Friday, 21 December 2012

A house fit for a Hobbit

Once again another book adaption has hit our screens this festive season, with the Great Gatsby put aside until May, all eyes are on J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece “The Hobbit”. Lasting  a great 3 hours long, the book has been divided into three movies and has had an amazing turn over in the box office, with unbelievable visual effects and touching story the film is a must see for all fans of the Lord of The Rings franchise.  I finally got to view the much anticipated movie this week, the film had been hyped a lot with posters at nearly every bus stop and trailers popping up everywhere over the last few weeks so I was quite concerned as to whether it would live up to my expectations or not. As a major fan of Lord of The Rings I was delighted with the film and found the visual imagery stunning and the soundtrack as equally enjoyable.

Like most movies the setting plays a large part in the movie, for The Hobbit the viewer is transported into an entirely differently world full of strange creatures such as Orcs, Wizards, Dwarfs and of course Hobbits. One place that has always stood out to me since I first watched The Fellowship of the Ring was Frodo’s beloved Shire. In The Hobbit, The Shire is once again a place of great importance, it is fair to say that the cherished home of Bilbo Baggins is a familiar setting for any Tolkien fan, with its circular door, grass roof, and quaint wooden interior it is a cosy dwelling for any Hobbit and while The Shire may be hard to come across, it is possible to try recreate a room worthy of Baggins standard if the right approach is taken.

Below I have included some interiors that I think would suit any modern day Tolkien or Baggins who want a quiet and peaceful space to relax and read. 


Toni & Guy Style Event

Quite a lot has changed since my blog posts September, I am now a UCD Fashion and Design committee member and  I recently applied to become a Toni & Guy Student brand Ambassador for my college. I was successful in my application and was lucky enough to be selected as one of the five students to represent Toni & Guy at UCD.  As a first year student this is a great opportunity for me and allows me to help host Toni& Guy styling events in the Dublin branch store and also promote the brand by offering discount cards to my fellow students.

Our first style event was recently held in November, each major college from Dublin had their five ambassadors attending and each group of college ambassadors selected 15 -20 other students to attend the exclusive event. There was music and refreshments along with expert advice from the stylists. Everyone was free to chat with other college students making it a great way to meet new people interested in hair and fashion, the event lasted until  around 11pm and the after party was held in a nearby club. The next event will be held in January and will hopefully be just as successful. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Florence and The Machine's Farewell to 2012

Florence has been touring for 5 years now whether it is small town pubs, outdoor festivals, small indoor gigs or huge awards shows she has seen it all. It was announced that after this tour she and the band would be taking a year out. It was sad news but they deserve the break I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be working like that and have no solid home or routine for 5 years. I have always been a major Florence fan since 2009, I first saw her in 2010 in the Olympia Theatre Dublin where I had the once in a lifetime opportunity of her singing Happy Birthday to me in front of the entire crowd,  a moment I cherish and  will never forget.

I then saw her a month later at Oxegen on the main stage. Jumping about in the pouring rain outside  was a completely different experience to the first time I saw her, I was in the pit and with the risk of nearly passing out around a bunch of rowdy drunken strangers I had to be pulled out of there halfway through the set for the sake of my own safety. Never the less I was still in awe at her performance, her energy on stage and interaction with the crowd allow her to be a such a popular festival act, I only wish I had been old enough to go to Oxegen in 2009 to see her perform in one of the small tents.

The third time I saw Florence was last Summer at Phoenix park, it was an unbelievable gig, my friends and I were lucky enough to get to the front barrier at the pit, this time however the crowd was not as rowdy and I was able to fully enjoy the experience, I brought a poster with me and I was lucky enough to have it shown several times on the big screen.

