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!

29 February 2012

Jazz Gallery Cardiff

In collaboration with studio mate Daniel Hamilton I've created a logo and poster for the soon to launch Jazz Gallery Cardiff.  

The Jazz Gallery is "a new jazz club that has been set up by musicians, for musicians, to help expand the ever-growing Cardiff jazz scene. Based at A Shot in the Dark café, we are providing a platform for musicians in and around South Wales to perform their original music to a new audience. In association with contemporary music group SN Jazz and in addition to weekly jazz gigs and a monthly jam session, we are offering an opportunity for local artists to exhibit their work on the walls of this venue".

So stay tuned for an exhibition at A Shot in the Dark soon! Join their Facebook group to stay informed on upcoming gigs and exhibitions.

27 February 2012

Can Your Monkey Do The Dog

Who would have thought a book fair could be so much fun! Over 60 lovely artists sold their (handmade) books and zines at the Ffotogallery in Penarth last Saturday. Lots of people came down, the place was heaving all day! I played records on my portable record player (the Fidelity), which went down really well I think. And I had the pleasure of ending the already brilliant day with a packed dance floor at the afterparty at 10ft Tall!

Especially for this fair I made sort of mini-zine titled Can Your Monkey Do The Dog, based on the song by Rufus Thomas. Besides monkeys dancing The Dog there are monkeys Footstompin', Vogueing  and Shaking A Tail Feather.

I've got a few left that I'm selling through my website (click here), where you can pay  the  £2/€2,50 (that includes postage!) using PayPal or your creditcard. Or simply send me message and we'll sort it out. Download the soundtrack below (right click/CTRL+click and "save as") and get your hips shaking too!

Rufus Thomas - Can Your Monkey Do The Dog. Download it here.

Jackie Lee - The Duck. Download it here.

Dee Dee Sharp - Do The Bird. Download it here.

The Five Du-Tones - Shake A Tail Feather. Download it here.

Madonna - Vogue. Download it here.

The Flares - Footstompin'. Download it here.

15 February 2012

My Dansette ♥

So about two weeks ago I bought a vintage portable record player on eBay: a Fidelity HF45, built in 1971. It's a great little machine; very reliable, running smoothly, recently serviced and fitted with a new earthed plug (and cleaned with an awful smelling sort of formaldehyde!). I was very pleased with my purchase when it arrived, but it wasn't until long before I got this yearning feeling for a bigger, better, louder and more beautiful example (my Fidelity is very boringly grey). The search on eBay was on again!

I spotted a beautiful hot pink/salmon colored Dansette Conquest Auto. Dansettes were a very popular brand of portable record players in the UK in the 50s and 60s, famous for their stylish designs and colors. There were many different models, and the Conquest was somewhat more advanced because it has control knobs for bass and treble and two speakers.

This beauty was 'pick up only', which was good because it usually means the price is lower. It was located about a 2-hour drive away, so not too ridiculous. I don't have a car, but when I showed it to a friend of mine she loved it so much she kindly offered me a ride - I am eternally grateful and forever indebted to her!! As it would be a bit of a pain to pick it up I didn't bid too much. It made the bidding process absolutely nerve wrecking, because I really wanted this gorgeous object to be mine! And it was!! 

The Dansette turned out to be with an elderly couple in the petite village of Kinver. They  had bought it in the early 60s and it had been in their loft for about 40 years! Oh they were so adorable and so disappointed we didn't stay for tea and biscuits. I'm ashamed to say we went straight off to MacDonalds. Then again, in our defense: we were on a proper road trip!

I am absolutely smitten with my Dansette. I can't stop looking at it! Cosmetically it's in excellent condition, just some slight wear due to its age. After these pictures were taken I've painstakingly cleaned it with a toothbrush and some toothpaste (!!), so it's no longer a dirty shade of salmon.

 ∧ Look at that grill!

As you might expect after being stored in a loft for 40 years it is in need of a little bit of TLC. Still I'm amazed at how well it operates, clearly this has been made in an age where things were made to last. It has a valve amplifier, which produces a beautiful sound and a characteristic hum. It even has a certain smell, that lovingly reminds me of my vintage Quad amplifier (another piece of quality British hi-fi equipment). It has an auto changer, so you can stack multiple records and it will automatically play them one after the other. It's all so nifty! ∨

There are some slight crackling noises when you turn the knobs, and the volume is a bit temperamental. And it runs a tad slow, especially on 33⅓. I've been scouring the net for advice on how to service  a record player and to whether or not replace the stylus, and found a wealth of information on the UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum. Probably the grease has gone all gooey, so one of these days I'm going to open it up and carefully clean it and grease the parts that need greasing. Oh yes the geek inside me has been unleashed!

10 February 2012

Pre-order 'What I Wore Today'!

You can now pre-order the book What I Wore Today - Doodle Yourself into a Style Icon by illustrator Gemma Correll on Amazon!

The book is based on Gemma's What I Wore Today blog and Flickr group, where people upload their drawings of, well, what they wore that day. The book is a sketchbook, journal, manual on how to draw and fashion guide all in one, that will let you "scribble, sketch and doodle your way through a year's worth of your best outfits, or biggest fashion mistakes". To provide some inspiration and examples they've picked a couple of drawings from the (5000+ items!) Flickr group, and one of those is me in what I call my 'straight laced' outfit!!

