Generation Y (and finding meaning from within)

“Remind them that the recession will end and that

graduates will be needed when companies re-energise for new business.

In a few years the majority of graduates will be doing as well as they always have.”

–  2009 government pamphlet aimed at the parents of recent graduates.

Statistically speaking, generation Y is doomed.

The baby-boomers created a world for themselves, built around technological advance & personal gain. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and social mobility has devolved from an achievable goal into pure ideology. It isn’t news that youth unemployment is at an all time high, it’s not entirely surprising that, coupled with an insane housing market and a hostile unpaid internship based job sector, more and more young people are in financial, mental and spiritual peril. A steadily increasing number of graduates finish uni (and three years of independence) with unrealistic expectations, end up moving back home, become NEET, grow depressed and commit suicide.


Tragic, right? Or maybe… encouraging?

Against a backdrop of political alienation and economic disparity, us young people don’t seem to have a solid place or purpose in the world. Born into capitalism, we measure success by enjoyment and have become gifted consumers, to fail at consumption, ie, to be poor, is to fail in life, and it is becoming harder and harder to succeed within this paradigm.

So how can the best and brightest of our generation hope to further not only the human race, but themselves also, when our future lies in the amassed wealth of a few select individuals? As proved above, there is an abundance of research into the increasingly negative aspects of modern society, but very little in the way of positive thinking or beneficial speculation.


The answer

The answer, I believe, is a shift in our generations internal definition of purpose. Increasing material & economic starvation is imbuing generation Y with a previously unprecedented self-awareness. Slowly but surely, handed-down values based on economic growth & personal gain (such as marriage, promotions at work & corporate influence) are coming second to spiritual growth, generosity & concern for the environment. Particularly in my industry groups such as performers without boarders & the ladybird project go a long way to prove this. In short, as money becomes less available, our concern for it lessens, and the more enriched and meaningful our generation will be in the long run (hopefully). Evidence for this is shaky, but it exists; figures on volunteering across the generations suggests that we are more invested in helping others than previous generations, and crowd-funding services such as kickstarter help to transparently redistribute wealth to worthwhile causes without benefiting a cultural elite.

Enough of the macro, what about the micro?

For the time being graduates will still be forced to move back in with their parents, and many will suffer a trivialised existence typified by poverty, exclusion from the world at large and loneliness. Instead of feeling like failures however, those suffering must enact a personal change within themselves, they must practise acceptance and find purpose and fulfilment from within. To believe we will achieve happiness in the same way as our grandparents is to automatically fall short; “For the first time in modern memory, a whole generation might not prove wealthier than the one that preceded it.”

Instead, we must use our unprecedented exclusion from material wealth & stability to focus on spiritual and ethical growth (an opportunity our grandparents never had). In many ways, our suffering in the present is a sacrifice we make for the future. The ageing baby-boomers will no doubt keep a vice-tight grip on the mantle of society for as long as possible, but no fortune can buy an extended lifetime. Someday we will inherit the earth by pure virtue of succession, and when we do, it is vitally important that we adhere to a higher moral code, one not based on religion or wealth, but the general goodness and sustainable fair growth of mankind.

This all sounds perhaps a tad idealistic, but the issues highlighted in the various links above prove that the problem is real; the rich really are getting richer and the poor really are getting poorer, and all the while western society continues to grow not only exponentially, but unsustainably too. Maybe a bit of positive ideology is exactly what we need, not more statistics on how tomorrow will inevitably be worse than today.

‘I just didn’t understand what unemployment was, but then I saw the news, and they had this cool animation, now I get it..’


Happy (almost) valentines day!

Happy (almost) valentines day!

Props used in todays ‘baby steps’ shoot

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To shrink into nothing

How would I describe this sensation?


The compulsion to run, hide & miniaturise until there is nothing left. To shrink into a dot so tiny it cannot be seen, but not so small that I blink out of existence.


Faced with the world, in all it’s terrifying scale & overwhelming opportunity, I am struck by a primal fear, a self-perpetuating, steadily inflating sense of unease or alienation. How did I come to be here? How have I come so far? The photo-album of my memory does not seem to belong to me; sifting through it’s pages, (blond child, ugly maroon uniform, a lovely couple at the steps of Bodington hall) I feel like an impostor in my own life.


