Banksy in Amsterdam

The Moco Museum is located within the biggest cultural hub in Amsterdam, the Museumplein, neighbouring the acclaimed Stedelijk, Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum. Everyone’s heard that these are the places to visit on a trip to Amsterdam, yet after my visit to the Moco Museum of modern contemporary art, I would state that this is the museum not to be missed.

The permanent collection features the artists the curator names the Moco Masters, and it celebrates icons such as Warhol, Haring, Koons and many more. The current exhibition ‘Laugh Now’ features a collection of some of Banksy’s most iconic works, including Girl with Balloon, Flower Thrower, and Laugh Now, to name a few.

Banksy has completed more traditional works of art for hanging inside on a wall, and this exhibition allows the viewer to see this. However, the exhibition could be considered contradictory in its nature. Banksy’s fame arose from his powerful and political graffiti in the streets. Does putting his art into a museum change the impact of the original street art?

The exhibition is not authorised by Banksy, nor was it curated in collaboration with the artist. This made me question the validity of the exhibition, is it right to do so? Does it make sense for Banksy to be in a museum?

Some of the works appear to have been physically cut from a wall. Whereas others have been removed from the wooden doors on which they have been taken from to put into the gallery. Is it fair to remove the art from the original location chosen by the artist?

Many of Banksy’s works still emit the same original political message. However, when the art is put into the gallery and the context is changed, the effect is weakened. Banksy’s political and satirical street art combines graffiti with dark humour, and ultimately it is meant to be a subversive surprise. As you walk down the street you might not take it in immediately, but once you do, the impact is felt, arising emotions varying from shock to hope. It makes you think. It is art available to all; it costs nothing to view it.

Banksy’s post after his ‘Devolved Parliament’ was sold at Sotheby’s for a record-breaking price of £9,879,500 on 03.10.19

Despite this, the exhibition at the Moco Museum is compelling and it absorbs you into the environment, making you think of the different interpretations as Banksy pushes the viewer to question society. It highlights Banksy’s political activism, and allows a more in depth look at Banksy’s less exposed indoor pieces. The exhibition has now been extended until the 6th of January 2020; get yourself there if you can.

The Power of Journaling

People keep a journal for many different reasons. For me, journaling is my own personal space to express myself. When I was younger, I found it pretty tricky to articulate my feelings well. Pairing this with a buzzing brain full of teenage angst meant switching off at night a challenge. I remember googling ‘ways to get to sleep quicker’ and writing down how you’re feeling popped up, so I gave it a go.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I turn my light off and decide to go to sleep, my brain still decides to go PING and I overthink, plan, or come up with imaginary scenarios. I just can’t switch my brain off very easily. So before bed I began writing how I was feeling to clear my head before going to sleep. Obviously it is no miracle worker; I’m not about to claim it’s the cure for insomnia. But for me, writing down my negative thoughts on paper makes them real, and it’s the start of you facing the problems head on. The words going down were just for me, so I had no reason to hold back. I wrote with no filter, and I found that it was very beneficial in an attempt to clear my mind.

Journaling helped me to understand my own emotions better. I could process why I was feeling the way I did after writing it down. Looking back on them helped me to rationalise why I was like that. I mean, of course sometimes I have completely irrational thoughts – but scribbling it down at the time helps me to get it out.

Journaling can be a practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness is having an awareness of ourselves and the world around us. Questioning the necessity of this comes to mind, yet it is important to have as we so often lose touch from the matter in hand and our brains can easily spiral out of control. Mindfulness is an innate quality in all humans, so you don’t have to magically conjure it up. Being more mindful reduces stress and anxiety, and as well an increasing awareness of your own mind, it also helps us to notice the well-being of those around us.

How can you be mindful?

It can be obtained through creating short pauses into your everyday life. Meditation may work for some people, but I need an activity – and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as long cycles, drawing, writing and baking, is what I love to do.

How can journaling positively impact your well-being?

When you write in an unedited outpouring, the power can be immense. Sometimes we don’t need a solution or an opinion off a friend or therapist; we just need to get it out and have it accept what we have to say. Writing it down is in a way releasing all the jumbled feelings held up in our brains (think back to Dumbledore). Afterwards my mind feels calmer and more roomy – you create space for more positive feelings to grow, and stay. Try not to write in in the mindset of ‘fixing’ yourself. Simply express yourself naturally; the results will follow.

