Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Horst P. Horst

Yesterday, i went to a Horst P. Horst exhibition at the V&A, which happens to be my favourite design museum. I had never heard of Horst before, but i was immediately attracted to a poster i saw on the tube that displayed a photograph that almost looked like an animation; it was so bright. Surprisingly, although the exhibition is presented as being very colourful and fashion orientated; i found that the room with the coloured photos were less interesting than the majority of the exhibition which was mostly postcard-size black and white photographs that were more concerned about light than fashion. 

Horst P. Horst is his official name. Although, he did change his surname to his first name when America declared war on Germany in 1941; probably because his original surname was German. Horst was acclaimed for capturing fashion but later in his life he discovered an interest in botany and interior design. Horst was taught by Hoyningen-Huene, who clearly inspires his concern for light. Unlike Huene, Horst shows affection to obvious shapes.

Horst takes pictures of models and makes them look emotionless and motionless. The attention is on the light, which makes black and white photos more interesting because you aren't automatically drawn to the most vibrant colour but towards the spotlight. The light is never on the place that is expected- normally the corner of the photo, a black piece of clothing or on half an object. This gives Horst a chance to show off his skill's rather than the model's. He manages to catch the sparkle of jewellery but still effortlessly maintain that nonchalant look that all his photos have acquired. Horst uses oddly dispersed lighting and shapes that normally coincide with the models position. Horst wanted to appreciate what was there and what shapes he could enhance rather than what movement was occurring. 

Overall, the exhibition was beautiful and i am now very taken by photography. My favourite part about the exhibition was that there was a large number of photographs for all the different subjects he chose. I would definitely recommend this to all photography lovers because at the end it explains how Horst used to take his photos with the old film cameras. Artists may enjoy it too because he did some work with Dali but if you are going for the fashion then you will find that less than half of the exhibition concentrates on just that. The exhibition at the V&A ends on 4th January 2015. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Photo Wall

Finally, the Christmas holidays have come so i have time to have a huge clear out. I started cleaning my room on Monday and it took me two whole days. I never want to clean again. Cleaning and getting rid of old things brings me so much satisfaction because you start to see the results straight away. My room looks a lot less cluttered and i finally had time to look through my disposable camera photos and put some onto my wall.

Some of the photos are from my childhood and some i took a few weeks ago. It features pictures of my friends, pets, holidays and family. The best thing about this wall is that it's very personal and you can change it very easily. I attached mine with Blu Tack but alternatively you could use a cork board and pins. You could make a theme for the wall or add gem stones or homemade bows around the photos. Everyone that enters my room is drawn to it and it brings back so many good memories.

p.s hope you had a really great Christmas

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Crumble-Topped Mince Pies

These mince pies are different to the normal ones you buy in supermarkets; the top is made from a delicious, nutty crumble. Although, it may sound like too much, they taste amazing and are not as sweet and filing as regular mince pies. You could make them with friends or bring them to a family gathering. The next Christmas food i am going to make is cranberry sauce.
You Will Need (makes 24):
Frozen short pastry
A big ol' jar of mincemeat
60g Butter
Pinch of Nutmeg
Half a Teaspoon of Cinnamon
35g Soft Brown Sugar
60g Plain Flour
60g Ground Almonds
35g Walnut Pieces

To Make the Pies:
Firstly, cover your entire surface in flour and dust your rolling pin. Then grease your muffin cases with butter. Remember to touch the pastry as little as possible; especially if you have warm hands. It will be less crumbly and melt-in-your-mouthy if you have handled it too much. Take your rolling pin and start rolling. It should be as thin as you can make it before it breaks (about 3mm). I used a cookie cutter that had scalloped edges to cut out the bottom of the pies. The scalloped edges made them look 'merrily-festive' (is that a thing? Can i say that?) Finally, take two spoons and put a small amount of mince in each pie.

