Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen

Today I bring you guys a special treat! I recently came across the artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen and I immediately fell in love. His dream-like paintings were unlike anything I had seen before. I was interested in finding out about the inspiration behind Henrik's art, so I asked him whether he would be up for an email interview. And he said yes! His answers are honest and thought-provoking. Definitely a rising star in the art world! 

What prompted you to become an artist? Tell us about your personal journey.
I have always done and enjoyed art. Mostly drawings. It is probably the only thing I've been remotely good at. But at the same time, I didn't really manage to pull off exactly what I wanted. It wasn't before I reached the age of around 21, under my education for being a teacher, that I discovered oil painting, and with that decided that it was indeed an artist that I wanted to be. With oil painting I could do what I previously had failed to do.

Which artists inspire you the most? Are there any young artists such as yourself which are among your favourites?
I find inspiration in a lot of different artists, both living and dead. From concept art to classic fine art and photography. Many of these artists are young, in their 20-30-40's. 

Your paintings are one-of-a-kind - in my opinion, they represent a return to realism while also retaining a very individual, 'contemporary' quality. And then there is also the indescribable dream-like quality of the art - it is as if we have all seen these paintings in a previous life. Can you tell us a little bit behind this concept?
Thank you for that. I'm always striving for better craftsmanship in my art, as I think that modernist art have neglected it for many years. It seems that the appreciation of a well executed piece of art, with solid craftsmanship is on an offensive. A renaissance. I agree that a good idea is important in art. But if the idea is the only thing with the piece, it should be an amazing idea. Which I think many of the conceptual artists today don't have. Of course with some exceptions. 

I have certain works with very concrete motives, and some that I simply don't know how to describe with words. I have always been fascinated by art that is both beautiful and dark. Art that is subtle and dual. That has perhaps rubbed of on the way my paintings look.  

I feel like your art is very 'Scandinavian' - the subtle hues, the soft emotions... Is your art influenced in any way by your nationality? Do you think the fact that you're Norwegian permeates your artworks?
I do believe that growing up in Norway has a lot to do with how my paintings look today. On the other hand, much of my inspiration has come over the internet. I also think that it's hard to define a specific style as typical Scandinavian. We have all sorts of art. But I'm sure the long winters have an effect on the mind. We do have black metal as one of our biggest exports. 

How do you think your style will develop in the future? Would you also like to beging working on completely different projects?
I have no idea. I live from painting to painting. It's so many things I want to do. Luckily I have a lot of years left to do just that. 

What was the most exciting point in your career so far?
I would have to say that making the cover on Hi Fructose vol. 24 was pretty damn cool! I have loved that magazine a long time.

Which of your own artworks is your favourite? 
I personally like the pieces where I have challenged myself with complex buildings and backgrounds the best. But the pieces I enjoy the most in the process is without doubt the portraits. I love painting portraits. 

And finally, a question I have to ask... What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Bust a move! And also, practice a lot. 

Thank you so much, Henrik!
All photos courtesy of Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen.
Thank you Simone for the inspiration! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Feeling

Holla! I'm beginning to get that Christmas feeling... Not really when I'm out and about though, a lot of the Christmas decorations in the centre of Prague are (sadly) quite tacky. Plus everyone is going CRAZY with all the shopping. These days I really don't like going to big shopping centres or supermarkets (and let me tell you, I usually don't mind indulging in a bit of shopping) because of the huge crowds. But in general, I really love Christmas. For me, it's all about the 'cozy' feeling (there's a perfect Dutch word which describes this: gezelligheid). Cheesy, but true.

