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#GreenSurge and Graphic Design for the Manchester Green Party April 11, 2015

Posted by astridjohnson in Current Affairs, Graphic Design, Politics, Portfolio.
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A whimsical call to vote for the student population in Manchester Fallowfield.

A whimsical call to vote for the student population in Manchester Fallowfield.

Yes, I am part of the #GreenSurge. I joined in December 2014 and am an active member for the Manchester Green Party. Apart from the many policies I agree with, I feel I actually have a voice within the party, find that it is democratically run and meet many very engaged, awake and politically astute people.

The fact that smaller parties, a number of them leaning to the left, are shaking up this election in the UK is a good thing and locally it would be good to have a different voice in the Labour run Manchester Council.

Currently my daily physical exercise is leafleting for an hour or so in Rusholme and I must say, responses from people I meet on the street are mostly very encouraging. A lot of my time is spent with fellow activists planning leaflets and other publications and then offering my design skills. Enclosed some work I have done.

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Mental Health Art Brochure August 18, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Graphic Design, Mental Health, Portfolio.
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An art project showcased in a brochure.

An art project showcased in a brochure.

Alan Shepley is an artist. He is also the ward manager at one of the acute wards in the medium secure unit of Prestwich Hospital, one of the largest mental health hospitals in the North West. Alan has been working there since 1985, starting as a domestic assistant and his rich experience of working with mental health patients has a large influence on his radical, social and political stencil art. I love his work, check it out on Alan’s flickr account.

In 2013 Alan got a grant from Greater Manchester West NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust to do two art projects. Alan asked me and my team of patient workforce to create a brochure to showcase both projects. The art project and the creation of the brochure was hugely supported by the management team of the Adult Forensic Services Directorate.

“For me the collaboration involving service users was the most  important part of the project, therefore it made sense  to use SMaRT Design & Print, because service users make up the studio’s workforce, and they produce quality work.”

Alan Shepley, Grasmere Ward Manager, Edenfield Centre

This was a perfect design project as we had a free run on the design and editorial of the brochure and it gave my workforce the opportunity to learn some new artworking skills.

“It really was a lengthy process working with the map. It was my first time working with high resolution images and I felt excited when it all came together. I was amazed by how much work goes into the touching-up process.”

AO, Service User, Edenfield Centre

One of the two art projects was the “Recovery Map”, a piece of art created from an Ordnance Survey Map of the Lake District. This was chosen because the wards in the medium secure unit are named after places in the area. The recovery mantra was stencilled onto the map. Service users, carers and staff were asked to share their thoughts and feelings about the recovery journey and add them to the map on a Post-It note. One of my workforce patiently scanned in the map in sections and learned   how to patch them together in Photoshop. He also learned how to highlight the colour of all the Post-It notes and the type on them.

The second project was to introduce a form of street art to the medium secure unit. Statements and quotes that reflect the needs and aims of service users were stencilled onto walls and floors in one of the courtyards. Another of my workforce learned how to select the yellow type on the images and colour correct them, so they all looked a brighter and a similar yellow.

“When Alan made his proposal to the GMW “Dragons’ Den” it was obvious at that point that this would be an excellent collaboration, capitalising on the talents of Alan and combining his artistic flair with some of our very talented budding artists within our user group. We were very lucky to receive the financial backing of the “Dragons” and I really do believe that Alan and his team have rewarded their faith in him a lasting message throughout the service in the form of art. The brochure produced by FST’s SMaRT Design & Print studio to showcase this project is fabulous and informative.”

John Walker, Deputy Service Director of the Adult Forensic Mental Health Services Directorate and Head of Operations for Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

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Leek and Feta Cheese Bake and Cooking in the 80s & 90s in Britain April 22, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Baking, Books, Cooking, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Cooking.
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The colour brown and the 80's

The colour brown and the 80s.

This “see what we had for dinner tonight” post is inspired by my extremely beautiful young friend Arianhna and her lovely Arianha’s Kitchen Blog. She posts her home prepared lunches and dinners in a simple way, albeit in English and Japanese.

Since 10 days I have a little oven and I am using it every single day, at least once if not twice. It is a temporary addiction. With my baking attempts and some of my savoury dishes I am reminded of the vegetarian cooking style of the 80s and 90s, part of which I lived in London. I found some of the cook books I had at the time in charity shops since I moved to Manchester: Sarah Brown, Rose Elliot, Crank’s cooking books, Zorba the Buddha Rajneesh Cookbook and of course  Madhur Jaffrey. Most of the photography, if used at all, has this brownish tint. And everything I have baked the past week has this brownish tint…

Leek, Cannellini beans & Feta cheese Rye Bread Crumble Bake with Quinoa

If you google leek bake almost every recipe that comes up is by Jamie Oliver… well, there are probably similarities between all vegetable bakes, but this is what I threw together tonight. It is an ode to the 80’s and 90’s vegetarian cooking style.

