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.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Painting, Art & Creativity for the Soul

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently, that is not always a pain free experience and sometimes deep reflection can bring up all sorts of stuff. I'm not sure why, but I felt like I wanted to paint, to help clarify things so I started painting in oils, for the first time in my life, a few weeks ago.

I really wanted to do something for myself, not to sell or to be commercial in any way but just for the pure pleasure of doing it. That's the thing about painting, which makes it so different from designing on the computer, it is so much more physical somehow. I even ended up getting rid of the paint brush and doing a lot with my hands and fingers to really get that connection.

So this is the first thing that I did...

It's not high art and really any monkey could do it, but that's not the point. The whole point was how I felt whilst I was doing it. It was kind of like a meditation, like a giant breath out allowing all the noise in the ole brain box to shut the hell up.

So I thought, yeah, this is fun! I'm going to paint more stuff!

Initially I felt that whilst oil paints were super fun to paint with, they take FOREVER to dry and a bit of hassle with cleaning and what not, so I tried painting in acrylics but I didn't get the same physicality of the paint. I couldn't get it to flow and mix on the canvas in the same way as oils so I painted over the acrylics with oils. I'm gonna stick with the smelly oil paints.

Good thing my husband loves the smell of paint and thinners because that is how the house smells now, like all the time.

I tried combining realistic elements with more suggestive abstract forms to see if I liked how that worked together...

But I didn't really feel for that so much. It took some of the mystery of imagination away. I love how the mind interprets the unknowable, how we see patterns in chaos, how we find meaning and connectivity in mysterious shapes and shades. That is what really interests me. Pure creativity not bound by reality in any way, just emotion and feeling. Only poetry, not prose, so I decided that for now I would keep it completely abstract.

My next big discovery was the palette knife and I really love the way it can drag and sculpt and blur the paint..

And once I'd found the palette knife, there was no going back from that!

And this is my latest painting which is my favourite so far..

The really funny thing is, you know when the universe is saying 'YES' to you because last night, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to take a bunch of unused canvases and a couple of easels off Please!!

If you are looking for a new hobby then I totally recommend painting, especially abstract painting because it comes 100% from within which means you need to open up and dive into your inner landscape and that can be a very rewarding experience, plus you might get some nice bits and pieces to pop up on the walls ;-)

I'm already planning my next experiment in painting my inner reality, and now I'll be able to do it on a huge canvas, thanks to my very generous mate! 

My final word on painting is that is should be completely for you that does it, unless you are a commercial artist, but I don't know anything about that. I just know that if you don't care what anyone thinks about what you do and forget about being judged, the actual process of creation is very liberating...

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Tattoos...and Toys!

So, as you might know, I was at the Svenska Tatueringsmässan last weekend, that's the Swedish tattoo convention in Norrköping. It was a wonderful combination of hanging out with my hilarious sister, watching fascinating people and being situated next to a stand selling adult toys... The combination was highly entertaining, hilarious actually!
 I knew it was going to be bizarre right from the first day setting up, when my neighbour stand holder knocked one of her dildo thingies onto the floor and a little 8 year old girl picked it up, very helpfully and innocently asked what it was. Various adults swapped utterly horrified looks and someone managed to babble something about these being toys for adults, put it back and keep moving. Quite cringey really, but also pretty funny if I'm honest. And of course I got to over hear some quite eye opening conversations coming from that stand... There was much stifled tittering and guffawing from my direction...and yes, I know that is very juvenile ;-D

I love doing events with the public because I met all sorts of lovely people and this event was no exception. So many characters and amazing tattoos of course.

Also met this lovely lady who bought a pair of flares and some bags and things. Not many people can rock a canary yellow turban, she could.

I didn't get to walk about much but I did get distracted by the site of a bloke whipping his top off to show his award winning back piece. This won him the Colour award for 2018 ...what a crap looking trophy! It's not very rock & Roll! Looks more like like a 'Vacuum Cleaner Salesman of the Year' award... anyway, apparently it took something like 120 hours over a 10 year period to complete... That is commitment right there!

I don't actually like it that much myself, not really my sort of thing, but I can see it is very well done.

I was also hanging out quite a bit with Zsa Zsa who is the owner of Z Tattoo magazine and yes, I'm going to be in the July issue! So watch this space!

So that was the weekend that was. Big thanks to my sister for helping me and all my new customers and instagram followers. Ya'll rock!