A New Way. Can You Help Some People Who Mean Alot To The World, and To Me?

Throughout our lives, we will come to find ourselves in a lot of different places.

A lot of different rooms.
A lot of different corners.
A lot of different wheres.

Those wheres will be unexpected. They will surprise us, scare us, change everything, change nothing, and break our hearts.

I’ve found myself in some pretty amazing wheres, and some pretty devastating places. But one of the constants was having the opportunity to be part of Postmasters Gallery, and to continue to feel like I am part of their huge art family.

And that’s why I am asking you to be a Patron and help support them to keep making the artworld more radical, more daring and the world a better place to be – for us all. 

Furthermore, outside of art, The Postmasters Family helped save my life… and helped me get back onto the path of trying to live my life.  See Postmasters aren’t just a normal gallery. They’re everything and more. They’re community, they’re bravery, they’re hope, they’re protest, they’re US.

Let me tell you how, and just how their Patron rewards will LITERALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE to YOU if you invest.

In 2008, I got to chance of a lifetime. I had decided the previous summer (2007), whilst working with steadfast ambitious & economically supported college-aged Americans, that I needed to catch up with my life and career ambitions. And my career ambitions was to be an artist and to live and work in NYC. Preferably in a gallery. This was no small-feat for an under confident, working class kid from Doncaster, UK (DONX!).

I worked at a bookies and at a toy-shop part-time during term-time,  whilst praying to the art gods that I’d get my artworld NYC summer. I did anything to make sure I could afford to go.

I remember exactly where I was when Magda of Postmasters Gallery said she’d meet me in person with the chance of getting to be Postmasters’ intern the summer of 2008. I was sat with my friend James Cotton in the Graphic Design-Apple suite at the old art campus. It was a super sunny day for the winter and the sun was blinding through the large windows. I just-re-read that same email, over & over again. I still have it archived even though I no longer have that email address (at hotmail.com?!).

I remember being incredibly nervous. I think I was practically mute for the first 2 weeks of being at Postmasters. But I learned so much.

I learnt around 26 years of Postmasters Show history, and art history in the making, as I was set to digitalizing their whole archive. Endless slides to be scanned, and amazing write-ups of artists in ArtForum, NYT, Art In America, et al – of still practicing, artists who have since disappeared, but a theme emerged.

These shows were often groundbreaking, urgent, courageous, some genuinely funny, ahead of the curves. New Media Art shows before new media art was accepted as it is today (though we still have ways to go with this medium). Women artists equally represented, and mostly – it still felt contemporary, and alive and represented the values that Magda and Tamas have sought to bring to the artworld their whole life.

I also learnt how to send invoices via fax (though still not into faxing), I met some of the coolest artists who continue to inspire my practice today, about art museums collections & how they buy art for them, at one point – I was left manning the whole establishment for a week?! and I learnt loads from Magda and Paulina’s experiences and ideas.

I was properly schooled that summer I was at Postmasters. I remember leaving after my last shift and I walked down to 9th Ave, and had to search for a working pay-phone to call my mom because I felt so sad I was leaving this amazing thing I had sort of been apart of for a short time.  I left that summer with my heart heavy but inspired.

I got back to the U.K. and art school felt kind of boring after that experience. I had to do something. Magda taught me that literally, anything is possible, even starting from scratch, along as you have perseverance, some people and community who can support you.

So my friends and I started our own lil’ artspace called CAKE (rebranded CAKE Everyone). We were a small space above a bar on West Street, Sheffield, UK. We lasted around 2 years and we learnt loads and had so much fun. But the thing is, I took everything I had learnt from Magda & Postmasters, and I put it into action in Sheffield – and invested it back into our local community.

I am still employing these lessons from this time into my life and practice.

Now, it would be easy to say – I became, like, an awesome artist, or got lots of gallery jobs… but because i’m not very smart or that talented, that didn’t really happen (and that’s ok!). But the year after I graduated was HARD. I nearly lost my own belief. But Magda offered hope and advise on the end of emails. That really helped me push through what I thought was a dark time…

Then things started to work out… I got a residency at SITE Gallery, I was working freelance as an illustrator, doing some university lecturing… I came over to work a summer in Boston/New Hampshire in the U.S.A.  but I had been feeling poorly for a good few months before I went… tired beyond belief, coughing up blood, endless nosebleeds, bone-pain, flu-like symptoms, drenching nightsweats.

And on the 21st August, everything changed. I found myself sitting in front an oncologist at General Mass Hospital. With my YMCA boss, 3,000 miles away from home. The doctor cleared his throat a few times and told me it looked like Lymphoma… Cancer. He told me, if it was time-sensitive and I didn’t get it sorted then I would die.

Well. As you can imagine, that wasn’t the news that I was expecting. I didn’t tell my mom for weeks (I was only 24). I felt ashamed, I don’t even know why. I thought it couldn’t be true. I googled the odds every-single-day. My boss kept telling me I needed to go home. The only person who I decided to tell who I didn’t work with — was Magda.

Because Magda was a person I knew I could trust, and always has a no bullshit take on everything but has an aabundance of empathy too.

