Birthday Adventures in Berlin

Berlin has been on my list of places to visit for a while now. What better way to turn 34 than to have an adventure in such a cool, modern city with such rich history with my boyfriend Jonathan?

We flew to Schönefeld airport on the Monday 2nd April in the afternoon and got the S-Bahn to our hotel which was between Charlottenberg and Wilmerdorf. The first thing I noticed were all the long names for streets! Berlin felt sprawling compared to Paris as it has no centre. I also saw loads of these bears dotted in different places.

On Tuesday we made our way to the Naturkundemuseum which I was excited to see; I love natural history! They had two huge Brachiosaurus skeletons in the central exhibit. They were so big I couldn’t fit them in to get a good picture. They also had the world’s best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex and a lot of interesting taxidermy including Knut the polar bear.

My favourite thing in the museum were these insect sculptures by Alfred Keller who made them between 1930 and 1955 specifically for the museum. I love the attention to detail and they would have taken him up to a year for each model.

After lunch we made our way to the Botanical Gardens in the south-west of Berlin. It was a warm, sunny day so walking round the grounds it felt like Spring, and going into the greenhouses felt like summer!

On Wednesday we headed out to Alexanderplatz, and went to the Bodyworlds exhibition which I had missed when it was in the UK. I’ve always been interested in biology and this was fascinating. Seeing real people in the exhibition was surreal; sometimes you forgot they were real bodies. Some things made me feel a bit squish to be honest!

After lunch we decided to go to Checkpoint Charlie, the famous boundary between East and West Germany. It was weird seeing this in the middle of the road, surrounded by fast food outlets and tourists. We walked around this area and found the watchtower that would have been between the two walls separating the countries, as well as parts of the wall still standing.

Thursday was my birthday, whoopie! After a breakfast of coffee and German pastry we headed to Berlin Zoo and Aquarium, not too far from Charlottenberg.

I loved this zoo, it has so many animals. The best thing about it was probably seeing a panda munching his way through bamboo! There are only 2,000 left in the wild. I know some people object to zoos, but I do think they help people realise we need to protect our planet and all living things. All the zoos I’ve been to highlight our need for conservation, endangered species and climate change.

After the zoo we went out to eat and I had a little cheeky cocktail to celebrate turning 34! My 30s are definitely better than my 20s and getting older doesn’t mean getting serious! I think it’s about embracing who you are and your interests, as well as being aware of the world around you.

On Friday we went to the Spy Museum in Potsdamer Platz which was brilliant. Loads of things in there you would only imagine in a James Bond film, like these playing cards with a map inside and the cigarette packet with a tiny camera. Here we are dressed as spies!

We then went to the what is known as the alternative Berlin in Bergmannkiez and Kreuzberg, which was full of indie cafes, small thrifty shops and Vicktoriapark. We wondered round here all afternoon and found an art shop, a magic shop and a juggling shop! No chains in sight which was really nice, I felt like this was true Berlin where locals go rather than just tourist places.

Saturday was our last day so we headed to the DDR Musuem near the river Spree. I think this was my favourite museum because it showed what it was like living in East Germany before the wall came down. It was interactive with rooms set up to look like a prison sell, an interrogation room and an East German flat.

I studied German cinema when I was doing my Masters and this place made me think of films like The Lives of Others and Goodbye, Lenin! 

After the DDR Museum we went on a boat tour on the river Spree past Museum Island and rested our feet – we had done a lot of walking the past few days.

In the afternoon we got the train to the East Side Gallery – Conserved graffiti project by 118 artists covering part of the Berlin Wall and celebrating its demise. I thought it was very moving and showed how creativity and individuality are fundamental to what it means to be human. It is so long but I have put up some of my favourite pieces.

Berlin is a fantastic city rich with so much history, culture, art and friendly people. I can’t wait to go back one day.

Adieu 2017!

Bead Embroidery Beetle

As 2017 comes to an end, this would be a good time to write a post reflecting on everything I’ve done, the art I’ve made and how I’ve changed.

This year I’ve naturally focused more on my embroidery and as a result I’ve become more precise in my work. Moving house meant I had more space for my crafts and while I set up the art room I would do embroidery projects in the living room. The more embroidery hoops I made, the more ideas and I would get for new ones.

I also started to spray paint the hoops, giving the whole piece a more completed look. I have lots of fabric pieces so embroidery was like a fun way to plan, doodle and relax. I would pick out my fabric, sketch an idea onto it and play around with colours and stitches to bring my ideas to life. I also challenged myself to try something more complex each time I started a new piece.

 

When it came to subject, the main themes for my pieces were nature and whimsical – no surprises there! I find inspiration in so many things; beetles, flowers, seasons, the sea, anatomy, space. I also love looking at other artists and different styles such as Pop Surrealism, Kitsch, Kawaii.

