Amelia’s Magazine | Dispatches: Fashion’s Dirty Secret

Illustration by Antonia Parker

Saying you work in fashion normally garners one of two reactions: awe with a smidgen of jealousy on the presumption all you do is swan around with fabrics and making swishy type movements before dashing off to an exotic shoot/party/event of the year, or utter contempt.

On arriving at a friend’s boyfriend’s drinks it was the second reaction I received. He and his friends were doing a masters degree in ethical business, and had I arrived dressed as Cruella DeVil with a baby’s head on a silver platter I possible would have got a warmer reception. As allegedly glamorous as fashion is, it is also many people’s favourite whipping boy. Neither picture is entirely true.

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme exposed the vile, undeniably horrific and illegal working conditions of UK based sweatshops. Showing the secret film to a sweatshop surveyor, he stated these compared to some of the worst conditions he’s seen in the Far East. The conditions in the sweatshop should never be allowed to happen regardless of where it is in the world: Leicester or Laos it really doesn’t matter.

Illustration by Karolina Burdon

The UK High Street actually has some very high standards when it comes to treatment of labourers. The retailers featured, including New Look, Peacocks and Jane Norman stated their supply chains were SEDEX approved. SEDEX allows retailers to independently demonstrate their commitment to ethics. Obviously this self regulation had failed. Each retailer appeared to take on board the facts and launch appropriate investigations into sub-contracting. If only they had been more proactive in the first place.

One retailer leading the way in the UK is ASOS. In the last few months they have built on the successes of Fashion Enter, a not-for-profit enterprise, specialising in garment sampling and helped them open a dedicated ASOS factory. Having a UK based factory will not only cut transport costs, carbon footprints, and lower turnaround times for ASOS but also boost the local economy.

It’s thanks to programmes like Dispatches that public awareness of poor working conditions is being raised. This is undeniably a good thing. Sweatshops like this should not be allowed to exist.

Let’s look at the facts for a moment. The story doesn’t end there and Dispatches, to their credit, touched on it. The existence of fast fashion and super cheap clothes has a huge role to play in the existence of sweatshops. In yesteryear clothes were luxury items, to be worn over and over; to be mended and repaired, to be recycled into new garments. Not so anymore.  Some of the responsibility must inevitably fall on the heads of all of us. How often have you bought a cheap top, or bargain basement jeans, or a £15 dress that was such a steal it’d be rude not to buy it? I know I have (not the dress, but you get the picture). How often do you really think about where that has come from? The Dispatches vox pop revealed that few people actually do.

Illustration by Willa Gebbie

The fact is until UK consumers begin to demand better working conditions and simultaneously agree to pay for them little will change. When asked why UK retailers rarely manufacture in the UK anymore, the answer is simple. The UK consumer won’t pay the necessary price. Why do these sweatshops exist? Because on ever dwindling profit margins short cuts will happen. Blind eyes will be turned – a feeling echoed by both Mary Portas and Melanie Rickey in their tweets after the show. Such things are, again, totally unacceptable.

I used to get asked to make outfits for people. When I gave honest rock bottom quotes, I found most of these requests vanished. Why pay £100 for a shirt when you can go down town and get one for a tenner? Scales of economy and an essentially bespoke service aside, it’s the same thing. Regardless of who does it, every piece has to be cut, every seam sewn, and every feature, rhinestone, embellishment and sequin attached. A suit has over 140 separate pieces, a zipper five, a shirt cuff six or more including buttons and buttonholes.

A lot of work goes into the shirt on your back. Those making it deserve to get paid a living wage, and work in safe conditions. Those manufacturing deserve to make a profit. The consumer deserves quality goods at the right price. At some point someone is going to lose out. Nine times out of ten this will be the person we can’t directly see.

Illustration by Karolina Burdon

So what do we do? A little bit of research goes a long way. Check out responsible manufacturers, check out your local boutiques (a small designer is often more likely to be ethical and more importantly the chance of bumping into someone in the same outfit is greatly reduced), check out eco-fashion labels (for instance in Amelia’s new book) or places like Traid, and check out ASOS’ own brand.Your t-shirt may cost £25 instead of £5, your jeans £40 instead of £15, but in each tiny way it’ll help stop sweatshops.

As one of the members of the public on the programme stated, ‘we each have to buy within our means, but that doesn’t mean buying irresponsibly.’

To watch the documentary on Channel 4’s 4oD, click here.

Categories ,Antonia Parker, ,ASOS, ,Channel 4, ,designers, ,Dispatches, ,ethical, ,Far East, ,fashion, ,Fashion Enter, ,High Street, ,Jane Norman, ,Laos, ,Leicester, ,Mary Portas, ,Melanie Rickey, ,New Look, ,Peacocks, ,SEDEX, ,Sweatshops, ,traid, ,Willa Gebbie

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As I packed for my first ever Glastonbury, sildenafil information pills I thought PRACTICAL and WARM. My long time friend and side kick had relayed stories of the year before being a torrent of mud and rain. What dedication. She and 136, buy 999 others had traipsed through thigh high mud for 5 days all in the name of music.

So when I asked the veteran Glastonbury go-er what on earth should I pack? she could not stress enough how many thermals, fleecies, and things that can be destroyed, I should take. And don’t forget your wellies! Having just moved here from NZ and lacking all the essentials, I was pointed in the direction of the camping store and left to my own devices! I hit Katmandu for a completely uncool but practical fleece jumper and Primark to stock up on tights and cheapie things that can be thrashed – after all, you don’t go to Glastonbury to hide from the elements.

As I arrived and joined the queue for international ticket pick up I was instantly struck by gumboot envy! An array of colors and patterns strutted past and I rarely saw the same pair twice. Fortunately my own pair was black and decorated with cute pink flowers and pink soles so they made the cut.

Check mine out on the right

We arrived 2 days early purely to get the best campsite in all of fair Glastonbury, and after setting up tent we ventured down to explore and make the most of the sunshine – after all it wasn’t going to last, right?! The market stalls were already bustling, and the scene was a feast for the eyes! Girls in vintage dresses, colored tights, floral patterns -everything high street and everything fashion was on display.

Thursday evening bought the rain and Friday saw drizzle turning the once dust bowl farm into a thick mud that threatened to steal your boots with each step. But this did not hinder efforts from the crowd to look every bit like the glossy photos we see each year of celebrities looking effortlessly cool.


The boldest looks seemed to appear directly from the onsite costume stalls in Shangri la. Super heroes, brides, cows, video game characters and even a banana competed on the muddy catwalk.

Of course when it comes down to it, after a couple of pear ciders you’re so excited to be jumping and shaking in front of your favorite band, you forget about your own mish mash of uncoordinated practical warm things and have just want to have a damn good time!

Me attempting the effortlessly cool look


Today we received great news that the issues we sent to Tokyo record shop Escalator Records three months ago have finally arrived. Why it took so long we have no idea, dosage perhaps the Royal Mail staff had a good read of them before they even got on the plane.

Escalator Records is a label based record store that was opened in 2002 in Harajuku Tokyo, and has stocked the most wonderful and limited records ever since. The store is very well respected and even has some famous fans. Haruka from the store told us, “Daft Punk, the people at Ed Banger, Modular People, Annie and CSS all give big love to the store”.