It was during my first week of college that the tickets for the O2 date was announced, I had unfortunately missed out on getting tickets to her gig in the 02 last march and was determined not to miss it this time and I can honestly say that the concert was worth every cent. My friends and I made it to the front barrier and although it was part of the Ceremonials tour the entire gig was like the Lungs era. I have seen Florence and the Machine perform twice during the Lungs era and Twice during the Ceremonials era but last week was definitely a Lungs gig. They went all out in their performance and there were no boundaries.  Florence works best as a free spirit, most of her songs have not made it to number one but she has a massive fan base and has worldwide successful, I personally don’t think she works as a mainstream artist like Rihanna, during the release of Spectrum they over promoted and campaigned it on twitter and it reached number one but the video is so theatrical and publicised as some sort of “gay anthem” it has become one of my least favourite songs. Of course one of the great benefits of Florence becoming so mainstream is that I know get to hear her songs being played a lot in clubs, I adore Sweet Nothing and think everything about it - the video, the lyrics and collaboration with Calvin Harris is brilliant.

This is one of the reasons I think I was so happy to see Florence perform such a Lungs era manner. They all had dressed up as Clowns for the concert and she was dressed in the famous clown suit from the original “Dog Days Are Over” video, the first ever Florence song that I ever heard. I remember hearing it on the radio several times but it took me a week to find out who actually performed it after that I was hooked.  During the performance she threw several pots of glitter into the crowd and encouraged people to “take it off” by the end of one song there was about twenty pieces of clothing on the stage as people frantically threw shirts, bras and headpieces in a hope that she would pick them up, like Lungs era she was drinking on stage and progressively got more drunk throughout the gig in true Florence style. At one point her and Isa started wrestling, knocking each other to the ground followed by them both jumping the barrier into the crowd and crowd surfing to the dismay of security who had to rush to the barrier and drag them out. Throughout the performance of “No Light, No Light” the members  of the support band HAIM ran out to the barrier and started dancing along and shaking hands with people standing at the barrier, I was one of those lucky few who got to clap hands with Este, the bass player as she danced about with her sisters. During the encore of the set about 20 people ran onstage in full costume and started dancing and the reality of this being the final show truly hit me. It was both amazing to watch and really sad, Florence shed a few tears as they ended the show in true Flo style full of glitter and madness.

I can honestly say it is going to be really strange for Florence and the Machine to have a yearlong break and I’m really going to miss them touring about the place and making covers and new music. They have become such a big part of my life and I hope they enjoy it , today Isa tweeted about crying leaving the studio and only a few days ago Florence was spotted at the front barrier of The XX dancing along with The XX fans so I look forward to hearing the ups and downs and what they get up too, I believe  they will be back as they recently tweeted days  before the end show “this isn’t it”, but  for now I have my Lungs and Ceremonials albums and since I saw a guy film the entire Dublin gig I can only hope for a DVD release of the tour. 

Changing The Way You Think

I think its important for a person to have an interest in literature , whether it be from a book, poem, newspaper or magazine article we can learn a lot from their simple messages. I enjoy stumbling upon new quotes and thoughts in everyday media. Below  is  a collection a few favourites of mine; some the sayings belong to unknown authors while others range from writers,poets,painters to musicians and  even fictional characters.

"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost" - J.R.R Tolkien

“When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very, much do they?”  - Virginia Woolf

 “ One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday and then quietly without you ever noticing, someday is today and then someday is yesterday and this is your life.”  - John Green

"Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them."- Albus Dumbledore

“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers." - Veronica A. Shoffstall

“Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.” - John Green 

 “That’s the thing about art, see - if its done right it will make you question everything you are”

 “Well now if little by little you stop loving me, I shall stop loving you little by little. If Suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you.”

“That’s not writing, that’s typing” – Truman  Capote

"And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too." - The Kite Runner  

"I can’t just have one painting—I need to cover the wall in paintings. It’s the same with my music. I want to mix everything together to create more." - Florence Welch 

“There are worse things than being alone but it often takes decades to realise this and most often when you do its too late and there is nothing worse than too late”

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding about ourselves." -Carl Jung 

An Artist's Sanctuary

According to Leonardo Da Vinci “An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.” Over time I think this concept has changed a lot but one things for sure, you can definitely tell a lot about an artist by simply observing their work environment. I have always been fascinated by art studios, in my opinion they are strongly connected to the artist’s work and can often reflect their style.


