Tag Archives: world

Reflection and Photography

3 May

I dream of travelling the world, meeting people from every corner and widening my reality.

I want to understand people’s faces, I want to learn about people not just from their words, but from what I see and experience. I feel through excessive use of media my senses have become dulled to the world around me. I have spent hours and hours in from of my laptop, often living what I see as an almost purely synthetic existence. Don’t get me wrong – the internet is a vast melting pot of useful information and inspiration to be seized, but what and I really gaining from the experience? Could I be spending my time on this earth better?

Being an individual who’s every action depends upon intensive gut feelings, I think perhaps the reason my life sometimes feels so empty, is because I am not listening to what my mind and soul are asking for. Vivid, interactive personal experience.

Day 01. PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield

Day 01.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield

When considering my art, within the fashion industry I have found makeup can be quite passive – and is often dictated by someone else. I myself am a result of media contortion and am often incredibly self objective, as are many other women (and men). I do not want to be part of an industry in which women are made to feel uncomfortable with themselves and their lives. I watched a great Ted Talk my friend Steph posted up and it summarises these issues well. Take a look….


Whilst working within the fashion industry, we feel are creating something beautiful, but in actual fact we are producing only destruction. We are crushing the self confidence of millions of women, debilitating their daily lives and increasing self hate and jealousy. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Is this really how we think we should be acting and feeling? Is there not something better for us out there?

I feel by doing any kind of fashion makeup, I am tearing myself away from the path towards my mountain (thanks for the advice Gaiman!) – both morally and artistically. I feel I have been easily led into fashion by the promise of instantaneous reward, particularly in monetary terms. However, despite the draw, I am to stop taking part in this game and follow what is true to myself, now focussing on my workshop practice (the SFX discipline I most enjoy), along with performance work.

Day 02. PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield

Day 02.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield

Back to the photography side of this post.

I want to really focus on life, I want to get out there, see it, do it, capture it. I have decided to get back into photography. My main interest is within documentary, journalistic and portraiture photography – but I’m not going to focus on that too much whilst I learn to use my camera again. I feel by doing this I will train myself to look closer into what is around me and re-connect with people – or even just learn to connect as I am a child of the social media technology era and have grown up plugged in.

From now on, you shall be getting more mini-updates, as I invite you to share in my life adventure, one photo at a time.

I cant promise they’ll all be wonderful, but everyone starts somewhere. It’s just where it takes you along the way that is what matters.

I implore you do do something that will take you to new places, and fill your heart with light and happiness.
Look beyond your computer screen and reach to the world outside.

Day 03. PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield

Day 03.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Victoria Stansfield


Russian Travels

14 Mar

Quite a few people have asked me “How was Russia?!” since I got back.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate people’s interest, particularly those who worried for my return, but seriously, it’s impossible to cram so many personal emotions and experiences into a few sentences. It’s impossible to compile them into a daylong lecture. So, you end up with the reply “It was great, I never wanted to leave. Thanks” Which is both untrue and insincere. To be honest I don’t want to tell you my experiences unless you REALLY want to know. They are mine, they are special, and they have changed me as a person.

Moscow (Net Image)

Moscow (Net Image)

Before I start, I want to make it very clear this was my experience of Russia. Another being may have a completely different involvement and present entirely different opinions and information. A couple of the images are taken from the net, as the photos I’m expecting haven’t arrived yet. I didn’t take many for myself; if I’d have taken a picture of all the wonderful things I saw, I wouldn’t have seen anything!

So, as a foreigner in Russia, I was usually asked three questions by absolutely everyone (you learn to rehearse the most speedy and efficient answers to these questions very quickly.). The first one is: “So, why did you come to Russia?” Usually followed with “Are you crazy?!”. I suppose the answer is yes, by most people’s reckoning, I am crazy. I came to Russia because I decided to; I had an overwhelming feeling there was something there I needed to experience. Plus I find the Russian language absolutely beautiful. I knew nothing about Russia except stereotypes. So, ‘illogically’ and ‘irrationally’ I packed my bags and booked my flights. Why change a personality trait of a lifetime? It hasn’t failed me yet.

