Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 Has Been a Good Year for Boye By Red

Hello all!!!

2013 was somewhat of a strange year for me. First seven months were stressful and both happy and sad. I was either ridiculously ecstatic or really sad. And whilst I don't do middle of the road when it comes to emotions, I have to admit even I was surprised by my yo-yo like feelings. I now realise that nursing a heart that was not exactly mended as I previously thought it was and having a stressful job is not exactly a great combination for a happy life. But being an eternal optimist, I knew I'll get to the right place in my own time.

And then I went back home to Bosnia in August and things changed. Nothing like swimming and sunbathing every day; eating good food; spending time with family and people you love and reading. A LOT. 
I came back to my London home and things fell into place. My job changed and I could not have been happier. I now look forward to going to work every day. It gives me an enormous pleasure and satisfaction to spend every day with some of the most wonderful people in the world.

I reconnected with a friend I did my Masters degree with few years ago, and we created a short theatre piece about destitute immigrants in the UK, called Welcome to Dreamland. I've been working on it on my own for quite a while but I needed someone I can trust to join me in the adventure and put a bit of their knowledge, experience and magic into it. Not only did it have an amazing reception at the Manchester Museum, but it has also given us a big push to continue working on a full production of the piece. And, the biggest bonus, our friendship grew stronger! I cannot wait to resume with our rehearsals and see where the next installment takes us. I feel 2014 will be a good one for Welcome to Dreamland.

I have also seen some great theatre performances. Joseph Mercier's Rite of Spring tops the bill. You can see more here:

Natasha Davis's Internal Terrains was another great live art performance and I strongly recommend you catch it. It has been playing around the UK for the last 12 months and I think you'll still be able to catch it next year somewhere around the country. 

For someone who used to not like musicals much, I have been converted and really enjoyed West Side Story and Singing in the Rain.

I also read A LOT of books this year. The ones that are still with me are Refugee Boy (Benjamin Zephaniah), 26a (Diana Evans) and Zoo Time (Howard Jacobson). All strongly recommended.

The last five months turned out to be the happiest of my life. In particular, the last six weeks. I've been spending time with people I love, living in the moment and enjoying every minute of it. 

Here is my year in pictures. (As ever, click on the picture to enlarge):

As my regular readers know, I always have flowers on my coffee table. If there are no flowers in my house, something is seriously wrong. These were my favourite this year:

I took some blurry images and shared a coffee with a friend or two:

I have been very fortunate and received so many presents throughout the year. This one has inspired me to continue with The Barbie Massacre project I started this year.

I have been photographed and drawn quite a few times this year. I love them all. These are just two that make me smile.

I haven't seen as many art exhibitions as I would have liked to, but Georges Seurat's Bathers took my breath away when I saw it again at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I always liked it, but after studying it in detail this summer, I now love it.

And to finish off, here are a few moments from Welcome to Dreamland performance at the Manchester Museum:

This has been an unusually long post, but it is hard to put a whole year into two sentences and a few pictures. 
Having thought about 2013 I realised that it has actually been a very good year for me. Spending time with friends, making new ones, working on Welcome to Dreamland and working hard to better myself, has paid off. 

I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes that I try and honour every day:

"To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now." 

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and positive new year. Enjoy the moment.

Red xx

Balloons photograph taken by Louise O'Gorman. Visit her website:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

I Am Happy in My Red Corner

Hello all!!

Time flies when you are having fun. I thought I haven't blogged for only two weeks, but as I sat down and looked at my posts, I realised it has been a whole month. I have had a very busy month, spending time with people I like and seeing and learning new things.

Here are a few moments of my life in the last four weeks. Through pictures, of course:

I had some delicious chocolates; strawberry delicious. 

Don't they look good? They taste even better.

I visited a few markets. One of them was off King's Road market. They always have amazing food. This time, I only took pictures. Here are some HUGE cookies, yummy doughnuts and colourful cakes:

I also got myself new yarn for a blanket I want to make. It is probably going to take me a whole year to get it done, but I don't mind. I embarked on a new project and that is important. I made a few false starts. It is always like that at the beginning. You try things ten times before you understand what you really want to make. These are the colours I am going to be using for now. I will be buying the next batch of yarn very soon. And need I say, I am very excited:

This book is one of my first Xmas presents this year. Cannot wait to read it. I usually go to the library just before Xmas and get lots of books to indulge in. This one is the first on my reading list:

And the last picture from the happy Red corner is my eye shadow. After using it almost on a daily basis, this is what it came to and how it looks now. I couldn't have fashioned it this way, even if I tried really hard:

A perfect heart. Don't you think that this is pretty amazing? I do :-)
I love happy accidents.

