Literature and the Arts

Reviews and discussions on various art forms and how they have the power to reform ideologies.

BOOK RELEASED: The Price Of Fabulous is here!

Here it is… the moment I have been waiting for for a very long time! It’s here, it’s queer and it came from Tyne and Wear… It is THE PRICE OF FABULOUS!

Available in Paperback and Ebook! Coming soon to Amazon and Barnes and Noble but if you just cant wait that long… order here direct from the publishers!

SYNOPSIS:

“People have their beliefs about gender roles and sexuality, most of which are usually spoon fed to followers of particular religions; but in my family these ‘values’ were fed to us in an abusive manner.” – Kayla Leigh Charis

These two sisters couldn’t be more different if they tried. Raised in an abusive home, they struggle to get the help they need after being silenced by fear. Eventually, the family that they think they are safe with turns against them for one very cruel reason. They must stand up for each other and hold on to their own art form to keep themselves sane and emerge as powerful young women.

This is survival.

This is sisterhood.

LINKS:

Paperback: http://www.lulu.com/…/the-p…/paperback/product-23566887.html

Ebook: http://www.lulu.com/…/the-price…/ebook/product-23566894.html

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Dream Interpretation – Art by Simon Fielder

Simon Fielder is a digital artist who’s work I have been following on social media for some time. Fielder is  from Cumbria, England. He paints his digital paintings using his just his fingers on his iPad. He has done many brilliant pieces of work that I have appreciated over the time that I have known of his work. 

I asked his permission to do this post in dedication to his brilliant work as I attempt to interpret his most recent piece that is based on his dream:

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The above image was posted to his Facebook Page on the 27th February 2018 and I was amazed by it. It must take incredible amounts of skill to draw like this on an iPad. I, for one, can barely draw with a pencil. Anyway, I have decided to interpret the dream in the form of a short story piece, so, here it goes:

I was stood on a darkened train carriage on the tracks to no where. The night was so cold that my pyjamas didn’t shield my delicate skin from it’s piercing grip. I had no idea how I got there but I knew I needed to get off. I could hardly see a hand in front of my face, how was I meant to know where I was going?  The tracks seemed to go on forever as the clickity-clack of the wheels rang in my ears like bells. I was alone there, eaten by the shadows with no one to hear me yell for help. 

That was until a warm glow stroked the back of my neck. I slowly turned to see a flame a few carriages away. Was the train on fire? If it was, I had to be the one brave enough to put it out or the only way I would get off this train was in the form of ashes. 

I ran towards it, faster than I thought I could. It was almost as if I blinked and ended up there. It was a controlled flame, in a metal cylinder. The air around me filled with a swarm of moths that were drawn to it’s heat but…. they weren’t fluttering. They just sort-of hovered there in the glory of the flame. 

A man stood, hunched over the flame as though he were desperate to keep warm. His clothes were ragged and he looked like he hadn’t bathed in a long time.

“You been on here long?” he grumbled under his breath, without even looking up at me.

“N-n-no,” I replied, nervously, “How did we get here? How do we get off?”

He snorted out a laugh, “We don’t.”

“WHAT?!” I yelled, before he hushed me.

“Come, keep warm,” he said, gesturing with his hand for me to get closer.

I didn’t really want to be closer to a creepy stranger on an unknown train that will apparently never stop but at the same time, the flame was so inviting. I needed the heat. I took a step forward. As I did, one of my shoulders brushed against a moth but it broke a part into ashes and floated like snowflakes to the floor. They were dead. Dead moths held around this man by strings. It sent a shiver down running down my spine like the scratch of a sharp finger nail. Just keep moving forward. Just keep moving.

“We never know why we come here but we never get to leave,” the old man whimpered, as I watched a tear glisten in the flame. He quickly wiped it away before it reached his mangled, unwashed beard, “The only way we leave is the same way that moth just did… when we turn to DUST.”

I hope you enjoyed my interpretation but, I would love to hear yours so drop me a comment (might do another post featuring the best responses – including links to your blogs!)

To view more of Simon D. Fielder’s artwork visit his FB Page, Twitter and website.

If you want your work featured on my blog please email thedowngradeproject@gmail.com or message my Facebook page here!

My top 10 movies of 2017

So far this year I have made many trips to the cinema to see several films that I have been excited about since I heard that they were going to be released. I have compiled a list of the best movies I have seen so far (there was a lot of films that I haven’t seen so if you have seen something that’s not on the list, not to worry, I just probably haven’t watched it yet! Comment any recommendations!)

10. Spider-Man Homecoming

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“Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City.” – IMDB

Directed by Jon Watts and staring the loveable Tom Holland – how could this not make the list? I did really enjoy the film but I am one of those people who believes that the old ones are truly the best. No one will ever replace Tobey Maguire for me. Tom is good Spider-Man in his own right and I have always been a fan of Zendaya since her Disney Channel days on Shake It Up! It was a great film, I just prefer the old Spider-Man films (or maybe I’m just getting old).

