Wednesday, 27 November 2013

How do writers write?

I often find myself asking this question; how is it that writer's compose such complex plots and characters? I found this collection of authors' notes in an article on Daily Mail; it gives an interesting insight into the minds behind some of literature's most famous texts. The contrast is striking between the messy scrawl that plans Plath's The Bell Jar and the highly organised chart that plots out Joseph Heller's Catch-22. 

Starting with my personal favourite: J.K. Rowling's plan behind The Order of The Phoenix where you can notice inconsistencies between the original plan and the published text (such as Umbridge's first name!) :

Detailed: This table gives a fascinating insight into how JK Rowling planned out the plot lines of the Harry Potter books which kept readers guessing for years

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 
Methodical: Sylvia Plath's outline for her famous novel The Bell Jar which many consider chronicles her own descent into mental breakdown

Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn
Plans: A manuscript of Henry Miller's outline of 'Tropic of Capricorn' - the semi-autobiographical novel which describes his time living in New York City in the 1920s
Joseph Heller Catch-22
Detailed: Writer Joseph Heller's outline for 'Catch-22' - the anti-war novel which went on to become one of the best-known books, and phrases, of all time

Lily x

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pawel Kuczynski - Satirical Illustrator

I stumbled across this article the other day and have really enjoyed looking at this Polish artist's illustrations. Pawel Kuczynski produces these highly satirical, and often funny illustrations that can seem almost surrealist. It's been a while since I've seen an illustration that really provokes any emotion- I think I might be getting a bit bored of seeing so many generic, bright screen prints that seem to adorn the all the arty shops around Bristol. Of course I do have a soft spot for these, but sometimes they start to all look the same!

Here is an artist who can think up the most witty and profound ideas without relying simply on being crude or quirky. Not only does his work point at important political issues and comment ironically on society, they are also beautifully executed.

Here are some examples:


Monday, 25 November 2013

Words of the Week #16

Walt Whitman's (1819-1891) "Leaves of Grass" was controversial at the time
 as it talked about a range of themes including homo/heterosexuality
This classic 19th century American Poet is little known to us on this side of the pond. Forever immortalised by Dead Poet’s Society’s “O Captain! My Captain..” scene, Walt Whitman provides a refreshing realism away from the pomp and extravagance adopted by his British Romantic counterparts at the same time. Whitman was not afraid to address a variety of topics, some of which often classed as too risqué for the conservative American audience. If you want to get a full feel of his style, his epic “Song of Myself” provides a true zeitgeist feel to 19th century New York touching on love, equality and the idea of the American Dream -  and I highly recommend it! Meanwhile here are some of his shorter works which stand out:

Beat! Beat! Drums!

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow

Walt Whitman

World Take Good Notice

World, take good notice, silver stars fading,        
Milky hue ript, weft of white detaching,               
Coals thirty-eight, baleful and burning, 
Scarlet, significant, hands off warning,  
Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.

Walt Whitman    

Friday, 22 November 2013

Alexa Meade: beautiful body art

Alexa Meade's collection 'your body is my canvas', is far more literal than you'd imagine. Forget paper or canvas, Meade opts to paint on her subjects, creating fascinating, detailed, living, breathing artworks.  This isn't 2D into 3D, but the reverse, yet, her uncanny paintings oddly seem to have far more joie de vivre than their 'real life' counterparts. Take a look!

Just in case you didn't believe me: the artist and her work...

And finally, my personal favourite, the self-portrait...

Painting or photograph, both? You decide.


The Print Shop - Quakers Friars in Cabot Circus

The Print Shop is a pop-up shop (when they say it's a pop-up shop, they mean temporary- it's not in a tent or anything..) situated in Quakers Friars in Cabot Circus, which is in the lovely square by the church and Carluccio's. The little shop is a part studio, workspace and gallery for affordable print work all organised by Spike Print studio and Draw in Bristol.

