Sunday, 29 January 2012


I absolutely love to draw. I think I could quite frankly spend my whole time drawing. At the moment I have an obsession with Muji gel fine-liner pens & have them in every colour under the sun. I actually feel naked without the black pen on me at all times - which leads me onto my next point - feeling naked. BEING naked. Oh, nudity.

I love drawing people in their birthday suits, the way they first popped out. Boobs, bums & bouncy bits couldn't be more ideal when my Muji pens are about. I went to my first ever life drawing class when I was 15 year old at a family friend's house. Her name is Joy & she is the most excentric person I know - gray hair tied in 70's style hair scrunchies on the top of her hair, wearing the most bizzare & excletic mix of materials & colours...(saying this I've just realised she may have had some subconscious influence on my current style? Although the hair scrunchy has yet to catch on). She lives in an amazing studio flat which is literally rammed full on sculptures. Her late husband was a sculptor & they fill every possible space in her flat, hanging with cobwebs & blanketed with a layer of dust. The nudey life model precariously posing on a raised wooden block drapped in velvet material, rose from the sculptures as our own living sculpture as we squeezed ourselves between bits of marble & stone to face our easels. A completely mesmorising experience, instantly securing a life long love of drawing the human form. I remember proudly telling my art teacher at school about the class who responding in a less than enthusiastic way - apparently it was 'inappropriate' for someone under the age of 15 to go to a life drawing class. Honestly, I have baths. I know what it looks like.
Most peculiar, but then again, she was a teacher at the same school where make-up & jewelry were forbidden, skirts had to practically touched the ground & speaking to boys was considered a sin. We also meditated every morning, chanted in Sanskrit throughout the day, ate vegetarian food & had cross-stitching lesson. But that, of course, is quite another story.

I really feel very grateful to life drawing. It's wonderful to have something to be so passionate about & to know that it'll make me feel like a chilled out bean whenever I do it. I almost feel like I owe something of myself to the practise & have felt for quite some time now that I should become a life model to say thank you.
I'm naked to say thank you to other people for being naked. I've drawn your bits, now you can draw mine.
We have a tea break half way through the weekly life drawing class I go to & I always enjoy to have a bit of chat with that weeks model in this time. Such a range of types seem to life model, a particular favourite is an 18 year old girl who works full time as a nude model, often posing for photographers (reading between the lines she doesn't mind a bit of eroticism in these circumstance. Eroticism in the name of art, of course). Another fab model is from Slovakia & works as a photographer & make-up artist. She modeled in last weeks class & lo & behold she's now pregnant! Very jolly to draw the little bump I must say. Very jolly indeed. The models I've chatted to have given me advice about getting into life modelling & soon enough I'll be at my first 'Spirited Bodies' event flaunting my bits & bobs infront of anyone who wants to whip out a pen & paper.

The chappy who runs the life class I go to is involved with the Portobello Art Gallery. He helped organise an exhibition of local artists so I submitted some of my little drawings. I popped along to the private view & almost passed out when I spotted he'd priced them at £70 & there was a little red dot. A red dot?! Sold! Almost far too exciting. My first ever exhibited piece was sold. I still can't believe it. Ooh la la. 
See, everyone loves a bit of nudity.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


What is it with people & their stuff? I watched a stand-up comedian on youtube musing over our necessity to have stuff - 'if you didn't have so much goddam stuff you wouldn't need a house...' An interesting concept, although I admit to taking comfort in the running water & heating benefits of my house, the number of surfaces on which stuff can be accumulated are simply ideal & the amount of seemingly random & perhaps rather useless stuff which fills my every nook & cranny certainly requires a house. Bits of paper, owls, material, owls, clothes, owls, bags, owls, accessories, owls, books, owls, stationary, owls, ornaments, owls, & so on that swim around on my bedroom floor, one would be forgiven for believing that Bella's dwelling spot does not in fact HAVE a floor. I have an extremely tidy friend who's habits verge on the side of OCD - pens sit in neat lines on her desk while her toothpaste hangs in it's own little pouch attached to the wall above her sink. Very sweet. I think this chum is quite frankly dumbfounded by my 'stuff' accumulating habits & would like to drown me in a blanket of her positive influence under which a summer photo album isn't precariously balancing on a pile of GCSE notebooks. She actually tried to help me get rid of some of my stuff, exclaiming in quite an alarmed manner throughout the process - Bella, what on earth is this!? A broken torch? An empty match box? Surely you don't need this kinder surprise toy circa 1995? Why keep bracelets which have lost their beads? To each of her questions I refuted strongly, explaining that all my stuff really is necessary in one way or another. An empty matchbox? It's to store paper clips, of course! The broken bracelets? I'll remold them into earrings! Durrr. An hour & a half later all she'd persuaded me to throw away was two beads the size of a couscous. And even that I regretted.
I am a lost cause.

