Well I’ve got a thick skin and an elastic heart: part 1

BDSM Art Collage Holly Cassell
Art Collage Holly Cassell

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about strength. About the resilience of our souls, and the punishment they can take before they give out. I’ve been thinking about what defines a strong person, and whether it can ever be measured. Strength is one of those characteristics that means different things to different people. I said to my beloved recently that ‘I could not be broken’. What I meant by this was that I feel there is something in me that can never be destroyed, because it can never be touched. To him, who is nearly twice my size and could break both my arms in about three seconds if he wanted to, this is a rather charming and ridiculous statement. But when I say I cannot be broken, what I’m thinking of is the ability my heart has to heal. And to forget. Even when I don’t want it to. It is an ability that has made many people call me a cold, unfeeling bitch. But I know that isn’t true. I love with all my heart, and I still fear the pain of heartache - perhaps more than is healthy for my mind.

When we fall in love we forget what came before. All most of us want is to have the past no longer matter, and be free from our memories. I am forgetting now, and it lets me sleep better at night; sleep deeper in his love and his arms that hold me down in the peaceful, dreamless sleep of those that have no choices. Of those that have been given a clean slate. I marvel at my heart’s ability to survive, and find happiness after so much despair.

The pages above were made a long time ago, about another man. I saw them and started thinking about this ability I have, to forget. I am going to follow them up with ones made about the man I share my life with now, and maybe more from my past that I’ve never published. To show myself what a beautiful thing it can be, to have a thick skin, and an elastic heart.

and suddenly I find myself listening to a man I’ve never known before, telling me about the sea


I do not remember everything. There are things I wish I could recall, that I know are lost inside my unremembered experience. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Maybe I was gone somewhere else.

I can’t remember when his eyes first began to show love, but they do now. We dance together in empty rooms and talk about our future home. From behind us I hear the words from a stereo, “never read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly”. I smile as he mouths them at me and draws me closer against his chest, letting dinner burn. He takes me out at night in his car and we drive until we have gone through every worry that I can bear to tell him. I can hear the sea lapping at the shore but I cannot see where the waves begin. He tells me I need glasses and I try feebly to explain my fear of tests, of appointments, of paperwork – of anything formal that requires me to be formal.We go back to his bed and hold each other in the darkness, falling asleep uncomfortably, but needing to be joined; his arm under my neck, my hair in his mouth, our breath hot on each other’s faces. We both turn several times in the night and when we do the other responds, keeping a kind of symmetry underneath the tousled sheets; moving around each other, with each other; like satellites, or magnets. I remember when we first met, how I felt him coming towards me, slowly, from my left hand side, as I sat waiting on the concrete; my mouth stoppered with a lollipop I had brought so that I had an excuse not to talk. Hello little one. Let’s go get you some lunch.

I remember the way his kitchen spun as he swung me in his arms, alone in that new, surgical-clean room, our reflections embracing each other in the freshly bought glass. Darkness outside, and a bright, fluorescent light within. I saw my black dress  clinging to my body as I danced for him; a silent, shadow self contained by the window pane. I performed a perfect pirouette on the slippery floor, and he told me to repeat it. I obeyed, and he smiled. I told him it was easy in my socks. I have a way of throwing every compliment back into the space between us, as if it would be too heavy for me to carry. He makes me look at him sometimes, as he says things that cut me open; that shatter my solitude; my separate, icy confidence. Sometimes I tell him that I do not believe in his love; sometimes I begin to cry and he has to hold me together as I re-form myself around his words. I lay naked on his bed after an argument, staring at the roses he gave me earlier that day, waiting for him to notice how cold I am and cover me with something, anything. Finally I give in and go to put my dress back on. The movement breaks the spell, and I hear his voice from behind me, saying turn and face me, I will make you believe.

