Friday, 27 January 2017

The Strength Project #10 ~ James Pollitt...


‘It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind’

One thing I've noticed while running this project, is that I've really considered the idea of strength a lot more in relation to stranger. I now see pictures of people insta and can't help but consider their opinions and experiences on the matter. So when I began working with James, @monkeys_and_morrissey, for Kiloran, I knew I had to get him involved. I've followed James for ages and always considered him a strangely elusive figure as for a long time he was faceless on insta, and now his profile stands as a collage of his own writings along with the multitude of projects he's involved with. I chatted to him about the issue of strength, mental health and art...


What does strength mean to you?

To me, strength, is mental strength, the ability to overcome hardship, turmoil, or tragedy in any way that you can, whilst maintaining your morals, core values and ideals. It’s the way in which you conduct yourself, perhaps treating others with respect when they show you none, etc…

Can you tell me about a time when strength was evident in your life?

I feel like at this point it’s important that I talk about something important. Around 18 months ago, I was, unexpectedly, the first respondent at the suicide of a lady in my town.  It is something that was deeply traumatic for me, and something that has taken a lot of strength to overcome. For me, the hardest part of it all was admitting that I needed help, both professionally, and from my friends and family.

Do you think writing makes you strong, or does it take strength to be a writer?

Writing, for me, acts as an outlet that allows me to convey my emotions and feelings, without having to talk to others, like a diary I suppose. The strength, however, comes when sharing my writing; I tend to worry a little bit about what people will think about it, how they will react, etc.

Is having an outlet like your writing/social media presence is vital for your strength?

I’d say that they both act as an escape from the real word, yeah, and although I’d say I’m not strong for this, I do try and talk about things that need to be talked about, for example egalitarianism, beauty standards, gender roles and ideals, politics, etc… When I do talk about these things, I know that a lot of people dismiss me as pretentious, egotistical or self-absorbed, (and I probably get more critics than anything from these discussions) I’d like to think that I’m nice enough to be honest. People from my town don’t really ‘get’ the whole instagram thing and I know plenty of people rip on me for it, but it’s important to me. Also, the fact that there are six and a half thousand people, who to some degree, care about my life, (at least enough to keep up to date with it) does probably help stroke my ego a little after a hard day.


Some of your writing is super emotive and open almost to the point of vulnerability, as well as your work for the mental health awareness project yellow4change; Do you think art help change the way the public perceive what strength is?

I try to be myself as much as possible in my writing, I’m quite a shy, vulnerable person and I think that comes through a little. Most of my songs/lyricals are soppy love songs, I was a bit unlucky in love, struggled with the way I looked, and that sort of influences my writing I guess, also the songwriters who influence me, show their vulnerability, lyrically, (people like Morrissey, Frank Ocean, Alex Turner, and more recently, people like Zach Lount from King No-One, and Joe Harvey from Clay) I think everyone can relate to being a bit vulnerable, and that’s something I want to do too, to be honest.

Yellow4Change is such an important project, Millie Smith is a true darling for setting it up. Music is something that is part of everyone’s life, and that’s what makes it so accessible. With the rising number of mental health cases, and the continued lack of funding to treat such cases, it is clear that people need to understand the strength of those suffering from mental illnesses, but at the same time realise that we all need to be stronger, together. Personally, I see it as a way for charities that work with the NHS, to be there for more people.  After the suicide, I couldn’t get a GP’s appointment for around 4 months because the NHS simply didn’t have the resources available to see me, but when I did, it helped me so, so much; everyone needs that when they’re struggling. Plus, like, it’s such a class way to get people to hear some bands that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise. So working in tandem, music and MIND charity, I think we can help more people…

Does having such a strong online following help your strength or put pressure on it?

To be honest, I don’t even know if I have a strong online following, I just post about my life and my mates, the music that I like and the views that I have. But, understanding that I have some form of a platform for my ideas, I do feel slightly pressured to do something good, or at least worthwhile. Setting up Telus Promotion to help bands spread their word, and working with Yellow4Change, are just two of the things I have planned for this year. Obviously, I will be using it to strengthen my own musical ambitions with Soseity, and I suppose, in a good way, I feel pressured to make our first few releases perfect, because I release the amount of people looking on.

For a long time you didnt show your face on Instagram, what was the reason for that? And do you think social media and the vanity involved is affecting the strength of our generation?