    9. Murder on the Orient Express

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“When a murder occurs on the train he’s travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.” – IMDB

I love a film starring Jonny Depp and I am becomming a big fan od Daisy Ridley too. This film had them both which was amazing for me but this story is one that is far too familiar to me. My Gran and I love to sit and watch adaptations of Agatha Christies work and work out who the killer is. The touble is with being familiarised with the story is that you know what to expect so I guess it took away the magic of the cinematic experience for me.

8. Justice League

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“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.” – IMDB

I had been waiting for this to be released since Wonder Woman and it was exactly what everyone expected. Everyone anticipated that Superman would be ressurected and he was – what were we really waiting in anticipation for?

   7. Goodbye Christopher Robin

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“A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne.  ” – IMDB

Who hasn’t been in love with Margot Robbie since she was Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad? Well… in this film she isn’t crazy, she’s just a distant, party animal mother who doesn’t care much for her family in comparison to her big city life. I love a good real life story and so the story of how Winnie the Pooh came to be had to make the list.

   6.  Logan

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“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X, somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world, and his legacy, are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.” – IMDB

I loved Logan which was why it was so sad that he had to die. Everyone who loved the film was also annoyed at the fact that an alledged immortal character had to die…

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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“The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.” – IMDB

Unpopular opinion: I prefered this one to the first one. I felt like the story was much better in this one and of course… the soundtrack was amazing as usual! I will also hail this one for the hilarious Stan Lee cameos too. Also, THIS ONE HAS KURT RUSSELL! I have been a fan of his since childhood when I saw him in Sky High for the first time.

    4. Thor: Ragnarok

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“Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization” – IMDB

3.  The Greatest Showman

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“Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.” – IMDB

A musical?! With Zac Effron, Zendaya and HUGH JACKMAN?! How could I not?! I was obsessed to the soundtrack from the moment I heard ‘This is me’ and ‘Rewrite the stars’ on one of the trailers and now I’m obsessed with the film just as much.

      2. Kingsman: Golden Circle

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“When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.” – IMDB

I was in love with the first Kingsman film and was not disapppointed by the second. How could I be disappointed with my two man crushes, Taron Egerton and Channing Tatum starring in the same movie? I was also so happy that Harry was back but sent on an emotional down turn when Merlin was blown up. What a movie.

      1. Wonder Woman

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“When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.”-IMDB

This was without a doubt the best movies I have seen this year! I made 4 trips to the cinema to see it and I have watched it several times since purchasing the DVD. Gal Gadot plays Dianna so well and after a movie as good as that, it’s a wonder that any other little girl would idolise anyone else.

PRESS RELEASE: Hidden Talent Exhibiton (The Arches Project)

The Arches Project will be hosting a Hidden Talent Exhibition on 3rd of November 2017.

The exhibition will be host to a diverse range of local and international artists. There will be artists from Birmingham, Worcester, Wales, Italy and Norway etc.

Entry is £2 and doors will be open from 6pm-9pm. To book your tickets click here.

Also open Saturday 4th November 2017 to Friday 17th November 2017 from 1100-1500

For further information contact The Arches Project on 0121 772 0852 or enquiries@thearchesproject.org

‘Walt Before Mickey’ is such an important movie

Walt Before Mickey is the amazing story of Walter Disney in his journey to the character that made his company the success it is today. Mickey Mouse.

“It all started with a mouse.” – Walt Disney

I have watched and re-watched this film, over and over again on Netflix and I think it is becoming one of my favorite films of all time. I’m not just saying that because I’m a life long Disney fan. The truth is I would still love it if I wasn’t.

The story of Disney is the pursuit of a dream, a passion that you have had since childhood. He may say that it all started with a mouse but his talent started with the sketch book his aunt gave him as a child.

He wanted to run his own company which lead to failure, after failure, until his eventual success. 

This film is so inspirational because it shows that even the most successful people in the world didn’t have everything spoon fed to them. They had to work hard and pick themselves up, time and time again. They needed to make themselves stronger and better because they knew what they were meant for. 

Walt didn’t give up, so why should you?

Why you need to read these…

Over the past few months while I have been writing The Price Of Fabulous, I read books which had similar themes to the story I am trying to capture. The Price of Fabulous is my survival story but because I am normally trapped in my love of fantasy or dystopian fiction. I wasn’t sure how to capture my pain so I read other people who have told their stories and these people are so inspirational to me. I’m still fighting the aftermath of my struggle so seeing how they have come out of it is very comforting.

Here is the list of the books I have read and why they have been so important as I tell my story:

Tortured – Victoria Spry (with Kate Moore) – 2015

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Tortured is the survival story of Victoria Spry as she was raised in the sadistic arms of Britain’s evilist mum, Eurice Spry. ‘Torrie’ was adopted by Eunrice at the age of five after being in her foster care from being less than a year old. She was tortured, beaten, starved and blamed for things that couldn’t possibly be her fault… like the deaths of her sisters in a car accident.

