I spent four months in South East Asia; two and a half were spent working in Vietnam, but I also got to go to Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Although it has been the longest time I’ve been away from the UK, it would be impossible and presumptuous for me to generalise the arts in the whole of South East Asia, or even just one country. Instead, this will be a reflection on the things I experienced whilst travelling.
by Kelvin Smith
The last trip was just before the EU referendum; through France, Spain and Portugal, preoccupied with the possibility of a leave vote, but knowing somewhere deep inside that it would never, could never happen. So much for gut feelings.
by Rob Harding
Nearly every building in east Mostar bears war wounds. Tumbledown ruins stud the streets like broken teeth. The imposing concrete hulk of an abandoned bank juts into the sky over midtown, surrounded by parks and covered in graffiti. The famous Old Bridge over the river Neretva is notable both for its beauty and the fact that these marks are absent. Destroyed in 1993 by Croat tanks, the Old Bridge is one of the few things in this wounded city that has been properly rebuilt.
UNESCO plaques stud Old Town, listing countries that donated money to rebuild the bridge and the surrounding areas. It was a tourist landmark before the war, and it feels like the only part of Mostar the world really cares about — certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any money to clear the minefields on the surrounding hillsides, or to treat Bosnia’s tens of thousands of post-war PTSD victims. Tourists don’t visit them, after all, so it’s not like the spirit of international co-operation applies in the way it does to the pretty scenery in Old Town.
by Rob Harding
Well folks, these last few weeks your humble correspondent has been travelling around Eastern Europe on a hastily-booked last chance tour. I’m four cities in and thought I’d share a little of the mood on the street from Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Part one of this article looks at Warsaw and Prague.
On a recent trip to Hanoi, in Vietnam, I wandered the streets to see where the day would take me. This included going into lots of little art galleries, all housing incredible oil paintings and photography. In L’Institut Français de Hanoi, there was an experimental installation where a series of life-size photographs leaked onto the floor, and a white sculpture hung down from the ceiling like a cloud. Upstairs there were lots of neat illustrations from a range of artists. There was one smaller gallery that stood out from the rest where the eccentric art dealer with short turquoise-dyed hair spoke about the meaning behind each painting, telling me about Vietnam’s history with lacquer paintings as I admired a large glittering image of space.
In November 2015, we ran an article entitled ‘Meet the Women Reviving Nature Writing‘, which explored and ran with the idea that women are slowly becoming the writers championing the idea of nature as the site of solace, interrupting the male-dominated narrative of conquering and dissecting.
“When we step outside and look up, we’re not little cogs in the capitalist machine. It’s the simplest act of resistance and renewal” – Kathleen Jamie.
Here’s an original piece from someone who stepped outside and looked up.
Recently I enjoyed my first extended foray into North Wales. I had been to Wales many times prior to being with my boyfriend, Dewi, who hails from Bangor, but the extent of my journeys across the border had included daytrips or school outings. I had experienced my fair share of tramping across the beach at Llandudno when I was younger, or complaining my way up the back of Snowdon. I had spent many a time hiking various routes around and across Moel Famau, and explored both Chirk and Powis castle. However, my lack of car and driving ability meant I had never been able to dictate my own experience of North Wales, and get to explore in the way I’d like.
Fortunately my boyfriend was prepared. Fully equipped with his driving license and a little rental Toyota Aygo, we excitedly set off with plans of seeing everything and somewhat ambitious ideas of swimming in the sea. It soon became clear though that an Aygo in the Welsh mountains, in poor winter weather, was not the most suitable vehicle.