My Nottingham

Having settled into a new job and with summer finally here (I think), I’ve recently had a newfound appreciation for Nottingham. Although it’s been nearly 6 years now, I feel like I’m only just discovering everything it has to offer.

Living here as a student, I was very much in bubble of the campus and it’s immediate surroundings. Starting my first job my bubble expanded a little but was still very city-centre focused, and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve ventured further. There’s still much more to explore and my map is by no means finished (I am already sure there are at least 10 interesting or special places I’ve missed) but I’m starting to feel like maybe I have reached my destination, geographically at least. With that in mind, it feels an appropriate time to say goodbye to this blog, and move onto the next – name/idea/content TBC.

Click the top left icon to see categories and the full list.

Copenhagen

This manic month started off with a winter weekend in Copenhagen, a city I’ve been dying to visit for years. Despite the chill it lived up to all my expectations; the only word I can think of to describe it is ‘cool’. It’s mix of classic architecture, relaxed lifestyle and unpretentious indie spirit made a lovely place to wander, explore, and warm up with many hot drinks!

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Water is so central to the landscape, wherever you go it is inescapable, making the most unexpected of buildings look impressive. It cuts the city centre up making it’s grid structure work around it. Nyhavn and Kastellet, the star shaped fort, have very different uses and feels, but both wouldn’t be what they are without it.

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One thing I knew we were definitely going to have to do was climb the tower at Christianborg Slot, the seat of government portrayed in Borgen, my TV obsession of last year. The view perfectly showed Copenhagen’s mix of old and new, industrial and beautiful. It also gave us a faint view of the Oresund Bridge, which this year’s TV obsession ‘The Bridge’ is centred on.

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The strangest part of the trip was definitely visiting ‘Freetown Christiania’, a self-proclaimed, autonomous neighbourhood. Although selling drugs is still illegal, this commune is left alone by the police, and is a massive tourist attraction due to it’s colourful streets. It being a grey, overcast day definitely didn’t help the mood, but while I never felt unsafe with all the people around, it was definitely uncomfortable walking down a road where people are wearing balaclavas. I’m glad we went as I’m not sure where else I’d experience that kind of place, but I can’t imagine wanting to stay for long.

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Considering the fact I’ve never cycled on a road before, I wasn’t brave enough to jump on the cities favourite mode of transport. Although given a bit more time I think I would have done, as I’ve never seen a place where cyclists have as much importance as cars, and where the roads are built with them in mind. We did at one point jump on a water taxi (also adapted for cyclists…) as the few bridges are fairly spaced out; if we were thinking that then I’m sure the city’s residents really can’t wait for the pedestrian bridge to be completed!

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Having apparently done over 100,000 steps in 4 and a bit days, I was ready for another break when we got home. With all it’s open spaces and waterside, I am already looking forward to one day coming back in warmer weather!

One day I will run a library…

I’ve never really had a dream job or ultimate goal in life but recently I’ve realised both of those boxes could be ticked by running a library. Obviously I’m not talking about your standard, depressing, concrete council library, I’m thinking of something a little more unexpected and thought-provoking.

I’ve always loved reading and while my first library was in hindsight nothing inspiring, to 10 year old me that 60’s brick block was AMAZING. Last year I visited the newly opened Birmingham Public Library on my travels and fell in love (since when did libraries have roof gardens and neon escalators?!) However while it’s a great place if you’re going to study or know what you are looking for, the only section that to me felt like it prompted discovery was the children’s area. In terms of enticing adults in to read for leisure, I don’t think the library format works anymore. With no time to browse every shelf or wish to talk in whispers, Waterstones is now a far more comfortable environment in comparison!

‘read.’ is my plan for a space which encourages people to be more experimental with reading, and shows them that there is a book for everyone. The theme of the entire space would change every 6-8 weeks, with topics on everything from the internet to space exploration. One month you might read a fictional adventure set in the Amazon, the next you might end up discussing the concept of independence. Fiction and non-fiction would split the space roughly in half, asking you if you want to imagine or learn as you enter.

The ‘imagine.’ side would be filled with sofas and comfortable chairs where you can get lost in a book. As well as places where you can read and dream in peace, there would be areas where you could let your imagination run wild. Perhaps this would be something like the Ideabox in the collage, where one person starts a story and everyone else builds it into a collaborative tale.

‘learn.’ on the other hand would be more of a space to discuss, predominantly a big table where a book club could meet or a speaker could share views on a topic. A wall of questions would exist here, where people could write up and help each other answer queries on things they’ve read.

As with every bookshop/library there would have to be a form of nourishment, whether this is a café or something more unique like a doughnut shop (the great new Nottingham Doughnut Co. is never far from my mind…) Independent publishing in the form of zines and magazines would also have a place in ‘read.’ pointing people in the direction of where else this idea is currently being discussed.

