My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Original 'Goth' Bands Are Not Goth

I am going to say something vaguely controversial here: Siouxsie And The Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division and suchlike are not 'Goth Bands'.

They are, though, the people who produced the music about which the nebulous thing we now call Goth crystallised. The term 'Goth' was one applied to these bands by the music press, but it was more applied to their fans. Goth came from the fans of musicians, not from the bands themselves. Many of these bands produced music in styles outside of what is considered Goth, some of them starting as punk bands that evolved through Post-Punk into producing things in the style that became the 'Goth' style, some of them taking their music in directions outside of that style later in their careers.

Siouxsie Sioux is a musician whose career illustrates both of these aspects of these changes in musical direction. She started out as Sex Pistols fan who decided to have a go with a few friends, and whose first public performance involved her reciting the Lord's Prayer over an improvised instrumental, and her musical career evolved through punk beginnings to Siouxsie and The Banshees' Post-Punk work a was actually quite experimental and influenced by quite a variety of things (David Quantick called 'Peek-a-Boo' an "oriental marching band hip hop with farting horns and catchy accordion" in his review in the NME, published 23 July 1988, and that I think illustrates this eclecticism.). 

After the Banshees were reduced to Siouxsie and Budgie being 'The Creatures' their music took another turn in direction, partly because Budgie being a drummer and Siouxsie being a singer meant that outside of the studio their music was quite pared down to percussion and vocals, and this had its practical limitations, but partly because their creativity drove them to try new things - "Manchild" for example, is a story in song set in Ancient Meso-America about human sacrifice - a dark theme - but musically its inspirations clearly come from various periods and places. 

Siouxsie's distinctive sense of fashion, the often dark subject matter of the music she performed, the timing of her work coinciding with the nascent Goth subculture, and her links to Post-Punk made her an early Goth icon, despite the fact that stylistically she and the Banshees were highly varied and not always within the stylistic bounds of what is now described as Goth.;This is partly because in the early 1980s Goth was a lot less concrete.Siouxsi and The Banshees were not the only band to have a stylistically varied career and yet somehow become part of the (oft debated) 'canon' of Goth music. The Cure, for example, went decidedly pop for a while, before returning to darker rock, although their later work was certainly not as Goth as their earlier work such as 'A Forest'.

It takes a substantial body of work for a genre to become established, and it takes innovators being followed by the people they inspire, and that takes time. The later imitators are probably actually more Goth because they tended to stick quite closely to their inspirations, and therefore had an output that was more stylistically consistent and within the bounds of what is now termed 'Goth', though this does not mean they were necessarily as good because in being derivative some were not necessarily fulfilling their potential and may have done better allowing themselves more creative scope rather than trying to stay within a style.

Quite a few of the first wave bands - most notably The Sisters of Mercy (though they were late in that wave) - reject the Goth label, and I actually support this. Goth is not a term to label the bands themselves, more a description of individual pieces of music that they produced. The people themselves do not identify with the subculture. Some find the label to be constrictive, with both commercial concerns and creative concerns about such a label possibly resulting in aiming music at a target audience and therefore loosing some creative freedom. Some simply do not fit that label consistently enough to think it applies to them.

The original Goths are not the members of these bands - they are the fans who took inspiration in terms of fashion and music from these people and expanded it into something much bigger, pulling in influences from sources as diverse as centuries-old architecture, Victorian literature, early 20thC horror movies and futuristic science-fiction costumery. While we can thank people like Siouxsie Sioux, Dave Vanian, Patricia Morrison and Robert Smith for inspiring us, we should thank ourselves for the community we have built, for the vast amount of expansion and creativity that has come after that initial musical spark, and for basically building the subculture. Goth exists because of Goths, especially promoters, designers, organisers, musicians, artists and crafters.


(I had an interesting debate in the comments of one of my posts about whether the Cure were Goth once - I LIKE these debates - feel free to debate this or any other post with me in the comments. I find reasoned arguments for and against my position, positive reactions where people expand on what they like and  most of all constructive criticism to be the most helpful and interesting comments! It is actually reading and responding to the comments that is the most enjoyable part of blogging. I'm in this subculture and have ties to others for the love of their various  facets and discussing them is fun!)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

♫ Music Showcase: Memoires D'Automne ♫

Band Name: Memoires D'Automne
Genre: French Coldwave
Language: French and English
Active: 1992 - 2000
Origin: Roanne, France
Page: On MySpace

I'm not sure how many of the people who frequent my blog are going to be familiar with what French Coldwave is, but to be very brief and vague it is a similar style to what in the UK was termed Goth, but lasted longer, starting in the latter seventies (and influenced by UK acts such as early Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, etc.) and lasting into the mid nineties. It is not to be confused with American Coldwave, which is more related to Industrial music.

