A glass asylum with just a hint of mayhem

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Art is hard. It takes time, energy, materials, printer ink...and yet it is by far the most rewarding subject to take at school. To be able to create projects, develop concepts, and even (sort of) have your art displayed in an exhibition is one of the best paybacks you can get for everything that you put in. You can physically see all of your hard work and effort, and to me seeing finished pieces means much more than just grades written on a sheet of paper.
I have definitely not felt this way about art for the whole of the two years I have been studying it. My first project saw me too scared to attempt anything other than a few faint pencil drawings; my paints watered down so much they made my canvas wrinkle and sag. The second was not much better...I worked sporadically on random concepts, producing half-finished pieces that had the potential to make sense, but with so little preparation work, just didn't. I was lost in a world of refining and developing that I didn't understand, and felt I wasn't able to participate in as I wasn't as skilled as my peers. I began my third project tentatively, not wanting to make the same mistakes as before, and corner myself within a difficult theme or idea. It was a good idea to be careful, however I was so careful that I did next to nothing and cried to my art teacher the day before the exam as I had no idea what I was supposed to spend the five hours doing.
At that point I decided I was never, ever getting myself in that position again. Art does not have to be about technique or skill - at least, not other people's techniques or skills. A project should explore your interests, your skills, your ideas. You should be able to showcase the aspects of art you like best, and are most confident in - not what everyone else is doing, or what you think you should do because it seems 'arty'. With this in mind, I finished my third project with a sudden boost of optimism and creativity, and used my experiences and love of textiles to produce collage/tapestry patchwork wall-hangings based on works by Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry. For the first time, I was actually producing work, and at the pace I should have been the whole time.
This time, my fourth project, I have tried my utmost to maintain the pace of my third project, and I feel as though finally I have found the way I work best. I managed to twist the theme 'Order and Disorder' into a concept that appeals to me, and have spent the past weeks working on pieces that I actually like, and enjoyed making. My art exam (which began today - I have five more hours tomorrow) was the first real exam for me, and the first I have ever been so prepared for. For the first time, I found myself actually enjoying creating artwork again, and it was great. I may not be working on the next Mona Lisa (I'm making textile Moths, inspired by one of my favourite artists at the moment Mister Finch) I like what I'm doing, I know how to do it, and no one else is doing anything similar...so I don't have the need to worry about my work looking better or worse than anyone else's. Basically, art can be really great, you just need to find your own style (and not worry about not being that good - I'm planning to take it for A-Level and I'm definitely not the naturally arty type).

I wore this outfit on Saturday, to go grocery shopping (I never actually say groceries but 'stuff' or 'food' doesn't look as nice written down). The shirt is from Pop Boutique in Covent Garden, the skirt from a market in Oxford, coat from River Island, tights from H&M, socks from Topshop, and shoes from Rokit. I bought the bag for £3 from Clobber in Bournemouth, and the glasses for £5 in Camden (although I had my prescription put in at Hoxton Market).

I can't quite believe how quickly the year is going. My exams are starting, revision is becoming increasingly more important (and more desperate) and summer seems like the near future instead of a far-away dream. I am more excited than I ever have been - ten weeks of complete freedom; no work, no stress, nothing to do except hang out with friends, eat ice cream and fruit (I am obsessed with fruit and it tastes even better in summer) and explore all the places I won't have time to explore once college begins in the Autumn. I have booked tickets to go to Reading festival (school tradition) and can't wait to just have time to be spontaneous again, and not have to stick to plans and schedules all the time (side note - I have never grasped whether schedule is supposed to be pronounced sKedule, or SHEDule?).

On yet another topic, I recently moved into the little spare room in our house and made it into a workspace, as my art materials and notes are currently taking up the entire living room. It is at the top of the stairs and has two big windows looking out over our and our neighbour's gardens, giving it absolutely perfect natural light almost all day. It's quite un-decorated at the moment as I'm focusing on work, but I love the little yellow-y aesthetic it's taken on already.

I hope you are all having a good week, and if any of you also have exams I hope they go well! As usual a little reminder that you can still vote for me for Company Magazine's Style Awards under 'Best Teen Blogger - Under 18' by clicking here and following the instructions. Thankyou so much,

Ellie xo

I say it's hip to be alive

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hello! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent two days of the Easter Holidays in Bournemouth. The second day was equally as relaxing as the first...I got up ridiculously early, and ate breakfast in the first cafĂ© by the sea that was open. It's surprising really how quiet the seaside is in the morning...apart from the occasional dog-walker, or out-of-breath runner, the beach is practically empty. I love abnormal peace and serenity in supposedly busy places; Oxford Street at 8am is a prime example, with a deserted funfair coming in at a close second. 
Once again my inner obsession with anything yellow/mustard/Wes Anderson-like came out in full swing, hence the suitcase and sort-of accidental colour scheme.

After breakfast I spent a good hour strolling along the beach, collecting pebbles, shells and various pieces of driftwood and sea glass for future art projects and room decorations. The weather was really lovely for England, however for some reason I still thought it necessary to wear a coat.
I found the 'Dorset 2014' sign (made out of pebbles) that someone had made, and felt it was quite relevant as it is 2014 and I was also in Dorset. I like leaving messages for someone else to find...it's one of my dreams to stumble across a letter in a bottle or something like that.

I then spent ages trawling through Poole's charity shops, before picking up some lunch from the super cute Le Petit Prince. They sold incredible sandwiches and had quotes written on the walls, like the ones pictured above.

After a quick ice-cream stop overlooking the vast expanse of heathland and harbour we drove all the way around to Studland, where after asking a very kind old man for directions we managed to find Old Harry Rocks. I'm studying them in geography, and so felt I couldn't really pass up the chance to actually see them before my exams (also, I'm a bit of a sucker for anything with natural beauty. I have  a bit of a magnetism for unusual or picturesque natural landforms).

As I had expected, they were beautiful - the white chalk just looked so clean and natural, and it was so nice to just get to sit on the cliff top without intrusive signs or barriers fencing you in. It seemed that there almost wasn't a need for any sort of intervention either...there was no litter, no one near the edge, no one doing anything except enjoy the view, the sea breeze and take the occasional picture with the aforementioned rocks (which as you can see I may or may not have done too). It was really refreshing to see that not all of the human race are vandals, and that there are a lot of people that also just like to enjoy nature as it is.

I had my lunch from Le Petit Prince on the cliff top, and spent a long time wishing I could somehow stay there and not have to take my exams. It was definitely the best way to clear my head. I then ended up drinking tea on Knoll beach, before finding the sweetest pub and having dinner outside looking out to sea. A pretty perfect day really.
I wore my River Island coat, Blitz shirt, Rokit shorts, Topshop shoes, H&M tights (and socks that were once tights) and necklace and belt from Beyond Retro.

I had such an amazing time in Bournemouth even though all I did was walk and stare longingly out to sea and occasionally wonder what it would be like to be a seagull. Now, writing this post I wish more than ever that I didn't live in the city...but then again, I think there has to be just as many things to do here, but as it's my home I've just never really thought of doing them.
I have my first exam on Tuesday (10 hours of art) which is quite a nice start really...as long as it's not chemistry I'm quite happy. I'm looking forward to this summer though, as I'll have loads of time to work on things (like this blog).
I hope you all have a good weekend, and don't forget you can still vote for me in Company's Style Blogger Awards under 'Best Teen Blogger - Under 18' if you want to!

Ellie xo