The Invisible Bicycle Helmet. These two girls have shown that if one of your projects isn’t working, you aren’t working hard enough. What started as a university project looking into better bicycle safety became something incredible that yeah, took years and copious amounts of tears, trials and money. But who here would say is wasn’t worth it?
Skiing is one of those things where our selective memory nerve goes into overdrive.
For me, it’s a cold white combat against a soulless monster who wants to drain the blood from my extremities.
Mountain’s first move: ‘The psyche out’; before you even get to the start point, there’s a rickety ski lift to tackle that after whacking you in the back of the knees, takes you on a vertigo inspiring tour.
Your move: Try to dismount said lift without falling over..
Mountain’s second move: ‘The taunt’; more cruel psychological games as he shows you four year old professionals sliding effortlessly down the mountain right out of ski school.
Counter attack: Race to the edge, the only way of realistically getting through this is by not allowing yourself to feel the fear, and adopt a position of confidence.
Mountain: Wind. Visibility is now poor to nil as the ground powder whips up in your face revealing hidden ice patches, oh and you can’t feel your fingers anymore, that’s going to make it a whole lot harder to clench onto your poles..
Your move: Now you can’t see further than 30 cm in front of you the dizziness has gone, you may as well start your descent.
Mountain: ‘The smack’… across the forehead/ back/ bum as your faceplant impacts with hard snow/a piste marker/a tree/ a snowboarder/ your own skis/ to cause perhaps an unsurprising amount of pain
By this time, your best move is ‘get up, roll home, apply ointment to bruises’.
An unbalanced contest if ever there was one.
Yet for some reason, six hours and seven hot chocolates later you are sitting in the safety of your cosy chalet, sweating profusely in full thermals as you couldn’t quite muster up the energy to peel them off your exhausted limbs and staring out the window thinking how pretty the mountain looks all dusted in icing sugar.
I’m kind of really impressed with myself having managed to squeeze in four exhibitions, one ballet and one musical during the Christmas break – check me out Miss Cultured. (Okay I’ll get on to Melvyn’s Bragg value of culture, an excellent radio series if you have the chance, at a later date but for now let’s assume I was trying to expand my mind for me…)
I appreciated all of these experiences to varying degrees, but none did I feel was a waste of time and they all gave me something fresh to think about for their duration. The best ones, shout out to Elizabeth Price at the Turner Prize, are still being processed in my mind.
Price’s entry plays on our preconceptions of different film styles to make something strangely hypnotic and completely unclassifiable. Beginning with a fairly stale explanation of interior church architecture, the film unexpectedly switches pace and you are transported to some club, absorbed in the backing visuals when, just as you accustomise to this new and lively pulse, the atmosphere changes once again and everything becomes a bit sinister as the next part is real. The facts are drummed into you as witnesses accounts, timed to the throbbing beat, are repeated over and over again.
Leaving the screening was not dissimilar from waking up from a particularly engrossing dream. However, as you attempt to partition your thoughts you realise that you have simply stumbled upon someone else’s dream and cannot possibly share a matching prerequisite of ideas.
Your mind struggles to create some accepted order of events so as to decode this visual phenomenon. And all the while you are aware that someone made and edited this film so there must be a rationale. Damn I want to know what’s going on in her head.
I didn’t feel like going out. I definitely didn’t feel like staying in and working either and I knew that if I didn’t stay in and work I’d only stay in and eat. So I decided I may as well go out and eat, it’s not classed as binging if there’s more than one person present.
Fifty minutes of sweaty Underground later I arrived at the RA, met my friend outside the rear entrance, I haven’t seen her in – shock horror – two whole months and then we start to talk.
Now as you may have noticed I am never short of things to say but even I can find this particular friend exhausting. I love her to pieces but at times the sonic pitch shrillness of her excitement has been known to send even the most well-trained of dogs absolutely ballistic.
More frustratingly, her perpetual joy is infectious. One finds oneself in a hyperactive state of enthusiasm, life is exaggerated; this falafel: the Best I have ever tasted; this ale: the creamiest; those candlesticks, the most delicately crafted in the world.
Do not get me wrong I’m all for optimism, I think that more often than not, you have the power to bring yourself out of a bad mood (I wanted to see this friend because I knew she would make me feel happy), the problem is that when it stops and you go back to the norm, when the film isn’t the visual orgasm, ‘I never need open my eyes again because I have seen true beauty, thank you god!’ – When something is just ‘good’, then suddenly we feel deflated.
