My Experience at TEDxBrum 2017

Many of you will know what a TED talk is – a presentation of inspiring ideas and concepts by people from all sorts of fields. We watched many via Youtube whilst I was at school.

TED is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to sharing great ideas, and has spread worldwide in their commitment to this. The Birmingham-based event, TEDxBrum, which is annual and runs all day, aims to be just as grand and awe-inspiring yet locally relevant. It is independently organised by volunteers with the help of local sponsors.

Whilst tickets ranged from £25 (for Earlybird tickets) to £40, they do try to make the event as accessible as possible for everyone. The ticket was for the whole day including food and drinks, and you could pop in for only one particular session if you felt it. I was there for the whole day to get the most out of my ticket. If you couldn’t make it at all, it was all live streamed anyhow, and the talks will be going up onto Youtube in the upcoming weeks.

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This year, the theme was ‘Perspectives’ – the idea that everyone has a particular way of viewing the world and that civil conversation from many perspectives is important for growth and change. There was a huge range of topics covered and I wasn’t looking forward to anything in particular and just turned up with an open mind.

Florence Okoye speaking at TEDxBrum.

As an added plus they encouraged sharing the event live by tweeting and posting photos, and even let me use my DSLR so I was able to get some shots in. One person asked me if I was part of the crew – no, I was just looking for a good angle! The official photos taken by Thom Bartley, Curtis McNally and Paul Stringer are absolutely amazing and demonstrate both humbling and ambitious moments of the day – something I could certainly learn a lot from!

 

Lumi HD performing some of her songs.

 

(Unless stated otherwise, all photos are taken by me. I would appreciate credit to if you decide to use these photos, but it’s not necessary at all. I got a lot of extra fun and satisfaction just from being allowed to shoot!)

As it was my first time visiting the Hippodrome despite being a Birmingham local, I didn’t know what the auditorium looked like and end up in the lower circle. All the seats have a good view of the stage and the more important thing is that you could hear all the talks, to be honest. You were allowed to shift seats between breaks so I did eventually move down to the stalls in search of a good angle for my camera.

 

Bohdan Piasecki, a poet. He said something about teaching children to speak Polish in a Brummie accent, so I imagined it, and it made me laugh.

 

One of the most memorable talks from the day was definitely by Travis Alabanza, who was just dripping with strength and passion as he spoke about violence against non-binary and gender-nonconforming individuals.

 

Travis Alabanza. A Warrior.

 

For me, the other most memorable part of the day were the performances from local music artists. These included DANS Chinese dancers (so this kid walks up onto stage and plays an intro piece and the whole crowd is awestruck and want to hug him), as well as The Dylema Collectiv (spoken word poetry against an mood setting musical backdrop) , singer/guitarist duo BEAR, Daps on the Map, and Lumi HD. There’s nothing like live music whether it is your genre or not. Especially in a venue like the Hippodrome, it manages to resonate with you anyway.

(You can double click for the full images!)

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DANS Chinese Dancers

 

 

The Dylema Collectiv

 

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BEAR performing some of their songs at TEDxBrum

 

In the breaks between sessions, you could socialise with other talk-goers, listen to poetry on the bottom floor, or talk to awkward artists on the second floor. I had a chat with Kenny Cowle about her photography – experimenting with the chemical processes involved with developing pictures to create fragile, constantly changing works of art.

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Me, chatting to Kenny Crowe about her work. Credit: Paul Stringer (Taken from the TEDxBrum Facebook Page)

I will be honest, my memory isn’t so great and there was so much awesome stuff to cram into my head so a lot of it didn’t stay for long, haha! This is what the YouTube videos are for, anyhow. I learnt a lot and laughed a lot and really really enjoyed myself, anyhow. Most importantly, I learnt a fair bit about Birmingham as a city, how it could be better, and what we can all do to play our part in its improvement.

 

TEDxTwentySwans lol

 

Needless to say, I will be sure to put aside the date in my diary for TedxBrum 2018.

Until next time,

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The March 2017 Media Editorial

Look, I know a lot of you are here for the beauty reviews but sometimes even I forget it’s only 50% of what I do here. Anyway, I am now in Full Steam Revision Mode (if that is a thing) and the Gap Year Diary is pretty much redundant now I have like, no life outside of that, hence me ditching this title as of now.

