holly farndell

A day off

A few months ago I took the day off work to do something pretty lame and I had the best day.

I travelled down to Battersea, a place I’ve never visited before, and walked through the park and round the lovely streets of West London, admiring the expensive houses and flowers starting to bloom on every corner. It was the first sunny day in a long time and feeling the warmth on my face as I strolled through the park I felt fully content. I even had to take off my coat which is a mighty step for me !

I was on my way to visit Battersea Arts Centre to watch the filming of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, which is open to the public. In short, the program features a bunch of artists who get to paint 1 of 3 famous sitters in 4 hours, and one gets chosen to go to the next round etc etc. Much more exciting than it sounds. I had watched this program for a couple of years and always wanted to experience it in real life, to see how the day unfolds without the editing. 

To my naive surprise there are a lot of porkies about the program (!!), as when I got there the sitters, artists and judges were on an hours’ break (the program makes out that they have to sit there for 4 hours straight !) The sitters were; Zawe Ashton, an interesting actress I’d just seen in a weird art horror film, Velvet Buzzsaw; Adrian Dunbar, an old guy from Line of Duty (haven’t seen it); and the lead singer of Kaiser Chiefs, Ricky Wilson, which my 13 year old self appreciated. I was half expecting Kit Harrington to be sat there for me to watch all day but sadly that wasn’t the case. 

I found myself mostly drawn to watching the runners and crew pace out the day, directing what happens next and who goes where and telling the artists and judges what to say (!! I was shook). It made me really excited to be part of the hum-drum and see what really happens behind the scenes, I watched the painters every now and again and admired the way they could work with so many people peering over their shoulders. The space was a lot smaller this year than what I’d seen on the telly in previous so it felt a little squished, but nice nonetheless. 

Towards the end of the day when everyone began wrapping up their paintings, the director gathered the public round each segment of the stage set-up, or “cheese” as they called it. They then started a countdown and told everyone to put down their brushes and everyone had to cheer. 5 times. They then moved on to the artists revealing their painting to the sitter, which interestingly happened in stages that would cut them off mid reaction whilst they rearranged the cameras. I felt both chuffed and embarrassed that I happened to be in the front row of the background of a shot (hopefully blurry) - mum I’m going to be on the telly !  They then went on a break whilst the judges made their decision and I decided it was time to go home after a long day of standing and staring and not talking to anyone.

Probably not much interest to anyone if you don’t watch the program, but I had a marvellous day. I think its so important to realise when you’re feeling a little bit snowed under and need to take a day for yourself, do something a little bit different, take a day off if you can and just have a breather! 


Welcome ! 

I’m not going to pretend anyone is reading my blog just yet (bit eager) but if you do happen to stumble across my ramblings and diary snippets at some point, hi ! 

I’m Holly, I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing and more often that not I’m feeling lost (who isn’t) -And that’s exactly where this blog has blossomed from. Since graduating last Summer, going through a breakup, starting my first full time job and moving to a city where I know just 1 person, all whilst experiencing some of my lowest points with mental health, I guess you could say I’m at a point where its time to start a fresh. I have this clean slate in front of me, waiting to be filled and explored. Like a Phoenix out of the flames. Though that doesn’t quite feel like me - I’m more of a pigeon running around aimlessly trying to find something. Though I’m sure the Phoenix stage will come soon enough. 

I wanted to use this as a space to document things, weekends, exhibitions, thoughts, travels, experiences, art, inspiration and whatever else springs to mind, because I just don’t know what to do with it all. One of my favourite things at uni was documenting the process and how things effected my art practice, and so I hope to create something similar through this so I can look back and remember all the things I did in my 20s. I really enjoy writing and have turned to it more and more in the past year within my art practice, so I would like to explore it further and see if I can get any good at it.

I also have a lot of snaps from my phone and film cameras which don’t really end up anywhere, and I want to give them a space to have their own purpose and not just in a folder on my laptop. I might even add in a few drawings here and there! 

I’ve always loved blogs and watching Youtubers and the weird fascination of looking in on other peoples lives and their experiences with the world. I once tried making Youtube videos but we can erase that fact from our memories and try with something a little less embarrassing. Some people that have really inspired me with this recently are Lizzie Hatfield from Shot From The Street, Brittany Bathgate and Lindsey Holland from Ropes Of Holland - not just because of their casual, chatty writing style, but also their gorgeous sun-kissed snapshot photography which I can’t get enough of. Maybe its the clothing but something about it is just so juicy. Maybe my 20s will evolve me into some cool minimalistic scandi-chic and effortless yet bold and structured boss woman. Potential? I can dream.

I have a couple of trips to look forward to this summer (whilst currently sat writing this in Spain) which I will attempt to share, as well as some recent days out with friends which I’m looking forward to revisiting in writing. I also hope to share some of my post-graduation experiences as well as important lessons I learnt whilst I was there. Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

For now, I’ll (try to) stick to rambling on here about everything and nothing and hopefully it’ll get some creative juices a-flowing. Thanks for listening ! 

Ice Watch London

I got to see the Ice Watch installation outside the Tate Modern last month after seeing it posted frequently on social media and being able to follow the hashtag, I really wanted to experience it for myself. I had seen many posts on Instagram with people posing next to it, some even using it as a backdrop for a full on photoshoot. I am always intrigued by the way others experience art, often visiting a gallery just to get the ‘been there done that’ photograph for the grid, however the virtual gallery seen in geo-tags and StudioElassion’s page is what convinced me I needed to see it in the flesh. 

I was particularly intrigued by the execution of this idea and something we so often hear about on the news, suddenly being able to touch  and witness its deterioration day by day sparks more of a connection. To say it is simple would be a disservice, however I found it funny how much of an impact a block of ice would have on the general public. It was really interesting to observe peoples interactions as I wandered round the installation, people approaching the ice and touching it with such delicacy as if it were a privilege. The irony of people propping their 5 year old atop a real-time snippet of their future environment, something their generation will have to deal with. I noticed a lot of families teaching their kids about the environment; ‘do you know what global warming is?’, of course many of these visitors can explain it with concern but return home without making any such changes to help the situation (a sweeping statement, but..)

I loved the way that it was an unpredictable installation, they could only estimate an end date but even that was exceeded. There’s something exciting about visiting something you know will soon cease to exist, and apply that same sinister thought to something happening thousands of miles away. And yet once the ice outside the gallery is gone, do we just forget about the rest?

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