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Girl Swoon #11

30 Nov

I am very excited to be featuring one of my oldest friends as Girl Swoon #11. She is something of a multi-tasking demon, with an enviable job in publishing and always a million creative projects on the side. She also makes a mean bottle of sloe gin. Take it away Char…

Name: Charlotte Knight

Age: 26

Website: and

1) What do you do and why?

I work for a literary agency, which I really enjoy. We have some great writers and it’s always exciting when one of the authors delivers a big manuscript, or if we discover someone new. I also run a little business called Sweet View which sells printed drawings of London by my dear boyfriend Jack Noel. There is going to be one for each of the 12 inner London boroughs and at the moment we have 6 on sale. We wanted to make something fun and affordable that people could decorate their homes with, and which tap into a love of one’s local area. In essence though, Jack is the creative genius and I’m the admin loser, although I like to call myself sales and marketing executive.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

Well like everybody I suppose I’m carrying the weight of a lifetime of social conditioning around with me. But other than THAT… no not really.

3) Are you a feminist?

Yes, I am a feminist. Social events where the boys go shooting and the girls meet them for lunch make me feel a bit ill. But I strongly feel that many girls are just as to blame as boys for the sexism that exists in our society. So many girls have the attitude that they can’t do certain things, and that drives me crazy. Then again I feel sorry for boys who are brought up not to express emotion or be creative and I think that can be just as life-ruining as the kind of sexism girls experience.


4) What are your future plans?

To build Sweet View and to keep progressing in the publishing industry. I have many second tier plans though: whittling an entire set of chess pieces for example.

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

I’ve given up washing my hair and I’m writing a blog about it. It’s not cool, in fact it’s really disgusting but I just want to see if I can give up shampoo and still have nice hair. I’m three weeks in and the back of my head is a dripping mass of vile-ness. I’m getting anxious about resting my head against the sofa when I watch TV for fear of making a mark.


Girl Swoon #10

23 Oct

This is Sylvie, she is a top gal I met through Otesha who draws hiLARious cartoons and other awesome stuff which I will let her explain below. I have been nagging her to be a Girl Swoon for ages so I’m so glad she caved in! Definitely check out her website – I love her Big Society series of comics especially.

Name: Sylvie

Age: 24


1) What do you do and why?

I’m an Information Officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Europe’s leading eco-centre (A). I also draw comics (B). Other interests are:

Graphs (C), Non-violent Direct Action (D), Cutting and Sticking (E), preserving (F), The Otesha Project (G), This Is Rubbish (H), proper organised dancing with moves you have to follow (I), Ultimate Frisbee (J), sewing (K) and Being cheeky to policemen (L). I’m basically a mash-up of 90% of past girl swoons. They do far greater stuff than I so I was very flattered to be asked. Ta.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

It probably helps somehow but we’re all the same at the end of the day aren’t we? Most people I meet at work are brilliant but occasionally a member of the public assumes I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m a young woman. I’m ashamed to admit that when they subsequently enquire about my qualifications and I let slip my engineering background I get a little perverse kick out of their face because it does this.

Oh god that’s awful isn’t it?

3) Are you a feminist?


4) What are your future plans?

More of the same. Comic songs, animations and linking preserves to political issues (M).

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

The power you get from a wind turbine is linked to the cube of the wind speed – this means that if you have twice the wind speed you get a whopping eight times the energy. So bigger turbines aren’t just better, they’re loads better. Clever folk are even making them float. Magic.

