Category Archives: Reviews

Harpys Emporium: A treasure trove of Handmade Crafts and Geekery!

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 Harpys Emporium  is run by Lauren Challenor, Ebz Howson and Charlie Powell. It was initially the Harpy’s Nest and run by Lauren during university initially as a way to pour out creative goodness to reflect her love of all things geek ranging from gaming, manga, comics, film, television etc. She then teamed up with Ebz from Grinning Cat Emporium and Charlie from Badge Leopard Together they make a wide range of goods and accessories such as;

– Keyrings
– Necklaces
– Charm and Fabric Bracelets
– Pokemon Gym Badge Pins
– Metal Pins
– Phone cases
– Badges
– Stickers
– Magnets
These goods reflect their combined love of various fandoms, and on top of what is quite a brilliant collection they also do requests,  so if you aren’t completely overwhelmed and distracted by the range and unable to find something (which is highly unlikely) you can get it custom made, and to boot, they are very reasonably and competitively priced, and there is literally something for every budget. This is a stall that reflects the student background of those who run it and as such won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
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I came across them at the Belfast MCM Comic Con and their stall was rightfully busy. I couldn’t really get to appreciate it until the Sunday as the first day of the Belfast Comic Con was too packed to really get the time to absorb all there was to see. I suggest that the second day of a Comic Con event might be the best chance you have to really get to explore their stall, it deserves the time to really be explored.
After much deliberation, I ended up getting my sister a Hunger Games bracelet and Pin which she hasn’t taken off since and made her the envy of her friends.
There was one item I saw that I was particularly taken with, and this photo is thanks to their facebook:
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This is the perfect accessory for any Loki fangirl, it was a shame that the ring in question was too big for my finger. I still regret not getting it though as I feel as my health improves I might actually fit it.
their products are perfect to give to friends as gifts, not only are they made by other fans, so they are imbued with their passion that would rival your friends reaction upon receipt of the item, but they are also great to gift to yourself. It isn’t selfish, think of it as an act of self care, and whats not to love about a Game of Thrones bracelet:
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in a similar vein to the events following my sisters demonstration of her bracelet to her friends, I kind of wish I had indulged in a Game of Thrones bracelet almost as a tribute to my work on that series as an extra.
However, funds are a limiting factor, especially at Comic Con, but mainly after visiting this stall (as you will want EVERYTHING!) , the queue for the ATM was shocking, thankfully due to my priority ticket I could nip out to an atm at a local petrol station and skip the queue on my return. if you aren’t as lucky to have a priority ticket, bring plenty of money in advance and keep it hidden and safe.
Also, their stall, while also a highlight of any Comic Con is an affordable haven for any Pokemon fan, they use upcycling techniques to recycle pokemon cards into pendants and charms. Meaning your deck of cards can in effect still be with you but in a more unusual way with a novel twist. For any die-hard fan’s there are also gym badges available!
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due the wide range that they offer, there is more than one way to fly the flag of geekdom and share and express your passion.
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As a group of fans they have put their love into the creation of these products, and this makes them more special than any mass produced product. They create what they believe in and want it to reflect their love of the fandom and so the items are produced to the highest standards and quality.
This was without a doubt the best stall there all weekend.
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To paraphrase Loki, they are burdened with  a glorious purpose to bring geek-tastic goods to the masses.

Vampire Free Style – Comic

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I recently attended MCM Comic Con in Belfast. It was the first time being there and as such it was quite chaotic on the first day. By the end of the weekend, and the end of sunday it was nice and quiet and I was able to really admire the various artwork displayed by those in the comic area of the event.

I came across Vampire Free Style by Jenika Loffreda

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A brief summary of the series is this:

A witch boy in training is looking for his girlfriend who vanished mysteriously.
He meets Micia, a black cat who can speak with the stars and who knows
something about the missing girl … something connected to a magic necklace,
a vampire looking for his memories and a 300-years-old forbidden love…

The artwork is amazingly beautiful, a haunting mix of both gothic and dark with at times humorous overtones due to the amazing Micia. Who I would argue kind of steals the show somewhat, though I am a bit of a cat lady at heart.

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but in addition to this adorable character, the story is not overwhelmed by Micia and is at the end of the day a charming story about love against the odds.

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while it is a self published comic, and as such can be hard to get a hold of, there is wealth of information on where to purchase on her website, with it proving to be surprisingly versatile. If you miss her at an event, her work is available both UK and Ireland wide in a variety of shops, although at present this is limiting depending on where you live. Thankfully, this is sorted as you can also order it online!

While it is a little slow to start, it is worth sticking it out as recent issues have started to show how everything so far was building up to explaining the past of some characters more fully, what may have seemed like a loose end is fixed. As it is self published, and I’m not sure if it is beta’d much like some fanfictions are, there are a few errors here and there, but these can be easily ignored due to the story and also the art.

