2012 has been a busy year for me. I started a new job in August, which has kept me out of trouble, and I’ve been working hard outside of the day-job too, trying to get more freelance writing work and make more connections in the UK-Japan community in London and also with street artists in the UK. I haven’t written on AliMuskett.com as much as I would have liked to, but have been busy with Haikugirl’s Japan and Picturing England, my two main blogs.
Still, I’ve managed to post 54 times on AliMuskett.com and have received 15,487 views in total this year, which is wonderful! My top 5 posts in terms of views this year were:
1. Brainwashed in London (August 2012) – 932 views
2. An interview with graffiti artist Paul “DON” Smith (April 2012) – 766 views
3. Sex & the City? Do it yourself! (February 2012) – 312 views
4. The locks of love… (January 2012) – 233 views
5. Rave Art: Mr Brainwash & David Guetta know how to party (August 2012) – 213 views
As you can see, it’s been quite a year! I’ve really got into the street art scene in the UK, and hope to be able to meet up with some more artists next year and conduct a few more interviews. I’d also like to write more about London, because it really is an amazing place to live and there’s an awful lot going on here.
I’ve been looking at the handy annual report WordPress.com has produced for me, and was very interested to see that most of my readers this year have been from the UK, but that the US and Mexico (?!) are in second and third places, closely followed by Japan in fourth place and Spain and Canada in joint fifth place. It seems my blog is more international that I imagined, and I’m delighted to know that people all over the world are stopping by.
Wondering how people are finding my blog, I looked at the popular search terms which lead people to AliMuskett.com. The top five this year were all to do with the Big Egg Hunt, and yet my Big Egg Hunt post featuring photos of the 209 eggs I found hidden around London earlier this year didn’t quite make it into the top five posts (it was sixth, actually, with 178 views).
Anyway, enough of these statistics! Anyone who is following me on Twitter is probably wondering what’s got into this girl who used to hate stats so much at school, as this will be my third ’2012 review’ post this afternoon! Thank you all for reading, whoever you are, and please do keep reading in 2013! Leave me some comments, introduce yourselves, suggest things you’d like to read about, and do get in touch if you’d like to discuss a review or interview, or some freelance writing work.
Happy New Year! See you in 2013!
The Olympics are coming, and boy do we know it. Here in London it seems to be all anyone can talk about. Forgive me if I sound a bit bah-humbug, but I’m afraid it doesn’t interest me at all. Yes, I know most of you will probably ask “How can you not be interested?” and tell me things like “It will only happen once in your lifetime!” and “It’s going to be spectacular.” I’m not about to argue with you. You’re probably right that it will be spectacular and I’m sure I will never forget that London 2012 happened in my lifetime. I’m just saying, I’m not really interested and I’m not planning to watch any of the games. It’s simply not for me.
I don’t really care what other people get up to though. Go crazy. Enjoy it. Fill your house with odd one-eyed mascots and union flags if you so desire. I won’t be joining you, but that shouldn’t stop you having fun. (Although I have noticed a strange tendency in many folk to try to urge me to join in – much like a colleague urges you to drink in the pub when you know you’ve had enough, but he still wants to get more wasted and can’t bear to do it alone.)
When it comes to the Olympics, while I am mildly fed up with hearing about it all, and wish the newspapers would talk about other things a little bit more (rather than the two-page spread the Evening Standard had tonight showing Twitter photos of Olympic athletes’ bedrooms), there’s only one thing that is really bothering me…
I love London. It’s a brilliant, diverse place to live. Each area, north, south, east and west, and each of the 32 boroughs, has its own personality and character. Whatever the Olympics brings with it, I have been crossing my fingers that it will only help to add more diversity and interesting culture to London. However, in a last-minute panic to “clean up” London, Hackney Council appear to be destroying the soul of my beloved Shoreditch.
On Sunday I was having one of my wanders around the Old Street/Shoreditch area, looking for new street art, when I rounded a corner and saw something that made me sick to the stomach. Hackney Council vans parked up next to gleaming white walls. I don’t know the extent of the damage yet, but I can tell you for one thing that the piece below is gone, and that was enough to make me really angry.
How dare they go around “cleaning up” the streets in this way, destroying art that has for so long made the area what it is? Who are they to decide what art should stay and what should go?
This wall on Great Eastern Street, I have recently learned, is “available for both Art and Commercial projects” for a fee “starting at $750 a week”. The wall has, in the past, been used by 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and The Disney Company, as well as Beck’s Beer and the launch of Soul Calibur V. I unwittingly took photos of the Soul Calibur ones myself, wondering if it was in fact art or advertising, and now I know. (Actually, the pictures in that case were really cool, whether they were advertising or not – I guess there’s a whole other blog post I could write on that topic!)
So graffiti artist CODE FC (who holds a degree in Public Art and Design from Chelsea College of Art) and graphic artist Jack Haslehurst (also from Chelsea College of Art) have participated in this ‘peace mural’ project, to celebrate Lord Michael Bates’ ‘Walk for Truce’ and broadcast Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson’s ‘Plight of Britain’s Disabled’ for the London 2012 Paralympics. CODE FC, who had an exhibition entitled “20:12” at the Curious Duke Gallery in London in June, has been creating Olympic-themed street art for a couple of years. What I don’t understand is why his work is deemed acceptable (and, in fact, legal according to this article), and other artwork on the streets is being destroyed.
For me, CODE FC’s work is pretty bland, although I guess the “cameras for heads” thing is making some comment about the media’s role in the Olympics. The mural is for a good cause, so I’m not saying it shouldn’t be there – I’d rather see this piece of art than some billboard featuring those bloody mascots or that awful 2012 logo – but why should CODE FC’s work be promoted in this way while the streets are being “cleansed” of other art which doesn’t quite fit the image the Hackney Council are trying to portray to the rest of the world?
