25 February 2017

Lost in London || Week 1

I once heard a saying that goes "if you're tired of London than you're tired of life" and I've come to see that this is so true of the vibrant Anglo-speaking country in the heart of the Northern hemisphere. Since landing at Heathrow Airport (which is virtually the size of an island in the Mediterranean Sea) I have rustled out London's metaphorical feathers or 'ripped the town apart' as another saying goes.

I spent my first week mostly in the Royal Borough of Kingston (sounds fancy, doesn't it?). If you ever find yourself in this famous city, venture through to Kingston Upon Thames which you can find just South West of central London... or on Google.  I'm sure Kingston is one of London's best kept secrets. It has all the buzz that dazzling central London has to offer- food, people and places- with more personality, more personal connections and less pomp and circumstance which makes it the ultimate town.

Whoever said 'fashion was pain' knew a thing or two about walking around in London. This past week, I was fundamentally Goldilocks, except, instead of trying out beds and porridge, I tried to find the most suitable shoes to wear when taking on London which ultimately resulted in back pain and sore feet no thanks to my 'not so high' heels. My pink trainers were too informal and gave me back pain. My dark blue, ankle-high swayed boots were not gripping well- which just left me slipping and sliding in them. My black boots were misleadingly comfortable to begin with...but it turns out my foot can't handle being unnaturally angled for more than an hour whilst in motion. 

Moving upwards, I love the layers and bulkiness that comes with winter clothing. I'm no connoisseur when it comes to winter clothes as I am when it comes to chocolate... just because I've spent most of my life avoiding winter, literally hoping on a plane to the opposite hemisphere just before it gets too cold for comfort. I've enjoyed the whole process of getting dressed in the morning and truly it is a process. To begin with, tights or stockings are a sticky mission, followed by vests and then socks. Then, it's all about planning ahead. How many layers should you wear? Coat or no coat? It is indeed a process.
Coat- River Island
Pants- Woolworths
Boots- Woolworths

Jersey- Woolworths

The title of this post is no joke. I literally got lost in London and several times I might add. The first time that I got lost in London, I nearly ended up on an underground train in the complete opposite direction to where I needed to be. The second time, I did get lost in London, again on a train except this time it was an overground train- not that it makes much of a difference. I've felt a tad bit discombobulated this whole trip (that's a big word for confused). Time escapes quickly along with the sun here, which has taken some getting used to. 

Whilst getting lost in London, I've noticed some key differences between this city and the city that I get to call home, Joburg. Here, people walk everywhere. EVERYWHERE. In South Africa, if you have a car, you tend to drive everywhere. I think I've done more walking- jaywalking included- than I've done in the past year and a half. 

I don't walk much back in South Africa. Hence, I've crossed very few streets in a bipedal, upright position, nevertheless alone. Imagine my gratuity when I saw this painted help on the road- like a gift from above. Very cleverly, the road has instructions on which way to look for oncoming cars which I think is a very good idea when avoiding pedestrian incidents due to ignorance (or lack of experience, in my case) when crossing roads. 

London is full of history, which becomes apparent pretty quickly. Gothic-styled building with sharp angled windows and flying buttresses are preserved in beautiful churches. The design in many buildings ooze nostalgia, design and craftsmanship which isn't seen anymore. I took a stroll through the ancient market in Kingston as the sun set at around 17:00 (another observable difference between South Africa). This building looked homely and inviting, as most building seem to look here in London.

If you look carefully, this is a truck or a lorry, depending on where you're from. I thought that this was a creative way to showcase items. I'm so used to seeing non-translucent metallic truck surfaces, which makes the uniqueness of this understandable. My only dilemma with this concept is that I didn't take note of what the company was trying to market; I was too distracted by the medium.

...Turns out they were selling furniture and lighting.

How great is this! This made all four chambers of my heart beat with such joy. To me, this signifies a celebration of diversity and the inclusion of others sometimes bullied or discriminated against for being different. This skin condition is called vitiligo, caused by the lack of melanin. It is commendable to see a country and a brand who are the avant-garde, taking fashion and stereotypes to new, unexplored heights.

If you're gonna do London...you gotta do it right! What better way to start the day than with a good ol' English breakfast? The Premier Inn offered a buffet that was a feast for the eyes and an extravaganza for my taste buds.

The next logical step for anyone after breakfast is obviously desert...okay, maybe not exactly in that particular order. An evening scroll ended with a visit to the local 'sweet shop', a local patisserie called Patisserie Valerie where this was on the menu- the perfect topping to a perfect family-filled day.

