27 January 2013

Haul | i think i'm literally going insane... topshop haul

 I got a new job!

I got a promotion!

I've got a big decision to make.

Seriously stressful week. I'm very lucky to have been offered two different jobs and a promotion all in the same week (which is an amazing achievement after months of looking with nothing but silence and/or rejection) but it has put me in a difficult position. One of the jobs I managed to make a decision on, based on the fact it was a 6-month contract and I don't fancy the stress of having to find a new job in 5 months time. The other two I'm still stuck on. However, either way I'm finally going to be earning a proper wage (albeit a low one) and whatever I decide, it will be a good thing. So I bought clothes. Woo!

What the absolute frick is wrong with me?! I took back 2 of the dress from my last haul post (phew) and swapped them for another dress and skirt (shiiiiiiit). And then I did this-


Nice oneeeee. Real smart. Definitely necessary.


I mean, one of my only two pairs of sensible footwear are now unwearable because they have HOLES and soon will be some form of flip-flop worker-boot hybrid. But I didn't bother wasting money on important things like a decent pair of boots for work and generally LIVING. Ohhhhh no, that would be silly.

I have to take some of this stuff back, and I have to do it soon and without thinking so that the pain is slightly numbed. Like ripping off a plaster. Wahhhhhh.

Anyway, the long-sleeve dress has a really cute wrap back and I got the cropped long-sleeve mesh top to wear under the jumpsuit, which is sooooo cool I'm not completely convinced I can carry it off!?

I also got this the other day-

Which I have already worn to work and absolutely love. I didn't really even pay attention to the tiger print - it makes me like it a tiiiiny bit less anytime I think about the fact it's supposed to be tiger print (smart purchase) but I do really like the shape and it brings a little bit of colour into my dark wardrobe.

What have you been buying recently? Any SS13 trends catching your eye?

Recipe | fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!

'O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!'

I love Scotland. Such great tartan and accents. It makes me kind of sad to be plain old English - tweed and a Brummie accent just don't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside in the same way.

Friday was a big day in any Scot's calender. In celebration of the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, Burns night supper is an annual event that sees Scots unite for laughter, drinks and lots of good food. This year was no exception. I was so excited to have been invited to a friend's flat for haggis (and, more importantly, veggie haggis), 'neeps and tatties. The whole evening was such fun! Their friend did the 'ode to the haggis', acting out the poem and stabbing the haggis with her dagger, and my friend's boyfriend's sister sang an a cappella version of a Robbie Burns poem before we all tucked into dessert, which I can only describe as oat-y, raspberry-y cream. YUM.

I had been to a Burns night supper before but - being completely freaked out by the whole concept of haggis - didn't try the stomach-y, meat-y offering. The veggie haggis on Friday was amazing, really yummy. A guest at the party said she could barely tell the difference between the meat and non-meat version, pretty impressive.

I told my friend she had to send me the recipe - I will be making my own veggie haggis asap! - and she emailed it over the next day. I thought I'd pop it up here in case there's anyone out there looking to make their own.

B's Veggie Haggis

(Not actual haggis from Friday...although the table cloth is a pretty close match!)

75g (3oz) mushrooms, finely chopped
75g (3oz) brown lentils (soaked for 2-3 hours)
50g (2oz) pinhead oatmeal (soaked for 1 hour)
50g (2oz) red kidney beans (soaked, cooked and chopped)
25g (1oz) margarine
150g (5oz) grated carrot
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
150g (5oz) onions, finely chopped
1 tbspn vegetable oil
1 tbspn tamari or soy sauce
1 tspn garam masala
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

1. Saute the garlic and onion in a little vegetable oil until soft, 
adding the garam masala, tamari or soy sauce and a 
little salt and pepper.
2. Add the brown lentils and carrot, and simmer on a low
heat until the lentils are soft, stirring to prevent the mixture 
sticking. If the mixture starts to dry out too much, add a small 
amount of vegetable stock or water.
3. Add mushrooms and allow to soften, then add the kidney beans.
Stir in the margarine and add black pepper to taste.
4. Add the rinsed and drained oatmeal to the mixture and mix well. 
The oatmeal should retain its texture to give body to the haggis.

I think you could probably use soya spread or sunflower spread instead of marg to make this vegan... Guilt-free pleasure! Hope you enjoy!


22 January 2013

Skincare | my winter skincare saviours - update!

