Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Enfant terrible

Ever since Dulcie informed me that Martin Amis was a professor at the Centre for Creative Writing in Manchester University (my home from home in term time) I've had a bit of a fascination for Martin Amis, regarded by many as one of our generation's more controversial writers. Recently, with the publication of his latest novel The Pregnant Widow, he's been cropping up in the press fairly frequently (one week last month he had a double page spread in the Evening Standard pretty much daily), and is never one to shy away from controversy, with accusations of misogyny and more recently Islamophobia never far away. His remarks about Katie Price are well documented and heavily vilified, yet he claims to be much more of a feminist than his critics make out (and to be honest, can we really point to Jordan and her self commodification as an example of the successes of feminism?), with The Pregnant Widow addressing the sexual revolution of the late sixties and early seventies, with Amis keen to point out its often overlooked pressure on women, something he claims his late sister was a victim of. After reading so much about him, his life and his novels, I've decided to see what all the fuss is about and actually read one of his novels, one which many cite as his masterpiece, London Fields. All I can say is so far so good for the so-called enfant terrible of English Literature.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Picture postcards

A few photos from our holiday in Paris last summer..

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Modernism had its moments

Although here in England its reputation is often marred by and associated with that most detested form of architecture, the brutalist tower block, modernism really did come up with some stunning architecture during the course of the last century. Recently Tom Ford's A Single Man reminded us that modernism could be sleek, stylish and sexy, when he chose to use this house as the setting for much of the film.

The Schaffer house, designed by John Lautner for the mother of an employee, is situated in Glendale California, and like much modernist architecture uses glass as a prominent feature to create a spacious and light filled living space. Lautner studied under Frank Lloyd-Wright and was one of the leading modernist architects, designing other such icons of the West Coast as The Chemospere House in the Hollywood Hills:

and the Elrod Residence in Palm Springs, which apparently makes an appearance in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever:

California, and in particular Los Angeles, is home to much celebrated modernist architecture, helped in a large part to become iconic by the photographer Julius Shulman, who devoted a career to photographing such modernist landmarks as Pierre Koenig's Case Study House No. 22 in Los Angeles:

As you can see the ethos of the designs was to be bold and daring, following the modernist intent to create something that completely shunned the past and tradition in favour of brash, uncompromising design. Many of the views afforded by these designs were rather incredible, where you would often be overlooking stunning vistas of the urban sprawl that is LA.

This is a house by Frank Neutra, again photographed by Shulman. Neutra was another of the leading figures of the Californian modernist movement. Like Lautner he worked for Frank Lloyd-Wright, and went on to design over three hundred houses in California, including this one, made famous in the film LA Confidential.

I'm always going to dream of the perfect Georgian townhouse or a seventeenth century country farmhouse, but as far as escapism goes these modernist utopias will always have a lasting legacy, there's just something quite special about their angular lines and minimalist chic, even if the reality of living in a glass box would be a little impractical...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I made a rather brash purchase today and bought myself a Nikon point and shoot camera. Although I am utterly devoted to film I just decided I wanted to be able to take snaps of what I've been getting up to and upload them the same day, rather than have to wait and pay loads of money for photographs that really didn't deserve one of the thirty-six precious frames a roll of film contains. This move was also largely motivated by my other blog/online diary that I started at the beginning of this year, in which I plan to catalogue my twenty-first year in photos. I've been uploading the odd photo every now and then but my new camera will actually allow me to post regular photos of the exciting things I get up to, such as Dulcie eating cauliflower cheese. If you want to follow it you can, it's here.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Thursday, 18 March 2010

At long last

I'm off to Manchester today!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The sun is out

And I'm all done! After our fairly successful exhibition last week I finally handed in all my supporting material yesterday and it is being assessed as we speak. My final film was about 26 minutes long, played on a television screen on a loop, as the picture above rather badly demonstrates. I was pretty pleased with the results and seemed to get some positive comments about it, and had a rather bemusing conversation with a tutor about the implications of appropriating David Lynch. Right now I'm relaxing in the knowledge that every minute I sit at my laptop is now guilt free, rather than spent feeling I should really be doing something more productive. I just can't wait to get to Manchester now for the much hyped basement party part 2!

Friday, 12 March 2010