Moscow Department Stores

Moscow Department Stores

On to the stereotypes, that’s another of the top three questions you will be asked. I most commonly filled this gap with the expected responses people wanted to hear that others had of them (Russians don’t smile, they drink vodka all the time, the are self-centred, wear fur, they are tall and beautiful, rude etc.). However, I would go on to say these statements were not true to such an extent; what we see is a different cultural communication and understanding – not a universal definition of a being. For instance; just because in one place something is seen as discourteous, does not mean it is to all.

The third question is “So what do you do?” 90% of Russians I tell my trade…

  1. Do not understand or
  2. If the do understand, question if this is my hobby or real job. It’s my real job. Promise.

I find this question and response interesting and within it found the biggest cultural gap between England and Russia. I certainly found I bonded with those who understood and respected my work much easier; they tended to be more open people. In my experience it seems an artistic career isn’t quite so common in Russia, despite the quantity of artistic education available in the form of exhibitions, museums and more. Which leads me on to my next topic.

In Russia, of the people I met, I found that most are very educated about their own country. They know about their art, politics, literature and history. They aim to speak English well and see how knowledge is beneficial to their development. On average I would say they are more in knowledge of their own country than an Englishperson is of theirs. But perhaps I’ve just been attracting this kind of person. Either way it has inspired me to learn and develop my own understanding of the world around me in greater detail.

St Basil's

St Basil’s


Another question many people will ask you if visiting both St. P and Moscow is – which do you like better? It seems there is some rivalry. Honestly I couldn’t say; I thought I liked Moscow more due to the busy vibe and grittier atmosphere – the whole place just seems to have more active energy to it. However, I can see myself settling in Saint Petersburg much easier, perhaps because it’s incredibly European and therefore seems more familiar.

When I first arrived at Moscow I won’t deny, I was slightly dazed. Whilst learning Cyrillic was helpful, seeing every sign written in it is another thing and quite intense at first. If I hadn’t have tried to learn it before arriving I would have probably never reached my hostel in Kitay-Gorod. Moscow is lined in a layer of dirt, it’s probably the dirtiest place I’ve ever been and the sky hung thick with fog (don’t make the mistake I did, in taking a white coat). The cars are two tone (fine evasion though hiding number plates I was told, since they have started bringing in parking tickets) and they walls are grey. Despite all this, lights twinkled through and inspired a feeling of wonder in me, with an atmosphere that gave me vitality.

Kitay-Gorod (Net Image)

Kitay-Gorod (Net Image)

Many of the main buildings are tall and striking, with a definite feel of power – they have a sort of Harry Potter/Ministry of Defence Vs. evil Disney lair kind of feel, though this makes them no less attractive. The town is always busy and humming full of a variety of people. I was regularly told that Moscow is extremely international; I’m pretty sure they’ve all never seen London.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (One of the Seven Sisters)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (One of the Seven Sisters) (Net Image)

I visited all the tourist attractions, tablet at the ready if I wanted to find a companion or a place to visit. The Kremlin buildings, department stores, cathedrals and museums are all beautiful, both inside and out, you can tell a lot of care has gone into the production of these buildings. I think the most awesome pieces of art I saw were in the Kremlin Armoury; the carriages they have there are incredible, straight out of a fairy-tale.

I could have watched the  Kremlin guard change repeatedly.

I could have watched the Kremlin guard change repeatedly. (Net Image)

One thing you MUST do if travelling to Moscow is take an afternoon to visit the spectacular underground stations, each is charming in its own right.  Check out more images here: http://www.beeflowers.com/moscowmetro/index.htm

Moscow Metro (Net Image)

Moscow Metro (Net Image)

I think my favourite part of seeing Moscow as with any travelling I have done, is seeing the city from a resident’s point of view, including their take on the tourist parts; they always have stimulating and relative information to contribute to my learning. I also visited the hospital, university art lectures, a school play, local markets, parks, a theatre press showing, a variety of homes and hostels and many café, bar and club gems. The list goes on. Despite the seemingly dreary appearance at this time of year, I felt a constant electric buzz in my body, something that left me the moment I stepped off the train and into Saint Petersburg; I’m still trying to understand what this meant.

