Another gratuitous crafty post today. You’ll appreciate I’m quite busy at the moment… (WE HAVE A MOVING DATE, EEEEEEE)
Some of you may remember when I painted some plain Converse knock offs -
Sadly, these shoes have long since bit the dust, and I finally cut the cord and threw them out yesterday.
But it’s ok! Don’t cry! I made some new ones. Haha. Same sort of design – if it ain’t broke….
On Saturday, I was gifted with the opportunity to go and see Dr Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle du Jour – yes, that one) at the Wellcome Collection’s Unclean Beings. My wonderful Twitter pal, @DoktorG, generously left his two tickets at the desk for me – he couldn’t make it for the day, and didn’t want the tickets to go to waste. Ben and I couldn’t stay for the whole day, either, but were determined to at least see Dr Magnanti (and cash in on a free lunch).
It still boggles me, by the way, that Twitter can work like this – I have never met @DoktorG in “the real world”, and yet look at the generosity. Thanks, @DoktorG!
Dr Magnanti was there to speak about, yes you guessed it, prostitution. Her talk was entitled “Why is paid sex dirty?”, and was sadly less than an hour long. I say sadly because Dr Magnanti is such a wonderful speaker.
Dr Magnanti, having actually worked AS a hooker, didn’t bring the stuffiness and drama that usually surrounds a discussion about sex work – there was no “shock” factor and patronisation you would get in, say, a Channel 4 documentary. Dr Magnanti gave a brief history of “the oldest profession”, and offered some opinions as to why it is considered so taboo. She also voiced her own opinion about why this label of “dirty” is so unnecessary – it is, after all, a job. In many societies (different countries, different times), prostitutes earn more money, have more power and more protection, than most other women in “respectable” professions. Someone in the audience gave a statistic of something like 8c a week as a factory worker versus $9 a week as a hooker (somewhere in the Far East I think, but honestly, I have a memory like a sieve).
What followed was an excellent Q&A session, where there were some good questions (What about male prostitutes? Why is the stigma attached to women so much stronger?) and some terrible ones (Why did you choose to reveal your identity as Belle du Jour when you did? Do you regret it, or has it made you a stronger person?).
Long and short: if you get the opportunity to see Dr Magnanti speak, take it. She is not to be missed.
Finally, whilst we were at the Wellcome Collection, I took the opportunity to finally have a look at the temporary Dirt exhibition. Excitingly, I was actually featured in this gallery. Don’t believe me? OK, then I had to break the rules and take a surreptitious photo in this gallery (DO NOT DO THIS – IT’S NAUGHTY AND NOT ALLOWED). See number 12 -
Exciting stuff, right? Find out more about this exhibit (the Laid to Rest project) – I think they’re still taking dust donations, so if you want to see your name in a public gallery (eeee) then go ahead!
July 18, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, debate, jobs, London, money, museum, philosophy, photography, Psychology, sociable, Wellcome Collection | Tags: art, debate, excitement, fox, humans, I love, London, optimism, philosophy, psychology, rant, sociable | 1 Comment »
Today’s bit of street art is courtesy of my mother and her travels to her homeland of Belgium. I’m not 100% certain of which town this was spotted in (I think it was Mechelen, but I wasn’t there, so I can’t be sure), but she saw it and thought of me. Aww.
EDIT: Want to see more work by the same artist? Roa, based in Gent, Belgium
Today’s post is courtesy of my good friend Angharad, from Edible Glitter. I was introduced to Angharad via her future-sister-in-law, my friend Sarah, only last year, and since then we have become good chums. I envy Angharad her stylish chic and her easy way with words – see her blog for evidence of both of these.
So without further ado, here are her thoughts on her latest ventures into the world of craftiness -
Astrid and I have many things in common. We both like cats. We both like cocktails. We both have names beginning in A and ending in D (and that’s fairly unusual, eh?). But we also have a few things that are very much not in common, and these largely relate to my various inabilities. Astrid can do the sciencey thing – I always WANT to be sciencey, but when it comes to the crunch I don’t really get it. And Astrid is blessed with the powers of a super crafter (which I suspect she gets from her lovely Mum.) Whereas when it comes to crafting my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak – I just don’t seem to have the skills necessary to put the creative ideas I have in to action.