Over the years the protagonist of my story has been replaced by an antagonist, but none of the other characters have noticed. And they never will.


But I am tired of the act; this narrative is turning into a train wreck & it’s just about time to abandon ship. There are no more actors to replace me either, just an empty space, a tiny, miniature dot, right where Piers van Looy used to stand.

Three wise monkeys

see now evilhear no evilspeak no evil

Inspired by the Maxim ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’

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‘Baby Steps’ – January

January - Nature January - Nature January - Nature

These images (and those from the cute baby christmas update) are part of a year long project called ‘baby steps’. Each month will focus on a new theme & colour palette that reflects the time of year. The series will also document baby J’s growth and progress through the stages of babyhood. For January we chose nature and newness; this is the start of baby J’s story and shows her first tentative experience and interaction with the outside world.

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Official website launch! (+ advice for other web-newbies!)

Screen shot 2014-01-04 at 23.18.49


Over the past month or two, i’ve been struggling to wrap my head around the various intricacies of web design and hosting. Understanding code is like watching David Lynch films; you get the basic premise, and some bits almost make sense, but generally it’s just a dense confusing mess. Despite having a fair bit of practical hardware and software knowledge, the whole process turned out to be really arduous; I don’t understand C+ and my HTML skills leave a lot to be desired (That said major props to ye oldie Myspace for encouraging obsessive HTML customisation among its users!).

‘Internet stuff’, it turns out, is the proverbial ‘can of worms’ I wish I had never opened. After a bit of research however, I successfully narrowed down my options to:

1.) Learn to code, build a site from scratch, buy hosting and upload (Approx. time: 5+ years)
2.) Build a website with Adobe Muse, a web page toolkit for designers and people afraid of code (Approx. time: 1 month)
3.) Shell out 5 quid a month for, an idiot-proof browser based portfolio builder (Approx. time: 1 day)

Now the last thing I want to do is alienate the intelligent people, but option number 1 is about as realistic as Vladimir Putin on fishnet tights and attending a LGBT rally; it’s simply never going to happen. So after spending a few hours watching Muse tutorials, I downloaded the free trial and had a go. At first it was pretty confusing but the interface is simple and you can tell the software was designed with the usual Adobe ‘layer’ based graphic designer in mind. It lends itself towards vertical scrolling, flashy info-based websites, and does a great job at covering all creative bases and options (such as parallax scrolling, mobile/tablet formats & various widgets such as maps & slideshows).

Unfortunately, getting Muse to display images properly requires a lot of tweaking. The full-screen slideshow is about as dependable as a middle-class alcoholic on new years eve; nice to look at and fun to mess around with, but absolutely terrible at keeping resolutions. Whilst this is an incredibly useful program for those who are willing to master it, the promise of a responsive, bug free portfolio website requires greater skill and patience than I currently possess.

My last option,, was picked out of a number of similar online services (such as 4ormatcarbonmade and wordpress). Unlike its competitors, this site seemed to be fairly new and genuinely interested in providing a useful service to it’s customers. Many photographers I know personally use 4ormat for their online portfolios (all really nice, intuitive and blissfully simple!) but I can’t help but feel the three-tier pricing plan is fairly ridiculous and betrays a profit-centric business ethos. offers a single pro account and a one-time annual subscription that avoids artificial restrictions on service and does not pressure you into upgrading or buying add-ons (unlike the many arbitrary widgets and ‘web-bling’ offered by

Without delving into each and every feature, is absolutely fantastic for displaying visual work of any description. With the many well organised typefaces, colour schemes and layouts available it’s easy to give your site an unobtrusive style that is consistent with your content (this is the single most important thing for any portfolio!). You will never have full control or be able to create an entirely unique site, but all the important elements such as Search Engine Optimisation, meta-tags and password protected pages are all there. (It even has a helpful marketing to-do list built in with advice on topics such as google adwords and meta-tagging!).

So yeah, if you are thinking about putting together a site to show off your work, shop around and do lots of comparison, it’s easy to stumble across a site that offers everything you want, but there are many nearly identical services out there, so it pays to spend time making a decision. That said, if you do end up using, they have this referral scheme thing that gets you $10 off the price, just use any of the links on this page to take advantage of it!


