Thursday, 26 February 2015

More Than #FreeTheNipple at Hoxton Gallery

After a hearty brunch at Bill's Hoxton Square, one of my friends took us to Hoxton Gallery at The Arch while we wait for KK Outlet to open, and before heading to the International Fashion Showcase in Brewer Street car park.

Impossible Instant Lab Universal had a photography exhibit dubbed "8x8": eight works each by eight distinctive instant photographers.

My HTC worked better in taking these shots, so apart from the photos of the venue, everything else came from my camera phone. 


The Hoxton Gallery at The Arch in the heart of London's East End, is an events venue and short-term gallery which reminds me of war underground tunnels or bunkers with its exposed bricks and distressed features. Even the way 'Gallery' is written above isn't perfect, which makes it even more appealing. It's like a woman's tousled hair: looks natural and effortless but surely has a put-together element.

I didn't know what to expect to in the gallery, but I quickly warmed to the images when I saw that they're mostly black x white, not flawless, and tackle raw sexuality.

These ones are from Kate Bellm, a fashion photographer who celebrates youth and sexual freedom.

My friend Chris Bramaje, a professional photographer himself, captured me while capturing Scout Willis's shots.

The Willis girls (Yes, none other than Bruce's) are getting a reputation for being quite liberal. I say quite, as one of them, Scout Willis, has only posed topless on Instagram and Twitter. Should she start walking naked in her neighbourhood, then she's more libertine than Dominique Strauss-Kahn can define the word.

Turns out the #FreeTheNipple campaigner is really serious about instant photography. Now, haters and the righteous will brand her work as exhibitionist as she takes photos of pubic hair, mons pubis, and other female body parts. But that is no different from men and women constantly posting photos of themselves half-naked or nearly naked on their Facebook or Instagram profiles which are so public, by the way. Or even selfie addicts whose every little twitch of existence visually assault us, or whose every photo is carefully composed, I wonder if they went to school to study their best angles.

Not defending this young woman, but we are all exhibitionists in our own way. Some are just cringe-worthy. And still others are just plainly declaring their undying self-love.

The above photos are by Scout Willis (don't know though if she was also the subject), while this one below is by Oliver Blohm. Bhlom is a Berlin-based fashion and portrait photographer who experiments with and pushes the technical limits of photography. I believe the below photo was created using a technique that involves placing a polaroid while being developed, behind a working microwave oven, to create the distressed vintage appearance.

There's always something on show in the gallery, so pop in when you're in the area.

9 Kingsland Road
E2 8AA London

Sunday, 22 February 2015

DOLL HOUSE: An Exhibition by Hattie Stewart at KK OUTLET Hoxton Square

The one aspect of blogging that I'm very thankful for is meeting like-minded people who may not blog about the same topics, but have the same purpose of sharing thoughts and finds that we may otherwise not come across mainstream news platforms. 

Kizzy Doll of  The Dainty Dolls House is one of them. She's all pinks and purples, unicorns and glitters, quirky and animated. She's bubblegum pink, and hearts and dainty bows. She's most things I'm not, but some things I love (we're both into fashion, albeit different genres, but both drawn into the unconventional). I sometimes wonder how people can be perky and chirpy at all times; she does it in the most colourful fashion.

One of the virtual friends and supporters I've made on blogosphere, I didn't think twice about offering to pop into an exhibit in East London which she would have loved to see had she been able to come down from Scotland. 

Via Instagram, I came to know about Hattie Stewart and her works through Kizzy. On behalf of my lovely blogger friend, come and take a look at Hattie Stewart's premiere London solo exhibition, Doll House. Described as attention-grabbingly flirtatious, some of the East London-based ace illustrator's previously unseen works are on display. Customised leather jackets, neon signages, holograms, and magazine front covers are also on show. Her signature doodles are also her cheeky take on the media's blatant manipulation of female role models.

Shit Bananas, acrylic paint x posca on paper, 300mm x 300mm, £400

SheSaw, acrylic paint x posca on paper, 400mm x 400mm, £450

Call Me Baby, posca on sourced call girl cards (lol) --her words :D, 2 x A6, £400

Ben Dover, acrylic paint x posca on paper, 10" x 8", £350

A reminder under each jacket: (Please & ta) look but don't touch yeah!