Despair not, this post isn’t going to be a length rumination on my inadequacies. Rather it is going to be a positive affirmation of the fact that you don’t have to be a born crafter to have fun playing around with various crafts. So you might not be able to knit a jumper (damn you Astrid, I never progressed further than a garter stitch scarf) but it doesn’t mean you can’t find a different craft that suits you down to the ground.
Of course, every crafter needs good materials and some inspiration to boot. I was whinging to my fiancé’s sister Sarah only a month or so ago that I needed a creative project but couldn’t think of what. She helpfully suggested making a rag rug, something which I fully intend to try my hand at as soon as I’ve gathered together enough rags. But whilst I was wondering what the hell to do in the meantime, help arrived in the form of a brand new branch of HobbyCraft 5 minutes from my house. I’ve got to admit, I was stupidly excited. I squealed down the phone to various friends about it and as soon as an opportunity arose scuttled over for a good old browse.
HobbyCraft is heaven, and not just for established crafters. I defy you to go in there and not find something you want to make. There is such a variety of materials available that there is something for everyone, whatever your interests. I went in starved of ideas for creative projects and came out with plans to make jam, paint glass, do some decoupaging, learn how to knit again, make soap and try my hand at cross stitch.
Cross stitch is the example I really wanted to give to show that you can succeed with crafts even if you find them daunting. I’d always wanted to give cross stitch a go, and even got as far as browsing the cross stitch magazines with Astrid in WH Smith, but always chickened out at the last minute. I thought it was going to be too complex for me; that I would mess it up and feel desperately inadequate.
Happily, Hobbycraft offer tiny little cross stitch kits that only cost £1.99 and feature a variety of sweet little designs. The cheap price means that if you mess it up you’ve not lost much, and the small size means that on your first go you can get satisfaction fairly quickly rather than having to wait weeks for the design to gradually appear. I stitched a small picture of a steam train in an afternoon, which I intend to use as an insert for a Father’s Day card. A cross stitch addiction has been born.
I am now working on a top secret and very ambitious project (perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but I’m willing to find out). It just goes to show that I was silly to be frightened of cross stitch, and I could have been having fun stitching away months ago.
If you are a bit wary of crafting and know that you don’t pick things up as quickly as some people (I know I certainly fall in to that category) don’t be afraid to go on YouTube and watch any helpful tutorials over a few times to get the hang of it. When I started making 1000 origami birds for my upcoming wedding (yep, 1000 – I’m a glutton for punishment) I found it really difficult, to the point that I was so frustrated I nearly gave up. But after watching a helpful YouTube tutorial several times in succession it finally clicked, and folding the birds became second nature. I’ve since turned to YouTube to learn about rag rug making, which I’ve also found lots of helpful advice on.
So make sure that if there’s a project you are interested in you kick that fear and just dive in – yes, so occasionally you may encounter failure (I suck at baking and as I mentioned earlier am not a skilled knitter) but you will also discover new hobbies that you feel passionate about (try to take my cross stitch away from me and I will bite you). Good luck, happy crafting and don’t forget to pop over to my blog for more of my thoughts.
June 5, 2011 | Categories: art, crafts, guest post, how-to, knit, London, money, sociable | Tags: art, craft, crafts, crafty, cross stitch, excitement, guest post, how to, humans, I love, London, shiny, sociable | 3 Comments »
Ooh, haven’t I been busy!! It’s all the commuting, dontcherknow.
On Friday, I met up with my mum and aunt, who were having a day out in London. They had already been to see Jan Gossaert’s (Flemish, like they are!) work at the National Gallery by the time I met up with them, and had a cheeky sit in at a lunch time concert at St Martin-In-The-Fields whilst they were waiting for me to arrive, so I knew they were on a culture binge. After a spot of lunch, we decided to round off the day with a visit to the Victoria & Albert museum.
After a drift through the hall of statues (the first gallery you come to after entering via the subway), we decided to avail ourselves of the temporary exhibition on the 1860-1900′s aesthetic movement, The Cult Of Beauty.