This is why I'm feeling the Christmas spirit these days:

On Monday I received a parcel from Canada and this is what was inside it! My friend Jason sent over all of these things - what a cool dude! :) I really wasn't expecting any of this, it made me super happy. I mean, books, chocolates AND Spongebob.. what could be better? PLUS check out that wrapping technique! Thank you so much, Jason (& my friend Anja who helped pick out the chocolates)! I guess this is my first Christmas present. :)

Christmas goodies! OK, the 'kruidnoten' aren't technically associated with Christmas - they're eaten at Sinterklaas, a Dutch holiday which takes place in the beginning of December. I got them from my friend Joke who clearly knows just how much I miss the Netherlands. She brought over a Dutch goodie bag when she was here in Prague a few weeks ago - maybe I should do a post on all the cool stuff as well. ;)

Plus it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (bad pun, I know :) in our apartment.

Are you already feeling the Christmas spirit? Or are you still in denial (like I was up until a few days ago)? x

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Matthew Williamson 15 Years

Isn't this short film celebrating Matthew Williamson's 15 years in fashion magical? Stunning images such as the ones in the film above are what fashion is about (for me, at least). And I love the 17th century country house featured in the video - when can I move in?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Liebster Award

Yesterday the lovely Mirjam from Hallo September nominated me for the Liebster Award! I was really honoured that she chose me, along with 10 other bloggers, since I have only been blogging for 2 months.
Thank you so much Mirjam! I really appreciate it.

The Liebster award is given to smaller and upcoming bloggers in the blogosphere. It's also a great way of finding out about new blogs - when you win the Liebster Award, you answer a few questions, give the award to 11 other blogs (some say it's 5? I guess a lot of people make their own rules) and ask them 11 new questions.

Here are my answers to Mirjam's questions:

What's your favourite moment of the day?
Definitely the evening. I'm not really properly awake in the morning, I'm more of a night owl. I love lazy evenings when I just read or check my favourite blogs - bliss! I also love going out for dinner... too much. My wallet ain't too happy about the last one.

As a child, what did you want to become 'when I'm old' (and did you)? 
I wanted to be an artist or a writer! I really loved drawing and writing (I even started my own magazine when I was around 9 - I'll talk about that in an upcoming post ;) and at one point I *almost* illustrated a children's book (that's my claim to fame!). Somehow it didn't work out in the end though... I don't really have artistic aspirations anymore, but I'm still very much interested in art - I mean, I have an MA in Arts Management. I go to a lot of art exhibitions and just generally like to stay up-to-date with what's shaking up the art world. And I still want to write a book one day, that's one of my biggest dreams/goals. So I guess my interests have more or less stayed the same. :)

What's your favourite magazine?
OK, this is a tough one. I'm addicted to magazines! I was truly in magazine heaven when I lived in Scotland during my bachelor studies - there's SO many cool British magazines. I even wrote my BA thesis on fashion blogs vs fashion magazines, so yeah, it's super hard for me to choose a favourite. I like Elle Decoration UK and Vogue Paris a lot (although I don't like Vogue Paris as much as I used to now that Emmanuelle Alt is the editor-in-chief)I also really like the Czech magazine Dolce Vita.

Do you eat Chinese food with chopsticks?
Haha! I try, but anyway I don't really eat Chinese food that often. But I definitely eat sushi with chopsticks! :D

Tell about a family tradition.
Ringing the bell when Christmas presents are 'ready'. This is usually something you do when you have kids (it's meant to mean that Baby Jesus dropped some presents off.. yes, I also think it's weird!). Even though Czech people are really not religious (AT ALL), this Baby Jesus thing is somehow still a popular part of Christmas. The thing is, my parents somehow didn't get the memo that I'm (almost) 27 & this tradition is still going strong in our family. :D

Are you afraid of spiders?
No, not really (maybe only the humongous ones..). Actually, I always feel sorry for spiders when people kill them.

Do you mind losing a (board) game?
I think I always act all cool and people probably think I really don't mind losing, but let me tell you something... I can be very competitive. And I do not like losing. ;)

Red or white wine?
Rosé. ;)

Name your favourite city.
Again, super tough! I'll always, always love Montreal - I lived there for 5 years with my family about 10 years ago and it'll always hold a special place in my heart. I love my dear Helsinki for similar reasons. But if I could just pick a city where I'd live for the rest of my life at this very moment, I think I'd either go for Copenhagen or Stockholm. Maybe Copenhagen would win because of their bike culture - major brownie points!

