Monday, April 28, 2014

Sliders and fruit and Giggs

Some recent outfits: 1. A jumpsuit and beige raincoat before heading to the Town Hall to help man the Manchester Modernist Society stand at the Histories Festival. 2. Stripes and the fruity birthday card I made for Rose. 3. The love affair with the cow print sliders continue. I also wore my friend Cai's jumper which he may or may not know I have in my possession. It smells really good because he's one of those people with an enviable natural odour (god damnit). This was my 'lazy-Saturday-but-still-meaning-business-while-I-go-to-the-greengrocers' 'look' (I was wearing my pyjama top underneath). A notable mention goes to the Ryan Giggs moment at the greengrocers:

I don't follow football much but living in Manchester means that sometimes it's impossible to stay out of the loop. Last week, after Manchester United manager David Moyes was sacked there was a 13 page special in the free Metro newspaper, I passed numerous people on the street having "what makes a good manager" debates and then that Giggsy scarf popped up at the fruit and veg shop, sort of like a piece of jubilee bunting. "What do you think?", the man at the greengrocers asked when I took a photograph of it. He obviously meant "what do you think of Giggs as interim manager?" or "what do you think of it all?" trying to engage this possible Manchester United fan, but I just nodded my head and said "I think it's great!", like Cher Horowitz when she is asked if she likes Billie Holliday and then fled quickly. Well played. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Weekend List

Like lots of other people I associate a Saturday morning with the slow pleasure of reading the papers at the table. An ideal start to the weekend is with the papers spread out across the kitchen table like placemats and a plate of eggs, spinach, mushrooms and hot sauce placed just to the right of an article for optimum simultaneous reading and chewing. There's also a strong but milky cup of coffee involved, just near the corner of the papers (but no coffee rings). I'll usually have the kitchen to myself because both of my housemates work at the weekends. Though I think it's nicer to enjoy the papers with a partner in crime (and say "sport" or "money" like a surgeon announcing "scalpel") this is a pretty failsafe way of putting the week of work just passed to rest and welcoming the two-day break.

This ritual however starts to feel a bit indulgent when the papers cost £2.50 a pop and the contents is a lucky dip. Some Saturdays you'll be rewarded with recipes dedicated to lunchbox ideas or a particularly heartwarming story from the family section that lingers in the mind. Other weeks the travel supplement is consumed by a list of 100 Best Family Holidays (straight to the recycling bin) or a disappointing fashion feature in which the cheapest accessory costs £60. With so many different types of readers of different tastes to take into consideration, the weekend papers can become a mixed bag. The eggs and hot sauce never taste quite as good on the duff weeks. 

With this in mind I've compiled my own Weekend List. Reading from a digital screen doesn't always hold the same appeal as a spread-out situation, but at least the content hits the spot. You can come back to it as and when you please, without that sad little clutter of papers that hang around for the subsequent week because you keep promising yourself to finish wading through articles about boring things you feel you should know. This is a chance to catch up on the tabs that have multiplied across my desktop during the week, and to read old essays and watch short videos and listen to new mixtapes too, all for free.

Pictured: Jeff Wall's 'A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)' (based on Hokusai's 'Travellers Caught in a Sudden Breeze at Ejiri')/ a picture of a couple of dudes dancing by Ariel Finch/ Rudiger Vogler in Im Lauf Der Zeit/ Lauren Fitzpatrick high-kicking at the 2013 Northern Soul Dance Championships/ another of Ariel Finch's drawings.

The weekend list:


'Back Street All Nighter', a short film made by Law Magazine with Lauren Fitzpatrick, Hannah Deakin and the Wigan Young Souls.

Ariel Finch's tumblr Heartbreak Hotel Honeymoon Suite is one to add to your bookmarks. Not exactly a blog but more than just a kingdom of tumblr scrolling, as there's a lot to feast your eyes on and links to interesting articles on essays (like Susan Sontag on 'Camp' and Beauty Vs Interestingness or 'Visiting Artists', W Magazine's slideshow of artists' studios- including Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha and Ellsworth Kelly.)

