Amelia’s Magazine | Transition Towns Conference 2010: An Overview

James-Shedden_Crowd-Hands-Up
Illustration by James Shedden.

Back in mid June I attended my third Transition Towns Conference down in sunny Devon at Seal Hayne, this an impressive looking agricultural school that has been gradually sold off and now houses a special needs education college. This year’s conference was attended by a record amount of people, cialis 40mg all involved or interested in the Transition Towns concept, sildenafil which is a grassroots movement whereby local communities convene to find ways to become more resilient and self-sufficient in the face of peak oil and climate change.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It can be hard to reconcile the need to attend important events with a desire to cut out the carbon emissions that flying entails, but some Transitioners had so I got to meet loads of interesting people from all over the world. In fact, during the breakfast queue on the very first day I got chatting to someone who is part of the movement in the US, and found that she was encountering all sorts of problems due to the fact that one *entrepeneurial* character has already patented the term Transition (insert any state here) for himself. This is what happens when a grassroots movements with no particular code of conduct becomes successful in our current world. Telling, perhaps, of our innate human nature, and our desire for ownership of a good idea. Not only that but she told me how her nascent Transition organisation has managed to secure all its funding without really putting any working relationships in place at the grassroots level, and all the problems that has entailed. Sometimes I do wonder if we will ever learn…

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Rob Hopkins hands out name tags.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Future We Want_GarethAHopkins
Future We Want by Gareth A Hopkins.

I will hold my hands up and admit that I am not actively involved in a Transition Town myself, but I’ve known founding members Rob Hopkins and Ben Brangwyn for many years now and have always felt I can serve a useful role in bringing the concept of Transition Towns to the attention of others through my writing and photographs. Why am I not involved myself? Probably a combination of factors. People tend to get involved in Transition Towns at a certain stage in their lives. Hence it is a predominantly middle aged movement, although this year I was pleased to note a positive trend towards many younger participants, glimpsed amidst the sea of greying heads.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

And I don’t feel hugely settled in my life. I therefore don’t feel a strong affiliation to my very close locality, and there is no group in Bethnal Green that I know of, which would mean I would have to start one up myself. Which brings me to my next problem – I have a serious lack of spare time because I currently feel it’s more important to expose the root causes of our problems through direct action against the system with Climate Camp. Something which is always done in conjunction with efforts to build sustainable community. Indeed many people within Climate Camp are also actively involved with a Transition Town. By attending the Transition Towns conference I not only hope to spread ideas beyond the confines of those who can afford to make it to Devon for a weekend, but I also hope I can act as a bridge between different aspects of a much wider movement to build a better world.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

The weekend was taken up with many different forms of workshops and interactive lectures. We scribbled lots of thoughts on paper, talked in small and in large groups about all kinds of thorny issues, went for a wild food walk, climbed to the top of a little knoll high above the college to talk about the changes in landscape, provided our own entertainment… and watched the World Cup en masse. We were extremely lucky with the weather, sitting outside for lunch and enjoying fabulous views over Newton Abbot.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
James-Shedden_Nature-Man
Wild food walk by James Shedden.

Rob Hopkins introduced us to his latest idea, which combines his original 12 steps to transition as outlined in The Transition Handbook with the concept of ‘generative grammar’ behind A Pattern Language. This was the seminal work of some progressive American architects in the 1970s, and has since become a bible of permaculturists. A few years of learning down the line the initial 12 step process seems overly simplistic and so it was intriguing to hear Rob’s new ideas alongside the opportunity to feed our own ideas into his work. I can see how this new trajectory makes sense but I hope he will take into account the layperson’s inability to digest thick books filled with lots of complicated roman numerals.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
My contribution to Rob’s new ideas.

As always some of the most important conversations were had in the gaps between – chatting to my table mates whilst eating a delicious locally sourced vegan lunch, snatching a sneaky chat with old friends in the corridor or whilst propping up the bar. Such is the way at most such events – and Transition Town conferences are always planned with lots of open space in mind.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

2010 feels like a time of introspection for the movement. Throughout my conversations with people what struck me time and again was the importance of solid foundations and a network of successful relationships. Many Transition Towns have reached a critical point where they are struggling to hold their local group together, either because of a division in ideology, or because a committed few are getting bogged down with all the admin and are consequently too stressed to create a happy working environment for newcomers to enter – it’s a problem we are also experiencing within Climate Camp, and something which afflicts many organisations that have reached a certain stage in their lifecycle. Because people who get involved in social change tend to be passionate types they want to make change happen as quickly as possible by pushing forward with exciting new plans, often before a firm base has been built. And especially because it can be tedious to set up a solid core when all you really want to do is eat yummy local food. Food is always a main focus for Transition Towners. Admin less so. You can see why really, can’t you?

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

For this reason meetings need to be as pleasurable an experience as possible. I attended a wonderful facilitation workshop given by Matthew Herbert of the Rhizome Collective but it was sadly under-attended, probably due to the diversity of other offerings on offer at the same time. Climate Camp holds large scale consensus meetings extraordinarily well thanks to the kind of information spread by Rhizome, and all Transitioners struggling with group dynamics should attend such workshops. This is the kind of invaluable information you really can’t learn from a book – so it’s important to learn by doing. Fortunately Rhizome are available to come and speak to local grassroots groups everywhere across the UK.

Transition Conference 2010 Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

For me, the undoubted highlight of the whole conference was hearing from Nicole Foss – also known as Stoneleigh on her website the Automatic Earth – who lectured us in the most accessible way possible about the perilous state of our financial global economy. I am certainly no mastermind when it comes to understanding our current capitalist system, but Nicole somehow made the scariness of our disastrous potential future sound understandable and even inspiring, which was no mean feat. She was so wonderful I have decided to dedicate a whole blog to her ideas.

Stoneleigh
Nicole Foss, AKA Stoneleigh.

Transition Conference 2010 Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

It was telling, I thought, that at the end of Stoneleigh’s talk people asked how they could protect their own investments with little concern for those far less well off than themselves. “Are you trying to sustain the way you live or live sustainably?” asked another Transitioner. This is an increasingly important question for the Transition Towns movement, which continues to attract a predominantly white middle class demographic. How and what does Transition mean for those less able to commit their time, energy or resources? This and many other questions are currently being mulled over by individuals and groups up and down the country, something I find truly inspiring.

Natasha-Thompson-Transition-Towns-Illustration_landscape
Illustration by Natasha Thompson.

One of the best things about the Transition Towns movement is its ability to attract people who are already doing something wonderful within the field of sustainability in their local area. It is increasingly providing a sexy central hub for a growing network of dedicated individuals, and this aspect needs to be better recognised. Who isn’t already involved in growing their own food in some form of community setting when they join a Transition Town food group, for instance? Long may this wonderful movement continue to grow and energise communities everywhere. Find out how to get involved with Transition Towns by visiting their website here.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
If we can't imagine a positive future_GarethAHopkins
If We Can’t Imagine a Postive Future by Gareth A Hopkins.

Categories ,Automatic Earth, ,Ben Brangwyn, ,Climate Camp, ,Facilitation, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,James Shedden, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Nicole Foss, ,Rhizome, ,Rob Hopkins, ,Stoneleigh, ,transition towns

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Amelia’s Magazine | Transition Towns Conference 2010: The Automatic Earth Stoneleigh Lecture on the Financial Crisis.

Camberwell Degree sprouting 56
I’ve already blogged about my absolute favourite illustrators from the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration Degree Show Save Our Souls, information pills but because there was so much good stuff to see here is a compilation of my Best of the Rest: and apologies to any absolute wonders that somehow slipped from my gaze as I hurried around the exhibition.

Andrew Thorpe
I liked Andrew Thorpe‘s strange targets and squirrels etched onto wood.

Camberwell degree show2010Andrewthorpe

Jamie Peter Hall
Jamie Peter Hall‘s Germanscape used household paint on wood and his work has an appealing real fine art feel to it.

Jamie Peter Hall

Myrto Williams
For some reason I found this work from Myrto Williams extremely unsettling. But the combination of hyperreal style and unusual subject matter certainly drew me in.

Camberwell Degree2010 Myrto Williams

Nina Malysheva
This clever collaged paperwork to illustrate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Nina Malysheva had great appeal.

Nina Malysheva Mariner
Nina Malysheva

Paddy Jones
Paddy Jones takes cue from comic books, here Andrew James Jones, order Modern Toss and ilk to produce fun characters, often with an accompanying storyline. I liked his large wooden cutouts.

Camberwell degree show2010Paddy Jones

Emily Brown
Does some very nice woodcut animals, but other than that I can tell you no more because she barely has an online presence. In fact this image was all I could find.

EMILY-BROWN

Imogen Kirk-Reynolds
Imogen Kirk-Reynolds played around with found imagery and type.

Imogen kirk reynolds

Rochu Chiu
A nice bit of nonsensical fun from Rochu Chiu, who had stuck a load of postcards spilling out of a fake letterbox onto the floor. Illustration or installation? You decide.

Camberwell Degree2010rochuchiu

Christie Corbally
I liked some of Christie Corbally‘s very trendy crystal influenced printed textile designs, but again, no website and no way to find more of her work. Even her link on the Save Our Souls website doesn’t work.

Camberwell degree show2010ChristieCorbally

Pete Willis
I liked Pete Willis‘s strange family portrait in coloured pencils and the similar scratchy pencil style of Feronia Parker-Thomas, who was reviewed in Matt Bramford’s earlier blog.

Pete Willis

Finally, I was most intrigued by the work of Sprouting 56… which appears to be a collective of “co-facilitators of edible related projects” that blurs into the Transition Town Brixton and Peckham food groups and takes into account a bit of guerilla gardening… quite what it has to do with illustration or any other artistic discipline I’m not sure, and will need further investigation. But it’s great to see artists tackling these kind of projects as part of their degree work. Very exciting stuff.
I’ve already blogged about my absolute favourite illustrators from the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration Degree Show Save Our Souls, adiposity but because there was so much good stuff to see here is a compilation of my Best of the Rest: and apologies to any absolute wonders that somehow slipped from my gaze as I hurried around the exhibition.

Andrew Thorpe
I liked Andrew Thorpe‘s strange targets and squirrels etched onto wood.

Camberwell degree show2010Andrewthorpe

Jamie Peter Hall
Jamie Peter Hall‘s Germanscape used household paint on wood. His work has an appealing real fine art feel to it.

Jamie Peter Hall

Myrto Williams
For some reason I found this work from Myrto Williams extremely unsettling. But the combination of hyperreal style and unusual subject matter certainly drew me in.

Camberwell Degree2010 Myrto Williams

Nina Malysheva
This clever collaged paperwork to illustrate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Nina Malysheva had great appeal.

Nina Malysheva Mariner
Nina Malysheva

Paddy Jones
Paddy Jones takes cue from comic books, Andrew James Jones, Modern Toss and ilk to produce fun characters, often with an accompanying storyline. I liked his large wooden cutouts.

Camberwell degree show2010Paddy Jones

Emily Brown
Does some very nice woodcut animals, but other than that I can tell you no more because she barely has an online presence. In fact this image was all I could find.

EMILY-BROWN

Imogen Kirk-Reynolds
Imogen Kirk-Reynolds played around with found imagery and type.

Imogen kirk reynolds

Rochu Chiu
A nice bit of nonsensical fun from Rochu Chiu, who had stuck a load of postcards spilling out of a fake letterbox onto the floor. Illustration or installation? You decide.

Camberwell Degree2010rochuchiu

Christie Corbally
I liked some of Christie Corbally‘s very trendy crystal influenced printed textile designs, but again, no website and no way to find more of her work. Even her link on the Save Our Souls website doesn’t work.

Camberwell degree show2010ChristieCorbally

Pete Willis
I liked Pete Willis‘s strange family portrait in coloured pencils and the similar scratchy pencil style of Feronia Parker-Thomas, who was reviewed in Matt Bramford’s earlier blog.

Pete Willis

Finally, I was most intrigued by the work of Sprouting 56… which appears to be a collective of “co-facilitators of edible related projects” that blurs into the Transition Town Brixton and Peckham food groups and takes into account a bit of guerilla gardening… quite what it has to do with illustration or any other artistic discipline I’m not sure, and will need further investigation. But it’s great to see artists tackling these kind of projects as part of their degree work. Very exciting stuff. With apologies for the shite photograph below but it’s all I have.

Camberwell Degree sprouting 56

I’ve already blogged about my absolute favourite illustrators from the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration Degree Show Save Our Souls, unhealthy but because there was so much good stuff to see here is a compilation of my Best of the Rest: and apologies to any absolute wonders that somehow slipped from my gaze as I hurried around the exhibition.

Andrew Thorpe
I liked Andrew Thorpe‘s strange targets and squirrels etched onto wood.

Camberwell degree show2010Andrewthorpe

Jamie Peter Hall
Jamie Peter Hall‘s Germanscape used household paint on wood. His work has an appealing real fine art feel to it.

Jamie Peter Hall

Myrto Williams
For some reason I found this work from Myrto Williams extremely unsettling. But the combination of hyperreal style and unusual subject matter certainly drew me in.

Camberwell Degree2010 Myrto Williams

Nina Malysheva
This clever collaged paperwork to illustrate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Nina Malysheva had great appeal.

Nina Malysheva Mariner
Nina Malysheva

Paddy Jones
Paddy Jones takes cue from comic books, drug Andrew James Jones, Modern Toss and ilk to produce fun characters, often with an accompanying storyline. I liked his large wooden cutouts.