My wardrobe staple: a cool leather jacket. I'm currently on the lookout for a new one and would happily grab one of these if budget's no object. In the meantime, I'll stick to the classic while I drool over these.

Pandemonium Pussy Party, acrylic paint x posca on vintage leather, £1300

Good Girl Gang, acrylic paint x posca on vintage leather, £1300

The Snake Charmers, acrylic x posca on vintage leather, £1300

Ladies of Lunch, acrylic paint x posca on vintage leather, £1300

hEILA yELIa, acrylic paint x posca on paper, 210mm x 297mm, £350

Hattie Stewart's Doodle-Bombings, acrylic paint x posca on various magazine publications, £625 each

Doodle-Bombing for Playboy, £625

Billed as one of the most remarkable magazines on women currently in circulation, The Gentlewoman is sold at KK Outlet, with Björk at its front cover.

KK Outlet in Hoxton Square is the London outpost of KesselsKramer, a Dutch independent communications agency. The gallery and bookshop in East London host collaborative shows and exhibitions, and carries books that can't be found elsewhere. 

You still got time. Doll House runs until 28 February 2015.

42 Hoxton Square
N1 6PB
United Kingdom

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Painting The Town Fifty Shades of (Light) Grey

I stopped at p. 20 of the first of the series of Fifty Shades of Grey and was cursing Amazon Kindle app for not having a refund policy. So, I can't compare the book with the movie, or validate most reviews's claims that the book was much better than the film.

I can't join conversations on Breaking Bad as I have not seen the entire series, so I decided that I'm not gonna be all highbrow about this movie and not see it at all in protest of it being such a pop culture phenomenon that I'm having none of it.

Let's face it, sex sells. All of us buying into it have afforded the author an Edwardian house in Ealing, West London, that's on my friend's lottery-win wish list, and an apparently 500K (not sure whether it's in US dollars or GBP) paycheck everyday. Not bad, ey?

So, for £11.50 (including card fees as the ticket was purchased online and my girlfriend didn't have 10 pence change), I had to find value for my hard-earned Sterling and some redeeming qualities about this film that took up nearly 3 hours of my already draining Valentine's Day. The draining part is another story which was metaphorically sadist in its on way, albeit personally inflicted. 

But I digress --which happens when it's past two in the morning and thoughts have to be put to bed.

So, if you have not seen or read erotica before (seriously?), and have not read the book or have read the book, but not sure what to expect, here's a little round-up of my thoughts and  justifications for watching it amongst Valentine movie-goers rather than wait for a month or two to rent it for £3.50 via BT Vision:

That Dakota Johnson, who played the lead role of Anastasia Steele, didn't sound like her mother Melanie Griffith, whom although I adored for her role on Working Girl, has one of the most annoying speaking voices in Hollywood. No, make that showbusiness. No, make that the whole world. That purring kitty catty voice (sounds like fingernails scraping down a blackboard, says the Mr.) may be sexy to some men, but it really does my head in. Speak up woman! But at the same time, that voice inspired me to stretch (or flex?) my diaphragm (the muscle, not the contraceptive cup) when speaking.

That Don Johnson, of Miami Vice and white linen suit fame, and the father of Dakota, can actually look good as a 25-year-old woman in a dress. Or with breasts. 

Christian Grey's mother's scarf, and how elegant it was. 

Christian Grey's (Jamie Dornan's) peachy backside. Yes!

That they're indeed no longer called neckties because ties aren't used around the neck anymore. 

That grey can be the colour of vanilla.

Christian Grey's line, "I'm not into necrophilia". Yes, gentlemen, hands off drunken women.

That Taylor, Mr Grey's driver, played by Max Martini, was much hotter than his boss. I wish to see him in part II sneaking in to the Red Room of Pain for his own shady shenanigans.

That you'll find the movie much more enjoyable with Gin and Tonic in hand. 

That the film was quite comical: the lines, the cliches ("I don't make love, I f**k. Hard", according to Mr Grey), the acting. C'mon, help me out here.

Overheard by my friend by the tills while collecting her ticket, "...just to manage your expectations, you won't see any genitals." 

If that's not a deal-breaker, then Mr Grey will see you now.

Seen the film? All shades of thoughts welcome.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Revisiting the Museum of Broken Relationships

My social media have been a flurry of engagements, marriage proposals, and weddings, I was reminded that Valentine's Day is just around the corner. 