Read with me

12 Oct

I had a couple of requests to list some books that I thought were useful, so I have made a new page (next to the About page) with a list of useful books! Ta da. It’s not exhaustive by any means, but they are what immediately sprang to mind. I will add more as time goes on, especially good things I read on my course this year and I would love to hear your recommendations too. Email me your suggestions at

And, wait, don’t go, because I am also looking for cool girls (well, women actually) doing cool things, to interview for my Girl Swoon feature. If you are one, please get in touch, don’t be shy! It’s a perfect way to showcase your work. And if you know one, give them a hefty push in my direction. Thank you!

hanna ♥

picture from tumblr

Girl Swoon #9 – Guest Post

10 Oct

Well this is exciting! Girl Swoonery is spreading worldwide! My good friend Anna Collins (herself a featured Girl Swoon) has been at the UN climate talks this week in Tianjin, China. She met the new executive secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres today and immediately christened her Girl Swoon #9. This post is cross-posted from Anna’s blog over on Adopt a Negotiator, a fantastic resource for anyone wanting an easy and understandable way of following the climate negotiations. Take it away Anna…

My friend Hanna has a great blog where she talks about all things climaty, crafty and feminist. As a regular feature she interviews girls who are doing amazing things and calls it girl swoon. This post goes out to her, with credit and thanks!

On the last day of UN climate negotiations it is rare to see the team grinning, laughing and optimistic. These talks have a way of beating that out of us over the course of a week, and this week definitely hasn’t provided us with much to smile about. We have seen stalling tactics being employed by many of the big players along with  a vicious circle of blame for lack of progress. We have seen constant bickering and boring sessions, negotiations consumed by process, never getting to the substance.

However this morning anyone passing the tracker booth would have seen the team in high spirits, smiling and laughing (which to be fair even in the hardest times we normally manage to keep up). But also optimistic, optimistic that the unfccc can and will achieve something.

The reason for this optimism? My new girl swoon, Christiana Figueres, new executive secretary of the unfccc.

This morning the team had a meeting with Christiana. We went it to it with the usual set of questions: How’s it going? What can we expect? What can we do to push the process forward? And we were expecting the usual answers: Progress is slow, we can expect a balanced package, you guys need to go home and push your governments.

Instead what we were treated to was half an hour with one of the friendliest and most inspirational people I have met in this unfccc world. Christiana was frank and honest with us about the negotiations and where we are, however she was also optimistic and passionate. Most of all she spoke with feeling and emotion, something so often lacking from this process and yet something so desperately needed. Continue reading

Girl Swoon #8

6 Oct

Dawn is my first blog friend! We haven’t met yet, but we have a mutual appreciation of each other’s blogs. Please go and check out her blog, 101 wankers, which catalogues all the wankers she encounters when riding her bike (and believe me, there are many). It will have you in stitches.

Name: Dawn Foster

Age: 24

Website: I blog about idiot anti-cyclists at but I also write political things at, collaborate on and tweet (and swear) a LOT at

1) What do you do and why?

I get revenge on people and motorists who think they’ve got a right to shout or abuse me when I cycle, by documenting and making fun of them on my blog. When I first started cycling I used to get furious whenever it happened, and my philosophy in life is, if something makes you angry, make a cup of tea and turn it into something positive, whether it’s a campaign, a comic strip or a blog post. I’m interested in how we relate to our environments too, so using maps appealed to me, and appeared to capture a lot of people’s imaginations. It’s become hugely popular, I think in part because a lot of cyclists (especially women) can relate to it, and there’s a certain localism to it. Part of the “why” is also because I am bolshy, and if I ever think people have slighted me in part because I am a woman I won’t let it drop until they are either embarrassed or angry at me for exposing them. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, and if a few people might think twice before being uneccessarily rude to women in future.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

Definitely. My politics are based on a belief that equality and ecology are two of the most important things to be protected and as a woman, this is particularly true. And being a woman is the core of why I started 101 Wankers, to basically say that I wouldn’t just accept the abuse that people shouted at me because I dared to be a woman on the road on a bike. The sense of camaraderie I’ve had from the women who’ve contacted me has been fantastic as well, though I feel terrible that I haven’t physically had time to respond to the hundreds of emails I’ve received since starting the project.

3) Are you a feminist?