I went to bed last night feeling like some kind of cave monster. I was suffering from a cold weather/cold virus combo and it was showing on my skin. My nose and lips were dry and sore and definitely making my cold feel ten times worse!


After targeting my lack of moisture with a 3-part attack (hydraluron, Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask and Eight Hour Cream, see above) I woke up this morning with skin that felt refreshed and rejuvinated. My cold is at bay (which has definitely helped) but the mask had completely rehydrated my skin and my face felt all smooth and puffy (in a good way!). I applied a thick layer of the Origins mask and it had all sunk in and done wonders by the time I woke up, whilst the Eight Hour Cream had also completely transformed my lips. Overall, a successful routine, and one I think I will repeat this evening ready for the cold weather tomorrow, and my interview!

Also, the Intensive Overnight Mask smells sooooo good. It's like smothering yourself in peach juice. Just without the added stickyness and the clans of wasps trying to lick your face (I'm just guessing).

21 January 2013

Skincare | my winter skincare saviours (oh lordy please!)

It's winter, it's snowing, and I have just come down with an almighty cold. Considering I'm 2-days into a 7-day working week, and that I have a job interview in 2 days time, this is not ideal. I am a pastey, flaky, sniffling mess. My flat is freezing, my city is freezing, my workplace is freezing. I have absolutely no outfit warm-enough and I feel disgusting. 

But I'm remaining surprisingly upbeat.


I'm about to smother my face in moisture and hope some of it gets me through the night. Perhaps I'll awake freshly rejuvinated and positively glowing. Perhaps I won't. Only God knows, and I think he's smiting me. Not ideal.

Anyway, I thought I'd do a veryyy quick post on the products I'm putting my faith into before I get smothering...fingers crossed!

1. hydraluron Moisture Booster
I bought this a couple of months ago and I use it everyday under my (absolutely rubbish) moisturiser as it helps my skin hold on to the moisture better throughout the day. I never normally use it at night but desperate times call for desperate measures!

2. Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask
I've used this a couple of times and really enjoy it. I haven't been as bowled over by it as others but I do notice a difference in my skin after using it. Tonight I plan on putting it on my nose/chin/cheek area as plenty of blowing my nose on sub-standard toilet roll (when will I learn?!) has left the lower part of my face feeling sore and sensitive. It's not that I find the mask greasy or oily, because I really don't, but this evening just happened to also be hair-wash evening and I have found my hair can look a bit greasy after using this all over my face as I never sleep with it tied back.

3. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
My last step is to absolutely SMOTHER this over my mouth. And I mean generously. My lips never feel smoother or more moisturised than when I use this and, if you can get past the smell - I like to think a mixture of herbs and, well, poo, although I have definitely gotten used to it over time! - it is a miracle product. I use this constantly and on everything - spots, cuts, dry skin, bites, you name it: it never let's me down. I literally can't wait to cover my lips in this and let it work its magic overnight, it's going to be heaven! 
Any moisturiser suggestions would be more than welcome; I'm really struggling to find one I'm willing to spend money on but I'm in desperate need of a new one!

What are you using to get your skin through this cold-spell?

Art | undergraduate crush // london art fair, part 2

I did have this big plan to blog about my favourite things from LAF, categorising the works by theme under snappy headings such as 'ephemerality', producing an enlightening and witty snapshot of the whole affair. It may still happen. It probably won't. As per usual, I have failed in my blogging mission. Instead, I'm going to gab on about one piece in particular, and an artist very close to my little heart.

My undergraduate dissertation was a complete labour of love. It was 10 months and 11,000 words of tears, tantrums and typing that culminated in my biggest achievement to date. It was difficult, stressful and testing, but I was lucky enough to have picked a subject I really, truly adored and, however many hours I spent reading, writing, declaring I couldn't do it, I still enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

I am fascinated with artworks that change and breakdown over time and the tensions this causes within the context of an institution in whose very nature it is to preserve and archive. Over the last 50 years an increasing number of artists have turned to using more natural materials within their practice, creating work which not only eludes the stasis of the gallery space but often even begins to biodegrade within it; it was these ideas and juxtapositions I wanted to explore in my dissertation.