As all three of us are avid lovers of all things Art Noveau, it drew us in immediately. With a philosophy best summed up by Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, the aesthetic movement was a celebration of beauty. Whilst I wasn’t mad on everything in the exhibition, there was an astoundingly large selection to choose from. My favourites included Pavonia (the picture used in the promotional material, as above), Proud Maisie, The Beguiling of Merlin and Louise Jopling. I was also deeply drawn in by the beautiful statue, Mors Janua Vitae (death is the gateway to life) by Harry Bates – the picture on that website does not do it justice; it is stunningly beautiful and more than a bit unnerving.
As well as being crammed full of beautiful paintings, sketches and sculpture, The Cult of Beauty also boasts some architectural drawings (including sketches for Whistler’s famous Peacock Room), Morris wallpapers, pottery, a set of wrought iron gates, some beautiful clothing and astonishing feats of carpentry. Oscar Wilde gets a mention or two, and there is a poster for a play entitled “Quite Too Utterly Utter”, which makes me grin like a loony.
The exhibition is on until the 17th of July, and is well worth the price of the ticket. We spent a good couple of hours in there, and would have taken even more time if we hadn’t started flagging after a long day.
Tickets are priced at £12 Full, £9 Seniors citizens, £7 Full time students, ES40 holders, 12-17 year olds, £31/£19 Family tickets (2 adults and 2 12-17 yrs/1 adult and 2 12-17 yrs)
Find full details on the V&A website.
May 23, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, clothes, family, jewellery, London, money, museum, philosophy, sociable | Tags: animals, art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, London, me me me, mum, museum, music, optimism, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
Today, I want to make a special mention to Urban Threads, a magnificent resource and shop for all of you hand- and machine-embroiderers out there. I have never embroidered, but having browsed this online emporium, I really, really want to.
As well as a huge range of embroidery patterns to buy (intensely cheaply – starting at $1 each!! madness), Urban Threads also offers the occasional free pattern, as well as some awesome project tutorials.
And if you fancy giving embroidery a go (or maybe this one is really for the tried and tested embroiderers amongst you) Urban Threads is running a competition to celebrate their birthday! Click here for more details, and if you do decide to enter – good luck!!
Yesterday, I turned 23. I won’t dwell on my troubles accepting the passage on time, but instead dive right in with the festivities.
Last year, Ben and I were thinking about going to the opera. Ben had never been to the opera before, and I wanted to treat him to a really good production. So, a browse around revealed that Terry Gilliam would be directing a production of Berlioz’s fantastic ”The Damnation of Faust” in May 2011. OK, not strictly an opera, but I performed it a few years back (playing bass in an informal music camp production (in a barn. Ask, if you’re curious), with the wonderful (Sussex based!) Neil Jenkins singing Dr Faust) and fell deeply in love with it. Oh, and Terry Gilliam is awesome, so extra bonus.
I booked my tickets as soon as they went on sale. I was on hold a mighty long time on the morning of November the first, but I didn’t care – I was determined to get good tickets for the matinee on my birthday.
B-Day (as opposed to D-Day) came around mighty fast, and yesterday afternoon found us lurking around the London Coliseum in anticipation. Soon, we were sat with a great view from the stalls (row J, which is close enough to actually see facial expressions, but not so close as to strain your neck).
It. Was. Amazing. From the brief spoken opener from Mephisto, through Faust’s heart-wrenching soliloquies (get an idea of how beautiful the music is from the first scene), the comedy songs, Faust’s descent into hell, and Marguerite’s requiem to close.
Like most ENO productions, it was in English (as opposed to the original French) – but there were sur-titles anyway, just in case you couldn’t make out the words. Personally, I had no trouble hearing, as all of the cast had beautiful voices and clear annunciation.
The scenery was out of this world, and I think there was more than a nod to to this famous painting (The Wanderer Above the Mists, Caspar David Friedrich) in terms of the scope of the opening scene, and Faust’s mad hair (although Berlioz himself was known for his flamboyant ginger locks) -
The running Nazi-metaphor was a good choice in my opinion – without it, we could have been left with some slap-stick demon story, but instead, comparisons drawn with WWII gave us something a lot darker, and far more Real.
