Salon du dessin contemporain 2014

Yesterday I went to the Salon du dessin contemporain or Drawing Now as it’s also called. For those who don’t know, it’s an art fair dedicated to contemporary art in the form of drawings and sketches. This is my favourite form of art but then again, I’m biased as this is the type of art I practise. This year was the 8th edition of the fair and took place in three different venues around the 3eme arrondissement. I went to two of those venues – le Carreau du Temple and les Espaces Commines. The exhibition space was much larger in le Carreau du Temple where there were two floors, showcasing a variety of different styles from international artists. Some pieces were highly intricate with an enormous level of detail (and time put into them) whilst others were childlike and imaginative. Others were intentionally humorous with one particular artist whose work comprised primarily of life like nude portraits of women (in various positions), they were so life like they could almost be mistaken for photographs. But then beside each woman there was a cartoon like creepy guy with his arm around them in each picture. The beauty of these young women being malled by a crudely drawn man (the artist’s take on himself)  was funny and startling to look at. Below are some of my favourites from the fair.Image

Can you believe this detail?

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Look at the skill!

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Now this is what I can putting a post-it note to good use

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Thought this one was particularly clever…each object is drawn in letters, making up the word for that object

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These figures are even more interesting to look at when cut out and placed side by side

The space in Espace Commines was smaller and dedicated to young artists. By that stage, I had a creative overload and had stopped taking pics but so far I am feeling more inspired and even did a little doodling earlier, in the spirit of spring time and all the cherry blossoms I’ve come across lately.

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Happy Sunday!

Que Sera Sera

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Do you believe in fate or do you believe you can control your own destiny?

I am a big time believer in fate but I also believe that we can control our own destiny. Basically life is a mixture of fate and the willingness or effort we go to to make something happen. For example, this time last year I had my heart set on living in Paris. I had been called for an interview for a role in Paris but was then offered the role in New York. Whilst New York is obviously an amazing opportunity, my heart was never fully in it as I had always been in love with France and its language and culture and after studying it in college I just always assumed that’s where I would go straight after my studies. I was so nervous about going to New York that despite filling in all the necessary documentation, my visa eventually got delayed and I felt a sense of relief that I wouldn’t have to go so far away. As New York was then rescheduled for the following year, I became more adamant on improving my French while I was still in Dublin and attended language exchanges in the meantime and watched French TV and film. A few months after starting my role in Dublin, I had expressed my interest in being relocated to France the following year, if possible or incase there was any visa trouble for New York. A week later I was told that I could go to Paris the following year and was even put on a French course which only motivated me further for going to France. It was so surreal to me that this had even happened (although my Mam always told me that when you visualise things enough that you want to happen they eventually do become reality). This particular point in my life convinced me that if something is really meant to be, it will happen and it may not always happen when or in the way you expect it to but if you want it bad enough and take steps to make it happen (or just chance asking like I did) you will get to where you want to go.

This post was inspired by Daily Prompt

A dose of culture in Paris

The last few days have been some of the most enjoyable I have had since moving to Paris. A friend of mine was over and with two days off work, we set out to do Paris as the Parisians do. On Sunday evening we went to see a film/docufilm called La Cours de Babel which followed a classroom of international students who all recently came to France for various reasons and showed their journey of learning French throughout the school year. This film was very like Entre les Murs in ways but as it was real life it was less dramatic but was just as compelling to watch as we saw students with real life problems such as making friends, dealing with learning difficulties and general cultural differences. 

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Yesterday my friend suggested that we take a walk along La Coulée Verte, which is a ‘secret garden’ style walk that goes along the old train line in Daumesnil (10eme) all the way to Bois de Vincennes. I had walked past these viaducts at least twice before. They now accomodate cool art and antique stores but I had never realised that there was a pathway above these viaducts which give an elevated view of the busy streets below whilst walking through rooftop gardens with arched trellises. 

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In the evening we went to a jazz show (hopefully the first of many) in a club called New Morning, near Chateau d’Eau, also in the 10th arrondissement. The artist was Mohamed Abozekry who plays Middle Eastern styled music with three other musicians on a mix of bass, guitar and percussion. My friend and I were completely mesmerised by the unique sound and raw talent of the group especially Abozekry who hails from Egypt and for such a young age has the skill of someone with years of experience.

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Today we wandered around St Michel, spending an hour or so in the Gibert bookshop. I forgot how great these bookshops are, they sell more books than I can handle and at very affordable prices (thanks to the abundance of second hand books for sale in very good condition). We then crossed the bridge to Hôtel de Ville where we went to the Brassai photo exhibition ‘Pour l’amour de Paris’ which showcased a variety of Brassai’s black and white stills of Paris, from the city of lights at night to couples getting close in the capital as well as images of the circus and female nudes. 