After a crazy 32 U.S.A. state roadtrip (yolo!) Magda & Tamas put me up at their place, Magda cooked me an amazing breakfast before I left the USA for unknowns at home, not knowing whether I’d make it back again.

But the story is more complicated.

Magda nearly saw me go under. A few times.

I just had no energy. I laid in bed. Feeling sorry for myself. I was in pain. I was really sick. I couldn’t even watch Netflix. But Magda & Paulina would send reassuring tweets and emails and I slowly kept it together.

I worked harder at building my art-practice than on anything in my life, though it never felt like work. I devoted myself to it, though it never felt like sacrifice.  I am also endlessly grateful. Those years gifted me experiences, skills, lessons, and friendships. I would not be me without them.

Many forget that it’s a rare privilege to find something you care about so deeply and be able to make it your life.

I had struggled to get back, but my heart wasn’t in it in the same way.  I simply craved a new challenge. It didn’t matter why — I couldn’t lead  my life in the same way, and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be caught without a plan if something happened to me again.

I realized I couldn’t have my old life back, but I also didn’t want it anymore.

So I decided to go into healthcare… radiotherapy & oncology! Of all things. But I’d kept all this secret from most people. It was furtive, shadowy work, and the secrets made my stomach ache.

 

But I reached out to M, and I hoped that she would still think I was an okay person.

The wild thing is, Magda still helped me through emails – giving me incredible advise and inspiration for my healthcare practice. To the point that I realized that I was still a fucking artist. I had got lost, but she never stopped helping me find the tracks back. I’m now doing my PhD combining all of my double agent status’ together. Just insane.

But here’s the thing about the Postmasters Fam., is that they don’t let you down.

Magda once said to me that we get dealt the cards that we get dealt, but we play them like they’re fucking Aces.  She has taught me that experience is subjective. We get to decide what’s devastating, what’s beautiful, and what we do next. In the books of our lives, we are both protagonist and narrator. And narrators have incredible power.

In writing this, I thought a lot about the places that shape us, and how, in turn, we shape those places in our minds. Postmasters have really shaped my life, in so many ways.

As human beings living on earth right now, we find ourselves in a very particular where.  The art-world mostly sucks, because it works for the 1%, lets not even talk about politics.

But this is something we can all help, maintain, and be a part of. Help sustain the legacy, help to make the future, help to secure a better history. Look down at your feet and decide what that means.

Instead of being afraid, I’m going to try to be brave. Instead of feeling regret, I’m going to focus on getting better tomorrow, and instead of hoping that someone else will say it or move it or mean it, I’m going to do it myself.

Postmasters has been there for us (in ways you might not even know yet!) so lets me THERE FOR THEM!

And as I’ve just shown you, the $100 or $500 a month reward will LITERALLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I can’t stress enough how much its worth it.

Let’s make art, and friends, and purpose, and be good to each other. And please spread the word!

If you got this far – Thanks!

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I remain steadfast

I remain steadfast with my focus on the present and the future.

Currently I’m having like some sort of crazy- probable cause: neck meets over-worked – 37 constant day headache that has degrees of severity from “totally ignorable to- i’m rolling on the floor” painful. It hasn’t gone away, not even once on its own. I go to sleep with it. I wake up with it. I wake up in the middle of the night with it. It reminds me that I’m broken. But despite this, the intensity that fills me in general is overwhelmingly positive.

I am humbled. Truly. I am alive. You are alive. And that’s all that really matters. I think about this, ALOT.  

Sometimes I get so frustrated and pissed off at myself because somedays/weeks my body is nothing but limitations. But really, compared to others suffering. I have it relatively easy. And I have to continuously remind myself about this. Because it’s not even about feeling run-down and shitty. It’s about how amazing people are with me concerning this. From my clinical lead tutor, fellow peers & friends, family,  to colleagues who I worked with on clinical placement (even writing a note in my report book on how my own health is more important), to the kindness and compassion showed to me from doctors and other HCP – i mean I understand me complaining about a headache sounds like the most time-wasting banal medical complaint ever (I assure you all, this feels like no normal headache). So I do appreciate the time and the compassion that I have received all round.

 I constantly feel lucky. And I have no idea how to return your kindness back. I have no idea how to show how thankful I am. The most amazing thing is, you probably don’t want or need anything back in return. That it’s just your general nature, to be so generous and kind. And that makes me even more grateful and humbled. 

I go back to New York City on Monday, and I am so freakin’ excited! I feel like I’m going back for the first time again! Nothing like a crazy 8 months dominated with study and science to make you crave the unpredictable creative chaos of NYC. The fragments of my old life. But I’m even more excited for something else. I always said one of the things I was the most scared of was my mom not finding the true-love that she deserves, I feared that she might not find happiness – This fear gave me a sadness and a powerlessness i can’t explain; that the 1 person who you love unconditionally, isn’t really happy and you can’t help them.  But luckily that fear is in the distance as my mom is getting married – to a guy who seems good (this is super rare for my mom!) And I get to see it! And she’s doing it in Las Vegas, so guys! We’re going to Vegas too! Who needs bucketlists, when the ones you love are happy?  (It’s worth noting here, that I don’t think happiness is finding a man, but rather happiness only exists when shared).