The Architecture of Dehli.

Im Lauf Der Zeit. Last month I stayed up until 3am watching this Wim Wenders film on our projector with a bottle of wine and a duvet nest. I absolutely recommend it. That Wenders, he knows his way around a superbly soundtracked road movie. The soundtrack...

Online Reading

I've had this conversation with various people recently- mostly fellow bloggers and people working in fashion, and we all agree that we don't read blogs like we used to, and it's because we can't find enough that fulfil us as much as we'd like. There are various reasons. For many of us it's because we started writing and reading blogs in our mid teens, and now that we're older and our tastes have changed we want blogs that are original and personal but with more substance. As these bloggers have grown older (myself included) there are new priorities; where once we were writing from our bedrooms to avoid having to revise for GCSEs or A-Levels and then write dissertations, now we're navigating the world of work and unable to post as regularly. And less updates mean slightly sadder looking homepages, for readers who want to take in lots of new, inspiring updates (like me!). I've haven't given up on blogs, if anything I think this makes the landscape more interesting, and it's even renewed my love for them. Now that I've reassessed my criteria for my ideal go-to-blogs it makes it more satisfying to browse and find the gems that deliver the right mix of art, fashion, essays, though-provoking pieces and laughs. Such as:

Good Good Girl. I'm really looking forward to seeing this site grow. A 'fully female populated and curated site' edited by Wendy Syfret, this is Rookie Mag for women in their 20s. Perfect! Alongside articles like 'Calling Bullshit on the No Make Up Selfie' is a series called 'Shit You Should Know' (not every article has 'shit' in the title, I suppose I'm just drawn to the quiet punch of a four-letter swearword?) There's How To Jump Start A Car and How To Relax. Somebody could do with bringing back a 'How To' tome for women; like one of those go-to books for housewives in the 1950s but with sections on paying bills, understanding pensions, bike punctures and how in gods name you give yourself a blow dry without getting a hairbrush stuck in your hair.

These are the some of other blogs I always come back to: Alaina Wong/ Jessica Stanley / Florence S-W / Through A Glass Darkly / I Capture The Castle / Kat George


Mixtapes and playlists. They're a handy solution when you've been binging on the same albums and you're unsure where to go next. The Mixtape Club is a perfect cure, and I thoroughly recommend BDB's 14th St + Pennsylvania mixtape for throwback funky, laid-back, latin-inspired tracks.

I'm still making my mind up about Todd Terje's much anticipated debut album It's Album Time! but his remix of Chris Rea's On The Beach is one to go back to.


It's that time of year again. I'm craving the leather sandal/tanned leg combination. These are my sandals of choice. (Though I'm pretty keen on these sliders which I bought last weekend for £3)

Chronic Sans for unserious, girly, East-London flavoured fashion.

A strong contender for 'go-to look of the Summer' from Topshop Boutique.


Ah, the joy of the mentor. No matter what age you are it's always good to have a friend/boss/confidant who is slightly older, with their shit slightly more together who is willing to let you pick their brain. Now that I'm 9 months into my first post-university job it's a dynamic that I'm really coming to appreciate. And it can be a knowledge-sharing relationship that works both ways too. I recently read this Wall Street Journal piece about Tavi Gevison and Ira Glass, which is probably the coolest as far as mentor-relationships go.


Eating My Feelings. No recipes, no ingredients, just really good photos of food. Which when you think about it is the definition of food porn. Shh, don't speak, I just want to look at you.

Clean Food Dirty City is at the other end of the spectrum, with a silly name that sounds like that Craig David lifestyle hashtag and bowls of food photographed with obsessive compulsive precision. But still, that Cauliflower fried rice with tofu. You had me at hello.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Glasgow Fieldtrip

My little jaunt last week up to Glasgow was fantastic. This was partly because both Glasgow International and Art Screen were in full swing, the ease of staying in this chilled out room in a tenement in the West End and a lot to do the superbly comprehensive to-do lists that Ally and Michael shared with me before I left. Those lists! One of my absolute favourite things about this here blogger/Twittersphere is the joy of sharing tips about the best things to do, see and eat in a new city. Over the years these tips have taken me to lots of brilliant places I probably wouldn't have encountered otherwise and saved me from lugging the weight of a Lonely Planet. 