I recently found a gem while perusing reasonably obscure Coldwave bands in stumbling across Memoires D'Automne. A lot of the smaller bands don't really compete with the well known bands of the era, but with Memoires D'Automne  their music is enjoyable (although not exactly joyful!), danceable, and actually rather good. According to their MySpace page, they cite The Cure, Joy Division, Clan of Xymox and And Also the Trees as their influences. I would add a dash of Bauhaus to what they actually sound like. Lead singer Denis Régnault does not do the eerily arch singing Peter Murphy does, but does have a very lamenting and haunting voice that conveys emotion well. Making music as a small independent band in the early to mid nineties rather than the early eighties meant that Memoires D'Automne had the ability to have a relatively good production quality despite not being signed to a major label.

Memoires D'Automne are relatively late in that genre, only forming in 1992 (which is still 20 years ago!). The band originally consisted of 3 members, previously of the band "The Joy Stream" (which I can't find anything about at all, not even a passing reference!), who were drummer Hervé Becouse, bassist Sandrine Cognet and guitarist and singer Denis Régnault. They then were joined by Marc Zottos as a second guitarist and by Laurent Marcoux as a second singer. Like many small bands, they first started with local gigs, and gathered the support of a local audience. Late in 1993, Marc and Laurent left the band, reducing it back to the original 3.

They produced a demo album called 'Gloria Victis', which attracted the attention of minor independent label Alea Jacta Est. They produced two studio releases; the single "Memoires D'Automne" titled after the band rather than either of the two songs, and the studio album Cliché. 200 copies of their first two releases were made, and 500 of their last, which I think indicates well how they really were a small operation. They toured around France and parts of French-speaking Europe through the nineties. Sabrine went on to be in French Post-Punk act Naked Man. Songs by Memoires D'Automne have also appeared on various genre compilations.

My favourite songs by them are "Trauma" and "Fatalité" I haven't found all of their songs available to listen to freely and legally online, nor anywhere I can buy their work, to say I like everything they have produced, but that which I have heard I have enjoyed.

I apologise for a lack of images, but I can't find who owns the copyright on what few images of them there are to ask permission.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Owls, Owls, Owls, Owls, Owls...

Last month it was my birthday, and a very good friend of mine organised the most fabulous birthday present I've had in years... She organised for me to spend my day handling owls. Now, I have not mentioned it on this blog before but I have a bit of a fondness for owls, so this idea of an outing was exceedingly exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I was told I must not squeak with excitement in front of the owls lest I cause a commotion amongst them - a difficult request, but one that I managed. I spent my day handling owls and telling people about owls, helping to educate and fund-raise, with ::2 Wit 2 Woo Owl Rescue::

Luna, an Asian Eagle Owl, much smaller than a European one.
Photography © SuzyBugs  
I had never handled owls or any other birds of prey before, and was a bit nervous - after all, these are wild animals, predators and carnivores, but after instruction in how to properly hold them, in how to avoid startling or antagonising them, I soon found that these particular owls were actually quite sociable. I was asked before the day to wear sensible clothes (no frills, no braids, minimal jewellery, etc.) because the owls are liable to try and play with anything dangling or shiny - so absolutely no dangling bat earrings! 

Owls, in general, do not make good pets. They are an awful lot of hard work to look after, and have a specialised diet that is not for the squeamish. Some species of owls have a lifespan of over 30 years, so it is a huge long-term commitment. One of the issues that the rescue organisation has come across is the 'Hedwig effect' where people have seen the 'cute fluffy owl' on Harry Potter, sought one for themselves and not been prepared for the difficulties of keeping an owl in captivity and have thus given the owls up to organisations such as 2 Wit 2 Woo. 

Woo Woo, a rather handsome tawny owl. A native UK species.
Photography © SuzyBugs  
The owls I handled are mostly rescue owls, which are unable to return to the wild, or were captive bred so have been socialised in order to act as 'education owls'. These are owls which visit schools and events and help in the education of the wider public. People also can pay a small amount to be photographed holding an owl, and this raises money for the owl rescue. 

This picture is of me stroking a tawny owl called Woo. An interesting fact about tawny owls is that the "t'wit-t'woo" sound is actually two owls and is one owl calling to its mate and the mate's response. The "t-woo" part is the male owl responding. Woo is an exceedingly friendly owl, and surprisingly relaxed about people. We were in a fair full of people, and he was sitting on my arm being shown to the public, and as I stroked him he slowly fell asleep still perched on me! I am wearing a crown of leaves and flowers because it is a May Queen crown as I was at a May Fayre. 

