Amelia’s Magazine | Jarvis Cocker: I Want To Sleep With Common People Like You

Undercover: Lingerie Exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

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“Welcome to Limehouse.” With those words, about it Jarvis Cocker set off on the latest instalment of his 30 year musical odyssey, visit this site launching into set opener Pilchard from his new solo album, Further Complications. For such a long, often tortuous journey which began at a Sheffield secondary school and the formation of what was originally known as Arabicus Pulp, the Troxy did seem a rather apt stopping point – a former theatre turned bingo-hall in the deepest End End, where Stepney and Limehouse blur into each other, now restored and reborn as an unlikely concert venue.

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In fact, Cocker did remark, in his own inimitable way, that the place reminded him of an ice-rink from his youth, where he went to “cop off” with someone, and you still half expected to hear calls of “clickety click” and “legs eleven”, even as support band the Horrors were going through their Neu! meets Echo and the Bunnymen infused motorik indie.

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There were a few half-hearted requests from parts of the audience, but tonight was most definitely a Pulp-free zone (the presence of longtime sidekick Steve Mackey on bass was as near as we got). The set leant heavily on Cocker’s sophomore solo effort, which has a rockier, heavier edge to it than its’ predecessor (not surprising given the pedigree of producer Steve Albini). That said, old Jarvis still has the wry wit and subtle smut that made albums like Different Class such stand outs back in the day (witness news songs Leftover and I Never Said I Was Deep), and he still has plenty of those weirdly angular dance moves up his sleeves. As if that weren’t enough, he even dusted off his old junior school recorder skills on the introduction to Caucasian Blues.

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A couple of numbers from Cocker’s debut solo album made an appearance towards the end of the set, including a driving Fat Children, whilst the encore opened with Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time. We ended on the closer from Further Complications, You’re In My eyes (Discosong), where Jarvis appears to channel the spirit of Barry White – there was even a glitterball to dazzle the Troxy’s faded glamour.
As Jarvis took the adulation of the massed faithful, it seemed like, after a bit of a wilderness period post-Pulp, old Mr Cocker has most definitely got his mojo back.

Categories ,Britpop, ,Indie, ,Jarvis Cocker, ,Live, ,Review, ,Sheffield, ,The North

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Amelia’s Magazine | That Certain Something: A Certain Ratio at Dingwalls

With many universities leaning heavily towards womenswear – in some cases wholly – Epsom pleased many with several of its strongest collections coming from menswear designers. One of the running themes throughout the Epsom show seemed to be an obsession with blood, advice buy the body and corporal violence (you’ve got to wonder what’s going on down there) with one dress revealing a Westwood-esque red, cialis 40mg jewelled wound-like gape on its back.

Not pandering to this was Antigone Pavlou, viagra buy who opened the show with loud, bold and funky collection for the streetsmart city boy, with bomber jackets, tracksuits and distressed denim (the latter a phrase that struck fear into my heart when I first read it in the notes, only to be pleasantly surprised). With coloured headphones carelessly slung around the models’ necks, the designer plainly had a clear lifestyle in mind and played to its strengths in all the right ways, combining strong block primary colours with clashing graphic prints.

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If some previous designers during GFW have shown a tendency to elevate and romanticise the pastoral, I think Pavlou successfully did the same for the city, offering an attractively laid-back vision of urban life where you pull on some comfortable but sharp threads, plug into your walkman and swagger down the street, content to shut the outside world away for a moment, a sentiment I’ve evidently been drawn to in featuring CTRL and Daniel Palillo in recent weeks. Another menswear designer of note was James E Tutton, whose reversible designs (addressing the issue of functionality in contemporary fashion) we’ll be featuring later in the week.

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Soozi Welland’s ‘Geeks Know Style’ penultimate menswear collection was best received by the audience, with an endearing ode to all things geeky: spectacles, anoraks, bobbled hats, bow ties, and socks tucked into trousers. The geek has oft been described as the personification of a roll of duct tape, with functional apparel that will always get you out of a sticky situation, and Welland’s designs seem to celebrate this idea, with an abundance of oversized pockets, accessorising her looks with binoculars and cameras.

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By the last look, though, this geek had got himself a makeover, and was now spec-free, with the bow tie sexily hanging loose and sporting a satin and velvet playboy jacket. An endearing and humorous collection that I thought was commercially viable too, and that’s no mean feat.

Amongst the womenswear Stephanie Moran gave us a hard-hitting collection about desire, fabulously quoting Mae West ‘s ‘Ten men waiting for me at the door?…send one of them home I’m tired’, and a vision of the glamorous dominatrix. One of the standout pieces was a cream PVC dress with a cinched feather corset around the waist, and for better or worse, one of the most popular trends during GFW was feathers. This was certainly one of the better examples:

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Considering Epsom had given us notes on each designer and their collection, I think it was admirable that Moran’s designs needed no explaining whatsoever, with her models bombing down the runway dressed in all manner of things naughty.

A particularly well-crafted collection was April Schmitz’s, who gave us a series of garments with some serious work put into unusual fabrics including hardware, folded leather and metal rings and eyelets. Entitled ‘Visions of the Future’ it gave a throwback to 1930s aviation with leather flight caps, a retro colour palette and the repetition of some swinging circles, with panels ejecting out of the garments providing strange contraption-esque silhouettes that you expected to take off at any moment.

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Feathers popped up again, this time from Lucie Vincini with a stunning jacket from an eclectic menswear collection. Mixing embroidered jumpers with carrier bag trousers, basket weave coats with a jacket constructed out of Royal Mail bags, it showed that it is possible to draw from resources across the board and still construct a cohesive collection. A thrifty delight, and with its recycling sensibilities, obviously an Amelia’s Magazine favourite!

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Photos: Catwalking.com

Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969–2009

Barbican Art Gallery
Barbican Centre
Silk Street
London EC2Y 8DS
19 June – 18 October

Daily 11am-8pm except Tue & Wed 11am-6pm
Open until 10pm every Thursday

Tickets: £8/£6 concs, ailment £6 online

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A new season of ecologically focused exhibits, talks, events and screenings is taking place over the Summer at the Barbican. Kicking off the proceedings is this fascinating exhibition which deals with land art, environmental activism, experimental architecture, and inspiring ideas about utopian solutions to the urgent matter of climate change.
See the Barbican website for full details of all events over the next few months.

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Sarah Bridgland: In Place- New Collage Works

Man and Eve Gallery
131 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4JJ
19th June – 1st August

Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm

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Bridging the gap between sculpture and collage, Sarah Bridgland’s intricate paper creations combine her own made printed media with junk shop treasure to form nostalgic pieces of meticulous craftsmenship. Simultaneously dreamlike and miniature while remaining technically genius, Bridgland’s collection of new work will transport you to other colourful, playful worlds.

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Various Artists: Two Degrees 2009

Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London E1 6AB
16-21 June

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The opening night of Two Degrees, Artadmin’s week long programme of politically, socially and environmentally charged events, is this Tuesday. Getting it’s name from last month’s report that a hugely damaging global temperature rise of 2C could be a mere 40 years away, the 20 or so artists involved are putting the issue of climate change at the forefront of our concerns.
The opening night features among other things Daniel Gosling’s video installation ‘I Can Feel the Ice Melting’ and the forward thinking London based group Magnificent Revolution generating music for the evening with a live bicycle-powered DJ set.

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R-art assist BASH@The Sustainable Art Awards 2009

BASH STudios
65-71 Scrutton Street
London EC2A 4PJ
June 16th

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Open Sailing by Cesar Harada

“The Sustainable Art Awards are open to any UK artist working within on the themes of sustainability, environmental issues, climate change and ecology. R-art will provide the awards for the SAA, these mini eco sculptures are the oscars of eco art! Sustainable Art Awards are a 2 week showcase of eco talent @ BASH Studios.
The Sustainable Art Awards is part of Respond! who aim to engage arts audiences in discussing and questioning environmental change. Respond! highlights how the arts industries are in a unique position to communicate environmental issues. Featuring exhibitions, talks, programmes, workshops and other activities. Respond! is an initiative co-founded by the Arts and Ecology center at The Royal Society of The Arts and BASH Creations.”

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Swapshop

Camden Arts Centre
Arkwright Road
London NW3 6DG
20th June
12:00 – 5:30pm

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Current artist in residence Alexandre da Cunha is putting together a Swapshop, which is becoming an ever increasingly popular means for people to get together and shed some of their unwanted belongings in exchange for new. Anything goes at this particular exchange; buttons, furniture- even art. To book your own stall please contact Ben Roberts on 0207 472 5500.

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Out of Range

The Rag Factory
16-18 Heneage Street
London E1 5LJ

12th June 22nd June
12-6pm daily, Saturdays 10-6pm
Free

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If the extensive material on show at Brick Lane’s Free Range isn’t enough to satisfy your graduate show cravings, hop along to The Rag Factory to catch Out of Range where work from 29 emerging UK and European photographic artists recently set free from the University for the Creative Arts at Rochester is on display. The work promises to be fresh, innovative, exciting and diverse.

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Dominic Allan: The Irresistible Lure of Fatty Gingo 

Transition Gallery
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

13th June – 5th July
Fri – Sun, 12-6 pm
Free

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With what might just be the best title of an exhibition I’ve ever heard, Allan’s work is self described as ‘a world of rotten teeth, bubble and squeak and uncommon sense.’ With an unhealthy interest in British seaside culture and the bizarre link-ins local holiday getaways have with sugar coated junk we feast on, Allan’s work is repelling, alluring, mysterious and addictive all at once.

Monday 15th June
The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo at the Southbank Centre, sales London.

Tonight’s gig is one not to be missed- The Jonas Brothers at Wembley, health only joking of course. If you like your music a little more deflowered and lots more awesome, then I excitedly announce that Yo La Tengo will be playing the Southbank Centre tonight as part of Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown Festival. Yo La Tengo have shaped what is almost the last 20 years with their beautiful music which moves between eerie girl boy woozy vocals and minimal keyboards, to rocking genre bashing highs. Also ‘I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass’ is the best album title ever!

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Tuesday 16th June
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at Pure Groove, London.

I really love dinosaurs, so imagine my delight when I saw that a band called Totally Enormous Extinct Dinousaurs are playing Pure Groove on Tuesday evening. Being a music editor and planing gig going around loving extinct creatures is never the best idea so I checked their myspace and I can conclude my top 3 favourite things about this band, in descending order are:
3. They dress as dinosaurs a lot!
2. They have the longest list of alphabetised dinosaurs listed as their band members (Alphabetisation being my second favourite thing after fore-mentioned dinsosaurs)
1. Their keyboard tinged synthy-fun electro sounds so fun it makes me want to make up all kinds of dances called things like the ‘Triceratops Jive’ and the ‘Stegosaurus Shake’.
What’s your favourite dinosaur?

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Wednesday 17th June
Jolie Holland at Dingwalls, London.

When Tom Waits says he likes something you can pretty much tell it’s going to be good and Jolie Holland doesn’t disappoint. This Texan singer has had Waits’ outspoken support since the very beginning of her career, and her fresh take on traditional folk, country, blues and jazz place her as a definite protegée of Waits, as well as a talented musician in her own right.

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Thursday 18th June
A Hawk and a Hacksaw at Cecil Sharp House, London.

A Hawk and Hacksaw have skittered and clattered their way into my heart with their Klezmer- Indie hybrid loveable mess music. It sound like if Neutral Milk Hotel (indeed they share a drummer) got lost in the Baltic States for several decades in the early 20th century, armed only with a full brass band and a trusty band of wolves who were also in their own Mariachi band- and quite frankly how could that not sound amazing?

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Friday 19th June
Clinic at The Lexington, London.

I was lucky enough to see Clinic play last year and they are terrifying (they wear surgical masks) and brilliant in equal measure- like a melodic nightmare, lots of keyboards, creepy samples, garage-y clatters and wails are a-given, yet they manage to be as enjoyable as they are creepy.

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Saturday 20th June
Kitsuné Maison Party at La Scala, London.

We reviewed the Kitsune Maison 7 compilation a while back and liked it, they’re having a party at La Scala featuring Delphic (pictured below underwater), Chew Lips, We Have Band and Autokratz to name but a few. I can’t help but compare it to the Strictly Come Dancing tour that happens after the show ends; with everyone’s favourites appearing live, so maybe it’ll be like that but a very hip, French version.

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Continuing our festival preview adventure

I don’t like camping. Going to bed shivering and waking up sweating doesn’t appeal to me much, mind and claustrophobia in a two-man tent isn’t fun either. Don’t even mention the word ‘porta-loo’…But all this I will get over for Lounge on the Farm.

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For the past four years, sickness thousands of people have invaded Merton Farm in Canterbury, with a view to enjoying laid-back choons and getting down to some serious lounging. Despite it’s status as a ’boutique’ festival (one of The Time’s top twelve Boutique festivals, dontchaknow), there’s plenty to muck in with, down on the Farm.
Each of the six stages caters to a different taste, The Cow Shed hosting The Horrors, Edwyn Collins and The King Blues (as well as whoever you want, thanks to the You Say, They Play initiative – just mind the dung), Farm Folk, leaning towards a more acoustic experience and The Bandstand, rockin’ out the opera and punk rock karaoke.

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I’ll be spending most of the weekend with Gong, Canterbrerians of the ’60s who sing of teapot taxies, and the Wolf People, hairiest band I’ve ever seen who weren’t actually animals, down at the psychedelic Furthur Tent, and doubtlessly joining Mr. Scruff for an epic six hour afternoon tea mash-up at the Hoedown – blanket and thermos a!
requisite.
Lounge is foremost a local festival (for local people…) and it wouldn’t be, well, right, without Psychotic Reaction, Amber Room, Cocos Lovers, Syd Arthur, Electric River and Zoo For You, to name but a meagre few of the Kentish best performing this year.

It’s not all about the music though, in fact, in the Meadows area it’s not even about the music. New for 2009, the Meadows contains an outdoor theatre, petting zoo (pigs or partay?!) and The Red Tent if you feel in need of some spiritual healing after all the exhausting lounging about. Natural Pathways will be providing bushcraft courses, fulfilling all your wild wo/man fantasies and the Make do and Mend lane focuses on local craftsmen and their skills, with workshops running all weekend.

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Whatever tickles your pickle, solar powered cinema or life-drawing class – and music too – Lounge on the Farm is the perfect place to do exactly that.

Lounge on the Farm runs from the 10th to the 12th of July, at Merton Farm, Canterbury. Weekend tickets £85, day tickets, £35

Free Range at The Old Truman Brewery is Europe’s largest graduate art and design show with free admission. Graduates of everything from interior design to fine art who studied outside of London finally get a chance to showcase their talents in the countries capital.
I’ve been to a few Free Range shows this summer already, approved but last Thursday’s exhibition of photography graduates was the one I was most excited about.

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In this age art can really be anything, web Kant has been moved to the back seat and nobody thinks art has to be beautiful anymore. That said it’s almost impossible for photographers not to take images that look good. Just by being photographed the most mundane subject is rendered interesting and the most ugly object or person becomes so lovely that you just want to lick their glossy surface.

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The best of all the exhibitions on that week had to be Swansea, stuff Farnham and Maidstone. With so many photographers on show it seems pointless to make a reductive comment on whether entire graduate years were good or bad so I’ve decided to create a contact sheet if you will, of the people whose photographs looked that bit extra special.

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Jack Davis

I spent my first ten minutes in Free Range looking at Jack Davis’ landscape photographs. In them great colour and composition immediately makes the viewer forget that the scenes are completely empty.

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Lauren Eldekvist

In Lauren Eldekvist’s evocative series Landscapes, unmade beds are photographed and shown huge on the Truman Brewery’s walls. For the artist the bed “connotes the human condition; birth, life, sex, sleep, illness and death”. The pieces remind me very much of one of my favourite artists Felix Gonzalez Torres and his billboard photographs of an empty, but obviously slept in, bed.

Also intriguing were James Rugg’s photographs, which aim to capture small instances, chance meetings and gestures. In them the simple act of a girl twirling string around her fingers becomes something we should give our undivided attention to.

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James Rugg

Over at Maidstone University College of the Arts there were some strong conceptual works.
Lee Gavin presented an installation of Mapping a project that he undertook after the death of his Grandfather, he decided to cycle to Elvington in Kent, the birthplace of his Grandfather. Lee showed as his work the tent and bike he used for the trip and an interactive google map of the journey (available from his website and well worth a look.)

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Lee Gavin

As a lover of old box televisions and a distruster of 40” LCD monstrosities I almost cheered when I saw Jack Quick’s work. The artist is stepping into Nam June Paik rather large shoes with his television manipulation photographs and sculptures in which he attempts to challenge uses for, sadly, now defunct technologies.

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Jack Quick

Cassandra Vervoort questions the role of the photographer and the weight of their influence and command over the photographed. In these “social experiments” she asks subjects to have a five-minute sleep in her bed while she is naked underneath the covers.

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Cassandra Vervoort

There were other photographers creating situations for their unwitting volunteers to perform in. Gemma Bringloe was one, “Can you turn around, sit down, stand up and sit down” … “Can you take off as many clothes as possible”.

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Gemma Bringloe

And finally Laura Jenkins, who produced my favourite project of the entire show. The Tender Interval is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Actors were called forward in complete darkness and instructed to kiss. The photographs provide a record of the interval immediately before the kiss.

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Laura Jenkins

Free Range exhibitions continue until the middle of July. The Private view for the next group of photography shows is 6PM on Thursday. For a full list check out the Free Range website.

Words like ‘buzz’ and ‘hype’ sometimes transpire to be untrustworthy words bandied around by desperate press offices, ed but with the mid-afternoon Ravensbourne show the anticipation is undeniably huge. And rightly so – after rave reviews (two more alarm words) as well as producing the winner for the past two years, search we’re expecting an awful lot, ambulance and luckily we were not disappointed. In fact, far from it – it would be easy to ramble hyperbolically about how consistently brilliant the show was, or to point out how as a university it’s completely isolated in GFW by its galactically high standard, as elitist as that sounds, so I’ll try and keep focused.

If you’ve been following our reports (and you will have done if you know what’s good for you) you’ll have been aware of this years’ output of some truly outstanding menswear. Ravensbourne, of course, was no exception, with menswear designers Calum Harvey and Hannah Taylor opening and closing the show respectively (both of whom I’ll be interviewing in the coming days). Harvey had made a collection constructed from raw materials scavenged from car interiors, attesting to the strengths of the transformative powers of recycled fashion and making something beautiful – and indeed, wearable – out of something normally perceived as solely functional.

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A selection of huge knits (the oversized scarf on the opening look was a favourite) were followed by jackets layered with woven and shredded seatbelts worn over sheer shirts and gold pinstripe trousers. Making it no surprise that he later won the http://www.gfw.org.uk/event/winners.aspxTextile Award, Harvey had created a gorgeous paisley pattern on a shirt out of frayed gold zips, while seatbelts also served to layer and tier to help create voluminous silhouettes, in one case a high collar for a knitted jumper, whilst continuously coupling the industrial looking wool with plaid and tweed to neutralise the effect.

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The last look – an enormous tulle tiered cape in grey and black – seemed to typify a collection that was eminently wearable whilst staying on the right side of theatrical, and as for the patent leather bag with seatbelt fastener – yes please.

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Mehmet Ali’s menswear (which later won the Menswear Award) was a gorgeously sophisticated collection in a neutral palette of pink, cream and wine, layering summer jackets and waistcoats for the occasional Brideshead-lite feel. A series of simple and exquistively crafted designs that was lent a sweet personal touch by the use of Ali’s own suitcase with his initials emblazoned across.

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A strong showing for the womenswear came from Hannah Buswell ‘s collection of Missoni-esque knits, combining multi-patterned cardigans with knitted dresses for a beautiful and commercial winter collection.

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Laura Yiannakou was girly, quirky and unusual, working with digital prints and synthetic fabrics to create a colourful and seriously modern collection for the fashion forward woman.

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Yasmina Siddiqui also impressed with a series of Viktor & Rolf-style illustrated prints tied to ordinary silk dresses; surrealist prints that created unusual silhouettes, attempting to understand and rebrand perceptions of art and fashion:

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Hannah Taylor’s knitwear as the closer was easily the evening’s most enjoyable and surprising. Entitled ‘You’ll Grow Into It!’ it was a selection of oversized knits covered in animals ranging from tiny ducks to guinea pigs to foxes, paired with multicoloured balaclavas and enormous pom-pom headpieces (what did I tell you last month?)

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It successfully recreated the endearing sense of childlike fun in trying on something too big and it falling around your knees; combining loud designs with mustard-colour Rupert Bear pants, tweed trousers and enormous pom-pom collars. I especially loved the knitted balaclavas (creating an ironic sense of menace that could never be fully realised when you’ve got a massive guinea pig plastered across your body).

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Aside from this, irony is something that would elude such a collection that by nature was so ostensibly warm and affectionate, with a strong sense of sentiment that I think appealed to an awful lot of people (including Erin O’Connor who was whooping in the crowd). Hannah was later nominated for the Gold Award, and despite missing out was given a special mention by the judges, and currently has her collection on display in River Island.

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A truly fantastic show and a great way to finish Amelia’s Magazine’s stint at Graduate Fashion Week – look out for our interviews with a few of the graduates over the next couple of weeks!

Photos: Catwalking.com

Way back in 2006, view Neil Boorman lit a bonfire in Finsbury Square and burnt all of his branded possessions. Of course, there was a back story to this, rather than it simply being a case of a pyromaniac getting one over on the City of London council. Neil made this bold statement for two reasons. To protest the all pervasive consumer culture and to address his own issues and addictions to branded and labelled goods. In one fell swoop, £20,000 worth of designer products were incinerated. Since then, Neil has been living his life brand-free, and documenting the results on his blog, and in his book, Bonfire Of The Brands.

While this bonfire took place three years ago, the argument about consumer culture, and the willingness of the general public to spend money that they don’t have on something simply because it ‘looks cool’ is as pertinent now as it was then. Few people in 2006 could have predicted the economic and environmental mess that we are now in. By raising concerns over the irresponsible actions of large corporations who would use every trick in the bag to entice us to buy their products, Neil was already drawing attention to the cracks in the system. As often happens, a prophet is never appreciated in his time, and Neil’s actions were met with a flood of negative responses, many from people who argued that his posessions should have been donated to charity rather than burnt. Exploring the reasons behind the criticism, he suggested that “this reaction has less to do with charity than the overall value that we have come to place on branded things; nowadays, to willingly destroy an expensive bag amounts to the same moral and cultural neglect as burning a book.”

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Having seen that Neil was going to be speaking recently at the Arcola Theatre’s Green Sundays event in Dalston, I was interested to hear an update on how his brand-free life is working out, and what he made of the new, paired down version of consumerism that is being peddled to us. While brands are wising up to the facts that a) we don’t have much money to spend on non-essential items and b) we are savvier about how these products are being produced, many labels are going out of their way to champion phrases in their marketing, such as ‘fair trade‘, ‘ethically produced’, ‘locally sourced’ etc, but is this all a white wash? And if we continue buying from the big brands – no matter what placatory words they might throw at us – are we still missing the point?

When you came up with the idea for the book in 2006, consumerism was still king. Now in 2009, the Bonfire of The Brands manifesto has become all the more apparent in the current economic climate and environmental chaos. Do you feel a element of schadenfreude seeing that you were one of the first to voice your concerns?

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It does feel like the country’s mood towards shopping has changed in the last few years. Recently someone confessed to me that they used to nip out to buy a new pair of sunglasses whenever they felt down, but now that money was tight, they felt stupid about it all. I get a lot of people confessing their consumer sins to me. I’m not sure how I feel about that – I didn’t write the book to make people feel embarrassed. If anything, I wanted people to feel angry that consumer culture is rammed down our throats so often. I definitely would have sold more copies of the book had it come out this year. But what would I spend the money on? There’s only so many non-branded plimsolls a person can buy.

Are people more responsive to your message now then when your book was first published?

People think I’m slightly less bonkers than before, but they’ve not stuck my poster on the wall in Selfridges just yet. We all got sidetracked by the boom a few years back, and most sensible people have snapped out of it for the time being. It’s the legions of people still flooding into Primark that I can’t work out. So many people buy gear on the never-never that the recession is meaningless to them. People laughed at me when I suggested that we are a nation hooked on shopping, but you can see it for your own eyes on the high street every day. The world might be on meltdown, but there’s still time to buy a pair of deck shoes.

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Do you think that the big brands have responded appropriately to the economic crisis and new wave of consumer awareness about where their products are coming from?

Recessions strike at the heart of big brands. Not just at the till, but at the value of the brand. Luxury is based on the principle that more is more – the more you spend, the more luxury you get. As soon as you start to discount your stock, that myth goes out of the window.  And all those uber-luxe ads you see in Sunday Supplements look ridiculous next to reports of mass unemployment. Luxury is a house of cards like that. The best they can hope for is that the economy picks up, and consumers forget about all this ‘ethical nonsense’.

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Are there any brands that you would consider buying from again?

I’m slightly less militant now than I was after the bonfire. I’d be happy to buy something from a brand that has it’s house in order – a brand that looks after it’s staff and doesn’t needlessly pollute. But there’s no way I’d wear their logo on my chest ever again. Looking back, I was like a human billboard. Back in the 1920′s, companies used to pay people to pin company slogans on their clothes. Now we do it for free – in fact we pay for the privilege. How on earth did we get here?

Amelia’s Magazine are always keen to support ethical designers and products. Do you find that a non-brand generally equals something ethical? I would think that on the one hand you can spot the holes in a large brand, and it is easier to find out information about them, but if you were to pick up, say, a plain t-shirt from a charity shop, you would have no way of knowing if it had potentially come from a sweat shop. What are your thoughts on this? 

You’ve found the gaping hole in my argument – brands do help us to identify which product does what, and how it was made. But then there’s so much greenwash about right now its difficult to decide which brand is telling the truth. I mean, American Apparel boasts that it only uses American labour. But as far as I know, they still pay a rock bottom minimum wage and only Mexican immigrants on skid row that can afford to work in their factories. Those kooky young things in the ads – they don’t stitch liquid tights for a living.

The easiest way to cut through all these dilemmas is to concentrate on wants and needs. Every time I’m tempted to buy something new, I ask myself if I really need it. If the answer is no, then I put it back on the shelf and walk out the store a richer man. Life goes on. 

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Going back a few years ago, you founded the infamous Shoreditch Twat; having experienced many Londoners in perhaps their least appealing and most pretentious forms, do you ever doubt the sincerity of those who are now jumping on the anti consumerism bandwagon?  And if so, is this necessarily a bad thing if the outcome of non brand buying is still a positive one? 

I don’t know about people in Shoreditch, but I do slightly worry about all the Sloaney fashion journalists that have started banging on about frugal chic. Alarm bells have got to start ringing when people at The Sunday Times call something ‘chic’. They’re terrified of committing to anything meaningful in case it goes out of style. And then where would they be? Trust me, they’ll be back down to Hermes when the economy picks up. But what the hell, I reckon its better to dip in and out of anti-consumerism than not at all.

What is news with your blog now? Will this remain an ongoing issue for you, and will you continue to write about your experiences with anti-consumerism?

I’m writing less but campaigning more. I’ve got a few stunts that I’m going to pull later in the year, and a big push in the run up to the election. Right now, I feel like less talk and more action. When shopping isn’t a Saturday afternoon leisure option, you have to find other things to do.
How important is the relationship between an artist and her aunt? For Miriam Zadik Gold, approved whose latest exhibition ‘Who is Mary Jane’ opens at Prick Your Finger on June 18, online it’s a pretty damn important relationship.

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Photo by Kirsty Hall

In fact, visit this it’s fair to say that the work in the show wouldn’t exist without Miriam’s Aunt Sue, a car-boot sale connoisseur who runs a stall selling buttons, badges and old Ladybird books every Saturday at Broadway Market. It was Aunt Sue who found six old ceramic dolls heads in a charity shop and bought them for her niece whom she thought would like them. Miriam did like them, but couldn’t think what to do with them and put them high on a shelf in her studio for a few years.

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It wasn’t until she was crocheting a pair of Mary Jane shoes for her own daughter that Miriam began to wonder about Mary Jane – why were the shoes named after her? Who was she? And why did so many musicians name-check her in their songs?

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Things began to take shape. Miriam spent hours on the internet, noting down every Mary Jane-related song lyric she could find, from Nick Drake through to John Lennon to Mary J. Blige. Taking the lyrics as her inspiration she created a different Mary Jane persona for each of the dolls’ heads, and began to craft bodies, clothes and backgrounds for each one. When she came across things she couldn’t make, such as a tiny denim jacket, she turned to dolls’ clothes makers on etsy.com and commissioned miniature pieces for her band of tiny muses.

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Miriam hopes that by giving these dolls a little more of an identity, she will bestow more of an inner life to the somewhat submissive Mary Janes described in the songs: ‘There was something quite passive about the way the dolls were waiting on the shelf for me to give them a story, to give them a life. For each one, I quickly had a clear sense of a little story of my own that sat behind the lyrics.’

Click here for more information about Prick Your Finger and their upcoming events.
It was Daniel Almeroth’s “The Birth of Feminism” series that formed an entry into Dazed & Confused’s Free Range competition that first caught my eye and drew me in. These sparsely yet beautifully constructed collages are not only visually pleasing but make a bold statement about the feminist movement too. He explains the work as “moments of metaphorical and symbolical events before and after this dramatic political movement. The point of the series is to highlight the tight control Men had over Women throughout our past; through religion, symptoms marriage and general social attitudes.”

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Delving deeper into Almeroth’s work, I notice a similar thread of stunning aesthetics teamed with clever insights running through his artistic repertoire. The Injured Body, for example, “tries to highlight the factor of deformities due to accidents and incidents. It comments on the relationship of a figure of heroism and the true reception they may receive.”

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The sign of a good artist in my opinion is one who can create work with meaning or a message, yet leave it up to the audience to form their own perspectives, drawing on individual personal references and experiences. Nothing is less attractive then artists who dictate your reactions and responses. Almeroth concurs, saying “I want to leave these images open to interpretation, to challenge the observer to reach a personal conclusion of the images intent.”
It was a pleasure to get to know him a bit better and find out what makes him tick.

When did you first realise you were creative?

I first got into illustration when I was a little’n, I use to draw landscapes of cities being destroyed by dinosaurs, covering it in glitter and dry macaroni. I like to think I’ve changed since then!

Tell me about your school days.

I completed my A’levels at Shenfield High School (where Richard from Richard and Judy, and Des from Diggit went to school!). I then studied my foundation at Thurrock & Basildon College, Essex. Then got into the Arts Institute at Bournemouth studying the Ba Hons Animation Production course, changing to Ba Hons Illustration at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in my second year.

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Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?
Klaus Voorman is top notch, Tara Donovan is definitely my artist of the hour and the illustrator Meyoko is particularly phenomenal.

Who or what is Crabwolf and what is your involvement?

Recently I have joined a collective with four other illustrators/designers under the name of CRABWOLF. Crabwolf was born one night over dinner, beers, drawings, some roulette and a scorpion. All consisting of graduates from the illustration course at the Bournemouth Arts Institute. We commonly all collaborate on projects such as our recent Limehouse Magazine front covers, greeting cards, promotional posters/materials, possible exhibitions in London and Dublin are lined up, a zine or two in the pipeline and discussing ideas for t-shirt ranges and hand screen printed posters that are just so good for the environment. Today Bournemouth, tomorrow? …The world.

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Tell us something about Daniel Almeroth that we didn’t know already.

I’m an Essex boy, born and raised, at Eastgate shopping centre is where I spent most of my days.

If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?

I’d go back to the Victorian times, making a couple of stop offs along the way. Firstly the 90′s and don an under cut then the 70′s to acquire a taste for free love, then become the most insanely popular/rich/famous man that ever lived in the Victorian era.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

Probably get started on making that time machine.