And a special mention MUST go to Christopher Purves, singing the part of Mephisto. He had such an easy sounding voice, and was the archetypal cool, smooth demon. He was lurking around the stage whilst the human characters got about their business, and had so many costume changes (so smoothly executed) that I couldn’t keep track. The devil is everywhere: keep your eyes peeled.
Photo from The Guardian website
DEFINITELY worth seeing, should you get the chance. There are only 8 performances left, so you’d better get a move on. Tickets are going from £21 each, available via the ENO website.
Incidentally, if you are a student, or under 30 years old, DO apply for Access All Arias. It’s free, and you get top-notch tickets for cut prices. Made my birthday a bit cheaper, and meant that I could treat myself to two restaurant meals in one day. More about that tomorrow. Cheerio!
May 9, 2011 | Categories: art, Britain, debate, London, money, music, philosophy, sociable, theatre | Tags: art, debate, excitement, fox, humans, I love, London, me me me, music, optimism, philosophy, sadness, shiny, sociable | 1 Comment »
Holy crap, look what just arrived in the post (in one piece!)
I told you my sister-in-law was a master baker (sorry, I can’t resist saying that).
Yay, another awesome female artist. I’ve loved Amy MacDonald since she brought out Poison Prince, but with the recent Fiat advert (with This Is The Life in the background), Ben has realised that he loves her too. And so we’ve been playing her music a fair bit.
What a pretty lady.
I’ve really gotten into “Run” recently (watch a good video here – embedding has been disabled by the user, so sorry about that). It’s a bit more melancholic than some of her more romping tunes (ok, a lot of her songs are a bit sad), but I think the refrain is sort of inspiring, in its way. I won’t patronise you too much by interpreting the fairly straight-forward lyrics, suffice to say, that in this unpredictable point in my life, I’m listening to it over. And over. And over.
Hope you love it as much as I do.
Well, in the final of my blog posts about my mind blowing week in Dubai, I’ll tell you what we did (aside from eat and look at shops).
The answer is: not a great deal. I’ll be honest with you – you can’t go on holiday to the UAE for more than say a week, because there is simply not that much to entertain yourself with. Unless your life revolves around designer shopping (which mine doesn’t), then Dubai may be for a one off trip.
Dubai does not have much of a cultural history. There aren’t any ruins to see, or historical buildings. Even museums and galleries are in single figures (although we did see a great exhibition from the British Museum – see below).
But don’t get me wrong – Dubai is great fun. Just don’t expect to be entertained for weeks on end.
We gave the “desert safari” thing a miss – essentially dune bashing in a 4×4 followed by dinner in a bedouin tent. We did a similar thing in Qatar six years ago, and I can’t imagine it’d be much different in Dubai (just 40 mins away by plane). We also didn’t hunt down any camels – I rode one, and we saw them in racing training, also in Qatar.
But we did the water-park thing. Oh yes.
We went to Atlantis, based on the Palm Jumeirah (yes, that huge, palm-shaped island they built), and pretty much spent the entire day pratting about on inflatable tyres. Round and round the rapids we went…
Atlantis is sodding enormous, with a large range of water slides to choose from (I only actually went on two, but one of them involved going through a transparent tube THROUGH an aquarium, so I think that counts for something). There’s also a variety of restaurants, to keep you fuelled throughout the day (although the service left a LOT to be desired). And if you really want, you can relax on the man-made real-sand beach, and swim in the actual sea -
Nothing quite beats finishing the day with a Virgin Pina Colado (i.e. no alcohol) drunk our of a pineapple, though. OK, rum would have beaten it, but still…
But Atlantis was not the only swimming (ok, splashing about in water) I did during the week. Like all awesome hotels should have, our hotel boasted a roof-top pool. The joy of near 40-celsius daily? You can have a dip, and then dry off in the sun in about a minute. Mmm, toasty…
The final, major outing we did in the week was our Saturday trip to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is arguably even “newer” than Dubai, in that they are still constructing a major tourist attraction, Saadiyat city. Included in Saadiyat will be the Arabic Guggenheim, the Arabic Louvre, a marina, a nature reserve, masses of hugely expensive villas (my dad’s company are doing the telecoms set up for TDIC, so he had access to show us around a AED10m (about £1.6m) villa) and much, much more.