Rocket, a barn owl - another UK species.
Photography © SuzyBugs
The largest owl I handled was Mr. Jangles, a European Eagle Owl. He had been cruelly mistreated by his previous owners, having been made to fight dogs (presumably as part of "entertainment" and betting). He is an imposing and powerful bird, but very sociable now, despite his past. It has taken four years  to get him rehabilitated to the point of being an educational owl. That said, some young children approached with a dog, and he got a fright and tried to fly off while I was still holding him! It is very important for pets at events to be on leads, and for those responsible for them to listen to instructions, especially safety instructions. Mr. Jangles, though, does have a very good nature. My friend, Suzy, who organised this, ended up with him nuzzling into her shoulder wanting cuddles! 

I handled all the owls photographed in this blog. Huge 'thanks' to 2 Wit 2 Woo for letting me handle their hours. I hate to demand, but they are an excellent cause and please donate to them if you have money to spare. Huge 'thanks' to Suzy for organising my trip out, and for taking all the photographs. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Red Hair, Black Ribbon and White Lace

❀ Summer Meadow Anachronism

It is still Red & Black Week, the bloggery event being organised by Victorian Kitty of ::Sophistique Noir:: and this is my second Red & Black Week post, although as the photographs are only from the bust upwards, they are mostly white, which while making for fabulous photographs (thank-you Raven! check out his photography business at ::Chance Photography::) is not really inclusive of a lot of black. This is because the original plan was to wear my floor-length tatters skirt (the one featured ::here::) but two things happened that meant I had to wear rather boring trousers out into the meadow instead. The first was that I stood on the hem of the skirt and tore it (oops!) and the second was that it had rained recently, making the grass rather wet and full of slugs and snails, and I was not really wanting to pry slimy creatures off my skirts nor to wander around in skirts soaked and muddy for the bottom inches. 

By the time I went out into the meadow, on this occasion only for photographic purposes, the weather had cleared up significantly, and the view behind me across to the mountains was gorgeous. All these lovely photographs were taken by Raven, who is rather wonderful with a camera. I did the digital editing because I wanted to give everything a summery glow and he's not into doing that sort of thing. Raven spent as much time photographing the view as he did me! Just so you know, I haven't really changed how I look apart from the colour balances and contrast. 

Gazing into the distance.
Photo by Raven, Tweaked by Housecat
While on that occasion I was in the meadow to model my outfit, more often I am there as a beautiful place to sketch or paint in, for even if I am not drawing what is around me there, it is such a pleasant place that makes me feel inspired. I have the same attitude about drawing in the garden, although as my garden is a tad over-looked, I tend to wander across the street to the meadow instead. 

The meadow I am standing in is literally across the street from my apartment. It is on the brow of a hill, with glorious views down, across the river and to the mountains. There was still snow on the mountains a couple of weeks ago! Trees shade parts of the meadow and a burn (stream) runs through it. I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. When I moved to Scotland it felt not just like moving to a different country but to a different world, as if I travelled to Middle Earth. There are castles in the midst of lochs (a sort of lake), snow-capped mountains, ancient standing stones and a history that blurs with myth and magic. 
What is that deep and profound thing out of shot?
Photo by Raven, Tweaked by Housecat
This outfit, however, is not inspired by Scottish history or even by Tolkien-esque fantasy, it is inspired by a this ::recent post:: (post contains painted artistic nudity) at ::The Kissed Mouth::, an absolutely fascinating Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian-Era art history blog that isn't the least bit stuffy. I loved all the elegant ladies wandering about outdoors in beautiful white and pastel dresses. While I am no fan of pastels, I do rather like their outfits, and I am prepared to wear white, even if usually in stark contrast to black. Generally, I simply prefer darker, richer colours. 
♫ A daydream believer... ♫
Photo by Raven, Tweaked by Housecat
It is also pretty much the type and style of outfits I was wearing back a short while ago where the temperatures soared to 33℃ according to the thermometer in Raven's car, and when I would have probably ended up with heat-stroke if I had worn all black. When the weather gets that hot a lot more white and grey enters my outfits, despite my usual preference for darker hues, and I wear lots of cotton and looser clothes. The tatters skirt is wonderful in that it is warm in winter and cool in summer, and I can wear thin stockings or even bare feet and sandals with it in summer, or layered thick tights and long lace-up boots in winter. 
Dandelion Clocks
Photo by Raven, Tweaked by Housecat
As it was rather warm out, I opted for minimal makeup. Instead of lots of foundation and eye-makeup and such like, there is just sun-screen, primer, and concealer with a bit of kohl around my eyes, a touch of silvery white eye-shadow  and some bright red lipstick to match my hair. I keep my skin clear and youthful by not wearing much makeup most days, washing my face with water, drinking well and remaining hydrated throughout the day, and wearing sunscreen. I even wear sunscreen in winter if it looks vaguely bright out. I am terribly pale by nature, and if I burn I go very red indeed, and if exposed to too much sun, but not enough to actually burn me, I develop freckles.