Camberwell degree show2010Paddy Jones

Emily Brown
Does some very nice woodcut animals, but other than that I can tell you no more because she barely has an online presence. In fact this image was all I could find.

EMILY-BROWN

Imogen Kirk-Reynolds
Imogen Kirk-Reynolds played around with found imagery and type.

Imogen kirk reynolds

Rochu Chiu
A nice bit of nonsensical fun from Rochu Chiu, who had stuck a load of postcards spilling out of a fake letterbox onto the floor. Illustration or installation? You decide.

Camberwell Degree2010rochuchiu

Christie Corbally
I liked some of Christie Corbally‘s very trendy crystal influenced printed textile designs, but again, no website and no way to find more of her work. Even her link on the Save Our Souls website doesn’t work.

Camberwell degree show2010ChristieCorbally

Pete Willis
I liked Pete Willis‘s strange family portrait in coloured pencils and the similar scratchy pencil style of Feronia Parker-Thomas, who was reviewed in Matt Bramford’s earlier blog.

Pete Willis

On a bit of a tangent, I was most intrigued by the work of Sprouting 56… which appears to be a collective of “co-facilitators of edible related projects” that blurs into the Transition Town Brixton and Peckham food groups and takes into account a bit of guerilla gardening… quite what it has to do with illustration or any other artistic discipline I’m not sure, and will need further investigation. But it’s great to see artists tackling these kind of projects as part of their degree work. Very exciting stuff. With apologies for the shite photograph below but it’s all I have.

Camberwell Degree sprouting 56

Finally, I have to say that I continue to be massively surprised by the lack of online engagement from the majority of graduating illustrators. I suppose what irks me most is that I actually lectured most of these particular illustrators when I visited Camberwell during their second year, and I distinctly remember devoting a large part of my lecture to the importance of online networking. I suppose that what I take from this is that unless I actually sit down and spend significant amounts of time helping illustrators (or other artists and designers) to set up their online presence, then it simply goes straight over their heads. But then, that’s completely down to whether the art colleges will employ me to do so. I don’t think they can afford not to. Tutors, if you’re reading this, you know where to find me….
I’ve already blogged about my absolute favourite illustrators from the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration Degree Show Save Our Souls, visit this site but because there was so much good stuff to see here is a compilation of my Best of the Rest: and apologies to any absolute wonders that somehow slipped from my gaze as I hurried around the exhibition.

Andrew Thorpe
I liked Andrew Thorpe‘s strange targets and squirrels etched onto wood.

Camberwell degree show2010Andrewthorpe

Jamie Peter Hall
Jamie Peter Hall‘s Germanscape used household paint on wood. His work has an appealing real fine art feel to it.

Jamie Peter Hall

Myrto Williams
For some reason I found this work from Myrto Williams extremely unsettling. But the combination of hyperreal style and unusual subject matter certainly drew me in.

Camberwell Degree2010 Myrto Williams

Nina Malysheva
This clever collaged paperwork to illustrate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Nina Malysheva had great appeal.

Nina Malysheva Mariner
Nina Malysheva

Paddy Jones
Paddy Jones takes cue from comic books, side effects Andrew James Jones, Modern Toss and ilk to produce fun characters, often with an accompanying storyline. I liked his large wooden cutouts.

Camberwell degree show2010Paddy Jones

Emily Brown
Does some very nice woodcut animals, but other than that I can tell you no more because she barely has an online presence. In fact this image was all I could find.

EMILY-BROWN

Imogen Kirk-Reynolds
Imogen Kirk-Reynolds played around with found imagery and type.

Imogen kirk reynolds

Rochu Chiu
A nice bit of nonsensical fun from Rochu Chiu, who had stuck a load of postcards spilling out of a fake letterbox onto the floor. Illustration or installation? You decide.

Camberwell Degree2010rochuchiu

Christie Corbally
I liked some of Christie Corbally‘s very trendy crystal influenced printed textile designs, but again, no website and no way to find more of her work. Even her link on the Save Our Souls website doesn’t work.

Camberwell degree show2010ChristieCorbally

Pete Willis
I liked Pete Willis‘s strange family portrait in coloured pencils and the similar scratchy pencil style of Feronia Parker-Thomas, who was reviewed in Matt Bramford’s earlier blog.

Pete Willis

On a bit of a tangent, I was most intrigued by the work of Sprouting 56… which appears to be a collective of “co-facilitators of edible related projects” that blurs into the Transition Town Brixton and Peckham food groups and takes into account a bit of guerilla gardening… quite what it has to do with illustration or any other artistic discipline I’m not sure, and will need further investigation. But it’s great to see artists tackling these kind of projects as part of their degree work. Very exciting stuff. With apologies for the shite photograph below but it’s all I have.

Camberwell Degree sprouting 56

Finally, I have to say that I continue to be massively surprised by the lack of online engagement from the majority of graduating illustrators. I suppose what irks me most is that I actually lectured most of these particular illustrators when I visited Camberwell during their second year, and I distinctly remember devoting a large part of my lecture to the importance of online networking – and especially the importance of being on Twitter. I’ve yet to find one of these illustrators on there.

I suppose that what I take from this is that unless I actually sit down and spend significant amounts of time helping illustrators (or other artists and designers) to set up their online presence, then it simply goes straight over their heads. But then, that’s completely down to whether the art colleges will employ me to do so. I don’t think they can afford not to. Tutors, if you’re reading this, you know where to find me….
I’ve already blogged about my absolute favourite illustrators from the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration Degree Show Save Our Souls, viagra approved but because there was so much good stuff to see here is a compilation of my Best of the Rest: and apologies to any absolute wonders that somehow slipped from my gaze as I hurried around the exhibition.

Andrew Thorpe
I liked Andrew Thorpe‘s strange targets and squirrels etched onto wood.

Camberwell degree show2010Andrewthorpe

Jamie Peter Hall
Jamie Peter Hall‘s Germanscape used household paint on wood. His work has an appealing real fine art feel to it.

Jamie Peter Hall

Myrto Williams
For some reason I found this work from Myrto Williams extremely unsettling. But the combination of hyperreal style and unusual subject matter certainly drew me in.

Camberwell Degree2010 Myrto Williams

Nina Malysheva
This clever collaged paperwork to illustrate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Nina Malysheva had great appeal.

Nina Malysheva Mariner
Nina Malysheva

Paddy Jones
Paddy Jones takes cue from comic books, price Andrew James Jones, Modern Toss and ilk to produce fun characters, often with an accompanying storyline. I liked his large wooden cutouts.

Camberwell degree show2010Paddy Jones

Emily Brown
Does some very nice woodcut animals, but other than that I can tell you no more because she barely has an online presence. In fact this image was all I could find.

EMILY-BROWN

Imogen Kirk-Reynolds
Imogen Kirk-Reynolds played around with found imagery and type.

Imogen kirk reynolds

Rochu Chiu
A nice bit of nonsensical fun from Rochu Chiu, who had stuck a load of postcards spilling out of a fake letterbox onto the floor. Illustration or installation? You decide.

Camberwell Degree2010rochuchiu

Christie Corbally
I liked some of Christie Corbally‘s very trendy crystal influenced printed textile designs, but again, no website and no way to find more of her work. Even her link on the Save Our Souls website doesn’t work.

Camberwell degree show2010ChristieCorbally

Pete Willis
I liked Pete Willis‘s strange family portrait in coloured pencils and the similar scratchy pencil style of Feronia Parker-Thomas, who was reviewed in Matt Bramford’s earlier blog.

Pete Willis

On a bit of a tangent, I was most intrigued by the work of Sprouting 56… which appears to be a collective of “co-facilitators of edible related projects” that blurs into the Transition Town Brixton and Peckham food groups and takes into account a bit of guerilla gardening… quite what it has to do with illustration or any other artistic discipline I’m not sure, and will need further investigation. But it’s great to see artists tackling these kind of projects as part of their degree work. Very exciting stuff. With apologies for the shite photograph below but it’s all I have.

Camberwell Degree sprouting 56

Finally, I have to say that I continue to be massively surprised by the lack of online engagement from the majority of graduating illustrators. I suppose what irks me most is that I actually lectured most of these particular illustrators when I visited Camberwell during their second year, and I distinctly remember devoting a large part of my lecture to the importance of online networking – and especially the importance of being on Twitter. I’ve yet to find one of these illustrators proactively on there.

I suppose that what I take from this is that unless I actually sit down and spend significant amounts of time helping illustrators (or other artists and designers) to set up their online presence, then it simply goes straight over their heads. But then, that’s completely down to whether the art colleges will employ me to do so. I don’t think they can afford not to. Tutors, if you’re reading this, you know where to find me….
Camberwell degree show2010 Miriam Elgon
Illustration by Miriam Elgon.

Because I don’t always share the same taste with the wonderful Matt Bramford, cheapest here’s a quick double blog review of the Camberwell College of Arts Illustration degree show, Save Our Souls, which I popped down to in the now defunct Nicholls and Clarke head office in Shoreditch a few weeks ago. I wrongly imagined I would be able to whip around it super fast, but as Matt has already said in his round up, there was so much to see I was soon running late for my next appointment….

Here, then, are my favourites:

Soju Tanaka
As soon as I entered the exhibition I was drawn towards the delicate artwork of Soju Tanaka, which featured lots of strange little creatures cavorting around in trees, or climbing on clouds. Her website is full of slightly blander digital artwork – she should stick to this style IMO. I hope Soju is a she…

Camberwell degree show2010SojuTanaka
Camberwell Degree2010 Soju Tanaka

Polly Philp
In a darkened room behind curtains Polly Philp showed her colour saturated film The Caretaker – a right old romp through all things currently trendy. A mystical looking gentleman with a long beard walks through a cave of stalactites. Encounters all sorts of ethnic and occult objects. Smokes a skull pipe. Finds an eyeball in his mouth. Gazes into a candlelit mirror. Eats an egg. I’ve no idea what the hell it all meant but it was so much fun I watched it three times. It’s a shame then that Polly’s presence on the web is near to zero. The website on her postcard doesn’t work, her blog is set to private (like, duh) and her flickr account tells me very little, apart from she is quite odd. As if I didn’t know that already. Maaaaan, it just makes me so cross. Get online lady! Start promoting your work. Because it’s very good!

Camberwell Degree2010 Polly Philp
Camberwell Degree2010polly philp

Colin Stewart
Former Amelia’s Magazine contributor Luke Best apparently teaches at Camberwell College and his cut and paste painted style has had a marked influence on some of his proteges – particularly Siobhan Sullivan and Colin Stewart, the latter of whom has done some wonderful work for this very website – you can see his pictures of Patch William in my blog about Glastonbury this year.

Colin Stewart

Miriam Elgon
Miriam Elgon has produced some of the most individual work I’ve seen from any recent illustrator – her scratchy overlays creating a rich narrative tapestry that calls to mind the work of impressionist painters. But she has no website. Why oh why oh why?

Camberwell degree show2010Miriam Elgon
Camberwell degree show2010Miriam Elgon

Ella Plevin
Ella Plevin was one of my very favourite Camberwell illustration degree graduates. Her gorgeous combinations of pastel colour-filled line drawing and photocopied montages look deceptively simple and work brilliantly. Plus she has a fabulous and comprehensive website up and running, as all graduates should. Go take a look…

Camberwell Degree2010 Ella Plevin
Ella Plevin Vitalism
Vitalism by Ella Plevin.

Harriet Wakeling
Harriet Wakeling showed a beautiful shell trailer attached to a bike. Some of the work in this show was really pushing the boundaries of what defines illustration and this was mos def one of them. I’m not sure this has anything to do with illustration, but I love all things bike-inspired, so can I have one please?

Camberwell degree show2010HarrietWakeling

Kai Chan
Kai Chan contributed one of her colourful intricate illustrations to the last ever print issue of Amelia’s Magazine, and it’s good to see her very distinct style has developed into something really wonderful. Here’s a detail from a long banner she had wrapped around one of the pillars.

2010Kaichan

Andy Ainger
Rounding a corner at the bottom of the stairs I encountered the work of Andy Ainger, who makes strange paper mache characters. Here The Band (a collaboration with Sean Fitzpatrick) was a collection of nearly life-size (in a munchkin vein) models in bright primary colours. A lot of fun.

Andy Ainger

Oscar Bolton Green
Despite a glaring error in the spelling of Oscar Bolton Green‘s website on the exhibition tag which meant I had to hunt him down via the Save Our Souls website despite taking thorough notes *wrings hands in despair* I loved Oscar explorations of the different types of bird beak – he’s a natural for graphic children’s book design. Lovely stuff.

Bird Beak Book oscar bolton green
Bird Beak Book oscar bolton green

Yana Elkassova
Yana Elkassova is one for all those fans of old Ladybird books – a clear inspiration on this extremely talented illustrator who mixes retro hyperealism with a dash of darkness. She also had some wonderful custom made Russian dolls on show that you can view over on Matt’s blog post. And a beautiful website to boot.

Camberwell Degree2010YanaElkassova
Detail from Yana Elkassova’s work.