My plan this time for this trip is simple. I’m just going to take it easy and go at my own pace. (Mainly because I have to). And take pleasure in the simple things. No crazy rush. I’m going to smile and laugh with my family, see friends who I was worried I might not see again, or for a really long time, eat the freshest fruits – (Acai bowls come at me!), drink on rooftops, go to art openings, take lots of photos, draw, eat the bestest foods, drink crazy drinks, I’ll do revision work along the way, re-visit the things I love and I’ll instagram the shit outta of it all.  I’m just going to find new things and places as they find me. Like seeing New York again for the first time. 

I’d like to think that I have stopped wasting time.  It’s true in some respects, and failing in others. As David Bowie once said: Time may change me. But I can’t trace time.  The one thing that is for sure is that I still can’t help but feel the weight of times value each day.  And that awareness itself totally feels like a gift.

To New York City, & Las Vegas y’all!

 I will use my time fully, all of it.

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Smizz’s top 10 movies from 2011

You know it’s that time of the year, where I share with you my contradictory taste in movies: Some are high-brow, whilst others have amazing elements but with bland under-tones and some are well – just classic-cheese-fests!

Wasting no more time with over-baring introductions:

Number 10:

Submarine

If you’re an Arctic Monkey’s Fan, then you most certainly would love the soundtrack. A not-as-enjoyable-dark-british-remenaistant version of 500 Days of Summer. Loosey based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel, Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate who is caught at the junction between childhood and adulthood as he struggles with his first feelings of love, desire, heartbreak and must choose what path he wishes to take that’ll define who he is for the rest of his life.

but what makes Submarine so special is Richard Ayoade’s ability to capture the essence of growing up; the joy, the optimism and the tenderness alongside all the angst, confusion and depression too. The ups and downs of this British comedy are mainly due to Ayoade’s wonderful screenplay and direction that are touching yet never slip into sentimentality – he often playfully pokes fun at it in many cases – but what also deserves credit are the poignant score by Arctic Monkey’s singer Alex Turner, the cinematography that effortlessly shifts between comic framing and beautiful imagery and the note-perfect performances by the entire cast.

Rock-on-for independent indie brit movies!  You’ll like it if you like Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze directed movies.

Number 9:

Win Win

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a sucker for a movie where a kid with no direction who comes from a horrible upbringing, gets sort of ‘saved’ by a stranger.  The difference with this movie compared to the whole archive of Hollywood ‘diamond in the rough’ stories is the plot and characters themselves.

It’s a tragic comedy that comes out on top: like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. We love those movies because they’re about eccentric, witty people whose foibles are made less than tragic, their dialogue hypnotizes, and their personas seduce. Then comes Win Win, not as ingenious or innovative as those films but a winner in its own right because it embellishes little while it stays real and lovingly humane.

Mike (Paul Giamatti) is approaching a mid-life crisis; the monotony of daily life and money troubles colliding. But this is a well written film and it doesn’t look or feel like a mid-life crisis. Mike starts acting like a sleazy lawyer just to make some easy money, even though he’s anything but a sleazy lawyer. Because he’s a good guy, realities quickly catch up, and he starts taking responsibility for a troubled kid. Mostly trying to assuage his guilt of wrong-doing, but this kid happens to be a wrestling phenom and Mike is a struggling high school wrestling coach. But like i said, the movie is well-written. Producing less of a Underdog Sports kid story, but more  of a movie that reminds us that family goes well beyond blood relatives; family is the constantly evolving circle of people that we love and care about-in a less-cliche way.

Win Win is one of those few comedy’s that actually make sense and has a barbaric touch of honesty, but leaves you feeling better and happier at the end of the movie than when you first started watching!

Number 8:

Page One: Inside the New York Times

Extra, Extra! Tweet all about it!  Was that just a cruel joke i just made? Sure was. As a person who loves journalism of the high-est calibre, real – raw – important in all aspects, thought-provoking and new and old, I was immediately impressed to see that this was showing at Sheffield Doc/Fest this early summer.

Let me start by saying that you need not be a newspaper expert, reporter or reader to appreciate the points discussed in this documentary from Andrew Rossi. These key points include the battle of print vs social media, the need for true reporting, and the sustainability of the venerable institution that is The New York Times.

There is some argument given towards what constitutes journalism, but for me the real guts of the matter boils down to our absolute NEED for investigative reporting. I have always given value to bulldog reporting as a checks and balances for our system. Maybe, just maybe, our public officials and corporate leaders will toe the line if they are being watched. Sure, we can all rattle off a long list of when that hasn’t been the case, but I truly believe, having reporters following and snooping does make a difference in the actions of those in charge … and even if it doesn’t, it certainly makes a difference in the accuracy and depth with which their actions are written about.

The filmmaker has been given substantial access to the media desk inside the newsroom. We even get to sit on a portion of the morning meeting where the senior editors decide what the lead stories will be. Personally, I would have loved a couple more hours of just that! But just as fascinating is how Bruce Headlam manages the media news, and in particular, star reporter David Carr. Mr. Carr is a hardened reporter with the spectacular ability to cut directly through to the important point and focus on the details, verify those details, and then summarize in a concise, understandable manner. We see this in full beauty with his handling of the crisis and scandal at the Chicago Tribune under Sam Zell’s banner.

