26 June 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Granny chic

This has been one of my go-to comfy but stylish outfits recently. The skirt is an ankle length ditzy floral print one with a wide elastic waistband that I found in a charity shop for about £1 a few years ago. I added a polo-neck, then decided that I could give it a real granny-chic look, to go with my new glasses, by adding the grey cardigan I also found in a charity shop (I don't often wear it, as it has a tendency to look too school-uniform-y). The final touch was another charity shop find, the vintage pendant.

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24 June 2016

Book review: Concretopia

It’s hard to believe that a book about concrete, and the post-war building boom, could be so fascinating and readable, but this book, Concretopia by John Grindrod, certainly is!

It helps a bit that the book is structured around things that are of interest to me – new towns (have lived in one all my life), educational buildings (have spent all my life either studying or working in post-war built educational establishments), redevelopment in Glasgow (somewhere I visit often), etc.

I think my interest in brutalist/modernist/whatever architecture started when I wrote a little book about the older buildings in my town, the ones pre-dating that era. I did a lot of walking around town, and along the way started to notice all the little details of the post-war buildings. Then my old high school was to be demolished, and I did a photographic study of all the interesting details of the building.

A couple of trips with my parents, where our bases happened to be Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead, and passing frequently through Cumbernauld on the bus, showed me some of the similarities between different new towns, and this made me feel a nostalgia for what my own home town was like when I was growing up.

This book is feeding my obsession with this sort of architecture even more! It’s full of interesting information and anecdotes, and I keep reading bits out to my colleagues at breaktimes (even though they probably find it much less enthralling than I do!). I was worried that I’d have less interest in the bits that weren’t about new towns, but, in fact, it’s all really fascinating.

Whether or not you like this style of architecture, it is something that human beings created with purpose and reason. They created it to try to improve life. Learning the reasons behind this architecture can help you to respect it more, even if you don’t like it.

I have to admit that the stylish cover design really drew me in, with its bold colours and simple shapes. I do so much of my reading on the kindle these days, but for this one I had to have the book. And now I’m raving about the book to anyone who will listen, and will probably try to foist my copy on them when I’ve finished it!

The author has a real way with words, and draws you in to the story. That’s how it feels – like you are reading a novel rather than non-fiction. There are so many quotes from interesting and down-to-earth people along the way, too. I think that many authors of non-fiction should take a leaf out of this author’s book. It’s a totally non-stodgy read!

22 June 2016

Hidden Door

This year I went again to the Hidden Door arts festival, held in an old street-lighting depot near the Grassmarket. This year they had a large centre-piece in the middle of the courtyard, which was an Escher-esque polystyrene sculpture.
I liked this string and lighting installation on one of the stairwells.
 My favourite artworks were some intricate dolls.
I found a good spot to take a selfie.
I also enjoyed listening to some of the live music, and eating some Irish pakora!

20 June 2016

Edinburgh College of Art degree show

Last month I visited the Edinburgh College of Art degree show. I didn't have time to look round all of it, so I decided to concentrate on the two subjects that interest me most, illustration and jewellery! These are both located in Evolution House.

I was really impressed with all the work. In the jewellery department, I absolutely loved Li Wanshu's pieces which are bright and colourful, and glow under UV light.

Some of the illustrators whose work I particularly liked were Liv Wan and Paige Collins (both of whom I bought postcards by), Saskia Cameron, Mhairi Braden, and Victoria Rose Ball.

There was a great free newspaper showing all the artists' work, so it was good to be able to take that home and read more about them. 
One of the interesting things I noticed this year, both at Edinburgh and Duncan of Jordanstone, was that there seemed to be people taking photographs of the artworks as they were looking round, and I've seen a few bloggers posting photos from their visits to degree shows. It's always been my understanding that taking photos was not allowed unless you asked the individual artist's permission, and the artists are not always present, so I've never done so. Is this something that the unwritten ground rules have changed on, I wonder? 

19 June 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Bluebells

One of the reasons for my recent walk among the bluebells at Ravenscraig Park was to get some photos of myself standing among them. I was lucky to get some lovely weather for doing this. I wore my blue coat and blue striped top so that I would match the bluebells!

15 June 2016

Bluebell walk

Last year I went to Ravenscraig Park in Kirkcaldy for the first time since I was a child, and discovered that it was an amazing place to see bluebells. I was in a rush that day, so this year I put it on my calendar, to make sure that I would have plenty of time to go bluebell spotting there.
It was a great chance to try a photo challenge I'd been meaning to do - taking 50 photos of different aspects of the same subject. I'm pretty sure I got much more than 50 bluebell photos that day!
I also enjoyed taking some photos of the beach and of some of the other flowers I saw along the way. And I got some self-portraits, which I'll show you soon!

Of the dozens of people I saw there, I'm pretty sure I was the only one there without a dog at 8.30 on a Sunday morning! In fact, at one point when I was staring at a particularly beautiful patch of bluebells, a lady asked me if my dog was in there! So I found this article in Standard Issue quite amusing and appropriate!

12 June 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Cherry blossom girl

I took advantage of the beautiful cherry blossoms in my garden last month to take some self-portraits. I wore the tulle skirt that I bought months ago but haven't got round to wearing yet as it's too nice for everyday wear! I also wore the shell necklace I bought on a childhood holiday to Morecambe. I think I ended up looking a wee bit Katy Perry-esque in these photos!

08 June 2016

Blossom walk

Last month I had a little walk after work, to see some of the local spring blossoms. I didn't go much further than the end of my street, but I saw lots of beautiful flowers!

05 June 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Tuscan dreams

The terracotta colour in this outfit reminded me of the rooftops of Tuscany, and the pattern on the dress made me think of Italian mosaics. The ring was one I bought in Italy. And this is the cardigan I lost in Italy then found another one the same in a charity shop!
One of my colleagues, an art teacher, said that this outfit reminded her of the work of the fashion designer Holly Fulton, and she pulled me into one of the art rooms to see some examples of Holly Fulton's work, which I loved!