Amelia’s Magazine | London Art Fair 2012 Review: Part Two

elisabeth lecourt map dress
You’ve read the first part of my London Art Fair 2012 round up, now catch up with the rest… starting with Elisabeth Lecourt of Byard Art in Cambridge who creates gorgeous dresses from maps. (I told you maps were big news.)

London Art Fair 2012 -chris wood
I’m always a bit of a sucker for pearlescent materials: Chris Wood (also with Byard) favours the medium of Dichroic glass for angular abstract patterns.

Claire Moynihan byard London Art Fair 2012 -Claire Moynihan
London Art Fair 2012 -Claire Moynihan
Claire Moynihan byard dragonfly
It’s great to see an upsurge of interest in textile art. Claire Moynihan works in detailed felt and embroidery, and is best admired up close – her ‘moth balls’ are beautiful.

London Art Fair 2012 - Justin Hammond
London Art Fair 2012 - Justin Hammond
On the second floor of the exhibition I was able to pop in on Justin Hammond, hosting a display of great new Catlin Guide commissioned art pieces.

London Art Fair 2012 -hannah harkes
London Art Fair 2012 -tom howse
My favourites have to be Hannah Harkes (with a cowboy snogging an Indian) and the naif folk art of Tom Howse.

London Art Fair 2012 -Chris Pensa
Next door Chris Pensa of Love Art London talked me through some of his upcoming tours – check out their website for ideas, I fancy me a tour with the fossil hunter! Read my review of an earlier tour here.

Run riot run laura jordan
A strong theme of disaffection unsurprisingly runs through many artworks, including Laura Jordan‘s Run Riot Run, an intricate map of the riots, shown with Galleryone.

UK Uncut oona hassim trafalgar_square
Oona Hassim took as the starting point for her oil painting a photo of the Anti Cuts Demo in March 2011 in Piccadilly Circus. If I’m not much mistaken this is the UK Uncut parade that led to Fortnum & Mason – despite the blurry feel I recognise it, because I was there – those flags are a dead giveaway. The pieces are oddly energetic and beautiful but how odd to see direct action flogged as fine art!

YouTube Preview Image
You can watch a short film showing her making the initial sketches here. She has an exhibition opening this week at Woolff Gallery.

London Art Fair 2012 -Joanne Tinker
London Art Fair 2012 -Joanne Tinker
At Woolff there was lots of upcycling going on. Special mention goes to Joanne Tinker who created rows of goblets out of sweet wrappers.

London Art Fair 2012 -Susila Bailey-Bond
Susila Bailey-Bond is another butterfly papercut artist, concentrating on their decorative qualities.

Jess littlewood contemporary
Jess Littlewood at The Contemporary London collages together monochrome otherworldly scenes that are very ‘now’. Like a lot.

London Art Fair 2012 -Juz Kitson
Porcelain, ink and wool are the preferred medium of artist Juz Kitson, who created wall installations of skulls, pulsating hearts and corals.

London Art Fair 2012 -Cynthia Corbett Gallery Ghost of a Dream
For the Cynthia Corbett Gallery Ghost of a Dream have produced an amazing collaboration that I first spotted at the graduate art fairs that I visited in abundance last year. The installation uses lottery tickets and the covers of romance novels, which are glued in patterns onto panels, mirrors and chandeliers.

Zak Ove
Irish/Carribean artist and film director Zak Ove at Vigo Gallery cobbles together found objects to create religiously inspired ensembles.

Reginald S Aloysius
At Bearspace I recognised Reginald S Aloysius from the 2011 Jerwood Drawing Prize. His overgrown temples are intersected by the paths of cross atlantic planes.

London Art Fair 2012  jane ward
Jane Ward imagined a disturbed dystopian future of exploding buildings. I hope we don’t end up there!

London Art Fair 2012 -Nomad
Lastly I can’t go without mentioning the huge Nomad light sculpture by Beau McClellan in the entrance to the design centre: yours for just 250,000 euros. One for those Russian oligarchs me thinks.

