28 April 2016

Venturing Beyond, finding Watt's Up & Illuminated Ink

I love weekends. I love not having to set an alarm. I love the need for my dressing gown, longer showers, the luxury of having more time to apply my make up. But the main reason I love weekends is because I get to make the most of what London has to offer.

As much I enjoy perusing things like Time Out, the sheer number of activities on offer exhaust me. Especially when most things require a group, or a cost, or to book way in advance.

Instead, I sign up to things like SheerLuxe, London On The Inside, The Nudge and The Handbook - which act like a filtered version of Time Out. My secret is out, guys - I'm not an encyclopedia of all things London (like my friends seem to think when I ask them if they're up for something and they're like How do you hear about all these things?).

It also helps if you're happy to go it alone. I know some people hate the idea of doing things alone and wandering around looking like a loner, but I really enjoy it. I like to people watch, plan my own route, linger for however long I want and leave quickly if I'm not feeling it. It's actually a luxury, in a weird way. It doesn't feel lonely, it feels liberating.

But aaaanyway, here's what I got up to last weekend on my wanderings.

I feel like I can always rely on galleries to have something interesting on offer. And because I wanted to be central for the second part of my erm, adventure, I opted for Somerset House.

Unfortunately, once I got there I discovered that most of the exhibitions were ticketed - and I was on a budget. After badgering the information desk, I was finally informed that Venturing Beyond was free, and a did a little skip all of a few metres away to the entrance (having looped around the main courtyard a few times and cursing my lack of research).

It was cool. A good balance of curiosity, sincerity and fun. It began with a bit of insight into what the exhibition was all about, and then you were left to watch, admire and in my case, have a giggle at the names of the artwork (you'll see what I mean shortly).

"To venture beyond is to take risk for something more. It can be an attempt to physically breach a space, or to desire to form a new way of thinking about the world; it contains the promise of the possible."

And so I ventured...

Propaganda-esque, tongue-in-cheek prints 
If you wore a hi-vis, what would you want the message to be?

My favourite piece was called "The only emergency is the absence of emergency" by Filippo Minelli.

Does the smoke look less threatening in a different light? To me, the piece was all about perspective. We're so attuned to picking up danger nowadays, that we're not really seeing the whole picture.

There was a huge cartoon influence going on. The picture with the couple and the guy lurking behind, engraving the wall? The frame was actually engraved. I thought that was a fun touch. 

And then things got a little more vibrant.

The name of that installation though!!! Hahaha. There's nothing quite like artistic license. I did actually laugh out loud and got a few funny looks. Woops. 

A little peek outside at the hustle & bustle, and beautiful architecture

I was a bit lost by the end. Was this meant to be a chef? A balloon? A human condom? An interesting exhibition, but it was time to leave and stop pondering what this was meant to be... or what it meant.

A few more snaps, and I checked the best route to get to Soho.

I find mooching along the streets of London really fun. Obviously not if it's somewhere hideously busy, or I have to be somewhere at a certain time. But when you're a little off the beaten track and aren't in a rush, it's one of my favourite things. I like clocking new places to eat, to grab a coffee, making a mental note to get home and look them up on Twitter or Instagram. Do I sound like a loser yet?

Just before I made my turning, I saw an imposing gallery with some interesting pieces. It had a buzzer, so I hovered creepily until one guy buzzed for me and I shuffled in behind him.

I'm not sure if I was allowed to take pictures (I went into another room where young arty types weren't eating their Deliveroo order with chopsticks and matcha lattes). But it was pretty groovy. The exhibition was called Watts Up, by the way, and was housed in St James's and Soho Club (a former gentlemen's club turned gallery space, I assume).

I have no idea why there were some massive gemstones, but suddenly I understood why all these celebs are obsessed with rocks because it makes them feel zen and stuff. Just looking at them made me feel a bit more spiritual. 

I was drawn to these prints in particular... 

By Matthew Stone
By Brian Wills
By Jorinde Voigt

Then, hiding my camera away like a crap spy, I snuck out and headed down Bateman Street towards the Lenovo pop up Illuminated Ink.

I have two tattoos. I don't regret either of them, but I do wish we'd had the technology around then that we do now. 

Lenovo are bringing out a new tablet called the Yoga Tablet-3 Pro which has an in-built projector and impressive sound system. That's the top-line information... if you want the more intricate details you'll have to look it up on their website.

ANYWAY. We were taken through a groovily designed room into a demonstration room to see the technology in action (it was pretty cool).

So how did the tattoo part come into play?

After the demonstration we were told to pick a tattoo design, which would then be projected by the Lenovo tablet onto whichever part of our body we wished. Someone then took a photo on our phones, which you would upload onto Twitter/Instagram, and then provided with your very own Illuminated Ink polaroid.

Very clever, because everyone loves a polaroid.

The faux tattoo chair

Here was my rather awkward snap...

I will treasure it forever *crying emoji face*. 

Showcasing the tablet's function with an interactive activity was a genius piece of marketing, and everyone was impressed by the tablet, regardless of the fact they were probably only interested in the tattoo element initially.

The collaborator and tattoo artist who designed the tattoos (which were then projected by the Lenovo tablet) was around to have a little natter to - something I made the most of. He was called James, and has his own tattoo parlour in Finsbury Park (I did some snooping and *think* I found it here - Inklectic).

He told me that he kept these designs quite generic, but had to take into consideration the fact that the designs needed to look good at various sizes to work on all parts of the body. He really believes in the technology though, and personally uses Photoshop in his studio to help people decide placement, size, detail etc.

Here's James...

So that was my afternoon. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you see or hear of anything fun in London and you're struggling to get a little crew together - don't be afraid to go to it alone. Ultimately, no one cares, and you might actually get more out of it and enjoy yourself more.

What's on at Somerset House
Watt's Up? doesn't have an official page, but it's at the former St James's and Soho Club on Greek Street.
James King's tattoo parlour Inklectic

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