 I now realize I look rather chubby in this drawing hahaha.

6 February 2012

Pub Carpet Crawl #1 - The Lowdown

Wow, the first Pub Carpet Crawl has really been a big success!! Despite the dreadful weather over 20 people turned up to brave the pubs on the notorious Canton Mile in Cardiff. It has been a pleasure for the eyes in many ways, as you will see for yourself in the pictures below. It was also successful in the sense that nobody got the 'up-close carpet experience', we only lost one man along the way and nobody got into a fight. We've even been pleasantly surprised by some of the pubs, which we previously never dared to enter!

Meeting point was The Westgate and we were off to a good start with its classic carpet

∧ After our first pint we duly switched to half pints.
I'm afraid I haven't been able to enforce this rule the entire night... 

Next up was The Kings Castle. I thought this pub didn't have a carpet, but after a quick look around we discovered an absolutely horrid example in one of the back corners!

∧ A fair attempt to color coordinate the upholstery!

The Foresters looks shabby on the outside, and I feared what it would be like inside. A friend who joined us there told me he had entered it on Google maps and the first review that came up read: "Some yob tried to hit me with a bottle by smashing it through the window behind me while I was standing outside having a fag". The review continues with "This place is a hangout for losers! The sort of place where people go after they have given up on life and just need somewhere to go and cause trouble and find something to do - RAGING ALCOHOLIC 6 Jul 2009"

∧ Entering the shabby BAR.

However we don't agree with Raging Alcoholic, we've all enjoyed it and many said it was their favorite pub of the crawl! The carpet looked alright in the dimly lit dancing area, but the photograph shows the harsh truth:


There was a disco happening and the DJ played some good music, I can recall songs by The Specials and The Undertones. But then a woman started singing karaoke and it was time for us to move onto the next one ∨.

At The Admiral Napier the disco was in full swing! I had troubles getting a good picture of the carpet because there were so many people standing on it! ∨

After this The Ivor Davies was a bit of a downer. For others it proved to be a silent haven, literally as there was no music! It's a massive pub and it was virtually empty, except for some grey doves. At least it was cheap (£2.10 for a pint of Brains!). I had photographed their carpet before, but this areal view provides us with a whole new perspective on the pattern! It's much more elaborate than it appears at close range. ∨

∧ Grey dove calling it a night.

By this time I urgently needed a wee, and I was glad I did because upstairs there was a very interesting carpet! It's almost like op art!! ∨

At first The Canton didn't appear to have a carpet, but much to our relief there was one in the backroom... ∨

∧ Patternfest!!

...along with a pool table! We played a game (boys vs girls), and I'm proud to say the boys almost wrecked the table and we girls only lost by an inch.

∧ All hands on deck for the staff at The Canton, the clientele has just quintupled!

By the time we got to The Goscombe I was enjoying myself so much I kind of forgot the purpose of this pub crawl. I did take a photo of these two ladies dancing but I failed to take a picture of the carpet!!!!!

I also totally missed The Corporation's carpet!! Luckily it is somewhat visible in a shot one of my friends took... ∨

We had hoped to make it to a ninth pub, but by 1.00 all the pubs on Cowbridge Road East had closed. We all dispersed into the night, and some of us went for a late night snack at Indo Cymru. This curry place was another pleasant surprise that the night. It was absolutely rammed, so the eight of us had to squeeze into one of the booths (I love booths). The food was good too.

∧ Or could it have been a case of 'Hunger makes raw beans taste sweet'?

And best of all: they had carpet!!! What a night!! Stay tuned for Pub Carpet Crawl #2 in April. 

3 February 2012

Jazz for the Jet Set

To celebrate the arrival of the portable record player I bought on eBay last week, I went down to Kelly Records this afternoon to treat myself to some vinyl (as if I hadn't spent enough money..).  I think  I passed a good hour in the shop, chatting to the owner who told me some wonderful stories of the time he went to Detroit in the early sixties, when he - aged ± 14 - went to visit his pen pal there. Lucky for him his pen pal  shared his love for soul music and the family took him to see the likes of Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and The Velvelettes. Imagine that! 

I got offered  a cup of coffee, which came as a godsend because I was having a serious caffeine craving. I enjoyed this cup of instant  cappucino (which tasted heavenly at that moment) while I listed to a soca disco album (hilarious, but not quite worth 5 quid) and an album by Millie (of My Boy Lollipop fame) & Her Boyfriends. I considered buying the Wee Papa Girl Rappers album I once lost after a DJ gig, but settled for this marvelous album:

I've developed a soft spot for the vibraphone, and Dave Pike is a master on this instrument, though I later found out he only plays marimba on this record (same sort of thing but with wooden bars). Herbie Hancock plays organ, so in all it's one groovy record! Besides, who could resits a cover like this, not to mention the title?!

Dave Pike - When I'm Gone. Download it here.

Dave Pike - Sweet Tater Pie. Download it here