I would like to dedicate this particular post to my colleague and now good friend who I had an amazing few days in Paris with and who has been fantastic company and whose kind words and encouragement have motivated me to continue with this blog and other creative endeavours. Thank you! 🙂

 

 

Weekend of “Salons” in Paris

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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend two fairs (or ‘salons’ as they call them in France), one for my own interest and the other for work. Le Salon du Livre or Book Fair was on in the Porte de Versailles and has received constant media coverage since opening on the 20th March. I decided to set aside a good two and a half hours to explore this fair for the first time and that was just about enough. The Salon du Livre is more than just a book fair as it groups bookworms, authors, publishers, and those with special interests such as cuisine, comic books and art under one roof. Upon entering the exhibition space, I was rather overwhelmed by the size of the space (in technical terms, it’s HUGE) and the amount of books everywhere, from every theme, author, nationality etc. To put it short I was a kid in a sweet shop…or more simply, myself in a giant book shop!

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Particular highlights for me were the destination stands such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia who each had their own space dedicated to authors from those regions as well as cookbooks and “beaux livres” or beautifully illustrated coffee table books. There was also an exhibition area dedicated to the French author and illustrator Sempé who is best known for children’s series Le Petit Nicolas but has also illustrated for The New Yorker. His works were on display as well as some “beaux livres” and charming postcards with magical illustrations of Paris and New York. The ‘gastronome’ section was a particular delight as there were great bargains to be found among recipe books. I picked up a book by Elle à table on roasts, which I will now put to use after finally buying a mini-oven just a fortnight ago. It was also interesting to see a number of independent publishers and e-publishers there promoting their services to budding writers. With the emergence of electronic reading devices and the internet as means of discovering new authors, it is definitely encouraging to see the available options for when I finally get round to writing my book.

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Bargain at just €6!

Whilst I didn’t see the point in buying books for the sake of it at the fair (especially as many were not at reduced price) I did buy a second book on home beauty remedies which can be made with stuff lying in your kitchen cupboard.

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Straight after the Salon du Livre, I made my way across to the Salon du Tourisme (France’s largest holiday show) for work purposes. This was my second year to take part but has never felt like work to me. I relish in the opportunity to speak face to face with the public and encourage them to visit our beautiful country. It also provides me with the chance to visit other stands and plan my own holiday wish list. I love seeing the other stands such as those North African countries where there is live music and people in traditional clothing and the chance to taste world delicacies such as baklava and delicious mint tea! 

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This week the Salon du Dessin will open in Paris on the 26th of March and although pricey (€15 entry) it is only once a year and as drawings are my most favourite aspect of visual art, I am eager to go and see what kind of creative inspiration it may bring.

Sixteen Tons

How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?

This is a really interesting topic for me to write about at the moment. I have had the best and worst experience of my budding professional career in the space of two years and there are definitely stark contrasts. I really don’t want to dedicate an entire blog post to how I feel about my current job as there are experiences to be gained from everything in life and as a generally upbeat person I try to look on the good side (emphasis on try!). Instead, I prefer to focus on what I hope to gain in my next venture. I am relatively new to the world of work and my first experience of working in an open plan office, 9 to 5, was an absolute treat. Not only was it a great atmosphere to work in (thanks to lovely colleagues) but I had a sense of purpose, was given heaps of responsibility and plenty of freedom to work on my own initiative. And although I was primarily behind a computer screen, I was able to put my writing skills to use and further develop them in terms of communicating with clients. My phone skills also greatly improved and I found myself really coming out of my shell. And when I was in face to face contact with clients, I shined. This made me realise that on the job front, I excel when in contact with others and enjoy roles where I am helping people, whether giving advice or passing on knowledge. I grew in confidence as I was given more tasks and learned to work under pressure,  realising that I am actually this relaxed all of the time! The feedback I received from colleagues and clients was extremely humbling as I made an impact with my friendly and upbeat attitude. Respect, trust and acknowledgement are perhaps aspects of work that we may take for granted but once these are absent in one’s role it becomes very easy to begin to feel demotivated, unconfident in oneself and ones abilities and can even begin to have an effect on ones mental health. A bad experience in the workplace can also leave you doubting your own abilities in moving to another role. I’m still not sure what the perfect job for me will be but I know it will give weight to the following: Respect, trust, acknowledgement, the opportunity to express my creativity, whether through written or visual and allow me to communicate with others and encourage/help/motivate them.

Inspired by Daily Prompt

Young at heart

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What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?