Eunrice put Victoria and her siblings, Alloma and Christopher, through hell for 19 years before Victoria broke her silence to send her down for her crimes – even though she only ended off staying inside for 7 years of her 14 year sentence from 2007.

“Just because you’ve made mistakes, it doesn’t make you an evil person.” – Victoria Spry

This was one of the first books I read when looking for inspiration as my story starts from the abuse I had suffered through childhood too. I had my scribbles in childhood notebooks but I wanted to capture the memories from these scribbles in a way that would have an impact on my reader. I wanted to know how to turn my childhood diary into an impactful, eye-opener. This book made me see that I needed to write from the heart and focus on how the events made me feel.

I cried a lot during reading this, mainly because I identified a lot with Victoria, how the beatings would make her feel, the  guilt, the silence and more so the struggle with a series of mental health problems, leading to alcoholism.

Sickened – Julie Gregory – 2003

{9C29F11E-D802-43BC-BF66-64ACB0058A61}Img400Sickened is the story of a young girl who was repeatedly x-rayed, missing school and getting weaker in the persuit of an illness that had been created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by Proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother’s madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman:not solely a victim of child abuse.

This book is an incredible honest roller-coaster of emotion. It was incredibly eye-openining to me and enabled me to learn about a form of child abuse that I had actually never heard of prior to reading it. It is a sick kind of “love” at the hands of the victim’s narcissistic mother and a father who covertly collaborates with the systematic abuse instigated by his wife. A very hard-hitting book to read because of the onslaught of terror and rage felt by the young Julie and of the craziness of the family system. There are a few pointers as to what drove Julie’s mother to do such a hideous thing to her own child but you probably won’t feel too sorry for her.

“Well, honey, I just can’t see my little girl go out there in a bathing suit and get laughed at. You got no tits, no hips, no ass, Sissy. You look terrible in a bathing suit. Kids are cruel, sweetie, they’ll just make fun of you.” – Julie’s Mother

Although, this book was a facinating and gripping read, the only thing that I could identify with was the survival part, that is what will help me to write the end of The Price Of Fabulous.

You Can’t Run – Mandy Thomas (with Kate Moore) – 2015

CLCLudSWoAErGaq.jpgYou Can’t Run is the survival story of young Mandy, entering a relationship at the age of eighteen that turned into a violent trap that she thought she would never escape. It wasn’t long after she’d met him that she was under his spell but as these relationships always do, they loose their spark and they turn dark. She never thought she would escape him but then he went to far and she knew she would have to escape to survive.

“He would say to me, ‘You can’t stop me – no one can!’ There was no let-up from his evil. I knew he would never stop so I just had to do what I could to survive.” – Mandy Thomas

I wanted to read this book to be able to know how to capture the struggle of a domestically abusive relationship (from both a victim’s and an observer’s perspective). I am good at many things, but finding the right words to capture emotions about the things that I have been through isn’t one of them. I’ve been through a lot of sh*t. I just don’t know how to talk about it.

Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann – 1966

valley-of-the-dolls1Valley of the Dolls is the story of beautiful, young and most importantly impressionable women who are struggling at the bottom of the entertainment industry. This is their story of their journey to the top, but when they reach there, they have no where left to go, other than the valley of dolls.

It is a novel about the friendship between three women, the perils and rewards of fame, and chemical dependency. The story spans twenty years, from 1945 to 1965, and is set primarily in New York City. Anne Welles, Neely O’Hara, and Jennifer North become friends and roommates, find fame, get married and take lovers, and turn to drugs to cope with problems they encounter.

“When you’re climbing Mount Everest, nothing is easy. You just take one step at a time, never look back and always keep your eyes glued to the top.” – Jacqueline Susann

I chose to read this book because it shows young people, falling back on substance abuse when they encounter problems. It also involves chasing dreams in the entertainment industry, which resembles ‘Georgia’s’ method of survival.

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne – 2015

Am I Normal Yet? is one of the most honest books about the mind of a teenage girl I have read yet. It is the story of a girl called Evie, who only wants to be normal, after having a mental breakdown in school. She starts college and is no longer known as the-girl-who-went-nuts. Everything is going great until she realises she’s the only one who’s never been in a relationship.

26017107._UY200_Relationships probably aren’t the brightest idea for anyone with serious mental health issues as they can mess with your head. But she finds a man, and in keeping her private life… well.. private, her friends can’t stop her from making this mistake.

“Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.” NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT. “Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.” NO YOU FUCKING DIDN’T. “I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.” SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.”  – Holly Bourne

I chose to take inspiration from this book as it perfectly captures the mindset ‘Georgia and Kayla’ had during their teen years in the second half of The Price of Fabulous, I wanted to know how to capture the teenage-girl mindset.