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Books Are My Bag

13 Oct

Books Are My Bag is a UK campaign to celebrate bookshops. For many people, bookshops conjure fond images of book readings, in-store cafes and delight at the discovery of a new author. In fact, 56% of all book buying decisions are made by bookshop customers, and high street bookshops (both chains and independents) still account for almost 40% of books bought by consumers! Yet, many high street bookshops are under threat, especially from online retailers.

I suppose these bags are good reminders to people to buy more books. After all – orange is the most impulsive colour! However, there are certainly more stylish solutions out there if you want to show off your inner bookworm.

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Book Porn: Sandwich Book

13 Jul

Heard of a coffee table book? Well, this creation by graphic designer Pawel Piotrowski is a dining table book.

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Ekaterina Panikanova Paints on Books

7 Jul

rabbit

Artist Ekaterina Panikanova creates paintings out of old books, and they’re pretty neat. The Russian-born Roman takes objects with existing meaning and translates them into works of art. The results are absolutely gorgeous; I especially like how the different shades and makes of paper add interest and depth to the creations.

A lot of these installations feature cakes, which I’m pretty pleased about. I also like her experiments with Rorschach-like ink blots, and I feel like her black centerfolds are something that Little Goth Girl could have painted.

black

What do you think? Personally, I’d like to see her try it with Kindles.

Book Porn: Rainbow Bookshelves

19 Jun

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From my Pinterest board ‘Sexy Bookshelves‘.

It could be practical if you can always remember what colour the spine is on your favourite books!

I think it could be fun to devote one or two shelves in a house to LGBT+ authors. And for sexist and homophobic authors you could try gently ripping off the covers and sort of tossing the book into some mud somewhere.

What do you think of the rainbow bookshelf method of organisation?Are you more of an alphabetical or organise-by-genre kind of reader? Or are all your books on a Kindle? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Books that Should Have be Written

17 Jun

I’m always saying how authors should be writing less alienating female characters, or improving their inclusion of minorities, or just generally writing, say, better vampire fiction. For his 100 Days project, graphic designer Tyler Adam Smith has come up with his own concepts for books that should be, or should have been, written. I’ve put together my top ten – publishing houses, take note.

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The Poetry of Book Spines

13 Jun

Nina Katchadourian is a Californian artist whose work has appeared in The Serpentine and MoMA. It’s been a decade since she conceived Sorted Books, an ongoing project which has manifested itself in many different places. Sorted Books is a very simple concept. Katchadourian visits private homes, or is commissioned by museums or peers, to peruse a collection of books, cull them down to their most useful titles and then group the books together so that their spines can be read in a sequence with the semblance and majesty of poetry.

Procrastination
I’ll Quit Tomorrow
I’ll Quit Tomorrow

DAVID
DAVID
FIRST AND LAST LOVE
SWEET MAN
Trust Me With Your Heart Again

MADE OF IRON
THE VICTOR WEEPS
The End is NEAr!
Yes, but…
STILL
IT HURTS

A DAY AT THE BEACH
THE BATHERS
SHARK 1
SHARK 2
SHARK 3
SUDDEN VIOLENCE
SILENCE

They seem to beg that age old question, what qualifies as art? Do these books become art when they are deliberately placed together? Do they remain art when the components are taken apart and the separate titles are returned to the shelf?

I was so inspired that I decided to try my hand at making some myself. The results are under the cut.

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Novel charms: Book-themed Accessories on Etsy

4 Jun

I love Etsy almost as much as I love Regretsy. You can get amazing and unique gifts, and all the profits from your purchase go straight to the person who made it! Here are my current five favourite bookish accessories. Click through for more information!

book

Tiny Book Earrings by TheIdleBindery.

Harry Potter 'Always' Haircomb by KyraBothwell.

Harry Potter ‘Always’ Haircomb by KyraBothwell.

'The Hunger Games' Mockingjay Pins by Gliterature.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Pins by Gliterature (that’s me!).

'I Found My Love In A Book' Necklace in Blue by BeneathGlass.

‘I Found My Love In A Book’ Necklace in Blue by BeneathGlass.

Miniature Bookcase Necklace by JanDaJewelry.

Miniature Bookcase Necklace by JanDaJewelry.

Were there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

LGBT+ Arts Night Part Two: Meet the Visual Artists!

17 Nov

Yesterday I told you about our speakers and performers. Are you ready to meet our totally amazing artists!?

Audrey Bishop

Audrey Bishop is a fellow Australian undercover, and for that she is rad. She obviously knows this — her Twitter handle is @audreyisrad. Audrey has set herself the task of completing 200 portraits. This has fittingly been termed the ‘200 Portraits Project‘. In her last project of a similar nature, Audrey completed 31 different paintings in a month, one for each day. Which is pretty incredible if you think about it. We’ll have two of her paintings on display and they are rather dashing if I do say so!

