The BFG Dream Jars Trail

I love it London has an art-themed ‘hunt’ over each summer for people to find an follow – one summer it was giant eggs, another it was giant elephants, and another year we had rickshaws designed by fashion designers – not to mention many more things to find!

This summer we had the BFG Dream Jar Trail – based on the BFG film which was released last month, where ‘dream jars’ designed by celebrities all over put their childhood dreams into manifestation inside giant jars, which were then placed all over London, as well as other major cities in the UK like Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham.

My sister and I thought we’d try our hand at finding some, and decided to follow one of the six Dream Trails to find jars – nearly six hours later and with very tired feet, we managed to find around 12 (it would have been 13 but one got removed from it’s spot due to vandalism, leading to me and my sister wandering around in a park in a daze looking for it). We started at Bond Street and the edge of Hyde Park, worked our way up to Leicester Square and China Town, and walked up to Embankment and Victoria before we stopped.

I loved the creativity of these, and thought they were a great idea, and they were very popular with the tourists and the kids!

Here’s the Dream Jars we found – but you can see all of them here – a great tribute to the genius writer that is Roald Dahl : )

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Giant Books & Giant Shoeboxes

I love seeing quirky installations around London, especially when it’s giant out-of-proportion things – so you can imagine how much I loved seeing these huge pieces in North Greenwich outside the O2 Venue, by the Empathy Museum. Even better, these were to raise awareness for great causes – in this case to get people to be empathetic and see the world from someone else’s perspective.

There were two installations in place – a huge series of books disguising a walk-in library and a huge shoe-box where you could go in to try on shoes. My favourite was the books lined up below (and it was fun to spot which titles I’ve read!) which looked huge in the empty square, but also beautifully colourful. There’s a door hidden on the side to walk into the room inside, where you can read and browse the books inside, or simply donate books.

I’ve always had a soft spots for book places like these – as someone who devoured books as a child, my sisters and I were constantly in and out of libraries borrowing books that we couldn’t read fast enough (and if we had bought all the books we’ve ever read we’d probably fill several book shops!) I love that there’s a place like this for people who can walk by and pick up a book, especially if it’s something left by a reader who has loved the book and left it for someone else to enjoy.

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The second giant installation was this shoe box below, which was another room for people to come in and try to walk in someone else’s shoes – something to help change your perspective, read stories about people from all over the world and their professions and background. I didn’t get a chance to try anything on because the shoebox was closed when I turned, but I loved that this gives people a chance to explore different backgrounds.

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I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this around London – one of the things I love about living in this city is the amount of changing artwork, advertising and opportunities to try something new. I’m sure I’ll be seeing more things like this over the summer, and it’s given me more incentive to explore more parts of London (and take my camera with me too!)

Writing on the Wall: Classical Colours

One of my biggest issues with my attempts with art is that I never feel that it’s as good as other people’s masterpieces, or that it’s not quite right, so it needs to be a little better. When I was younger I was convinced that I’d be better as I drew more and learned more about art – used different techniques and mediums and just find my niche. Sadly enough, over the years, even though my enthusiasm still sparks into life when I’m in the arts and craft section and when I read about different styles of drawing, it fizzles out a little when I pick up a pencil (or drawing tablet!) to draw something myself.

I saw this a few days ago and loved the riot of colour in all this – even though it’s framed and placed against other frames, they don’t act as boundaries, there’s patterns within patterns, and beautiful details which overlap and pulls the eye.

I’d love to paint something like this, and it’s when I see beautiful things like this that I feel inspired, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I’m not sure I’m skilled enough to paint with oil paints just yet, but I’d love to try mixing colours and media to see what beautiful colours and patterns I get. So here’s a little colour to brighten up the weekend.

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An Epic Chart of 162 Young Adult Retellings

I’ve mentioned before how much I love fairy-tales/myths re-tellings, there’s something fascinating about seeing a new angle on a classic story we already know, and I love to discover new books with a different view.

This is a chart created by the cleverbots at EpidReads, who compiled a list of books and grouped them by similarities.

You can find the full chart list here by epicreads – it’s not a complete list of what’s out there of course, but it’s a decent place to start!

Have you read any of these? I’ve added a few of these to my book list already!

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Terry Pratchett, Magic Man

It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done – A Hat Full of Sky

Fantasy writer Sir Terry Pratchett passed away yesterday, leaving a legacy which has touched people all over the world, whether it was for his novels and comic books, his famous Discworld series or his quirky sense of humour. His fan-base was one which was world-spread, and whose tributes, accolades and petitions have all been pouring in for a man whose writing appealed to everyone, and who taught the power of imagination, on how to upset and rouse people, and that cats are devilish things that know who’s boss.