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”

Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Writing is definitely my most direct activity of practicing mindfulness. When you spend time expressing yourself on paper, it makes you more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In turn, you understand and accept them, and this leads to you taking action because of them. For a while, my journal was my go to when I needed a rant, or needed to figure something out. But I didn’t want it to be just a book of angst!! I was realising how much I liked having this personal space just for me, as it is so easy to get lost in technology these days.

Throughout the ages of 18 – 20 I kept a journal, filling it with doodles, poems and my scrawl of emotions. I took a diary away with me when I went travelling to Indonesia in 2017, and I wrote in it every single day, filling it with tickets, receipts and random bits and bobs. I love reading it back. It is filled with amazing memories and very extreme emotions – it’s both hilarious and nostalgic to read back on.

I don’t keep a diary as such currently, but instead I have a journal titled ‘One Line A Day’ – pretty self explanatory stuff. I’ve been keeping it for the whole of this year and the idea is to get 5 years worth all compacted in a lil book. You can get them off Amazon and places like Urban Outfitters. It inspires thoughtful daily reflections and it’s already a keepsake record – it’s pretty cool to see the changes over the months. Imagine when I’m into my fifth year of writing it!

If you want to start a form of journaling and can’t see yourself scribbling out pages of feelings, it’s a great way to get going – it takes no time at all.

Ridding the Scariness Surrounding Job Prospects

Career ideas and life after university is something that is daunting, and it has loomed over my head for many years. I have never been a person to know what job I aspire to have, but through taking the plunge into being more proactive my mind is now racing with ideas and exciting opportunities. This is largely due to where I went yesterday, where I walked out of the building buzzing, filled to the brim with positivity, and a drive to find out more. Yesterday I got up at what felt like the crack of dawn, to venture to London for an event run alongside the School of Marketing at the Saatchi & Saatchi head office. It’s purpose was to inspire young adults into a career in marketing, and a line-up of really exciting speakers and networking opportunities were promised. It did not disappoint!

The deluxe head office of Saatchi & Saatchi oozes class with it’s modern decorum and swanky interior design. When I arrived, I was directed upstairs to a room buzzing with voices where the event was taking place. I ended up chatting to a girl who actually went to my sixth-form college, and a guy who was also from just outside of Cambridge. What a small world! Our first speaker was Richard Huntington, the Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer for the marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi. The passion he has for his job was immediately apparent. His energy filled the room and he had the whole audience engaged. The first take-away point from him was that marketing is ever-evolving, and you cannot act upon orthodoxy. He quoted the great George Orwell through stating that “orthodoxy is not thinking”, and that the best marketing is the pairing of the impossible with the relevant. I learnt how powerful marketing really can be, through his discussion of what Saatchi & Saatchi is really about. The company uses marketing to solve commercial and social problems, through changing people’s behaviour. I also took from him that the underlining factor of the agency is their belief in the unreasonable power of creativity, and it is this that initially drew me in to finding out more about a career in marketing. Richard Huntington reiterated how it is the magic of creativity that runs throughout the agency. I couldn’t possibly write about all of the striking points he discussed, but something that stuck with me was how he elaborated on how marketing was the merging of science and art. In marketing, it’s ideal to be a mix of left-brain and right-brain. Obviously both sides of your brain are actively participating in whatever you’re doing, and no one is truly left-brained or right-brained. But in regard to having a dominant side, mine is largely the right. I have a big imagination, I’m creative and artistic. Yet my left side is also very prevalent. I remember a teacher at school describing me as being too analytical and methodical. I also love organising and weirdly love planning. The other speakers also touched upon this, and it made me feel excited and assured that researching further into what it would be like to work in marketing was the right thing to do. I felt excited about a career instead of scared!

Every speaker had me listening to every word. In lectures at university I can drift off without even realising, but each one had me eagerly listening to everything they had to say throughout the whole morning. Jordan Harry’s talk on memory really stuck with me (which shows he knows what he’s talking about). He discussed the different strategies of long-term memory. An example of this is is how at the start of his talk he got everyone in the audience to shut their eyes, and if he tapped you on the shoulder you have to pitch a business idea to him and the entirety of the room. So there I was, sat second row to the front with a bright pink jumper on, thinking shit he’s going to pick me. Obviously he didn’t actually choose anyone, but through initiating that sense of panic thinking of an idea, I remember his talk pretty damn well. Marketing is a memory game, and so learning about how memory works is very important in the field. However, he also said some significant things on life in general:

  • “You will never be ready” – so if you’re waiting for the ‘right’ moment to set up your website, write a song, or apply for work experience, whatever it is, just do it!
  • Set up a LinkedIn account.
  • If you don’t ask you don’t get, the worst they can say is no. People will nearly always want you if you offer to work for free, so go and get valuable experience.
  • There is no timeline for where you should be in your life.

