How Female Artists and Writers Have Their Ideas

Just a little article I did for the site mookychick. I have a look at the various ways famous female artistic types got inspired. Off you pop!

Fungi, drugs and bugs – The surreal and disturbing side of nature

It occured to me the other day how nature remains beautiful even when it’s being downright disgusting or bizarre, and I would like to honour that achievement.

So, today we shall look at the inspiration behind many people’s art: the Weirdness of Nature.

First let’s ease you in gently with some cute kitties on catnip, taken from BBC series Weird Nature:

Second is a series I find quite amusing (and very odd), Sacred Weeds. Shown back in the 90s, two test subjects take a natural hallucinogen (different in each episode) while men in suits ask questions and stare:

This is a rather sweet, inoffensive clip of mushrooms growing from the series Planet Earth (with some music added). I defy anyone not to chuckle at the willy shaped ones:

Back in March New South Wales, Australia was blighted by floods. The locals were evacuated and, desperate to escape the water, these spiders moved “onto higher ground” leaving an entire ghost town engulfed by webs. Story (and creepy pictures) here.

Next up I saw a lot of fairly grim things during the BBC series Life in the Undergrowth (creepy crawlies), but for some reason this made me go all funny:

And these leaopard slugs are beautiful (in a slightly grim, surreal way):

Anything deep sea is like visiting a hostile alien planet (just watch the BBC’s The Blue Planet). In the meantime here’s a little vid with some music:

I’d have loved to find a clip of vampire bats, particularly from the documentary that shows one creeping up on a pig. Unfortunately there isn’t one on youtube that doesn’t have a hokey American voiceover and I just can’t bring myself to do it. So you have to imagine it instead, which is probably good for you.

Penultimately have a look at series The Future Is Wild, where scientists hypothesise in a Walking With Dinosaurs kind of way on the direction the animal kingdom might go millions of years after we’ve disappeared.

Lastly is the one I find most amazing. It has all the elements: it’s beautiful, it’s disturbing, it’s insidious, it’s science fiction in the natural world; the cordyceps fungus, as shown on Planet Earth:

Bizarre fashion predictions from the distant past (some intentional, some not)

Well hello! Icicles hang from the trees outside (unless you’re in Australia, in which case I still can’t get my head round your weather, now sort it out). With the festive party season drawing near I’m sure everyone is wondering what to wear, and as I may have mentioned I love unusual and alternative fashion.

Why not take the old advice and learn from history? They appear to have had a spooky pre-knowledge for what the catwalks of today hold.

Before Lady Gaga was even a concept of a twinkle in the eye, this bacon sporting Bacongentleman from 1894 and hardware displaying banner-girllady from the 1890s were strutting the streets. Of course, the man is taking part in a fancy dress party and the lady is a ‘banner woman’ for a hardware shop, but this diminishes nothing.

This 1917 May Queen must have seen My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in her sleep: May

Next up Big Brother was watching the Georgians long before Orwell or (sigh) that TV programme that will not end.

Apparently owning a small framed picture of someone’s eye on your person was quite in vogue, though they had very different meanings in France and England.

To the French it symbolised watchfulness, whereas to the English it was usually a token of love: georgian-eye-jewellery

OK enough fannying about (it’s an English expression in case you’re unfamiliar), now for the serious stuff.

These billiant predictions appeared in The Strand magazine (very prestigious London publication) in 1893.

They’re all fascinating and the designers have used the past as inspiration. I fashion-predictionsrecommend you have a jaunt on over to the original post of this even if you don’t the others, but I think this one obscurely deciding that society will form a medieval circus is my favourite:

Finally I absolutely love this news item from the 1930s. Designers collaborated to predict what we would be wearing in 2000. Ooh, swish!

Junky fights, escort ads and a suicidal Barbie

Yesterday I went for a wander through Shoreditch in London, where the hipster artists go to pose. It ended up being quite unexpectedly productive and gave me a story idea. I also noticed this artist selling her wares (the art, not herself) at the market.

I’ve also decided that once I actually know some things about photography and have a half decent camera I’ll wander around London and take pictures of the interesting folks; I like unusual types as mentioned in my post about ‘freaky fashion’.

I came across the amusing scenes in the photos below and overheard an argument between two junkies on the bus back, which was a bonanza. How did I know they were junkies? If you ever hear them talk, you know they’re on heroin.

Everyone else on the bus gave each other looks as if to say, ‘well, how awful!’ but I got out my pen and paper and wrote it all down.

I will call her Trixie, and him Jeff. Imagine their voices in an estuarine, drug-induced whine. This is roughly how it went:

Trixie: Well, who is that person’s number then?

Jeff: Text it then and say, who is this, its Trixie?

Trixie: You just want me to say who I am so she knows its me and not you

Jeff: No, just text it then, go on or give it here

Trixie: Alright! I am, I’ve done it.

Jeff: Well what did they say then?

Trixie: It says, ‘don’t know who this is, your girl borrowed my phone’

Jeff: Oh yeah, what have you been up to then you sh***y horrible c**t?

Trixie: You’re the one who’s been doin’ something you c**t

Jeff: You horrible c**t, what have you done?

Trixie: Oh yeah, you gonna split my face open when we get home?

Jeff: I ain’t never hit you

Trixie: You did…(inaudible)

Jeff: Well, you can either forgive me or you can’t. You need to get over it

Trixie: It makes me feel sick whenever I think about it. I ain’t giving you money for your next comedown

Jeff: Oh yeah, you was the one saying on the phone that time, ‘Can’t talk, Jeff’s here.’

And so it went on, until she declared she was going to her mother’s and they both got off the bus. I hope you like the snapshots I got on my phone of a couple of entertaining sights in Shoreditch:

Notice the Barbie about to jump

A never ending story. With zombies (or how to tie-dye).

Ever since I can remember I’ve run narratives through my head, no matter what I was doing: “she picked up the leaf and held it against the blue sky. The sun sparked off the corners, blinding her.” No moment of childhood was left without some profound and hidden meaning or turning point in my character’s (me) life.

Perhaps it’s natural what with the constant growing and learning about yourself and the world at that age, but I also wonder if the ever typing words in my head were common. Did it only happen with people who wanted to be writers, or did all children do this?

My new night-dress

Even now I do it to some extent. Aside from thinking up characters and phrases that would be good in a story, I like to make the world a bit more interesting in my mind and I’m pretty sure everybody else does too. Maybe some people just wouldn’t admit to it, but I think they should.

The things I imagine are probably not the same things as other people, but everybody has their own narrative. I recently tie-dyed a couple of night-dresses (find out how below) that I think makes me look like a Victorian ghost.

When a friend drives me home late at night and no-one is around, it makes me think of towns after a zombie apocolypse. When I’m dropped at my door I feel a tiny thrill of terror and excitement as if the undead have spotted me and are coming my way. This makes me feel extra cosy and safe when I get indoors, and I can enjoy my cup of tea whilst knowing zombies don’t know how to pick locks.

How to tie dye:

1. Find something white/pale which is made of natural fibres like cotton.

2. Fill a bowl with warm water and cold water dye.

3. Twist the fabric around until it looks like a worm.

4. Twist elastic bands around it

5. Leave in the water overnight

6. Hang out to dry the next day (be careful of getting the dye anywhere, dispose of water and hang outside).