21

Mar

2017

The Home Straight

21st March 2017

As promised just over a week ago, I did go into hibernation for a short while, but I am back and very pleased to report that my final typography project and my dissertation are all handed in! My dissertation, which I haven’t really mentioned up until now, explored the practice of branding when the organisation in question sits in the nonprofit arts sector.

My finished dissertation

My finished dissertation

This, along with the typography project I submitted just this morning, meant that I spent much of the past few weeks in the library, either alone in the silent study area or with everyone else who was also trying to wrap everything up ready for submission. It wasn’t too bad though, with a shop for snacks across the road, and the lovely view from the new Laidlaw library…

A view from the library

A view from the library

Between submitting each project me and Emily took a few hours out to catch the new Beauty and the Beast movie, which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. The subtle jokes were on point, the music was very catchy and the Be Our Guest scene had my jaw on the floor with the sheer amount of colour and explosive visuals that the guys at Disney had managed to squeeze into a 5 minute sequence! If you’re in the mood for a bit of joviality then be sure to pop the song on.

Anyway, before heading into the cinema we paid Five Guys a sneaky visit, where I loaded myself up on a little too much burger before buying a large popcorn, but you live and learn.

Chilling in Five Guys

Chilling in Five Guys

Just this morning I handed in my final typography project, and so this afternoon I am doing a tour of some of my favourite coffee shops in Leeds, including Layne’s Espresso from where I bring you this post. If you’re ever in Leeds be sure to drop by and grab a flat white and salted caramel brownie – you will not be disappointed.

In less work-related and more uplifting news, tomorrow afternoon I fly out to Madrid, from where I’ll be embarking on a four-day tour of Andalucía before returning to Madrid for another four days. Whilst down in the south of Spain I’ll be checking out Cordboa, Sevilla, and Granada, and then I’ll be spending as much time as possible on a comfy sofa with a caña (small beer) in hand whilst in Madrid. I’ll be sure to bring you all the updates once I land back in England next week!


11

Mar

2017

Dissertation & Deadlines

11th March 2017

I’m here today with a pretty boring text post just to give you guys a quick update as to what’s going on in my busy world. As the title may suggest the next few weeks are full of deadlines, including my final year dissertation, and so there’s not much fun on the agenda and there’s no time for me to report of anything interesting anyway!

I will hopefully have my new website running before the end of April – maybe I’ll launch it to coincide with my birthday on the 30th, who knows! It may even be that I leave the writing of any new blog posts until then, so you’ll be able to see them in the newer, fancier format.

I should return to the virtual land of the living around the start of April. In my absence why not listen to Lorde’s new song – I love it!


19

Feb

2017

Cultural Capital Weekend

19th February 2017

Tonight I write to you all with heavy eyelids and tired feet, as I’ve just returned from a fabulous and overwhelmingly busy weekend of discovery with the rest of the UGRL Scholars. This ‘Cultural Capital’ weekend looked to immerse us in cultural experience that we might not otherwise have the chance to gain access to, and with a timetable for the weekend planned down to the half hour, we were sure to enjoy a whirlwind tour of everything York and the surrounding areas had to offer.

Saturday

We began our weekend bright and early on Saturday morning, where we convened for a briefing and full English breakfast at the Marriot in Leeds at 8am, during which we were split into teams and given GoPro cameras to film bits and bobs throughout our weekend.

From here we boarded a coach which soon had us dropped off at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where we were soon introduced to the  open-air gallery, and sent off with clipboards and a bag of clay for a tour around it’s various pieces. After I opted to sketch parodies of each sculpture (in order to make up for my total lack of artistic talent), we were soon entering a strange exhibition in which the artist Roger Hiorns filled an empty flat with copper sulphate, resulting in the complete coverage of every surface in menacing looking royal blue crystals.

A view over the park

A view over the park

Roger Hiorns, Seizure, 2008

Roger Hiorns, Seizure, 2008

Making sculptures

Making sculptures

After more interactive workshops, including making a sculpture of ourselves using clay and building large-scale pieces representing the relationship between man/nature, we were soon back on the coach and on our way to the National Coal Mining Museum. Once here, we were soon handed a copper chip and suited and booted with a hard hat and miners lamp, and found ourselves in a cage descending over 140m into the abandoned coal mine!