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?

Mulatu Astatke. Brilliant.

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I say Modern Art is Rubbish, you say…?

“MODERN ART = I COULD DO THAT + YEAH BUT YOU DIDNT” Craig Damrauer.

What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?

Probably a mixture of Arts, Entertainment, Geography, History, Sports, Nature, Food and Miscellaneous. They call me the quiz meister, a necessity for every team!

Who or what is your nemesis?

Tomato Ketchup & Moths.

What piece of modern technology can you not live without?

My desktop iMac. Her name is Selina.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Having a pint, a rollie and drawing in the garden.

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What has been keeping you busy of late?

I’ve recently received briefs for editorial work in a few magazines, promotional posters and flyers for events, I also had my work exhibited in a local exhibition named Ishihara (which is possibly branching out to London in the near future). Me and fellow illustrator Selina Kerley also have produced a three edition Fanzine named Chien Schuanz that promoted ourselves and other local artists, selling them on the internet and local events in Bournemouth. I have also produced a limited stock of screen printed t-shirts and jumpers that are selling like hot cakes that’s keeping me warm from the recession!

What advice would you give up and coming artists?

Shameless self promotion, self initiated projects, collaborating, spending all day on the internet and with a pencil in your hand.

Who would your top five dream dinner guests be? Who would do the washing up?

I think it would have to be in a Come Dine With Me layout with Frieda Kahlo, Jean Claude Van Damme, Ghandi, Sir Alan Sugar and Picasso. I’d make Ghandi and Sir Alan Sugar wrestle, the loser would do the washing up.

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What’s next for you then?

At the beginning of July some friends and I are exhibiting and manning a stool at the next D&AD space in Earl’s Court, so pop along for a chat and some freebies! I also plan to help create and brand a Fashion magazine which is currently starting to emerge on the drawing boards.

All hail Daniel Almeroth and The Crabwolf Collective. You heard it here first.
All good superheroes have an alter ego; Peter Parker/ Spiderman, doctor Clark Kent/ Superman, Bruce Wayne/ Batman, and now Randolph J. Shabot/ Deastro. As super-hero names go it’s a pretty good one, and his new album ‘Moondagger’ plays like a soundtrack to an epic sky scraper top battle between ultimate super-powered nemesis, whist retaining a bashful sweetness of a superhero’s geeky quotidian alter-ego.
What’s more Deastro is exactly the same age as me, which on a personal level makes him all the more awesome, whilst I get finger cramps from trying to play my ukulele, he has created an epic synth-driven outer space soundscape; of course it’s not a competition but if it was he’d win.

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How did you get into music?
My Uncle bought me a guitar when I was 5 and taught me to play ’3 Little Indians’, and I’ve been singing in choirs since about then too, and so I guess I’ve always been into it.

If you had to pick someone as a main influence who would it be?
It’s really a tie between Brian Wilson and Steve Reich.

Ok, good choices! Who would provide the soundtrack to your life?
I would have to say Starflyer 59, they’re like this Christian shoegaze band and they have these lyrics that are about really simple things. It’s great, I love it.

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If you weren’t making music right now what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a teacher.

What piece of modern technology could you not live without?
Probably my laptop, it’s what I make music on so it’d be hard to live without it.

Who or what is your nemesis?
(laughs) My guitar player is my nemesis.

Really? Is he a secret nemesis or is it quite an open thing?
It’s pretty open, We love each other but we fight all the time.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate ice-cream, you can’t put me in front of a thing of chocolate ice-cream, I’ll eat the whole thing!

If you were making a mixtape for me which 5 songs would you put on it?
‘Come on, Let’s Go’ by Broadcast

Ahh I love Broadcast!
‘God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys
‘I Drive A Lot’ by Starflyer 59
‘California Shake’ by Margo Guryan
‘Teenager’ by Department of Eagles
That would be a really fun mix.

If you had a time machine which era in the past or future would you travel to?
This is going to sound really lame, but I’d probably go back to the dinosaur era.

That’s not lame at all! Dinosaurs are ah-mazing…
Yeah, it would be really interesting to see another evolutionary path, just mind-blowing.

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What would be your quiz specialist subject?
Bible trivia, I went to school to be a pastor when I was 17, I’m not really a Chrisitan anymore but I was the 10th ranked Bible quizzer for a short minute there when I was a kid.

Wow! Do you have any good Bible trivia for me?
Who was the oldest man in the Bible?

Errm…God?
(laughs) God’s not technically a man…It’s Metheuselah who lived to 969 allegedly…

Which 5 people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Socrates, Michael Jackson, Jesus…ermm this sounds ridiculous Michael Jackson and Jesus!, Chris Martin just because I’d like to see him in a room with those people and Mahatma Gandhi.

…and who would do the washing up?
Chris Martin (laughs) no, I’d probably end up doing it myself actually.

Tell us a secret…
A lot of mine are really disgusting, I’m trying to think of one that’s kosher…both my front teeth are fake, I fell of my bike and chipped them as a kid.

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After a week of technicolored, malady although not always technical, capsule undergraduate shows, ailment rife with misdirected or altogether unmanned piloting of a laser cutter, and occasionally some superior sparks of creative genius, we come to the much anticipated collections of MA graduates from the Royal College of Art. A troop of fine tailoring, sophisticated textiles and stellar styling, this year’s cadets are ready for the fray. Recurring in various forms were the bow tie a la 1920′s, pom poms which echoed the catwalks overseas, silicone, galaxy prints and leather in more variations than you can shake a needle at.

WOMENSWEAR

johanne%20andersonX.jpgJohanne Kappel Anderson

Johanne Kappel Anderson’s magpie inspired collection was full voluminous fabrics and illustrative prints, solar dust blasted leathers and super oversized graphic pastels on black. Digitally printed leotards flashed patterns comprised of jewelry, spoons, bolts and found objects just the kind of shiny thing a magpie might take home to his nest. A few prints and shapes seemed to conjure up another winged creature…moths.
Some earthy prints with contrasty ‘eyes’ fluttered down the catwalk… there was even a cocoon jacket!

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Heidi Wikar ‘s collection ‘Singing Silence’ was a series of diaphorous clouds said to be inspired by a Scandinavian landscape’s emptiness. Makes sense…if you were planning to experience it through a window, from the downy comfort of your bed. Puffy duvets appeared trapped in spiderwebs of muted greys, ochres, creams and white. All the shape and volume of modern silhouettes but without the overly structured and cresting shoulders prevalent in so many other collections this year. What resembled a bright orange parachute with clever gathers and seaming became a dress filled with pockets of air and completely weightless. Air itself acted as a material, giving shape and structure to the pieces. Apparently part of a design challenge the entire collection can be packed into one 20 kg rucksack. As if those rosey cheeked fraus needed anymore help looking amazing in the dead of winter.

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Up from the realm of textiles rose an innovative take on shibori by Siofra Murphy. What seems to have started as a super large muted floral print soon condensed into a rippled shell of body-con dresses with necklines that rose around from behind the shoulders like neck supports. Paired with stretchy basics the nuanced surface went from bold to muted but remained incredibly intriguing.

liamX.jpgLiam Evans

Liam Evans presented one the best examples of laser cutting in a year rife with its abuse. Transcending the weighty characteristics of leather, he exploited the laser cutter for the impossible precision it was made to do. With the aid of sturdy zips Evans jigsawed his garments into a collage of ultrafine leathers. Loose motorcycle jackets were studded with an organic arrangement of thorny spikes and paired with chiffon dresses a la 90′s.

rachaelX.jpgRachael Barrett

Inspired by photos in Corinne Day‘s Diary, Rachael Barrett’s collection was a modern assortment of soft feminine silhouettes constructed of a soft silicone rubber. Conservative hemlines and generous shaping gave the illusion of transparent shells revealing moments of black chiffon lace. Clever cutting allowed for ease of movement and portrayed the designers interest in the “trapped space between body and dress”.

MENSWEAR

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Based on a post-apocolyptic Mexican hi-tech tribal gang in LA (that explains the Hollywood flash) that has reverted to Aztec/Mayan rituals and beliefs (still with me?) Alex Mattson’s collection is like a well tailored Malibu super hero’s wardrobe. Full of comic book colors and supple leathers the foam helmets and neckpieces were a cartoony take on the tooth-n-claw talismans of ancient Incans. Only a matter of time before they make their way onto the set of an ‘Empire of the Sun’ video, yes?

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These delicately squiggly pinstriped suits made for one hot ice cream parlor attendant. Keith Gray presented a series of bright and fresh menswear in expertly tailored shirts and snug trousers with tromp l’oeil knits. Dropped crotches and retreating hems kept the whole look impossibly modern 20′s chic.

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The only textiles MA graduate to send a collection down the runway did not disappoint. Louise Loubatieres juggled an exotic mix of bold ikat prints and roomy knits. A rich palette and roomy shapes complete with a 20′s beachsuit. Wonder if Walter Van Beirendonck will be knocking on this one’s door.

luis%20lopez-smithX.jpg Luis Lopez-Smith

As this was a show it’s safe to say that Luis Lopez-Smith was the circus leader. Marching band jackets in various forms and a few green googly-eyed caterpillars adorned a few torsos with the piece de resistance being a puffy vest that looked as though it’d walked right off the set of Terry Gilliam ‘s ‘Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen’
A fantastic display of craftsmanship and impeccable tailoring lent it’s support to an impressively balanced offering of innovative textiles and experimental shapes. All the intelligent risk taking one can continue to expect from such a world class school.
Have you got a favorite of your own?
Browsing old PhD theses, this as you do of the odd grey Sunday evening, you might come across the quiet mindbend that is Stephen Stirling’s ‘Whole Systems Thinking as a Basis for Paradigm Change in Education: Explorations in the Context of Sustainability’. Gosh. Well, you made it past quiet armchair moments (not quite The Foundry of a Friday night) and the obligatory don-speak of Stephen’s title – and somehow you’re still reading, and maybe you’re starting to get the problem I see before us in this article : that, shrouded in the ivory mist of academia, someone has written clearly and thoughtfully about changing the way we think, but a first glance all too easily sees a glut of Greek and runs away. Instead, try putting your head into a mindset quite different:

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Illustrations by Rui Sousa

Everyone tells themselves stories about the world. I’m a student, a writer, a brother. Don’t worry, you’ll not have my life story – not tonight, anyway – but there is one, or several, smoothly edited to my audience’s appetite for imaginary journeys around the world, or encounters with mad professors. But before you pin me down as some grand raconteur, check yourself out, last time you introduced yourself or got chatting to someone new.

Here’s the story-about-the-world jam. We look at the world, then we have a think about it, then we decide what to do.

Mostly, we look at the world bit by bit. Everything has a reason, and we try to find *the* reason. When something needs to be done, the straight way is best. Results delivered, satisfaction guaranteed. Kiss frog, find prince, all shiny.

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Thing is, this doesn’t quite do our complex world justice, and imagining the world inadequately means we’ll make wrong decisions. Instead, Stephen suggests we look at everything all together, relations and systems rather than objects and actions. Be much more sensitive to all of the causes and consequences – the stone scudded across a river sends ripples in all directions, cheers me up a moment, and sinks, tickling a snoozing whiskered fish. Turns up a hundred years later, tumbled bumped and rounded to perfection, and stubs a distant relative’s toe on Brighton beach.

This systems approach was pioneered in, amongst other works, Limits to Growth by Dana Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers – an awesome book, classic of eco-lit, stuffed with graphs from the future that go shwoop-kerbang as people and pollution go up, food and farmland go down, and all the balance of the world’s systems are shown together. There’s a new edition out, a thirty-years-on update, which I haven’t read yet, but is high up on my list, just after ‘The Italian’s Defiant Mistress’.

Stephen Stirling is concerned with getting this kind of joined-up thinking a matter of course, throughout design education, but also throughout education in the more general, lifelong way. There’s a way to go, I can tell you from a wee bit of personal experience. Sat in the back of a GCSE Electronic Products class six or seven years ago, the three marks of my coursework dedicated to sustainability caught my attention for a long three minutes as I knocked off a paragraph to tack on to my project, jumping another hoop. This is about as far as sustainability in design education goes for now.

First off, says Stephen, is changing things we do without changing how we think. So, less waste makes more sense because I’ll save money, whether I care about where it goes or not. Similarly, not growing one single kind of crop year in year out won’t wear out the soil, and helps against pests and disease – good business plan.

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Next level is the change in the way of thinking that goes along with this. Understanding our relation with the world not in the straight ‘man conquer forest’ way but ‘man use a bit of forest but is careful before his greed comes back and kicks him in the teeth’. Stephen Stirling calls it the ‘postmodern ecological worldview’ and suggests it as the best way forward from mechanical modernism and text- and sign- obsessed postmodernism. The 2012 imperative Teach-in, which Amelia’s magazine blogged about back in January, puts sustainability right at the centre of design education in this way.

Finally there’s the kind of wondering that Stephen’s thesis looks to – thinking about thinking about thinking, if you’re that way inclined. Wondering about how we tell stories about the world, and how our ways of telling might change, how they might need to change if we are to learn to live many many moons longer under these skies.

‘Whole Systems Thinking’ and ecological literacy are no longer just things to know about. They should certainly not be mere buzzwords tacked on a Corporate Social Responsibility statement or curriculum check-box and forgotten about. They need to start informing our every action. Eventually, they’ll be as mundane as sitting in a quiet armchair of a grey Sunday evening, flicking through a history of the early twenty-first century green-shift. Here’s to that.

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For anybody out there who ever got given a jumper that was too big for them by doting aunt or grandparent – Hannah Taylor, order the Ravensbourne graduate whose praises I was singing on Tuesday, there is right there with you. Her collection is a paene to the nostalgia attached to the big old jumper, when things were less complicated, when the hemline fell below your knees and when somebody had to tie your shoelaces for you (velcro was always easier, no?). Sometimes, though, you wouldn’t be caught dead in said jumper. Spare a thought for the Weasley children. Mrs Weasley WISHES she could knit this good.

Tell me about making your collection.

Well, most of them I knitted using my domestic knitting machine, and the two with the ‘balaclava faces’ on them, including the balaclavas themselves are hand knitted. Everything is either oversized somehow or has shrunken sleeves, the collection is called “You’ll Grow Into It!”

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Why animals?

As in traditional knitwear which features ‘motifs’ of animals or objects, each animal is a motif to represent ‘Victor’ (my dad) and the North, and kind of tells its own little story. For example, there’s a pigeon because stereotypically everybody up North keeps pigeons in a shed next door to their outside toilet.. The 3 flying ducks are after Hilda Ogden’s living room wall in Coronation Street, and also at home where Victor lives, we had 3 pet ducks. The Fox is a symbol of English Heritage and the sad fact that Victor only now has two ducks because at Christmas one was eaten by, yep, a fox, and the guinea pig is there because i used to keep them when I was younger, and Victor would tell me off for never cleaning them out as much as I should have done. Oops.

What’s your favourite piece?

I love each one you know, they’ve all got their own little stories to tell! However I think it has to be Nigel the Guinea Pig jumper as he is the first one I knitted in the collection.

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It was probably one of the best received in the whole of Graduate Fashion Week – why do you think it appealed to people so much?

Aw thank you! I am really glad people enjoyed it, people were probably a bit surprised by it to be honest, and weren’t expecting that to come out on the catwalk! I had fun with my collection, in both the designing and the making, and hope the light-hearted element was was portrayed as I think everyone has an affinity with knitting in some way, shape or form, be it jumpers knitted for them by relatives or someone else they know. I think in the past few decades knitting has become percieved as ‘humorous’ too, so that tends to make people laugh whereas in the past knitters (and knitting) were taken much more seriously.

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What was it that drew you to knitwear initially?

I just love knitting! I was shown when I was younger by my mum but I was AWFUL – I lost my patience with it but picked it up again when I got a bit older and taught myself. Before I started at Ravensbourne I used to run knitting groups in my hometown of Warrington! I think there’s alot of potential in men’s knitwear, I like to think of a boy and ‘dress’ him in a certain way or feeling. I am looking forward to continuing with it.

There seemed to be a massive amount of knitwear at GFW – have you noticed an increase too and why do you think it’s becoming more popular?

Knitting is becoming more popular, especially the social aspect of it and I wonder if it’s going to die down again at some point. If more people are learning the techniques and processes then they will use this for constructing a garment. I also wonder if it is because people are wanting something hand-made or hand-finished, one offs.

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Apparently Giles Deacon was trying on your stuff afterwards – what did you make of that?

Surprising to say the least! It was quite a fast paced few days going from a bit of last-minute linking an hour before it was due to start(!) to then being put forward for the Gala Shows – I wonder if Giles is reading this? I’m taking orders soon if you want one!

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In the aftermath, would you have alterered anything at all?

No I don’t think so – if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

Where next from here? Where could you see yourself working?

I like Walter Van Beirendonck‘s work, I think he’d be great to work for, although there’s a couple of people i’d knit for as it’s the knitting I enjoy the most. I wouldn’t mind my own studio actually, and be able to do all the knitting there. I’ll be starting at the Royal College of Art in September to do my MA in Men’s Knitwear, a 2 year course in which I’m really looking forward to and eventually knitting up another collection!

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To keep up with Hannah, make sure to keep checking both her website and her blog.

Waking up at around half 11 the last thing that I expected I would be doing today was going to see a band that up until a few months ago I thought I had missed the boat with. But having checked the blur forums (something which has now become part of my flatmate’s and I morning routines during the last few months) I discover that Blur are playing a gig somewhere in London tonight. I should probably explain here that blur are without doubt my favourite band and have been for some time; 13 was the second album I ever bought. Details about are sketchy; all I know is that there are 170 tickets available, drugs that I have to go to Brixton to get one and that they have already been available for the past three quarters of an hour. Shit. I rush upstairs and begin shouting nonsensically to my two flatmates that we have to get to Brixton and fast, there there will be no time for showers (an unfortunate circumstance for fellow tube users given that I spent the previous day travelling and it is a warm day – apologies). Luckily they are on side so we sprint down to the station and navigate our way to towards Brixton, sprinting between tube changes only stopping when we arrive at Brixton to question someone as to where exactly the academy is from there. They give us directions and inform us that we will definitely get wristbands for tonight’s gig as they have just got some themselves. We continue sprinting never the less.
When we arrive we are given pieces of paper with numbers on them – 68, 69, 70. There is a short wait in line and as we are given our wristbands we are warned that when we are informed of the whereabouts of the gig (by email and text) that we should not reveal it to anyone as if too many people arrive it may jeopardise it taking place. Given that I have only been awake for an hour now this is all rather surreal. We reward our efforts with breakfast in a greasy spoon round the corner.
Five o’clock; showered and shaved now we get the email.
Blur will be playing a few songs for the lucky few that have passes at Rough Trade East, Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, today, Monday 15th June.

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Please get to the venue no earlier than 6.30m otherwise you may jeopardise the gig. The band will be on stage at 7pm sharp.”
This time travelling is a much more relaxing experience, there is no panicking when the train pauses between stations and we arrive in plenty of time. Having queued up and taken our spot (front stage, to the left, in front of Coxon’s mike) I talk to someone who tells me that he has been following Blur live since 1995. He looks slightly taken aback when I tell him that this is my first gig. There is a tangible sense of anticipation in the audience, no doubt increased by the intimate setting – when the band do come on stage even though I am three deep in the crowd I rarely more than three feet away.

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The band come on stage Damon strutting, Graham looking slightly awkward, and Alex James once again taking the cool rock star mantle (as opposed to the cool cheese farmer). She’s So High is the first track and in my opinion at least the audience seems unsure of quite how to react, a little awed. Any lingering notions that this will be a quiet gig are soon dismissed though as the band launch into Girls and Boys followed by Advert, the air is thick with the sweat of not just the audience but also Damon as he jumps about the stage much in the same vein as in the mid 90′s and the audience react in kind. Following this we are treated to a version of Beetlebum with an extended muted intro. End of the Century is next, before Graham assumes lead vocals for Coffee and TV. Years of playing solo must have imbued him with an increase in confidence but he still has a tendency to sing into the microphone rather than towards the audience. I would argue that this was more endearing than an annoyance as was a moment later on in the set when Tender was played as neither Graham nor Damon appeared to be entirely sure of who should be singing but simply smiled off the mistake. Out Of time is next up, the only song which is played from Think Tank (the album Blur recorded mostly without Graham). Graham’s new guitar part for me is a welcomed edition personally, though my flatmate disagrees – perhaps it should have been a little lower in the mix. Tender’s sprawling ballad like nature is pushed out even further to include an acoustic only segment near the end before launching back into the full band version. For me this was the best song of the night for a number reasons, not because of the Freudian banter about Alex’s upturned bass functioning as a double bass “It’s anything you want it to be”, yes Damon.

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It is the final part of the gig that audience anticipation reaches its climax in though, Popscene turns the crowd into a manic, sweat filled, pulsating machine. The intensity only increases when this is followed immediately by Song 2 and Parklife. The latter of these two is almost certainly an a grade example of how to whip a crowd into a frenzy, threaten to come off the stage but don’t ever quite do it. Finally the band ends with This is a Low, a song which succeeds in leaving the audience wanting more, staying to shout for an encore which unfortunately is not forth coming.
Perhaps the best thing about last night’s gig was pointed out by my friend, Blur played with such intensive energy that it didn’t feel like you were watching a well established act. Rather a new band that was just starting up and had to make a name for themselves.
1 man. 8 weeks. 15 sites. 41 cities. 50 sofas, prostate beds and mattresses.

These are the numbers in the equation of Lithuanian Photographer Paul Paper’s latest project, unhealthy entitled Photodiaries, which took him around the continent in 2008 and make up the content of a travelling exhibition currently taking up residency at the Senko Studios in Viborg, Denmark.

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Paul explained to me that the only planning that went into the voyage consisted of printing out an A4 sized map of Europe, on which he made small dots with possible “places to stay”, though was only certain of his destinations one stop in advance. He tells me his spontaneous nature isn’t entirely to blame for this; a combination of offers from hosts coming last minute and the uncontrollable unexpected twists of fate, including rail strikes in France, all contributed to a more freeform journey.

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He took all the footage on film rather than by digital means, just how holiday snaps were done in childhood- only processed when back home and removed from the transient content in which they were taken, making one instantly nostalgic to be back on the road. When I asked Paul if travelling alone was a conscious decision he made, he explained “When you are alone you are the most vulnerable and absorbent of the environment. In my case it was really good as instead of chatting I had loads of time to write diary on the train or just reflect on the last couple of days.”

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A comfortable solitude is most definitely present in his work; even those images which contain figures still resonate a quiet contemplation of their surroundings. I find his work to so carefully and accurately capture a glimpse of a moment that may otherwise have slipped away out of memory; his photographs are not sensationalist or arrogant, but subtle and melancholic. You can smell, hear and taste them. They are at once personal and open to interpretation.

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They chiefly occupy themselves with capturing the miracle within everyday monotony. It may be a familiar practise for artists to hunt down and capitalise the rare and special from amidst the overlooked mundane, but Paper manages to use light and focus rather than say image cropping or careful composition to achieve this, which I find impossibly impressive.
Paul Paper is a man of simple pleasures. He daydreams, he sleeps, he walks and he eats. In winter he reads in bed about faraway places and long ago travellers. He finds company in animals and comfort in books. He also happens to take heartbreaking photographs, the ones of which he took around Europe late last year have been made into a zine by Cafe Royal. He cites his favourite subjects to photograph as people and awkward situations.

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Paul Paper already has invitations to stay in homes in South America and Asia if Photodiaries is to be repeated across another continent in the future. I ask him what his future plans are looking like, though I only get a vague response; “Exhibitions, exhibitions, exhibitions. And maybe a book.” This only cements my impression of Paper as someone who is fairly content with what he has; A man who is happy to be a photographic observer to life’s little miracles and common tragedies, there to enjoy the ride and document it the best he can.

And the way he can, and does, is certainly best.

A few weeks ago, stomach Amelia and I attended a conference presented by Resurgence Magazine, what is ed a publication which promotes ecological sustainability, social justice and spiritual values. It was held on a Saturday, and to be honest, it was such a glorious warm sunny day that I wondered how I was going to be able to spend seven hours indoors. I needn’t have worried, because the time flew by, and every moment was spent in the company of wise, witty and informed people. What I discovered on that day was invaluable, and I soon realised that lazying around outdoors could wait, I had some learning to do.

The talk was entitled “Economic and Environmental Recovery: From Downturn to Steady State: Creating A Better World To Recover From The Credit Crunch And The Nature Crunch”, and was chaired by the Editor of Resurgence Magazine, Satish Kumar; alongside was Fritjof Capra, the Director of the Centre for Ecoliteracy in California and Ann Pettifor, the Editor of the Real World Economic Outlook. What seems like a wordy title actually translated as a disarmingly simple message; in order for the worlds economic problems to be solved, we must all switch to a truly sustainable and ecological way of living. As I was soon to discover, far from being two separate entities, the issues of economics and ecology are more closely intertwined than I would ever imagined.

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Illustration by Joanna Cheung

Held in Cecil Sharpe House, Regents Park,home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The morning began with a talk from Ann Pettifor. While I have a few holes in my knowledge of how the economic system actually works, I could easily follow the discussion because Ann was extremely engaging and explained the complex system of economics and trade in a way which everyone could understand. Beginning by describing the relationship of commerce and environmentalism; “If we want to help the ecosystem we have to start with finance” and went onto highlight the direct correlation between easy money/consumption and emissions, adding “we have been convinced that the most important things is money, but what is important is our labour and how we exchange it. Money creates activity, it is not the result of it. Banks should not be at the center of the economy, labour and trade should be.”

After a short break, Fritjof Capra explained a few home truths to the audience. Not being familiar with his work, I was unsure of what to expect. It soon was obvious that this prolific author had his finger on the pulse of sustainability and the transdisciplinary world of ecology and economics. Capra was keen to promote the importance of what he deemed as ‘qualitative growth’, and viewed the current economic system as outdated and in dire need of an overhaul so that it can run harmoniously with a brighter ecological age.

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Illustration by Sachiko

Directing his thoughts towards the current economic crisis, he opined “At the basis is an economic system without ethics. To lift people out of poverty, you need redistribution of money, not economic growth. But equally, no growth is not the answer, growth is a characteristic of all life; in nature it is not unlimited. What we need to have is ‘qualitative growth’, not ‘quantitive’ growth. Since what we call growth is largely waste, actual growth is what enhances life. The planet is a living, self regulating system, and evolution is a co-operative dance. The over expansion of financial services is parasitic on the economy, economists only recognise cash flows, but no other form of wealth. Unlimited quantitive growth is unsustainable, whereas qualitative growth can be sustainable if it combines growth and decline. ”

“We need to distinguish between good and bad growth. Bad growth degrades ecosystems, while good growth involves zero emissions and renewables. The projects which would qualify as ‘good’ growth tend to be small scale projects, community orientated and create local jobs.”

After lunch; we listened to a dialogue between Satish and Fritjof . Speaking about how we can learn from nature, instead of taking from it, Satish explained “In nature, there is always decay, death and rebirth. Businesses are petrified by these concepts. In society we fear death, we equal it with failure. Our economic system isn’t resilient. ”

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Illustration by Sachiko

Capra added to this assertion. “The economy is in the hands of half educated people. Every lesson on economy has to be balanced with ecology. Right now, everything is about the economy. When you put this first you put human interest above the rest of the world. When you look at forests, seas, lands, it is as a resource for us. We have to change our world view, and see that natural resource is our friend, our community. But right now, we all suffer from ‘speciesism’. The holistic world view says that we are ‘nature’, in that we are as much nature as the trees, flowers and mountains. So by this definition, we need to think differently. Our world view needs to be more biocentric, and needs to be driven by hope and by love. The meaning of life is in the living. The things that give us most pleasure cost us very little money.”

Discussing the issues of how our food, clothes and general accruements of life are flown in from other countries, to a detrimental cost to our environment, Satish and Fritjof both advocated a radical change. “60% of our living should be local, 20% should be regional, and the rest should come from other countries. The problem is not consumerism, but waste”

Later on, we sat outside in the gardens of Cecil House. By chance, a group of banjo players were strumming not far from our patch, which made for an enchanting experience as Satish guided us though a conversation which took in life, love and the universe. Quoting Ghandi‘s words “Be the change”, he advocated that personal transformation needs to be first before we can transform the world. “The past, present and future exist simultaneously” he said, and our every thought should be beautiful, creative, warm and positive. Not exactly your stereotypical economics lecture, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Resurgence Magazine runs several workshops throughout the year at various locations, if they are half as insightful as this conference then I am signing myself up for many more, and urge you all to do the same.

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Illustration by Sachiko
The second Ravensbourne wunderkind I managed to have a few words with was another menswear designer Calum Harvey, help whose standout collection, cheapest constructed from mostly unwanted materials, search won him the Textiles Award and showed us innovation in recycled fashion at its most potent. It was futuristic fashion that was actually – steady yourself- forward-thinking.

At fashion shows designers are falling over themselves to give us visions of the future pulled forth from the realms of their imaginations: modern lines, silver shellsuits and sci-fi accessories. Stylistic interpretations that are otherwise meaningless and often completely disconnected from a more earthy reality. It would almost be too earth-shatteringly avant-garde to imply that sustainable fashion is the real future, and it’s a problem I wondered about when I covered TRAID a couple of weeks ago. Right on cue, Calum (with a little help from his mother) is really using his imagination and beating down that path.

First of congratulations on your win – how do you feel?

Thank you very much! Well I’m ecstatic. As a menswear designer, to be nominated alongside dedicated textile designers is overwhelming. It”s been really exciting.

Tell me about your collection – how did it come about?

Well the project first started when my Fiat Cinquecento was scrapped, and as a reminder of her I decided to keep the seat belts. I began to research the partnership of recycling and fashion for my dissertation, and it was the scrapping of my car that started the process. Usually scrapped cars get sent to Africa or Russia to create landfill, and I found out that 95% of a car can be recycled. Over the Christmas break I realised that, when de-constructed, seat belts completely change and look so different – really delicate and fragile. It’s amazing. They are all different, made in different ways, using different yarns, resulting in different colours. So it’s all unraveled (a-hem) to dictate this 9 outfit collection.

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Do you plan to continue working with recycled materials? Where do you think you could go from here?

From a young age working with unwanted materials always excited me, and this has stuck. I created a small clothing and accessories label, LONG LIFE, that dealt with ideas of recycling and re-using. These issues are both environmentally and economically important for everyone. I love the idea of altering purpose and function of materials, and I love making something new from something old. So yes, I will continue working with ideas of recycling!

How would you desribe your design signature?

I’m a bit of an OAP WANNABE. I love classic menswear with an element of risk/irony and humor.

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There was a strong showing of both craft and knitwear at GFW too, wasn’t there?

Yes, and I think there will be more of that to come. People are falling back in love with old craft techniques, perhaps as a reaction to fast/mass produced fashion. There is so much you can do with knit, and it can act as such a spring board for design. You are self sufficient as well, no more trips to Shepherds Bush!

What was your inspiration for the collection? Who are your influences?

I went to the library and got loads of books out on South Polynesia. I was amazed at their scarification techniques, raw and abstract wood carvings and ceremony costume. I think this reference was an easy relation to the material I was working with. And obviously working with shredded seatbelts was a major influence on how I wanted the collection to look.

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Which piece are you most proud of, and which caused you the most grief?

My favourite piece is the chunky knitted jumper that my mum flew over to knit. It’s a monster. It was a good chance to show Mum a week in a fashion student’s life! The most evil piece was the final fluffy coat. It took me and four friends three days to comb over three hundred shredded belt pieces. Because each belt is different some of them don’t go fluffy, and as a result I ran out and then I had to get more…it was tough!

How did you think the show went?

I was really overwhelmed when the show happened, hearing my music (Crawl by Kings of Leon) and seeing it all go out was amazing. I was running around hemming trousers and stitching on buttons minutes before they all went out and that was stressful, but it was the best moment of my life.