I travelled to St. P on the sleeper train with two friends I met in Moscow. On arrival I felt everything was just so big, the buildings are broad and long, making me feel doll sized. The city seemed absent of people, as if there were not enough to fill it – far removed from the hum of Moscow.

Vodka Fuelled.

Vodka Fuelled.

We wandered the city, walking through the fortress and along the embankments, attending the “Black Days” Couchsufing events throughout the weekend. Sunday night at the karaoke was a brilliant laugh; I woke up Monday with one of the biggest headaches of my life; don’t mix Vodka and Brandy in your evening.

Wandering the Embankments

Wandering the Embankments

Karaoke Night

Karaoke Night

In the early hours on Monday morning I had been subject to some attempted sketchy behaviour (though no fault of my wonderful host), so I moved on quickly to stay with my next host family. From Tuesday I finally started my own adventure of Saint Petersburg (whilst it was lovely to have such nice friends around at the weekend, Russian speaking dominates (obviously) so you tend to get cut out of the organisation and route planning which is usually what adjusts your mind to the new environment).


Nevsky Prospekt

I get bored of people calling Saint Petersburg beautiful, it’s stating the obvious – everyone says it; “Oh, the architecture!” “Oh, the rivers!” and yes, it is beautiful, amazingly so. However, I felt there was more to be seen, a depth I wasn’t experiencing simply walking around Nevsky Prospekt and in and out of cathedrals and museums. So I spent a lot of time either on my own drawing and writing, or speaking with companions I had met through couch surfing whilst walking and eating pancakes.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Walking the Backstreets

Walking the Backstreets

Beautiful Colours.

Beautiful Colours.

I spent Friday in Immigration and the Police Station getting my migration slip, though the day ended much better than it started as I had met Yulia (an absolute angel) that morning and spent the evening in several bars talking with new and lovely friends. I left Russia on the Sunday, having done my first teaching class. I will be back next year to live in St. P for a year, teaching English.





Travelling instilled in my something I already knew: possessions are inanimate and in my opinion, distract from living life. We become too comfortable in our surroundings and do not feel comfortable without our things. Home should be wherever we are happy and safe, no matter what we carry with us. Trekking round with a (just about hand luggage size) rucksack, I realised how little I really need have to live my life, and how if ever without that extra bit of makeup or the perfect shoes, you are still able to put yourself across perfectly well, those who do not see past this are shallow and not worth speaking to anyway. I also realised you don’t need to wash your clothes as often as you think. I wore the same pair of jeans for 3 weeks and washed them twice – usually, I wash them after every wearing. So often we place too much importance on the insignificant. I’m working on getting rid of my possessions and clothes, along with superficial wants and needs. I spend too much time splitting my energy and not enough time focussing it.

So what else did I learn? I really learnt the importance of kindness. Kind people make the world spin. So much can be achieved thanks to the kindness of one person. I found this quality in all of my hosts, and especially of a particularly special Russian girl who without I may have crumbled. She helped me out when I lost my migration card – explaining how to get to immigration properly, coming out of hours to take me to the police station to help me fix everything, housing me for free in the hostel she worked at, introducing me to her friends and her favourite bars, calling me when I cried and laughing with me when I smiled.  I have been speaking to her since I got back and I am sure we will remain firm friends always.  Almost every single person I met showed kindness towards me in some way (besides the few I frustrated because I couldn’t understand). Without this I am sure my experiences whilst travelling would have meant much less, or at least been much harder.






My little present from Julia!

I wrote a diary almost every day I was in Russia, I think this was partially due to being on my own, and being able to trust myself with my thoughts and opinions on what I was experiencing, finding satisfaction in divulging information to someone that would understand. I went through a full spectrum of emotion whilst travelling; extreme excitement, terror and fear, love, bitter loneliness, boredom, exhilaration… but most of all, I felt content at being alive and opening myself to embracing these emotions, dealing with them on my own and with the help of pretty much complete strangers. Travelling has given me strength, as a person to walk alone in the world and realise everything that surrounds you is temporary and changing. Nothing really matters so long as you can adapt to your surroundings and find faith in humanity.

If you want to know more, just ask.