Once in the cool tunnels of the mine, we experienced life as a miner in crawling through excavated coal seams and navigating the endless tunnel network, all whilst learning about the history and conditions mine workers faced – from an ex-miner from that very mine nonetheless! All too soon we resurfaced and, after waiting for the next group to remerge from the dusty depths, jumped back on our trusty coach and headed into York.

As it turned out, we were stopping in the Marriot in York, and so I took the opportunity to have a lovely bath (for which I had come prepared with a Lush bath bomb, naturally), before we all reconvened for a lovely dinner. After this we were picked up by a parade of taxis, who sped us through the city centre to the Grand Opera House where we had tickets to see The Commitments.

After enjoying the rousing performance peppered with soul music classics, we headed back into the cool air of the night and met our guide for what promised to be an experience – a guided ‘ghost tour’ of the ancient city. Our guide then proceeded to walk us along the riverside in the dead of night, telling stories of gory executions, torture, and apparent ghost sightings – but what I found most strange was the eerie abandoned city centre which seemed devoid of any human life except our tour group!

Once we’d finished up the tour and made a wish, we found ourselves back at a pub by the hotel, where it was time for a drink before heading to bed ready for the busy schedule which Sunday promised us all…

Sunday

Up bright and early on Sunday morning, and after enjoying another lush breakfast buffet, back onto the coach we clambered to head off to the National Railway Museum to learn a little about the industrial history of England through an exploration of it’s rail network. Having visited many years ago (I think I may have been in primary school), it was very strange to be back in a strangely familiar place, but it was no less enjoyable to explore the amazing collection a second time.

The National Rail Museum

The National Railway Museum

I particularly enjoyed an introductory presentation which taught us how a steam locomotive works, where the four of us who’d banded together were blown away by the consideration which had gone into the design of the surprisingly complex workings of the train. After wandering under a train, snooping through the museum’s archives, and learning about rail related disasters, we headed outside to wander across the city ready for lunch – in the Hilton no less!

After another delicious meal it was time to head across the road to the York Castle Museum, our fifth and final activity for the weekend, where we spent hours exploring the extensive collections ranging from World War II to a celebration of the 1960s – even descending into the cells in which prisoners of the city were once held. Me and Jamie also found this excellent interactive fashion exhibit, where we put on a fabulous performance…

Work that Victorian look

Work that Victorian look

After a coffee and some delicious rocky road, we heaved our now very weary bodies back onto the coach, which set off to drop us all back off in Leeds. From there we had to run (the horror) to catch the train back to Hyde Park and I’m now sat at my desk occupying myself by writing this in order to stop myself from falling asleep, as I don’t want my already questionable sleep routine to be ruined any further.

Overall this weekend has been an absolute blast, with many thanks to be given to the UGRL team for organising such a jam-packed schedule of interesting things to do, see, and eat. I shall now head off and devour the blueberry muffin I just realised I have in my bag leftover from breakfast, with my next blog post probably going to give you all an update on the progress which I’m making on preparing my new site for launch. Exciting!


17

Feb

2017

Ollie & Thuy in Leeds & London

17th February 2017

Since landing back in the UK from Portugal, my time has been pretty much just dedicated to university work, with a multitude of deadlines bunched together, including a draft copy of my dissertation. In between the madness however I have managed to do the odd fun thing, the most important being catching up with Thuy, who I worked with in Spain!

First up Thuy was roaming around the north of the country as part of her new London-based job, and so we were able to meet up in Leeds for a catch up over some Belgrave pizza and a G&T, and go on a shopping and eating tour of Leeds the next day before she had to Leeds. Here we are roaming around Victoria Arcade…

Reunited in Leeds

Reunited in Leeds

The Parkinson Building in the setting sun

The Parkinson Building in the setting sun

Just last week, and in another flashback to life in Spain, I decided to try my hand at preparing a few small dishes of different types of food for one of my friends who swang by for a movie evening. I managed the spread that you can see below, which is a small miracle given the equally small size of our kitchen!