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What are you plans for the next 12 months?

Over this summer time I want to spend more time concentrating on the LONG LIFE brand and making a more diverse range of bags and other accessories. I’m going to start an MA in menswear at the Royal College of Art as of September, so lots of sleepless nights I’m guessing!

In the run up to UCA Epsom‘s show at Graduate Fashion Week, approved James E Tutton was burning the edges of a brushed silk shirt from his first collection – ‘Oil on Water’. When asked why he simply claims; “the material melts and finishes itself.”

James’s designs are dark, advice sharp and are a new age approach to tailored menswear. Biker jackets and trench coats with one regular sleeve, page and one raglan sleeve are just one of the quirky details found in his collection. He explains “When designing my graduate collection I had in mind what John Keats would have worn, when he penned his famous poem, ‘Ode on Melancholy’ – but in this day and age.”

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Mood reflective, the clothes are black with an emphasis on melancholy; reversible shirts demonstrate the highs and lows of a manic depressive’s state of mind. In an interview James says, “melancholy; a high or low mentality – it is the main plot. It seems to go hand in hand along the pathway of creativity.” Although interestingly, Keats’s preoccupation with “Beauty that must die” seems to be countered by James’s ability to recycle and remake beauty.

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A mac made of Burberry Prorsum is a key piece in his collection; the inside lining is traditional Burberry beige – representing a higher mood, whilst the outer colour remains black. It’s not an easy job to pair conventional tailoring with melancholy – but this collection is far from bleak.

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James’s design, pictured alongside Petra Taoujni’s

James focuses on androgyny in his designs; hard seams with no curves are combined with feminine fabrics – producing slim, angular silhouettes. “It’s about, how far can you push the conformity of menswear – without breaking all the rules?” He says. All of the seams have sharp edges and corners – to put forth the notion of harshness; at the same time the material is fluid and soft – the juxtaposition is edgy yet chic. James adds, “I tried to keep things simple while blurring the boundaries by having two things together that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.” I think his complex and contradictory mix of ideas have a dark yet beautiful outcome – that makes perfect sense aesthetically.

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In the midst of a recession, second hand or vintage are less of an option and more of a must. Many find the balance of old and new a difficult struggle, and stick to either or. It’s refreshing to see a designer whose collection includes a jacket made entirely from old seventies leather, while the burnt edges of the shirts and tops add to the deconstructive dimension.

The accessories are made from recycled film reels; James says this was inspired by the underground film maker Arthur Lipsett – whose work is regarded avant-garde and innovative. He describes each look in the collection, “as a combination of the previous looks, getting bigger and madder each time – like a Russian doll.” ‘Oil and Water’ is a reflection of James himself; contradictory in thought, yet smooth and cohesive – in its final form. He states, “Oil and water don’t mix – but look as if they do. It’s a dirty rainbow in a puddle.”

Photos: Catwalking.com

It’s Recycle Week! Look out for events near you.

Monday 22nd June

Voting begins for Climate Rush feminism poster.

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Carbon Trading Workshop

In association with Climate Camp, pill come join a Carbon Trading Workshop with Kevin Smith (Carbon Trade Watch) and watch a screening of The Carbon Connection documentary.

When world leaders negotiate a new climate agreement this December, they will promote one solution above all others: carbon trading. The EU already has its own carbon trading system; in the US, Obama is working hard to push a ‘cap-and-trade’ system through Congress. But what is carbon trading? What is the theory behind it? How does it work in practice? Kevin Smith will give a critical perspective on market-based solutions to climate change.

Please email london(at)climatecamp.org.uk to book a place.
19.00 – 21.00
(£3 suggested donation)
BASH studio
65-71 Scrutton Street
London EC2

Tuesday 23rd June

Out of the Wasteland: Hope for a greener world

A talk with Dr Richard Chartres, part of a series in association with the City of London Festival. Looking at what hope there is for London to turn itself into an environmentally friendly city. Gresham College is an independent institution, founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1597, of eight professors who give free public lectures.

6.15pm, St Paul’s Cathedral, OBE chabel.
Info: Gresham College lecture list.

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Crude

A screening of this new documentary with director Joe Berlinger present to discuss the making of the film. Crude has been shortlisted for the International Documentary Award at the upcoming One World Media Awards. It is the inside story of the infamous Amazon Chernobyl case, which pitted 30,000 indigenous and colonial rainforest dwellers against the U.S. oil giant Chevron.

At the Flea Pit, 49 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG
7.30pm (nearest Tubes – Old Street/Bethnal Green)
Space for this screening is limited – but we’d love you to come (and there are spaces left as this blog post is going to print)! Please email contact(at)oneworldmedia.org.uk if you would like to come.

Calais No Borders Camp

This Tuesday sees the beginning of the Calais No Borders Camp, planned to continue until the 29th June. Protesting an end to borders and freedom of movement for all, building links with migrant communities, challenge the authorities on the ground, and protest against increased repression of migrants and local activists alike.

The camp will take place in the park in rue Normandie-Niemen, East Calais, France.

Cape Farewell – Andes Expedition, Peru

Working with the Environmental Change Institute, Cape Farewell are setting off on an expedition with artists and scientists to visit shrinking glaciers, cloud forests, lower forests, areas of deforestation & the Amazon. Follow them online where the crew will be sending back live updates from the trek.

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Photo by scientist John Fisher, from a previous Cape Farewell expedition.

Wednesday 24th June

Seeing Myself See

The Royal Society of Arts joins Radical Nature to present neuroscientist R. Beau Lotto performing a series of experiments involving the sky, music and bumblebees. He will demonstrate how colour, vision and seeing-ourselves-see can contribute to a more empathetic view of the environment and each other.

Free. Tickets must be booked.

The Royal Society of Arts
6 John Adam Street
London WC2N

Thursday 25th June

Guerilla Gardening

Part of the Radical Nature season at the Barbican. Have you thought of the horticultural potential of neglected spaces? How can we resist urbanisation using nature? For well-rehearsed tactics, strategies and instructions join South London based guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds, as he explores the colourful world of this illegal yet flourishing gardening movement.
Barbican Art Gallery, Redgrave Suite, Level 4
7.30pm, tickets £5, book here.

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Age of Stupid

Another chance to catch the Age of Stupid, directed by Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out), with Pete Postlethwaite as the last guy alive in a climate-fried world.
At the Haringey Independent Cinema (map), 7pm

Friday 26th June

Eco-Design Summer Fair

Eco-Design Fair over the weekend presenting many contemporary designer-makers focussing on sustainable design processes.

Friday evening Recycling party special: multi-media event with design, fashion, music, DJ’s and more. Organic drinks and food, an eco street chic styling area, eco and vegan fashion and beauty.

Times: Friday 5pm – 9pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm
Free entry with a donation of an old mobile phone
Dray Walk Gallery, Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery, off 91 Brick Lane, London
Contact – Louise Kamara – info(at)ecodesignfair.co.uk

After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions

Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and Darwin’s great-great-granddaughter, the poet Ruth Padel, are two of four artists and writers who have created new works for the Natural History Museum’s summer arts exhibition After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions.

The exhibition will feature new film and installation commissions from Jeremy Deller and Matthew Killip in collaboration with Professor Richard Wiseman and Diana Thater, alongside existing video work by Bill Viola. New literature, commissioned from award winning authors Mark Haddon and Ruth Padel, will also form part of the exhibition, which explores Darwin’s book ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’.

Opens 26 June
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

Saturday 27th June

Sheep and Wool Day at Vauxhall City Farm
Dyework is a workshop dedicated to traditional textiles. Come and see our sheep being shorn and then the fleece being spun into yarn. Lots of woolly craft activities and woolly items to buy. Fun for all ages. Relax with a cup of tea and a slice of cake
11.00 – 16.00
Vauxhall City Farm, 165 Tyers Street, London
Contact – Penny Walsh – 020 8692 2958 – pennywalsh(at)dyework.co.uk

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Sunday 28th June

Insider London’s Cutting-Edge Green Tour

Insider London tours take you round hidden corners of London’s flowering sustainable community. Browse through gorgeous shops, witness futuristic architecture and connect with inspiring communities.

A maximum of 8 spaces are available, letting the group get to know each other and to foster networking.

The green tour leaves from the Bishopsgate entrance of Liverpool Street station, finishing at the Oxo Tower around 3 hours later. Halfway through, there’s a fairtrade coffee break at one of London’s stunning green venues.

To book, email bookings@insider-london.co.uk, mentioning the London Sustainability Weeks special tour and stating the date you would like to attend, at least 48 hours in advance.

2pm (meet from 1.45pm)
£25 (Special rate for the Festival)
Meet at Bishopsgate entrance of Liverpool Street

Contact – Cate Trotter – 0844 504 8080 – catetrotter(at)gmail.com
Small Words
Novas Contemporary Urban Centre
73-81 Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 0NQ

Until 3rd July
Mon – Sat 10:00am – 5.00pm
Free Entry

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A truly unique exhibition in that all exhibiting artists are under the age of 10. Galactica Hilton ( age of 9), cure Benjamin McGowan (age of 7) and Marguerite Fox (age of 8) present Small Worlds, this site a fascinating exploration into a child’s world “with the incredible sense of adventure and knowledge that only exists within the minds of children; wonder still intact, sildenafil with emotion etched on their faces.”

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Design High
Loiuse T Blouin Foundation
3 Olaf Street
London W11 4BE

25th June – 30th August
Tues-Friday 10am-6pm, Thursday 10am-9pm, Saturday midday-6pm
Closed Sunday & Monday
Free Entry

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Exploring the ties as well as the tensions between form and function, craft and fine art, the Louise T Blouin Foundation is featuring a series of educational events, discussions, lectures and workshops as well as an exhibition in collaboration with the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Artists include Marc Quinn, Pablo Reinoso, Thierry Dreyfus, Vincent Dubourg and Sebastian Brajkovic.

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Craftaholics
The Old Queen’s Head
44 Essex Road
London N1 8LN

27th June
12:00 17:00
Free Entry

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A well loved spot on the London craft event circuit, The Old Queen’s Head is having an afternoon of handmade craft and ethical products from designer clothing to jewellery to dolls and everything in between. There promises to be homemade treats to gobble, booze to glug and music to tap your feet to. And the best part of it all? It’s completely free!

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Make Your Own Damn Festival!
The Sun & Doves
61 – 63 Coldharbour Lane
London SE5 9NS

25th June
7 – 10pm
FREE

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As part of Camberwell’s Art Festival this week the lovely folk at Stitch and Bitch London are taking over South London’s artsy pub The Sun & Doves and running a ‘Make Your Own Damn Festival!’ workshop with a knitted theme for all those interested, from beginners to old maestros. Wool and needles provided but feel free to bring your own.

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Situationisn’t: Works Inspired by a Society of Spectacles
The DegreeArt.com Gallery
30 Vyner Street
London, E2 9DQ

23rd June to 28th June
12:00 – 18:00

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“Joe Upton presents an eclectic range of works using 3D Film and Mixed-Media. In this week long exhibition Upton invites the audience to engage in ‘pseudo-activities’ which break the conventional roles of spectatorship through an immersive 3D Film installation and participatory Paint-By-Numbers.Inspired by the avant-garde movement of Situationism, Upton transposes the theory of The Society of the Spectacle to the modern day. He questions our role as producers and consumers of culture and explores themes of novelty value, pop culture and commodity fetishism.”

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Life Drawing Classes
12:00 14:00
Various Locations
Free Entry

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As a prologue to the upcoming Channel 4 broadcast this July in which the nation will be taught the skills and techniques of life drawing, a series of free classes are being held across the city and throughout the country, led by John Berger, Judy Purbeck, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume and Humphrey Ocean. In a different location every lunch-time, the first-come first-served classes are free but there is no advance booking. For full details click here.

Mondays 22 & 29 June 2009
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street
London EC1V 9LT

Tuesdays 23 & 30 June 2009
The House of St Barnabas
1 Greek Street
London W1D

Wednesdays 24 June & 1 July 2009
The London Graphic Centre
16-18 Shelton Street
London WC2H

Thursdays 25 June & 2 July 2009
The Place
17 Dukes Road
London WC1H 9PY

Fridays 26 June & 3 July 2009
Channel 4 at Frances House
11 Frances Street
London SW1

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The Sustainabilitree Show
Artsdepot
Tally Ho Corner
5 Nether Street
London N12 0GA

26th June – 6th July
12:00 – 16:00
Free

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Curated by Melanie Warner, after whose own biodegradeable sculpture, standing 3 metres tall and made from corn and starch based bioplastic, the show is named; this diverse collection of media from emerging British Artists aims to inspire and provoke debate around issues of sustainability and the environment.

Under, viagra 40mg over, pharmacy under, website like this over… who would have thought a spot of weaving could help me feel better? These past few weeks have been some of the most stressful of my life as a designer living in London. Worries about my degree work, money and job hunting have caused huge amounts of stress and, as I’m sure many would agree, we all need a bit of escape once in while.

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Perhaps unusually, I’ve turned to crafting. I’m using a weaving loom brooch I made, to relieve my current feelings of anguish. I’ve always been a crafter and I’ve always turned to creative expression as an antedote to life’s pressures. I chose my graduating year as a design student at Goldsmiths to explore my relationship with craft further. After all, craft’s recent resurgence in popularity can be identified as a reaction to current circumstances. The craft trend highlights the importance of homemaking in people’s lives.

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During this time of recession it seems logical to ‘make’ more. If you’re strapped for cash but want a new outfit why not try and make one? For me, the perfect alternative to a days shopping with the girls is a crafty party. Offering situations for discussion, laughter, relaxation and production, the beauty of these parties is no one has to be an expert; everyone can learn off each other and inspire each other.

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The parties celebrate our natural instinct to make with our hands, and we gain a sense of achievement from the production of a handmade object. There’s something hugely satisfying in wearing something you made and you’re proud of. Hosting crafty parties led me to the realisation that craft could be powerful. Now I just needed to convince more people!

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I designed to encourage the crafter in everyone. I made a series of ‘craft in transit’ garments allowing the wearer to be creative whenever and wherever the mood takes them. The crafty dress holds a variety of tools, and when worn and used forms a space and opportunity for creation. These portable tools for creative expression allow the wearer to make use of times of unproductivity. Using a portable weaving loom whilst the bus you’re sitting on is stuck in traffic is a rewarding experience. Although there might be a few strange looks, the ability to be creative avoids the feelings of frustration usually given when using public transport. Equally, wearing your crafty ring to the pub to meet your mates makes crafting both recreational and fashionably different.

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By reclaiming craft we leave behind its traditional past and we celebrate its contemporary relevance. Craft offers a cheap and creative alternative to our over-consumption, and I believe by turning to craft during these stressful times we can celebrate ourselves as creative individuals, as makers, as designers. So why not host a crafty party this weekend, go ahead, make stuff – I’ll soon be doing a how-to guide right here at Amelia’s Magazine if you need some ideas!

Check out my website for more information and to buy my crafty jewellery, www.esterkneen.com.

Not going to Glastonbury? Don’t be sad, try turn that frown upside down and come to these!

Monday 22nd June
Wavves at the Luminaire, London.

Wavves are playing The Luminaire tonight, ride the wave of their reverb-y surfer noise fun!
Also keep you eyes peeled this week for our interview with San Diego’s strangest, we talked about murder, Arrested Development and crypto-zoology.

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Tuesday 23rd June
The Thermals at Cargo, London.

The Thermals are heating things up at Cargo with their catchy simple punky indie rock. Short, snappy and fun.

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Wednesday 24th June
Jamie T at Electric Ballroom, London.

Jamie T, the third best thing to come out of Wimbledon after Wombles and myself, has made something of a turn around with his come back, more noisy, angry and punk that before Jamie T proves he’s not a one-trick pony.

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Thursday 25th June
Groanbox at the Luminaire, London

Groanbox bring their rootsy American folk to the Luminaire.

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Friday 26th June
White Light/ Daft Drunk at the Lexington, London

Dance your woes away at White Light/ Daft Drunk at the lovely Lexington; it’s free so you can gloat about saving all that money by not going to Glastonbury!

Saturday 27th June
Neil Young in Hyde Park, London

Is there a more magical way to spend a Saturday evening than watching Neil Young perform in Hyde Park? A gig that is not to be missed.

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Sunday 28th June
Upset the Rhythm at Barden’s Boudoir, London

Upset the Rhythm never fail to disappoint, the brilliantly dreamy Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the breezy High Life and Graffiti Island play Barden’s Boudoir

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Open Sesame! is a critical glance of our own world, order a view of nothingness, dosage by German sculptor Isa Genzken.

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Although the doors of the recently refurbished Whitechapel Gallery are not programmed to react to the shout of any contemporary Ali Baba, cialis 40mg crossing the threshold is still a magical experience. Open, Sesame! is not merely an exhibition, but a complete retrospective –the first one in London– of the work of an art world veteran. The fusion of photography, painting, architecture and ‘objets trouvés’ in this sculptural body of work has influenced several generations of artists, the British Rachel Whiteread among them. I’m talking about the awe-inspiring German artist Isa Genzken who is already in her fifties. The route around the exhibition is a trip through the artist’s life, starting with her earliest works from the seventies on the first floor. Genzken reflects on emptiness, our loss of humanity along with the de-humanization of the city, and our inability to communicate.

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The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. And from the beginning of your journey throughout this exhibition it becomes clear that windows are one of Genzken’s biggest obsessions. She perceives them as empty frames, without glass; absurd and cold; devices for looking at absolutely nothing. The works provide an insight into Genzken’s perception of humanity’s achievements which in her eyes, amount to nothing.

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In the same space we can clearly see the topic of lack of communication in World Receivers, a huge radio and two speakers made of concrete ruins in 1987, just a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Up in the second floor (Not to be missed the lamps by Tobias Rehberger as you go up in the staircase), whoever is not paying attention to the notices and doesn’t know much about Genzken’s work, may think the work in the upper galleries is by someone else. Objects here are much closer to the ordinary; concrete, glass and plaster have been swapped by the leftovers of consumer culture. We are now told: we are what is around us – we are what we consume.

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Her later work is pleasantly disconcerting; an optimistic container (thanks to her use of bright day-glo colours, reflections and glitter), for critical (and sometimes pessimistic) content. In general, the scene is distressing but colourful: walking aids for elderly people, wheelchairs like old sluts with too much make-up, and soulless dummies, with trolleys in their hands and gas masks on their faces, outlandishly glammed-up for a decadent Street Party which could be the non-stop Berliner Love Parade at 7am. A chance for the human being to get out of his boring routine and forget the bossy super self which keeps him tied to social mores.

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One thing is clear: Genzken’s sculpture is influenced by architecture as much as architecture is influenced by her sculptural-way of thinking. Many of her works are ironic scale models for larger structures for two of the cities where she has spent her life: New York and Berlin. New York models are made of pizza boxes, found plastic and artificial flowers like those found on graves. Her Social Facades are superficial walls, without any depth, which integrate the image of the spectator into the art object itself. After all, Genzken’s perception of architecture is as the human being’s reflection. But the most controversial building proposal of the show is her alternative to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Although the fate of this space has already been written (with the building of six skyscrapers for business purposes), Genzken proposes two glass towers instead of the Twin Towers, covered by images of the 9/11 catastrophe as a memorial, a hospital, and a twenty-four-hour nightclub. Who said Germans don’t have sense of humour?

After seeing handicraft and sculptural techniques on show from so many graduates recently, seek it’s a pleasure to see the spirit also in the works of more seasoned designers. Investing traditional craft ideas to fashion is Swedish knitwear specialist Sandra Backlund, and whose handmade designs combine fashion, this art and craft to create what seems like architecture for the human body.

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Backlund first came to public attention in 2007 at the Hyères Fashion Festival, winning with a daring collection entitled ‘The Ink Blot Test’, building her knitwear into a three-dimensional garment, as if brick by brick, until it became what she describes as appearing “a symmetrical accident”. It’s a method of working that derives from her tendency to build from ideas, rather than sketches, which allows the process of design to become a more organic, and perhaps emotive, experience.

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A graduate from Stockholm’s Beckman’s School of Design, Backlund has worked for Louis Vuitton but now is at the helm of her own eponymous label. There she is free to experiment in search of increasingly new shapes and silhouettes for the body, through constantly changing knitwear techniques.

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She views her pieces as art, admitting she approaches her work less as a tailor, more a sculptor. Usually found isolated within her studio knitting away for twenty hours a day, she acknowledges the pressure within the fashion world to renew oneself to stay on top, but she prefers to “recycle ideas”, always working with the human body as her inspiration. Trend, it seems, is an admirably redundant concept for Backlund.

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The act of making as a source of well-being is a theme we’ve constantly returned to at Amelia’s Magazine in recent months (something Ester Kneen will be exploring more tomorrow) and Backlund similarly draws strength from this feeling of therapy, and has said “when others write poems to deal with themselves, I do fashion”.

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It’s a warming idea that mingles with Shakespeare‘s assertion of both the healing and transformative capacities of making art in whatever form, and indeed, Backlund more than anything seems concerned with that sartorial transformation – anything else would be insufficient. Indeed, she likes to create from the ground upwards, saying that it’s heavy wool collage knitting that she finds most rewarding as it allows the freedom to actually construct her own fabric from scratch to work with.

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Perhaps the most valuable impression of her designs comes from an emphasis on timelessness, an increasingly relevant strength pertaining to the credit crunch movement towards more classic pieces. As handmade knitwear they are also the beneficiaries of a uniqueness abstracted from homogenised fashion – ultimately creating what she views as ‘the real thing’. As we race towards the future at breakneck speed, with reality gradually living up to some existentialist nightmare, the real thing has never seemed more important.

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Factory legends A Certain Ratio were making a rare appearance tonight in deepest Camden, more about as part of the Beat Happening Sessions at Dingwalls. One of the original Factory troubadours (contemporaries of Joy Division, viagra dosage initially managed by the late, great Anthony H Wilson himself) and the band that played the infamously empty opening night of the Haçienda, ACR created a fusion of funk, dance, edgy post-punk and even a smidgeon of world music which, though perhaps overshadowed by Talking Heads’ own exploration of those avenues, was nonetheless deeply influential and can still be heard in the likes of Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem.

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There have been quite a few changes in personnel over the years – original singer Simon Topping (one of the stand-ins for Ian Curtis at that ill-fated Joy Division gig in Bury) is long gone (apparently now a piano tuner in Nottingham!), so vocal duties have now been taken on by bassist Jez Kerr. Alongside Kerr, original members Martin Moscrop (guitar and trumpet) and Donald Johnson (drums) remain, with additional vocals being supplied by Denise Johnson (veteran backing singer to the likes of Primal Scream, Happy Mondays and the Bernard Sumner-Johnny Marr sideline, Electronic) and additional horns and keyboards coming from another member of the old Factory family, Tony Quigley (formerly of the jazzy Kalima).

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After a brief Q&A session with the audience, ACR launched into a set that featured a fair smattering of Factory-era classics, such as the wah-wah driven punk-funk of Do The Du and the spare, reverb-laden Flight. They also showcased the title track from their latest (impossible to get hold of) album, Mind Made Up, which gives the classic ACR sound a fully contemporary makeover. One real surprise was a cover of Joy Division’s Heart And Soul, which more than did justice to the original.

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With the audience, many of whom were, shall we say, of a certain age, getting their groove on, ACR encored with their most well-known song, a cover of Banbarra’s funk classic Shack Up, before signing off with a taste of Carnival in the instrumental samba-fest of Si Fermir O Grido, which allowed the crowd to shake some serious booty.

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Though A Certain Ratio’s live forays and recorded output may be much less frequent these days, their music still sounds as vital as it ever did, and they can still pull off a stunner of a show.

Live photos also by Richard Pearmain

Categories ,Cold Wave, ,Factory Records, ,Indie, ,Manchester, ,New Wave, ,No Wave, ,Post Punk, ,The North

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Amelia’s Magazine | Back To The Future(sonic)

Undercover: Lingerie Exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

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“Welcome to Limehouse.” With those words, about it Jarvis Cocker set off on the latest instalment of his 30 year musical odyssey, visit this site launching into set opener Pilchard from his new solo album, Further Complications. For such a long, often tortuous journey which began at a Sheffield secondary school and the formation of what was originally known as Arabicus Pulp, the Troxy did seem a rather apt stopping point – a former theatre turned bingo-hall in the deepest End End, where Stepney and Limehouse blur into each other, now restored and reborn as an unlikely concert venue.

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In fact, Cocker did remark, in his own inimitable way, that the place reminded him of an ice-rink from his youth, where he went to “cop off” with someone, and you still half expected to hear calls of “clickety click” and “legs eleven”, even as support band the Horrors were going through their Neu! meets Echo and the Bunnymen infused motorik indie.

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There were a few half-hearted requests from parts of the audience, but tonight was most definitely a Pulp-free zone (the presence of longtime sidekick Steve Mackey on bass was as near as we got). The set leant heavily on Cocker’s sophomore solo effort, which has a rockier, heavier edge to it than its’ predecessor (not surprising given the pedigree of producer Steve Albini). That said, old Jarvis still has the wry wit and subtle smut that made albums like Different Class such stand outs back in the day (witness news songs Leftover and I Never Said I Was Deep), and he still has plenty of those weirdly angular dance moves up his sleeves. As if that weren’t enough, he even dusted off his old junior school recorder skills on the introduction to Caucasian Blues.

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A couple of numbers from Cocker’s debut solo album made an appearance towards the end of the set, including a driving Fat Children, whilst the encore opened with Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time. We ended on the closer from Further Complications, You’re In My eyes (Discosong), where Jarvis appears to channel the spirit of Barry White – there was even a glitterball to dazzle the Troxy’s faded glamour.
As Jarvis took the adulation of the massed faithful, it seemed like, after a bit of a wilderness period post-Pulp, old Mr Cocker has most definitely got his mojo back.

12 June – 27 September 2009

The Fashion and Textiles Museum‘s summer exhibition hopes to present the evolution of underwear over the last hundred years. The result is a lacklustre exhibition with a thrown-together-in-minutes appearance.

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The exhibition is organised into areas covering research, more about innovation, seek materials, order celebrity, marketing, print and colour. Despite the ‘evolution’ title, there isn’t any sense of a chronological representation, apart from a small part of the opening corridor of the exhibition where underwear is displayed by year.

It is here where the most interesting pieces are displayed. Beginning with a Charles Bayer corset from the 1900s, we take an (albeit short) walk through the brief history of underwear. There are great examples from Triumph International – then a pioneering underwear brand, now underwear powerhouse governing brands like Sloggi.

We see a sanfor circular conical stretch bra, reminiscent of Madonna’s iconic bra designed by John Paul Gaultier in the 80s (which the placard reveals, to nobody’s surprise, is where JPG sought his inspiration).

In the main arena, there are corsets hanging from the ceiling, of which there are 8 or 9 examples. The corset, as the information details, is one of fashion’s most iconic items. So how can so few examples tell us anything we didn’t already know? Only one of the artefacts is pre 21st century – most are borrowed from burlesque ‘celebrities’ such as Immodesty Blaze and Dita von Teese – hardly representative of underwear’s evolution.

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The bulk of the exhibition centres around print, pattern and colour, and again the exhibition relies too heavily on modern pieces, with a small scattering of interesting M&S items. This area, again, relies too heavily on modern underwear – usual suspects La Perla and Rigby & Peller extensively featured – but other key brands, such as Agent Provocateur, fail to get even a mention.

Pioneer of modern underwear Calvin Klein isn’t covered nearly enough as he should be, save for a couple of iconic 1990s white boxer shirts. In fact, men’s underwear isn’t given any coverage at all, which is a shame considering this exhibition’s bold title.

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This exhibition does hold some key pieces, and regardless of what I think, it’s definitely worth seeing if you are a fashion follower. Its many flaws could have been ironed out with more attention to detail, and it’s a shame that the FTM isn’t more of a major player in London’s fashion scene. If you want to see stacks of salacious, expensive, modern-day underwear, why not just take a trip to Harrods? They have a larger selection and don’t charge an entry fee!

Dear Readers, symptoms

I am writing to share something a little bit special with you. We all know that warm butterflies-in-the-belly feeling when envelopes arrive through the letterbox with your name and address handwritten carefully on the front with a return address of a friend or lover on the reverse, pilule a beacon of personal correspondence among a mundane plethora of bills, more about takeaway menus and bank statements. How much more sincere is a ‘Thank You’ or a ‘Sorry’, how much more romantic is an ‘I Love You’ or ‘Marry Me’ when it comes in pen to paper form rather than digitalised and, heaven forbid, abbreviated via modern technological means.

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Letter writing may be an old fashioned and somewhat dying art, one that we all claim to still do or intend to do, but actually don’t make time for in a world of convenient instant messaging, free text plans and social network sites, but Jamie Atherton and Jeremy Lin refuse to abandon the old worldly ways of communication just yet.

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Finding their stationery was like being invited to a secret society for letter writers, a prize from the postal Gods to congratulate and reward all those who participate in mail exchanges, to inspire us to keep going to strive on and not let the Royal Mail network collapse from lack of traffic. The more I find out about this creative pair of gents the deeper I fall under their spell. Two handsome young men, madly in love with each other, one English one American, live together in London nowadays but in the 12 years that have passed since they fell head over heels they have lived in San Francisco too and co-created Atherton Lin, the name under which they produce, distribute and sell their products.

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Their work, such as the collections of Winter and Summer greeting cards, is as collectable as it is sendable. Each of the four cards in a set tells a tale; funny, sentimental, melancholic and earnest. They strive to avoid clichés or overused formulaic recipes for ‘commercialised cute’, but instead the boys have created a world of butterflies, badgers, bicycles and balloons, using recycled materials and harm-free inks. It is not just their illustrated correspondence materials that Atherton Lin have become known and adored for, that paved the way to being noticed by and sold alongside Marc Jacobs’ wears and tears, as well as being stocked at places such as London’s ICA, LA’s Ooga Booga and San Francisco’s Little Otsu.

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Working on the basis that not all correspondence is text, stationery therefore does not have to be exclusively on paper. With a nod to their burgeoning passion for mix tapes, which featured heavily through their transatlantic courtship, they created artwork for a series of blank CDs. The pair have collaborated with a number of talented outfits such as the musicians Vetiver and Elks, and for a book of poems published by Fithian Press, in addition to eye wateringly lovely calendars.

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They cite their inspirations to include the charmingly unaware wit of Japanese stationary with its mysteriously nonsensical English translations, Peanuts comic strips, the lyrics to strumming shoe gaze bands such as Ride and poet Dylan Thomas. Having conducted the first three years of their blossoming relationship as long distance partners, they perhaps know better than anyone the value and worth of the handwritten word, the virtues of patience while awaiting the postman and the magnified importance of every tiny detail when letters are sustaining your longing heart.

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Now that I’ve been well and truly bitten by the Atherton Lin bug, I have an overbearing urge to dig out my address book and scribe catch up letters to friends in far-flung corners of the globe, and those just around the corner. And for the scented pastel coloured envelopes about to reach the letterboxes of my acquaintances in the next couple of weeks, you have Jeremy and Jamie to thank, for restoring my faith in the romantic, timeless pastime of writing letters.

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Yours ever so faithfully,

Alice Watson
Last Thursday, order I negotiated my bicycle through the customary crush of Trafalgar Square to the RSA, find for a talk by R Beau Lotto in association with the Barbican Radical Nature series. Beau heads up Lotto Lab, whose aim is to explain and explore how and why we see what we do (do check out their website) – mainly through looking at how we see colour, which is one of the simplest things we do.

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All images by R Beau Lotto, courtesy of Lotto Labs

Here’s a quick science bit, which he gets in at the beginning of the talk to a packed full lecture theatre – light and colour are not the same. Light can be represented on a linear scale. It has just wavelength and intensity. Colour has three bits to it. So it’s much more complicated to describe : hue (red-green-blue-or-yellowness), brightness, and saturation (greyness).