Right, well I've chatted about some of my bedroom stuff so let's now move onto my bag stuff. The stuff I take when I'm going here & there. I simply could not leave the house without a bag of stuff, filled to the brim with all the necessary things which provide a sense of security when faced with the outside world. The basics - eyeliner, lipstick, a few make up brushes, some cover-up, bottle of dry shampoo, vaseline, a comb, pens, pencils, a rubber, my diary, oyster card, purse, keys, a hat, a bottle, my camera, ipod, the metro, the Sunday Times magazine, tea, contact lens solution, tissues...all pretty straight forward? Despite the quantity, you can understand my need for those things? Ok, now here's the test - try & work out the necessity for some of the other bits & bobs found lurking in my bag (you may struggle, but trust me, EVERY has it's purpose). More bag stuff: knitting needles, wool, a bag of felt, buttons, a sewing kit, cotton wool, an electric lint remover, a stanley craft knife, Indian black ink pot, a shoe insole, a single earring, used coffee cups...I could go on. As a result of my bag situation I often have a painful left shoulder. Maybe I should leave the electric lint remover at home more often. Maybe.

As well as all the above listed baggy bits & bobs, I also always carry a sketchbook. At the moment It's a little Indian one with recycled paper. I draw in it at any opportunity - simply anything in my sight at the given moment. More useful than the used coffee cups in my bag? Who knows.

I've chatted before about making books. Below is one I made & took with me on the 'Chi Kung' retreat I went on a few weeks ago (wrote about it in my last blog post, in fact). Check out some of my strange diagrams trying to explain the practise in the hand-made book bellow!

Since going on the retreat I've been practising Chi Kung every morning for 15 minutes. It's a great routine & I find it good to fully relax before the hectic STUFF filled day begins.

And yes, the movements really do have names like 'Beautiful butterfly dances in front of flowers', 'Pushing mountains' & 'Raising the sky'. It may sound completely nutty, but I find it completely wonderful.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


I'm rather keen on alternative things. By this I don't mean 'hipster alternative', like all that East London business, I simply mean things which are in some way a bit different or perhaps rather unusual. Going blackberry picking in the rain by a prison on my 21st birthday, for example. Taking photographs of barbed wire. Collecting rubbish.
I am also referring to my interest in alternative therapies & practices. I'm a little bit of an odd paradox - being very chilled out & easy going, I also have quite a tendency to stress like a mentalist. I worry about the most ridiculous things & sometimes find it a bit tricky to remind myself how ridiculous I am being. For example, the simple matter of going to bed. I want to get ready for bed - brush my teeth, take out contact lenses, remove my blue mascara, tweeze my eyebrows - but I can't get around to doing it because I'm sewing or something instead so then I start worrying that if I don't stop sewing & carry out my abulitions soon I'll go to bed too late & then be tired the next day. The later it gets, the more I worry about it getting later & being more tired. Honestly, BELLA JUST GO TO BED. So yeah, a little of my irrational worry patterns for you. I'm very keen to stop being such a worrier so have been to mindfulness classes, practice yoga & dabble meditation now & then. My New Years resolution is to stress less, chill my beans & live in the moment.

My recent alternative discovery has been Chi Kung. Chi Kung is the practice of aligning breath, movement & awareness for exercise, healing & meditation. With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts & philosophy, Chi Kung is traditionally viewed as a practice to balance chi - a persons 'intrinsic life energy'. The practice involves rhythmic breathing, coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement & a calm mindful state. From a philosophical perspective Chi Kung is believed to help develop human potential, allow access to higher realms of awareness & awaken one's 'true nature'. I've been going Chi Kung classes in London for a while now & got jolly excited when my teacher told me about a weekend course he was organising called 'Fully Alive: Energy flow for Health & Happiness'. Seriously, how ideal does that sound?

