This week seems to have flown by.
Monday and Tuesday were spent sourcing materials for and making Christmas presents and whilst painting on Tuesday, I listened to A LOT of science fiction drama on the radio. Most of the day, in fact. Radio 4 Extra has a great selection of readings and plays and it’s fast becoming a favourite.
I listened to parts of H P Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness. His use of language is majestic and the scientific and fantastical detail he goes into is totally captivating. I also got lost in Ray Bradbury’s topsy turvy world. I’m new to his work and what I love most about it is that it places ordinary human beings, who basically just want to live their ‘normal’ lives, in exceptional circumstances because of some quirk of science or because technology has perhaps advanced a little quicker than human understanding or morality (I know there are many theories about that concept and hundreds of books and articles to get stuck into).
One story I listened to involved young couple who find themselves parenting a baby who is not human but instead a small blue pyramid. This is due to a glitch in a futuristic birthing technique that accidentally accesses another dimension while the baby is being brought into the world. So they face a dilemma: do they keep their first ‘child’ as he is and try and give him a normal upbringing, knowing the torment and ostracisation he will inevitably face? Do they allow a well-meaning doctor to experiment on him to try and make him human again? Or do they enter that other dimension themselves, thereby cutting all links with this world, for the love of their child?
Another tale involved a family moving to Mars during the second world war, and, once there, learning that there will be no rockets sent to collect them and take them back to Earth, as they had been assured. At first, the father rallies against integration and tries to build his own rocket to take his family back home. But over time, they are lulled into apathy by the neverending sunshine on Mars; their eyes lose their ‘Earth colours’ and become golden; they begin to speak in a new language that they don’t remember being taught. The story raises interesting questions about the idea of ‘us’ and ‘them’; about the effects our environment has on us; and questions what it really means to come from a place – whether we are products of our heritage or our environment, and asks us to think about how we can tell the difference.
Here’s what else I’ve been enjoying this week.
TO LISTEN TO
My very talented friend Karlos Bray is a multi-instrumentalist and recorded this cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You with his friend Phoebe Votolato on vocals. I drew the cover art for the EP.
Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator and designer from Brooklyn who makes beautiful things to look at and is an awesome blogger. So much of what Jessica has written on the subject of creative freelancing has had a direct impact on me and made me think more about my approach. This excellent flowchart is a must for all those thinking of giving away their work for free. You’ll have to follow the link to find out what she thinks about that.
You can’t have missed the big news at CERN this week, about their search for the Higgs boson particle, the finding of which would offer an explanation as to how elementary particles get their mass. There’s a really interesting article about it here from The Guardian‘s website.
More sciencey things from the Hubble site – an incredible image of the birth of a star with the mass 15 times that of our Sun. I get kind of excited to hear words like octillion bandied about, usually by brilliantly smart people like Bad Astronomer. There’s so much to learn, and this kind of thing blows my mind in a thousand different ways. I feel such wonder and awe at things like this that I feel my brain go and bit fuzzy and I feel suspended in space and time. Which I AM, more or less, so that works out nicely.
TO LOOK AT
I’ve just encountered the aesthetic of Nancy Straughan and am now totally hooked. Her style is so simple and elegant. If only it were possible to make a home in someone’s online shop.
I’m also massively cooing about the work of Kate McClelland at the moment too. There’s something stark and direct about her work, whilst maintaining a gentleness throughout. I like it a lot.
Brighton-based Hello Dodo describe themselves as ‘Playful Printmakers’ – you only have to be on their website for about half a second to see exactly what they mean. Humour, cheerfulness and clean design abound in their work. And I’m always happy to namecheck my fellow Brightonians.
Happy last-minute Christmas shopping, lovelies!