Most definitely. I first came across the concept when I went to university, and it was a real “Eureka!” moment for me. I felt a lot less alienated, and it really gave me a lot of confidence, to be able to challenge a lot of the behaviour that was directed at me, and the inequality and unfairness I saw day to day.

4) What are your future plans?

I really want to expand the website to include articles on cycling for women of all abilities, as well as interviews with women cyclists on why they cycle. I worry that the site might put some newbies off, when I want everyone to love being on two wheels as much as I do! I also want to work more on writing more on local and environmental issues: I think community’s hugely important and I’m nostalgic for the days of housing cooperatives and genuine neighbourliness. I’ve been reading recently about the eviction of the residents of the Clays Lane Estate Cooperative to make way for the London Olympics, and it made me furious. As someone who’s recently moved to London, I’d like to start getting involved in my local community, through campaigning and writing.

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

I tend to think of myself as a misanthropist but can’t help but lapse into grand philosophical moments of loving the world, my friends, fellow campaigners, this city and thinking that sometimes everything can get a little bit better.

Girl Swoon #7

29 Sep

I first met Cordelia a couple of months ago, after I saw her work featured in an Amelia’s Magazine article and actually screamed because I had done my undergrad dissertation on this very statue of Boadicea, and lo and behold someone was actually using it for a climate action message! It was like all my dreams had come true (I have strange dreams). I then interviewed Cordelia for my own article (to be published soon!) and discovered she was super cool and definitely swoon-worthy.

Name: Cordelia Cembrowicz

Age: 27


1) What do you do and why?

I am an artist, activist and now the Vice President of the Royal College of Art Students Union.

I make art because I love creative freedom. I find modern living fascinating, art gives me the chance to explore and interpret ways of thinking and being. This interest in the long term led me to become increasingly curious about climate change, the effects of our bizarre modern living on the climate and likewise the effects of the changing climate on civilisation.  My response is to look at possible solutions to the possible long-term catastrophe we are facing, and to protest against it happening.

I built up my artistic practice making miniature fairies out of human teeth, and drawings and etchings of social and hormonal structures. The recent work I made on my MA is a result of investigating environmental activism, and in particular the group Climate Rush. It’s a kind of celebration of defiance through combining images of the female environmentalist protestors I met protesting, with depictions of environmental threats and places already affected by climate change. And also a print made from a portrait of me protesting on Boadicea’s horse.

Climate Rush is a really interesting direct action group. They take inspiration from the Suffragettes, and the movement one hundred years ago which successfully led to the right to vote being given to women. I’ve been making costumes, banners, stickers and postcards as propaganda for the group, and am speaking about this at the Climate Rendezvous on 13th October at Toynbee Hall.

Working for the RCA Students Union is exciting, as an opportunity to work with all these amazing creative people in so many different ways. I was drawn to the job by the opportunity to feed sustainability into the framework of the college (I really noticed the lack of environmental provision both academically and structurally throughout my time as a student, so formed the student Green RCA group, went and complained at meetings, make stickers for the recycling bins, screened The Age of Stupid etc). I’m organising events, discussions, parties, campaigns, choosing wallpaper for the bar and importantly vocally opposing increases in fees and the like at managerial meetings. Everyone is feeling the financial pinch at the RCA, fees are going up, studio spaces are shrinking so it is really important to provide light relief from all of that in the Student Union.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

I’d say so, you can never really act outside yourself, your experiences and relationships with the world inform your position in it.

3) Are you a feminist?

Yes, for me it is about equal rights for men and women.

4) What are your future plans?

To structure my life so I can continue making art as independently as possible. Walking on fire for the Nepali Children’s Trust, dance classes and a possible cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

David Shrigley, Jeremy Deller and Mark Wallinger have set up a campaign to stop the 25% cuts to the arts, and David Shrigley‘s animation is great:

Girl Swoon #6

22 Sep

Nadia is one ridiculously talented lady. I knew her back at uni on the student theatre scene (dahling) and now she’s representing in the world of stand-up comedy! *cheers* *applauds* *whoops*…

Name: Nadia Kamil

Age: 26

Website: I talk a lot on Twitter – I do jokes sometimes but mostly post photos of meals or outfits. I also have a YouTube channel where I post videos of me titting about with instruments or basic animation.