They also run an internet radio show, through which they aim to spread the word about as yet unknown Japanese bands.

Haruka was nice enough to send us some photos to prove their arrival, as we had previously believed they had been lost forever.


With a hint of sea air, try this folksy group from the deep dark depths of Kodiak Island, remedy Alaska, have created a relaxing but catchy and almost addictive new album. It’s a move away from the acoustic sounds of their first but Port O’Brien has managed to retain a sense of their previous identity.

The album as a whole creates a brilliant relaxed nautical atmosphere, not surprisingly as most of it was written whilst the lead dude was out solo in the Gulf of Alaska fishing months of his life away. Their Arcade Fire type passion is quite mesmerising and each song did leave me wanting more.

A splash of The Go! Team style shouting/village singing on their first track draws you in with excitement although the remainder of the album is not quite so uplifting. There is a woody, dusty feel to each song, I couldn’t help but imagine sitting round a camp fire with a few old chums, a guitar and everyone singing until their heart’s were content. Maybe even a porch, a straw hat and that trusty guitar would do the trick.

Quite a good album over all, indeed, all I could do was sing along (to the first track anyway). It won’t be making history any time soon, but a nice little listen.

Monday 7th July

Jeremy Warmsley, sales Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, sale So So Modern, Esser and Liam Finn – Plug, Sheffield
Mumford & Sons, Jessie Quinn And The Mets, Davie Fiddle And The Lucky Egg and Derek Meins – The Luminaire, London
White Denim – Bodega Social Club, Nottingham

It’s safe to say White Denim are one of the most talked about bands of 2008 so far. So catch them while they’re in the UK, they’re ace.

Tuesday 8th July

Band Of Horses – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
The National – Mandela Hall, Belfast
Interpol – Manchester Apollo, Manchester
Frightened Rabbit, Esau Mwamwaya/ Radioclit and Collapsing Cities @ White Heat – Madame Jo Jo’s, London

Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit pretty much showcase a run down of the most interesting aspects of modern world music. Absolutely guaranteed to get you dancing.

Gnarls Barkley – Astoria 2, London

Wednesday 9th July

Howling Bells and Chief – Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London
Jaguar Love – Cockpit, Leeds
Magnetic Fields – Cadogan Hall, London

Thursday 10th July

Annie, The Clik Clik and Heloise And The Savoir Faire @ The Wonky Pop Club – Cargo, London

Friday 11th July

These New Puritans, Nelson and Zombie Zombie – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

I don’t know why I’ve never seen These New Puritans live, I really would like to catch them at this, mainly because it would give me a chance to see Zombie Zombie again as well.

My Morning Jacket – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Blindfold, Capitol K and Jo Harrop – The Roundhouse, London
Cocknbullkid – Proud Galleries, London
Justice – Somerset House, London

Saturday 12th July

Bearsuit, Paul Vickers And The Leg, What Would Jesus Drive and Speccy Ginger – Buffalo Bar, London
Ghost Frequency and KASMs – Astoria 2, London
Ipso Facto and Stricken City – Be at Proud Galleries, London
Pete Doherty – Royal Albert Hall London

Sunday 13th July

Gig Of The Week
Wooden Shjips and The Heads – Cargo, London

Both of these bands are awesome, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday evening than a little bit of a freak out to some psychedelic garage.

Ben Folds – Bristol Academy, Bristol

Monika Bobinska, viagra ‘Ambivalent Landscape’: Adam King: 20th June-13thJuly.
Cambridge Heath Road, more about London E2 9DA (Thursday-Sunday 1-6pm, Sunday 2-5pm).
New two and three dimensional collages by Adam King explore the dreams and fears of urban consumer society and its relationship to the natural world. King’s kaleiderscopic collages are made from wallpaper, pipe cleaners and print images, creating a tidal wave of debris – flowers, anatomical imagery, consumer items, broken cars, images of war – which threatens to burst out, confusing your sense of dimensions.

Serpentine Gallery, Continuation’: Richard Prince: 26th June-7th September.
Painter, photographer, sculptor and collector, Richard Prince’s work explores American pop culture, literature and art in his follow up of Spiritual America. A direct dialogue with space, the exhibition includes an eclectic range of photography, sculptures, books, artworks to classic American ‘muscle cars’.


Spacex Gallery, ‘Structures for the unseen’:Axel Antas: 12 May-12 July.
45 Preston Street?, Exeter?, EX1 1DF.
Film, large scale drawings and a series of photographs taken in the vast Catalan Pyrenees, shown alongside a selection of earlier works from Antas’ ‘Intervention’ series. ‘Catalan Pyrenees’ includes bird boxes placed amongst the landscape that stand alone on a mountain tops, whilst ‘Intervention’ series features landscapes covered in artificially created low lying mist.


Contemporary Art Projects, ‘Cut n shunt’: Craig Fisher, Debra Swann, J.A.Nicholls: 20th June-27th July.
20 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DU.
Urban life, history and nature are touched upon with an injected twist of the abnormal. Transcending material boundaries with desire, playfulness gives the exhibition a sense of new possibilities.


Penny school Gallery,‘New Talents: Fashion & Photography’: 9th July-3rd October: tues-fri 11-4pm.
55 richmond rd, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT2 5BP.
Dynamic & exciting collaboration between ND Fashion & HNC Photography students; to launch the New Degree in Fashion & textiles starting at Kingston College.

WHATIFTHEWORLD/GALLERY, ‘Hypocrite’s Lament & the drain of progress’: Zander Blom and Julia Rosa Clark: 9th -26th July.
Lower Ground Floor, 23 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3P8.
The remnants of art, modernism and culture are explored as well as the influence of South African life where both artists originate. Coming from a country that is often seen as dismal, brutal and segregated, this informs their fractured work.


ICA, ‘A recent history of writing and drawing’: Jurg Lehni & Alex Rich: 9th July-31st August.
ICA, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH.
Features examples of machines that enable writing and drawing as well as mechanisms which create giant wall drawings, punch messages in paper and make images on screen. Based on the misuse and reuse of modern technology.


The Old Truman Brewery, ‘Interiors’: Nottingham Trent University, Kingston University, Ravenbourne College, university of Brighton, Kingston University, University of Portsmouth, Cambridge School of Art and Design: 11th-14th July.
91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL.
The 7th week focuses on interiors. Why not take a stroll in this huge open space and view some groovy graphics, haunting photos and model homes?

Brick Lane Gallery, ‘Free for Wall: Part 2′:artists to be confirmed:11th-28th July.
196 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SA.
Still compiling raw talent from the streets, The Brick Lane Gallery presents it’s second installment of some fresh ‘n funky art. If you’re a street artist eager to showcase your work, get your skates on and send some images to: who knows..maybe you’ll be viewing your own work in a few days!


Vice’s Pub, ‘Cup Rocking’: Andy Uprock: 11th July.
Old Blue Last, 38 Great Eastern St Storeditch EG2A 3ES
Using aroung 2,500 cups and mapping out large areas of cyclone fencing and sticking plastic cups into the existing diamond shaped holes, Andy transforms streets and public areas into places of interest. Cups are recycled and used for another project-now that’s what you call inspirational yet sustainable art!