So, that is all for now. I have been smiling A LOT lately. Have you?

I'll leave you with this quote:

"Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful."

I hope you are happy and you are smiling wherever you are.

Red xx

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Happenings in Boye By Red Corner

Hello all!!

Lot's has been happening in the Red corner. I seem to be constantly on the go. However, I needed a break from working on Dreamland and this last week was spent having dinner with family and friends, shopping, reading. And for some reason I've been quite tired too. Every once in a while, I get a week when I am tired after I get back from work and need a good couple of hours to get back to me! And need to stay low for a dew days.

So, here is my week in pictures:

Xmas shopping has already started in London. You'd think there is no recession in this country by the amounts of people shopping. I only bought a few essentials from Uniqlo. And spent a while at a haberdashery department, but in the end, didn't buy anything (purely because the line at the check out was so long).

Apart from Xmas shopping in London, lots of other things are happening in London. One of them is The National Theatre's 50th birthday. When we went, the theatre was full, the foyer as well as the shop, and the three theatres. I took a few pictures of an exhibition in the foyer of the theatre, marking the anniversary. 
First, the amazing Maggie Smith, a good few years before Downton Abbey:

Laurence Olivier playing Othello, when it was "accepted" to "black up" if you are a white man playing a black character (quite ridiculous and disgusting):

The ever wonderful Michael Gambon when he was young:

Me and Samuel Beckett (only time we will feature together, unfortunately. I am in the background, taking this picture):

And then, Ian Mckellen. He looks like Keith Richards, don't you think?

Next few weeks will be super busy too. I am resuming work on Welcome to Dreamland, (so, so much to do), meeting lots of friends, going to theatre, not to mention work. The problem is that I have started reading my favourite book and I have no idea how I will get to do all the things and not just stay put and read. The book in question is Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. I read it first time at university over ten years ago and till today, I have never read anything that good. I might do a post just on that book soon. So, after all these years, it is time to read it again. I was supposed to do lots of things at home today, (clean the house, life admin, things like that). I only managed changing bed sheets and doing laundry. In fact, I better finish this post too - I want to read a little before bed time.

What are you are up to these days? Are you busy, or taking it easy? And what book are you reading at the moment?

Have a lovely week everyone.

Red xx

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Barbie Massacre

Hello all!!

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote about Barbies I had hidden in my wardrobe? And then when I didn't know what to do with them, after falling in love with their atrocity in 15 minutes, I put them on my writing table. Well, I found a new place for them, and this time on my bookshelf in my sitting room.
Et voila! Ta daaaa! (as ever, click on the image to enlarge).

I know, you are saying how creative :-)
Well, I cannot see a better way to use them than this. They look so "pretty" on my shelf, don't you think?

And you ask yourself, but what did she do with the bodies?! Don't worry, they are staying where they are. For now. This is a work in progress and when inspiration hits again, part of the bodies will find their boxes too. Heads or no heads, they a Barbie symbol amounts to the same.

This little "creative" moment is my small feminist statement :-)

Hope you are all good. Have a lovely and creative week, whatever shape it might take.

Red xx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Welcome To Dreamland

Hello all!!