The bankruptcy trail of so many newspapers is discussed, along with the possibility of this happening at The Times. Personally I wish more detail had been provided on the survival strategy of this institution. Since the release of the film, there has been a change in the Executive Editor position. Bill Keller, who is featured prominently in the morning meetings, has stepped down and been replaced by Jill Abramson.

Gritty, indepth, emotional, relevant and exciting: everything you need from a cool documentary about one of the most iconic newspapers in the world.  It’s not often that one will actively seek out and pay to see a documentary TWICE within one month.  A must see, and documents the feel of 2011 very well. It will make you champion your local/national/international journalists (but not the ones who work for murdock – obvz)!

Number 7:

Bridesmaids

Number 7?! Really? Yeah! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Judd Apatow Fan, quite the contrary. I know that this movie was a love-hate thing with critics and audiences, but I think a part of it is that people are just stuck up their own ass.

Bridesmaids proves that women can be as raunchy as men releasing the ridiculous upon audiences in original fashion backed by heart. Kristen Wiig has finally proved that she is much more than the goof seen on Saturday Night Live jumping to the top of the comedy genre brining the buddy comedy to the feminine arena.

Bridesmaids differentiates itself from the rom-com stereotype with the clever cliché-free scriptwriting of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. No matter how outrageous the jokes become, they are smart, fun and unbelievably believable. Consequently, the film controls the outrage allowing the humor to improve the story and support the almost perfect Apatow cast. For example, Melissa McCarthy acts like a complete idiot racking up the laughs giving male raunch a run for its money. However, the stand out performance and the best performance of an actress this year so far comes from Kristen Wiig’s multidimensional melding of comedy and drama.

How do you complain about a movie as unique as Bridesmaids? Well first audiences expecting to see a chick flick have no idea what they are getting themselves into and if they cannot take the raunch it is going to be a painful two hours. Also, while the film is titled Bridesmaids, viewers may expect a story based around more than one woman, when in actuality it is not. Even so, the only real problem with the film is its song and dance happy ending, undermining what could have been a great finale. But you know. Whatever. Give yourself a  real laugh!

Number 6:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two

Is it too obvious? Yes. Does it deserve a place on ANYONE’s top 10 movies? Probably not, except perhaps a kids? Despite this, we can not allow this moment to pass: An incredible journey that began a decade ago (boy do I feel old!) finally arrives at its close with David Yates’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II”, as ‘The Boy Who Lived’ comes face to face with ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named’ in an epic showdown between good and evil. And what a showdown it is- tense, thrilling, breathtaking, and fitting of just about any superlative you can think of.

It’s by far the best in the series (with the exception of Chamber of Secrets), the art-direction superbly done and Daniel Radcliffe has finally sort of learnt how to act so that he is finally likeable! (too late daniel! too late!).

Whereas the first instalment of the ‘Deathly Hallows’ emphasised the profound sense of loss and isolation among Harry, Ron and Hermoine, screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Yates leaves behind the moody atmosphere of the previous movie for newfound immediacy and urgency. This is all about that final battle where only one can live, and from start to finish- for once in a Harry Potter movie- the action is swift and relentless.

Unbelievably there are some scenes that work better than the book (really!) One of course is the horrendous but poetically done angle of Snape’s death. It almost feels like all the good ideas from the series were reserved for  the most emotional moment in the film for Severus Snape’s (Alan Rickman) vindication, long thought to be the Judas Iscariot-equivalent in the Order and the one who pushed Dumbledore to his death. Yates delivers a truly poignant and deeply heartfelt revelation of Snape’s true colours, and it is a farewell that even those who have read the book and can expect what is to come will be overwhelmed by its sheer emotional muscle. While Part II was always meant to be an action-packed spectacle, it is to Yates’ credit that there is still as much heart as before in the storytelling.

We all know how the story ends, and lets face it, we all love that in the last scene – 10 – or however many years later – the way they have made the characters look old is bad stubble, and comb-overs. LOLz!  If Harry Potter – a book and movie series that has grown with me for almost 14 years (I’M OLD!) can’t have a place in the top 10 for its significance than what else can?!

Number 5:

50/50

There seems to be a theme building up here. Tragic-dark-comedies with uplifting outcomes. Also, I’m not saying I love this movie just because I HEART Gordon-Levitt, but it was certainly a factor within.

“50/50” puts an end to all those X-Factor sob-story style half unknowing movies about Cancer. Written semi-autobiographically by cancer survivor Will Reiser, it would seem it takes one to write one. Although cancer drives the entire story, the story doesn’t fixate on cancer or melodramatize the terrible truths we already know about potentially fatal illness.

The acting is superb by both leads, the parents of Adam played by Angelica Houston and Serge Houde are portrayed effectively and in a loving way, and the screenplay and Johnathan Levine’s direction never fails or works against this film in any way. Three years prior he was creating good chemistry between Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck in The Wackness. Now, he’s finally mastered in creating two characters that do nothing but sparkle when on screen together. You can’t really call this a Seth Rogen film because while his comedy is here, his underlying sweetness shows through the cloth of this film more than it has ever done before.