The whole talk is full of questions I asked as a six-year-old, and I’m left with a kind of wide-eyed amazement at how clearly everything is explained and presented – I’ll pick out one of the most satisfying.. Why is the sky blue? This is one to try at home. Get the biggest glass bowl or see-through container you can find, and fill it with water. Shine a desk lamp through it – the lamp’s now the sun and the water space. If we had no atmosphere, the sky would be black with a bright sun – as it is from the moon. Now add a little milk at a time to the water, stirring as you go. As it spreads through the water, the milk will scatter the light like the atmosphere does, and at the right level, will scatter blue. Add a bit more, and you’ll make a sunset – the longer-wave red light scatters when it goes through more atmosphere, as sunlight does when it’s low in the sky. Add more again, and it’ll go grey : you made a cloud, where all the light scatters equally.

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The colour of space changes. We never quite see the surface of anything in the world – we see the result of the light shining, the character of the surface, and the space in between. So colours really are brighter in St Ives than Old Street. So the patterns of light that fall onto the eye are strictly meaningless.

We learn to see. We find relationships between things we look at – the context of anything we look at is essential to how we see it. This is what the ‘illusions’ spread through this article show so bogglingly. And context is what links the present to the past – we associate patterns with what we did last time, and learn from it. Beau asked at one point for a volunteer from the audience. I was desperately far back, in the middle of a row – smooth escape from that one. But the demonstration itself was quietly mind-blowing. A target was projected on the screen, and Rob the lucky volunteer was asked to hit it (this as a control – the exciting bit comes next). Next, he put on a pair of glasses which shifted the world 30 degrees to his right. Throwing again, he missed by miles. After a few goes, though, Rob’s whole body movement changed and he hit the target every time. Then he took the glasses off again, and immediately missed the other way – his mind had learnt for that moment to see the world utterly differently.

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We don’t see the world as it is – in fact it doesn’t make much sense to talk about the world ‘as it really is’ – only what’s useful. Colour, for example, is great for not being eaten by orange tigers in a green jungle. We constantly figure out what is ‘normal’ – and what should stick out from this normal. So… there are no absolutes – only perceptions of a world relative to a changing normal. No one is outside of this relativity. We are all defined by our ecology. We all learn to live in the world that’s presented to us – and that in a very relative way.

Beau has four ‘C’s that he leaves as teasing thoughts – Compassion, Creativity, Choice and Community. And this is where, if you’ve been reading along wondering quite why I thought this was a good idea for an ‘Earth’ article, I started thinking about the way we tell stories about the environment, the way we tell stories about what happens in the world around us. Getting your head around different mindsets could be wonderfully informed by these ideas – things like understanding how to persuade business profit-heads that sustainability is the only way to long-term profit, or grassroots activists that FTSE 500 companies have been organising and managing disparate groups of employees for years – there’s surely something to learn there.

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Knowing that everything we do – down to something so simple as seeing colour – is essentially informed by what we did before, and the kinds of context we’ve ever been exposed to – this can only add possibility to whatever buzzes round our brains : more compassionate, as we see where others might have come from; more creative, questioning these reflexes; more conscious in our choices, if we think a little past the instinctive; and more communal, in a broad sense, as we’re each a unique part of a whole, all sharing in individual perceptions and histories.

That was what I took from it, anyway. Do get in touch, or leave a comment, if you saw any other cool patterns here – I’d be intrigued to hear.

Come July 16th, ampoule Amelia’s Magazine will be packing the bikini’s, sunglasses and factor 15 to rock up to one of the biggest highlights of our social calendar. Continuing our Festival season round up, we are going to focus our attention on the Daddy of the European festivals; Benicassim. Building rapidly in status, this cheeky Spanish live wire began its incarnation in 1995, but even then it was reaching for the stars, with heavy hitters such as The Chemical Brothers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Stone Roses headlining. Now firmly established as a major player on the summer festival season, Benicassim is the ultimate go-to when you want your music fest to go easy on the mud, and heavy on the sand, sea and sun.

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Desde Escenario Verde by Oscar L. Tejeda

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Getting back to the music, the organisers have come up trumps for this years festival. Just in case you were unaware of the lineup, allow me to share the treats that will be in store if you’ve got tickets. Top of the bill will be Oasis, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. It is not just about the headliners though, Beni makes sure that there is something for everyone, and while most acts indie rock , the many stages showcase plenty of other genres, such as electronica, experimental and dance. Each night will see a plethora of fantastic and diverse acts and my personal favourites that will make me nudge through the crowds to the front are Telepathe, Glasvegas, Paul Weller, Tom Tom Club, Friendly Fires, The Psychedelic Furs, Lykke Li and my BFF Peaches. With guaranteed sunshine and a beachside backdrop, it promises to be a memorable event. While the 4 day passes have all sold out, there are still one day passes available for Thursday 16th July. You might consider it impractical to get down there for just one day (not that we are going to stand in your way), but if you happen to be passing through the Costa De Azahar around that time, then why not get yourself a wristband, grab a Sol and pitch up?

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You know, the more we think about it, the more we realise that Benicassim is tailor made for Amelia’s Magazine. As our loyal readers know, we are strong supporters of all things sustainable and environmentally friendly and Benicassim is leaps and bounds ahead of many of the other festivals in terms of environmental awareness. Having been awarded the Limpio Y Verde (Clean + Green) Award by The European Festival Association, Beni is serious about taking initiatives which minimise the impact that a festival causes. For example, to offset the Co2 emissions that are generated while the festival is underway, they are creating an authentic Fiber forest, which has come as a result of planting over 2,000 trees during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 festivals. For those attending the festival, the organisers have laid on a number of shared transport facilities to get to and from the site, including frequent shuttle services into town and bicycle hire. Once inside the site, ticket holders will find that there is a strong and active recycling policy, with different bins for glass, plastic and paper and reusable glasses in the bars and restaurants which are made from biodegradable material. Several charities and NGO’s will be on hand – look out for the stands where Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Action Against Hunger and Citizens Association Against AIDS amongst others will be distributing information.

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Bear in mind for future visits to the festival (or if you haven’t yet booked flights to get there), that there are various options for how to get to Benicassim that don’t involve flying. While most people will be boarding planes, the options of rail, or even ferry as transport can turn the holiday into a completely different experience. Spain has a fantastic and well regulated rail system, with all major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia operating trains to the town of Benicassim. Full details on how to arrange your rail itinerary are here . If you were interested in beginning the journey by ferry, (information on routes can be found here there are regular services from Plymouth to Santander, or Portsmouth to Bilbao (both cities have rail links that will get you to Benicassim). Otherwise, there are plenty of ferries from Dover to France, if interrailing it through part of Europe was also a consideration. Obviously, these options are considerably longer than flying, but there is something much more civilized about this way of travelling, and you get to see much more of the country which is hosting the festival, and that can only be a good thing.

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Fibers En Zonas De Acampada by Pau Bellido

For more information on Benicassim, go to Festival Internacional De Benicassim
Bless-ed: Superimposing The Thought Of Happiness

Cosa
7 Ledbury Mews North
London W11 2AF

10th July – 31st July

11am – 6pm Tuesday – Friday
12pm – 4pm Saturday

Free

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“Artworks created from smashed vinyl records and recycled packaging. Hot on the heels of their highly successful New York show, no rx Robi Walters & Leanne Wright, side effects aka ‘Bless-ed’, dosage hit London with their unique series of collages and constructed works featuring smashed vinyl and recycled packaging. “

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Robots

The Old Sweet Shop
11 Brookwood Road
London SW18 5BL

10th July 2009 – 25th July

Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm
or by appointment

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Image: Doggy Robot (Detail) by Ellie Alexandri

“Do you remember when robots were a futuristic fantasy? The Old Sweet Shop gallery’s latest exhibition takes a warm hearted look at these retro-tinged creations through the eyes of up-and coming artists and illustrators, peeking into the inner world of clunking creatures built to make human lives easier. ‘Robots’ will appeal to all ages, and features a diverse range of talent in many different media.”

Robots exhibition featuring work by: Alec Strang, Emily Evans, Freya Harrison, Moon Keum, Vinish Shah, JMG, Catherine Rudie, Hanne Berkaak, Cristian Ortiz, Elli Alexandri and Serge Jupin.

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Antony Gormley: One & Other

Fourth Plinth
Trafalgar Square
London

6th July – 14th October

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Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, ordinarily reserved for statues of the bold and brave, is staging one of the most exciting art ventures of the year. Under the direction of Anthony Gormley a steady stream of voluntary contributors will, every hour on the hour for the next 100 days, be occupying the space to create, make, do or perform as they wish. One such selected applicant is Tina Louise, whose slot will be Sunday 12th July, at 11am. She plans to stage “involves a bit of a sing-along where I am inviting various choirs, a Muslim call to prayer man, some whirling Dervishes (fingers crossed)” and invites you all to get down there this week and help celebrate human diversity in all it’s glory.

Find out more about Tina here.

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The Museum of Souvenirs – The Surrealist Photography of Marcel Mariën

Diemar/Noble Photography
66/67 Wells Street
London W1T 3PY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 6pm

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An exciting UK premiere of Belgian Surrealist Marcel Marien’s photographs taken between 1983 and 1990. Marien was a master of many trades, and not all of them art based; as well as being a poet, essayist and filmmaker, he branched out as a publisher, bookseller, journalist and even a sailor.

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The Importance of Beauty – The Art of Ina Rosing

GV Art
49 Chiltern Street
Marylebone
London W1U 6LY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Friday 11am to 7pm
Saturday 11 am to 4 pm
or by appointment

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Inspired by her interest in inner silence and beauty, Ina Rosing’s work sails through immovable mountains and vibrant red flowers with dignified grace and spirituality. She explores the personal yet universal connections with landscape and culture, asking where and how can we capture the true importance of beauty using graffiti-like political and environmental messages.

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James Unsworth: I Love You Like a Murderer Loves Their Victims

Sartorial Contemporary Art
26 Argyle Square
London WC1H 8AP

8th July – 30th July

Tuesday – Friday 12:30pm – 6pm
or by appointment

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James Unsworth is not a new name for us here at Amelia’s Magazine, having featured him a short while ago in Issue 8 of our publication, but this new collection of work from the controversial outspoken illustrator and filmmaker takes his hyper-unreal visions of all things dark and disturbing to a new level. The movies and photographs use low-budget charm and dangerously close to the bone references to murder, sex and dismemberment to win us over, free our minds and freak us out, not particularly in that order.

Monday 6th July
Why? The Garage, buy London

“Why should I go and see Why?” you ask.
Well, cialis 40mg because Why? are probably one of the most innovative exciting bands around at the moment their albums Alopecia and Elephant Eyelash are very high up on my “Most-Listened-To List”. Fronted by the excellently named Yoni Wolf, Why? fuse hip hop and indie rock to create something totally unique. Wolf’s lyrics are strangely intimate and often funny; bar mitzvahs and Puerto Rican porno occassionally pop up- and why not?

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Tuesday 7th July
!!!, The Luminaire, London

Here are two facts about !!!
1. You have probably had the best time dancing to them.
2. According to Wikipedia: !!! is pronounced by repeating thrice any monosyllabic sound. Chk Chk Chk is the most common pronunciation, but they could just as easily be called Pow Pow Pow, Bam Bam Bam, Uh Uh Uh, etc.
So go along to the Luminaire and make strange noises (“thrice”) and dance your socks off.

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Wednesday 8th July
White Denim, Heaven, London

White Denim are the best thing to come out of Texas since ribs and good accents, they have been compared to Os Mutantes and Can which is no mean feat. Expect a healthy dose of psychadelia with a smudge of grubby rock n’roll

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Thursday 9th July
The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Kill It Kid, The ICA, London.

What are Fat Cat doing on Thursday?
Oh, you know, just being as awesome as ever at the ICA.
Fat Cat seem to have excellent taste in music, and the three bands playing tonight carry on the high standards of Fat Cat label veterans like Animal Collective. Expect melancholy and sweetness from The Twilight Sad and post-punk from the others. Lashings of fun all round.

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The Weekend
Loop Festival, Brighton.

Let’s go to the sea! Brighton’s Loop Festival; a celebration of music and digital art has the most mouth-watering line-up ever. Fever Ray, Karin from The Knife‘s solo project, play alongside múm, the hot-to-trot Telepathe (pictured) and Tuung to name but a few. If I were going I’d invite them all to make sandcastles with me afterwards…hopefully they would.

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Monday 6 July

Whose landscape is it anyway?

Nicholas Stern and Ramachandra Guha consider the tensions between environmental concerns and industrial and economic development in South Asia today.

£5 including day pass to Royal Botanic Gardens, mind Kew.
6.30pm, cost British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1.

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Illustration by Joanna Cheung

Tuesday 7th July

Garbage Warrior Film Screening

The epic story of radical Earthship eco architect Michael Reynolds, and his fight to build off-the-grid self-sufficient communities.

7pm (86min), Passing clouds, Dalston (review + directions)

An Alternative Energy Evening?·

Lecture and Panel Discussion?· Professor Vernon Gibson, with Jonathan Leake, ??Chief Chemist of BP, in discussion with key experts in the field of sustainable and renewable energy.
Please join us to hear the latest on this hot topic.

Free to attend. Admission is by guest list only.
??Email events@weizmann.org.uk to reserve your place.
+44 (0)20 7424 6863?  www.weizmann.org.uk

7pm
Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
London SW7 2AR

Wednesday 8th July

Renewable Energy, All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group meeting with WWF

Dr Keith Allott leads the discussion.

4-6pm, House of Commons, Westminster SW1

Thursday 9th July

Conflicting Environmental Goods and the Future of the Countryside

Caroline Lucas MEP talking on possible futures.

Contact – judithr@cpre.org.uk
5-7pm, The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, EC1

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Illustration by Faye Katirai

A Climate Mission for Europe: Leadership & Opportunity

Lord Browne, Roger Carr, Lord Giddens, John Gummer MP and Roland Rudd

8–9.30am
Royal Academy of Engineering,
3 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y

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Illustration by Michaela

Wise Women Speaker Event: John D Liu

John D Liu speaks on integrated poverty eradication and large-scale ecosystem rehabilitation. Since the mid-1990′s he has concentrated on ecological film making and has written, produced and directed films on many aspects of the ecology. In 2003, Liu wrote, produced and directed “Jane Goodall – China Diary” for National Geographic. Hailed as a visionary for the future, Lui is director of the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) and will discuss his groundbreaking work.

RSVP: polly@wisewomen.me.uk

7pm, ?£10 on the door
The Hub,Islington,
Candid Arts Trust,
5 Torrens Street, London,
EC1V 1NQ

Friday 10th July

The End of the Line

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Imagine an ocean without fish. Imagine your meals without seafood. Imagine the global consequences. This is the future if we do not stop, think and act. The End of the Line is the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Rupert Murray.

7pm, Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2.
Contact – events@frontlineclub.com

Saturday 11th July

The Artic And Us

Lemn Sissay discusses the making of the poem “What If”, inspired by his recent trip to the Arctic to highlight climate change.

£7, 3.30pm, South Bank Centre

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Illustration by Lea Jaffey
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This year I spent a record six days at Glastonbury. On Tuesday we set off from London with a mission to “tat” along the way. Tatting is a favourite occupation of the fictional Wombles and is a process central to Climate Camp – it basically means relieving skips and front gardens of useful discarded objects – such as sofas, pilule chairs, tables and carpeting – for reuse in another situation. En route to Glastonbury we managed to fill the van up with various items including a full set of dining chairs that looked swanky but collapsed as soon as we sat on them and a rather manky looking mouldy mattress. It was pointed out that this would seem the lap of luxury after a couple of days in a field with no soft surfaces to rest upon, so we duly lugged it into the van. In fact we needn’t have worried – the mattress was left out to air as soon as we arrived and stolen almost immediately. Desirable already!

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Our journey had an added frisson of excitement given the rumour that everyone was being locked out of the site at 10pm every night. Fortunately (and thanks to GPS on my poncey new iphone) we made it to Pilton Farm on time, whereupon we were greeted by the cheery sight of our big red and yellow marquee. It seems that making merry in the fields of Somerset has turned into a week long affair for many, so vast quantities of people were already cruising the fields, beers in hand.

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For us there was still much work to be done, so in the morning we dressed our area with significant amounts of bunting and colourful flags that we had screenprinted beforehand, all bearing Mia Marie Overgaard‘s beautiful artwork.

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Climate Camp was given a generous corner of an otherwise predominantly camping field – with a big fire pit in the middle and a yurt (housing Ecolab‘s Future Scenarios exhibition) demarcating one corner. Around the yurt I strung the story of Climate Rush so far – printed upon weather resistant banners that billowed dramatically in the gusty winds.

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By the field boundary a “tripod stage” had been constructed – an inspired bit of naming that made reference to the grand pyramid stage down where the rabble doth hang about.

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As we beavered away to beautify the site some classic festival munters pitched up and decided to erect their box fresh tents directly under our Welcome to Climate Camp banner – thereby easily misleading the public in to believing that they were indeed Climate Camp. Within minutes they were yelling “Ogee-ogee-oy” at each other through a megaphone. I kid you not. They were the perfect festival munter cliche right on our doorstep. Needless to say these same creatures left an absolute disaster zone in their wake when they left the festival – but more on that later…

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Many more Climate Camp kindred spirits arrived as we sorted out our space, and by Thursday many curious festival-goers were stopping by to listen to a bit of music or take a wander around our exhibition. Danny Chivers delivered his usual wonderful poetry to a rapt audience and Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors (set up in honour of Joe Strummer and named after a Clash song) took a turn on the stage.

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Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors provides guitars with which to rehabilitate prisoners through music, and the two lads playing for us had since left prison and are trying to build a career in music. After a shy start they were soon regaling the receptive crowd with tales of prison life and left amidst promises that they would return, possibly with the real Billy Bragg in tow – a rumour that quickly gained momentum but was sadly never fulfilled.

Then out of nowhere came possibly our most exciting idea yet; instead of just teaching how to take direct action in workshop form, we would actually do some mock actions right there in Glastonbury. It all seemed too good an opportunity to miss – this year Greenpeace had created a full-on third runway experience, including a miniature Sipson with it’s own international airport which was clearly ripe for the blockading.

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We all donned one of the Climate Camp t-shirts that I’d printed up (I’ve been on a bit of a screenprinting frenzy) and marched noisily down to the Greenpeace field with our tripod and an orangutan in tow. As you do.

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Twenty people blockaded the entrance to the bemusement of passersby, as faux security guards tried to pull them off and the orangutan climbed triumphantly to the top of the tripod. It was a pretty good re-enactment of a real direct action, until actors hired by Greenpeace waded in and stole our thunder with some attention grabbing shouting.

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On Thursday night there was the most spectacular storm, with torrential rain pouring down off our Climate Change is Pants bunting (made from, erm, pants, of course) and into the tent as we sheltered from the monsoon. It stopped just in time for our Mass Night Game, for which I played the part of a security guard (they’re never far away on a direct action)

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As each team arrived at our base in the stone circle they had to climb the tripod as fast as they could before the guards could pull them off. In one surreal moment as the dusk fell some real Glastonbury stewards materialised in pink dayglo waistcoats to my yellow dayglo one, and really confused both themselves and those playing the game.

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As evening fell a group of us went off to discover the new Shangri-La area, where a gaggle of totally drunk pre-pubescent girls fell into us yelling “Michael Jackson’s dead!” Soon the whole festival was ringing with the news – as well as his back catalogue – though we all remained uncertain about the veracity of the rumours and decided to spread a counter rumour that Timmy Mallett was dead. Looking back it was odd that noone seemed particularly sad to hear the news, but then I think most of us have already mourned the cute little black boy who vanished under drastic surgery long ago. It was almost as if Michael Jackson had been one big fat joke for so long that his death was as fantastical and unreal as his life had become, and therefore hard to take seriously.

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The rest of the festival was spent in a whirlwind of outreach and fundraising. I wasn’t so comfortable with the bucket rattling, but luckily others were brilliant at it and we managed to raise loads of much needed cash to help put Climate Camp on this year.

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I spent most of my time chatting to people, both in our field and out around the Green Fields area. And of course taking lots of photos – because that’s where I feel most comfortable of all, recording everything that we do for future posterity.

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We facilitated another few mini direct actions – one day in defiance of the cheap flights on offer in the mock travel agents in Shangri-La, and on another using arm tubes to blockade the mini village of Sipson.

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Friends wandered by to see me but I didn’t really go further than the Green Fields for much of the festival. I have a love hate relationship with Glastonbury and tend to be happiest away from the seething crowds down near the main stages. There were a lot more police on site this year and there were at least two arrests in our field, presumably for drug dealing – thus we found ourselves offering solidarity to the friends that were left behind “we get arrested quite a lot you see…” We got the paddling pool out when it was especially roasting, and I jumped in with all my clothes on before rushing onto the path to offer wet hugs to passersby.

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On my rare trips down to “Babylon” I got in a mild panic – huge crowds of fucked people crashing into me is not my idea of fun. Bruce Springsteen was a major disappointment and I only saw brief bits of Blur from the very back of the field before wandering off to find a friend at the Prodigy, where I got thoroughly freaked out by the gazillions of men and women screaming “smack my bitch up” at the top of their voices, I mean – I like the tune, but there are some totally suspect lyrics going on there. Over by the John Peel stage I was amused to see a huge (high as a skyscraper) board of protest banners bearing one of the Climate Rush picnic blankets from our Heathrow protest.

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It was very surreal to see it high above me, when last it was sitting in a crumpled mess in my hallway. On more than a few occasions we found ourselves at the uber decadent Arcadia area of an evening.

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It was the ultimate irony that the closest stage to Climate Camp featured hugely wasteful gas flares that shot into the night and made a mockery of our frugal ways; any energy savings made by our solar powered camp so obviously swallowed in the dystopian heat of the dramatic flames. Needless to say we were drawn to Arcadia like fossil fuel moths, dancing under the sizzling spectacle with all the other revellers, all part of the same species careering towards self-destruction.

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But back to the beautiful green space of Climate Camp, where our little tripod stage proved to be a real winner. My trusty music editor Roisin had contacted some music prs a mere day or so before I left for Glastonbury and secured performances from the wondrous First Aid Kit and the equally brilliant 6 Day Riot. First Aid Kit arrived fresh from a gig on the Park Stage with their parents in tow, and wowed everyone with a simple acoustic set that highlighted their delicate use of harmonies.

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Unfortunately I missed 6 Day Riot due to outreach with our “aggie animals” whereby a homeless alcoholic orangutan, polar bear and tiger went out to engage with the general public.

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The idea was to subvert the traditional cutesy perception of said animals, a plan which worked really well during the day, but in the evening faltered as the distinction between performance art and actual fucked festival munter blurred to the point of impossibility. Especially when one of our animals spewed into the bushes in a prize bit of method acting (she’d just downed a pint of homebrewed cider)

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On Sunday afternoon we held a random raffle, which was made possible by blagging prizes from various stalls and performers during the course of the festival. A large amount of people were happy to part with cash to purchase a raffle ticket, and a small crowd was persuaded to attend the actual event, compered with aplomb by our resident poet Danny. Prizes included the beer can that Jack Penate had allegedly drunk from (won by a child, woops)

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It was all beautifully ramshackle but seemed to entertain. The girl who has inadvertently become part of this year’s logo (by virtue of an image of her at the Kingsnorth camp that is strewn across the interweb) stopped by and did some dazzling acrobatics on our tripod stage.

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By the evening I still hadn’t managed to figure a way to get out of the festival so I ended up staying on until Monday evening for “tat down” – taking down the tents and sorting stuff to be transported back home. The mattress that we had lovingly cleaned made a sudden return, and small children started to circle our site like hyenas on the look out for valuable abandoned belongings, and undrunk alcohol (festie children eh?! Cheeky buggers!)

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Stories reached us of people leaving their tent for one moment and returning to find it removed within moments by opportunistic “tatters”. I went on a roam of our general area to search for useful stuff, but returned feeling sick to the pit of my stomach and unable to take anything for myself.

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Is it really that much hassle to take your pop-up tent home? What kind of person abandons so many reusable things? Do you really have that much disposable income in the age of the credit crunch? The festival munters camped under our welcome banner departed leaving a wasteland behind. Piles of rubbish streaming across the ground, a stereo, blow up mattresses, perfectly good tents (not pop-up!) – debris of an unaware society.

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I returned home exhausted, but already formulating plans to put forward Green Kite Midnight as the Climate Camp house band next year – a celidh would really have set things off a treat. Until then there’s always the Big Green Gathering, where we’re house band for the Last Chance Saloon. Come see us there!
At Glastonbury when not navigating through guy ropes clutching half drunk bottles of cider with dirty shorts, order haystack hair and generally looking like I’ve emerged from the mountains, medicine I like to ‘do’ things. Last year, store I paid eight pounds to have an astrology reading, where I crouched goggle-eyed in a small tipi opposite a warm, smiling, apple-cheeked evil money-sucker who ethereally told me the biggest pack of lies you’ve ever heard.

Eight pounds! Not going back there, NO WAY JOSÉ! Given the size of Glastonbury, there are, of course, a multitude of ways to enjoy yourself in the most concrete and non-superstitious of manners – in fact, in the spirit of ‘Reclaiming Craft’ making something with my hands seemed the perfect antidote. On the Thursday Amelia’s Magazine floated on over to the Green Craft Fields where we found ourselves in a tent filled with lots of small drawing children. On the other side were some adults milling around a life model like no other. Life-drawing: a sensual sketching of the nude human physique? Less so if it’s an unshaven superhero clad in a spandex bodysuit and purple pants – and that’s Mr Spandex to you and I. So I got involved, producing a multi-angled ‘sketch-book’ of questionable quality that sadly got ruined when my tent turned out not to be waterproof, but while it’s destruction is in fact probably a blessing for the art world, I appreciate that such a catastrophe may have accidentally granted my artistic skills with an unearned aura of mystique.

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Chatting to the mistress of ceremonies Leanne afterwards, she told me a bit about R-ART, their creative collective based in East London. They are fusing ideas of art and fashion in an interactive and educational capacity, providing holiday workshops, after-school clubs and Saturday schools; all with a push towards sustainable making, free-thinking and responsibility that’s locking horns with that image of the pie-eyed child with a peanut-butter sandwich in one hand and a Nintendo controller in the other on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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Set up by Leanne and her friend Ita and developed with eco-entertainment company BASH Creations, they naturally play the big sister role to the kids, with a sole mandate to lighten the ecological footprint of the British entertainment industry and to teach them the heart behind the making of things with your own two hands. Given my own scribbling skills, I too belong at the children’s table, a bit like Jack out of that Robin Williams film (except not really, I do get ID’d a lot, so I don’t look that old. But I digress.)

One of their projects involved working with Nova Dando, constructing a couture gown out of old copies of the Financial Times, which again, in its trashionista spirit hammered home the process of recycling making and getting everyone involved – children doing couture! Great stuff.

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To get in touch and to find out their workshops and other upcoming projects, visit their website at www.r-art.co.uk, or e-mail Ita and Leanne at us2@r-art.co.uk. Look out for a report on how it all went down at Glastonbury for them too – if you too managed to swing by their tent let us here at Amelia’s Magazine know about it!
Futuresonic is one of the most stellar event’s on Manchester’s musical calender. Not only does it symbolise (to me) the beginning of the summer festival season but it’s one of the most musically challenging and varied events of the year. Unlike so many other festivals it doesn’t concentrate on the commercial or press friendly artists but solely musicians and artists alike who constantly flaut convention, view breaking boundaries and sticking flags in musical territories previously unchartered. Rarther than touting the Guardian‘s Top ten of 2009 it digs a little deeper and promotes some of the more interesting artists from around the globe in a myriad of genres like Electronic, drugs Metal and Bastard Pop!

After 13 years of pushing the envelope the organisers have managed to do it again this year. Beginning with Murcof, information pills they have shown that music can be ever changing and that when seamlessley combined with other mediums of artistic endeavor can create something truly original and mind expanding.

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First on the RNCM main stage is Manchester based (Skelmersdale born) Denis Jones with his bone shaking ryhthm’s and dirge infused shouts and beats looped back through a whole host of pedals and electronic gadgetry. Projected behind this is a sextuplet of Denis’s, or should that be Den-i, layered on toip on one another to compliment the layering of clucks, slaps, plucks and claps. Having seen a few artists these days who do a similar thing it’s great to see someone do it so intricately and beautifully on a large stage to a strong audience. It can be rather sloppy and the point can be lost in the masses of equipment that I don’t know the first thing about. As he meanders his way into a vibrant crescendo it’s easy to see why Denis is being hyped as a musical giant of the future.

To contrast with this high octane solo operation comes Icelandic composer Johan Johansson with the Iskra Quartet, who create sombre laptop and piano accompanied string pieces that I feel comfortable in equating to classical Estonian Raconteur Arvo Part. These pieces are complex but the delicate sounds are all somewhat identifiable to a techno dope like myself. The sounds are highly mellifluous and they toggle between Melancholy and high drama evoking the counterpoint of Moondog at times. With a break before Murcof I had an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the moment which led me almost to tears, the air was rife with emotion but anxiety of what was to come soon remedied this.

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As the curtain re-opened, behind a sheet of white, is lurking who we can only assume to be Mexican electronic music pioneer Murcof. We know Anti VJ (comprised of Joanie Le Mercier, Simon Geilfus and Nicolas Boritch) must be hiding somewhere but as there is only one other face in the shadows we can’t be sure who it is. As a faint hum begins, a tiny spec of light appears in the centre of the sheet which grows as the music explodes into loud bursts. The dot becomes a sprawling mass of spider webs and creates a haunted house like atmosphere that’s not for the faint hearted. From this we travel through a myriad of imagery such as a multifarious star system and regimentally swirling, shooting stars accompanied by Lygeti-esque composition. The imagery at all times compliments the minmal soundscaping of Murcof fantastically but neither is at any point subdued. For me there couldn’t have been a better way to kick off the 13th Futuresonic and the festival season as a whole.

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All photos by Anne-Laure Franchette

Categories ,Classical, ,Composition, ,Electronica, ,Futuresonic, ,Iceland, ,Jazz, ,Manchester, ,The North

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Amelia’s Magazine | Antony and the Johnsons: Live Review

Undercover: Lingerie Exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

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“Welcome to Limehouse.” With those words, about it Jarvis Cocker set off on the latest instalment of his 30 year musical odyssey, visit this site launching into set opener Pilchard from his new solo album, Further Complications. For such a long, often tortuous journey which began at a Sheffield secondary school and the formation of what was originally known as Arabicus Pulp, the Troxy did seem a rather apt stopping point – a former theatre turned bingo-hall in the deepest End End, where Stepney and Limehouse blur into each other, now restored and reborn as an unlikely concert venue.

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In fact, Cocker did remark, in his own inimitable way, that the place reminded him of an ice-rink from his youth, where he went to “cop off” with someone, and you still half expected to hear calls of “clickety click” and “legs eleven”, even as support band the Horrors were going through their Neu! meets Echo and the Bunnymen infused motorik indie.

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There were a few half-hearted requests from parts of the audience, but tonight was most definitely a Pulp-free zone (the presence of longtime sidekick Steve Mackey on bass was as near as we got). The set leant heavily on Cocker’s sophomore solo effort, which has a rockier, heavier edge to it than its’ predecessor (not surprising given the pedigree of producer Steve Albini). That said, old Jarvis still has the wry wit and subtle smut that made albums like Different Class such stand outs back in the day (witness news songs Leftover and I Never Said I Was Deep), and he still has plenty of those weirdly angular dance moves up his sleeves. As if that weren’t enough, he even dusted off his old junior school recorder skills on the introduction to Caucasian Blues.

