Marina Abramovic @ The Serpentine Gallery

June 17, 2014


I am very sceptical of anything classed as modern art. White blank canvases, videos of people chopping off their genitals, installation pieces... call me uncultured, but I just don't get it. The Tate Modern is one of my least favourite places in the world - give me a Degas or a Monet any day. 

So naturally, when Katherine suggested going to Marina Abramovic's exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, I knew absolutely nothing about it. To avoid looking completely unintelligent, I had a quick google - her Wikipedia page says this: "Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind." Sounds like modern art nonsense to me. However, the exhibition is free and I love any excuse for a trip to Hyde Park, so I decided to give it a go. 

Further research found that the 67 year old Serbian artist's previous work included recording her stabbing herself with a knife, rewatching it and trying to do it again; inhaling smoke so she lost consciousness; and encouraging the audience to do whatever they wished to her with a variety of weapons that she had laid out for them. Luckily, the new exhibition, 512 Hours, was a little more tame. 

There is very little information given to you before you go in, which is precisely how Abramovic designed it, and having heard stories of people being reduced to tears, or even fainting in the queue in anticipation, we were a little nervous as to what the exhibition would entail. After a half an hour queue (probably best to go on a weekday) we were ushered through to the locker room, where we were required to leave all coats, bags, electrical items and watches. From there, we were free to wander in. 

Essentially, its a big, white, silent room. That's all. The audience are really the exhibition, and at first glance there are people everywhere who all seem to be taking part. Some are walking backwards holding mirrors, some are staring in silence at a blank wall and some are, oddly, sat in chairs and swathed in a variety of multi coloured blankets. All very bizarre.

After about 3 minutes of looking very confused, bemused and, in my case, sceptical, a woman in black approached me and handed me a mirror, whispering the words: "Reality is an illusion", and told me to walk backwards and hold it. I felt like I had very little choice but to do just that, and, feeling like a bit of an idiot, I did. 

Marina herself wanders round, like a sort of ethereal old relative that you've always been a little scared of, quietly telling people what to do. She gently takes the hands of some, pulling them into a side room and demonstrating that they must walk very slowly. Soon, the entire room is full of couples holding hands and walking at a snails pace, in silence. 
Others (including me, once I had got bored of walking backwards - which was surprisingly quickly after a few near misses with people out of my line of vision) are taking to a room full of chairs, where they are guided to sit down, wrapped in a blanket and given what I can only describe as a mildly comforting shoulder massage. 

I'm still not entirely sure what the point of it was. When we left, after about 45 minutes, I had an intense headache, my contact lenses had dried up from all the staring and I had nearly fallen asleep about three times. However, although surreal, it was oddly calming. After the initial awkwardness at the strangeness of the situation had passed, there is something very peaceful about being a room full of strangers, and all being part of the performance. Would I pay for it? Probably not. Would I want to go again? I doubt it; however, if you're stuck for something cheap and cultural to do in London, go for it. It is quite the experience. 

The exhibition runs Tuesday - Sunday until the 25th August. 
Full link here: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/marina-abramovic-512-hours



Dear Daddy...

June 15, 2014



I have to confess that today, I've not been a great daughter. Father's Day seems to have got lost somewhere between juggling three jobs, packing up my room and moving home and binge watching the second season of Orange is the New Black. I haven't managed to pick up a card (and even if I had, I couldn't afford to post it) and I haven't managed to make it home to cook him dinner - sorry about that, Dad. 


However, today doesn't deserve to go unnoticed - what would I do without the man who managed to infuriate me by waking me up for school with two sharp knocks on my bedroom door and the words "time to make a move-y" every morning without fail? Or ask me every night after dinner if I want a drink, only to tell me to make it myself? 


From building sandcastles on Bournemouth beach as a child, learning to ride a bike (which took two consecutive years, after I gave up the first time) and later, learning to drive, I can firmly say that Dad has taught me most of what I know. How to roll up a sleeping bag and fit it in the tiny bag it comes with? No problem. Putting up a tent? Easy. Make the perfect scrambled eggs? Check. 


