Amelia’s Magazine | Picturebox – Beans And Bones

Two years after releasing his debut album, adiposity side effects Jeremy Warmsley is back with this cheeky taster of what’s yet to come. It’s not as if we need any more of these quirky male singers but this half English, half French philosopher chances his luck with help from his poetical lyrics and sweet melodies.

‘The Boat Song’ sees Warmsley dueting with Emmy the Great on a tale of the love sick and the sea sick. The trouble with this little folksy number is that it sounds old before it’s time. It’s one thing taking a ‘traditional’ approach to song craftsmanship and another sounding like your middle-aged parents around the piano at a family get together.

Much more agreeable is the cover of New Order’s Temptation, turning their synth sound on its head with this heartfelt, paired down piano version. Maybe I’m just biased due to a pretty big crush on Joy Division and, like the lyrics say, I really do have grey eyes, but Warmsley has definitely made this his own without straying too far from the original.
This stopgap single is not to be included on his forthcoming album followers should be clamoring to get hold of this little taster.

Ozard, medical Mr TTT, troche Bubblegrump, look Choco and Naked Malfi are just a few of the adorable little creatures you can find on the recently devised online design boutique Nora Does. Born all over the globe from Japan to America, these limited edition little gems are made by independent designers and artists from Sarah Ray to Friends With You.

Paper toys, quirky USB’s and charming badges are just a few of the potential additions to your humble abode and wardrobe. And, for all you talented arty ones out there, Nora Does welcome submissions of your own work to sell online.

Well worth a gander.




A space age set greets you upon walking into the exhibition room at LCF, abortion instead of the normal display of graduate’s work, there is a wall of postcards and 7 giant softly lit light boxes. It transpires that the postcard of your choosing should be placed on the light boxes for you to interactively view the portfolio of your chosen graduate. In this way, LCF aims to give as many graduates the chance to be seen. Although a clever idea, we found several postcards that looked promising but revealed less impressive portfolios. Likewise, there were probably postcards we didn’t pick up on the glance of the inviting image and could have missed out on discovering the future of fashion.

Hidden in the mountain of postcards we did find one or two gems. In the Design/Clothing section Jourdan Caroline Hammond’s postcard stood out for its eye-catching structured surrealism and her portfolio revealed more delights. Her fascination lies in the ghoulish rather than the girlish, as pieces used graphic lines and stark, minimal colour whilst models faces were morbidly replaced by deer heads. Junko Masuda’s take on fruit, made 5 a day exceptionally easy to digest, with a juicy cherry bag calling card which when placed on the glass uncovered more fruity offerings.



A favourite in the Design/Textiles was Samantha Whittle’s tent dress with woodland animal prints topped with chiffon icing. Layered collars and cute buttons added a child-like quality resulting in wearable dresses rather than fantastical creations. Similarly, Shoko Ishikawa’s pleated folds and subtle whale prints, resulted in a killer take on origami. Delicately feminine blouses stayed on the right side of librarian prim and were enticing without flashing any flesh.



Design/Footwear provided a playground for the designer’s imaginations to run away. Tengiz Chketiani’s macabre marriage of taxidermy and footwear would have Bjork at the top of the waiting list. Admittedly the shoes would be tricky to run for the bus in, with doves in flight and wild roses upon your feet, but they would make an amazing collectors piece. Sae Rom Jun seemed to take inspiration from a night at the pub. Reclaimed materials were used to create shoes topped with curls from Fosters cans and heeled with cone shaped wood, resulting in an extremely wearable design.



Often playing second fiddle to Womenswear, we pulled out a few new talents in the field of Menswear category. Tae-Hyoung Kim inventively draped and flowed oversized cardigans and vests paired with knee length shorts. These grown-up schoolboys looked remarkably chic in their simple knit shapes and bowler hats. Shouting a little louder than the rest Robin Murray Switzman’s zig-zag prints wouldn’t look out of place within the pages of a comic. The ‘Biff, Bang, Wallop’ clothes translate into fun and fresh pieces in the usually sober world of menswear.



Image-making presents some of the most visually arresting postcards and had our greedy mitts grabbing for handfuls. Showcasing all the fun of the fair, Jooyoung Lee’s self styled photographs bring colour to the familiar grimy streets of East London. Party hats and paper shapes entice the viewer into a make believe world of colourful escapism. Away from the streets and into an ethereal woodland wonderland, Luke Christopher Castillo turned ballerinas into butterflies. The elusive creatures, with fleshy toned clothes and candy floss hair look like they could easily flutter away. Blink and you’ll miss them.



The Looking Glass reflects many talented individuals who have unfortunately been stifled by all the fancy technology. Rather than a platform for student’s work, it felt like a trade show, where every designer was just a commodity. Whilst forward thinking, the idea seems detrimental in not seeing the physically finished product.

I was under the impression that music was supposed to warrant feelings. Be it loathing or loving. In the former, generic making you curse the day you ever heard that loathsome band’s name – and the latter compelling you to get excited and dance around like an escapee of an asylum, or whatever it is you do to express your excitement. I’ll concede that most albums lie in the less extreme, liking or disliking being the general sentiment. With a small space being reserved for ambivalence, which is where Picturebox comes in, playing their self proclaimed blend of lo-fi pop. However lo-fi, surely their debut album ‘Beans & Bones’ was not supposed to feel like a session band playing in the pub. An above average session band, but still, the over-all sense is of inoffensive background music.

There is nothing wrong with this blend of bluesy tinged garage and melodic pop; but it’s music that just doesn’t go anywhere. They play their instruments well – melodies are nicely arranged, lyrics are well written – but none of these elements approach noteworthy significance, as songs seem to just plod along. Occasionally mediocrity gives way to moments of promise. Not quite the warm fuzzy feeling, but close. Songs like ‘Jennifer’s Brother’ and ‘Beans and Bones’ stick in your head a little bit more, with sliding guitars which definatley work well, even if they become ever so slightly repetitive. ‘England has Perverted Me’ is nicely melodic, but in places slips into boring territory, and I could imagine ‘The Accuser’ being used on a BBC 3 drama series.

Inoffensive middle of the road music serves its time and place. For me, badly sung along to while on a car journey, whilst taking breaks from eye spy. Many bands have made successful careers out of peddling inoffensive offerings, but there is usually a certain je ne sais quoi accompanying it, which elevates these sing-a-long bands to something infinitely more appealing.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Chrome Hoof introduce the video for new single Knopheria


Chrome Hoof by Rachael Horner.

Disco-Doom-Funk pioneers Chrome Hoof have been busy bees of late what with releasing a fourth LP and re-shuffling their lineup. Now fronted by Shingai Shoniwa (of Noisettes fame) the free-wheeling 11 piece have just put out a new video to lead single Knopheria which is as glam as their sequin-clad singer. Think extravagant disco funk mayhem for the 21st century, all fronted by the magnificent vocals of Shingai Shoniwa.

YouTube Preview Image

Chrome Hoof - Knopheria - by Kristina Vasiljeva

Chrome Hoof – Knopheria, by Kristina Vasiljeva.

Founding member Leo Smee explains the inspiration behind the track:
‘Fear is human kinds biggest disease! From fear of integrating, committing, thinking outside the box, down to the fear of gambling on a different meal rather than your usual fave dish at the local curry house. Knopheria is a future idealistic world where the fear gland had been removed and eradicated from this solar system… Be gone! This is the first of a series of videos from CH’s latest monumental album Chrome Black Gold.’

Chrome Hoof

Chrome Hoof by Simon McLaren

Chrome Hoof by Simon McLaren.

Chrome Hoof’s fourth album Chrome Black Gold is out now on Cuneiform Records.

Categories ,Chrome Black Gold, ,Chrome Hoof, ,Cuneiform Records, ,Knopheria, ,Kristina Vasiljeva, ,Leo Smee, ,Noisettes, ,Rachael Horner, ,Shingai Shoniwa, ,Simon Mclaren

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Brighton based indie band Foxes!

Foxes! by Kathryn Corlett
Foxes! by Kathryn Corlett.

Foxes! are husband and wife team Adam Bell and Kayla Bell, joined by Al Grice and Matthew Thwaites. Together they create beguiling indie music accompanied by some great lo-fi visuals. Dance along to the sing along likes of Who Killed Rob? or exhilarate in the rolling rock of Oh Rosie. From the creation of their own record label, Big Salad Records, to their fun homemade videos, here’s a band doing it their way… Adam answered my questions.

foxes album artwork
Your new album was launched earlier this month, what has been the response so far?
Yes, it has been exciting and the response has been really interesting, we’ve had some very detailed reviews and writers seem to have found nice words to say and things that have made us think about our music and what we are doing. Releasing an album in January is quite a difficult task, as the press and retail outlets tend to be quiet in the new year. In that sense, I feel that we’ve started 2012 with something that will grow, I’m hoping the album will be heard by the right people and settle into something that is appreciated on a wider scale than we’ve known before, having existed as a DIY band for some time. I suppose what we are doing isn’t necessarily in line with the big popular sounds of today and so we do rely on keen eared enthusiasts to get the ball rolling and tell everyone to love us! Saying that, there’s good signs of progress already, with great press and some old fans coming out of the woodwork to show support, which has been lovely.

Foxes! by Gemma Cotterell
Foxes! by Gemma Cotterell.

Your music is a beguiling mix of twee indie and rockier vibes, what are your influences and would you say this is fair description? if not what would you prefer?
Well, the twee influence and tag which seems heavily associated with the band is an interesting one because none of us would say that we are big fans of that genre. Personally, the bands that influence me the most would be Elephant 6 Collective acts like The Apples In Stereo, Of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel, as well as Yo La Tengo, Weezer, The La’s, The Unicorns, The Flaming Lips and so on. I like the lo-fi aesthetic and the idea of writing a melody or phrase that catches in your mind and goes round and round, that’s an important thing to try to grasp and a great challenge, which I always find very rewarding. I like to think of us as a rock band who write pop songs that don’t necessarily follow the most expected path. I think there’s space to be both strange and popular, if you have good pop ideas, there’s so much you can do beyond the basic presentation of a song. As we tend to write communally, there’s four minds for each idea to pass through, which gives each song a chance to pick up a variety of styles before its finished.
YouTube Preview Image
The video for Oh Rosie feature some great animation, who did you work with for this, and what was the inspiration?
Kayla made the video with Gareth Harwood. They have a little animation and design company so making music videos for relevant bands always seems like a fun idea. Kayla’s artwork in general is focused around day-to-day life and it is the things she experiences in her immediate environment that she finds most inspiring (see for more of Kayla’s artwork). The video for Oh Rosie is filled with things from her bedroom. Dresses, stationery, things in her handbag, her hamster (Flash) etc., combined with direct references to other tracks on the album.
Photography by Emily Mary Barnett.

You recently relocated to Brighton, what was the lure?
We started as a three piece in Oxford back in 2005 and moved to Brighton after the summer of 2007. Kayla and our original bass player Dan were studying in Oxford and finished their courses that summer. We were drawn to Brighton by the past to some extent, as I had lived in Brighton during my teenage years, and Kayla had immediately loved it when she first moved over from Canada in 2001. It felt like coming home when we moved back, although Oxford was very good to us and we did love it there as well.
Foxes! by Zoey Hardwick
Foxes! by Zoey Hardwick.

You’ve also set up your own label Big Salad Records, what prompted this move?
It’s a combination of factors – ever since we played with the folks behind Fence Records when Kayla and I lived in St Andrews, I’ve been inspired by how strong the inspiration is when a group of people work together in a kind of collective. In Brighton, we know some very talented musicians and all of us seem to be involved in lots of projects, most of which never see the light of day and end up stuck on hard drives in people’s bedrooms.
Big Salad Records was created as a way to encourage friends to get their music into the public domain and hopefully to build a similar collective to, say, the Elephant Six or Anticon labels in America. For Foxes!, we had worked with a few different labels, releasing singles and EPs but I think we reached the point where we just wanted the album out and felt we had enough contacts and experience to do that with the new label. I’m really excited about it and there’s some great things in the pipeline for Big Salad Records.
FOXES! by Lottie Pencheon
FOXES! by Lottie Pencheon.

What is it like working as a husband and wife team?
Well it can be intense at times, but usually it’s great fun. Recently Matt and Alan seem to bicker more than we do. I’ll always believe there’s something magical between us when we work together and it’s overwhelming sometimes to think what a great creative partnership we have managed to uncover. A lot of the new songs are more directly written about our marriage and the crazy times we have been through. We are going to record the second record later this year and try to bring it all together into one piece of writing, set to the backdrop of an aquatic drama. It could make or break us!
YouTube Preview ImageWho Killed Rob?

Where can fans catch you in 2012?
We currently have three gigs scheduled. The first is a headline show at Pavilion Theatre in Brighton on 16th February. Then we are back in Oxford for the first time in a while at The Cellar on 10th March. We are also playing a London show for Odd Box Promotions at The Wilmington Arms on 16th March.

YouTube Preview ImageThe Panda Bear Song

Foxes! by Foxes! is out now on Big Salad Records.

Categories ,Adam Bell, ,Al Grice, ,album, ,Big Salad Records, ,Elephant 6 Collective, ,Emily Mary Barnett, ,Fence Records, ,Foxes, ,Gareth Harwood, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,interview, ,Kathryn Corlett, ,Kayla Bell, ,Lottie Pencheon, ,Matthew Thwaites, ,Neutral Milk Hotel, ,Odd Box Promotions, ,Of Montreal, ,Oh Rosie, ,Pavilion Theatre, ,review, ,The Apples In Stereo, ,The Cellar, ,the flaming lips, ,The La’s, ,The Panda Bear Song, ,The Unicorns, ,The Wilmington Arms, ,Weezer, ,Who Killed Rob?, ,Yo La Tengo, ,Zoey Hardwick

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Amelia’s Magazine | Leila – Blood, Looms and Blooms


Leila Arab has been away for quite some time. Her acclaimed debut LP, 1998’s Like Weather, was followed up by ‘Courtesy For Choice’ back in 2000, 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.

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Amelia’s Magazine | David Grubbs


Monday 19th January

Greg Dulli/Mark Lanegan, viagra sale information pills Union Chapel, cialis 40mg London


For fans of the drug-n-whisky soaked darker side of life this intimate venue should be the perfect place to catch the full intensity of this bad boy duo’s melancholic rumblings.

Still Flyin’, patient Stricken City, We Have Band, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, London

15-piece Californian band/orchestra/whatever headline with their sunny but diverse indie pop. Plus cool electro pop from We Have Band.

Tuesday 20th January

Kasms, White Heat, London

Noisy and shambolic guitar sounds from these metal-tinged black-haired Londoners.

Wednesday 21st January

Wire, Cargo, London


Sometimes gigs from old favourites can be a risky business, often liable to disappoint when your heroes have become sad old has-beens. With any luck these late 70s punk stalwarts were too cool to age badly and this should be a great gig.

Little Joy, Dingwalls, London

Strokes drummer Fab Moretti becomes a front man on this side project. Expect New Yorkey, indie-pop in a similar vein to, um, The Strokes via Brazil.