This outfit is not really Goth at all, definitely more in the lands between general anachronism and Aristocrat and Japanese street-fashions and subcultures. I guess bright red hair is too vivid for historical anachronism and probably also for Lolita and Aristocrat fashion, but as I like it I will ignore that. I am far more interested in keeping cool in a physical sense and appeasing my own tastes than in abiding by the "rules" of subcultures and fashions. It sort of boils down to "It's a free country and I can sit in a meadow in white lace with a parasol and bright red hair if I so wish... Unless there the grass is wet and there are too many slugs, which will ruin my dress and force me to stand."

Monday, 4 June 2012

Red Blouse, Black Suit: A Work Outfit

Spiders On My Jacket ✥

This week is Red and Black Week, a blogging event organised by the wonderful Victorian Kitty of ::Sophistique Noir::. I'm starting my posts on the theme with a work outfit. Looking darkly stylish in the work-place is Sophistique Noir's speciality, so I thought I would do a post on the subject as my first entry for this theme. This is pretty much my style for most days at work. It has rarely got warm enough for me to not wear a blazer of some sort. Sometimes I even wear a v-neck of some sort over my blouse for extra warmth! It is early june, and this is today's work outfit - a trouser suit, warm vest beneath, and a blouse.

See, I can be business-like and such - I'm not all frills!
Photograph by Raven

One side only replaced to show difference.
Blame me for the bad photo.
The trouser suit started off as a rather dull suit from Tesco. It had hideous buttons - cheap plastic copies of real regimental buttons. I felt that the cheap reproductions, and their place on a non-military, non-regimental jacket was disrespectful as well as unsightly, so I removed them and replaced them with some art-deco buttons that remind me of Spider Man's logo. The new buttons are spidery enough to appease my liking of creepy-crawlies as decorative motifs, but abstract (and with too many legs) so are not too obviously spiders, and not too Gothic for the work place. Since I have modified this blazer - and switching buttons is an easy and very minor modification - I have incorporated this jacket into several outfits, some of which were far removed from work-place style!

I am aware my pen is upside down.
Photograph by Raven

My new ring
As it is red and black week, I thought I incorporate a few more dashes of red. I am allowed coloured nail-polish at work, as long as it is not too outlandish (no neon green, black, electric blue, etc.) and as red is a fairly acceptable colour for nails, I decided to give them a good coat of a shade similar to my blouse. In the photographs they appear a lot warmer in tone than the blouse, but the difference in reds is far less noticeable in person. I do take some of my rings off at work, for practical reasons. I did not used to do this, but with the warmer weather making my fingers expand, and with having been at my new job longer, I have decided that it is just more comfortable (as well as more professional looking) to remove some of my rings. I have, however, for this photograph, retained the ring on my right little finger with the red stone. This is a new ring I bought myself as a congratulatory present when I received my first pay-cheque from my new job. It is too large and too easily caught to actually wear to work, though. 

Attempting to look like I am paying attention and taking notes.
Photograph by Raven.
The notebook is black and white flock in a damask pattern, bought from a mainstream retailer (WH Smith, I think). I like accessorising according to my aesthetics outside of clothes and jewellery, such as in my notebooks, laptop covers, etc. My next plan is to get the vine-patterned black metal cut-out design office equipment - e.g letter rack, stationary tidies, waste-paper basket, magazine files, etc. Currently my mug is black gloss with white matt vines. I feel that it is quite possible to make every aspect of work life stylish but still professional. A key element in being Goth at work is keeping things within mainstream boundaries and from mainstream sources, but to balance that with an aesthetic that is in keeping with your tastes. I think it is best to be more minimalistic and sleek than normal, and to cut down on the kitsch aspects (no plastic skulls, stick-on spiders or gaudy patterns for me) but that is just my opinion. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Interview: Midnattsol - Alternative Model

I met Midnattsol not through photography or modelling, but as a friendly and terribly bouncy patron of the Goth club I used to frequent. I later found that she, along with another friend at the club Nitr0gene, was a model, and after having looked through her modelling portfolio was truly amazed at how good she is a model and how lucky she is to be photographed by some really good professional photographers. I asked her if she would be willing to be interviewed, and she was. She was very kind and got permission for me to use some of the professional photographs from her portfolio to illustrate this blog and showcase her amazing talent as a model. As per usual, text in bold is mine, and ordinary text is the response.

Midnattsol in ©Andy Proper Photography
⚜ About Midnattsoll:
Describe yourself!
Not sure what to say!! Im just a normal 25 year old girl who lives in Oxford, who dresses a little oddly, with brightly coloured hair!! I'm a total geek, who loves anything cute or twisted… sometimes both! Huge lover of anything fantasy, in fact most of the time I’m in my own little fantasy world (I daydream A LOT!!). I enjoy going out like any young girl, and love the industrial/metal scene, yet I love just as much to snuggle up at home with a book (I read waaaay too much), play computer games, or when I'm feeling particularly nerdy, cross-stitch!!! I love all forms of art, and although haven’t done so in a while now, I paint and draw. I also do a little bit of modelling here and there when I can squeeze it in between my Job in a lab, my degree in Biomedical Science and my personal life!!