If you could choose another first name which one would it be?
I love this question because even as a kid, I always envied people with middle names. Last year I found out that you can actually 'get' a middle name quite easily in the Czech Republic - you just go to the city registry office, choose your new middle name, pay a fee and voilà! You've got yourself a brand new middle name. Ever since then, I've been thinking about possible middle names & I think I'm pretty much set on Filippa at the moment (if I ever decide to go through with it).

What's the first blog you read after starting up your computer?
I always go to my Google Reader & check all the newest posts. But I'm always really excited to read posts by Rachel, Niki and Brinja.

Here are my nominees:

Head in the Clouds
My Scandinavian Home
Heart With Companion
Mode de Boulangerie
Recycling Mama

And here are the questions:

What's your secret hidden talent?
What's your favourite food?
How would you describe your fashion style?
What's your favourite spot in your home city?
Are you a sporty person?
What's the best restaurant you've ever been to?
What's your favourite song at the moment?

I kept my choices relatively short, as you can see (as opposed to my answers :D). Anyway, I'm excited to read all the answers of those who decide to participate!

Edit: I forgot to thank everyone for the lovely comments on my last post. I'm thankful for every single comment, but last time you guys really made my day. Thank you! 

Top photo source

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I haven't really had the best week so far. I was quite hopeful about a job a while ago (things looked really promising!) but now I'm not that sure anymore. :-/ I've been feeling really unmotivated job-wise in the past few... months, I guess (I was going to say weeks, but 'months' is closer to truth). I guess all I can do is keep my chin up, keep trying & hope for the best! I just wanted to put these feelings out there because while blogs can make a person's life seem like a fairy-tale, everyone has their own struggles. Personally, I'd like this blog to mainly focus on positive elements - that can't always be the case though!

The above two photos sum up two things that have inspired me lately.

1. Just a photo I really like - found it in Dolce Vita magazine. This is one of my favourite Czech magazines, it's all about fashion, design and architecture.

2. Swedish lessons every Thursday! I looove going to the classes, the group is super relaxed and fun and our teacher rocks. And getting better at Swedish is really exciting! :)


Top photo by Benedikt Renč for the November 2012 issue of Dolce Vita

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dream Destinations

I had such a good time with my friend Joke last week that I guess I'm still in the post-holiday mood. That's why I only got back to blogging today. Sometimes you need a bit of a break, right? And while I would love to post quite frequently in the future, I have to acknowledge the fact that won't always be possible. I really love blogging though, no question about it! :)

Today I'd like to talk about the places I would love to visit sometime in the future - I've narrowed my list down to a total of 3 destinations. I love traveling but visiting these places is not really (financially) possible at the moment... I really do believe that one day I'll see them, though! 

1. Japan

Out of my 3 top places, Japan has been on my 'list' the longest. And no, my short-lived high school J-Rock obsession has nothing to do with that. ;) But seriously, there's so many reasons why I'd like to go to Japan: the food, the over-the-top techy atmosphere, the crazy fashion (Harajuku!), all the kawaii stuff (I think I'd go crazy over this one ;), bullet trains, Kyoto and geishas, karaoke, and just the 'uniqueness' of it all. I also have a few friends from Tokyo and I'd love to visit them & hang out in all the non-touristy places as well. One day, one day!

2. Iceland

To me, Iceland is a bit of a mysterious country, a country where it's still OK to believe in fairy-tales, a country with hauntingly beautiful nature. I first found out about the awesomeness of Iceland when I was studying in Scotland and met my friend Gigja (who's now working with a few people to turn an old fish factory into a creative art space!) for the first time. Ever since then, I've wanted to visit Iceland - I mean, which other country has made such a cool tourism promotional video? Also, I'd love to go to the Iceland Airwaves music festival one day - amazing music and an awesome location, done! Plus, you know, Icelanders are kooky (and all look like supermodels apparently).