Thursday 22nd January

La Roux, Cockpit, Leeds


She’s in Issue 10 so she must be pretty good but don’t just take our (and every other music journalist in England’s) word for it. Check out her fun dance pop live.

Friday 23rd January

Sky Larkin, Barfly, Cardiff


Cute but clever indie rock from Leeds with a definite off-beat edge.

David Grubbs, The Croft, Bristol

Once the founder of 80s punk metallers Squirrel Bait, David Grubbs now plays grungy post-rock as a solo concern.

Saturday 24th January

James Yuill, The Macbeth, London


Think Jose Gonzalez without the advert but with plenty of electronic sounds to accompany the quiet and introspective acoustic numbers.

Of Montreal, Digital, Brighton

Much loved indie pop, spreading a little happiness whilst supporting Franz Ferdinand on their latest tour.

Sunday 25th January

Le Corps Mince de Francoise, Library, Lancaster


Daft Finnish pop in the same vein as CSS, Chicks on Speed and others of that ilk. Crazy make up and fun party girls = a great end to the weekend.

Rows of fish heads preserved in salt – even in the quirky world of Tatty Devine, viagra 60mg that’s an unexpected sight. They peer out from a long black board mounted on the gallery wall like hunting trophies. Next to them, buy cast copies of ripe oranges burrow into blocks of dark red velvet, rx as if victims of a bloody fruit massacre.



This is the first solo show of sculptor Amaia Allende, which opened on Thursday at the Tatty Devine boutique and gallery space in Brick Lane, east London. Allende claims to tackle the “subject of belonging” by assembling similar everyday items into tidy rows. It looks suspiciously like she has emptied her kitchen bin around the shop.

By the front door, some sort of green pear-like fruits line up on a narrow shelf. Poking out of the top are long strands of polyester blond hair, which make them look like a family of Mrs Pear Heads. So they belong together, you see, while at the same time having individual personalities (because of the hair).



Tatty Devine is famous for its unique jewellery and edgy art exhibitions, including “Jane Amongst the Birds”, a competition for the best foreign bird or budgie (complete with Tatty Devine trophy) held in September last year. So when it comes to belonging, it seems that Allende and her sombre line-up of fish heads and old fruit, have found an appropriate home.
The most glamorous way of recycling clothes is buying vintage. Last week was launched by luxury fashion PR, viagra order Carmen Haid, about it and fashion journalist, Alice Kodell, and it is a literal vintage heaven. It’s not the place to go if your vintage needs are met by Beyond Retro but if you want a designer dress to suit your decadent palette, you’ll love it.

In the 1930′s Carmen Haid’s grandmother, Klaudia Mayer ran a haute couture atelier in Vienna, selling exquisite clothes sourced from all over the world and it is this that recreates as an online boutique.

The launch truly indicated the splendour of the site, as we entered Marks Club – gentlemen’s club extraordinaire – in Mayfair, we were greeted with roaring fireplaces, country estate décor and the elegant melodies of the violinists could be heard wafting down the staircase.

Photograph by Tilly Pearman

Such a grand setting was fitting for the designer and couture gowns on show, a taste of what can be bought on the site. As well as on rails, the clothes were worn by models and the violinists, to show off the true beauty of them.


Photographs by Tilly Pearman

The site not only allows you to browse through the clothes online, the style me section acts as your very own personal shopper, taking into account your size and preferences and finding appropriate pieces and accessories for you. is also a great source for brushing up on your fashion knowledge, it has biographies of designers and fashion houses, guides to buying vintage and the style minute section contains a collection of fashion videos, including a fabulous Audrey Hepburn montage and an interview with key sartorial players including Coco Chanel, which is in her native French but we (Prudence Ivey – bilingual Music Editor) has done a handy translation of the key questions for you:

Could you give me a definition of elegance?
Coco: It’s difficult, you ask a difficult question, what is elegance? It’s many things. I will say something which I repeat all the time that for me is obvious but which many people don’t understand: that you can never be elegant enough.

Many of the dresses you designed last year have been copied or imitated in practically every country in the world. The Chanel style has descended to the street. Are you happy about this?
Coco: I am delighted. That was my goal. I don’t believe in defending fashion. You can’t have fashion if you are against imitation. There is no fashion if no-one sees it. Not me but many of the couturiers have an insane fear of imitation but you can’t be successful without it. For me success is the copy. You can’t be successful without that and imitation.

Wise words Coco.

photograph from Gavin Cullen

I should confess that I don’t come to First Love with impartial ears, information pills but more as an inadvertent geek, verging-on-groupie, who has faithfully been following the movements of Emma-Lee Moss since first stumbling across the girl who sang out prophecies of premature death and the difficulty in distinguishing between love and a stomach disorder. Assembling whoever I could, I stood among many a rowdy crowd turned to enchanted silence – the boys would always fall in love and the girls would come away a little jealous.

Now her album has appeared on our desk and I am all excitement and nerves. The name is taken from Samuel Beckett’s depressing novella about a violently misogynistic lover, whilst Emmy’s First Love is a “hard-won innocence-to-experience saga about a destructive but ultimately character forming relationship, in which songwriting process was her final act of catharsis”. But the tracks that most explicitly fit this bill are the ones I find hardest to warm to, stripped of the subtlety and delicacy of earlier songs, they can be a little sour to the taste. For the most part however, the album shines with all the appeal that makes Emmy great. Lyrics that are dark, humorous and full of brilliantly evocative imagery – all veiled beneath teasingly playful melodies and a disarmingly sugared deliverance – “Our guitarist Euan says our songs are passive aggressive – people think we’re harmless unless they’re really listening”.

We went along to 12 Bar to see her play an acoustic set of before an intimidating crowd of straight clothed industry folk, though she was unfazed, always confident, “we’re used to much bigger stages” she joked …. and so Emmy the Great enters into the mainstream, and perhaps it is just the natural preconditioning of any fan but I think I preferred her on intimate stages when it was just her, her guitar, and a pool of admirers. Saying that, ‘We are Safe” is my new favourite song, full band.


Opening with a Billy Bragg mockney cry, web you expect Napoleon IIIrd’s mini-album to be a fairly straightforward chronicle of the times, viagra sale Jamie T stylee with shades of Blur in the guitars. All fine but all a little 2006 and not terribly promising. And then the second track, A Strong Nuclear Force, hits you very much as it says on the tin, with its Prince via Beck falsetto and electro beats and you realise there may be more to this boy. A Leeds music scene stalwart, having played with iLikeTrains, iForward Russia! and The Research and remixed a whole bunch of his Northern counterparts, it is perhaps no wonder that there is a little more variety and interest in this collection of songs than might be expected.


So much variety in fact, that it is easy to feel a little disorientated by the broad mix of genres which Napoleon IIIrd introduces, apparently on a whim. He certainly keeps you on your toes with his playful approach to continuity but challenging the audience is no bad thing and just a couple of listens bring out a common thread running throughout the record. The songs seem to build up to and around the pulsing, driving and crashing The Sky Is Too High, which at around 7 minutes certainly stands apart from the punchy observational territory of the rest of the disc, lacking as it does any discernable lyrical content. Proceedings are then rounded off on a dramatic note with the electro-hymn See Life, down-tempo enough to fall asleep to but interesting enough to give your full attention to on a long dark wet afternoon of the soul. It may take a little perserverance but this mini-album is definitely worth the time.


Now based in London, pill Finnish designer Minna Hepburn is showing her A/W 09 collection as part of Esthetica, and the ethical branch of London Fashion Week. Her beautiful and delicate designs caught our eye and even better, they’re eco-friendly, with all her materials being locally sourced, organic and fair-trade. She took the time to talk to us about her ideas and work:

When did you decide to persue a career in fashion design?

After I graduated, I went travelling with my husband and we ended up in Asia. I felt lost in terms of my career as I had studied War Studies at Kings College and worked a bit in the city, neither of those options really inspired me. Travelling and my ever so encouraging husband gave me the confidence to do something that I really loved – which is fashion.

What are you currently working on?

I am putting together my A/W 09 collection that I am showing at London Fashion Week, Esthetica in February. I think Esthetica will be bigger and better this year. I am really looking forward to it!
I am also finalising designs for my online boutique, which will be launched at the end of February.


What designers do you admire?
I absolutely love Rodarte. What they have achieved without any proper training in fashion is incredible and very inspiring!

Who or what inspires your work?

My biggest inspirations are lace and antique markets. England has such amazing antique markets. We never had anything like that in Finland. It’s amazing that you can find gorgeous pieces from the early 1900′s and they are still in wearable condition. Sometimes I might find an old buttons or a postcard and get an amazing design idea.
When I am travelling I always look out for antique markets, France has some of the best ones I have seen!

What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?

Being accepted to do London Fashion Week and putting a collection together after just having a baby. My son Hayden was merely days old and I was still sore after a cesarean when I returned to work to finish the collection. I could not have done it without my friends though!

Also, I think one of the proudest moment was when A la Mode, started stocking my designs. They are such an institution, old and respected shop with impressive list of labels. They have been such a joy to work with!

Why did you decide to create an eco-friendly label?

With my first label, SE1 London, I experienced fast fashion as its worst. It was a range of silk dresses, tops and skirts that were made in Vietnam but I did a lot of traveling and it opened my eyes. It made me re-think the whole fashion industry and how it operates. I decided that second time round I would do it differently. I took some time to research the ethical fashion market, suppliers and the whole concept. I noticed that there was a gap in the high end of the ethical fashion market. A lot of the other ethical fashion brands were doing lots of wardrobe staples and there was not much choice, so I wanted to focus on that and provide some.
I really wanted to create not just a label, but a brand, and to feel that I was doing something differently and maybe setting an example.



Is it important to you that your materials are locally sourced?
I wanted to show that beautiful and affordable garments can be made in the UK, which is where Scottish lace came into the picture. Also, I have always loved antique markets and found Scottish lace to have that vintage look and appeal.
I started testing my designs with high end shops in Bath and London and got positive feedback. Encouraged by this, I applied to London Fashion Esthetica and decided to produce a full collection for S/S 09.

How do you feel ethical fashion is perceived by the public?

I think ethical fashion is getting better every season. It’s important to show people that ethical fashion can also be commercial, affordable and in line with the current trends.
The media has played a very big part in bringing the message that eco-fashion is in vogue. With the current economical climate, I think people are more aware how they are spending and what they want to spend their money on. With lots of cool ethical brands emerging, I think fashion with conscience has never been more in fashion.

How would you describe your personal style?
At home, as a mother of two young children I try to keep things simple. White lace tops and baby sick does not go well together…
But when I go out, it’s all about antique cocktail rings, pieces from my collection, dresses, high heels and vintage.

Do you like to wear ethical brands yourself?
I wear lot of vintage and I have discovered this amazing French brand, Ekyog, who have a shop on the Kings Road. They have the softest organic knitwear I have ever worn! But I have to say that most of the time I wear my own designs. Also by wearing it, I am testing each design, the fit and the fabrics before I put anything to production. It’s important to know how the garment will behave and last.

Thanks for talking to us Minna, have fun at Fashion Week.
London Fashion Week runs from 20th-25th February 2009.

Woman? Good. Self-publishing? Also good.

This Saturday at the The Women’s Library there will be a hands-on day celebrating woman’s involvement in self-publishing. Publishers, information pills artists, stomach illustrators and crafters – all will come together to share advice and techniques for making zines, magazines and comics. There will be a creative workshop with zine producer Red Chidgey, who will be dishing out advice on how to get started with your own zine, or you can just browse through stalls to find little treasures of your own, and meet zine distributors and makers, you might just come away inspired.

Check here for a more detailed itinerary. This event is free, but you must book.

The 7:20s are an enigmatically named bunch of attitudinous blokes from the West Midlands whose debut EP landed with a feisty thump on our doormat a couple of weeks ago. After some fairly bolshy correspondence and downright pestering we were convinced that we really had to give it a listen and the results lived up to expectations.

Aquarian Charm is a real rock record in the old tradition of driving guitars and powerful male vocals with some great hooks and, buy more about no surprises, more about lyrics with balls. As a relatively new and unsigned band there’s not much info about the 7:20s on the internet so we decided to get in touch with them to find out what they could tell us about themselves and their music.


What are your main influences?

Andy: Our musical influences start with Depeche Mode and early electronica, pill cool beats and synths through to Massive Attack, MGMT and M83. Add to that 90s influences from The Stone Roses, Nirvana, Radiohead, Primal Scream and through to Coldplay, The Editors, The 22-20s to name but a few from recent years. All journeys in life and the people you meet influence you and this comes through sonically too. Everyone that knows us is an influence!!

Where does your name come from?

Ed: It happened in 1981, in Preston. My mum and dad thought about many different names but decided on “Edward Paul Thurstan Wright”

The name of the band came because it was better than “Big yellow floppy cheese band”.

What do you think you’ve got to offer that other bloke bands can’t? Especially when all music critics are proclaiming this to be the year of the female solo artist.

John: We make epic, anthemic music infused with atmosphere with lyrics straight from the heart and soaring melodies. There’s no pretentiousness, no angular jangly chords, just pure music, pure emotion. We aren’t in the business of criticising other bands, but we will only say that if you’re after the real deal, you need to listen to our music and see us live. If it turns out to be true that 2009 is the year of the female solo artist, then we have a contingency plan of disbanding, and choosing one band member to front the music in drag. That should sort it…

You’re from Rugby. Is there much good music knocking around there?

Eddy: Yes there is a lot of really good music about in Rugby at the moment, such as Dukes Jetty, Lost Theory and Who Needs Heroes.


How important do you think a band’s image is? How important is your image to you?

Andy: Naturally, image is important….Why are there so many Elvis impersonators? He was arguably the most memorable artist in history but he was a cool artist too. Our first priority is to make life changing music and our band mirrors that in its image. We haven’t created an image to suit an environment. Instead, we hope our music will influence it. And, we look cool as fu*k to boot ha ha!

Ed: Image is only important to bands if their music is sh*te and they need to conform in order to be accepted and liked by the Topshop brigade and Radio One…though we are kinda guilty of that too!

Hm well, speaking of image, our Fashion Editor was keen to offer some styling advice when she saw these pics, perhaps they’d like to drop her a line for some tips on how to jazz up their look. We think it would lead to greater success in the future!

To find out more, visit

Danielle Arnaud likes change but is not all that inclined towards interior design, link and so her house on Kennington Road is both home and gallery, troche transformed every few months to the workings of whichever artist she happens to be exhibiting. “A change in space brings a change in the mind” she tells me, and I cannot help but wonder what kind of sobering experience it must be to see the protruding and bloodied flesh of a soldier as you walk through your front door each day.