I am afraid that what we have is stolen time. I tell him so as he plays absent-mindedly with my fingers, warming them in his. We joke that his hands are like shovels, but really they are more like  paws; always warm, always soft as they crush my own. It is his way of showing me my weakness, and I do not mind. I enjoy feeling my bones bend under his grip, and watching him check me for damage afterwards. Twist this way. Grip My fingers. Does it hurt when I do that? Good. Nothing broken.  He asks me where I go when I take myself away, and why I feel the need to do it. Do you feel unsafe, he asks. Because it displays a lack of trust. I tell him as calmly as I can that I do not do it in reaction to him; that something in me is always absent, unreachable, so that I may rebuild myself if all is destroyed. He does not understand. He is accustomed to company. I am used to being alone, and I still speak to him sometimes as though I were.

I convulse under his hands as he carefully drips red wax onto my stomach, thinking nothing, my thoughts scooped out of my head like a Jack-o-lantern. I grit my teeth and thrash beneath the searing heat, waiting to emerge on the other side as he covers my body with patterns. Finally I turn to him, and I believe.

it’s been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?

We all have overriding themes in our lives; concepts that seem to define us; feelings and situations that keep coming back, recurring in our lives, no matter how many times we say goodbye to someone, or change our circumstances, or work on our positivity. For me it is troubled love; self-sabotage; masochism; fear of intimacy; yearning for complete surrender; a see-saw of emotions that takes me to strange, painful places, where agony is always woven through my joy. Nabokov called it ‘a tangle of thorns’. If life were one giant novel, this would be totally natural. A novel is a self-contained world that makes a kind of sense onto itself, and so to explore the themes that pervade it is extremely worthwhile, because by doing so you can deduce the author’s intention. But in real life, there is no order. No one ever gets to read a synopsis of their life, and understand the intentions, thoughts, feelings, and fates of other people (characters?) in their life. All we have is our own myopic, biased, handicapped view of our own world, set to a soundtrack of our own twisted thoughts and assumptions. Or in my case, Bastille. And so in life, attempting analysis can often prove futile. We simply do not have enough information. There are things we see and things we miss. Days when we hear the truth being said to us and others when we reject it. Nights where we see who our lovers truly are, but are unconvinced; others where we are given a mirage, and yet accept it without question.

It has always pained me that we can never know what happens when someone leaves our presence. I wish it was like it is in a book, where you follow the most important strain of the story, so that you can see the most complete version of the truth. It would allow us to make informed decisions, to decide for ourselves what character we want to play.

As of right now, I have no idea what character I am playing in my life, or anyone else’s. The only way I can make sense of it is to define the aspects by many titles; to segment myself. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend. A Mistress and a slave. A child and a grown woman. A blogger and an artist. A writer and a photographer. I am a friend to many, but in such varying capacities that I feel my friends would not recognise all the different versions of me. Parts of my personality are invisible to them, as parts of theirs are to me. I have rows of black stilettos on my bedroom floor - right beside the Converse that take me to warehouse raves in the dead of night, among strangers in a black taxi. I am struggling to find a balance between all these roles that will allow me to live a happy and healthy life, with enough money to survive and enough love to keep me sane. I yearn to give myself to something completely, and no longer be segmented. I cannot find the time to do everything well, and sometimes it makes me feel as if I am failing. Or even worse, that I am lying. In one sense I cannot quite believe my luck; how busy I have become, and what beautiful things my days are filled with now. If I stopped to think about it too much, I would begin to question whether I (?) deserve it. And so I won’t; because that is a question I would never be able to answer. I simply do not have enough information.

But I’ve got so much wickedness and sin: part 2

The fair came to town again. Click here to see last year’s

men are coming to take me away

Art Bloggers Holly Cassell
Art Bloggers Holly Cassell

I don’t really have the words, because I’m considering a new way of thinking. Maybe soon I will. Right now I’m not sure if I’m running away, or running towards. I hope I haven’t put my self in danger, because this feeling of safety is strange and suspicious to me; it makes me think something is about to pounce. I am afraid of what I might do, and that I will lose my soul inside my own darkness. I am not afraid of what can be done to me, because ultimately, that would not be my fault. I am afraid of what I will allow, and what I will enjoy, and who I will become by entering a world with few limits. Or letting a beast into my life and heart, who could crush the life from me if he chose. Do I become safer, as he draws me closer? Or will I feel the bite of his claws through my dress if my surrender is anything less than total?