How to begin the search of finding a happy career…

I was now very excited about the idea of marketing, and it was the final speaker Helen Tupper who really inspired me into wanting to take charge of my career! She spoke with such clarity and presented how to go about making things happen in such a way that it gave us all the belief that we could do it. She opened with the important statement that careers aren’t linear anymore; a career is no longer like a staircase as such. It is squiggly (she has a podcast called ‘Squiggly Careers’ that I am defo going to check out, you should too). She went through the 5 things that we should invest time in:

  1. Values – This is what makes you, you. What are your motives and drives? You should make your career path decisions based on your values. Find out for yourself what these are and what is important to you.
  2. Strengths – Can you list off what you’re good at? We all sadly know our downfalls too well, and talking about what you excel in can be difficult. She suggested the site to help (the results are not everything obvs) work out what your strengths are. Once you have worked out what they are, use these to start connecting these with what you want to do. Find out what aligns. As well as finding out yourself, ask others what your strengths are to work out what others think your impacts are. Start getting confident talking about what you’re good at.
  3. Confidence – This is having the authentic belief in yourself. Helen Tupper suggested that for 10 days in a row, write down 3 successes of your day before going to sleep. We do not need to write down what we could have done better; our brain automatically does this. Through doing this we will start to appreciate where we are adding value. This also links to finding out what your strengths are. I’ve been journalling for years and really believe in the power of it, but I can imagine how this positive use of reflection would be highly beneficial.
  4. Network – This is about people helping people. If you put your time in, you will always get something back in the end.
  5. Future – Explore the multiple options and be curious. Think of all the possibilities, rather than making a step by step plan.

I am going to explore the various roles in the dynamic trade of marketing, and I’m very much looking forward to my week of work experience with Cofinitive. It’s at the end of July and I’ll get the opportunity to get a real feel of the working environment within the company! It’s never too late or too early to start your research into careers, I hope you can use what I learnt from the event I attended to start finding out what you want to do!

Moulding a Creative Headspace

I feel like I blinked and my second year of uni is over! AH! It is mad how fast time has flown by this year. It’s been a busy one. The contrast of going from living with your mates 24/7 in a thriving city, to all of a sudden you’re home in your sleepy village is big. It’s a weird feeling. Obviously it is amazing to see my family (despite the one that is currently half way across the world gap yearing), and it’s always good when you come home exhausted and crash after the post-exam celebrations. I’m also someone who does appreciate down time, and in the first week I was home, I loved completely losing track of time in painting, baking or writing. I’ve also been on long cycle rides, and generally just living on my bike to get about (who needs a driving license, huh?). It is something I defo do miss when I’m in the city bustle of brum. Getting out in the countryside really does bring me a lot of happiness and it’s a fab way to just enjoy the sunshine.

However, in my second week of being home I found myself scrolling endlessly on Instagram and Facebook, and it does take conscious effort to put it away and solely focus on just the thing I’m doing, like painting for example. Or even writing this! I think it is so important to do so. One of my mates was saying how her Snapchat has broken and she deleted Instagram off her phone, seeing it first as a negative but how it has actually done her a world of good. The downsides of phones in public is always talked about, but for me when I’m out and about I find it easy to not be on my phone. It’s when I’m at home it’s a problem, because it’s just the easy option for what to do. Mobile phones are constant; there’s always someone to talk to or someone posting something. An interruption to whatever you’re doing is inevitable. For me, it completely ruins the flow of what I’m doing. As much as it can distract me from my university work, it is also the easier option and a more favourable thing to choose over reading a book or creating something. I think this affects the generation younger than me the most, as it’s harder for children to see the negative impacts of social media. But it does also affect my generation and those above, we just have to be proactive in handling it and using it for good.