Aesthetic Distance is the second body of work born of David Cotterrell’s stint with the Joint Forces Medical group in Afghanistan, where he was the commissioned artist invited as witness and observer, a task he found to be overwhelming and emotionally turbulent. It is a sentiment you can only try to empathise with as you pass through stark rooms bearing windows to intimate scenes in operating theatre, destruction and individual human cost conjoined with compassion, dignity, and medical industriousness. As you too become observer and witness, you begin to understand why the work seems so distant. I at first strained to find the artist in the work before me, Cotterrell’s own engagement with the bizarre world into which he was emerged, but the photo-journalistic nature of the the photographs makes both artist and viewer witness in way that is impartial and almost matter-of-fact, stripped and exposed are the quiet processes that roll endlessly beneath the wheels of the war machine.

Two films, also eerily distant, document the transport and treatment of casualties during a Major incident. You don’t actually see the patients, just the fact of it; a bleak and wasted landscape where the hum of slicing blades form the backdrop to a continuously arriving and departing Chinook helicopter, whilst Green Room gives an alternative vision of the same event. Medics wait for their assigned patients, their bodies and faces concentrated on the tasks to come over the next four hours, like actors preparing to go on stage.




It is well worth dipping into Cotterrell’s diary entries, where a more personal documentation of his own experiences are captured. The exhibition lasts until February 15, and though sobering is well worth a visit. Be sure to say hello to Danielle’s chiwawa.

David Cotterrell is featured in issue ten which you can order here.
David Grubbs is something of a legend – the connoisseurs’ post-rocker of choice. It’s no surprise that he’s packed out the cosy environs of the Albert even with the little fanfare afforded his performance. Or that fact that it’s a mercilessly cold, sildenafil recession bitten Blue Monday night he’s playing on. Or that it costs an extortionate amount to see him.


So who is this unassuming, view bookish gentleman? Grubbs started his career playing with Louisville, Kentucky pop-metal messiahs, Squirrel Bait, and hails from the same fertile Southern indie rock scene that gifted the world Slint amongst other chin-stroking fare. Decamping in Chicago, he went on to form the seminal, nineties outfit, Gastr del Sol with Jim O’Rourke. Meshing musique concrète, folk and jam-band Tropicália with a sense of audacious abandon that belied the pair’s studious persona, Gastr del Sol cemented Grubbs’s reputation as a major post-rock player way before the term was used to describe dire, instrumental indie bands. When O’Rourke jacked it in to be a big shot bassist in Sonic Youth, Grubbs continued exploring the outer limits of acoustic music with a series of challenging albeit rewarding solo albums. This deconstruction of the ‘singer-songwriter’ is what characterizes most of his recent output and new album, An Optimist Notes The Dusk, is no exception.


I was wary of the David Grubbs live experience though. A friend of mine had seen him play a few years ago and, apparently, he performed briefly before a reel to reel machine spewing noise and walking offstage to laugh from the sides at those still watching. No such sonic japery tonight as Grubbs takes the stage, unaccompanied, and eeks out of his amped up electric guitar Danny Whitten style slabs of warm, creamy, washes of love. Segueing seamlessly into Gethsemani Night, he has the audience enraptured and it’s clear we’re in the presence of some kind of quietly confidant maestro. The evening goes on thus with Grubbs playing most of his recent offering in this minimal style. It works well but tracks like An Optimist Declines feel slightly less weighty without his percussionist Michael Evans or the trumpet drones of Nate Wooley, both of whom adorn Grubbs’s recent offering with poignant poise. It’s a minor quibble though as Grubbs has enough chops, licks and modal phrasings to keep the faithful more than happy. You see, as academic as his music may well be – he’s a professor of Radio and Sound Art at Brooklyn College – Grubbs’s music is always from the heart and suffused with soulfulness. He taps into a rich vein of Americana and the fact that it comes out so aurally fractured, so ideologically fearless exemplifies what Grubbs still is at heart: a punk rock kid from Kentucky.

Categories ,David Grubbs, ,Live, ,Rock, ,Singer Songwriter, ,Sonic Youth

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Little Ones: Sing Song

Chan Marshall is a confusing character, viagra sale you hope for her to be brilliant live but there’s always the niggling feeling that it might just go pear-shaped. She’s always been a little fragile; undoubtedly it’s part of her charm. However as soon a she skips onto stage you realise that tonight’s performance is going to be different.

Chan seems to have overcome, approved or at least learnt to deal with her performance issues. She arrives with a curtsey and a gigantic grin on her face, symptoms and it seems immediately obvious that this isn’t going to be one of her infamous ‘two songs and I’m off’ performances. The crowd sense that she’s on good form and welcome her with a roar of applause, perhaps out of relief as well as appreciation.

Keeping the chit-chat to an absolute minimum, the audience are treated to a brilliant mix of covers including I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ (giving us a taste of her upcoming release) as well as songs from her latest and much-celebrated album; The Greatest. A set of pure blues, however the replacement of the Memphis Rhythm Band with The Dirty Delta Blues seemed to leave the arrangement blues-light and admittedly I missed that extra layer of soulful vocals from her regular group of backup singers.

At times I longed for a break from the rather slow pace and the absence of any of her pre-Greatest material was a disappointment. However, there’s very little to criticise about the woman herself and the audience were quick to give encouraging yelps and cheers at every opportunity. At times she seemed overwhelmed and kind of surprised that we’d even turned up, ‘You guys are amazing, you’re going to make me cry’. Of course, her unmistakeable voice was as incredible as ever, she’s one of those rare performers who understands the power of restraint.

Chan isn’t out to prove her vocal abilities by show-off jazz grandstanding; there are no self-indulgent runs or vocal acrobatics. Perhaps a skill born out of self-preservation, Chan sings as if no one is watching. And it’s beautiful.
Well, and I have just spent the last three days intensively shooting the Sheffield band the Harrisons for their press shots – they are currently putting the finishing touches to their debut album in a remote studio called The Chapel in Lincolnshire with reknowned producer Hugh Jones, who has worked with such luminaries as Echo and the Bunnymen. The studio has seen many famous bands pass through it’s environs – the Arctic Monkeys being the most recent to record their block-busting album in what would once have been the alter of the chapel and is now a cosy wood panelled studio. It was really fun, if hard work – getting the boys out of bed early enough in the morning to get moving and actually get enough shots done before a) they had to return to carry on recording and b) the sun went in for good – jeez the days are short, especially in the north-east – was quite a lot of effort. They range in age evenly from 20 – 23 yrs old and it’s just not very rock ‘n’ roll to get up before lunchtime anyway.

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Amelia’s Magazine | CocoRosie

Those of you who’ve seen Fame (you know the one, store information pills “Remember my name (FAME!)/I’m gonna live forever” and all that jazz) may remember the relatively small but significant character called Bruno. He hated playing in the strings section of the orchestra because he could electronically create an orchestra of sound and fury on his own, information pills healing resulting in much dancing in the streets and on taxis…

…The comaprison: Napoleon IIIrd Napoleon IIIrd. Why he hasn’t had more Fame action himself is quite beyond me. Though that said, I had heard on the grapevine that the man was touring with a full band and was hoping to see and hear such a spectacle in the flesh. But alas, whilst hoping that the brass section was hiding out in the toilets working up the saliva to play, the man himself emerged to take his place behind two microphones, that met above a keyboard, nestled between all manner of electronic and musical paraphernalia…and no band.

Never mind though, performing solo, he didn’t disappoint. Unexpectedly formidable, Napoleon is energetic and jerky as his music often is. One thing is that from the start, Napoleon is so believable. Without guile or pretensions, yet vaguely angsty and almost aggressive, not quite desperate but definitely hopeful, he is one man doing his own orchestral manoeuvres in the dark.

Like a proud band leader, pumping his metaphoric baton triumphantly, Napoleon IIIrd conducted his way through the set with a well practiced panache; twiddling with levels, blue-tacking keys, pressing buttons and bristling on his guitar. Completely comfortable but not complacent, Napoleon IIIrd played with abandon. With heavy industrial beats, crunchy glitches, big refrains, random samples and a pre-recorded choir of Napoleons to back him up, Napoleon IIIrd’s music is quite epic live. It’s all the more strange to match the sound to the scene when the guy is all alone on stage amongst his band of merry, electronically recorded selves.

So remember his name, because Napoleon IIIrd is dynamite.
Having studied graphic design, remedy I too had put on a show at my university and then made the journey to London to showcase my talents to industry moguls. My experience was, remedy well, pretty shit – but this was flawless. With over 50 stands showcasing talent, 2 fashion theatres and an orange-carpeted Moët bar for pre-show drinks, GFW supported by River Island (amongst other major players) really packed a punch.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Chairlift Us Up Where We Belong…

This Saturday, information pills pill The Land Is Ours collective will occupy some disused land near Hammersmith. An eco-village will take root, viagra sale peacefully reclaiming land for a sustainable settlement, and getting in touch with the local community about its aims. In a year when nearly 13,000 Britons lost their homes to repossessions in the first three months, eco-villages point the way to a more down-to-earth lifestyle.

Back in May 1996, the same collective took over a spot on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth, in a land rights action that grew up over five and a half months into the Pure Genius community, based on sustainable living and protesting the misuse of urban land. Here are some photos from that project.


The Land Is Ours channel the spirit of the Diggers , a group of 17-century radicals who picked out and dug over a patch of common land in St George’s Hill in Walton-upon-Thames back in the day. They were led by Gerard Winstanley, who thought any freedom must come from free access to the land.

Here’s a little more from ‘Gerard Winstanley’ about this weekend:

What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?
Have a meeting. One of the first priorities is to leaflet the local area in order to inform the local people of what we are doing. Another priority is the construction of compost toilets.

Do you have lots of plans for sheds, vegetable patches and compost toilets?

Yes. Due to the nature of the site (ex-industrial) we will likely be using raised beds to grow vegetables and buckets for potatoes. It being London, there should be a good supply of thrown away materials from building sites and in skips. Compost toilets are pretty essential.

?What kinds of people are you expecting to turn up?
All sorts. Hopefully a mixture of those keen to learn and those willing to teach. ??


?I read the Chapter 7 manifesto. Have you notified the council or planning authority of your plans, or are you keeping to the idea that once you’re there, with homes under construction, it’s difficult to evict?
We haven’t notified the council yet- but we have a liaison strategy in place for when we’re in.

On that note, how long do you hope to be there?
The longevity of the Eco-village depends on how committed its residences and just as crucially how the local urban populus respond to our presence. If we receive the support we need, the council will likely think twice before embarking on an unpopular eviction (at least that’s the theory!).


Could this realistically become a permanent residence, or is it more likely to be valuable simply as campaigning?
Hopefully it can be both. There is no reason why this site cannot sustain a core group of committed individuals and serve as a brilliant awareness raiser to the issue of disused urban land, lack of affordable housing and the a sustainable way of living that is friendly to people and planet and liberating.


?Can I come along?
Of course, we are meeting at Waterloo Station at 10AM this Saturday (underneath the clock).

What might I need to do?
Bring a tent, sleeping bag and some food and water. You may be interested to read an article written by a journalist from the Guardian concerning the eco-village.


So dig yourself out of bed this Saturday, and go discover the beginnings of London’s newest eco-village.
If the dark shades of under-duvet hideouts dominate the colour of your Sundays then you need to wake up and get greened. Arcola Theatre in East London hopes to be the first carbon neutral theatre in the world and has been appointed as the secretariat for the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre plan, this which aims to deliver 60 percent cuts in theatre carbon emissions by 2025.

Illustration by Faye Katirai

As part of this environmental drive, the first Sunday of every month is a Green Sunday at Arcola Theatre. June’s event is part of Love London, the biggest green festival in Europe and looks at ethical consumption, promising ‘entertainment and inspiration for the ecologically curious’. From 3pm there’s a swap shop market plus cakes and tea to take you through the evening of Senegalese percussion, cool short and feature-length films, starting from 4.30pm. As the afternoon turns to evening, there will be a discussion with Neil Boorman, author of Bonfire Of The Brands, an account of his journey from shopping and brand addiction to a life free from labels. As part of the project, Neil destroyed every branded product in his possession, incinerating over £20,000 worth of designer gear in protest of consumer culture. This will be chaired by Morgan Phillips.

Neil and Morgan will later be joined by Richard King from Oxfam to talk about their 4-a-week campaign- encouraging shoppers to do their bit for sustainability each week.

Then at 7pm – Feature length film presented by Transition Town Hackney
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash


I spoke to the sustainability projects manager at Arcola Theatre, Anna Beech, to find out more about Arcola’s arts world-changing philosophies:

All at Arcola must be extremely proud that a theatre founded only 9 years ago – and on credit cards! – is well on the way to becoming the first carbon neutral theatre in the world. Can you tell us a bit about how and why you made the decision to lead the green theatre movement?

Since 2007, Arcola has launched many high-profile green initiatives (including the pioneering use of LEDs and the on-site installation of a fuel cell to power bar and stage lighting). There are a number of reasons for this – because it contributes to reducing Arcola’s carbon emissions and resource use, because it makes financial sense – reducing energy bills; because it supports funding applications; because it integrates Arcola into the local community; allows Arcola to reach a wider audience and stakeholder base; and provides an effective platform upon which to publicise the name ‘Arcola’ – as a hub of creativity and sustainability.

Sustainability is part of Arcola’s core unique business model, alongside professional theatre and our youth and community programme.

Have you found that arts and science professionals are eager to integrate and come up with exciting ideas and actions or has it been difficult to bring the two fields together?

Arcola’s ArcolaEnergy has had considerable interest from technology companies and brokers, including the Carbon Trust. As a reocgnised innovator in sustainability in the arts, Arcola has been able to broker extremely advantageous relationships with private sector companies – who have provided the theatre with free green products, including LED lights – as well as other theatres and arts organisations (National Theatre, Arts Council, Live Nation, The Theatres Trust), and Government bodies like the DCMS and Mayor of London’s Office. Arcola’s reputation as a sustainable charity has created these partnerships and allowed them to grow and develop into mutually advantageous relationships. So this demonstrates that the arts and sustainability worlds can come together to form mutually advanteous relationships. However, there is plenty of work to be done.

So far, what has been the most successful pioneering energy practice you’ve introduced?

The installation of Arcola’s fuel cell in February 2008 made the venue the first theatre in the world to power its main house shows and bar/café on hydrogen. The Living Unknown Soldier gained reverence as London’s most ecologically sustainable show, with the lighting at a peak power consumption of 4.5kW, a reduction of 60 per cent on comparable theatre lighting installations.


Previous Green Sunday events at the Arcola Theatre

Arcola’s ‘greening’ goes from the stage to the box office. Among other things, we produce ‘green’ newsletters for staff, we recycle, we provide free tap water to audiences (to lessen use of bottled water), we serve fairtrade, organic and local produce wherever possible (including organic vodka and whiskey!), we host Transition Town meetings, we installed a cycle enclosure for staff in 2009 and try to incentivise both staff and audiences to use public transport more and their cars less.

How do you think the technical creativity of sustainability has significantly shaped any of the plays Arcola has produced?

One example of the ‘greening’ of Arcola’s shows and working closely with production companies took place during the pre-production and staging of ‘Living Unknown Soldier‘ in 2008. The production explored the use of more energy efficient lanterns, including LED moving heads and batons (see Fig. 1) florescent tubes and some other filament lanterns such as low wattage source 4′s and par 16s. The crew tried to travel by public transport wherever possible, use laptops rather than PCs, limit phone use, source sustainable materials and managed to keep energy requirements low in order to use Arcola’s fuel cell to power the show.