Artists: Jenna Opsahl

Jenna Opsahl is definitely one of the best photographers I’ve met on the web. I see a reality I recognise in her pictures, one that is more magical than the usual images you get in fashion magazines. Her work has the otherworldly, slightly unreal quality that makes you want to actually go into her universe, rather than just have the clothes on the model. I remember stumbling across her blog nearly a year ago, and instantly falling in love with her Pirates of the Caribbean themed outfit post, and with her passion for fashion photography.  I spent some time chatting with her, and I asked her some questions about her work, her love of mythology, the creative urge, and what inspires her.


Hi Jenna! So, what have you been up to lately?

Well hello! Lately my life has kind of been a weird mixed-up ride, but I am really loving it. I have been taking a break from my university, not sure if I am going to go back. I just went on a month-long study abroad trip in London which was beautiful and perfect. Other than that, I have been home with my family, feeling creative and excited to take some time by myself.

Tell me about your time in London! Did you find it a photogenic city?

It was very interesting because usually when I am really happy I become very creatively productive, but in London I didn't take too many photos. (Well, my best friend got annoyed when I said I didn't take many and I still had 1000 to show her. But after a month of life I would usually have waaaaay more photos, so that was "not too many photos" for me.) I think London is the most beautiful city, but I really just wanted to experience it rather than be behind a lens for most of the time. "Documentary-style" photography isn't really my style, either. I prefer to set up shoots and I was just so busy in London I didn't have time! But London was really awesome. I was part of a travel study group for art history so the course was mainly going to museums to look at art and the way it is displayed. The rest of the time was just exploring London and falling in love with it.

That's interesting that you mention you like to set up shoots. I've always thought your photography reminded me a little bit of Tim Walker, and he's very much the same in that way, preferring to create his own world. Do you find it more interesting to MAKE a picture, rather than just TAKE a picture?

AHH that's literally the best compliment. He has been my inspiration since I started photography and a lot of his work was what made me want to get into fashion when I hadn't considered it before. I definitely think of it as a mixture of kind of painting or sculpting with objects and people as well as capturing light and moments. I am very interested in creating my own world but acknowledging how human that desire is. I am very interested in the human experience and how a certain kind of magic comes with that. That might be why I love fantasy and mythology so much, which tend to show up in my work.


You've done many projects based around mythological stories, like your Daphne and Apollo shoot, and The Midas Touch. I've always found Classical characters fascinating, as you can probably tell from my blog title! Are there any particular stories or archetypes you want to do next?

Yes! I am working on Icarus which I hope will be really cool, and I am also batting around the idea of self-portraits as the Furies just because I think that could be awesome. I also love the Muses and have been thinking of doing a series of portraits about them. And, of course, who doesn't love Persephone and Hades, so that might be coming at some point!


  The models you pick are quite otherworldly. If you could work with anyone, any model or actor, who would you want to photograph?

It's funny because the models I pick are just my close friends. I think the most important thing is making the model comfortable so that it feels like a collaboration. I think making someone feel beautiful is one of the most magical things. But I would have to say my favourite models are Natalia Vodianova and Sasha Pivovarova so I would love to work with them. Mostly I want to photograph anyone who wants to be photographed and who wants to be creative!
Would you say your art is a cathartic process?

Yeah I definitely would. Making art is purifying, calming, and comforting. I would also say it's really energizing. When I am taking pictures or making things I feel like I am my most intense and responsive version of myself.

Are you a perfectionist?

I don't really think so...Generally I just want to do the best work I can. I don't really stress over making things perfect. I tend to enjoy moving on to the next project, maybe because I really like change and progress. But that certainly doesn't mean I won't put everything I have into what I am working on. It's more about the feeling behind it than perfection.


And finally, my last question before I let you go! How do you imagine your future as an artist? Not in a practical, five-year-plan way, but in your wildest, most precious dreams?