The Museum for objects of Vertu, ‘Dust jacket…A cover for the voyage of the beagle’: Rosie Cooper, Richard Gray, Sonja Howick , Piers Jamson , Rachael Mathews , Fleur Oakes , Matthew Robins , Audrey Reynolds , Tim Spooner: 12-13th July, 12-6pm, by appointment thereafter until 27th July.
Fleur Oakes studio, 89 Park road, New Barnet.
(Piccadilly line , cockfosters station
The museum for objects, nestled in the cosy studio of Miss Fleur Oakes, presents objects that are described as ‘compelling ;the bits and bobs that get pushed to the back of a dressing table drawer, that then find their way to a flea market’. Expect obscure objects that contain lost tales, all set within a woody wonderland.



Faggionato Fine Arts, ‘National Geographic’: Maria Von Kohler, Alain Miller, John Summers, John Tiney 9th July- 21st August.
49 Albemarle Street W1S 4JR.
Four artists use source material and imagery that encapsulates a moment that bridges identity and location.


Photos by Lucy Johnston

After hearing dribs and drabs about Pivot I was conscious of them, this site but not to the extent where I had actually checked them out. Then I heard their album, troche and I simply couldn’t fail to take notice any longer. It’s so fresh and marvelously creepy that I instantly found myself proclaiming it my album of the month. To who I have no idea, viagra order it’s not like I’m the presenter of ‘hit, miss or maybe’ on live and kicking (god I wish I was though), but I continued to proclaim none the less.

The venue was practically empty when I arrived and the support band (who i couldn’t find out the name of) received almost no love, with most people opting to bask in the sun outside. The crowd seemed to escalate nine fold in the 5 minutes before Pivot were due to appear, and the place was rammed by the time they moderately made their way on stage.

As they unleashed their barrage of musical experiments, I was intrigued by the undecided response most people seemed to adopt. Some began to dance, while most just watched intently. By the end of the first track though everyone was applauding.

Their tracks are made up of instrumentals that leap between timings, volumes and moods to create something that can’t be pigeonholed to any genre. Vocals are used, but lyrics and melodies are cast aside in favor of woops and other primal outbursts. They sound intelligent, but in a way that isn’t brash or confusing. It simply sounds good because so much thought has gone into each little section of every track.

They end their set with the ominous ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’, which sounds like it should be soundtracking some very confusing art house movie, and in many ways I think they make art house music. If such a term could exist. Half the time, you’ve no idea what’s going on, but you continue to watch anyway. You can’t help yourself, because songs become more and more intriguing as they go on.

Do you open up Grazia, this web see Alexa Chung in the ‘latest’ starry ensemble and think, “Oo! Where can I get me one of those?” Yeah, I thought not. That’s exactly what Hadley Freeman, Deputy Fashion Editor at The Guardian, thought too. However Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of Made for Each Other: Fashion & The Academy Awards, appeared to think us a more sheepish bunch at The Red Carpet: Fashion and Celebrity talk at the Barbican on Thursday 3rd July.

Andy Warhol foresaw the ‘famous for 15 minutes’ culture which we now find ourselves knee-deep in, and it was talk of reality TV that opened up this topical, lively and at times quite bitchy discussion about celebrities (French president’s wife Carla Bruni certainly won’t be getting a Christmas card from Cosgrave) and their hold over a designer’s success.

Forget being scouted as a model, fancy being scouted to be a designer’s new best friend? It would seem relationships between celebrity and stylist, stylist and designer and designer and celebrity (put in print in this months InStyle magazine) are as fickle as we thought. Marketing constructs? Really?

From Big Brother stars, to the mutual money making success of celeb/designer friendships, the conversation soon turned to the Oscars, where Cosgrave got rather too much into her stride. Resembling the host of an empowering self-help seminar, all very ‘breathe in the positive, release the negative’, Cosgrave lost my interest and it was left to Freeman to regain it with her belief that designers are today blinded by celebrity moments, and often forget that real people have to wear their clothes. It is after all ironically the customer who pays, and not the multi-million pound celebrity.

So do celebrities hold the key to designer success? Well, with the enticement of publicity and increased sales vying against the importance of brand image (Amy Winehouse and Karl Lagerfeld anyone?), it’s a tricky one to call. But with the recent credit crunch and the vast array of new, young design talent coming out of London, perhaps we are more inclined to buy what we like, what suits us and what we haven’t seen someone else wearing on Oxford Street that afternoon.


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Photograph by Dylan Walker

Andy Walker, viagra medical also known as Loyal Trooper is very modest, side effects he will rarely talk about his music especially not to strangers, he wants his songs to speak for themselves. Tonight he is playing at Bar Music Hall in Hoxton. He says he is just testing out some new ones. Fresh from playing at Two Thousand Trees festival he says he feels, ‘crowd spoilt’, being an unsigned artist playing to a packed tent full of people with eager ears and open minds. By comparison by the time he plays Bar music hall tonight the crowd are mostly too busy discussing important matters of their own to notice him play heart rendering acoustic nuggets of joy, sadness and Sheffield related heartbreak. The group of people sat at the front were however paying close attention and during the second song a friend turns to me and says , ‘wow he is incredibly talented!’, and she’s certainly not wrong!

Its a big stage for one person but the pretty noise soon fills up the place nicely, ‘Okay at Best’ is about being bored of growing up and knowing there is more to life than being unfulfilled and wearing a suit. The line, ‘I want to fall asleep at my desk’ Is sang slowly and sleepily, accompanied by sweet twinkly guitar, this however is followed by repeated yelling of ‘fuck being okay at best’. Its a little bit like watching Bill Hicks lulling you into a false sense of security and then shouting at you, if Bill Hicks was incredibly good looking, had an aptitude for playing acoustic guitar and didn’t sweat or scream quite as much.

Photograph by Dylan Walker

His songs display an astonishingly accurate observations of london, its bars, its personalities and its pitfalls. ‘Five year plan’ is a cathartic rant at those irritating people we all know and love who can talk and talk and talk about themselves but don’t seem to possess ears. Andy has perfected the art of beautiful songs that can be incredibly sad in places while revealing a dark sense of humour in others. ‘I know about their job, their pet, their wife, but they never ask a single detail about my life’. Singing, ‘will they ever get bored of being self important pricks?’ feels very appropriate as his soft voice filters through the chattering of those in the bar.

Luckily enough I know Andy fairly well, so I am not only able to talk to him about his songs but am even lucky enough to take him home with me after the gig and give him a guinness or three and some nicotine gum. Having been locked in introspective song writing sessions Andy has recorded a mini album in his bedroom, and now says he feels ready to show everyone what he has made, so he is self-releasing it, it comes out on the 15th of September, it might be hard to find, but if I were you I would go looking for it.

The enduring flirtation between art and fashion has borne some strange and beautiful sartorial love children. From Yves Saint Laurent’s timelessly chic 1965 ‘Mondrian’ dress to Guy Bourdin’s iconic fashion photography; from the paper ‘Souper Dress‘ inspired by Andy Warhol’s achingly prosaic Campbell’s image, to the recent – and inexplicable – collaboration between Warhol and Pepe jeans. Art and fashion are firm, if sometimes awkward, friends.