I am a firm believer in the saying “you are as young as you feel”. I feel like society puts a lot of pressure on people by telling us what we should have accomplished and by what age this is acceptable e.g. first kiss no later than 13, moving out after graduation and getting a steady job by 22, climbing the corporate ladder in your 20s so by the time you reach 30 you should be settled and ready to start a family (which would require you to meet your should mate at least a couple years before this). It all sounds great and before I ever acknowledged I was a fully fledged adult (only late last year!) the above example is what I envisaged as my road map…but then reality set in and I realised the unlikeliness as well as impracticality of these things happening to me within a scheduled timeframe…and also the fact that maybe I don’t prioritise the same things that society tells me I should prioritise at this point in my life.

I have always been a big kid at heart and I can’t see that changing any time soon. I should have known this when I was in my last years of school, making prank calls to people during lunch time and running around with a coconut we christened and drew a face on, instead of engaging in “adult” conversations relating to boys as some of my more “mature” classmates used to…as I look back on those final years of school, I realise everyone else was so obsessed with trying to seem older for their age that I actually thought that I was perhaps immature but now I realise it was in fact the opposite.

You may marvel at how I can remember this far back but when I was just five years old, I remember my mother watching the news as she always does in the evenings whilst I would be doing my homework and I remember thinking to myself “Will the news suddenly become more interesting to me when I become an adult?”…Almost 20 years later I am still wondering when news programmes will become more interesting to me…or if they ever will. It’s not that I don’t realise the importance of politics, taxes, finance and other such topics to our lives but my attention always seems to slip away when these come on air.

Ageing is something I try not to think about although my future is always on my mind but I never see myself as older in the future but rather think about what I might be doing and where. As a woman, the physical transformations that come with ageing are of more discomfort to me, encouraged by society’s view that we should be eternally young e.g. anti-aging cream adverts, as if ageing is negative.

My key to staying young at heart is by keeping the innocence and good nature that I’ve always had (thanks to my family who have instilled this in me) and lifting people’s spirits with lots of laughter. I am constantly surrounded by serious faces, whether it be in the metro or at work, and sometimes it’s good to laugh and act a bit silly. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously so let go and have fun, no matter what your age!

Inspired by Daily Prompt

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Papa loves Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

My earliest memories of music in our house when growing up was 90s britpop and indie. There used to be a kids channel called TCC and the song in the advert was ‘Alright’ by Supergrass. This ad used to play every morning before I’d go to school and to this day the song always brings a smile to my face. I have vague memories of Oasis, Blur and Take That, wholes songs I would have heard at the time but not actively have listened to. That only came about 10 years later when I went through this nostalgic phase where I longed to be back in the 90s. In my early teens I bought Oasis’s first four albums and a Blur greatest hits album, as well as a Take That greatest hits album. I even went to see Oasis when they played in Marlay Park about 10 years ago (I actually can’t believe it’s that long ago). That was THE best concert (also my first) that I have ever been to and I remember being on such a natural high that I was actually on a low for about a week afterwards! During my childhood, I would have listened to the radio a lot as I didn’t get a CD player until much later so I would have been more exposed to chart music and mainstream pop. Then in my early teens I went through a rebellious phase (only music wise as I was not cool enough to rebel for real) and started listening to indie music like Coldplay, Travis, Bloc Party, Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand. Then in my late teens (until now) I went through what I like to think of as my ‘Peter Pan’ phase or longing for eternal youth and referred back to boy bands, girl bands and handsome latino heart throbs (cough Enrique Iglesias). Nowadays, I am really open to any kind of music but have taken a particular liking to rap, especially French rap, which I find so unique and intriguing as French is often regarded as a refined and sensual language, and to hear it applied to rap, which is typically more rough and unrefined is a breath of fresh air. My favourite French or francophone artists are Maitre Gims, Sexion d’Assaut, La Fouine, Corneille and Stromae.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jm-OujiGYk – Sexion d’Assaut – ‘Balader’ (All I need is a smart car, some sun and a drive around Paris)

Inspired by Daily Prompt 

St Patrick’s Day in Paris

Hi all,

It’s safe to say this has been the most exciting St Patrick’s week I think I’ve ever had (since I went to the Dublin parade with my Dad as a child). On Sunday night, we “greened” or lit up the Moulin Rouge in green to celebrate the Irish national holiday of St Patrick. Two rows of dancers (a mixture of Can Can girls and Riverdancers) put on an exciting ‘mélange’ of the two dances whilst the Moulin Rouge glowed in green behind them. To witness the over the top glamour of the Can Can dancers with the understated elegance of the Riverdance was a fantastic contrast that just seemed to fit at the same time.