A mini feast of bits and bobs

A mini feast of bits and bobs

Just this Wednesday it was time to go and see Thuy again, this time in her new stomping ground, London! Having not been in a while, I boarded the train and killed some time once I arrived by paying a visit to the Design Museum, which was much grander than I expected…

The interior of the Design Museum

The interior of the Design Museum

I had a good snoop around all the exhibitions upstairs, taking photos for project inspiration and just enjoying the general public who’d come to learn a bit more about the work of designers – speak of which, I’m very excited for Netflix’s new documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design. I’ll be prompting you all to take a nosey at the Graphic Design episode once it’s released!

Space to chill

Space to chill

Once I’d exhausted myself flicking through books in the gift shop, and payed a customary trip to the Lush shop on Oxford Street, I headed through the very British dismal weather to go and meet Thuy as she finished work.

Impressed by the London weather

Impressed by the London weather

Soon or later I’d found Thuy’s office, and to my joy I was welcomed in for a quick snoop around – it was lovely! We then set about more important things, namely finding somewhere for a drink and a catch up, and we soon wound up having pizza by Covent Gardens and wandering down the Thames enjoying the nighttime lights of the city.

Reunited in London

Reunited in London

We finished up our day in a mini pub on a terrace in Covent Gardens, where we continued our chatting way into the evening, or until I had to head back to King’s Cross to catch my pretty much empty train back up to Leeds. It has been so lovely to be able to see Thuy a couple of times after what feels like ages – and now we’ve crossed paths in three cities!

In other news I’m about to head off with the UGRL Scholars for a Cultural Capital Weekend in York, after which I shall be sure to report back once more with anecdotes from the couple of days worth of cultural exploration. I am also continuing work at full tilt for the launch of my new website (including an updated blog design), with my good friend Kevin lending a hand with the Spanish translations for the relaunch of the Spanish site which has just gone down ready for the new one.

Other than that I must bid you all farewell, as I have cake to eat and washing to dry!


25

Jan

2017

Lisbon

25th January 2017

So in another one of our January galavants, which last time took us to Copenhagen and Stockholm, me and Izzy once again boarded a plane for a few days in another European capital – this time, Lisbon. Beginning with a decidedly relaxed morning of eating breakfast at Layne’s and heading on a train to Manchester Airport, we were soon aboard the Lisbon Metro, full of croissant and map in hand.

Emerging from the decidedly deep tunnels of the subterranean railway, we were quickly in our hostel room and ready for a good night’s sleep before the tour planned for the next morning at 10am – but as luck would have it the tour began right outside our hostel, and so the following morning we rolled out of bed to have breakfast and head to the meeting point as late as we could.

Beginning the tour of Lisbon

Beginning the tour of Lisbon

We were soon traversing the centre of the Portuguese capital, learning about invaders, explorers and the earthquake which changed the landscape of the city forever. Above you can see a portion of one of the few central buildings which survived the quake, an old church, but we were soon exploring some of the streets rebuilt after the disaster.

One of the many hillside streets

One of the many hillside streets

Soon we were ushered onto the plaza of what seemed like it was a restaurant, but was actually the entrance to an elevador, a raised platform with views overlooking the city. This metal structure, previously used to haul goods up the steep sloping ruas of the city, was a lovely spot to take a photo of the city’s topography.

A view from above

A view from above

A little further down the street we stopped for more information on the history of Lisbon, and were presented with an amazing view of the winding street and city beyond into which we were about to descend, from where we then got a view of the platform we’d just been up on – it was surprising how quickly we’d descended so far!

Descending to the centre

Descending to the centre

The elevador we were up

The elevador we were up

From here we moved through the gridded and relatively recent centre of the city, rebuilt on quake proof foundations by one single architect, and to the Praça do Comércio, a square on the waterfront which sits by the governmental buildings.

Here the story of how the Portuguese people rose up and overthrew their dictator without a single life being lost was told, a movement which centred around a march on the square, and a movement which was started by the public radio transmission of a song previously banned for years – a song which it turns out is beautiful and you should give it a listen.

This square was also where the tour ended, but we had plenty more in mind which we wanted to do, so from here we moved west to a food market and then hopped on a train to explore something we had read about before leaving…

Arches in the plaza

Arches in the plaza

Praça do Comércio

Praça do Comércio

Exploring the food market

Exploring the food market

From the market, and with a stomach full of delicious croquets and freshly fried crisps, we headed to a train station to head even further east to the big San Francisco-esque suspension bridge called the Ponte 25 de Abril. Carless, we weren’t interested in crossing the huge structure, but rather an abandoned factory complex just by it which has been converted into a lovely collection of artists studios, cafés, bookstores and all other things creative.