Thanks to a wonderful third act in terms of direction and screenplay, you get an all out emotional breakdown from the characters and yourself. 50/50 has a way with making emotional moments not seemed contrived, but welcomed. A potentially disastrous idea turns out to be both hilarious and poignant.

It turns out, the secret to fantastic film making is, a good script, great actors and balancing act that doesn’t take advantage of an audiences emotional vulnerability. One more thing, did I say  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it? 😉

Number 4:

Arthur Christmas

I sort of feel like I’m wasting such a high position to a kids christmas movie: but then I remember that Arthur Christmas deserves this!

There have been many movies over the years where Christmas must be saved from disaster, but Arthur Christmas has a very creative take on it. From the opening scene where it’s established that Santa is really a dynasty through the centuries, a title handed down from father to son, to the paramilitary operation to get millions of presents delivered in one night, to the misadventures of Arthur and his grandsanta as they try to make sure one little girl is not disappointed, Arthur Christmas is fun, creative, and original. Produced by Aardman Animations in association with Sony Pictures Animation, this CGI animated film delivers Aardman’s distinct brand of quirky humor and style.

The moral message may be gooier than the centre of a toasted marshmallow, but the gag rate is high, the animation is perfect and the voice cast of James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton are splendid. Mix in a plethora of hidden jokes for the adults and you couldn’t ask for a nicer movie to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit.

Aardman productions totally go nose-to-nose in my mind, and this movie with it’s great brit sense-of-humor is watchable outside of the christmas period!

Number 3:

The Help

So, it turns out that some of this years best movies are adaptions from books. And like every adaption (most recent notably – One Day – it’s hard not to compare against – so I’m not).

Oscar Oscar Oscar – Kathryn Stockett’s beautiful book is Oscar worthy in this film — for editing, screenplay, supporting actress (several deserving) – Emma Stone just shines – at just 22 years old, this film proves she is a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. There are so few roles written for black women and I was thrilled to see such great roles filled by Viola Davis (Abigail) and Octavia Spencer (Minnie) – both should be nominated for supporting roles although in my opinion, along with Emma Stone, all three share top billing.

The character development in this movie is really outstanding (thanks to the book!) – I hate movies with flat single dimension characters and these from the lowest to those with the most screen time are just remarkably developed – even the newspaper editor, the lines they chose for him to keep gave you enough information that even he is a memorable character with only three scenes, maybe 4 in the entire movie. Same for Stuart, Skeeter’s love interest – you actually like him then hate him and he only has maybe 3 minutes of air time. Great great job.

This movie sets out beautifully a terrible time in our history that unfortunately is not over – it is better, but not over by a long shot. You FEEL the heat, the tension, the pain, the injustice of the time but still you laugh with them even as you cry for them – both races – ignorance is to be wept over. Never dragged once for  a 2.5 hour movie, your last thoughts, there’s a book? I DEFO want to read it now if the movie is THIS good!

Number 2:

The Artist

I got  a chance to see this on one of those SHOWFILMFIRST screenings.  I was tempted by the title – oh The Artist! And remembered that I had heard some talk of it from Cannes. I had no idea it was indeed Black & White AND silent! What a treat to have! A real new black & white movie!

Jean Dujardin deserved his Palme D’or for his captivating and wonderful performance. Where to start…this film is so clever, so beautifully crafted, so mesmerising. The lost art of the silent film is once again brought to life and that era is impressively recreated, whether it be the acting style, the sets, the locations (shot in Hollywood), the shimmering black and white photography. It is obvious to see that the people behind L’artiste respected that era of film making and wanted to recreate the magic with some modern touches ( I won’t spoil them) and totally succeeded.

The Artist asks the question – how does one make that transition from silent to talkie? And then proceeds to answer using the silent/black and white techniques of those first pictures…absolutely brilliantly.

Number 1:

 The Tree of Life

It’s a tough decision. I’m left with the guilt of not putting other movies: worthy of a top 10 place, such as Drive or Super 8 or more independent foreign movies.  But it came down to this:  The Tree of Life.

writer/director Terrence Malick does not play fair. First of all, what director makes five films in 40 years? Who makes a film about CREATION, life, evolution, spirituality, death and existence? What director seems to thrive when no real story is needed to make his points? How can one director so mess with the viewer’s head through visual artistry never before seen on screen? The answer to these questions, of course, is Terrence Malick.

Any attempt to explain this film would be futile. It is so open to interpretation and quite a personal, intimate journey for any viewer who will free themselves for the experience. What I can tell you is that much of the film is focused on a typical family living in small town rural Texas in the early 1950’s. Brad Pitt plays Mr. O’Brien, the stern disciplinarian father and husband to Jessica Chastain’s much softer Mrs. O’Brien.

It really sweeps over and through you, and takes you on a trip of introspection. So many human emotions are touched – the need to be loved, appreciated and respected. It’s a contemplative journey that you can either take part in or fight. My advice is to open up and let this beautiful impression of all life take your mind places it may have never been before.