Categories ,2012, ,Bearspace, ,Beau McClellan, ,Byard Art, ,Chris Pensa, ,Chris Wood, ,Claire Moynihan, ,craft, ,Cynthia Corbett Gallery, ,Dichroic Glass, ,Elisabeth Lecourt, ,Fortnum & Mason, ,Galleryone, ,Ghost of a Dream, ,Hannah Harkes, ,Islington Business Design Centre, ,Jane Ward, ,Jerwood Drawing Prize, ,Jess Littlewood, ,Joanne Tinker, ,Justin Hammond, ,Juz Kitson, ,Laura Jordan, ,Light Sculpture, ,London Art Fair, ,Love Art London, ,Moth Balls, ,Nomad, ,Oligarch, ,Oona Hassim, ,Papercutting, ,Porcelain, ,Reginald Aloysius, ,review, ,Riots, ,Run Riot Run, ,susila bailey-bond, ,textile, ,The Catlin Guide, ,The Contemporary London, ,Tom Howse, ,UK Uncut, ,Upcycling, ,Vigo Gallery, ,wool, ,Woolff, ,Zak Ove

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Art Fair: Hunting for treasure

Boondocks by Suzanne Moxhay

I gave up and asked for directions to the Bearspace stand after wandering around looking for it for nearly half an hour. ‘Yes it’s two floors up, take a right, left, and right again,’ said the sleek-haired young man with the name tag. As you may have gathered, the London Art Fair is huge. 120 galleries are exhibiting, and then there’s the Photo50 section and the Arts Projects section.

‘Feudal’ is the installation from Deptford-based Bearspace – a photography installation drawing inspiration from the Dark Ages. Falcons are the stars of Slovenian photographer Jasmina Cibic’s contribution, representing a wilderness hierarchy while at the same time the birds are tied to their posts or wearing masks. The birds in the photos are alive, said the poster, and the images are so pin-sharp you half expect the birds to come at you and take out your eyes.

Perch for Falco cherrug by Jasmina Cibic

The overgrown houses and spooky, mystical forests in Suzanne Moxhay’s artworks halfway look like paintings but they are also photographs, says the Bearspace representative. It’s half storybook long-lost fantasy land, half Tolkien-esque Fangorn Forest where the trees have a will of their own. Are those people or tree logs, at the bottom of the piece called ‘Bayou’? Maybe both. My friend shuddered as she peered at the photo, so I asked her if she liked it: ‘I really don’t know. But I can feel it down my back.’

Feudal by Suzanne Moxhay

Overwhelmed by choice, we ended up spending most of our time in the Arts Projects section. I can see why this part of the fair is becoming increasingly popular, as it seems to feature more original installations. My favourite find was Troika EditionsSachiyo Nishimura, whose industrial landscape images are oddly compelling. The work by the London-based artist is on first glance just factory pipes, rail tracks and power lines, but for reasons I can’t put my finger on the large photographs are simply stunning.

Landscape / fiction by Sachiyo Nishimura

The pearl and bead panels by Korean artist Sankeum Koh just beg to be touched, hanging on the walls all shiny under bright lights. The artist’s works can also be found in large scale on public buildings, said the Hanmi Gallery representative. It’s obviously modelled on typed words, and while it’s not braille the effect is still to make something solely visual into a fascinating tactile experience – maybe even more so because you could potentially get thrown out for handling the art. Shan Hur is another Korean artist attracting attention, having created fake archeological discoveries at the I-MYU Projects stand. Ceramic vases and other items were excavated from concrete walls, representing the hidden pasts of buildings as their functions change.

The fair had plenty of playful exhibitions too, including Sadie Hennessy’s ‘Gary Glitter Glam Rock’ candy at Wilson Williams Gallery’s Art Star Superstore. Yours for £3, but as my friend said, with Glitter’s history I’m not sure I could put that in my mouth.

The London Art Fair until Sunday 23rd January at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London N1. See our listing for more information and opening hours. Bearspace is at stand P19 upstairs in the ‘Arts Projects’ section; after this weekend find it at 152 Deptford High Street, London SE8 3PQ.

Categories ,art, ,Art Star Superstore, ,Arts Projects, ,Bearspace, ,Feudal, ,Hanmi Gallery, ,I-MYU Projects, ,Islington, ,Islington Business Centre, ,Jasmina Cibic, ,london, ,London Art Fair, ,Photo50, ,photography, ,Sachiyo Nishimura, ,Sadie Hennessy, ,Sankeum Koh, ,Shan Hur, ,Suzanne Moxhay, ,Troika Editions, ,Wilson Williams Gallery

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Amelia’s Magazine | Nestled at Deptford X Arts festival


All photographs © Olga and Ania Mici?ska

One cold rainy morning back in October consisted of a trip down in the direction of Deptford to check out the 12th Deptford X Arts festival. After frequent wrong turns, viagra 100mg map gazing, standing in the map, asking for directions I stumbled into the Viewfinder Photography Gallery and the work of Ania and Olga Micinska.

The exhibition also happened to be part of two other cultural festivals running concurrently: Photomonth and the Big Draw.