Just under the bridge

Just under the bridge

The people of Lisbon love a bit of tinsel

The people of Lisbon love a bit of tinsel

Once inside the LX Factory, as the complex is called, we began our explorations. We nipped in and out of various little shops, before winding our way into a book shop where we browsed for a while until we found a huge printing press, where we were approached by a man asking us if we spoke English…

Colourful toilet times

Colourful toilet times

Chill out space in the city

Chill out space in the city

Having ascertained our mother tongue, the old man took us on a whirlwind tour of a huge set of crazy moving machines that he has spent his life making, from a miniature model of the printing press to oversized insects made of umbrellas and bits of desk chairs. The guy’s passion and the intricacy of the models was impressive – I don’t know if anything like that will ever happen to me again!

The model maker

The model maker

After explaining how he liked to make useless things, and that the most useless fan-type machine he ever made he christened “love”, we moved on as the sun began to set, exploring the last few shops in LX Factory before we left. Amongst them we found proof that Adam and Steve were a thing, and were mooned by a delinquent piece of acrylic climbing the wall of the building, all before heading back to the train station.

Adam and Steve

Adam and Steve

Excuse you

Excuse you

Waiting for the train in the setting sun made for some great lighting for a cheeky selfie and a photo looking back to the centre of Lisbon, upon arrival to which we headed out to a tiny local restaurant. Here the menu was brought to our table on a huge chalkboard, and the plates were all as delicious as each other as they were delivered one by one to our table – however we were too busy munching to take any photos. Damnit.

Looking back over the city

Looking back over the city

Platform selfie

Platform selfie

The next day we were once again up bright and early, this time to head out solo to the west of the city in search of the oldest part of the city, Alfama, which survived the 1755 quake due to it’s position on a separate rock of land. After a wander down the front we soon found Alfama’s winding narrow streets and precariously steep steps, but the climbing and stumbling was worth it for the views and character of the old town.

A forgotten balcony

A forgotten balcony

Late

Late

Sentar na praça

Sentar na praça

Rainbow pots

Rainbow pots

No drinking today

No drinking today

As we climbed further up Alfama we began to be able to peek out over the area, with spectacular views from plateaus along the route. We soon levelled out and decided to find a spot to get a fresh lemonade and a bite to eat, and wound up having some fresh bruschetta and basil-infused lemonade with views over a huge church that we didn’t even realise existed until we turned a corner and it presented itself to us!

Views over Alfama

Views over Alfama

A colourful tree

A colourful tree

We then began to circle said big church to try and find the entrance, which we pretty much had to do a full circle for, but as we discovered that there was an entry fee and our budget was tight, we decided to give it a miss and head on up the hill to a spot where we’d been told we’d find the best views over the city.

Colours of Lisbon

Colours of Lisbon

Big church is big

Big church is big

By the church

By the church

Soon we were walking up yet another steep Lisbon street, even though I didn’t think there was chance we could rise any further. The exhaustion was worth it though, for at the top we were greeted with near 360° views over the city.

Looking over Lisbon

Looking over Lisbon

Cheeky selfie atop the city

Cheeky selfie atop the city

What goes up however must come down, and so soon we were hugging the railing for dear life as we stumbled down a sheer flight of stairs, but the slipping and sliding was worth it for yet another stunning view of the urban scene below.

Heading back down to the city

Heading back down to the city

The trend of stumbling across steep ruas which seem to slope down beautifully lined streets was common as we continued to traverse Lisboa, and after stopping for some famous pastel de nata (sweet custard tarts) and then a glass of wine and a sandwich, we found plenty more.

Sloping away

Sloping away

From here we had decided to try and grab one of the infamous Lisbon trams, but seeing as all the information was in Portuguese and we’d had a glass of wine, we thought it best just to wander our way back down to the hostel before heading back out for some food for the evening. This worked in our favour, however, as we found a gorgeous plaza with views over the other side of the city, just as the sun had set enough to cast a lovely light over the scene.

