I am also one-half of DJ duo, The Roustabouts!

We spin everything from Balkan Beats, Carnivalesque Cabaret, Electro-Swing and the filthiest guilty pleasures.  

 

Sunday
Sep142014

Photos by Paul Green

A little while ago I dragged (literally) myself out for a quick photoshoot with Paul Green while he was in London.

Paul takes portraits of interesting characters, and had previously organised a few different shoots in London before (as well as in Berlin), which I couldn't attend. As I was working this day we managed to rush to get ready and head over to his studio, and shot 3 different looks within an hour!

Here's some shots that he's just released, I love them!

 

Neckpiece and Corset by Boom Boom Baby

Kokoshnik custom made by Kezia Argue, hair by Geisha Wigs

 

Saturday
Sep132014

Prague: VANITAS VANITATUM OMNIA VANITAS 


 

One of the main reasons why I had considered Prague as a destination to visit (on further research, I realised there were so many more reasons!), is the Sedlac Ossuary.

Back in 2010 for my final project at University I created a triptych of photographs titled "VANITAS VANITATUM OMNIA VANITAS", inspired by the nature of photography as momento mori and the Vanitas paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries. As I was researching this, I came across the Sedlac Ossuary and mentally filed it away under "places I must go". Funnily enough, the majority of the sights I saw in Prague would have been very relevant to this project!  

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” - Susan Sontag

 

 

 The ossuary is actually in Sedlec, an hour out of Prague by train, and we almost didn't go. Estimated to contain the remains of 40,000 to 70,000 people, the chapel was built in around 1400, but it's history began long before. In 1278 the cemetery became THE place to be buried, following the abbot of the monastery returning from the holy land of Golgotha with a small amount of earth, which was sprinkled on the site. Due to the Black Death and the Hussite Wars the cemetery had to be greatly enlarged. A church with a lower chapel was built as an ossuary to house the exhumed skeletons in order to make room for new burials.

After 1511 the gristly task of exhuming and stacking bones was given to a half-blind monk, although we don't know how it looked under his... err.. half-blind responsibility. It was only in 1870 when the grounds were under the control of the Schwarzenberg family that they hired a woodcarver (and evidently creative fellow) František Rint to rearrange the bones. The guy even signed his name in bones near the doorway!

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It was certainly an interesting experience, and I understand the importance of tourism to keep such places in good condition.... however.... a big, big disappointment was the conduct of the many people that streamed in and out of the place in the hour or so that we were there. Despite being surrounded by the dead there was such a horrendous lack of respect from people of all ages and nationalities, including taking selfies in front of the skulls and posing in a "scary" way. Nobody was taking any care to speak in hushed tones, despite the signs for silence, and the fact that there was a small altar at the back of the room for prayer.

I knew that there would be tourists there, due to the season, but I felt like I would have preferred to wait for longer outside in order to go in in smaller groups of people, rather than a slightly chaotic till point herding people in after they'd bought their tacky key chains. 

The fact that people are now so unconnected to reality, even when there are REAL skeletons within their reach, is quite shocking. How you can be in that place and not only not reflect on mortality but to take selfies and joke around, is worrying. It's like the douche-bags at gigs who watch through their phone (or, god forbid AN iPAD), not enjoying the moment because they are too busy taking a photo to prove they had this really fun moment. If someone is constantly taking selfies (in order to remain relevant? constant? proof of living?), that person is likely to be unbalanced (and not in a quirky-cool way).

 

Regardless, this is still a constant source of inspiration to me, and I'm very honoured that I had the chance to visit!

 

The Death Mask of a saint lying in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady (near to the ossuary)

Sunday
Aug312014

Prague: Opulence & Religion

  

It feels like I was there for weeks, but it was only a couple of days! From thursday to Sunday last week my boyfriend, Mark Charade, and I celebrated out 5 year anniversary in Prague.

 This was our first holiday together which didn't involve work (although performing in Prague would be wonderful!), and we managed to pack in a lot of sight-seeing in such a small amount of time.

Prague is an incredibly beautiful city, even just to walk around. There are a lot of things you can see and do that don't require a hefty budget and the food is amazing for a decent price. The only downside I can possibly think of is that there were a lot of tourists, so I'd probably suggest going in September when it's not too cold but will be likely to be a little calmer.


 

We stayed in the wonderful Art Deco Imperial Hotel, which is about 10-15 minutes walk from the Old Town Square. 

I'd definitely recommend the hotel, not only were the staff friendly and helpful, the rooms were beautiful and the other areas of the hotel were stunning. We particularly liked the fact that this statue looked like she was in the middle of saying "FUCK THIS SHIT" and flipping tables.


We had a ridiculously early flight, which was slightly painful, but it actually mean't we had pretty much a full day on the thursday. We had a wander and went to the Jewish Museum and surrounding synagogues (as well as the Jewish Cemetery, which you can see in the very top right of this post).


The Spanish Synagogue, images can't even capture how detailed it was. Opulent religious buildings are one of my biggest inspirations, and Prague definitely had plenty of that, as you'll see below! The Spanish Synagogue, and the other synagogues that comprise the Jewish museum, had cabinets full of interesting pieces of Czech-Jewish history (it also turns out that I may have Czech-Jewish family on my mother side!). 


St. Nicolas Church in the Old Town Square. Really beautiful painted church that doesn't have an entrance fee or photo-fee. We came back here on the last day to a live music concert, which was incredibly calming.


On Friday we took a tram up to the Prague Castle. I'd read that the inside of the castle wasn't particularly interesting, compared to walking around the grounds/cathedral, so we didn't take a tour. The inside of St. Vitus Cathedral is absolutely beautiful, and although I didn't see it, there was also a stained glass window designed by Mucha.

Another one of the many churches I had wanted to see was the nearby church in Loreta. Although a fairly small and unassuming church from the outside, the inside was what I like to call Opulent As Fuck. 

It also had some incredibly creepy cherubs. Yes, that's a plate with breasts on. Yes, the bottom cherub does look like it's saying "FOR ME?!". On the opposite side was a cherub holding a bloody tooth and a set of pliers. This was extremely bizarre not in context; the two sets of cherubs are referring to St. Agatha (had her breasts cut off during torture) and St. Apollonia (who had her teeth shattered in torture). There were further paintings and beautiful artefacts in cabinets within the church grounds, referring to the Saints and other Catholic scenes.

I believe the bottom two images and top right are from Loreta Church, and the top left is another church we found while walking around. 

Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady at Sedlec (outside of Prague).

 

For as long as I've been taking photographs I've felt inspired by this kind of religious opulence. I particularly find the goriness of the tortured Saints (and of course the crucifixion) a stark and interesting contrast against the rich tones and glittering gold. The wealth and opulence presented is usually at odds with the majority of religious base religious concepts - the main figure in Christianity being Jesus, who shunned wealth. 

I plan to work this more into my artwork at some point very soon!