Just by the by, if you’re interested in getting involved in the 200 Portraits Project, email a picture of yourself to Audrey.

Emma Thomson

In art, Emma Thomson enjoys imperfections; with her collages, she “tries not to try”. She likes art that can unsettle you, hence why she sleeps next to a Francis Bacon print. Her interests include roller derby, ethical taxidermy and cats. She’s made some pretty fantastic pieces especially for the event, and they just happen to be for sale (so bring your pennies!).

Sylvia K

Sylvia K was born in a foggy and sleepy Italian town, in the last year of the 80’s. She illustrates simply because she couldn’t imagine not doing it, albeit her literary studies. She has shown her works in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and collaborated with a handful of musical artists; among them her “patron” Amanda Palmer, who has made her part of her last artistic project for the album Theatre is Evil, showing two of her works in Berlin, London, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Sylvia K likes Victorian literature, ethnic food, old French movies, the smell of second hand books and melancholic indie-pop. We’ll be showing five of Sylvia’s prints which will also be for sale. Hooray!

Paul Knight

From the very first day that Paul meet his partner, Peter in 2009 he started taking photographs. From that first meeting, he has images of the first time that they had sex, the first meal that they shared and the first time that they rested in each others company. Since then, Paul has chronicled their shared life.

This work depicts a couple in a very frank and intimate manner, capturing all the moments that make up the spectacular and banal within the everyday. This work is a quietly political offering to the history of the family snap-shot. It seeks to displace the chronological time-based narrative typically found in diaristc work and instead present a narrative formed via volume. It seeks to pull the bitter-sweat realisation of love and potential loss into the matter of the everyday – creating a realm where appetites offer themselves so that photography can feed on some of the objects of it’s obsessions.

Sina Sparrow

Sina Sparrow is a gay cartoonist and artist whose work deals with personal identity, emotions, sexuality, love and loneliness. His work is so amazing and personable and I am just so happy that he agreed to be a part of our arts night! If you can’t make it (though no excuse is a good excuse, really), his Tumblr is definitely worth a look.

Claudio Bindella

If you’ve seen Claudio Bindella’s work before, you’ll know why I am pleased as punch that he’s sending us over some of his work. His stuff is very very Gay and very very Cool.

…So what are you waiting for?

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LGBT+ Arts Night Part One: Meet the Academics, Poets and Misc. Speakers!

16 Nov

Hey you guys! It’s really happening! The LGBT+ Society in the University of Surrey, in partnership with Appleseed Bookshop (the greatest bookshop in the world!), are holding a night of poetry, music, art, literature and academic talks.

And I’m working at the event.

AND I’M HELPING TO ORGANISE IT!

PLUS I’M DOING A POETRY READING!

I don’t know what the point of working in PR was because I am terrible at promoting things, you guys. I’ve been walking around campus and town like, “Take my flyers. TAKE THEM!” But none of the local galleries or theatres seem to want to advertise our totally awesome amazing super cool event. Their loss.

But I know I can count on you, internet! You have never let me down. (Except for that one time when you couldn’t find me any cute pictures of baby greyhounds, that was a sad day.)

If you can’t see the image at the top of the page, the event is taking place on 4 December at Appleseed Bookshop in the University of Surrey (which is in England). Here is the Facebook page for the event. It’s free entry, but we are taking donations if you feel particularly prosperous on the evening because we have little to no budget and it’s actually effing expensive to organise a night like this and transport art. Who knew?

The first half of the night will feature talks from our guest speakers.

English Department’s Churnjeet Mahn will be delivering a talk titled ‘Lesbians: Commodity and Censorship’. Churnjeet is my favourite lecturer ever (sorry other lecturers) and I think this is going to be really interesting. She’ll be looking at a few ways the word “lesbian” is used in contemporary cultures.

Psychology Department’s Peter Hegarty‘s talk is called ‘A Rebel’s Butterfly: Rebecca Solnit’s observations on the Natural History Museum in Dublin’. It’ll be around California travel writer Rebecca Solnit’s observations about Roger Casement, the Natural History Museum in Dublin (from her travel book about Ireland, A Book of Migrations).

Michael Bedo is a PhD student at the university and he’s going to do an exploration of gay men’s experience in the Victorian era and how this relates to literature which came out of that period.

The second half of the night is going to be a bunch of performances and readings by really cool people.

Molli (with an i)

Cheryl Moore is the creator of mythological Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, from which she will be reading. Her characters, though flawed, are complex and beautifully drawn (figuratively and literally) and her storylines are so well-planned and intricate, she’s definitely a star waiting to be discovered.