I’ll admit I don’t have the business model completely sorted, but I know I want people to be able to buy things they fall in love with as well as borrow books which they’re unsure about. Considering how many things in our lives are now on a subscription basis (music, films, even handbags!) potentially a membership scheme would sort the finances and create an engaged customer base. There would also be multiple opportunities to run workshops and events for both schools and other groups, adding ticket sales to the revenue.

I’m not pretending my idea has never been tried before in some way, or that it would be an immediate solution to getting more adults reading, but this is a format which would definitely motivate me (and hopefully others!) into being a bit more adventurous with my book choices.  As a job, I can think of nothing better than spending my days surrounded by books and people who are equally as excited by them. Now all that’s left is to win the lottery…

 

Sources for these images and more can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ugne/if-i-ran-a-library/

Serpentine Pavilion 2015

Recently I had one of those lovely days in London where you just wander around and see what there is to see. The best thing I saw was the Serpentine Pavilion. I’ve never really paid much attention to them before, but the aesthetics of this instantly intrigued me. Built by the SelgasCano architectural partnership, the colour-shifting, translucent plastic walls remind me of how I imagined houses looking in the future when I was a child.

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I really like the idea that the architects’ inspiration came from the way people move around London, notably the underground. Winding around the narrow outer passageways does feel like walking between two Tube lines, albeit in a much brighter space! While the clear walls and thin roof probably aren’t practical for a house, one day I am determined to at least have a very elaborate garden reading den like this!

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Lithuania: homeland but not home

Reading Oh Comely a few weeks ago, I came across a Welsh word which made think about my feelings for Lithuania (and reminded me that I got halfway through this post in May then forgot about it…)

hiraeth -a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

Having left aged 3 I’ve only been back a handful of times, but when asked what my nationality is never hestitate before saying Lithuanian. Often it feels a chore to visit and I definitely wouldn’t want to move back there, but I will fly to it’s defence if someone says a word against it.

On our most recent visit, we made time to see more of Lithuania than just the inside of my grandparents flat, which I think resulted in me and my sister returning more patriotic than we ever had been before.

The thing that struck me most was the contrasts this tiny country holds. We never normally venture beyond the Soviet landscape of Alytus (below) and as silly as it sounds, had never visited in Spring when the sun is out and the trees aren’t bare. The brightness of the season made even these old towerblocks look less depressing. Staying in Dzukijos Dvaras, a lovely hotel just outside the city but far from civilisation, felt like venturing into silent, deserted, fairytale woods.

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While visiting a friend we also had the chance to see sunset over Kaunas Reservoir, and I think that’s when I realised just how beautiful the country I always remember in concrete actually is, the picture speaks for itself.

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To top off our manic weekend, we also managed to squeeze in some time in Vilnius before our flight. Starting in the historic Cathedral Square we walked up to Gediminas Castle, a symbol you can’t escape in the capital. Looking at the skyline, it’s clear to see how long the city has been here and how far it’s come. It’s strange to see such a mix of historic church towers, glass highrises (I don’t think they quite qualify for the name skyscraper…) and Soviet relics.

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While I will never call it home, I am definitely proud to come from this strange little country which has progressed in leaps and bounds, and that’s just in my living memory! For once, a visit to the homeland left me rested, happy and excited to return.

D&AD New Blood – Pantone Brief

So one of my aims for the year was to finally get around to entering the D&AD New Blood Awards (about time seeing as you can only do it until you’re 23!) and I did it! Granted I didn’t leave myself quite enough time to finish it the way I would have liked, but it felt great to do some creative work again. Below is my response to the Pantone brief asking me to reimagine my city in colour.
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Nottingham cannot be encapsulated in one image, element or colour. I wanted to create an identity as varied as the attractions it has, which was open for all of its diverse community to use. Kinetic Nottingham aims to reflect the key reasons people interact with the city, all of which are constantly moving forward. The broken down elements can be used as buttons on a website, 3D signage across the city or simply as a logo on poster. I hope it can begin to reflect this amazing city, and would love to see how residents make it their own.

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Jan & Feb

Today it struck me, it’s the middle of March and I have no idea how it got here. Since coming back to Nottingham this year has flown by, and while normally I can figure out what I’ve been doing based on my phone photos, this search doesn’t seem to have thrown up much! All I can conclude is that I have been working a lot and nesting in my room! That said, my new year’s resolutions aren’t coming along too badly. I’ve been running nearly every week, finally finished the crochet blanket (by turning it into a cushion…see below) and no longer hate what’s in my lunchbox!

With the busiest period at work coming to an end in a week, hopefully my next batch of photos will be from more exciting places (and I will finally have a D&AD entry to post!).