As promised last week, today's post is going to be about a show I have been working for quite some time. The performance is called Welcome to Dreamland and it is about a young woman who flees her home country due to torture and rape and looks for safe haven in the UK.
After applying for asylum and subsequently after being rejected, she ends up on the street, with no money, no food and no help from anyone. New immigration laws in the UK are particularly harsh. People are rejected asylum on a very random basis, without the applications being checked and investigated properly. Once the person is rejected, they are free to appeal the Home Office decision. However, all the support is taken away. That creates a huge number of destitute rejected asylum seekers. They are left on the street, with no legal representation and only a £10 voucher that is given to them by the Red Cross. They are often detained (practically imprisoned) without a reason or notice, for months on end. 
These people are invisible. You never see them on the street begging, as they do not want to do anything to get on the wrong side of the law. They refer to themselves as "shadow people". Not many people know about their treatment. It is inhuman and barbaric  yet it is happening all over the western world.
I spent years on research; reading stories, meeting people, thinking up ideas and images for this piece and earlier this year I have been invited by The Platforma Conference to perform an excerpt from Welcome to Dreamland. The Conference was in Manchester and it had performers, refugees, immigrants, theatre and art makers from all over the world. I performed at the Manchester Museum and was really honoured to be a part of such great event. Although my director Anna and I are making a one hour long show to be staged at a theatre, this time we performed first 20 minutes of Dreamland in the reception of a Museum. We had about 50 people, some from the Conference and some passers by. It was wonderful and feedback could not have been better. An Arts Council woman (for my overseas readers, that is a government body that awards grants for art projects) loved the piece and wants to have a meeting with me to see how she can help. Usually, when you are staging something you have to beg Arts Council to come and see you. I was very, very lucky that she was there. Talk about right place, right time.
I also had a great response from other theatre makers and some art organisations too.

Here are a few pictures of the performance. The Museum is not ideal for what we want to do, so the pictures do not exactly tell our story. Nonetheless, here they are. I sectioned off performing space with glass ramekins which I later use to create a journey, a path for our character:

My woman's daily routine, washing herself and getting ready for work:

One day, she puts make up on and as a result she gets lashed and then later raped for speaking against the torture:

Next, she walks to the Home Office (where you apply for visas). The walk is strenuous and scary. We have our woman walk on glass to represent the danger and fragility:

My feet and the floor are covered in lipstick that looks like blood - result of her journey:

Amazingly, even though we of course didn't have theatre lights or good floor, all these things translated to the audience. I know that it will look more powerful in the right setting too.

So, the hard work begins now. Contacting all the people that I met in Manchester;  networking to get us out there; raising money; applying to the Arts Council; meeting people to create new opportunities and of course finishing the show. We aim to premier the show early in the 2014 somewhere in London and then tour it. Berlin, for sure, but also other venues. I am sort of itching for Edinburgh again, but we'll see.

I met a woman who runs a women's theatre company Open Clasp in the north-east of England. She introduced herself as a political activist who wants to change the world one play at a time. I love that. I am on my way to join her, and I have not felt this alive in a very long time.

What makes you feel alive? What is the situation for the immigrants in your country? I'd love to hear it.

Thank you for visiting. I see in my stats that people from all over the world come and read my posts. I am very grateful for that. Thank you.

Red xx

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Barbie Halloween

Hello all!!!

This last month I have had very few days off. Work during the day, rehearsals in the evening. If it isn't rehearsals, it is seeing friends. 
Weekends - the same. Rehearsals, friends, no time to do work around the house. And life admin just had to be done at midnight.

So, today was one of my first days off in a while. I seem to find it difficult to just sit and relax, so I embarked on a particularly big job - cleaning my bedroom, top to bottom. When I say, top to bottom, I really mean it. I moved my huge bed (which is no mean feat), cleaned everything underneath, hoovered every inch of my room and dusted every nook and cranny. I also sorted out my summer clothes into vacuum bags and took out winter wardrobe. I collected a huge bag of clothes for charity (that feels so good - now I can see exactly what I have). I am pretty good at doing it every season anyway, but this time I was more ruthless than usual. It feels so good. My room is so lovely and clean now and I feel very good about myself too.

And then, I finally threw away all the props and costumes from previous theatre performances I was in, in the past five years. Two bags full of stuff. I have no idea why I still kept it, but I did. I suppose I thought, I might need it again, just as I throw it away, so I have to keep it. Now, I don't care if I do, I'll go and source the new stuff if I need it.

And then, in the corner of my closet, I found these "beauties". I bought them for a performance three years ago, but in the end, decided not to use them. I actually forgot about them until today.
Here they are:

How creepy are they? Halloween creepy, but,... I now can't part with them. 15 minutes out of the bag, and I sort of fell for them. I have put them on my writing desk in my bedroom until I decide what to do with them. There is something satisfyingly disturbing about them, so for now, they are staying put.

This coming Friday, I am performing a one woman show at the Manchester Museum, called Welcome to Dreamland. The performance is about rejected asylum seekers in the UK, barely struggling to survive. It will be part of a big conference called Platforma, where immigrants as well as artists working on the subject will get together and exchange ideas. I cannot wait although I am pretty nervous as I am going on my own, without the support of my director (she has another show in London at the same time). 