Jess Stokes
The lovely Jessica Stokes was a very able editorial intern at Amelia’s Magazine who produced some wonderful articles for us, and since then she has completed her degree, the main body of which centres around the most wonderful intricate architectural line work. She also specialises in some fabulous oddball portraiture.

jess stokes
Jessica Stokes

I’ll be rounding up the best of the rest in my next blog post so stay tuned…

For the launch of Amelia Gregory’s (Editor: Amelia’s Magazine) wonderful illustration anthology in which illustrators illustrated the range of alternative energy sources. The artists were asked to illustrate the walls of Concrete Hermit. Two of the participants Liv and Jess have subsequently formed an interesting project called Pencil Chit Chat in which their conversations happen entirely through their drawings. Culminating in an exhibition soon to occur at the Front Room in Cambridge. Liv and Jess will each have a side of the room in which to draw their conversations live. Part of the remit of the project is that in real life Liv and Jess have barely met and the illustrations arrive in the post.

Liv:It was at the drawing on the walls day at Concrete Hermit back in December. But I don’t think we even had an extensive chat at all. We were getting into the scribble zones. I was really impressed with Jess’ wall. It looked so bold and vibrant.

Jess: I remember Liv commented on my good use of type and I watched her slowly throughout the day and thought “wow”

How did you become to be involved in Amelia’s Anthology?

Jess: I’d already done some stuff for Amelia and thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get involved in.

Liv: My local toon is intrinsically involved in environmental policies and it has positively rubbed onto me. I feel strongly about 4×4 vehicles. I have a pencil. I can draw stink lines.

Explain Pencil Chit Chat please…

Jess: I had the idea for a while and was just waiting for the right person to come along. I thought Liv’s type was different enough in style to mine but still had hand rendered qualities which helps fuse the project together.

Liv: It was Jess’ idea. I was bowled over and really excited by her email asking me to take part and be the other shoe to walk along a meandering little journey into scribbledom.

Where do you see Pencil Chit Chat developing?

Liv: Into print and to keep going. The whole idea of the Chit Chat is personal work but not self-indulgent. Maybe other illustrators could do the same. It’s like the Slow food movement, doctor pigeon post, back to the old writing desk days of yore.

Jess: Really I see it as a creative outlet where I can experiment and discover. I get many projects where people want a illustration which looks like a previous one. This is a chance for me to explore new techniques and avenues. Where do I see Pencil Chit Chat developing…….where it wants to really. Possibly I’d like a better website, but it have to be idiot proof for me and liv! Me and Liv where thinking we’d published the first years illustrations in a book by Christmas.

What are your plans?

Liv: Make a wee book, possibly in time for Crimbletime. Make up more words and infiltrate them into society. I’d like to see it passed onto others designers. Illustrators possibly sometimes feel like doodle hermits cooped up in their sheds or ships.

How did you become involved in front room?

Liv: This was also through Jess. As you can tell she is the brainchild of the operation- an extremely prolific and hardworking dude she is.

Jess: I came across there website whilst browsing on the internet. I got in touch! Originally I was going to do a solo exhibition. But I thought it be funnier and better with Liv.

How will the exhibition unfold? Will you take over the gallery walls again as at Concrete Hermit?

Jess: Pretty much! There going to be two different conversations unfolding, so we are both working all the time. “busy bees”

Liv: We will have two starting points i.e. two conversations will be underway, and we will swap over when one has finished their reply. It will be different I’m sure.

What is it that interests you about type, particularly hand rendered typography?

Liv: It’s really cathartic to draw letters and take your time over something that people do everyday, scribbling a note on a napkin or by the side of a crossword. It’s pure communication and you can be witty or stupid. I like like illustrations that educate you too. I was alwys pouring over my encyclopaedia when I wes a younger.

Jess I like the expression and extra meaning you can give to a word when its hand rendered type. I have always done it really it’s just natural.

What is your relationship between text and the illustration or is there no separation between the two?

Liv: Definitely the educational slant and informing an audience directly. I’d be more than happy to make versions in different languages, as that is a downside to hand rendered type if one doesn’t understand English. Maybe I should go and research in Japan..
I feel letterforms make my work look better! It’s an extra graphic detail, but it also has substance.

Jess: I see it as all part of my work. Sometimes the type can give extra meaning to the illustration

How did you develop as an illustrator?

Jess: I always really enjoyed drawing and being creative and it just seemed a natural progression for me. I like working to a brief also which is something illustrators seem to do often.

Liv: I decided it was the path for me when I realized it was in between fine art and graphic design. I didn’t want to be either of those. Illustration is for the people (as is Comic Sans- that’s a font for the people, but that’s another story) as it bridges gaps between understanding and informing one of a text or an idea, rather than alienating and putting something on a pedestal.

Favourite Illustrators?

Jess: Recently Cristina Guitian is doing brilliant stuff, and Adam Hayes. I really like the big shows that Le Gun put on. I saw there one at Pick Me Up I thought it was ace.

Liv: Old cookery books- the kitsch photography is joyous. Ren and Stimpy and other fifties-esque cartoons. Dirty edges and bits you get out of photocopiers, collaging Victorian style, Blists Hill museum, music pumping into my earlugs- plenty of textures and bleeps, Books books and more books. The music video ‘The Tain’.

In your interview in the Anthology your (Jess) use of Lightbox is mentioned, what and how does this work?

Liv: I hope this isn’t some new software everyone is in on. It’s a tracing cube with a switch and electricity, powered by a lemon battery used on the old spice ships to help sailors navigate in the lower decks. I think the Lumiere brothers invented it.

Jess: It’s a errrrrrrrr..(this is hard). Right!

It’s a box which you can draw on to copy the images underneath. So I draw all my roughs first, to get the alignments and proportions and then trace the images in color.

What were your thoughts about your respective technologies?

Jess: Why isn’t being used!

Liv: The sea serpent, The Anaconda- what a beast. It stays tethered to the seabed and gathers the power of the waves in its rubber body. A fantastical piece of engineering I want to see in our high seas.

For the launch of Amelia Gregory’s (Editor: Amelia’s Magazine) wonderful illustration anthology in which illustrators illustrated the range of alternative energy sources. The artists were asked to illustrate the walls of Concrete Hermit. Two of the participants Liv and Jess have subsequently formed an interesting project called Pencil Chit Chat in which their conversations happen entirely through their drawings. Culminating in an exhibition soon to occur at the Front Room in Cambridge. Liv and Jess will each have a side of the room in which to draw their conversations live. Part of the remit of the project is that in real life Liv and Jess have barely met and the illustrations arrive in the post.

Liv:It was at the drawing on the walls day at Concrete Hermit back in December. But I don’t think we even had an extensive chat at all. We were getting into the scribble zones. I was really impressed with Jess’ wall. It looked so bold and vibrant.

Jess: I remember Liv commented on my good use of type and I watched her slowly throughout the day and thought “wow”

How did you become to be involved in Amelia’s Anthology?

Jess: I’d already done some stuff for Amelia and thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get involved in.

Liv: My local toon is intrinsically involved in environmental policies and it has positively rubbed onto me. I feel strongly about 4×4 vehicles. I have a pencil. I can draw stink lines.

Explain Pencil Chit Chat please…

Jess: I had the idea for a while and was just waiting for the right person to come along. I thought Liv’s type was different enough in style to mine but still had hand rendered qualities which helps fuse the project together.

Liv: It was Jess’ idea. I was bowled over and really excited by her email asking me to take part and be the other shoe to walk along a meandering little journey into scribbledom.

Where do you see Pencil Chit Chat developing?

Liv: Into print and to keep going. The whole idea of the Chit Chat is personal work but not self-indulgent. Maybe other illustrators could do the same. It’s like the Slow food movement, illness pigeon post, back to the old writing desk days of yore.

Jess: Really I see it as a creative outlet where I can experiment and discover. I get many projects where people want a illustration which looks like a previous one. This is a chance for me to explore new techniques and avenues. Where do I see Pencil Chit Chat developing…….where it wants to really. Possibly I’d like a better website, but it have to be idiot proof for me and liv! Me and Liv where thinking we’d published the first years illustrations in a book by Christmas.

What are your plans?

Liv: Make a wee book, possibly in time for Crimbletime. Make up more words and infiltrate them into society. I’d like to see it passed onto others designers. Illustrators possibly sometimes feel like doodle hermits cooped up in their sheds or ships.

How did you become involved in front room?

Liv: This was also through Jess. As you can tell she is the brainchild of the operation- an extremely prolific and hardworking dude she is.

Jess: I came across there website whilst browsing on the internet. I got in touch! Originally I was going to do a solo exhibition. But I thought it be funnier and better with Liv.

How will the exhibition unfold? Will you take over the gallery walls again as at Concrete Hermit?

Jess: Pretty much! There going to be two different conversations unfolding, so we are both working all the time. “busy bees”

Liv: We will have two starting points i.e. two conversations will be underway, and we will swap over when one has finished their reply. It will be different I’m sure.

What is it that interests you about type, particularly hand rendered typography?

Liv: It’s really cathartic to draw letters and take your time over something that people do everyday, scribbling a note on a napkin or by the side of a crossword. It’s pure communication and you can be witty or stupid. I like like illustrations that educate you too. I was alwys pouring over my encyclopaedia when I wes a younger.

Jess I like the expression and extra meaning you can give to a word when its hand rendered type. I have always done it really it’s just natural.

What is your relationship between text and the illustration or is there no separation between the two?

Liv: Definitely the educational slant and informing an audience directly. I’d be more than happy to make versions in different languages, as that is a downside to hand rendered type if one doesn’t understand English. Maybe I should go and research in Japan..
I feel letterforms make my work look better! It’s an extra graphic detail, but it also has substance.

Jess: I see it as all part of my work. Sometimes the type can give extra meaning to the illustration

How did you develop as an illustrator?

Jess: I always really enjoyed drawing and being creative and it just seemed a natural progression for me. I like working to a brief also which is something illustrators seem to do often.

Liv: I decided it was the path for me when I realized it was in between fine art and graphic design. I didn’t want to be either of those. Illustration is for the people (as is Comic Sans- that’s a font for the people, but that’s another story) as it bridges gaps between understanding and informing one of a text or an idea, rather than alienating and putting something on a pedestal.

Why is comic sans the font for the people?

Liv: Aha! This made me chuckle a lot! I’m an inverted snob I suppose and it’s a symbol of anti style and there’s a font snobbery surrounding it. Plus teachers have to use it on school reports- it’s compulsory apparently. To me, it’s comforting and reassuring and I quite like it- as is the same for group of my fellow Falmouth uni illo pals. We are Comic Sans Fans. See The G2 a few weeks back – awesome article about it (I think this is just an edited version)-

My sister’s a graphic designer so I like to mock her too.

Favourite Illustrators?

Jess: Recently Cristina Guitian is doing brilliant stuff, and Adam Hayes. I really like the big shows that Le Gun put on. I saw there one at Pick Me Up I thought it was ace.

Liv: Old cookery books- the kitsch photography is joyous. Ren and Stimpy and other fifties-esque cartoons. Dirty edges and bits you get out of photocopiers, collaging Victorian style, Blists Hill museum, music pumping into my earlugs- plenty of textures and bleeps, Books books and more books. The music video ‘The Tain’.

In your interview in the Anthology your (Jess) use of Lightbox is mentioned, what and how does this work?

Liv: I hope this isn’t some new software everyone is in on. It’s a tracing cube with a switch and electricity, powered by a lemon battery used on the old spice ships to help sailors navigate in the lower decks. I think the Lumiere brothers invented it.

Jess: It’s a errrrrrrrr..(this is hard). Right!

It’s a box which you can draw on to copy the images underneath. So I draw all my roughs first, to get the alignments and proportions and then trace the images in color.

What were your thoughts about your respective technologies?

Jess: Why isn’t being used!

Liv: The sea serpent, The Anaconda- what a beast. It stays tethered to the seabed and gathers the power of the waves in its rubber body. A fantastical piece of engineering I want to see in our high seas.

Do you send Pencil Chit Chat by post or by email and if by post – how was this decision made?

Liv: We do it by email, but it would be nice to carry on part of it by post- that’s actually a really good idea! I really believe in the slow food movement as a holistic view how we should do everything in life. Whether it be setting up businesses, in the music industry (back to the d.i.y), growing food, how we travel about too. In reference to this, I really enjoyed Will Self’s radio 4 programme a few months back about Psycho-Geography. It inspired me to write/draw a bit of the pencil chit chat on it, as it explains this is a way to travel about and take in more as we walk and ponder about. Being cooped up in a metal tube hurtling about the skies to the t’other side of the planet in 5 minutes isn’t exactly au naturelle.

How do your conversations start? Do you pick a word or a phrase at random and are there any rules with how you each have to respond to the previous illustration?

Liv: It all started with a ‘hello’ and we got to know one one another from there. Talking gibber jabber and making sense along the way.

How will you start the conversation during the exhibition? You will each have your walls – will you have the same starting point, or will one draw and one will respond? Or will it be incredibly organic and you decide on the same starting point and keep drawing until you meet in the middle?

Liv: I think it will good to bring in talking points like newspapers and books to add some weight to it, I want to steer it away from being anything like a self-indulgent display. This is because I think the idea of chit chat could be used by other designers, swapping ideas. That postage idea is a great one.

We will have a structure with two conversations/two starting points and we will swap over with a reply.

