Deadly Book Club || Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus

Hello, Lovelies!

I have been BEYOND excited to publish this post for quite some time, and so excited to share this with you all. Studying a degree in English Literature and Publishing, and a hardcore bibliophile, there is nothing I love more than books. If anything, my whole life revolves around them. Over the years I have attended many book clubs, and thought it was time to start my own!

I have a fairly eclectic taste in genres, so I hope there will be something over the course of these posts that suits everyone. Also, I am aiming to keep this pretty much spoiler-free, so if you haven't read the books yet you can still indulge in the Deadly Book Club.


For the first instalment of the Deadly Book Club, I thought I would talk about a book I was given back in 2014, which arguably not only changed my artistic direction completely but the way I viewed consciousness and its connection to our creative output.

Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus', written by Jackie Higgins, was given to me by artist uncle, Chris Bucklow (who is actually featured in this book). In the inscription, he writes "This book is about the art of modern photography and it includes the people who are thought to be the best from around the world today."

And that's exactly what this is. It's modern photography explained; broken down if you will so that you can sift through what seems like an endless sea of creatives and get to the core. Choosing 100 key photographs with particular emphasis on the last twenty years Higgins examines what inspired each photographer in the first place, and traces how the piece was executed. In doing so, she brings to light the layers of meaning and artifice behind these singular works, some of which were initially dismissed out of hand for being blurred, overexposed or badly composed. The often controversial works discussed in this book play with our expectations of a photograph, our ingrained tendency to believe that it is telling us the unadorned truth. Jackie Higgins' book proves once and for all that there's much more to the art of photography than just pointing and clicking.

With all art, it is of course subjective. But Higgins provides an insightful breadth of what is out there, in a way that is both engaging and perspicacious. The layout of the book makes it perfect to pick up at intervals, to flip through the pages or a specific read - a perfect coffee-table book. The six chapters group the works into portraits, document, still life, narrative, landscapes, and abstract.

The best aspect of this book is the range of artists and techniques on show. Sometimes the subject of the photograph is subverted or experimented with (as in the chapter on portraits and narrative); other times technique comes to the fore. For example, Michael Wesely's years-long camera exposures, Gerhard Richter's doctoring of snapshots with lush smears of paint, or the many instances of cameraless photography. These are works that can be returned to again and again and they are a good starting point for further reading.

That said it does suffer from one fatal flaw and that is its compact size. The majority of photographs fall on the fold, and as a result, I was constantly frustrated by images being intersected by the angle of the inside of the spine of the book. This seems fairly minor, but for a book that relies heavily on the images, seems like a rather rookie mistake.

That said, this doesn't detract from the fact that this is a must-read; whether you're an art fan or not.

I would love to know what you think of this if you do pick it up, and as always I welcome book recommendations below or via my social media.

All My Love

** Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own. Paid Advertorials are my own views, opinion and content. Copyright of Deadly Is The Female.


My Life Changing Experience

This week marks a year since the experience that changed my life.

On 21st July 2016, I sat in Manchester Airport, not quite knowing what lay ahead. Anxious and apprehensive, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. I was jumping into the unknown... head first... with stones in my bag.

I was flying out to Romania to work with an amazing charity called Love Light Romania; to live in the mountains for 10 days with impoverished Roma children suffering from HIV/AIDS.

If you're not brushed up on your history or politics, then you might not know that Romania has been a place of utter turmoil. Devastated in WW2, they badly suffered at the hands of the Soviet Nation. Enduring privation, Romania has the highest relative poverty rate of any country in the EU. As well as ranking first in the EU for the share of children who faced the risk of poverty and social exclusion, with a percentage of 46.8%. Meaning every second child in Romania is exposed to the risk of poverty and social exclusion. 

By taking the children out of the squalor that they were 'living', in and up to the tranquillity of the mountains, we provided an escape from the lives that they were bound to through no fault of their own. Providing new clothes and 3 solid meals a day, we ran countless activities including waterfall climbing, treasure hunts and sports days.

But the content is not the defining factor in this venture. It's what the whole experience means. I saw how these children lived, and no amount of preparation would have prepared me enough for visiting their village. Drinking from the same stream they defecate in, living in mud huts, surrounded by waste. The harrowing part is that these children were none-the-wiser. I remember meeting them and thinking "This can't be them? They're happy and playful?". But this ended up being the most saddening part of the whole experience. They had been dealt the worst hand, yet you would never know. They were the happiest, most grateful, compassionate and loving children I have ever met. And I feel privileged to have known them.

I would like to share 2 specific stories of that week. The first is of Flourine
He was probably the child I grew closest to whilst there. He was very much an outsider, even amongst the other children (boys mainly) for being effeminate. On the first night,
there was disruption as he was scared to sleep in the boy's tent and wanted to sleep with the girls. In the end, he was given his own tent. 
He very much clung to me and a few of the other volunteers. He plaited my hair, picked me flowers, and sang a lot. He taught me how to count in Romanian, and I taught him how to play snakes and ladders.
I often witnessed the other boys kicking him, and very much ostracising him from them. This was something we couldn't really do much about. You have to understand that this is a very different culture, and much less liberal to differences than the western world is.

