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

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

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

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

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

Abi Daker Dark Mountain Graph
Dark Mountain by Abi Daker.

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

baba yaga by rima staines
Baba Yaga by Rima Staines.

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

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

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

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

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

Collapse by Aliyahgator
Collapse by Aliyahgator.

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

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

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

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

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

Crofting by Christina Demetriou
Crofting by Christina Demetriou.

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

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

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

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

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

The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson
The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson.

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

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

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

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

Why not read my Sunday review too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abi Daker Dark Mountain Graph
Dark Mountain by Abi Daker.

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

baba yaga by rima staines
Baba Yaga by Rima Staines.

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

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

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

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

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

Collapse by Aliyahgator
Collapse by Aliyahgator.

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

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

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

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

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

Crofting by Christina Demetriou
Crofting by Christina Demetriou.

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

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

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

Uncivilisation 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

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

The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson
The Sacred by Elizabeth Hudson.

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

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

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

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

Why not read my Sunday review too?

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

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Russian fashion designer Pitchouguina

Pitchouguina by Isher Dhiman
Pitchouguina by Isher Dhiman.

Pitchouguina is the new label from Russian designer Anna, now based in London but producing her collection in Poland. Having first studied economics she is well placed to grow a serious brand, with a style that is both wearable and unique. The A/W 2013 collection features scrumptious floral printed blouses, rough wool fitted dresses and oh-so-tactile fluffy sleeveless jumpers, cleverly mixing folk inspired detailing and Japanese tailoring. I caught up with Anna to discover more about to what expect from her next collection…

pitchouguina_aw13_beigedress
pitchouguina_aw13_beigedress_basic
Firstly, your website is very enigmatic, who is Pitchouguina, and where are you from?
I am originally from Russia, but I have been bouncing around the globe for a little while. From the early stages I was drawn towards a nostalgic, curious and somewhat naive image of a young lady, because as a designer I was always searching for those things while in each different country. 

pitchouguina_aw13_jersey
Pitchuguina-by-Veronica-Rowlands
Pitchouguina by Veronica Rowlands.

How did you come to be based in London, and what keeps you here?
It seemed natural to stay in London once I realised how much I have built and created around me. I first came here to spend time gaining work experience with great established designers as well as young designers, and then I opened a company here and now I am planning my first commercially presented collection for S/S 2014.

pitchouguina_aw13_double_knit
pitchouguina_aw13_flowertshirt
How would you describe the Pitchouguina aesthetic?
Dreamy but with the strong beliefs behind those dreams. I hope that my clothes can be adapted to a lot of lifestyles but I think my garments will be chosen over others because of the need to wear something soft, melancholic and maybe even loving.

pitchouguina_aw13_furry_jumper
Pitchouguina AW 13_14 by Tone Gautefald Tveit
Pitchouguina A/W 2013 by Tone Gautefald Tveit.

You have an impressive list of sponsors – how did you go about finding them?
I believe in what I do and I think if you make others believe in it as well you will get results eventually. Finding sponsors is really hard work, but after approaching hundreds of people and being ignored by most I found a few that were exactly the ones that I was looking for.

PITCHOUGUINA_SS 2014
Can you give us a sneak peak into your ideas for next season: what can we expect?
Layering, lots of pinks and lots of covered buttons.

preview_SS14_PITCHOUGUINA_2
What unexpected things inspired the upcoming collection?
I started with baby pink, baby blue and loose sequins in a bag at first and this slowly evolved into what will be shown in a few weeks time. I guess an unexpected part of the new S/S 2014 collection is a bit of a sporty touch, but Pitchouguina is mainly a colour and fabric driven label so if you were to put my mood boards into black and white all the references would seem to go off in many different directions! 

What fabrics and silhouettes dominate the upcoming season?
Expect organzas, coloured jeans, gold thread and sweat shirt jerseys. Silhouettes are kept simple but I have worked hard on creating delicate details and fit.

Categories ,A/W 2013, ,fashion, ,Fashion Illustration, ,interview, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Pitchouguina, ,poland, ,Russian, ,S/S 2014, ,Tone Gautefald Tveit, ,Veronica Rowlands

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Hung Parliament spells serious change for our government.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells
Democracy Village. All photography by Amelia Wells.