Enter Phaiz, a gallery slash boutique in Chicago’s River West neighborhood – an area increasingly awash with converted loft spaces, ergo artists and creative types – which alluringly promises that its visitors will leave feeling like they’ve been rendezvousing with the aforementioned Andy Warhol and enfant terrible Alexander McQueen.


Reticent fashionistas with a cerebral bent pondering whether to visit a gallery or a boutique are thoughtfully spared the angst, as Phaiz, a concept store with a difference, seamlessly marries art and fashion in a meeting defined by its makers as a ‘collision’, but perhaps more aptly described as a match made in proverbial heaven for the all-encompassing aesthetes among us.

A refreshing alternative to high street mass production and identikit ‘It’ bags, visitors to this cult gallery/boutique can peruse the cavernous 800 square foot space safe in the knowledge that its wares are one of a kind, being crafted exclusively for Phaiz and available for a period of 30 days alongside the space’s site specific installations of the same duration.


With prices ranging from $80 to a credit crunch eschewing $3,000, the work of exhibiting artists and designers virtually transforms Phaiz on a monthly basis. With each collaboration ushering in a new phase – get it? – for the gallery/boutique, whose blurring of the lines between art and fashion extends to its pricing scheme. A scheme that sees all items bereft of price tags with visitors instead being gifted a price list upon arrival.

One of many beautiful collisions to have emerged from Phaiz so far saw the juxtaposition of the work of former graffiti artist, Peter Kepha with that of fur designer Backtalk. An unobvious coupling, were it not for Kepha and Backtalk’s shared use of collage.

In rubbishing distinctions between art and fashion and the way in which they should be seen and bought, Phaiz provides a very real compromise to Janice Dickinson’s – yes, the original supermodel of I’m a Celeb fame – suggestion that we should ‘follow sound business trends, not fashion trends’. A trendsetting pioneer rather than a follower, Phaiz seems to have not just art and fashion, but the tricky business of selling them, quite literally sewn up.


Since starting at Amelia’s I’ve become used to the art openings of the Shoreditch scene, dosage with beer in a bucket and noisy chatter becoming something I’ve taken for granted. I was slightly surprised, visit this site then, upon entering the FRED gallery on Vyner street that no such scene greeted me. I was not so far, geographically, from all the galleries I have previously visited, but I felt like I was a world away.

A sparse, older art crowd, exchanging air kisses (one for each cheek) inhabited the interior of FRED. Each culture vulture entering before me was greeted with a “Hi, how are you? Would you like a glass of wine?”, but I received no such greeting or offer. It seemed that as soon as they had seen my tatty teeshirt and knee high socks they must have figured that I obviously didn’t have the money to buy any of the art, and therefore any magical, purse-string-loosening booze would be wasted on me.

Feeling somewhat shunned, I found comfort in reading the printed info about exhibiting artist Jakob Roepke. I found that Roepke, a German artist born in 1960, has produced over 700 of his small collages since 1996. It was also made clear that each collage was available to buy for the amount of £200 + VAT.


On to these collages, then… the whole reason for my being here (I know that in hindsight it seems as though alcohol might have been the priority, but I can assure you that art was the only intoxication I was seeking. Yes, really!) Fred was displaying 130 of Roepke’s works, all 12 x 13cm pieces made from 1999 to the present day. I was really taken with the nature of the display, a tiny shelf running around the whole of the space that brought the tiny, intricate squares up to a comfortable viewing level.

The experience of viewing the collages was like going from room to room of a dolls house and peering in. Within the four corners of each work the stage was set for weird existences to play themselves out; a man making tea on the back of a tortoise, another buffing the toes of a woolly mammoth. When windows were present in the rooms, all sorts of mysteries came in through them; trees invading to take shelter inside, graph paper blobs floating in and owls perching on the ledges. Juxtaposition is what’s great about collage as an image making technique, and Roepke’s use of characters from 1970′s yoga handbooks and birds from nature annuals made his juxtapositions all the more absurd. His use of flat patterns, worked on to as if 3D, lent a distorted perspective that made surreal scenes even more bizarre.


Technically, each collage was impressive too. Pieces of card had been completely covered, front and back, in papers with tiny patterns (dolls house wall paper, Japanese origami paper graph paper…) and then worked on, layer by layer, with paper cut-outs. The whole thing was then painstakingly painted to bring all the layers together. I watched, slightly jealous, as the gallery owner encouraged one potential buyer to (“very gently!”) run her finger over one piece to see how surprisingly thick and bumpy it’s surface was.

I learned at an early age NEVER EVER to touch a piece of art in a gallery, so I was pretty shocked to see a gallery owner actively encouraging a hands on approach. But then I shouldn’t really have been surprised at such special treatment since this woman had already staked her claim on a couple of pieces she wanted to buy. Knee high socks girl wasn’t getting any such treatment, however, as I trailed around after the gallery owner, hoping to have a word with him (well, it’s only polite), but could never seem to divert his attention away from wooing possible purchasers.


Eventually giving up, I left the FRED gallery glad to have been allowed a peep inside Jakob Roepke’s mixed up miniature world. However I did feel that the hosts of this world could have been a bit more accomadating to those who didn’t look like they might want to buy a share.


Leila Arab has been away for quite some time. Her acclaimed debut LP, patient 1998′s Like Weather, diagnosis was followed up by ‘Courtesy For Choice’ back in 2000, symptoms but since then Leila has taken a break from creating her own music. This absence can be explained by the fact that both her parents passed away during this time and music no longer was a priority for the Iranian born Leila. However, born through Warp records, we now welcome her return with ‘Blood, Looms and Blooms’.

Instrumental opener ‘Mollie’ welcomes us into the dark and haunting world that is Leila’s new offering, although this welcome feels full of warnings that our souls may be dragged down into some ‘through the looking glass’ existence and we may not escape unscathed. With Leila now having us firmly by the hand we are led down, down to listen in on the noises of an enchanted workshop documented in ‘Time to Blow’, in which we are promised “I’ll make you regret it”. This is fast becoming experimental electronica at it’s most dark.

A little respite is needed from all this menace, and we are given it with the lovely ‘Little Acorns’. Standing out as one of the most upbeat, and quite dance-able, pieces on the album it comes complete with rappy happy children’s vocals. However, ‘Daisy’s, Cats and Spacemen’ is quick to whip us back up in the melancholic atmosphere that runs through this album like a black thread. Incredibly reminiscent of old school Portishead trip hoppery, this track showcases the sultry vocals of Leila’s sister Roya Arab that end with a ghostly whisper to the back of your neck.

‘Mettle’ is the real stand out track, a Bjork like opening that sounds like robots tuning themselves in that quickly collapses into a dirty surging motion, covered in hectic liquid dripping noises. This tune lulls you into false senses of security with calmer moments, then slams you against the wall with loud roars that grab you by the throat. The abrupt stop that ends this track is like a rug pulled from under your feet, like your breath has been stolen away from you.