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A couple of numbers from Cocker’s debut solo album made an appearance towards the end of the set, including a driving Fat Children, whilst the encore opened with Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time. We ended on the closer from Further Complications, You’re In My eyes (Discosong), where Jarvis appears to channel the spirit of Barry White – there was even a glitterball to dazzle the Troxy’s faded glamour.
As Jarvis took the adulation of the massed faithful, it seemed like, after a bit of a wilderness period post-Pulp, old Mr Cocker has most definitely got his mojo back.

12 June – 27 September 2009

The Fashion and Textiles Museum‘s summer exhibition hopes to present the evolution of underwear over the last hundred years. The result is a lacklustre exhibition with a thrown-together-in-minutes appearance.

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The exhibition is organised into areas covering research, more about innovation, seek materials, order celebrity, marketing, print and colour. Despite the ‘evolution’ title, there isn’t any sense of a chronological representation, apart from a small part of the opening corridor of the exhibition where underwear is displayed by year.

It is here where the most interesting pieces are displayed. Beginning with a Charles Bayer corset from the 1900s, we take an (albeit short) walk through the brief history of underwear. There are great examples from Triumph International – then a pioneering underwear brand, now underwear powerhouse governing brands like Sloggi.

We see a sanfor circular conical stretch bra, reminiscent of Madonna’s iconic bra designed by John Paul Gaultier in the 80s (which the placard reveals, to nobody’s surprise, is where JPG sought his inspiration).

In the main arena, there are corsets hanging from the ceiling, of which there are 8 or 9 examples. The corset, as the information details, is one of fashion’s most iconic items. So how can so few examples tell us anything we didn’t already know? Only one of the artefacts is pre 21st century – most are borrowed from burlesque ‘celebrities’ such as Immodesty Blaze and Dita von Teese – hardly representative of underwear’s evolution.

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The bulk of the exhibition centres around print, pattern and colour, and again the exhibition relies too heavily on modern pieces, with a small scattering of interesting M&S items. This area, again, relies too heavily on modern underwear – usual suspects La Perla and Rigby & Peller extensively featured – but other key brands, such as Agent Provocateur, fail to get even a mention.

Pioneer of modern underwear Calvin Klein isn’t covered nearly enough as he should be, save for a couple of iconic 1990s white boxer shirts. In fact, men’s underwear isn’t given any coverage at all, which is a shame considering this exhibition’s bold title.

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This exhibition does hold some key pieces, and regardless of what I think, it’s definitely worth seeing if you are a fashion follower. Its many flaws could have been ironed out with more attention to detail, and it’s a shame that the FTM isn’t more of a major player in London’s fashion scene. If you want to see stacks of salacious, expensive, modern-day underwear, why not just take a trip to Harrods? They have a larger selection and don’t charge an entry fee!

Dear Readers, symptoms

I am writing to share something a little bit special with you. We all know that warm butterflies-in-the-belly feeling when envelopes arrive through the letterbox with your name and address handwritten carefully on the front with a return address of a friend or lover on the reverse, pilule a beacon of personal correspondence among a mundane plethora of bills, more about takeaway menus and bank statements. How much more sincere is a ‘Thank You’ or a ‘Sorry’, how much more romantic is an ‘I Love You’ or ‘Marry Me’ when it comes in pen to paper form rather than digitalised and, heaven forbid, abbreviated via modern technological means.

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Letter writing may be an old fashioned and somewhat dying art, one that we all claim to still do or intend to do, but actually don’t make time for in a world of convenient instant messaging, free text plans and social network sites, but Jamie Atherton and Jeremy Lin refuse to abandon the old worldly ways of communication just yet.

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Finding their stationery was like being invited to a secret society for letter writers, a prize from the postal Gods to congratulate and reward all those who participate in mail exchanges, to inspire us to keep going to strive on and not let the Royal Mail network collapse from lack of traffic. The more I find out about this creative pair of gents the deeper I fall under their spell. Two handsome young men, madly in love with each other, one English one American, live together in London nowadays but in the 12 years that have passed since they fell head over heels they have lived in San Francisco too and co-created Atherton Lin, the name under which they produce, distribute and sell their products.

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Their work, such as the collections of Winter and Summer greeting cards, is as collectable as it is sendable. Each of the four cards in a set tells a tale; funny, sentimental, melancholic and earnest. They strive to avoid clichés or overused formulaic recipes for ‘commercialised cute’, but instead the boys have created a world of butterflies, badgers, bicycles and balloons, using recycled materials and harm-free inks. It is not just their illustrated correspondence materials that Atherton Lin have become known and adored for, that paved the way to being noticed by and sold alongside Marc Jacobs’ wears and tears, as well as being stocked at places such as London’s ICA, LA’s Ooga Booga and San Francisco’s Little Otsu.

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Working on the basis that not all correspondence is text, stationery therefore does not have to be exclusively on paper. With a nod to their burgeoning passion for mix tapes, which featured heavily through their transatlantic courtship, they created artwork for a series of blank CDs. The pair have collaborated with a number of talented outfits such as the musicians Vetiver and Elks, and for a book of poems published by Fithian Press, in addition to eye wateringly lovely calendars.

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They cite their inspirations to include the charmingly unaware wit of Japanese stationary with its mysteriously nonsensical English translations, Peanuts comic strips, the lyrics to strumming shoe gaze bands such as Ride and poet Dylan Thomas. Having conducted the first three years of their blossoming relationship as long distance partners, they perhaps know better than anyone the value and worth of the handwritten word, the virtues of patience while awaiting the postman and the magnified importance of every tiny detail when letters are sustaining your longing heart.

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Now that I’ve been well and truly bitten by the Atherton Lin bug, I have an overbearing urge to dig out my address book and scribe catch up letters to friends in far-flung corners of the globe, and those just around the corner. And for the scented pastel coloured envelopes about to reach the letterboxes of my acquaintances in the next couple of weeks, you have Jeremy and Jamie to thank, for restoring my faith in the romantic, timeless pastime of writing letters.

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Yours ever so faithfully,

Alice Watson
Last Thursday, order I negotiated my bicycle through the customary crush of Trafalgar Square to the RSA, find for a talk by R Beau Lotto in association with the Barbican Radical Nature series. Beau heads up Lotto Lab, whose aim is to explain and explore how and why we see what we do (do check out their website) – mainly through looking at how we see colour, which is one of the simplest things we do.

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All images by R Beau Lotto, courtesy of Lotto Labs

Here’s a quick science bit, which he gets in at the beginning of the talk to a packed full lecture theatre – light and colour are not the same. Light can be represented on a linear scale. It has just wavelength and intensity. Colour has three bits to it. So it’s much more complicated to describe : hue (red-green-blue-or-yellowness), brightness, and saturation (greyness).

The whole talk is full of questions I asked as a six-year-old, and I’m left with a kind of wide-eyed amazement at how clearly everything is explained and presented – I’ll pick out one of the most satisfying.. Why is the sky blue? This is one to try at home. Get the biggest glass bowl or see-through container you can find, and fill it with water. Shine a desk lamp through it – the lamp’s now the sun and the water space. If we had no atmosphere, the sky would be black with a bright sun – as it is from the moon. Now add a little milk at a time to the water, stirring as you go. As it spreads through the water, the milk will scatter the light like the atmosphere does, and at the right level, will scatter blue. Add a bit more, and you’ll make a sunset – the longer-wave red light scatters when it goes through more atmosphere, as sunlight does when it’s low in the sky. Add more again, and it’ll go grey : you made a cloud, where all the light scatters equally.

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The colour of space changes. We never quite see the surface of anything in the world – we see the result of the light shining, the character of the surface, and the space in between. So colours really are brighter in St Ives than Old Street. So the patterns of light that fall onto the eye are strictly meaningless.

We learn to see. We find relationships between things we look at – the context of anything we look at is essential to how we see it. This is what the ‘illusions’ spread through this article show so bogglingly. And context is what links the present to the past – we associate patterns with what we did last time, and learn from it. Beau asked at one point for a volunteer from the audience. I was desperately far back, in the middle of a row – smooth escape from that one. But the demonstration itself was quietly mind-blowing. A target was projected on the screen, and Rob the lucky volunteer was asked to hit it (this as a control – the exciting bit comes next). Next, he put on a pair of glasses which shifted the world 30 degrees to his right. Throwing again, he missed by miles. After a few goes, though, Rob’s whole body movement changed and he hit the target every time. Then he took the glasses off again, and immediately missed the other way – his mind had learnt for that moment to see the world utterly differently.

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We don’t see the world as it is – in fact it doesn’t make much sense to talk about the world ‘as it really is’ – only what’s useful. Colour, for example, is great for not being eaten by orange tigers in a green jungle. We constantly figure out what is ‘normal’ – and what should stick out from this normal. So… there are no absolutes – only perceptions of a world relative to a changing normal. No one is outside of this relativity. We are all defined by our ecology. We all learn to live in the world that’s presented to us – and that in a very relative way.

Beau has four ‘C’s that he leaves as teasing thoughts – Compassion, Creativity, Choice and Community. And this is where, if you’ve been reading along wondering quite why I thought this was a good idea for an ‘Earth’ article, I started thinking about the way we tell stories about the environment, the way we tell stories about what happens in the world around us. Getting your head around different mindsets could be wonderfully informed by these ideas – things like understanding how to persuade business profit-heads that sustainability is the only way to long-term profit, or grassroots activists that FTSE 500 companies have been organising and managing disparate groups of employees for years – there’s surely something to learn there.

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Knowing that everything we do – down to something so simple as seeing colour – is essentially informed by what we did before, and the kinds of context we’ve ever been exposed to – this can only add possibility to whatever buzzes round our brains : more compassionate, as we see where others might have come from; more creative, questioning these reflexes; more conscious in our choices, if we think a little past the instinctive; and more communal, in a broad sense, as we’re each a unique part of a whole, all sharing in individual perceptions and histories.

That was what I took from it, anyway. Do get in touch, or leave a comment, if you saw any other cool patterns here – I’d be intrigued to hear.

Come July 16th, ampoule Amelia’s Magazine will be packing the bikini’s, sunglasses and factor 15 to rock up to one of the biggest highlights of our social calendar. Continuing our Festival season round up, we are going to focus our attention on the Daddy of the European festivals; Benicassim. Building rapidly in status, this cheeky Spanish live wire began its incarnation in 1995, but even then it was reaching for the stars, with heavy hitters such as The Chemical Brothers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Stone Roses headlining. Now firmly established as a major player on the summer festival season, Benicassim is the ultimate go-to when you want your music fest to go easy on the mud, and heavy on the sand, sea and sun.

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Desde Escenario Verde by Oscar L. Tejeda

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Getting back to the music, the organisers have come up trumps for this years festival. Just in case you were unaware of the lineup, allow me to share the treats that will be in store if you’ve got tickets. Top of the bill will be Oasis, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. It is not just about the headliners though, Beni makes sure that there is something for everyone, and while most acts indie rock , the many stages showcase plenty of other genres, such as electronica, experimental and dance. Each night will see a plethora of fantastic and diverse acts and my personal favourites that will make me nudge through the crowds to the front are Telepathe, Glasvegas, Paul Weller, Tom Tom Club, Friendly Fires, The Psychedelic Furs, Lykke Li and my BFF Peaches. With guaranteed sunshine and a beachside backdrop, it promises to be a memorable event. While the 4 day passes have all sold out, there are still one day passes available for Thursday 16th July. You might consider it impractical to get down there for just one day (not that we are going to stand in your way), but if you happen to be passing through the Costa De Azahar around that time, then why not get yourself a wristband, grab a Sol and pitch up?

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You know, the more we think about it, the more we realise that Benicassim is tailor made for Amelia’s Magazine. As our loyal readers know, we are strong supporters of all things sustainable and environmentally friendly and Benicassim is leaps and bounds ahead of many of the other festivals in terms of environmental awareness. Having been awarded the Limpio Y Verde (Clean + Green) Award by The European Festival Association, Beni is serious about taking initiatives which minimise the impact that a festival causes. For example, to offset the Co2 emissions that are generated while the festival is underway, they are creating an authentic Fiber forest, which has come as a result of planting over 2,000 trees during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 festivals. For those attending the festival, the organisers have laid on a number of shared transport facilities to get to and from the site, including frequent shuttle services into town and bicycle hire. Once inside the site, ticket holders will find that there is a strong and active recycling policy, with different bins for glass, plastic and paper and reusable glasses in the bars and restaurants which are made from biodegradable material. Several charities and NGO’s will be on hand – look out for the stands where Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Action Against Hunger and Citizens Association Against AIDS amongst others will be distributing information.

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Bear in mind for future visits to the festival (or if you haven’t yet booked flights to get there), that there are various options for how to get to Benicassim that don’t involve flying. While most people will be boarding planes, the options of rail, or even ferry as transport can turn the holiday into a completely different experience. Spain has a fantastic and well regulated rail system, with all major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia operating trains to the town of Benicassim. Full details on how to arrange your rail itinerary are here . If you were interested in beginning the journey by ferry, (information on routes can be found here there are regular services from Plymouth to Santander, or Portsmouth to Bilbao (both cities have rail links that will get you to Benicassim). Otherwise, there are plenty of ferries from Dover to France, if interrailing it through part of Europe was also a consideration. Obviously, these options are considerably longer than flying, but there is something much more civilized about this way of travelling, and you get to see much more of the country which is hosting the festival, and that can only be a good thing.

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Fibers En Zonas De Acampada by Pau Bellido

For more information on Benicassim, go to Festival Internacional De Benicassim
Bless-ed: Superimposing The Thought Of Happiness

Cosa
7 Ledbury Mews North
London W11 2AF

10th July – 31st July

11am – 6pm Tuesday – Friday
12pm – 4pm Saturday

Free

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“Artworks created from smashed vinyl records and recycled packaging. Hot on the heels of their highly successful New York show, no rx Robi Walters & Leanne Wright, side effects aka ‘Bless-ed’, dosage hit London with their unique series of collages and constructed works featuring smashed vinyl and recycled packaging. “

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Robots

The Old Sweet Shop
11 Brookwood Road
London SW18 5BL

10th July 2009 – 25th July

Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm
or by appointment

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Image: Doggy Robot (Detail) by Ellie Alexandri

“Do you remember when robots were a futuristic fantasy? The Old Sweet Shop gallery’s latest exhibition takes a warm hearted look at these retro-tinged creations through the eyes of up-and coming artists and illustrators, peeking into the inner world of clunking creatures built to make human lives easier. ‘Robots’ will appeal to all ages, and features a diverse range of talent in many different media.”

Robots exhibition featuring work by: Alec Strang, Emily Evans, Freya Harrison, Moon Keum, Vinish Shah, JMG, Catherine Rudie, Hanne Berkaak, Cristian Ortiz, Elli Alexandri and Serge Jupin.

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Antony Gormley: One & Other

Fourth Plinth
Trafalgar Square
London

6th July – 14th October

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Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, ordinarily reserved for statues of the bold and brave, is staging one of the most exciting art ventures of the year. Under the direction of Anthony Gormley a steady stream of voluntary contributors will, every hour on the hour for the next 100 days, be occupying the space to create, make, do or perform as they wish. One such selected applicant is Tina Louise, whose slot will be Sunday 12th July, at 11am. She plans to stage “involves a bit of a sing-along where I am inviting various choirs, a Muslim call to prayer man, some whirling Dervishes (fingers crossed)” and invites you all to get down there this week and help celebrate human diversity in all it’s glory.

Find out more about Tina here.

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The Museum of Souvenirs – The Surrealist Photography of Marcel Mariën

Diemar/Noble Photography
66/67 Wells Street
London W1T 3PY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 6pm

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An exciting UK premiere of Belgian Surrealist Marcel Marien’s photographs taken between 1983 and 1990. Marien was a master of many trades, and not all of them art based; as well as being a poet, essayist and filmmaker, he branched out as a publisher, bookseller, journalist and even a sailor.

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The Importance of Beauty – The Art of Ina Rosing

GV Art
49 Chiltern Street
Marylebone
London W1U 6LY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Friday 11am to 7pm
Saturday 11 am to 4 pm
or by appointment

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Inspired by her interest in inner silence and beauty, Ina Rosing’s work sails through immovable mountains and vibrant red flowers with dignified grace and spirituality. She explores the personal yet universal connections with landscape and culture, asking where and how can we capture the true importance of beauty using graffiti-like political and environmental messages.

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James Unsworth: I Love You Like a Murderer Loves Their Victims

Sartorial Contemporary Art
26 Argyle Square
London WC1H 8AP

8th July – 30th July

Tuesday – Friday 12:30pm – 6pm
or by appointment

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James Unsworth is not a new name for us here at Amelia’s Magazine, having featured him a short while ago in Issue 8 of our publication, but this new collection of work from the controversial outspoken illustrator and filmmaker takes his hyper-unreal visions of all things dark and disturbing to a new level. The movies and photographs use low-budget charm and dangerously close to the bone references to murder, sex and dismemberment to win us over, free our minds and freak us out, not particularly in that order.

Monday 6th July
Why? The Garage, buy London

“Why should I go and see Why?” you ask.
Well, cialis 40mg because Why? are probably one of the most innovative exciting bands around at the moment their albums Alopecia and Elephant Eyelash are very high up on my “Most-Listened-To List”. Fronted by the excellently named Yoni Wolf, Why? fuse hip hop and indie rock to create something totally unique. Wolf’s lyrics are strangely intimate and often funny; bar mitzvahs and Puerto Rican porno occassionally pop up- and why not?

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Tuesday 7th July
!!!, The Luminaire, London

Here are two facts about !!!
1. You have probably had the best time dancing to them.
2. According to Wikipedia: !!! is pronounced by repeating thrice any monosyllabic sound. Chk Chk Chk is the most common pronunciation, but they could just as easily be called Pow Pow Pow, Bam Bam Bam, Uh Uh Uh, etc.
So go along to the Luminaire and make strange noises (“thrice”) and dance your socks off.

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Wednesday 8th July
White Denim, Heaven, London

White Denim are the best thing to come out of Texas since ribs and good accents, they have been compared to Os Mutantes and Can which is no mean feat. Expect a healthy dose of psychadelia with a smudge of grubby rock n’roll

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Thursday 9th July
The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Kill It Kid, The ICA, London.

What are Fat Cat doing on Thursday?
Oh, you know, just being as awesome as ever at the ICA.
Fat Cat seem to have excellent taste in music, and the three bands playing tonight carry on the high standards of Fat Cat label veterans like Animal Collective. Expect melancholy and sweetness from The Twilight Sad and post-punk from the others. Lashings of fun all round.

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The Weekend
Loop Festival, Brighton.

Let’s go to the sea! Brighton’s Loop Festival; a celebration of music and digital art has the most mouth-watering line-up ever. Fever Ray, Karin from The Knife‘s solo project, play alongside múm, the hot-to-trot Telepathe (pictured) and Tuung to name but a few. If I were going I’d invite them all to make sandcastles with me afterwards…hopefully they would.

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Monday 6 July

Whose landscape is it anyway?

Nicholas Stern and Ramachandra Guha consider the tensions between environmental concerns and industrial and economic development in South Asia today.

£5 including day pass to Royal Botanic Gardens, mind Kew.
6.30pm, cost British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1.

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Illustration by Joanna Cheung

Tuesday 7th July

Garbage Warrior Film Screening

The epic story of radical Earthship eco architect Michael Reynolds, and his fight to build off-the-grid self-sufficient communities.

7pm (86min), Passing clouds, Dalston (review + directions)

An Alternative Energy Evening?·

Lecture and Panel Discussion?· Professor Vernon Gibson, with Jonathan Leake, ??Chief Chemist of BP, in discussion with key experts in the field of sustainable and renewable energy.
Please join us to hear the latest on this hot topic.

Free to attend. Admission is by guest list only.
??Email events@weizmann.org.uk to reserve your place.
+44 (0)20 7424 6863?  www.weizmann.org.uk

7pm
Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
London SW7 2AR

Wednesday 8th July

Renewable Energy, All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group meeting with WWF

Dr Keith Allott leads the discussion.

4-6pm, House of Commons, Westminster SW1

Thursday 9th July

Conflicting Environmental Goods and the Future of the Countryside

Caroline Lucas MEP talking on possible futures.

Contact – judithr@cpre.org.uk
5-7pm, The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, EC1

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Illustration by Faye Katirai

A Climate Mission for Europe: Leadership & Opportunity

Lord Browne, Roger Carr, Lord Giddens, John Gummer MP and Roland Rudd

8–9.30am
Royal Academy of Engineering,
3 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y

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Illustration by Michaela

Wise Women Speaker Event: John D Liu

John D Liu speaks on integrated poverty eradication and large-scale ecosystem rehabilitation. Since the mid-1990′s he has concentrated on ecological film making and has written, produced and directed films on many aspects of the ecology. In 2003, Liu wrote, produced and directed “Jane Goodall – China Diary” for National Geographic. Hailed as a visionary for the future, Lui is director of the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) and will discuss his groundbreaking work.

RSVP: polly@wisewomen.me.uk

7pm, ?£10 on the door
The Hub,Islington,
Candid Arts Trust,
5 Torrens Street, London,
EC1V 1NQ

Friday 10th July

The End of the Line

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Imagine an ocean without fish. Imagine your meals without seafood. Imagine the global consequences. This is the future if we do not stop, think and act. The End of the Line is the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Rupert Murray.

7pm, Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2.
Contact – events@frontlineclub.com

Saturday 11th July

The Artic And Us

Lemn Sissay discusses the making of the poem “What If”, inspired by his recent trip to the Arctic to highlight climate change.

£7, 3.30pm, South Bank Centre

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Illustration by Lea Jaffey
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This year I spent a record six days at Glastonbury. On Tuesday we set off from London with a mission to “tat” along the way. Tatting is a favourite occupation of the fictional Wombles and is a process central to Climate Camp – it basically means relieving skips and front gardens of useful discarded objects – such as sofas, pilule chairs, tables and carpeting – for reuse in another situation. En route to Glastonbury we managed to fill the van up with various items including a full set of dining chairs that looked swanky but collapsed as soon as we sat on them and a rather manky looking mouldy mattress. It was pointed out that this would seem the lap of luxury after a couple of days in a field with no soft surfaces to rest upon, so we duly lugged it into the van. In fact we needn’t have worried – the mattress was left out to air as soon as we arrived and stolen almost immediately. Desirable already!

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Our journey had an added frisson of excitement given the rumour that everyone was being locked out of the site at 10pm every night. Fortunately (and thanks to GPS on my poncey new iphone) we made it to Pilton Farm on time, whereupon we were greeted by the cheery sight of our big red and yellow marquee. It seems that making merry in the fields of Somerset has turned into a week long affair for many, so vast quantities of people were already cruising the fields, beers in hand.

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For us there was still much work to be done, so in the morning we dressed our area with significant amounts of bunting and colourful flags that we had screenprinted beforehand, all bearing Mia Marie Overgaard‘s beautiful artwork.

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Climate Camp was given a generous corner of an otherwise predominantly camping field – with a big fire pit in the middle and a yurt (housing Ecolab‘s Future Scenarios exhibition) demarcating one corner. Around the yurt I strung the story of Climate Rush so far – printed upon weather resistant banners that billowed dramatically in the gusty winds.

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By the field boundary a “tripod stage” had been constructed – an inspired bit of naming that made reference to the grand pyramid stage down where the rabble doth hang about.

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As we beavered away to beautify the site some classic festival munters pitched up and decided to erect their box fresh tents directly under our Welcome to Climate Camp banner – thereby easily misleading the public in to believing that they were indeed Climate Camp. Within minutes they were yelling “Ogee-ogee-oy” at each other through a megaphone. I kid you not. They were the perfect festival munter cliche right on our doorstep. Needless to say these same creatures left an absolute disaster zone in their wake when they left the festival – but more on that later…

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Many more Climate Camp kindred spirits arrived as we sorted out our space, and by Thursday many curious festival-goers were stopping by to listen to a bit of music or take a wander around our exhibition. Danny Chivers delivered his usual wonderful poetry to a rapt audience and Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors (set up in honour of Joe Strummer and named after a Clash song) took a turn on the stage.

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Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors provides guitars with which to rehabilitate prisoners through music, and the two lads playing for us had since left prison and are trying to build a career in music. After a shy start they were soon regaling the receptive crowd with tales of prison life and left amidst promises that they would return, possibly with the real Billy Bragg in tow – a rumour that quickly gained momentum but was sadly never fulfilled.

Then out of nowhere came possibly our most exciting idea yet; instead of just teaching how to take direct action in workshop form, we would actually do some mock actions right there in Glastonbury. It all seemed too good an opportunity to miss – this year Greenpeace had created a full-on third runway experience, including a miniature Sipson with it’s own international airport which was clearly ripe for the blockading.

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We all donned one of the Climate Camp t-shirts that I’d printed up (I’ve been on a bit of a screenprinting frenzy) and marched noisily down to the Greenpeace field with our tripod and an orangutan in tow. As you do.

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Twenty people blockaded the entrance to the bemusement of passersby, as faux security guards tried to pull them off and the orangutan climbed triumphantly to the top of the tripod. It was a pretty good re-enactment of a real direct action, until actors hired by Greenpeace waded in and stole our thunder with some attention grabbing shouting.

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On Thursday night there was the most spectacular storm, with torrential rain pouring down off our Climate Change is Pants bunting (made from, erm, pants, of course) and into the tent as we sheltered from the monsoon. It stopped just in time for our Mass Night Game, for which I played the part of a security guard (they’re never far away on a direct action)

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As each team arrived at our base in the stone circle they had to climb the tripod as fast as they could before the guards could pull them off. In one surreal moment as the dusk fell some real Glastonbury stewards materialised in pink dayglo waistcoats to my yellow dayglo one, and really confused both themselves and those playing the game.

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As evening fell a group of us went off to discover the new Shangri-La area, where a gaggle of totally drunk pre-pubescent girls fell into us yelling “Michael Jackson’s dead!” Soon the whole festival was ringing with the news – as well as his back catalogue – though we all remained uncertain about the veracity of the rumours and decided to spread a counter rumour that Timmy Mallett was dead. Looking back it was odd that noone seemed particularly sad to hear the news, but then I think most of us have already mourned the cute little black boy who vanished under drastic surgery long ago. It was almost as if Michael Jackson had been one big fat joke for so long that his death was as fantastical and unreal as his life had become, and therefore hard to take seriously.

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The rest of the festival was spent in a whirlwind of outreach and fundraising. I wasn’t so comfortable with the bucket rattling, but luckily others were brilliant at it and we managed to raise loads of much needed cash to help put Climate Camp on this year.

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I spent most of my time chatting to people, both in our field and out around the Green Fields area. And of course taking lots of photos – because that’s where I feel most comfortable of all, recording everything that we do for future posterity.

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We facilitated another few mini direct actions – one day in defiance of the cheap flights on offer in the mock travel agents in Shangri-La, and on another using arm tubes to blockade the mini village of Sipson.

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Friends wandered by to see me but I didn’t really go further than the Green Fields for much of the festival. I have a love hate relationship with Glastonbury and tend to be happiest away from the seething crowds down near the main stages. There were a lot more police on site this year and there were at least two arrests in our field, presumably for drug dealing – thus we found ourselves offering solidarity to the friends that were left behind “we get arrested quite a lot you see…” We got the paddling pool out when it was especially roasting, and I jumped in with all my clothes on before rushing onto the path to offer wet hugs to passersby.

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On my rare trips down to “Babylon” I got in a mild panic – huge crowds of fucked people crashing into me is not my idea of fun. Bruce Springsteen was a major disappointment and I only saw brief bits of Blur from the very back of the field before wandering off to find a friend at the Prodigy, where I got thoroughly freaked out by the gazillions of men and women screaming “smack my bitch up” at the top of their voices, I mean – I like the tune, but there are some totally suspect lyrics going on there. Over by the John Peel stage I was amused to see a huge (high as a skyscraper) board of protest banners bearing one of the Climate Rush picnic blankets from our Heathrow protest.

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It was very surreal to see it high above me, when last it was sitting in a crumpled mess in my hallway. On more than a few occasions we found ourselves at the uber decadent Arcadia area of an evening.

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It was the ultimate irony that the closest stage to Climate Camp featured hugely wasteful gas flares that shot into the night and made a mockery of our frugal ways; any energy savings made by our solar powered camp so obviously swallowed in the dystopian heat of the dramatic flames. Needless to say we were drawn to Arcadia like fossil fuel moths, dancing under the sizzling spectacle with all the other revellers, all part of the same species careering towards self-destruction.

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But back to the beautiful green space of Climate Camp, where our little tripod stage proved to be a real winner. My trusty music editor Roisin had contacted some music prs a mere day or so before I left for Glastonbury and secured performances from the wondrous First Aid Kit and the equally brilliant 6 Day Riot. First Aid Kit arrived fresh from a gig on the Park Stage with their parents in tow, and wowed everyone with a simple acoustic set that highlighted their delicate use of harmonies.

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Unfortunately I missed 6 Day Riot due to outreach with our “aggie animals” whereby a homeless alcoholic orangutan, polar bear and tiger went out to engage with the general public.

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The idea was to subvert the traditional cutesy perception of said animals, a plan which worked really well during the day, but in the evening faltered as the distinction between performance art and actual fucked festival munter blurred to the point of impossibility. Especially when one of our animals spewed into the bushes in a prize bit of method acting (she’d just downed a pint of homebrewed cider)

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On Sunday afternoon we held a random raffle, which was made possible by blagging prizes from various stalls and performers during the course of the festival. A large amount of people were happy to part with cash to purchase a raffle ticket, and a small crowd was persuaded to attend the actual event, compered with aplomb by our resident poet Danny. Prizes included the beer can that Jack Penate had allegedly drunk from (won by a child, woops)

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It was all beautifully ramshackle but seemed to entertain. The girl who has inadvertently become part of this year’s logo (by virtue of an image of her at the Kingsnorth camp that is strewn across the interweb) stopped by and did some dazzling acrobatics on our tripod stage.

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By the evening I still hadn’t managed to figure a way to get out of the festival so I ended up staying on until Monday evening for “tat down” – taking down the tents and sorting stuff to be transported back home. The mattress that we had lovingly cleaned made a sudden return, and small children started to circle our site like hyenas on the look out for valuable abandoned belongings, and undrunk alcohol (festie children eh?! Cheeky buggers!)

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Stories reached us of people leaving their tent for one moment and returning to find it removed within moments by opportunistic “tatters”. I went on a roam of our general area to search for useful stuff, but returned feeling sick to the pit of my stomach and unable to take anything for myself.

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Is it really that much hassle to take your pop-up tent home? What kind of person abandons so many reusable things? Do you really have that much disposable income in the age of the credit crunch? The festival munters camped under our welcome banner departed leaving a wasteland behind. Piles of rubbish streaming across the ground, a stereo, blow up mattresses, perfectly good tents (not pop-up!) – debris of an unaware society.

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I returned home exhausted, but already formulating plans to put forward Green Kite Midnight as the Climate Camp house band next year – a celidh would really have set things off a treat. Until then there’s always the Big Green Gathering, where we’re house band for the Last Chance Saloon. Come see us there!
At Glastonbury when not navigating through guy ropes clutching half drunk bottles of cider with dirty shorts, order haystack hair and generally looking like I’ve emerged from the mountains, medicine I like to ‘do’ things. Last year, store I paid eight pounds to have an astrology reading, where I crouched goggle-eyed in a small tipi opposite a warm, smiling, apple-cheeked evil money-sucker who ethereally told me the biggest pack of lies you’ve ever heard.