‘‘The idea is that once you expose people to this stuff and they know you for doing it, they’ll gravitate towards you. Ultimately we should end up with some really good art about sustainability and some really good ideas about how to do art sustainably.” – Ben Todd, Executive Director and Founder of Arcola Energy.
Illustration by David Elsley

Why do you think its particularly important for the arts to become more involved in green issues?

Because the arts have the power to influence behaviour change. Whilst the theatre industry itself has a relatively small carbon footprint (2% of total carbon emissions in London), and thus its capacity to deliver direct carbon emission reductions is relatively small; the power of theatre and the wider arts/cultural sectors to rapidly and effectively influence public behaviour and policy makers to drive significant indirect carbon emission reductions is very large (entertainment related activity accounts for up to 40% of travel emissions).

However, theatres and other arts venues must first address the ‘greening’ of their venues and practices in order to communicate climate change and environmental messages to audiences effectively and with impact.

Green Sundays is a great idea, how do you hope to see it develop in the future months?

We have a variety of themes in mind for future events, including a focus on the climate talks in Copenhagen in December, a water theme, ethical business, natural history and a Green Sunday programme tailored to children and young people.

So get over your hangover, get on your bike and cycle down to Dalston on Sunday to help spread the word about arts and sustainability coming together to communicate environmental messages to your local community.

To find out more about Green Sundays and the Arcola Theatre go to:
Continuing our odyssey of festival previews, page I bring you the amazing Green Man!

I don’t keep it secret that I’ve had a crush on Jarvis Cocker since I was 10 and first heard Common People, I suppose announcing it on a blog was just the next logical step in my snowballing lust for the bespectacled one. Imagine my delight when I saw he was headlining as a solo outfit at this year’s Green Man Festival.

Green Man 2006

Jarvis Cocker

All the other festivals will be green with envy over Green Man’s line-up, one of the most exciting and diverse of the summer. Alongside Jarv, Animal Collective will also be headlining and having seen them a couple of times over the past few years they are really not to be missed live, their shows can only be described as being in an underwater topsy-turvy world where you can feel the rhythm wash over you in waves.

Animal Collective

Green Man is in no short supply of indie darlings and big names, with Wilco, Bon Iver, Gang Gang Dance, the delicious Beach House and Grizzly Bear; who I’m gagging to see live after finally getting a copy of their amazing second album Veckatimest. Not to be transatlantically out down; Green Man boasts an impressive array of home-grown talent- including Four-Tet, national treasures British Sea Power, and to woo the romantic in you; Camera Obscura.
Ex- member of my favourites Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki Euros Childs, Andrew Bird, 6 Day Riot and James Yuill also stand out as bands (as well as the above mentioned) not to be missed.

Beach House

Whilst Green Man has managed to pull in such an awesome line-up, it has a reputation for a boutique-y intimacy and a friendly atmosphere. Green Man is most definitely a festival for music lovers, and one that I won’t be missing!

Green Man Festival 2007

Green Man Festival takes place amidst the Breacon Beacons from 21st to 23rd August. Click here for ticket information.

Thumbnail by Roisin Conway
Some people have the knack for discovering those amazing pieces in charity shops – it’s generally the preserve of both the patient and the fashion-savvy who are content to rummage away until they emerge with some designer find that leaves you flapping your arms and wondering why it wasn’t you.
Now ten minutes in Topshop – that’s a quick fix. Why bother buying something old when you can buy something new? If last week’s Style Wars was only a half-formed idea, generic intent to float and suggest a concept, but not to follow through, TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) has articulated the remaking and reselling of used clothes as an ethical necessity. Citing the whopping £46 billion spent on clothes and accessories every year, TRAID highlights the colossal wastage resultant of constantly changing trends that are both cheap and easily available. The ease of shopping on the high street seems to problematise the feeling that the act of recycling is an almost paradoxical idea for an industry that is by name and nature grounded in an obsession with the new and the innovative.
Here lies the problem in normal charity shop shopping. The dowdy and stale image affixed to them is arguably (however unfortunately) justifiable, and TRAID has been taking the steps to rebrand the public perception of recycled clothing by actually joining the dots between the environment, recycling and fashion itself. Charity and fashion are practically mutually alienating concepts in most people’s minds. In short, charity shops aren’t trendy, so how do you turn that around? Chief Executive Maria TRAID recognises the problem and goes straight to the heart of it, saying “we have worked incredibly hard to change the face of charity retail by ensuring that our shops are stylish and affordable”, two words you might associate with the high street.


TRAID has 900 textile recycling banks across the UK, and the company take the donations and sort by quality and style to then sell in one of their charity shops – clothes that are stained or torn are deconstructed and redesigned into a bespoke garment by the company’s own fashion label TRAIDremade.


In a way it’s an absolute no-brainer: to take things people don’t want and make them something they do, especially as they follow high street trends, crafting sexy asymmetric dresses, bags cut from old leathers, signature hand printed tees and flirty dresses.



Two weeks ago TRAID opened their tenth shop in their tenth year in Camden, which as well as being an area that’s a promising resource in terms of fashionable finds, is a landmark for a really inspirational company. To date TRAID has donated £1.4 million to help fight global poverty, supporting charities by funding projects in Malawi and Kenya amongst others. TRAID has ten shops located across London and Brighton, and TRAIDremade is available on

Monday 8th June

The End of the Line

Imagine a world without fish. Released in cinemas across the country to coincide for World Ocean Day, medical an inconvenient truth about the devastating effect of overfishing.

Opens today, check your local cinema for screenings.


Lambeth Green Communities Open Evening

Organised in partnership with Transition Town Brixton, Hyde Farm CAN and ASSA CAN, this is a chance to celebrate Lambeth’s Green Communities and be inspired to reduce your community’s environmental impact.

18.30-21.00 drop-in to Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton
Contact – Susan Sheehan, Ssheehan (at)

Tuesday 9th June

The Great British Refurb
Housing for a low carbon energy future – a talk at the The Royal Society

A talk by Professor Tadj Oreszczyn, chaired by Professor Chris Rapley. Theoretical carbon reductions have often been slow to materialise, new buildings can use up to twice the energy predicted, and energy use can actually go up when efficiency increases. This lecture will look at the possibilities for new building, and whether technology can solve our energy use problems. Tadj Oreszczyn is Professor of Energy and Environment and Director of the Energy Institute at UCL.


This lecture is free – no ticket or booking required. Doors open at 5.45pm and seats are first-come first-served. Lecture starts at 6.30pm, The Royal Society

This lecture will be webcast live and available to view on demand within 48 hours of delivery at

Wednesday 10th June

Illustration by Kerry Lemon

GM Crops and the Global Food Crisis

Dominic Glover, Erik Millstone, Peter Newell talk about possible solutions to the encroaching global food crisis – how will GM crops fit in to the struggle to raise yields, and could they be part of a truly sustainable answer?

6pm, Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster.
Contact – c.matthews (at)

Thursday 11th June

Walking on the Edge of the City

Join a popular walking group on a stroll around this fascinating part of London. There’s no charge and no need to book. Do get there ten minutes before the start time, wear comfortable shoes and bring a small bottle of water.

11am – 12.15pm, meeting at St Luke’s Centre, 90 Central Street, London, EC1V

Clothes Swap at Inc Space

Daisy Green Magazine and ethical stylist Lupe Castro have teamed up to host what is hoped to be the UK’s biggest ever clothes swap. Nicola Alexander, founder of, said, “It’s like a fashion treasure hunt!”

The evening will kick off at 6.30 and, as well as the swish (apparently the ‘scene’ word for a clothes swap), it will feature an ethical styling demonstration by Lupe Castro, music from top green band, The Phoenix Rose, burlesque dancing and shopping opportunities from ethical fashion brands including Bochica, Makepiece, Bourgeois Boheme, and natural beauty company, Green People.

Tickets are £10 in advance and £15 on the door.
More information can be found on our facebook page
From 18:30 at INC Space in Grape Street, London WC2

Illustration by David Elsley.

Friday 12th June

Compost Clinic and Recycling Roadshow

Redbridge Recycling Group are running a friendly information stand all day. Want to bin the bags and green your shopping habits? Fancy making your own compost or confused about packaging labels? Pop along any time of day to have your questions answered and find out how to make the future waste free.

11am – 4pm, Ilford High Road, opposite the Town Hall/Harrison Gibson

Saturday 13th June

World Naked Bike Ride

Taking place all over the country, all over the world, the World Naked Bike Ride protests against oil dependency and car culture, celebrating the power of our bikes and bodies. Every June, more than a thousand cyclists gather in London to take part. The easy 10 km route passes through London’s busiest and best known streets. Bring your bike and body (decorate both of these ahead of time)


Assemble from 3pm in Hyde Park (South East section, near Hyde Park Tube) – east of the Broad Walk, south of the Fountain of Joy, and north of the Achilles Statue.

Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June


Sustainability Weekend

Celebrate the Love London, Love Your Planet Festival 2009 at the London Wetland Centre this weekend. Check out TFL’s new hybrid bus, see the Richmond shire horses and get a load of green tips and tricks. There will also be face painting for the kids, the Richmond cycling campaign and other environmentally friendly organisations.

11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday
WWT London Wetland Centre, SW13 9WT
Maaaan, pilule those bloomers are HOT!

My morning started bright and early on Monday 1st June: called upon as I was to document a Climate Rush action at Chatham House just as the E.ON sponsored conference began: Coal: An Answer to Energy Security? (like, drug duh… NO!)

As I was sitting in the very pleasant St James Square to avoid undue police annoyance (there were vehicles parked right outside the entrance) I found my eyes drawn to the undergrowth in the thicket of vegetation at the edge of the park. I should have been looking for activity outside the venue, but instead I found myself engaged in a dance between two Robins. I always thought Robins were solitary birds, but a quick google ascertains my reasoning that this pair must have been mates, although I’m fairly sure Robins don’t scavenge at ground level. There was also a young Blackbird, happily scrabbling around in the undergrowth for some nice tasty worms (I’m guessing… but that sounds like the perfect breakfast for a Blackbird) As I sat there wondering what was to pass in the street beyond I felt my heart sing. Here, even in the centre of our grubby and concreted capital city – nature finds a way. This is what I’m fighting for, I thought! The sheer joy of the natural world.

a Blackbird in the undergrowth

And then, I noticed two coppers striding towards me. Would they find my Climate Rush badges? And pre-emptively arrest me for possible crimes against cotton with a badge pin? Asking why I was acting suspiciously by peering into the bushes I replied, “why, I’m taking photos of the birds” and showed the officers the photos on my camera playback. But they weren’t having it, and asked for my ID, which I refused. It’s not illegal to refuse to show your ID, but they took this as admission of guilt – a typical ploy of the police and one which I must check up on the legality of. They then searched me “because you must have something to hide if you don’t want to give us your name Angela Gregory” Ah!!! Clever officer! He’s been reading his little FIT watch spotter card and cribbing up on Climate Rush central. Only the trouble is, I’m not Angela Gregory – clever but not so clever officer. I’d love to see what they use as my mugshot – I hope it’s flattering.


When I questionned the validity of their reason to search me, one officer told me that “you are believed to be a member of a group called Climate Action, no that’s not it… Climate Rush, and they have committed criminal damage on buildings.” Wrong again Mr. Officer! Our parliament gluers have been bailed away to return to charges of possible criminal damage, for one drop of glue that fell on the statue in parliament. Glue that washes away with one dab of a damp cloth. Like that’s got a rat’s chance in hell of standing up in court.

Still – they got my name right after a cursory search of my camera bag, which revealed an old business card that had been lurking in a side pocket for at least three years. But they didn’t find the badges, even though they were rattling like bastards. I knew they wouldn’t, the MET not being the brightest cookies in the biscuit jar. Oh, I will be in trouble the next time we meet! Woops! If they had discovered the badge stash they would have found not only climate rush badges but also E.ON F.OFF ones from the Climate Camp campaign – that would have got them very excited no doubt, given the sponsor of said Coal Conference.


As usual I’ve gone off on a tangent… not long after the police accosted me there was a loud commotion the other side of the St James nature reserve, and the police and I were off like a flash to find out what was going on. Across the road a bunch of white clad people were trying to hold onto a bike sculpture, as the police tried to tussle it off them. Within moments the police had gained the upper hand, and instead the eleven protesters were trying to pull sashes from Deeds Not Words bags, and unfurl a lovely red banner reading No New Coal, before the police frogmarched them across the road and threw them into the “pen”.


I dashed off home in the hopes of getting some images into the London papers – alas my speed was not rewarded with any success, but our actions did reach the attendees of the conference – one academic at the conference apparently spoke with a protester, and agreed that direct action was pushing matters in the right direction (he was a specialist in CCS, but held out little hope for it’s implementation, given the probable massive costs) Score one massive point to us! I hope that E.ON and their cronies were suitably rattled, even if the press didn’t feel see fit to publicise the action. In the end five activists were arrested but most were released within hours. One brave Climate Rusher was refused bail after glueing herself onto the Chatham House railings (you go girl!) and the judge at her hearing the next morning allegedly told her that our protest had been pointless, since it had not garnered any press – before slapping a massive 40 hours community service on her for aggravated trespass. We think not…

the bike sculpture lies forlorn on the pavement

In recent weeks we’ve attracted a lot of interest from film makers, and by the time I arrived at Tamsin’s house to get ready for the Bike Rush that afternoon (and to hastily knock up one more pair of bloomers) there were cameras everywhere I turned. It’s not a sensation I particularly like, and have thus far managed to stay out of the current crop of films – leaving it to the more exhibitionist members of Climate Rush to hog the limelight. I worry that it is easy to manipulate our actions in the editing suite, and portray us in a way with which we will ultimately be unhappy and out of our control. But I guess it’s a situation that I need to grow used to – many of our sort – as well as being involved with an undoubtedly exciting group – are very attractive, garrulous and media savvy – an irresistable combination to a film maker. Me? I much prefer to stay behind the lens…

finishing off the flags

As soon as the drawstring was threaded into the last pair of bloomers it was time to hit the high roads of Kilburn – seven of us on various bikes, none of which, I noted disappointingly, were even vaguely Edwardian-esque. Instead we had Geeky Rushette on a fold-out Brompton with a helmet. And we had Virgin Rushette with wispy blonde locks and billowing white damel-in-distress dress over her bloomers, and Not-Very-Good-on-a-Bike-in-London Rushette on a crappy mountain bike with a rusty chain that nearly fell off before we even set off.


I was dressed in a simple black dress in the hope that my vintage hat from Hebden Bridge would be enough of a distraction and provide the right elegant touch – which was exciting as it tipped over both my eyes and my camera. We made a right merry site gunning down the bus lane towards Marble Arch, flags flapping behind as people turned to gawp at us. After taking a short cut through Green Park we traversed the Mall and came to a screeching halt at our destination, where we were seriously outnumbered by police. But blimey did we look good!

gathered in Green Park as we approach!