To Make the Crumble:
Mix the Butter and sugar together. First, i used my hands to break up the big pieces of butter, then i used a fork to mash the sugar in and make the butter soft. After than, i crushed the nuts into smaller pieces and mixed the other ingredients to the butter and sugar. You then sprinkle the crumble over the mince pies and put them in the oven for 15mins at 180 fan oven.

In case you hadn't noticed, i post every tuesday and saturday so check back on those days.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Potato Printing Labels

I love Christmas tags and they are really fun to make with friends. I remember doing them a lot when i was younger. I made a hedgehog and a rabbits head for my mums birthday card.
Firstly, i decided what objects i wanted to carve onto the potatoes. I chose the easiest possible objects (stars and a tree) because it is very difficult to do detailed designs on a very small potato. I then drew them onto the inside of half a potato. After that, i got a knife and cut out everything outside of the lines. I painted the shape on the potatoes and printed it onto the brown tags. Some of them i personalised with my metallic pens. 

I love potato printing because it's an easy way to make anything look like you have spent lots of time on it even if you haven't. They work for every occasion and even work on textiles. You can make really basic designs or complex ones. It so simple to create any repeated pattern. One idea you can also do is print the wrapping paper with the same print as the tag so they are matching. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas Sprout Tags

What would Christmas be without sprouts? dunno...maybe pleasant.

Since i do not like brussels sprouts but they are really Christmassy, i thought it would be fun to incorporate them into some sort of Christmas DIY. There wasn't many things i could think of except making little felt sprouts but i don't see why anyone would need one of them...they would be kinda cute though. I then thought of putting them on Christmas present tags. Here is how they turned out.

Some of the sprouts i printed out and some i made from felt. To make them i bought these brown tags from my best friend, eBay. Next, I printed out photos of sprouts and cut them out. I arranged them into lines and stuck them on the brown tags. On one or two sprouts on every tag i made it out of felt or covered it in glitter. Another option is that you could change the white string to a festively coloured twine or ribbon. Another thing i did to make them more personal is to write a christmas joke on the back.

These tags were really quick to make and i think they are really funny and delightful. It makes a change from boring baulbaul tags from M&S and looks like you have made an effort. Maybe now i will like sprouts.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Imitation Game Review

“Sometimes it is the people whom no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” -The Imitation Game

THE IMITATION GAME is a film set during the second World War when Britain was loosing to Germany. It starts with strong characters and a humorous atmosphere but then ends with a heartbreaking truth. Alan Turing was an ingenious mathematician and cryptanalyst.  He had an extraordinarily brilliant brain and was incredible at crosswords. He was credited with cracking the unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. Turing was a 'heroic outsider' who thought himself to be superior to most others. At one point in the film, he writes a letter to Churchill asking if he can have the £100,000 funding he needs for his machine. Turing's visionary but enigmatic behaviour helped save the lives of millions of people and shortened the war by two years.

I didn't know what to expect from this film; I wasn't certain that it was going to concentrate on just machines and science or if it was going to be a biopic. I was pleasantly surprised; the film had an equal share of drama and fact. Benedict Cumberbatch is entirely believable and portrays Alan Turing as unique, eccentric and poignant. Much like in Sherlock, Cumberbatch brings cheeky humour to the role. Again, he plays a logical man who doesn't understand jokes and sarcasm and finds normal human interaction very mysterious and challenging. The film also shows how people that were not fighting were living. Keira Knightly plays a fearsomely intelligent woman who is very audacious and spontaneous who penetrates a man's world. You are first introduced to her when she arrives late to an interview and shows nothing but 'sass' when she is discriminated against because she is a woman. This is very relevant to today with the issue of gender inequality.