At the moment, Saadiyat is very much a work in progress – some of the villas are there, but otherwise there is a “Story of Saadiyat” exhibition (which tells you about the work they’re doing), a restaurant, The Splendour of Mesopotamia exhibition (courtesy of British Museum) and… that’s about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing, but maybe I’ll check in on it in a few years (especially as the recession has hit works HARD – I’m telling you people, if you were thinking of investing in Arabic property, NOW IS NOT THE TIME!! There, I think I’ve done a public service…)
Then, it was onwards to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque -
One of the only (if not the only? I have no idea) mosques in the world that is open for non-Muslims to visit. And what a one to visit! It was bloody huge. Four minarets and countless domes, everything was marble inlay and gaudy chandeliers.
Understandably, you couldn’t waltz in wearing your summer dress – the staff provided abayas for women to throw on (I will reserve my opinions on cultural attitudes towards women) and men have to wear long trousers. You are asked to remove your shoes before entering the mosque itself.
And here, just a handful of pictures from the mosque itself. Wow, right?
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
And so ends my stories of the Middle East! Obviously, I can’t relate every single thing we did in these short blog posts, but I hope I have given you a taster of what Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) have to offer. I had a whale of a time, best aspect of course being the time spent with my dad, who pretty much lives out there now – boo
It’s not for the faint-hearted, and definitely save your pennies up before heading out there. But most certainly worth a look in.
April 27, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, debate, family, holiday, money, museum, photography, sociable | Tags: Abu Dhabi, art, dad, debate, Dubai, excitement, family, humans, I love, Middle East, mum, philosophy, shiny, sociable | 5 Comments »
Today’s post revolves around the food wot I et in Dubai. Yes, it does merit its own post.
Food is in abundance in Dubai. Emaraties have a particularly sweet tooth (my mum argues that this is because they don’t drink alcohol, but personally I think they’re right to accept that sugar is awesome). There are cakes and sweets available pretty much everywhere, but not really chocolate so much (it’s a hot country – I may have mentioned this before).
So that explains the huge sweet shop -
But we ate surprisingly little by way of puddings. Maybe that’s because there was meat to be had, and I am way more susceptible to meat than sweets (and that’s saying something).
One of the restaurants we dropped into was the Butcher’s Shop, down at the Jumeirah Beach Resort. Here, like a butcher’s shop, you could buy cuts of meat to take away. Or you could select a cut of meat to eat there in the restaurant. And it can be bigger than “standard size” if you really want. Standard size was big enough for me, to be honest -
Another restaurant we went to was in the China District in Dubai’s International City. International City is on the outskirts of Dubai, essentially providing cheap accommodation to Dubai’s foreign workers. It’s made up of some generic looking buildings, each slightly architecturally personalised to represent different cultural districts (e.g. the Moroccan District had Moorish doorways).
We went to a restaurant called Little Sheep for a Chinese food experience ENTIRELY new to me – Hot Pot.
Essentially, you get a massive pot of stock, which is set on a hot plate that’s built into your table. The hot plate keeps the pot bubbling gently, whilst you prepare your food. You can order a variety of dipping dishes, including thinly sliced cuts of meat, noodles, mushrooms, vegetables, seaweed knots.. We went for beef, black fungus, knotted seaweed, and a couple of salad leaf dishes (which don’t so much cook as wilt dramatically). It’s a really fun and sociable meal, and since getting back into the UK, I’ve found a shop in Brixton that sells Hot Pot stock, and even a restaurant in London that does Mongolian hotpot…
Oh, but the big finalé of the week… The Fairmont Brunch. Oh yes oh yes oh yes! My mum and dad were so excited to take me to this (they’ve been a few times before). For a small fortune, you gain access to three hours of gluttonny and as much Moet et Chandon as you can pour down your gullet.
The food comprises every conceivable cuisine under the sun, including sushi bars, a huge pudding bar, and even a shawarma kebab rotisserie. I was in heaven. Needless to say I had about a dozen courses, and was rightly stuffed and drunk as a skunk by kicking out time.