And so to return the favour, this is my own little Glasgow guide (I already know that Harriet is planning her own trip- so H, consider this another print-out to fold up and pop into your bag.)

Day one

After arriving I headed straight from Glasgow Central up to Renfrew St. The Glasgow School of Art seemed an appropriate place to begin, chow down some lunch and formulate a plan. I hadn't realised that I would arrive just in time for the opening ceremony of the new Reid building. Perfect. I stood on my tiptoes in a crowd and tried to catch a glimpse of the Rube Goldberg-style causal chain that had been set up so that weights dropped from ceilings and clouds of metallic confetti floated over mezzanines onto grinning students below, showing the space of the building off to maximum effect. 

Then off to the GSoA cafe where I sat surrounded by blunt, relaxed bobs and rollnecks and ate halloumi kebabs and daal with my little wheely suitcase at my feet, pretending to be a visiting professor. Lunch was okay. Watching students assemble the tinsel-fringed stage was better, and I scribbled in my notebook that I should buy some and thought how art school always seems like so much fun. You have a license to wear slightly baggy-bottomed cord trousers which shouldn't work but do and you spend time 'getting to know' materials.

Left: Glasgow School of Art cafe. Right: Glasgow International at McLellan galleries. 

I then wandered down to the McLellan Galleries on Sauciehall Street for my first Glasgow International exhibition. Avery Singer's cubist-style works, produced using Sketch Up were excellent, but Jordan Wolfson's exhibition downstairs stayed with me the most. This may be because I am a sucker for a space that asks you to remove your shoes at the door and then invites you into a joyously carpeted space in which to watch art films. (The same went for the Salla Tykka films at Baltic in Gateshead.) Essentially it is like carpet-time at school. Except Wolfson's films involved a blaring soundtrack of Mazzy Star's 'Fade Into You' (you try sitting in an empty room with no shoes on and not emotionally singing along) and a strangely friendly on-screen condom filled with cartoon hearts. In the next room was a tongue-in-cheek film in which Jordan whispers, walking around a Roman cathedral discussing art and whether there's any point in creating it. I recommend watching some of his works here.

Next stop. Waterstone's, where I bought some three books after feeling disillusioned with the one I'd brought with me to Glasgow. (Things I Don't Want to KnowThe Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am, and The Walk in case you'd like to know.) 

Onto GoMA for Aleksandra Domanovic and Sue Tompkins. Domanovic's hanging sheets were very impressive though Sue Tompkins doesn't float my boat. The interactive room upstairs was very sweet, with a few DIY gems. (See the collaged mirror below with the small 'I'M NOT THAT FAT!' memo)

Next I headed to the subway, where the carriages are comedically small and bubbleish compared to London's Tube. Sort of like a 1970s imagining of the future, with little signs that tell you to 'Mind Your Head', rather than 'Mind The Gap' as you get on. I don't think I've ever taken such fast and efficient public transport. They whizz you around in no time at all, free of tight crowds of armpits. Instead it feels like a perfectly platonic waiting room on tracks. Onto Tchai Ovna in the West End, an institution of a tea house amongst students but the sort of place that I don't think requires much describing. For me it was very special because by the time I found it at the end of the unassuming Otaga Lane I hadn't quite known what to expect. I felt completely relaxed and content, ensconced in an armchair with a hot pot of russian caravan and the first chapter of Things I Don't Want to Know in which Deborah Levy writes romantically about a solo trip to Majorca with a typewriter and a room of her own and memories of rubbing clementines along the soles of her feet. I didn't want to move. 