Eight pounds! Not going back there, NO WAY JOSÉ! Given the size of Glastonbury, there are, of course, a multitude of ways to enjoy yourself in the most concrete and non-superstitious of manners – in fact, in the spirit of ‘Reclaiming Craft’ making something with my hands seemed the perfect antidote. On the Thursday Amelia’s Magazine floated on over to the Green Craft Fields where we found ourselves in a tent filled with lots of small drawing children. On the other side were some adults milling around a life model like no other. Life-drawing: a sensual sketching of the nude human physique? Less so if it’s an unshaven superhero clad in a spandex bodysuit and purple pants – and that’s Mr Spandex to you and I. So I got involved, producing a multi-angled ‘sketch-book’ of questionable quality that sadly got ruined when my tent turned out not to be waterproof, but while it’s destruction is in fact probably a blessing for the art world, I appreciate that such a catastrophe may have accidentally granted my artistic skills with an unearned aura of mystique.

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Chatting to the mistress of ceremonies Leanne afterwards, she told me a bit about R-ART, their creative collective based in East London. They are fusing ideas of art and fashion in an interactive and educational capacity, providing holiday workshops, after-school clubs and Saturday schools; all with a push towards sustainable making, free-thinking and responsibility that’s locking horns with that image of the pie-eyed child with a peanut-butter sandwich in one hand and a Nintendo controller in the other on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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Set up by Leanne and her friend Ita and developed with eco-entertainment company BASH Creations, they naturally play the big sister role to the kids, with a sole mandate to lighten the ecological footprint of the British entertainment industry and to teach them the heart behind the making of things with your own two hands. Given my own scribbling skills, I too belong at the children’s table, a bit like Jack out of that Robin Williams film (except not really, I do get ID’d a lot, so I don’t look that old. But I digress.)

One of their projects involved working with Nova Dando, constructing a couture gown out of old copies of the Financial Times, which again, in its trashionista spirit hammered home the process of recycling making and getting everyone involved – children doing couture! Great stuff.

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To get in touch and to find out their workshops and other upcoming projects, visit their website at www.r-art.co.uk, or e-mail Ita and Leanne at us2@r-art.co.uk. Look out for a report on how it all went down at Glastonbury for them too – if you too managed to swing by their tent let us here at Amelia’s Magazine know about it!
Futuresonic is one of the most stellar event’s on Manchester’s musical calender. Not only does it symbolise (to me) the beginning of the summer festival season but it’s one of the most musically challenging and varied events of the year. Unlike so many other festivals it doesn’t concentrate on the commercial or press friendly artists but solely musicians and artists alike who constantly flaut convention, view breaking boundaries and sticking flags in musical territories previously unchartered. Rarther than touting the Guardian‘s Top ten of 2009 it digs a little deeper and promotes some of the more interesting artists from around the globe in a myriad of genres like Electronic, drugs Metal and Bastard Pop!

After 13 years of pushing the envelope the organisers have managed to do it again this year. Beginning with Murcof, information pills they have shown that music can be ever changing and that when seamlessley combined with other mediums of artistic endeavor can create something truly original and mind expanding.

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First on the RNCM main stage is Manchester based (Skelmersdale born) Denis Jones with his bone shaking ryhthm’s and dirge infused shouts and beats looped back through a whole host of pedals and electronic gadgetry. Projected behind this is a sextuplet of Denis’s, or should that be Den-i, layered on toip on one another to compliment the layering of clucks, slaps, plucks and claps. Having seen a few artists these days who do a similar thing it’s great to see someone do it so intricately and beautifully on a large stage to a strong audience. It can be rather sloppy and the point can be lost in the masses of equipment that I don’t know the first thing about. As he meanders his way into a vibrant crescendo it’s easy to see why Denis is being hyped as a musical giant of the future.

To contrast with this high octane solo operation comes Icelandic composer Johan Johansson with the Iskra Quartet, who create sombre laptop and piano accompanied string pieces that I feel comfortable in equating to classical Estonian Raconteur Arvo Part. These pieces are complex but the delicate sounds are all somewhat identifiable to a techno dope like myself. The sounds are highly mellifluous and they toggle between Melancholy and high drama evoking the counterpoint of Moondog at times. With a break before Murcof I had an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the moment which led me almost to tears, the air was rife with emotion but anxiety of what was to come soon remedied this.

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As the curtain re-opened, behind a sheet of white, is lurking who we can only assume to be Mexican electronic music pioneer Murcof. We know Anti VJ (comprised of Joanie Le Mercier, Simon Geilfus and Nicolas Boritch) must be hiding somewhere but as there is only one other face in the shadows we can’t be sure who it is. As a faint hum begins, a tiny spec of light appears in the centre of the sheet which grows as the music explodes into loud bursts. The dot becomes a sprawling mass of spider webs and creates a haunted house like atmosphere that’s not for the faint hearted. From this we travel through a myriad of imagery such as a multifarious star system and regimentally swirling, shooting stars accompanied by Lygeti-esque composition. The imagery at all times compliments the minmal soundscaping of Murcof fantastically but neither is at any point subdued. For me there couldn’t have been a better way to kick off the 13th Futuresonic and the festival season as a whole.

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All photos by Anne-Laure Franchette
From previous years, viagra this looks set to be the one summer gathering any activist or aspiring campaigner needs to attend. A report of last year’s camp speaks warmly of the ‘lasting sense of genuine kindred spirit and camaraderie’, viagra 100mg between old hands and newcomers alike.

If the Resurgence Reader’s Weekend will provide a few days of quiet reflection, the Earth First! Summer Gathering promises an inspirational week of skill sharing and planning for direct action.

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Illustrations by Adam Bletchley

Earth First! is all about networking and building strength through community and communication. Direct action is what they do – not relying on government or industry to act sufficiently, this network without leaders takes action to them. And whether your campaign takes up the issue of opencast mining, genetic engineering, agrofuels, dam-building, hunt-sabbing, general climate actions, oil pipeline resistance, road stopping, anti-whaling, squatting, or rainforest protection, you’re sure to find something to learn here.

The gathering will be communally run, non-hierarchical, in true anarchist tradition. So far, there are over eighty workshops planned – but everyone coming along will contribute and help run the camp. Get in touch in advance if you’ve an idea for a workshop, or want to help with the setup or takedown of the site.

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Too many workshops on practical skills for direct action are already planned to list here – though to whet your appetite, they include tree climbing, activist medic first aid, and a full day of water based training. This should help to build on the several campaigns already taking to the water – at Rossport against Shell’s pipeline laying, and the Great Rebel Raft Regatta of last summer’s Climate Camp.

There will also be the chance to brush up your practical ‘sustainable’ living skills – grounding that ever-slippery term in real things : field trips, learning to recognise plants and animals, wild food, getting your own power from the sun and wind, squatting and bike maintenance. And vegan cake making, which for me is quite the cherry on top.

Have a collective think, too, about ecology, ecocentric ethics and alternatives to the corporate world of exploitation. Which should come neatly round to an excursion to some of the beautiful vallies of the area, on the Monday (24th August), to visit communities threatened by an expansion of coal mining around the North East.

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Here are the practicalities:

BRING
Bring tent and sleeping bag. You can either cook food for yourself or for £4 per day chip in with collective cooking of delicious vegan organic food – organised by the wonderful Anarchist Teapot collective. There’ll be quiet sleeping areas, toilets and running water, a children’s space and spaces for workshops and info stalls. Veggies will provide vegan cake and snacks. Children and young adults welcome with subsidized meals.

WHEN
19th-24th August 2009 – Arrive Tuesday afternoon. Workshops run from Wednesday morning until Sunday afternoon.

WHERE
The site is in or near the Lake District, Cumbria. The nearest train station is Penrith and there is a bus service to the site, there are car and living vehicle spaces outside the camp.

The exact location will be announced the week before the gathering so that it doesn’t turn into a festival. For travel directions check the website where they will be posted on 12th August.

DOGS : This year well behaved owners with dogs on leads can be accommodated, but think about whether your dog will feel comfortable in workshops. Please call beforehand so we know numbers.

COST : £20 – £30 according to what you can afford. It’s not for profit – all extra cash goes to help fund next year. Under 14′s free.

CONTACT
summergathering@earthfirst.org.uk
www.earthfirstgathering.org.uk
Or ring 01524 383012 – though it might take a while to get back to you.

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Central St Martin’s graduate Phil Hall draws in the same way that some of us dream; streams of consciousness, information pills themes interspersed with sudden hints and whispers of unrelated recollections. Some of his work contains snippets of dialogue, viagra often witty and astute but again with an undertone of the surreal and reminiscent of muddled hallucinogenic dream talk (yes, sick that is a technical term).

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His commissions to date include the magazines La Bouche, Crafty and Torpedo, as well as for the G2 Guardian supplement and animation company Kanoti. Animals, both actual and fictitious, are nestled between cityscapes and underwater worlds, while everyday objects are comically personified and everyday scenes playfully reinterpreted.

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Figures and portraiture are also common threads throughout Hall’s work, which he has an incredible skill for undertaking. Subtle use of lines and marks, but nonetheless full of expression, the characters are often solemn and appear loss in thought. I wondered whether this was a reflection of Hall’s own state of mind and so challenged him to a quick fire round of questions. Turns out he’s actually a pretty sharp guy.

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So, Phil, what makes you so awesome?

I don’t know about that, but I think people who want to create, try new things, provoke through art are pretty awesome.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

Anybody who is trying new and interesting things, especially people who take risks.

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Who or what is your nemesis?

That darn negative voice in my head

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?

New Radiohead stuff, i know, i know…

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I say Modern Art is Rubbish, you say…?

Some of it

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

climbing the walls

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What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?

90′s video games, yes, I’m slightly embarrassed by this but as an 80′s child in was such escapism.

What advice would you give up and coming artists?

Believe in your own ideas, but always question them.

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What piece of modern technology can you not live without?

The Internet and hoverboard

What is your guilty pleasure?

Crap TV

Tell us something about Phil Hall that we didn’t know already.

I’m a triplet, I have two sisters, ones a florist the other a teaching assistant.

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When I fall asleep tonight, when I slip into that state of meditative relaxation and my mind lets go of the reality of my day, I hope my dreams are as vibrant and vivid as Phil Hall’s illustrations.

What do you dream about?

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So. A whole new batch of graduates all with a different vision – and what to do with them? With the music industry completely revolutionised beyond recognition by the internet, sale the world of fashion has also recognised the lucrative possibilities of the online community to spread the word beyond the catwalk and the pages of glossy magazines. Networking sites like Nineteen74.com are making an obsessively international industry international for the earliest of starters, viagra approved connecting stylists, unhealthy designers, editors, make-up artists, press and hairdressers across the waters.

But with fashion as a site where art and commerce (especially when globalised) traditionally sit uneasily alongside one another, individual expression so often has to be tamed and tapered to fit. Yet Stefan Siegel, owner and founder of the website NOT JUST A LABEL believes that “fashion finds its freedom in the art of individuals”, so set up an online store dedicated to embracing such creativity, and crucially taking it to an accessible level but making it a place where “everything goes”. It’s an online base of up and coming designers, giving its members an esteemed platform where they can showcase and sell their clothing without having to compromise. This is 2009, and this is the world showroom. Here, Stefan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about his designers, his successes and his motivations.

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When and why did you start NJAL and what motivated you to open the shop-section of the website?

Young aspiring fashion designers face enormous hurdles at the beginning of their career; we wanted to provide a stage where designers could showcase their collections at no costs. The goal was to formulate and implement a vision; linking designers with the fashion industry.

How long did it take for the shop to materialize?

Only 10 weeks, we decided during Paris Fashion Week in March that it would be a good idea and all our designers supported the idea. We started developing it in April.

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How do you decide which designers to sell?

The recently launched Not Just A Label shop gives birth to a new kind of online shopping experience offering unique, one-off designer garments. Addicts and admirers alike now have the opportunity to purchase special and limited edition pieces from designers recognised as the leaders in avant-garde fashion.

With so many people wanting to get their work out there, how is it possible to keep up?

Selected collaborators like Robin Schulié and Diane Pernet hand-pick designs from the collections. On a monthly basis a new key industry figure will be asked to join us in the selection process, resulting in a different monthly collection. The chosen participants will be launched as a group to the press a month before their launch on the website.

Have you been successful as of yet?

The response has been amazing, we had thousands visitors on our page when we launched and the reactions are all positive so far. We believe it was really something the market was missing.

How do you think attitudes are changing in young designers?

Young designers recognise the responsibility in creating sustainable fashion. By applying artisan craftsmanship they are known to create products that have classic values with longer lasting qualities and we hope that consumers and buyers will soon recognise this opportunity. Every item displayed on THE SHOP is unique or part of a small production, we believe it is more valuable and eco-friendly to buy an item you can keep for more seasons.

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Having a snoop around the website, it’s great to see that designers can create their own free individualised showrooms online with personalised web addresses, with picture and video galleries and contact information. It’s in essence a place where the individual wields the power – what NJAL has called ‘the black sheep’s environment’. Here you’ve got to be the black sheep or else! Now just imagine what this flock would look like – pretty fabulous we bet.

Blundering, sildenafil mistake-making fashion followers believe that style is about fitting in, find but the true sartorial clan know that individuality has always been the on-trend approach to dressing. These days the high street seems to offer little more than weak duplicates of catwalk designs. The same styles circle the streets over and over again. Standing out has become a difficult endeavour: but there is hope. Forget hitting the shops, adiposity stay at home and spend your style pennies via the happy medium of your computer. With online retail expanding every day (check out our article on NOT JUST A LABEL), the web has become a virtual mall, brimming with quirky garments, capable of satisfying the most eccentric of fashionistas. The obstacle is discovering them, but Amelia’s Magazine has picked out some of our favourites that might mean you would never have to get out of your pyjamas to actually wear any of the clothes you might hypothetically buy. C’est la vie, etc.

Modcloth Indie Clothing:
The pitch: Granny in space
FYI: An emporium of funky fashion finds: from more conventional tea-party dresses to crazy PVC high-waisted shorts. It is a fashion cocktail that will quench all styles of thirst: from grunge to gran- glam to more sophisticated tastes: Modcloth embraces it all. Their stock is as diverse as it wearable, with a collection of pendants particularly expansive; from roses to miniature clocks to birds to robots – and all for less than thirty pounds.

Spanish Moss Vintage

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The pitch: It’s a New York state of dress
FYI: If Lady Gaga owned a vintage shop, it would most definitely resemble Spanish Moss Vintage: most of the models sport her iconic platinum bob and the clothes have a bold, eccentric New York appeal. You can choose between either their New or Vintage Stock, with both lines evoking what can only be described as a wild-nocturnal-hippie-bohemian vibe. Designer pieces are jumbled between quirky one-offs. Jumpsuit aficionados will be especially impressed, from shoulder-padded, to floral covered to striped: each number reflects a different era, it’s like buying a piece of fashion history!

PIXIE MARKET

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The pitch: Olsen Twins at a rock concert
FYI: Everything speaks rock with a capital R. Garments at Pixie Market are subdued but sharp at the same time, sometimes merging with a beautiful grunge-inspired sloppy look. Acid-wash , spray-painted tees, hard-ass leather; its Soho chic at its most dirty. Especially covetable are the studded sandals, which are a harsher twist on the elegant Balenciaga numbers.

ABSOLUTE VINTAGE

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The pitch: Schoolgirl chic
FYI: Endless collections of handbags, dresses and shoes straight with the oh-so-stylish Brick Lane twist. This is old-lady chic heaven, 75% of all stock would work wonderfully with knee-socks, wayfarers and a dashing blazer. The website is incredibly easy to navigate, and the interminable rows of product images evoke a genuine market-shopping vibe. Forget Portobello, Absolute Vintage is where it’s at!

ROLLING STONE VINTAGE
The pitch: Acceptable in the 70s, 80s and 90s
FYI: The people over at Rolling Stone Vintage believe that a vintage dress is a “fashion staple”, and they make sure to provide this staple what seems like a gazillion different varieties. From American-Indian motifs to glitzy sequins to prom-styles, there is a frock for every girl (or boy, for that matter, we won’t put people in a box). Other vintage highlights include their sporadically placed bright graphic tees that seem to scream “Viva las 80s!”

So come on people – pick up that virtual shopping basket, it’s ever so light. And readers, do you have any more online vintage sites you’d like to recommend? Don’t be a meanie and keep them to yourselves!

What could be more British than Gilbert and George? They are the perfect symbols of a nation that is as renowned for its stiff upper lip as it is for its football hooliganism, patient for its uptight sexuality as its love of bawdy smut. Mild and mannerly yet anarchic and challenging, this the artistic duo (two men, one artist) have been performing for us, exhibiting their art and showing us their shit for over 40 years now. And we love them for it.

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George Passmore and Gilbert Proesch met, as Jarvis Cocker might say, whilst studying sculpture at St Martin’s college. Taking an unusual approach to their studies, they sacrificed themselves to live out their lives as a performance; the two became one living sculpture. Upon the realisation that singing Flanagan and Allen’s ‘Underneath the Arches’ for eight hours straight can get rather tiring, Gilbert and George branched out into film and photography, settling on their now trademark vividly coloured grid photographs that glow like unholy stained glass windows. It is this familiar technique that allows them to explore modern patriotism in their new show ‘Jack Freak Pictures.’

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What could be more British than Jesus sporting a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts? This is the confusing and confrontational question that Gilbert and George pose to us in the image ‘Christian England’. Are we a patriotic people, a religious people, and what has happened to the ‘Christian England’ of old? Did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountains green? And might the holy Lamb of God have purchased his pants from a tourist shop?

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When previewing ‘Jack Freak pictures’ the Evening Standard hinted that their new works go as far as blasphemy. Gilbert and George would surely be delighted at this, having asserted themselves as anti-religion and always up for shocking people into contemplation. However, not even a spokesperson for the Church of England could be riled; ‘It sounds very mild for them’ the holy one surmised.
Mild may not be the right word, but Gilbert and George do at least seem to manage to keep most of their clothes on for the majority of this series. Instead of naughty body bits, it is rosettes and medals that feature heavily in images such as ‘God Guard Thee’ and ‘Church of England’. The wonderfully titled ‘Ingerland’ appears as a mess of flesh, flailing arms and a hypnotic pattern of red, white and blue.

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The Union Flag has provided much inspiration for the pair, from their image titles (‘Jesus Jack’, ‘Jack Shit’, ‘Jacksie’) right down to their ultra-patriotic suits. Subtly, this is where Gilbert and George’s shock tactics lie. The duo are content to calmly pose us with images of patriotism, ramped up to a level just shy of insanity, and then lie back and think of England as the audience themselves go insane wondering what it all means. The Union Jack is a loaded symbol. War time medals of honour hold connotations of terror and death. Christianity itself is complicated enough. But aren’t we told we’re supposed to be proud of all this?
Gilbert and George aren’t letting on, as they pose passively as the everyman in their images. Passively,yet aggressively. And what could be more British than that?

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Gilbert and George: Jack Freak Pictures

White Cube Gallery
48 Hoxton Square
London N1 6BU

10th July 22nd August
10am – 6pm Tuesday to Saturday
If you don’t know who Deerhoof are, cheapest you might want to check your sources, reprimand your social group, and consider reading better magazines (and blogs, of course). Deerhoof haven’t quite broken out, weirdly. There are a fair few t-shirts on the street, a few nods of approval in beer garden conversations, and a growing swathe of gimmicky-recognition (“aren’t they the one with the bouncy Japanese lady instead of a normal singer?”), but there is no summer anthem, no festival domination, and no MTV2 a-listed iconic-video-of-the-month. So there’s an extra pat on the back for the wise and knowing horde which descended on Scala this wednesday. Well done!

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Needless to say, they have already been rewarded for their astute pulse-taking on-the-ball-ness – this was a fantastic gig in every respect. A bit of a slow start, maybe, but one which created the perfect calm pond into which massive boulders of rock can most joyfully be dropped. And these are beautifully detailed boulders. Guitarist John Dieterich and his sparring buddy, Ed Rodriguez take such joy in melodic interplay, you could imagine this evolving into classical music a decade hence. And Greg Saunier is one of the most charismatic drummers around. He jiggers around on his stool like an orang-utan on mushrooms and clearly has an obsession with slowing things down, creating tension by bringing in his thwack a little late, or birthing an extra half a secong in a crotchet so he can rattle off one of his beloved buddle-de-dah type licks across the kit. Drummers pay attention: most of you can learn from this chap.

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And then, right in your fovea, is the glorious Satomi Matsuzaki. In the vastness of the stage, she’s a fun-sized centre of attention, like Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge. On the bass, she’s all scripted and tight. After all, someone’s got to hold it together. As a singer, she’s a magical bundle of fun. It’s a little girl voice, opening christmas presents of unpredictable melodies and impressions of inanimate objects (beep, ring, etc). And a great showwoman, too. The crowd was thrilled by her dance sequence with a glow-in-the-dark basketball to the brilliant Basketball Get Your Groove Back. And there was a lovely feedback stew in which she, John and Ed all made as much “EEEEEEeeeeeeeep” as possible with their axes behind their heads. On of the encores had everyone on the wrong instrument for a quick country standard. Another was an instrumental which stepped toward Tortoise or King Crimson. Enthrallment was the order of the day, with one of my chums confused about whether it was accessible or not: “I can hear how weird it is, so I how come I’m enjoying it as much as I am?” she mused.

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Energetically, I’m reminded of the Pixies, except there will never be a Here Comes Your Man from Deerhoof, who might suddenly lurch toward Careful With The Axe, Eugene, instead. The whimsy recalls Pavement, but nothing as simple or catchy as Haircut will come out of this lot, while they keep getting deeper into the infinite possibilities that they clearly see in their instruments. It’s not for them to dilute their powers with accessibility. It’s for every man, woman and child to climb on what Satori has called “the dog-faced rollercoaster” of their music.

It’s a ride I suggest you join them on.
At the confluence of the teeming A roads that intersect the eastern edge of Hackney, click crouching in the shadow of an imposing tower block, troche stands the shell of the Clapton Cinematograph Theatre.

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All photos by Kirsty McQuire.

The borough’s oldest surviving picture house overlooks the Lea Bridge Road roundabout, clinic the hotch-potch nucleus of Upper and Lower Clapton. It’s an area which has recently received, among others, the Miquita Oliver seal of approval: ‘The place to be? Clapton.’ The neglected structure, sandwiched between the equally dishevelled White Hart pub, and the robust St. James Church, is a sorry sight. Bearing neither the shiny new face of Mare St. civic pride (so derided by local psycho-geographer Iain Sinclair) nor the artistic shabby-chic of Dalston, it is an anachronism, a ghost on the inner city landscape. The Edwardian picture palace itself is shrouded by a tawdry lilac façade, conjuring all the eeriness of a forgotten fairground.

With the spotlight of regeneration holding East London firmly in its glare as the Olympics edge ever closer, and the tide of cool (or ‘Shoreditch Twat’ syndrome, depending on your perspective) creeping beyond its Hoxton stronghold, this would seem an opportune moment to raise the profile of a forgotten cultural gem. So says Julie Lafferty, Secretary of the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre (FCCT), an alliance of local residents who are campaigning for the dilapidated building to be restored to its former glory. That is not merely nostalgic hyperbole, given that the erstwhile leafy suburb of country piles, landscaped gardens and prosperous farms formed the backdrop to the theatre, erected in 1910, just as Portobello Road got the Electric and East Finchley the Phoenix. Both of those Grade II listed, art house haunts have fared considerably better than their Clapton contemporary, buoyed by cult followings and more affluent locales. In its heyday the Cinematograph seated 750 local punters who flocked to see shows that fused film screenings and live performance. Features and shorts were accompanied by acts including ‘the famous banjoists: Miss Hilda Barry and Mr Harry Stuart;’ bridging the gap between the Victorian East End’s love affair with Music Hall and the advent of modern cinema. How many of the current avant-garde, frequenting genre-defying venues such as Shunt and the Village Underground, are aware of this quaint antecedent to their adventures in multimedia, I wonder? I certainly wasn’t!

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This invaluable record of cinematic history was all but eclipsed as the decline of the local area manifest itself in the ‘flea pit’ conditions inside the cinema, ultimately leading to its closure in 1979. The premises were to lie dormant until 1983, reopening as Afro-Caribbean nightspot Dougies and later renamed the Palace Pavilion. The original club attracted a vibrant, diverse mix of punters whilst retaining a wholesome atmosphere, Lafferty tells me, having lived in the area with her family for thirty years. Dougies championed black reggae musicians and succeeded in integrating the flourishing multi-cultural community. However, in its 90s hip hop incarnation and under the aegis of proprietor and DJ Admiral Ken, AKA Kenneth Edwards, the Pavilion was blighted by knife and gun crime. After the violence reached its peak in a gangland-style double shooting on New Years Eve 2005, local pressure groups succeeded in having the club’s license revoked. According to Lafferty’s findings through Land Registry, Edwards’ name still appears on the leasehold, though the Bass Holdings’ freehold is now on the market. A victim of the recession as well as its reputation, the club has remained boarded up ever since it closed its doors to the public. Edwards has declined to enter into a dialogue with the FCCT on several occasions. ‘We took his business away,’ she admits.

The Pavilion’s demise inevitably damaged the livelihoods of those who profited from it, both officially and unofficially. Yet it has been key in continuing to eradicate what Tony Blair famously referred to as ‘the society of fear,’ with direct reference to the borough. ‘Crime in Hackney is falling faster than in nearly any other London borough,’ reflected Mayor Jules Pipe recently, following heartening statistics from the Met. In the year 2006-07, crime was found to be down by 7,000 offences, a decrease of 28% compared to 2003-04, meaning that Hackney exceeded the three-year target of a 20% reduction in priority crimes. Locals had the backing of Diane Abbot, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, who insists that ‘the club had a long and bloody history and the decision to close it was long overdue.’ Abbot’s involvement has not ended there, as she has also lent her support to the FCCT’s vision for the building’s future.

‘Hackney currently only has one cinema serving a population of over 200,000,’ states the FCCT campaign literature. The Rio, a jewel in Hackney’s cultural crown, is a prime example of what local patronage can do to preserve a neighbourhood institution; the venue having been earmarked for various developments since its inception in 1909. But the cosy Art Deco hangout of just 402 seats cannot possibly meet the increasing demand of a predominantly young borough, which grew by 12% compared to the 7.4% of London overall, in the 1990s alone. A rival development has been mooted for Pitfield Street in Shoreditch, but if resident naysayer Jarvis Cocker has anything to do with it, it won’t get the go ahead.

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In an ambitious yet shrewd proposal, the group envisages the Cinematograph’s resurrection paying homage to the late playwright and local hero, Harold Pinter. ‘It’s a little known fact,’ says Lafferty, ‘that alongside his works for the theatre he also wrote 22 screenplays. Pinter was very fond of the area he grew up in- he wrote poetry recounting walks with his teacher from Clapton Pond to Finsbury Park, discussing the literature that inspired him to start writing.’ Ideally, such a tribute would be finalised in time to coincide with the cinema’s centenary in 2010.

In light of this, Abbot requested an Early Day Motion on 15th January which ‘calls on the Government to do all it can to support the campaign by local residents to restore the cinema on Lower Clapton Road in honour of this illustrious Hackney resident.’ Although most EDMs are never debated in the House of Commons, this petition has already garnered the support of Glenda Jackson and at the very least will serve to air the issue around Westminster. That Pinter ended his days in the more salubrious climes of Kensington and Chelsea is beside the point; he was born in Lower Clapton and there is a staggering absence of any visible testament to his humble beginnings. Lafferty: ‘On Broadway they dimmed the lights for him. What have we done?’ Another example of British diffidence in the face of towering achievement, I conclude.

Lest the project be branded purely a heritage piece, Lafferty is quick to point out that this dedication is not the extent of the FCCT’s plans, which also encompass a community centre, gallery space, café and film training facilities. ‘I believe in training, not punishment,’ she says, and cites the fact that ‘Hackney youth are at a considerable disadvantage in the job market.’ With half of all adults not attaining the literacy level expected of a school leaver and the employment rate being some 13% lower than the London average, she has a point. But how might she and her colleagues on the committee counter accusations of gentrification, now almost synonymous with the double-edged sword of regeneration? ‘By involving local people from the start. We want a community cinema, a place to unite polarised generations- not a faceless multiplex but not an art house clique either.’ She is well aware of fears that the Olympic legacy will be a white elephant, and denies that cynics might justifiably say the same of an independent cinema on the Park’s periphery: ‘It should be for the long-term and inclusive, not exclusive. The challenge is to appeal to everyone. I’m advocating a diverse programme world cinema and young documentary talent, alongside mainstream blockbusters.’

In the meantime, it’s a case of means tirelessly raising awareness in every local forum from the church fete to the school hall. Volunteers are canvassing for signatures to provide evidence of community feeling, with which to bolster political interest and attract investment. The FCCT are in the process of commissioning a £30,000 feasibility study, potentially to be financed by the RIBA community fund- the next step towards proving the practical and economic benefits of the enterprise. The campaigners are also armed with a Film Council Report of 2005, containing a glowing case study of the Rio. ‘What’s to stop it happening here?’ is Lafferty’s characteristically sanguine attitude.

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Which is not to say that she and her colleagues haven’t experienced set backs in the past. Although the FCCT have not met with opposition directly, longstanding residents among them are no strangers to controversy and disappointment. They only hope that the fate of nearby Latham’s Yard, a 13-acre site by the River Lea, will not befall the cinema. The greenbelt land had its planning application for a development of 7-storey apartment blocks approved in 2005, despite considerable local and political objection. ‘The Government’s own Planning Inspector said no, but it got the green light anyway. That was a real low-point.’

Resilience and resourcefulness appear to go a long way in the world of grass roots lobbying. Through the edifying neighbourhood grapevine of Dave Hill’s Clapton Pond Blog I learnt not only of the FCCT’s existence, but also of their first cinematic venture, a free screening of The Big Smoke: Films from a Lost London 1896-1945. This event simultaneously formed part of the Open Gardens and Squares Weekend and the BFI Mediatheque on Tour, which takes the South Bank archive on the road. So on the afternoon of Sunday 14th June I trotted along to the unlikely setting of the St. John’s Ambulance Hall, passing bustling homemade cake stands and brick-a-brack stalls dotted round the pond. More Vicar of Dibley than Clapton, really. A make-shift banner proclaimed defiantly (and with more than a hint of irony), ‘Screen on the Pond;’ and a bottle of Recession plonk bearing the PM’s face was being raffled as the tombola prize. Neighbours young and old had turned out to watch black and white silent movies on a sunny summer’s day and despite the lack of popcorn, it was standing room only.

It seems there is still a demand for a cinema-experience on your doorstep that isn’t tantamount to a trip to the supermarket, after all. And this was only the trailer.

The next FCCT public meeting will be held at The Pembury Tavern on Amhurst Road, Hackney on Tuesday 14th July at 7pm.

Returning just for a moment to the R-Art collective collaboration with Nova Dando to make a dress entirely from everyone’s favourite page-turner The Financial Times, it’s funny to see examples of trashion pop up in different guises, treat and wondering whether it’s all really part of the same thing. Back in the 1940s, a shoemaker called Salvatore Ferragamo started to braid sweet wrappers in the upper parts of his shoes during the Second World War. He discovered their strength and wear in a difficult period to obtain expensive materials.

Fast-forward to 2009, and you’ve got entire ranges of kitsch accessories being woven out of sweet wrappers. You’ve got students constructing trousers from Royal Mail postbags, Martin Margiela making shirts appliquéd with old football parts.

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And look! Alexander McQueen is even recycling old collections, and using umbrellas and hub- caps as hats.

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In the unlikely pairing of Ferragamo and McQueen, we are witnessing an artistic response fuelled by the unglamorous concept of necessity generated by an economic downturn. For Margiela it has long been a practice to ‘upcycle’ his own garments with his Artisanal range, looking to grant them with a ‘higher status’. It’s intellectualising something that you see also in the most lowbrow of arenas, like Project Runway, where designers are challenged to create futuristic outfits out of vintage clothes, or rip up the interiors of apartments to make into something avant-garde. It’s easy to see how trashion treads the fine line between a belief system and a gimmick (completely ruining several perfectly decent apartments seemed somewhat regressive to me). There was even the Channel 4 programmed ‘Dumped’ where a group of strangers were forced to live together and filmed around the clock. In a dump. Undoubtedly a gimmick, but these people actually managed to survive by reusing what people had thought to throw away.