Below is a guide by Jacob Oleksow for anyone who wants to start reading the Discworld series and want to know which order to read the books in, or what categories they come in.

It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it

Thank you Terry Pratchett for sharing your quirky tales, your magical stories, the witty humour and a whole different world for us to explore – I’m sure that there’s someone out there about to discover your novels and series, and discover a love for your characters.

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London Film and Comic Con 2014

My sister and I were able to visit the London Film and Comic Con this weekend, over Friday, Saturday and Sunday (we just went to the Saturday event, though), which was a really fun experience, especially as this is the second comic-con showe we’ve been to after the MCM London Comic Con last year. The event was held at Earl’s Court and showcased a number of things – I love that Comic Con has now become much more than just comic books and superheroes. This one covered film and TV series, comic books, computer games and also fiction books. There were a number of TV and film celebrities available for photos and signings, and also comic book artists and book authors who were in attendance, ready to sign their work.

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My sister had the foresight to buy ‘Earlybird tickets’ – which still meant queuing up but it meant that buy paying a little extra, we could get into the venue at 9.00am, which we managed to do. While queuing we saw a huge variety of costumes, merchandise and cute little children dressed up as Supergirl/Superman/Spiderman/that little girl from Dispicable Me which were a fun prelude (and a sign of who the real fanboys were).
When we finally got inside, the place was already busy and there was lots of things to see and visit. The venue was divided into different ‘zones’ for varying interests as well: the Book Zone, the Comic Zone, the Anime Zone, the Video Game zone, the Cosplay zone and Artists Alley, alongside the talks, celebrity photoshoots and signings which were going on, not to mention various raffles, stalls and competitions.

As always, this year’s Film and Comic Con was full of costumes which had been really well thought out, I loved some of the originality of costumes, not to mention the attention to details which made some of these look really good (a lot of them stayed in character too, Chewbacca spent the whole time growling and making squealing noises everytime we went past him).

The celebrities were a big appeal for us. We managed to see most of them with the exception of Carrie Fischer (Princess Leia in Star Wars) who we missed, and comic book legend Stan Lee, who was in a separate area and which we would have had to buy extra tickets for (which were expensive but still very popular!) Below are just some of the celebrities we saw, there were a lot more which I haven’t included! We recognised pretty much most of them, partly because I watch too much TV and also because some of these people were pretty cool. The celebrities all seemed really nice and down-to-earth, which was great to see.

There were also a lot of talks going on during the day with various actors and writers, my sister and I are big Sherlock fans (the British version) and there was meant to be a talk called ‘Sherlocked’ with the writers and producers of the show, which we wanted to attend. However after we took one look at the huge queue and the fact that it would be at least an hour and half wait, we decided not to go (and just stream the talk online at home!) – it was just too hot and would have made the long day longer, if we hadn’t been fasting it would have been worth the wait.

I loved the fact that there was a separate section for YALC – Young Adult Literature Con, which was apparently the first one in the UK. I’m a big book-reader and aspiring author, and it’s always great to see support out there for people who want to write. There were also a lot of names I recognised, many from books I read as a teenager whom I was a big fan of like Malorie Blackman, Darren Shan and Patrick Ness, who are pretty well-known.

And of course there were hundreds of stalls, booths and tables to buy all sorts of things, comic books, costumes, gadgets, computer games, toys and souveniers. We kept an eye out for anything we wanted to buy, but some of the things were a little pricey (I wanted a comic-book print dress but wasn’t really prepared to spend £65 on it), but it was still good to see the buzz of people selling all sorts of things.

My sister and I spent a lot of time looking at various comics, gadgets and quriky stuff, and we ended up at the table of an emerging artist, Hameed Catel, creator of kirucomics which we had a good discussion with as he told us the premise of his two comic book series (and also sold us one, which he also signed!) I really like the idea of both of his comic series, one about a young thief who is suddenly given powers, and who doesn’t behave as heroic as he should, which sounded pretty funny – the Champion of Dema graphic novel is the one we bought. He also told us about his other comic series which was waiting to be published, about a detective called Hani. We both really liked the idea of this one because it seemed more Middle-Eastern based, and also very Muslim-friendly, goodness knows there aren’t enough Muslim superheroes out there, although it’s a growing niche! The series is still waiting to be published very soon, I’ll post about it as soon as I hear more!

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We also stopped to play a few vintage arcade games, as well as look at the latest games being released (I beat my sister at Pacman, naturally). It was good to see people of all ages at this place, there were an area of old-style arcade games grouped together which gave an arcade-feel, as well as lots of computer and television monitors around with the more modern games.