Parliament Square is currently home to the Democracy Village; a few tents, visit this site treatment a couple of marquees and a whole lot of passion. It was set up on May the First and will be there… until people leave, or for some, until the war is over. I went down on Election Day, since I couldn’t vote anyway having failed to register, to see what was going on at the Festival of Peace. I found a vibrant and close knit community of anarchists, doing what they colourfully could to challenge the establishment, promote democracy and bring the war that we’re still at to an end.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

Banners were being painted and erected as I arrived, the most striking declaring ‘Capitalism Isn’t Working’ against the backdrop of Big Ben. Others encouraged peaceful feelings, demanded ‘TROOPS OUT’, and my favourite, ‘If Voting Changed Anything, It Would Be Illegal’ – a good point when you consider quite how opposed the establishment are towards those actions which do make changes, such as occupations, mass protests, swoops and other forms of direct action. In the name of protecting our security, of course. Strangely, the police sniffing around the set-up didn’t make me feel more secure.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

The atmosphere in the Village was peaceful and playful, in spite of the threat to national security which we represented. Peace-mongering music was played and danced to, the lyrics encouraging politicians not to go to war and to love their fellow man, with some Rage thrown in to sate the more militant. I watched people paint their shoes and bags with Ghandi’s most famous quote while a girl called Cloud handed out homemade fairy cakes.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

Eventually, the open mic picked up, starting with a chap standing up to remind everybody why we were there and what we stood for when he asked whether politicians represent our views, or if we do? He also pointed out that being peaceful is not equivalent to being apathetic. Anything but, in fact, in a country run by the power and conflict hungry, seeking peace is downright subversive. He was rightfully applauded and whooped for his impassioned speaking, after which a gent who had been filming the event and interviewing the Villagers stepped up to spout well-crafted words of poetry in the exact spirit of peace we need – calling out the hateful on their actions and encouraging us to make a difference. Next up, a red nosed, bewigged gentleman incited us to love, respect and welcome one and all. His motto; one world, one society.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

The most controversial speaker was a mouthpiece for the Tories who encouraged us anarchists to register as such in return for mind-altering substances. A few Villagers didn’t seem to have a prior understanding of satire and became quite riled at the ‘Tory’s’ opinions; one lady began shouting about the Village being funded by oil and arms companies… and the Israelis. After a calming down period, he suggested that we find a child and ask its favourite colour, informing us that he was voting Lib Dem because his son likes yellow, and voting isn’t going to make a difference to how the country is run.

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

Herein lies my gripe with actions such as these. It’s so easy for activists embroiled in occupations and demonstrations to believe that the means to change are obvious to all, but the man-in-the-street being told that his vote is irrelevant will only feel more powerless, if they pay any attention at all. The act of occupation is an act of power – reclaiming public space – but is standard passer-by going to stop and ask what they can do instead of voting, or keep passing by and shake their heads at foolish hippies?

Democracy Village Amelia Wells

The true message is that we can take the power back through direct action, occupations, protests, swoops and marches. Camps like these do force people to consider, if only for the moment it takes to read a banner, that our political system lies to us about the importance of our vote while trying to make us believe it is the sole extent of our political voice, and therefore reducing our power and influence over them (long banner, eh?) . However, most won’t and don’t wander into places like these and ask what they CAN do. As the Tory said, ‘I’m preaching to the converted here’. The outreach didn’t seem to be reaching out. An occupation in Parliament Square is the perfect opportunity to reach hundreds of people every day, not just with a message, but with suggested actions which everyone can take to make those changes we so desire and need.

The Village is going on indefinitely, and there are also events this weekend at Kew Bridge Eco Village and Transition Heathrow as well. Get down there to Kew for some face painting fun, or get along to Grow Heathrow and get stuck into their work weekend.

Illustration by June Chanpoomidole

While Spring turns to Summer, generic London Fashion Week AW10 may fade in our memories, stomach but the designers that drew us in certainly won’t. One such designer that caught my eye at the Esthetica exhibition was ‘Makepiece’. The concept and techniques used were so intriguing that we couldn’t resist interviewing the owner, Beate Kubitz.