As we pulled sashes and t-shirts and badges and stickers from our panniers people began to arrive in their droves. The sun shone down as the cyclists spilled from the pen into the road and the police did little to resist.


Tim cranked up Pedals, the bike sound system, and I chatted to people – it was great to discover that people had come from afar on the strength of joining our facebook group – ah, I do love to feel vindicated on the subject of social networking. I was also very pleased to see lots of children along for the ride, suitably togged up with sashes and of course helmets.

maybe our youngest Rusher?

And a lot more customisation of sashes, which have suddenly found new lives as headbands on hats, ties around bike baskets, cumberbund style belts and a whole host more. Marina just opted to pile a whole load on, and looked a treat for it.

a basket full of skipped flowers gets the sash treatment


my fabulous vintage visor-meets-pie hat!

Then the Hare Krishnas arrived with a mighty noise that had the whole gathering swivelling their heads; a whole band seated in two trailers behind bicycles. I was astonished to see that a drum kit could indeed be transported this way (plus a rather large drummer).


Once several hundred people had gathered in place there were a few false starts before it was time to take off for a ceremonial circuit of the square, wooping all the way before we stopped off at our first destination, just yards from the starting point – BP’s head offices – they of the infamous byline “Beyond Petroleum“. And fact fans, you’ll no doubt be interested to hear that BP have in fact spent more on the whole Beyond Petroleum (as if!) advertising campaign than they have in fact spent on alternative energy. Brilliant! Why pour money into researching renewables when you can instead rape and pillage the earth for a fraction of the cost? And spend any extra cash on greenwashing instead. Fabulous plan; congratulations BP.


With that it was onwards on a winding route up to Piccadilly Circus, and from there up Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street, that grand bastion of consumerism -one of the biggest drivers of Climate Change. Tim gave a running commentary from the backseat of his tandem as we hollered our way down London’s flagship shopping street, before coming to a grand halt in the late evening sunshine smack bang in the middle of Oxford Circus. What a grand feeling! Many people seemed amused and even happy to see us, a grand diversion from the glittering goods in the windows.

stopped in the centre of Oxford Circus

As we sailed downhill along Regent Street I spotted a Lush store, still with our Trains Not Planes banner proudly displayed in the window. A bike-bound copper looked on worriedly as someone went closer to take a look. Duh! They’re our friends – just take a look at the Evening Standard-alike banner outside the shop. We love Lush. We’re not about to do anything naughty!

hmmm, the Queen’s residence ahead in the late evening sun…

On our second stop at Piccadilly Circus Tim cheekily waited until the lights went red “cos us cyclists always run red lights” before leading us across the main junction and down towards the Mall, where we sallied into the sunshine up to Buckingham Palace. I met the naked cyclists, who I’d been promised were attending. The girls had bikinis on and they all wore lots of paint, the better to cover up with, but they still looked rather fetching, if slightly less than wholely naked. And despite rumours to the contrary they were happy to sport a sash to protect their modesty as well.


It was then but a short hop down to Victoria, where we paused to consider the headquarters of BAA – boooooooo. And then on past BERR, where, funnily enough, Neil “the weasel” FIT photographer was waiting for us. We all waved “hi” to him as he lowered his massive equipment and smiled slightly sheepishly at us. You know who we are Neil, and we all know who you are too. Why don’t you just get a better job? One in which you are helping to protect a better world for all, not just the interests of the few? Still, I have to commend the actions of the police who came along for the ride – for once they really did seem to be protecting the rights of protesters – having cross words with impatient drivers revving their engines and generally preventing overly aggressive behaviour from motorists.

wave to Neil everyone!

Oh god, this has turned into a bit of an opus as usual, and I haven’t even mentioned all of our stopping off points! The fact is that unless you were right down the front near the sound system it was pretty impossible to hear the guided tour. And anyway, everyone was just so happy to be commandeering the streets of London – there’s nothing like reclaiming our public highways to feel empowered – that it didn’t matter if our tour was a little haphazard in the end (and we left our notes at home anyway, so it was a bit of an ad-lib).

solidarity with the Tamils

And then we were at Parliament Square – the police momentarily blocked our entrance onto the roundabout, but then decided better as we filtered around them anyway. Soon we were level with the Tamils, who seemed somewhat bemused by our peace signs in solidarity. But oh what an inspiration they have been! Such tenacity. And then onwards to Westminster Bridge, where we turned in a big loop near the junction on the north side and stopped. Perhaps this would be an opportune place for that picnic we promised? A statement of our intent right next to the very seat of power that is failing us? The suggestion was met with amusement as it dawned on our riders that this was what we had in mind.

that bike sign on the road has gotta mean “stop” right?



Some clearly were not expecting it, but almost everyone was soon dropping their bikes to the road and pulling out their picnic blankets and food. As the sunset on Big Ben above us we raised our bikes aloft in joy, unfurled banners aplenty, and stood our ground. The police didn’t know what to do – FIT finally made it down from BERR, and climbed on top of a barrier right above where I’d left my bike. Weirdly the bamboo pole holding up my lovely Climate Rush flag was latter found snapped in two shortly afterwards. I hate to make accusations but…


what a marvelous family!

bike aloft



As a bendy bus made an awkward 360 degree turn on the bridge passersby continued to stream past, snapping away and generally beaming at our audacity. A string of brightly coloured bunting cordoned off our blockade.

fun with a bendy bus!



The soundsystem was commandeered by a variety of eloquent speakers and Mark played us a tune or two. Sadly the promised celidh didn’t happen – our erstwhile fiddler had failed to materialise yet again and I was too busy running around like a headless chicken (taking photos) to figure out an alternative. I do apologise – multitasking got the better of me again.

astride Boudicca

gawping at their nerve

And then three Rushettes mounted the huge emblematic Boudicca statue in their stripey bloomers! One climbed right up to place a sash around Boudicca’s neck, before returning to sit astride one of the great beasts in a gesture of defiant victory. The first attempt to fly a flag from the horses’ hooves failed, but no matter, we’d been prolific in our banner making and another one was soon unfurled. Deeds Not Words. I think that powerful queen would have approved.

bike blockade

on a tandem

Shortly before 9pm the police approached us politely and charmingly (someone must have had words with them in recent weeks) to say that they would eventually have to move us on. We decided that it would be best to go out on a high and declared our intentions to the crowd, with an accompanying recommendation to come join us in a nice pub on The Cut by Waterloo. As we cycled off across the bridge I was amused to find tourists sitting in the middle of the road – thrilled with the lack of cars and the unexpected reclamation for bipedal human use.

enjoying the reclaimed bridge

At the pub we laid out our picnic blankets again and enjoyed the warm balmy night in the company of many new friends. I was particularly thrilled to speak with new Rushers and especially to those who had not expected our final destination to be quite so spikey, but who had welcomed the unexpected turn of events with open arms. Inspiring mass direct action – it’s what we do best… so join us on our next action against the dirty palm oil biofuel business; responsible for massive environmental degradation, huge contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the loss of 90% of the orangutans since the Suffragettes first walked this land. Don’t let those in power decide the future of our planet!

This Saturday, ailment The Land Is Ours collective will occupy some disused land near Hammersmith. An eco-village will take root, peacefully reclaiming land for a sustainable settlement, and getting in touch with the local community about its aims. In a year when nearly 13,000 Britons lost their homes to repossessions in the first three months, eco-villages point the way to a more down-to-earth lifestyle.

Back in May 1996, the same collective took over a spot on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth, in a land rights action that grew up over five and a half months into the Pure Genius community, based on sustainable living and protesting the misuse of urban land. Here are some photos from that project.


The Land Is Ours channel the spirit of the Diggers , a group of 17-century radicals who picked out and dug over a patch of common land in St George’s Hill in Walton-upon-Thames back in the day. They were led by Gerard Winstanley, who thought any freedom must come from free access to the land.

Here’s a little more from ‘Gerard Winstanley’ about this weekend:

What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?
Have a meeting. One of the first priorities is to leaflet the local area in order to inform the local people of what we are doing. Another priority is the construction of compost toilets.

Do you have lots of plans for sheds, vegetable patches and compost toilets?

Yes. Due to the nature of the site (ex-industrial) we will likely be using raised beds to grow vegetables and buckets for potatoes. It being London, there should be a good supply of thrown away materials from building sites and in skips. Compost toilets are pretty essential.

?What kinds of people are you expecting to turn up?
All sorts. Hopefully a mixture of those keen to learn and those willing to teach. ??


?I read the Chapter 7 manifesto. Have you notified the council or planning authority of your plans, or are you keeping to the idea that once you’re there, with homes under construction, it’s difficult to evict?
We haven’t notified the council yet- but we have a liaison strategy in place for when we’re in.

On that note, how long do you hope to be there?
The longevity of the Eco-village depends on how committed its residences and just as crucially how the local urban populus respond to our presence. If we receive the support we need, the council will likely think twice before embarking on an unpopular eviction (at least that’s the theory!).


Could this realistically become a permanent residence, or is it more likely to be valuable simply as campaigning?
Hopefully it can be both. There is no reason why this site cannot sustain a core group of committed individuals and serve as a brilliant awareness raiser to the issue of disused urban land, lack of affordable housing and the a sustainable way of living that is friendly to people and planet and liberating.


?Can I come along?
Of course, we are meeting at Waterloo Station at 10AM this Saturday (underneath the clock).

What might I need to do?
Bring a tent, sleeping bag and some food and water. You may be interested to read an article written by a journalist from the Guardian concerning the eco-village.


So dig yourself out of bed this Saturday, and go discover the beginnings of London’s newest eco-village.
Those of us who have grown up in this country have it built into our subconscious from an early age that summer does not automatically equal sun. Summer holidays from school would be six restless weeks of pleading with the clouds to part for just long enough that we might be able to leave our houses, pharmacy get to the park and partake in an activity and hopefully home again all before the heavens open and the rain chucks it down. We accept and expect a lack of skin-bronzing ice cream-melting sun rays during June, website July and August just as we have learnt to accept and expect that December, information pills January and February make no guarantees for snow.


So it makes it even more endearing that a west coast American, Elizabeth Jaeger, accustomed to the balmy climate of San Francisco would take it upon herself to pen a gently begging letter to the weathermen and women of England asking them to do all they can to ensure her project that takes place this weekend in Victoria Park is not going to be rained off. So excited is she that her creative get together is a success this weekend, copies of her preparatory pleading have made it into the hands of meteorologists in Britain this week.


Dear Weatherman,

I hope this finds you well.

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you. Your advisories’ predictions of the upcoming weather have been impeccable as of late – I really do appreciate knowing when to bring my umbrella.

I am writing you, Mr. Weatherman, because I have a small favor to ask. I am planning to have a picnic in Victoria Park on Saturday, 6th June, 2009, and it is simply imperative that we have good sunny weather in London. You see, we will have delicious food, a spin party, a chalk party, and music, and it would be devastating if it happened to rain – as the food might get soggy, the spinning might have to be at a very slow pace, the chalk might not stick, and the rain might ruin the instruments. I am inviting picnic goers from near and far, and I would not want them to arrive to find only mud.

I ask you then, Mr. Weatherman, if you could plan on having sunshine all day on 6th June, that we may fully enjoy our delicious picnic. I would also like to ask that there be good weather for performance going on Sunday, 7th June 2009. A performance will take place at the gallery space of Ken, and it would be such a shame if the viewers were not able to come in their Sunday best (floral dresses, dress trousers, khaki shorts, collard shirts, sunglasses, and smiles). If you think this request might need to be forwarded on to other weathermen who deal with locations upwind of London – could you please, if you wouldn’t mind, make some suggestions of whom?

I hope that this request is not too much to ask of you, as I imagine you are very busy finishing off with the spring.


Elizabeth Jaeger


As a co-founder of the delightfully pro active group ‘Do It Together Projects’ (DIT) and dabbler in the mediums of sculpture, photography, drawing, painting and craft, creativity may as well be her middle name. She is also partly responsible for the annual exhibition in Oregon with the Miranda July-esque title ‘I love you here is what I made’, and at only 21 years old this all deserves more than a little adoration.
‘Perfect Day’ is a two parter, only one of which relies on the lack of precipitation. Once the ‘picnic’/chalk party/spin party has drawn to a close on Saturday, the gaggle will reconvene under the shelter of Ken for continued performance and jollity.


Her own prediction for the day is that it may turn out to be ‘horribly horribly pleasant’ and on reflecting just how the day will take structure she humbly offers that Im not sure if what i am doing is actually an art performance, but ‘bread, cheese and wine will be served, so maybe it would be fun to come along. ‘
If her previous DIT gatherings in the States such as card making, book writing and mask making are anything to go by, no amount of English rain will make this event a wash out.


Saturday 6th June

2pm Victoria Park
Grove Road
London E3 5SN

Sunday 7th June

7pm Ken
35 Kenton Road
London E9 7AB


We have our fingers and toes crossed that Elizabeth Jaeger gets her weather wish, and we hope you do too.
The Summer Exhibition 2009
Royal Academy
6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3EX

8th June – 16th August
10am-6pm Everyday except Friday 10am-10pm
Entry: £9/8


This exciting annual show continues to be the largest of it’s kind in the world, stomach displaying new work from established as well as unknown artists under an open-submission policy with the curator appointed theme ‘Making Space’. With 241 years experience in bringing sculpture, approved photography, more about architecture, painting and printmaking to the public, they are clearly still on to a good thing.


Russell Maurice ‘Given Up The Ghost’
Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL

11th June – 28th June
Tuesday – Sunday 11:00am – 7:00pm


Since the mid 90′s, British born Maurice has produced paintings, prints, collages, sculptures and installations that reflect the spontaneous and informal nature of graffiti writing and have explored the recurring themes of energy, growth patterns and cycles in nature. This collection of new paintings, small-scale sculptures and installations, take these themes forward into new realms – to consider theories regarding the spirit world, the physical and metaphysical, consciousness and death.


1001 Nights – An exhibition of Fabric Graffiti Screen Prints
Rarekind Gallery
Downstairs @ 49 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA

Monday – Saturday 10am – 6.00 pm
11th June – 28th June


Due to the huge success of this exhibition at Bristol’s Studio Amour, Rarekind is bringing the highly skilled and beautiful mix of traditional fabric printing methods with exciting cutting edge graffiti to London. Proving that both artistic mediums demonstrate dedication, physical input and love, Rarekind exhibits prints, hanging fabrics, room dividers and cushions including coveted one off prints by Ponk and Amour , Nylon, Pref, Fary, Kid Acne, Elph, Dibo, Dora, Paris & Solo One.


Invisable Library
Tenderpixel Gallery
10 Cecil Court
London WC2N 4HE

12th June – 12th July
Monday – Friday 10:30apm – 7:00pm
Saturday 11:00am – 7:30pm
Sunday 1:00pm – 6:00pm


INK is an illustration collective that is holding the reigns at Tenderpixel Gallery for the next month for a busy schedule of events, talks and exhibitions. The Invisible Library is issuing an open invitation for cultural and musical figures as well as gallery visitors to write an opening or closing page of a ‘hidden novel’, the results of which will be published and exhibited.