Her style is experimental — on one’s initial visit to her website it can be difficult to navigate the story lines. But after a little bit of exploring, it’s clear that Cheryl writes sci-fi micro-stories remarkably well. We’re so glad/honoured that she’s happy to be involved in our little night and she is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met!

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods is the first in a series of speculative fiction manuscripts for which Cheryl is seeking publication. I can totally picture her books next to Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels or something. Here is a really awesome review of her work.

Stephanie Davies will also be reading but oh wait that’s me. I think I will be reading from my already existing stuff, but I might write something special for the night. My poetry is twelve kinds of mediocre but you should totally stay for the rest of the performers!

Because…

Next up is a reading by Stephen Mooney. Stephen is the University of Surrey’s poet in residence .

This is not Stephen Mooney.

Stephen is a Real Poet and is thus very good at what he does. I suggest you just come witness it yourself in person. (I’ve seen what he’s going to be reading and it is pretty mind-blowing you guys.)

Chloe Mercer is going to be doing an acoustic performance I think. I don’t know much about her but a little Facebook stalking shows me that she likes to dress up. Maybe you can look forward to that!!

XXStein aka the artist formerly known as Tommy Monroe of the Charming Thieves aka my super hot, super talented partner will be closing the night for us with a little musical performance. Frankie is a music and conceptual artist exploring gender, counter culture, punk rock and the radical left.

XXstein

(c) Claudia Moroni

Stay tuned for Part Two when I’ll introduce you to the visual artists who’ll also be involved in the night!

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Art Attack: Boxhead

2 Apr

I discovered Boxhead in Amsterdam in Outland Store, a tiny gallery space not far from the Red Light District, and I was blown away. This artist, using such a simple concept, seemed to encapsulate every thing I was feeling at that point in my life. I passed it off as a herbal-tourist-reaction, but months have passed and the feeling remains.

In fact, Boxhead gives me a lot of feelings.

A piece of art has caused me to have an emotional reaction. Is that normal?

Begoña Toledo, otherwise known as Boxhead, cannot remember a time when she didn’t make art. At school in Zaragoza, when most of her friends were playing with dolls, she was drawing. This translated into an interest in fashion when she became older. “Not all the model crap,” she clarifies. “I wanted to make clothes. That’s how I learned to draw the human body, never took drawing lessons, I learned anatomy by copying the model bodies on the magazines to dress them after with my designs.” She studied Fine Arts, in Barcelona before moving to Utrecht to do her postgraduate Visual Arts course, and has now been living in Amsterdam for four years.

Boxhead works primarily with paint on canvas, but she doesn’t limit herself to this medium. “I’m seriously eclectic, I draw, paint, screenprint, make toys, spray, sew… the medium is never the main reason in my work. I use the one that suits better the idea I want to develop.”

Where’s your head at?

Something about her work pertains to categories, being literally ‘put in a box,’ while also defying these categories by denying her audience access to any tangible emotion the subject may be feeling as she walks trough mist, through rain or tears. We don’t know what she’s thinking as she forms part of a manufacturing line, looks down at the landscape around her. We don’t understand – and this feeling is internalised. Do we understand ourselves?

The boxes give these pieces both a private and public life. They are shy and responsive at the same time, protective yet open. We don’t know whether the box is imposed upon Boxhead, or if she is wearing it by choice. We don’t know whether it is a part of her or if she is using it to conceal her true identity. And Boxhead doesn’t privilege us with her subject’s thoughts. It’s a Schrödinger’s cat type situation, in which the subject is both devoid of feelings and overwhelmed, faceless and beautiful, or ugly.

I find it interesting that the subjects are always gendered female, with their typical pocketed dresses and rounded thighs. This speaks to me of a kind of self-awareness, while also conversely pertaining to childhood and uncertainty. According to the artist, Boxhead has “a rebel attitude in the sense of identity.”

Boxhead’s paintings question our notions of identity and self-hood. They speak of gender politics, urban existentialism and consumer culture. They speak, and while I don’t know what they’re saying, exactly, I know I want to listen.

Presumably due to the economy, or some equally romantic starving-artist reason, Boxhead has started selling her paintings through Facebook. I bought a tote. Totes aren’t usually my bag, but this was one of seven, so it’s kind of like I carry my stuff around in my own little horcrux. Which is nice.

I urge you to go check her out before she makes the move to London later this month.

This article was originally written for Autostraddle’s Art Attack month, which was ace. Unfortunately this author was lazy writing her final year dissertation and failed to submit it in time. Please do ‘head’ on over to Autostraddle and take a look at their fine, punctual submissions.