WOW MY FUTURE UMMM… I mean I definitely want to stick with photography and get bigger and more fantastical shoots going on in my life. I just want to make really inspiring, awesome things. Also I have a secret dream to be the set designer for an INCREDIBLE Peter Pan play and to design the sets and costumes for period pieces. Basically I just want to create dreams and inspire people. Thanks so much, this has been awesome!

You can find more of Jenna’s work on her blog, Flickr, Behance, and Pinterest

they say the French are glad to die for love

This ruby necklace is one of the most precious things that I own. Even though it’s by far my favourite piece of jewellery, I hardly ever wear it out, because I’m terrified that the thin, delicate string the gems have been crudely re-strung on will snap, and I will have to watch helplessly as they scatter all over the pavement and out of my possession forever. So instead I keep it in a green silk bag, inside my jewellery box. I will have to have it re-strung properly one day, when I find the time, but for now it’s being kept safe, and occasionally taken out to be held, or stroked, or used in a photo-shoot. I’m pretty sure that when I stare at it, my eyes must light up with deranged glee. Like Gollum.

It is strange how love for an object (or person, or idea) can breed a level of jealousy that makes us keep the beloved hidden away, out of sight from all who may wish to harm it, or take it from us. Like the new boyfriend that you don’t really want to introduce to any of your girlfriends. Or the cafe you always go to alone, because they only ever have a few pieces of that cake you like, and if anyone finds out, chances are some days you’ll have to pick something else. Like the shortbread. Or the coffee cake. And that’s just shit. And besides, they only have that one perfect table in the corner where you can reach the plug for your laptop without being in direct sunlight. So actually, there’s really no sense in shooting yourself in the foot by telling the whole town about it, and relegating yourself to coffee cake and a wobbly table in the middle of the room. Fuck that noise. Not worth the risk. I’m good at being reckless with a lot of things (like my health, or my self-respect), but not my cake. Or my jewellery. Some stuff is just sacred, you know?

You spoke like broken thunder deep into the centre of me

Most of the scrapbook art I’ve put on this blog so far has been about  pain, pleasure, obsession, secrets, manipulation, loss, the fear of loss, and yearning. All the pages that are now in my Artwork section are drawn from the darker side of my life and self - from nights spent with people that enjoyed giving me pain, in one way or another, and whose torture I sought as if there were nothing else worth having. From nights spent in tears, or re-reading emails until they lost the ability to make me smile. None of it has been about love. They were about the absence of love, which can sometimes feel like the same thing. I’ve started a new scrapbook recently, one given to me by Maija, and so far the pages are very gentle, and focus on 3D embellishment. And they’re totally free of bondage, you’ll be happy to see. I wouldn’t say they are about love exactly, either…but I’m getting there. Hopefully one day I will be able to make something unashamedly romantic without vomiting into my Earl Grey, but that day is not come yet. 

Art Bloggers Holly CassellArt Bloggers Holly CassellArt Bloggers Holly Cassell
The original photo-spread underneath my text/embellishment is from Lula Magazine, and was shot by Yelena Yemchuk.

you do everything that they ask you to...cause you don't mind seeing yourself in a picture, as long as you look far away, as long as you look removed

Photo-credit goes to my lovely brother Ben, who snapped me messing around in the woods
Being a woman comes with a world of expectations. There are things that we do, day in, day out, not because we enjoy them or even because they are necessary, but because they are expected, and much as we may deny it, we are scared of the reactions it would cause if we were to stop. It has always bothered me when women (both self-proclaimed feminists and those who are weary of the term) announce that they ‘enjoy being a woman’, when what they are really trying to say is that they enjoy using make-up, or going shopping, or waxing their genitals. As if those things are the marks of a woman, and inherently feminine, rather than cultural. There is obviously nothing wrong with enjoying any of that, and no need for anyone to defend themselves for doing so – but they are choices we make as consumers, not the signs of femininity.

