Friday, 8 May 2009

Cornerhouse: State Legacy, China & Encounters at the End of the World

Unfortunately I missed the exhibition in the Whitworth gallery that I had blogged about, due to nice weather EVERY weekend since intending to go- just can't waste sunny days in England! Despite the soaked-up rays and the resulted happiness through them, I felt a definite void in the culture department. This was completely spontaneously filled when my boyfriend surprised me and picked me up from work, as he was in the area.

Photos from

We decided to go to the Cornerhouse, even if it was just to grab a post-work beer and ended up in the exhibition "State Legacy" presenting previously unseen works by five prominent contemporary Chinese artists. Although my knowledge about China and its history is nearly nil, the radiance of Zeng Li's photographs were so strong it evoked a deep feeling of discomfort as well as admiration for the artist's talent in photographic composition. His series of photographs entitled The Shuicheng Iron and Steel Works, detailing an abandoned factory that had remained hidden amongst mountains during the cold-war. I could feel the harshness and mercilessness of the derelict looking vast whole landscapes of factories, which were badly cared for, treated as badly as the workers within them; I could feel the dirty toxic fumes enter every capillary of my lung which made me shiver.

The other one that stood out for me personally (and wasn't as discomforting) was Sui Jianguo’s Raising Speed on the Railway, a multi-screened projection of a high-speed train as it travels around a circular testing track. We only noticed this clever train element as were were about to leave the exhibition, thinking merely street scenes were being shown.

Illustration by Thomas Plaskitt from

Throughout the exhibition we were thinking about a friend who left last week to live in China for a year. We were imagining the lanky, blond, tall Tom who had never even been outside Europe, looking onto a sea of little black heads beneath him -like in the image above drawn by Tom himself? I felt nervous for him. He will be in a "small" town near Beijing, still with a population of 6 million, teaching English. He's a graphic designer who has been working for a almost year since graduating and is also a graphic novel/comic artist. I am intrigued what inspiration this experience will provide him with but also anxious how he will cope (with the isolation of an expat, especially in China).

Afterwards, we watched Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World" which was released in 2007, as the Cornerhouse does not only show new films. Check out the trailer above! The colours and imagery is inspirational and gave me goosebumps all over. Uniquely beautiful nature and person shots, and a Herzog's commentary adds a dry element of humour. According to one of the interviewed people, these individuals are there because none of the are tied down on this planet, so the all fall down, fall to the most south part of the world- nice thought.

Also, do you know what sounds seals make under water?? They do not sound like they come from any animal in this world, more like synthesizers or lasers!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Top of the Crop (so far)

My fellow blogger (Brighton Fresh) and former colleague Jon is doing some market research in form of "getting inside people's wardrobes", investigating into their favourite & most worn items of clothing. This resulted into me sitting in an ocean of favourite clothes, proving that I don't have "nothing to wear". It also clarified some personal fashion tendencies which is quite interesting as a part of the life-long quest of self-finding.

The Dresses

(I wear them a lot, no stressing about combining)

This perfect Summer dress (H&M), as mentioned in my previous post.

And now to be replaced by this one made by myself.

By 'People Tree', my Christmas dress. I like peacocks.

Vintage dress from NY (according to the label) and customised by myself.

Topshop. Don't own very much Topshop actually. This one looks fit for Summer with a b/w graphic-pattern skirt over the top and with a purple waist belt, matched with canary yellow wedges. Oh yeah, THE outfit for Sonar festival this year.

The Jean, Short and Skirt.

Acid wash Hooch very skinny jeans. Got them for free from work, were a sample.

Mango chino candy PINK shorts. So good and more versitile than you'd think.
The skirt made by me out of not even scrap fabric but those strips of samples you receive from fabric suppliers. Ugly on their own but work well mixed together.

The Coat.

Marc Jacobs. Usually completely unaffordable, it was a lucky find in a closing down shop in Nuremberg.

I appreciate the attention to detail in the sweet printed lining.
Don't have a fave summer jacket... yet!

The Tees.

Insight tee from Indonesia. A donkey wearing ray bans and a bow tie? Can it get any better? Oh yes it can- check out the allover print on the back!

Cheap Monday sale tee. Only had it in medium but loved the print (see below), so customised it with darts around the middle and on the sleeves.

What a print! Seriously.

Admittedly I copied this from a very stylish male friend. Ordered off I like purple and I like unicorns.

And the shoesies.