 

 

New York best bits poster

I’m about 75% happy with this, I think you can see myself getting super bored towards the end. However, over-all – happy with my choices and how I wanted to visualise it. And good practice with illustrator. I think I’ll have another go later on over christmas. But for now, I needed to get it finished ASAP for my good friend, James Cotton, who is super lucky enough to be spending xmas and new years in my favourite city in the world NEW YORKKKK!

i don’t usually digg sculpture:

Artist Maurizio Cattelan’s latest piece of work (which is currently on display at the Guggenheim, New York) has to be the craziest/coolest installation I’ve ever seen! More pictures here: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/17498/maurizio-cattelan-all-retrospective-at-guggenheim-new-york.html

Artist Maurizio Cattelan’s latest piece of work (which is currently on display at the Guggenheim, New York) has to be the craziest/coolest installation I’ve ever seen! More pictures here: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/17498/maurizio-cattelan-all-retrospective-at-guggenheim-new-york.html

I don’t usually digg sculture unless it has a poignant or poetic quality to it. However Cattelan’s latest installation/sculpture piece reminds me of the recent book 100 Objects of the World. It’s fantastic. Here in this exhibition we have this tension between history, design, and the importance of archive.

Gravity

I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff for this amazing art conference called Gravity. It’s been running all year since Janurary. And now the website that i built is up – it’s actually really amazing to see how many well acomplished artists my co-workers/artists bagged – like ALOT of previous Turner Prize Nominees/winners- both current and past. Check out the site yourself. The research hasn’t been finished yet by the artists, but as soon as we have that – the website will have a fantastic dialogue going on between todays contemporary practices and our relationship with the balancing thinking and making. check it at http://www.gravity21.org. word.

New York, New York – touristy tips

I’ve worked in NYC, had several shows in NYC, and been such a tourist – and everytime I go – I ALWAYS find something new and amazing that i missed the 1st time around. Friends here in the UK always ask me for some advise. So here’s some for anyone going to NYC on vacation, for summer camp, for a semester abroad, or interning. It’s not a comprehensive guide but it’s good if like me – you’ll be on a budget! I hope you find some parts of this helpful! 🙂

INSTRUCTIONS: PRE. NYC

Get a guide book with good maps: Lonely planet is pretty decent, or even a AA one. ‘Not for Tourists’ guide books are ok but rather dull for touristying and pictures, but excellent for in depth, detailed maps of every area. If it’s your first time, you just want a book with a clear map for every main part of Manhattan.

Then sit at the laptop and google all of these addresses and places that you like the sound of here in this guide, and mark them on your book. Put a circle in the place where google maps tells you it’s at and then you can like number them, or whatever. use your guide book like a notebook!

** Also, as with any travel prep. you should photocopy your passport before you leave for NYC. just incase.**

 Getting into the city

Catch the express bus service from JFK or Newark (info here: http://www.coachusa.com/olympia/ss.newarkairport.asp ) it’s $15, get 1 way. the bus service usually do 2 stops : grand central station (EAST) or port authority (WEST). sTRICTLY SPEAKING both locations are central but in my mind port-authority (W 45th st on 8th ave) is more central because it’s alot easier to get to the majority of subway lines – where as – when you head more east on the central, upper side – the subways become less available.

(There’s the air-train but its not as relaxing as the bus – but the air-train you have to make 2 changes (1 train takes you 2 another train) and it takes you to penn station 34th st)

SUBWAY

several days in the city will be costly if you decide to catch cabs everywhere!

The best way is to WALK in order 2 see all the surprise stores you had no idea existed, the art gallery youve never heard of, or to just appreciate the architecture. But never under estimate the power of the subway. ESP. when your feet hurt from too much walking! the subway is amazing as it runs 24/7.

the unlimited subway card for a week: $29 (£15ish) – good for all subways, at any time, and buses, in the whole of NYC. (it was cheaper but prices have gone up) and it is relatively safe 2 catch the subway at like 3am! regardless of what you might have heard. i remember i got totally tipsey, bordering on drunk, i caught the subway from bushwick, brooklyn ( a tiny bit of a seedy neighbourhood) to williamsburg, bklyn – at 3am – and it was absolutely fine. last time my friend and i went from san diego – to newark- caught the bus into the nyc – and it was midnight – and we stayed up all night in the city and bars in manhattan and brooklyn. and we were fine then. nyc is really safe!!

The unlimited card will be good for your first few days in the city because you probably will make mistakes and get on a train going up town instead of downtown, or get on a train that is express at rush hour so you end up 3 stops away from your destination. but it’s good to get lost !

BOOKSTORES

NY has some of the most amazing bookstores. I spend ALOT of my time in them because of the vibe and so much cool stuff!

http://www.spoonbillbooks.com/ specializes in Used, Rare, and New books on Contemporary Art, Architecture, and various Design fields, with an emphasis on Imported or hard-to-find — but we also hand pick thousands of good books every month for our voracious clientele.

218 Bedford Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11211

(i lived 4 blocks away from this place- its open until 10 at night – and its in a super cool area- EXPLORE THIS AREA – there’s a few design stores and this really really cool beer store, an internet cafe, and a cool record store on the corner of the building its all in) Williamsburg is where all the hipster and ASOS fashion is coming from atm. but more info later

http://www.strandbooks.com/

fiercely independent family business – 18 million books! ALL DISCOUNTED. from rare, out of print, hardback, brand new, best sellers, signed ect.