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Club Juggling @ Circus Space!

Juggler: Luke Hallgarten

Filmed at Circus Space in London.

Music: Tearin’ it up – Gramatik

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Cute baby christmas update!


First time taking photo’s of small people! Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Depression (aka. The reset button)

the pit

Recently my life was not so much turned upside down as completely reset. Back to square one. Finished. It’s tempting to assign this to bad luck, but in truth my transition has been rather unique and totally predictable. It is the symptom of causality and circumstance. It is the contextual marriage (and subsequent divorce) of insular self and society.

In times of personal strife, we tend to reflect inwards upon our own inadequacies, and in doing so it’s easy to identify patterns that occur in our lives. I have low self esteem and find it difficult to form deep bonds with people, so relationships are, for me, a shortcut to happiness. They provide a social circle, a best friend, reassurance, validation. In short, they give me context and worth.

But love never lasts, and it is within this cruel truth that I have found my very own reset button.

Act 1
First year, Leeds uni. I meet S and start a relationship. We never really fall in love, but we stay together for six months anyway. In those months I befriend her flatmates and become furniture in their collective lives. Cracks start to form, I make mistakes and we brake-up. To these friends, who I had started to build a life around, my worth was predicated on the context of S’ relationship, without context, I had no worth and was subsequently dropped.


Act 2

I start going to circus skills sessions, become a member of the committee and meet R the social secretary.  We fall deeply in love and spend the next two years establishing a ‘power relationship’. Everything about my life is predicated on my involvement with R, she runs the society, I help, she makes friends, I make friends through association. Slowly but surely I build up a vivid life of friends, work and responsibility. For a while everything is great. Despite all this, I, once again, make a number of stupid mistakes and we brake up.

This time it’s different, not only do we finish, but I also finish my degree and (due to lack of funds and work) move back down south to live with my parents. I lose my responsibility as committee member, I lose my social circle, I lose work contacts and I lose independence. Most of all I lose context and with it, the self-worth I had slowly built up and learnt to rely upon.


Act 3

Now my life is reset. I am penniless, without close friends and ultimately divorced from my own reality. I see myself as I am; a crust that forms upon the surface of other peoples lives, waiting to be cleaned, waiting to build up a meagre existence elsewhere. Truly, I don’t blame this on the break-up, we had an amazing two years and I will always treasure those memories, but the process has cast brutal, cold light upon the intrinsically compromised nature of my life. The black dog of depression and anxiety has bestowed me with a number of relationships. It has, with a smile, wrapped the wound of self-hatred with a bandage of love, but the injury itself will never heal.

Like victims of trauma, drug addicts and fetishists, the guilt and shame of fulfilling our very own self-destructive prophecy only acts to reinforce these tendencies. After S I went looking not for love, but for context and worth (it is a happy coincidence that I found all three) but it is a dangerous thing to establish the temple of life upon the frozen lake of affection, for one day that lake will thaw, and your foundations will come crashing down around you.


After speaking about this with others, I was given a simple, yet unequivocally brutal quandary; ‘What do you want?’ – It is the quintessential dilemma for the lost and the hopeless. It is the tantalising question without an answer, it is the fantasmatic solution that dangles out of reach. I thought I had reached a resolution (“I want her back”) but I realise now the question is the answer, for I was not asking what I want, but why I want. I don’t want Rowan back, I want my life back, and the only way I’m going to get it is by myself.

The harshness of this solution has always been apparent to me, ever since I found escape from bullying in the love and adoration of another, ever since I learnt from the age of fourteen that nothing else matters as long as you have that connection with someone. But I am no longer a teenager, and adult life cannot be escaped. I now know that to be truly grounded, established, wanted and of worth to others, I must first be of worth to myself. There is no other way.

And so I start building, from scratch, a new temple. One with solid foundations, one which will stand the test of time. Embracing this is difficult as it is a daunting task, there are few jobs that require my skills, and it will probably be a long time before I achieve the same level of independence and involvement I had previously, but I can no longer afford to think of this as an end; it is a beginning, and it’s about time I got started!

NOTE: I enjoy writing and it can be extremely cathartic translating emotions into words, so i’m sorry if this post is a bit melancholy or self-involved, but i’m not writing for you, i’m writing for me. So ner.

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