As the shop is only open until Christmas eve, I really recommend you go- although the shop is small there is a great selection of prints to buy (ranging from about £20 to the hundreds) and a nice display on the walls. I went there to see Peter William's work which is the last instalment, a huge woodcut block on the rear wall of the shop.

A trip to The Print Shop makes a great little festive outing now that the lights are up in Cabot Circus, and definitely a good idea to get some mulled wine from the Christmas Market in Broadmead afterwards!



Thursday, 21 November 2013

All work and no play: tacking writer's block.

Writer's block is perhaps the greatest barrier to an aspiring writer. Here are some interesting ways to get ideas going and loosen up before settling down to write that Nobel Prize winning novel you haven't quite gotten round to starting yet....

Generates one random word and gives you one minute to write whatever you like about it before submitting. Even just browsing through old posts is useful (and of course a great way to procrastinate further). The huge variety in how different people interpret a single word is, however, very interesting:

Similar to 'One Word' six words asks you to make a story out of just six words of your choice. Again it is interesting to see the power of so few words and might be useful to any aspiring poets out there:

I'm sure you can work this one out by now...

Lily x

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A First Visit to The Cube

Finding The Cube is no easy task. Barely advertised and nestled in a mainly residential section of Stokes Croft, the entrance to this tiny cinema is not obvious for the first-time visitor. But don’t turn back until you come across the red and blue neon sign, glowing above the surrounding buildings. The venue, sunken down and its interiors completely plastered with old movie posters, is small, unlikely and charming - a real hidden gem.

The film on show, Cutie and the Boxer, was nothing short of perfection. Cutie and the Boxer is a documentary following Ushio Shinohara and his wife of 40 years, Noriko Shinohara. Originally from Japan, the Brooklyn-based couple live and work together as artists. Noriko gained fame in 1970s New York, creating his own ‘Action Paintings’: using paint-drenched boxing gloves, he slams his fists repeatedly onto the surface of the canvas from right to left - the impact leaving monumental, dripping bullet-holes behind in a couple of minutes. This is how the film opens, with Ushio – on his 80th birthday - thumping the canvas with all his strength; his wife Noriko dutifully following his movements with her camera.


The couple could not be more different – in personality and artistic style. Once an alcoholic, Ushio is bossy, heavy-handed and exuberant. His large-scale paintings scream in explosions of neon and slicks of jet black; his sculptures appear as writhing contortions of cardboard and metal, lathered in thick swabs of paint. Ushio’s pig-tail adorned wife, Noriko, is far more collected, sweet and sensible – but no less gutsy and witty. Her smaller-scale, considered ink and pen drawings take the form of a narrative, following the turbulent relationship of 'Cutie and Bullie' – a self-conscious analogy of her own marriage. Her imaginative drawings float off the page, and cleverly this film quite literally brings them to life; their imaginative intervention provides much of the back story to Ushio and Noriko’s story.

Noriko, as Ushio somewhat coldly asserts at the beginning of the film, is just ‘an assistant’ to him in the studio. However as the film develops, we grow to see that his wife is far, far more to him than this: she is the one who helps him project him work to galleries; she is the one who organizes their accounts so their electricity will not be cut off in their tiny and chaotic New York apartment; she is the one who guides him in his artistic practice.

The art of these two people does play a big part in this film – but that is definitely not to stay that a viewer with no interest in art will not gain anything from it. Cutie and the Boxer is just as much about art as it is people; difference as it is about unity. Director Zachary Heinzerling does a very good job of presenting to us these people and their lives - without ever being intrusive, but in a way that guides the film along gently and allows it to unfurl itself. He beautifully captures the moments of solitude when the couple are alone in their studio, in contrast to the hectic, noisy New York art scene they find themselves in.

Above all, Cutie and the Boxer explores the complete perfection that can result when two very different people collide; about the ways in which the truly flawed aspects of a relationship can be the very thing that makes it perfect. As Noriko aptly describes her marriage:  “We are like two flowers in one pot. Sometimes we don’t get enough nutrients for both of us. But when everything goes well… We become two beautiful flowers.”