Cake is so 2016! If your birthday is coming round, this is the way to celebrate. Discard the 'welcome home' writing and imagine 'happy birthday' in its place. Do you see what I'm seeing? The perfect replacement for the conventional birthday cake. A large chocolate chip cookie poked with 18 or so candles and a pretty pink border dotted with multi-coloured smarties sounds very good to me.

If you're in London, you've seen or been on the Thames. A morning walk gave me opportunity to capture these shots. The reflections are my favourite parts about the photographs. The swans and geese had quite the personalities. Obviously, they're no strangers to humans, stretching their necks like models do. 

Come back next week for week two in this 3-part series, which I promise to be as exciting as week one! If you ever find yourself in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in London, Kingston is definitely a 'must see' destination- London's best kept secret I tell you!

Till next time-


You can find me here:

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Email: socialspying@gmail.com
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17 February 2017

Thoughts On Our Blogging Community

Since I began blogging, on one sizzling and flaming summer's day in Greece, almost two years ago, I have often shrieked from excitement at the notification of a new comment or someone 'sliding' into my inbox. I've read posts from other bloggers who seem to think that there is no blogging community, or that this seemingly once-existent and thriving community has dwindled into the endless, unlit dark bogs of the blogging world (or blogosphere as I hear it's called). I think that this is far from the truth.

11 February 2017

My Art Journal || Migration

Towards the end of January, I took a leap of faith. I flapped my wings as fast as I could hoping I'd fly. I did. My previous art journal post was met with such positivity. I haven't drawn anything in a while...but I just might. 

After completing my previous art journal (find here), last year, I started this one. The theme for this journal is 'migration'.


There was more research done in the journal, than what I've shown here, but, this time around, I was not as inspired to do research as I had been in my previous journal. I preferred to experiment. That's the nature of an artistic process, I guess. I've never seen it as a ruler-like, unbent path, but rather a twisty-turny process with surprising bends in the road.

This is an experimentation that I did. If you look very (very carefully) it should look like bodies on a tumultuous sea. If you don't see that, then I give you full permission to create your own subject matter in this piece. My art teacher wasn't really impressed by this. Not at all.

I had A LOT of fun making the three experiments that follow below. I used oil pastel on paper, which was then painted over using black acrylic paint mixed with soap (to soften the black paint). I then went into the black with a wire, which revealed the colour. 

The negative white space was made using block out medium. It's a vile smelling white substance that uses friction to remove a rubber texture.

I really do appreciate and see the value in doing primary research to enhance a process- artistic or other. These images are of Johannesburg's CBD or 'down town' as the locals call it. These trains remain motionless on tracks that once bustled with eager travelers.

Some snaps of Johannesburg

I'm all about experimentation in my artistic process. This is a 'drawing' with ink and rope. 
Double page spread of a photograph of the trains

The photograph above led to the drawing below. I was really proud of this piece. I remember thinking 'wow, I may actually be able to say that I can draw'. I am enchanted by the contrast between the two achromatic non colours- black and white. I think that binary opposites- both in life and in art- make for striking compositions.

Once I was happy with my experimentation, it was time to hold my breath and go in for the 'big one'...or the daunting 'final'. At first, I faced a massive, untouched paper which became more touched as the days passed.

Talk about getting my hands dirty!

Ta-daahh! The final product! 
Media: back ink, block out medium, string and pencil on paper.
There's a natural distortion and stylization to the work. I'm still not sure about the negative space in the top right corner. I couldn't make up my mind; Should I fill it...or not? In the end, I decided to leave that part untouched.

Conceptually, the trains seem to 'ride off into the distance' but simultaneously get 'cut-off' by the border. This symbolizes how even life after migration isn't 'hunky dory'. There are still constraints. And, sometimes life is even harder.

I found the research stages for the artwork very interesting. I found photographs and three dimensional concepts that I absolutely fell in love with. Below, on the right page, is my initial ideation phase- conceptualizing an idea. I enjoyed playing around with blending markers and copic markers.

I am essentially the grandchild of immigrants. My grandparents left their native homeland, Greece, boarded ships that hauled across the Mediterranean Sea and landed in South Africa. Below is a photo-montage of my grandfather's migration to South Africa as well as more contemporary relics of migration- life jackets and cellphones. 