An old university friend took me to Hillhead Bookclub for dinner where I ate a super chewy squid salad and we swallowed down lots of cocktails and merrily commented on how much better this year was than the last; we are both salaried and able to, you know, buy cocktails. The arrival of the the bill went some way to undoing this smugness.

Left: The McLellan Galleries. Right: High art who? The fun room at GoMA.

Left: The McLellan Galleries. Right: GoMA.

Left: Probably the best pot of tea I've ever had at Tchai Ovna. Right: Otago Lane.

Day two

Homemade muesli for breakfast, sitting in the bay window of the tenement flat with a pretty good view of the windows on the other side of the road. No broken-legged Jimmy Stewart with a telescope lens though.

Next onto Mono. The cafe was pretty empty and not terribly appealing; their menu is attractive though so I suspect it's better later in the day. Instead I browsed in the fantastic adjoining Good Press which has a remarkably large collection of zines, magazines, posters and hand-drawn niceties. I had a good chat with Matthew the owner about Manchester, low rents and the demand for zine libraries, and bought a poster which earnestly pronounces 'These Things Take Time'. I was aware of how wanky this sentiment was and therefore, quite justified in buying it. 

More browsing in the pop-up Aye Aye Books at the Glasgow International hub at All That Is Solid coffee shop just over the road. 

Did somebody say "I like my gallery spaces to come with cosy carpeting??" The Modern Institute must have heard with their small but perfectly formed rose-pinked carpetted exhibition further down on Osborne Street. 

A stop at Tramway is an essential part of the Glasgow International programme for Michael Smith's brilliant 'Videos and Miscellaneous Stuff from Storage' (I spent a good long while staring at the cabinet containing row after row of his personal card collection. Shiny credit cards, gallery memberships, drivers licenses, faculty cards from universities across the States. His social security is right there for all of these strangers to see! We could just have it. Maybe that's what he wants.) Bedwyr Williams's abandoned coach in the middle of a constructed forest in next doors 'Echt' exhibition was rather brilliant for sheer novelty factor, and his accompanying film which explores 'worst-case scenarios' was hilarious and struck me as akin to an apocalypse orchestrated by Goldie Lookin Chain. Note: Tramway gallery is 5 minutes by train from Glasgow Central. Get off at Pollockshields East and not the similarly named Pollockshaws East, as I did. Doh.. 

Fish and sentiments in the subway tunnel outside Cowcaddens station.

The Modern Institute
Bedwyr Williams's 'Echt' at Tramway, and the view of the gardens outside. 

Left: 'These Things Take Time' poster. Right: 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It?' a one of the photographs from my carefully observed snapchat series 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It?' a reference to my favourite line in Jonathan Glazer's Glasgow-based Under The Skin.

'Holiday mode' wouldn't be complete without an afternoon beer and a side of artichoke hearts (said Virginia Woolf once.) Which is exactly what I did at the CCA's Saramango Cafe back up on Sauciehall Street. More ploughing through the Deborah Levy short story before heading to the West End to source something for dinner. If there's an element of American culture that I crave for the UK it's the ability to acceptably dine solo. And I'm not talking about lunch, or a quick steak bake in the window counter at Greggs. I mean a proper meal at dinner time which can be enjoyed alone, free of misunderstanding glances of pity from that couple who are spending more time silently feeling sorry you than actually talking to each other. Whereas America has diners for solo Nighthawks, the UK doesn't really have an equivalent. Little Italy on Byres Road came fairly close and I dined on a wonderfully spicy mushroom, olive and jalapeƱo pizza washed down with a blood orange san pellegrino. The next day I happened to read Nell Frizzel's article on solo-dining and nodded along in agreement. I remember being baffled by the girls at secondary school that would never go to the toilets by themselves. (The more I think about it the more I question how that was even a thing?) But now I sort of feel the same about solo-eating. I understand why some people wouldn't be comfortable doing it but aside from approaching it as a 'joy' (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't) I think it just comes down to the fact that we're all adults, and we're all alone and can't we just go for a meal once in a while without somebody else and have it not be a big deal? Afterwards I needed to cool my mouth from all of the jalapeƱos so I went a few doors down for an ice-cream at Cafe Nardini. I sat in the window with my two scoops of pistachio and vanilla and watched the world go by and felt like Carrie fucking Bradshaw.

