Welcome to The Cuckoo Jar, a blog by Nanna Koekoek - illustrator, music- and flea market junkie.
Head over to my website to take a look at my portfolio. And don't hesitate to get in touch!

31 October 2011

Big Feet

I spent this weekend answering a call for submissions by Pictoplasma - the world's leading festival of contemporary character design. They called for views on Bigfoot/Yeti: "one of the last mysterious entities without a clear depiction in our culture of visual overdose and instant google-search gratification". Great thing is that some of the entries will be presented at an exhibition in Paris in December! I'm not into character design big time, so I do feel out of my league here. But even though I know my chances are slim, I thought I'd give it a shot and I don't care what happens with it because I had a ball doing it anyway!

∧ So Bigfoot is somewhere between man and ape. And bear?
And Chriet Titulaer??

I imagined Bigfoot being very self-conscious about his big, ugly feet. A bit like myself, I  despise my feet. When bare-footed in public I tend to scrunch up my toes, as to hide them..

∧ Or maybe he's very vain when it comes to his big feet and he spends many hours pedicuring them.

∧ Or maybe worse: he has a bit of a foot fetish!

∧ Then I thought about how difficult it would be for him to do yoga... 


∧ I also played around using different materials. This one is done with pastels. I thought I had some fake fur lying around which I could use, but alas. I wondered what else I could use to create a hairy texture... So I emptied my hairbrush and tried felting it (I even looked online into the iffy world of felting human hair..) and shaping it using some wax and an iron (a tip I picked up from a felting-human-hair-forum). Not unexpectedly this one turned out pretty grosse! ∨

In the end I concluded Bigfoot is most likely to be a very shy creature; that's why we don't see him that often. But luckily for him he can sneak off quickly thanks to his big feet! ∨

27 October 2011

The lipphone

Look what's gracing my desk as of today!!

Finally hunted one down for £3.99 at a charity shop. So happy!

24 October 2011

For the Graca Da Silva's

Two of my good friends are moving to Bali next week (guess what my next holiday destination is going to be!) and we had a farewell party in their honor last Friday *snif*. The couple had asked me to supply them with some music for the night, which I happily did. She is Indonesian, he is half English/half Portuguese and they both have traveled the world extensively, which is reflected in their musical tastes.

Of course I played Dara Paspita for her (read about this Indonesian girl group here), and for him I selected some oldskool hip hop (as requested):

Eric B. and Rakim - I Know You Got Soul. MC/DJ combo hailing from Long Island, New York. Download it here.

and some contemporary dance music from Senegal:

Alif (Liberate Attack of the Feminist Infantry) - Douta Mbaye. All female hip hop group from Dakar. Download it here. Buy it from out|here Records.

and something Portuguese:

Batida - Yumbala. Lisbon's DJ Mpula mixes "the high speed rhythms of kuduro with sweet melodic guitar samples of '60s Angolan semba music" with some fine Angolan MCs on top. Download it here. Buy it from Ghetto Bassquake.

(and Survivor's Eye of the Tiger so there could be a push up contest, which for some strange reason has become a tradition at our parties...)

21 October 2011

Another day at the office

I'm knee deep in embroidering and sewing for a project for children's museum Villa Zebra in Rotterdam. A few years back I made, together with Geeske de Graaff, life sized body parts from fabric for the exhibition Completely broken at Villa Zebra. The kids could put the body parts together with poppers to create new human beings, ANY WAY they wanted to. The cool thing about the body parts was that there was something 'wrong' with all  of them: one is cross eyed, another one has pimples, another braces. Some limbs have wounds or are broken, there's a beer-belly, a leg with varix, a foot with six toes, and so on.

Now the dolls are going to be part of a semi-permanent exhibition at the museum. Therefore they first needed a good wash because they were dirty. Very dirty.


Pretty disgusting, innit?!  
Some of the dolls need to be repaired. Especially the felt we used became a bit rough after being handled by hundreds if not thousands of little hands.

Villa Zebra also commissioned some new body parts, which I'm creating with my friend Renée Reijnders. This baby in distress will be added to the collection, along with a dog with 5 legs, a trunk with an 'outie' bellybutton, the arm of a very clumsy painter and more. Grand opening will be at the end of November!