I met you at Intrusion, Oxford's monthly Goth club night and a lot of the fashion you have modelled could be considered Gothic, but do you consider yourself a Goth? Ifso, what does Goth mean to you?
I’ve never really thought of myself as anything! I’m just me! I’ve always been interested and inclined more towards what people would describe as ‘gothic culture’, though I like a lot of normal things too. Goth is such a broad topic! To describe it would take me days. Initially what comes to mind when I hear the word is a sort of a dark, romantic beauty; from flowing gowns and beautiful castles to the more futuristic ‘Industrial’ take on goth!

How would you describe the clothes you wear in daily life?
I don’t think I could! My wardrobe contains such a huge variety!!! On a daily basis to work I wear 6 inch new rock platforms, skinny jeans or bondage pants with some kind of funky t-shirt! Generally all black. I currently love anything cute but dark such as Cupcake Cult and the Killer Panda clothes! If I’m feeling like dressing up a little more, I have all sorts, from Victorian gowns, to fetish wear!

What is your favourite food to cook yourself?
I love cooking when I have the time! I love experimenting with things and throwing bits together to see how it turns out.

⚜ About Modelling:
How long have you been modelling?
I’m not entirely sure! I guess on and off for about 4 or 5 years now,though photographic modelling I think only 3.

Is most of your modelling work professional?
Most of it is I guess, though I love it so much it always seems like a fun hobby to me! I’m registered by a few agencies, such as Dark Arts and Spirit Models which I get bits and pieces in from. I also work ;a lot on my portfolio, due to my continuously changing look which I love doing as I can be a lot more creative! I also do a lot for fun too! I’m constantly coming up with themes and ideas I want to create into an image. It’s a huge creative release for me!

How did you go from being an attractive young alternative lady to being a paid model?
I fell into it completely by accident. I never dreamed I’d be considered attractive enough to model, to be honest I still feel the same and am continuously amazed at it! I started off modelling at events. While out shopping and at events I’d get asked by the clothing designers to model for them at future events. I was also getting asked by event photographers to model for them, but I was so low in confidence it took me a couple of years to finally agree to give it a go! At my first shoot I had so much fun that I quickly became hooked!

What attracted you to modelling?

It was never really something I was particularly interested in doing, as I said I fell into it accidentally, though I always looked and admired with a distant envy at all the beautiful models! It was one of those dreams that every girl has, but never thought it was possible, so something I never actively pursued.

Midnattsol modelling for Alienskin Clothing, © Nick Parry Photography

Modelling for Alienskin Clothing
© Nick Parry Photography
How much does your modelling work reflect your personal fashion style?
Well a lot of my shoots involve clothing I wear out and about! My fashion style is so varied it does cover most of the styles I wear in my shoots! I use a lot of shoots as an excuse to wear clothing that I love but could never get away with wearing in real life!!

Which outfits from photo-shoots would you most like to take home with you?

Modelling for Alienskin Clothing
© Nick Parry Photography
A lot of clothing I’ve modelled that aren’t from my own wardrobe I’ve been allowed to keep, the only things I haven’t really have been are most of the latex outfits and I’d take all of them home if I could!

What outfits were your favourites to model?
A lot of my favourite outfits that I’ve modelled aren’t really ‘real’ outfits as such!! I’ve worn all sorts such as being wrapped in fairy lights with a dress made from cling film over so it glowed!! That was great fun to wear and be dressed in. I’ve also created a dress out of fishing netting, which I loved. I love anything creative!!

Part of the Fishing Net Dress, © Nick Parry Photography
The stereotype, in terms of appearance, for models is that they're all at least 5'10" and thin to the point of it being unhealthy - do you think you receive any negativity as a model for being 5'2" and a healthy shape?
Not at all!!! The only real negativity I get is from myself!! Most photographers I’ve worked with have been extremely impressed and I have worked with again and again! Due to being in proportion to my height, most people don’t actually realise how teeny I am! A few people have been shocked when meeting me in person!

Fishing Net Dress
© Nick Parry Photography
Do you get positivity for being outside the stereotype?
Not particularly! The people I’ve worked with have always been positive, but that’s because of my versatility and we’ve created images we love and have always got on well! My height and shape has never been an issue either way!

How does alternative modelling compare to mainstream modelling?
Mainstream seems to be stricter with what’s required to be a model, such as height and weight, whereas alt modelling is more accepting to a wider variety of people. Though I have been turned down for work for not having enough tattoos or piercings! The way you model seems to be different too; mainstream modelling is a lot of posing to get a perfect image, whereas alt modelling feels more like acting. I feel I can bring a character into the image which is what I love doing best. I love to be able to portray a lot of emotion and feeling into my work.

