Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Helicon have moved!

After 4 years on our blogger site, we decided it was time for a new home.

Helicon can now be enjoyed online, at helicon

In the upcoming weeks we will be transferring across articles from our archives here.

We hope you like the new site and continue to enjoy Helicon!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Monday, 10 February 2014

Film Review: 'Her' (2014)

Spike Jonze’s upcoming film about a man who falls in love with a robot has, quite rightly, become a bit of a joke. Saturday Night Live were quick to parody the new release with their skit ‘Me’, as well as the many Youtubers whose mock trailers could almost be confused with the actual movie. Her avoids rom-com convention and earnestly portrays romance between man and machine as unsettlingly possible. The ‘operating system’ who wins Theodore's (Joaquin Phoenix) affections is designed to look close enough to the kind of technology we use today that the audience may wonder if their own 'OS girlfriend' is a few updates away.

Shot in Los Angeles and Shanghai, the minimalistic sets injected with bursting reds and oranges create some beautiful scenes, even if Jonze’s widely shot interiors and drawn-out montages seem overindulgent at times. The characters are all drenched in pastels and fans of the fastened top button, subtly equipped with minuscule ear pieces and portable computers that look like compact mirrors. Accompanied with some profound conversations between Theodore and his computer girlfriend (Samantha - voiced by Scarlett Johansson), there are a lot of moments in Her worthy of a captioned screenshot for your Tumblr page.

The screenwriting is at its best, interestingly, outside of the main romantic plot. Theodore writes letters for a living - customers request heartfelt messages sent on their behalf to their mothers, siblings and partners. Striking a chord beyond robot-romance, the artificial letters Theodore writes have so much depth and sincerity that the idea of another human or machine mimicking emotion suddenly doesn’t seem so laughable. Even if Samantha and Theodore’s romance lacks believability for some, not many can deny that if they received one of Theodore’s letters this Valentine’s day, they wouldn’t believe it came from the heart.

Her' is released 14th Feb

Reviewed by Sarah Creedy

Monday, 3 February 2014


We are very excited to announce that the first Helicon Book Club meeting will be taking place on Thursday the 27th of February at 5pm in Boston Tea Party on Park Street!

The first book will be the amazing 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly' by Jean-Dominque Bauby. This incredible book tells the story of how Bauby's life changed following a massive stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome.

The book is available on Amazon and AbeBooks - with some used copies for as little as £1.80, and there are also a few copies in a few of the university libraries. There is also a brilliant, award-winning film adaptation starring Mathieu Amalric which is definitely worth a watch and also available from the library. 

There are just 10  places for the group- email us at  in to let us know if you're interested. Places will be given on a first come, first serve basis. 

This group is available to Helicon members only, click here to join!
Lily x

Saturday, 1 February 2014

10 Questions with: Martha Ford

Bristol-based artist Martha Ford is the illustrator behind the beautiful image that features on the cover of our current issue. Take a look at her work here.

How would you describe your work in just three words?

Mysterious, Contemplative and Gentle.

What inspires your illustration?

I have always loved to read, I grew up on books like The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia and Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials and I think my work is highly influenced by these magical stories.

Original Illustration from Narnia by Pauline Baynes

What themes do you explore within your work?

A lot of my work also explores people and their place within nature, themes of isolation and the effects and passage of time but I also love people coming up with their own interpretations of my work.

What would you say is the best thing about your profession?

Creating work that can inspire others or that people can connect with and enjoy on different levels. I am really grateful to the people who do like my images; they say some really kind, encouraging and sometimes very insightful things and it really motivates me to develop and improve further.  It is also great being a part of such a thriving, diverse and creative community.

Do you have a favorite illustrator?

James Jean is an amazing illustrator. I first came across his work on the covers of the Fables comics (a brilliant series of graphic novels) and loved everything about them. He creates bizarre characters and creatures with beautiful flowing forms and really dreamy colour palettes; they are really mesmerizing images.  

James Jean

Do you have a favorite place in Bristol?

Quite a few but one of my favourites is sitting on the harbourside outside the Arnolfini on a hot summer’s evening, with a drink, and chatting with friends as the boats and swans go by and the buskers play. I never want those evenings to end really.