 Why did you choose to focus on eco-fashion? Why is it so important to you? 
Clothes are important to me.  I think what you’re wearing tells other people a lot about you, who you are and how you feel about yourself.  I don’t like the idea that something that makes me look great was complicit in damaging the environment or the people who made it.  You don’t want your favourite t-shirt to be dripping with pesticides, cause a water shortage or to be sewn up in a sweat shop.  But unless you’re very careful, it might be. 
There’s something wrong with the latest trend ‘buy, wear, chuck’ mentality – it’s a bit neurotic and it’s definitely bad for the planet.  We try and make clothes that are significant to the women that wear them and that they can feel really good about. 

How did the Makepiece brand begin?  
I’ve been keeping sheep for seven years now, met Nicola six years ago and Makepiece is now five. 
We’re located in Todmorden, a small town in the Pennines. It’s beautiful and has a long history of wool production so it feels like the right place to be doing it.  The landscape is scattered with mills built in the nineteenth century – but wool was being spun and woven in cottage industries and then transported to market or the Piece Halls on ponies travelling on packhorse tracks which still crisscross the moors. 

What techniques do you use in your clothing?
Knitting – with some knitted felt.  The important thing is stitch design – Nicola is the queen of 3D stitches that really sculpt the garments and give them their drama as well as their details. She uses hand operated knitting machines which give her scope to develop a stitch then apply it in loads of different ways so that it works on the body. Our knits tend to be more three-dimensional because they’re designed like this. Also, all our knits are fully fashioned (knitted to shape rather than cut out of a piece of knitted cloth) which looks better and wastes less yarn. 

What materials do you use in your clothing?
Wool – some of it undyed brown wool from our Shetland sheep, others fine Bluefaced Leicester wool, from the UK flock and English alpaca and mohair.


Illustration by Becky Glover

What was the inspiration behind your most recent collection? 
Romance, definitely. Nicola got married in the summer and the sense of romance seems to have seeped into and permeated the collection. There are lots of ruffles, little frills, translucency and volume – but not just ephemeral prettiness, really lovely things that you can adapt and keep forever. 

Do you have a favourite piece in the current collection? If so, what is it and why? 
There are a few things that are really adaptable – like the Manifold cardigan which has a ribbon tie which can be used to ruche it up to bolero length or left loose so that it’s a long, elegant cardigan. Our little Foxglove shrug also works as a summer scarf and the Manifold dresses can be styled in loads of ways so they let the wearer use her imagination. 

What are your future aims for the Makepiece brand?
We’ve really been growing our website so that people all over the country can buy our clothes but we’d like to be in more stores, for the people who are less confident with internet shopping or who like to try things on. 

Is it harder or easier to sell eco-fashion? Is there a lot of competition?
Because we make everything in the UK it’s more expensive to manufacture so that means that we have to do a good job in helping people understand.

What is so individual about the Makepiece brand?  
Style, humour and our flock of Shetland sheep.  We go from mud to mascara in a twinkling of an eye – never forgetting the roots of our fashion but always looking for beauty and grace in our designs. We try and be sustainable throughout the business – from the way we farm the sheep with the lowest impact possible (we’re just about to become part of a scheme to help protect twite – which is one of the most endangered British bird species) to buying green energy for the studio, recycling everything we can, using public transport as much as possible (I took our last collection to London Fashion Week on the train from Yorkshire – in the most enormous trunk – it was quite a feat), I even do some of the farming on my bike.   

The good thing about wool is that it is more or less a by-product from sheep farming so it’s not using up land or resources that should be in food production – and on upland farms like mine creating good grazing and farming sheep is one of the few productive things you can do (I tried vegetables once, but it was not a success!).  Compared to cotton, for example, which uses over 15% of the pesticides used in the world and vast amounts of water – so much that the irrigation of cotton has shrunk the size of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, wool is farmed much more sustainably (particularly in the UK where we have to look after the land as well as the animals and the government monitors your impact on the environment). 