‘Teases Me’ has beautiful vocals from Luca Santucci, and resonates in a similar fashion to Mezzanine era Massive Attack. Other noteworthy vocals are those of Martina Topley-Bird (on the almost sing-along ‘Deflect’) and the operatic turn of Seaming on ‘The Exotics’.

There is plenty to disturb on this album, the truly sinister ‘Carplos’ being a perfect example of this. There is a Clockwork Orange style menace to the sound in this track, although it feels like it would sit well in the background of any horror movie.

It’s definitely not all plain sailing though. Beatles cover ‘Norwegian Wood’ is a really difficult listen, at times throwing melody out of the window to concentrate instead on the increasingly disjointed beats. At one point Luca Santucci lends his vocals three or four times over to this track, in each layer singing the tune ever so slightly differently so that when combined my ear drums were rattled in a way that ended up just plain hurting. ‘Lush Dolphins’ was another track that I just couldn’t bring myself to appreciate, and couldn’t even begin to try and explain.

‘Young Ones’ won me back though, an enchanting track that reveals itself to be a live recording with a burst of applause erupting at the close. ‘Why Should We?’ brings the album to an end, uniting Terry Hall and Martina Topley-Bird in a duet.

Leila’s long awaited ‘Blood, Looms and Blooms’ is an album that keeps us at a distance, an enthralled spectator on a dark dreamscape. The experience is like being fully aware of a nightmare, and the fact it can’t hurt us, but having no control over the outcome and feeling horrified all the same. It’s no light listen, and I personally don’t often feel drawn to such sinister tunes, but for those who like their fairy tales grown up and their sleep walks sultry; this is the album for you.

Tucked away in the back streets of N16 lies a near secret Shangri – la. Down a side alley not so far from Tesco metro, illness surrounded by a mixture of oblivious residences and industrial units, a cardboard sign informs that you have reached Stoke Newington International Airport.

Launched in April as a multi platform space for a diverse range of artists to set up studio, put on performances and try things out amidst an idyllic menagerie of plants, decadent throws, paint pots and wood. One warm, fresh Saturday evening a few weeks back, I was one of 150 others enraptured by the mixture of Gilliam-esque hand drawn animation, laptop technology and klezma meets African music that is The Paper Cinema and Kora. As well as one of the most free for all, insanely clashing DJ sets I’ve heard, but please, for now, let’s keep this on the QT.

This is grass routes, organic as you like and in absolutely in no rush to court too much publicity: “I feel we keep moving really, really slowly and because of that it’s OK, y’know, we’re not going beyond our skills or our ability to control anything, and we can do what we want.” Greg, one fifth of the guys behind the venture informs me between slups of Espresso. “It means we can book acts that maybe wouldn’t work so well if we had a (makes bang bang noise) kind of crowd. A good thing about the film night was that you could say to people, ‘right, now we’re going to watch a film’ and everyone’s quiet and there isn’t any noise from anywhere else.”

“One night, you’ve got some music… a poet … and lets say an ice sculptor, someone goes for the ice sculptor but you know when your DJing and you trust the label?” We’re talking ethos, “So you say ‘Ok I’ll check it out ‘coz I really enjoyed the last release.’ It’s like that but you make sure everything is of a certain quality, and if it’s not, it has to have that potential quality.”


A year ago things couldn’t have been more different with the Airport in previous incarnation as a sweatshop. “This place was full of crap, trucks going in and out and material and just junk and shit, and these Chinese girls that used to work at the factory, we used to watch them, everyday at 8 o clock when their shift finished they’d get out the door and they’d fucking leg it away, (I’m) thinking what horror’s gone on in there?” We’re sold this idea that these kind of working conditions are far away in places like Thailand. “Machines absolutely everywhere… completely filled with sowing machines, noise, and they’d blocked out all the windows because they’d work faster if the lights were blocked…Poor building having to put up with all this horrible stuff!” Anyhow, the factory relocated, receiving a better contract with a certain high street retailer.

At the heart of the Airport … wait, a minute, let’s say it again, Stoke Newington International Airport… The Airport, I just love that name, but that’s got to wait. At the heart of the Airport is the collective of which exists two Gregs, a Nick, a Gary and a Zekan – all exchanging trades and ideas on how to build this. Backgrounds in theatre, music, DJing lead way to secret skills in carpentry, book keeping and legal matters that empower a project: “This would only be possible with the five of us together and our each very different points of view, the different personalities that there are, but together there is this…” Gestures to the courtyard, as we get hit by the mid afternoon sun.


“People say that it’s really warm, and I don’t want it to be aloof or snooty.” This extends to the breeding ground aspect of the ethos, a cross platform environment for a wide variety of artists to exchange ideas. I know from my own experience that when approaching someone of a different artistic, if not language, dialect can be intimidating. “As a performer I think that’s what I’d really love, to go somewhere and to know that half the people are really interested, or they might be, and half have no idea what is going on. But really for me, it’s a community to exchange ideas. If I can see some way to put people together, not to say let’s do this and put it on at the Barbican, but y’know, why don’t you just do ten minutes next week? Try it out? Then why not?”

And now the name. Horrific to think that the Airport was almost called Tony’s! The eventual choice came from a very long list but also presented certain legal problems with registering as a company: “And they said ‘Ah yeah, are you an airport?’ ‘No.’ ‘Will you be able to provide us with proof that’d you’ll be doing your business internationally?’ ‘No.’ So we can’t call the company Stoke Newington International Airport. We’re hackney 5 Arts and the venue is Stoke Newington International Airport.” Do Fabric have to prove they don’t actually trade fabric?

This is my personal call to arms! Come to Climate Camp! I will be there for the entire week, help helping to run the kitchens in the London neighbourhood, and hopefully penning day by day blogs of the week’s events. There will also be visits from various Amelia’s Magazine interns throughout my time there, and Katie, who is manning the earth section of the blog, intends to be there for the whole week.

Cooking in the London neighbourhood 2007

Climate Camp 2007

But what is this Climate Camp I hear you cry?! Well, Climate Camp began life in the summer of 2006, when a bunch of people decided to squat the land near Drax power station with the aim of bringing attention to the climate catastrophe that we fast find ourselves approaching. Even though I went to the G8 camp in Stirling in 2005. I did not attend this inaugural Climate Camp because I was loved up – most of my mates went but I was probably shagging. Oh well, that is far in the past and last year and this year I have been progressively more involved with Climate Camp, which has turned into an enthusiastic worldwide movement. This year I have been attending weekly London neighbourhood meetings for a few months, helping to put together our little encampment, and generally rallying the troops.. we’ve been flyering festivals large and small and last weekend we got together to make Rocket Stoves from old veg oil tins; great little stoves that are the most efficient way to boil water on site.

Lots of glue (made from flour, water and sugar) later

Collecting this years rocket stoves
Rocket stoves in use Climate Camp 2007

Climate Camp aims to address the dilemmas facing humankind as oil and other energy sources such as coal diminish in a proactive and inspiring way; collectively we aim to make living sustainably a feasible possibility. This is done by actually living in the manner which we think is the way forward, on a sustainable camping ground as a community; cooking and eating together, making decisions by consensus and learning from our peers. The toilets are all compostable of course and the power is all renewable. There is also a shedload of workshops on during the week – the best of which will be highlighted a little later on in this blog. Like me you may feel a bit confused and worried about climate change but because you don’t know enough about it you feel unable to do anything – well, that’s a pretty standard reaction – humans like to bury their heads in the sand when they are stuck for what else to do. But by attending Climate Camp you will not only be showing your support for positive change (in the light of rubbish government policies like building new coal-fired power stations instead of spending money on renewable options) you will also be empowering yourself towards leading a more positive future.

