hello & welcome back to ✨WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK!✨ – my culture diary so i can remember what i’ve fuckin looked at on a week by week basis. straight into it »>

tice cin // keeping the house

a couple weeks ago i mentioned that i’d saved poor things and experienced the film too late. i’d been waiting for the hype to pass so i could watch it outside the eye of the storm and then been disappointed by it bc i left it too late. i thought i’d learned a valuable lesson in how delayed gratification isn’t actually gratification. well. i have been saving keeping the house for myself like a delicious little treat. i knew i’d love it, i delayed gratification, and i finally started reading it last week and… turns out delayed gratification is totally fine because i fucking LOVED this book.

it’s a book that is also a kind of collage, patchwork assemblage. not in the sense that it leaves gaps, but in the sense that it’s many different moving parts hitting you like waves. it snaps from scene to scene and protagonist to protagonist, to tell a nebulous story set against the backdrop of north london’s turkish cypriot community and the heroin trade. it bounces: snooker hall, cafe, front room. most of the story bounces between the perspective of a single mum (ayla) and her eldest daughter (damla). ayla’s baby father is sent to prison and he leaves her with a stash of heroin. she tries to shift it herself and also tries to pull off an import scheme where she gets heroin smuggled in in the heads of turkish cabbages.

the characters wheel in around them, vivid and alive. even though ayla and damla are the pins holding the story together from their perspective, the other characters aren’t side cast, they’re just as loud and central and forcefully rendered. and the plot isn’t chronological. i’ve found reviews that call is a polyphonic story – i agree, i guess that just means that the wider cast of characters exist in a nebulous cloud. but that makes it sound vague, and it isn’t. it isn’t overly complicated or hard to follow. tice cin is just a fucking amazing writer, able to hold all these spinning plates up in the air, doing the literary equivalent of juggling flaming batons. she pulls all these strands together and has created something that would be unweildy in someone else’s hands. but she has this deft mastery of everything that happens – it’s incredible.

the end result of this book is something hard cut, multi-faceted and shimmering. it’s not got the brute force machismo of a guy ritchie film, lock stock and smoking barrel simplicity. it’s more complicated, encompassing and weird. it takes up a larger amount of narrative space than that kind of straight line. it’s more soulful, poetic – calling it heartfelt makes it sound woo-woo or abstract. it’s not – it’s more real than that. at times the narrative voice breaks apart into actual poetry, into shape, line, lyrical mysticism. it remains real, grounded, two feet on earth despite the way it soars up through the atmosphere into those nebulous clouds.

it’s real talent, real fucking craft. i’m in awe. i once met tice cin outside a pub on green lanes. i wish i could rewind to that moment and shake her hand, gush to her about how i am such a fan, in awe of the mastery of her craft, the way she made it all seem so effortless but – as a writer myself – that i know how much skill it takes to spit polish a diamond into your complete control like that. and she makes it putty in her hand!!! she makes it shimmer like water!!!! a magician, i can’t believe it. this is the best book i’ve read in a while – not just because it is technically brilliant or because it appeals to my specific taste profile. i say this with an attempt at objectivity. i think they should teach it in english literature 101 classes. it’s amazing, you should read it. go to shops and buy it, i beg you, if you haven’t already.

tom hunter, life and death in hackney

a month or so ago i met tom hunter, a hackney based photographer, and our conversation became the basis of that London 2039 text. he has a show on at the moment in grey gallery, just east of london fields. i popped in at the weekend – it runs until 5th May.

honestly, i’ve been on a real journey with photography recently. a couple years back i didn’t really understand the beauty or joy of taking pictures in the first place, so looking at the pitcures in a gallery was an experience that was just compeltely lost on me, left me numb or vacant. with tom’s work, i’m glad it found me, because i think the photos he’s put in this show are like artefacts of a version of a place that doesn’t exist anymore. the hackney in his photos has been paved over – by olympicolpolis and the gentrification machine, london’s hyper financialisation, new builds and – god, everything that one eyed cat complains about. so then photography becomes more than instant imagemaking, it’s a way of preserving something that’s already disappeared, a historical tool or a way of using art as preservation. spiriting up something that died, a kind of necromancy but not macabre, actually lovely, warm. tom’s photos have a quality that feels like generosity or friendliness. i can feel it creeping out of the frame. and yeah, preservation or necromancy is an imperfect way of describing it. you can’t put an idealised version of london in aspic – it’s never existed, that’s not what’s going on. but you can show people a world that no longer exists and let them in on the beauty of it, feel the weird grief of this place they never knew but feel the loss of. there’s beauty and joy in that, definitely.

i took my boyfriend along and it felt really bizarrely important for me to show him tom’s work? i think that means it’s important to me. i’ve not quite put my finger on why, on what that importance means or how i relate to these photos – what the importance says about my relationship to the photos, bc my relationship to photography is literally being reconfigured as i write. so i am sharing it with you here and now bc i think it feels important that i tell you that this version of the city existed once too – the places in the photos look completely different. they’ve literally been paved over. i don’t know why it’s important to me that we all witness that, but it is! criticism is such an imprecise tool sometimes, it it almost frustrating. i don’t want to review these images, these photos or this exhibition. i just want to tell you about them. i just want to let you know that they’re there.