Pen and paper or digital?

I am a big fan of both. I work through my ideas in sketchbooks and in notebooks and then I either paint digitally from my pencil drawing or scan my paintings in and edit digitally. I would be lost without either.

Pandora's Boxes by Martha Ford

Working to music or silent studio?

It all depends on what mood I am in. Sometimes the right music can really focus, and sometimes influence, my work but other times, I need to fully focus and that is when I need silence.

Following the theme of our current issue, what item would you be lost without?

My computer. Not a very interesting answer but I live off this thing.

And what’s the best thing you’ve ever found?

I remember going on holiday when I was a child to this house in France and went exploring in the garden. I pushed through an overgrown gate and found a small ‘hidden’ garden with a little old bird table in the middle and lots of wildflowers. For a child who was always climbing into wardrobes to see if there really was another world back there, and who was once obsessed with The Secret Garden, this was magical.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Current issue now on sale!

The Lost & Found issue of Helicon is now on sale!

32 pages glossy pages filled with art, poetry, photography, short stories and features - compiled by students from Bristol University. We only have 200 of these limited edition copies so make sure to get your hands on one!

Where can I pick up a copy?

This Friday 31st January, between 11am and 3pm we will be in the foyer of the Refectory on Woodland Road selling copies.

How much does it cost?

If you're a member of Helicon, it's free! The price for non-members is £1, but by signing up to be a member for just £3 you receive the following benefits:
  • Free or discounted entry to all Helicon events and workshops - this term we have crafty workshops, creative writing workshops and film trips lined up
  • Opportunity to sign up for the Helicon Book Club - announced February
  • Free copies of this and future issues this year
  • Sign up on Friday, and you will also be entered into our competition to win Boston Tea Party vouchers!
How do you sign up to be a member?

You can sign up for membership this Friday at the Refectory. If you are already a member, come along to pick up your free copy of the magazine then too. Some of us from the Helicon team will be there for a chat if you'd like to find out how you can contribute content to the blog and the next issue!

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the Lost & Found issue - with your help, we really enjoyed putting the magazine together and we are looking forward to another term with lots more creative events for you.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Katharina Nyilas - Into the Forest Exhibition

I first came across Katharina Nyilas' illustrations at an exhibition at The Print Shop in Quakers Friars. I loved her work immediately- such delicate little lines and exquisite details. Her work is usually inspired by environmental concerns, which is why her upcoming exhibition 'Into the Forest' and focuses on the preservation of the ancient forests in the UK. You can look at her website here - I think my favourite is the pattern made with the colourful krill. After graduating from the University of Westminster with a degree in Illustration, Katharina now has a studio space at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft.

I'm now helping Katharina out with the marketing side of the exhibition, which means learning lots about different social medias and contacting a lot of people - do check out our blog, twitter and facebook pages to get the latest news and events. The exhibition begins with an opening on the 6th February from 6-9pm at Hamilton House, with complimentary cider provided by Severn Cider who are also supporting the welfare of our precious ecosystem. I think it'll be a really fun evening, some hot, spicy cider and some beautiful art - then maybe head to the Canteen next door afterwards? 

Not only is there the exhibition from the 7th-13th, but Katharina has also organised a number of wildlife themed workshops run with other Bristol based artists. These range from etching, monoprinting to book binding, as well as Sarah Dennis' paper cutting workshop which we ran back in November! You can see the details and sign up on Katharina's blog by clicking on the 'workshops' tab.

Finally, there is also a competition on the go - whoever guesses the name of the animal and plant beginning with 'F' in the following image wins the limited edition print. 

- Sacha

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Top Tips for Aspiring Illustrators

January can be a tough month to get your creativity in gear following the exhausting and dreaded exam season. Martha Ford, illustrator behind our upcoming issue's cover, shares with us her top tips that will hopefully inspire you to dust off your sketchbook, pick up a pencil and get drawing! You can have a look at more of Martha's work here.

 The 'Lost and Found' issue will be released in the last week of January - so keep posted via Facebook to find out how you can get your copy!