For instance, Francis Bacon’s studio [Fig.1], is full of clutter and collections with paint buckets and newspapers discarded all over the place, the viewer passes through into a world of disorder. I may not be a fan of his art but his studio is quite fascinating, an interesting focal point of this insane paradise has to be his circular mirror which shows Bacon’s fascination with circular shapes. He is known to have featured a lot of circles in his work so it is no suprise that he would display such a mirror in his studio. His loose brush and unusual subject matter can easily be associated with this hectic studio. The Studio itself has been relocated piece by piece to The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin and is well worth the visit for anyone interested in interior d├ęcor and art.   


Other artists’ studios that have intrigued me include Louise Bourgeois’ cosy home studio in New York [Fig. 2] and Pablo Picasso’s vast studio space in France [Fig.3].



Along with famous artists I also like to see the areas that other modern artists work in, I believe that the area you work in can affect the outcome of your art so it is important to set up a comfortable place suitable for your needs, by searching the internet I have found some beautiful work spaces and below are a few examples of my favourite studio spaces.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Little Talks

                                                            Of Monsters and Men -Little Talks

Its been a while since I got a chance to update this blog things have been pretty hectic and exciting recently, I have just finished my first month of College at UCD  in Dublin, I have now moved from studying Fine Art and Illustration to English and Art History ( I also study psychology and Film Studies as my electives) , its a big change in my many ways the college is a lot bigger, the course is completely different and I am now living four hours away from home.

I have always loved Dublin and I am really happy that I made the decision to come here, there is so much things to do and I was lucky enough to meet new people and settle in so soon...since I stay up here a month at a time it makes me appreciate my hometown a lot more when I go home. My Summer ended quite abruptly once I got my offer which meant I never got a proper chance to celebrate the end of Summer with my closest friends which I was quite disappointed about, luckily most of us are all addicted to Facebook and Twitter and barely sleep at night so we're able to keep in contact on a regular basis.

 I probably wont be posting my own art on this page anymore but intend to keep it up to date with some of the artists Im interested in along with  fashion, films and music as usual. This song "Little Talks" in particular is my favourite song at the moment, its such an autumn song and I was convinced it was Ellie Goulding singing when I first heard it.

One of my favourite quotes

Friday, 17 August 2012

Lana vs. Marina

This mash up of "National Anthem" by Lana Del Rey and "Bubble Gum Bitch" by Marina and the Diamonds surfaced on the internet yesterday. Although vocally quite different I have always adored both artists and thought their vocals combined would provide an  interesting result. Unfortunately I think this track is missing out on some of Lana's vocals but overall I personally think it could pass as a song made in a studio and would definitely recommend a listen for any Marina or Lana fans who are waiting in hope of a Lana and Marina collaboration.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Between Two Books

I have been a major fan of Florence and the Machine for years now, dating back to when her career was first starting off in 2009, since then Florence has assembled a  large fan base around the world which continues to flourish. I will always refer to myself as a Flow, there are a few names given to Florence followers some prefer to call themselves Flows and others come under names such as Flombies or Flombles, similar to how Lady Gaga fans call themselves Little Monsters and Marina and the Diamonds addresses her fans as The Diamonds.

I got involved with the Florence fandom around the same time I set up a twitter account ( @Fiona_Burke ) in 2009 since then my addiction to constant tweeting has increased and it was through my twitter timeline that I first found out about the idea of a Florence Book club.

The Flows book club itself was a concept thought up by the Irish Flow Leah Moloney (@leahmoloney  ), the  Book Club itself can found under the twitter name BetweenTwoBooks which is a playful twist on the song “Between Two Lungs” featured on Florence and the Machine’s debut album “Lungs”.

The initial set up of this book club happened around a month ago, much to the excitement of her fans, Florence Welch  ( @flo_tweet ) began to tweet more often about books. In short 140 character updates fans were able to get an insight into the literature taste of Florence Welch ranging from Virginia Woolf to Jane Austen. Previously, it was well known that Florence herself is foremost a bookworm who enjoys poetry and reading in her spare time. It is quite evident the books she reads may also influence her darker lyrics. Florence has even stated in interviews that “Seven Devils” a song featured on the current album “Ceremonials” was inspired by the book "If he hollers let him go" by Chester Himes.

