves to be a nightmare but the good thing
    is that my head is full off bookmarkets and flea markest in amsterdam, sunshine and beer so that makes it a bit easier to be confronted with a pile of papers. To not have a fast internet connection makes me nervous, it takes forever to read the Swedish or English newspapers and get and idea about what's happening in Gaza and the rest of the world outside this flat. The option is to get a German newspaper, but I have no idea which one, any tips? The man above with the two heads is from Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, I forgot to look if it was Hercules or some other grimm story of chopping off heads.

    Finally, it makes me very sad to hear that
    Louise Bourgeois has passed away. There is an exhibition of hers in Berlin at the moment, together with Hans Bellmer and I will definitely go and have a look at it. Beautiful image that you posted Sophia.

    Louise Bourgeois

    Louise Bourgeois has died. She was 98. The world is a bit paler without her... Case in point, here she is in her 80's shot by Bruce Webber. It's from an advert for Helmut Lang, he made her a crown.