The Fishing Net Dress In Full
© Nick Parry Photography
I saw you got published in Devolution magazine! What was it like being published in a popular alternative magazine?
I feel very humbled and honoured by it! It’s a magazine I love and am now an official devo girl for which is extremely exciting!

What is it like coming across pictures of yourself on the internet? I still go "Ooo! That's my friend!" when I spot you at places like AlienSkin Clothing.
It’s extremely exciting!! It doesn’t always feel real and it’s hard to always think of that person in the photo as me!! I’m so normal in real life! I’m always coming across published bits of me that I didn’t even know existed, such as being on flyers for bodypainting events in Mexico!! It’s always a nice surprise, and I feel extremely honoured!

© Nick Parry Photography
Do you ever get insecurities about being visible on the internet?
Like everyone, I have bumps and flaws that I don’t like to be seen, and having them on full display to everyone is sometimes hard!! I also get quite embarrassed at times! There's a huge poster of me in ::Neo Hair::, and as proud as I am, I always get embarrassed when getting my hair done in case someone recognises me from the image and thinks "oh, she’s not so great in real life" I get so scared of disappointing people!!

What's it like modelling for alternative fashion makers/retailers such as Fetasia Latex and Alienskin Clothing? Do you own clothes by them?I’m always shocked they want me to model their clothing! But it really is amazing!! The clothing from everyone I’ve modelled for is just beautiful! I don’t own any from Alienskin yet, and Fetasia Latex I have my first piece coming within the next couple of weeks which is a custom piece based on Quorra from Tron. I do however own pieces from the likes of Emerald Angel, Rubber Monkey and Iron Fist all of which I have modelled for! There are more that I cannot think of right now!

© Nick Parry Photography
In the mainstream fashion industry, modelling and photography has come under attack for being unrealistic and over the extensive use of PhotoShop and similar digital re-touching tools. Digital re-touching plays a part in Alternative and Goth fashion photographs too. Do you think re-touching is a bad thing?
I think retouching has its good and bad points. I do think these images with models with flawless skin and perfect bodies can put a lot of pressure on people and too much emphasis on appearance and what it means to be beautiful. Even I get scared meeting a photographer for the first time as I know I don’t look as perfect as I do in my photos that made them want to work with me! But then I can understand the need for it too, just maybe not to the extent that it is used. I think it’s great for artistic purposes. A huge amount of alternative images are theme based, and so some manipulation may be required!

How obtainable do you think it is to look as fabulous as the photographs of Gothic and Alternative models one sees on the internet and in adverts and magazines?
It’s a hard question! Theres a few of my images, particularly a large proportion of the ones I’ve done with Nick Parry, where I’ve personally had no retouching done at all on me!! Though even then the perfect lighting and angles make a huge difference! I do think it’s important to always be aware that these people do look as good as they do because of skilled artists! The photographers know how to light a face to create/remove shadows to enhance, to take it from the right angle to flatter the models shape. Then there’s the fact that it’s a models job to look good; they work hard to learn what angles, expressions and poses flatter them most and enhance their looks!! Not to mention the makeup and perfectly styled clothing to suit!! And then there’s the PhotoShop and post-processing!!!

Do you think that people in the Gothic subculture tend to be more at home in their own skins than in the mainstream?
I do! I think that all cultures have their own pressures on what looks good and what beauty is, but due to the nature of Goth and how it see’s beauty in things that other people might consider ugly dark etc, it is much more open to the idea of what true beauty is and that its not all superficial!

About Photography:
What's it like working with photographers? Are most of them rather pleasant, or do you get strange demands?
Most of the photographers I’ve worked with are lovely!! They are all just normal people who’s job is to create art with a camera! Luckily everyone I’ve worked with, I’ve kept in contact with and many I have ;become friends with! Not had any strange demands yet! Well not in a bad way anyway!

What do you think of photography as portraiture, and in comparison to drawn/painted portraiture?
I think photographers are not given enough credit for their work!! I think the talent needed to understand lighting, angles, cropping and what makes a good photograph is completely underestimated! And I believe that what they do is just as much art and contains just as much skill, when done right, as a painting

Do you think that people react differently to art portraiture of an actual, living non-celebrity person than they do to celebrity portraiture or historical portraits?
I don’t really follow celebrities so im not sure how to answer this. For me personally it’s the overall image that I fall in love with, not who is in it!! But I guess people tend to be drawn to what they know, so if its someone in the public eye it would make sense that they would get more attention!!

As a model, what is your advice to photographers for working with models?
Communication is essential!! Its always good as a model to know ;what the photographer’s looking for and if what your doing is right etc! we are human after all and want to get it right! Also be professional, yet friendly. To get the best performance out of a model they need to be comfortable!!

