It has been a whole hot minute…

Mmhmmm…It sure has. The short story is this…I needed some time after I finished my degree to process things and just sit in the quiet for awhile and feel everything that I had stomped down into a deep dark corner of myself so I could get through the crazy work schedule I was trying to get through. The climb back from that deep dark corner is arduous. It’s a process, ok? But I’m getting there. And today, I felt like writing a blog post. There’s going to be some rambling and some generally terrible sentence structure, but we are gonna get through this together!

I have been taking a holiday from my Second Life. That last 6 months of my degree was INTENSE. I was in a constant state of panic and work overload. It was rough. I look back over the vlog scripts I have written from that time and I can FEEL the anxiety and the stress all over again. Even when I finished, that stayed with me for quite some time and I blamed myself for friendships in world that went wrong and I let my impostor syndrome get the better of me. Despite my successes, I felt like I had let everyone down and I couldn’t face anyone else when I thought so badly about myself. Pretty crappy thought process right?? Yup…so that is ENOUGH of that…

Throughout those moments though, I have had some people who constantly touched base and checked in. I have talked about a couple of them so many times they are regular features on my blogs and vlogs. My incredible physical world friend Cath, who has journeyed with me for years through all the times, good, bad and indifferent. We have laughed and cried and talked through our lives through many hours and many coffees and many wines. We have adventured and fallen and gotten up time and again.

My wonderful friend and fellow artist Elyse, who I had the great fortune to meet during the first semester of this course. We learned and complained and stressed and graduated together. Now we remember and commiserate but mostly, we minecraft and laugh and dream big dreams about what comes next in our artistic lives together.

My friends, Pete and Extrepid, who I met online in vanilla World of Warcraft. They stuck with me all this time and through all these years, making me smile with their damn awful Dad jokes and astounding me with their wisdom and thoughts.

And you all know the lovely Mondrian, my favourite fox friend and fellow Second Life Artist. We were doing our postgrad studies at the same time and now we have finished at the same time, he is one of the few people who really GETS what I am going through. He’s the sweetest, kindest, most talented, lovely guy and I just adore him.

Mondrian and me 11082018_001

And of course you also all know the reticent Wavie Haller who I am going to say NOTHING good about because he gets all embarrassed and gruff and it’s really not as cute as you’d think.

The Vordun with Wavie 1024x768

But I am not sure you know Freya of the store Hilted. I have chatted to Freya on and off for a little while. I have a lot of respect for the work she does, but for me, that is not enough to keep a conversation going with anyone. I am pretty quiet in SL for many reasons and even though I tell people its because I work a lot…which I do…but between us, its mostly because I just am afraid of being vulnerable. I tell people that I’m GREAT at making acquaintances, terrible at making friends.

But today I found myself talking with Freya for WAY longer than I had expected to. Half an hour turned into 2 and a half hours and it was only with regret that I left that conversation. I felt like smiling and thinking about those tentative firsts of friendships and how they might lead somewhere incredible and comfortable. For the first time in a long time, I left SL feeling inspired and looking forward to returning. Its a really nice feeling. I love that about creative people, that they are inspiring and their passions and enthusiasm for their creativity rubs off on you. So tonight, when I had the chance, I worked on this photo…

Who are you Mangrovejane?

What the heck is happening in this photo? (Pose) Ana poses – Jiufen; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Body) Maitreya Lara; (Hair) Tableau Vivant Faux Dreads; (Shirt) Vinyl Lambert Tunic; (Jeans) Vinyl Blake Skinny Cuff Jeans; (Shoes) Bueno Seattle Boots

And it felt good. It felt like coming home. It reminded me that sometimes we feel like we are standing alone, and sometimes we may be lost and searching for a way. Sometimes we may be afraid of the next steps and unsure of where to place our feet. But if we take a breath and open our eyes, we will see there are hands holding ours and not letting go and if we listen, there are gentle voices whispering kindness and encouragement.

It is here, in the journey back from the deep dark corners, I find today while remembering these splendid people, that the way back is a little less arduous and my step is a little lighter and I am hopeful again for a better tomorrow.

Vlogblog Week 4 (Week Ending 23/08/2019) It’s EXHIBITION time!