Despite the rain and TFL’s apparent desire to make journeys between the East and the South East as difficult as possible, the work of the Micinskas’ was a pleasure to behold.


The series of photographs depicts one or another of the twins bending their bodies into a variety of urban architectural features that are synonymous with most if not all European Cities. Accompanied by the titled “Nestled” the twins appear to have made a nest in the most unlikely of urban locations.


The series lends to the impression or question of humans being out of place in the environment of our own creation; the uncomfortable metropolis appears difficult for the body to experience at ease. This feeling of disjunction within the urban jungle is never more apparent than when a tourist, new in a big city, is reliant on maps and blockbuster sightseeing spots to navigate their way through various city planners’ ideas of a navigable livable city.

Appropriately it is this position of the tourist from which the Micinska’s leap into their project: “we didn’t exactly deny our tourist status; on the contrary we thought about our situation more insightfully and the state of being home for a long period of time.”


Examining the relationship between tourist and traveler they portray their journey through that of the tourist snap, albeit less of a snap more of a lengthy mediation on what it is to inhabit a city through their medium format Pentacon SIXTL and Yashica (6 x 6 format). These cameras’ physical presence extends the body’s circumference of a space.

The Twins never reveal in which city or country they inhabit during the photographic series. Instead architecture bleeds into architecture, undercarriage into undercarriage. We inhabit a world where the only flowers exist in carefully constructed flowerpots along the sides of the road.


Examining the photographs drew an awareness of the fragility of the human physiology and the hardness, which surrounds us on an everyday basis.

What is undeniable about this lovely photographic series is the presence of play within each of the photographs; hiding behind benches and in children’s playground brings a sense hide and seek into the proceedings.

What’s more this exhibition draws attention to the range of creative expression that is constantly being presented in London, whilst this exhibition fell into the jurisdiction of three cultural exhibitions, it also brought to my attention the variety of galleries present in South East London (Deptford/New Cross/Peckham area). Whilst much has been written about how South East is the new East, there is limited attention donated towards the actual quality of the work present in the South East. Deptford X threw open the doors of Bearspace and Pony gallery both of which feature bookshops and Pony even functions as a café.


The current show at BearSpace is Goblet by Julia Alvarez

For more information about Deptford X please see  here.

Categories ,Ania and Olga Micinska, ,arts festival, ,Bearspace, ,Deptford art festival, ,exhibition, ,First Thursdays, ,Peckham, ,Photomonth, ,the Big Draw, ,Viewfinder Photography Gallery

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Amelia’s Magazine | Deptford X Arts Festival 2010: A Review

Felicity Brown Gabrielle dress, online illustrated by Kate Copeland

Amidst the commotion of catwalks and exhibitions at London Fashion Week, one website had everyone talking; Young British Designers. Grabbing attention with their eye-catching launch video, the team behind YBD are providing a platform for the fashion conscious everywhere to buy designs by the next generation of British greats. Ada Zanditon, Jena.Theo, Jasper Garvida, Eudon Choi and Felicity Brown are just a few of fashion’s bright young things being championed by the site, where you can read about the designers themselves as well as investing in their clothes, shoes and accessories. But who is behind the venture? Though they are prolific on Twitter and becoming a household name amongst bloggers and press, little has been revealed about the individuals behind Young British Designers; until now.  

Tell us about the people behind Young British Designers; how did you end up working together? 
YBD comprises four people, Adriana, Stuart, Debra and Julian – two couples. Adriana and Stuart had a great idea to champion developing British design talent and approached Deb and Julian to enable the idea to fly; all four were totally taken with the concept, it seemed such an obvious thing to do, none of us could really believe that nobody had thought of it before. Then came London Fashion Week in February 2010 – the breadth of new, naïve British talent was clear for us to see and the thought of bringing it all together ‘under one roof’ (so to speak) became an increasingly enthralling prospect. But every idea needs its seminal moment, for us it was Adriana and Debra entering the hall at Vauxhall Fashion Scout that cold and windy Monday afternoon; the room was empty – and the utterly beautiful Felicity Brown dresses called across the room. For us, that moment encapsulated the sheer joy of finding new talent – and in knowing that we could bring our own talents and experience to introduce them to an emerging global market. 

Eudon Choi Grey Lace Up Military Shoe Boot, Rae Jones Scarlett Leather Brogues, illustrated by Kate Copeland

We ended up working together because of a shared passion, but it was more than that – our skills were compatible: design, marketing, business, sustainability and communications. We also wanted to take a risk – a risk on a new venture, to do something really significant in our own way. We like each other too.  