Friday brunches are becoming more and more popular in the hotels in Dubai, but Fairmont is reknowed for being the original and best. My parents do spoil me. And I ain’t complainin’.
Tomorrow: Yes, but what is there to do in Dubai..?
Following on from the post about taking my mum to Whitechapel… We also visited the wonderful Spitalfields market, and spotted this down a side street. Pretty awesome, no?
I love magpies. In fact, I love most corvids – they’re pretty, in a not-so-obvious way. But magpies are best, because, like me, they like shinies.
I took my mum to the Tatty Divine shop at the very end of Brick Lane. She loved it. And why wouldn’t she? Tatty Divine is… Well, divine.
I want this. £57. Arrrrrrgh.
April 22, 2011 | Categories: art, clothes, crafts, family, I Want Never Gets, jewellery, London, money, sociable | Tags: art, crafts, excitement, family, humans, I love, I Want Never Gets, London, me me me, mum, shiny, sociable | 2 Comments »
I took my mum to Whitechapel a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great time wandering around the shops and generally enjoying the sunshine.
On our travels, we came across a lot of street art, including this beautiful, enormous crane -
Today, I am in Sheffield, visiting my lovely friend Beth and her other half John (who is also lovely).
I don’t know what I was expecting, but Sheffield is awesomely lovely. Oh, and street art! Trippy or what?
Ooh, a special Crafty post today. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long while. Here: a video, demonstrating how to make an origami peacock! Oh joy.
Please excuse my sloppy folds – I usually make them a lot neater, but then, I usually am not being watched.
OK, first of the series of Synaesthesia Conference lectures that I’ll be writing up. Today, I’ll be talking about a four year study conducted by Julia Simner (of University of Edinburgh) and her team. In their study, Simner and her colleagues looked at grapheme-colour synaesthesia, comparing the experiences of English synaesthetes (which are hugely studied) to the experiences of Chinese synaesthetes (who are barely studied at all).
Where to start? Some general factoids about grapheme-colour synaesthesia. About 1% of the population are estimated to have it. This phenomena is where letters and numbers illicit a colour experience in the synaesthete. These experiences follow non-random rules – the same letters seem to always illicit the same colour experience, like “A” always being green, for example.
As for words, many synaesthetes find that whole words are coloured as a whole, rather than each individual letter being coloured. The way words are coloured seems to vary in three main ways:
- Some synaesthetes simply see each letter coloured individually (as per their own internal consistencies) – for example, “CAT” would be seen as BLUE-GREEN-RED (or whatever)
- Some synaesthetes find words are coloured by their initial letter – e.g. “CAT” would be BLUE, as “C” is blue for them
- Some synaesthetes have their words coloured by their initial vowel – again, “CAT” would be GREEN, as the initial vowel is usually green
There are two main theories as to what influences the colours of different letters and words. One is the semantic influence – this is where the unconscious meaning pinned to words and therefore letters determines what colour the letters will be. For example, we might associate “D” with dogs (A is for apple, B is for bird… I’m sure you were taught the alphabet in a similar fashion). Well, dogs are brown (usually), so maybe this is why some synaesthetes experience D as being brown.
The other theory is the frequency effect – more common letters are more common colours. For example, A is often red or green, whereas X is often something exotic like purple or gold. This isn’t too much of a surprise, either.
Hmm, what next…? Maybe a bit of info about Chinese languages (assume we’re talking about Mandarin throughout, but the rules probably cross over to Cantonese). Bear with me – my knowledge of Chinese is not great.
Chinese languages are ideographic (well, almost. We won’t get into that argument here) - they don’t have alphabets, so no letter units. They consist of word unit characters. There are two phonetic spelling systems (Pinyin and Bopomo), which Chinese children may be taught, in order to help them to speak the language before learning to write the script (which is intensely complicated). Pinyin uses a combination of Westernised spellings (for pronunciation) and a number (that indicates tone – Chinese languages are tonal, which means, depending how you say a word, it can have multiple meanings. Phew.)