I still have things I am enjoying at home, though, which I want to share with you all, and whilst I have very much toned down the number of personal blog posts here since a while back, I know there’s still things I want to share from that bit of my life. This post ended up being super long, though…

Anime: Ghost in The Shell – Stand Alone Complex

Yes, this is the franchise that has now spawned the Hollywood remake starring Scarlett Johannsen, which is coming out soon. It’s stirred a bit of controversy for the decision to cast her as the lead, which I feel really conflicted about. I absolutely hate the fact that I think she suits the role and I could excuse it by saying ‘hey, the Major is a cyborg, her entire body is artificial anyway’. I can sort of go MEH about it this time but this was always going to be something that I wouldn’t support. I just really, really want to see more Eastern faces in Hollywood without all the tropes.

(On another note, there’s going to be a Death Note US Remake whose casting has also been explained away. I expect both adaptations to be FLAWLESS, okay, as both are franchises I adore. The trailer for this Netflix movie came out super recently – have you seen it? What did you think?)

Do I expect good things from the movie? I won’t be watching it in cinemas. Nevertheless, I think it will do well. From seeing the trailer, it looks visually stunning, but it seems the premise of the film takes a different direction to the anime, which I am slightly concerned about. The plot seems to be spun around the Major and her past rather than questions raised from exploring the setting and the idea/use of/manipulations of a cyberbrain, as in the Stand Alone Complex anime and (if I recall correctly) the first movie. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because I really enjoyed the Stand Alone Complex series and the philosophy behind it.

Either way, the original anime movie and series are bloody fantastic and I can genuinely say you are missing out if you dismiss the series no matter how well/not so well this movie does. It has an interesting setting that is really well explored and the soundtrack is also brill. Speaking of which…

Non-Lyrical Music: Yoko Kanno

I don’t often check out anime soundtracks but of the few times that I have, three have been by Yoko Kanno. She doesn’t have a set style but at the same time her ideas are quirky and distinctive which I think really adds to the atmosphere of the anime she composes for. Series include Ghost in the Shell’s Stand Alone Complex series, Terror in Resonance and Darker Than Black Season One.

My personal favourite is the Terror in Resonance soundtrack which is so calm and, like the anime,has a lot of Icelandic influence, but as the GITS-SAC soundtrack is really extensive I will not be surprised if I end up with a new favourite after more listens.

Lyrical Music

(There’s so much to talk about I’ve just hyperlinked everything in this section. Alternatively, here’s a playlist featuring all the videos in this section.)

Fifty Shades sucks but it gets such good promo. I love the sound of the Taylor Swift and Zayn Collab and I just like this dark smexy vibe. (If you like those and also like k-pop, by the way, check out Moon by Jonghyun and I Don’t Wanna Love You by Kim Joon Won and Krystal of f(x).)

In terms of current K-Pop, well, I am really liking:

  • BTS – Spring Day – sad, nostalgic, and not quite a ballad which I like.
  • TWICE – Knock Knock – ridiculously cute, and I love the dance.
  • Gugudan – A Girl Like Me – the debut song they should have had. Stylish and funky.
  • Taeyeon – Cover Up – I always like her more upbeat tracks, and she shows off a different vocal tone I haven’t heard from her before.
  • Debut SNSD/ Girl’s Generation – Into The New World and Girl’s Generation  – ITNW is still making waves even a decade after its release, and I’ve been grooving to this and their self-titled track for a while. ‘Party‘ is much newer but I’m grooving to that, too.
  • Highlight (formerly B2ST) – Plz Don’t Be Sad – B2ST are back and with the sound I missed from them. I’m glad they made their own way, departing from their old label, and I truly wish them all the best. K-Pop groups can suffer a lot and these guys are real survivors.

Manga: Gintama by Hideaki Sorachi

I’m not sure what I was expecting from a manga with a name that contains a punny meaning for ‘silver balls’. I had previously tried reading this before, and it was just too chaotic for me. It’s an incredibly random sit-com set in an alternate earth with samurai and aliens, with a hefty dose of dirty jokes and puns and cultural references. Wasn’t that a mouthful? I would rather recommend Sket Dance, which is quite similar, only more toned down, less rude, and has a high school setting.

If I had read Gintama about eight years ago I would have understood nothing, reference-wise, and even now I don’t get them all, and somehow I just got used to the strange humour. It’s one of those things I’m enjoying but can’t really recommend, haha.