Climate Camp 2007 compostable toilets

Last year the Climate Camp was held directly next to Heathrow in protest of the proposed third runway which would exterminate the village of Sipson and increase our carbon emissions way beyond anything that is sustainable. There was so much coverage in the press we didn’t know where to look! My photogenic friends took to competing with each other for who could glean the most column inches and biggest photos, such was their coverage of their direct actions.

Flyering at Rise festival

This year Kingsnorth power station in Kent has been chosen as the site of the camp – itself a direct action – from whence a mass direct action can be orchestrated on the weekend of the 9-10 August. This is the site of the first of eight new coal fired power stations that are being mooted to roll out across the UK in the next couple of years – much has been made of the carbon capture facilities that might be implemented at the site at some unspecified point in the future, but the fact is that these are not serious proposals yet – a large scale facility has yet to be designed and built anywhere in the world, it has been labelled another “great green scam” by George Monbiot , and the feeling with Climate Campers is that we should not be supporting the regrowth of a coal industry, mostly feeding off low grade coal imported from china, neither the easy fix of nuclear. Instead we should be looking at ways to lower our energy needs – by living in more sustainable manners. If any of these ideas interest you (and they should – climate change will affect all of us, and sooner rather than later) then you must come visit us! Last year I learnt so much I dubbed the event Climate Change University. There were visiting climate change luminaries aplenty, and the wonderful George Monbiot was so keen to keep talking after his official debate was over that he came over to the London neighbourhood (we are all split into neighbourhoods, with de-centralised kitchens and meeting spaces) and insisted on talking into the small hours.

London neighbourhood 2007

But not only that, Climate Camp is fun!!! If you like engaging company with likeminded types then this is a great place to be. Of course there was the odd drugged out drongo, but hey what do you expect?! it is a totally free gathering after all and is bound to attract some dodgy uns. This year I took it upon myself to design (with the fab illustrator Leona Clarke, who is featured in issue 09) a London neighbourhood-specific poster and flyer, and also a songbook designed to get everyone singing along together. My “anarchist punk choir” will be attending on the tuesday night (august 5th), as will my band Cutashine – the barndance that we put on last year was amongst the highlights of my year – it’s quite something to watch 500 people completely let loose! Entertainments in the evening are definitely a highlight, but simple things such as cooking with others are just as inspiring.

London neighbourhood cooks having fun

Flyering at Rise festival watching a video on how to take down fences

So, onto the highlights of this year’s workshops… for a fuller programme go here. (it may be subject to change so always check up) To get here just catch a train to Strood then hop on our pre-arranged minibus. Come visit us for a day, or better still bring your tent and sleeping bag and come shack up with us for a few days or the whole week – you won’t regret it.

Workshop Highlights:
Kicking off the week with a whole bucketload of positive thinking is Matt Carmichael at 10.30am, who will focus on what we are fighting for… and reasons not to give up..He’ll be back to discuss the “great global warming swindle” at 2.30pm too.
I am a sometimes lapsed veggie – I stopped eating meat at the age of 13 because I hated the fatty bits that my mum would force me to eat even though they made me gag. I had quite a fiery relationship with my mum at that time and when I announced (somewhat gleefully) my decision I remember her throwing a chicken drumstick at me in exasperation. I was pretty strict for many years but by my late 20s I started to miss bits of meat, and have eaten small amounts of mainly organic and free range white meat ever since. But I think I will attend the talk given by Guardian journalist Guy Shrubsole at 12 midday on the environmental impacts of eating meat. I know its bad, and I should know more.
The programme is so packed that every day I am likely to miss a workshop that I really want to attend which is going to wind me up. Never mind! I can comfort myself by returning to our kitchen and donning one of the “Coalmine Canary” yellow aprons that my intern Emma is currently making up for us kitchen bods to wear.

On Tuesday my fellow kitchen bitch Kat Forrester will be running a workshop on women and direct action. She’s a veteran of direct action these days, having d-locked herself to a metal gate at a private airbase at Biggin Hill during last years camp. These days she spends much of her time sorting out press for Plane Stupid if she is not organizing our London kitchen.
One definite highlight of the week will be Jay Griffiths speaking at 12 on her amazing book Wild. It is the most inspiring piece of literature I have read in a long time and I will definitely be front row for that.
At 4.30pm Greenpeace activists will be discussing why nuclear power is not a viable alternative to coal – I already know my gut feelings on this subject but would like to crib up a bit more at the feet of those more knowledgeable.

Planning this years camp

On Wednesday there are two very interesting talks on at 10.30am – the first will be given by PIRC – a very interesting centre dedicated to research into climate change – which will no doubt be given by my mate Richard Hawkins, who helped me out with some lectures at LCC last year when the college decided to focus on sustainability in design. He’s a great talker, so should be very engaging.
However I would also like to attend Rising Tide’s talk on Art Not Oil: Using Our Creativity To Resist Oil Industry Sponsorship Of The Arts. It’s not something I’ve personally had to deal with (noone is exactly throwing money at me…) but I can see it could have useful applications in other areas – I am very keen to avoid working with advertisers whose products or services I don’t believe in, but I totally understand how it can be very hard when you are totally skint and need to fund your work somehow.
Then at 4.30pm James Marriott from Platform will be speaking about the role of the big oil companies in today’s world of peak oil. Platform is an arts and ecology based foundation and I was so desperate to meet James that I went to study at the Schumacher College in Devon so I could work with him. (I didn’t because they cancelled him without telling me, but that’s another story)

There will be more from Platform on Thursday, with Kevin Smith talking about the cash behind new coal, and Mel Evans on what some of our big banks are up to. Both lovely people who have been out there flyering with me.
I will also want to attend the talk on Ecofeminism at 12 – it’s a subject close to my heart and the inspiration behind one of the photoshoots in my new issue.

Flyering on watermargins

By Friday there will be lots of space in the diary for the whole camp to get involved in planning a mass action – a process which will be done by Consensus. If you are unfamiliar with this process you will soon discover how it works at Climate Camp, but suffice to say that if everyone around you starts doing jazz hands you have stumbled into a Consensus meeting. But don’t be scared by the tic-like hand movements – Consensus decision making is merely a completely fair (if sometimes frustratingly longwinded) way of reaching the best possible decision for everyone involved.
At 10.30am though, I will definitely be trying to listen in to two very interesting sounding discussions – Guy Shrubsole on China and Coal Power and Kriptik on the consequences of mineral exploitation around the world.
I hope that reading through some of this will have inspired you to come down and visit – we’d love to see you – everyone is welcome.