At the time of these tweets I was following Leah when she tweeted suggesting that there should be a Florence Book club , a place where  Florence could tell her flows what book to read and once they read it within a certain time frame they could discuss it online.

I thought this was a fantastic idea, it enabled the chance to talk to new Flows online and it would also further my knowledge of great literature.  I was already aware Floetry was established ( a place where people could submit Florence  and the Machine related art and poetry ) so  I was pretty sure other members of the Florence fandom would approve of  the Book Club idea too.

Leah established the Flows Book Club account on twitter and kept it up to date with the help of Abbie Whitehead, Jessica Fleming, Kiera Hood and Heather Hale. It was now time to try and get Florence Welch involved and notify the rest of the Machine of the actual twitter account. If Florence did not respond in anyway it would be unable to go ahead. Thus a spam of Book Club related tweets were sent to @flo_tweet until finally there was a break through.

Florence not only retweeted BetweenTwoBooks, she  tweeted them, followed them, recommended a book (Opposed Positions by Gwendoline Riley) , direct messaged Leah about the Book Club, she also posted details of BetweenTwoBooks on the Florence and the Machine Facebook page which has over 3 million likes,  she sent a twit pic of herself reading the book and during the performance at  Indianapolis , USA (which coincidently is where some of the book is set) she brought out the book on stage and informed the entire crowd about the Book Club and its twitter account @BetweenTwoBooks .

 This book club has now got recognition from Florence Welch and Florence fans all over the world. I can only imagine how happy Leah must feel about it, it is a dream come true for any Florence fan to be in her position, it has been a major success and I am so proud that she has allowed such a simple activity as reading to connect so many Florence fans all over the world.

I look forward to discussing “Opposed Positions” by Gwendoline Riley; the first book that Florence nominated, the book was released last June and can be bought on Amazon here . If anyone is interested in taking part in the Book Club, the finish date for reading is the August 31st so there is still time left to get involved.   

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Rabbit Heart

This is a painting I recently completed for my friend Brendan. If anyone else is interested in a painting you can contact me here or through my twitter, my username is Fiona_Burke . 

Wish list

Penneys has always been on my favourite retail stores and it is where I purchase most of my clothes. I recently spotted these studded heels for  €22 on the Penneys Facebook page  . I am a major fan of the new stud embellishment trend whether it is on bags, shirt collars, shoes or shorts I want them all. I will definitely be on the look out for these heels next time I am in the store.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Strangeness and Charm

Strangeness and Charm

Oasis cutout dress, $94 / Topshop cotton dress, $60 / Black boots / Casadei platform shoes / Jeffrey Campbell wedge, $190 / Steve Madden studded heels / Rebecca Minkoff clutch handbag / Animal print jewelry / Ring

The Final Decision

It was at this point that I had an epiphany; I would in fact apply to study English and Art History through arts in UCD. After everything I was going to apply to a course that did not require a portfolio, was not based on painting and could simply be applied for through CAO. UCD also participates in the HEAR scheme which meant I would be entitled to the money each year.

I still had an interview for Fine Art in NCAD (National College of Art and Design) and a portfolio submission for LYIT. I went up and down to Dublin on the one day on my own for my NCAD interview, that place had always been my dream college but for financial reasons and the difficulty of getting in, it just wasn’t going to happen. On my way to the interview I had to go through the Fine Art section of the building, I saw a guy who raised his eyebrow at me as I walking past which blatantly translated as “what are you even doing here” with that in mind I thought to myself maybe I was better off not going there. I did however spot another guy randomly walking around with a saw, he was nice enough to show me where to go without looking down on me and gave me hope that NCAD was actually as wonderful as I previously thought it was. I also left my portfolio at the LYIT (Letterkenny Institute of Technology)  on the submission  day, I live outside Letterkenny  anyway  so I didn’t see any harm in it.