Day three

A morning stroll around the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Not quite up there with Brooklyn or Kew, or even Bristol but I can never resist warming up in the hothouses. 

Most of the Art Screen events I wanted to catch were clustered on Friday and so first stop was the Art of the Art Documentary talk at CCA which contained more 'cool TV people' than was reasonably tasteful. (My favourite moment was when the man next to me called Kirsty Wark 'Lesley' during the Q+A; an excellent unintentional ice-breaker.) It might be worth dedicating another post to some of the soundbites snatched from this event but highlights included Jeremy Deller's strawberry ice-cream-pink socks and Andrew Graham Dixon saying that "X-Factor has had an interesting, positive and less-elitist influence on the way art documentaries are made today."

A trip just up the road to the Tenement House and then onto the Le Swimming exhibition at Renfrew Street's Underground Car Park. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend the stop here- my current thinking about swimming pools obviously swayed me but it wasn't any good and I wish I'd taken the time to hop across town to see Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne at Govanhill Baths instead, or Alistair Frost's pop-up nail bar, both of which I regretfully missed. 

The 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It' series continues at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. 
Right: Brilliant pamphlet at the Tenement House recommending odd jobs to find around the house as a means of helping those struggling in recession. Topical...

Left: Not Tesco. Right: A pin that I didn't buy but absolutely should have.

The CCA shop was a real goodie and I got talking to Sally Hackett after asking her about a couple of fantastic pottery figures which happened to be hers. Next time I have some more spare cash in my back pocket I'll be buying one of her cheeky naked figures but I did leave with one of Greer Fester's cacti-painted 'archipelaglasgo' brooches. On closer inspection I realised it had been painted onto floor linoleum. It is excellent. 

And onto evening and to the wonderful modernist Glasgow Film Theatre on Rose Street. The inside is just as pleasing as the outside, with a wood-panelled cruise-ship quality which would be best accompanied with martinis and a backless dress and a hand on the small of my back. But of course, it's a cinema in 2014, not a ship in a 1970s murder mystery. I was there to watch Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker's The Big Melt on the big screen, and although it's fantastic that the film was available for months for free on the BBC website, on a big screen is really where it should be watched. For a film that celebrates and chronicles the Sheffield steel industry the booming soundtrack was a wonderful accompaniment- with the rhythmic hammering of factory sounds seamlessly morphing into Northern club music. Watch the trailer below and you'll see what I mean. I wish somebody would release the soundtrack; an instrumental version of Human League's 'Being Boiled' acts as a theme throughout, along with Acid Brass's cover of Voodoo Ray and a pounding 'I-need-to-dance-now' track from Forgemasters. In the Q+A that followed Jarvis Cocker said "people are inherently better dancers in the north because of the rhythm of the factory machines."

Left: Familiar Glaswegian scenery. Right: Sally Hackett card and Greer Fester brooch.

Left: The Glasgow Film Theatre. Right: Paul Morley, Jarvis Cocker and Martin Wallace in conversation. 

Day four

A coffee in one of the red booths at the University Cafe on Byres Road before catching my train. There aren't too many places like this anymore, and it made me realise that I so often go to coffee places with exposed brickwork and a moral superiority which makes it okay to serve tepid lattes. I finished Deborah Levy's book and particularly enjoyed her references to journal-keeping. "It would probably be more romantic to describe it as 'my journal', or, 'my diary', but I thought of it as a note book, perhaps even a sheriff's note book because I was always gathering evidence for something I could not fathom." 