It’s a difficult time for young British designers starting out today; what inspired you to champion them in this way?  
No one focuses purely on the promotion of new British talent – a handful of designers make it through to retailers each year, but it’s not many and even those that do are a small part of massive collections made up primarily of well known, established names. We believe that many more of our designers deserve to be showcased and that our designers’ stories be more thoroughly told and their developing brands be enhanced. We also believe that this is absolutely in keeping with the developing trend for highly individual style statements amongst increasingly discerning consumers. ? 

Your launch video is impeccably styled and really captures the timelessness of British style. What do you think distinguishes British fashion designers from the rest of the world? 
We hope the video captures the passion we all have for British fashion, the cues from the past, the energy, the excitement, the ready to risk all and have a go idealism. The sheer bloody eccentricity and quintessentially quirkiness only to be found on this island. Wonderful. 

Illustration by Kate Copeland

How do you go about selecting which designers to feature? 
We are really emotional and subjective in our approach to selecting the designers for our collections – does the design make our heart sing? The hairs on the back of our neck stand on end? Can we imagine that our customers will love it as much as we do?    

You feature a number of ethical designers on YBD; do you think more designers will start taking sustainability into consideration as the ethical fashion industry grows? 
Great design is at the heart of solving the problems of natural resource depletion and global warming. Our wish is to promote the talents of the best British designers and to encourage them to see the beauty in an ethical heart to their designs … and we will promote the beauty they create to our customers. Delivering sustainable and ethical solutions take on many forms, we’re delighted to promote the recycled materials in Issi’s bags, the employment of impoverished Hungarian workers in making Emesha’s beautiful clothes and in encouraging the continued employment of local manufacturing in the UK.  

JW Anderson Saint Circle Ring, Lucy Hutchings Zelda Necklace, illustrated by Kate Copeland

Lots of your designers are showing at LFW, which presentations moved you most? 
Jena.Theo – because they so successfully retained their original style signature yet moved forward to embrace both a new season and a new confidence. Eudon Choi for showing all the assurance of a brand that is well established and all the freshness and energy of a designer who is still exploring the limits of his talent. 

What are your hopes for the future of YBD? 
That leading retailers come together online and off to enthusiastically support the best interests of our developing talent by promoting them generously and not seeking to put their own interests first by insisting on exclusivity of supply. This in turn limits a growing brand and can stifle it and its demand at its most crucial fledgling stage.

All products are available now over at Young British Designers!

Illustration by Annejkh Carson

I have absolutely no idea why I’ve struggled so much with this one. It’s no secret that I love Carolyn Massey, find so I was ecstatic as I dashed up the Portico Rooms’ stairs again to see what S/S 2011 had in store. Massey, this web of course, didn’t disappoint and this was by far my favourite outing on menswear day.

This season saw Carolyn draw inspiration from picture books, notably – Tibor Kalman’s (un)Fashion and Jackie Nickerson’s Farm. The influence of the stark images in these two publications was clear and Massey had taken the visual culture of these opposing landscapes and fused them together.

Entering the room, Massey’s army of models stood in an arrow-facing shape. At first, attendees bunched together in front of the models, unsure as to what exactly to do, but the show was predictably oversubscribed and they soon started to spill all over the place. I quickly dashed around trying to take photographs so that I wouldn’t have a million people in the background, which was stressful I tell ya. I love taking pictures in the static shows. You can probably tell. I took my eyes off the collection for a while (subconsciously, I think, to prevent myself from de-robing these boys and legging it with a handful of coats) and got a little obsessed with taking photographs of the models’ heads.

This collection was by far Carolyn Massey’s most sophisticated yet. Her unique approach to contemporary tailoring keeps journos guessing season after season as to what each new collection will hold. Moving on from her utilitarian collection for A/W 2010, which featured a muted colour palette, lots of heavy fabrics and military blazers, this time around Carolyn presented a softer, more wearable array: more English, more practical, more fun.

Massey’s sophisticated eye for colour was omnipresent with a gorgeous selection of petrol blue, sand, rust, navy and a burst of bright orange. This dreamy colour palette was applied accross the entire collection; on drawstring sports-luxe trenches, tailored jackets and rolled-up trousers. The onset of stripes used on tailored shirts managed to dilute a generally smooth collection. The influence of Eastern military and battle is evident, too.

Each piece in the collection radiated a timeless feel – and while Massey’s collections couldn’t ever be described as anything less than super contemporary, they also avoid being trend-led and instead focus on more connected, enduring style.

Illustration by Annejkh Carson

This season, to my unashamed glee, also sees Carolyn introduce accessories. Suede desert boots in tonal colours similar to the collection are featured, as are the most desirable black leather cases, which come in varying sizes and are modelled on vintage doctors’ cases.