Around halfway through the week, there was a more serious incident. A few of the children had gone to play in the river that ran through the camp further downstream. He had gone along but had hung back from going in. After eventually convincing him to go in, he had taken his shoes off and left them on the bank. A few of the boys decided to throw them into the river and they were consequently washed away by the current. This was Flourine's only pair of shoes. He wasn't fussed that he no longer had any shoes. Like this treatment was just a daily occurrence that he expected and was used to. A couple of us was distraught at this event. A fellow volunteer, the wonderful Chantelle, gave him her shoes to keep. I cried a lot. And I think he was surprised to see us so heartbroken over something, which to him was nothing. I remember sat crying, telling him "You are so so special. You always will be. They will try to bring you down because you are different but you are beautiful. You have changed me and I love you with all my heart". He couldn't understand a word I was saying, but I think he knew what I felt.

Towards the end of camp, we did a waterfall climbing activity. The water was freezing. Most of the children did not even attempt it. But Flourine did. I was so proud. He battled the current and temperatures to the top. It was like the whole week of building his self-confidence was encapsulated in that moment. He inspires me to never be afraid of who I am; my differences and my flaws. He is a warrior, and I love him.

The second is of Marcella. The youngest of the bunch, she was loved by us all. She was feisty as hell and made sure everyone knew it. Women are downtrodden in the western world, so you can only imagine the role that women play in a primitive society. She never let anyone stand in her way. With the biggest heart, Marcella was always there for the other children. On the final night, I held her in my arms as she sobbed into my chest. Despite the language barrier, we had built a relationship that was unlike any other. I think there was a mutual understanding and knowledge that we may never see each other again, but were forever changed because of this experience. 
She never let neither her age nor gender define her. We need more Marcellas in the world.

The work that Love Light Romania do is outstanding. Led by Jo and her family, the charity started in the late 90's and survives on donations as they have no help from the government. Their mission is to bring support to those suffering from HIV/AIDS and poverty-stricken families, by doing everything they can to improve their lives. Everyone at LLR are so passionate about breaking the cycle of poverty and providing opportunities that the Roma community would never have access to otherwise.

"We believe that every person has the right to a healthy life without discrimination. That there is always hope, where there is sickness or where there are children living a feral life in squalor. If we care for the children, educate them and give them opportunities, we bring opportunities for a brighter future."

The Roma community receives 0 help from the Romanian government or councils. They, and the general public of Romania leave these communities to fester. This only makes the work that Jo and the rest of LLR carry out even more poignant.

But not only is the Roma community changed... but so am I. Unless you have experienced this first hand, you have no concept of the multitude of feelings that something like this evokes. Arriving back at the Romanian airport to fly home; white tiles and 5-star facilities. You would never think that an hour down the road you would find such horrific scenes. I struggled a lot. Not just with what I had experienced, but adjusting back to my western lifestyle. It just didn't seem right. All my problems and issues suddenly seemed so irrelevant. A lot of tears were shed; mostly because I just couldn't bear to leave the children that had literally become my whole world in that microcosm of a week.

I am forever changed because of this experience. I will never again waste food, or pass a homeless person without giving them something, or be able to be content with my own life whilst I know others are suffering. I have dedicated my life to making a difference, in whatever form that may take, and will never settle for anything less than that.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you have taken the time to read this post. This charity is very close to my heart. To make a donation to Love Light Romania, click HERE. Or to get involved yourself, and make a much needed difference to someone's life, click HERE.

I would like to finish by adding some more personal pictures, taken on my phone that are far less glossy than the above ones.

All My Love

** Disclaimer: This post contains content and links belonging to Love Light Romania and R. James Feaver. Copyright of Deadly Is The Female.


Why I Dropped Off The Map...

Hello Lovelies,

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and every time I take a break from blogging I think of that saying. Coming back after time off almost reignites my love for this industry (not to say that it wasn't there before) and I feel so much more inspired.

My online presence has really dipped over the last month or so, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was exam season. That one's pretty self-explanatory - sometimes I question if a degree is worth it! And secondly, my mental health. I feel like I am one of those people who take on too much at once. Everyone is always telling me to "slow down" and that they "don't know how I do it". If I am honest, I don't either. And sometimes, it gets a bit much.

And thirdly, I think that social media can be a damaging place. I've always felt sorry for those people that are always active on group chats, etc, because it seems like they do nothing else. I was in a coffee shop a few backs, sat next to the window reading. I looked up and honestly was sickened at how the majority of people were walking along looking at their phone intensely or had it in their hand glancing at it. I felt so alienated. It was like something out of a sci-fi film; where everyone had become zombies. (I specifically thought of the social commentary aspect of Warm Bodies). Or going for a meal and seeing just how many people were sat on their phones. I know it's cliche and makes me sound so old/naggy, but it just made me so sad. Especially since my Grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease, I've felt so passionate about living life to the full. And I just don't believe you can be experiencing or living in the moment if a device is taking away your concentration. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love Instagram just as much as the next person (probably more even - @Sophie_Lily_), but I don't want to look back when I'm 80 and my memories are blurred; because I've seen what that's like. Social media is supposed to enhance your lifestyle, not deplete it.

But now I am back, and I have plenty of content planned so keep your eyes peeled! Life is precious, and shouldn't be wasted. Every second counts.

"The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

All My Love

** Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own. Paid Advertorials are my own views, opinion and content. Copyright of Deadly Is The Female.

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