There is one person who is not going to be at the Grow Your Own Gorgeousness pre-publication meadow party. This makes me very sad. This girl is a vital member of the Gorgeousness flock, yet she has her fingers planted in a creative pie across seas and hence can not be here.
Her name is Janin.
When I imagine Janin I see smiling half moon eyes rested on distant horizons. Her perception into humanity, as well as her ability to sculpt meaning from word and image is beyond anyone I have met …. and we’re not just talking in her native German here, but English too. I am in awe of her magic. She is like a spinster of meaning, able to pluck a melody of language into the most intricate and beautiful shapes.
Friendship and love for Janin are what inspired the trip to Munich in July. The launch of her creative treasure trove – Fingerprints – seemed to infuse our entire German adventure with the flavour of the arts.
When we arrived in Munich Janin was just preparing for the launch of her dream baby – Fingerprints Kreativ . I had been following the development of Fingerprints since January and despite knowing Janin’s talent and passion and vision, when I stepped into the shop pre-launch, all of my expectations were exceeded. The shop was a piece of art within itself, quirky and beautifully designed. It was like a gem found amongst the lanes in Brighton. The products she stocked were all handcrafted by carefully sourced local artisans – each item a mixture of art, functionality and the vital essence of the maker themself.
There was vibrant jewellery and hand made felt products,
beautiful cushions made to look like pebbles …
….and a whole feast of delicious products.
Knowing that Janin was super busy, myself, the Naughty N and another friend, Nicky, decided to leave her in peace to prepare for launch day. Little did we know that the artful touch of Fingerprints Kreativ would imprint itself wherever we went.
Thankfully all three of us have an unholy lust for art.
Naughty N spends compulsively buying art wherever she goes.
I compulsively capture free art wherever I go. For example …
look at this graffiti I found under the bridge of the River Isar.
Coincidentally, the premises that Janin is renting for Fingerprints was previously a graffiti art shop and the owner stocked many of this little chappy’s pieces.
As I stood photographing the graffiti, three men in overalls and cans and brushes came along and began painting over the walls in smeary white brush strokes. This made me feel quite sad. Just like the pieces in Janin’s shop, the graffiti art was stunning. It was functional (in that it had transformed a dull wall under a bridge) and it was also a pure expression of the artist’s spirit. Following the sadness I then felt very grateful that I’d managed to capture a photograph before the piece/s were lost forever.
We also found street art. I loved this guy. He was making the craziest noises, like a bird/guinea pig’s love child. Not only was he bizarre to look at, but he was also making people laugh and embellishing their day with a happy memory. He also matched the ches lounge in Janin’s shop.
And look! We also found camper van art. Art, functionality and the creator’s personality. Another little Fingerprints nudge
The final piece of art that we were treated to pre-launch was probably The Cheese. It was a hunk of 40 euro parmesan that Naughty N purchased from a cheese and sausage man in the square. I’m not quite sure what made it art in the same way that I’m not sure what makes Kerry Katona a celebrity. I guess that some art – like some celebrity – is purely dependent on the reverence and value that we invest into it.
Having said that, the cheese was an object of visual and nasal interest. It was functional. And the essence of the cheese maker was somewhere in side it (don’t ask me where). But The Cheese, like many a celebrity, was also a five minute wonder. I think its birth into the world of pedestals happened when we suddenly realised it might not get through customs.
“How will we smuggle back the cheese?” Naughty N hissed. It was late. She was lying in bed, wide awake, gnawing at her thumb nail. “That cheese cost me forty euros. If they don’t let me take it home I’ll have to do a sit down cheese protest.”
I opened one eye. “Disguise it.”
“Yes, disguise it.”
“Oh my God! Disguise it.” Naughty N sat bolt upright like a meerkat experiencing electric shock treatment. “That’s it! We could give it some sunglasses and a moustache and wheel it through customs like an old man.”
At this point IT happened. The cheese stopped being Just A Cheese. It was magically infused with a precious, priceless quality … something to be treated with respect and reverence. The cheese became a celebrity, an idol, a piece of living Art within it’s own right.
The next day we took the cheese with us to see the sights of Munich. But not before it had enjoyed a nice lie in with the salami sisters.
Or had a little expresso and morning sport.
The cheese posed artfully in Janin’s shop and we suggested that maybe it should be the one to cut the ribbon. All it now needed was a moustache.
Question: Where do you find a moustache in Munich?
Answer: In the sex shop. But not any old sex shop – a torture chamber of domination gidgety-gadgets. Right?
“Do You Sell Moustaches?” Naughty N asked the girl behind the counter.
I was suddenly reminded of being in Benidorm and three of us going into a chemist and asking the goggle eyed shop assistant “Do You Sell Enema Bags? You know? Enema Bags? You stick them up your bottom?” At that point I think I had to leave the shop and collapse on the pavement outside whilst crying and writhing in such hysterical laughter that I’m surprised someone didn’t call an ambulance. City folk. Tut. So uncaring.
Thankfully the Domination Girl was much cooler than the Enema Chemist. She raised an eyebrow and pointed us towards some human sized diamante dog leads and collars. “Moustache?”
“Noooo,” Naughty N shook her head wildly and drew a line over her lip. “Moustache? Fake moustache? Lip hair?”
“Freddy Mercury?” I added helpfully. “Handle bar?”
The girl frowned, gradually translating Naughty N’s rampant moustache sign language. She shook her head slowly.
“No, sorry ladies. We don’t do a moustache.”
“Oh okay,” we said and then pretended to have a browse around the shop, discreetly spluttering at the various bits and bobs, elbowing each other in the ribs and then scuttled out into the sunny highstreet.
It was strange because following the Dominatrix Moustache Fail the cheese seemed to lose it’s aura of celebrity and descended back into simply being a rather expensive hunk of stinky parmesan. Disappointing really. It made me briefly reflect on what makes something sustainable in it’s value and it’s worth to this world. Then I went skipping off to the Fingerprints Kreativ launch party and forgot all about it.
What an amazing day! We drank lovely champagne and met some lovely people. I bought a gorgeous felt mobile phone holder and we picked out a book stuffed full of delicious felt photography for Serene Sarah. Naughty N purchased a handmade leather bracelet that made everyone drool with wrist envy.
But, do you know what? The most precious, beautiful part of Fingerprints Kreativ was the girl with the smiling moon eyes who was welcoming everyone through the door. Like all true artists and makers, she had been struck with an idea – a thought – an inspiration. She then endeavoured to create something beautiful, artfully designed that would bring pleasure and purpose to the lives of the artists she would feature and the customers she would serve. And now, shimmering out on PariserStrabe in Munich, Janin’s dream has been manifested, reflecting her unique creative spirit in every little detail. (Luckily this creative spirit is so expansive that although she will be in Munich during the Gorgeousness Launch, I know she will also be here with us).
So, if you ever go to the city of Munich – which I would highly recommend to all – make sure you go and visit the girl with the smiling moon eyes. But be careful, because once you leave, that mysterious creativity will touch you wherever you go.