I'll do a post on the performance and the conference on my next day off, next Sunday. With lots of pictures and good stories, I am sure.

In the mean time, share with me this week's flowers on my coffee table:

So, have you been busy lately? And most importantly, have you changed the clothes in your wardrobe for the coming autumn/ winter season?

Have a lovely week everyone.

Red xx

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Hello all!!

I've had a very good and productive week. Work during the day, rehearsals in the evening and weekend spent with friends, eating good food, watching bad telly and reading some seriously good books.

So currently I am:

enjoying this book:

It is a book by a leading Moroccan feminist writer, Fatima Mernissi. It is a memoir of her childhood growing up in a Harem in the 1940's. It is an easy read but it is filled with charming stories. It also recounts the struggle of women living in closed off quarters with no public life at all. It is one of those books that charm you into reading it for hours without noticing the time flying by.

Loving wearing this:

My aunt crocheted this collar for me this summer. She found a very old one that my grandmother did decades ago and as it was tattered she decide to save the pattern and make a new one. When I saw it, I was in love with it. In fact, I had a very similar one when I was a girl that my grandmother did for me. I remember wearing it with a colourful, flowery dress. These days, I wear this one with jumpers, shirts and dresses. It is very versatile and I can't get enough of it. 


Home made lemon cake. 

My home made lemon cake. For a recipe, visit my post here 
It was so moist and soft and delicious. The best thing was that I knew exactly what went into it. I had mine served with vanilla ice cream. It goes very well with coffee or tea.

I am also loving friends coming over with delicious take away and wine for a night in, reading at home under a warm blanket while it's raining outside and of course, I am loving the autumn colours.

What have you enjoyed in this past week? Have a fab week.

Red xx

Sunday, 13 October 2013

An Army of Me

Hello all!!

I have to admit, I photograph very well. In fact, I look better on pictures than I do in real life. :-)

Over the years, I have been lucky to have had people paint or draw pictures of me quite a few times. These days, children from my school feel compelled to draw a picture of me on a very regular basis. I love their impressions of me. They are always spot on. These are just a few. I have many, many more, but can't find them at the moment. This first one was done in a rush. Nonetheless, I love it (click on the image to see it better and to see the detail):

These next two are my favourite ones. They've been done last year when I had a bob haircut. I look slightly different now as I have a pixie haircut, but essentially, this is still me. I am smiling in all of them, so I am happy that that is how they see me.

Don't you think they are fabulous? I do. I'll probably keep them for the rest of my life.

The next one is a cartoon of me. Someone I got on very well with gave me this as a Xmas present. Until he gave it to me, I didn't know, how much he liked me. In fact, I didn't know he knew me as well as he did. But I guess, he watched from afar and commissioned someone to do his impression of me. All the details are there: I am standing on a stage, wearing my heels and my fairy skirt. There is even a Bosnian flag on my coat. The necklace I am wearing is exactly the same, and he even included a big flowery hat I had. In fact, down to the shirt, coat and the bag - he got me in one! This cartoon has a proud place on my bookshelf with all my theatre books and I think of this person very often: 

And then, there is a puppet of me!!! I did a performance a few years ago where I played an older woman, wearing my mum's vintage coat. My scenes were off stage. Everything I did was transmitted on the video projection on stage while this little one was on stage the whole time, being me. At the end of the performance I come on stage and we two meet for the first time. We acknowledge each other and the play ends. At the end of the run, the girl who made me, gave me "myself" as a present. One of my favourite presents of all time. She has the same costume as I did in the play, but I can't find any pictures from the performance. She now sits at the top of my bookshelf, looking over everything I do and everything that happens in there. Here is how I look in the miniature:

And here is us together on the bus posing. As you can see from my smile, I am very, very happy:

I now need a painter to paint me. My life long wish was to be painted by Lucien Freud, but that is never going to happen now that he is no longer with us (as if that was going to happen anyway?!), so I have to look for someone else. In fact, I won't look, I'll wait until someone gets inspired and paints me. A girl can dream, right?

Have you got pictures/ puppets/ cartoons/ paintings of yourself done by other people? What kind of impression do you think you make on people on a daily basis?

Whatever you do, enjoy it and have a lovely week.

Red xx