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 January 2012

It's off to Brooklyn

It's off! To Brooklyn! My submission for The Sketchbook Project. I suffered from the 'blank canvas syndrome' for a long time, but when I had finally decided what to do with my theme ("the grey side of life") I did enjoy it a lot, experimenting with different techniques and just making silly portraits. Instead of using the ultrathin paper of the sketchbook I used paper made from recycled elephant poo (!!), which I then hand bound together using a saddle stitch. I'm not super pleased with it and next year I'm going to do everything differently  (of course :-), but it definitely got the creative juices flowing. And I guess that's what it's all about. Here are some sneak peeks..

The sketchbooks will go on an exhibition tour in April, starting in New York. Then my sketchbook will travel, along with a staggering 5000 other books, to Chicago, Portland OR, Vancouver, LA, San Fransisco, Boston, Portland ME, Toronto, Philly, Atlanta, Austin, Melbourne and last stop London.

29 January 2012

I was on a boat!

Last night I went to see Wild Flag in Bristol, on a boat! I think Thekla has easily made it into my top 3 list of most favorite venues on the planet. Their programming is ace, the stage in the boat's belly is dark and industrial but in no sense claustrophobic, you can have a fag on the deck, and I believe there's another cafe/bar in the bridge of the ship. 

Anyways, Wild Flag is the latest incarnation of two members from legendary riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney: guitar player/singer Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss. They are two of the coolest people alive ∨

But I was possibly even more impressed by supporting band Peggy Sue. This indiefolky formation from Brighton has been on my radar for a while and I was thrilled to see them live. The band consists of two girls on guitar and vocals, and a quirky drummer. They have the most beautiful voices, goosebumps evoking harmonies, but it's all quiet dark and haunting. Think PJ Harvey x (early) Cat Power  x The Breeders x 2 Neko Cases. So good.

Peggy Sue - Song & Dance. Download it here.

Peggy Sue - Watchman. Download it here.

25 January 2012

Live jazz life drawing

I hadn't been to a life drawing session for ages, so I was absolutely determined on going to one yesterday evening. But at the very last minute plans altered and I ended up going for a very spontaneous shandy at the pub, followed by a lovely meal and topped off with some excellent live jazz. Best Tuesday night in a long time! Since I had my sketchbook with me I decided to do some doodling while enjoying the music. So in the end I even got my life drawing fix! The double bass, hands and lots of movements provided some different challenges than a nude model..

On were a piano trio called Eyes Shut Tight. As you can see in my drawings (click to enlarge) these were fairly young lads. The piano player spent most of the gig on his socks; his Nike Airs neatly placed under the piano. Funnily enough, one of the tunes I enjoyed most was a cover (or should I say adaption) of System of a Down.

Despite the grubbiness of the venue (though that adds to the charm really) they have some fantastic jazz musicians coming to the upstairs function room at Dempsey's in Cardiff. It's really worth taking a look at the Jazz at Dempsey's website (which is just as unassuming as the location) to see what's on. And if your hair isn't grey you're sure to receive an extra warm welcome!

23 January 2012

Book Arts Fayre

Another date to save: 25 February, the 6th Book Arts Fayre at the Ffotogallery in Penarth, Cardiff!

"Ffotogallery's Book Arts Fayre's celebrate the ‘artist book’ in all its forms, from hand printed zines to hardback monographs, giving visitors the chance to explore and engage in self-publishing and a wealth of contemporary book arts practice from Wales and beyond".

I'll be selling bookplates and hopefully a new zine, and I'll be playing records on my newly acquired vintage portable record player!

18 January 2012


The Britons love carpet in public places. I admit, it does add a homey feel to the place (pub, train, cinema, casino, TOILET!). But to most people from the continent the idea is just digusting. Think of all the dirt and filth that gets absorbed by it! Now I've come up with a theory that the Brits have the most outrageous, busy carpet designs that so any kind of stain will blend right in, whether it's red wine, blood, ale, pub gub, dog shit or puke. So actually these are very clever designs! Like, can you spot the popcorn on this one? ∨

Would you spot a squashed chip, or spilled macaroni carbonara on this one? ∨

About two years ago I started taking pictures of carpets in pubs and other public places. So far I've managed to collect about 75 different carpets. But the last few months I've been adding fewer and fewer, for the simple reason that I've photographed all the carpets that grace the floors of my regulars. So now it's time to venture into unknown territory...

That's why I'm organizing a PUB CARPET CRAWL! I'm planning to make this a bi-monthly thing, each time exploring different parts of Cardiff (or perhaps in the future other UK towns and cities) for yet undiscovered carpets. Everybody's welcome, the more people to have beers and to critique carpets with the merrier! And at the end of the year we shall vote and give out an award for the best pub carpet.  

In order to cover as much pubs/carpets as possible I've come up with a few 'rules':
  • obviously, no carpet = no drinks.
  • no drinks in pubs whose carpet has already been added to the collection
  • only one drink in each pub
  • only half pints, unless you want the up-close carpet experience!
This first crawl will cover the famous/notorious Canton Mile. There are about 15 pubs on that stretch of Cowbridge Road East, and with only the Ivor Davies' carpet already in the collection we'll have plenty to choose from!