828 Broadway

New York, NY 10003-4805 (which is just off union square – across from this AMAZING CHOCOLATE STPORE WITH THE BEST most expensive HOT CHOCOLATE)

-www.printedmatter.org

Printed Matter, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1976 by artists and art workers – specializing in artist books

195 10th Avenue

New York, NY 10011, United States (near all the commercial galleries in chelsea)

-http://www.blueribbongeneralstore.net/index.shtml

is a modern general store for a well-lived life, combining the charm of a country general store with the sophistication of a modern city lifestyle

365 State Street, Brooklyn

-http://www.arthousecoop.com/library

Art House creates massive, international art projects that tie thousands of artists together

103A N 3rd St

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211

-http://www.mcnallyjackson.com/

aspire to be the center of Manhattan’s literary culture

52 Prince Street

(between Lafayette & Mulberry

New York City, NY 10012

Barnes & Noble (located acrosss the city – best one on Union Square)

GOOD FOR MAGAZINES, LOTS OF BOOKS AND RESTROOMS!! (trust me you will need 2 use a barnes n noble for the bathroom at some point)!

DOING ART/museums FOR FREE, OR CHEAP

MoMA – FREE night on FRIDAYS – starts at 4:00pm – be there early or later (6ish) to avoid queues (i’d advise to be early because this ticket makes it see so you can see the movie which is showing at the MoMA movie theatre for FREE (usually $9 on it’s own) see a TIMEOUT NYC for more details on what’s on) keep the ticket because from the date on it – gives you 30 days to go to the PS1 Contemporary Art center in Queens for FREE. (free night saves you $21 admission charge for the MoMA –  daylight robbery)

Guggenhiem – 5:30 (exactly) on THURSDAYS is PAY WHAT YOU WISH instead of $20 or $15 student

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF ART – FRIDAYS PAY-WHAT-YOU 6-9PM. (save about $18)

NEW MUSEUM – THURSDAY 7PM-9PM FREE NIGHT (save about $7 – 10 )

PS1 CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER – QUEENS – SUGGESTED DONATION (they ask for $7) but free with MoMA ticket

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY – SUGGESTED DONATION (they ask for $20!)

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (refered to as The Met by cool new yorkers) – SUGGESTED DONATION (suggested $24!) (this place is freaking huge – expect to spend at least 3-4 hours in here)

DIA CENTER FOR ARTS – SUGGESTED DONATION (not in the city, but in BEACON) ($10)

TIME OUT NY is your bible for everything – art, food, music events, book signings, political happenings, tv show audience, musicals. Also Read The Brooklyn Rail to find out what’s on; also, The New York Times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday has art reviews. But the word on the street is key.

FOOD

after all that culture, food is a must. i’m sorry that i can’t offer you better advise on the food front. i forget the addresses or names of places i like – i just know where they are! like- i could take you to them ha!

 Here’s a website i like to check out when in town for places to eat: http://cheapassfood.com/

BEST STICKY CHICKEN WINGS – BBQ Dallas (also my fav meeting spot in the city cuz its open enough, next to a subway and easy get to) 23rd n 8th . drinks are HUGE

INDIAN FOOD – although i’ve never had a groundbreaking curry in the whole of america – curry ave – AKA Lexington Ave between 21st and 38th is where it’s at!

CUPCAKES – http://www.magnoliabakery.com/home.php ( as seen on sex and the city is a tourist fav ) but if you’re looking for a down-key – quick sugar hit to make you go into sugar shock then the cupcakes from Barnes & Noble cafe – foh serious.

Also Crumbs http://www.crumbs.com/ ;

Sweet Revenge: http://www.sweetrevengenyc.com/

and SPOT http://www.spotdessertbar.com/ …. if you can’t be arsed to find all these you can grab a good selection in Chelsea FOOD MARKET – which is very awesome.

THAI FOOD – now you know how i feel about THAI ICED TEA, you NEED to get one of them and think of me! The americans (or rather the 2nd generation of thai americans) know how to cook amazing thai food. this will shit all over what youve ever had (unless youve been to thailand , i suppose?)

So here are a few: http://www.sripraphairestaurant.com/ (this is in QUEENS) which makes it SUPER CHEAP and authentic!

Pongsri – in China town is pretty awesome, there’s a place on 19th street between 8th and 6th (i can’t remember where but it’s gota good lunch deal menu during the week! – thai–ice tea not so good though)

There’s a cheap burger place called: BRGR on 7th near 29th st.

Good, cheap sushi on Greenwich Street (off 6th ave), north side of street. Or my favorite: Monster Sushi, on 23rd street, between 5th and 6th aves.

good farmers market at Union Square, Fri, Sat. Good noodles place off the square, east side. Revolution Noodles, I think it is.

Obvs. Go to China town for cheap-ass chinese food; Greenpoint BKLN for Polish; Queens for mexican and real spanish style food.

Harlem for soul food!! you must go to: http://www.sylviassoulfood.com/!

WHOLEFOODS – for bits and bobs – revolutionary supermarket shopping, i tell ya! it laughs at waitrose. Anyways, avoid wholefoods on union square cuz it’s ALWAYS packed. You can try wholefoods at columbous circle best place is prob 95 East Houston Street

Dylans Candy Bar, near bloomingdales: 

There are many pizza joints where you can get a slice of pizza for $1!!! (instead of average $2.60) mostly in Brooklyn, a few close to brooklyn bridge, but The 99¢ pizza place near the Port Authority Bus Terminal is a main attraction these days.