I’ve been mesmerised by fashion film this season, with many designers producing films to show alongside their static presentations (Craig Lawrence, Sibling and Ziad Ghanem have been my faves). This was no exception – a film directed by Chris Brooks played discretely in the corner, featuring a gent making his way through a green landscape. Beautifully shot and edited, it really enhanced the hour we had to enjoy the collection. See it here.

When I discovered that Massey would be hosting a presentation this season rather than a catwalk show, like many other designers, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. My general feeling after seeing so many, though, is that they’re far more preferable. Catwalk shows are over in a flash; you have literally seconds to view an outfit, photograph it and digest it. With a presentation, though, particularly one with as much style as Massey’s, you have a really good chance to absorb everything. There’s also something quite haunting about stock-still models who avoid eye contact and barely move, and allowing press and buyers to see your work and craftsmanship in so much detail widens their opportunities to criticise. With Carolyn Massey, though, it simply allowed us to see exactly what she’s capable of.

Keep an eye out for an interview with Carolyn in the coming weeks, if I can ever pin her down…!

All photography by Matt Bramford

Deptford X Festival Mark Titchner We Are Everywhere
We Are Everywhere by Mark Titchner for the Deptford X Festival.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that good PR is everything, sildenafil which is why, medical despite a scrappily written email, no rx I was enticed to forgo a Design Museum briefing for a personal guided tour of the Deptford X festival with Turner Prize nominated artist Mark Titchner, followed by lunch.

CND mural, Deptford
I love this perfectly preserved CND mural that I passed on my way to Deptford.

After initial confusion over where to go (due to said scrappy email being hard to read) I first arrive at the Deptford Project, a delightful converted railway carriage cafe and the proposed lunch spot (but more on that later) before I finally locate my hosts at the local Albany theatre. In the event it is just as well I braved the rain on my bike for what turns out to be a very personal guided tour with Mark, who by the way is one of my very favourite artists and a lovely person to boot.

Deptford X Festival Deptford Project space
Deptford Project space. See their website for an image of the railway carriage cafe.

Deptford X has been promoting the best contemporary art from the local area for five years, but this is the first year they’ve had such a prominent “lead” artist for the project – director Matthew Couper having pursued Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner (who formerly lived and worked in Deptford, though his studio is currently in Shoreditch) until he agreed to take part. Mark arrives shortly after me and quickly launches into an explanation of how he helped oversee the submission process – which was only finalised in June and July, at which point artists were allocated a budget of £750 each. Together we bemoan the lack of college tuition on how to fill in a good funding application – something which quite often becomes such an important part of an artists’ discipline. The applicants were a surprise: rather than being at the start of their careers many were much older, clearly a reflection of the diversity of artists working in the local area. Mark describes how one older artist, when chosen, “was so made up she was almost in tears”, and established local artist Liz Harrison was a popular choice for winner of the overall Deptford X award.

Mark Titchner for the Deptford X Festival.

As we set off to view the first exhibit I walk with Mark and discover that he became a new dad just a few weeks ago. A squirrel scampers across the road as he regales me with tales of more urban wildlife: the fox and cubs at the bottom of his Brockley garden. But he’s not worried about the safety of his new baby boy Ellis “unless I smear him with peanut butter or something”.

Our first stop off is on a bridge above the Deptford Creek, a prominent and ever present feature of the area. Sue Lawes has colonised the slimy sludge with multiple rows of half submerged blue Willow Ware patterned plates. Creekery is a commentary on the invasive inhabitants of Britain’s waterways, as well as the ebb and flow of our relationship with China – now our favoured source of cheap manufacturing.

Deptford X Festival Creekery by Sue Lawes
Creekery by Sue Lawes.

A brisk walk on leads us to a digital installation by Trisant (otherwise known as Julian Hughes Watts) where Mark particularly admires the industrially fitted plasma screens. Product Range Repeat features lurid digital shapes reminiscent of perfume advertising and coloured in the same shrill pinks and purples. The perpetual judder creates an eerily unsettling feeling.

Deptford X Festival Trisant aka Julian Hughes Watts
Deptford X Festival Trisant and project director Matthew Couper
Trisant and project director Matthew Couper.

Gallery Plots is an area of shed crates with a Mark Titchner-esque mural on the wall alongside. I step briefly into a particularly discombobulating piece from Bearspace, featuring a graphic padded foam wall inspired by modernist architecture and a loud screeching sound.