Flyering at Rise festival

No doubt most people will have heard ‘Let’s Talk About It’ unless of course you have been residing in a cave, troche being one of the most catchiest future classics and previously released. So it comes as a surprise that it has not been taking up by some generic hair gel as an anthem for said product’s advert. It follows then that ‘Let’s Talk About It’ provides a raucous introduction to ‘Workout Hoilday’ (so-called because the work on this album was done in time-out from White Denim‘s day jobs).

On ‘Workout Holiday’ the Austin trio showcase their varied musical education and it seems to have worked out (ha). James Petralli (guitar, vocals), Steve Terebecki (bass) and Josh Block (drums) have all played in punk/noise bands but collectively have completed formal jazz education and dabbled in various genres and outfits. This results in, in their own words, a deliciously addictive ‘sound collage‘. ‘Lets Talk About It’ is soulful raucousness of a third date, ‘Sitting’ is the love child of Randy Newman and Count Cacolac and ‘Mess Your Hair Up’ is stop start punchy affair (mmm, not sure where these relationship themed metaphors are springing from, but please bear with me for one more) and ‘WDA’ is the OAP couple sat on a park bench holding hands.

Whilst not only demonstrating a breadth of creativity, the trio also produced this LP themselves. In a customised studio trailer kept in the Austin woods, no less. Creative mastery and technological know how, do these boys have girlfriends?

With a cutting and pasting approach to music ‘Workout Holiday’ could have resulted in a bit of a mess. But White Denim keep their sound cohesive despite the array of influences and experimentations, to keep it sounding as fresh as a daisy. If you were living in a cave and questioning your hermit existence White Denim would be a good place to start you re-education back into society.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Walkabout: Soundtrack Your Summer


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

Camp for Climate Action – Scotland

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

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

Location to be confirmed.
3rd-10th August

Illustrations by Sachiko

Tuesday 4th August

Forest Gardens, sickness Geoff Lawton Talk

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

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

Wednesday 5th August

Terribly Tall Towers

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

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

Contact: The Building Exploratory – 020 7729 2011 –

Thursday 6th August

Vestas Rally

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

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


Friday 7th August

I think, I see

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

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

Saturday 8th August

Introduction to Permaculture

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

Contact: Marianne –
Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm – Hornsey Rise Gardens, N19

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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



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




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


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



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


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

I’m not sure they’re impressed though.


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


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

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

I’d been looking forward to July for a while. Me fave Punk-Jazz act releasing a new album, me fave South Coast creole Rock’n’Rollers go big league with man-of-the-moment celeb producer. Surely, this would be a month to take music in a sunny direction, and give me many hours of iPod joy. But my heroes have failed me. The stench of re-used ideas and self-consciousness has overwhelmed my hopes. Instead, July belonged to a very unprepossessing girl releasing her debut solo album, with no grander fanfare and hype than she alone can muster with a myspace, a spamming list, a charismatic strawberry blonde afro and her beautiful wee ditties.
Putting Fiona Bevan’s record on was pure refreshment. Maybe I’ve been overdosing on clever-clever music this year, but I was really bowled over to hear such a soulful and sincere voice giving its all to songs of life and love, written for the sake of honesty rather than statement or ego. Bless her cotton socks, it’s stunning! It feels pretty rare in our decadent and cynical age to hear someone who recalls the honest, big-hearted decency of a Joni Mitchell or even Nina Simone on an unguided tour of the maze of the heart. She’s still capable of a couple of moments when complex grandeur works its way in, courtesy of skilful violin and brass orchestration, that variously evoke The Kinks, Al Green, and most obviously, the funeral march (which sits in strangely comfortably amidst samba-plucked guitar chords and Erykah-Badu-puppeteering-Adele vocals), but these are held back for needy moments. Emphasis that would be overused and squandered by a man-of-the-moment celeb producer, goes in just the right place here.
Most of the production is in the clean as a whistle spacious style of the Kings Of Convenience with occasional zones of Kate Bush echoes. The band is the perfect loyalty backing band, there to give Fiona’s voice the space or gusto it needs. They do this as well as Minnie Riperton’s collection of session wizards did, and there are plenty of to-wet-yourself-for jazzular chord changes.
And then there are the bits that don’t really fit with the impression I’ve just given you, like the title track which is heavy on production and quickly turns into an experiment by Unkle, John Zorn and Satan (not the band, but actually Satan). And the lyric in Fatal Cocktail, which goes “I will dance away when I leave, I will have her intestines to hold up my best stockings, one use only, then holey, throw them away”, which is more Eli Roth than Joan Baez.
This is a folk-soul album blessed with a skilful tightrope-walk of purity without becoming overly simple and thus dull. Fiona gets top marks for songwriting; there’s only one filler track on here (first track, strangely). All else is either strong and hummable enough or deep and luscious enough to get double-thumbs-up. And top marks for performance; hers is a sweet caress of a voice that reaches it’s extremes with a tender whimper of truth.
Moral of the story: Whence cometh the joy, ye shall ne’er predict…
Over the years it has become routine that designers are often been as much defined by their clothes as by the manner in which they are presented. Fashion and spectacle have long been well married together and it’s the most spectacular that are the most memorable: Alexander McQueen ‘s psychiatric ward in SS01′s ‘Voss’. Viktor and Rolf often hold unauthorised, website like this underground shows during Paris fashion week and have even tap-danced in one of their own shows. Maison Martin Margiela has used dummies and giant dolls instead of models. It’s well-known that McQueen in particular has developed an almost Artaudian approach to his shows, viagra order attaching value to the sensory experience beyond the clothes themselves.

Fashion and art label Cosmic Wonder, ask owned by Yukinori Maeda, sees its fashion cell Cosmic Wonder Light Source also experimenting with the boundaries in which collections can be presented, attempting to evoke a response from consumers who perhaps don’t always engage with a designer’s thought-process. In the case of its SS09 collection, we find the garments on show in perhaps the least exciting of arenas – an office.



Upon entry, it seems like a regular day. Desks, shelves, pot plants, whitewashed walls – that sense of despair. Yet there’s something dodgy going on. Have you seen The Truman Show? That bit where he suddenly bangs into the skyline? Well, here, the office workers just so happen to be models, the books and magazines are blank, and there are box files that simply read ‘Business Business Business’. The office, as a site perhaps most associated with loss of identity that manifests even in what we wear, seems an ideal centre to explore different ways to express yourself via the medium of fashion. Similarly by choosing the most utilitarian of spaces, the functional aspect of the clothing is examined, whilst eliciting the idea that on a day- to- day basis there is something intimate about the garments we choose to live our lives in. The line itself is chic and edgy, sometimes androgynous and with voluminous silhouettes – with soft pastels playing with ideas of light with the aim to produce an environmental effect.



Achieving a cult status after appearing in Paris Fashion Week in the Pompidou Centre in 2001, Cosmic Wonder shares with Comme de Garcons the wish to operate outside of pop culture. Instead it shows a willingness to examine how art, fashion and commerce can successfully interact together that prioritises wearability at the appropriate times, at one point showing a giant bra that filled a whole space by itself (now that’s not for a faint-hearted fellow). Cosmic Wonder’s line can be bought on b-store: gigantic bras not currently available much to our disappointment!

Yuko Michishita is a self described hair obsessive, pharmacy braided hair in particular. This immediately established my respect for her, pilule which only grew and grew once I discovered she has illustrated for Fleet Foxes, has an interest in traditional costume and almost entirely draws in pencil. Yes, we are destined to be friends.