The term ‘girly-girl’ is batted around a lot in life. That phrase frustrates me, because again, it implies that  when we are in touch with our feminine nature, we would gravitate towards activities and interests that serve only to make us more attractive. If someone wants to call themselves a girly-girl, then that’s awesome. What I don’t like, is society using that term to describe a category of women. I love glitter and cosmetics and clothes. But I’m uneasy with the idea that those things  define my essential femaleness. I would like my own physicality, thoughts, and sexuality to define my femaleness, if it must be defined. I don’t want to feel ‘pride’ for these girly things, as if they say something about me. They don’t. I wonder why they are considered girly in the first place, rather than, say…reading? Or hiking? If a woman doesn’t enjoy shopping, then I would never think she was less feminine than me. Her skeleton is just as female as mine. But the world would have us believe that femininity does not go that deep, but is something we have to buy for ourselves. A commodity. They show us ways we can ‘get back in touch’ with this femininity, as if it is something we have lost. All they are really offering is body lotion, or cheap jeans.

It takes so much work just to live up to the standardised image of a female – let alone a beautiful female. Because of this, so many of the young women I know say that they simply ‘do not feel like a woman’, and that it makes them deeply miserable. I, personally, do feel feminine now. I haven’t always, which is absurd when you think about it. That is not to say I feel beautiful, or smart, or talented, most of the time. But when I get horrible mood swings, or bad skin, or gain weight, it all takes place within a feminine body. Those things might make me unpleasant to be around, but they don’t make me any less of a woman. The standards we have set ourselves, with regards to our own bodies and gender, are twisted. Some people would say they are too high - that they are unrealistic. But that implies that those standards are still aspirational, only not, sadly *cough* within reach of us mere mortals. What I would choose to call them, is twisted. I don’t want to resemble most of the images I see in the media, because I know what it takes to do so.  I’ve been sample-size, and it was wretched. I don’t want a body that can’t keep itself warm, or that won’t even let me sleep on my front, because my hipbones stick out so far it feels like they could tear through my skin.  And yet if we say that out loud, we are hardly ever believed. We are told that deep down, we must be jealous or insecure, and that is why we complain when every model in a magazine is the same size, or when a female actor is contracted to do a nude scene, even though it has nothing to do with the plot, and her male co-stars can keep their pants on. But don’t worry, they say, all you have to do is buy this new thing, and then you can look like her too, and then you won’t mind so much.

Nothing external can ever make us feel like a real woman, if we don’t feel that way already. No lover can make us feel that way, and neither can our make-up, or what we wear. Fashion can do a lot of amazing things - it is a true art form. But we give it too much power when we judge ourselves by our involvement with it. Our femininity is our gift to the world, not its gift to us. It would be easier, it’s true, if we could simply spend money, and buy our true selves. But we can’t. And that is a very hard thing to accept, because, let’s face it, we’re all lazy. I know I haven’t accepted it as deeply as I want to yet. But I am starting to observe myself, and what it is that really makes me want a certain dress or pair of shoes. Because sometimes, I know I’m being sold a concept, an idea of what it means to be a beautiful woman, that will always be just out of reach.

we’re up all night ‘til the sun

DSCF9704DSCF9640DSCF9591DSCF9633DSCF9575DSCF9526DSCF8332DSCF9177DSCF9674improved washing line gif

My life is strange and beautiful lately. Sometimes I wake up, and am paralysed in my bed for a little while. I look around my room, and the things around me begin to change, until they resemble something else entirely. I lay there, unmoving, as I hallucinate, and am unafraid. I think I see a giant cockroach on the other end of my room, and become fascinated by it. In reality it is just  my wardrobe. Last night I thought I saw a bearded man’s face, with a blue-glass eye, coming out of my wall. It was merely my chest of drawers. I know exactly why this is happening, and there is no need for anyone to worry. Even though it might sound like a frightening experience, it really isn’t. Not to me. I am used to vivid dreaming, and living in a world of my own imagining. I know it will pass, and I am in no great hurry for it to do so.