Whilst up here we stopped at a little kiosk to try the locally-recommended ginjinha, a Portuguese liquor made with alcohol, cherries and sugar – all served in a mini chocolate cup. It is as delicious as it sounds and I just had to pick myself a bottle of it up from duty free! Anyway, back on with the trip…

The city winds down

The city winds down

Evening panorama

Evening panorama

That evening we headed for another lovely meal down in the south of the city, just a few streets from the water, and once again tucked into a plate of perfectly seasoned fish. We then had to climb one of the steep streets I had christened “the hill of death” back up to the hostel for the night, after which we began the next day back on a train – this time east towards Belém.

The hill of death at least was pretty

The hill of death at least was pretty

The hill of death crosses another street

The hill of death crosses another street

As we arrived in Belém we couldn’t really see all that much except a car museum, but we soon found our way towards the centre. It turns out that Belém is the birthplace of the iconic custard tarts that we were snacking on all over the place, with the oldest operating bakery enjoying lines spilling out of the door – all for the small sweet treat. We decided to skip the queue and instead head further into the district, where beautiful buildings and gardens greeted us.

Pretty Belém

Pretty Belém

Traversing these, we were ambushed by some ducks (not really, but they were not perturbed by us at all), and then found our way to the huge monument to the Portuguese explorers, an impressive monolith hanging over the water’s edge. By this we were also treated to stunning views across the bay, the impressive bridge and a miniature version of the Christ The Redeemer statue that the Portuguese have built to watch over Lisbon.

Duck attack

Duck attack

The explorers look over the bay

The explorers look over the bay

From here we headed to settle in the sun, which by this point was quite warm, and so with custard tarts and coffees in hand we popped ourself down on a patch of grass under a tree and soaked up some of the warmth from the sun. I haven’t mentioned this thus far but Lisbon in January is cold – despite how lovely it may look!

Portuguese trees are the best

Portuguese trees are the best

The bay

The bay

Once we’d warmed up like a couple of cold-blooded lizards arching into the sun, we did a bit of Google exploration and discovered that a local museum had a free exhibition with a tonne of 20th century peices from some of the biggest names, and so we wandered back down the waterfront and headed inside the Museu Coleção Berardo.

The museum building

The museum building

Once inside we were in for a treat, as we found pieces from big names like Andy Warhol to personal favourites of mine like Dan Flavin, whose work I saw in London a few years ago. Here’s a couple of image highlights…

Self-described and self-defined, Joseph Kosuth, 1945

Self-described and self-defined, Joseph Kosuth, 1945

Allan McCollum, Collection of 60 Drawings, 1990

Collection of 60 Drawings, Allan McCollum, 1990

After this we headed to a funnily named café called Pão Pão Queijo Queijo, literally “Bread Bread Cheese Cheese”, where we wound up stuffed after a couple of huge sandwiches, and we headed back to the hostel on the train ready for a night visiting the bars of Barrio Alto, an evening district just north of our hostel.

Back on the train

Back on the train

On our last day we spent the morning checking out of our hostel, but had some hours to kill so we headed into the city, where we descended whilst munching custard tarts with fresh orange juice, and then when it came time to head back uphill, we finally resolved to give one of the trams a try. We opted for a type called an elevador, as we couldn’t get lost on it – these trams go forwards and backwards up and down the same hill all day.

Our ride arrives

Our ride arrives

This took us to the same plaza where we’d enjoyed evening views of the city just two days before, but instead of stopping for more ginjinha we opted for a coffee and a snack to keep us going – we were wearing tired of the city’s hills!

On the way to the hostel, however, we stumbled upon an absolute gem of a museum, the MUDE, or Museu Do Design E Da Moda – The Design & Fashion Museum. What we’d found though was everything I love rolled up into one exhibition – graphic design, lighting and typography – an exhibition on the signage of Lisbon – including a look at the neon signs of bygone years.

The original sign from the Ritz hotel

The original sign from the Ritz hotel

The collection was absolutely amazing, and we were shocked when we learned that the entry was free. We had such a wonderful time exploring this unexpected find, which is deserving of and will get its own blog post at some point. Sooner or later though, we’d started at the flickering neon as much as we could, and grabbed one last custard tart and coffee before heading back to check out of the hostel and bundle our weary bodies back onto the Metro. Cut to ten hours later and we’d be on a train from Manchester Airport to Leeds too tired to speak, but we both had an amazing time!