Fresh off the acclaimed Illustration BA at Brighton University, Yuko is working freelance in that creative hub of a city by the sea and sources most of her inspiration from ‘tribes engaged in traditionally womanly activities such as weaving and embroidering’, in particular the indigenous tribes of Asia from which her heritage hails.


The way Yuko describes her work processes makes it sound like drawing is almost an impulse, something she cannot help but do, as if she would implode if she didn’t. I found it hard to believe the images she creates are current art, as the folklore type aesthetic uses what is, in my mind, a very understated palette and composition, uncomplicated figures carrying out traditional tasks. We had a quick chat about Murikami, dating and guilty cheesecake pleasures. A girl after my own heart indeed.


Hi, how are you today?

I’m good thanks.

What have you been up to lately?

A lot of sitting on the beach and reading. I’ve just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s new book 1Q84, which was so so so good that it made me want to read his books again. So at the moment I’m reading Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

Hieronymus Bosch


If we visited you in your home town, where would you take us?

I would firstly take you to Cine-Twin which is a tiny independent cinema in which I spent most of my high school life in and watch whatever is on. They always have a good selection of films. Then we’d go to Libro which is a really good book shop and browse there until we get sick of looking at books. Later we’d go to Blue Flat Cafe and have salmon and avocado on rice and an after meal cappuccino.

Wow this is like my ideal date! I wish you were a nice man preferably with curly hair…

Who would most love to collaborate with creatively?

I can’t say who exactly but someone who does non-illustration things I guess. I collaborated with my friend graphic designer Richard Carey last year on a vinyl cover project and it was so much fun and final piece was something I could never create on my own! So I’d love to collaborate with graphic designers/photographers/sculptors etc to see how we could develop our work together and create something we have never created before.


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

Working in a cafe most likely.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Somewhere that keeps me happy. Somewhere nice.


What advice would you give up and coming artists?

I want to receive advice not giving! … sharpen your senses and see your strength, maybe?

How would you describe your art in five words?

Meticulous on the ridiculous level. (5 words just! Well done me!!)


What is your guilty pleasure?

Waitrose cheese cake.

Oh my, me too! Tell us something about Yuko Michishita that we didn’t know already.

I have an acute sense of smell.


What are you up to next?

I’m just starting up as a freelance illustrator so I’ll be trying to get commissions as well as doing my personal work. It’s not the best timing to graduate because of this credit crunch thing, but I’ll have to do my best and get the most out of what I’ve got!

What wise words indeed.


Much of the focus for campaigners for ethical fashion has been concerned with making it a priority for absolutely everybody, viagra especially endeavouring to change the attitudes of the supposedly apathetic youth of today.

On the other hand, our generation has been miserably nicknamed the iPod generation: Insecure, Pressured, Overtaxed, Debt-ridden. When you’ve got all that knocking at your door, sometimes the last thing you want to see is the bigger (equally daunting) picture. The promising news from research commissioned by Labour Behind a Label ‘s education project Fashioning an Ethical Industry has found that more than two thirds of fashion students questioned were committed to making fashion more ethical when they enter the industry. Students from London College of Fashion, University of the Creative Arts, Central St Martins, Nottingham Trent University have shown concern about a wide range of ethical issues with almost three quarters of respondents highlighting workers’ rights, child labour, producer wages and sweatshops as particular areas of concern.


With the world surviving on a constant diet of generally crap news all round, this glimmer of hope is practically akin to a fan-fare, a massive parade with floats, confetti, brass bands and bunting, and just a generally drinks-all-round cause for celebration. Joint Project Coordinator for FEI Hannah Higginson points out that “at this time of economic uncertainty when fashion companies may be squeezing suppliers and thus undermining workers’ rights, it is extremely encouraging to see the commitment of fashion students and their tutors to play a pioneering role in transforming the fashion industry”.


According to the recent research, almost 40% of students now feel their tutors are actively engaging them in ethical issues – 20% more than three years ago. On the flipside, students highlighted the need for more resources and curriculum development around ethics, with more than 40% saying there was ‘little’ information about ethics on their courses. If we want fashion to have a viable place in our future, learning the ways to sustain it is evidently the key because there are problems on the up that aren’t going to go away. The fact that we’re moving that direction step by step is exciting, though, and its research that proves that maybe we could turn out to be more than a collective neurotic mess – and that creativity just might find a new force.

To find out more about its work and upcoming projects, visit the Fashioning an Ethical Industry website – where you can also see a variety of student work.
I’m not sure why summer feels like it needs a soundtrack more than autumn, diagnosis winter or spring, viagra but come June I find myself frantically making mix tapes for people so they have soundtracks too. While most people spring clean their house, viagra dosage I spring clean my i-tunes library in preparation for my self-inflicted Summer Mix-tape Frenzy. Inevitably, there is one song that is my mix-tape staple, one song I find myself putting on repeat pottering around in the sunshine, and playing it come gloomy winter whilst remembering wistfully warmer times. I have found this summer’s soundtrack song, at first I stuffed it greedily in my ears and kept it secret but some things are just too good to keep to yourself…

Walkabout by Atlas Sound with Noah Lennox

When I found out about the collaboration between Atlas Sound (Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox) and Panda Bear (solo artist and Animal Collective drummer Noah Lennox), I could barely contain my excitement (imagine here me spitting out coffee all over my laptop and wanky indie band t-shirt- I feel it adds rather nicely to the scene).
Walkabout began making rounds on the internet a couple of weeks ago prior to the October release of Atlas Sound’s eagerly anticipated second album; Logos.


Walkabout itself is a summer soundtrack dream come true. At its core is a looped riff sample taken from The Dovers’ “What Am I Going To Do” (in it’s own right a great song: listen!) and is layered upon to create a totally unique and beautiful soundscape that is at once both intimate and epic. Essentially, Walkabout sounds reassuringly like how you would imagine and indeed want a collaboration between Cox and Lennox to sound; both retain their individual styles and it is when these to overlap and diverge that makes Walkabout Summer soundtrack material, it is jingle jangly happy pop for sunny days, with just enough melancholy (notably in Cox’s simple but effective use of language) to help you mope your way nostalgically through a bitter winter. The song builds up with lapping guitars and swiftly departs somewhere strange and exciting, Panda Bear brings his psychedelic take on Surf music, like an alien Brian Wilson, which echoes in ooohhss and aaahhhs behind The Dovers loop; which sits perfectly with the trademark Atlas Sound crunchiness of the other sound samples and snippets of noise that glimmer throughout Walkabout.


So I leave you with this snippet of sunshine from my most beloved new dream-team, and the hope that Autumn might not be so dreary with Logos’ release to look forward; if its half as good as Walkabout my mix-taping, soundtracking obsession will lag on a few extra months.
What’s your summer song going to be this year?

Categories ,Animal Collective, ,Atlas Sound, ,Collaboration, ,Deerhunter, ,Dream Pop, ,Electronica, ,Mix-tapes, ,Noise, ,Panda Bear, ,Psychedelia, ,Sampling, ,Summer, ,Surf pop

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