16 October 2011


My eyes have scanned an enormous amount of secondhand junk over the (extended) weekend. Sadly it was mostly just junk and I've come home with just a few items..

On Thursday I went to an auction for charity at a convent. That was to say, I went to the viewing. Because apart from an needlework portrait from the 1980s (God knows how it ended up with the nuns!) there was nothing of interest to me. The portrait was a bit like this (less Madonnaesque but I think you get my drift):

Imagine this in needlework! It truly was a masterpiece, but I dreaded the thought of having to sit through the whole auction. I even skipped the homemade cupcakes and tea, and went straight for dinner in town instead.

Today I went to my usual car boot sale. I did manage to scoop up some great 7" singles for just 20p a piece. I bought ten, including songs by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, The Smiths and The Specials. And the vendor recommended me a cover of Soul Man by Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) and Lou Reed. Of course Lou Reed's version is completely soulless, which is pretty hilarious.

Saturday I went to some charity shops on the other side of town. Fresh junk! Maybe the fact that my friend and I were chatting so much explains my meager score, but I only bought one item, spending a whopping 99p: a record by Girlschool. Girlschool is the best British all-female metal band from the 1980s. Well the best (female) metal band ever, period. These girls were clearly respected for their music and virtuoso guitar riffs and not for their looks!

I've got their first three albums and the one I found yesterday is their fourth, Play Dirty (1983). Like all the metal from the mid 80s their sound is more stadium like (and more mid-tempo) on this one. Commercially it wasn't such a success as their previous albums, but the songs are still good and catchy. Personally I prefer their earlier work as well, so here are two of their hits from way back in the days. I suggest you download them (and get all their other hits), put them on your iPod, listen to them while you're on your bike and I promise you'll get to where you need to be in a jiffy!

Girlschool - C'mon Let's Go. Download it here.

Girlschool - Demolition Boys. Download it here.

11 October 2011

The Awesome Dr. Seuss

“We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
- Dr. Seuss

This is exactly why I'm in love with Dr. Seuss. And my love for him has grown even more after seeing a documentary on him on Network Awesome. As a kid I have read The Cat in the Hat and the Fox in Sox, and I've loved his drawings and stories, but I never knew anything about Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss' real name). To be honest I didn't even know what he looked like! I was relieved he really did look a bit like a doctor (at least later in life - with a grey beard and all).

It was so interesting to learn more about the man who came up with all those BIZARRE creatures and rhymes. And boy, did he have an amazing studio - on the top of a hill, with a stunning view (quite the opposite from Roald Dahl's humble shack!). When he was about to die (at the age of 87) they wheeled his bed into his studio and that's where he took his last breath. What a way for an writer/illustrator to go.

He was also a very wise man, as proven by this quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
I've embedded the Network Awesome docu here, but make sure to pay their website a visit because Network Awesome truly is awesome. It collects the greatest stuff that's out there on YouTube and if necessary they 'glue' it together so you can sit back and relax and watch it in one go, without having to click on the next clip every five minutes. They have an awesome collection of old tv commercials, art and music documentaries, obscure movies and cartoons and tv series that will fill your heart with nostalgia (Jem and the Holograms, 21 Jump Street, Pingu anyone?).

10 October 2011

The Hut

I recently came across a story about Roald Dahl's writing hut: the shack in the back of his garden in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where he wrote all his children's books. The family has started a fundraising campaign to move The Hut from the garden to the Roald Dahl Museum (also in Great Missenden) to prevent it from becoming a total ruin. It will be taken apart brick by brick and rebuild and then decorated it in exactly same way as it was. Great!! But. The costs: half a million pounds. Needless to say this caused somewhat of a stir...

Roald Dahl had The Hut built in the late 1950s. He was a man of discipline and routine: he went there everyday for 30 years. Nobody was allowed in! He sat in an old wing chair, that had belonged to his mother, with a writing table on his lap. It rested on a cardboard tube to tilt is slightly. According to Quentin Blake he had a sleeping bag to keep his legs warm in winter. At 12.30 he had Norwegian prawns and half a lettuce for lunch and had a Kit Kat for dessert. I don't know why, but I was touched by the fact that he liked to have a Kit Kat every single day.