For the launch of Amelia Gregory’s (Editor: Amelia’s Magazine) wonderful illustration anthology in which illustrators illustrated the range of alternative energy sources. The artists were asked to illustrate the walls of Concrete Hermit. Two of the participants Liv and Jess have subsequently formed an interesting project called Pencil Chit Chat in which their conversations happen entirely through their drawings. Culminating in an exhibition soon to occur at the Front Room in Cambridge. Liv and Jess will each have a side of the room in which to draw their conversations live. Part of the remit of the project is that in real life Liv and Jess have barely met and the illustrations arrive in the post.

Liv:It was at the drawing on the walls day at Concrete Hermit back in December. But I don’t think we even had an extensive chat at all. We were getting into the scribble zones. I was really impressed with Jess’ wall. It looked so bold and vibrant.

Jess: I remember Liv commented on my good use of type and I watched her slowly throughout the day and thought “wow”

How did you become to be involved in Amelia’s Anthology?

Jess: I’d already done some stuff for Amelia and thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get involved in.

Liv: My local toon is intrinsically involved in environmental policies and it has positively rubbed onto me. I feel strongly about 4×4 vehicles. I have a pencil. I can draw stink lines.

Explain Pencil Chit Chat please…

Jess: I had the idea for a while and was just waiting for the right person to come along. I thought Liv’s type was different enough in style to mine but still had hand rendered qualities which helps fuse the project together.

Liv: It was Jess’ idea. I was bowled over and really excited by her email asking me to take part and be the other shoe to walk along a meandering little journey into scribbledom.

Where do you see Pencil Chit Chat developing?

Liv: Into print and to keep going. The whole idea of the Chit Chat is personal work but not self-indulgent. Maybe other illustrators could do the same. It’s like the Slow food movement, health pigeon post, visit this back to the old writing desk days of yore.

Jess: Really I see it as a creative outlet where I can experiment and discover. I get many projects where people want a illustration which looks like a previous one. This is a chance for me to explore new techniques and avenues. Where do I see Pencil Chit Chat developing…….where it wants to really. Possibly I’d like a better website, sale but it have to be idiot proof for me and liv! Me and Liv where thinking we’d published the first years illustrations in a book by Christmas.

What are your plans?

Liv: Make a wee book, possibly in time for Crimbletime. Make up more words and infiltrate them into society. I’d like to see it passed onto others designers. Illustrators possibly sometimes feel like doodle hermits cooped up in their sheds or ships.

How did you become involved in front room?

Liv: This was also through Jess. As you can tell she is the brainchild of the operation- an extremely prolific and hardworking dude she is.

Jess: I came across there website whilst browsing on the internet. I got in touch! Originally I was going to do a solo exhibition. But I thought it be funnier and better with Liv.

How will the exhibition unfold? Will you take over the gallery walls again as at Concrete Hermit?

Jess: Pretty much! There going to be two different conversations unfolding, so we are both working all the time. “busy bees”

Liv: We will have two starting points i.e. two conversations will be underway, and we will swap over when one has finished their reply. It will be different I’m sure.

What is it that interests you about type, particularly hand rendered typography?

Liv: It’s really cathartic to draw letters and take your time over something that people do everyday, scribbling a note on a napkin or by the side of a crossword. It’s pure communication and you can be witty or stupid. I like like illustrations that educate you too. I was alwys pouring over my encyclopaedia when I wes a younger.

Jess I like the expression and extra meaning you can give to a word when its hand rendered type. I have always done it really it’s just natural.

What is your relationship between text and the illustration or is there no separation between the two?

Liv: Definitely the educational slant and informing an audience directly. I’d be more than happy to make versions in different languages, as that is a downside to hand rendered type if one doesn’t understand English. Maybe I should go and research in Japan..
I feel letterforms make my work look better! It’s an extra graphic detail, but it also has substance.

Jess: I see it as all part of my work. Sometimes the type can give extra meaning to the illustration

How did you develop as an illustrator?

Jess: I always really enjoyed drawing and being creative and it just seemed a natural progression for me. I like working to a brief also which is something illustrators seem to do often.

Liv: I decided it was the path for me when I realized it was in between fine art and graphic design. I didn’t want to be either of those. Illustration is for the people (as is Comic Sans- that’s a font for the people, but that’s another story) as it bridges gaps between understanding and informing one of a text or an idea, rather than alienating and putting something on a pedestal.

Why is comic sans the font for the people?

Liv: Aha! This made me chuckle a lot! I’m an inverted snob I suppose and it’s a symbol of anti style and there’s a font snobbery surrounding it. Plus teachers have to use it on school reports- it’s compulsory apparently. To me, it’s comforting and reassuring and I quite like it- as is the same for group of my fellow Falmouth uni illo pals. We are Comic Sans Fans. See The G2 a few weeks back – awesome article about it (I think this is just an edited version)

My sister’s a graphic designer so I like to mock her too.

Favourite Illustrators?

Jess: Recently Cristina Guitian is doing brilliant stuff, and Adam Hayes. I really like the big shows that Le Gun put on. I saw there one at Pick Me Up I thought it was ace.

Liv: Old cookery books- the kitsch photography is joyous. Ren and Stimpy and other fifties-esque cartoons. Dirty edges and bits you get out of photocopiers, collaging Victorian style, Blists Hill museum, music pumping into my earlugs- plenty of textures and bleeps, Books books and more books. The music video ‘The Tain’.

In your interview in the Anthology your (Jess) use of Lightbox is mentioned, what and how does this work?

Liv: I hope this isn’t some new software everyone is in on. It’s a tracing cube with a switch and electricity, powered by a lemon battery used on the old spice ships to help sailors navigate in the lower decks. I think the Lumiere brothers invented it.

Jess: It’s a errrrrrrrr..(this is hard). Right!

It’s a box which you can draw on to copy the images underneath. So I draw all my roughs first, to get the alignments and proportions and then trace the images in color.

What were your thoughts about your respective technologies?

Jess: Why isn’t being used!

Liv: The sea serpent, The Anaconda- what a beast. It stays tethered to the seabed and gathers the power of the waves in its rubber body. A fantastical piece of engineering I want to see in our high seas.

Do you send Pencil Chit Chat by post or by email and if by post – how was this decision made?

Liv: We do it by email, but it would be nice to carry on part of it by post- that’s actually a really good idea! I really believe in the slow food movement as a holistic view how we should do everything in life. Whether it be setting up businesses, in the music industry (back to the d.i.y), growing food, how we travel about too. In reference to this, I really enjoyed Will Self’s radio 4 programme a few months back about Psycho-Geography. It inspired me to write/draw a bit of the pencil chit chat on it, as it explains this is a way to travel about and take in more as we walk and ponder about. Being cooped up in a metal tube hurtling about the skies to the t’other side of the planet in 5 minutes isn’t exactly au naturelle.

How do your conversations start? Do you pick a word or a phrase at random and are there any rules with how you each have to respond to the previous illustration?

Liv: It all started with a ‘hello’ and we got to know one one another from there. Talking gibber jabber and making sense along the way.

How will you start the conversation during the exhibition? You will each have your walls – will you have the same starting point, or will one draw and one will respond? Or will it be incredibly organic and you decide on the same starting point and keep drawing until you meet in the middle?

Liv: I think it will good to bring in talking points like newspapers and books to add some weight to it, I want to steer it away from being anything like a self-indulgent display. This is because I think the idea of chit chat could be used by other designers, swapping ideas. That postage idea is a great one.

We will have a structure with two conversations/two starting points and we will swap over with a reply.

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, viagra order but hey, search we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

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A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

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Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tar sands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

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This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: we’re going to shut down the global headquarters of RBS on the day of action: August 23rd. Inspiring, no?

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Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,Abigail Nottingham, ,Avatar, ,Climate Camp, ,Dee Andrews, ,edinburgh, ,Jenny Costello, ,Joana Faria, ,Kayleigh Bluck, ,Mina Bach., ,Natasha Thompson, ,Nicole Foss, ,Octavi Navarro, ,Olivia Haigh, ,RBS, ,Rob Hopkins, ,Royal Bank of Scotland, ,Sayaka Monji, ,Stoneleigh, ,The Automatic Earth, ,transition towns, ,Yelena Bryksenkova

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Amelia’s Magazine | Uncivilisation 2011, The Dark Mountain Festival: Saturday Review

telling stories to the trees - rima staines
Telling Stories to the Trees by Rima Staines.

Last weekend I went to Hampshire for my first experience of Uncivilisation, approved the Dark Mountain gathering of like minded folks interested in discussing our future.

Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Dark Mountain is a manifesto put together by Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth, pharmacy who met in that grand new fashioned way – through reading, admiring and commenting on each other’s blogs. This means that the process of getting to know each other has happened alongside the production of two Dark Mountain anthologies and two festivals – all of which has been hard work, both financially and emotionally.

Abi Daker Dark Mountain Graph
Dark Mountain by Abi Daker.

I am interested in the space that Dark Mountain occupies because I have been involved in direct action for change through both Climate Camp and Transition Towns. Climate Camp stops the source of problems whilst creating an alternate vision of a sustainable future. Transition Towns tackles sustainability with local community action. In both there are attempts to talk about the crisis we face and the emotions that this elicits, but Dark Mountain is more explicitly about facing some kind of imminent collapse, facing up to and talking through it on an intellectual level. The Dark Mountain Project is also rooted in Deep Ecology, a recognition that humanity is just one part of the wildness that makes up planet Earth. It touches on the kind of emotional work that Joanna Macy teaches: the Work that Reconnects which gives a voice to our deepest fears.

baba yaga by rima staines
Baba Yaga by Rima Staines.

So it was no surprise to find many familiar faces at the Sustainability Centre when I arrived late on Friday night, though the deep Hampshire darkness prevented me from doing much seeing and socialising. Instead I instinctively felt my way towards the fireside to join Tom Hirons‘ wonderful Baba Yaga storytelling session. It was so lovely to find a group of adults enthralled by stories, and a salient reminder that we need to have our imagination stimulated every bit as much as children do.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

On Saturday morning Uncivilisation officially opened with an introduction from co-founders Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth. Paul, ever the more downbeat of the two, presented lost property of an iphone and a penknife. ‘One will be useful after the apocalypse.‘ We then went straight into the major panel discussion: Collapsonomics. This was due to be presented by Paul Mason, but he had to bow out, currently busy covering the actual collapse that we are experiencing right now.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Recovering bankerArthur Doohan echoed Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth, who spoke at the Transition Towns conference last year. She spoke about how we are currently forestalling the collapse – which will make the eventual complete financial collapse even worse when it does arrive. He predicted it to be 9mths away which almost exactly chimes in with Nicole’s prediction of 2 years in June 2010. This is not the first time that we have headed towards collapse – it happened in the last century and it will happen again but unfortunately humans have short memories and each time we must relearn how to react. Arthur reminded us that proper banking should be the servant of the people, and somehow we have allowed this concept to be reversed. By propping up the banks we have poisoned sovereign cash, which, coupled with ongoing denial about our situation, puts us in a precarious state of affairs. We have to learn that ‘banking without bankruptcy is the same as Catholicism without Hell.’

Collapse by Aliyahgator
Collapse by Aliyahgator.

Smari McCarthy spoke about his attempts to deal with the Icelandic collapse. In Iceland if something is considered too fancy or luxurious it is common parlance to say ‘Oh, that’s so 2007.’ He noted how in the early stages of failure the state will offload services to the public, who concurrently have been so stripped of any power that they are unable to manage the infrastructure. Chillingly he predicts that whilst basic services are dropped the state will retain a monopoly on strategies of force. He finished with the chilling words, ‘You’re next.’ We are like Roadrunner, feet spinning wildly in the air before we plunge to the ground.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Eleanor Saitta is a specialist in how complex systems work and fail. She explained the need to fight the current structures that have been built in the name of stability, and of ways to manage the wild swings between despair and hope. Anton Shelupanov is a penal reformer from Russia who is now based in Tottenham and he told us that when the tools of civilisation are no longer fit for purpose then there is a tendency to go into overdrive – as seen in the state reaction to the riots with hyper incarceration. He did a chilling demonstration with bodies (including mine) of how tightly packed prisoners became in the Russian prisons after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This mania happens in all sorts of primary systems when there is a collapse.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It was most intriguing to hear ways in which collapse has affected various countries and systems but the conversation stopped short just as things were about to get interesting. It was a shame that more of the weekend could not have been devoted to this specific subject, for the collapse that may have seemed far away when the programme for Uncivilisation was put together suddenly seems very much in the present, and having heard about the effects of collapsing systems I would have liked more discussion on how we manage a collapse, from all kinds of different aspects.

Crofting by Christina Demetriou
Crofting by Christina Demetriou.

Over in the beautiful Woodland space it was time to go back to the wild with crofter Sharon Blackie, who spoke eloquently of her new life in the outer Hebrides. Yearning to be in closer contact with nature she left a corporate life to learn how to farm and weave and spin; she believes that stepping out of the system can help to bring it down because if enough people chose a different way of life then the current system will crumble at the edges.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory. Sharon Blackie

By witnessing, really being, in a different way of life, in a place of wildness, Sharon hopes to show a more authentic way of living. The post talk discussion was particularly interesting, as many city dwellers addressed the importance of a connection with nature in urban spaces. Sharon Blackie also publishes books that inspire change via Two Ravens Press.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

The 200th anniversary of the Luddites is gaining ground everywhere. At Uncivilisation a panel discussion retrod territory that I heard covered by Theo Simon at Wilderness Festival. It was yet another reminder to consider how the structures and technologies we build to better our lives may not, in fact, be good for us.

The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson
The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson.

The discussion ‘We can no longer afford to ignore the sacred‘ was opened with a very moving introduction by Dougald’s own mother but from then onwards it was unfortunately convoluted and confusing, offering little in the way of concrete opinions or ideas, the format wrong for the subject matter. But it did cause me to ponder on the idea that Western religions do not accord as much power and importance to the act of birth (ie sex) as they do to death. Vinay Gupta questioned why the most creative act of life is hidden and the most destructive one is revered?

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Once the sun had set it was time once more to evoke the spaces beyond the intellect. I particularly enjoyed heartfelt acoustic folk music from A.P. Clarke. Liminal by Dougie Strang was staged in the woods with naked creatures, eerily glowing artwork and plenty of trance like chanting. The interactive performance was a highlight for many, confirming the need for physical release after the heady discussions of daytime.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Why not read my Sunday review too?

Categories ,A.P.Clarke, ,Abigail Daker, ,Aliyah Owen, ,Aliyahgator, ,Anton Shelupanov, ,art, ,Arthur Doohan, ,Automatic Earth, ,Baba Yaga, ,Banker, ,Christina Demetriou, ,Climate Camp, ,Collapse, ,Collapsonomics, ,crofting, ,Dark Mountain, ,Dougald Hine, ,Dougie Strang, ,Eleanor Saitta, ,Elizabeth Hudson, ,Hampshire, ,Hebrides, ,iceland, ,Joanna Macy, ,Liminal, ,Luddites, ,Nicole Foss, ,Paul Kingsnorth, ,Paul Mason, ,performance, ,Rima Staines, ,Riots, ,Roadrunner, ,Russia!, ,Sharon Blackie, ,sheep, ,Smari McCarthy, ,storytelling, ,Sustainability Centre, ,Theo Simon, ,Tom Hirons, ,Tottenham, ,transition towns, ,Two Ravens Press, ,Uncivilisation Festival, ,Vinay Gupta, ,Work that Reconnects

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Amelia’s Magazine | Uncivilisation 2011, The Dark Mountain Festival: Saturday Review

telling stories to the trees - rima staines
Telling Stories to the Trees by Rima Staines.

Last weekend I went to Hampshire for my first experience of Uncivilisation, approved the Dark Mountain gathering of like minded folks interested in discussing our future.

Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation Dark Mountain 2011 photo by Amelia Gregory
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Dark Mountain is a manifesto put together by Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth, pharmacy who met in that grand new fashioned way – through reading, admiring and commenting on each other’s blogs. This means that the process of getting to know each other has happened alongside the production of two Dark Mountain anthologies and two festivals – all of which has been hard work, both financially and emotionally.

Abi Daker Dark Mountain Graph
Dark Mountain by Abi Daker.

I am interested in the space that Dark Mountain occupies because I have been involved in direct action for change through both Climate Camp and Transition Towns. Climate Camp stops the source of problems whilst creating an alternate vision of a sustainable future. Transition Towns tackles sustainability with local community action. In both there are attempts to talk about the crisis we face and the emotions that this elicits, but Dark Mountain is more explicitly about facing some kind of imminent collapse, facing up to and talking through it on an intellectual level. The Dark Mountain Project is also rooted in Deep Ecology, a recognition that humanity is just one part of the wildness that makes up planet Earth. It touches on the kind of emotional work that Joanna Macy teaches: the Work that Reconnects which gives a voice to our deepest fears.

baba yaga by rima staines
Baba Yaga by Rima Staines.

So it was no surprise to find many familiar faces at the Sustainability Centre when I arrived late on Friday night, though the deep Hampshire darkness prevented me from doing much seeing and socialising. Instead I instinctively felt my way towards the fireside to join Tom Hirons‘ wonderful Baba Yaga storytelling session. It was so lovely to find a group of adults enthralled by stories, and a salient reminder that we need to have our imagination stimulated every bit as much as children do.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

On Saturday morning Uncivilisation officially opened with an introduction from co-founders Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth. Paul, ever the more downbeat of the two, presented lost property of an iphone and a penknife. ‘One will be useful after the apocalypse.‘ We then went straight into the major panel discussion: Collapsonomics. This was due to be presented by Paul Mason, but he had to bow out, currently busy covering the actual collapse that we are experiencing right now.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Recovering bankerArthur Doohan echoed Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth, who spoke at the Transition Towns conference last year. She spoke about how we are currently forestalling the collapse – which will make the eventual complete financial collapse even worse when it does arrive. He predicted it to be 9mths away which almost exactly chimes in with Nicole’s prediction of 2 years in June 2010. This is not the first time that we have headed towards collapse – it happened in the last century and it will happen again but unfortunately humans have short memories and each time we must relearn how to react. Arthur reminded us that proper banking should be the servant of the people, and somehow we have allowed this concept to be reversed. By propping up the banks we have poisoned sovereign cash, which, coupled with ongoing denial about our situation, puts us in a precarious state of affairs. We have to learn that ‘banking without bankruptcy is the same as Catholicism without Hell.’

Collapse by Aliyahgator
Collapse by Aliyahgator.

Smari McCarthy spoke about his attempts to deal with the Icelandic collapse. In Iceland if something is considered too fancy or luxurious it is common parlance to say ‘Oh, that’s so 2007.’ He noted how in the early stages of failure the state will offload services to the public, who concurrently have been so stripped of any power that they are unable to manage the infrastructure. Chillingly he predicts that whilst basic services are dropped the state will retain a monopoly on strategies of force. He finished with the chilling words, ‘You’re next.’ We are like Roadrunner, feet spinning wildly in the air before we plunge to the ground.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Eleanor Saitta is a specialist in how complex systems work and fail. She explained the need to fight the current structures that have been built in the name of stability, and of ways to manage the wild swings between despair and hope. Anton Shelupanov is a penal reformer from Russia who is now based in Tottenham and he told us that when the tools of civilisation are no longer fit for purpose then there is a tendency to go into overdrive – as seen in the state reaction to the riots with hyper incarceration. He did a chilling demonstration with bodies (including mine) of how tightly packed prisoners became in the Russian prisons after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This mania happens in all sorts of primary systems when there is a collapse.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It was most intriguing to hear ways in which collapse has affected various countries and systems but the conversation stopped short just as things were about to get interesting. It was a shame that more of the weekend could not have been devoted to this specific subject, for the collapse that may have seemed far away when the programme for Uncivilisation was put together suddenly seems very much in the present, and having heard about the effects of collapsing systems I would have liked more discussion on how we manage a collapse, from all kinds of different aspects.

Crofting by Christina Demetriou
Crofting by Christina Demetriou.

Over in the beautiful Woodland space it was time to go back to the wild with crofter Sharon Blackie, who spoke eloquently of her new life in the outer Hebrides. Yearning to be in closer contact with nature she left a corporate life to learn how to farm and weave and spin; she believes that stepping out of the system can help to bring it down because if enough people chose a different way of life then the current system will crumble at the edges.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory. Sharon Blackie

By witnessing, really being, in a different way of life, in a place of wildness, Sharon hopes to show a more authentic way of living. The post talk discussion was particularly interesting, as many city dwellers addressed the importance of a connection with nature in urban spaces. Sharon Blackie also publishes books that inspire change via Two Ravens Press.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

The 200th anniversary of the Luddites is gaining ground everywhere. At Uncivilisation a panel discussion retrod territory that I heard covered by Theo Simon at Wilderness Festival. It was yet another reminder to consider how the structures and technologies we build to better our lives may not, in fact, be good for us.

The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson
The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson.

The discussion ‘We can no longer afford to ignore the sacred‘ was opened with a very moving introduction by Dougald’s own mother but from then onwards it was unfortunately convoluted and confusing, offering little in the way of concrete opinions or ideas, the format wrong for the subject matter. But it did cause me to ponder on the idea that Western religions do not accord as much power and importance to the act of birth (ie sex) as they do to death. Vinay Gupta questioned why the most creative act of life is hidden and the most destructive one is revered?

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Once the sun had set it was time once more to evoke the spaces beyond the intellect. I particularly enjoyed heartfelt acoustic folk music from A.P. Clarke. Liminal by Dougie Strang was staged in the woods with naked creatures, eerily glowing artwork and plenty of trance like chanting. The interactive performance was a highlight for many, confirming the need for physical release after the heady discussions of daytime.

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Why not read my Sunday review too?

Categories ,A.P.Clarke, ,Abigail Daker, ,Aliyah Owen, ,Aliyahgator, ,Anton Shelupanov, ,art, ,Arthur Doohan, ,Automatic Earth, ,Baba Yaga, ,Banker, ,Christina Demetriou, ,Climate Camp, ,Collapse, ,Collapsonomics, ,crofting, ,Dark Mountain, ,Dougald Hine, ,Dougie Strang, ,Eleanor Saitta, ,Elizabeth Hudson, ,Hampshire, ,Hebrides, ,iceland, ,Joanna Macy, ,Liminal, ,Luddites, ,Nicole Foss, ,Paul Kingsnorth, ,Paul Mason, ,performance, ,Rima Staines, ,Riots, ,Roadrunner, ,Russia!, ,Sharon Blackie, ,sheep, ,Smari McCarthy, ,storytelling, ,Sustainability Centre, ,Theo Simon, ,Tom Hirons, ,Tottenham, ,transition towns, ,Two Ravens Press, ,Uncivilisation Festival, ,Vinay Gupta, ,Work that Reconnects

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Amelia’s Magazine | Vestas: a tale of life on the magic roundabout

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On our way out of an informative but visually underwhelming lingerie exhibit in south bank’s Fashion and Textiles Museum, this site all was soon forgiven when a well deserved browse through the museum shop led us to surface designer Jason Cheng’s bouncy bangles. This clever designer elevates the humble rubber band to where it shares the shelf with metalsmithed jewlelry.
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Accomplished with tight little knots and a muted monochromatic palette, these bangles begged to be touched, plucked and donned.
Jason Cheng’s accessories were apparently inspired by maps, geographical references, board games and sports themes. Although in our imaginations they conjured more organic visions of snipped veins (is that all I got from my biology textbooks?) underwater life (maybe because we know what a snorkel tastes like) and braces (those damn little rubber bands we had to attach, drooling, to our teeth’s hardware).
jasoncheng.jpg
A surging theme of associations points to the lowly rubber band’s first appearance on our scene in grade school. Manifesting itself as a hand held projectile mechanism capable of launching anything from bent paper clips to entirely-too-sharp pencils, the rubber band ignited the weaponry engineer in legions of boys.
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Whilst among the girls it became the emergency hair tie (taking with it most of my ponytail when removed) or the inspiration for the-more-the-better bracelets. Jason Cheng’s innovative application for the meager office supply has caused this accessory collector to make some room in her jewelry box.
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Best thing about them, they won’t break when you drop them, pack them or smash them during a particularly vigorous night on the dancefloor. All a girl could ask for from an accessory. That, and you could always take a cue from the boys in class…keep a pocket full of pebbles on your walk home at night. Just in case.
Monday 3rd August

Camp for Climate Action – Scotland

Climate Camp hits Scotland this week – there is no time to act but now! Come to the Camp for Climate Action in Scotland 3-10 August

For a week of low-impact living and high-impact direct action, story keep 3-10 August free and join us in Scotland to take direct action against the root causes of climate change and ecological collapse. This summer the struggle against a capitalist system intent on extinguishing life on the planet will hit the Firth of Forth!

Location to be confirmed.
3rd-10th August

0803%20sachiko-teddybear1.jpg
Illustrations by Sachiko

Tuesday 4th August

Forest Gardens, sickness Geoff Lawton Talk

Renowned international Permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton outlines the methods of designing and building your own food forest from conception to completion, drug demonstrating the evolution of a food forest from day one through to a living 2,000 year old example still flourishing in the Middle East.

7pm – 8pm – Passing Clouds, Dalston
(440 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 – Corner of Kingsland Road and Richmond Road, behind Uncle Sam’s pub now called the Haggerston)

Wednesday 5th August

Terribly Tall Towers

Learn more about the oldest building in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower, and be inspired to create your own towering construction! This is a workshop run by The Building Exploratory for children of all ages, who must be accompanied at all times by an adult.

14:30-16:30 – St John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens

Contact: The Building Exploratory – 020 7729 2011 – mail@buildingexploratory.org.uk

Thursday 6th August

Vestas Rally

Campaign Against Climate Change continue the struggle to save Vestas wind turbine factory. Hit the streets.

8pm
outside Dept of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place.

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Friday 7th August

I think, I see

Join Sally Booth for a large-scale outdoor drawing project : interact with the built environment on the Southbank. More details here.

Drop-in, 12noon – 5pm
Southbank, outdoors.

Saturday 8th August

Introduction to Permaculture

A lively and dynamic weekend, run by Naturewise, looking at the foundations of permaculture and some of the practical tools it offers. Can be considered a stand alone introduction to ethics, principles and design, or a lead-in to the more in depth full 72 hour Design Course.

Contact: Marianne – londoncourses@naturewise.org.uk
Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm – Hornsey Rise Gardens, N19
Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0255.jpg

Yesterday morning seven climate change activists from Workers Climate Action glued themselves together across the entrance to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They were wearing black, remedy green and red to symbolise the diversity of their political opinions, but one thing unites them all and that is their belief that the closure of the Vestas wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight is madness. At a time when our government is publically promoting the need for green jobs how on earth can this be allowed to happen? Sounds like a lot of hot air to us. Millions is used to bail out the banks whilst the future of our renewable energy sector is allowed to falter at the first hurdle of NIMBYism, which is preventing the construction of large scale onshore wind power in the UK. Strung around the necks of the activists were the simple words Take Back the Wind Power.

Vestas-Protest-DECC-July-2009-0020.jpg

Last week the Big Green Gathering was cancelled for extremely spurious reasons, as highlighted by good old Monbiot in today’s Guardian. Could it be that there is a political desire to keep green activists from gathering together and raising money, some of which might go towards funding actions? Are we becoming too powerful as a movement? It seems somewhat crazy, given that the BGG is predominantly known as a relaxed family festival with a hippie vibe, but there you go.

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I had been looking forward to going for the first time and playing a daily celidh as part of the houseband in the Last Chance Saloon, which was already fully erected on site when the plug was pulled (our friends have lost £6000 in the process). But instead and given the circumstances, why not go on a holidarity to the Vestas “Vestival” down on the Isle of Wight, where workers have been staging a sit in occupation since the 22nd of July.

So we, Green Kite Midnight, packed all our instruments and amps into the back of a large car which suddenly seemed very small, and pootled on down to the dock at Portsmouth. The sun shone as we sailed (expensively – book online first ladies and gents) across the Solent, smiling at the beautiful blue sea in the breeze.

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Shortly after we landed our spirits were elevated still further by the sight of the Bicycology crew, travelling in convoy towards the Vestas plant, tucked away at the back of a new and half empty light industrial estate.

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In front of the factory a roundabout has been turned into a temporary camp – a place to gather for people from all different political backgrounds, all of whom have come to fight for the future of the workers at Vestas.

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Marooned together on the “magic roundabout”, as it has affectionately come to be called, there are members of various trade unions (no Vestas workers were members of a union before the sit-in) as well as activists from slightly differing factions of the Socialist movement and members of Climate Camp and Workers Climate Action (the latter having born out of the former) If you’re already confused imagine how I felt. I’ve never been particularly politically active until my involvement with Climate Camp, and I feel as though a whole strange new world has opened up to me – where the most unlikeliest of friendships are forged over shared causes.

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Down at Vestas everyone wants a slice of the pie, but all for slightly different reasons. And in the process something really quite beautiful is happening – all these little groups are rubbing along quite happily together and coming to learn about each other and how we can work together to create a better future, because ultimately there can be no climate action without climate justice at the same time. We may be looking at the situation from different angles, but for the most part we’re interested in similar outcomes.

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Mind you, there was a burger van set up in the adjacent carpark (run by a lovely man – he was happy to post Climate Camp posters on the outside!) from which union members would habitually return bearing meaty burgers stuffed into those horrible landfill-bound-on-a-fast-train polystyrene containers whilst we munched on our latest vegan meal.

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In a dance of food-offering decorum the burger would be offered to us and politely declined, our yummy vegan soup or salad refused in return by a bloke (invariably) more used to fast food than fresh roundabout ‘plat du jour’.

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Spirits were high as we arrived in the late afternoon sunshine and an impromptu conga snaked its way around the roundabout. Food had been successfully delivered by Climate Camp activists earlier in the day – having finally despaired of the manager’s efforts to starve the workers into submission they staged a rush of the factory, organising the operation with precision via mobile phone calls with the workers who were ready and waiting with equipment to haul the booty in as soon as it arrived.

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As the evening rally kicked off Bicycology where able to provide a bike-powered soundsystem, much to the bemusement of the attendant locals and workers’ families.

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Freshly-cooked Welsh cakes made on the miniature children’s oven set were served and the workers on the balcony cheered.

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Evenings on the roundabout are where friendships are cemented – gathered around an oil drum full of palettes in the sodium moonlight. The next day was spent getting together an impressive new Climate Camp banner and taping the prayer flag banners I printed onto the hoardings.

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The banners turned out to make good headscarves as stencils were created and bunting sewn as we sat in the blazing sunshine.

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Mini pastel bunting to be precise – a good foil for the huge bright RMT flags flying above our heads. Due to a lack of loo facilities (as well as local council recycling, though of course we had put a system in place) we had to make frequent treks down to the B&Q at the end of the industrial estate and en route I found a cherry plum tree laden with fruit as well as abundant fat juicy blackberries. After a successful trip into town to visit the local charity shops (great craft magazines) I returned with a bag full of tasty fruit to be shared around. Locals also baked cakes, brought fresh water and in the case of Sue – a local Catholic lady of a certain age – hot fish and chips for the boys on the balcony. These had to be delivered before they went cold – obviously – so a plan was hatched to get them into the precinct as the rally happened on day two of our visit. Once again a group of activists was coralled, and with Sue at the helm they made a dash for the Vestas factory, as the police (always two of them standing around, with very big metal badges on their helmet, must be a real strain on the neck for the Isle of Wight constabulary!) slowly cottoned on.

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A farcical chase and grab ensued with the privately employed security guards inside, but we had decoys in place and the food was successfully delivered as Sue turned around and walked calmly through the maelstorm and back out through the Harris fencing with maximum confidence.

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0371.jpg

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0392.jpg

What a lady! We later heard that the management, largely due to our actions, had agreed to feed the workers on demand instead of at sporadic intervals with small amounts of unnutritious food (although this has since to happen as they appear to have reneged on the deal).

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0401.jpg

After the rally protest band Seize the Day played their newly recorded Vestas song with a bit of backing vocal help from some Vestas WAGS. We all sang along with the chorus which I thought was pretty darn rousing, and they tried to bluetooth it out to the crowd. The plan is to get it out as soon as possible so that it can raise money and awareness for the cause.

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0428.jpg
I’m not sure they’re impressed though.

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0191.jpg

Next up it was the turn of my new celidh band Green Kite Midnight to put on a dance. I managed to persuade a mixed bunch of folk, including a local morris dancing lady in full traditional gear, to dance along with us in the middle of the road. We didn’t get many takers – clearly celidhs are not that cool in the Isle of Wight – but we did thoroughly entertain the workers, who cheered us on through the whole affair.

Vestas-Protest-July-2009-0446.jpg

The next day we took most of the day to get off the island – it’s a very hard place to leave when the ferries are all booked up and you haven’t got your wetsuit. But we got to paddle in the sea in the drizzle and I got to eat a fresh crab sandwich. The Big Green it wasn’t, but our holidarity was a whole other affair that I was extremely glad to have taken part in. Today Vestas is in court as the management once more seek an injunction to evict the workers. Who knows what will happen? But one thing is sure, new allegiances have been formed and lessons learnt. Vestas workers will tell their story at this year’s Climate Camp, and the need for a just transition to a green economy has never been more high on the agenda. Interesting times indeed.

…And as I complete this blog news has just come in of an occupation at the second Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight, where Climate Camp activists and members of the trade union have together scaled the roof, vowing to stay there until their demands are met. Long live direct action…

Categories ,activism, ,capitalism, ,Climate Camp, ,direct action, ,energy, ,environment, ,wind

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Amelia’s Magazine | Warm-up for Copenhagen!

With the Copenhagen summit fast approaching it’s time to warm to the plan of action on climate change with The Great Global Warm-Up, ask  a day of workshops, viagra approved discussion and debate organised by Climate Camp and Zed Books. Whether you’re new to the issues of climate justice or a full blown climate camper this is an excellent opportunity to learn more, meet others and get involved in shaping our planet’s future.

 global

 

Obviously climate change is a massive issue, yet the current political response is poor. It must be made known to governments and corporations that business cannot continue as usual, for the sake of all of us. Speakers already confirmed for the event include: Oliver Tickell (author of Kyoto2), Martin Reynolds (editor of the Environmental Responsibility Reader), Victoria Johnson (New Economics Foundation), James Garvey (author of The Ethics of Climate Change), Harry Shutt (author of The Decline of Capitalism), Ruth Davis (RSPB), Rupert Read (Green Party) and activists from Workers’ Climate Action, Biofuel Watch, Climate Rush, the Camp for Climate Action and more. Get down there and join their voice.

Saturday 28th November 2009.
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), rooms G2, FG07, FG08
London WC1H 0XG
Nearest Tube: Russell Square
Cost: Free (Donations welcome)

Categories ,Biofuel Watch, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Rush, ,Copenhagen summit, ,Green Party, ,rspb, ,Zed Books

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Amelia’s Magazine | Film Preview: Just Do It – get off your arse and change the world launches Crowd Funding appeal


Alice Early, approved from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, skip and a jump from the capital, but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.

Alice Early, pills from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, and skip and a jump from the capital, cheapest but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.


Alice Early, sickness from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, order skip and a jump from the capital, viagra sale but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are‘ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr. Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.


Live illustration of the UEL front row, doctor by Lauren Macaulay

Kicking off Graduate Fashion week, search the East London Show was a blend of slick, commercially-minded pieces, and the challenging designs this pocket of London is famed for. From the glossy brochure showcasing the class of 2010, to several wearable, beautifully crafted collections, it could quite easily have been a commercial catwalk show.
 
Several collections chimed with existing trends – Charlotte Macke’s black moulded felt and macramé dresses, with accessories draped with chain-mail, were a reminder of the ‘urban warrior’ we have seen marching catwalks for a few seasons, and there were countless versions of the nineties body con, maxi length and minimalist aesthetic that Louise Goldin and Marios Schwab have played with.  

Equally easy on the eye was Jane Branco’s “Kiss Me Deadly” collection of draped, soft-toned silk-jersey dresses, and Queesra Abbas Dad’s upmarket traveller, with models wrapped up in fur hats, camel coats, brocade trousers and matching suitcases, off on an exotic expedition. Both collections wouldn’t have looked out of place on a luxury label’s shop floor.  

But you come to a graduate show expecting fresh blood, and there were plenty of students who brought the East London edge.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Bunmi Olayi’s ‘Matriarchy’ collection went for the warrior vibe, but with striking results. Inspired by the Ekpe ‘leopard masquerade’, a women-only cult in pre-colonial Nigeria, and Scottish missionary Mary Slessor (a revolutionary figure in the Victorian age) Olaye’s designs were a fierce combination of the tribal and traditional. Models stormed down the catwalk with sticks topped with pom-poms, and feathered masks and headdresses, their bodies clad in a sharp Victorian silhouette. This was playful power dressing, with well-tailored jackets, balloon sleeves, and a sweet skirt suit in burnt ochre and deep red, adorned with raffia, bells and beads, and cartoonish giant pom-poms.  

Another stand-out name was Johanna Greenish. ‘Unfold’, a collection of simple, exquisitely crafted monochrome pieces, explores “the effect of folding and unfolding fabric”. Layers of rough, unfinished materials were manipulated into geometric shapes, and origami-like creations were toughened up with leather accents – from a leather dress with a paper-thin collar, to rippling skirts paired with thick leather belts. The star of the show was a top that unfolded in two different directions, creating a ‘concertina’ on the model’s chest.  

Uniform across the collections was the attention to detail –with eye-catching accessories just as exciting as the clothes. Diana Gevorgian’s collection of black leather suits and sheer organza shirts were inspired by “metal roosters bought from a car boot sale”, evident in the metal decorations of feathers adorning everything from leather gloves to the avant-garde shoes.  

“The starting point was a photograph of nuns smoking”. Hard to believe, but Stephanie Hemphill’s collection of short, cobalt wool dresses, grey hooded tops and latex peekaboo layers were a contemporary take on the nun’s habit. We doubt you’ll be seeing these designs down a convent anytime soon, but Hemphill’s clean, futuristic designs were some of my favourites in the show.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Also worth a mention was Anna Grzegorczyk’s “Patterns of the Earth”, a rustic range of cocoon shaped dresses, paired with thick wooden sandals, and clunky jewelry. Inspired by “trips to Scandinavian countries” and “the beauty and harshness of Norwegian Fjords”, each dress had an organic feel, with hand-dyed fabrics, and soft romantic shapes. Each garmet was decorated with ripples and cracks from a book of natural patterns, and whilst the shapes weren’t particularly adventurous, they billowed around the frame beautifully.  

In a show of strong, ‘warrior’ inspired shapes, strong colours and heavy embellishment, Grzegorczyk’s pared-down palette and natural aesthetic was rather refreshing.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Images courtesy of catwalking.com

Photography by Mini Mouse

Left Field Films is producing an exciting new documentary film on climate change and is asking for your help to get it completed. Since 2009, order Just Do It: get off your arse and change the world has been following the mischievous antics of UK Climate Change Activists. Emily James, here the film’s director was granted unprecedented access to document a variety of direct actions from the fraught G20 protest, buy the occupation of Blackheath by Climate Camp to Copenhagen and the spectacular failure of the UN COP 15 climate talks.

This is the briefest of introductions to a film that will inspire you to get off your arse and change the world and does no justice to the breadth and width of the activities and activists who inspired the project.

Heard about the time a load of bikes closed down Westminster?

YouTube Preview Image

For more videos documenting the variety of actions appearing in the film, check out the Just Do It website.

What makes this film really special is that it will be completely non-commercial and is being produced by a combination of volunteers and film professionals. As none of the costs will be coming from sales Just Do It are asking the public to help fund the production costs, to enable this exciting documentary to be released completely for free under creative commons.

Launched on Monday 14th June, the crowd funding appeal enables you to help make a film you would like to see by putting your money where you mouth is and sponsoring the film.

Photography by Kristian Buus

This is a community engaged film in which the move away from a financially driven production model towards self publishing enables the contributors and the wider team to have far more rights and input than if this was a commissioned documentary. Importantly Just Do It are able to tell the stories of the activists without the editorial or stylistic concerns of a Broadcaster.

Just Do It is the story of people standing up to worldwide governmental inefficiency to tackle the problem of Climate Change. It is a tale of people getting up, leaving the house and taking a stance for what they believe. Just Do It introduces the people behind the politics as they stand up against corporations and the subsequent treatment they receive.

Photography by Rob Logan

The film is: “a story of heroic individuals throwing themselves against the might of the machine, because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of success or failure. By telling their story, we hope to inspire and incite others to do the same.” Just Do It 2010.

Photography by Rob Logan

By releasing the documentary under creative commons Just Do It are making this film “in a way that reflects the culture that it is about. We want to give it away rather than capitalise on it, and support the Creative Commons and Free Culture movement.” Just Do It 2010

Photography by Kristian Buus

What are you waiting for? Just Do It!

Directed by Emily James it follows the story of 3 organisations, 2 loose affiliations and one domestic extremist: Marina Pepper (Seen in the Last Picture).

Categories ,Activists, ,Bike Rush, ,Campaign Against Climate Change, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Change, ,Climate Rush, ,Cop 15, ,copenhagen, ,Creative Commons, ,Free Culture, ,g20, ,Just Do It Film, ,Just Do It: get off your arse and change the world, ,Kristian Buus, ,london, ,Marina Pepper, ,Minnie Mouse, ,Plane Stupid, ,Rob Logan

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Amelia’s Magazine | Shutting down Didcot Power Station

pythia futuremap copy

Zoe Paul graduated from Camberwell BA Sculpture earlier this summer. Whilst there Zoe participated in numerous shows from the group exhibition Factory at the James Taylor Gallery organised by Royal College MA Curation graduate Dean Kissick and a solo show titled ‘Between the Eyes’ at Coleman Road. This year Zoe has been selected to participate in ‘Future Map 09’ and discussed the concept of sculpture with Amelia’s Magazine.

What is in particular that interests you about sculpture?

I am interested in the form and mass that is sculpture. I like the way we as humans relate ourselves to objects through their three dimensionalism. We are given the option to walk around and view the object from multiple angles and vantage points creating our own image from that object. We judge the object as being larger or smaller than human scale and this plays a large role in our perception of the object.

DSCF1038

You have made numerous paintings, information pills purchase have interests crossed over from painting into sculpture?

Well, I think I feel happier thinking in three dimensions and I have always felt more successful in making objects but I appreciate painting and drawing very highly. It’s a very different way of thinking. I’ve done quite a bit of life drawing and painting; I think it’s helped me to appreciate form. I strongly believe in drawing, if not as a final out come, then as a practice to learn to see. I think as a sculptor it is important to learn to look at things and see how they work formally then you understand them. I always think I can see things better after I draw from life because it forces me to really look and not just glance. I went to art school in Athens for a year and had this amazing classical training there before doing my degree in London. I definitely think it gave me a different perspective.

I think I am a bit shy to make paintings now because I feel like I expose too much of myself, but with sculptures I rely on the materials and the mass of the objects to defend themselves.

amazon boob

At Amelia’s we love to hear about the creative process, would you mind explaining (however you like) your personal process of designing and developing a sculpture?

For myself the making process is a vital part of how I develop an idea. I make a lot, a lot doesn’t always work but I find it useful. I try not to think of anything as a definitive piece, the important bit is the process. My work is frequently based around materials. By using impoverished materials I am devaluing the monumentalism classical sculpture holds. Making ‘Pythia’ was a very labour intensive process. I relate the carving of the polystyrene armature and the precise measuring and cutting of each individual tile to the carving of ancient marbles. It was very industrial and ordered. I made them imagining I was making an architectural fitting, which is kind of what the classical sculptures were in their day. I also spent a lot of time in the British Museum taking photographs and working on them as drawings and sketches.
I try to have a strong studio practice as well. Just being in a space for work is important.

Do you start with an idea or a medium or are both equally important in your work. If this is a bit vague, I mean does the medium start the idea or does the idea influence the medium used?

I think the two go together, although I pay more attention to materials than I realize. I thought up ‘Sunset Island’ while I was in LA and I had a lot of time to think about it. I wanted to represent the crummy, grimy glamour of Hollywood with the cocktail sticks and the industrial fiberglass sphere. So yes materials make me think of things. My degree show work on temporal exoticism and classical Hellenistic sculpture came about from working with tiles and trawling the isles of hardware stores, and finding cheap marble effect ceramic tiles. This cheap marble effect alludes to the wealth represented by classical marbles.

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Do you prefer to work entirely on your own as you are creating a sculpture?

I need to think by myself and write but its really boring working alone. Now I’ve finished college, my studio is really small, crammed and damp. I miss always being able to find someone to get a coffee with when I want to take a break.

I also think sculpture is a social process. I didn’t really paint at college because the studios were really open and I need to be alone to paint, its much more personal. Sculpture however requires banter. However I pretty much had to make my degree show piece, ‘Pythia’ entirely on my own. The tile cutter makes such an awful noise I was as good as exiled out the studios at college.

Rock and tuft

Who or what are your artistic inspirations

My biggest inspiration was going to Los Angeles last year when I interned as a studio assistant for Mindy Shapero. College was OK but it was a bit grey, working for Mindy made me really hungry to make and really want to be an artist. There was so much energy and exuberance in the approach to life. I realized that I probably could do it if I wanted it badly enough. I also met some amazing artists out there, like Thomas Houseago. He was so inspirational and had so much energy.

I can’t help being inspired by greats such as Picasso and Brancusi. Recently I have been reading about Rodin’s love for Greek sculpture as it conveyed the ‘ravages of the time’ in its ‘fragmentary aspect’. Rodin was a pioneer of the existential being conveyed through representation of human form, which he showed through his tactile figures.

My interest in classical Hellenistic sculpture lies in the history attached to it, ‘the ravages of time’, and the wars fought around it. Also the way sculptors repeatedly revert back to it as true sculpture.

I love museums as well, especially the old musty sort. There is an exoticism in places like that: a longing for a bygone age. I am interested in the fragmentary discovery and understanding history, so I think museums are exciting transient spaces full of mystery and discovery.

ahrodite study double

Do the paper drawings feed the physical process of making a sculpture?

The drawings are really beautiful. I started making them as plans for sculptures to understand the anatomy and form of classical sculptures. They are really just spruced up working plans, but I think that’s what’s attractive about them. I tried making sculptures directly from them but it was a complete failure so in a sense they are failures at working drawings. Again they were important for my process, especially as I was making work about existing work, it was important for me to understand the existing sculptures.

I also tried to convey the museum feel in them. They are displayed like old school posters or crumbling educational departments in museums. Places that explain history, like the classical sculptures I was looking at. They are objects, which represent an exotic bygone age, but essentially are just glorified rocks.

The Amazons1

What is next for Zoe Paul?

Well, its slow being out of school but I’m really excited to have been selected for ‘Future Map 09’, which is a selection of only a handful of graduating students from across University of the Arts London, of both graduates and post graduates. So that’s really exciting.

In terms of work I’m really excited about continuing with my idea of temporal exoticism and the allure objects hold. I was reading this amazing book this summer about a shipwreck, which was discovered off a Greek island in 1900. It was full of sculptures on their way to Rome during the Roman occupation of Greece in around 70BC. There are some amazing descriptions of the sculptures being all gnarled and eaten by the sea. I like the idea of these vast powerful sculptures lying rotting at the bottom with such a history attached to them. I want to make more tactile works now that show my process. I love the way Rebecca Warren’s figures do that.

Future Map 09 will be hosted by 20 Hoxton Square Projects and will run from the 25th November 2009.

This year the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2009 graces the walls of the Natural History Museum for another year and it’s safe to say this is one exhibition that cannot be missed. Owned by the museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, prostate the competition is one that prides itself on exposing and celebrating the diversity of life on the planet.

The room dedicated to this exhibiton is dimly lit and you discover that this is to make way for the photographs themselves. Each one is displayed on a screen, viagra 60mg illuminated from behind so that they stand as
The competiton is divided into categories, first showing the winner and then a selection of those that are highly recommended.

Under the heading of ‘Urban and Garden Wildlife’ I find the corresponding winner to be something of a stroke of genius. The entries are required to be poignant, beautiful or striking comopositions of wild animals or plants in urban or suburban settings. The judges look for uncommonly good images of common subjects. It’s easy to see why ‘Respect’ by Igor Shilpenok (Russia) was the judges favourite. The centre of the photo is a stage for a stand off – one small domestic cat against a considerably bigger wild fox. This is one cat that clearly has a ________ complex. There’s something quite triumphant about this scene. You feel a sense of jubilation in his victory over the intruder. Shilpenok was working as a ranger in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka, Russia with his cat Ryska for company. He comments that, “One day Ryska, protecting me, ran to attack an approaching fox. The fox bottled it and Ryska instantly earned respect from the foxes – and me”.

In this exhibition, there are categories that are dedicated to the plant kingdom
pythia futuremap copy

In June 2009 Zoe Paul graduated from Camberwell BA Sculpture. Whilst at college Zoe participated in numerous shows around London from the group exhibition Factory at the James Taylor Gallery organised by Royal College MA Curation graduate Dean Kissick to ‘Between the Eyes’ at Coleman Road. Zoe Paul has recently been selected to participate in ‘Future Map 09’.

What is it in particular about sculpture that interests you?

I am interested in the form and mass that is sculpture. I like the way we as humans relate ourselves to objects through their three dimensionalism. We are given the option to walk around and view the object from multiple angles and vantage points, sildenafil creating our own image from that object. We judge the object as being larger or smaller than human scale and this plays a large role in our perception of the object.

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You have made numerous paintings, have interests crossed over from painting into sculpture?

I feel happier thinking in three dimensions and I have always felt more successful in making objects but I highly appreciate painting and drawing. It’s a very different way of thinking. I’ve done a fair amount of life drawing and painting; which I think has helped me to appreciate form.

I strongly believe in drawing, if not as a final out come, then as a practice to learn to see. I think as a sculptor it is important to learn to look at things and see how they work formally in order for you to understand them. I always think I can see things better after I draw from life because it forces me to look and not just glance. The art school in Athens I went to for a year before my degree in London provided amazing classical training. I definitely think it gave me a different perspective.

I am a bit shy to make paintings now because I feel like I expose too much of myself, but with sculptures I rely on the materials and the mass of the objects to defend themselves.

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How do your sculptures develop through the design process?

For myself the making process is a vital part of how I develop an idea. I make a lot, a lot of which, doesn’t always work but I find the action useful. I try not to think of anything as a definitive piece, the process is important.

My work is frequently based around materials. By using impoverished materials I devalue the monumentalism classical sculpture holds. Making ‘Pythia’ was an incredibly labour intensive process. I relate the carving of the polystyrene armature and the precise measuring and cutting of each individual tile to the carving of ancient marbles. It was industrial and ordered. I made the sculptures imagining I was making an architectural fitting, similar to what classical sculptures were in their day. I also spent time in the British Museum taking photographs and working on these as drawings and sketches.

Do you start with an idea or a medium or are both equally important in your work. If this is a bit vague, I mean does the medium start the idea or does the idea influence the medium used?

I think the two go together, although I pay more attention to materials than I realize. I thought up ‘Sunset Island’ whilst in LA, I wanted to represent the crummy, grimy glamour of Hollywood with the cocktail sticks and the industrial fiberglass sphere. Materials make me think of ideas, my degree show work on temporal exoticism and classical Hellenistic sculpture developed from working with tiles, trawling the isles of hardware stores, and finding cheap marble effect ceramic tiles. This cheap marble effect alludes to the wealth represented by classical marbles.

GetAttachment.aspx

Do you prefer to work entirely on your own as you are creating a sculpture?

I need to think and write by myself, but its really boring working alone. Now I’ve finished college, my studio is really small, crammed and damp. I miss being able to find someone to get a coffee with, when I want a break.

Sculpture is a social process, I didn’t really paint at college because of the open studios and I need to be alone to paint, its much more personal. Sculpture, however, requires banter. Conversely I pretty much had to make my degree show piece, ‘Pythia’ entirely on my own. The tile cutter makes such an awful noise I was as good as exiled out the studios at college.

Rock and tuft

Who or what are your artistic inspirations

My biggest inspiration was going to Los Angeles last year when I interned as a studio assistant for Mindy Shapero. College was OK but working for Mindy made me really hungry to make and to be an artist. There was so much energy and exuberance in the approach to life. I realized that I could do it if I wanted it badly enough.

I met amazing artists out there, like Thomas Houseago. He was so inspirational and had so much energy.

I can’t help being inspired by greats such as Picasso and Brancusi. Recently I have been reading about Rodin’s love for Greek sculpture as it conveyed the ‘ravages of the time’ in its ‘fragmentary aspect’. Rodin was a pioneer of the existential being conveyed through representation of human form, which he showed through his tactile figures.

My interest in classical Hellenistic sculpture lies in the history attached to it, ‘the ravages of time’, and the wars fought around it. Also the way sculptors repeatedly revert back to it as true sculpture.

I love museums, especially the old musty sort. They contain an exoticism: a longing for a bygone age. I am interested in fragmentary discovery and understanding history, therefore museums are exciting transient spaces full of mystery and discovery.

ahrodite study double

Do the paper drawings feed the physical process of making a sculpture?

The drawings are really beautiful. I started making them as plans for sculptures to understand the anatomy and form of classical sculptures. Really, they are just spruced up working plans, but I think that’s what’s attractive about them. I tried making sculptures directly from them but it was a complete failure so in a sense they are failures at working drawings. Again they were important for my process, especially as I was making work about existing work, it was important for me to understand existing sculptures.

I tried to convey the museum feel in them. Displaying the images like old school posters or crumbling educational departments in museums. As museums attempt to explain history, the classical sculptures I was looking at. They are objects, which represent an exotic bygone age, but essentially are just glorified rocks

The Amazons1

What’s next for Zoe Paul?

I’m excited to have been selected for ‘Future Map 09’, a selection of a handful of graduating students from across the University of the Arts London, of both graduates and post graduates.

In terms of work I’m excited to continue my idea of temporal exoticism and the allure objects hold. I’ve been reading an amazing book about a shipwreck containing sculptures on their way to Rome during the Roman occupation of Greece around 70BC, discovered off a Greek island in 1900. The book delivers amazing descriptions of the sculptures being gnarled and eaten by the sea. I like the idea of these vast powerful sculptures rotting at the bottom with such history attached to them.

I would like to make more tactile works that show my process. I love the way Rebecca Warren’s figures do that.

Future Map 09 will be hosted by 20 Hoxton Square Projects and will run from the 25th November 2009.

Last week a group of 21 activists from around the country stormed Didcot Power Station in an awe inspiring action that managed to force the power company to switch from burning coal to gas, malady a much cleaner power source, decease dramatically reduce the output of the power station as well as inspiring protestors across the world.

did1

A group locked on to the coal conveyor belts halting the supply of coal to the furnace and at the same time 9 protestors scaled the 600 ft chimney, occupied a room and pitched tents next to the chimney flues. Unfortunately the plan to camp in the flues for a week was impossible as it became apparent that they were too hot too stay in for any long period of time.

Although the Didcot Power Station protest may ostensibly have come to a rather unsatisfactory and anticlimactic end, with the nine remaining protesters arrested when they descended last Wednesday having failed to disrupt power generation for a week as planned, the protesters achieved something more important in successfully raising more awareness of the threat of climate change.

did2

The group met at climate camp in London this year, and are not just an obscure group of radicals shrouded in secrecy, but just ordinary individuals from all sorts of trades and professions who felt compelled to do something. Initiatives for environmental action are constantly being developed by normal people who happen to meet, and agree that something needs to be done.

While the action did not gain quite the level of publicity it perhaps hoped for, given its dramatic and unusual nature, there was a reasonable degree of press coverage.

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What is surprising however, and perhaps indicative of heightened public concern regarding environmental issues, was that rather condemning the protest as the work of misguided hippies, coverage in the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, and even the Daily Mail seemed at worst objective, and at best sympathetic.

Although a mainstream newspaper clearly cannot condone ‘unlawful’ protests outright, the Guardian’s article condemning ‘punitive pre-charge bail conditions’, while not compromising its own position, showed a certain solidarity by emphasising the increasingly dubious actions of law-enforcers.

The article’s inflammatory title, ‘Didcot demonstration: Police use bail restrictions to stifle climate protest’ carefully negotiates a pro-environment position that put the actions of police, not protesters, in the spotlight.

did3
A previous action at Didcot

Of course, there will still be those who dismiss these facts as irrelevant, or outweighed by the jobs and electricity Didcot provides. But crucially debate is being provoked, and it is becoming increasingly clear that provocateurs are not extremists, they are people who feel that the current circumstances require extreme action. The demystification of environmental protest – making it seem more inclusive, distilling it down to an issue of personal choices just like any other political issue – will hopefully encourage others.

In a BBC article, John Rainford of RWE power is quoted as saying, “Sitting on top of a chimney isn’t going to affect climate change. The people who can – and do – really make a difference are the people at the bottom of the chimney – the power station workers. They are deeply passionate and absolutely committed to cutting emissions. These are the people who work in the community, live in the community and care about their community”. While it is true that sitting on a chimney did not stop climate change instantly and directly, there is more truth to his words than he knows. Protests are changing public opinion, and if wasn’t for public opinion there would be no call or incentive for a cut in emissions. It is small actions of the builders, receptionists and power station workers which together will determine the survival or demise of coal power in Britain.

Categories ,chimney, ,Climate Camp, ,coal, ,Didcot, ,environment, ,police, ,Power station, ,press, ,protest

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Amelia’s Magazine | Signs Of Revolt – Creative Resistance & Social Movements since Seattle

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A cold November night and I journey to a very cosy Camden Barfly to view Plastiscines. This band are the latest export from the country who gave us Eric Cantona, medical Various nice cheeses and the lady who keeps Johnny Depp of the market. The venue is packed with what appears to be a very male dominated crowd. I wonder why this is? Oh right, view there are four stunning French girls (it was France by the way) about to come on stage. They may have come on stage looking like they were on a shoot for “Teen Vogue” but looks can be deceiving. Playing a pop/punk/rock blend of tracks that feature on “LP1” and forthcoming album “About Love” this grunge glam quartet well and truly showed that they are not just pretty faces.

plass 019

Top producer Butch Walker fell in love with the girls when he saw them perform a cover of Nancy Sinatra’sThese Boots”, store they seemed to have the same effect on the Camden crowd. Plastiscines definitely managed to put their own fresh stamp on it, whilst still being respectful to the original, a far cry from Jessica Simpson’s shambles of an attempt in 2005. Their angst anthem “Bitch”, which has recently featured on “Gossip Girl”, was a sandwiched nicely in the middle of the set to the responsive audience, closing down with current cute pop single “Barcelona”. I have rarely had “Barcelona” out of my head since I first heard it, not in a negative way, I want it there, I want to dance to it, I want to sing it and be part of this ridiculously cool band. Lead singer Katty invited those in the room to do just that as she announced that the girls needed some bitches on stage. There was no shortage of these as half the room piled on to join the group, some of them being bitches with beards. We were then treated to seconds of “Bitch”. Bridget Bardot-esk Katty launched herself in the audience and continued to sing “Bitch” to men who I’m imagining felt powerful mixture of intense excitement and terror. I would also if I was them, “ I’m a bitch when I brush my teeth” is as blunt and to the point as the lyrics get. “B.I.T.C.H” she continues just to spell it out and make it clear.

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As she made her way teasingly around the floor I noticed that her makeup was all still perfectly in place. How can this be so after performing such an energetic set? Surely it should have melted down her face which happens to the best of us just sitting on the tube never mind bouncing about for the best part of an hour?! This went for them all. Not a sweaty swept fringe in site, All of them looking naturally no less than perfect after a flawless set. They perhaps are a 00’s Boho version of Jem and The Holograms.

JEM

Majorly rocking out whilst still maintaining a chic exterior. While the cartoon ended around the time these four were born, The adventures of Plastiscines have only just begun, and I for one shall continue to watch.

Album “LP” and single “Barcelona” are available now.
Signs of Revolt is an exhibition celebrating the creative resistance of the past decade’s social movements. It’s an uplifting retrospective that marks the 10th anniversary of the protests that shut down the World Trade Organisation in Seattle.

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Walking into the space at Truman Brewery you are met with an array of posters, ask pictures, colour design and documentation all every available wall, witty slogans and collages, videos to costumes and paraphernalia. A one-stop tour of global movements and actions, and a great insight for the passerby of the creative power of social resistance or a great retrospective for an activist well versed in the successes and failures of civil disobedience.

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The exhibition inspires by focusing on all the direct actions from the diverse; capitalism vs. anarchism cricket matches or the vast array of propaganda posters from all the past movements and actions around the world.

Here are some of the groups, artists and disobedient folk you should really check out and get involved with.

1. Space Hijackers

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Calling themselves a ‘dis-organisation of artistic and anti corporate activists’ space hijackers bring together a group intent on creating civil mischief. Their projects have included huge circle line tube parties, acquiring a tank and attempting to invade Europe’s largest arms fair, creating starbucks chaos and a huge range of other ingenious and daring feats to challenge the states authority and the status quo. They are meeting tonight, Thursday 19th, at the exhibition at 7pm and is open to everyone to get involved, well apart from undercover cops.

2. Camp for Climate Action

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Check out the photographic road show that’s been touring the country at universities, talks, galleries and festivals over the past couple of years. Aiming to dispel some of the myths spread by the mainstream media and to encourage and inspire other to get involved. The photos document the climate camp actions over the past few years, explain how they happen and give an insight into the workings of a climate camp. Remember climate camp are putting on coaches at an activist cut price of £100 to Copenhagen.

3. Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

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An affinity group of friends and activists intent on combining art with activism the ‘Lab of ii’ has been responsible for recruiting a rebel clown army, launching a rebel raft regatta to shut down a power station to throwing snowballs at bankers. Lab of ii have also created ‘put the fun between your legs’ a bike making workshop in Bristol next week that aims to create a bike contraption to use in direct action at the Copenhagen summit in December.

4. Indymedia London

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The website bringing together political active networks, collectives and individuals that help document and organise actions and events. Part of an ever-growing network around the world that lets you be the media, publish your own news stories and let everyone know about what’s really happening outside the mainstream. Indymedia have brought together a load of information and news footage at Signs of Revolt to check out.

5. Kennardphillipps

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Working since the invasion of Iraq Kennardphillipps is a collaboration creating huge scale collages and designs that confront the issues of power and control across the globe. The work is made from a cross group of media, the street, gallery and newspapers and magazines that are brought together in workshops to produce these engaging and confrontational art pieces.

Signs of Revolt has also held daily workshops, films and speakers over the past week which aim to inspire and educate as well as creating some lively debate. The weeklong event is also about looking towards the future especially with the mass mobilisation towards the Copenhagen climate Change Summit where thousands of activists from around the world will descend on Denmark next month to hopefully create a social movement like no other.

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Signs of Revolt is only on till the 22nd of November so you have a few days to get there, get inspired and hopefully add or join to the next decade of creative resistance, mischief and action to look towards a better world.

Categories ,activism, ,bike bloc, ,Climate Camp, ,copenhagen, ,copenhagen climate summit, ,exhibition, ,Kennardphillipps, ,Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, ,london indy media, ,protest movement, ,seattle, ,Signs of Revolt, ,space hyjackers, ,workshope

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Amelia’s Magazine | Smash the Piggy Piñata at the Annual International Banking Conference

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network
Photography by Amelia Gregory.

This morning I made an especially early start so that I could take a whack at a ‘piggy piñata’ outside the Annual International Banking Conference held in Threadneedle Street. Sometimes I think that I live just a little bit too close to the axis of financial evil that is the City of London, viagra buy but it sure makes it handy to get along to protests.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

In collaboration with the UK Tar Sands Network, Climate Camp London decided it would be a good idea to swing by this conference – attended by RBS head honchos Stephen Hester and Gordon Nixon – as a preclude to the main national Climate Camp, to be held somewhere near the headquarters of RBS outside Edinburgh in Scotland this summer. You probably don’t need me to tell you that RBS was bailed out by the tax payer and is now 83% owned by us – yet the bank continues to invest in the Alberta tar sands, the most destructive fossil fuel process ever – as well as funding UK based fossil fuel extraction projects such as open cast coal mines. Yes, open cast coal mines really are reopening up and down our countryside, ruining not only the landscape but the health and happiness of locals: except in the 21st century huge diggers are used to slash open the landscape, instead of sending men down into the pits. And we have no say in this. Now don’t that feel a little unfair? For this reason RBS is the main target for Climate Camp actions this year and especially at our annual summer camp between 19th-25th August.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

“Have a bash at the bankers,” we offered passers by as we swung at the rather impressive treasure box/piggy piñata with a not-nearly-as-resilient green plastic cricket bat. Many bemused bankers snapped up a copy of our Never Mind the Bankers paper, cunningly sold to them as a “Financial Times supplement” or “RBS newspaper” as they entered the venue, but the piñata piggy – despite the loss of it’s legs and head – was keen to hold onto it’s contents till the end. Will the RBS bankers keep flinging (our) dosh at fossil fuels extraction? Will they? Finally we were showered with… a batch of Oyal Bank of Scotland bank notes.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

But this was just a warm up. Will you be joining us in August? Right now local groups up and down the country are arranging travel up to Scotland, so do find yours and get involved. If you’re based in London and would like to find out more about how to get involved in Climate Camp here you can attend a Welcome to Climate Camp session this weekend. Join the Facebook event here.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

You can watch my qik video of the piggy bashing here and read more about the open cast coal mine at Merthyr Tydfil here – site of the Climate Camp Cymru last year. Find lots more about the tar sands all over my website… and check out the other amazing action that happened today… when activists from Liberate Tate paid a visit to the BP sponsored British Museum.

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…which followed another Liberate Tate action at Tate Britain a few weeks ago…

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Things be hotting up out there… don’t get left behind.

Categories ,Annual International Banking Conference, ,BP, ,British Museum, ,City of London, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Camp Cymru, ,coal, ,edinburgh, ,Financial Times, ,Fossil Fuels, ,Liberate Tate, ,Never Mind the Bankers, ,oil, ,Piggy Piñata, ,RBS, ,Tar Sands, ,Tate Britain, ,Threadneedle Street, ,UK Tar Sands Network

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