Later that day I saw on Instagram that Jarvis Cocker and his partner had gone for breakfast at the University Cafe a couple of hours after I had. Regrets, I've had a few (said Frank Sinatra once about a similarly missed Cocker-encounter.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moving Moodboard

Clips: 1. The Greek synchronised swimming team 2. Student protests against rising tuition fees in London, 2010 3. Fanny Craddock makes an omelette, Christmas 1975 4. McCartney family home videos, Scotland 1970 5. The infamous Doncaster Rave film from 1993 6. Roller skating on Venice Beach

Another Moving Moodboard post has been long over-due. I made my first one over a year ago and you can see it here, though as is the case with the natural ebb and flow of internetland, some of the videos have since been deleted from YouTube. That's okay though, if we wanted things to be permanent we might look to other places than the internet.

A step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Press play on Moondog's 'Bird's Lament' right there at the top. 
Step 2. Press play on each of the video boxes, hitting mute at the same time, or experimenting with however much sound you would like from each. Scroll up and down, watch it all come together. 
Step 3: Enjoy Fanny Craddock's eyebrows, the McCartneys running along a Scottish beach, the hypnotic movement of synchronised legs and watch students standing their ground during the 2010 protests before the apathy crept in. 
Step 4: When it is all over, go on as you were.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday Moodboard

On my mind: Opening Ceremony's most excellent upcoming Magritte-inspired collection/ Pat Bradbury's playful works; this one appeals to my current watery swimming-pool thoughts/ 'Boogie socks' from Monki. Footwear that suggests good times on the dance floor and feature fern leaves? Socks that tick all of the boxes/ Beautiful, simple earrings from Rebecca Mir Grady, like kirby pins that have been dipped in gold and hammered/ Some groovy manicure inspiration via Alice at Lingered Upon/ Line drawings by Christina Ramberg, whose show I'm looking forward to visiting at Glasgow International this week.

This week I got some very exciting news, and after 8 months of interning I've been given a promotion at work which will involve a lot more responsibility- something I'm intimidated by also really looking forward to. I'll be sharing a jazzy job title with the likes of Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove so I'm planning on starting to smoke cigars, buy a flat in the city centre and have affairs with lots of young women. (Alternatively I think I'd rather write science fiction under an alias and learn how to tap-dance) If I lost you with those Mad Men-isms then I hope that you feel an obligation to go away and return once you've caught up.

In the mean time I'm super excited to have this week off work. Yesterday I had a lie-in, made myself a big breakfast (eggs and sriracha sauce, always) then got back into bed to catch up Girls before going for a swim. I never get back into bed during the day; I used to a lot at university but now I generally have less hangovers and less time for duvet slobbing so the novelty of being propped with with pillows and guffawing at Lena Dunham really hit the spot.

Later in the week I'm heading up to Glasgow, a city I've been meaning to visit for blooming ages (especially after reading lots about it over on Ally's blog when she was living there a couple of years ago) I've booked myself tickets to the screening of The Big Melt with a Q+A with Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker and am planning plenty of mooching around Glasgow International.

Music-wise I've been binging on Real Estate's 'Atlas' and belatedly discovering the joys of Future Islands. Samuel T. Herring's voice! And his recent performance on David Letterman. In which he wore a Simon Cowell-esque outfit and paced the stage like an unpredictable Gorilla and still pulled the whole thing off, crooning with sexy aplomb. I recommend watching the video, it has the sort of 'off-ness' that I spoke about last week. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Swim swim beach beach

Clockwise from top left: 'The Hockney Swimmer' by Michael Childers/ The wonderful 'Lifesaver' tapestry by Anton Veenstra/ Close-up and original swimming pool shots by Massimo Vitali/ 'Marginal Waters #19' from Doug Ischar's fantastic series of gay sunbathers in 1980s Chicago/ Massimo Vitali's 'Beach and Disco' one of those ultimate coffee table books that gives you page after page of joy and you just want to photocopy every single one and paste them onto your walls. 