On the table he kept all sorts of stuff, among which his own hip bone and a ball he made of tin foil candy bar wrappers . Genius or what?!

Will we ever be able to 'room raid' The Hut?? I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens to it (well, or if you're a little bit more pro-active and got lots of cash lying around you can find more information about the Save The Hut-campaign here)..

6 October 2011

Gems from the East and the West

I'm a big fan of girl groups; they make up a substantial amount of my record collection. So you might imagine the thrill when I came across the cd Let's A Go-Go! Singapore and Southeast Asian Pop Scene 1964-69 at Earwax in Brooklyn. Which is a nice little store by the way. They don't have a huge selection, but what they have is all good (lots of reissues that are dirt cheap). The 31 tracks on the cd feature not only girl groups, but also boy bands and solo female vocalists. It's a rather nice compilation of pop songs, rock 'n roll, beat, garage and surf in several languages. These are two of my favorite songs:

Betty Chung - Bang Bang (yes that's a Nancy Sinatra cover). Download it here.

I couldn't find out more about Betty Chung than she was (is??) Chinese and also an actress and played in a Bruce Lee movie.

Dara Puspita - A Go-Go. Download it here.

Dara Puspita were one of the more successful girl groups in Indonesia in the 1960s. What made them really stand out at that time was that they played all their music themselves. Their live shows are supposed to be really wild and quite a sensation! And all this in an oppressive regime, where you could be jailed for playing rock 'n roll. There is a greatest hits album out on the Sublime Frequencies label, which I desperately want to get a hold of.

I also bought the double LP West Indies Funk 2. I have no means of letting you hear anything off this record, but just to give you a taste here's a track of volume 3: a steel drum version of Hold On I'm Coming!! Also highly on my wish list as you will understand.

5 October 2011

A blank canvas

It's not the first time I'm staring at a blank canvas. It's always a bit intimidating. Especially when you want it to be really good. But then again, the idea is to use this blog more like a sketchbook. To collect images and stories and music that I like, and to to show some stuff that doesn't really fit on my website. Like work in progress and sketches. So why not start by putting up some of the sketches I did in my inimini sketchbook while I was in New York last month. Best holiday I had in a long time: visiting family (my 93-year-old grandmother!), camping next to a remote ocean beach and the big city ♥

∧ On the plane I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (and a sappy film about that surfer girl whose arm got bitten off by a shark).

∧ On day two my glow-in-the-dark legs were already covered with mosquito bites.

∧ My uncle George hosts poetry readings at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association on Long Island. We came along one evening and listened to a.o. Geraldine Green and M.L. Liebler.

∧ We went on a little road trip in grandma's car to Montauk, the most eastern tip of Long Island. There were some impressive waves thanks to hurricane Irene. Too impressive for me to go in, but it was a lot of fun watching the more experienced surfers!

∧ We also went camping on beautiful Fire Island. We were greeted by billions of mosquitoes (it was right after the hurricane, so it was hot and humid = ideal mosquito conditions). We needed to upgrade our repellent as soon as was possible!!

∧ Meanwhile other creatures were preying on our food...

We spent the last few days in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. Very interesting neighborhood!
And some interesting looks there...

∧ We got to see some live music there (please note I was slightly intoxicated when drawing this. Plus it was dark).

∧ On our last day it rained. The whole day. Relentlessly. Everything seemed to fail: the Moma was closed, the American Folk Art museum had moved and once arrived there it turned out its collection was reduced to just a few quilts. We went to the Natural History Museum, which was fun but by this point my feet were so wet because I was wearing my suede flats. We fled into a movie theater were we ended up at a screening of a remake of Strawdogs. There was a Q&A afterwards with the director who came up with a lot of BS to defend this pointless remake. Apparently one of the actors also starred in True Blood and there was a hardcore fan there. She liked the movie. As I said, everything failed that day, even my drawing skills...