Facebook event page here. Please come and join!

As a tease a couple of highlights from the collection; view them all here.

12 January 2012

The thing with lists

I regret not having made a "Best of 2011" list. I'm a pretty obsessive list maker: shopping lists, to do lists, checklists, playlists... And I especially love end-of-the-year lists. What better way to reflect on the past year than to put it in lists? It raises all sorts of issues. Like what the hell have I been up to these last 12 months? With whom? Have my tastes shifted? What is it exactly I enjoy in this song or movie or book? Oh remember that gig?! Wait a minute, was that this year, or last year? What were my highlights and what were my lows? Etc

I know exactly the reason for the absence of my musical Best-of list. I just find it too difficult to put one song above the other, to put them in a hierarchy. I guess for me thinking about the list is more important that the actual countdown. But I do want to force upon you the songs from 2011 that I enjoyed the most (even though it's way too late - we're almost two weeks into the new year (yikes!)), so I'm just going to do it by presenting you a few in quiet random categories.

In the category Best Retro Indie Pop...
Cults - Bumper. Download it here.
Love the girl group sound. With a guy. 

In the category Best Fuzzy Guitar...
Male Bonding - Bones. Download it here.
Runner ups: The Drums, Wavves, WU LYF and Wild Flag (though not as fuzzy).

In the category Best Electronic...
Little Dragon - Ritual Union. Download it here.
This song was a revelation to me it was.

In the category Best Foreign Language...
Chucha Santamaria Y Usted - Fiebre Tropical. Download it here.
From Oakland of all places..

In the category Best British Alternative Rapper...
Ghostpoet - Cash and Carry Me Home. Download it here.
Overall Dels impressed me more with his album GOB, but then again his best singles were released in 2010. The fact that Ghostpoet's show was one of my most enjoyable gigs of the year puts him in favor here.

In the category Most Overlooked Artist...
Theophilus London - Why Even Try (feat. Sara Quin) (from Tegan and Sara) (RAC Remix). Download it here.
I've been madly in love with this guy from Brooklyn ever since his early mix tapes, that were full of The Smiths references. Every single tune he's released since then has been absolute quality. 

In the category Best Cover...
Spoek Mathambo - Control (Joy Division).
This was a tough one. I listend to Tennis' cover of Brenda Lee's Is It True? an awful lot. But it's the video for Control that has made me tip over to the South African.

9 January 2012

Marbelous Wood

Things are slowly starting to come together at the new studio. The butt ugly carpet has been ripped out and my roomie and I have painted our space. Big question now is what to do with the bare wooden floor?? While looking online for some inspiration and (low budget) solutions I came across this beautiful floor by Pernille Snedker Hansen, a Danish designer. She uses a combination of an old Japanese technique called suminagashi and a Western style marbling technique to create a wood grain-like effect in amazing colors.

Watch Pernille at work:

Definitely no low budget solution, but certainly inspirational...

4 January 2012

Fossilized dog turds and chicken noodle masks

I lied when I wrote earlier that EVERYTHING was closed for three days in Copenhagen over Christmas. On boxing day the National Museum opened its doors again. We visited the section on Prehistoric Denmark, where we enjoyed Viking runic stones, coffins containing preserved human remains and clothes, and lurs, ancient Nordic wind instruments. But the high light for me were neatly displayed fossilized dog turds. 9000 years old!

Of course I couldn't resist paying a quick visit to the 'ethnographical collection', in my quest for more information about my masks. They had lots of masks on display, but alas... I did make a few quick sketches though. I especially liked this mask, as it appeared to be a chicken mask made from chopped up noodles!

2 January 2012

Xmas in CPH

Happy New Year!! I hope your holidays were happy. Mine certainly were! In an attempt to escape the usual Christmas frenzy my beau and I spent Christmas in Copenhagen. Well we got what we bargained for! Because EVERYTHING shut down for 3 days. It was wonderful. 

Luckily we did mangage to do a little bit of shopping on the 23rd. We went to the Latin Quarter for some vintage shopping. Endless rows of Sarah Lund sweaters! (We watched the first episode of The Killing - Forbrydelsen in Danish - in Copenhagen and got absolutely hooked.)

The Danes are fervent pipe smokers. A great chance for my boyfriend - a pipe smoker himself - to stock up on some exotic tobacco ∨

Even Tivoli, the charming amusement park in the city centre closed on the 24th and 25th, and closed early on the 23rd. A shame because I would have loved to wander around the park a little longer, with some gløgg (the Danish version of mulled wine) in my hand. I didn't even get to go on the 80 meter high carousel!

But I was happy to sacrifice that ride on the carousel in favor of some Smørrebrød! It's the Danish delicacy of rye bread with i.a. cheese, shrimp, caviar, egg, red cabbage and (not in the picture) various types of pickled herring. Mmmm!! ∨

The rest of the days we spent on long walks exploring different parts of Copenhagen (and on emptying our hotel minibar..) ∨

And on doing some window shopping. Odd displays here and there.. ∨


I knew the little mermaid was going to be a bit of a disappointment, but it was a nice sunny day, perfect for a stroll along the waterfront. And besides, what else were we gonna do?! ∨