Yeah, so, when I set up my ‘monkey and morrissey’ instagram account, I was feeling a bit disconnected from the world around me, I was still a bit unsure of myself and I wanted to see if people would still want to know me, regardless of my appearance. At the same time, I wanted to tackle beauty standards, with Kardashian (amongst others) influenced normalisation of plastic surgery, I saw how people around me were becoming so concerned with their appearance. I wanted to change that. Outer beauty is something that is so perceptual and relative, that it’s mad to think that somebody would ever want to change their appearance, everybody is beautiful to somebody, or at least that's what I think. So, anyway, I saw this quote, by Leo Tolstoy, ‘it is amazing how complete is the delusion, that beauty is goodness’ and so I thought I’d see if I was able to connect with people who were unaware of my appearance, some people thought it was ‘catfishing’, some thought it was pretentious, but seeing the people who I became friends with form their own image of me through the way I spoke, and the way I dressed, the music I like and the views that I held, was proper interesting, so I kept it up for a year, tackling standards and issues. People perceive beauty as central to who we are, but it’s not, it’s simply a fictitious idea, I take strength from my internal ‘beauty’, and that’s how I hope everyone can be someday.

When do you feel strongest?

I probably feel strongest, in this spot up near my house, it’s in the hills, away from anything or anyone, I go up there to write, to drink, to get away, it’s like my hiding place, ironic I guess that I feel strongest when I’m hiding…

Could you sum up strength in three words for me?


‘Being yourself, always…’

---------

James' band Soseity is set to release their debut track soon, but in the meantime you can read some of his work in the upcoming issue of Kiloran released 11/2/17, or on their tumblr. Also make sure to follow Yellow4Change (@yellow4change) as it's such a great project for an even greater cause.

Find James-

His Instagram - @monkeys_and_morrissey
His Band's Instagram - @soseity.uk
His promotion company - @teluspromotion

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

My First Tattoo...


Two weeks ago I got my first tattoo.

I've wanted a tattoo for as long as I can remember as I think, when done right, they can look so beautiful and I just love the idea of having glorious art and positive reminders permanently attached to my body. And specifically, I've wanted this tattoo since I found the image when I was about 13 and fell in love with it and what it signified in my life. Being in a position where I could fund my own tatt, I felt mature enough and confident enough with my body, I took the plunge.

A super super important thing about deciding on a tattoo, is choosing the artist, not just the image. I love super delicate, fine line and dotwork tattoos so I already knew that was the style I wanted. And I'd followed my artist on instagram for a long time ( @medusaloux) and loved every piece she shared. So when I emailed enquiring about the piece I wanted and she had appointments available for over my Christmas break, I knew I needed to snag it. Overall I had my tattoo booked for a month/two months before the actual appointment and lots of people were like 'why don't you just get it done here in Sheffield?' But for me, the artist and having a style of tattoo I loved were so so so so SO much more important than convenience so I was more than happy to wait.

Okay so lets talk rib tattoos and pre-appointment nerves. I was absolutely petrified. I completely stressed myself out by watching horror story youtube vids about people writhing in pain during rib tatts, and read so so many pieces warning against rib tattoos if it was your first, as obviously it's a very boney area. I was expecting the worst pain humanly possible to experience, but in a way that helped. I think expecting the worst made it so much easier when the pain was bearable.

Obviously I don't recommend stressing yourself out like I did, but doing research did help. Reading up on tips like things to do/eat/drink before your appointment, and even watching in depth videos about HOW tattoos work really helped me feel more confident about the process even though I was scared as hell.

And honestly, the nerves did make me doubt even getting the tattoo. But I think as long as you love the piece and what I stands for to you, regardless of the pain or really regardless of how it looks you're going to love it as it's connected to you.



The process was super chill and quick, taking under an hour which is incredible for the level of detail! Obviously it hurt, but the pain was easy to handle when I've already got a pretty high pain tolerance. Just got to keep breathing and looking away and it's easy peasy. One thing that really help was having someone there that knew exactly what I wanted. It's quite hard to make decisions on the spot about something so permanent when you're nervous or a bit hazy from the pain or being laid down. So having a friend there that knew the look I wanted and exactly the size/position I wanted, made the process a lot stressful.

My artist, Hannah, was delightful. She was chatty to distract me, but also explained the whole process throughout so I was totally aware of what was happening. I can't recommend her or her art work enough. The wall behind me was covered in her designed and each one was as beautiful as the last. If you're after a delicate style tattoo, definitely check her out.

And that was that. All done and on my bod forever. It definitely took me a few days to get used to seeing the piece on my body and completely fall in love with it, but oh my I'm head over heels. I still love the image just as much as I did at 13 and it has so much meaning to me. It's a reminder to grow towards the light and remember that what you think you become, but equally, to turn my thoughts and ideas into fact. It's a reminder of the things I've built from ideas to reality like this blog and Kiloran. And it's just beautiful. I love it so so much. The pain faded into insignificance the minute I saw it.