Office tan leather Granny booties worn a LOT, urban outfitters jelly pumps and purple glitter buckle conversy type sneakers from... coughcough... Primark... they get smelly but I had initially only bought them for a fancy dress ninties party (with high-waisted Diesel bleached&ripped denim hotpants, awful tie-dye leggings and a shoulder-padded red blazer, topped off with body-glitter everywhere) and ended wearing em loads! Might buy the leather version from Topshop or even Kurt Geiger (if the trend hasn't already passed).


"Man wird alt wie 'ne Kuh und lernt immernoch dazu!" (- a German saying, badly translated as: you get as old as a cow and still learn more.)... as in I learned something about my own taste:

My graphic tees seem to incorporate animals (jewelry, too, I have a bird, emu and unicorn necklace), my dresses are printed with graphic patterns and seem to like quite a range of colour, not many of which are dark.

Some of the bits are customised/made by me and bound to be faves as they are made exactly how I want them to be. I like a bit of quirky detailing and cut.

A most worn cardigan, although not featured as it's in the wash and it looks ratty with holes and ladders, is a quite thin knitted anthracite slightly longer merino cardi - another H&M purchase I am sad to see die, and a pair of H&M simple skinny indigo jeans which are holding out well actually. I also should have added in stripey Jack Sparrow Cheap Monday skinnies, no clue where they are they're amazing.

Now I'm curious and want to peek into other people's wardobes! Hope Jon publishes something soon! :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


So the life of your favourite Summer dress is slowly coming to an end. Almost definitely. This one is comfy, you can even shamelessly sit in the lotus position, it's cute, goes with lots I own, is layerable (with tights&cardi it didn't even get a well deserved winter holiday); sometimes I'll even wear it as a kind of dressing gown, first thing to throw on in the morning and mooch around all day in on a Sunday.
... Herein may lie the root of this tragic death: the poor thing is from H&M. Only worn 2 Summers it has outlived its expected life span for a garment from this chain. SO, instead of lament and wail through the nights, I will seek hope in the depth of my soul...

.... and sew myself a new one!

Yup that turquoise one there is the one. Then at least I'd have someone to complain to if it fell apart anytime sooner or later. Easy peasy, really. I googled smocked dress, chose a printed cotton fabric and in it took about as long as running around town, inspecting all dresses, trying them on and never finding the one I had imagined in my perfect summer dress fantasies or if I did it would be too pricey or not available in my size.

This is how:

1. The chosen one is a printed simple, light cotton fabric I got from a clear-out of the fabric team at work. Make sure it's not too light i.e. transparent, unless that is an effect you actually want. Mine happens to already be just the width I need, therefore no fabric at all is wasted, one cut for the length, that's all! Just keep some spare for straps. Then I hem top and bottom.

2. Wind the elastic bobbin thread. Now, I read that it has to be done by hand, but it depends on your elastic. It works fine (not amazing) with my first one, a thicker type, until that one runs out. My new, unfortunately different thread type suddenly it doesn't work. I try mechanically winding it, as I would non-elastic thread, and it works! Even better actually, the shirring turns out tighter and more regular! Test it beforehand on scrap fabric, check the tension and how much it shirrs.

3. Draw lines on the fabric along which you will do your shirring-sewing with chalk (pencil) or special marker that will disappear later (better option) on the right of the fabric, as your elastic bobbin is on the other side (obviously).

4. Shirr away! Drrrr, drrr, drrr, clickclick, snip and tie a knot at the end so it doesn't come undone.

5. Now, there are different ways of proceeding at this stage depending on the needed width and desired style, but I am keeping it simple for the first born one and sew the selvages together which creates a single seam along the centre back and also means no edge finishing is necessary.

6. This can already be a finished strapless dress! I'm having mine with straps however for added practicality, no risk of flashing the general public by accident. I cut one strip ironed it and sewed it.

As I want to be flexible and have an excuse to use buttons I decide on the strap solution shown above which also means they are detachable (aha, tricky me) and I can get a tan-line free tan if I want to and flash the general public when feeling cheeky! (Never really get that urge though.) I chose azure blue glass buttons from the wonderful Mauerpark Sunday flea market in Berlin I had visited last Summer.

I sew on a little side pocket as pockets are almost as good as buttons, but I take it off again as I preferred the simplicity. Also, when wearing I found my especially chosen fabric is a bit stiff due to the all-over print but hopefully that will give with lots of wear&washing.

Something I might try next time is the strap solution below (found a while ago on urban outfitters website) but moreover the shirred panel which means the dress will fit more than strictly one size and through the elastication an opening like a zip (always fiddly to insert) unnecessary.

C'est tout!