So much has happened in the last few weeks that I cannot process yet, cannot articulate. I know I will need to, at some point, try to MAKE SOMETHING out of everything I have seen and done – but for now I am just so grateful for the turn my life has taken, and to be living it. This is a fertile period, where everything is happening so fast and so unpredictably that I cannot get enough distance to analyse it. I am in the eye of a beautiful storm. I would not know where to begin, so for now I won’t try. Just listen to Daughter instead. Corinne recommended them to me, and now I’m hooked.

immersed in water, immersed in dirt

I’ve been going through a little bit of a creativity draught recently. I’ve been spending my time having mindless fun, and pushing my limits in the physical world. I often do this, with the intention of making something out of my experiences afterwards – of channelling what I have seen into my collages or photos, or here in writing on my blog. But sometimes I find it hard, in the immediate aftermath, to write about things that have happened in the spinning, colour-saturated hours of my escape, when there has been no organised thought, or pain, or opinion – only sensation, and the presence of my friends, and moments of random human connection. This is partly because I simply can’t get enough perspective yet, and need to let everything ferment for a little while before I can make sense of it – and partly because my brain is just not in a creative place. I find it easiest to create when nothing is actually happening in my life. So I apologise for the lack of posting recently. I would hate people to think that I’m losing interest in the blogosphere. That isn’t the case at all. I just have another festival to go to this weekend, so I hope you will all bear with me while the contents of my mind and heart are shaken-out, so that they can be replaced with something better.

I thought I’d tell you what I’ve been up to anyway. I have been making a new shrine, for starters. I thought it would be fun to create one based on a theme – and for this one I went with Girlhood. I like themes that aren’t rigid, but that help me redefine, unearth, create, and rediscover my ideas around the concept(s), and help me make mental/creative connections and associations that I haven’t made before. A lot of the stuff here has personal significance rather than generalised significance, so it might not be obvious why I’ve included some things…

Shrine Holly CassellShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly Cassell Mood BoardShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly CassellShrine Holly Cassell
The beautiful scrapbook with my name on it was made for me by the ever-amazing and creative Maija, who runs The Sequined World, and it is literally my new favourite thing. I’d just run out of pages in my old one when I got it in the post, along with a beautiful letter and more presents that I’ve put on my shrine, too. I’ll show you the collages I’ve been doing in it soon.
If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I’m in the (very) early stages of getting together some girls for a blogger meet-up in Cardiff. I have no idea what it will consist of yet (probably lots of web-chat, shopping, drinking of frappachinos, taking of photos, eating of cupcakes, and other montage shit) but I’m excited about it. I would like to organise something fun and informal, with loads of crazy fan-girling and swapping of ideas. If you’d like to get involved, then you can email me at contactpersephone@gmail.com, or drop me a tweet. I would also like to start running a regular feature here on my blog, highlighting creative women who are putting their art online. By ‘art’ I mean anything truly creative, personal, and inspiring – not necessarily paintings and drawings. I would be just as interested to see someone’s collages as I would to see their photo-stream, or their handmade jewellery, or their poetry. If anyone would like their work to be featured, then you can contact me at the address above, or simply leave a comment with links to whatever you would like me to see. I’ll keep you all updated on both those projects as they take shape.


Also, I’ve been buying a hell of a lot of clothes recently. Mostly from charity shops, car-boot sales, and market stalls. Unfortunately, due to my lack of a tripod (and my fear of breaking yet another camera by balancing it on something and then setting it to a self-timer, only to have it fall and smash while I’m posing like an idiot), I haven’t really been able to take any good outfit shots. I can take some on my bed, which is good enough I suppose. I’m really getting into soft, printed trousers (the kind that Jenna from GIRLS would wear, not the kind that Sideshow Bob would wear) and I found these the other day in New Look. I honestly can’t stop wearing them, as I feel so damn chic when I do. The photos really don’t do them justice. And they look awesome with heels. The top is actually a multi-purpose snood/wrap/top/skirt/dress thing that can be worn loads of different ways. I picked it up from a stall at Secret Garden Party after I saw my friend looking so lovely in hers. It’s by Forage, and they’ll give you a discount if you like their page on Facebook. The flower in my hair was another lovely present from Maija.