Patient, easy-going and calm are three things you probably had to be to raise me, and Dad's got them down to the ground. The time I parked my little Polly the Polo so badly on a step that its chassis got wedged onto the concrete and its back wheels were hanging in the air was resolved easily, with only a slightly exasperated look over at me afterwards, shaking and convinced I'd broken my car. 
Similarly, there can't be many fathers who would pick their very drunk 16 year old daughters up at 1am from a house party, have them throw up all down the side of the car on the motorway, and move on without a word of admonition. I can only assume he felt the hangover was punishment enough - he was right. I haven't drunk two bottles of wine in a row through a straw since. I'm not sure I ever really thanked him for that - so, thanks Dad. And thanks for your patience when teaching me to drive (and footing the bill when I failed the first two tests), teaching me the difference between a good wine and a bad one and indulging in my various failed attempts at having a hobby (remember the clarinet? And the bass guitar? Or that time I took up fencing?) 


But mostly, for your words of encouragement. This first year at uni hasn't been as easy as I hoped - as it turns out, I should have listened to you when you told me not to do Law in the first place. (Why is it you always know best?) 
Talking it through with you has always put it back in perspective when I felt like giving up - and when that didn't work, taking me for expensive wine and a Brick Lane curry on your occasional trips to London usually did the trick! 


So, as irritating as I find you jogging my chair when I'm leaning back, using "that's bright" as a compliment for every new piece of clothing I buy, or telling my that my hair looks exactly the same after spending four hours in the hairdressers, fanks Dad.



Happy Father's Day - see you later, Alligator. 







Summer Ball

June 08, 2014

So now that summer has really started, I've had very little to do besides earn some money at work, and spend that money as fast as I'm making it on eating and drinking out. It's something that can't really be avoided when living in London, and I am quickly realising that I need to retreat home to the depths of the Suffolk countryside if I'm serious about saving any money for this summer! 

Anyway, distraction was therefore very welcome in the form of Katherine's summer ball at uni, which I was invited to crash after moaning that I wasn't going to get to go to anything like that this year. I'm a huge fan of anything involving dressing up, champagne and Pimm's (who isn't?) so I've been really looking forward to it. The only thing I was slightly dubious about was staying up until it finished at 6am - stamina on a night out has never been my strong point and after drinking a lot of alcohol bed is pretty much my favourite place in the world. Still, I realise that I am in fact 19 and not 90 so I was up for giving it a good shot... 

Any thoughts of pacing myself were quickly banished when a whole bottle of Pimms was emptied into a jug, topped up with lemonade and some fruit and quickly poured out. After a couple of these as pre-pre drinks with just the girls were ready to move onto the fizzy stuff...








I hunted around for weeks for a dress and ended up just panic buying a small army of them on Asos in the hopes that I liked at least one of them. I really wanted long, but this ended up being my favourite, and at £35 an absolute bargain! After throwing a couple of drinks down myself I was increasingly thankful for the fast drying scuba material...

Mine: Lilac Scuba Dress - £35 - Oh My Love / Shoes - £89 - Carvela by KG / Necklace - £29 - Accessorize /
Clutch - £26 - Warehouse
Katherine's: Dress - £49 - Zara / Clutch - £30 - River Island / Shoes - £44 - Aldo


After moving onto the actual ball at around 9, we headed straight for a top-up of Pimm's before the arrival of Rizzlekicks on the main stage. Secretly I am actually quite the fan of Rizzlekicks so I was a little excitable! We completely missed Annie Mac's DJ set as, embarrassingly, I think we spend 45 minutes queuing for food instead... 



 At about 3am we thought it necessary to go home and carb up for the rest of the night where, after a little altercation with a lost key, I made a questionable decision to undertake a little light exercise and squeeze myself in horizontally through a top window that was left open. We then went to rescue the others, who were also flagging, before sneaking back in, sort of refreshed, at around 4.30am.

It's hard to feel tired when the sun starts rising and 'Car Wash' (who I'm informed are a Summer Ball favourite) are on the stage singing covers of all my favourite 80s hits, so the last couple of hours until 6am were surprisingly easy to power through.

After the Survivor's photo we hobbled home as it started to rain, with sore feet, stained dresses and a feeling that I was very much going to regret impulse buying that last double V&C at 5am. 


 

I wasn't wrong. I woke up at midday on Saturday with a hangover that even copious amounts of tea and emergency Dominoes couldn't get rid of. Still, as the day wore on and photos were shared and - in the case of many ones of me - laughed at, I began to feel human enough to appreciate the night's antics. The weather was perfect, the girls were all great and to be honest, I'm a little sad that Katherine's graduating and I won't get a pity invite again next year... 