Looking back over our four days I feel we spent just the right amount of time to enjoy a bit of everything that Lisbon has to offer – the food, the nightlife, the exhibitions, and the countless hours spent wandering the streets looking for snacks and little shops. I’d definitely recommend anyone thinking of going do so as soon as possible, it really is an amazing city – just pass on this one if you’re not a fan of custard tarts or you’ve not got very resilient calf muscles…

PS: Keep an eye on my travel page, I’ll soon be adding Lisbon and it’s top threes!


9

Jan

2017

New Website Progress

9th January 2017

Hello all and happy 2017! I come to you after what has been quite a quiet festive period, as I fell quite ill with a nasty viral infection which saw me in and out of various doctors’ offices over the holidays. I’m happy to report that I am well on the road to recovery now, however, and as such have been knuckling down to getting on with something productive – my new website.

As you may recall in this post from many weeks ago, I have slowly been chipping away at the challenge of re-designing, re-coding and re-launching my website for a while now, but with my early January self-imposed deadline looming and the burst of energy as I recover, I have been really pushing to get it near completion over these past few days.

After plenty of fiddling with different types of elements which form the basic toolkit of constituent blocks which I’ll use to build each page of the new site, I finally settled on a curated array which I have been busily coding away such that they all work on all eleven possible screen width settings for the new site – to give you an idea of how much work this involves, my current site only has three possible screen width profiles and it took the best part of a month’s work.

My view for the past few days

My view for the past few days

It’s proving to be a gruelling challenge, not made any easier by the knowledge that my least-favourite task is being saved to last – defining the margins (basically the spacing between two different elements). It might sound like an easy task but I am so fussy about how everything looks that I will have to specify every element’s interaction with every other element – and then do this eleven times for each different width profile. My current estimate is that this means I will have to define a grand total of about 4,400 individual values – and that’s probably a generously low estimate.

Anyway, as someone who’s been kind enough to come along to see this blog post and has made it this far into what is probably turning out to be an Ollie vs. HTML/CSS battle rant, I have decided to share with you the link to a beta copy of where I am with coding the various elements of the new site.

A little preview of part of the new look

A little preview of part of the new look

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a beta is a highly unpolished and nowhere near finished work-in-progress version of a website – so don’t be expecting anything beautiful. The page at the time of writing is basically a dummy page of all the different possible elements with horizontal lines between them – however if something seems to be showing up dramatically wrong then please drop me an email here and let me know – hopefully we can catch any bugs before I move on towards launching the site.

Anyway, if you fancy a little snoop you can do so at this link, which may occasionally go down as I make changes. Also don’t click on anything – even the buttons at the top of the page – the links are all dead. Well, here’s hoping I’m soon done so that you can explore my fancy new (working) website!


22

Dec

2016

I Did Survive First Semester

22nd December 2016

I come to you to promise the above, that I have indeed made it through my first semester of my final year of university relatively unscathed. I apologise for the severe delay in blog posts, but a quick-fire set of deadlines after my first project and as I entered the second half of the semester meant that my free time has been very limited, and so when it does come along I’ve been spending it out of the house doing as much fun stuff as I can! But this all does indeed mean that I can share just a little bit of it with you guys now…

First up, as a post-deadline treat after my first project, I headed out with some friends to go and see the hilarious Trixie Mattel perform live in Leeds, and what a great night we had! Trixie was hilarious and the time I didn’t spend laughing at her act was spent admiring the sheer scale and rigidity of her wig…

Trixie performs in Leeds

Trixie performs in Leeds

At home, whilst not buried under a mountain of sketchbooks and pens working away on a YCN brief for uni, I made the time to crack out my box of tinsel and fairy lights and get my room looking a little more festive for the period. To do this I managed to wire the fairy lights into the existing wireless lighting system in my room, and cleared my little display of tidbits off the table below my window to create my own festive snow-scene display…

Some festivities added around my desk

Some festivities added around my desk

My little Christmas scene

My little Christmas scene

Although moving from my uni room and onto campus and back again in order to work becomes as laborious and boring as it is to read, the winter weather (when not biting our fingers off with the chill) has provided some beautiful scenes here in the city, including a gloriously colourful sunset on campus which rewarded us for working late one evening…

Leeds University looking beautiful

Leeds University looking beautiful

A view over the river

A view over the river

Also, as regular readers may have guessed, I also dedicated a chunk of my free time to eating, making a lovely trip back to Lupe’s Cantina, arguably the best Mexican food in Leeds, after which some fog rolled in and made Hyde Park look quite like the moody Yorkshire one might find on a postcard.