1.   Get your work out there. Have some sort of online presence: a blog, a website, a Facebook page. 

2. Go to exhibitions - especially private views, as those are really great places to meet people from the industry, see some amazing work and sometimes speak to the artist themselves.

3.  Get involved with any local creative groups or collectives. It can get a bit lonely sometimes and it is always good to use other creative people to bounce ideas off of. On top of that, quite a few opportunities come through people you know.

4. If you get really stuck (I get massive creative blocks sometimes) - take a break! I cannot stress that enough (although I should probably take my own advice more). Watch a film or documentary, go see friends, read a book, go to the library and browse, go for a big walk and take some photos; just do something that will give you some new material and inspiration.

5.   Even when you do start getting jobs etc, you can always improve and learn more. You should always be looking for new inspiration and creating and pushing your work in different directions. And there will always be people out there who are better than you. Enjoy their work, move on and improve your own.

6.  I would also suggest to anyone who would like to get into illustration to try and create one or two cohesive and personal styles. It makes it easier to market yourself and your work to agents, clients and shops. But never force a style, be sincere in your work otherwise you won’t ever be satisfied with it.

7. Keep going! Be persistent as it takes a while until you feel like you are moving anywhere. Practice, create, promote and stay positive.

All images courtesy of Martha Ford


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Support Helicon

This has been a hectic and exciting term for Helicon! With a (nearly) entirely new committee, we have developed a new look for the blog as well as bringing you our first arty event of the year, and compiling the magazine from all the amazing submissions we received.

Our magazine, released termly and made up of contributions from our readers, has been printed for the students of Bristol for over a decade. This terms issue, 'Lost & Found', will be released in the first week of next term, so make sure you follow us on Facebook to find out how to get your hands on a copy!

Here at Helicon, as much as we love digital - there is something to be said for sitting down an enjoying a proper printed magazine. We really need your support to enable us to keep printing Helicon, so that we can continue to produce a magazine showcasing your work which can be picked up, read and enjoyed off screen.

By becoming a member for just £3, you will help us achieve this. As a member you can also gain discounted entry to all our creative events and workshops (we have lots of exciting things in store for you in the new year!) and you can also sign up for the Helicon Book Club, details of which will be announced in 2014. Sign up to be member via the UBU website, and please help us to keep Helicon in print.

Have a very happy new year from all of us at Helicon - we are looking to bringing you lots more exciting developments in 2014!

Pictures via here and here.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Maddie On Things

Photographer Theron Humphrey travelled around the United States on a cross-country trip with his faithful pooch, Maddie. He took pictures of the coonhound in various situations (particularly standing on things, with great elegance). Simple as. Many of the photographs are hilarious, but others are more poignant and give us a real sense of the friendship between one man and his dog. Particularly amazing is Maddie's patience and poise as she is photographed, which was part of a larger project about rescue dogs that you can read more about using the link below.

Here's a selection of our favourites, but have a look at the whole lot here.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Words of the Week #18 - Nelson Mandela

The struggle, determination and inspiration that has been Nelson Mandela's life is and will be known and admired by our generation and generations to come. While incarcerated on Robben Island Prison, Nelson Mandela would read the following poem to other inmates. I hope we are able to find inspiration in this and strive to emulate the strength and compassion that Nelson Mandela and other who have fought for the same goals in our own lives. This is "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
- William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Photostream Feature: Least Wanted

The police mugshot photograph was developed as early as the mid-nineteenth century, and it has since developed as an iconic photographic type in its own right. Formulaic and recognised the world over, it was developed at a when the Victorian fascination of labelling and categorising of people was at its height. Remarkably, the mugshot photograph has changed little in 150 years.

Today we bring you 'Least Wanted' - a photosteam that showcases historical mugshots. The collector of these images, Mark Michaelson has also released a book of these photographs, and he has amassed a collection of around 10,000 photographs taken from the 1870s to the 1970s. In theory, these photographs are formulaic and regular as we would expect from a mugshot. But in reality, every single one is unique - each face telling a different story.

