Sunday, 29 January 2017

January Challenge Day Twenty-nine: Finding Light in Loss

Today's challenge:
1. Dance to this song, “Moloko, Forevermore” - and turn up the volume.

2. Give yourself 5 minutes to write about, or to someone you have difficulty speaking to, or no longer speak to, but wish you could. Try to write continuously for these 5 minutes - you could set yourself a timer so you know when to stop.

3. Take your camera or smart phone and outside and find a spot to stand. Turn one slow steady full circle on the spot and film what you see. Don’t rush it, take your time. Imagine that you have never seen what you are filming before.

"the letter I'm not going to send you"

"That's the honest truth"

This challenge made a little bit sad. On reflection, it's a sadness not of wishing that past events had gone differently, but from realising that I would have to be a different person entirely for that to have been the case. I think my loss wasn't really a loss - it was a choice, a giving up. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

January Challenge Day twenty-two - Dream Small

another late post...

Today's challenge: Celebrate small beginnings and make something that fits in the palm of your hand - use only the materials available in your immediate environment. 

Because my outlook has been bleak, and the world is still terrifying and rage-inducing, but the Women's March felt like a positive step.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

January Challenge Day Seventeen - a cup of magic.

Today's challenge: Create a recipe for happiness. Write down what the ingredients are, what the method is, how long it takes to cook. Think about what needs to go in it. How would it look when it came out? 

My current recipe for happiness is pretty simple - it's all about getting cozy.

1 fireplace with roaring fire
1 sofa
1 dog

optional garnish of partner if they are about.

Place first ingredient at safe distance. Lie on second ingredient and pile third ingredient on top of self. If necessary, make space for garnish.

Final product should look somewhat like this:

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January Challenge Day Fourteen - Love, Me

Another late post, this one from yesterday...

Today's challenge: Make a self-portrait with a difference. Create a collage which shows up to 5 of your best qualities. Things you like about yourself. This could be physical attributes or just things you're good at or stuff you're proud of yourself for. You can make the collage by drawing, with photos or using scraps from magazines or newspapers. Don't think too hard about it, and try not to be shy. We are all brilliant. Tell us why.

I think I found the idea of this one so hard that I tried to ignore it... But here it is, a photo collage of five excellent things about me:
- I am an excellent cook; this is a pumpkin pie I made yesterday & it is half gone already.
- I have good hands. I like my hands.
- I've managed to keep this house plant alive since 2008.
- I've remembered to buy Chinese new year cards early enough that my family will get them in time.
- I've made a solo theatre show.

January Challenge Day Thirteen - Lined Up

I'm catching up a few days' worth of challenges. This is one from a couple of days ago, that I completed last night online with a friend in Toronto.

Today's challenge: Collectively write a story. Take it in turns to write a line, and respond to the line before yours. Be inspired by others' thoughts and allow your creativity to shine through.

"People learn, under proper conditions, not only to accept but to seek responsibility".

The mantra for the day piped cheerily from the interface by her bed, interrupting a dream about long, dark corridors. She wiped the sleep from her eyes as she stretched her arms, and then swung her feet to the concrete floor, careful to avoid banging her head as she sat up. None of her cellmates was stirring, their interfaces grey and silent, but the oddity of that was eclipsed by the sight of the open door.

She cautiously approached the door and looked outside. None of the other doors were open, and she saw no sign of a Monitor: was this her chance? She glanced at the security door down the corridor to her right and as she did so, it clicked audibly and slid open. As quickly and quietly as she could, she exited the cell and headed for the security door, tilting her head forward so her hair obscured her face.

To her surprise, it didn't lead to another corridor, but instead directly onto the flight deck. She grabbed and flight suit from a nearby hook and scanned the area: her own ship had been destroyed in the battle, but maybe there was another one she'd recognize? A battered but familiar cargo pod caught her eye; it wasn't fast, but it might be small enough not to trigger the shield as she left.