Deptford X Festival Expect Nothing mural
Deptford X Festival Bearspace

In front of the space there is a big red bus which bears a red ticker tape message urging passersby to call a freephone number with ideas for how to make the world a better place. Upfront is an interactive piece from Jan Hendrikse and the resulting messages will be broadcast during the festival.

Deptford X Festival Jan Hendrikse
Mark appears in the wing mirror of the Upfront bus.

Next we visit one of the three banners that Mark has made for the festival – the huge words We Are Everywhere emblazoned down the side of a redevelopment. The old industrial site once housed artists studios, but is now being transformed into the eponymous luxury flats. As we gaze up at the statement a group of local schoolboys scrap playfully beneath the scaffolding – it seems the perfect spot for Mark’s art.

We Are Everywhere by Mark Titchner for the Deptford X Festival.

Walking on, Mark tells me how he was inspired to create this piece by the book of the same title by activist and visionary Jerry Rubin (who later recanted and became an entrepreneur and businessman): we stop at the junction and he points out CCTV cameras everywhere around us. His work for Deptford X is about relationships, what keeps us thinking a certain way, where the voice inside us comes from and our rights to speak and be heard. He’s intrigued by the power of words to challenge the way we think, but messes with their place so that instead of everywhere, I read ‘eve’ and ‘here’.

I am surprised and pleased to hear that Mark Titchner was at the G20 protests, where he was kettled for most of the day along with fellow artists Gillian Wearing, Michael Landy, Georgina Starr and Paul Noble. He muses on the irony of later that night attending a posh dinner at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Under some arches I am led into the gallery space for photographer Paul Anderson, who has shot the youth of Deptford for a comparative study with 80s Harlem. A man is assiduously polishing the huge glass frames that hold the beautiful gelatine prints. They remind me why I love real film so much: that wonderful grainy feel just can’t be achieved on digital film.

Deptford X Festival Paul Anderson Here and Now
Deptford X Festival Paul Anderson Here and Now
Deptford X Festival Paul Anderson Here and Now
Photography by Paul Anderson.

We pause at another railway arch a bit further along where two artists, Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke, have put together a joint show that just the night previously has won them the Fringe prize. The proposal for 1 Week came from a mutual love of archives and needless documentation. For the project they put together a list of non mutual contacts and then set up a makeshift office from which to document the process, all of which can be read, looked at and listened to around the walls of the exhibition space.

Deptford X Festival Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke
Deptford X Festival Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke

Three questions were asked (depending on the roll of the dice), the answers from which they created “epic spreadsheets”. Many people simply never returned their calls, which they found just as interesting as those that did: they speculate that many saw their advances as an unwanted invasion of time and some were just obsessed with keeping personal details to themselves, ironic at a time when so many people publish everything about their personal lives on the likes of Facebook. It’s a very thought-provoking and deserving winner of the Fringe Award but I am quickly dragged back out into the rain for time is getting short. I feel glad to have my guides for I have now completely lost my bearings as we tour the back streets of Deptford.

Deptford X Festival Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke
Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke.

Why Birds Sing by Liz Harrison was the overall winner of the Deptford X fest and Mark proudly leads me into the Deptford train station to hear this “humble” piece – subtle recordings of birdsong piped into the station.

Deptford X Festival Liz Harrison Why Birds Sing

Along the raised platform we view the less successful work of Harry Blackett, a heavily pixelated view of a posh bridge in Florence. I’m not sure why one would particularly want to connect or compare Deptford and Florence but maybe it would have worked if you could actually see the beauty of a Florentine bridge against urban Deptford – as it is the pixels render the image incomprehensible, and us reliant on the written explanation. Never a good thing.

Deptford X Festival Harry Blackett
Drive-Thru by Harry Blackett.

Our final stop is at the Old Police Station, where Mark Titchner is instructed to pose back to back with the Matthew Couper underneath another banner, this time depicting an abstracted graph of life expectancy in the UK intertwined with the enigmatic words A Point Suspended In Nothingness.

Mark Titchner for the Deptford X Festival.

Mark leaves and I am taken towards the old police cells to view the work of still more artists. Painted tromp l’oeil on a brick wall by Annabel Tilley fails to tickle me but inside I am very taken by the embellishment of disused cells which have taken on a whole new meaning: plumped up with cushions, decorated with a Mondrian-like collage of news cuttings and converted into a disco chamber.

Deptford X Festival Annabel Tilly Drawing the Likeness of Brick
Annabel Tilly’s Drawing the Likeness of Brick. Erm…. and the point is?