Because we make everything so locally we avoid the CO2 emissions from shipping things vast distances. We also employ people in our community and use a local dyer who has to comply with European dyeing regulations – the REACH standards; no azos, no heavy metals and irritants, effluent is stringently monitored so no emissions into the water system, and so on. 
We also only use recycled and sustainable paper in our labelling and packaging. 

You can find the brand at: www.makepiece.co.uk and selected eco-fashion stores.

Ballot Box Colourbox
Illustration by Matt Thomas.

So today’s the day: the day that I sprung out of bed at an ungodly hour with only one thing on my mind. Who will be our next prime minister? I’ve not been so excited about a general election since 1997, sickness when I memorably got so drunk dancing on the tables in a north London pub that I thew up in the gutter. Of course back then I was excited for a very different reason. Yes, buy hands up, I was one of many who voted Blair in – after years of Tory rule we were excited about a future under Labour. Oh how very chastened we now are 13 years later.

Solving Hung Parliament Val Woodhouse
Solving Hung Parliament by Val Woodhouse.

In 2010 it seems I am not the only one who has gotten swept up in the election. Even before the tales of queues at the polling stations I had a gut feeling there would be a high election turn out this year. Okay, so in my local Tescos the regular cashiers were overheard saying “Are you going to vote?” “Nah, they’re all the same aren’t they?” but when I walked through Camden yesterday I overheard lots of people talking about voting. It seems that we’ve finally managed to reawaken our democratic spirit.

Colourbox

Illustrations by Colourbox.

I think this can be attributed to a few things – the Leaders’ Debates on television have increased popular interest in politics and Twitter allows for lots of interesting conversations, but there’s more to it than that… We are now so thoroughly fed up with the current system that we’ve collectively become hungry for change. And I’m not talking the kind of rhetorical change that Cameron espouses every time a camera is pointed in his direction. I’m talking serious, deep systemic change. Most people have been complacent for so long for only one very good reason: like the cashiers in Tescos they don’t feel that their vote makes the blindest bit of difference.

creaturemag_hang parliament
Illustration by Creaturemag.
GordonBrown_GarethAHopkins
Gordon Brown by Gareth Hopkins.

And so, whilst the big party leaders have been spinning the same old shit about how we should avoid a hung parliament at all costs because what we most need now for our country is stability or the markets will fail (big bloody boohoo) it seems that for many voters this has been like a red rag to a bull. Not even copious riot porn from Greece has phased us. Okay we’ve said: bring it on. We want serious upheaval! Nobody I have spoken to has feared the result we now have; instead we’ve positively hoped for a hung parliament precisely because we may finally see some changes to our electoral system. Of course, I’m as thoroughly baffled as the next person when it comes to the many forms of proportional representation, and I know the argument that PR could lead to as many representatives of the BNP in government as there could be Greens, but frankly that doesn’t frighten me. Our current “democracy” quite clearly doesn’t work and so something else that better represents the wishes of voters has got to be worth giving a go.

informationisbeautiful
I love this clever graph from Information is Beautiful, showing up the glaring inadequacies of our current system.

Colourbox
Illustration by Colourbox.

I’m worried, of course, about what will happen if Cameron forces a Tory led government on us without sufficient recognition of the electoral reforms so many of us want. But actually I don’t really *fear* it – I think that if he does ignore the clear wishes of the voters then there will be widespread unrest and direct action of the kind that we saw just a glimpse of last night at polling stations across the country.

POLL Station Riots- abigaildaker
The Polling Station in Sheffield Hallam, illustration by Abigail Daker.

I called in late to my polling station in Bacon Street just off Brick Lane, and there was no one to impede my progress to the ballot box. However I was lucky, and people up and down the country are quite rightly furious that they were unable to vote thanks to a higher than predicted election turnout and antiquarian voting methods which have allegedly shocked even our visiting developing world adjudicators. I was as incredulous as ever. “You mean you don’t need to take my polling card as proof I am me?” It is utterly nuts that we don’t need proof of identity to vote. Next to me a boy, surely not a day over 15, was pushing his papers into the box. Who was he voting for? Just days ago a huge amount of voter fraud was uncovered in my constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow. In fact, it was uncovered on my own street – visible from my studio window is a building in my estate that allegedly houses 18 Bengalis, all registered for a postal vote.

melsimoneelliott
mel simone elliott
Illustrations by Mel Simone Elliott.