Simner and her team wondered if this Pinyin system could function in a similar way to English in terms of its effects on synaesthetes – does the initial “letter” (or sound) or vowel sound effect the overall consistency in colour experience?
Well, yes and no. Their study showed that if native Chinese speakers were given the Pinyin phonetic spelling of a word character, they would experience the colours in a consistent manner similar to English synaesthetes – words beginning with a “y” sound would all be green, etc. etc. However, if they were given just traditional Chinese characters to look at (with no Pinyin) these consistencies did not carry over. Hmm. Back to square one.
Chinese script itself is made up of morphemes called “radicals”. Each character contains a semantic radical (which conveys meaning) and a phonetic radical (which tells you how the word should be pronounced). These radicals can be on either side of the character, and again, location affects meaning (I think you’re beginning to understand why Chinese script is so hard to learn…)
So, does the semantic or phonetic radical colour the character overall? Or do neither of them do this?
Simner and her colleagues found three variables – hue, saturation and brightness of colour experience. It seems that Chinese synaesthetes have a more subtle colour experience than Western synaesthetes – the radical on the left accounts for the hue, the semantic radical accounts for saturation, and the radical on the right for brightness. Weird.
The frequency effect occurs in Chinese, too – common characters (and radicals) are more common colours.
And that… is about all that I can compute. If you want to know more, please head on over to Julia Simner‘s profile page on Edinburgh Uni’s website, and feel free to send her your questions!
March 31, 2011 | Categories: brain, Britain, debate, London, mental illness, neuroscience, philosophy, Psychology, science, Scotland, sociable, statistics, university | Tags: art, biology, debate, dissertation, excitement, humans, I love, London, mental illness, neuropsychology, neuroscience, optimism, philosophy, psychology, science, shiny, sociable, UEL, university | 2 Comments »
Yesterday saw the first day of the annual UK Synaesthesia Association‘s conference, this year hosted by UEL. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend today’s half of the conference (and my Sunday didn’t go to plan anyway, but that’s another story). However, I intend to give you a taster of what I experienced yesterday.
As a foreword: I won’t go into the details of the various talks here. I intend to write up the main ideas of my favourite talks over the next few days, so look out for those. This post is more intended to impart a general overview of the atmosphere of the conference.
Well, to start with: synaesthesia. I’ve done a brief overview of this fascinating neurological anomaly before, but just as a refresher:
Synaesthesia is estimated to affect about 2% of the population. It comes in many different forms, all of them mind bloggling. Synaesthetes have a notoriously hard time explaining or describing their experience of the world to others. And yet, despite all this, there is very limited research done into synaesthesia.
Maybe, simply, because it’s not a problem. It’s really, really interesting, but it needs no cure. In fact, I have had many synaesthetes say to me that they can’t imagine living without it.
Synaesthesia is a crossing of the senses. The most commonly known types are grapheme-colour synaesthesia and sound-colour synaesthesia. To explain: grapheme colour synaesthesia is usually where an individual will experience a certain colour whenever they see a certain colour, letter or word. Read more about it here.
The UKSA conference gave the opportunity for people with an interest in synaesthesia (many of them synaesthetes themselves) to discuss research and network. Throughout the day, poster presentations (summarising studies) were on display in a downstairs room at UEL (pictured above), and a series of talks were given throughout the day. The talks I attended ranged from the very “sciencey” to the more phenomenological discussion of synaesthesia in art.
I can’t speak for others, but I think synaesthesia draws me because it is a wonderfully romantic idea – some unique individuals can see music in colour, taste colour, experience sounds as textured. This is beyond metaphor: this is a very real experience. And it’s not trained association: it’s very much automatic, internally consistent and unconsciously processed.
As always, if you reading this and it sounds familiar, please let me know – I’d love to hear about your own experiences.
March 27, 2011 | Categories: art, brain, Britain, debate, London, music, neuroscience, philosophy, Psychology, sociable, statistics, university | Tags: art, biology, debate, dissertation, excitement, humans, I love, London, music, neuropsychology, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, research, science, shiny, sociable, study, synaesthesia, UEL, UKSA, university | 1 Comment »
Yesterday, the University of East London had the pleasure of welcoming Ed Hubbard from Vanderbilt University, USA to give a talk about synaesthesia. It was a free public lecture, lasting about 90 minutes, and we had a pretty great turn out.