Deptford X Festival Old Police Station cells
Deptford X Festival Old Police Station cells

It is nearly 2pm by the time we finish our rainy tour of Deptford X. Despite the fact that I am starving and a long bike ride from home I am pretty willing to call it quits over lunch so that I can get back to work… but I am sadly not given that option. The offer of lunch has been *accidentally forgotten* and at a crossroads I am sent on my merry way with only the charming local news photographer to accompany me back to my bike at the Albany.

The Deptford X Festival is just one of many bijoux arts festivals that run across the capital every year and about which I knew nothing prior to my visit. Mark Titchner’s involvement has been really hands on: helping to chose artists, judge the winners, attending the opening event and even coming along to spend precious time charming the likes of moi. For a well known artist he really didn’t have to agree to this, and for that I respect him even more. Deptford X is an intriguing festival that features the work of some very interesting established and emerging artists – now they just need to up the PR game.

Categories ,A Point Suspended In Nothingness, ,Annabel Tilley, ,Bearspace, ,Brockley, ,Creekery, ,Deptford, ,Deptford Project, ,Deptford X, ,Deptford X Festival, ,Design Museum, ,Fringe Award, ,g20, ,Gallery Plots, ,Georgina Starr, ,Gillian Wearing, ,Hanna Clarke, ,Harry Blackett, ,Jan Hendrikse, ,Jerry Rubin, ,Julian Hughes Watts, ,Kit Merritt, ,Kit Merritt and Hanna Clarke, ,Liz Harrison, ,Mark Titchner, ,Matthew Couper, ,michael landy, ,Old Police Station, ,Paul Noble, ,Product Range Repeat, ,shoreditch, ,Sue Lawes, ,The Albany, ,Trisant, ,Turner Prize, ,Upfront, ,We Are Everywhere, ,Whitechapel Art Gallery, ,Why Birds Sing

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with King of Kitsch Luke Twigger

At first glance on Luke, mind you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled across a slickly designed online charity/tacky souvenir shop. Firstly, page there are the ornamental fawns, viagra replicas which you may well have seen nestled among the clutter in your Nan’s display cabinet. Secondly, there is the glazed winged-cherub, staring serenely into the distance with a violin resting on its shoulder, which wouldn’t look out of place on one of the dusty shelves of a country souvenir shop (except these ones have ipod docks – check them out here!). But look more closely and you’ll find that there is certainly more than meets the eye.

Original drawings of ipod dock series (courtesy of Luke Twigger)

There is no denying that Luke Twigger’s work is kitsch with a capital K. His work is, however, palatable because it is built on a foundation of the familiar, drawing you in, but also challenging you to think beyond the realms of conventionality and the expected with a postmodern twist on his subject matter. His creations frequently involve taking something purely functional and modifying it to the point where it no longer resembles its original form, challenging the viewer’s belief system in how an object should be defined. Drawing on the influences of kitsch culture to create objects made entirely by hand, Luke straddles art, design and craft to form an impressive portfolio, which is quirky and cool (and occasionally bizarre) in equal measure.

Original drawings of budgie speakers (courtesy of Luke Twigger)

From kaleidoscopic Chesterfield sofas to melting candles of the Virgin Mary, this eccentric marriage of classic objects/well known figures with something so out of context is what makes Luke’s work compelling. For example, take his latest project, The Three Mothers. Viewed as potentially sacrilegious by having a novelty candle moulded into the shape of Virgin Mary which can be burned, the project poses questions about the significance of the image and the function. If Mary lights up the dark, isn’t she essentially fulfilling her function, by guiding those who are lost? If so, how can this re-forming, regardless as whether it be viewed as burning, be blasphemous? One thing to realise is that there is always an intellectual layer to his work.

Coinciding with Frieze Art Fair this weekend, Luke will be collaborating with BEARSPACE, a pioneering art space in London exhibiting emerging artists who push the boundaries of contemporary art practice, for the launch of Christie’s new art fair, Multiplied, serving as a platform for emerging artistic talent.

In the lead up to the event, Luke talks to Amelia’s Magazine to educate us on his refined artistic style, Konsthantverk, and provides us with intriguing insights into some of his most ambitious projects to date.

Superkitschman illustration (courtesy of Luke Twigger)

You went to Loughborough University of Art and Design to do fine art but your work now seems to have more of a focus on sculptures – how did this evolution in your artistic style come about?
My time at Loughborough was primarily directed toward working in 3D. It started off quite heavily ‘conceptual’ but I just felt that it was something very tired and restricted. I wanted to work in a way that would have this conceptual weight but in a much more playful and enjoyable way that encouraged a great deal of experimentation and focused on the making of an object. I looked toward artists and designers working within these ideas and learned that process and manufacture could be used as a method to really enhance and amplify what it is they want to say. These artists and designers were mainly working in the Scandinavian countries and I was so compelled by their work, I booked a ticket to Sweden to find out more, which led to my work taking on a much more “Scandinavian” aesthetic and approach. I started using craft and a multitude of techniques to create work that magnified my ideas of kitsch and how to work beyond the “trash’ notion often associated with this term.