This is another thing I found completely by chance. It’s a good thing websites are so scarily stalker-ish, or it might never have found its way into my YouTube suggestions. Thanks, YouTube, for spying on me with your demon cookies, and judging me by my musical choices, and using that info to market more consumer products in my direction! Yay! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit creeped-out by the fact that you have so much information about me that you can practically READ MY MIND, but still. Cheers.

lie for a while with your ear against the earth

Natural Beauty Bloggers Cruelty-Free
I’m been burning the candle at both ends lately. When I stop to think about that sentence, it’s hard not to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it. It’s probably more appropriate for someone who’s been, say, working really hard during the day, worrying about bills, and trying to maintain a decent social life, rather than, for example…someone who’s been spending their days watching naked dance-offs, pumping their immune system full of drink, smoke (et cetera...), walking around King’s Cross half-dressed and covered in paint, cuddling up to a tarantula, swimming in lakes with Belgian unicorns, hurling glow sticks through the rain to the rhythm of MGMT, and falling asleep at 8am still dressed as a Playboy bunny.

However, the party must end somewhere (even the Secret Garden variety) and when it does I always look a complete mess, let’s be honest. I’m a huge fan of all-natural, organic, plant-based cosmetics and skincare (check out the hypocrisy, man… my eco-conscious moisturiser TOTALLY cancels out my weekend spent sucking nicotine out of random dude’s mouths, for sure) and I’m lucky in the sense that I have some pretty decent connections in the alternative health/beauty industry (thanks, Mum) so I get to recover in luxury, while my burns/scrapes/lung damage/mystery bruises all heal themselves.


Klorane Peony Shampoo for Irritated Scalp // Natural Collection Liquid Foundation for Combination Skin // Blistex Relief Cream for dry, cracked lips // Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk // Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Lotion // Neal’s Yard Power Berry Moisturiser for Youthful Skin // chamomile and rosehip skin healing oil // Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner // Decleor Aroma Night Cream

brainy, brainy, brainy

As you may have read on my Twitter, I’ve been working on a collage project based around one song. Brainy by The National is quite dark and sombre, in one sense, but I have always related to it and projected my own experiences onto it. Its lyrics are cryptic, and can be twisted around in lots of different ways, to make different stories. I chose three of my favourite lines, and made them into a trilogy. This song has strong associations for me - as do a lot of other tracks by The National. They are a melancholic band, in general, but if you don’t mind that, and want to listen to something that can sum up the whole wasteful, razor-sharp joy-explosion we call existence, then do check them out. After Brainy, listen to Start A War, and then Anyone's Ghost.

Anyway, after my recent journal-style collages, I wanted to do something based around Brainy, simply because it feels natural and necessary to me, at this stage in my life. Its words are quite close to ‘the bottom’ of it all. I am hoping I won’t have to dig much further, and that I will exhaust myself soon. I hope some of you might be able to relate to the words here, and see a place to use them in your own mind and life.

‘Brainy 1: You’re The Tall Kingdom I Surround’

Art Bloggers Holly Cassell
‘Brainy 2: You Might Need Me More Than You Think You Will’

Art Bloggers Holly Cassell
‘Brainy 3: You Keep Changing Your Fancy, Fancy Mind’

Art Bloggers Holly Cassell

you know my darling I can’t stand to sleep alone


So yeah, I’ve just been rolling around on my bed and whatnot. It is so warm in the evenings now that I can hardly sleep. During the day I keep busy, and am calm, productive, and sane. But at night it becomes so much harder to keep memories from haunting me, and destructive, masochistic fantasies from crawling through my skin like the heat. I don’t know why I torture myself by imagining painful things that might never happen – it is hard enough, surely, to cope with the things that have? Perhaps I am trying to re-write history, and create  new endings in my mind. Sometimes an ending just doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ what came before, and so we keep going over it in our minds, seeing it differently every time, until we find a version that we can live with.

It got me thinking about Juliet, and how she waited, and waited, and waited on her wedding night, full of fear and apprehension. I am not really waiting for anybody, in that sense. But I think I know how she would have felt, imagining the violence that could be keeping her beloved away from her. She would have tossed and turned, and refused to eat dinner, and bitten her nails until they bled. And most of the time she would have looked like a hollowed-out version of herself, her eyes not seeing, her ears not hearing. But then in moments she would remember what night it was, and smile.