I see you work frequently with the rather amazing ::Nick Parry::! Can you tell us a little about that?
Nick Parry I met a couple of years ago, we started working together for bodypaint shoots. I think he really liked my versatility and emotion in my modelling, and how I acted rather than modelled, as he did a lot of acting for theatre! You only need to look at his pictures to see that he’s an incredible photographer! We very quickly developed not only a very good model-photographer relationship, but became really good friends! He is one of my favourite people to work with and shooting with him is always fun, and I tend to stay with him for several days. Once makeup and styling's done, I’m only in front of the camera about 10 minutes!! Its more like a mini holiday with a shoot here and there when working with him. He’s just an extremely talented and incredible person!

I've seen you in some rather lovely fantasy themed photo-manipulations? What do you think of mixed media digital-art and photography?
I love it! I have huge admiration for mixed media artists! I think it takes a huge amount of talent to be able to combine something real and something created and to make them match well enough to blend in and work as a whole image! It’s very exciting as a model to see what is a very basic image of you be made into something completely fantastical! I have spent many hours watching Kestrel manipulate some of our images in complete awe and fascination!

⚜ About Bodypainting:

© Nick Parry Photography
Who does the bodypainting?
I have worked with several bodypainters, the main one being the incredibly talented John Davis - another one of my favourite people to work with. I’ve also worked with world champion Alex Hansen, who worked on '300', Hollywood makeup artist and bodypainter Lyma Millot, and world bodypainting champion Raphaelle Fieldhouse! Also done some with my partner Rus, who was a special effects makeup artist and the owner of Awen Creations.

Can you give me a summary of the process?
There are 2 different methods of bodypainting, brush & sponge and airbrush. For a full bodypaint obviously you need to be nude, though many painters will paint over a thong, or you can get prosthetic thongs and nipple pasties to keep modesty while avoiding having underwear lines! If prosthetics are used they’ll be applied first. Usually a base layer is put on and layers of colour will be built up, with contouring and shading and eventually final details, either hand painted/airbrushed or by using stencils.

Photography © Nick Parry
Bodypainting © A. Hansen & L. Millot
Being painted up looks very time-consuming! Is it hard staying still while being painted? Is it cold?
My longest body paint was 10 hours for the Giger bodypaint with john Davis and Nick Parry! Think my shortest was about 4 hours! It can be exhausting standing for so long, but watching the process is completely fascinating! Standing still for that many hours can be realy difficult, and with the Giger, I was falling asleep while standing, and had to eat and drink while being painted! And when I did the paint with Lyma and Alex, I couldn’t stop shivering! They had to get a hairdryer on me to get me still enough for them to paint me! No matter how warm the room is, having high pressured air blown a you for hours does lower your body temperature, and with brush and sponge, obviously the paint is wet and cold!!!

Photography © Nick Parry
Bodypainting © A. Hansen & L. Millot

What do you think of body-paint as an artistic medium?
I have a huge appreciation for bodyart! The skill to be able to turn the body into a canvas and art form is incredible! Its hard enough to paint on a flat surface, let alone work on something as complex as the human figure, with all its shapes and textures!! There is a lot of technicality and understanding of the human body needed to be able to do it well! And seeing a piece of art that can really come to life at the end is incredible to watch!

Is it always something paired with a photographic final image or as part of a dance or other performance?
Not at all! I have also modelled at bodypainting festivals in competitions! It's also used for walking promotional purposes at events, in clubs, people get it done for fancy dress, then as I said, Alex Hansen bodypainted the warriors in the movie '300' to give them (and enhance) their six packs!

How do you feel about participating in an art form that must take a lot of time and effort to accomplish, but is transient and will ultimately be washed off you?
I always enjoy the process of watching it grow, but you do become attached to the art on your body, and I always feel guilty and hate washing all their hard work off! Afterwards I always feel so plain! But I think for the result you get, it’s well worth the hours of waiting, even if you only experience the final result for a short while. This is why I always do it for shoots! I hate the thought that all that hard work will be washed down the drain and forgotten! At least with a shoot you have a record of the artwork to be able to remember it!

Giger inspired body paint © John Davis
 Photography © Nick Parry Photography

Do you think it is under-appreciated and under-represented?
Definitely!!! They are all so talented and work so hard! Like I said before, theres so many technical aspects, and its not just about being a good artist, but being able to understand the human form and how it moves and how it affects the shape of an image; to be able to work it to the shape of a body!

Most of the body-paint work I've seen you model has been horror, science-fiction or fantasy based - how does it feel to be temporarily transformed into a fabulous creature?
Its amazing!! As I stated earlier, I love bringing out a character in my work and I act more, rather than pose for shoots, so this is ideal for me! Its crazy, but as the artwork grows you really do start becoming the character you're being turned into!! You naturally start moving the way the creature would! I love the energy you can put in! Its just such an incredible feeling!

