May the Birthweek Commence

Yesterday I handed in my latest four pieces of coursework, including my interview piece with Benjamin Zephaniah. I met with my Gran at the Tate Modern, where we started our day with the Yayoi Kusama exhibition.

I first came across Kusama whilst studying my art foundation at Central Saint Martins and I became fascinated by her use of polka-dots and her use bright colours, and her poetry. I bought a book of hers which I sadly lost in a photocopier (or so I suspect). I did write down this quote:

“A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm Round, soft, colourful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots can’t stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become a movement.”

I was also inspired by use of cherry blossom depicted in the poem below, which I used in my paintings in order to symbolise the conflict between childhood and adulthood.

I want to eat cherry blossoms.
I want to kiss their pink colors.
Their scent that would have reached the universe dissipated in my youth.
Remembering that, now tears roll down my eyes.
Scattering cherry blossom petals on the path of my faint love, I will be facing death someday.
When that day arrives, all the love that I have had in my past, I will enwrap life.
On that moment, the flower path of cherry blossoms will envelop the whole of me without fail.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms.
They explore my life and death.
Dear Cherry blossoms, I thank you

I first saw her exhibition at White Cube, and so this exhibition was interesting in terms of exploring the variety of her work, of which I loved every bit.

We went for a quick meal at Mon Plaisir which was nice. The main meal was quite small, but the desert was lovely – a rich chocolate mouse with a passion-fruit ice cream. Then, it was time for my birthday treat – Matilda the Musical! I thought it was good that it was faithful to the story-line but also was not restricted by it, making adaptions, and infusing more magical threads to the narrative. It did feel really magical and I loved the songs, as well as some of the messages they conveyed about being the writer of the story of your life, and although the main star, Matilda, is generally a good girl, that ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’ when you feel like something is not right to you.

In other news, I’ve had a couple of rejections – the Charles Pick Fellowship and my first application for Arts Council funding. I was disappointed that I’d had to email to ask about the Fellowship and that I would have not been contacted otherwise. I’d had a nightmare about not being accepted for it so it was really gutting that I’d not even made the short-list. Next year I think I’ll reapply with my novel idea, as maybe proposing to write a series of children’s short stories was not good enough, especially as a faculty member at UEA had told of the polarised views of children’s literature by the other staff.

I didn’t expect to be successful for my first arts council application. As I have the money to put my event on from being a Poet Shadow in Shake the Dust, I don’t have to worry about actually not being able to afford it. Though, making a profit will be unlikely. And although you can’t make a profit with Arts Council funding, it does mean the money isn’t coming out of your own pocket, resulting in a loss. Anyway, I emailed for further feedback and got a great response and so have lots to learn for any future applications. Particularly the idea of whether I actually do want to do any more events – do I want to be a writer or a producer? I’d say 100% a writer, first and foremost, but that I would like involvements in events and sometimes enjoy putting on my own events. Also, this pilot project is more about just putting myself out there and learning from the experience, so we’ll have to wait and see!


Art Attack

So, I’ve been really busy at the moment.  I’ve been craving some free time because I’ve been so inspired by a lot of art I’ve seen recently, amongst other things.  I went to the Joan Miró exhibition at the Tate Modern with my parents.  My only knowledge of the artist was from postcards from my dad’s dad, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, a well-known poet, writer and translator in Spain, whom, sadly I haven’t got to know very well as a grandfather.

I had been out the night before at my friend Gordon’s house, where we ate a Chinese takeaway and drank until about 5am.  I went home at 7am to avoid snoring and discomforted sleep, woke up still tired around midday, had brunch and went to meet my parents at the gallery.  Despite my tiredness, the exhibition exceeded my expectations and as it showing until September 11th, I recommend going along.  It made me proud of my Spanish heritage.

I loved the way he used poetry and the flowing imagination present throughout the years of his career.  There was an amazing variety, with pieces of intricate details, simple serials of lines and shapes, and burnt canvases.  The work is both personal and political, surreal and yet thoughtful, and experimental, evolving through time.

I recently watched the programme Graffiti Wars, which was incredibly interesting.  I’ve had an interest in Street Art for a long time, my Gran often buying me little books and sending me articles about it.  The documentary centred on the feud between Banksy and Robbo.  Prior to watching it, I have been a fan of Banksy, and watched a docu-film directed by him, called Exit Through The Gift Shop.

A lot of people have taken sides, with graffiti writers tagging ‘Team Robbo’ alongside their work.  Robbo claimed in a book that he was introduced to Banksy and said ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of you’ to which Banksy replied ‘oh, well, I haven’t heard of you.’  Robbo responded by slapping him and saying ‘well, you won’t forget me now, will you?’  Since both artists keep their identity secret to protect themselves from the law, and this exchange could easily not be correct (Banksy denied ever meeting Robbo) it seems ridiculous to take sides and stupid that the whole thing escalated the way it is.

My opinion is that, Robbo was aware that retelling this story about Banksy, whether it happened or not, would raise his profile.  Maybe Banksy was wrong in defacing Robbo’s 1985 piece, but it was clearly already defaced by smaller tags and I thought it was a witty piece, which ultimately helped Robbo establish himself as a Street Artist, and not just a graff writer – of which I do believe there is a difference.  A Street Artist is intelligent and thought-provoking, creating aesthetically pleasing works.  A graffiti writer is less about the talent and ideas, and more about vandalism and ego, with the kudos of getting to hear-to-reach spots.  That’s why the police leave Street Art and clean up ugly, meaningless markings.

Throughout the documentary Robbo came across bitter and jealous.  Okay, Banksy may be a ‘sell out’ but I believe it does come down to a resentment for the success and money that Banksy has made for himself.  I want to make a career out of what I love doing, and there are many jokes about the poor poet, but by me doing an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and wanting to make a living out of what I love doing, does that make me a ‘sell out’?  Making money is just one element of the Capitalist society we live in.  We can’t beat them, so we have to join them.  Banksy himself stated he believed his work was ‘overrated’ but if you’re offered over £100,000 for your work, are you going to turn it down?

At the end of the day, Robbo’s success was down to Banksy, and on the documentary, he admits that himself.  And Robbo does have talent, and really, the feud should just be forgotten, so other graffiti writers can be inspired to turn to Street Art and do what they love for a living.  Sadly, Robbo was said to have ended up in a coma, which was a shocking statement to end the documentary on.

I have also been to see the ‘Love is What You Want’ exhibition by Tracey Emin at the Hayward Gallery.  As you can see from the website, it compromised of her trademark blankets, along with neon signs, films, collections of memorabilia, drawings, paintings, sculptures and her writing.  As I said to my friend, Siobhan Belingy, I could have lived in it, it was so good.

I feel really inspired by all this work I’ve seen to get into my poetry and get more into art and illustration alongside my writing.  I’ve been meaning to do a painting for ages and hope to get round to it soon.  I’ve got a big sketchbook that my boyfriend Matt drew in whilst drunk and I’m going to get back into a good creative practice.  I want to create text-based stuff, but with visuals, like these artists, and those such as Jenny Holzer.  I gave a painting I did during my art foundation at Central Saint Martins to my Gran, and she told me her friend had really liked it and often asked if I’ve done any more artwork and that I must carry on doing it.  Sometimes I think of that and think maybe I should keep doing it.  I must have some morsel of talent to have been at CSM.  I think it’s just that I lack confidence with it, and I know my technical skills are not the best, and the reason I didn’t pursue it was because I didn’t see it as a practical way of making money.  But maybe, combined with my writing, working with my hands again could be something positive.

Here’s a bit of my work from my foundation year, starting with the one my Gran has.

piece for a friend
final piece, installation