Aftercare is a nightmare as you'll never know annoyance like the itch of a healing tattoo. But two weeks later it's healed and glorious. I'm completely smitten and I couldn't be happier with my decision of design, artist and position. The longing for another has kicked in, sorry mum!


Sunday, 22 January 2017

OOTD ~ Always Comfy, Never Lazy...

Denim Jacket - Vintage
Scarf - New Look
Bag - Next
Jumper - H&M
Trousers - Topshop (here)
Trainers - New Look (here)







My friend Holly recently summed up my look - "you're a girl that loves comfort, but not enough to not try" - nailed it.

I've been after some wide leg, plisse style trousers for a while but never quite sound ones in a material or finish I loved. Until I found these beauties in Topshop. They fit so beautifully on my waist and hips and are so flattering on hourglass gals like me so I had to have them, and I haven't looked back since. A whole new world of comfy fashion has been opened up to me and I welcome it with open arms.

I've worn these to death during exams/revision for this reason alone, but also because they're so easy to style. I love them with a simple black jumper loosely tucked in to clinch the waist, or a basic crop. On this day I styled them with a short nude jumper (tuck a jumper into your bra at the front and you've got yourself a tasty little midriff flash), my trusty denim jacket and flatform trainers, then a big scarf to help me survive the Sheffield cold. I love the silhouette of this outfit with the tight waist and flared bottoms, they're so so much more interesting than just jeans.

I feel like wide leg trousers are so scary to some people as skinny jeans have become the safe, easy option. People often shy away from pieces that take more styling, or may 'cover your curves'/'hide your figure'. But I find wearing stuff like this so empowering as I'm forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and feeling great while doing it.

My new years resolution to only buy things that make me feel 10/10 is off to a flying start.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Fashion & Film #9 ~ God Help The Girl...



Bringing back my Fashion & Film series because A) I love making mood-boards, B) I need motivation to keep watching new films while I'm away at uni. So I'm kicking it back off with one of my all time fave films, God Help The Girl; a musical written by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, and staring Emily Browning, Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray. It's 10x dreamier than you could ever imagine, every scene is perfectly crafted, the soundtrack is incredible and the outfits oh boy the outfits.

Never in all my film watching life have I seen a film use fashion so much. The choice of clothing matches the situation and vibe so so well that you can really track Eve's (Browning's character) mood and strength throughout the film by looking at her outfit. In fact in one scene she starts off in a super slobby cosy cardigan when she's feeling down, and by the end is in a glorious red dress with her hair all tied back as she performs. GENIUS.

Throughout the film there's nods to all sorts of inspirations, all reflected in the fashion choices. There's series Wes Anderson vibes as the film is littered with symmetry and mirroring and collared dresses that are so Moonrise Kingdom. But also, there's a huge influence of French New Wave Cinema and eccentricity not only in the plot and music, but definitely in the little details of outfits. Hats, textures, sunglasses, makeup and heart print tights. Almost every outfit has some little quirk, whether it be a beret, a headscarf or a bag, there's always something to add a 60s nostalgia kind of vibe. Everything is colourful, everything is cute and everything has personality.

I think essentials to capture this vibe include- Coats (suede, fur, denim), head scarfs, hats (bowler, beret, straw), tea-dresses, collars, colours, short things (no jeans here).

Some of my fave looks are Eve's striped playsuit which is from American Apparel (rip), the leopard print coat/striped dress combo, and then Cassie's (yes Hannah Murray played another character called Cassie) angelic, prairie vibe white dress with a battered suede jacket and straw hat. I wish for them all to be placed in my wardrobe pronto please, thanks.

I think my favourite thing about the styling in God Help The Girl is how out of place they all look. For a film set in modern Glasgow, they all look so overtly vintage. You know exactly who to pay attention to as they stand separate from their surroundings, they seem to almost glow from the film. I think the character of Eve especially is one of the most human, developed figures I've ever encountered in a film, so I love how much her wardrobe matches that. She wears such an array of styles so dependant on her mood and situation, but you still keep your eyes on her. The contradiction of these super relatable, human characters vs their completely eccentric looks is my favourite, it really adds to the visuals, but is also so recognisable to Belle and Sebastian films as the movie carries that sort of marmite response. You'll either absolutely love it and get it, or find it over the top.

Can't recommend this film enough, and can't stop obsessively re-watching it.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

My Soundtrack ~ 2016...


I've been thinking for a while about how to encapsulate my music taste of 2016, but I've come to realise that the past year I really stopped caring. I stopped caring about trying to categorise my taste or stay within one genre or strain of music and just like what I like. So my 2016 playlist is messy. It moves from Kate Bush to Drake to Mura Masa to Ariana Grande to Gaga to the indie bands I loved in year 8. I like classic bangers, electronic stuff, movie soundtracks and glittery hazey indie junk; but its a guarantee that I'll play Side To Side at least twice a day.