So after that hectic year of decision making and changing my mind I have completed my Art foundation course, received my Diploma, met a lot of great people through it and got the chance to consider all my options. I now feel content and prepared to hopefully head off to Dublin for college.  I’d say next Monday will be an anxious time for a lot of people as well as me, the long wait to find out if they have got their CAO offer or not will finally be over. Last year I had enough points to acquire a place on the course so I’m hoping everything works out and I will be able to start off as a UCD College Student living in Dublin this September. 

Change of Mind

After those few trips to Dublin it was around Easter time and I had made a lot of changes and decisions:

1.  1.   I did not want to go to DIT; I wasn’t fond of the building and did not feel comfortable in that area on my own even in the daytime. It also had no campus accommodation or the College atmosphere that I felt while visiting DCU and after so many months on my Art Foundation Course I was certain I wanted the College Student Lifestyle.

2.  2.  Under no circumstances was I going to take a place on any Fine Art course. I adore clothes and fashion, after being introduced to a few Fine Artists and their stories throughout the year; I was not prepared to live the life of a struggling freelance artist.  I would consider teaching but I was not ready to narrow down my career options that far and I couldn’t risk it for financial reasons also most freelance artists that sell paintings work on different subject matter  to me, so it just wouldn’t work.  I did like the idea of working in a Gallery or Museum within Ireland but not many Galleries often have job vacancies.

3.    3. I felt that IADT was too far away from Dublin and it would be a major trek from Donegal if I wanted to go home at weekends. I also qualified for the HEAR scheme this year which entitled me to about  €1000 ever  year I’m on my course unfortunately, IADT is not one of the participating colleges and I wasn’t really in the position to pass up €1000 for each year I’m in college.  I did really like the atmosphere of IADT there was definitely a relaxed and arty feel to the place.

4.      4.  I also realised my art had changed, fashion became a major factor in it, I had become completely fascinated by Alexander McQueen collections.  I would make art inspired by his collections, I never actually wanted to make clothes but I would always be inspired by his creations. I didn’t want to paint traditional landscapes I wanted all my art to be dramatic and dark yet still beautiful. I used McQueen as one of the artists in my Art history essays and I began to want to write about his fashion and impact on the world. It made me realise that maybe I would be better off researching courses that would allow me to go down the route of fashion journalism or art history since during my spare time I thoroughly enjoyed researching his Savage Beauty Exhibition that was held in New York last year.

5.    5.    I was applying for Visual Communication courses and successfully passing the portfolio criteria for them. I wasn’t too sure about following that path since the majority of my photoshop pieces that worked out well were generally created by accident; I hadn’t a clue at the time what I was doing.  I came to the conclusions that going into a course were I would be surrounded with photoshop a lot of the time would probably not be a wise choice.

Portfolio Applications

My first portfolio application was for DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) I applied for Fine Art and for the Visual Communication Course. I simply had to leave it in and then collect it again later that week. This meant a road trip to Dublin, I was lucky enough to have friends already in College in Dublin at the time so I was able to stay with them, I also got the chance to enjoy Dublin night life. The trip made me realise how much I wanted to go to the City next year. My Foundation course was based in the small town of Limavady and the night life was pretty bleak even compared to my home town let alone Dublin.

My next portfolio submission was for IADT (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology) once again I stayed in a friends place on DCU campus and this time I got to meet a lot of their college friends and got an idea of what daily college life is like for them, I also got to explore their everyday college surroundings. It was quite expensive getting the bus in and out of Dun Laoghaire to the City Centre this made me consider whether or not I would get the chance to go out in Dublin much if I lived that far out and since there was no campus accommodation would it mean I would miss out on all the fun my friends got to experience in their first year of college?

On my way back from Dun Laoghaire to the City Centre, I had my A1 portfolio with me at the time, a fairly old woman sat beside me on the bus she started asking questions about my portfolio and what sort of subject matter I painted. I didn’t mind really mind so I was chatting away to her and ended up discussing David Hockney and Da Vinci paintings that were currently displayed in London. Turns out she actually volunteered at the National Gallery of Ireland regularly and was on her way to see a painting being retouched, she explained to me that only a certain amount of people were allowed to view it at a time and she then asked  if I had ever enquired about  Summer internships at the Gallery.  I had never considered it before but I am really fascinated by Art History and would love the experience if a place was available.