I was more moved by this film than any other I have watched this year. I was in tears at the end because of the prejudice and injustice Turing encountered after the war and the absolute misery he found. He invented something extraordinary (the precursor of the modern computer) and was a true visionary and yet his achievements and life were kept secret for years and it was only last year that the Queen pardoned him and gave him his due place in history. Alan Turing was an inspiring man who was viewed as extremely stubborn because he believed in his own ideas. During his life time, he was never given the recognition or commendation he deserved. And because of the prejudices and intolerances of the time he lived in, he had a terrible end.

4 and a half out of 5

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Snowy Wrapping Paper

I adore wrapping presents for my family because it's something you can do alone. I like to sit in my room with the doors closed and listen to Christmas music. I don't like anyone knowing what i am getting anyone else. While wrapping every present, i just imagine their faces when they open it and how they will react. Every year i make my family two presents each and buy one. I think it's more personal that they are homemade. I thought that this year, the present itself shouldn't be the only personal thing; i decided that i was going to decorate my own wrapping paper.

This homemade wrapping paper was super easy to make. I ordered the brown paper from eBay for under £3. I then got a pencil with a round rubber at the end and dipped it into the white paint. I dotted it onto the paper so it looked like snow. On some of the snowballs i added glitter. After that, i brought this christmas themed twine that i thought would look really festive and would add some colour to the basic wrapping. 

I went for a more simple effect of snow because the present is the main part and i wan't it to be really simple but still Christmassy. A benefit of having homemade wrapping paper is that you know what presents are given from who and it makes them really individual and unique. Another way to wrap up your presents is my using fabric. This saves paper (less dead trees) and means you can reuse it to make something else. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Half Way Book Review: I Capture The Castle

I had an idea to do a book review when i was half way through reading, then do another when i had finished it to see if my ideas had changed and how the story had progressed.

I have been reading this book for a very long time. I am an extremely slow reader. Also, dog face takes up a lot of my time. Lately, i have been finding it hard to sleep (probably due to the fact that there are only three weeks till Christmas) and reading before bed has been my saviour. I normally end up reading about ten pages because it makes me so sleepy but i've finally got to the middle of this book.

I chose I CAPTURE THE CASTLE after reading one of Dodie Smith's other famous novels, 101 DALMATIANS. It may have been a bit childish but it is an absolute classic. It is defiantly different from the film and i think it paints a better picture in your head because of her vivid descriptions. I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is another famous book that appears high on all those 'books that every girl should read' lists. It is J.K. Rowling's favourite book. She says "This book has one of the most charismatic narrators i've ever met" and i agree.. it is as if when you start the book you are meeting someone not just reading about them.

The story is set in the English countryside in the 1930’s.  An extremely poor, eccentric family discovers an abandoned castle and chooses it to be their new home. The narrator is Cassandra Mortmain, a quiet yet witty 17 year-old, aspiring author, who has no experience with friends, socialising and definitely not boys. Her sister, Rose, is effortlessly beautiful just like her stepmother, Topaz. Mr. Mortmain is the writer of a successful and rather intellectual book but unfortunately since then he has been suffering from writer's block - which came on after an argument with his wife and neighbour. 

When two American brothers arrive at the door of their castle, marriage is the only word on everyone’s lips. Rose is determined to marry the eldest brother no matter how desperate she may seem. Cassandra has never thought about marriage until Rose mentions Neil (the younger boy). Stephan, the Mortmain’s life-long friend and house workman is embarrassingly lovesick over Cassandra. He is constantly to be seen in the barn writing amateurish love-poems for her. Cassandra doesn’t return Stephan’s love but does she have feelings for Neil instead?

I think that Cassandra and Neil will get together because their personalities are slightly different but they have conversations that prove them to have the same opinions. I don't think that Rose and Simon will work out because Rose is too overpowering and she is revolted by his beard. So far, the characters have changed from how they were at the start of the book, which i find interesting and more exciting to read. I feel pity towards Rose because she is shown to be immature because of her desperation. Cassandra has become more grown up and is very humble towards everyone. I hope that Dodie carries on dealing with teenage issues and writes more about the castle and England's history.