In demonstration against our fraudulent system the Whitechapel Anarchists got together to spoil their ballots with great fanfare in Altab Ali Park, the Space Hijackers took their campaign bus on the road with the banner “Voting Only Encourages Them” and the Democracy Village is camped out in Parliament Square. There’s definitely a faint whiff of revolution in the air. That or the right to vote in a more democratic way.

caroline-lucas-election-2010-antonia-parker
Caroline Lucas by Antonia Parker.

Despite this unrest, I was absolutely ecstatic to hear that Caroline Lucas has become the first ever MP for the Green Party in the district of Brighton Pavilion. I met her when we did the first Climate Rush on Parliament in 2008 and I’ve been keeping my fingers and toes crossed that she would win this seat for some time now. If some form of electoral reform goes ahead there’s the thrilling prospect of yet more Greens in Parliament to represent my views. In the meantime, there’s always a nice bit of Direct Action to force change far more quickly than our government seems capable of. Climate Camp is targeting RBS this year. We look forward to making a big impact on our corrupt financial systems, whether or not change is decreed from on high.

carolinelucas_currentstate
Caroline sees green by Currentstate.

Brighton-lazaroumterror
Brighton-lazaroumterror
Illustrations by Lazarou Monkey Terror.

Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,Antonia Parker, ,Bethnal Green, ,BNP, ,Brick Lane, ,Caroline Lucas, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Rush, ,Colourbox, ,creaturemag, ,Currentstate, ,David Cameron, ,Direct Action, ,Electoral Reform, ,Gareth Hopkins, ,Greece, ,Green Party, ,Hung Parliament, ,Leaders’ Debate, ,Matt Thomas, ,Mel Simone Elliott, ,parliament, ,politics, ,Proportional Representation, ,RBS, ,Riots, ,Tescos, ,Tony Blair, ,twitter, ,Val Woodhouse

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Amelia’s Magazine | University of Central Lancashire Ba Hons Photography Graduate Show 2011 Review

UC Lancaster Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Christopher T. Finch
Photography by Christopher T. Finch.

UCLan, buy more about University of Central Lancashire presented a very clear collection of experimental work in their stand alone space as part of Free Range at the Truman Brewery.

UC Lancaster Photography degree show Free Range 2011-UC Lancaster Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Christopher T. Finch
Christopher T. Finch works with primitive home made cameras and digital technology. For his final show he presented a selection of pore framing facial close ups, various characters layered closely, almost on top of each other.

UC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Lizzie GodfreyUC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Lizzie GodfreyUC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Lizzie Godfrey
Lizzie Godfrey has obviously been influenced by the political climate. In a book titled The Fire This Time? she followed protestors through anti cuts marches earlier this year. Photographs were accompanied with lots of text to explain the evolution of her thought process too.

UC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Teresa Roberts UC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Teresa Roberts
Teresa Roberts produced a book too: The Maasai: Changing of Traditions mapped the ways that Western culture is influencing this nomadic people.

Richard Lewis Pryce looked through a blur onto the streets of London. Apologies for the lack of artwork but there was nowt in his online portfolio and my shot was rubbish. Shame I can’t show you because it was very clever stuff.

UC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Jennifer ColvinUC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Jennifer Colvin
Jennifer Colvin did some interesting things with resin and bits of collected ephemera.

UC Lancashire Photography degree show Free Range 2011-Ma in travel photography
The University of Central Lancashire is starting a new MA in Travel Photography this September – the course will engage in global politics, sustainable development and environmental issues, conservation and colonialism. Modules will be field based and the first will take place in Kenya. Maaaaan, if I didn’t have a magazine to run and a life to be responsible for then I would so run away and take this course.