WOW WOW WOW!!! SO much happened this week. SO many feels. It was an emotional roller coaster and it was CRAZY. So let’s have a look at what actually happened shall we???


Monday was install day and it was a HUGE one. 9 hours of installing, fiddling, changing things up, moving things around, hanging photos and switching photos and STRESSING. There were of course technical difficulties. All week. My whole week was plagues with technical difficulties but now I look back, each day small progress was made to fix these. One thing at a time. Monday was also the day I realised how much support I had and how many people were in my corner. My supervisor came multiple times during the day and was there at the very end of my day (which was actually 9 o’clock at night!!).

Tuesday I made a connection with a possible lead to a group exhibit with UQ next year. Wednesday and Thursday saw the lighting guys come in and light the place up perfectly and also with me taking a chance and replacing some of my photos with one large self portrait.

Alison James, 2019, Smoke and Mirrors. Digital Print

Friday FINALLY saw the end of my technical issues in the form of a colleague, Andy who spent quite a bit of time helping me out and teaching me things. At so, at the end of the week, it has been quite the journey, but things are looking up. I’m looking forward to next week being a lot easier and a lot less of an emotional roller coaster. As always though, if you would like to hear the full story of this weeks adventures, check out the VLOG I have embedded above or check it out on my Youtube channel!

Oh and one last thing before I go…CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE, sponsors of my installation sim and patron of the arts. They have things. Things you need. Also things you don’t need. But you are gonna want them any way, so CHECK ‘EM OUT! #bestadsever #yourewelcomewavie

Sponsored by Consignment 1title_001

VlogBlog Week 3 (Week Ending 16/08/2019) Time for Installation Practice

Here we are…Week 3 and this week was all about the installation practice. Some issues came up for me during this practice that really made me rethink what I was doing and how I was doing it. I stressed a lot about whether to take my computer in to the gallery next week for a number of reasons:

  1. Security and Privacy. Could someone find a way to get into my private spaces or even steal the computer while I wasn’t there?
  2. User error. It’s WAY to easy to break someone’s stuff without really realising you have done it.
  3. Is it going to feel too much like work? We often associate computers with work, and lets face it…SL IS a lot of work some days and a steep learning curve.
  4. Logistics. If I am unwilling to leave it in the gallery for security reasons, how do I get my large desktop computer into the gallery and back everyday without it costing me a fortune in parking?
  5. People downloading stuff I don’t want on my computer. By accident or design, I don’t want things being downloaded onto my computer that I don’t want there.

So that is it in a nutshell, as usual, if you want the whole story, check out the VLOG embedded above or on my Youtube channel!

And one last thing…Consignment Furniture…Looks like a Junkyard…but the furniture and stuff is awesome. #totallysponsoredmyinstallation #myadsarethebest #yourewelcomewavie

Sponsored by Consignment 1title_001

VlogBlog Week 2 (Week ending 09082019)

Yup…I’m still catching up on my weekly VlogBlogs and the VLogs themselves. Week 3 is about to come out on the Youtubes, so I figured I better get on and get this one out before I get completely out of sync with them all.

OK First…I changed the name of this blog series…because honestly, they are the blogs…of the vlogs and therefore VLOGBLOGS. Yes I am that type of person who hates it when people write “Your” when they really mean “You’re”. Totally triggers me and the name of the blog series was triggering me and now I’ve changed it. So…there.

Also…Consignment Furniture. Sponsors of my SL Installation. Patron of the Arts. Generally awesome stuff. You should check ’em out. These ads are basically the best. Consignment Furniture. You’re welcome Wavie.


And now all that is over, what actually happened this week? Well…I visited the Psychologist, skipped class to pick up my youngest daughter from school (#momlife right?), thought a whole lot about next week’s installation practice, then examined the idea of visual exemplars, who a few of mine are (both in RL and SL) and why. I took a photo in SL, did some landscaping on the installation sim, my computer had a psychedelic meltdown, spent quite a bit of time on Skillshare watching photography videos and then took THIS awesome photo in my backyard playing with depth of field….

orchid and steps
Alison James, 2019, Orchid and Steps.

So that was my week in a nutshell. If you want to hear about it in more detail, check out the VLOG version that I have embedded above for your viewing convenience or even better go check it out and like it up on my Youtube channel!