The lecture signalled the start of the annual UK Synaesthesia Association conference (this year hosted by UEL) – whilst the conference is still open to the public, they need to be paying public, so this free lecture was a bit more accessible to armchair psychologists.
Here’s the blurb from the talk:
What do David Hockney, Richard Feynman, Nabokov, Messiaen and Stevie Wonder all have in common? They all experience synaesthesia, a “union of the senses”.
For some synaesthetes, listening to a piece of music may also cause them to see specific colours while for others letters or numbers are always tinged a certain colour. Although synaesthesia has been known about for over 100 years, interest in synaesthesia has undergone resurgence in the past decade. This talk will discuss recent research, showing what synaesthetes already know: synaesthesia is real, and synaesthetes are neither telling stories, nor are they “crazy.”
More information about synaesthesia can be found here: www.uel.ac.uk/psychology/research/synaesthesia
I really enjoyed Ed’s talk – he’s a great speaker, and was very obviously passionate about his area of research. He’s also keen to get all you American synaesthetes involved with his research, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with him: edhubbard [at] gmail [dot] com
More about synaesthesia to follow tomorrow, as I am, at this moment in time, at the conference. Need to rush off now – lectures to attend. Exciting stuff!
March 26, 2011 | Categories: art, brain, Britain, debate, London, music, neuroscience, philosophy, Psychology, science, sociable, statistics, university | Tags: art, biology, debate, dissertation, excitement, funny, humans, I love, London, me me me, neuropsychology, neuroscience, optimism, philosophy, psychology, science, shiny, sociable, UEL, university | Leave A Comment »
Remember Sneak Peek #1? Well, here is the finished product!
You can’t really see her total loveliness in a photo – she has lovely metallic patterns on her dress, and each of the cherry blossoms has metallic gold in the centre. Oh, and the beadwork looks much better in real life. But still – you get the idea!
Pattern from Cross Stitcher magazine issue #208. Some changes to the threads used, as I did some stash-busting, rather than blow loads of cash on a new lot.
Yesterday, bleary-eyed from Wednesday’s late night, I made my way to Kensington Olympia to meet my mum and her friend Jill. But this wasn’t any old ladies’ get together – we were going to Olympia 2 to attend the 2011 Stitch & Craft Show. Oh yes.
From fighting our way through the doors (I have never seen so many ladies “of a certain age” gathered in one place before – it was surreal) we were greeted with a Santas Grotto of craftiness. Threads, patterns, gadgets, yarns as far as the eye could see. We arrived just before 11. We didn’t leave until 3pm. I spent over £50. Arrrrgh…
But I could have spent so, so much more.
The stalls were simply amazing – so many beautiful colours, so many amazing, inspirational projects. You really have to see it to believe it.
But the highlights?
Well, first off, my mum went all giddy when she had the chance to meet her hero, Jane Greenoff (who was lovely, and had AWESOME hair). I’m an idiot, and didn’t take a photo of them. Very, very gutted.
Secondly: GIANT KNITTING.
And finally – I got to meet one of MY heroes. Mr X Stitch. SQUEAK.
I first became aware of Mr X Stitch via Craftster. Once upon a time, I produced some sweary tea towels (NSFW) and they became Mr X Stitch’s “Craftster Pick Of The Week”. I was honoured, to say the least.
And to discover that he was at S&C yesterday was…. Awesome. I tried not to be too star-struck. Fail. He gave me a sticker (I <3 Mr X Stitch – it’s on my thread tin now). He let me have a photo with him. It’s true – I do <3 Mr X Stitch.
Stitch&Craft is on for the next few days (til 5pm on Sunday) – so what are you waiting for!? Tickets are available on the door (£10, or £9 concessions, or £4 for children). Go go go! Find out more here.
Ooh, what am I making? Who knows. Cross-stitchy wonderfulness.
I have a new teapot. So clearly, I need this. I’m sure you all understand.
From the V&A shop, £45