Frankophilia!

northwest is best frank sidebottom arts

Last night I went to the opening of Frankophilia!, an exhibition celebrating Frank Sidebottom. Frank was forever 35, relentlessy optimistic and did the shopping for his mum (most likely in his big shorts). Chris Sievey, the man behind the papier mache mask, sadly died earlier this year. Frank was never a mainstream comedian, but the news of his death was met with a lot tributes. Frank touched many people, especially in his home city of Manchester. Soon as Chris passed away I got talking to a man in the Northern Quarter. He pulled down his t-shirt to show me a large tattoo of Frank Sidebottom on his chest. “I’m getting a halo added,” he told me.

Exhibition curator Suzanne Smith contacted via Flickr to ask permission to use one of my pictures. You can see my photograph here, which I snapped on Oxford Road when I was taking a summer evening stroll in July. If I’d known it would end up on the Chapman Gallery wall I would have framed it better. I didn’t make the graffiti or the stencil, and don’t know who did. So it was a humble contribution from me, but I was really happy to be involved because Frank Sidebottom brought joy into my life – and introduced me to the word ‘bobbins’. Last year, I saw him perform in Liverpool with his Oh Blimey Big Band. It was a gig that make my jaw ache from grinning.

The exhibition itself was fantastic (to borrow Frank’s favourite word), and a poignant tribute to the man. Seeing the care and attention people had put into their artworks was touching, as was seeing the grins on the faces of everybody enjoying the exhibition. Of course, I didn’t take enough photos so will have to go back for a second visit. Thank you to Suzanne for inviting me to participate, and for all her hard work putting the show together.

Where: Chapman Gallery, University of Salford
When: 17 November-18 December (Wednesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm)
Price: Free

northwest is best frank sidebottom matryoshkaA set of Frank matryoskha by Suzanne Smith.

northwest is best frank sidebottom needleworkSome Frank needlework, but I didn’t note down the artist. My bad.

northwest is best frank sidebottom sofa

A Frank sofa.

Serendipity

northwest is best serendipity

photos by me – apologies for how grainy the image is, but the light is permanently murky

Many months ago, I found this pink dress at a car boot sale. “That one’s three quid, love,” the stallholder told me. “Because it’s hand made.” Cheap at twice the price, I thought, handing over my money. Cutesy pink dresses are not a favourite of mine, but this one has been stitched together by a very talented seamstress. Plus the material is beautiful, almost like a Liberty print.I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so showed it to my mum. She look surprised and then excited, telling me “it’s just like my wedding dress!” She’s right – apart from some variations (different material, lace trim…) these dresses have been made from the same pattern. My parents got married about 30 years ago, so what a coincidence for me to find a near identical dress all that time later at a car boot sale in south London.

Continue reading “Serendipity”

Menswear

northwest is best menswear

One phrase that is often mentioned near ‘personal style blogging’ is ‘the democratisation of fashion’. But I’m not convinced that it really opens up the fashion industry or even society’s standards of beauty to new voices. Just take a look at the front page of any of the big style social networking sites like Chictopia, Weardrobe or Lookbook.nu. Not exactly diverse. (Grit and Glamour had an indepth look and wrote an interesting blog post about it.)

Yes, in some ways I fit the status quo because I’m a slim, reasonably good-looking white gal. But I don’t want to be perceived as a dressed-up doll who exists to be admired. I’m active and strong. The clothes I wear have to fit around what I do, not the other way around.

Which leads me to this outfit. I’m feeling tired of vintage tea dresses. Not that floral prints or chiffon are incompatible with intelligence or strength, but I’m changing and the way I dress is changing too. I’m toughening up.

jumper – pop boutique via boyfriend’s wardrobe // trousers – topman // brogues – topshop
northwest is best menswear (2)

Silk route

 

northwest is best silk route

Took a trip out of Manchester to Macclesfield, and what a grand old trip it was. It’s only 20 minutes on the train, but feels far from the big city as you can see the green hills surrounding the town. Macclesfield was a famous silk weaving town, so I went to the Silk Museum to fill my head with knowledge on silk worms, jacquard weaving and looms. Seeing the skill involved in designing and weaving beautiful garments – before everything was done by computer – made me feel very humble.

The trousers I’m wearing are a new purchase, from Topman. Feeling fed up of women’s trousers with their low rise waistbands and no-pockets, I decided to sniff out whether another from Topman would fit me. It turns out that teenage boys shop at Topman, and not just men, so the sizes go down all the way to a 26 inch waistband. Plus they have pockets big enough to stash my wallet and phone in. A good result.

corduroy jacket – vintage // john lewis scarf – a gift // gloves – blue rinse // trousers – topman // brogues – topshop // bag – charity shop
northwest is best cheshire gap nibbles
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Choodessny chelloveck

northwest is best choodessny chelloveck
Newsflash everybody: romance ain’t dead. Yesterday, a slim parcel arrived at my house, addressed to my droog. “Open it,” he said. “It’s for you.” Inside was a small enamel badge of an InterCity 125. Now, I’m no train expert (unlike my droog), but it did make me squee with delight. Some girls get rings, flowers, bracelets… I get a tiny badge of an old diesel train. And I’m happy. What a wonderful chap he is. Continue reading “Choodessny chelloveck”