Good As Gold Beyond Awesome

Exactly three weeks ago, Hubbie and I were at Maharishi Store on Great Pulteney Street, sipping beer and chatting to our friends and acquaintances. It was a launch party of a book, Good As Gold Beyond Awesome, and we were invited because Hubbie designed the book,

The weather then was not as hot as the one we are experiencing recently but it was pretty summery and pleasant.

The venue of the party was a well-known boutique and it had a beautiful Japanese warrior’s armour on display.

The place was buzzing with the excited crowds.

While Hubbie was putting the layouts together, I contributed to it by doing most of the typing in the book. Yes, typing, proper typing using a vintage Olivetti typewriter! Unlike word -processing with a modern keypad, typing with an old-fashioned typewriter was a pretty physical experience. It was like mini boxing with my fingers! I had to hit the keyboard hard so the letters would appear crisp and clean. And the noise of it! It was raucous. How anyone coped with those deafening sounds in the offices, especially in a room with multiple typists working, before desktop computers became norm?, I wondered.

The book was a great success.

The images were juxtaposed in such ways, it would stir your imagination.

The man himself, Ed Morris!

He may have looked a bit annoyed but he wasn’t. He was a very intense man. Right?

Bella was a bit taken aback by the amount of the crowds at the party.

I don’t know where to stay..

As she grew more mature, she developed slight shyness. As a puppy, she was very outgoing, almost a bit like manic.

Then, you don’t want to leave the party?

Oh Bay-Bay, can’t you make up your mind? We are leaving because Hubbie has started having a migraine!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lumiere London @ King’s Cross

It was definitely that FOMO feeling which motivated me to visit the event Lumiere London 2018. I missed out on the same event in 2016 and this time, I didn’t want to be the one who was pitied by those, who made it to the spectacles, how foolish I was to skip such a fantastic do.

‘We are going to their King’s Cross venue after dark!’ I declared to Hubbie’s back while he attended a pile of emails on his iMac screen. ‘Are we?’ His response to my suggestion was rather ambivalent.

Hubbie always made it clear that he hated visiting crowded places. I, myself, was not excessively fond of overcrowded places, therefore, I understood his reluctance. However, we were living in a capital city with the population of 8.8 million and the possibility of finding any event which was not crowded would be pretty negligible. ‘Well, we will wrap up quickly if it is too crowded!’, I quipped.

We arrived at a forecourt of King’s Cross station around 7 o’clock. The square was already teeming with the people who appeared to be heading to the installations which were dotted around Granary Square…

At Battle Bridge Place, we found IFO (Identified Flying Object) by Jacques Rival…

Any well-publicised mega event, such as Lumiere London, was bound to attract large crowds, and as a result, the installation was swamped by the waves of onlookers with their cameras and smartphones. Like them, I also tried to capture the vibrant colours of the artwork but my iPhone 7 was not up for a job, the images came out all too light and flat.

On King’s Boulevard, we were greeted by a row of giant office desk lamps…

The work, Lampounette, was by TILT, a French artistic studio. The desk lamps towered over us and gave us the feeling of being a doll in Polly Pocket!

While I took some snaps of the installation, Bella was held by Hubbie…

‘I have a great vantage point!’

We decided not to walk her on leash at the event. It was because the streets were too crowded and also too dark. We thought she could be easily trampled and the lead could be tripped by the pedestrians who weren’t aware of her presence.

Then, we arrived at Granary Square where a large installation, Waterlight, by Daan Roosegaarde was displayed..


The mid space of the entire square was filled with LED lighting which floated above our heads.

The art piece was breathtakingly beautiful…


There was a fog generator at the southwest corner of the square and it was pumping out the mist so the LED could illuminate the travelling mist in the air. Oh how much I long to be alone with this blue dancing haze! The beauty was ethereal.

Then, we moved on towards West Handyside Canopy and found the work, Aether, by Architecture Social Club…


I was really not sure if the audience needed this deafening techno music with the installation. Instead of enhancing the experience, I thought the tune was distracting and it also made the piece rather cheap and cliche. Like night clubs in Ibiza? I would have like it more if it was a silent piece.

After having a glimpse of Entre Les Rangs and Bottle Festoon, Hubbie and I opted to head home. We thought that some opportunities, such as Lumiere London, were too irresistible to pass on and that was why we went there. However, the venue was simply too crowded and we were a bit fed up with dodging the people and slow-marching in the freezing wind.