1) What do you do and why?

I am a comedy writer and performer. I am also an actor and a writer of non-joke based things (like poems, plays, the occasional blog and about 25 novels I have started and subsequently forgotten about) and I am also anything that will pay me money to do a job*.

The question of “why?” is tricky. I have always loved theatre and literature. I made my stage debut at the age of 3, playing Toto the dog in Hafod Primary School’s production of The Wizard of Oz. I recall the direction I received well, “follow Dorothy around and bark when she taps you”. Needless to say, I stole the show and my sordid affair with the stage began. Woof.

I am socially quite an awkward and shy person (no way?! yes way!) so acting is a release for me in which I can be excellent and confident. However, I struggled with the lack of decent parts and writing available to me so began writing my own. My social awkwardness exposes itself in the way that I use humour in nearly all situations (including my grandfather’s funeral, where it was heavily frowned upon) so it was quite natural to me to start writing comedy. I then became a big fan of it- watching lots of stand up, sitcoms, sketch shows and am now quite passionate about it as an art form. I love doing live shows, but am also getting to really enjoy writing for other people. There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing your joke go down well, even when you didn’t say it.

I’m also passionate about women in comedy. I feel they don’t have enough of a voice or a platform and I am actively trying to combat that in my own tiny way.

*within reason.

2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?

Enormously. The comedy industry is still massively lopsided on the gender equality front. It makes it significantly more difficult in almost every aspect for women. Initially there is the problem that comedy is perceived as such an aggressive, masculine industry (much like politics) that it would appear to not appeal to women. Then once you’ve decided that you do want to give it a try you’ll find that there is a staggering amount of prejudice in the way. From the fact that many main-stream clubs will not book more than one female act per night to the endless stream of nonsensical journalistic non-articles about whether women are funny or not.  If we were asking “are white people funnier than black people?” the prejudice becomes so stark as to give a decent idea as to how retarded the comedy industry is in its relationship to women.

The difficulty of being the sole woman on a comedy bill is that then, that woman becomes representative of all female comics, and is judged as a woman and not as a comic. Whereas you have 4,5 or 6 men on the bill who are judged in their own rights on the individual acts they perform. This sort of thing extends to television as we rarely see even one, and almost never, more than one woman on comedy panel shows. Not until shows like QI, Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week are equally populated with men & women can we begin to believe in achieving gender equality in comedy.

3) Are you a feminist?

A massive yes.  My mother died when I was 6 so I grew up in a super macho environment – me, my dad and my three brothers. This made me hyper aware of being female. I see so much gender inequality still (in 2010!), that it angers me when people dismiss feminism as old and irrelevant. Feminism is about equality and that has still not been achieved. Feminism is even more important in a world that sleazes by with an oleaginous facade of equality. The gender pay gap is around 22%. That stat by itself makes me sick with rage.

I have been reported in the Daily Mail (with a tone of disgust) as a feminist activist for defacing body-confidence-eroding ads on the tube. The portrayal of women in the media (what I consider my area of work) is insane. Body image is an important issue for me, and one that affects women enormously. I believe it’s a massive contemporary feminist issue that underpins women in nearly all aspects of their lives, consciously or otherwise.

4) What are your future plans?

To write more, to perform more. I’m working on a play that has a strong female agenda but I’m concerned that will put people off (which in itself is terrible).

5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:

I’m half Welsh and half Iraqi. My mother was from Swansea and my father from Baghdad. I lived in the Middle East just after the Gulf War but mostly grew up in Wales. I am so ashamed of Britain’s actions against Iraq that I can barely think about it, but I want to tackle it and will work up the courage to do so sometime in the future. Hopefully the Royal Court will pay me to do so (unlikely).