delicate bonds @ lychee one

while we were east of london fields, i bopped along to lychee one to see a group show: delicate bonds with Xiaochi Dong, Rowley Haynes & Sammi Lynch. it’s interesting, everything i see in this gallery is intensely beautiful. i never read the press release. i have no need to! i always just bop along and enjoy the pleasant aesthetic experience. maybe it’s something in the floor to ceiling window wall that faces the street – something spatial or about the light. idk, i just always have a lovely and wordless time. i couldn’t tell you what the show was about.

i found myself vibing most with sammi lynch’s scratchy blurry landscapes. i got all up close and personal in their space and found myself wondering if they were painted drectly onto raw canvas. no primer, no underpainting, no grounding layer of thin wash to break the ice of introduction (paint, meet canvas. canvas, have you met paint?) the marks made the world of the image feel like a hazy blur, not the whizzy movement of looking out a train window, the static fuzz of squinting until the world falls out of eyeball focus. and the colours and shapes looked like they were on fire and dancing – rly lovely paintings!!!

and the perspective warp in rowley haynes' drawings was very pleasing. the way bodies stretched out, like the entire image was yawning. i also found a vicarious pleasure in the marks – they were drawings, coloured pencil making blocked off zones of even colour, scratchy expanses plastered over. the colour left gaps where the grain of the paper took over.

it was all very rewarding to look at.

sylvanian family

after seeing the sylvanian family rabbit party house in the somerset house cute show the week before, i held my boyfriend conversationally hostage telling him about how much i loved and wanted a sylvanian family set as a kid. and, this man. omg i love him so much. he got me a sylvanian family house with the bunny, with the furniture. i love him!

i also love the silly sylvanian family house. i am gna build this silly rabbit some sick furniture. i amd gna make the silly rabbit house all funky fresh. i’m about to be 30 years old and getting really into dollshouses. this is a hobby can get behind: if i can’t have a REAL house (london, housing crisis, self employed and precarious) then i will have a miniature rabbit house that i can experience dream housing through vicariously. I LOVE IT!!!!! i love my boyfriend!!!! he said literally as soon as he got home he ordered it – sorry, i love him!!!

i am quitting smoking

i am quitting smoking. after 15 years smoking, i have had enough. no more! the act of smoking doesn’t spark joy anymore, it’s just a chemical habit i can’t shake. so i’m switching over to snus and i have run out of tobacco, i will not buy any more. everyone say WELL DONE zarina. i will let u know how it goes, wish me luck. i am now a snusser. pure nicotine straight into my bloodstream via my gum. let’s gooooooooo !

ceramicist rebrand update

as u know i am taking a 12 week ceramics course so i can learn a handicraft, a skill, gain practical proficiency in something. so far i’ve been making ugly pinchpots and handbuilding ridiculous teapots that are mostly aesthetically disgusting. but THIS WEEK we had a lil lesson in how to like throw clay and make things on a wheel.

it was all very exciting. i went in thinking i’d be kind of naturally kind of good at it, secretly, in a humble way. spoiler: i was not. it’s really hard! it’s really unforgiving. if you fuck it up then it’s game over: your finger goes through the clay or the pot collapses or just comes off entirely. if you don’t do it properly, it just won’t do what you want it to do. there’s no bodging it together or bumbling along. i fucking LOVE that. i respect it. it’s a way of amnifesting or materialising proof of a technical skill: literally exactly the kinda thing i want to get to grips with. i could just practice LOADS and dedicate laods of time and effort to this and get better and be able to literally physically SEE the improvement. isn’t that crazy? you know when you get a feeling like ‘o… i’m about to be sooo obsessed with this’ ?? i had that right after the class. like, uh oh, this is a bit of me, hope that’s not a problem. LOVE THAT! how exciting! brb, j googling how much pottery wheels are. (edit: they’re like… two grand lmao) anyway – the pic is from the evening after the class, me n the bf were watching youtube tutorials on how to make things on the wheel n practicing the lil hand movements bc we’re NERDS :) (i was actually asleep at the same time too)

finally actually noticed this

veronica ryan’s windrush comission in hackney central! it’s: three sculptures of Caribbean fruits – Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit, (Moraceae) and Soursop (Annonaceae) – in bronze and marble, installed in Narrow Way Square on Mare Street.

i must’ve walked past these at least 20 times without clocking them. how??? is that a testament to how well they sit in a public square? is that a testament to the power of my ability to not notice what’s going on around me? you decide!

on a scale this big, they look like alien things rather than edible things. i guess that’s partly the point – playing around with sculpture in the realm of the familiar and unfamiliar, letting those 2 things leak into each other. they’re beautiful in that alien way, you can see the fruits in a way up close and at large that you wouldn’t be able to at actual scale. isn’t art amazing? what a gift! i love things like this because they are small and massive transformations – both at the same time. a kind of magic. isn’t it clever? isn’t it amazing! magic magic magic, i love it.

reservoir dogs

forgot i watched this! it was mid. the time flew by but i forgot i was watching it while i was watching it. not sure howit’s possible to have an ambivalent passive experience of a tarantino film, they’re very attention grabby in the slasher horror gore and violence. somehow this one slipped right over me. funny that, isn’t it.