Speaking in superlatives can give you a worse come-down than a dab of MD because you’re unable to find solace in the fact that this anti-climax is drug induced, you just feel a bit sad.
So here’s to Mariko Mori’s ‘Rebirth’ installation at the Royal Academy, described by the Times as ‘Mesmerising’ and the Guardian ‘Extraordinary’ – it was alright, a decent way to start an evening and quite therapeutic. Nothing more, nothing less.
Today I spent over two hours hemming a skirt. I pinned it, tacked it, and tried it on twice, then once over on the sewing machine before tying off at the ends – a phenomenal waste of time some might argue considering this is a task that should have taken no more than twenty minutes.
It’s not that I’m short of things to do: I have four deadlines next week, an exam in a language I’m not quite proficient in, friends to catch up with before we all head back to our uni’s and I supposed to be flat hunting but for some reason I made the purchase knowing full well the skirt was too long.
It got me thinking about an exhibition I went to in 2011 at the Women’s Library in Whitechapel, based upon the women’s need to craft. At the time I remember feeling quite sceptical, I was doing a research project on the women’s domestic role and coming across far too many pink and floral home appliances not to write off the women’s position in the home as complete coercion by the male led advertising firms of the 1950’s. However, I think I may now have to revaluate. My mum has always been very dexterous: making and hanging all the curtains in our house, upholstering old furniture, forever altering and mending our clothes and my grandmother used to make her own clothes so is also very talented with a needle and thread (although she refuses to knit because ‘‘knitting’s for old ladies’’). Neither of these women were forced into doing these things; when you can get your whole living room from IKEA it definitely would have saved money and time to just buy some readymade curtains, but my mum wanted to make them, she enjoyed hunting through her favourite fabric warehouse and choosing the finest material and she enjoyed making something that fit our windows millimetre perfect.
I must have been about eight; my grandmother was looking after us during the Easter holidays when she insisted that we learned how to sew. We made felt Easter egg holders, mine was light blue with a white bunny on the front, (in hindsight not the best idea as chocolate doesn’t take well to being huddled) but the intention was pure and it’s a skill I’m now very grateful for. Sewing is extremely therapeutic. You have to be slow to focus on the task, so I know that when I decide to sew something it will be a time consuming process, but weirdly when I find myself feeling bad because of that all too common procrastination guilt (most commonly found whilst on Facebook) I’m able to look down and have this thing that I have made, and it fits me, and no you cannot just go and buy it in a shop - because it’s my time well spent.
Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’
The curtain rose to the conventional story-book opening: ‘Once upon a time there were a King and Queen who wanted a child…’ all gothic lettering, Bible script stuff. The set was simple, the costumes traditional. However, having already seen the first two productions from Matthew Bourne’s Tchaicovsky series; the sensational Nutcracker! and an all-male Swan Lake, I’m anticipating peculiarity.
There it is! A baby doll princess marionette. Creepy as a two-month old whose movements were being operated by adults could be really (didn’t really help that I’m a fan of Trainspotting so a baby climbing up the walls will always send a shiver down my spine) but these guys are dancers not puppeteers so we mustn’t be too judgemental.
Oh. It’s all a farce. In the following scene Carabosse, the dark fairy, employs her minions to show us her curse and a faceless Aurora is led in by two sprites who become her ‘puppeteers’. With ease they contorted her body into ways that seemed so unnatural that despite the fact you know everything has been choreographed, when her body finally goes limp and she is thrown over the shoulder of one before being carelessly chucked off stage, it is hard to believe she is not just a ragdoll.
The performance continues and Bourne has strayed a little from the tale told by Grimm’s. It’s Aurora’s birthday but instead of the nobles presenting their dull gifts in a stuffy ballroom, we’re given a garden party where suitor after suitor is toyed with by an extremely assertive young Sleeping Beauty. By this time we’ve been told that the dark fairy is dead and it’s her son we need to watch out for, a ghostly man dressed in a long leather coat with slicked black hair and too-tight trousers enters (the resemeblance to a Camden goth is unnerving). He’s holding a black rose and it becomes apparent the story-book spindle has been also been replaced.
Boune’s Sleeping Beauty is certainly a more sinister version but I think all the better for it. The music remains unspoiled but the dancers are able to show their versatility with a more challenging plot. Managing to dance blindfolded, in synchronisation, whilst maintaining a graceful stance, on fast-moving conveyer belts: it’s quite the spectacle. The only thing that irritated me was the woman on my left (my eighty-nine year old grandmother, the former ballet teacher) who tutted that they had deviated from the traditional story.