What is actually gained from scrolling through endless newsfeeds? Social media is amazing in keeping in contact with loved ones of course, and also to connect and share with like-minded individuals. I like sharing my photos on Instagram, but sometimes I do question the point in it all. You can see your own activity on the app and the minutes really do add up. It is a questionable use of time. I have recently been particularly bad at this, and a habit I want to break is going on my phone before bed. When I was younger I would always be buried in a book at this point. I am someone who often can’t fall asleep straight away, and so I’ve decided I want to change this habit. I used to power through books and become completely immersed in the story and it’s something I miss. After my initial chilled 2 weeks, I now feel very busy working at a restaurant and meeting up with my mates who are home too. I have loved seeing them all over the past few weeks, and through this I have also felt a lot of appreciation for Cambridge itself. I forget how the idyllic colleges and greens of Cambridge paint picturesque scenes; it is a beautiful city. My summer is busy and a lot of fun, but I want to make the time for activities on my own; I need to find a balance. I haven’t posted on here for ages!

Is multi-tasking a myth?

I want to set aside quality time to write. As much as many of us are capable of multi-tasking, I think it is very important to sometimes solely put all of your energy into one thing. It is hard to do so, but I think it’s good for us to focus in on an activity and to immerse yourself in it. We are nearly always multi-tasking in an attempt to do everything at once. When your attention is spread across an assortment of pursuits, you’re actually less productive and efficient than you think you are being, through doing activities simultaneously. So you aren’t completing the task to the best of your ability. Multi-tasking slows down how productive you are and different activities require different mindsets. Are you actually multi-tasking if everything is slightly worse off than if you had devoted your whole attention span to one sole activity? Everyone is different, but when you’re giving yourself down time or trying something new, give it your whole attention and you’ll benefit so much more. Get in the zone!

Immerse yourself in a creative bubble

Being on your own is easy to see as a negative, but I think solitude breeds creativity. It is important to have alone time. Being alone with your thoughts allows your brain to wander and therefore opportunity for creativity arises. I’m not saying go and sit on your own and try to think deeply, but go and do something with just yourself. Get off your phone and push your creative side. Do something with food (always a good choice as your creation will be edible, hopefully) or draw or write. On a quiet afternoon at work I was chatting to a colleague about art. We were discussing how we always focus on the outcome of the creative process, for example the finished piece of art. However, we should instead just enjoy the process and push ourselves in the creation itself. If we have challenged ourselves or had fun in the process, why do we need evidence or to have a perfect outcome? It made me question my own creative processes. I spend an afternoon losing myself in a painting in a new technique, but then if it doesn’t turn out how I imagined I feel like I’ve disappointed myself, and in the bin it goes. Or I spend a few hours writing a blog post and it ends up going nowhere, I feel like it was pointless. It made me realise that sometimes it would be good for me to loosen my perfectionist instincts surrounding creative things. I need to not keep thinking about the perfect finalised outcome, but just enjoy the activity that I’m doing. It’s not always necessary to have aims, I want to just see where getting creative takes me! Creativity should be about the process; the outcome does not have to be flawless, or even come to a precise finished outcome.

Love Out Loud

At the end of May, Birmingham united together in the city centre to love out loud and celebrate Pride. It is estimated that 80,000 people joined the 5,000 strong parade, which was led by Andrew Moffat, a teacher at Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock. This teacher was slammed by parents, because his lesson programme covers LGBTQ+ relationships. His programme titled ‘No Outsiders’ resulted in big protests outside the school.

A snippet of Andrew Moffat’s Pride speech

This was mine and my friends first experience of Pride. We had no idea what to expect; we simply left the house in the morning of the Saturday decked out in rainbow attire. Birmingham Pride stood in solidarity with Andrew Moffat in a sea of colour and glitter as they paraded from Victoria Square, right down to Hurst Street. We joined the colourful crowds lining the streets to see the parade, which bursted with music from the floats, a plethora of diverse costumes, and of course rainbow everything. It was so exciting to feel part of such a euphoric atmosphere, the happiness was contagious and smiles were on every face. We were handed flags and all sorts from the people in the parade. The atmosphere created was inspiring, and I actually found it very moving. I was in awe of the crazy costumes that went by me, whilst at the same time remembering the importance of the event. As we freely celebrate Pride, dancing in the abundance of rainbow, I thought of how important it was to remember of those who first fought for LGBTQ+ rights, and of those who still are. The Pride Parade is an amazingly fun experience, but Pride is first and foremost a visible act of coming together as a community, in order to change public attitudes, through a joyful, public parade.