Hearing the unmistakable whirring of a Monitor in passive patrol more, she ducked behind the tail of a pod, and an envelope on the floor caught her eye. Opening it, she found a data card, wrapped in a single sheet of paper printed with one word: GO.

She slipped into the empty pod, flipped the ignition to stealth mode, and slid the data card into the reader. The control panel immediately lit up with a flight path, but her brain struggled to make sense of it: it wanted her to fly directly into the Nowhere. It was risky, for sure, but if it came down to it she'd rather wander the vast emptiness for eternity then spend another month benched in this useless prison: she released the locking mechanism and steered towards the closest bay opening.

Four minutes later, she was clear of the shield and headed to open space; she didn't know how far she'd get, but at least she was commanding her own ship again. As she was shifting into the autopilot mode, she heard a soft scuffling from the back of the pod: was it really empty? She wished she had a weapon as she slowly moved toward the storage hatch that seemed to be the source of the sounds.

Figuring the element of surprise was her strongest tactic, she threw open the hatch and yelled. A second later she was stumbling backwards as something black and feathered burst out of the hatch.

"Emily!" She was astonished: having seen the explosion of Hope's ship, she hadn't thought the raven had survived! The bird settled on the back of her chair and cocked its head at her: it was definitely Emily, albeit a bit worse for wear, but why wasn't she saying anything?

She eased herself back into the chair, never breaking eye-contact with Emily in the mirror; "What do you think: should we head home, or keep going into the Nowhere?"

Emily stared back at her, unblinking, and she suddenly heard the word "Go", spoken this time, but not aloud - an instruction, echoing inside her head.

A chill ran down her spine: Nowhere it is.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

January Challenge Day Twelve - Scrap Band

Today's challenge: Create your own instrument out of items in your home, school or work. See what you can bash or shake to make a noise with. Make up some rhythms or work with some others to form a band.

Here's a found percussion instrument from my pantry. I'm pleased with the sound it makes. Sorry about the last few seconds of video though, it's a bit motion-sickness inducing.

Serendipity with the challenge today: I've actually got band practice this afternoon. That's the first time I've called it band practice! It is me and a guitar-playing friend. My friend wants to play more, I want to sing more. We find songs we love and cover them. No matter what mood we're in when we start, we feel pretty good by the end. Making music is really good for you. If we work up the nerve we may busk or do some open mic nights.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

January Challenge Day Ten - you are what you eat

Today's challenge: Make or share a recipe for a dish that you consider as part of your culture. It might be from a country you come from, or something that's been passed down in your family. It might just be something you always eat on a Friday night so it feels like your culture. Whatever it is, share it with others today.

FOOD! This challenge made me smile when I read it this morning. I think a lot about food and creativity; as an artist I often feel so insecure about my creative abilities, but put me in a kitchen and I am confident, comfortable and happy to experiment and fail. How do I find that confidence in the rest of my creative work?

My mum is from Malaysia, where food is a MASSIVE part of the culture. To the point where it's an accepted greeting to ask "have you eaten?" when you meet a friend in the street, where elsewhere people might ask "how are you?". So a part of why I smiled this morning reading the challenge was that I didn't know where to begin with recipes... 

As it turns out, I've done a lot of cooking today, because I am visiting friends tomorrow who have a new baby, and I want to bring something to stock their freezer. I've made a chicken curry and I've also made some dal, and I shared some of the latter for dinner with some friends who needed a bed tonight. But I'm going to talk about rice, because rice is the bedrock of my food culture. I remember at one point in my childhood, my mum stored the giant sack of rice she would buy in a bin that looked like a small oil drum. We ate a lot of rice. 

I make my rice in this vintage rice cooker, which was a wedding gift to my mum in 1971. She brought it to me in her hand luggage on a visit from Malaysia, because I mentioned casually that I was thinking of buying a rice cooker. It could provide hot rice for twenty, no problem. I feel like I've got a proper chinese kitchen now that I have a rice cooker.