Golden Lane: The Super Estate
20 Goswell Road
London EC1M 7AA

Until 30th June
Monday by appointment Tue – Fri: 11am – 6pm Sat: 11am – 5pm Sun: CLOSED


“As part of the Golden Lane Estate’s 50th anniversary celebrations (1957-1962), EXHIBIT at Golden Lane Estate is commit to work with 13 artists in 10 ideas and 20 months. Inspired by the confluence of modernist design and community mission, EXHIBIT aims to create a legacy for the cultural future of the Estate, an archive developed through the interaction of artists and designers with the community mediated by EXHIBIT to celebrate this modernist design masterpiece and encourage an ongoing creative conversation that keeps the community at its heart.”


Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair 2009
Old Truman Brewery
146 Brick Lane, E1 6QL

Sunday 14 June 2009
12pm – 6pm
Entry: £3


Pitching themselves as the ultimate ‘Recessionista’ event of 2009, Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair at the Truman Brewery is set to be epic. Highlights for us include Secret Wars winners and all round adorable couple Ed Hicks and Miss Led who will be customizing anything and everything brought before them. Anyone who showed up for last year’s fun packed day will recognize Miss Led from her incredible live car commission. Look out for a preview of this event later in the week.


Stop, Look & Listen
Subway Gallery
Until 30th June
open Monday – Saturday 11am – 7pm


Somewhere beneath Edgware Road where it meets Harrow Road is a 1960′s glass walled kiosk that three years ago was transformed by artist/curator Robert Gordon McHarg into a unique gallery space. Stop, Look & Listen is an exhibition about the space and it’s environment reflecting on the past shows and artists. They are also passionate about public interaction and interpretation, keen to spread the word about taking unused public space and using it for a creative outpost.


Wagner Pinto– Floating
Concrete Hermit
5a Club Row
E1 6JX

Until 4th July
Opening Times: 10am – 6pm Mon – Sat


“Taking influence from the mix of religions and influences across South America such as candomble – a religion which melds Catholicism and African traditions Pintos paintings materialize forces of nature, mythology and religious icons, imaginary situations, mental impulses and fine energies. The idea is to bring to the surface, to the senses and to the view of visitors a floating universe, where even waves of thoughts have a rhythm, harmony, body and color, making the invisible visible to the human eye and in this way, to try to give a new direction to abstract art.”
Monday 8th June
Lissy Trullie at the ICA, visit this site London

New York’s lovely long-legged Lissie Trullie plays the ICA tonight, pill she sings of lost loves and first kisses in sultry world weary tones, with hooky bass lines and post punk-y drum beats in the background, not dissimilar to the Strokes. Her songs manage to be both wise and witty whilst endearingly naive. A refreshing take on a pretty male dominated music scene.


Tuesday 9th June
Kid Harpoon at Enterprise, London

Kid Harpoon makes me swoon! A regular fixture on the London indie scene having supported Mystery Jets to name but one. Kid Harpoon is also a talented musician in his own right, with his intelligent and disarmingly unassuming folk rock, a troubadour of our times!


Wednesday 10th June
The Fall and Buzzcocks at The Forum

Wednesday’s gig choice is an epic one this week…The Fall and Buzzcocks play The Forum! Mark E. Smith may be as mad as a bag of cats but there is no denying that The Fall are one of the most seminal and brilliant bands around, their live shows never fail to impress so I’ve heard. Plus who could resist dancing to Buzzcocks’ Never Fallen in Love and pretending to be 18 again?!


Thursday 11th June
Chad VanGaalen at ICA

Chad VanGaalen sounds like a lovely man, he makes his music in his basement in Alberta, and he draws. There is a real homemade quality to his creative process (home recorded CDs with hand drawn art) that is audible and his dreamy music evokes the most awed oohs and aahs . VanGaalen has been compared to everyone from Daniel Johnston to Ben Gibbard.


Friday 12th June
Vivian Girls at Cargo

I bang on a lot about the Vivian Girls at work (sorry other interns!) but they are genuinely very good indeed, which is why I’ll be heading to Cargo to see them this Friday, come on down and dance with me (because none of the other interns will…) to their all girl lo-fi surf punk!


Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June
Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre, London

Ornette Coleman is curating this year’s Meltdown Festival and it’s an eclectic mix, this weekend catch The Roots, Yoko Ono and Cornelius. It continues into the beginning of next week, so it is with a note of mystery that I end this week’s listings:
“To be Continued…”



By the early afternoon this Sunday, what is ed the sun had begun to shine. Hooray! Where better to spend such glorious afternoon than in a pitch-black, advice gloomy tent saddled in between a couple of old dears wearing cheap perfume whilst their make-up runs down their faces?

Cheeky! It could only be one place – Graduate Fashion Week 2009!

Forgive my introduction. I arrived to see the Edinburgh College of Art show in a bit of a state – and to make matters worse, case it was boiling inside. The move from Battersea to Earl’s Court last year might have aided things, but not entirely. Regardless, the show itself was excellent. Well produced and structured with 11 of ECA’s elite womenswear designers, cherry picked to delight us with their collections. Not a single one disappointed.

Raine Hodgson opened the show, with a flamboyant display of Russian folk-inspired costumes. Models wore bearskin-style furry hats, teamed with patterned trousers and long capes, in vibrant colours. Sheepskin, leather and silk were combined to create a luxurious wintery collection.



Mairi Dryden toned things down slightly, with a muted colour palette. This isn’t to say that the collection was boring – far from it – constructivist-inspired bronze printed dresses were teamed with voluminous tailored jackets and tapered trousers, providing a more sophisticated and fashion-forward look.



Amelia Hobson‘s cosmopolitan collection included oversized pants with paper-bag waists, worn loose around the thighs, creating interesting silhouettes and promoting the female form. Colonial elements such as huge loose knots and large wooden jewellery complimented discrete hints of animal prints.



Sarah Martin‘s intriguing but delightful collection consisted of ‘clean minimal silhouettes’ wearing basic tailoring, contrasting with bold ‘playful’ bright yellow accents in the form of rubber-like coats and accessories.



The stand-out collection in this show was Natalie Morris‘s stunning all-black numbers. Art Deco-shaped fascinators were teamed with bold silhouettes, enhancing the female shape. Soft wools were married with stiffer fabrics, suggesting a hint of kink. Morris’ models sure got sex appeal.



Overall, Edinburgh proved that they are a force to be reckoned with at Graduate Fashion Week. The shortest show I saw yesterday, it still packed the same punch as the larger university collections, and in a struggling financial climate it is great to see that nobody shyed away from fabulous, flamboyant, forward fashion. Edinburgh have produced a plethora of talented womenswear designers who will no doubt move on to big things.


Northumbria University whipped up a storm at Graduate Fashion Week on Sunday – to nobody’s surprise, frankly. Year after year the university never fails to deliver intelligent, fresh and innovative collections.

As UNN alumni, I am indeed biased. I cannot help but gush about the quality of fashion that Northumbria produces each year, so this is more of a love letter than a write-up. The show steals my heart and leaves me reeling.

Shakespearian amore aside, the show kicked off with Nicola Morgan’s top-notch tailoring accompanied by thumping music. The soundtrack is always so loud at GFW, sometimes too much, but it tends to add to the intesity of the event, and each song is selected as a suitable accompaniment to each student’s collection. Morgan’s innovative garments each comprised of individual pieces of fabric which interlock – breaking the boundaries of fashion and making clothing adaptable by the user. The technique, however subtle, still lended itself to producing fashion-forward garments.


Ruth Davis’ vibrant knitwear came soon after. Worn for winter, hooded tops, scarves and dresses bore large-scale graphic patterns in the brightest hues…


Sliding back to sophistication, Marie McDonagh presented an all black collection, redolent of the fabulous forties. High gloss materials complimented slick tailoring, and this geometric jacket was a winner – it’s sporadic shiny squares accenting the bejewelled detailing on a simple yet elegant dress.


Steph Butler’s interesting use of layered, laser-cut material to create statement tops, pants and coats created interesting shapes and the models bore bold silhouettes.


Rio Jade Maddison’s aim is to create ‘thought-provoking, creative’ garments with sex appeal. This she did. A sleek, mostly all-black collection, Maddison created sexy slim-line shapes. Models wore skull caps and ruffs, teamed with dresses embellished with shiny studs and spikes, for a hint of kink…


Juxtaposed with Maddison’s slick and sexy collection was Holly Storer, who presented elegant dresses using a warm palette, heavily reliant on a gradient of red. Short yet demure dresses were decorated with pretty origami roses to create a glamorous yet sophisticated look.


Finally, it is a given that the menswear at Northumbria is always of a very high standard, so it was no surprise to see Maxwell Holmes’ fantastic tailoring that any sartorial dresser would snap up in a flash. High-waisted tailored trousers were worn with brightly coloured braces, tartan bow-ties and smooth shoes, referencing a decades of classic menswear. The craftsmanship here is delectable and wouldn’t look out of place on a London Fashion Week runway ? in fact, I’ve seen much worse there! This embroidered dinner jacket doesn’t break any new ground, but boy is it hot… and the model’s not bad either…


Until next year, Northumbria. I love you.

Maybe it was the heat. Yes, viagra dosage that’s it. The heat. The heat that caused the Old Blue Last‘s normally reliable PA to pack up for most of the evening, leaving an expectant throng, marinading in lager and gin, to bask in the receding sunlight whilst the sound engineer banged his head against a wall. The heat that made it seem like an eternity (well, to those of us who had unwisely not booked in advance for a ticket) as, once normal service was resumed, said throng dutifully filed in to fill the less than cavernous upstairs bar in a fashion that would suit a sardine. The heat that created a sweat-soaked (if you were stood at the front) fervour rarely seen on a Monday night. Still, it was worth it.


As for Matt and Kim themselves. Well, where to begin? Mid-global tour to promote their new long-player, Grand, they rock up in deepest Shoreditch on their sole UK date and immediately tear a new one in this earnest heartland of skinny jeans and silly hairdos. With Kim mercilessly bashing the skins like a latter-day Moe Tucker, wearing a grin as wide as a Cheshire cat, and Matt pounding at his keyboards with wild abandon, the Brooklyn duo treated us to some (occasionally Ramones-velocity) nuggets such as Daylight, Yea Yeah and, of course, the gem that is Silver Tiles (sounding even more like the song Brandon Flowers would have given his last Britpop compilation for to have crafted).


They meld spunky New Wave rhythms, the dirtiest end of DIY electro-pop and a whole lot of enthusiasm to create a heady brew.
And we had incident. Kim’s drum stool broke halfway through the set. We had crowd surfing. In fact, Kim had a brief crowd surf herself, accompanied by Matt playing the introduction to Sweet Child O’ Mine, to a roar of approval from the crowd.


We also had a brief rendition of the synth riff to Europe‘s Final Countdown. It just seemed such a perfectly natural thing to do. And Matt and Kim seemed genuinely bowled over by the riotous reaction of the crowd. Ah, yes the heat. It was worth it.


Photos appear courtesy of Richard Pearmain

If you’re not careful, website after some time spent gazing at one of Femke Hiemstra’s illustrations you may start to notice that everything in your periphery has gone fuzzy, the antique spoon you were stirring your coffee with is grinning at you and the gingerbread man you were going to dunk and nibble has got a little bloodlust in his eye. This cadre of anthropomorphic objects and smoking creatures has me hypnotized and now ‘who to befriend?’ and ‘what are they up to?’ are the only things I care to contemplate. Unfathomably skilled and allegorically gifted, Femke paints the childplay of our subconscious onto antiques finds like books and cigarette tins. She has an appetite for description and reclaims vintage treasures as her canvases. Currently exhibiting in Lush Life at Washington’s Roq la Rue Gallery and a new book Rock Candy coming out this year and, from her home in Amsterdam, Femke Hiemstra tells us more about what goes into this pop surrealist’s soup.


What’s the reason for using inanimate objects as characters?
Why an apple or a mikshake cup? I’m not quite sure, but I think that I’m appealed to the shape at first and I also see characters in them and want to put those personalities on a canvas. Also, I think that drawing a car would bore me.

So much of your work is about light and dark, a shadowy world of storytelling. For all the worlds you describe are there any worlds/places you would like to explore?
I look at things differently, through my own ‘high sensitive’ glasses so to say. In a way I’m already in another world.

The facial expressions in your characters are amazing, what do you refer to when you’re painting them?
I think my inpsiration comes from the ‘enlarged personalities’ I see on the big screen or read in comics. French and Belgian ones mostly. All the ones my dad read like Obelix & Asterix and Lucky Luke.


That and the great adventurer TinTin of course! I ADORE the “Japanese Mountain Lady” piece. Sinister old ladies are always appearing in Asian stories.
Thanks so much! It was a piece I made for the Fantagraphics Beasts book. This is a compilation of illustrated cryptozoological curiosities. I choose to draw a Japanese Mountain Woman, a female demon who roams japanese hills in search of lonely travelers who she attacs and devours. When I read the story I first thought of the mountain woman as a young but creepy Japanese beauty in a lovely kimono. But when I did my research I found out that the ‘Yama-uba’ was actually an old hag in rags. I could have changed her appearance and take the artistic freedom to make her young and pretty but I choose to go with old bat version. This piece is an example of a digital work. I first made a graphite drawing, scanned it and coloured it digitally in Photoshop.

You mentioned some of the themes you draw from are strong emotions like battles, a hunt, a lost or tragic love or the ‘romantic’ death. Do you see those in the world today?
Well, yes, but my work is not about modern stories, politics or anything else that takes place in this century. And though the ‘actors’ I paint may be recent I beam them to other times. My interest goes to a time where everything had it’s own pace, where there was time for rituals. I do stand with both feet in modern times (except perhaps, that I don’t Skype), but ‘vintage’ with all the scratches that comes with it breaths more life and just appeals to me more.


I couldn’t agree more that there is a void where value used to exist. Disposable objects, obsessions with the new and therfor youth. The absence of rituals, as you mentioned is a very good example of that. We’re too busy running about to notice and acknowledge something’s significance. Do you see any examples around you these days that some of that IS still around?
Im fascinated by smoking, even though Im not a smoker myself. I’m very attracted to the power of it, the Hollywood-esque forms it can have when a hunky bloke or a femme fatale lits a cigarette. It’s not what you’d call a ritual nowadays though, but it played an important role in older times, used in negotiations or to get in contact with the spirit world. In the Victorians days, certain gentlemen would put on a velvet or cashmere smoking jacket and a beautifully embroideried smoking cap to enjoy a cigar or pipe.
But other modern rituals? Not close to me I guess. But you can re-create them yourself. After reading The Devil’s Picnic, a book by Taras Grescoe on modern day taboo’s, I got into drinking Absinthe. It’s just a small ritual, but still a great thing to do. It begins by finding the right glasses or buying a beautiful absinthe spoon and then at home follow the steps to get that opalescence ‘louche’ drink.