This morning I almost hit the snooze button on my alarm, but managed to find the will to blinkily arise and walk the 5 minutes around the corner for my morning swim. The pool was unusually crammed, with every regular apparently having had the same idea; Thursday, 7am. There wasn't much that was relaxing about this swim. Some mornings you can glide through the water and if the sun is already strong it comes through the glass roof and throws itself onto the the water so that the surface becomes dappled with the optical illusion of fried eggs. When it's one of those bright mornings, and everything feels warmer and you have to squint I often close my eyes and glide through and think of beaches and tight swimwear and the various photographs above which I've seen along the way. Massimo Vitali and Doug Ischar and David Hockney. Sometimes the water is smooth, and sometimes the Angel of the Pool arrives at around 7.20 and makes choppy waves with his front crawl and flips as he pushes off the walls at the end of each length. Today though we all weaved in between each other, checking behind ourselves like indicating cars and giving more thought to the process of the swim rather than what we might wear to work or what we had to do today. The showers were fuller than usual and there was more conversation. I spoke to the woman beside me as we lathered our armpits and cleaned between our toes with soap- I increasingly enjoy the oddness of washing openly with the same strangers everyday.

See also: Benoit Fournier's beach series 'Copacabana' and 'Stranger by the Lake'.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lights and Music

Last week was for me, the week of the light show. *Echo effect* The Light Show, Light Show, Ight Show. This is because it was also the week of FuturEverything, a blooming fantastic music arts festival which, from my experience aims to woo its audiences with the instant gratification of a laser beams, mirrors and stamina-shattering stroke lights. Without really realising I'd filled my week with events from the FutureEverything programme with performances from Darkside, Dean Blunt and Evian Christ.

Darkside was a show that was unexpectedly soothing, projecting a lunar dreamscape across the room in the form of a mirrored orb and a sound that tiptoed between Pink Floyd and a road movie soundtrack. Pink beams of light swept over our heads like the surface of water and I felt like I was on drugs instead of two beers down. A few of the dilated pupils around me looked happy, so although I imagine it was mostly for their benefit I felt wonderfully blissed out too. I also considered whether I should adopt a no-festivals policy for the sake of enjoying live music in lab-like conditions where the sound and lighting is as controlled and joyous as possible and you stroll out converted, like the new member of a cult. 

Speaking of cults and feeling spontaneously blissed out and creepy, earlier in the week I caught a screening of Under The Skin. My gosh. What a film for feeling enthralled and terrified. It always amazes me when films like Under The Skin bookend the hype of Oscar season. Just as the collective obligation to attend the cinema and keep in the loop with cultural references dissipates then along come the films that are actually worthy of accolades. Mica Levi's hypnotic score has a lot to answer for and carries much of the film's strange beauty. While some part of the film made harrowing viewing the score, the images of black watery voids and of Scarlett Johansson as a predator in a white van were what stuck with me. I found myself at points almost revelling in the sight of Johansson's van cruising around the streets of Glasgow. What a novelty! The familiar image of the male lech completely inverted, and although I knew I was watching someone cold and dangerous I almost felt empowered by her view of the men on the pavement, suddenly vulnerable and gazed upon which is how anybody who has been yelled at from a white van will have felt. The documentary element of the film also blew my mind somewhat; with the most ordinary people you will see, to the point of being hyper-ordinary. And Scarlett Johansson, Claire's Accessories and constant references to Tesco supermarkets, all happening at the same time; everything about the film felt off and jarring, but wonderfully so. In a way that made me think that 'off' doesn't happen nearly enough. Other films that have stuck in my mind for feeling 'off' or completely new to me in their style are Holy Motors and more recently Nymphomanic. Off is good. 

Clockwise from top left: Dean Blunt, Darkside at The Ritz, the dark watery void in Under The Skin, white van preying in Under The Skin, Dean Blunt's normcore cap, the green lasers at Evian Christ and The Hall. 

And while I'm praising 'off'-ness, I suppose the highlight of my week was the Dean Blunt gig at Soup Kitchen. If we're talking about jarring, awe-inspiring newness then I'd say that Dean Blunt had all of those bases covered. On a side note- while I'm enjoying a renewed interest in going to gigs and listening to new music at the moment I'm not claiming that my 'new' is the same 'new' for you. Some of you lot may be in the habit of going to much more experimental performances than I am. But the Dean Blunt gig felt like a game-changer. 