We've been buying a nice brand of Korean rice - lovely plump short grains, that clump together pleasingly so we can eat our rice with chopsticks. I mean, there is a time and place for basmati and other long grain rice, but it is not the rice I was raised on.

Tonight I used two mugfuls, to feed three of us and still have some leftover for fried rice another day. I washed the rice in the bowl of the rice cooker, rinsing it three times until the water started to run clear. I saved the rice water and watered my houseplants with it, as my mum does. I added water to the rice for cooking at a ratio of two mugs of water to one mug of rice. I also added a knob of butter, which is not something my mum would do, but I think it helps prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot.

I put the lid on the rice cooker, plug it in and press down the button. Then I open a window in the kitchen, because otherwise the room fills with steam and I let the rice cooker work its magic. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

January Challenge Day Nine - Into the Light

Today's challenge: Use a lamp or natural light to create the most interesting shadow that you can. 

I made some shadow self-portraits on my bedroom ceiling. I'm always struck by the giant shadows thrown when I have my reading light on before sleeping.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

January Challenge Day Seven - Storytime

Today's challenge: Find an object around you and tell a story about it. The story can be real or imaginary...

This is an alien skull that I found on Splott Beach one day when I was walking my dog and looking for alien fossils. Alien fossil-hunting requires a special state of mind: a sort of openness to possibility and suggestion. It's the only alien skull that I have found so far but I think it is very old. It probably predates the dinosaurs.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

January Challenge Day Five - The Golden Conversation

Today's Challenge - Go to the fifth text in your inbox (if you don't use text, use an email, or a sentence of your choice from a book.) Write down the first sentence of the message on the right hand side of a page vertically, using a line for each word. Now use the page to write a poem with each line ending in one of the words.

I'm not feeling Great,
the world feels so loud; I'm
looking for a quiet stillness and glad
to escape the daily panto
of work that is
wearing where it should be fun
looking to fill days with meaningful silence, or even this
moment alone, stretch it to fill a year.

(this challenge made me think of subtext, hidden meanings, masks... the pleasantries I say to friends that often hide what I'm really feeling)

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

January Challenge Day Four - a deeper shade of blue

Today's challenge: Take a walk and see how many shades of blue you can see. You could do this in a concentrated period over 10-15 minutes or try and spot them throughout the day. Make a photo collage or a real collage if you can collect them.

I love challenges like today's, the ones that make me go about my day with a different level of observation of the world.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

January Challenge Day Three - Seeing is Believing

Today's challenge: Draw what you can see from your window. (This could be your bedroom window, the window next to you at work, the window on the train.) If you like, see if you can do it from your imagination, or sit and draw. 

I drew what I think I can see from my bedroom window. I did it from memory, sitting at the dining table. I've not checked to see if I was right.

Monday, 2 January 2017

January Challenge Day Two: Up in the Air

Today's challenge: Build a tower as tall as you can from whatever you can. Make sure it doesn't fall over (or at least photograph it before it does!). You can use whatever is to hand. Make it beautiful, or just make it functional. Work as a group or on your own. See how tall you can go.

I made a tower out of loo roll. This was my third attempt (the other two fell over before I could take a photo). Loo rolls do not make solid construction material. I think I could have gone higher, however, but I ran out of rolls.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

January Challenge Day One: have you heard the news?

Today's challenge: Draw or write the front page of a newspaper that you would like to see in 2017. What headline would you like to create? It might be something very personal to you, or something bigger for the world. Dream big - who knows what might happen?!

Credit to Rebecca Solnit for inspiring me on this one - I've just finished reading her book Hope in the Dark, which I strongly recommend, and this is an image that she describes at the end of the last chapter.

"...I began to contemplate how human beings half a century or a century from now will view us, who lived in the era when climate change was recognised and there was so much that could be done about it, so much more than we have done. They may hate us, despise us, see us as the people who squandered their patrimony, like drunkards gambling away the family fortune that, in this case, is everyone's everywhere and everything, the natural world itself when it was in good working order. They will regard us as people who rearranged the china when the house was on fire". Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities.