“If I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring…”: Meet the Culture Section Editors! (Part 1)

Illustrator: Emma Tolhurst

The new editorial team has been appointed for the summer vac and Michaelmas term and we are all excited to get to know The Oxford Blue writing community as we work with you over the next few months. 

By way of introduction, we thought we’d give you some insight into what we really love by asking the question ‘If we were stranded on a desert island, what 10 pieces of culture would we bring?’. 

To join The Oxford Blue writing community join the Facebook culture writer’s group here. We are always open to hearing your pitches so get in touch with any of us with your ideas!

GAIA CLARK NEVOLA – Senior Ed 

Illustrator: Emma Tolhurst

St Catherine’s College, English

Books 

I’d definitely bring Portrait of the artist as a young man because I think there’s something so perfect and heartbreaking about the way it’s written that I don’t think I could really get bored of it. To cheer me up, I’d also bring Angela Carter’s Wise Children for its stark but beautiful portrayal of theatre, family and sisters. I think I’d take Where the wild things are too though, in the hope that I’d pick up some tips on how to do the desert island thing!

Music 

I always listen to Paolo Conte’s I primi tempi with my dad so I reckon I’d take it with me in case I felt lonely but also because I really enjoy that jazzy Italian 70s sound. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly would have to come with me to any desert island, perhaps along with Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising that I’ve become completely obsessed with over lockdown. 

Films 

Well, I really love Taika Watiti’s sense of humour so I’d have to bring the grim but hilarious What we do in the shadows. I’d also have to pick this bizarre 60s Czech film called Daisies in the hope that if I was stranded on an island with it I might finally come closer to understanding the crazy surrealist chunks. It’s about the adventures of two girls called Marie as they navigate growing up and new independence and I really remember watching it with a really good friend when we were 15 and thinking it was probably the coolest thing in the world.

Theatre and Performance 

As far as shows go, I think it would be Matthew Bourne’s Swan lake (it’s the one in Billy Elliot!) which I guess kind of counts as music, visual art and dance. My sister got some last-minute student tickets last year and it was pretty much the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Favourite play is super hard but I’ve just finished re-reading the incredible Angels in America which made me reminisce over the brilliant student production of it in Hillary – I can’t wait to be back! 

TV 

Up to a few weeks ago, I could easily say that this would be Atlanta for its insane pace and writing that switches between unsettling, tragic and hilarious in seconds. Now I’m kind of torn though because I’m completely in love with Michaela Coel’s new BBC drama-comedy I may destroy you. I’m pretty heartbroken that it’s about to finish! 

TOMMASO CRESTANI – Books and Literature Editor 

Illustrator: Emma Tolhurst

Mansfield, Classics and Oriental Studies

Books 

Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog is definitely one of my favourites, the way it’s clinically written and all the philosophy in it make it a proper masterpiece, maybe I’d have lots of time to think about it when alone in the middle of the sea! Haruki Murakami’s trilogy 1Q84 is also an incredible read, the writer creating such an intricate and logical universe that would definitely be nice to experience when stranded on a desert island! I’d also bring a collection of the Arabian Nights, it will finally be time to get through all of them. Madeleine Miller’s Circe would be such a good companion, reading how someone else has dealt with the loneliness characterising a desert island (hopefully my existence there will not be as sad though).

Films 

I would definitely bring Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite; although it’s not a light watch, it’ll definitely remind me how much I don’t miss capitalism lol. Despite the very dramatic finale, it is so entertaining to see how the two families become increasingly interrelated throughout the course of the film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie will also be a good pick, it will be helpful to dream about how beautiful Paris is! Amélie’s gift of seeing the beauty in small things, even when they are very peculiar, would be inspiring and motivating to make my lonely experience on the island more interesting!

Visual Art 

Anything by Matisse would definitely bring lots of joy, making me feel more at ease with all the nature surrounding me. It will also remind me how powerful can human love be, urging me to find the best way to get out of the island and see my family! Yves Klein’s immateriality and power of his monochromatic blue paintings will bring me peace and strength when I am trying to relax from the tiring life on the island. 

TV 

POSE, for sure! This is such a well-made series and it taught me so much about queer history! It’s so emotional, funny and witty and the costumes are always insane! 

GEORGIE DETTMER – Theatre Editor

Illustrator: Emma Tolhurst

Trinity College, English

Books

I’m halfway through reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi at the moment so I’d definitely want to bring that along. It feels really comforting and I love the world that is created within the intimate coffee shop. I’d also want to bring Simon Stephen’s Sea Wall with me. It is a beautiful one-person play about loss and love- fast-paced, terrifying, and it breaks your heart yet the humour is there throughout. 

Music

For something to cheer me up it would have to be Caetano Veloso’s Nine Out Of Ten. Then for something to calm me down either Twain’s Dear Mexico (Thank You for Joyce) or anything by Tom Rosenthal- my favourite is Don’t Die Curious. Might not be fun for a desert island though.

Theatre and Performance

I don’t know how much more virtual theatre I can cope with but, if this was a magical island I could transport theatre to, I’d ask for The Deep Blue Sea with Helen McCrory, Yerma with Billie Piper and Kneehigh’s production of Tristan and Yseult. All of these performances were spectacular and there is something about Kneehigh’s work which is always so uplifting and joyful!

Films

I recently saw Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory and I really loved it, especially the colours and the flashbacks into the past of the protagonist Salvador. The whitewashed walls and the vibrant apartments of Madrid have stayed with me, and tracing the relationship between mother and son throughout the film was a difficult but beautiful watch. 

TV 

Lovesick 100%. It never fails to make me feel better and you so easily begin to connect with and invest in the characters. More recently, however, I’d choose to take Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You because I already know I need to rewatch it to appreciate the depth of the storytelling and performances. If not either of those, give me any David Tennant Doctor Who episode and I’ll be chuffed. 

KATIE BUNNEY – Music Editor 

Illustrator: Emma Tolhurst

St Catherine’s College, Music

Books

The Kite Runner is my go-to favourite book – it is beautifully written and never fails to make me cry. However, if I was stranded on a desert island, I might want to bring something a bit more happy! I also love Le Petit Prince – it is one of those books that I can read again and again, and take something new from it each time.

Music

My favourite album at the moment is probably Nubya Garcia’s Nubya 5ive – I can’t stop listening to her! I am a saxophonist, so Garcia has become a bit of an inspiration for me. I love that her tracks blend a load of different styles: funk, reggae, dubstep, Afrofuturism… At the same time, her solos evolve organically and tell a story. 

Films

I would definitely bring Yesterday with me – mainly for The Beatles soundtrack! I might also have to bring Lion. This is a heart-breaking and heart-warming story… and is also based on true events! It also never fails to make me cry (which, as you can probably tell, is something I seem to prize!)

Theatre and Performance

I am not sure if this is allowed, but I would ideally bring the entirety of the Minack theatre with me! There is nothing better than watching a play with the Cornish coast as the backdrop. The performance that has stuck with me the most is watching Great Expectations there, with the sun setting and a real-life storm enhancing the action!

TV

If I were stranded on a desert island, I would have to spend it with Kerry and Kurtan from BBC Three’s This Country. This is honestly THE most hilarious show I have ever watched. It truly sums up life in rural south-west England (where I live!) and always cures any homesickness I might be feeling.

Illustrations by Emma Tolhurst.