When you’re insanely happy, you’re so happy to be happy, that you forgot what made you happy.

ShiShi Yamazaki is a young Japanese artist whose work is like an explosion of rainbow-coloured joy. Her little stop-motion animations possess a sense of nostalgia, and remind of the freedom i felt the first time my parents let me go into the city for the day with my friends.  All her videos are wonderful, but I’ve always been most fixated by this one.

Yanesen is area of Tokyo that combines YAnaka, NEsu and SENdagai.

Delightfully old-world, Yanesen is dotted with little ryokans, izakayas and traditional onsens about maze-like streets, and intersected with little cafes and shops (including tokyo bike) and SCAI The Bath house, created by clever young japanese creatives who are breathing new life into the area.

YA-NE-SEN a Go Go from ShiShi Yamazaki on Vimeo.

 

weekend articles | number 3 | plants in cars

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I wrote this blog post several months ago. it’s a testament to my ongoing battle with fear of all the things, really, that i’ve found it, near completion, still sitting in my drafts. Posting it now is an act of defiance against my former self, who probably thought it wasn’t good enough. And also, a few months delayed is better than never at all.

***

i want to pause time. just for a little while. my grandfather is sick and i just want people to stop growing up.

“For the creative person, what’s going on outside is trivial compared to what is going on inside… Don’t try to change the structure of the outside world hoping that then you’ll be fine, then you’ll be creative and then you’ll be brave. No. First, figure out how to be creative and brave and courageous, and the outside world will change on your behalf.” – Seth Godin.

this week i’m thinking about entrepreneurship. starting something of my own. even if it’s just something little, as long as i can call it mine. i just don’t know what it is yet.

in the spirit of pursuing bold ideas, here are some people who have given birth to projects that are making our wardrobes a little more colourful and our world a little bit better.

reve evert: an online boutique dedicated to sustainable and conscious luxury items, featuring designers who operate their businesses with respect for people and the planet.

Yevu: i’ve been following yevu for quite some time. yevu is the outcome of a local designer partnering with ethical makers and textile designers in Ghana, a country known for its kaleidoscopic, vibrant prints.

listening: 

It is unlikely that our ears will ever go hungry again, when there are so many delicious podcasts to feed them, including design matters and Brain Pickings’ top ten podcasts.

reading: 

“A few years ago we both became interested in seeing flowers and plants in situations where they naturally shouldn’t be.” i am so into the aesthetic of Simone Rocha, and share her obsession with louise bourgeois. her new book, the book of Simone Rocha, has me in raptures.

I read Hunter S Thompson’s letter about finding your purpose several years ago. Today I read it in a different light.

watching: 

a takeaway show: they never get old. i like the way tenniscoats can create so many sweet sounds with every-day objects. it reminds me of the way some of my japanese musician friends create little instruments on a whim, and often made of every-day items like keychains and wooden sticks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-rvJsH_WcU).

 

image: from The Book of Simone Rocha, source: Another Mag.

‘they might have guns, but we have flowers’

in the face of horror, it’s the small but touching words of compassion, the defiant displays of love and unity and acts of kindness that make me feel like, even though things feel incomprehensibly horrifying right now, they will eventually be okay. after all, good always triumphs over evil. and, as we’ve seen through the worst moments of history, the human spirit is resilient, and flowers always triumph over guns.

one week on and i am still shaken by the news in paris. i know there have been arguments that it has received ‘too much’ media attention over other attacks of terror, but there are people i love who live there, and so naturally, i’m concerned. but equally, this has presented us all with an opportunity and also a responsibility to consider widening the media outlets in which we source our news. let’s educate ourselves by reading more widely, to give ourselves a better rounded view.

that being said, the judgements cast on those grieving for paris frustrated me. no one is entitled to judge others on the ways they grieve and, just like losing a member of your family compared to a stranger, it’s only natural to grieve more for those you know, or the places which are home to people you love.

I truly believe no human life is more important than any other. we were all born on this planet with the same basic desires; to experience love and belonging and live with compassion. so can we please accept that it’s human nature to experience a more grief and shock when something familiar to you is terrorised or destroyed.

weekend articles | number 2 | you are part of this place

karin-mamma-andersson-about-girlMamma Andersson, About A Girl, 2005, oil on canvas, diptych, 19 × 25″

It’s Sunday! I’m especially happy because, up until today, my Sundays were spent working in retail, a sacrifice I made when I took a hefty pay cut to take a role at an art gallery. It was fun for a while, but for the moment, I crave the stability, routine and the freedom that both a regular pay check and a two-day weekend provides. For the moment…

As I come to terms with a new routine, I am smitten by the idea of dedicating Sunday mornings to consuming all the stories I saved on Pocket (i.e. the best app for voracious readers / internet addicts) throughout the week, over coffee and breakfast on my bed-island.  I also hope to be able to update you on some of these highlights, even if only so I can refer back to them later.

To celebrate my first taste of Sunday freedom, I made eggs and drip coffee, read Spectrum and poured over the latest news while listening to Rodriguez.  It’s cold, grey and damp outside, so i’m going to stay inside all day and not even care.