My colleague Polly wrote a piece which sums up his musical style very eloquently. The gig started with about 10 minutes flat noise- almost static- and dimmed lights, and an audience that went from writhing with anticipation to relaxing into conversation before becoming restless again. Then it was all saxophones and beautiful Cranberries-esque vocals from Joanne Robertson and drum machines and Dean Blunt's flat singing style and sound effects. Dogs barking and glass smashing, sirens blaring. Musical genres flitted, the lights came up and down, and all the while a member of Blunt's band stood at the back of the stage doing absolutely nothing. Just standing still, with the purpose of looking ahead, hands crossed. At points his black outfit merged into the dark curtain behind him so that it looked like his head as floating in the same dark water of Under The Skin. The most intense strobe show I have ever had the unease and gradual pleasure of experiencing also happened. That was a good one for connecting the audience. The lights started off so intense that nobody could look at the stage and we all covered our heads like we'd cut an especially unforgiving onion. Everyone grimaced, framed by the lights into slow motion, watching each other and then very gradually the flashing slowed somewhat and it actually felt good. A bit like the feeling of eyes growing used to a dark room but in reverse, it felt manageable and actually comforting. But nothing about that performance was familiar and nothing could be pinned down. 

Did you read that recent piece about Normcore? Or one of the multiple others that circulated during the same week in which somebody finally named a sartorial non-style which many of us have been wooed by/trying to pin down for a while. Dean Blunt and singer Joanna Robertson were as normcore as they come; he in a baseball cap with a simple Nike tick and an outfit so non-descript and 'American Dad' that I can barely remember it. She wore an oversized North Fleece jacket which made it look like she'd come straight from a campfire to absorb the warm glow of the strobes too. The Nike and North Face logos weren't flashy, they blended in with the whole undefinable quality of the performance. Ultimately I felt like I had witnessed a performance piece and an artist who likes to fuck around and challenge his audience. It's always refreshing to watch an artist who is brave enough to do things boldly and risk losing you, but who has enough faith in the audience to do so. What I really want is to see him commissioned at the Manchester International Festival, given an extraordinarily large space somewhere and to see what he creates. Something similar to the Massive Attack and Adam Curtis outing at the last festival would do it. 

The swansong of the week of flashy lights and haunting scores was a performance from Evian Christ and The Hall. I hadn't heard of Evian Christ beforehand and did wonder if I would arrive and find it a top-secret operation, the unveiling of Kanye West's own brand of bottled water, which is frankly what the name alludes to. In my mind. Instead we were beckoned into a small theatre space and invited to sit on the floor ("like carpet time!" I exclaimed loudly) underneath a mirror, a laser and vacuum pumps. I just had to google what we were sat underneath. At the time I couldn't be totally sure. Were there two mirrors? Or was that other just a reflection? It was so dark I wasn't sure. I spent the next hour feeling hypnotised, watching streams of green laser beams splash and change form. Sort of like the visualiser settings that used to respond the music playing on Windows Media Player. Except right there in the air above us, responding to the sounds being produced by two baby-faced men, plugging and twisting at their synths and a complex series of wires beside us. I had no idea what was making all of this happen, but I sat blissfully unaware watching the dancing beams until it was all over and I was spit out into the light of day. 

I spend an increasing amount of time at work interacting with arts organisations and thinking about programming and creative practises which is fantastic and something I hope to continue to do. I do however find that my own personal time for writing and creating things take a hit and the last week has been a reminder to battle on with finding the time. I sometimes question the balance of attending film screenings and inspiring events if I'm not then able to put time into messing around and trying things out for myself. For now that's where this blog comes into play; somewhere to lay out things out and come back to later. In the mean time I've created a personal rider list containing two words: Light Show. 

PS, You can download Dean Blunt's last album Stone Island for free here.