Handy Dandy References:
Consignment Furniture SLurl:
Consignment Furniture Marketplace Store
AES+F Website
Hito Steyerl|NGV
Personal photos of Self Portrait (Andy Warhol) and Drowning Girl (Roy Lichtenstein) taken at the NGV by Alison James

Learning to Say, “I am NOT OK.”

It’s R U OK Day here in Australia. I have mixed feelings about this day. I think it is a really good way of getting messaging out there about mental health and having a quiet concern for others.

But at the same time, I remember being asked that question and answering with a smile on my face, “I am ok”. Even though I wasn’t. Even though I was FAR from ok. I remember being asked that question and thinking, “No-one is going to believe I am actually NOT ok. Look at my perfect life, with my perfect family and my perfect husband and perfect loving mothers. Look at my perfect career and my perfectly lovely house and the perfect brilliance of my perfectly broken brain.”

Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors by Mangrovejane

I was mouthing the Words, “I am ok”, and yet screaming inside, “I’M NOT OK I’M NOT OK I’M NOT OK. LOOK PAST MY PERFECT SMILE AND SEE THAT I…AM…NOT…OK”. I thought I was going to break into a thousand tiny little perfect pieces and people would coo and smile and nod their heads in perfect unison and say, “What an incredibly perfect art piece you have made there. Look at the way the light falls on those pieces. Look at the abstraction. Look at that raw emotion.”

Then they would leave, while my pieces lying imperfectly on the ground murmured…

“But…I’m not ok….”

You are not a Writer2 WordPressfeatured image 1800x800 20190513_001
“You are not a writer”, by Mangrovejane

It was a perfect scenario to keep me perfectly locked inside my own head. To keep the perfect smile and the perfect answers. To nod my head with the other perfect people and ask the perfect question, listening with just the perfect amount of sympathy as they all explained that they too…just like me…were all ok.

Social anxiety by Mangrovejane

I remember the moment I broke through the perfect barrier and yelled in desperation, “PLEASE HELP ME. I’M NOT OK. I’M AFRAID OF THIS PERFECTION AND I’M LOST IN THE MADNESS AND I CAN’T GET OUT.” And that was the moment the perfection took a step back, as if shocked that I would dare mention its name and expose it. I started saying it more.

I said it to the doctor, “I’m not ok.”

I said it to my children, “I’m not ok.”

I said it to the clinical psychologist I was sent to, “I’m not ok.”

And then I said it to my friends, “I’m not ok.”

I would walk into the psych office and cry. I felt like I would never stop crying. That I would always be broken and raw and imperfect now. At first, I felt like I was the only imperfect person in a perfect world and I would never be able to step back in to that world and be whole and perfect again.

But…The more I said it…

“I’m not ok.”

the more those perfect people whispered it back to me…

“I’m not ok too.”

“Hey! Guess what? I was never ok.”

“I don’t really understand what ok is.”

“I’m a very long way from ok.”

And I saw them strip away their perfect skins and we stood…imperfectly together and apart. We were not perfect. And we were not ok. We may never get perfect back. But I know this…

I am WAY closer to ok now than I was when I was perfect.

So when you are ready…and when you most need it…remember this…

When someone asks, “R U Ok?”, it’s GOING to be ok if you tell them, “I’m NOT OK.”

It will take you some time. It’s going to take a lot of work and probably a lot of crying and being angry and understanding why you are crying and angry.

But one day, you will look back and see all those perfect skins left behind us and realise the day you learned to say, “I’m not ok.” was the day you found a way to be OK.


Groves by Cassandra Middles


The following resources are important. If you or anyone you know are having mental health issues please consider taking a moment and checking them out. Can’t hurt more right?

R U OK Day website
Beyond Blue website
Kids Helpline

BlogVlog Week 1 (Week Ending 02/08/2019)


OK. I know you’ve noticed the date on this. I’ve backdated it. Now…listen…I actually wrote all these BlogVlogs in the weeks they are actually dated at, buuuttttt….Life got busy. My Dog ate my homework. An anvil fell on my head. LOOK OVER THERE!!!