Welcome to Hyde Park

Welcome to Hyde Park

Over the past few weeks though, and as I am sure I have mentioned multiple times thus far, the overarching matter has been the job of getting my designs for my second project wrapped up, printed off and handed in. This project will soon land on my portfolio, so I shan’t divulge too many details just yet, but I can reveal that what I ended up making left my room in a flood of paper and other craft stuff…

Design is messy

Design is messy

Sooner or later though I had my final document handed in, then a proposal written for my independent project brief which will be completed next year, and finally it was time to relax. We all made our way straight to Belgrave to share some huge trays of chips and hand out our Secret Santa gifts, during which Rhea presented me with a huge bag full of hilarious goodies!

Belgrave looking nice and green

Belgrave looking nice and green

Gifts for everyone!

Gifts for everyone!

And so after that whirlwind overview of the past month or so, we hit today. Just this past week I’ve been suffering quite a bit from some kind of viral infection plus a wisdom tooth intent on causing me never-ending pain, so me and Izzy have been taking it easy and chilling in the house. I’m very much looking forward to Christmas but I don’t think the real excitement is going to hit properly until I land back in Burnley this weekend – leaving it late or what?!

 


17

Nov

2016

Design Wheels In Motion

17th November 2016

As mentioned in a blog post from the beginning of this year, it’s been quite a while since I launched my blog and then my website, with my blog now over three years old and the rest of website marching towards it’s second anniversary!

That blog post outlined a few interesting things which had happened up until that point, and now with six months of professional experience working out in Madrid with the wonderful Erretres under my belt and various other projects ongoing or completed, I’ve decided to start actually devoting some time to the redesign of my website which was mentioned in that post from months gone by.

As the most visited part of my website, I have naturally started things off by evaluating my blog. The green on this section has now gone, and the grey background has been replaced by a purer, fully white design, with nothing but the very occasional subtle shadow to create depth and separation. The typeface for the main text within the post has had a facelift, with a wider, more modern font now in use, and a new feature menu makes better use of the screen space available on modern devices.

You’ll also (finally) be able to click on images to expand them for more detail, and there’s a few other hidden interactions that you’ll be able to make – and even further future ones which I’m toying with for the time being…

The current state of the new blog design

The current state of the new blog design

The new design will initially appear very familiar to those reading my blog on their desktops, and this is a consciencous decision – I am quite happy with most aspects of my current website and so want to keep the familiarity and simplicity as intact as I can, especially within the blog section. More major changes will be occurring within other areas of the site, one of which can be seen in the menu as “Portfolio” will become “Projects”, to allow for a wider scope of cool stuff that I want to get posted on here in the future.

If you’ve any feedback please be sure to drop me a comment on my Facebook Page, privately via email or even in person if you’re unlucky enough to see me in the flesh from time to time! Until then I’ll be working on more exciting updates ready to begin the construction of this behemoth change – I’m hoping for a launch before the end of the year but we’ll have to see how cruel HTML can be…


7

Nov

2016

Binding Books & Singing Karaoke

7th November 2016

Just the other week me and Emily headed down to Leeds Print Workshop for a beginners bookbinding workshop led by a lecturer at the Leeds College of Art, a day which began sourly as I’d bought a steak bake from Greggs, which was then knocked onto the ground by someone not looking where they were going – and who had the cheek to expect an apology from me! Never. I shall not apologise for what was your malicious destruction of my beloved steak bake.

Some books we made at the workshop

Some books we made at the workshop

Even reeling in the agony of the loss of my steak bake, I still managed to have a really good day and had a wonderful time getting hands-on binding some mini notebooks and even designing my own stitch pattern (which you can see on the orange books above and below).