So the idea of repurposing is nothing new, and it’s obvious why we regularly look to cover here it at Amelia’s Magazine. More interesting than why it’s produced is how, I began reading about Chilean designer Alexandra Guerrero, who genuinely views the wastage in her city as an opportunity to be resourceful, and has gone so far as to make wearable pieces out of a fabric constructed from cigarette butts. Yes, that’s CIGARETTE BUTTS. Before the murmurs start about overstepping the mark, Guerrero pre-empted all the haters out there by checking with an environmental engineer to check that cleaning them would make them hygienically sound. Given the thumbs up – you can get ‘em at 95% purified apparently – she then put them through something called an autoclave, then washed them in something else called a polar solvent, put them back into the trusty autoclave, to go and then rinse, dry, shred, dye, separate the butts, and finally spin with natural sheep wool. Ta-dah! Imagine the horrifyingly elongated episode of Blue Peter: here’s one I autoclaved earlier.

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Shows like Project Runway delineate a certain fascination with the process of it all, and specifically the difficulty involved in doing it. If turning some old coffee cups into a cheeky little playsuit was easily done, maybe it would just be the common practice. The fact remains, that, with Guerrera’s project in mind, it’s an exhausting process that of course isn’t more trouble than it’s worth environmentally (not at a whopping 4.5 trillion butts dropped a day) but artistically, it could definitely be a bit laborious. And, let’s face it, not to everybody’s taste.

McQueen himself said his AW09 collection was indeed a response to the gross wastage of the fashion industry in an economic climate where it could not be commercially viable any more. Guerrero ironically enough needs more funding to pursue her investigations into the world of cigarette butts. But the shared excitement in possibilities in repurposing materials seems the important result, and the creative potential out there is without a doubt enormous. So next time you chuck something in the bin, take a second look – maybe it could make a brilliant overcoat.

If your memory stretches back a few weeks, link you may remember we wrote about an eco-village about to be set up. Well, a couple of Amelia’s Magazine reporters ventured along to help out with the get in. Alice Watson and Roisin Conway met the gathering at Waterloo station, before getting on to the site itself. All the internet noise about a location near Hammersmith turned out to be fuzz to throw off the fuzz – they took up an abandoned area near Kew Bridge. And four police did turn up, in very reasonable manner, simply to hear an idea of the plans and get some contact details.

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After getting access to the site, which had been left well locked up despite being left untouched for so long, first up was a meeting. Future eco-villlagers and interested people sat down together, and started to realise just how from-scratch this project was. Activist consensus decision making apparently proceeds by raising both hands and wobbling them slightly – a bit like a two-handed royal wave. The day was then mostly spent (as agreed) in clearing up rubbish, and starting to reach out to the local communities – handing out flyers and chatting to people.

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The Kew Eco-villagers recently sent out a week-two update : “we have cleared the site of most of the rubbish, put our tents up, built a compost toilet and a kitchen, and have built a half roundhouse as a communal structure!”

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The neighbours and people in local communities and local businesses have helped out with many donations. They’ve given plants, wood, tents and building materials to the project. There’s a long way to go, still, before the eco-village gets on towards its potential – if you’re feeling generous, there’s a wish list up on their facebook group – go to the discussions and find ‘How you can all help!’.

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The other big thing to do is to send post to the site – an important part in the process of getting squatters’ rights. Postcards, messages of support, envelopes of seeds, or anything else you’re inspired to post will be greatly appreciated. The beginnings of a wider community of interested people is the best for the further development of the eco-village movement. This space in Kew Bridge is growing into a place to learn and to get to know people – building everything on the principles of sustainable land use, the people living there think of themselves as looking after this land for, well, everyone. Their gates are open every day. Essentially, it’s a community garden. Everyone from the local area can – is encouraged to – pay a visit and share their ideas about what to do with the land, as well as having the chance to plant vegetables and also just to chill out and get to know everyone there.

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They have had a fair few visitors from all over the world recently, and all over London. Absolutely everyone is welcome to come and stay. There are a few site rules which include no drugs and alcohol, as well as being considerate to others and actively participating as a member of the community. Sundays are open days – this Sunday, 12th July, there’s a local Irish band booked to be playing, and last weekend they held a Solstice Open Weekend with activities including face painting, music, picnic area and children’s workshops. Anyone with ‘useful or interesting skills or knowledge’ is most welcome to get along and hold a workshop to share them. Whether common law and herbal remedies are your bag, or making didgeridoos and repairing bicycles is more your thing, there’s a space there for you. And if you just want to listen and learn, you’ll be more than welcome too.

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Photos by (1,2 and 7) Alice Watson and Roisin Conway, and (3, 4, 5 and 6) Peter Marshall,

You can find KewEcoVillage on twitter, if you like your updates to-the-minute.

Visitors are welcome – come along between 11 am and 8 pm, to 2 Kew Bridge Rd, Brentford. The nearest station is ‘Kew Bridge’ and the nearest tube is ‘Gunnersbury’.

There’s a public meeting every Thursday at 7pm on site, and every Sunday is an open day. Do get in touch if you’d like to propose a workshop.

The on-site contact number is 07967 864 370

Post seeds, postcards, or anything you like, to:
The Eco Village
2 Kew Bridge Rd
Brentford
TW8 0JF

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Christopher Nielsen, search I’m happy to say, approved has it made. Based in Sunny Sydney where he lives, drugs works and plays from an old warehouse studio with other extremely talented illustrators and artists as well as his beloved wife, son and pet cat, Nielsen’s work has been adopted and exhibited in a wide range of publications and settings, from zoos and wineries to chronicles and annuals.

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Not only does Picture Pig, the collective which Nielsen is affiliated with, go from strength to strength, but his own work has been given the thumbs up by notable bodies such as The Society of Illustrators New York, Communication Arts, The Australian and New Zealand Illustration Awards and Luerzer’s Archive.

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In order to keep his approach fresh and innovative Nielsen ensures he works and collaborates with an assortment of clients, keeping his contacts global and maintaining a presence as teacher, lecturer and exhibitor with his feet firmly on the ground. When you have folk such as TIME magazine, Waitrose Food Illustrated and PlanSponsor after you, things must be on the up.

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From looking at the cheerfully coloured animated images Nielsen produces it is easy to decipher that he draws his inspiration from vintage advertising, retro design and old fashioned signage. What might not be immediately apparent is that he is also a sucker for Mexican art, Japanese prints, Russian space travel and the Wild West.

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Music of the folk country blues genre, he is keen to point out, is another big passion, his personal taste including Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, Gene Clark and Neil Young. When he isn’t busy creating illustrated masterpieces he plays with his band the Ramalamas, who on top of having a darn radical name are actually musically brilliant. Enjoy the following Q&A with the man himself.

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So, Christopher, what makes you so awesome?
My Phantom Ring.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?
All the dudes at Picture Pig, Jeffrey Fisher, Calef Brown, Christian Northeast, Brian Cronin, Nate Williams, Gary Taxali…

Who or what is your nemesis?
Nobody, I’m very congenial.

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If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
I’d go back to the fifties like Marty McFly and fill up my santa bag with lots of design goodies.

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass– Spanish Flea.

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I say Modern Art is Rubbish, you say…?
Like Jonathan Richman says “Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole”.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
I’d be the Artful Dodger, Guvna!

What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?
The Westcoast Psychedelic Underground 1967-68.

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What advice would you give up and coming artists?
Keep the shower curtain on the inside of the bathtub.

Who would your top five dream dinner guests be? Who would do the washing up?
I hear if Paul McCartney comes to dinner he wash’s up but I’d prefer John Lennon.
Lennon, Dylan, Pablo, Antonioni and maybe a hottie like Bettie Page.

What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
Swizzle stick.

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What is your guilty pleasure?
Mexican Flags. That’s tequila, tabasco and lime juice.

Tell us something about Christopher Nielsen that we didn’t know already.
I have an “In-ny”.

When did you first realise you were creative?
1978.

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How long does it usually take you to create pieces?
One day for roughs and one day for the final art.

Where do you imagine yourself to be in 10 years time?
Hopefully still doing this but getting paid more to do it from some exotic locale.

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Sydney, you sure are one lucky city.
Every so often something arrives on my desk that makes my heart joyfully skip a beat… the last time it happened was grizzly grey Tuesday morning when my eyes fell upon ‘Two Sunsets’ the new collaboration between the Pastels and Tenniscoats.
Having been an avid fan of the Pastels for a while and an admirer of Tenniscoats since hearing Tan-Tan Therapy last year then falling quickly in love with this record that fateful Tuesday morning; I feel I should apologise in advance for the amount of gushing superlatives that will fill this article from top(est) to bottom(est).

Recorded in Glasgow over a 3 year period around touring schedules, this web Two Sunsets appeared out of the ether of shared studio time and reciprocal inspiration. The album in its very collaborative nature is intrinsically linked to the theme of duality; where two different entities; nominally, clinic the bands and their different sounds overlap to disperse again. Whilst Two Sunsets is essentially bi-national and bilingual, the album exists on a plane between the two different poles, creating a soundscape that is ethereal and otherworldly whilst remaining bound to the earth by an essentially pop-sounding compactness. It is both jubilant and melancholic like the infinite multicoloured and beautiful prism that exists between black and white.

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Saya Ueno of Japanese duo Tenniscoats astutely described the record as “the Pastels underneath, sounding beautiful like a big cloud with Tenniscoats flying over.” Indeed, first song ‘Tokyo Glasgow’ opens the album true to her word; with looping, soaring woodwinds that sound like the breeze, with Ueno’s voice weaving in and out of it, all rooted down by a heavy ‘cloudy’ synth sound.

Second song ‘Two Sunsets’ is like a memory of a song you think you know from many years ago but can never quite remember where you heard it, this familiarity played upon by a vague sort of Spaghetti Western instrumental arrangement contrasts with the ghostly childlike vocals of Ueno crooning in Japanese. Her distinctive vocal style continues in ‘Song for a Friend’ where it is joined by the Pastels’ Stephen McRobbie, if there was a song where the collaboration would have fallen apart it would be here in the strange duet, but Two Sunsets stands the test in a jubilant fashion with pompously stirring brass, delicate keyboard parts and a very Pastels-esque electric guitar riff, and it ends up sounding like the most beautifully constructed cacophony in existence, embracing its differences and transcending genres.

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‘Vivid Youth’ is a return to the Pastels at their finest, I feel like I found myself feet back on familiar ground, it is tight self-assured pop. It is summery, happy and naive and like falling in love. ‘Yomigaeru’ continues in the nostalgic pop vein.
I’m sure you imagine at this point that I couldn’t possibly gush about the album any further, but luckily/unluckily for you, the collaboration turn their attentions and illustrious talents to one of my favourite Jesus and Mary Chain songs; ‘About You’, it’s a whirring, soaring delight of a cover, retaining much of the shoegaze-y loops of the original, played here on organs.

‘Boats’ and ‘Hikoki’, continue the melancholy of “About You” ethereally; tied delicately together with woodwind, while ‘Sodane’ is all plinky plonky guitar and beats, sounding like a pop song from a totally different universe, or dare I say, it wouldn’t be out of place in a cantina in Tatooine.

Just as ‘Tokyo Glasgow’ began like a breeze, the album closes similarly. ‘Mou Mou Rainbow’ is woozy and sad like a fitful jet-lagged sleep, full of dragging delays and whispery vocals, whilst album finale ‘Start Slowly So We Sound Like A Loch’ lives up to its name in all it’s underwater glory.

Essentially Two Sunsets as an album is the fruit of a collaboration that is as interested in differences as much as it is similarity. Whilst it is transcendent and varied, its cohesion is in its highly structed nature, threaded through as it is with the breeze of woodwind etc.

I probably don’t need to reaffirm how awesome I think this record is by this point, but for the sake of a punchy end line:
I love Two Sunsets!

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Two Sunsets is released on Domino Records, 7th September 2009
Mon 13th July
múm, information pills The Tabernacle, London

With the global success of artists like Bjork, The Sugarcubes and Sigur Ros and it’s a pretty well established fact that Iceland is a bit of a cool (!) music hotspot, specialising in skewed magical pop with lashings of mystery and melancholy. When I first heard múm‘s Yesterday Was Dramatic Today Is OK, I feel in love with their innocent and eccentric electronica, and made the album the soundtrack to my life for a good few months. Plus ex-member Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir is married to Avey Tare of Animal Collective fame- if either of you are reading this- ADOPT ME!

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Tuesday 14th July
Of Montreal, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

Here is an interesting fact: Of Montreal are named after a failed romance with a woman from Montreal. Actually based in Athens (Georgia), Of Montreal are mass mess of members and influences from vaudeville to krautrock via funk and electro. Renowned for their grandiose shows, this is an experience not to be missed, and awesome to dance to if you dance as strangely as I do.

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Wednesday 15th July
Rumble Strips, Wilton’s Music Hall, London

I imagine going to see the Rumble Strips are everything you need from a summer evening gig, fun and danceable. Imagine if evacuee children from the 1940s were given access to brass bands, drums and electric guitars and then given the run of East London.

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Thursday 16th July
Fever Ray, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

Fever Ray is the solo project of The Knife‘s Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson, who has one of the best accents around right now is given full range to be strange and brilliant, expect lots of noise, distortion and masks.

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Weekend
Latitude 2009 Festival, Suffolk

Hopefully you’ll remember my ‘glorious’ preview of Latitude from a month or so again… here it is. If you’re going down to this (like our lovely Art Editor- Hi Alice!) then you are very lucky indeed…personal favourites include Bat For Lashes, Camera Obscura, Lykke Li, St Vincent, !!! and Wild Beasts. Plus if you missed Of Montreal and Rumble Strips earlier in the week in London, they’ll be there too!

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Dreams of Progress

Westminster Reference Library
35 St Martin’s Street
London WC2H 7HP

Until 18th July
Mon – Fri: 10am – 8pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm
Free admission

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“The Curated Matter project is a non-profit venture dedicated to the organisation of exhibitions that catalyse social innovation In these days of economical, page environmental and sometimes ideological uncertainties. The exhibition ‘Dreams of Progress’ will take a look back at our previous visions of the future, more about how they materialized and the way that they relate to the dreams we nourish today. Videos of utopian visions will be presented along with the sensitive perceptions of emerging video artists.”

Art videos by Adam Pelling Deeves (UK), website like this Julian Roberts and Namalee Bolle (UK), Keith Loutit (Australia), Ian Lynam (Japan), Richard Jerousek and Brian Phillips (USA), Sam Fuller (USA), Urizen Freaza (Spain) and Misty Woodford (USA).

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National Art Hate Week

13th July – 20th July
Various Locations

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The most radical of the art listings this week, and dare I say it ever, is Billy Childish’s new campaign, the dark and provoking ‘National Art Hate Week’. Its predominant aim being to cause maximum confusion, friction and protest within a relatively unchallenged and unquestioned culture industry, Childish is joined by the British Art Resistance members and fellow passioned comrades Harry Adams, James Caulty and Jamie Reid in wide scale public uprisings and actions, which will all be documented and recorded, and somewhat ironically form art pieces in their own right. Visit the National Art Hate Week’s website for a more detailed programme of events for the week.

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Cabin/et: Tom Wolesley

ROOM Gallery
31 Waterson Street
London E2 8HT

13th July – 27th September
Thursday – Sunday 12pm -6pm

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A little known fact is that at any one time more than 17 million shipping containers, containing a billion cubic metres of space (roughly the equivalent to the size of London) are on the move around the globe, such as the one that will provide a central focus of a series of projects this summer at Room Gallery, starting with Tom Wolseley’s work. Revolving around the theme of transitional spaces, the unusual plywood-lined ‘cabin’ aims to explore human relationships with geography and the differences between physical and psychological representations of the world.

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Elsa Quarsell: Domestic Burlesque

Time for Tea
110 Shoreditch High Street
London E1 6JN

17th July – 2nd August
Thursday – Sunday 12pm – 8pm

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Sweden-born Elsa Quarsell has been over here for 9 years now, building quite a name for herself with her weekend supplement type portraits for the Independent and the Guardian, as well as for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Arena. This new exhibition at Shoreditch’s Time for Tea features stylish, seductive Barbarella babes, dressed up and vacant looking in domestic settings and burlesque outfits of various kinds and sorts.

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Malick Sidibé

Hackelbury Fine Art Ltd
4 Launceston Place
London W8 5RL

Until 31st July
Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm

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A now highly respected and celebrated photographer, Malick Sidibé came from the most modest of beginnings in rural Mali, not getting his hands on his first camera until he was in his twenties. He spent the 60s and 70s mixing in powerful circles of sportsmen, private club members as well as capturing the beauty and illustrative in ordinary moments of post-colonial African life. Fast forward to 2007 and Sidibe became the first photographer to be awarded the Lion d’Or for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, four years after a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery. Well deserving and very talented, an exhibition not to be missed.

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Bad Animals
Transition Gallery
Unit 25a Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN

18th July – 16th August
Friday – Sunday 12-6pm

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“This group of artists examine the bad animals phenomenon in a variety of ways from Cathie Pilkington’s promiscuous pranksters, Rachel Goodyear’s faux cute drawings and Georgia Hayes’ significantly endowed horse to Alli Sharma’s harmlessly ferocious bats. These pets definitely won’t win prizes.”

Artists: Anton Goldenstein, Rachel Goodyear, Georgia Hayes, Sharon McPhee, Kim L Pace, Cathie Pilkington, Alli Sharma.

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Gustavo Ortiz: Metamorphosis
Pure Evil Gallery
108 Leonard Street
London, EC2A 4XS

Until 2nd August
Open daily from 10-6pm

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I came across the artist Gustavo Ortiz last year when he pitched up a weekly stall in Spitalfields Market and he sweetly took the time to talk to me about his work and I was so impressed by his craft I bought a set of three. It was a wise investment because I’m pleased to see that Ortiz is now gaining the recognition in this country that his work truly deserves, with his first solo show in the UK on now at Pure Evil Gallery. Understated humour, childlike naivety and a healthy dose of imaginary landscapes filled by disproportioned animals and humans, all done in meticulous collage and brightly painted makes Ortiz’s work rather lovely indeed.

Monday 13th

The Sustainability Project – How Much More Can Our Planet Take?

For more than thirty years, cialis 40mg scientists from various disciplines have warned that the constant increase in world population and exponential world economic growth are seriously threatening the future of our planet – its ecosystems, capsule economies, website like this and the well-being of our children. As we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the problems identified in seemingly disparate spheres – climate change, natural resource use, global health and government – are being brought together with a common goal: sustainable development.

Klaus Hahlbrock, Stefan H. E. Kaufmann and Harald Müller assess the changes in lifestyles, production methods and consumption behaviour that will be required to meet the global sustainability challenge. The Sustainability Project is a new and comprehensive series of twelve books about the challenge of global sustainable development, written by leading international experts.

6.30pm – RSA, 8 John Adam Street, WC2
Reserve your free ticket here

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Illustration by Adam Bletchley

Tuesday 14th

Earth, Water, Fire and Air

One of the highlights of the London Literature Festival : Hanif Kureishi, DBC Pierre, Kamila Shamsie & Jeanette Winterson, original stories in four collections, “Earth, Water, Fire and Air”, which highlight the various projects of Oxfam, and raise money for the charity. The authors read their work in an unbeatable evening celebrating both the power of stories, and the importance of Oxfam’s charitable work across the globe.

7.30pm, £10, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank centre.

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Illustration by Julien Ferrato

Wednesday 15th

Climate Emergency Parliament

Our current parliament is failing to respond to the Climate Emergency. We will convene an alternative parliament to respond with the degree of urgency required.

The Bills before the Climate Emergency Parliament will include measures for : 10% reductions in UK Greenhouse gases by the end of 2010; a million Green Jobs and emergency insulation program; banning all domestic flights by the end of 2010; a 55 mph national speed limit; and halving (on average) the cost of public transport and terminating the roads program.

Speakeing at the Parliament will be (amongst others) : Colin Challen (member of the other House), Darren Johnson (Chair of the London Assembly – Green Party), John Stewart (Chair, Airport Watch), Tim Helweg Larsen (Director, Public Interest Research Centre), Tamsin Omond (Climate Rush) ,Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union) and Deepak Rughani from Biofuelwatch.

Come to the People’s Parliament ! All are welcome – just turn up and take your seat (on the pavement). Hear about what we could be doing in the UK now to avert climate catastrophe – and bring your own ideas.

Parliament Square, Wednesday 15th July at 6.00 pm
Details here

Thursday 16th

Corporations on Trial

Human rights lawsuits against companies, two 22-minute films (from Al Jazeera’s “Corporations on Trial” series) followed by discussion with Martyn Day, Juliana Ruhfus, Karina Litvack, Ian Gorvin, Sif Thorgeirsson. In association with Business & Human Rights.

7pm, free, SOAS building, Thornhaugh Street, WC1.

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Illustration by Rui Sousa

Friday 17th

2000trees Festival

Green weekend of live music in the Cotswolds. The festival last year won the ‘A Greener Festival Award’ – for raising awareness of green issues and demonstrating its commitment to sustainability by recycling 78 per cent of waste. More than 60 live acts will entertain thousands of music fans for two days of music on three stages at a stunning setting.

Tickets cost £47 and early entry passes for an extra night of music on July 16 cost an additional £7.
Details here.

Saturday 18th

Sustainable Summer Party for India!

An event of dance, fun and meeting new people. Offset your carbon footprints and support sustainable development pilot projects in the small village in Meghalaya, Northeast India by contributing some dance moves for our planet. Aashna Musa is a professional Indian dancer and choreographer who will perform and teach classical Indian dance at 8.30pm. So feel free to come, dressed up and ready to learn some authentic Indian moves.

Entry is £15 per person which is the actual cost of planting and maintaining a rubber tree for 35 years, with environmental, social and economical benefits in mitigating climate change but also in creating sustainable livelihoods for poor local communities.

Students go two for one – so bring a buddy along to the dance! Buy a ‘tree ticket’ here. You’ll need to create a login.

7.30pm – Worldview Space, 1 Pope street, SE1 3PR

Contact : Indiana Baseden 020 737 89600 or 07515 475 751 ; i.baseden(at)worldviewimpact.com
Details here.

Sunday 19th

The Big Lunch

The Big Lunch, an Eden Project, will involve millions of people sitting down to eat lunch at the same time; in their street, with their community this Sunday.

The shared enjoyment of eating together, laughter, play, music and conversation bring us together and for all the fact that we are so fabulously different in our outlook and experience on many things, we know a simple truth: together we are strong. Wouldn’t it be great if, for just one day, we remind ourselves about all that is good about us and bring about a moment that ignites a spark?

It’s really easy to get involved — for your guide to organising a Big Lunch and for tips, ideas and resources visit www.thebiglunch.com

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Illustration by Krishna Malla
Jewellery designer Israel Roca can be normally be found working in his countryside house in La Coruña, click in the northwest of Spain, remedy in a large, approved light-filled space. Light is one of Roca’s most treasured devices in the construction of his pieces – and by working with textiles rather than diamonds, he knows the tricks of the trade. Citing silk as a fabric capable of catching the light, it is one of his favourites, asserting that as a rule “a jewel should provide light”. It’s an appropriate metaphor for a designer intent on beating down his own path with some luminescent ideas.

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Whilst studying Design of Fashion and Home Accessories in Madrid, and then Master in Design Direction in Milan, Roca began to create individual pieces, and responses to his work encouraged him to develop his own brand. Entitling his first collection ‘Medusa’, we see his devotion to a certain type of woman evoked in essence by its very title. It is an unexpected, strong and determined version of femininity that excites him, that he sees in the likes of Iris Apfel or Patti Smith, “women that no matter what they wear, they remain themselves, people that the first thing you get to see is their personality.”

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Combining applications such as buttons from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, and ornaments from 20th century hats, each piece in the limited-edition collection is unique. A large proportion of the materials were discovered on trips around the world, where he collected details and integrated them in a new structure that gave each piece its own story. He is also inspired by other passions of his: the cinema, 70s Italian, French and American music. Having spent his childhood in a city by the water, the infusion of the sea and what lies within is apparent in the Medusa collection – in particular, jellyfish. Aside from this, at the moment he’s working with a luxury Italian brand creating their bijoux collections and October will see him in Capri, along with his friend Maixut Alvarez (who worked as his art director for the collection lookbook) at the first international congress of trendwatching.

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The recession does not deter Roca from designing as his only drive is to create and not to sell, and one collection a year would be enough for him. “When I sell my pieces I feel happy, but sad, because I really love them all and every piece means something different to me.” It’s an attachment to one’s work that is not unusual for anybody working in an artistic field, but Roca also shows us a different side to that. For so many designers where fashion can imperceptibly morph into art, to be looked at, hypothethised about, imagined in terms of the body but never really loved like a favourite necklace can be – this would mean nothing to Roca. He loves to watch people, watch the customer choose a piece, or a piece choose the customer, and loves to watch them interact with his creations. Fashion can be such a razor-sharp world that sentiment and enjoyment sometimes seem like alien ideas that don’t belong. For Roca, that relationship is paramount.

The Medusa Collection is available to buy online soon.

Saving Iceland wants to protect the land from a pro-heavy industry government who plans for ‘every major glacier river dammed, and every substantial geothermal field exploited and the construction of aluminium smelters, buy more about oil refineries and silicon factories’. To do this Saving Iceland believes in direct action, and it is this ethos of anarchy which has energised a growing movement of activists in Iceland, forcing these green issues onto the political agenda and progress is being seen. Both the tourists and the local community of Iceland appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of its paradise landscape, but with areas of the land continually being capitalised for profit this is all at threat.

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Photographs from Saving Iceland

This is not just about the impact on Iceland but the impact globally and there is an emphasis on becoming a powerful relationship between the community of Iceland and Saving Iceland camps. Also the positive prevention action that takes place in Iceland could also inspire other people to take action when similar projects are proposed in other developing countries.

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However, the government have made it clear that the environment is not its priority, with the booting out of its minister for being “too green”, meaning it is all the more important for this present mobilisation. There has already been destruction at Kárahnjúkar and Hengill which further spurs on the reasons for action because the vivid memory of seeing the land being taken over is still freshly imprinted on their minds. Saving Iceland also questions the decision and action processes, as they feel that the community is being told too late about the action they wish to take and are therefore resisting something which is already in place to go ahead. Nevertheless, they believe resistance is still vital whilst there is a chance.

For the past 4 years they have been protesting this industrialisation through action camps in order to preserve the beauty of the Icelandic wilderness and the one ahead proposes to be just as or even more important to get involved in to create the impact and outcome needed. They have already taken on aluminium smelters, mega-dams and geothermal power plants in order to protect the ecosystem whilst preventing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and similar action taking place in other parts of Europe. They therefore urge everyone to come together and stand against the heavy industry as we must all be nature’s guardian in what promises to be a dynamic and exciting union at the Saving Iceland gathering.

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YOU WILL NEED
Good camping gear that will keep you warm and dry as there are harsh conditions in Iceland even during the summer.

WHEN
Converge on the 18th July

HOW TO GET THERE
Iceland. Due to the financial crisis the only ferry from mainland Europe to Iceland goes from Hanstholm in Denmark to Seyðisfjørður in Eastern Iceland.
www.smyril-line.com is useful for ferry time tables and prices.

CONTACT
The exact details have not been released but more information will follow at: www.savingiceland.org
They have also requested to be informed whether you are coming by emailing them at: savingiceland@riseup.net
On Saturday 4th July, approved London Fields Lido played host not to those soppy 90s balladeers, or to a stars and stripes Americana fest, for that matter, but to Wet Sounds , the UK’s only Underwater Sound Art Gallery. This (moist) Magical Mystery Tour premiered on the swimming pool scene last year and met with such critical and popular approbation that it’s been reprised for 2009.

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The brainchild of Hackney-based artist Joel Cahen, Wet Sounds is a genre-defying aural tapestry, of the sub-aqua variety. Neither gig nor exhibition, and not exactly performance art, either, given that the artist/ curator modestly takes a back seat behind the decks, like some mild-mannered DJ. There isn’t a great deal to see, at least not above water; with waterproof speakers weighted down on the pool floor. This event is the epitome of the iceberg effect. What Cahen promises, however, is ‘a deep listening experience.’ Those expecting a Club Aqua-esque pool party were going to be disappointed.

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Riotous 18-30s territory this was not, then, but it pulled in the crowds none the less. The most fitting label I heard bandied about by knowing bright young things, beach towels spilling out of their eco shopping bags, was ‘soundscape.’ Once the preserve of art students and sound engineers, this coinage has all but entered the vernacular. Here was soundscape in the truest sense of the word, in fact- pictures painted with sound. Or rather ‘collages,’ as the website suggests, which gets closer to the cut and paste, pick n’ mix layering of sound, laced with inter-textual reference.

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Having advertised for submissions via the Internet, Cahen has amassed the work of 10 sound artists of various persuasions and nationalities- including Eric DeLuca (American, composer, improviser), Sam Salem (UK audiovisual artist) and Mark Vernon (UK sound artist, musician and radio producer). All of the practitioners were new discoveries for him, with the exception of Canadian Hildegard Westerkamp, who has been something of a pioneer in the medium since the early 70s. The only criteria he prescribed was the theme of Audio Cinema, collecting a scrap book of ‘narratives in sound composition.’ Cahen is no stranger to playing with the conventions of storytelling and atmospherics, claiming the ‘mash-up’ technique as the cornerstone of his various projects in theatre, dance and film composition. It is also the concept behind his Resonance FM show, Soundsoup.

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The event is free, bar the standard pool admission fee, supported as it is by Hackney Council, the Arts Council and PRS, among others, as part of Create 09. Petra Roberts of the Hackney Council Cultural Development Team was in attendance and spoke of the attraction of ‘supporting a young artist based in the borough’ together with the need to ‘bring the arts to new audiences who wouldn’t otherwise encounter this sort of work.’ Refreshingly, the creative force in the collaboration shares this outreach ethos. Cahen seems to have made it his mission to bring sound art to the people- ‘so you don’t have to go and look for it, you don’t have to be part of the scene to experience it.’

Removed from the ‘niche gallery setting,’ and transplanted to an underwater playground, listeners are also liberated from the tyranny of headphones- ‘which I hate,’ declares Cahen. When asked what the element of water brings, both symbolically and practically, he enthuses about an ‘immersive experience,’ akin to a ‘floatation tank- this way it is far more leisurely, more fun and you have more control; the only limitation is your own body.’

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He admits that this notion might have been realised more fully, had the water been warmer and therefore people more disposed to float. As it was, with the sunshine fitful and the breeze ever-present above the ‘heated’ open-air pool, I found it was a compulsion to keep moving. Besides generating body heat, this was also necessitated by the volume of people jostling in the water- hardened swimmers literally rubbing shoulders with the pleasure seekers and the culture vultures. In my multi-tasking attempt to exercise body and imagination, I struggled to find the continuity of the ‘sound FX stories;’ my will to listen being constantly broken by the need to come up for air! Relishing the intimate experience of being insulated by an evolving soundtrack whilst enveloped by water, I was at turns hypnotised and delighted, disconcerted and amused by a programme that spanned the urban hubbub of Vancouver, moody jazz overtures and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

‘It’s treble heavy because bass gets lost in the water,’ I overheard some knowledgeable party elucidate. Water is no impediment to a finely tuned musical ear, it seems. Doubtless living out some mermaid fantasy, I found myself wishing for a snorkel (a breach of health and safety, apparently), to prolong the exposure, or better still- breathing apparatus. In spite of these frustrations, the challenge of piecing together snatches and snippets of sound had its appeal- not least the entertaining sight of grown men and women bobbing about holding their noses, as if playing some arcane, childish game. Smiles were infectious and conversation flowed more freely than usual, momentarily transforming the inner-city Lido into the sociable Roman Bath experience, albeit with added chill. ‘I think it’s a brilliant idea- odd, but brilliant’ ventured Jez, a regular swimmer, ‘they should do it more often.’ Brian from Dalston had come especially to hear Wet Sounds, admitting ‘I think it’s a shame there are a lot of people who clearly aren’t here to listen.’