This served me and my husband, will be my lunch at work tomorrow and there will be left overs, so it would be enough for four people. Ingredients are approximates.

The dark bread crumble on the top delivers the sourness or sharpness to this otherwise mild and almost sweet bake.

Preheat a oven to 180-200 Celsius. Altogether it took me not more than 40 minutes to make dinner. During the last 10 minutes I watched some West Wing.

Ingredients and method

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
some salt, pepper, paprika, mixed dried herbs and Herbes de Provence
Method: Sweat a few minutes in a pan, while you slice and wash…

3 small leeks
2 tsp Marigold’s Vegan Organic Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder (the vegan version adds a nice yellow tint to the food)
Method: Add to the pan, stir, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes.

1 slice of seeded bread and
1 slice of German dark rye or pumpernickel
Method: While the vegetables are softening toast the bread and make breadcrumbs in a blender and while you are at it oil a small square tin or any baking dish.

1-2 tbsp flour
Method: Sweat in the vegetables.

2 glugs of milk
Method: Stir until the liquid is thickened.

1 (410gram) tin of cannellini beans, rinsed
half a block of feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 bunch of flat leaved parsley (not the expensive small bunches of parsley from the giant supermarket chains, but a proper one from an Asian supermarket), finely chopped
Method: Add to the pan and then pour into the prepared oven dish.

the bread crumbs
more chopped parsley
1 glug of olive oil
1-2 tbsp grated hard cheese
Method: Mix and scatter over the leek dish. Bake in the heated oven for 20-25 minutes

While the bake is baking bring 2 cups (US sized cups) of water to boil with a tsp of the same bouillon powder and some pepper. Once the water boils add 1 cup of quinoa (because or in spite of Gwyneth Paltrow getting ribbed about quinoa by Graham Norton and guests). Simmer on a lower flame for approx. 15 minutes.

The quinoa I made had more structure than this picture shows and this is the lovely pianist hand of my husband

The quinoa I made had more structure than this picture shows and this is the lovely pianist hand of my husband in the background, just before tucking in.

Here some photos of the bakes from the past week. Sorry, all from my iPhone and very blurry.

First a tart. Sweet pastry, some old pears and apples that were lying around, covered with a dark sugar crumble.

First a tart. Sweet pastry, some old pears and apples that were lying around, covered with a dark sugar crumble.

On the same day a quorn and mushroom pie with a shop bought puff pastry. I brought little violin cooky cutters from Vienna. :-).

On the same day a quorn and mushroom pie with a shop bought puff pastry. I brought little violin cooky cutters from Vienna.🙂.

 

Dinner rolls with a very quick and easy yeast dough.

Dinner rolls with a very quick and easy yeast dough.

Poppy seed rolls.

Poppy seed rolls.

And just to finish, a Sunday still live.

And just to finish, a Sunday still live.

 

 

 

A Talented Young Woman April 2, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Improvisation, Music.
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This is my niece Alina.

This is my niece Alina.

My youngest niece Alina just recorded her first demo CD in Cologne, Germany. She’s got a wonderful voice and I recommend you listen to her cover of Rihanna’s “Stay” below. She also created  the graphics for her little YouTube video.

I played this to a few people here in the UK and everybody commented on the fact that her English is virtually accent free!

Poster and Flyer for a Mental Health Research Campaign March 31, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Graphic Design, Mental Health, Portfolio.
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Attractive bright colours.

Attractive bright colours.

The Research and Development Department of Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) needed highly visible and recognisable promotional material to invite service users in the North West to access and be involved in mental health research. They provided us with the “FAIR”campaign logo and asked my design studio to develop an A3 poster and a 6-page DL flyer. They were not just very happy with the design results, but also appreciated that we were able to handle their print management for 70,000 flyers very costeffectively.

Front, back and flap of the flyer.

Front, back and flap of the flyer.

Inside pages of the flyer.

Inside pages of the flyer.

The DL flyer has a perforation on one side for service users to tear off  the card and hand it to GMW.

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Happy Birthday, Annette… and In Praise of Love March 2, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Books, Love, Philosophy, Politics.
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And another birthday blog.

And another birthday blog.

Happy Birthday, my dear sister. You got this photo we took at the MOSI on canvas and a box with some more goodies is unfortunately still on it’s way. Never mind. I hope you have a lovely day with your beloveds in Cologne.