When looking at these photographs, you can't help but imagine what sort of situations the arrested were involved in; faces look back at the camera smiling, blinking, scowling. It's also an amazing timeline of different fashions and hairstyles - the woman in the above photograph may have just been arrested, but her backcombed beehive remains perfectly intact and her expression speaks a thousand words. Some photographs have written details on them about the sitter, others reveal nothing. The photograph below is particularly fascinating -  claiming the arrested "likes to live big... will check into better type hotels and run up large bills" - which might give us a clue as to why he was charged.

Take a look at this fascinating collection of photographs here.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Folk House Creative Arts courses for the Spring term open now!

The Bristol Folk House on Park Street runs a huge number of creative arts courses: Arts and Crafts, Pottery, Writing, Languages, Music, Dance, Drama, Fitness and Personal Development.

The Folk House is an education centre tucked away on Park Street- pretty much opposite Boston Tea Party there's a little alleyway that leads to a cute little courtyard. This is the Folk House, home to all these great art courses and also hosts live music events and art exhibitions in their café-bar.

Their courses are now open for enrolment for the Spring term, starting in January. I would highly recommend signing up for one-even the choices just under 'art' are endless and all equally tempting- Cartoon Making, Illustration and Print-making to name a few.

I signed up for Digital Illustration to get to know the computer programmes that graphic designers used a little better. It's a six week course and not too pricey at all.

Have a look at all the courses they offer here:


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Lost & Found: Weekend Viewing

You may have noticed that Helicon's line up has recently added film - alongside prose, poetry, art and photography! In light of this, and with our next printed issue to be released this month, here are a selection of 'Lost and Found' films for you to nestle down in front of this evening.

Gravity (2013)
If you haven't been to to see Gravity already, now is the time to go before it disappears from screens - it is definitely the kind of film best suited to the cinema. And if you're not the kind who normally goes for sci-fi films - ignore your instincts and see this. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are flung into the dark depths of space after a disastrous collision and with all contact with Earth lost they must navigate their way back through the dark, terrifying darkness alone. With a handful of characters, and periods of little dialogue - this film will have you on the edge of your seat, covering your eyes as you realise how terrifying space really is (I found myself on a massive google hunt for answers after seeing this film - and came across this). Gravity is a visual spectacle, which sustains suspense until the very last minute.

Yossi (2012)
As far in genre from the above as possible, Yossi is a drama/comedy that is actually the sequel to a film called Yossi & Jagger. I hadn't seen the original film - and it didn't seem to matter at all, as Yossi is definitely a film complete in itself. The film follows Yossi, a lonely and closeted gay doctor working in Jerusalem who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his partner - whom he had served with in the Israeli army. After breaking the news of his relationship to his deceased partner's parents, Yossi embarks on a holiday to the resort Eilat - where he meets a group of young soldiers who help him move forwards from his grief. Yossi has a very modern feel to it and is an honest, funny and moving film that looks candidly at loss and the rediscovery of happiness. The trailer on YouTube is horribly cheesy and doesn't do the film justice so it's not included here!

The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The visuals of The Virgin Suicides will stick with you long after you've seen it. Directed by Sophia Coppola, it is visually beautiful despite its dark subject matter and has an eclectic, fitting soundtrack to match. We are given a glimpse into the lives of the Lisbon family, whose four beautiful teenage daughters are intent on rebelling against their strict, religious parents following the death of their sister.
 Seen through the eyes of the boys who are charmed, confused and fascinated by the sisters, The Virgin Suicides plays on themes of the American Dream and the teen-highschool genre in a unique and disturbing way. Furthermore, it features a young' Josh Hartnett with the best 1970s haircut you could possibly imagine - a reason to see this film in itself.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hitler, the Tiger and Me

Last week BBC's latest episode of the Imagine.. series was about one of the nation's best love children's writers Judith Kerr, famous for her Mog books and 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'. 
Not only did it showcase her incredible achievement over the years but revealed her troubled past. In 1933, at the age of nine Judith and her family left Berlin fearing the growing influence of the Nazis and her father's increasing vulnerability as an outspoken Jewish intellectual. Beneath the cheerful illustrations we are so familiar with lies a heart-breaking past.

The documentary is brilliant and it is so interesting to see into the world of such a prominent author who has a place in many of our childhoods.The documentary Hitler, the Tiger and Me is still available on iPlayer and definitely worth a watch!

Lily x