I would hesitate to say that the style reminds me of Tim Burton soley on the gothic nature of the imagery, however Micia does have a slight Tim Burton-esque look. The actual comic with it’s imagery did remind me of a mix of the manga Bizenghast and for some reason made me think back to a manga called Goth that I read years ago (so I can’t be 100% as to why it came to mind as the actual narrative of that tale has left me)

Overall, for a small self published work, it is actually very good, and so far does seem to be building on its success. I suspect there is a bright future for this series, and so I recommend you check it out NOW!

Class Trip to Belfast

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On a class trip yesterday we went round Belfast checking out places such as the Mac, Belfast Exposed and the Naughton Gallery etc

Naughton Gallery

The Naughton Gallery is at Queens university and currently has an exhibition by Colin Davidson. This exhibition was the highlight of the day.

The images are of well known faces and the attention to detail with facial features especially the eyes is incredible. The pictures seem close to you as a viewer and at the same time distant. The sitters for the portrait are lost in thought as if caught off guard, their expressions leaving their thought process open to interpretation.

the paintings and drawings are literally a snapshot in time.

This is an exhibition worth visiting and runs until the 6th of October.

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The Mac

We also pit stopped at the Mac. it was literally just a pit stop as the current exhibition left a lot to be desired. The Mac is usually very good, having had collections from Warhol recently. However the only exhibition  worth seeing is the one in the sunken gallery by Ursula Burke called Hope for a Better Future which was an interesting mix of ceramic sculpture and embroidery which tackle socio-political issues in a thought provoking manner but which also embraces humour.

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Their other main exhibition is ‘The air they capture is different’ by Karl Burke and Maud Cotter. It is intended to show absent space mixed with architectural volume.  While I can say I was underwhelmed while at the exhibition, it was afterwards during reflection that I considered more fully what perhaps the artists may have been trying to convey.

With reference to Gestalt Psychology and a little bit of afterthought I felt that maybe it was a simple case of embracing the form-generating capability of our senses, and how we visually recognise figures and whole forms instead of just lines and curves.

in other words… look at the picture below:

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it is basically a collection of cones and yet you can also see a circle.

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However, that being said for the most part I wasn’t impressed and perhaps saw what I felt would be very handy to hang my clothes on.

Belfast Exposed

This is a small gallery almost hidden within the numerous streets of Belfast but close to the Mac. The current exhibition is by Mark Curran and is called The Market and runs till the 11th October.

upon entry you are faced with the following quote,

…what people don’t understand… is that what happens in the market is pivotal to their lives… not on the periphery…but slap, bang, in the middle…

(From telephone conversation with trader, name withheld, Dealing Room, Investment Bank, London, February 2013)

which if it wasn’t highlighted to the viewers attention by its initial prominence could allow the rest of the exhibit to seem confusing and pointless. It is a reflection on the economic crisis we face and it’s impact on the common market and our everyday lives. However, this is one of those collections that you have to look deeper into in order to understand and appreciate.

While art can be all about discovery, this felt a bit like a proper journey to get to the conclusion, by which point I was leaving and couldn’t use my new found knowledge of the exhibition to really sink my teeth into it.

however there is an interesting contrast in the images varying from white to blue collar workers in their settings.

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Art – The Definitive Visual Guide

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As part of the recommended reading Art, the definitive visual guide was mentioned.

I did some searching to see if I could find a nice cheap copy (poor student!) and it finally arrived today much to the chagrin of my poor postman as it is HUGE!

Upon a quick flick through I can officially say it looks really useful and also very well laid out and easy to use. There is an initial section to introduce you on how to appreciate art fully with sections explaining the following:

  • subject and composition
  • perspective and viewpoint
  • light and shade
  • media and techniques
  • colour
  • brush-strokes and texture

This is handy for anyone who has either been interested in art but never explored it further, and also complete beginners! It isn’t a guide on How to do certain things, more how to appreciate it when other people do.

it is very comprehensive covering prehistoric art right up to modern art on every continent.

the author/editorial consultant Andrew Graham-Dixon wasn’t kidding when he used the word, ‘definitive’

I think the part that I find most appealing about this book is tat while it does cover a lot of artists and their work, it also focuses on some quite famous works of art such as Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

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on page 364-5 there is a large version of this painting and on the following pages there is a ‘closer look’ at the composition, technique and character story.

previously when looking at this picture, I was focusing more on the technique of pointillism rather than the story which took more of a back seat. This step by step breakdown is very helpful for getting a better understanding of the picture as a whole and I’ve even noticed things in it that previously I hadn’t.