I’m very excited to be heading to the Hay Festival this weekend. Our guerrilla geography Mission:Explore school workshops are booked out on the Friday and then we’ve an open space over this Saturday and Sunday. In The Sun last week we were listed as the ‘leading lights in guerrilla geography’… a quote that made me very happy for several hours.
This is going to be the first Geography Collective expedition in our new spaceship/time machine/HQ van. We’ve done a good bunch of the outside decoration and will have the inside ready for the launch of our next book, Mission:Explore Food, at the end of June. Thanks to Helen Steer for getting all the stickers printed, Tom Morgan-Jones for the illustrations and a day together unprofessionally fitting them, Seb (who is modelling the van) for his consultancy and Menah Raven-Ellison for her sticking skills.
We’re very proud of this new member of the Mission:Explore & Geography Collective family. Later in the summer we’ll be taking it on a little tour of the UK.
I spent last weekend in Dublin. My cousin is getting married in a couple of weeks and so a pile of us spent the weekend drifting around the city engaged in (un)important and (un)traditional cultural activities. In addition to poisoning our bodies and dancing to R&B in the passive aggressive Sin bar, we had a great time trying to find Ireland’s biggest indoor Go Karting arena in a challenged industrial estate and visiting the Dogs with the stag dressed as Lady Luck.
Over the weekend I learnt many things. One of which is that Danbo isn’t just a Danish furniture store or a semi-soft cow’s cheese from the same country… I’m not sure if the furniture is made of the cheese. Danbo is also “possibly the cutest little guy you will ever see in the world…” and a cardboard box toy robot that was being carried around by another member of our party. A semi-professional photographer, he was taking pictures of his Danbo in much the same way as Slinkachu’s Little People Project (which I take inspiration from in my work with kids) and these beautiful bug memorials by the Carmichael Collective, placing him the robot in clever situations.
This picture is a picture I took on my phone of a picture that he had on his phone of a picture on Flickr.
Since my first encounter with Danbo in Dublin I’ve been enjoying amusing and intelligent pictures of him all around the world. Check out these on Flickr, the Facebook group and if you’ve got £30 to spare you can join the party and buy one on eBay.
Danbo walks an interesting line between guerrilla street art and consumerist consumption. The Danbo project reminds me of the inspired Yellow Arrow project in the sense that it nurtures alternative thinking, supports new creative practices, builds social networks and encourages people to explore. They’re also both global art projects that disrupt guerrilla practices with competitive commercial strategies and prices that have significant financial barriers to participation. This is perhaps part of the appeal for some of those who join in. I did buy Yellow Arrow stickers but I think think I’ll wait for a Danbo to cost 90% less and get another Lego person for my son instead (have you seen The Brick Testament!?).
I’m currently spending a good chunk of my time doing the final writing for Mission:Explore Food, the next in the series of Mission:Explore books. Working with Helen Steer from City Farmers and Tom Morgan-Jones, our artist, it’s important to us that children who read the book understand where their food comes from. This is one of a series of challenging illustrations that feature in the Harvest chapter of the book. Alongside missions that investigate how animals are treated, transported and butchered, the mission for this illustration asks readers to consider the best way for animals to be slaughtered by speaking to a professional butcher.
Most of the book is not so intense, but we think it’s important to present the realities of where animal products come from… and the answer is not ‘the fridge’.