Monday, 12 November 2018

Learning Upholstery

You might've noticed that I have started to learn how to renovate old furniture, I'm always posting pictures up on Facebook and instagram and stuff, but if you missed it, then let me tell you what I've been up to...

I started about 6 weeks ago learning from  the pros at BVN Design...
On my first day, my teacher was showing me how to cover an armchair, kind of a difficult one, not least because it was supposed to be covered in white fabric which can get grubby very easily. Well my teacher cut herself, bled on a bit and so I asked if I could be her hands and she could tell me what to do. I ended up doing it all, and not half bad for a first attempt even if I say so myself...

My next project was to learn how to do another kind of armchair, I used one of my cushion covers and a bag to cover it. It's a bit rough up close...

I wanted to get better at that kind of chair so I did another one and it came out much better.

I also wanted to learn about painting different kinds of cupboards and cabinets so I got this huge cupboard, was in a right state, really needed some love...
So I painted it in alternate stripes of mat and glossy black paint. Painted the interior a bright coral pink and finished it with gold leaf edges and new handles

I'm having so much fun breathing life into these old bits of furniture, there is so much quality craftsmanship in the original pieces and all they need it a bit of a freshen up and they can go on being useful for decades more to come... It's particularly satisfying to me because I'm very into sustainability and I love the idea of working with what we already have. If you want to learn how to do this sort of thing then join one of BVN Designs weekend courses and learn how to give old furniture the appreciation they deserve.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Street Libraries...Loaning Out Good Vibes

I love the idea of street libraries. They are little good vibe stations just giving out happiness, learning, fun and good vibes. What's not to love?

I got thinking about these recently when I was visiting a local town of cuteness called Sigtuna and they had a lovely old street library...

Sometimes they can be political like this art installation by John Locke, repurposing phone booths ...but they didn't last. Probably because they were illegal and put over working telephones...hmmm might be an artistic statement but as a solid concept for a street library...useless.

But I think they work best in residential neighbourhoods where access to municipal libraries is not so available. Plus such a cute way to repurpose old crap. Check these up cycled newspaper vending boxes..

Sometimes street libraries can be huge, repurposing things like bus shelters..

And sometimes they can be tiny weeny...

Is your street crying out for a cute little street library?

Friday, 22 June 2018

Artist Lars Lerin at Liljevalchs Gallery & Midsommar

Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon looking at art with my mum and my girls. It's summer holidays now so we have to fill up the days with fun things to see and do...and cake..there is always a lot of cake during the holidays. But the cake is quite necessary to have the energy to traipse around the galleries and museums that I drag my family to,  I assure you ;-)

We went to Liljevalchs Gallery to see the Lars Lerin exhibition and I really loved it... Each room had a different theme, very varied in subject matter but all done with his beautiful moody painting style, where it is as much about what details he chooses to leave out as what he puts in.

Some of the paintings were epicly huge, with so much going on...only a very observant, obsessive  and meticulous type of character would have the patience to paint these types of works.

I was particularly wowed by the library room, where he has painted life sized libraries of books and folders. It's a statement about the digitisation of things I guess but what I love is that whilst the books look totally real at a glance, you can't actually read one single word on the spines. They are all like incomprehensible meta books...bizarre but cool.

And I also found the room of interiors paintings kind of funny, to paint such banal things seems so strange...
This is what accompanied these paintings...

And it kind of made me smile inwardly because I do find this type of decor very common here in Sweden, and so totally boring. Lars absolutely captures this sense on sameness and tedious conformity.

The paintings of ornate architecture were also beautiful...

There is so much more to see and it's quite fascinating... I also highly recommend the cakes and pastries in the cafe. I sampled several different things and all were delightful!

On the wall in the cafe are hundreds of photos of stray cats and dogs which was quite sad really... sweet and sad. As a massive animal lover, I find it a bit upsetting to see the look in some of their wee faces. Only the unspeakable deliciousness of the pastry goods took the edge off ;-)

Well it is midsommar weekend here in Sweden, which is quite a big deal here and we have appalling weather for it. So I won't be going out and dancing around no pagan totems this weekend but rather staying in and baking naughty treats with my daughters... YUM

Friday, 15 June 2018

Letting Go of Ego Without Becoming a Gigantic Bore

The last few months have been a bit of a trial for interesting time, a challenging time with many dark hours and many bright moments of insight...

At my age, it might be called a mid-life crisis but that is too much hyperbole and sounds more dramatic than it really has been, although it does feel momentous for me.

I've always had a problem with naming myself... I sang in a band for 10 years but I've never considered myself a 'singer'. I've been making art in one way or another all my life but I never called myself an 'Artist'. I think it is some kind of lack of self belief or doubt in my abilities or something like that, but that has undergone a radical shakeup in the last few months and I'm finally ready to step up and own it. Now I call myself an Artist. It might not seem like a big deal, I mean what's in a name right? But it feels like a big deal to me and that is because I've finally found my voice.

Part of the issue  is definitely to do with ego and that is what I've been contemplating recently.

There were too many things in the way before..fear of not being good enough, fear of being judged and the ego getting a right kicking and also not having a direct line of communication to my creative centre...
I've been slowly but surely letting go of the ego and then the fear of being judged abates and the fear of not being good enough doesn't exist anymore... no status, no arrogance, no bullshit, no walls, no defences, no ego.... well it's a  journey and I'm not there yet but I'm on my way baby!