The event simply oozes happiness, and it was also just a time to have a fun day with friends. I will definitely go next year, and will hopefully by then have learnt when to stop drinking, so I don’t have an accidental nap after the final act and miss the night out (oops).

Writing about my time at Birmingham Pride reminded me of the film Pride, which came out in 2014, and remains one of my favourite films. It is based upon the true story of when Margaret Thatcher was in power during the summer of 1984, and the strikes of the mine workers was ongoing. The film tells the uplifting story of how a London group of gay activists raise money to support the miners cause, and how they unite together to support each other. Not only does it touch upon intense and dramatic moments, but it is also effortlessly hilarious. It is a heart-warming and inspiring film, defo one to add to your watch-list!

The Danaïd: Rodin’s Transformation of Sculpture

On Friday, I had my presentation on Auguste Rodin’s marble sculpture, the Danaïd (modelled in 1885, carved by Jean Escoula and exhibited in 1889). I saw and photographed this sculpture during my trip to the Musée Rodin, which is in Paris, where I was lucky enough to go on a study trip as part of my degree! During the trip, we had to choose one piece of art to do a 20 minute presentation on, which counts for the entirety of the marks for the module. A slightly daunting prospect, but one I wanted to push myself to do, and I was proud of! I went to Paris thinking I would do Claude Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lilies), in the Musée de l’Orangerie. I have been here before, and the museum as an entirety creates an atmosphere of dreamy calmness as you walk around the unique exhibit, which includes eight of the Water Lily paintings. However, at the end of the trip we went to the Musée Rodin, and I was immediately swayed to research a piece of his sculpture.

Rodin’s Danaid
Interior of the Musée Rodin

As you can see from my photography, the setting created in the Musée Rodin is very important, and I appreciated the grandeur of the estate.  However, it is important when exploring his iconic masterpieces around the museum to not simply appreciate the lovely aesthetic qualities created between sculpture and setting, but also to analyse how the body is manipulated by Rodin to explore the themes of desire, mythology, sensuality. All of these themes contributed to Rodin’s innovation of sculpture. The light cascades out of the panelled windows to streak across the surfaces of the sculpture, revealing the qualities of the medium and the skills of the sculptor.

The mythological background…

Rodin’s Danaïd sculpture takes a mythological theme. It is based on a Greek myth, where the daughters of Danaos, called Danaïds, were condemned to hell and had to fill up a bottomless barrel with water as punishment for killing their husbands on their wedding night. In conventional iconography of this mythological theme, the Danaïd is portrayed in her act of filling up the barrel with water. However, Rodin chooses not to do this, and instead he evokes the despair she feels as she realises the pointlessness of her task. She is exhausted, and rests her head on her arm as she gracefully slumps over the rock. This positioning allows Rodin to highlight the curve of her back and neck, mimicking the contours of the rock.

Rodin’s Danaid

Rodin reveals the signs of production…

Rodin’s approach to marble sculpture is unique, due to how he wants to pay attention to the signs of production. The figure of the woman literally emerges out of the marble block. This gives the effect that it is not a fully formed sculpture, as he chooses to leave evidence of the original marble block. This is an allegory of the sculptural process itself. This is highlighted by creating a strong contrast between the woman and the marble block. The woman’s skin is a polished, smooth surface. Whereas where she emerges from is rough, directly showing the markings made by the tools used to carve with. Despite the mythological theme, as a whole, the sculpture is a challenging of the normal traditions and boundaries between marble block, pedestal, and body. This is because he has pushed all of these elements together forming an entirety, rather than keeping them all separate. The effect of this overstepping of sculpture boundaries created a new way of understanding sculpture. It does not have to be finished, it does not have to be whole, and it does not have to be framed by its pedestal.