Even more books we made

Even more books that I made

Outside of the fun we had making these mini books, in my typography module we headed out on a walk of the city to begin to spot typography and words out in the public space, which was a really fun exercise in thinking about typography and communication in a much more broader sense than ever before. I shan’t bore you with the images of the abstract ambient “words” that I found, but I shall share this picture of a pigeon that we befriended along the way…

Our friend the pigeon

Our friend the pigeon

In other uni events, I recently attended the Undergraduate Research & Leadership Scholarship Celebration Event, which was a lovely evening of talks, food, drinks and catching up with the fellow scholars. My group even ended up winning a prize for our video submission – an entirely unexpected but appreciated surprise!

Me and some fellow scholars

Me and some fellow scholars

And last buy certainly not least we move on to talk about my first design brief in this my final university year, one which will soon be on my portfolio, which was to re-imagine the design and service offered by a local radio station in the year 2026, a year in which for the sake of the brief we predicted that driving cars would be outlawed in favour of autonomous vehicles.

After research which investigated the threats and opportunities presented by this scenario in the year 2026, and as well as investigation into peoples’ motivations for tuning into local radio, I landed myself with the zany concept of developing a service which delivers a karaoke service to people on-the-go, in which they can sing solo, harmonise with friends remotely/with other passengers in the car, or even join a “Traffic Jam” and sing with the other people stuck in the gridlocked junctions of our roads.

I shall leave the full justification and explanation for the time when the project, called Autokara, is in my portfolio, but one of the outcomes I created was a video to advertise the service – a video in which me and my mum can be found singing our heart out to The Circle of Life from the Lion King! It has been a really great project to work on, albeit somewhat stressful (as is always the case) just before deadlines, however I shall spare myself and my mother the embarrassment of posting the video here, so I leave you with a screenshot which I love and think summarises the project quite well…

Karaoke in the car!

Karaoke in the car!

PS: I felt like I should let you know that my mum bought me a steak bake whilst I was at home, so the balance of peace in my world  has been restored.


23

Oct

2016

Design Manchester & Towneley Hall

23rd October 2016

True to form, I haven’t been staying in one place for too long, which began as last week me and the rest of my house (all designers) headed on the train to Manchester to check out the Design Manchester Festival which was in full swing. We landed in Manchester Piccadilly and immediately headed to the old Fire Station just around the back of the station, where there were some food trucks, the opportunity to get our portraits drawn, and a huge array of handmade products from local designers.

Sooner or later we’d stuffed our bags with as much stuff as we could afford, and wound up having some beautiful portraits drawn – italics for sarcasm – mine had a crown on it and I insisted upon it being labelled “Queen Briggs”. After these shenanigans we headed towards the centre where we hopped onto the Manchester Metropolitan University campus, where we had a bite to eat before heading to their ultra-modern art and design building for a talk by renowned letterpress designer Alan Kitching.

Meandering through the exhibition

Meandering through the exhibition

Before the talk we took a breather to snoop around the exhibition which had been laid out in the gallery space which spanned each floor of the building, and which provided a beautiful insight into the traditional hands-on approach to the process of designing and upsetting Kitching’s work.

Colour and texture

Colour and texture

We then headed into one of the university’s lecture theatres where Kitching presented a selection of his work and his thoughts on design, letterpress, and the process of arriving at his final designs. It was a wonderfully interesting insight into this manual process, and afterwards we all headed back into the city to find something to eat before we all headed off back home.

A view from the art and design building

A view from the art and design building

After stuffing our faces with Wagamama, it was time for everyone to head back to Leeds, except I, for I had arranged to visit Burnley for the weekend and meet up with a friend for some afternoon tea and a wander around one of the town’s most beautiful attractions – Towneley Hall.

Towneley Hall in the afternoon

Towneley Hall in the afternoon

Towneley Hall is named after the Towneley family who used to live in the lavish house and grounds, which are now form a museum and a lovely public park. We first stopped off at a café/restaurant housed in the old stables, where we enjoyed afternoon tea and scones, before we headed around the museum. The little galavant around was not only interesting from a historical point of view, but also reminded me of various trips I made to the hall whilst in primary school!

The grandeur of the interior

The grandeur of the interior

A colourful autumn afternoon

A colourful autumn afternoon

It was soon time to head back home after our day spent sleepwalking around the idyllic grounds, and so I headed off back home before heading back to Leeds the next morning. I currently write this back here in my university city, where I’ve had a clear out of my room and am feeling ready to take on the coming week of work – I think.