Other street artists have also been making Olympic-themed art, but I suspect none of these pieces will last long if the Hackney Council “anti-graffiti” mob find them…
I wonder what would happen if Banksy decided to paint something for the Olympics? I suspect, like his Jubilee piece, a sheet of Perspex would be smacked over it immediately and people would flock to see it. But what makes Banksy or CODE FC any different from Mighty Mo and Gold Peg, whose piece above was recently painted over? Surely the concept of “freedom of speech” should apply to the artists who work on the streets of London. I want to hear what they have to say – don’t you?
I admit that for the last 7 weeks or so Britain’s Got Talent has been my guilty pleasure. I’ve cheered on the good acts, laughed at the terrible acts, and cried at the ones that tugged on my heart strings). It’s amazing to see how much talent there is in this country (and how many nutters there are too).
Tonight was the final and, if you haven’t seen it yet, I warn you now that this post does contain spoilers.
The show tonight contained 11 thoroughly entertaining acts. In my opinion, some deserved to win more than others, but they did all deserved a place in the final. The finalists were:
- Only Boys Aloud (Welsh male choir)
- Ashleigh and Pudsey (dancing dog act)
- Jonathan and Charlotte (17 and 16 year-old operatic duo)
- Kai and Natalia (teenage ballroom and Latin dancers)
- Loveable Rogues (quirky Madness meets The Streets band singing their own tunes)
- Molly Rainford (11 year-old singer)
- Sam Kelly (singer/guitarist)
- Nu Sxool (street dance group)
- Ryan O’Shaughnessy (singer/guitarist)
- Aquabatique (synchronised swimming group)
- The Mend (boy band)
When the results were announced, the top three were Only Boys Aloud, Ashleigh and Pudsey, and Jonathan and Charlotte. I thought it was a real shame the Loveable Rogues didn’t make it into the top three, as I really enjoyed their music and thought it was great that they were brave enough to play something original. I would go out and buy their album tomorrow. Here’s their song “Lovesick”:
Only Boys Aloud were probably the finalists who would have made the best use of the £500,000 prize money, as their choir master clearly had ideas for the future. Sadly it was announced that they were in third place.
This meant that the top two acts were Ashleigh and Pudsey:
And Jonathan and Charlotte:
The winner was voted by the viewing public, and I knew that the chosen act would reflect the interests of the nation. Both acts were entertaining, but for me the clear winners were Jonathan and Charlotte. I mean, just listen to those voices!
Unfortunately, the great British public is a nation of animal lovers… and the dog won. Yes, Great Britain voted for Ashleigh and Pudsey, and now this is one rich pooch.
Don’t get me wrong, the act was very entertaining and that is one talented dog, but was it really the best act in all of Britain? No. It’s hard to choose one winner because there was so much variety in the show. It’s not just a singing contest, or a dance contest. But, clearly, Britain has gone a bit soft in the head to choose a dancing dog as the winning act.
I feel cheated, but at least Jonathan and Charlotte will hopefully have gained some confidence by coming second, and I’m sure they will go on to great things! You see, Britain’s certainly got talent, even though the voting public seem to enjoy “lighter” entertainment.
As I walk through a cloud of hairspray and perfume I realise the true meaning of the expression “a fish out of water”. My fins are flapping and my gills desperately gasping in the foreign air.
London fashion week.
All around me are paparazzi pointing their lens at preening fashionistas. It’s sort of like being on safari. I walk past, utterly unnoticed, and slip in to the west wing of Somerset House, where I visit the Japan: International Fashion Showcase 2012 exhibition. Slipping out again, I squeeze past more models and photographers and hastily exit in my frumpy flat shoes. (I couldn’t go anywhere hastily in heels.)
(Image: London Fashion Week)
As I leave, a woman passes me. She is dressed entirely in black, head to toe. Her hair is black, her clothes are black. On her face she is wearing what appears to be a black pvc balaclava. Her legs are clad in a similar shiny plastic material. Her eyes are hidden behind large black sunglasses. She strides on high heels and is painfully thin. I wonder for a moment if it is Lady Gaga.
This is not my world.
Fa-fa-fa-fa fashion? Turn to the left. Turn to the right. Then run away. Fast.
Brits are funny creatures. I went along to the New Year’s Day Parade in London today and about halfway through it started to rain. When I say ‘rain’, what I really mean is that the heavens opened and it chucked it down with almighty force until there were rivers running down the streets. Just another day in London.
A lot of tourists took one look at the puddles forming on the ground and made a dash for it under their ‘I love London’ Union Flag umbrellas. But we Brits, for the most part, stuck it out – brolly or no brolly.
I had an umbrella, but I still got really wet and cold to the point of shivering. It rained so hard that it actually soaked through my leather boots and made my tights soggy. So why did I stay? One reason is that I needed some new photos for my daily photo blog, Picturing England. But the main reason I stayed is that I felt it would be wrong to leave. Those poor people at the end of the parade, especially the marching bands and cheerleaders from America deserved my support.
And it wasn’t all bad. An old guy on a bike took pity on me hiding under my flowery brolly and gave me a Quality Street chocolate (strawberry – my favourite) and a kiss on the cheek to wish me a Happy New Year. He understood my British resolve to stand and watch the parade no matter what, and he understood that it would all be made a little bit more bearable with a little sugar. Thank you, kind stranger.
(Perhaps it’s not just us brits – these American cheerleaders managed to stay surprisingly perky despite the rain.)