Anyway…here is the Blog to accompany the VLog I put out a little while ago now. These BlogVlogs are my way of keeping a journal of my experiences in both SL and RL over the last few months of my postgrad degree. I want to be honest and transparent about what it is like for me, both emotionally and academically and I hope you will follow my journey as I write up my exegesis, finish and exhibit my final art pieces and stress my way into an academic meltdown…errmm…wait…


So firstly, CONSIGNMENT FURNITURE!! HUGE shout out to Consignment for sponsoring me through my last few months of building my installation in Second Life. Need Furniture? Decor? ALL THE THINGS?!?!?! Check out Consignment Furniture. Right NOW! actually…no…not now. Read my BlogVLog first and then go check em out!

What actually happened this week? Well let me break that down for ya! I did a whole lot of reading and notetaking for my exegesis, I met up with my supervisor Chari, I practiced some physical world drawing exercises and photography, I caught up on SL happenings through all the usual social media, and had a bit of a rant about the LEA sims closing.

That basically sums it all up, but if you want to see what I actually see, check out the vlog part of this BlogVlog that I have embedded above or on my Youtube Channel!


1. Metaverse Artist AM Radio On The Ephemeral, Communal Nature Of Digital Art
2. What Makes A Virtual Reality Installation A Work Of Art, Rather Than Just A Fun Immersive Experience? A Veteran Art Critic Makes Her Case
3. LEA is Closing
4. Linden Endowment of the Arts Set to Close August 31
5. Linden Endowment of the Arts to Officially Close
6. The Closing of LEA: My Thoughts
7. Second Life Destinations – Moya Land
8. Moya Land SLurl
9. Second Life Destination Guide – Art


The Unauthorised Banksy Exhibit and the Theft of Second Life Photography.

Another blog post you say?? I KNOW RIGHT??!?!?! Just enjoy the extra posting and don’t question it in case you scare me off and you don’t see me again for months! Sooooo…I was trawling through my facebook feed one day and came across this link to an unauthorised exhibit of the Art of Banksy.

It made me feel uneasy for a few reasons. Let me explain…

Firstly, Street art, and especially the art of Banksy is a reaction to this very thing. Street art is art of the people for the people and is meant to be experienced on the street, free of charge by ANYONE, not just the elite that can afford it, and these prices are ridiculous for an UNAUTHORISED exhibit put together by private collectors and curated by Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s FORMER manager and photographer. So the artist themselves is not profiting off this exhibit, the collectors, the curators and the gallery are.

The prices themselves are quite prohibitive for the average person, let alone if you plan on taking a family. The profit margin on these tickets must be quite large despite the fact that they are putting on such a large exhibit.

Ticket Prices for Exhibit

From $32 general access Monday to Thursday
From $36 Priority access Monday to Thursday
From $32 general access Friday to Sunday
From $42 Priority access Friday to Sunday


I know that people will say that at least it is a promotion of the artist and it allows people who wouldn’t normally get to see them, experience them and it legitimises the artist and the art form…but you know what? It is being promoted not for the artist, but for profit. It does allow people who wouldn’t normally see art like this to experience it…but only the people who can AFFORD it, not the people it was MEANT for. And lastly, it was already a legitimate art form and Banksy was already a legitimate artist. It all kind of smacks of elitism and underhandedness.

Next, Street Art is not meant to be viewed like this. It is meant to be viewed in situ. Street art has a context and it finds layers of meaning in its context. The mural on the West Bank Barrier separating Palestine from Israel has important meaning in the place it is situated. It is a direct reaction to the current social and political climate and unrest that is happening around it. If you took that mural and hung it in a gallery, it loses some of its meaning and importance. You take it away from the people and the context, you reduce it to something sterile and…less.

Brisbane Street Art Photo1
An original Lister Wall I found in the Valley in Brisbane. The photo is only the memory. Seeing it in its original context is everything. Knowing also, that one day it may go due to development or renovations is also part of what makes this important and special. 

The more I think about it, the more offended I am. While I would dearly LOVE to see an authentic Banksy, I would like to see them how they are meant to be seen, free and out on the streets because that is part of the experience of them.

Lastly, this kind of artistic rip off really upsets me. We see it happening in Second Life all the time. I can’t even count the amount of times I read a plurk saying, “Hey! Check out this link…this person has used my photo in their ad/in their blog post/as a stock photo and not even credited me.” I go by the principle, ALWAYS ASK. Most people are seriously generous and will say yes, for something as simple as a link to their blog or to the original photo.