Lazy Suffolk Sunday

June 01, 2014

Ever since I was 14 and I stayed in London for the weekend with one of my friends from boarding school, I've wanted to move there. I begged and pleaded with my parents to sell our house here and buy something in the city, and became increasingly angry with the lack of signal, poor transport links and lack of shops for a shopaholic in Suffolk - "this wouldn't happen in London" became my parents most hated catchphrase. Somewhat ironically, after a year of living the dream in the big smoke, I absolutely love coming back to sunny Suffolk and relish the weekends I get to spend at home with the family. 

This weekend was no different - after battling my way through the crowds of Saturday shoppers and the rail replacement services (two things living in London makes you despise with a passion), I bagged myself a seat on the crowded train home and settled down to watch Gossip Girl for the hour and a half journey. 

After a delicious home made dinner I headed straight to bed, looking forward to spending Sunday doing what I do best - absolutely nothing. 

Anyway, the point of this post was to share a few of my favourite recipes I make when I'm at home with a full fridge - a rarity at uni! Brunch might possibly be my favourite meal ever, and coupled with the prospect of fresh coffee and the Sunday papers on the sofa I was a pretty happy bunny. 
When I'm on a health kick, I tend to search for recipes that I will actually look forward to when getting in from the gym. I came across this on Pinterest, the best place to look for recipes like this, and it makes an incredible healthy breakfast to start the day.

Banana pancakes with fresh fruit and fat free yoghurt

Makes enough for one 

- 2 eggs
- 1 large banana
- Dash of cinnamon
- Teaspoon of baking powder

Quite simply - put it all together and whizz it up into a smooth paste. The more it's whizzed, the flatter and less puffy the pancake will be. 


Turn up the heat to the highest level for a minute, then turn it down to half way. Put some olive oil in a non-stick saucepan and add a little of the mix. 


It takes a while to cook and it's tempting to turn up the heat - don't - it will burn. Flip it when you can move it easily and cook the other side - and its done! 



Top with fresh fruit, fat free yogurt, a drizzle of honey and a good magazine. Or crispy bacon and maple syrup, depending on how naughty you're feeling...


 Missing the vital ingredients to cook at uni, I've been building up a board of recipes that I want to try out on Pinterest and just haven't got round to doing yet when I'm home. Having a rare entirely free day I decided to give this one a go...

Banana and avocado bread

Firstly, I'm a big fan of avocado. In salad, in sandwiches, on its own or on toast with marmite for breakfast (just trust me on this one - you won't regret it) - I can't get enough of it. So when I saw the two forlorn, dying bananas in the fruit bowl this morning I decided to give it a go. I'm going to be honest - whilst I can cook pretty good savoury dishes with no problem, baking has always been a bit of an issue for me. I get it from my mum - after several years of flat, soggy birthday cakes we've pretty much given up hope of either of us ever being able to make a decent cake. Betty Crocker to the rescue. This, however, is 'bread', so I convinced myself it was savoury enough to attempt...

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 large avocado
- 2 sad bananas
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups plain flour
- Grated chocolate (to taste)



 - Preheat oven to 190°. Grease loaf tin with butter. 
- Place avocado in a food processor and until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add butter and sugar to the bowl and mix with a hand mixer until well blended.
- Place the bananas, eggs, milk and baking soda to the food processor. Pulse until liquefied. 



 - Pour half of the banana mixture into the butter mixture with 1 cup of flour and mix until just combined. Repeat with the rest of the liquid and flour. Do not over mix!
- Pour into prepared pan. Top with grated chocolate (I used Cadbury's marvellous creations banana and biscuit which went well) and bake about 35 minutes, until it’s browned on the top and a knife comes out only with slight crumbs (or clean). Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.




And it turned out better than expected! After Mum turning her nose up at the avocado and banana mix, even she was pleasantly surprised. A vaguely healthy sweet snack. 

Today continued in a similarly lazy vein, and after an evening run in the sun we felt it was time to crack open the fizzy stuff...


Relaxed, content and very full, I thought I'd finish the day by browsing Asos with the tempting offer of 20% of everything. A couple more glasses and that won't be something I am able to resist...