I love London. Despite the current government’s attempt to turn our beautiful quirky city into a corporate vending machine, London remains defiantly individual.
Like most Londoners, I wasn’t born in this city. Born and raised in the Midlands, moved to Cape Town, South Africa in my early teens and then embraced by London on return to the UK like a benevolent, forgiving , unconditional step parent. London is a place where misfits feel at home. The beautiful freaks, the outsiders , those who are different,those of different cultures and creeds , those who are famous can easily meld and walk alongside those who are born near the sound of the Bow Bells. London’s heart is decidedly multi-coloured. People in London respect your right to be left alone.There is a feeling of live and let live in London that allows people who are different to feel included. I’m not saying there aren’t pockets of nastiness scattered around, this isn’t Nirvana, but this is a love song. This is a love song.
Yesterday I was invited to three events, two birthday parties and an art exhibition opening of three of my dear friends. The first event was a birthday party for Jack, an extraordinary young man, actor , creative and dear friend. I wanted to give him a kimono to dance in, because Jack loves colour and he loves to dance. Jack is also quite a political animal, anti-war, peace loving and often found at protest marches bedecked in handmade art protest hats. Him and his best mate, Charlie Tuesday Gates are quite extraordinary beautiful humans. So I made him this:
The kimono was made of various Dutch Wax prints in shades of purple, yellow and blue and I hand painted two portraits of Jack to go on the front and appliqued them on. For the back I chose an image of Durga because I loved the tiger. Turns out , on speaking to someone at Jack’s party, Durga is the manifestation of the Goddess in times of distress. Rather fitting I thought in these rather tense political times. She is riding on a tiger, which is interesting as she traditionally rides on a lion, the tiger having been substituted as a form of subtle propaganda by the Tamils . So we have a piece about politics and propaganda… very fitting. Anyway, just feast your eyes on the vision of Jack wearing it. He looks quite beautiful. His hat was made especially for him by Charlie Tuesday Gates. He embellished his glasses himself as part of a grown up craft session at his party. I also made something in that session.. This was my effort:
A pendant created with a watch, some photos and bits and bobs. Fun!
On the way to Jack’s party , I popped in to the local supermarket to buy some wine. I was wearing a kimono I had made a few months back. This is the kimono in question: Order your own kimono here
I selected it rather randomly .The back has an image of Ganesha, remover of obstacles , patron of arts and sciences and deva of intellect and wisdom. And rather beautiful in pink and yellow, one of my favourite colour combinations. The woman at the checkout smiled and asked: “Are you Indian?” I realised she was referring to my wearing of a Hindi god on my back. “No”, I replied, “I just like to celebrate all cultures as a Londoner. Isn’t that really what London is all about? ” Her beautiful face lit up in a beaming smile. I could hazard a guess that during this tense time of heightened racial tension due to ever growing spectre of Islamaphobia , this wasn’t something she had heard too often. Being brown skinned cannot be easy when there is so much hatred, fear and presumption around, both on the streets and in the media. Despite this, I am an optimist and I do believe in the connection of human hearts. I paid for my wine and as I left for the door she shouted something at me that I didn’t quite hear. I turned around. ” Sorry love, what was that?” ” You look pretty” she said. ” Thank you!”I replied. I headed off to Jack’s party with that London feeling flowing through my veins. Jack’s birthday cake had an elephant as its decoration which came as rather a surprise.
After Jack’s fabulous party where I connected with even more wonderful , open hearted Londoners, I headed off to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities and The Last Tuesday Society , where my friend, artist and all round beautiful person, Jaime Freestone
was exhibiting his wonderful taxidermy/found object assemblage pieces in the window.
I introduced Jaime to Viktor Wynd when I was asked to exhibit in the window earlier in the year, as I knew that Jaime’s work was a perfect fit for the eccentric and quirky establishment. Here I am in front of my window back in the summer. It was the day I met John Waters. ( yes… yes… the King of Filth himself. He was adorable.)
Here is Jaime’s window, currently on display at the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities.
His work is for sale and for very reasonable prices. Now is the best time to get yourself a piece of Jaimie’s work before he becomes the sought after artist that he is destined to become.
If you get a chance to pop down there , please go and see it. The shop is closed Mondays and Tuesdays , though. Please be aware of that. After taking in the beauty of Jaime’s work, venture into the quirky establishment and look up , you will see a sewn baby hanging from the ceiling,
that is one of my pieces in the permanent collection. Now pay your £4 ( so worth it) at the bar, and venture down the ornate narrow spiral staircase into the wonder that is the cabinet of curiosities. You’ll thank me. It’s one of London’s best kept secrets. I’ve personally spent hours down there sketching . It’s my kind of place. I can recommend the cocktails too. Try the Gone with the Wynd, it’s an absynthe raspberry tangy affair. Quite delicious, my personal favourite. It’s just the coolest place to hang out in all of London town.
After tearing myself away from such a wonderful event, I walked over to my dear friend Alison’s birthday to end the night with good friends and karaoke. A perfect end to a perfect day. As I walked in, one of the guests asked me if I’d heard about the latest tube incident where a man had attacked people with a machete with the cry of ‘This is for Syria’. It was a chilling reminder of the fearful and complex state of our world. Something extraordinary came out of this incident though that perfectly underscored my love for London and Londoners. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/06/you-aint-no-muslim-bruv-britons-social-media
As the article explains, a Muslim man witnessing on camera this man’s attack on innocent passers by in the name of Islam and Syria, was heard to shout ” You ain’t no Muslim bruv” . Atrocities done in the name of religion are not religious, they are atrocities. It gladdened my heart to see a hashtag #youaintnomuslimbruv quickly sweep social media. This was true people power, a perfect example of the typical Londoners response . Us Londoners, we do things differently.