 

Throughout the venue were plenty of displays, from books, TV series and films, and all pretty spectacular. I love the Sherlock set (I have no idea if its the original one, but I wouldn’t be surprised), and the Batmobile (something my nephews would love).

Because we were fasting, we didn’t want to spend all day at the Comic Con and left in the afternoon after we had spent time looking at everything and stopping again to peeki again at several celebrities. It was also a really warm day, and as we walked out of the building back to the Underground Tube station, we could see the queues of people waiting to come in were still getting longer and going down past the roads – it really was astounding how popular this London Film and Comic Con is, and how far people travelled to come.

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All in all we had a good day, and it was interesting to meet various fans who interpreted film, TV and comics in their own way. I don’t think I’m as big a fan as some of the people who attended, but it was fun, and who knows, maybe next time I’ll go in costume!

Maya Angelou: An Icon, A Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Today I heard the sad news that author, poet, icon, artist, civil rights leader, woman, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. She was famous for many things, being a writer, singer, dancers, actress and acitivist, but at the core of it all, she remained a sunny, beautiful woman who had many lessons to give and moved many of us while we were growing up.

When you  learn, teach. When you get, give.

I remember reading Maya Angelou’s famous classic I Know why the Caged Bird Sings at the age of  eleven after it was handed to me by a teacher who knew of my love for books and was always trying giving me new genres to explore. I was a huge reader then (I still am, but these days I find that I make less time for reading unless it’s on my daily commute) and was hungry for literature which went beyond the usual Goosebumps and teenage-angst stories. I found my fill in Alice Walker, Adele Geras, Margaret Atwood, and as I grew older, in post-colonial authors, post-modern authors and feminist writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi, Toni Morrison, Meera Syal, Doris Lessing and Arundhati Roy, but to name a few. This is just a tip of the iceberg for the amazing range of authors out there whose works I’ve swam through, floated through, devoured and then looked for more of.

Until blacks and whites see each other as brother and sister, we will not have parity. It’s very clear.

Maya Angelou is all of these. She was someone who wanted to push boundaries, making us re-think the norm, and above all, celebrated life, being a woman, being a person and seeing the human in us rather than the stereotypes and the labels. Is it any wonder that she is remembered for so many things? The one thing about her which spoke to me through all of her writing, which really resonated was the fact that she had lived such a hard life, and yet remained a positive person. I’ve met so many negative people, and indeed it’s in our culture to not be happy with what we have, to want more and to criticise, and yet Maya Angelou empathised the importance of being assertive and being proud of who we are and what we have. Growing up, I’m sure we all have stories to tell in which we felt alone, different or pushed down – Maya taught us that we can either let it define us, or use it to buil character, be happy with ourselves, learn from our experiences rather than being just content

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

I love how this blogger put it. Maya Angelou’s words mean that we are not marginalised, pushed aside and made ‘just’. I, like my peers, am not ‘just’ a coloured girl, we ARE coloured girls – and this matters.

Maya Angelou may be gone from this world, but her words and her philosophy live on; as sad as it is that the world has suffered a loss today, it is also beautiful that she has left a beautiful legacy which continues to inspire so many generations.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.

There’s several obituaries from prominent newspapers of the wonderful woman, here’s the one I liked most (and this one too) – the tributes, stories and accolades keep pouring in for this wonderful woman. I think they all sing the same thing – Maya Angelou was an inspirational woman to so many people because of many different reasons. For me, it’s because she introduced me to a whole new world at the age of 11 when I stepped into I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and kept going.

A great soul never dies. It brings us together, again and again

Maya Angelou, as her poem suggests, really was a Phenomenal Woman.
Rest in peace Maya Angelou, may you reach Jannah (heaven) and know the blessings and peace you showed to others. Thank you for your legacy – sharing your love, your knowledge and your wisdom and for generally being such a beautiful person. The world was, is and will be a better place just because you have lived. You will be missed.

The Mystery and Magic of Great Stories

“The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

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A Cubist (Grafitti) Man

This is something I saw last week in good old art-rich-full Brick Lane area, which reminded me of the Cubism art movement (althought I could be wrong, it may be less 20th century Picasso inspired art, and more about computer pixels!)

I saw as an interesting composition of jerky lines, labels and weird-crusty-old-man-portrait, although I did like the black and white being layered on top of bright yellow. I love that there are so many different styles of art all over walls, floors, billboards, shop fronts and doors all over London, and this just shows one style which is out there.

His stripy top is kind of cool, too.

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