However, I think that through its placement in the Rodin museum in Paris, this concept is changed. As you can see in my photo, the Danaïd is raised up on a wooden pedestal (beginning at around my waist height if you were standing), and contained within a glass box. It is placed corresponding to the window behind it, which frames the sculpture as the Danaïd fits centrally within it. This is very effective, as the light from the big window illuminates the side of the sculpture. Having it raised up also works very well because you can walk all the way around it, and the effect of the light illuminates the smooth curves of her skin, changing as you look from different angles around the pedestal. The concept of being able to walk all the way round is very key. In Rodin’s Danaïd, and in his other famous marble sculptures, for example The Kiss (1882), the viewer feels compelled to walk around the sculpture. As I was there in the gallery, I wanted to look at the figure from all angles of viewpoint, in order to understand what it is conveying, and how it did this. The aspect of being able to walk around the entirety of the sculpture was a key innovation in Rodin’s work. He achieved this desire to want to see more of the sculpture through making the female figure’s back as telling as her facial expressions. The curve of her back is very sensuous, through how Rodin has naturalisitically modelled her. However, at the same moment he also exaggerates the sharpness of her hips and shoulders, and the result of this makes them mirror and mold to the rocky ground on which the Danaïd lies. The light from the window also highlights the roughness of the block of marble from which she emerges. So despite the changing of giving the sculpture this separate pedestal, I think it is very effective in creating a relationship between the sculpture and the setting, because the squared panelled window creates streaks of light across the sculpture and illuminates it in different ways. This effect of light reveals the qualities of marble.

Rodin’s Danaid

The medium of marble has a ‘susceptibility to almost imperceptible nuances of smoothness.’

Elsen, Albert E., Rodin, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1963

Elsen’s complimentary use of marble can be understood upon close inspection of the sculpture, Rodin has sculpted a cracked and broken pot, upon which water cascades out. This water mirrors the Danaïd‘s hair and they merge together, and it is through the use of marble which aids in creating this fluidity. Rodin combined his naturalistic modelling of the female figure with his abstracted use of iconography and expression of her pose. It is this combination of innovations that able Rodin to transform sculpture.

Rodin’s reputation…

Louis Morin ‘La Sculpture Moderne’, Revue des Quat Saisons, No. 3, 1900

Louis Morin portrays a brutal version of Rodin at work in front of a model in his caricature. Rodin is depicted in his studio, but instead of sculpting, he is grappling with the female body. No sculpting tools are depicted, and it is shown to be very physical. This could also reflect how it wasn’t him that modelled the marbles – and so I thought that the cartoon could also be a criticism on this.  During the period when Rodin was alive and for many centuries earlier, it was a usual thing for the artist to first create in clay and plaster before having the sculpture then interpreted into stone. Rodin went about this by employing a small group of assistants as his stonecutters who would duplicate his work. The strongest criticism that Rodin received was directed by the sculptors a generation after Rodin, who criticised that as a result of not doing his own carving into the stone, he had no real feelings for the medium. This leads to the questioning of authorship upon Rodin’s marble works. Is it fair for Rodin to take the credit for the work when he did not carve it? I would argue yes, as it is his primary creation of the form of the figure and his decision of the suitability of the choice of marble –the museum label rightly credits Jean Escoula who did model the Danaïd – however in my research this is all he ever gets, so there is definitely room here for more research upon the marble carver. To go back to the caricature and the critique on Rodin’s treatment on women, it is noticeable that he has massive hands, and the way he peers in gives very graphic connotations. Rodin is depicted as predatorial and vulgar. The representation of models around the studio portrays how he got his models to pose in highly revealing and sexual ways.

It is hard to decipher if what Rodin was doing was negative or positive. Rodin did not care for the negative cartoons response, which makes you think that he did not care that it was the truth. The other thing to consider is to ask if his work was feminist? The way he got his models to pose was about contortion and using different angles, and this was a modern idea. In his work is the expression of female bodies, and female desire is more liberated (and not passive) – and so it can be argued that it was innovative. On other hand, people said he was randy and seedy. To look at Morin’s cartoon again – the model in the foreground is referencing the position of the Danaïd sculpture. It needs to be enforced however, that this is a caricature, not a photograph. But Anne Wagner points out in her text ‘Rodin’s Reputation’ that this is what Morin was aiming for, this likeness to make it recognisable, like a photo. There are many questions to consider as a result of this caricature: should we the viewer, ignore these allegations by Morin to separate the working process from the end product? Might the intense concentration the caricature presents be essential for Rodin’s completion of the work? Many questions can be posed after researching; my intrigue increased the more I read!

Rodin transformed the idea of what sculpture was about; he broke away from its confinements. He achieved this by portraying the female figure in new poses, which introduces different ways of thinking about the figure. He redefines and questions what was acceptable in sculpture. Despite not modelling the marble himself, he still pays attention to the medium through showing the signs of production, using contrast between the figure and the rough rock from which she emerges. He produces a new way of understanding sculpture.