 (Anya Gallaccio, because nothing has changed, 2001, cast bronze, 250 live apples, twine, Lehmann Maupin)
Anya Gallaccio is an artist working within this practice. Her use of flowers, fruit and trees fascinated me and she became one of four artists whose work I examined in my exploration of entropic work. Often Anya will combine living elements with permanent materials to create pieces that mirror the tension between the work and the gallery space within the work itself (because nothing has changed, 2001, bronze and real apples). Trees play an important role in her work - often bronze, the rest living - and Anya has experimented with bringing them within the walls of the gallery as well as working with them in their natural environment.
(Anya Gallaccio, preserve (beauty) Installation View, 2003, 900 red gerbera 'beauty' pressed behind glass, Lehmann Maupin)

In works such as preserve (beauty) and preserve (cheerfulness) flowers are trapped behind and between panes of glass, the material's function as a protective layer replaced as it speeds up the process of decay. As the flowers begin to breakdown - an attempt to return to a more static and simple state - their drooping heads fall out of the edges of the glass as their putrid juices collect on the floor underneath the work. The work still exists, but its existence is constantly changing. Each moment of the piece is fleeting; decay continues without faltering.

It was on my first day at LAF that I came across Cast from 2003 at The Multiple Store stand.
(Anya Gallaccio, Cast, 2003, acorns, bronze cast acorn, The Multiple Store)

I fell in love.

6 square inches of perfection.

I have never been tempted by such a ridiculous amount of money in my life.

The Multiple Store commissions small editions of work by some of the best contemporary British artists in an attempt to create affordable pieces whilst also allowing artists to explore their practice through new works. Anya Gallaccio created Cast in an edition of 35, which was selling at the fair for £1,100+VAT.

It's not like I neeeeeed a house or a car in the future, right?

And who needs to pay rent when you own acorns?!

The Multiple Store website states “Cast” brings together a handful of real English acorns and one unique cast bronze acorn in a box specially produced by BookWorks for the project. The buyer is invited to plant the acorns for the future, keep them to dry out and die or throw them away, leaving only the cast acorn. “Cast” has both the association with throwaway culture and that of permanence.

Coming across the piece did get me thinking. I was honestly, honestly, considering it. (Mama Siddalee was very unhelpful in her role as discouraging-parent: Well, it will increase in value - so if you want to start becoming a collector and have some money to spare on treating yourself why not?! If anyone's wondering where my shopping mania and ability to spend, spend, and spend some more came from, look no further.) But I couldn't help being slightly bothered by the piece's ephemeral nature. Me, the girl championing entropic work and its ability to bridge nature and culture.

I just couldn't help thinking about how the piece had already changed, the fact that it wasn't new, that I wasn't experiencing its changes from the beginning. If I went to sell it one day, would collectors have the same issue? Would it even be worth the same, let alone more? Would it be worth less?

I hate that it bothered me, especially when I love the idea of it so much. But I felt uneasy. I guess this helps me to understand the issues around collecting works such as Anya's. I had only explored them within the context of the museum institution; it's a whole other ball-game when people start exchanging money for the works, when they have owners and a context away from the gallery space. It mirrors issues around collecting new forms of art such as performance art and video works (blog post to come...perhaps).

What is it that you own when you buy an art work whose natural tendency is to breakdown?
(Anya Gallaccio, into the blue 1993, one ton of salt bricks on Bournemouth beach, variable, Lehmann Maupin)
I visited Cast every day I was at LAF. It was wonderful, but it doesn't hold the same charm for me as other works such as into the blue. Private ownership just gets a bit...messy. I like the concept of this tension, nature vs. culture, decay vs. archiving, but I didn't like what the reality would mean for me.

17 January 2013

Art | london art fair, part 1 // art projects

As you may or may not be aware, London Art Fair is in its 25th year and can currently be found north of the river at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Running from today until the 20th, the fair brings together 130 galleries showing a mixture of Modern British and contemporary art up to the present day. Alongside the main fair are two curated spaces, Photo50 and Art Projects, which give newer galleries and artists a chance to exhibit among the big players.

Having worked at the fair a couple of years ago, I am lucky enough to be there again this year. Determined to make the most of my time there I have decided to tackle this beast in stages, taking it out one section at a time. It really can feel quite overwhelming to be presented with so many galleries, artists and works in such a labyrinthine space and so, mustering my strength - both mental and physical, my bag was heavy - I began.

Today, Art Projects.

And breeeeeeeeathe.