There are good bars and restaurants on the Lower East Side, on Ludlow Street, Alphabet City

BEST CUP OF TEA IN THE CITY: ARGOTEA (based in Chicago it’s opened it’s business for new yorkers alike!) it does the craziest of stuff with tea. my fav seasonal classic is frostea! (white tea, white choclate & mint) http://www.argotea.com/

COOL STUFF TO DO THAT YOU CAN’T DO VIRTUALLY ANYWHERE ELSE

MY BIGGEST SECRET! – ASSSSSCAT3000 on a sunday night at http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/ (07 W. 26th Street New York, NY 10001) just off 9th ave (in chelsea) is FREEEEE and AMAZING!!! it’s improv comedy by the folks ar Saturday Night live, 30 rock, other comedian guests – can i stress that this is the coooolest thing  ever?!

Anyways it starts about 9pm. but here’s teh catch – cuz it’s free you gotta get there early to queue for free tickets! I mean like early, like 6pm – hang around. they don’t really give you tickets until 7:30-8:00ish. when they do, you get about an hour 2 eat (this is where BRGR place comes in handy or many cool bakeries around the area) and you have to line back up with your number. It’s nOT to be missed!!!

BEST SLAM POETRY IN THE CITY – Friday night : 10pm ($10) get about 20 mins early to line up for good seats. goes on until 2am. you can leave when you want. http://www.nuyorican.org/history.php puts slamjam 2 shame!

SEE A MUSICAL – catch me if you can is the new broadway hit; jersey boys is the most popular thats still happening. you’ve probably already seen wicked? Anyways, don’t diss Off Broadway shows- off broadway shows often become the next big thing on Broadway and OFF-OFF BROADWAY can be way more interesting than the other shows- and of course. CHEAPER

SEE AN OPERA AT THE MET: $25 for cheap tickets – (nosebleed) http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/

BOAT RIDE in central park, RENT A BIKE in central park. take a class in central park:

Walk across Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg bridge

See a concert, see the sun set over the skyline

see a baseball game!

drink in a hotel bar with an amazing high view

GO TO CONEY ISLAND and ride on the rollercoaster & eat a hotdog!

Go up the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING 1 hour before sunset, so when you get up there you see it in the light, watch the sunset, and see the city at night – all the best sights for your 1 admission price of $24 (best way 2 get your money worth!)

Go to 24 hour cafe at a stupid o’clock. it’s amazing to people watch! and you cant go to nyc without going to a 24 hr cafe now?

In MACYS take your passport, international vistors get a card that gives you 13% discount on anything in any Macy’s store US wide for 30 days.

In Bloomingdales, if you spend over $100 – you also get a free gift!

GETTING OUT OF NEW YORK

so you wanna travel?

Megabus.com starts at $1 tickets to Boston, Philly, DC amoungst other amazing cities on the east coast.  The boltbus.com does the same but less locations and better free wifi on the bus.  There’s the fungwang bus that goes from NY Chinatown to Boston Chinatown for $20 on the day, no pre-booking needed!  On the eastcoast you don’t need to use the greyhound as it is overpriced and old compared to these cheap-budget services that offer free wifi (trust-makes your journey 10 x better) and more dinner stops on the way!

Priceline.com offers relatively cheap round trip flights than anywhere else online for in-america domestic flights with the option to name your own price on hotels! Orbitiz.com is also quite good.

Amtrak is amazing on the west coast but a bit lame and more expensive on the east coast considering the competition from budget bus services. however, amtrak takes route through the amazing american landscapes that you don’t see in the i-whatever highway and if your under 26 or a student and have got the international card that you can get from STA travel for £5 to prove it, you get a great discount of 15% off ANY journey. I have taken the Amtrak from San Francisco to NYC stopping off for various amount of days in Las Vegas, LA and Chicago all for $150! (one way).

WHAT NOT TO DO IN NYC

– do not take travelers cheques- what are you? like 75 years old? For the safe, non-touristy, cheaper way to live in NYC – exchange your money before you go onto a travel friendly card.  that’s what i did when i was living in chicago. they’re supplied by https://www.travelex.co.uk/uk/wallet/options.aspx but you collect them from ilkeston travel agents current exchange provider – or thomas cook. you often get a better exchange rate when you exchange money onto a card than in physicality. plus its all insured!

DO NOT buy purfume from canal street, unless you like your stuff bottled in 1994

DO NOT walk down the sidewalk in 3 + more people

NO fanny packs haha

DO NOT accept taxi rides from cabs that arent yellow

DO NOT NOT tip (remember in the US you have your meal Tax (10% in NY) added on top of the price on the menu + another 20% for tip – great knowledge when you’re short cuz someones not added  their bill up right!)

DO NOT forget your ID when going into bars or order alcohol (remember its 21 over there)

DO NOT make eye contact with crazies or homeless folks (theres alot of them)

REMEMBER

Explore

Try new things!

Walk about

TAKE GREAT PICTURES! 🙂