‘I just feel numb on my toes!’, I pined.

At Vinoteca King’s Cross, we bought mulled wine. The spiced wine was hot and it warmed our chilled finger tips and stomachs…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Magnum Photos Now @ Barbican

A week ago, Hubbie asked if I were interested in going to a lecture by Christopher Anderson at Barbican. ‘Yeah, I am.’ I answered as I sipped my cappuccino.

The lecture Hubbie was talking about was one of the lecture series, Magnum Photos Now, hosted by the Barbican.

Magnum Photos is a world famous photographic agency which is owned and run by its photographer-members. The agency was founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour on 6th February 1947, shortly after the Second World War. They opened a magnum of champagne to celebrate the occasion and as a result, this new co-operative was named as “Magnum”. One of the co-founders, Henri Cartier-Bresson, eloquently put the esprit de corps of the artist collective as “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”

This year, the organisation had become 70 years old and as a part of the celebration, Magnum Photos and the Barbican were hosting a series of lectures.

We arrived at Barbican Centre around 6pm and had a quick bite at a cafeteria within the compound. The sold-out lecture appeared to be very popular and all the people who were milling around the lift hall – the event was to be held in Frobisher Auditorium on the fourth floor – talked excitedly about it.

After queuing for 20 minutes or so, we were finally allowed to proceed to the venue…

Our lecturer was Christopher Anderson. And the subject was about portraiture.

Similar to some of the best known photographers, such as Robert Capa and Don McCullin, Christopher Anderson established his career as a photographer in the early 2000s by covering conflict zones – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine and the resulting works earned him international acclaim and awards.

Since then, he and his subjects have moved closer to home. In his recent project, Stump, which was assigned by Le Monde, he documented the backstage of the 2008 presidential campaign. The result was brutally honest exposure of the American political system, epitomised by the unflattering close-ups of the Washington elites.

Around 7:30pm, Mr.Anderson emerged on the stage and started his talk by saying apologetically, ‘Bear with me until I can wing it.’ And that was exactly what he did.

Unfortunately, the lecture was a flop.

The main problem was how little he was prepared for the talk. He hardly talked anything unique other than jazzing up the sentences with phrases like “Cutting through the noise”, “Emotional quality”, etc. I got increasingly frustrated while he literally “winged it”.

And the lack of chemistry between him and his interviewer, a curator from the National Portrait Gallery also compounded the problem. Can you picture it? While this curator person, rambling away her long abstract questions with her hands flapping like butterfly wings, him, curling up in his chair cross-armed and muttering cagey answers time to time. The way they were made the occasion somehow very awkward for the audience to sit through.

As we left the Barbican, I had to confessed to Hubbie that I was not impressed with the lecture and he agreed. We both agreed that we learnt nothing.

A picture speaks a thousand words. May be Mr.Anderson should have left his photos to do the talking, not himself…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Stack Awards 2017

Last Monday night, Hubbie, his senior designer and I were queuing at Queen of Hoxton on Curtain Road. We were invited to the Stack Awards 2017 because one of Hubbie’s work was shortlisted for one of the awards.

How long do we have to wait before being admitted? It looked like the organiser was making sure only the people who were on the guest list would be allowed to enter and the registration was taking a loooong time…

The venue, Queen of Hoxton, was approximately 7-8 minutes walk from Old Street tube station.

A mirror ball!

A DJ was spinning retro boogies and girls with trays laden with mini-burgers, halloumi kebabs and cute avocado wraps were shimmying through the guests. The foods were very moreish and they were plentiful.

There were some print samples done by the printer across the pond…

Park Press Printers, based in Northeastern United States.

We chatted with other guests while the organisers prepared the basement for an award giving ceremony…

Shame that the do was not on Friday. If so I would have drunk more…

The Stack Awards was an annual award given to noteworthy independent magazines by Stack Magazines. And the competition was international, therefore, the entries were global…

The result? Hubbie won a commendation amongst 22 shortlists! Well done, you!!

His magazine, Pan and the Dream was a collaboration between him and a fashion designer who resided in NYC. I saw him toiling and burning the midnight oil for months before the magazine went to press. It was a damn hard work and I was very happy that he was rewarded for his effort.

There is a review done by Creative Review here. Take a look if you are interested…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cathédrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for Würzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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