On the subject of love. I am reading Alain Badiou’s “In Praise of Love”, which my husband brought me from Foyles yesterday. and there is much this elderly French communist illuminates about the perennial question mark in “What is Love?”. The book is the script of an interview between Nicolas Truong and Badiou and covers politics, creativity and relationships.

The last paragraph here is about love for the world through relationship and wakes me up to review all of them:

…To love is to struggle, beyond solitude, with everything in the world that can animate existence. This world where I see for myself the fount of happiness my being with someone else brings. “I love you” becomes: in this world there is the fount you are for my life. In the water from this fount, I see our bliss, yours first. As in Mallarmeé’s poem, I see:

In the wave you become
Your naked ecstasy.

The bond with my sister is very deep and the abiding love I have for her took time to be seen and mature.

Happy Birthday, Mark! February 13, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Love, Music, Philosophy.
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Sorry, the blue theme is a bit cliché...

Sorry, the blue theme is a bit cliché…

As you are in Madrid on your birthday morning, here your virtual birthday table: balloons, presents, cake, candles and all. Happy, happy birthday, my beloved.

Here I opened your card for you… and you can read all of it when you are home tomorrow.

Sorry for revealing our term of endearment...

Sorry for revealing so publicly our term of endearment…

Sorry, this could also be a Easter card...

Sorry, this could also be a Easter card…

Sorry for revealing so publicly our song...

Sorry for revealing so publicly “our” song…

And here the tag lines for you present…

Because you view things differently.
Because there is hilarity and love where the two of you are.
Because you married a hipster Tscherman woman who thinks that some thing are not funny, but they are still funny.
Because it is about the “I” towards the “Thou”.
Because there may be some more philosophical devices to explore.
Because you like sounds.
Because sound needs context.
Because you want to play with sound.
Because you want to play with a different sound.
Because you need to relax.
Because things are sweet.
Because you need some trousers.
Because a nice shirt never goes amiss.

This makes all sense once you opened them… I hope.

Have much, much success with your project today and I look so much forward to seeing you tomorrow!

With love, Astrid

Sorry for so publicly revealing your age...

…you just have to blow them out now…

Valentine’s Card 2013 February 7, 2013

Posted by astridjohnson in Current Affairs, Graphic Design, Love, Philosophy, Politics.
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To use this Valentine's card you really have to love each other!

To use this Valentine’s card you really have to love each other!

I never sent a Valentine’s card in my life, nor have I ever received one. This year I felt compelled to design one though.

It is a bit mean, as it relates to quite a sad but sordid little story about probable bullying, coercion, disrespect, loss, victimisation, jealousy, revenge, lying, perjury and selfishness – which all does not sits well with “… till death shall do us part”. But is also quite funny.

Banana Bread with Sesame Seeds September 23, 2012

Posted by astridjohnson in Vegetarian, Vegetarian Cooking.
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This has already a caption…

It is not as easy to find yeasty banana bread recipes as those with baking powder. This is for a bread maker.

I combined one of my favourite food blogger’s recipes (Heidi Swanson’s Sesame Banana Bread)  with one from a Marks & Sparks bread maker book and trusting my instinct. It worked twice now, so it is safe to post.

I am also trying out a an iPhone app called Comic Touch as per picture above.

Please read on for the recipe on the Cooking page: Banana Bread with Sesame Seeds

A nice crumb.

And here my second attempt at making some jam. Still fighting with getting the jars to seal properly… and using too much sugar. But it looks nice.

Nectarine, brandy and pistachio jam.

Book Sacriledge August 6, 2012

Posted by astridjohnson in Books, Current Affairs, Graphic Design, Politics.
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Cultural vandalism?

I am the delighted owner of about a dozen or so high quality design books, each worth the usual £25-£45. They are not the latest ones, from the 90’s and early this century, but they show the best, which is often timeless.

It is a special treat for me to buy such books new, because of the price. So I was very happy when Mark surprised me with them the other week. But this is a bitter-sweet experience for both of us.

The University of Bolton are emptying their storeroom to replace it with a new building or something similar. They are giving hundred of books free to staff or are selling them for small money. Not only design books, all kinds of books…

The big question I am asking though is: Why?

Why would a University get rid of books? Because they are old? Because they don’t have the funds to build or rent a new storage? Can whatever new and shiny thing they are building be more important than books? Are University libraries being reduced to the ethos of DVD rental places – let’s get rid of the books nobody reads? Aren’t University supposed to be archives of knowledge? Is knowledge only kept digital now – not that this is even done with these books?

Here a quote by a Dr John Golder from an article I found on a similar incident at the Australian University of NSW last year and the digitalisation of libraries:

A serendipitous discovery is impossible when the book isn’t there…

This book is orphaned.

I am now the proud foster mother of some beautiful design books.

_

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