Women:

  • Ladylike: In light of Australia’s current depressing state of affairs, I was inspired to revisit Julia Gillards misogyny speech, and an outsider’s interpretation via the new yorker.
  • babe vibes is a raw and genuine look into creative women. I found solace in their interviews, which are conducted long-distance, via disposable cameras and a box of ephemera.
  • The women are emailing:  I love discovering new blogs by intelligent women writers, and this story by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith really hit a chord with me. I have long been a devotee of email correspondence, as its very nature lends itself well to my introverted tendencies and love of the written word. I love pouring over long, raw and open emails from friends that communicate things that may otherwise be hard to communicate verbally. Emails underpinned by substance and heart.
  • You are part of this place: Taking up space is a thoroughly insightful read by Jane Caro on why women feel they take up too much space, physically and metaphorically. “Far from apologising, women who speak up are doing more than having a conversation. They are reclaiming lost female territory. Physical and metaphorical space matter.” 

Society + Self:

  • In Praise of Missing Out: Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on the Paradoxical Value of Our Unlived Lives
  • Louise Bourgeois on creative confidence: To convince others, you have to convince yourself; and a conciliatory or even an unduly understanding attitude — in that it is inevitably superficial — is not helpful to creativity.”

Watching: 

  • I just love love love this sweet promo vid for cali-based organic cotton undie brand, Pansy. It’s about having fun with undies made for women, every day. Disclaimer: I love lingerie as much as the next woman, but there’s something so decidedly liberating about this.

 

weekend articles | number 1 | strange magic

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Ren Hang, No Name (detail), 2014. Courtesy of Zioxla. From ‘Strange Plants II’

a little snapshot of some things taking my fancy this week.

HEARING

strange light: a mix tape by aquarium drunkard.

“Think of this as a snowy, white dawn giving way to spring. Thick with its own mystery and magic – a tranquil blend of global folk, gospel, soul and psych. A strange light, indeed.” For me, it has served as a solid companion through tired afternoons working from home, in bed, while down and out with the flu.

READING

strange plants II: the success of this book lies in its ability to seamlessly marry two of my most favourite things in the world – contemporary art and plants. i invite you to ask yourself what could be more satisfying, more harmonious, than looking at these lush visions.

while on the topic of art + plants, an exhibition entitled Art/Vert was recently hosted in paddington’s Saint Cloche Gallery, which examined this very topic. curator, amber cresswell, invited local artists to examine the idea of ‘the plant as muse’. i didn’t make it to the show, but i can only imagine it would have inspired the same feelings of wonder and goodness i get from looking at strange plants II.

WATCHING

i bet lucy chadwick has life and all of its complexities all figured out. maybe she is one of those people who has a one, five and ten year plan and actually sticks to it. an art gallery director in new york city and has built a home in the country i would absolutely die for. this film leaves me riled up, in a good, get-shit-done, kind of way.

what’s taking your fancy this week?

it’s a natural thing | on living lighter

Snip20150323_13Inka and Neele Hoeper by Lina Scheynius for Zeit Magazin.

Recently I’ve been making a few changes to the way I eat, drink and consume – an experiment into living lighter and reducing my impact on the planet, and it has sort of changed my life.

Let me explain. Before I stumbled across the Brooklyn-based Lauren Singer’s s blog, Trash is for Tossers, I thought I was doing a half-decent job of living a relatively sustainable existence. I don’t drive, I eat only a small amount of meat and I recycle… sometimes.

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I used to think I couldn’t do anything to help. I thought humankind has collectively placed such a burden on the planet, that the personal actions of one person would not amount to anything. So defeatist, I know.

But now, I’m doing better. I’ve come to realise I am responsible for my own actions and, so far, the benefits of living lighter have been countless. I am hyper aware of my decisions, my actions and their consequences. I place more value on food, my health and am more grateful for my comforts. I’m also saving money, which, as a student and someone on the salary of an arts-worker, is also a win.

So there you have it. For the moment, I see this a cumulative process. I’ll keep making little changes, and little by little, work on reducing my impact more and more.

So what have I been doing?

COMPOSTING

It is good to know I can eliminate some of the food scraps that are sent to landfills, where their potential to create nutrient dense soil is totally wasted. So how I compost when I live in a big city? Well, I store the scraps in bags in the freezer! Every week, I take them into the Gallery with me, where my boss, a gardener, has a compost out the back.

I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from this process!

USE IT AGAIN (FOR SOMETHING ELSE)

I love coffee and, at my place, we’ve (almost completely) swapped nespresso pods for ground coffee, which we percolate on the stove. delicious!

I then take the used coffee grounds and combine it with coconut oil and lavender oil to create a very effective body exfoliate.

And while we’re on the topic of coffee, I’ve also invested in a glass KEEP CUP, which not only looks beautiful, it also helps save money because I can just bring coffee from home. It’s one less coffee cup (a day!) in a landfill and three more dollars in my pocket.

BUY IN BULK, STORE IN GLASS

I already prefer fresh over processed, yet many fresh foods come inside ridiculous non-recyclable plastic bags. I have managed to reduce this by shopping instead at NAKED FOODS (Bondi and Newtown). There, you can use the brown paper bags they supply for all the foods (or you can just bring your own bags) and buy some pretty glass jars to store it all in. I have found that buying things in bulk once a month is also a massive $ saver.

OTHER STUFF

Then there’s all the other stuff. I keep a canvas bag in my handbag, should I decide to pop to the shops on my way home from work. I recycle EVERYTHING – and am more aware of unlikely items that I only recently realised can be recycled, like deodorant containers.

NEXT STEPS

I still have a long way to go. I have a deep love of my electric toothbrush, an unhealthy reliance on face wipes and don’t think I could ever eschew makeup, despite the harmful chemicals I know it’s made of. But next month I’m going to explore making my own cleaning products and dabbling further with natural beauty products.

I’d love to know your recommendations, or experience with living a more sustainable life.