So I signed up immediately, knowing no one else going or much about it, only that it was at a retreat in East Sussex by the sea. The retreat was a family run house with animals hanging around & barns to sleep in. It was really wonderful. All rustic with fires & home cooked food. We were an extremely eclectic bunch, I must say. About 15 of us - ranging from Paul, a tall & rather large plasterer with a handle-bar mousache who complained that he wouldn't have come if he'd know the food who be vegetarian ('I don't want to become a vegetabilist! I need meat!') to Rene, a completely lovely yoga teacher from Norway. Then of course there was me - the girl in green trousers who went around taking photos of barred wire, bits of string & leaves.

The program was quite intense, learning & practising the art of Chi Kung from 9-6pm each day, but I found it really wonderful & has been helping my sort out my going to bed situation. Since the retreat I do the 15 minute practice each morning. My chi is flowing like a mentalist right now. Ideal.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Right, I am very behind the times, but all the jolly Christmasy business made my life rather hectic for a few weeks. The Christmas tree is down and M&S are selling chocolate Easter bunnies, so I guess it's time to move on. Most sad. But before I officially fold up my Rudolf panties until next year I'll give a quick run down of some festive bits & bobs.

A while ago I popped along to the Avenue Cooking School with my brother for one week to do 'The REALLY USEFUL cooking course'. 'Really useful' as in 'it's okay if you don't know how to crack an egg (my brother...seriously), we'll hold your hand through it..' It was a fun-fish-pie-victoria-sponge-lasagne-filled week in which we not only learnt the art of the perfect white sauce, but also how to tie a bow tie, change a car tyre & get wine out of the carpet. I don't consider myself to be a mini Nigella Lawson but like to think that since the course I've got a few Kitchen tricks up my sleeve - up my APRON - I mean (ah such a chef pun. Told you I had it). So while I was hanging in Durham right before Christmas my chums & I decided to have a mulled wine & mince pies party & being a 'really useful' semi-pro, I volunteered immediately to make the pies. Naah probs.
Well, slight probs. Mince meat, what? So...does it have like actual meat in it? How bizarre! Thank goodness I was stopped in my tracks before raiding Tescos meat & poultry section by a friend who happened to have a big jar of mince meat hanging about. Perhaps a little cheating, but I'll make the pastry, naah probs. Well, slight probs. Pastry - bake blind? Does that mean I should wear a blind fold? How bizarre! Thank goodness I was stopped once again by another friend before I set about tying a scarf over my eyes & getting involved with a hot oven - Bella you can buy ready-made pastry. Perhaps a bit more cheating, but I'll roll it out to maintain some kind of authenticity. 
Unfortunately the only pastry I could find in Tescos was pre-rolled pastry. So there was me - promising to make the creme de la creme of mince pies, inspired by a week's cooking course - with mince pies made from pre-rolled, pre-minced mince meat. Shame. At least I made them look pretty (sort of).

Then there was Christmas day. Too jolly. We spent it, like every year for as long as I can remember, with our friends the Bluffs who ACTUALLY had their own Christmas napkins made. Now that's what I call hardcore Christmas appreciation. They really know how it's done. Seriously, everything from the Christmas tree shaped soap to bottled water with Santa hats - their house is quite frankly the most wonderful Christmas grotto one could ever imagine.

And I rather enjoyed the abundance of Christmas socks poking around...most festive...


Various dinner parties - this one particularly jolly - there were 12 of us & we all had to bring a dish & cosidering most of the group have somewhat competitive sides, we ended up with some pretty spectacular dishes. The cherry pie a particular gem, created by a brother & sister who spent more of the day sourcing cherry liquor & pitted cherries in the most merticulous manner. 

 Alongside the dish I took with me, I made some owl shaped biscuits to earn myself some extra brownie points. They were a sucess, despite a little initial confusion - apparently they are somewhat phallic shaped...? I'm far too innocent to have even considered that, of course...

Then there were many carol services - one particularly fab one at St Pauls in Onslow Square called 'The Alternative Carol Service' at which Giovanna Marshall, King Charles, Stokes William & the chap from the Hoosiers sung (all amazing singers. Check 'em out)

Last but not least - slightly un-festive themed, but themed nonetheless - LMFAO.
Enough said.