Just like street art, most Second Life Photography has meaning in context. Each photo taken is taken for a reason. Whether it is a documentary type photograph holding memories of a person’s time in world…
Mondrian, Al and I at Rainbow Painters Art Gallery

or a bloggers photograph meant to market items by creators in world… The New Subscription Box  in Town
that photograph has MEANING. Words will change that meaning. Context will change that meaning.

If you profit from someone else’s art work, even if that profit is just by free use of their creative/intellectual property without their permission, you are a thief. You have STOLEN their intellectual property and STOLEN their time and thoughts and effort. Just because the original online world photographer or artist is not known to you or because they are an avatar, is not enough of a reason to justify your thievery.

So that is my thoughts for today. What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever had your Second Life photos used out of context by someone who didn’t ask your permission? What did you do about that? Comment down below and let me know…I would really like to hear what you all think about it and about your experiences!

A Moment of Serendipity on the Train

(PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Second Life blog post today!)

Today I was heading into the gallery to babysit the art at the exhibit and while I was riding the train in to Southbank, I saw to my surprise, this amazing guy, dressed in a pirate costume, softly playing a guitar. Now…I am fascinated by people who are a little out of the ordinary. I want to hear their stories. I want to find out who they are and what they are doing and know the details of their lives.

Normally, I wouldn’t take photos of people on public transport or on the street. I kind of have a bit of a moral conflict about taking photos of people without their permission, but I really love street art photos, which quite often have people within them. So, I took a chance, and asked the guy if he would let me take photos of him while we rode the train together and he was happy to be my life model for our journey. I have never wished for my camera SO much since I got it. I only had my phone (its a Samsung Galaxy S7…yes I know it is a bit outdated now…I have a problem letting go of my tech, ok?) on me so I had to take these on my phone camera.20190827_220450

Paul Hilder was a fascinating guy, he gifted me with his story as he let me take photos of him. He was heading into the city for a meeting for musicians. He had gotten into trouble recently at a Climate Rebellion protest and had a beautiful brood of children. He had this beautifully easy going manner and was a delight to listen to. He had this way about him that was endearing and I liked the way he drew people in to conversation. We talked about the act of rebellion and you know what? Sometimes, to me, just talking to people in unexpected places like the train feels like an act of rebellion these days.


But you know, its those moments of serendipity and chance that make life endlessly interesting…where for that moment you get to see inside someone and you connect. I’d like to explore more of those moments and maybe hold an exhibit next year revealing them in a way that is joyful, beautiful and serendipitous. I don’t know…I’ll see. But I will definitely continue on with exploring the idea for awhile and see where it leads me.


With thanks to Paul Hilder for his stories, his time and for allowing me to randomly take his photos on a train ride into the city. 

A Weekend With a Little Bit Less Creating.

Yes, I am continuing the posting about my RL art journeys. I know I haven’t done an SL post for a whole hot minute, but don’t you worry about that. They are coming. I’ve just been taking a small holiday from SL while I can because very soon, I will be in there pretty much 24/7 as I prepare for exhibition and final assessment.

I DO want to do a shout out to the very generous and patient Wavie Haller of Consignment who has sponsored my final installation piece by donating the use of a full Homestead Sim for me to work on and show my final installation piece on for a few months. I’m truly thankful for this generous donation and so here is an advertisement I did a little while ago featuring Consignment that Wavie never used….If you are reading this, which you will because I will link it to you and make you read it…Thank you and you’re welcome Sir Haller!

Consignment Motorcycles

And now I have done that, here is the…DISCLAIMER: This is not a SL post, but rather a post about my RL stuff. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

This past weekend was a weekend filled with…ummm…I’m not even sure any more. It just kind of…went by before my mind could even process it was happening. Saturday was a blur of chores and domesticity. Sunday, we attended a community celebration. I am sure that I have mentioned before how my community likes to celebrate itself. Well, this was one of those weekends. Community groups were out in force with their stalls. Local acts were playing on a couple of stages. Schools were selling crafts and home baked goods. Even my GP was on stage playing his guitar and singing. I basically live in a small country town in the city ok?