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Tastes and logistics aside, Joel Cahen is emphatic in his belief that ‘you don’t have to like it, but I want to develop people’s aesthetic sense of hearing, outside of the mainstream music charts.’ With the notable exception of classical music, are we conditioned to associate critical discernment in the art world with the purely visual medium, I wonder? This is no accident given the preponderance of the ocular over the aural, particularly in public art. But Cahen resists taking the work too seriously: ‘sound art can be very heavy. I wanted to put some of the humour back in.’ Hence the Pythons. But making it accessible and playful doesn’t necessarily mean making it comfortable: ‘It is a challenge to deal with the contrast between the sunshine, the kids playing, and beneath the surface, the depths of the artist’s mind.’ This sets the tone for the darker, more intense flavour of the winter tour of Scandinavia, he suggests- ‘All the spaces will be indoors, so I might turn the lights off. There’ll be less distractions that way.’

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In the meantime, the Wet Sounds collaborators will be pushing the boundaries still further for the UK leg’s closing event at Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington on 22nd July. Live pool-side performance will provide the counterpoint to the submersed ‘sonic fictions,’ creating parallel, abstract sound scenarios for the audience to piece together. Surreal! Just don’t mention synchronised swimming.
For something other than the incredibly grand Byzantine and Gothic architecture, pharm sparkling canals, and general air of unreal magic to amaze you in Venice is high praise indeed. This is a city that could make light work of rendering even the most incredible or fascinating spectacles pale in comparison. From the moment you are ejected somewhat unceremoniously from the rather cramped and sweaty waterbus (not quite the grand arrival we’d all envisaged), standing blinking up at the impossibly picturesque skyline, you’re incapable of repressing the urge to exclaim at frequent junctures about how it looks “just like a film set” or, rather more incriminatingly, “just as exciting as on Tomb Raider”; something that I’m sure doesn’t irritate the locals one bit.

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Gustafson Porter

It takes a rather special experience then to approach this wow-factor. Indeed, it’s hard after spending a couple of days wandering Venice’s charmingly puzzling labyrinth of little cobbled streets not to become the harshest of critics: “well that last church just didn’t have enough Titian paintings for my liking; distinctly underwhelming.” So for the Venice Biennale art exhibition to impress me and my companions to the extent that it did was no mean feat.
Showcasing contemporary artwork from a grand total of 77 different countries, the Venice Biennale has frequently been dubbed the Olympic Games of the art world. Perhaps more expressive of this veritable haven for art lovers, housed mostly in the beautiful, leafy Giardini della Biennale, would be to describe it as a kind of art theme park. Upon entering the garden (quietly, and rather shamefully, marvelling together at being admitted for the reduced under 26 price that applies in many of Venice’s museums and galleries), we were free to roam among its 29 pavilions.

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Tomas Saraceno

I say roam. What I must actually confess is that, after a leisurely exploration of the central building, the realisation that we didn’t have long left before the Giardini della Biennale was closed for the evening dawned and we commenced rushing excitedly and feverishly between buildings, very much in fact like children determined to squeeze in one last go on the log flume before chucking out time; actions that backfired a little when we snuck cheekily past a curator into a small hut which, it soon became apparent, housed a rather pungent bale of mud encrusted hay. This piece was certainly not the pastoral watercolour that would probably be your Gran’s definition of art.

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Gonka Gyatso

Also like children drawn back to a theme park, we returned for a second go. And, like children, had a small tantrum when it was closed. You’d be well advised not to visit the Venice Biennale on Mondays when the Giardini della Biennale is closed (thus avoiding any impromptu visits to the Naval Museum, located dangerously near to the garden.)
Despite this minor blip in our carefully planned itinerary, we still felt like we’d had a satisfying fill of the Venice Biennale due to the quality of everything experienced the previous day. And experienced would certainly be the right word for it. Stepping from room to room in the main pavilion, you feel like you’re not simply being provided with exciting things to look at, but are really lifted from the everyday to be immersed in stimulus, or worlds, that are refreshingly unusual. I was reminded, after a bit of an art drought I’m ashamed to admit, of just how exhilarating contemporary art could be.

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Nathalie Djurberg

Clearly a lot of thought has for some artists gone into their use of the gallery space in order to interpret the exhibition’s title of ‘Making Worlds’ in the most immediately striking of ways. Nathalie Djurberg’s Experimentet for instance uses fantastical papier mache sculptures of impossibly garish foliage in a darkened room to create a decidedly sinister Garden of Eden atmosphere, making this Swedish artist’s animations all the more affecting. Accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack, the animations, depicting horrific yet vaguely humorous plasticine figures falling into tar pits and indulging in macabre erotic rituals, could engross you (and, for that matter, gross you out) for a considerable length of time. Similarly Argentinian Tomas Saraceno’s incredible giant rope cocoon structures totally transform their room into something rather magical. Viewers were drawn in to walk amongst them and experience this transformation for themselves.

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Öyvind Fahlström

The show was certainly not stolen however by the most sensational pieces. Quite rightly, plenty of space was allowed for the appreciation of more subtle and understated work. My particular favourite, perhaps even of the whole exhibition, was a series of incredibly intricate maps by Brazilian artist Öyvind Fahlström. Easily bypassed from a distance, these maps incorporate both fascinating facts and eyewitness accounts from countries across the globe arranged in an apparently haphazard manner which one suspects nonetheless betray the complex processing and organisation of information by a brilliant mind. Once up close, it was easy to spend quite some time picking out various intriguing nuggets of information, such as the alarmingly high number of rodent hairs and insect fragments that American trading standards at one time decided was permissible in a bar of chocolate; a fact that has both enriched and troubled my existence since in equal measures.

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Öyvind Fahlström

Perhaps what Fahlström’s work communicates particularly effectively is the impossibility of conveying any sense of a coherent world. Indeed, what it drew my attention to for the first time was the contradiction inherent in the exhibition’s title ‘Making Worlds’. Fahlström’s chaotic yet painstakingly precise mind maps highlight how impossible it is to create or even communicate a tangible, unwavering understanding of our surroundings. Indeed, it seemed to be Fahlström’s attempts to rigorously systematise that which he knew about the world, or to ‘make’ it, which actually generated a sense of chaotic multiplicity. It would seem then that with every attempt to make a world, tangents and alternative perspectives inevitably and uncontrollably proliferate.
This is an idea that the Giardini della Biennale, and indeed the the Arsenale and the other Biennale venues dotted around the city, provide the perfect setting to explore. Wandering the gardens, one didn’t gradually build a more solid sense of a unifying theme as you might expect, but rather a thought-provoking impression of plurality and disparity, with its obvious impactions for the status of contemporary art. To dredge up the old theme park analogy just one more time, it was very much like the juxtaposition of the Goldrush Canyon and Mad Hatter’s Teacups. No matter how convincingly each world is made, there is always another contrasting reality just around the corner to unsettle one specific take on things.

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Moshewka Langa

I am certainly not alone in recommending the 53rd International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale. Already enough people have visited this year to make it the most frequented exhibition in Italy; testament not only to Venice’s immense appeal, but also to this as a thoughtful and truly dynamic collection.

Making Worlds is on until 22nd November and is open 10 am to 6 pm (Giardini closed on Mondays, Arsenale closed on Tuesdays).
The Manchester International Festival is upon us once again and as we’ve come to expect is full of truly innovative shows and performances from the most intriguing acts of the last 40 years. This year’s roster includes a one-off 3D stage spectacular by Kraftwerk enveloped by the UK Cycle team in the Velodrome and Rufus Wainwright‘s first foray into the world of Opera ‘Prima Donna’.

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The first Friday of the festival sees Antony Hegarty (Antony & The Johnsons) bringing songs from his great new album ‘The Crying Light’, ed together with other pieces from the length of his career re-arranged by Nico Muhly, for this performance alongside The Manchester Camerata, conducted by Robert Moose.

The supporting act is a wonderfully opulent interpretive dance piece by Johanna Constantine (co creator of the Blacklips art performance group with, none other than, Antony Hegarty). Naked but painted silver and red, she performs a piece in four acts as I see it. Using scythes, masks and antlers her subtle body movement creates a feeling of great discomfort with a number of people around me, who feel it’s time to sneak off for a loo break. Her hands, claw-like, move almost independently from the body, so smoothly it looks un-human, or maybe un-dead. The frightening music score and sound effects intensify it all too well, thanks in part to Prokofiev. You know, I need the loo now.

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Encased in darkness from behind a painted gauze we hear the inimitable vocals of Mr Hegarty as the backlight grows to uncover his form. Dressed in a stunning white robe and with elegant Kite like Designs, behind, stage left and stage right (from the hands of local boy Carl Robertshaw of Kite Related Design) he’s completely ensconced in white. Antony later takes a moment to explain to us that the initial concept was to reflect the inner luminosity of a crystal, deep within the darkness and bleakness of a mountain‘s core, whilst the audience pronounce there appreciation. Paul Normandale‘s lighting creates a further depth to this and enthrals and electrifies the audience.

Hegarty’s performance evokes a snake trying unsuccessfully to shed their skin. His movements are subtle but appear quite laboured. A grimace often appears on his face as he creates the lilting sound he’s known for. It seems as if he’s constantly at odds with himself, almost in anguish. As the performance goes on he takes of parts of his robe which echoes this.

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An altogether sparse performance in it’s entirety but one of great intensity and undeniable beauty. With an unrecognisably heart felt rendition of Beyonce‘s ‘Crazy in Love’ there is no lack of humour in the performance. Beguiling is the word, so, so beguiling. Another glistening gem for the International festival team. I can barely hold my excitement in for what else is to come.

Categories ,Classical, ,Composition, ,Festival, ,Jazz, ,Manchester, ,Pop, ,Singer-Songwriter, ,The North

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In the festival preview vein, no rx malady here’s one that promises stimulating discussion, patient music, viagra order dance, crafts and walks with fellow readers and contributors to the spiritual and ecologically aware Resurgence Magazine. A more enchanting and vibrant mix is barely to be found outside the Resurgence Reader’s Weekend and Camp.

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The camp will be hosted in Europe’s only tented conference centre, Green and Away, situated on an idyllic site near Malvern, Worcestershire. They’ll feed us ‘mostly local, mostly organic’ food, there’ll be wood-burning hot showers to bathe away sleep-shod morning eyes, solar and wind-sourced electricity, and saunas too, as if this camp didn’t sound chilled out enough already.

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Entertainment and conversation stimulation will come from a host of speakers : Jenny Jones, Green party member of the London Assembly; Miriam Kennet, founder of the Green Economics Institute; Satish Kumar, Earth pilgrim and current editor of Resurgence magazine; Peter Lang, an environmental consultant and researcher, John Naish, author of Enough and initiator of The Landfill Prize, Brigit Strawbridge, of the BBC’s ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ fame and founder of The Big Green Idea.

There’s to be a glut of creative workshops – on poetry, Deep Ecology, Tai Chi, finding your voice, and one that should see us sitting comfortably for a round of storytelling.

Music’s coming from the UK, Europe and beyond : bands like Dragonsfly, a wonderfully energetic live band, rocking a pretty unique Celtic-Eastern-Folk Fusion sound, and Bardo Muse – an improvisational acoustic trio, who say they play music simply inspired by life and love.

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Do get booking, as previous events have tended to sell out. For a gently spiritual, artistic weekend a little off the the beat of the usual track, have a listen to the Resurgence Weekend.

Contact – Peter Lang,
Events Director for Resurgence Magazine,
Tel: 0208 809 2391
Email: peterlang(at)resurgence.org
As with a lot of art, order what is taken out or omitted is as important, online if not more so, malady than what is put in. Kako Ueda, a Japanese artist working and living in the US, applies this principle to paper with intricately beautiful results. There is something haunting yet delicate about these shadow like cut-outs; the skulls, spiders, jellyfish, butterflies, feathers, insects and serpents all intertwined in designs in which one may gladly lose hours visually disentangling.

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Her choice of medium was inspired by the cut patterns used for producing kimonos, and Ueda’s appreciation for the history, flexibility and simplicity that using paper entails. The everyday throwaway relationship our society has with materials such as paper makes me evermore excited and sympathetic to artists using these seemingly basic mediums for creating innovative and aesthetically wonderful pieces of work. It was a true honour to pick Kako’s brain about her work, as well as her likes, hates and aspirations.

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How long does it take you to create the average sized piece?
It used to take me a couple of months to make one mid-size work but lately my works are getting bigger and more complicated that sometimes it takes 6 months or longer to finish an installation or bigger work with
separate parts with paint and 3-D objects.

What equipment do you use for cutting paper?
It is called in the US, an Xacto knife (with no. 11 blade), I suppose in Europe or Japan they have a similar knife with different names.

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Who is your art for? What space does your art work best?
I don’t limit/choose my audience; anybody who would look at my work and have a reaction positive or negative. So far my artworks need a wall/walls. So they don’t work so well in the outer space.

Do you have a different reaction here in the UK and in Europe compared to in Japan?
Honestly I have no idea. I would love to have a show in the UK, any European countries or Japan to find out. The only European country I exhibited so far was Finland. Although I was born in Japan I moved to the States as a teenager and my active/public artistic life began here in the US.

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Which artists do you most admire?
There are too many to mention and the list gets longer every day. So today and at this moment I say Salomon Trismosin.

Who or what is your nemesis?
My biggest nemesis is my brain; obsesses too much on energy sucking thoughts and is critical of everything.

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If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
It is too difficult to choose but at this moment I would say Edo period in Japan (mid. to late 18th century). I want to experience the urban life/culture in Edo (present Tokyo).

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
Jackie Mittoo’s “Summer Breeze” or “Oboe”. I have a CD called “Cambodian Rock”, which is a collection of various rock bands from Cambodia playing and singing in Cambodian; really cool sound.

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If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Gold digger.

What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?
Tolstoy novels.

Who would your top five dream dinner guests be? Who would do the washing up?
Duchamp, one of the cave dwellers who made those awesome animal drawings, Hildegard of Bingen, Utamaro, Buddha. I guess we cannot ask a cave dweller to wash up, can we?

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What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
My electric mind-reader.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Doing nothing.

Tell us something about Kako Ueda that we didn’t know already.
My eyelashes are naturally curly so I never have to use a lash curler in my entire life.

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Kako Ueda is definitely one to cut out and keep.
It was a peaceful Sunday morning in the City like any other, drug when:

‘Slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks… from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke; and now we saw it was the head of the Leviathan… advancing towards us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.’

So wrote poet and prophet William Blake in his iconoclastic work ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.’ Over two centuries and a plethora of literary Leviathan motifs later, symptoms musician and composer John Harle has unleashed his own re-imagining of the monster from the deep on London’s Square Mile. Taking a leaf out of weighty tomes from The Book of Job to Hobbes, pilule from Milton to Melville, Harle has conceived a work in which the clamour of 800 saxophonists evokes the satanic spirit of chaos itself. Crikey. When I strolled out of Liverpool Street Station at 11:30am and followed the strains of an al fresco band practice I was, admittedly, greeted with a rather benign pyjama-clad presence in monochrome. So much for the demonic display of Old Testament torment, I thought.

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The City of London Festival, an independent arts organisation which is none the less jointly supported by the City of London Corporation and the business community, commissioned Harle to compose an Ode to the City of London. But a straightforward gala tribute this isn’t; Harle boldly intends both homage and criticism, in light of the economic havoc of recent months. Notably, the event is not for profit. His aim in orchestrating a saxophone procession on an unprecedented scale is to ‘purge the City of its crisis of confidence.’ We’re in for a sort of musical exorcism, then? Well, of the humanist variety. Although biblical references to the Walls of Jericho are made in the promotional material, by way of metaphor, you understand. Through the medium of MP3, audio recordings and commentary are available for download on the Sustain! website. Accessibility is all; the score itself was written with a range of musical abilities in mind. Harle’s voice-over informs voluntary participants that through music, they will be ‘taming the forces of chaos by concerted, unanimous effort.’ No mean feat for a Sunday morning, then! But it is no coincidence that the event is scheduled to coincide with the Summer Solstice, and also commemorates the 800th anniversary of the first stone bridge across the Thames. Organisers envisage a renaissance of optimism and inspiration as music pours from the City’s four historic gates on to those same streets which just three months ago were the scene of violent discontent.

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In spite of these lofty sentiments, passers by on their way to potter round Spitalfields might have been forgiven for mistaking the motley crew assembled outside Starbucks for a Morris Dancer outreach group, or perhaps an avant-garde yoga collective- is this really what city workers get up to on their day off? However, those that found themselves in earshot when the clock struck noon could not fail to be arrested by the pandemonium that simultaneously wended its way from Bishopsgate, Aldgate, Moorgate and Ludgate to descend on London Bridge.

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Snaking through the winding historic streets past countless architectural landmarks and disgraced monuments to capitalism, the gleaming white and gold troop cuts quite a dash in the midday sun. Less of a march, more of a meander, but the ungodly din they generate en masse quite literally stops traffic. Bemused bystanders are both attracted and repelled, from an amused rickshaw driver given a rude awakening from his nap to a disgruntled OAP with his fingers defiantly shoved in his ears. Each saxophonist has been instructed to repeat a set phrase ad infinitum, but with rhythmic independence and free reign to improvise on the theme (and take a breather) when they please. Only when all four groups converge on the Monument can the true discord of four different keys played uproariously be heard in all its dissonant glory. An unlikely assortment of soulful characters, hippie types, consummate professionals and Brassed Off-esque blokes rub shoulders in eccentric solos, father and daughter duos, jazzy trios of mates and whole family bands. Never have I seen such an array of instruments going by the name of saxophone- alto, tenor, soprano and baritone of all shapes and sizes, even one spectacular specimen in pillar-box red! On reaching the foot of the Bridge the various strands begin to unite on one key before the pivotal moment of transition, as all fall under the aegis of Harle himself, conducting in a pinstripe blazer atop a makeshift podium. Order and harmony is restored as the collective serenely parades across the water towards Southwark, before settling on a final, triumphant ‘concert C,’ fading to silence.

And relax. Or, alternatively, begin impromptu jam session. These are saxophonists after all. In between riffs I managed to snatch a moment with three minstrels of the Aldgate crew, congregated in the shadow of a towering office block. ‘We had no rehearsal whatsoever, just downloaded the music off the web and turned up,’ said Denver of South London. ‘It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,’ he explains. ‘We usually play gigs at the Vortex or at Effra. This was mad chaos, but it worked!’

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‘He got me into it,’ chimed in band mate Len who travelled up from Brixton to take part. ‘It was tiring- I’m used to playing sitting down or standing up, not on the go! It’s tough.’ When asked about the logistics of playing on the move and in so big a group, Len admitted that despite the fetching pinstripe, ‘I couldn’t even see the conductor! I just had to listen for the change, that was the biggest challenge.’ Fellow Brixton sax player Dave was similarly enthused: ‘I’ve got a day job so I just play when I can, but this was absolutely brilliant. I just heard about it at the last minute- on Front Row on Friday night. I’d definitely do it again.’
‘Never in the rain though!’ Len added before they were lost to another round of spontaneous play.

Amid the swirling, laid back notes I catch the eye of the affable maestro himself who tells me that the event has ‘surpassed all my expectations.’ But generously he insists that its success is ‘all down to the participants- I did the least work of anyone here today. The work took on a life of its own.’ This will be key to the future of the piece, the recording of which will be recycled via the Sustain! website until it is revisited for the Festival’s 50th anniversary in 2012. A momentous year in more ways than one it seems, but surely even London can only cope with one Leviathan at a time?

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C.R.A.S.H. Contingency is a useful urban survival manual that points at the target seriously whilst disguised as a funny game.

What I enjoyed the most about this experience was my complete ignorance of the whole thing. I would feel a little bit guilty if this had been the preview of the performance, treatment but since the show is now over, I will just describe how it went.

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Photos by Marta Puigdemasa

After checking Two Degrees festival’s website, a week-long programme of work by radical and politically engaged artists about climate change, I decided to bet on a theatre play: C.R.A.S.H. Contingency. At the beginning of the play I felt like I did watching the shows of the wild Spanish theatre company La Fura dels Baus (well-known for their opening show in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) : that is, excited about the unexpected, but this time without the fear of getting naked or soaked to the skin.

We were led in pairs, in complete darkness, to our seats – which were actually placed on the stage. “We are not actors, we’ll need your help, and this is not a theatre play.” And it was not. Defining themselves as an experiment in three acts in which to imagine a post-capitalist future, the performance was run by a mixture of artists, activists and permaculturists (permaculture being the design of sustainable human environments based on the relationships found in natural ecologies) and performed along with the audience. It was something in between resistance and creativity, culture and politics, art and life. We started with a game that made us laugh and forget the fact that we were on a theatre stage.

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The second part was more or less like a workshop. We split into small groups and the supposed actors fed us with little doses of urban self-sufficiency. They taught us how to make a home-made radio station, a vegetable garden and an origami flower; always taking into account some of permaculture’s core values : earth care and people care. When our tasks finished, they gave us another challenge, the final performance. At that point, we used a new old technique for taking group decisions : consensus. They explained to us how to show agreement and disagreement just with the use of our hands, and how to measure the “temperature” of a decision with our arms.

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When we all finally agreed about how and where to make our intervention (all, except a woman who said she was starving and wouldn’t have time for it, and a girl who didn’t understand the purpose of the action), we put on our lifejackets, took our tools (a wheelbarrow for each pair) and started walking towards Bishopsgate. Once there, in the middle of the financial district, we built our own patch of paradise : a shelter made of wheelbarrows, canvas, vegetables, an umbrella, and piles of imagination. We warmed up some water for the tea, ate some lettuce leaves and chilled out for a while. We reclaimed the streets. I felt like a child ringing on a doorbell and running away. But this time we didn’t run. We stood up and waited for the slap or, as was the case, the smile of those that ran into our tiny harmless outside-of-the-law act.

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Unfortunately (for my adrenaline’s childish need), the police didn’t come. But in less than three hours we had learnt many things, too many in fact to explain in six hundred words. It was a condensed degree in Life. It also made me understand that another kind of education, non-academic, humble and free (all the meanings of this word included), was possible. I admit that possibly some of their suggested proposals were just utopian. This may be. But it is far better to live dreaming of utopia than sleeping or wandering aimlessly in a rotten world, isn’t it? Good work, guys.

An ear shattering shriek comes down the line, treat the noise of a passing child’s tantrum. As I tentatively return the phone back to my ear Jan Williams, side effects one half of The Caravan Gallery, illness chirps amusedly “Oooh, Greetings from Portsmouth!” and adds, almost by some way of explanation; “We’re just approaching Asda now.” It may not set a perfect picture postcard scene, but that’s not what The Caravan Gallery are about.

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The Caravan Gallery are Portsmouth based artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. You may already be aware of their work from the postcards they produce. If you’ve ever rifled through a spinning stand of postcards at a tourist attraction and chanced upon a card that portrays the grittier, gaudier and, let’s be honest, more realistic side of Britain then chances are The Caravan Gallery duo are behind it. Their best selling postcard is entitled ‘Bank Holiday Britain’, which brings together familiar images of Britons ‘enjoying’ the British sea side in the pouring rain.

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Although Williams and Teasdale have created 170 postcards in total, these are an offshoot of a much larger artistic endeavour. The pair have been travelling the length and breadth of Britain since 2000, capturing unusual and unexpected scenes of its leisure, landscape and lifestyle. The photographs are displayed at each location for the local community to see. Their rather unique, portable gallery allows them to do this; a mustard-coloured, egg-shaped 1969 caravan that is white walled and wooden floored inside. “We don’t really treat it as a caravan,” Williams tells me during our initial phone conversation, “We just think of it as a gallery that happens to be in a caravan.”

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This little gallery on wheels came along to Spitalfields market on Sunday the 14th of June, as part of a promotion with The White Stuff clothing company. After having chatted with Williams on the phone a few days before, I couldn’t wait to go along and see this unique art space for myself.

Plonked on the side of Spitalfields, the little caravan was a charming sight from the outside, but held plenty more charming sights awaiting within. With over 60,000 photographs in their archive, Williams and Teasdale had plenty to choose from to exhibit on their new tour. In their previously released book ‘Welcome to Britain’ their images were separated into chapters such as ‘Concrete’, ‘Smut’, ‘Conifers (thriving)’ and ‘Conifers (dead)’. “We cover all sorts of stuff.” Williams tells me, “A lot of it’s about the built environment and regeneration, how Britain is and how it’s changing.”

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Whilst many of the images throw light on dilapidated areas or the more tasteless aspects of Britain (shut up shops and naughty gnomes), The Caravan Gallery’s work never feels snobbish or patronising. Good humour shines through with every image.

“I think a lot of what we do is a celebration,” Williams admits “and even though places get tarted up there are quite a lot of little bits that refuse to give up the ghost. We really like this juxtaposition of things, it gives places character.”

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Whilst the caravan has travelled the whole of the UK, from Glasgow to Cornwall, North Shields to the Isle of Wight, one unexpected recent jaunt saw the artists taking their work all the way to Japan for an event with Paul Smith.

“Quite a lot of our photos are to do with language and signs so we weren’t quite sure if it would work. But Paul Smith’s staff said that the people there would love anything colourful, anything rude and anything a bit cheeky.”

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And the reaction? “They absolutely loved it!” Williams laughs. “They were saying how it’s just really refreshing to see how Britain really is, instead of just all the same old clichés of Big Ben and the Queen.”

So with us Britons already aware that a bowler hat is not obligatory day wear, and that cucumber sandwiches are actually quite rubbish, what can The Caravan Gallery’s more accurate portrayal of our nation tell us that we don’t already know?

“I suppose the idea is to provoke people and say ‘There’s all this stuff going on around you, have you noticed? What do you think?’” Williams muses. “We’re not saying it’s good or bad but just; ‘Look at it!’”

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But never mind the intricacies of social commentary and the seriousness of urban reflection; at heart The Caravan Gallery is a great laugh. When confronted by the absurdity of a man mowing the pavement outside his home, or a sign advertising ‘Have your photo with a ferret and certificate – £2.60′, there’s nothing you can do but laugh about this crazy place we call home.

And humour, The Caravan Gallery artists have found, is a brilliant social lubricant; “It ends up as like a little social club on wheels,” Williams says. “If we get invited to some kind of prestigious art event, we get the art loving audience, but then maybe we’ll also get a Big Issue seller and someone walking the dog. Shoppers, tourists and passers-by will come in and take a look. We end up with a whole mixture of people in the caravan who never normally have much to do with each other and they end up talking, which is really good.”

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This is certainly true, as I witness the caravan become filled with Spitalfields shoppers. Soon everyone, strangers and friends, are pointing out the most humorous and shocking pictures to one another and the caravan is filled with laughter. If it’s true that us Brits are a reserved bunch then The Caravan Gallery certainly loosens our collective stiff upper lips!

If you’d like to have your upper lip un-stiffened, go see The Caravan Gallery visit the White Stuff stores of Chichester on the 28th June (that’s this Sunday, folks!) and Battersea on the 11th of July.

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We are giving The Caravan Gallery our stamp of approval.
It was a night of contrasts. A contrast between a halcyon past and the here-and-now. It was also a contrast in the ages of the audience, viagra dosage from the veteran disciples to the new believers. Brought together, pill under some nebulous Mojo Magazine honour, generic on the same bill for probably the first time since the opening night of the long defunct Vortex on Wardour Street in July 1977, the evening opened with the original punk poet, John Cooper Clarke. Looking exactly the same as he did over 30 years ago, with wild Robert Smith-style hair, black, skinny drainpipe jeans and black shades, sardonic Salford drawl still intact, this one time partner in crime with the doomed former model, Fellini starlet and Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico (after she fetched up in the unlikely surroundings of early 80′s Manchester) entertained the crowd with a series of gags that literally creaked with age. He finished his brief set with a rendition of one of his most famous poems, Evidently Chickentown, a quick fire dissection of the grim everyday mundanities of life in a no hope town (which also appeared in the recent Joy Division movie, Control, with John Cooper Clarke bizarrely playing himself).

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The friend I was with had never seen the Fall before. I just told them that it’s never a dull moment. Never a truer word spoken. The Fall are only predictable in their (or rather Mark E Smith’s) unpredictability. Even so, it must have proved a novelty (if an unwelcome one) for Mark E Smith to play second fiddle to someone, regardless of their pedigree. Coming on stage typically late, with yet another band line-up (save for keyboardist and current Mrs Smith, Elena Polou), Mark E Smith launched into his trademark stream of consciousness delivery. Movement hindered by a recent broken hip, Smith nevertheless wandered around (and occasionally off) the stage, switching microphones and fiddling with assorted amps, even nonchalantly borrowing Buzzcocks’ snare drum for some impromptu bashing (much to their roadies’ undoubted annoyance), whilst the rest of the Fall thundered ominously around him. The Fall are uncompromising live, rarely given to such trifling matters as pleasing the audience. Their set lists resolutely stick to whatever their current or forthcoming material may be, rarely playing anything more than even a couple of years old (though that may be as much to do with Smith not remembering the songs as much as artistic integrity). True to form, tonight’s set consisted heavily of new songs and tracks from last year’s rather patchy effort, Imperial Wax Solvent. That said, Wolf Kidult Man and 50 Year Old Man did go down a storm. Unusually, there was a rare display of nostalgia with the inclusion of Psykick Dancehall and Rebellious Jukebox, from the Fall’s first two albums. Smith must have been feeling particularly charitable, as not only did we get an encore, but he actually ambled out to join it!

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As for Buzzcocks, well, what is there left to be said? The band that defined the term “indie” with their self-released debut EP, Spiral Scratch, which set the template for the likes of Factory, Rough Trade and Creation? The band that brought the Sex Pistols to the provinces and, with two shows at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, inspired the likes of Messrs Morrissey, Curtis, Sumner, Hook, Wilson et al? The band that toured with Joy Division as support? Well, that was then, what about now? After their initial reformation over a decade ago, Buzzcocks are now a core of Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, and basically what they gave us (in contrast to the Fall) was a greatest hits package. But who are we to complain, when you have a back catalogue such as theirs? After a sardonic “thanks to the support band” from Diggle, Buzzcocks launched into Boredom, from the aforementioned Spiral Scratch.

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Even after all these years, that two note guitar solo still sounds ludicrously glorious. Shelley may now look like a middle-aged geography teacher and Diggle was in danger of going all Pete Townshend with his guitar, but they can still rock a joint – a fact proved by the amount of moshing going on by a lot of people who were old enough to know better. The set did flag a little in the middle with the lesser known tracks, and the sound quality from the balcony (particularly the quality of the vocals) was a bit ropey, but Buzzcocks ramped it up for the not-quite-encore (due to the Fall’s tardiness, much to Steve Diggle’s obvious annoyance). After a rousing What Do I Get?, we headed inexorably towards that evergreen classic of pop-punk, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), which raised the Forum’s roof off. The set climaxed (as it were) with Orgasm Addict, Buzzcocks’s first post-Howard Devoto single, a song that still sounds so cheekily enjoyable.

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And so the sweat (and beer) soaked masses headed out into the Kentish town night, and our ears were left ringing with a little slice of musical history, one that proved so influential and can still be heard in venues like the Old Blue Last, Water Rats, the Macbeth and the Windmill almost every night of every week.

Categories ,Cold Wave, ,Comeback, ,Manchester, ,New Wave, ,No-Wave, ,Poetry, ,Post-Punk, ,The North

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