CAO College choices

Summer moving swiftly along can only mean Leaving Cert results and CAO offers are fast approaching . Thousands of 2012 Leaving  Certs will receive their results tomorrow but they will have to wait until next Monday August 20th to find out if they were fortunate enough to bag a coveted place on their chosen college course.

This year the CAO offers are very significant to me , although I did my Leaving Cert in 2011 got points that I was happy with, I decided to go ahead and follow the route of Art College. The prospect of a future career and opportunities was always going to be questionable but I was defiant and determined to follow through with my passion for art. Art had always been my ‘thing’; I was utterly obsessed with it even from a young age through primary school up until Leaving Cert. I would always enter competitions and put so much time and effort into it, without seeing it as work.

During 6th Year I built up a portfolio and was successful in my interview, once I got my results I was sure about taking a place on the Art and Design Foundation course starting in September. I wasn’t sure what specialism I wanted to base my degree on so it was a great opportunity to have the year since I got the chance to experiment with areas such as Ceramics, Textiles, Animation, 3D Design, Fine Art, Print and Visual Communications. 

A few months into my course we had to start thinking about where we wanted to go next year and what we wanted to do, that meant applying for UCAS and CAO all over again. At that point I had decided I only wanted to consider Fine Art and Visual Communications courses. I applied for courses in DIT, IADT, NCAD and LYIT all places based in Ireland. I had no intentions of going overseas to England on my own and with fees of up to £8000 I was not willing to go to Belfast or Derry either  so as a result I gave UCAS  a miss this year. My tutor did spend weeks trying to convince me to apply to Falmouth College for illustration but unfortunately the only thing I knew about Falmouth was that it “Noah and The Whale” often performed there and as much as I appreciate the band they couldn’t seal the deal for me. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Still Life

The Horrors - Endless Blue 

The Horrors - I Can See Through You 

The Horrors feat. Florence - Still Life 

Ive recently become obsessed with the English band "The Horrors", here are a few songs I like from their 2011 album "Skying". The last video is a special live performance of their song "Still Life" when they sang it with Florence at the 2012 NME Awards , a lot of people did not like this collaboration but I adore this version as much as the original... I may be a tiny bit bias though.

Summertime Sadness

Summertime Sadness

Tshirt dress, $87 / Floral print dress / Sleeveless blouse / Miss Selfridge tie front shirt / Sister Jane lace shirt, $81 / Miss Selfridge high waisted skirt / Miss Selfridge blue shorts / Topshop flat ballerina shoes, $50 / Cross body handbag / Miss Selfridge engraved jewelry

I Can See Through You

I can see through you

Miss Selfridge two tone dress / Miss Selfridge bandeau shirt / Project Social T cross top / Miss Selfridge chiffon skirt / Miss Selfridge layered tutu / Studded handbag / Miss Selfridge brown jewelry / Miss Selfridge tahitian pearl jewelry / Miss Selfridge shoes

Colours of the Wind


I have always been a major fan of any Disney Princess fashion interpretations whether it be hipster stlye,  cartoon Vouge covers or even Tim Burton stylisd pieces. I have noticed lately that there have been many Disney Princess inspired fashion designs about the internet but the set of sketches above are by far my favourite, created by Deviant Artist Sashii-Kami they look amazing, glamorous and sophisticated it is clear that a lot of thought and detail went into each individual design. My favourite designs from the collection are Merida,Cinderella, Pochantas and Maleficent. In my opinion if  it was possible to recreate them in real life many of them  would be wearable. The above images are quite small but it is well worth the look to see all the designs in this series in a much larger format at the original source here.  Link  

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

I dont really wear alot of Jewelry but I am quite fond of unusual rings. Here are a few photos of my current collection, most of these were bought in either Penneys, A Wear or Topshop.