There Are Too Many Women in Museums


There are too many women in museums
tucked into corners,
these busts with sad faces and
demurely downcast eyes.
Statues shaped
by what someone else has seen.

But where are all the names, on the
signs
that should have been here
theirs only used for titles, leaving
whole walls blank,
as if no woman had thought
to put anything on them.

I want the women in all these paintings
to be blushing
not of humility but rage.
I demand to see in writing,
all the names that should have made me
think,
mine could be here too.
                                                - Lea Elm


A Little Life Update


I can’t believe it’s April already and that this is the first thing I have posted this year. The first thing in fact since November, where work in the bookshop speeded up.
After I recovered from the craziness of the shop during Christmas and everything calmed down a bit in January, I decided to focus more on getting back to writing and working on my photo projects, as well as spending more time actually reading the books I buy, rather than spending it composing photos and putting up posts of them on Instagram. So while my website and social media feeds haven’t been brimming with new updates, my life has been full in a different way and most of March went by in a blur of work, some much appreciated overtime, photography and a week’s holiday in Denmark with my family, which I have just come back from.

Most of last year was like that really. I had so many new and fantastic experiences and I wanted to write about them all and show you all the photos I took from them but I just never got around to it because one event followed the next. I preferred to savour those moments when I was in them, rather than stressing about sharing what I had just experienced in the moment that went before and while I would have liked to post a lot more, I don’t regret taking time to just be in whatever I was doing. read more

Anniversary Book Haul

 

Even though I work in a bookshop I still love visiting other ones and I especially love going back to the bookshops I discovered when I lived in Bloomsbury.

I know in the good old days Charing Cross Road was the place for bookshops in London but I think Bloomsbury is a better area for bookshops these days because it has a large but cosy Waterstones on Gower Street and another big one on Tottenham Court Road, independent ones like the London Review Bookshop, Persephone Books and Gay’s the Word and second-hand ones like Skoob and Judd books. They are all in walking distance from each other and I love getting a chance to walk around my old neighborhood again.

As well as having celebrated my annual anniversary in September of the day I moved to London, my boyfriend Daniel and I also recently celebrated our 5th anniversary and like last year we chose to spend it browsing around bookshops together on a quiet Sunday in Bloomsbury. This is the books I found that day.

 

Devotion – Patti Smith

I have been eyeing Smith’s writing for a while now and been trying to decide where I should start but after seeing an interesting review of it on Instagram recently, as well as finding a pile laid out on one of the tables in Gower Street, I ended up picking this one. I had a little look at the language inside in the bookshop and it seems like an exquisite, melt-in-the-mouth kind of writing that I’m really looking forward to just let wash over me.

 

The History of Love – Nicole Krauss read more

To the Ends and Beginnings of Things

 

There’s something I haven’t mentioned but which happened quietly behind the scenes this summer. Something I was too upset about to get into at the time.

When my mum was here in July, I was showing her around Holland Park when the shutter on my camera suddenly stopped working. The first few minutes I was hoping it was just a small mechanical fault I could fix myself by pressing some buttons and releasing some tension but I had an ominous feeling straight away like I knew already that my camera, my dad’s old camera, had broken for good.

 

 

The next day I took it to a camera repair shop and they were very kind and very knowledgeable and they told me that even though they could fix it, it was definitely broken and that fixing it wouldn’t be worth the cost. “The lens is good,” they told me, “get yourself a Pentax instead and use it on that”.

My mum flew back to Denmark and I took the train back home to Kent. I tried to tell myself that it was just a camera, a thing, an object that, unlike people, can be easily replaced. But because that camera had been my dad’s, so painstakingly saved up for in the 80s when him and my mum were students and because it was the camera that truly got me into film photography, I was quietly heartbroken about it even if I tried not to show it.

 

 

After a while though I was less upset about that camera and more upset about no longer having a film camera to use at all. I started looking at other cameras but nothing felt quite right. Should I get the same camera type from somewhere else even though it wouldn’t be the same? Or should I upgrade and choose a completely different camera that might have some advantages over my old one? Either way it didn’t really matter because I couldn’t afford to replace it.

 

 

But there are photographs in this post, I hear you say, where do they come from?

Yes, there are and they haven’t been taken with my old Ricoh. They are from a test roll, the very first photographs taken with my “new” Pentax K1000 that Daniel recently surprised me by buying in an online auction for me.

It feels different in my hands than my old one and I’m not going to lie, I need to get used to it, even if it technically does the same and pretty much in the same way. The one advantage it has over my old camera though is a sharper image quality that I’m almost afraid to admit was holding me back sometimes, so I’m excited about that. I’m also excited about the three rolls of film that are waiting for the new personal project I’m going to begin when I go home to Denmark next week.

And maybe this time, the camera can be just mine.

 

P.S. These photos were all taken around my flat and the neighbourhood where I live, on a roll of Kentmere 400.

 

 

What I have Been Reading Lately #5

 

It’s time for another round of “What has Lea been reading these last few months, which has prevented her from finding time to write something on the blog”. Joke aside, I have been reading some fantastic books this summer and I have liked them more than many other books I have read this year.

So with no further ado, here are the books that have taken up my time and captured my heart lately.

 

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

Publisher’s description

For some reason I had never come across Tove Janssons fiction writing for adults before I started hearing about it here in England. I think it’s weird that even as a literature student in Denmark I never heard about her work outside The Moomins and after reading The Summer Book I think her writing deserves a much bigger place in our literary history.

The novel has been inspired by Jansson’s family and her memories of the times they spent on their small island in the Gulf of Finland, particularly of her niece Sophie and her mother who died shortly before she wrote it. It’s been written in a deceptively easy and simple language that I really liked, maybe because it feels typical of the kind of Scandinavian writing I’m familiar with but also because there was so much underlying humour in it. I loved the tenderness, the playfulness and the dignity she portrays in the relationship between Sophia and her grandmother, and her descriptions of how they act together in the landscape around them.

I really felt a connection with the book and the way it writes about something remembered, especially because it doesn’t feel like a romanticised kind of nostalgia but a kind that has more to do with appreciating and preserving the memory of people and places that have once been loved. That’s definitely something I can relate to.

 

 

The Woolgrover’s Companion – Joy Rhoades*

Publisher’s description read more