I visited a friend (shout out to Cath) Sunday afternoon, where, while we were chatting, I said the awful sentence, “Triangles are not my genre.” After we managed to stop laughing at my intensely sincere stupidity long enough to catch our breath, we decided that we needed to put together an exhibition next year based around that and then we spent the whole afternoon dreaming and making notes on what that exhibition will be and what pieces need to be put into it. Everyone needs a friend who makes you less serious about yourself and who will dream a whole exhibit with you that both amuses and inspires you.

In between moments were spent working on one piece. Which is how I actually managed to say the sentence about the triangles. I work a lot with circles and swirls when I am just drawing intuitively. So I thought I would try something a little bit different and work with some jagged triangles. I KNOW RIGHT?!?! Such a leap of thinking there.

Anyway..what I found out by doing this was basically that I hate drawing triangles. It’s annoying. It doesn’t flow well. It takes so much longer to do than the circles. It’s finicky. Its persnickety. Yeah, ok…I am just making stuff up now. But it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like it. I’m not unhappy with the results, but I prefer last weekend’s drawing.

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Title: Untitled
Artist: Alison James
Size: 42.0 x 29.7cm
Medium: Micron 0.4 & 0.8 pens, Faber Castell warm and cold
grey artist pen, green ball point pen.

Next week, I think I will do something I don’t usually do and go for some realism. I haven’t practiced realistic still life drawing in a really long time and I am feeling drawn (pun totally intended. I heard you chuckle.) to giving that another bit of a crack. It’s one of those drawing forms that makes you LOOK at a subject, tonality, shadow and light, composition…It’s so easy to take the basic principles for granted when you are working on pieces or exhibiting. You just kind of shove those basics to the side and work on getting the concept out there. Its good to be purposefully mindful of these things and I am feeling a quiet tingle of excitement to be going back to basics in my art practice for a while. Whether it is a small while, or a big while…we shall see.

Weekend Creating

Disclaimer: This is not a SL post, but rather a post about my RL stuff. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

Sooooo….as just about everyone here knows, I am an artist in my physical reality. I came to Second Life as part of my postgraduate studies and have dedicated a lot of time to learning a ridiculous amount of things in order to use the platform to create art. Sometimes though, I just feel the need to return to other mediums and I often do pieces that are not just online world photography or videos. I think I don’t talk about my other art work enough on this blog or anywhere actually, mostly because I have been focused on writing about Second Life things as what I am doing there has been my biggest project to date. Right now though, I feel like chatting about it and showing you some of the other things I do…so here we go…

I have just gotten a beautiful new camera (it’s an EOS M50) and as I have never actually done any serious photography in real life with anything other than my smartphone, I have been spending a lot of time playing with it. It is fast becoming one of my favourite things to do. I still have NO idea what I am doing or what half the settings mean but it has been SO much fun trying to find out. The photos you see here were all taken at a beachfront near me in the hour and a half before sunset as that was the time I had to get out and play.

I love that photography makes you LOOK at things. My second degree was in Environmental Science and I have a particular passion for tidal zone ecosystems, so a lot of the photos I have taken so far seem to highlight that. After spending so long cocooned in my studio at home looking at the outside world through my window, it has been so very lovely to be outside, especially since we have had some absolutely gorgeous days.

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On top of the photography, I have been doing some drawing. I have always enjoyed the physicality of scratching on paper with a pencil and I have a terrible habit of collecting pencils from just about everywhere. Don’t ever leave a pencil or a pen near me, ok? You have been warned…This piece was done over the weekend. It takes a bit of time to obsessively draw enough of those little circles to fill a page but I find it quite hypnotic and soothing.

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Title: Stars in the Sky
Artist: Alison James
Size: 42.0 x 29.7cm
Medium: 2B pencil

I actually wasn’t going to title it, but a friend of mine said it looked like Stars in the Sky and it felt appropriate given that we have just had a giant full moon here, as well as the 50th anniversary of the moon landing! I draw these types of drawings intuitively. There is more of an emotional connection to them than there is an intellectual one. I simply sit and draw and that is really refreshing after being submerged in an art project that is highly conceptual and has taken 3 years to come to fruition.

So that was the creating I did this weekend. It has been a fun expedition into real life. Tomorrow I will be back at uni asking the hard questions again about life, the universe and everything, but for today, I am just happy to be sharing some of the other works I have enjoyed making this weekend with you.