Art Projects has been part of LAF for the past 8 years and gives some of the leading contemporary galleries the chance to curate solo or group shows in a space away from the main hall. Galleries pitched ideas for exhibitions and the variety within the space is truly breathtaking. It really would be ridiculous, tedious and pretty monotonous to go through even a chunk of what is there, let alone all of it, so I noted down the things I really thought were worth mentioning and one massive thing that really, really isn't (but I'm going to mention it anyway because criticism is fun and constructive. But mainly fun).

And so we begin.

Joachim Froese's work, exhibited as part of the Troika Editions show at P10 explores the constructive nature of memory; each of the images has been created by montaging photos into one image or positioning frames so as to create a 'fuller' picture, manufacturing a variety of scenes and situations. I actually overhead Joachim talking about the work and the parallel between the way we construct memories as we look back at them and the technique he has developed for constructing his photographs.

I love the Alice in Wonderland quality of these teapot works, feels both mystical and ominous.

Meanwhile, Clive Hanz Hancock's work at THE RESIDENCE GALLERY (God capitals make everything look so terrifying) is a stunning study of colour within the minimalist show of stand P3. Four black square boxes are filled with coloured tubes which, in turn, house little elements shaped like the end of a crayon. The subtle changes in colour draw you in as the tones appear to ripple through the work.

Two works caught my eye over at La Scatola Gallery (G48). Steven Morgana's (check out the website, over-doing the minimalist approach much?!) Ouroboros is a photographic montage that brings together a group of 6x4 photographs of rainbows to create a circle of light with no beginning and no end, much like the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail after which the piece is named. Whilst the photos individually hold little appeal aesthetically or formally, the creation of this never-ending rainbow is quite beautiful and its glowing ring seems to jump off of the surface of the work.

Untitled with skirts up (above) is one of many paintings by Sarah Maple at the stand and was my personal favourite. I mean, what isn't to like. Sarah Maple is a massive screaming feminist and her work is both humorous and telling. Another work I love, which isn't at the fair unfortunately, is Menstruate with pride, below. Fuck yeah! Go us! I shall not buy tampons in shame!

If I were you I'd definitely check out Sarah's website. There's a classic painting of the Virgin Mary eating a banana - wish I'd known about it when I was writing my 3rd year theology essay on controversial contemporary artworks of good ol' Mazza. I also particularly like the photo declaring 'The opposite to a feminist is an Arsehole'. Can't argue with that.

My absolute must-see piece in Art Projects is at stand P9. Hanmi Gallery is located in London but also operates in Seoul, aiming to create a 'bridge between the Eastern and Western art scenes and showcasing the finest of modern and contemporary art to an international audience'.

Sangjin Kim's In Visibility_the Bible is a abso-frigging-lutely stunning. As the printer element at the top of the work prints the words of the bible onto the surface of the water, the letters of this holy text dissolve into the liquid, slowly drifting to the bottom of the tank where the ink gathers in an ever-growing mass of black. Hanmi Gallery's press release states the work's 'temporality and momentary quality resembles [the] fragility of our belief where often our reality relies upon'. For me, the work also mirrors the slow disintegration of religion, where texts and beliefs become watered down into numerous differing factions whilst gathering as a gradually, but relentlessly, increasing mass.

I love its ephemeral nature and its hazy beauty. Truly brilliant.

Not something I can say about Limoncello gallery.

I don't know what stand it was, I'm not going to look it up. Go there if you must but I am avoiding condoning it.

Their proposal for the exhibition space was Take Me Out.

No, seriously.


Can you spell gimmick?

One work, created by a male artist, stood on a plinth in the middle of the stand whilst works by female artists covered the three walls, jostling for space and, supposedly, the mans attention. Limoncello claims it mirrored the ITV show. I would beg to differ. Take Me Out is actually good.

A couple of works were interesting, such as Emilia Bergmark's Self Portrait as a Goldfish and Vanessa Billy's Man Moves, but the majority of the works seemed to be taking the piss out of the art world in a way even Damien Hirst would grimace at. Even I draw the line at two pieces of sugar paper stuck together and hung from a nail, however well they are hand-dyed or hand-stuck or whatever the hell they were. Not even M&S could sell that crap, and the sexy voice-over man can sell anyyything. Even a hunka beef, and I'm a vegetarian.

Anyway, moving on from this minor incident, the Art Projects was insightful and varied and well worth a look. It's always interesting to see what's emerging and where galleries are going (and who with) and I would 100% recommend the space if you're at the fair or in London this week!