The Cube is currently trying to raise funds to buy out their premises for themselves - and continue improving and running their cinema. It's becoming ever-important that we support independent establishments such as The Cube - and if you pay a visit to see Cutie and the Boxer, you will appreciate how much of an asset it is to Bristol. Read more here on their project, and please donate if you can!

Cutie and the Boxer is showing tomorrow (Tuesday 19th November) at 8pm at The Cube. Tickets are £5, or £4 with your student card. You need to pay £1 membership on top of the ticket price for your first visit – but once you visit six times, you can see a film for free. They don’t accept cards, so make sure you bring cash.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Words of the Week #15

Look for the tired, well-thumbed ones -
They always have the best poetry 
Bring on the Blake! - because this week were doing a classic.

As part of the annual chain-yourself -to-the-library-desk-late-night-revision-cram that we all have experienced, I find myself always taking up the seats in the poetry section of the University's Arts and Social Sciences Library. As a Medical Student, I have quickly found that short term goals and self-gratifications is the only way to get through a mountain of work (I personally find strategically covering up parts of paragraphs with jelly beans highly effective!) It was during one of these moments around 2 am in a morning,  after a last ditch attempt at wrangling with the spinothalamic pathway of the brain, I decided on taking a peruse around the shelves. That's when I found this beauty!

On Thin, Delicate Pages - as if the words will
dissolve away if you press too hard 

From a dusty forgotten corner of the library, I found a copy of William Blakes poems which not only included the famous"The Tyger" but also earlier drafts and versions of "TheTyger." it was incredibly interesting to see how such a well known and rhythmic poem developed and how different it could of been!

The Tyger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare sieze the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art. 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
- William Blake

ReferenceBLAKE, W. & SAMPSON, J. 1913. The poetical works of William Blake : including the unpublished French Revolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Paper Art

In anticipation of our Paper Cutting workshop with artist Sarah Dennis running later this month, we thought we would bring you three more artists and designers who have created amazing works entirely from that most simple, available and essential of mediums: paper.

Contemporary Japanese artist Nahoko Kojima creates sculptures out of single sheets of paper. Her most ambitious piece to date was created this year - Byaku - a life-sized sculpture of a polar bear. When exhibited, it is hung from the ceiling from invisible threads - giving the work an amazing floating quality. Kojima notes herself she finds the work fascinating to look both up at from below, and down on to see the shadows it creates on the plinth. Byaku took seven months to create from concept to the finished work. The paper Kojima chose to use has symbolic significance: the traditional Japanese paper turns yellow after being in the sun for a prolonged period: "This was perfect because the Polar Bear's also goes through a similar change." Take a look at the video below to view the work and hear from the artist herself.

Julien Vallée, a graphic designer and artistic director currently working in Quebec, has created works for clients including Coca Cola and Lacoste. Have a look at his stunning piece Spray Can created for the main exhibition of the Illustrative Zürich festival in 2008 - a piece of work about one medium, made  entirely out of another, that defies the qualities we traditionally associate with paper, making it into something far more solid and structural. Also have a look at Vallée's incredible work for MTV - the creation of which can be viewed in this video.

Graphic designer and illustrator Damien Poulin has created pieces in all kinds of mediums, including paper-based works. These paper cut outs created for clothing brand Uniqlo are spotless. Tokyo and London are represented through just a few key images and colours - in pieces that are illustrations and sculptures at once.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Today the blog hit 100,000 views so we'd just like to say a huge thank you to all our readers both of our print editions and the blog. Our final submissions for the first issue of this year is fast approaching so don't hesitate to send us any submissions you might still have. 

In order to carrying on printing we need as many members as possible- to join find our page on the UBU societies page! We're going to try and bring members some exclusive activities in the coming months and really appreciate everyone's support. Feel free to suggest any events you would be interested in, either post them on the Facebook page or tweet us @HeliconMagazine

We hope you're looking forward to the coming issue and will carrying on viewing our blog for interesting finds!