But I don't want to drag you into the multi faceted epiphanies I've undergone in the last few months because I don't want to be a gigantic bore.

Everyones journey of discovery is a personal thing with twists and turns in the road but I realise now, everything can be worked through once you have the courage to turn the gaze within and really ask yourself who you are now, what makes you happy and what is holding you back, what are the fears that stop you moving forward and what do you keep doing in your life that doesn't serve you.

Whilst all that sounds very self involved and selfish even, it's marvellous to understand yourself and be at ease with who you are because then you are much nicer company... I like the sound of that.

So that is it for me today...have a lovely weekend

Friday, 8 June 2018

Smoothie Buddha Bowls From Surprising Sources

More often than not you'll hear me banging on about how I hate the internet, social media is a ball and chain of obligation and fakery, and things were better 'before' or something like that. But there is a thing that is happening, quite surprisingly, that I'm rather impressed by...

I'm the proud owner/wrangler/parent to a couple of girls, one is a teenager and did you know, they are obsessed with healthy eating? Well ok, maybe not all of them, but a surprisingly large number of them!

My daughter comes home every day from school and spends an hour in the kitchen making smoothie bowls of unspeakable deliciousness and beauty.

Ok, this is not a picture from her, it's just a random one I found on the internet that looks like what she does, and she is not alone in this...the internet is full of such yummy wonderment!

I would've pulled a picture from her instagram but she doesn't put the pictures up there, she actually just loves doing it and eating them, so I'm happy to report, it isn't just 'look at my perfect healthy life' showoff social media bollocks.

 I'm so proud.

And I bet lots of other mums and dads are too, because my daughter is just one of very many health obsessed teens these days and that is thanks to the internet and social media.

Sometimes the evil internet can actually be an it's not all rubbish then ;-)

Well, that is it for me today, I'm off home... I'm going to eat things my daughter has made...

She makes healthier food than I do now.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Van Asch Goes All 'Biker Chick'

I dipped my toe into the world of bikers last weekend, when I did a little event local to where I live, a biker meet up part swap type thing. I didn't even know such things existed, but there were loads of leather clad folk and also a rather fetching pink car... I want it!

So if that was just dipping my toe into Biker world... Tomorrow I'll be diving in the deep end! Because I'm going to have a stand at the Custom Bike Show...

The reason I'm doing all this biker related stuff is because of my mate Emma...

Who happens to have the most beautiful looking bike (not that I would know anything about bikes, but it looks kickass to me!) anyway, she suggested that bikers would love my stuff and so I'd be depriving them of wondrous Van Aschery if I didn't have a stand at this upcoming event...
                                       ...There she is, resplendent in one of my T-shirt designs, as living proof, that biker chicks do indeed love my stuff... So I'm all packed up for tomorrow and if you're coming down that way, find me and say 'hello'... I'm not going to tell anyone that I have never ever even sat on a bike, much less driven one! or do you say 'ridden' one? I don't even know the basics! Shameful!

Well, I'll tell you how it went next week... In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Good Sweden Bad Sweden... What is Actually Going On In Sweden???

I moved to Sweden 12 years ago and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Apart from having a Swedish boyfriend (now husband) I didn't know much about the country before I moved here. Like most people I had a generally non specific positive vibe about it but that's about it. I imagined tanned beauties with long flaxen hair, Birkenstocks, natural wood, saunas, heavy drinking... it's not a million miles away from the reality although I don't see much heavy drinking here... I don't get out much either though, so who knows?

Since coming to live here, I can't really imagine being able to cope with living anywhere else. I've come to see that the progressive egalitarian values of this nation I now call home, are values I also hold very dearly. If I lived back in London now I think I would be in paroxysms of anger at the government, and don't even get me started on Trump... It's all crazy town out there beyond Scandinavia. I'm not saying it's perfect here either and obviously in a nation of 10 million, we have our share of issues, but these have begun to take place with a weirdly intense global scrutiny. Why is the rest of the world so interested in what happened in Sweden and why is there so much fake news about it?

  A few months ago I read this great book called Good Sweden Bad Sweden (The Use & Abuse of Swedish Values in a Post Truth World) by Paul Rapacioli. He is one of the founders of The Local which is Swedish news in English and an absolute life line to ex pats like me, who still can't wrap their heads around the Swedish Language properly.

Anyway, the book is great and very clearly shows how and why little Swedish local news stories get distorted as they migrate out of Sweden and get taken up by big international news sites like Breitbart and The Mail, who have an agenda that runs quite counter to progressive left wing scandi values.
I think it should be on the reading list for all 15 or 16 year old school kids, actually forget that, everyone should read it because fake news is not going away and we all need to understand the mechanisms and agendas behind the headlines.

So when I heard that Paul was going to give a wee talk about his book, I figured I'd go and listen...

Yeah...awful picture...I'm totally channelling my inner twat, you good people shouldn't have to see this kind of silliness ;-)

The fact is that bad news gets shared more then good news and there is something especially savoury about a fall from grace... The once seemingly perfect nation of Sweden has it's halo ripped off and is in for a good righteous kicking, exposed as the evil den of socialist ineptitude and moral decay or some such other utter nonsense. But it's all just a load of rubbish fake news, however,  Paul can explain it far better than I, a humble cushion designer...
                         So go take your face and put it in this book, read it with your eyes and then know it with your mind box... You will find that we all have a job to do, in counteracting the tide of disinformation about Sweden.