Continue reading

Chaos and Creativity

‘I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value’ – Hermann Hesse

It’s been about two months since my last post and probably the longest gap since I started writing my blog. Life suddenly got very chaotic and I found myself unable to anything art or craft related. I was poorly then I had to move house as my landlord was selling. I was also learning to drive and doing some volunteering at an art gallery. Looking back now it was a massive upheaval and I felt stressed and overwhelmed.

Gradually things began to level out and my boyfriend and I moved into a flat together. We now have a spare room for arts, crafts and magic (he is an actual magician!) but this is yet to be fully sorted and is currently a myriad of boxes and degu cage – they are cute though so they can get away with it for now.

Between moving house I did some art journal pages and made my friend a mixed media birthday card. I’ve also been teaching myself Illustrator so I can create a website layout for my boyfriend – magic is a great topic! It is a new way of approaching art and I am finding it a real challenge. I’ve always liked design and illustration and scrapbook interesting packaging, so learning how to create vector art on a computer is another step towards that kind of artwork. I have to admit that spending a lot of time on the computer is hard. I work in an office during the day and being able to make things with clay, paints, sewing is my way of escaping technology and feeling more connected by using the materials with my hands. Maybe once I get more to grips with the software I will find a balance between both.

Below are a few pictures from the last month. Now my life is calming down a bit more I have plenty of creative projects bubbling in my mind.

Life, Creative Ruts and Days Out

I’ve had some creative blocks recently, and with other things going on in my life, it’s been over a month since my last blog post. And who knows how it is June already?! It’s only just started to get warm here in Manchester, May seemed to be a lot of rain.

I recently added a page about creativity and creative blocks, a topic I have been thinking about for a while. I also decided to take my own advice and went for a walk a few weeks ago to the Southern cemetery near where I live. Getting away from my desk was a good way to stop worrying about any creative blocks. It was quiet and peaceful with so many bluebells. I sat down on a bench and woke up some sleepy ducks – they gave me a heart attack being surrounded by old gravestones in the quiet!

It was serene and a lovely place to think, walk around and having a break from technology. I also went to Blackpool last week, somewhere I have never been. The weather was beautiful and the breeze from the sea was a nice relief from the sun – I still managed to get sunburnt, whoops! It was full of arcade places, fish and chip shops, tacky gift shops and I thought it was so much fun. My friend and I went to the Sealife centre there so I could continue my sea creature obsession. I loved the rays, seahorses and I got to see a nautilus. They are cool and weird!

Continue reading

Art Blogs

Just made a poll to find out what you guys are interested in when it comes to art blogs in general 🙂

Street Art & Crafts in Manchester, UK

I’ve been really interested in the graffiti and art in Manchester for a while and wanted to do a project photographing some of the different places for the blog. Here is a small collection in the city’s Northern Quarter, a vibrant part of the city with little independent shops and cafes. It is also home to The Craft Centre where a number of local artists make and sell items from ceramics and textiles to jewellery and prints. I love taking friends and family who come to visit. I’ve lived here for nearly 3 and half years and just love the vibrancy and creativity in the city. The Northern Quarter is also home to The Buddhist Centre which is in a lovely building and holds lots of different classes such as meditation and yoga. If you ever visit Manchester I highly recommend these places.

Busy-ness Vs. Arty-ness

What a month I’m having! I’m in the process of moving house, busy at work and now I am coming down with the lurgie I thought I was able to avoid because I had a super human immune system! Wrong! Plus Janaury is always the long month after Christmas when you have to make your money stretch…. and I always see things I want to buy, like a desk for my new place!

Continue reading

Christmas Markets in Manchester

I’ve wanted to take some pictures of the Christmas markets in Manchester city centre for a while and as my friend came up to visit, I thought this would be a great chance to do that before they go.

Continue reading

Halloween Weekend!

Halloween was really fun AND I had Friday off! We went to see The Book of Life, carved pumpkins and used the insides to make pumpkin pie, we watched trashy horror films including the original Fly and the 70s Invasions of the Bodysnatchers (which is still amazing). I’ve got The Rocky Horror Pictureshow and Basketcase to watch!

Continue reading

A Little Reflection on Art

Wow, October sneaked up fast! Not long left of the year, which has made me reflect a little on all the projects I’ve done and the ones I’ve wanted to try. I seem to forget how productive I can be!

I started the year still really into art journaling and got my smaller A5 dylusions journal which I still love. I was also doing a lot of mixed media projects in Spring like my Printer’s Tray and Steampunk themed shadow box. I like to come up with a theme then collect all my materials for that.

Continue reading