Is there some of that represented in your work?
I’ve been inpspired by rituals for a while now. By burial or religious rituals, eating and drinking rituals… Today I went to see a wonderful Exhibition of Haitian Vodou in one of Amsterdam’s ethongraphic museum ‘The Tropenmuseum’. It was brilliant. A mix of African rituals and Catholic aspects blended into a religion with no dogma or hierarchy. You bet you’ll find influences of that in my future works.


You’ve painted on everything from cigarette tins to holy water basins. Where do you find your lovely treasures?
Fleamarkets, second hand book stores and collectors fairs. And small town bric-a-brac’s that are run by the village idiot.

What object have you dreamed of one day painting on?
An antique bible with metal corners.

Every artist need a bit of release during their day…what’s the last song you danced to? Sang out loud to?
I sing out loud every day to all kinds of music! (I work at home. It’s a big advantage if you’re an ‘along singer’ like me). The last song must have been something from Iron Maiden or that last Elbow album, those are the two cd’s I listened to today. The last song I danced to was Death to Los Campesinos by Los Campesinos.

You must have incredible dreams! What was the last dream you remember having?
Oh man, I have the weirdest dreams sometimes. I’m not really drink much alcohol and don’t do drugs which, perhaps, makes it all even weirder, but every now and then I can wake up from a dream and be thinking ‘… did that all just happen in MY head?’ But dreams are fun. Today a friend of mine told me she found herself crying over her bike that got its ‘head’ chopped off on a bicycle battefield. Woooo… weird!


Is there somewhere you’ve traveled that has influenced you. Is there some place you’d like to visit, bottom of the ocean, back alley in Shanghai, your neighbor’s attic…?
Russia, or more presicely, Moskow. I love to see that one day. I’ve read this book about it written by a Dutch correspondent who lives there and it must be such a contradictional place. That I just have to see for myself. And Japan, of course! Characters galore on every street corner and in every vending machine. Seeing the polar lights up north is also on my wishlist.

I could so easily see how your work could be translated into motion or animation. Has anyone ever approached you about that?
Disney wanted me to make a proposal for a tv animation short. Of course I was thrilled and I dropped everything I was working on to focus on it. But once I showed my first proposal this assignment with ‘total creative freedom’ turned into one of the biggest brain drains of my creative career. I wrote about it on my blog. (read about it) So animation… I dunno! I’m not exactly jumping of joy. But Disney’s sitll a bit fresh, for now I’m very happy painting.


I just saw your badges/pins and was wondering if they are actually hand painted?
No, those are printed. Sometimes a bunch of collegues and me are invited to do live badge drawing at the Lowlands (alternative) music fesitval in Holland, together with our badge producer Buzzworks. People can make their own badges or have an artist draw one for them. It’s like a school trip for artists, amidst cool visitors and cool music. It’s always a lot of fun.

Wahoo, let’s all pile into to the school bus and make for the Dutch Lowlands, who’s with me? Femke’s skills as an illustrator/storyteller are razor sharp. Just so happens she’s incredibly fun to interview too. Hmmm, now what sinister playmates does that remind me of?

Recently Femke’s fantastical work has garnered the attention of an unlikely admirer in the form of a counterfeiter!!! Good grief, is no one safe?
Sunday 7th June, erectile 2009

Spare a thought for the student designers at Graduate Fashion Week. They’ve had innumerable sleepless nights and they’ve sewn into the small hours. Their reward? To stand up at GFW for over nine hours day, pharmacy grinning deliriously and trying their best to woo potential employers.

After a gruelling day on Sunday, prescription you can understand why people were starting to look forlorn. BUT what better way to cheer up than the University of East London show – an effervescent romp through the Capital’s latest talent? First out to get our pulses racing was Sam Hoy – presenting masculine tailoring juxtaposed with soft feminine shapes. Sport-inspired body-con tops were teamed with shiny gloss metal embellishments for dramatic effect.


Shireen Shomaly’s collection focussed on the assembly of objects. Intricate geometric shapes in leather and suede were layered up to define the appearance of garments, whilst delicate laser-cut forms had the reverse effect on contrasting pieces. Shomaly’s use of rich purples and greens gave the collection a welcomed luxurious edge.


Next, Ayroza Dobson’s collection came bounding down the catwalk to the sounds of MIA‘s Bucky Done Gun (the third time we’d heard this track this afternoon). Short dresses were plastered with large discs bearing graphic symbols, and one dress – one of my favourite pieces this year – had a sequinned ‘cheeky postcard’ illustration on the rear of a striking yellow dress.


Sevda Salih’s sophisticated and mature collection featured structured blazers with masculine shoulders and a gorgeous combination of rich silks, married with gold PVC, providing accents on an otherwise monochromatic palette. Salih’s pièce de résistance was a voluminous hexagonal cape, drawing inspiration from architecture. Not one for the office, but fabulous nevertheless.


Caelie Martha Jones presented some intriguing menswear – dressing models in bold baggy trousers paired with graphic prints. I’d bag this Smurf-illustrated shirt in a flash…


One of my favourite collections of the show, by Natasha Goff, featured bold statement pieces bearing graphic prints. Inspired by dance, models wore asymmetric and maxi dresses featuring hand painted pictures. Vibrant, playful colours made this collection a winner.


Kerry Louise Hobbs showed a mature collection which drew inspiration from original African dressing. Dynamic shapes with exaggerated features, such as huge blouson sleeves, accentuated the female silhouette. Hobbs also made great use of rural colours, and simple but effective prints.


Closing the show was Lucy Bryan. Taking us back to black, Bryan’s collection was confident and sleek. Galvanised by the beauty of black swans and ravens, Bryan’s models wore structured dresses with a nod to conceptual designers. Jackets were structured to accentuate the shoulders for a more dynamic figure and pieces fitted tight around the waistline and then buckled around the buttocks. The show piece – a shell-like cape which hid the model’s figure and was adorned with a row of feathers, captivated the audience and was the perfect climax.


I caught up with a couple of the students after the show to find out a little bit more…



Where did the ideas for your collection come from?

Dance was a big part of my childhood – ballet, tap. I wanted to feature this huge influence in my collection.

How were the outfits created?

I used dancers and projected images onto the pieces. All the designs are hand painted, using a projector to define the image onto the fabric. Some were projected onto the garments when they had been constructed, some I projected onto the fabric first. This allowed for different effects to come through.

You worked for Siv Stodal during your placement year – how was that?

Great. I worked there for one a day a week, assisting her with her show and looking at things like sampling.

Has that influenced your collection?

Definitely. It was great to work in that kind of highly creative, East London studio-based environment. I also did a very commercial placement [Courtaulds UK] which was very different but just as enjoyable.

Which other designers do you admire?

I like designers who have combined art and fashion – Hussein Chalayan, who incoroprates sculpture into his work – for example. I also adore John Galliano – I love his use of colour and statement dressing.

What’s the plan for the immediate future?

I haven’t started looking yet! Definitely design – I’d like to work with a high-end designer where there’s more freedom, and you’re not restricted so much by money and figures.

‘Revenge of the Birds’


Why birds?

Well, ironically, I’m scared of birds! I did loads of research, and started collecting images I liked and the research went on a journey which led me to birds.

How did this develop?

The main inspiration came from birds wings, in particular black swans. I used the wings on the female form to see what sort of silhouettes they made, which gave me the shapes for the collections.

Did you enjoy the show?

It was pretty stressful before hand, but watching the show was really exciting and it’s great to see your garments come to life.

Which designers do you look to for inspiration?

Gareth Pugh’s collections are always amazing, and his structural pieces have been the biggest influence on my collection. I also love Chloé and Lanvin.

What does the future hold?

I have no idea! I’d love to work in design or buying. [Lucy interned at Ralph Lauren as a buyer’s admin assistant] I guess I’ll just see what happens!

I’m no Londoner – so when my fellow Amelia’s Magazine Earth Editor Cari sent me off to Brixton Ritzy Cinema, medical a glance at the tube map sent me off into untested waters at the end of the Victoria line.


Caught in the rush – swimming with the stream – I saw Electric Avenue and assumed a cinema should be that way. Asking a fishmonger for reassurance, I was pointed in the opposite direction, and bashfully walked past the bus queues I had hurriedly blanked moments before. The first hints of something fishy reached my tube-heat-addled brain when a clear signpost at the station pointed me back another way once more. Was the fish man out to lure me away from Brixton’s brighter lights, an anglerfish of these parts? Was he planted by the fishing lobby to prevent this very report? How far did the tentacles of this conspiracy extend?

Squeezing into my cinema seat (sparing you the obvious sardine pun) I reflected on the currents that had brought me here. The film was introduced by a local Greenpeace activist, with the true-hearted exhortation : to come out of this film inspired to build a better and more sustainable world.

Before I get into it, here’s what to do :

Ask before you buy – only eat sustainable fish.

Tell the politicians – respect the science, cut the fishing fleet.

Join the campaign – for marine protected areas and responsible fishing.


Opening with a theme tune somewhere between Jaws and Harry Potter, the mixed tone of imminent danger, mystery and optimism is well set for the rest of the film. Based on the book of the same title, ‘The End of the Line’, written by Daily Telegraph journalist Charles Clover, the film sweeps the viewer from place to plaice across the world, backed up by scientists, fishermen and fishermen-turned-investigators who clearly lay out the argument around the exhaustion of the world’s fish stocks and what to do now.

The story starts in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1992, when John Crosbie, then Canada’s Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, announced a total stop on cod fishing. The inexhaustible ocean, where cod were once so abundant that it was said you could cross the Atlantic walking on their backs, the ocean was exhausted.

Boris Worm then published a study of the fish we fish at the moment, predicting that they will all be gone by 2048 if nothing changes.


The obvious solution is to fish less. In Europe, the EU fisheries commission takes charge of this, which sounds lovely until you look at the figures. WWF scientists consider 15 thousand tonnes a year the maximum to avoid total collapse, and 10 would allow the fish to recover. The commission set the limit of 29.5, which was then almost totally ignored by the industry, who fished 61 thousand tonnes in one year.

The West Coast of Africa is particularly affected by the economics and politics of fish quotas. Adalu Mbegaul, an artisanal fisherman from Senegal, feels betrayed by his government as they sell the fishing rights for their waters to foreign boats. These boats come in from Europe, and more and more from Asia, with industrial capacity that swamps anything he can put out. Adalu has a young daughter, and is considering taking to the sea for the dangerous trip to Europe, where there might be a future for her – ‘It is safe there and it is not safe,’ he says, and of course, ‘Our fish are welcome in Europe, but our people are not so welcome.’

It’s not just a matter of stopping eating fish – 1.2 billion people around the world depend on it as their main source of protein. But particularly for the richer people in the world, the trend to eat salmon and tuna, and rarer fish, in the quantities that we do, is harmful. The Marine Conservation Society have a certification scheme for supermarket-sold fish : look out for their oval blue sign, which is a step towards consumers being able to make informed choices about the sustainability of the fish we buy.


Farming fish, which sounds great, is actually not wonderful. Farmed salmon, for example, takes 5kg of anchovy fish-meal to make 1kg of salmon – so the wild stocks are just depleted indirectly.

The other thing to do is to set up protected areas, which cover less than 1% of the ocean today. The film calls for 20-30% coverage by 2012, which would cost an estimated $12-14 billion yearly to set up and patrol, comparable to the $15-20 billion of fisheries subsidies which are currently paid out each year. In the UK, there’s an early day motion calling for a Marine Reserves Bill which would set up the network of marine protected areas necessary to rebuild UK commercial fish stocks and stop the damage being caused to the ecosystems. You can check who has signed it here and get in touch with your MP easily at

Finally, Greenpeace marine biodiversity campaigner Andy Tate gave a welcomingly unbeardy q&a session after the film, dispelling the dooooom-laden air of some questions, and happily recommending that we all ask awkward questions the next time we’re down the chippy.
It’s true what they say – the journey is as important as the destination. As all commuting Londoners can appreciate, order anything that brightens, stomach lifts or eases that (in some cases) hour or two spent each day trudging back and forth from home to work and back home again is a true blessing. Waiting morning after morning on overcrowded platforms for overcrowded trains to arrive, abortion only to then spend your travels involuntarily nuzzled into someone’s already moist armpit or being subjected to an individual’s morning mega mix on their Ipod they can’t control the volume of, whilst paying above the odds for the pleasure of it all, can be trying a the best of times. If only the Underground system could offer us something in return; just a little ‘I’m on your side’ token of gratitude for sticking it out and soldiering on. Something that says ‘It hasn’t all been in vain.’

Amanda Taylor

The answer to our prayers comes in the form of Art Below, an organisation which holds the belief that public space can and should be utilised as exhibition space. Working with galleries, universities and other art organisations Art Below has infiltrated the tube stations and surrounding areas of London, Tokyo and more recently, Berlin with fresh engaging cutting edge creativity. What makes them different from Art on the Underground that also promote the swap of advert space for artwork is that Art on the Underground is a charity, and have an educational slant in that they use work by more established artists, and the theme of the underground and travel features heavily.

Sahatarch Pittarong

Ben Pentreath

It has been a busy 4 years for Art Below, with over 480 artists and designers involved in showcasing photography, art, illustration and fashion in spaces that would otherwise be occupied by corporate advertising. It’s a scheme that cleverly benefits all involved; the public are entertained, the anti consumerists bask in one less billboard trying to sell us stuff we don’t want or need, and naturally the artists themselves gets the best exposure and promotion they could hope for, their work reaching an audience that may not have the time or inclination to visit galleries or museums.

Art Below in Tokyo

Art Below in Tokyo

Who, what and where to exhibit is decided in coalition between Art Below and the submitting artist. Ben Moore, one of the key figures in creation of Art Below tells me that not all art works on the tube, and not every tube station works for every artist. For example Gloucester Road is particularly well lit, and Finsbury Park can work as an entire platform. Ben is keen to point that “The concept is far more important to us that aesthic beauty; we want art that is here and now, with something to say, a message. We deal with artists that use current affairs and can be provoking.”

Matt Black

Once the artists are selected, their work stays up for 2 weeks and as it has been estimated that over 150,000 people use the tube in London every hour, that is clearly an amazing opportunity. Ben adds that “each piece is a one off, and that makes us different from groups like Art Underground who reproduce a poster 25 times. With us, there is an element of it being a rarity and therefore an excitement that unless you go through that station every day, you won’t see that piece anywhere else.” Art Below are constantly on the lookout for artists that interest them personally and have approached people they admire to produce commissions. They are proud to consider themselves responsible for the discovery of big talents like Sarah Maple and Oliver Clegg.

Sarah Maple

Art Below operates like any other business. For their money the artists receive a service; their work is printed, exposed, distributed and sold. Anyone who does exhibit gets a spot on the website too, and a chance to sell prints of their posters through the online shop, with a handsome cut of the sales. Ben explains “This whole project started as a mobile phone with £5 credit on it, and a borrowed laptop. And now we hire other people, we work from a Chelsea art space; we are making art history, in a way. If Art Below keeps on expanding the way it has been doing, then we really will be making a mark and that’s what it’s all about.”

