I wrote this down in my first ever journal two years ago now. I had been standing by the attic window, looking out over the rooftops. I find rooftop views really nostalgic and moving because I used to climb a tree in the garden of our old home and when I got high enough I could see over the roofs of our neighbours houses; the terracotta patchwork pathways to the door behind the sun. I came down from the attic feeling floaty and numb, my surroundings unfamiliar. I felt like a stranger passing through, seeing everything from the outside.
Film I made for GCSEs based around the word ‘fragments’. I chose to present fragments of childhood and teenage-hood (if that’s a word) in the style of a music video. I chose Bloodflood by Alt j as it’s about feeling overwhelmed or a wave of emotions engulfing you. That’s how I sometimes feel looking back on my life and realising how much it has changed over the years.
I recently visited the Saatchi Gallery for the Pop the Streets exhibition and came across a piece by Basquiat (which I can’t find any pictures of). It was a white door with an explosion of colour and painted doodles spreading through it. I took down the name and googled it this afternoon, not thinking I’d find much, just killing time in art. I ended up getting really inspired for my next project.
Here are some interesting factssss….
- Basquiat came from a culturally diverse background, half Haitian American and half Puerto Rican.
- His mother was interested in fashion design and joined him when he started doing frequent drawings on the paper his father brought home from the office. “I’d say my mother gave me all the primary things. The art came from her”
- While recovering from being hit by a car (he broke his arm) his mother gave him Gray’s Anatomy which made a big impression on him. His later work features lots of anatomical drawings.
- “Jean-Michel did not like obedience. He gave me a lot of trouble” His father, Gerard Basquiat
- He first gained recognition for his cryptic, philosophical graffiti which was tagged around Manhattan under the name SAMO (‘same old shit’).
- By age 11 he could fluently speak, read and write in French and Spanish.
- He quit high school (after dumping a box of shaving cream on the principles head in an assembly) and worked on the streets, selling his art on postcards and sweatshirts.
- I read he is the only artist who started tagging the streets then successfully transitioned to the art world (predominantly white) and made a significant impact on a movement (Neo-Expressionism).
- Basquiat was attracted to the idea of fame. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were big inspirations to him. Unfortunately he also died from drug overdose at age 27, like the aforementioned stars. “Jean-Michel lived like a flame” Fred Braithwaite
yo this is turning into a really arty blog
current listen (I LOVE IT THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IT ON MY FEBRUARY PLAYLIST BEE)
B made a film. And it’s really lovely.
She also posted her new years resolutions which are very similar to mine. Especially number 9 ‘Not hang out with negative people… This has actually worked so far’. Before the new year I let someone back into my life in my attempts at being more social. This is someone I used to gravitate towards in high school, which feels like a lifetime away. It’s like how in My So Called Life when Angela and Rayanne’s mums are talking and Rayanne’s mum says ‘It’s like everybody else was in black and white, and that person was in colour. Well, Rayanne thinks Angela is in colour. Major colour’. Damn that show was honest. Our friendship was like a box of matches that kept burning out too fast or refusing to light. They slowly faded into the black and white and I was left confused as to why I had been so determined to make it work. High school friends are rarely permanent. You have to be okay with that. Otherwise you’ll have someone’s name in your contacts for a long time that you rarely feel like talking to and yet you sincerely care that they’re doing okay. It’s a weird, awkward grey area to be in.
So I ended up trying to draw out their colour again as I fell into the old high school crowd. It felt like going backwards which felt wrong because the year was almost up. I was walking backwards in the toxic smoke as they promised new things and new people. But I knew I would never know them as anything more than kids pretending to be philosophers and self titled wallflowers, so I slipped away where the air was clearer. Until I felt safer and stronger.
My extended family are far away. Some of whom I haven’t seen for over two years. It can be hard for me to feel as though I have companionship and support sometimes. It’s not often that I’m surrounded by lots of people I feel comfortable with and immersed in love and acceptance. That happens a couple of times a year, and it’s how I entered the new year. As I sat in the attic with Bushra, holding party poppers as our family friends began the countdown to midnight I decided there was no point in spending time with people who made me feel anything less than how I felt with them.
Rather than giving out my love and energy to people who don’t know how to give any back, I’m getting used to being with myself. Getting okay with being an introverted homebody. I’m working harder at being a good friend to the beloved friends I already have and setting aside more time to be with them. But I’m also keeping an eye open for those special people whose hearts are awake and whose minds are open. Those dwelling in unexpected places, and those that have been there all along.
Rather than having an existential/mid life crisis as I accept another year is fading away, I’m starting to reflect on this year’s jewels and gems. Being 16 has been pretty good. Very 16-ish. I started this post unsure of how to capture this year in words and pictures so I went to my flip camera and realised I had collected a lot of footage over these past twelve months.
It’s just snippets of the year (and the eve of 2014) in no particular chronological order. Lots of room stuff as certain items now hold particular memories. For example, I spent many nights in Ramadhan reading Jane Eyre. I don’t just want to remember being 16 and think of starting college and ending high school. I want to remember my friends laughing, my favourite t shirts, views out the car window that stirred something in me, how I did my hair, how I saw my family, the adventures we set off for at seven in the morning, the shoes I was wearing and the books I was reading and the way I wanted my room to look and the things I thought were worth writing down in my journal.
I chose Penelope’s theme after much consideration as I started listening to it at the start of college and B and I are both in agreement that it sounds exactly like what being a teenager feels like. And 16 is the most teenager-ish age there is.
Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks/No Rest for the Wicked – Lykke Li/Cracker – Low/Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd/Malibu – Hole/Northern Star – Hole/Gods and Monsters – Lana Del Rey/Call Me – Blondie/The Captain and the Hourglass – Laura Marling/Of Birds and Trees and Fire – I am Oak/Summertime – Rosie and Bing/Teenage Daughter – Dog is Dead/Angelene – PJ Harvey/Arrival in Nara – Alt J/Bloodstream – Ed Sheeran/You’re Not Free – Frazey Ford/Yellow Brick Road – Angus and Julia Stone/Mayla – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/Overdone – Bombay Bicycle Club/Kids – MGMT/Riding My Bicycle – Team Me/Smoke Without Fire – Duffy