I'm not anti-Valentine's, but it certainly is not a red-letter occasion in my calendar. During my younger dizzyingly in love days, buying into this very commercial lovapalooza was brought about by keeping up with what the rest of the world was into. 

I still believe in love, but not the fluffy, cotton-candy, sickeningly maudlin type any more. 

"Love to me, tastes more like licorice now: still sweet but with an aftertaste of fennel --not for everyone, but fancied by some."

So while most people will be loved up on the 14th of Feb, I'll be in the cinema with my girlfriends to see 'Fifty Shades of Grey' for a very good laugh, and instead of posting love quotes by Alain de Botton, I'm revisiting an old post from two years ago which is an anticlimax to the happy occasion we're all supposed to be celebrating.

Where do broken hearts go?


Or the remnants left by its trail?

When a relationship regretfully ends, the natural reaction is not to see a physical reminder of the time we spent with that special someone. Memories are already a handful to contend with, and it is human nature to avoid anything that further inflicts pain.

Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić didn't subscribe to that all-too familiar couple resolution of getting rid of items shared together or given to each other during the course of the relationship. Perhaps because theirs was an amicable separation, the sentimental value of everything didn't feel like a dagger deliberately plunged into them, whether out of rage or depth of despair. While sifting through the household items and gifts to be divided between them, the two joked about housing them in a museum. 
Turned out it wasn't a bad idea at all. In 2006, the first collection was shown to the public, together with donations from friends' break-up oddments. 

Nine years on, the Museum has won the Kenneth Hudson Award for the most innovative museum in Europe in 2011, has a permanent location in the baroque Kulmer palace, partners with exhibitors in other countries, now has a souvenir shop that sells shirts with the affirmation 'I Love Break-Ups' and bookmarks that advise you to 'Turn Over A New Leaf', and a Brokenships Café that... "gives you a chance to pull yourself together after an emotional whirlwind caused by the exhibition, in a quiet and pleasant atmosphere accompanied by the sounds of good music."


Tagged as one of the world's Top 10 Weirdest Museums (Lyz Pfister for TravelNerd, 19 April 2013) together with the likes of New Delhi's International Museum of Toilets; Iceland's Phallological Museum; Berlin's Currywurst Museum; and Minnesota's Spam (yes, the tinned ham) Museum, the Museum of Broken Relationships offers asylum to odds and ends of once considered objects of affection. 

"We have rituals for other important phases in our lives; donating a token of an old love in a way, is a celebration to purge one's self of a woebegone romantic past." 

The location, duration of the relationship, and the story behind the item encapsulate the lovers' tale.

A Display of Broken Dreams

 A wedding dress, 1994-1997, Berlin, Germany

The woman writes about wearing this dress on their wedding day on 20 August 1994 in Greece. 800 guests witnessed the ceremony and a radio station had a special coverage of the occasion.They married young, just over 20. He wanted children. Lots of them. The sooner the better. She wanted to wait after finishing their studies. Youth matched with a conflicting vision was the combination that made them drift apart. Relationships are never simple as you see it from the outside. They eventually separated. She moved back to and settled in Germany where she finally started a family. Life doesn't hesitate when the time is right.

A glass horse, 1982-1997, Maribor, Slovenia

In a closet, tucked inside a cash box with her wedding ring, the wife recalls that day in Murano, Venice. After some cakes at Café Gondoliere, the couple made a quick decision to visit the glass workshops of Murano. An artist was sculpting a beautiful glass horse and out of sheer admiration, she exclaimed she'd be happy to have it. It was a long walk back to their hotel. Pure bliss meant only a few words were exchanged between them. Before reaching the hotel, the husband kissed her and handed her a small package. He said, "Darling, I love you. I'll never stop loving you. You are my life." She opened the package and inside was the glass horse. 20 years on, they divorced. He fell out of love. 

An ex axe, 1995, Berlin, Germany

 After a three-week business trip, she came home to her lover who dropped the bomb. She was leaving her for someone else she just met four days ago while her partner's away on business. The lover immediately went on holiday for 14 days with her new girlfriend. At sixes and sevens on how to vent her anger, she found herself purchasing an axe. It went down on the furniture her ex-lover left in her apartment. With each day the erstwhile partner was away, she axed a piece of her furniture. When she came back after two weeks to collect her belongings, all that remained of her furniture was neatly arranged in a heap. The jilted lover wanted her to feel loss which she never displayed on the break-up. It was therapeutic.