Special shout out to the fans who translate and put up chapters, because so many of the puns are language-based and must be very hard to try localising into English!

What I also noticed was that after over ten years of random stuff happening, Sorachi has blessed the fans with a proper, classic manga arc complete with my favourite character (an underrated side character) dying. Despite the lack of emotion I felt reading through ten years worth of content I realised just how attached I became reading it. Strange, for sure.

There is a live-action movie coming this July with Shun Oguri (Hana Yori Dango and a LOT of other stuff) and Masaki Suda (Kamen Rider W and Assassination Classroom’s Live Action) so fingers crossed it turns out well.

Gaming: Super Smash Bros 4 (3DS)

This game came out two years ago, and I only got my hands on it recently. I usually buy my games preowned so they’re cheaper but this just so happens to be one of those that doesn’t get much of a price decrease, even years after its release. It’s simply a battle game featuring characters from multiple game franchises from Mario to Sonic to the Animal Crossing Villager.

Let me say this now – I suck at games. I suck at this one, too. I play with my CPU opponents on level 4-5 out of a possible 9 and I can’t clear classic mode on level 2.0 (I got to the final battle and lost that). But I also enjoy the hell out of myself playing it and can still get addicted to Smash Run (seriously, it’s so much fun). That said, I used to enjoy playing SSB Brawl on the big TV with my siblings and unfortunately we can’t do that with only one 3DS and one copy of the game, and we don’t have a Wii U.

TV: Clique (BBC3/iPlayer) and Robot Wars (BBC2)

On one hand, we have Clique. I love the fact that it is set in a university as I feel that’s a setting not used often, and there’s definitely a glamorous yet mysterious feel. I can’t quite grasp the characters but I feel like that’s the point so I don’t mind. All in all, the secrets of the Clique are enticing and I’ll probably watch to the end of this six-part drama to find them all out.

On the other hand, Robot Wars is totally my guilty pleasure. I have no engineering genes from Dad but it’s accessible and easy to understand even for clueless people like me, but let’s be honest – I’m mostly there for the robot fights. Sometimes we get a dud episode in which the fights aren’t exciting and the robots have failed to start up or work at full power but most episodes are enjoyable.

That’s all I’ve been enjoying recently! Let me know if you recommend anything!

Lots of love,

X

 

 

The Things I Have Done Instead of Hibernation.

I am still strangely content with the progression of life and things right now. How strange is that?

It’s true that I am tired, though. We are approaching the end of term and right now we all just want to hibernate until Mock Exams are over or something. But despite those exams looming I don’t feel anywhere near as overwhelmed as I did last year. I still haven’t rediscovered the feeling of focus, but nowadays I can just sit down and do work, as long as I force myself to start it, and I won’t feel dead inside or anything, which is a key difference from last year.

Another thing is that, whilst I’m still making time for (not having time is no excuse) and working on my hobbies, they’re cutting less into my work time. How should I say it… I’m doing less of it as procrastination and that’s good.

Recently I picked up the graphics tablet again and did various spots of practice because it has just been that long since I tried digital drawing. Trying again now is like doing it as if I’m a fresh beginner, with the skills I’ve developed last year. I usually post a lot of my work on Instagram first (@swanzig_x) so have a look if you’d like to see what I’ve been working on.

That being said, I’ve abandoned my knitting and I think something needs to be done about it. I’ll probably pick it up as therapy for the oncoming Mocks. It’s never a bad thing to have too many hobbies, because there’s a time and place for all of them, and I don’t consider any of them to be unproductive. Even watching anime series, that’s like writing research, really.

Speaking of anime series, I have been watching one during school lunches for the last two weeks, and just finished the first season this morning. Darker Than Black is by no means new, having first been aired in 2007, but if you love Tokyo Ghoul or Attack on Titan or anime with such themes as exploring two worlds in the same place, then this one is one to watch. It’s slow going at first as you get your head around the setting and characters, but once it gets going it’s surprisingly gripping. I am debating starting the second season, but I am really quite happy with how the first one ended so I might just stop there so I can revert to my studying self. Then again, it might just carry me though my lunchtime sessions next term. We’ll see.

Lastly, I have made it into one of the school teams for archery! I have no idea what this means in terms of competing and things but  this is exciting nonetheless. Better late than never, considering that this is my last school year and therefore my last chance to be in a school team anyway since my school year ends earlier too!
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We recently had a go at shooting balloons, which was loads of fun. I was on a roll during that session, and shot the most, haha!

