To see more art, that is the plan – Part I

I have been a bit rubbish at getting myself into gear to see as many exhibitions as I would have like in the last year. I pretty much always enjoy it when I do, it’s just making the time. It’s something that makes me happy, so I will do more of it. There is nothing like seeing a piece of art that you really relate to. There are obviously times where you see things that aren’t your cup of tea but I think that reminds you how great the things you like, really are. I have seen two exhibitions recently that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Here is the first:

Sarah Browne – How to Use Fool’s Gold, Ikon Gallery Birmingham

I haven’t written about art for a long time however I found the exhibition to be exciting and thought provoking. It was also extremely aesthetic and spoke a language me and my family understood. It spoke about people, industry and the obselete technology. I think my favourite piece was ‘Common Knowlege’, wild flowers pressed in different books that were written about ‘traditional feminine craft and an intellectual enquiry into amateurism, economics and mass cultural production’. For example ‘May 2010: Bluebells in Glenn Adamson’s Thinking Through Craft, 2009.’ I thought they were beautiful and I loved the relationship with what they were pressed in.

In the book ‘How to Use Fool’s Gold’ I spied the below piece of work called ‘The Gift’ which wasn’t in the exhibition but it is right up my street! The sofa’s were sourced by the artist and then re-upholstered using patterns created out of Irish potato bags and articles from the Irish constitution about the home. They were then given away, as gifts to various members of the Irish community (Including a man living in a council flat who had previously been homeless). They were asked in exchange, to document the sofa in their home. I wonder if the sofa became a talking point for their guests, and was treated as an art object and looked after with extra care. Is it now part of their furniture, a member of their family or prehaps living with a new owner? Could it be that it got tired and was discarded alongside it’s DFS equivalents?  The reappropriation of an object like the sofa is fascinating and these sofa’s have an extra couple of chapters to their story.

Life admin

I find life admin such a chore and it becomes a real bone of contention. Whilst looking through a briefcase of documents (it’s full to the brim of things that were once important and now could be done with being shredded), I came across a folder where I had stapled onto lined paper the receipts you get from the cash machine. Not only had I saved all of these but I had written in biro what I had spent the money on that I had withdrawn.

This was probably the start of my investigation into time vs money. I was working at Tesco on the check outs at the time and as they say ‘every little helps’. It’s quite an interesting folder to have after all these years (although the records are limited as it would have been a real pain to keep up!). It’s almost like a very specific diary. When I went to New York I wrote down everything I spent whilst there, and it tells the story of my journey. I like the fact that these prices will have changed by now so it’s a record of a certain time.

Very almost perfect job description








1) Someone who feels physical discomfort upon seeing an incomplete spreadsheet.

2) Creative thinking is a must.

3) It’ll also help if you have a laptop.

Okay, so there’s a few bits missing to make it the ‘perfect’ job description but these sentences made me smile and I want to work for the person who wrote them.

Information is Beautiful

This is an amazing website called ‘Information is Beautiful’ that Tez sent me the link to (Thanking you!). I think I have been looking for this website my entire life. These ‘visualizations’ are the work of David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer.

‘Moutains out of Molehills’ – If you click on the image you can see the graph detail and information about it.


On the website there is a link to the Guardian data blog which is quite interesting too.

It also made me think of Ellie Harrison who is an artist who was an avid collector of data. Now Ellie describes herself as a ‘Recovering data collector’ after documenting and recording information about her day-to-day for 5 years. I think it is incredible that it lasted so long as it must take some much out of you, you’d need to have a blooming good memory and dedication to the cause.

In my work I quite often create an action or situation for myself that is time consuming, laborious and draining. It definitely can feel like a labour of love. I watched paint dry (white paint no less, on a white wall) for what felt like a life time, I think it was in actual fact a few hours but I believe that to be one of the most difficult tasks given to myself. The most difficult one, which makes me appreciate the challenge of collecting all the data in Ellie Harrison’s work is when I wrote down everything I spent for 2 months.  I wanted to do it for whole year, but it drove me doolally.

Brixton pounds

My lovely friends came to visit this weekend and it was wonderful to see them! Four of them live in Brixton, London and told me about the Brixton Pound. I was amazed! They are actually making money to keep it circulated in the local area. I find it hard enough to visualise the monetary system as it is, but when you add Brixton making it’s own currency, it blows my head off. There is quite a mixed opinion about it according to the BBC Website article. I’m totally unsure what I think as yet. I’ve got a bit of digesting to do. One thing is for sure, I really like the design. This is the official Brixton Pound website which tells you more about the reasoning behind it.

10 Brixon pounds

1 Brixton pound

Real inspiration

I have just had such a wonderful evening with my two friends, Tom and Lyz drinking tea brewed in a teapot and eating carrot cake. Blooming marvellous!


For a long time now, Toms Dad has been a source of inspiration to me because of the stories I have been told about his meticulous categorisation and data collecting of every day life happenings. He has been collecting every train ticket he has ever used dated back to the 80’s, he has a spreadsheet where he logs every car he has ever driven and he has a beer bottle collection. The latest one is my favourite by far and made we far too excited! Toms Dad has kept a list (again on a spreadsheet – brilliant!) of all the money he has found in the last 3 years. As someone who takes great delight in picking up a penny and believing in its luck value, I think you can understand how this has made my day.

Lyz also has a relative who enjoys the act of list making. Her Uncle has a suit where he keeps in its pocket a list of all the occasions that he has worn it. I think that is such a lovely idea and keepsake. Imagine going to a charity shop and buying an item of clothing, only to find a little glimpse into its history in the pocket.

The only time I have successfully collected data is when I wrote down absolutely everything I spent for a couple of months at University. I had to stop as I started to bring every conversation back to how much things cost and it wasn’t a popular subject. Also, try going for a drink with your friends and getting out a notebook after every transaction; you’ll soon realise, I was far from the ideal date.