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Before greening

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After greening

Yesterday, the festivities really kicked off as we had a press lunch at Semilla restaurant to celebrate the best of Irish cuisine in partnership with Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland and some of the best Irish chefs and producers who came to share their skills with a group of journalists, bloggers and Michelin starred restaurant owners. After we had done our bit meeting and greeting (and giving out shamrocks) we had the chance to sit down and have a taste of some delicious Irish stew (the BEST I’ve ever tasted)!!!

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We then hopped on the RER A and arrived at Disney. The weather had just took a 180 and was looking to be a glorious day. We picked up our passes and headed for the rides. I went on Space Mountain (for the second time), was even more nervous as I knew what to expect but was actually not as scary the second time…although was just as exciting! After that, I was feeling a bit more brazen, especially as my colleagues persuaded me to go on Thunder Mountain (which terrifies me as it’s outside) but then they coerced me by drawing my attention to the children in the queue, saying if they could do it I could…all I can say is I will NEVER do that to my child. I cried like a baby and when we looked at our photos at the end I couldn’t see my face as I was clinging to my poor colleagues arm in absolute fear. Although saying that, I’m glad I did it and came out alive.

The illuminations at Sleeping Beauty’s castle began just as it fell dark and it was nothing short of spectacular. We had expected it would be turned green and that there might be a few fireworks but we were never to be fully prepared for what was in store. It was too breathtaking to put into words and too mesmerising to capture on camera. But here’s an attempt…

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There weren’t just fireworks, but actual FIRE that was so strong it left smoke rings in the air and brief blankets of warmth, which was much welcomed by the crowd, considering how cold out it was. The illuminations weren’t just amazing to look at but were extremely moving as a compilation of Disney classics such as The Lion King, Brave and Aladdin were projected onto the castle. The creativity, enthusiasm and tremendous effort Disney had gone to for this show was touching and left everyone feeling reminiscent of either their own childhood or that of their children’s, with whom they would have shared memories of of Disney’s most magical moments in film.

Hope you all had a lovely green St Patrick’s Day.

x

I believe

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Three things in my heart I believe to be true:

1) Karma – those who have been kind will be rewarded and those who have been unkind will receive their natural justice. Revenge and anger are unnecessary, sometimes you just have to offer it up to God, the Universe (or whatever you believe in) and let it be taken care of.

2) There is a higher being and and most definitely an afterlife. I can’t ever imagine a possibility of no longer being alive to experience such emotions as love and happiness or be surrounded by those who provoke these in us.

3) Sunshine makes people that little bit more happier (or at least me anyway!)

Three things I believe to be false:

1) That you have to be unkind, rude or unpleasant to succeed in life.

2) That you can’t be whoever you want to be (even though I myself have trouble sometimes with this one)

3) That you need to “act your age” – you are as young (or old) as you feel. As long as your actions aren’t hurting you or anyone else than watch cartoons in your 20s, read comic books in your 30s or even take up knitting in your teens or enjoy having a cuppa with a friend instead of going clubbing in your 20s. Society literally has our lives mapped out for us with the activities we should be doing at a certain age. I say, throw out the guidebook and live life how you want and just be you! 🙂

Inspired by Daily Prompts

Celebrating Irishness in Paris

Hello all,

So this week has been pretty hectic. For one, in work the month of March is always a really busy time for us with the run up to St Patricks Day (we promote Ireland for a living!). Also, my social life has started to pick up around the same time (not that I’m complaining) so unfortunately I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to dedicate to posting.

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First of all, I think a congratulations is due to the Irish rugby team for only going and WINNING the 6 Nations against France yesterday  🙂 I swear I had never seen a rugby match in my life before coming to Paris and yesterday’s match was my third since arriving here and did not disappoint! I actually saw myself turning into one of those crazy supporters who screams, sings and pulls hair as if my life depended on it…but it was all worth it as we DID it!!! The last few minutes were especially tense as we were 23-22 to France as they managed to score a try (yes I know what a try is now)…but THEN the referee didn’t allow it…so we WON! 😀 I was so delighted, firstly for Brian O’Driscoll who’s last match it was and secondly for all those loyal Ireland supporters who travelled over for the match. The atmosphere was amazing and in fairness to the French, they gave us a good game and took it well.

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In the morning, the Sacré Coeur held a mass (as gaeilge) for the first time ever!!! It was great to see the Irish community get together in Paris, from expats to those over for the match, I honestly felt like I was back home and it was a privilege to have a mass dedicated to the Irish in such a beautiful building. The priests even brought a bit of banter to the mass (as is to be expected in Ireland) and we were all offered tea and Irish treats in Corcorans Irish Pub after at the bottom of the hill. Of course, had to order a yummy fish and chips whilst the others had burgers and chips and bangers and mash. Was nothing but delicious!!!

More exciting posts for St Patricks coming very soon!

Happy Sunday!

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