Until next time,

X

Inktober 2015: 21-31

[Trigger warning: gore] -ish. I personally think you have to be really squeamish to be afraid of my drawings…

Well, this is very, very late, but here we are at the final installment of Inktober posts. Honestly? I completely forgot about this ever happening. I did finish like 5 drawing in one day with half an hour left to go, but as soon as I was done I fell asleep, and the next day? I started NaNoWriMo.

Inktober was a very big challenge for me to take on over the course of the month, and I am very happy just to have completed it this year. Most of the challenge came from generating new ideas from nowhere and finding the time to complete it. I really wish I could make enough time to bring out all my effort into my drawings without sacrificing the time I need for studying. I doubt that it will get any easier to do, but I hope I will actually remember to do Inktober next year on top of starting university!

X

Inktober 2015 Round-up: Days 11-20. (Featuring some #NaNoWriMo2015 characters!)

Here come the next 10 drawings from Inktober! I fell so far behind during the last week of term meaning that I had to draw at least 3 drawings a day if I wanted to finish on Halloween. I’d rather not run over into November because that is a whole new kettle of fish… It’s #NaNoWriMo!

As you can see, I started to integrate some NaNoWriMo characters into Inktober so I’m technically multitasking. If you don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which budding writers of all ages and genres attempt to write a novel in 30 days. I have attempted it twice and ‘failed’ both times. This year I am going to make a more determined effort at it. I have planned out some cool stuff and actually signed up to the site for once!

As Inktober has just finished I’ll hopefully have the rest of the pictures up on the blog in a few days.

Until then…

X

Inktober Weekly Round Up #1: Days 1-10

I may have mentioned in passing that I’m taking part in Inktober 2015, which is a social media hashtag project thing in which artists everywhere draw an ink piece once a day. This could be a doodle or a huge thing depending on time constraints, and in biro, india ink, pen or brush, whatever, but pencil is outlawed unless it’s for the outlining/under-sketch-thing. Ink is a very bold and versatile medium and definitely requires its own set of skills that I need to work on.

Even if you don’t have instagram, search up #inktober2015 wherever you can hashtag things, because some of the works people so are absolutely stunning. It’s a good way to find amazing inkers for inspiration.

Anyways, this weekly round up is really late as I did run behind on the drawings themselves…

If there’s anything I have learnt so far, it’s that I don’t have a specific style. I can draw chibi figures and semi-realistic faces, and my ‘style’ takes a lot of influence from the large variety of manga out there. Basically, my definition of manga drawing has broadened as I’ve read through series like Assassination Classroom (close, but with a sort of twist that makes it different) and Claymore, both having a manga feel but definitely not the style you are likely to see almost everywhere. Now my drawing style kind of reflects that variety.

Speaking of which, there’s an Anime Club at my school now, and we watched the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club. I love the manga series, and the anime, whilst it doesn’t quite follow the same plot, is just as entertaining. I haven’t watched the anime since possibly two years ago, so watching it with my friends was a new experience. As in, I almost choked on my lunch because I was so excited! A surprising number of people came to the club and filled the classroom, and although it was a teeny bit chatty (but we all shushed each other), everyone else laughed at the right places and.. it was fun. We’ll probably be regulars now.

Until next time,

X

Artistic Scarf-ing

I dug up a scarf from my ‘not-quite-finished-but-so-so-close’ collection, weaved in one measly tail (that was all?) and viola.

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The most artsy-fartsy scarf ever (when it’s knotted around my neck, that is). Forgive the unflattering photo.

Pattern: Oh, Helen! (Link to Ravelry page)
Yarn: Patons Classic cotton 4 ply (discontinued). Yardage unspecified.
Patons current cotton 4ply will do just as well, but you’ll probably get a much longer scarf if you use up the whole skein. The yarn itself is also much shinier than the Classic.

Observe my love for cotton. My stash has a healthy lot of cotton/acrylic blends too.
I mostly use pure cotton just for lacy patterns and summer knits.
This particular ball of red was found at a charity shop with a bunch of other balls at £1 each. I should’ve bought more at the time, because when I returned to buy more, they were all gone.

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Art Mock Exam tomorrow. May the Big Artists Up Above grant me the perseverance and motivation needed for me to survive this difficult time.

I will wear the Artsy Fartsy Scarf for good luck.

X