3. Faroe Islands

I may or may not have fallen in love with the Faroe Islands after watching a certain H&M video last year. ;) I know, I know, the video is completely staged and apparently there is no H&M on the Faroe Islands (irony!), but still... I think my dream of spending a few nights in a super cozy cabin in a completely secluded area could come true on the Faroe Islands. Lovely, right?

What are your dream destinations? Let me know, I'd love to hear them all! :)

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm still here!

Sorry for being off the radar this week! My friend Joke is visiting Prague so I've been hanging out with her, eating lots of yummy food, going to really cool exhibitions and going crazy over Skyfall & Daniel Craig videos on Youtube... just having a really good time! It's really nice having her here. :) The funny thing is, Joke (at times) seems to know Prague better than me... Ha :D So much for being the local who should know everything about their own city! 

The pics above showcase our fabulous Prague adventures:

1. Me in Choco Café aka the 'Death by Chocolate' place. I think this is the first picture of me on the blog, so.. hi! Nice to meet you! :)

2. More Choco Café goodness! Joke went for the 72% white hot chocolate with banana and strawberries. I was more of a sissy and decided to get the cocoa. It was still really rich though!

3. The famous John Lennon wall.

4. Love locks.

5. Joke and I near the National Theatre. We both got our hair done that day - hence the smiles!

6. Breakfast at Café Louvre today. Salmon croissant, fruit salad and fresh mint tea. Not too shabby!

7. Really cool exhibition in the Rudolfinum Gallery (remember I mentioned that I wanted to go see it in my very first post?) which showcases contemporary British painting. Some of the details on the paintings were really crazy!

(All the photos were taken by Joke, except the last one. I haven't been taking that many pictures, I always seem to forget about the fact that I have my camera with me these days!).

I guess I won't really be posting till Sunday, but I promise that I will make it up to everyone next week. I already have some posts lined up. :)  Have a nice weekend (almost there!). 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Breakfast

What's your favourite (Sunday) breakfast? I love banana and nutella toast paired with a nice big mug of English breakfast tea (with milk!). Maybe not the healthiest option, but certainly the tastiest. :) Do you have any breakfast preferences or recommendations?

P.S.: I'm still in awe of the film Laurence Anyways, which I saw yesterday. The director, Xavier Dolan, is only 23(!!) and has already directed three amazing films. I suggest watching all three! It seems that lately I've been on an 'amazing film' streak...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Washi Tape Obsession

I've got a brand new obsession - washi tapes aka masking tapes. I guess I'm 'kind of' late to this trend (cough cough :), but if it weren't for my friend Risa, I wouldn't have gotten so obsessed in the first place. She sent me my very first Paperchase washi tape (the blue one at the very bottom). And then I read a post on one of my favourite Czech blogs, which was talking about a really cool Czech washi tape e-shop. And the rest is history... Obviously my collection is still very humble, but hopefully it will grow in the not-too-distant future. :) The thing is, I'm not really a 'crafts' person. So what do I use the tapes for? Well, I love paper, stationery, notebooks... So far, I've used the tapes to decorate my Moleskine notebooks and also to spruce up some of the weekly entries. Also, washi tapes are really useful when it comes to wrapping presents. I'm sure you've seen loads of pictures of presents wrapped in simple brown paper and decorated with washi tape - it looks amazing! I plan on wrapping my Christmas presents that way this year. :)

What do you think, are you just as obsessed with washi tapes as I am? Or maybe you're even more obsessed (seriously, that video gives me major washi tape envy!)?

P.S.: Check out a really easy washi tape DIY from one of my favourite blogs (I know, I know, I seem to have many faves... I read a lot of blogs though! :).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Laundry Cafe

Today I met up with a friend in a really cool cafe - it's called Prádelna Café, 'prádelna' meaning laundry. You can see the laundry theme in the last photo. :) This place is fast becoming one of my favourite spots in Prague - it's non-smoking (I really, really hope the Czech Republic will adopt the non-smoking policy ASAP), has a cozy interior (obviously the pics don't do it justice), and serves delicious and healthy food that won't break the bank. Plus it's located in a really nice neighbourhood, Vinohrady. If you're ever in Prague, I highly recommend you check it out.