Some of my fave albums of the year-

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (amazing title) - The 1975
II - The Rose Affair
Leave Me Alone - Hinds
Gamble For A Rose - King Charles
So Long Forever - Palace
Swim Against The Tide - The Japanese House
Warm On A Cold Night - HONNE
Cleopatra - The Lumineers
Nothing's Real - Shura
Writings Of Blues And Yellows - Billie Marten
Kindly Now - Keaton Henson
22, A Million - Bon Iver
Lemonade - Beyonce
Anti - Rihanna

(Just the mention a few)

Some artists I obsessed over-

Her's
Banks
Nicki Minaj
Mura Masa
Sundara Karma
Nao
Bear's Den
Frank Ocean
Tame Impala
Lapsley
Flume
Classics like Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks, Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin (as always)

A playlist to summarise- 



But in conclusion I think we can all agree that Work by Rihanna and Drake was hands down the greatest banger of the year. Amen.


Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 Fashion Staples ~ Illustrated By Rachelle Cox...

2016 in the general opinion was one big thumbs down, however in the realm of fashion and art it's been two thumbs up and 15 heart eye emojis from me. Trends in 2016 have been so so good especially all-embroidered everything, culottes/fancy trousers,continued 70s revival etc etc Big moments and the introduction and revival of pieces and trends that will 100% carry through and become a staple in my wardrobe at least.

The year saw the intro of some key pieces into my wardrobe that have really altered my style and become must-haves for me. And my ridiculously talented friend and mega babe Rachelle Cox worked her magic for me and turned my looks into art.


I wore this outfit to death. Partly because every aspect of it is such a staple- classic striped tee, classic cocoon cardi, classic blue denim dungas. I thought I was v Alexa Chung, but most of all I was just ridiculously comfy 24/7. But also, this outfit reminds me of my lil mildly psychotic exam ritual whereby my brain decided to tell me that because I wore this outfit to an exam that went well, I must wear it to every. single. one. And so I did and I got 10/10 grades so THANKS TOPSHOP. I still wear this so much and these dungarees are definitely a key piece I really couldn't live without. If you don't under some long dungarees, do yourself a favour and get some. In 2017 I want to step it up with a pair of linen dungarees for comfort that borders on heavenly.


Never in my life has an item of clothing made me as happy as these embroidered jeans. I searched for so long to get a pair in a slouchy boyfriend style and found my soulmates in M&S in May. Initially I was a little scared of styling these, but if there's one thing I moved past in 2016, it was the fear of 'losing my figure' or 'looking like a sack of potatoes'. So I still wear these jeans to death; in the day, in the night, with crop tops, jumpers, t-shirts etc etc. Such a beautiful, well-made piece and definitely my best investment of 2016. I really think the embroidered trend is here to stay at least for another season, so delicate but adds so much. Next up I want an embroidered A-line skirt and jacket.


Three of my most iconic pieces from my 2016 wardrobe - Pull & Bear black denim skirt, Leon the Professional T-shirt and my Clarks shoes. These are still all daily pieces for me that all mean a lot. This was the outfit I wore on results day so it reminds me of pride, I bought the skirt in Liverpool so it reminds me of friendship, this t-shirt is literally just my fave thing ever because it's the best film ever, and these shoes saw me through my first job working at Clarks. Possibly my favourite outfit of the year just because of the memories.


Owning this sheer top has revolutionised my sesh wardrobe and I couldn't live without it. It only cost £8 from Missguided, but the cut of it is so perfect, it's just the right amount oversized. Whenever I don't know what to wear for a night out, I throw this on with a cute bralette and some high-waisted jeans of a skirt and I'm sorted. My range of bralette's is so extensive and cute, I've never been happier. I also wear this loads layered under jumpers or under my dungarees as it's just such a easy, simple piece. This year I'm on the look out for the perfect pinky/nude sheer top, or a glittery one cause why wouldn't I want that.

In 2016 I've remained in a constant state of awe and pride towards Rachelle. Her growth as an artist, a writer and a person this year has been mind-boggling even if I only got to watch from afar for part of it. This year she did her first poetry performance, developed her blog, had her art published in a zine, gave inspiration and aesthetic to the body issue of kiloran and has recently thrown herself so deep into her photography it's incredible. I feel so blessed to be able to work with her and call her my friend, and I'm so excited for her 2017. Thanks for the art and the inspo and everything else you've ever done Rachelle.

Find Rachelle-

  • Insta- @rach.e.lle
  • Art Insta - @rachellecoxstudios
  • Poetry blog - https://rachellecox.blogspot.co.uk/