Categories ,#UKuncut, ,2011, ,Christopher T. Finch, ,collage, ,Colonialism, ,conservation, ,digital, ,Ephemera, ,Free Range, ,global politics, ,Graduate Shows, ,Hand-made, ,Jennifer Colvin, ,Kenya, ,Lizzie Godfrey, ,ma, ,photography, ,Richard Lewis Pryce, ,Riots, ,sustainable development, ,Teresa Roberts, ,The Fire This Time?, ,The Maasai: Changing of Traditions, ,Travel Photography, ,Truman Brewery, ,UCLan, ,University of Central Lancashire

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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 | Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011 – From The Dark Hills Preview

From The Dark Hills

With a hugely entertaining cast, decease an emotional finale, help an increasingly relevant message in light of recent unrest under the Conservative government and a ground-breaking fresh writing talent, From The Dark Hills is a definite ‘must-see’ of this summer’s Fringe.

Dean Poulter, 21 year old drama student at Queen Mary University of London, astonished crowds at the Queen Mary Theatre Company‘s New Writers festival in March when he emerged with his work From The Dark Hills.

From the Dark Hills by Stephanie Kubo
The cast of From The Dark Hills by Stephanie Kubo

Combining a contemporary interpretation of the commedia dell’arte form (an age-old Italian genre, defined by stereotypes masked in make-up using humorous theatrics) with a pressing plot and underlying message, it’s a production that has had spectators both laughing and crying. Along with characters self-narrating as they go and each of the five cast members playing a minimum of five characters that range from spirited young bucks to little old widows, it all sounds pretty exhausting, right? I thought so too. But once you begin watching this highly talented cast bring it to life, you won’t want Ashington’s tale of strife and spirit to end.

From The Dark Hills - by Joseph Turvey
Leif Halverson as Jack Dunn by Joseph Turvey

The play is set in Ashington in 1984 and follows the lives of this northern mining town’s working class, during their struggles against industrial strikes and social unrest under the notorious reign of Margaret Thatcher.

It all seems highly appropriate with the recent riots and disorder we’ve experienced across the UK. Dean commented – “I think that if you want to reflect on Thatcher’s politics and leadership in the eighties, you would do well to consider the current political state of our country,” he said. “That is why our play is completely relevant right now.”

Dean described how The Corn Exchange theatre company based in Dublin were the main inspiration for the unique styles of writing and acting. “The works of Michael West, who writes a lot for the Corn Exchange, inspired the text and his works helped me shape a lot of the sentences, the self-narration of characters and the structure of the piece as a whole,” he stated.

Rosa Postlethwaite as Helen Douglas by Gemma Sheldrake
Rosa Postlethwaite as Helen Douglas by Gemma Sheldrake

Henry Bishop, Leif Halverson, Hannah Murphy, Rosa Postlethwaite and Tamsin Vincent make up the remarkable cast that will take to the stage at theSpace @ Venue 45 for six nights over the next two weeks.

“The play was so well received when it was first performed,” said Dean, “It’s playful, funny and entertaining but above all it has an important message. So many little communities and towns are struggling today and we are doing our bit to give them a voice.”

Leif Halverson and Rosa Postlethwaite - From The Dark Hills
Tamsin Vincent - From The Dark Hills
Hannah Murphy in From The Dark Hills
All photography by Pawel Blanda

From The Dark Hills demonstrates fast-moving clever comedy at every twist and turn, whilst the characters still snap you back into their tragic reality. It conveys the surprising power of community spirit in Ashington’s response to the effects of the last Conservative government, a plot that sharply aligns with the so-called ‘best and worst’ that we have seen in this, our country, in recent days, and finishes on a thought-provoking message that you will certainly walk away with, after the curtain drops. A definite ?????.

Queen Mary Theatre Company are putting on 4 productions in total within the next fortnight at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

You can view the full listing for From The Dark Hills here and book tickets here.

Follow From The Dark Hills on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories ,Conservatives, ,Dean Poulter, ,Dublin Corn Exchange, ,Edinburgh Fringe, ,edinburgh fringe festival, ,From The Dark Hills, ,Gemma Sheldrake, ,Hannah Murphy, ,Henry Bishop, ,Joseph Turvey, ,Leif Halverson, ,margaret thatcher, ,Pawel Blanda, ,Riots, ,Rosa Postlethwaite, ,Stephanie Kubo, ,Tamsin Vincent, ,Tragedy

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