Your work has been described as ‘Konsthantverk’, a Swedish term which translates to ‘the handmade art object’. Can you tell us more about this?
This mainly relates to my style and methods of production; I work as an individual making things quite factory like, which results in everything being unique, in a sense, but not entirely original. I don’t want to make anything that is a one-off, as that would instantly fall short of any definition of being kitsch.

Original drawings of speaker designs (courtesy of Luke Twigger)

Many of your designs appear to fuse the traditional with the modern (e.g. your kitsch cherubic figurines which also serve as ipod dockers). What fascinates you about this combination of old and new?
What excites me is not necessarily the old and new aspect; it’s the idea of taking something purely functional and working it so much it that the function, which was once primary to the existence of the object is over-ridden by the form. I think this is essential to the manufacture of kitsch. A vase is the perfect example of this; it was created purely as a vessel but over time it has been exaggerated, re-styled, over-styled and elaborated beyond any functional sense, making its most basic of functions obsolete and giving way to pure aesthetical pleasure. I guess with functional undertones, which I think makes something that has the ability to both raise questions and pose answers simultaneously. In terms of my work, the function happens to be new as it must work within our regular lives and fit in with contemporary culture to make itself understandable. Victorian artists and makers made sugar bowls and inkwells; we as a society don’t have much need for these objects anymore, so its function must be relevant.

How would you describe your artistic style from a subjective AND an objective point of view?

Subjectively, I’d say that my ‘artistic style’ would be experimental behavior that manifests itself into a tangible and almost design led conclusion. Objectively, I like to think that my work encourages inquisitiveness, questions, answers and adoration.

Tell us more about your ‘The Three Mothers Paraffin Candles’ project
The Three Mothers Paraffin Candles were really an experiment into the Super-Kitsch, a prelude to my new body of work, ‘Super-Kitsch Manufaktur’. The idea was to take something that has been so over-used, so exploited and in a way so obviously kitsch; the image of the Virgin Mary, and push its Kitsch-ness so far by applying function to the form and using the image not in an ironic or subversive way, but celebratory. This object would not look out of place in the souvenir shops of The Vatican City and was made as something that should exist; making the Kitsch, Super-Kitsch.

Was there a particular reason you decided to choose the Virgin Mary for a waxwork sculpture to burn?
Entirely for the reason that I felt this should be something that exists; I think it raises interesting questions in the significance of the image and the function combined. Is it unholy to light the candle? Yet it illuminates the dark? I guess it’s a bit like a shrine in one object, although could also be deemed sacrilegious. Very ambiguous! But these were all after-thoughts; Mary was used because she is depicted on candles but never represented and I wanted to do that.

Is there a symbolic meaning behind this piece?
None whatsoever. I don’t use kitsch as an ironic or subversive device. It was made because the souvenir shops didn’t have them.

What’s next for you and where can we find more of your work??
I am currently working on a brand new body of work called “Super-Kitsch Manufaktur” that explores in greater depth what the Three Mothers Paraffin Candles touched upon. Using all sorts of Kitsch devices to create the Super-Kitsch: enlarging, representing, replicating, associating function and re-working the familiar creating something sub-familiar. This marks the departure of using found objects, which I feel is important to really strengthen my ideas of the Super-Kitsch. All the sculpting is made in plasticine, then moulds are taken of the original; effectively ruining it, therefore the work only exists in multiple, no original is ever kept. Every age spawns its own kitsch; I guess this is made to serve that purpose in time.

To view The Three Mother’s Paraffin Candles in action, click here, or to purchase the candles, visit his online shop here.

Luke will be exhibiting with BEARSPACE as part of Christie’s brand new art fair, Multiplied, which runs from 15th – 18th October 2010 (Christie’s, 85 Old Brompton Rd, South Kensington, SW7 3LD). In addition, he will be part of a group show at BEARSPACE, focusing on new objects/multiples and sculpture, which will be showing from 27th Nov 2010 – 15th Jan 2011.

Luke is also currently working on a collaborative project with illustrator, Mike Perry.

Categories ,Bearspace, ,Christie’s, ,Frieze Art Fair, ,Kat Phan, ,Loughborough, ,Luke Twigger, ,Mike Perry, ,Multiplied, ,postmodern

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