Monday, November 5, 2012

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

I've never really been a huge Beatles fan. Sure, I like some of their songs, but I just never really got the whole Beatles craze. I was always more of a Bowie girl (and I still am :). I actually used to think the Beatles were a bit overrated (I know, I know: blasphemy!). And then on Saturday, after going to see the 'George Harrison: Living in the Material World' documentary, I saw the light. Seriously, if you still haven't seen this film, DO SO NOW. I guarantee you will love it, even if you're not a full-fledged Beatles fan. It's both funny and heartbreaking - at the end of the film there wasn't a dry eye in the house. It's not only a documentary about a musical phenomenon, but also about a man's journey to find the meaning of life. I love it.

Btw... the film is 208 minutes long. You heard right. That's 3 hours and a half. But it's so worth it!

Top photo from The Fire Wire

Friday, November 2, 2012

Interview with Maiju from 'my 2nd hand life'

TGIF! I'm really excited about today's post and I hope you will be too! On Wednesday I dropped a hint that I would be posting about something exciting soon and, well, it seems that 'soon' is today (I'm pretty impatient, if you haven't noticed yet ;). Soooo... a few days ago I asked the lovely Maiju from my 2nd hand life if I could do an email interview with her and she said yes! She was super nice about it too. :) For those who don't know Maiju's blog, it mainly centres on interior design - Maiju often blogs about her own home as well as things that inspire her. You really have to check her blog out, it's filled with beautiful photographs (Maiju's house is just amazing!) and witty posts. It really is one of my favourites! I wanted to interview Maiju as I was curious to find out about the story behind her blog.

Tell us a bit about how your blogging journey began. When did you start your blog and what inspired you to do so?
I started blogging in 2007 on my maternity leave. In Finland the maternity leave is 10 months, so I needed a nice hobby that I could do at home. I have always been interested in interior decorating, but when I at the time discovered interior blogs, I really became fascinated with the field and wanted to start my own blog too. My 2nd hand life blog I have had for two years now.

What do you like the most about blogging? Has blogging changed your life in any significant way?
Yes, it has definitely changed my life in a positive sense. I'm a creative person and blogging is a great way to express yourself and your ideas I think. And to get inspiration from other bloggers. Also the feedback from the readers has been amazing and really made me more confident about my visions and skills! And that's priceless, I think!

Apart from blogging, what do you fill your days with?
I'm a mum for a 5 year old boy and soon for a little girl too, if everything goes like expected. I'm also a public servant on the public sector on daytime - a job that isn't that creative all the time, but needs constant rethinking and new ideas too. I think that these two sides (being a blogger and having an administrative dayjob) go well together :)

You have a great eye for interior design, where do you draw your inspiration from? Has your 'interior style' changed at all in the past few years? What 'motifs' do you love using in your place?
Thank you, I read lot of blogs from everywhere - mostly from Europe though. I love the Danish style of interior decoration - black and white, contrasts, vintage items, playful details mixed with good design. A bit bohemian look I guess. To live in an older home with wooden floors, old windows and doors, several fireplaces and so on is something that I enjoy and appreciate everyday! I think my style has changed from more ruff industrial vintage to more clearer style with more modern design during the recent years.

What's your favourite thing about living in Finland?
Four seasons absolutely, all though having a long and dark winter feels many times a bit tuff...

Finland has so many amazing designers, who is your favourite?
This is a difficult question, I really can't pick one. But I think that for example Marimekko has a nice brand and products.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully happy with my family of four persons! I would also like to develop my blog and blogging to a stage, where I could earn some of my income from there. Just to have more freedom in life and do the things I love!

Thank you so much, Maiju! You rock :)
Photos of Maiju's house courtesy of my 2nd hand life