Many thanks, 
The Helicon Team


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Eleven Untranslatable Words

I came across this article as part of my Linguistics course - it was a nice surprise after reading pages and pages of very heavy essays! Ella Frances Sanders compiles a list of eleven 'untranslatable' words, some of them beautifully poetic, complete with some great illustrations.

In linguistics we learn about linguistic relativity: this is the idea that as long as the world shares the same concept, a language can survive. That is to say, words themselves are arbitrary and are only symbols for what we collectively understand- the word 'dog' is irrelevant whether we call it a 'chien', a 'perro', or a 'hund'. 

So this means that these words are untranslatable because their meaning is not generally shared- true, we don't have one exact word for 'komorebi-sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees', but that's not to say we can't translate it's meaning? Personally I think 'dappled light' is pretty close...?

If you agree with me here, take a look at Michelle Hume's food blog which takes a stand against the idea that these words really are 'untranslatable' and gives us an example of what really is.


Monday, 11 November 2013


Thank you to everyone who has already sent in work for the upcoming issue - we are now going through and selecting our favourites, and working on getting the magazine together! 

The good news is we have extended the deadline till next Tuesday for you to get any last minute work in. 

Remember, anyone can send in their work - we love seeing new submitters! All you need to do is email your work (either prose, poetry, photography or art) that is in keeping with this term's theme 'lost and found' to and we will potentially publish it in our next issue!

This is a great chance for you to get your work published alongside a mixture of 
artwork and writing, completed by Bristol students and local artists. 

(We are especially looking for a few extra art pieces (photographs, or scanned copies of your works are fine) and shorter prose pieces (so creative writing pieces which are only around 500 words - easy!))

This is the deadline! We look forward to seeing your work!

Words of the Week # 14 - We shall Remember them...

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them

We shall remember them.

Last Post

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud…
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home-
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce- No- Decorum- No- Pro patria mori.
You walk away.

You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too-
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert-
and light a cigarette.
There's coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.

You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

- Carol Ann Duffy

Thursday, 7 November 2013

'Here Before'

Rookie Magazine is one of my go-to sites for essay procrastination. If you haven't heard of it already - I apologise for introducing you to it now, as many hours that could have been spent on work have been spent there.

Rookie is the kind of magazine you wish you'd known about when you were fourteen. Founded by Tavi Gevinson (fashion-blogger extraordinaire from the age of 13), the online magazine has also produced two printed  'Yearbooks' that are high up on my christmas list.Not only does is Rookie one of the few online magazines to have a hand-stitched zine feel to it, but it features really well-written articles on a whole host of topics that are unseen elsewhere. Handwritten playlists under titles such as 'Hanging Out With Juliet Capulet' and 'High School Hallway Powerwalk' are embellished with the kinds of stickers you would have found in your 1996 sticker album; unusual amateur fashion lookbooks are incorporated with hand drawn collage and illustration; it also features DIY tutorials.

 Recently I came across this photo set, entitled 'Here Before: A Visual Déjà Vu' - that I wanted to share with Helicon readers, as I think it fits perfectly with the issue we are currently putting together: Lost & Found. Eleanor, the photographer, has said this about this haunting but beautiful set of images:

"This photo series is an exploration of my past versus my present self. Many of these pictures were shot in places I had not visited since I was a child. The feelings I felt revisiting them…I could not determine if they were memories or dreams. The images are an attempt to visually represent the feeling of déjà vu; to examine the way new memories overwrite but cannot eradicate old ones (thanks to Anaheed for teaching me what a palimpsest is!); and to pay homage to the masters of surreal art."

Our official submission date for this term's issue has closed, but we are still accepting art, photography, poetry and creative writing whilst we put the magazine together. Please send it to, and see your work published in copies of Helicon all across Bristol!


All images courtesy of Rookie