I used an old suitcase as the inspiration. I bought mesh or 'chicken-wire' as it's known here and layered each side of the mesh to add depth. I then made small hinges for the corner- reminiscent of older suitcases, like the one my grandfather up and left with on his way to a new country, thousands of kilometers away.

Remember that bendy, 'twisty-turney' process that I spoke about earlier? Here's more research that links with my thought process at this point.

I then printed the images that you saw earlier in the photo-montage on transparent paper. I then used wire and staples to connect the images to each other and to the suitcase.

Using 4 years worth of weekly sewing sessions, I put in a fully functional zip.

When I exhibited this work, I put a light inside the suitcase which shone the lights outwards. The deeper meaning behind this three-dimensional work is rather beautiful...but then again, I am biased.

A rationale is a 250 worded text explaining an artistic concept. Remember that beautiful deeper meaning I was talking about? You can read about it below:

Till next time-

You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com
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9 February 2017

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Studying Abroad II Guest Post

Guest Post

Hi there everyone, for this post, I'm handing over my virtual keyboard to my blogging buddy, Cecile. This is both mine and Cecile's first guest posts so do be kind and give us some love. If you'd like to see what I did when I got hold of Cecile's blog, then please follow the link here. Enough about me. Here's Cecile.

Hello, my name is Cecile and I’m from the blog Wednesday 19th. Today I have the pleasure to share one of my posts on Steph’s blog. I’ll take this opportunity to talk about my experience of studying abroad. Steph has also written a post on a similar topic that you can go and check out on my blog so make sure you head over to my page after you finish reading this!

When anyone asks me about my experience studying abroad I always say “It was the best year of my life”, and it was. There were better days than others, but overall, I wouldn’t change it for anything. However, I think that you need to be aware of a few things before deciding to move to another country to study.
The following are a few things I think you should consider before studying abroad. All of them will be followed by questions that you can ask yourself to see if you are “suitable” or “prepared” to take this step:

#1 You will spend a lot of time on your own, mostly at the beginning of your stay, since you won’t know anyone there yet. Use this time to reflect and enjoy your own company, and believe me, you’ll get to know yourself a lot during these spare hours. Would you be able to handle this kind of loneliness? 

#2 Learn to let go. Don’t let anything back home hold you from enjoying your time abroad. I’m not saying that you can’t keep in touch with people you love, just make sure that you don’t get isolated by just focusing on your “previous life” if that makes sense. What is the longest time that you have been away from home? How do you deal with being homesick?

#3 You need to manage your money properly. Your parents won’t be there paying for your expenses. Even if you’re staying in a host family, you’ll need to get serious with your cash and spend it wisely. At the beginning, it can be a mess, but you’ll eventually become better at it, just make sure you don’t waste too much money in the process J. You need to consider that the place you go to may have a different living standard compared to that of your native country, therefore, you will have to adjust your budget to that. Have you got enough money to live in another country? How good are you at spending your money? Do you see yourself living in a budget? Are you willing to look for a job in the place you’ll be going to?

#4 Keep a journal. This is something I wouldn’t consider “advice”, but I really recommend you to have a notebook (or a blog) to write down everything you’re learning and how you are feeling during your exchange. You will love to look back and read the anecdotes from your overseas travels. I used to write once a week and I finished two notebooks. Now I enjoy sitting down, looking through them and seeing how all the memories come back. 

   #5 Try to stay as healthy as possible. I don’t want to be a party pooper, but you’re very likely to put on some weight. Your diet will change, and that’s completely fine because you’ll get to try different meals, however, it’s not that appealing when after two or three months, you see that you’re 3kg heavier. Get to know your body and don’t freak out if you do put on some weight, it’s completely normal. Make sure you have a healthy lifestyle and in case you go a bit too far, don’t worry either, because as soon as you go back home and take up your routine, your body will naturally stabilize. Are you picky about new foods? How does your body adapt to different types of food/ meal preparations?

This is all for today! I hope you found the post helpful and please, let me know in the comments if you have ever studied abroad and where did you go. Feel free to share some advice as well, I always like to hear from you. 

Over on Cecile's blog, I wrote about the process involved with studying overseas. Head on over to Cecile's blog (here) to see what tips and advice I offer to people studying abroad. 

If you'd like to do a guest post with me, then please do get in touch. I really enjoyed this process and look forward to doing it again.

Till next time-


You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com
Thanks so much for stopping by. If you're feeling up to it, follow this blog on Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin' or on Instagram.

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