Van Mural Fest 2017 – how we made our mark

This year marks the second ever Mural Festival in Vancouver, taking place from the 7th – 12th August around the Mount Pleasant and Strathcona areas of the city. There are tons of new murals going up, and it’s a really exciting time for street art in the city – which has completely transformed the area from how we remember it when we visited last June.

DSC_0002
So yesterday after work (that’s right I got myself a job already!!) – Aidan and I headed over to Mount Pleasant to find the festival in full swing! Murals going up left right and centre, some in their infancy and others fully formed. We headed to 4th to help finish up a community-painted mural designed by Jenny Ritter and facilitated by Tin Can Studios.

DSC_0013
The mural was open for the public to fill in, paint-by-numbers style, on the 9th &10th of August. We arrived around 6 on the 10th to find most of the mural done, but they were still in need of people to go over patchy areas and neaten up lines. Aidan had the important task of bridging the gap between two indigo roads, and I set to tightening up a bunch of electric blue areas around a large bird.

DSC_0011
This is the part of the mural I helped tidy up. Pretty proud of my work in electric blue around the trees! The lady doing the hand lettering is Jenny Ritter, who designed the mural.

The ladies from Tin Can Studio running the event were super friendly and chatty, as was artist Jenny Ritter – who runs a rock choir in Vancouver! We both really enjoyed ourselves, and it felt great to be taking part in an arts event so soon after coming to Vancouver – as well as knowing that we were making our mark in our newly adopted city.

No free pastries were involved….apparently….

We may have missed out on free pastries….

The difficult days

So in the flurry of excitement and organisational chaos of the last few months, there have only been a few days where emotions have peaked and things have become a little overwhelming. I think it’s an important thing to recognise, and something which is pretty inevitable when you move to a new country.

Before our move, I found it particularly difficult saying good bye to Paul, Mus and Becky – and the CSM print studio in Archway. My final goodbye with Becky being a particularly tearful one outside the toilets, flanked by a ridiculous amount of botched together carrying devices to cart all of my prints and frames home with me. I still don’t know how I managed to carry all of that stuff home, the weight of it was just stupid. Then there was the final trip to Essex to visit my grandma – brave face the whole time, but then tears in the car on the way home. The embraces on tubes on the way home after drinks celebrating both friendship and choosing adventure. The goodbyes with my family the day before we left and moments of closeness I’m not sure we’ve experienced since my dad’s kidney failure. Saying goodbye to Gizmo and Luna and moving them to my parents’ house.

We arrived in Canada a little under 6 weeks ago, and I can honestly say that there have only been 2 days in that time where I have become emotional – only 2 days where I have felt the distance. One of which was a tragedy in the public realm that resonated closely with the tragedy that was the beginning of 2017, made ever more acute because of the red walls of our air bnb’s’s bedroom – and I’ve only ever known that one person to have a red walled bedroom….

The other was yesterday, my brother’s birthday. I spent the whole day in a bit of a funk. By the end of work, it was pretty much midnight in the UK. I had left a voice message on whatsapp for him to wake up to, but despite that I couldn’t help but feel like I had failed a little as a sister having not spoken to him on his actual birthday. In the end I managed to skype him, he was luckily still awake when I got home at the equivalent of 1am back in London. He’d had a good day, and I enjoyed every minute of the hour we talked. But like I said – yesterday I couldn’t help but feel the distance.

Squashed bananas and all that

And all of a sudden June is upon us

So as you may well know, we’re leaving the UK on June 25th with a one way ticket to Canada, where we will be giving a new life a go on the IEC visa for the next 2 years. Months have melted into weeks and then soared into days, with that odd combination of time feeling simultaneously fast and slow.

It’s weird how May seemed so chilled. The end of June still seemed far enough away that we felt like we had forever to get everything sorted. I will admit though, towards the end of May I started having printmaking anxiety dreams. Dreams in which I arrived at the studio and all of the screens were strapped up ready to ship off, completely un-usable. And another one in which my rooster litho stone had, for some reason, been carved into as if it were a lino block – only leaving the lines raised, with the rest of the dream involving me struggling to make an edition. Niche anxiety dreams right? What happened to the teeth falling out or just endlessly falling?

IMG_0847
I’m really going to miss this place

Over the last week or so, that anxiety has gradually shifted into an interesting mix of acceptance and focus. I have managed to get my head around the fact that there just isn’t time to complete the multitude of projects that I have lined up in my head. This has allowed me to concentrate on a select few things – making a frame for the print I’m giving my cousin as a wedding gift; printing and framing a gift for my grandma; finally editioning the roster litho; and trying to use up any excess book cover screen prints and recycled paper folios that are still in my 2 plan chest drawers.

The result of this has been a very satisfying and productive last few days in the studio – having made over 40 sketchbooks, editioned the rooster, and made 4 frames for various people including my cousin and grandma.