Underpants, 2003 - 2005, Zagreb, Croatia
  "A size too small...but I didn't mind at all."

A cell phone, 12 July 2003 - 14 April 2004, Zagreb, Croatia
 "It was 300 days too long. He gave me his cell phone so I couldn't call him anymore."

Garterbelts, Spring-Autumn 2003, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had."

A woman from Switzerland speaks of her ex-boyfriend, "He turned out to be as cheap and shabby as his presents." Next to the label is an unopened packet containing a candy G-string (source: 'That Was Then', The Economist, 25 November 2010).


 "Doesn't work", a donor says of a tin sold as "Love Incense". (source: Display of Affection by Andrew Mueller, The Guardian, 12 February 2011)

A broad-bean heater, shaving kit, a flashing dog collar, a tear container, a wedding album. The museum is a very eclectic collection of bric-a-brac that speaks volumes of personal stories from funny and hilarious to poignant and heart-wrenching. As one Trip Advisor reviewer puts his visit into perspective, the Museum of Broken Relationships is a " for laughs and reflections."

Can't get any better than that.

I have been to Croatia but not to Zagreb. One day I'll pay a visit to the museum, but only for a visit, and hopefully not to leave something behind.

How about you? Still keeping something worth donating to the museum? 

Ćirilometodska 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
 +385 1 4851 021

Credits: all photos except those from specified sources are from; texts are based on the write-ups from the same website.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


 Perhaps we're more concerned about memories than ever before.
The size of it. The amount of it. How to expand them. How to store them.  How we don't want to lose ours.

And when we do, how to retrieve them.

My 5-year-old portable external hard drive conked out. Lost are photos of my maternal grandparents and some of my father's, who have all passed, and some more which only existed digitally. 

  I took it to my ever reliable tech geek who's sorted out past electronic gadgets issues, but even he couldn't undo the damage. My hard drive has to be sent to a data recovery company that charges a minimum of £60 depending on the gigabytes to be salvaged. My dormant haggling prowess surfaced and I bargained to retrieve only those precious ones which are no longer in my laptop's internal hard drive. If only.

He promised that he'll find the best deal and let me know. In the meantime, the external hard drive sits in the cupboard with an old mobile and lots of cables, awaiting resuscitation.

The 250gb external hard-drive was a steal for roughly £20 5 years ago, but some of the photos (I'd say 80% are still backed up in my old laptop, my new Western Digital My Passport, and Dropbox) are priceless and irreplaceable. I had one of those getting-chased-by-light-bulb-moments in the bath again when I thought of how much that nifty little gadget holds a compressed version of my past, either in full colour or black and white. 

When we realise that some memories are or may be irretrievably lost, we panic at the thought of not being able to replace them. Or worse, recreate them. We think about how we could have possibly protected those memories, or even weeded out the ones we'd rather not keep.

We decide whether we've held those memories in the right place or not, and just in case it was the latter, to look back with no regrets. 

Like my broken portable hard drive, I had a memory lapse. Since we've started stashing away files and photos on floppy disks (shows how far back my digital CV goes), hard disks (overwriting them again and again in the process until they give up on you), zip disks, memory sticks, memory cards, portable hard drives, and online storage, we have abandoned the traditional folders and albums. Along the way of constant downloading and uploading, we stopped printing.

Yes, it's true that it's expensive, even when done at home. As our lives have become more and more mobile, we opt for less clutter and easy storage. Gone are the days when my grandmother, whom I saw less and less when I moved to the city, would take out her old photo albums from her wardrobe that smelt of her perfume from the 50s, and go through each and every photograph with me even though we have seen it many times over. The photos were fading around the edges, some frayed, some too fragile to hold, but they survived the war, family events, births and deaths. 

Some sitting rooms in family homes have that one fixture which is the focal point that draws in guests: the piano, where framed family photographs are displayed. I don't have a piano, but I have some framed photographs by the frontroom window, in the good company of my beautiful vase with my favourite alstroemeria flowers. I think that's a good start to having physical keepsakes of memories.

Meanwhile, my data recovery saga continues. . .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...