Getting curious about Veganism

Veganism! A highly discussed concept nowadays, yet it still gets most people turning their noses up or rolling their eyes. I do get why this is the response from meat-eaters, as preachy vegans are hella annoying. But after researching and watching the film ‘Cowspiracy’, they have a right to want to be a heard – or rather a need. It’s about balance, as much as I think the vegan charities are great in educating and spreading the word, I don’t think it’s always done in the correct way. Straight up criticism will only cause anger. It can be hard to be mocked all the time, but in order to make a difference and be heard you just need to respond kindly, and get them to taste amazingly yummy vegan food!

At the weekend, I went to the Birmingham Viva! Vegan Festival. I spotted Evanna Lynch (aka Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter!!!), a vegan activist, but what was more impressive was the huge variety of food there. The choices were endless! I had a smile brimming from ear to ear as we went around, tasting everything on offer. I love food, and enjoyed being able to try absolutely everything. After some questionable vegan beef jerky type thing, I had a slice of pizza from One Planet Pizza – highly recommend. As a veggie who has avoided a lot of dairy for a while now, I’ve had my fair share of vegan pizzas. I reckon this one is the best. Changed my opinion on pineapple on pizza! We also had a hot dog loaded with mac n ‘cheese’ – with the meat-eater preferring the sausage to an actual meat frankfurter sausage (!!). The savories impressed me more than the sweets, which is unusual for me. There were cakes galore though, very elaborately decorated. It was such a fun afternoon going round, and I picked up their magazines to read when we got home.

A selection of Vegan Sweet Tooth London’s amazing homemade cakes!!

They are full of loads of cool recipes I definitely want to try. The advice section on how to deal with hostile meat eaters was problematic though. It suggested to bring up footage of factory farms when they apologise of eating meat in front of you, and other things that I know would just generally go down terribly. Not only would it go down badly, I just would not want to do that to people. Vegans should not have to deal with hostility, and their personal choice should be respected, so I empathise with their anger. However, to really make a positive change to the world and help veganism increase, it needs to be done by getting people interested and enjoying vegan food, and from this people will ask questions.

I have been a vegetarian for two years this coming July. I did it because I simply just stopped liking the idea of eating animals. When I was in Indonesia (#gap yah), I saw a lot of animal cruelty, and it just opened my mind as to why I was repulsed at eating an animal we would all keep as pets, but not others, e.g. a cow. I’ve thought about veganism for a while, but it’s a big jump. I went vegan for lent this year, purely just for a challenge for myself, which got me creating new recipes – it was much easier than I thought! I haven’t eaten dairy for a while now, but that was for health reasons. I had no real idea about animal cruelty within the dairy industry, or the effect of animal agriculture on the environment. I had heard about the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’, but I’ve always been too scared to watch it. After going to the vegan festival, I watched it, and I think everyone should – if you’re interested in the environment (who isn’t?), watch it. It’s on Netflix. Instead of judging veganism, I would encourage everyone to watch it with an open mind, and find out about how veganism could save the planet. It definitely opened my eyes. Try and give the film a chance, because it approaches the topic of eating meat from a totally different perspective, and if you’re like me, you’ve probably heard little on it before. The thing that shocked me the most was learning that raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector! The interviews and statistics are striking; I had no idea as to how connected animal product consumption affects the environment. Not only do we all need to learn better about where our food is from, but also the impact it has on the world and it’s wildlife.

Overall, I don’t think the outcome of this film is to make you feel awful if you eat meat or dairy, but instead it makes you think more about it and how it is linked to the degradation of our environment and climate change. The ultimate conclusive message of ‘Cowspiracy’ is that Earth cannot support our meat and dairy consumption at the rate it is now. This is a very inconvenient truth, yet it is time to face it. Taking the smallest of steps to reduce your habits of eating animal products is a positive move towards hopefully a more sustainable future for everyone. I am not yet ready to declare being vegan. I think that at this moment in time having the label is problematic, as to go home with this diet is asking too much of my family. So I have a plant-based diet. I want to help the environment, but I still believe in satisfying a craving once in a while. Please let me know of any vegan milk chocolate brands to try as I am yet to find one that comes close to Dairy Milk. I am leading with a very open mind, I hope you will too!