IMG_0848

Despite the stress of leaving such an amazing space and opportunity behind (albeit to pursue a lifelong dream) – I feel that being forced to let go a little bit over the last week or so has been a really valuable experience. Yes I will always strive to do more, and to do better – but sometimes you just have to go with what life gives you and mould yourself to it. Things don’t always have to come to fruition right now, because you can always find a way in the future if that’s what you need and want to do.

things to eat: House of Small Wonder // Berlin

DSC_0434

We went to House of Small Wonder for breakfast during our trip to Berlin back in early April. The setting was something else, as you enter the place you’re met with a spiral staircase surrounded by plants and trinkets. There are menu highlights on chalkboards framed by old windows, and the wallpaper is green and covered in little birds.

DSC_0433

Good music, good coffee, good food – but service needed a bit of work. Always frustrating when one person gets their food way earlier that the other – and on this occasion there was at least a ten minute wait, which ended up with Aidan having to ask where the missing meal was…

IMG_0822

Solid 7/10 for me, despite the wait. Portions were pretty good. My french toast was a bit on the small side, but did come with a good sized portion of fruit salad (cantaloupe melon, apple, kiwi, strawberry) – Aidan’s croque madame was a decent size and the accompanying eggs were super tasty and nicely seasoned. We both liked the fact it was served in a croissant, which is slightly unusual but definitely worked! (Sorry for the lack of pictures, after the wait hunger took over and eating was a bigger priority than taking photos!)

Happy Easter!

So this was my last Easter in the UK for the conceivable future. Aidan did his thing with friends and family in Wales, and I spent the day with my family at my nan’s house in Coggeshall (a small town in Essex.) Now easter in our family has always involved an egg hunt in Mémé’s garden – and although most of us grandkids are pushing thirty, we stubbornly keep the tradition alive. Usually my dad’s older brother does the hiding, but this year my cousin Aleric did the honours with help from her boyfriend.

Mimi
Mimi!

Of course Mémé had cooked up a storm. It’s inevitable that a visit to my nan’s ends in a very full stomach full of very tasty food!

DSC_0033
One of the pro’s of having a french grandma!

DSC_0039DSC_0062


On the way back we spent a good hour driving through the back streets of London, around Bermondsey, Southwark and Waterloo – which weirdly is one of my favourite things to do in this city. There’s something really magical about London at night, it transforms into something wonderful, and sitting in the back of my mum’s car on Sunday night I realised that it is something I will really miss about this city of mine.

things to see: Berlin

So for this month’s things to see I made myself a little booklet featuring a selection of exhibitions that are currently on in Berlin. I was there from the 8th-12th April, and so decided to check out what was on at a few of the many galleries dotted around the city. One sheet of suggestions just wasn’t enough in this case, so I thought I’d put my bookmaking skills to good use and make my own exhibition guide!

Found all the info I needed on ArtRabbit – which is a great resource if you’re looking for exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York or Paris.

For details of the exhibitions included keep on reading below!


Page 1 & 2
Peter Klitta | defekt at Galerie Schadow

Quad: Open Call at Zwanzigquadrameter

Thomas Billhardt. Ein Leben in Bildern at Camera Work

Arnold Odermatt. Feierabend at Galerie Springer Berlin

Al Fadhil. Deep Excavation at Katharina Maria Raab

Dream of an installation of a dog and various inclined surfaces… at Jordan/Seydoux – Drawings & Prints


Page 3 & 4
HAPPILAND, a country not far from utopia at Scotty Enterprises e.V.

Joëlle Tuerlinckx. 1/MUSEUM: 5 pieces selected for Kabinett Nagel Draxler at Nagel Draxler Kabinett

Dreams&Dramas. Law as Literature at Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V.

Carsten Sievers. Stutzen at Galerie EIGEN + ART

Hipkiss. Yes, but No. at Delmes & Zander Berlin


Page 5 & 6
Thoms Nitz. Essenz at Galerie Anna25

Heart in my throat

So today started stressfully, although I decided to poeticise my commute to try and make at least that part of it less frustrating: I missed my bus by the turn of a corner, and my train by a flight of stairs.

Commute aside, my mind was fully occupied this morning. I had a letter to print out, a letter which I had written yesterday – addressed to our headteacher, explaining a big decision that I was making. A decision that is allowing me to fulfill a life-long dream and embark on a huge adventure.

I emailed him, asking for a quick chat after support staff briefing – he replied saying yes, as long as it’s quick. I printed out my letter, signed it, folded it carefully into 3 and placed it inside a light brown envelope. I scrawled his name on the front, went to the loo to stare at myself in the mirror and make big, confident poses (I wish I was lying….) and went down to the office.

At 10:10am, once his office was cleared, I handed in my notice. As of May 26th I will no longer be working as an Art and Music Technician at this inner city comprehensive school. Then on the 25th of June, I will be boarding a plane with a one-way ticket, and going to a country that filled Aidan and I with a ridiculous amount of joy and wonder when we visited last year.

More to follow, there are still some very important people I need to tell about this. The next trip to the print studio is going to be a nervy one….