Are you a fan of these genres outside of your modelling work?
Definitely!! In fact im obsessed with fantasy! I read a lot of fantasy novels and have lots of books on fantasy art. When I had the time to draw and paint it would be of a mythical/fantasy nature. I collect dragon statues, fairies and elves - anything magical, weird or beautiful! I love being transported to another world

In the bio-mechanical set photographed by Nick Parry, how much of that was physical costuming and how much was painted?
All of it was painted!! There was a couple of bits of prosthetics that were glued onto my skin to enhance and add texture, but these were painted too!

Are you approached by the body-painters as a model, or do you approach them?
I first got into it as I had seen it on TV, and, being into different art forms, fell in love with it, so I messaged John Davis for advice on how to start learning, what paints are best etc, and he said he’d teach me if I came to be painted! Its all grown from their! It has always been a mutual thing with John. We got on well and enjoyed working together so we’d be casually chatting and would come up with incredible ideas that we’d then put into practice! Everyone else approached me!

How involved are you in the creative process beyond being a living canvas?
With John, all ideas were discussed and created together beforehand, and the things with Awen Creations I had a large design part in the prosthetics. The work with Alex, Raph and Lyma was designed by them.

 About Latex:
You have stated your desire on your Model Mayhem profile to work with latex designers, why do you especially like latex?
Well at the time it was something I was missing from my portfolio! I still don’t have enough. Latex shots seem to be really good for portfolios. Its always so flattering and shows off your figure amazingly, without the need to be nude! Plus its shiny and beautiful, sexy without being slutty.

© Nick Parry Photography

What do you think of latex's potential as a fashion fabric outside of fetish-wear?
I think latex is great as fetish wear, but I think it’s a beautiful form-fitting fabric that is great as fashion wear! Personally, if I could afford it, I’d have a huge wardrobe full! I think now though, a lot of Latex designers are creating more vintage styles in latex, rather than the traditional fetish wear, which I think is great! Like a futuristic take on traditional vintage styles!

Do you think it has become more popular to wear latex and PVC to club nights?
Definitely. I think its becoming a more accepted medium of fabric to wear, I think that people are beginning to open up to the idea of it and so are loosing their prejudices on it being a purely fetish thing and seeing it for the beauty it can be!

What sort of impact does latex's position as a material favoured by pin-ups and fetishists have on you modelling it?
Not a lot really! I was into latex before I got into the whole modelling thing, as more of a shiny futuristic industrial look rather than fetish. Only back then I couldn’t afford it so had to make do with PVC as a substitute!!

⚜ About Hair:
© Nick Parry Photography  
Your hair is always so fabulous! I can't think of a colour it hasn't been. Who does your hair?
My hair is done at ::Neo Hair Design:: by the extremely talented Owen Roberts in Cardiff! They are such a brilliant salon with an incredible team! Could never go anywhere else now!

How does having such vivid and brightly coloured hair go down in your everyday life?
I love it!! I get stopped most days when im out by complete strangers telling me they love my hair! It has never given me any problems!

© Nick Parry Photography  
You have a rather professional day-job of working in biosciences - what is it like being visibly alternative in that sort of work environment?
Its not been a problem at all! In fact they all love it! In general I have fitted in pretty well, though I have been told some of them were nervous of me when I first started! I’ve had one doctor disapprove of my appearance, being concerned of the affect it will have on the donors, but in general everyone has got used to me and find my ever-changing vibrant look refreshing!

How do you keep your hair healthy despite repeatedly dyeing it?
I always get top products from the salon to keep it in good condition. It really is worth paying the extra money for it! Also Owen, my stylist, looks after my hair, does deep treatments when needed etc. I also keep heat styling to a minimum, things like that!

© Nick Parry Photography
You seem quite unafraid to try new hair designs - do you have any dream hair-style at the moment?
I don’t have any in particular! Though I'm always seeing colours and hair I love! I’m currently really happy letting Owen decide my colour and style as he really is amazing and knows what will suit me!

Where do you get inspiration for the hair-styles from?
I don't! I let Owen design my hair! The most input I have is occasionally telling him the theme of a shoot I need it for! Otherwise I give him free reign and love seeing what he comes up with! It's become like a bit of an addiction!!

Your hair is really quite something, very colourful and creative - do you think hair design can be seen as art as well as fashion?
Definitely!! Watching Owen do my hair has proved so! You need to understand how hair will hang and fall, peoples face shapes and how the hair will change that, so knowing what to do to suit,& understanding colours, what will suit different skin tones, how it will fade so it will always look good. And the dyeing process - he literally does paint my hair! He gets an image in his head of how I'm going to look and the colour, cuts and sculpts 'til it gets there! He completely transforms my appearance, so yes, hair, when done properly is definitely an art form!

A big "Thank-youto Midnattsol for being interviewed, and to all the photographers involved for letting me illustrate this blog with their pictures of her.