Art Below in Berlin

Art Below in Berlin

When we discuss how Art Below transfers to audiences abroad, Ben tells me that London is not in anyway typical. “Berlin is very easygoing, more so than London. Anything goes, you know. And the reaction was amazing. You leave London you free yourself from so much conformity, and the hierarchical structure this city has. In Germany and in France (where Art Below are hoping to head next) doors for creativity like this are opening.” However, when the project headed to Tokyo, things took a lot longer to happen. ‘They (Japan) are very strict with content. Some things that were rejected we had no idea why. Also the process was slower; the authorities want work submitted way ahead of time. It was expensive, but they are highly organised and the quality is amazing.”

Josh McKible

Art Below and the examples they are setting deserve global domination as far as I’m concerned. They are altering the way we think, feel and appreciate public space as something we, the public, rightfully own and empowering us to chose what use to make of it. Party on.

What did you see on the tube today?

Thumbnail by Anardeep Sian
So it’s the second day of Graduate Fashion Week and I’m just about getting into the swing of things and had a look into a couple of the less anticipated shows with interest – Salford, capsule Salisbury and Central Lancashire. With regard to Salford and Salisbury (who shared a show) there was some interesting work, health although the Central Lancashire show was disappointing (and, nurse dare I say, slightly hellish, with a 45-minute soundtrack of classic rock and saxophone solos, coupled with the heat, served to exacerbate my already negative reaction to the uninspiring designs).

Salisbury’s Francesca Lombardi produced a resort-inspired, overtly feminine collection with a soft colour palette of peach and baby blue, and attractively printed silk dresses and harem pants covered in cartoon images of seaside life. I felt it was a well-constructed idea of luxury that could have easily been on the wrong side of mature, but Lombardi infused her designs with a youthful humour, with some modern tailoring made classic by neckties and headscarves.




The standout closing collection from the Salford graduates was Gemma Clements’s, a strange and disquieting set of designs that married the freakishness of the New York Club Kids with the suburban feel of the Stepford Wives.



Each model was entirely incarcerated from head to toe in block floral fabric, with grotesque poses and matching umbrellas enforcing an idea of a hyperbolic version of femininity that seemed to be straight out of an Angela Carter novel.


As the models stormed down the catwalk together in the finale, the fetishised image of 1950s suburbia drew a strong reaction from the crowd and reminded me of Alexander McQueen’s own wish to empower women by making them frightening to us as well as alluring. Amongst a selection of designs that seemed to play it safe it was nice to see something so forcefully conceptual – even though it’s an idea that’s arguably a little dated. Fashion has traditionally been a good platform to explore gender roles but I think it’s an idea that’s certainly becoming less relevant over time.

As a general rule, though, the BA shows are notorious for outlandish designs so the tameness of a lot of the collections on show left me a little jaded, but with any luck Day 3 should send me into freefall…

As a menswear specialist, more about it is irrevocably informative to look at the work of designers who specialise in other areas. Imagine my delight then, abortion as I sat through two shows at Graduate Fashion Week consisting entirely of womenswear, and having loose connections with both, I was looking forward to the Somerset College show and De Monfort.

First up was DeMontfort, with the opener an ethnic inspired collection from Zathew Zheng. Reds and yellows highlighted the monochrome base and plated accessories did the job of setting up high expectations for a decent show.


Looking through the names in the running order in the delay (who expects a fashion show to start bang on time, anyway, even at GFW) I was trying to sniff out talent purely on the grounds of a good name. Bromleigh Budd’s particularly caught my eye and correspondingly (in fact, inevitably) it was one of the best collections: dark and beautiful but simultaneously relaxed, with wonderful devoree dinosaurs and sparkling perspex discs.


Another favourite of mine came in the form of a Jonathan Saunders-esque designs of digitally printed sports/lounge/eveningwear from Nicky Leung, a relaxed collection of soft colours and fluid shapes.


Next up was Somerset College. Being a Somerset boy myself, I was eagerly anticipating a show that might remind me of the pastoral pleasures of home that somehow elude the smog of East London, and, as if reading my mind, the first on the runway was Paula Fisher’s collection, an evening wardrobe of a sharp-dressing sheepshearer.


She showed some interestingly cut feminine sheepskin coats in navy and cream that my great uncle Ed (owner of a sheepskin factory, oh yes) would have been proud of. In fact as the collections continued to come out it was apparent that the Somerset students set store by a veritable investment in their rural surroundings, inasmuch as the London students will invariably produce overtly urban-centric designs. There was a fair whack of tweed sent out, and one of one of my favourite instances was the ‘Structured Elegance’ of Toni Rogers’ architecturally inspired collection.


Also running with the theme was Lisa Edwards, whose Welsh inspired ‘Country Heritage’ collection had a muted colour pallet mixed with leather and plaids contrasted so well by the striking ‘pink’ of the hunter-inspired final outfit.


Having seen one of Sam Elliot’s creations on display at the Ethical Fashion Stand at GFW I was intrigued to see her use of organic and reclaimed fabrics, and delicate prints and bias cut silk dresses flowing down the catwalk showed how it should be done.


I thought both shows provided a useful blueprint for how fashion can be successful (gasp!) beyond the confines of London – but with Manchester School of Art tomorrow will they be blown out of the water?


Schlepping across a rainy, information pills sodden London to Pure Groove was quite the uninviting prospect yesterday, what is ed but Brighton-born Curly Hair certainly provided a ray of sunshine to the grizzly grey back streets of Farringdon with their delicious lunchtime in-store.


The 3 piece mostly use keyboard, page drum and guitar with support from all sorts of lovely folky nick-nacks; like the glockenspiel, a tambourine and of course hand claps. Their boy-girl vocals cascade perfectly off each other and definitely deserve comparisons to Stuart Murdoch and Isobel Campbell, their use of voice skips and dances nicely over and around their structured instrumental arrangement.


So, the big question is with all this abundance of quirk and sweetness ; how do Curly Hair manage to avoid slipping into the realm of the sugary tired twee which is seemingly in overabundance in the British anti-folk scene at the moment?
I suppose that Curly Hair balance things out by using a certain quick wit and a dark humour like all the best quintessential British eccentrics. They have a rather sad-funny song about missing the horror of all eleven year olds the 11-plus, and another about a brother with a speech impediment, stories worthy of the mighty Miranda July.


After they decamped from the stage with their instruments and stood around the shop singing their final song, I left the shop with a smile and sunny skip in my step, thinking to myself that Curly Hair is rather lovely music to hold hands to…


Photos by Robert Felix
Yesterday evening, help I find myself outside the magnolia-columned Royal Society buildings in Carlton House Terrace for a talk on a hot topic of the moment – housing for a low carbon energy future.

A girl comes round the queue with leaflets and stickers labelling us ‘WLTH’ – I feel like I’m on a dating website. We process in through red-carpeted halls past a sweeping stairway to the lecture hall, website where an infrared camera is set up for the best demonstration of the greenhouse effect I’ve ever seen.

Illustrations by Julien Ferrato

It’s nothing too dramatic to look at, the demonstration with which Professor Tadj Oreszczyn opens the lecture. Just a man sat next to a jug of hot water, filmed by this infrared camera and projected on to the screen behind. Then he puts a plastic bin bag over himself (don’t try this at home, kids..) which was opaque to visible light, but lets all the heat radiation right through – we still see him clearly on the camera. It does get better, though. A bag full of air in front of the camera diffuses the heat a little. A bag full of carbon dioxide, filled from a fire extinguisher, absorbs and reflects back a lot. Simple as it is, this is the first time I’ve *seen* carbon dioxide being a greenhouse gas. You should be able to find it streamable here

Professor Oreszczyn is head of the Energy Institute at University College London, and after the demonstration, he got on to the focus of his talk : the ‘Great British Refurb’. If we are going to hit the UK targets for carbon reduction, making our buildings much more energy efficient is going to be huge. The government projections reckon that, by 2050, half of our carbon reduction will come from carbon capture, renewables and nuclear energy, and the other half from reduction in demand and increase in efficiency at the point of use.


Getting a clear idea of what energy is used in a house is really quite difficult, though. Electricity, gas, wood, coal and sunlight all come in – and we use them in all sorts of ways. We spent an average 3% of household expenditure on energy bills in 2000-2006, which is half of 1980 spending. In real terms, energy is cheap. If you wanted a human/bicycle-powered house, though, you’d need 8 athletes pumping away 24/7 – at minimum wage, that’s £400 000 a year.

The Warm Front Scheme has been set up to improve the health and comfort of low-income homes by improving energy efficiency. They received £350 million in 2007/8, refurbishing about 170 000 homes. They monitored 3000 of them, and the inside temperature went up, mould went down, energy bills went down, people felt more comfortable and this presumably helped mental health and avoided winter deaths (there are still, shockingly, about 20 000 excess winter deaths in the UK).

‘In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they’re not.’

The physics is always right, says Professor Oreszczyn, we just apply it wrong. The Warm Front houses used a third more energy after being redone – very strangely. Partly, people took the improvements as more warmth and comfort, rather than less energy, which was at least partly the point of this project. Also, draughtproofers went all round the houses blocking up cracks, then central heating was put in, putting a lot of new holes throughout, undoing some of the other work. And in terraced houses, the party walls were never thought of as places where heat could be lost – but for years now they’ve been built with a cavity for soundproofing, which heat just shoots straight up through to the roof.

There are some good projects in the real world now, like this old victorian house which was refurbished in Camden to reduce its carbon use by 90% and is being continuously monitored.

There’s a lot of information out there, if you want to find out more. The Lancet recently ran a series on Energy and Health, and the Sustainable Energy Academy or the Energy Saving Trust are both good places to start.
When the commercial art world starts to take itself a tad too seriously it’s a relief to find folk who can inject a bit of carefree fun and frivolity back into the creative proceedings. I call to the stand those behind the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, erectile which takes the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane by storm this Sunday for the fifth year running.


In their own words “The Art Car Boot Fair was an idea that grew out of a desire to pick up where Joshua Compston’s ‘Fete Worse than Death’ and Gavin Turk‘s ‘Livestock Market’ and Articultural Shows’ blazed a trail in the 90′s. The Art Car Boot Fair is an original event concept devised by Karen Ashton and developed since its inception in London in 2004 through invaluable collaborations with Helen Hayward, store Vanessa Fristedt and, viagra buy since 2008, Debbie Malynn.” They include in their fundamental aims of the day encouragement of “direct interface between artists and their audiences in a playful and amusing fashion. We aim for the Art Car Boot Fair to be a day when the artists let their hair down and for all-comers to engage in a totally informal way, and to pick up some real art bargains to book!”


I am delighted to say that my very favourite partners in crime, Miss Led and Hicks54, will be present at the annual knockout knees up this weekend. The duo will be going to head to head in a customizing battle to end all battles, taking what the public gives them, from pencil cases to parasols, and creating hot pieces of one off art. Be sure to save up for pocket money for the original canvases, beautiful cut outs, prints, and hand painted bags that will also be on offer. The happy couple will be only two of over a whopping 80 artists taking part at the Old Truman Brewery, with other big deal names such as Gavin Turk, Peter Blake, Pam Hogg and Natasha Law.


Miss Led, that’s Joanna Henly to you and me, is no stranger to the event. Last year she spent the sun soaked afternoon straddling a kindly donated automobile from Vauxhall, working her illustrative magic in front of a heaving crowd. In fact, Miss Henly is no stranger to the art scene at all. Since winning a scholarship to set up shop as her own brand in 2007 she has not sat still; designing for Reebok, crowned the very first Queenie of Secret Wars, drawing live as part of Best Joined Up at Cargo, a Diesel instore wall design and a Selfridges Window as well as exhibiting all over London and countless private commissions for high profile celebs.. the list goes on and on.



Miss Led’s style has self-evolved to become highly identifiable. No shrinking violet and not for the prudish, Henly enthusiastically celebrates the female form in a lot of her work, with pin up lovelies and burlesque beauties flaunting themselves provocatively, shamelessly but with an overall ‘you don’t own me’ sort of attitude. These alluring ladies that pop up in her illustrations, paintings, drawings and graphic work fairly represent Henly’s own self-assured pro-female stance as a now well-established confident young artist competing in an art genre previously dominated by bigger boys.



When you see her creating these large canvasses live with a time constraint and under a spotlight only then can you appreciate the sheer extent of her talent. These highly skilled pieces are often larger than life size in scale, and in an age of photoshop over reliance it’s wonderful to know there are still artists perfecting the old school way and doing it by hand.



Her work is reminiscent of Barcelona female ‘graf star’ Miss Van, and there’s a playful sense of fairytales, childhood memories and daydreams, all tinged with just enough wicked and naughty undertones to make her work adult rather than adolescent.

Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Sunday 14th June

The Old Truman Brewery
Brick Lane
London E2 6QL

Entry: £3

What would you pay to have the lovely Miss Led or her charming gentleman boyfriend slash rival Ed Hicks customize this Sunday? Don’t just wonder! Get yourself down to The Old Truman Brewery on Sunday and turn your tat into treasure.
Every now and then, pharmacy I come across an illustrator, thumb or a photographer or a sculptor that makes me think “Damn, I’m on the wrong side of the Dictaphone.” Writing about art is a huge pleasure and a privilege, but occasionally I meet artists so talented I struggle to resist the urge to swap pen for paintbrush and run away to join those I interview in the kool kid klub.


George Mitchell is one such artist. This guy can seriously draw. The thing that gets me the most is that Mitchell makes it look so instantaneous and easy which I openly envy as someone that can’t freeform doodle in anything but pencil so that I can repeatedly rub it all out and start again.
I swallowed my art envy pride, and caught up with George for a chat and a bit of Lucky 13.


Hey, George Mitchell, what makes you so awesome?
Hello, I don’t really know what makes me so awesome? Maybe it’s my boney arms and my jacked muscles?

How did you get into drawing?

I got into drawing from a young age mainly through boredom at my grandma’s house waiting for Sunday dinner. At school I used to just switch off and doodle in my diary and art became my best subject so I decided that was the path I would take, instead of being a builder or a footballer.


What influences your style?

Skateboarding has influenced my lifestyle greatly, pushing me towards different music and a whole different look on life. Somehow my brain must of digested the art in the Punk and Hip Hop cd’s I would buy from a young age and the skateboard graphics on the boards I’d use.

Which illustrators/artists do you most admire?

I like outsider art mostly. The untrained artists with a real D.I.Y feel to their work that is impossible to create if you’re properly educated. (Raw Vision magazine is the best example of this)


What training have you had?

I went to Lincoln University to do illustration and here I am now trying to pursue this as a career. I’d like to sum up my illustrations as quirky and fun, not too serious, Illustration to me is about putting a smile on the viewers face but at the same time making them think “oooh this is clever!”

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

If I could travel back in time I’d go back to England in the early 90′s and tell everyone how crap they are at life. Then I’d go forward in time to witness aliens landing on earth and I’d make them the worst cup of tea ever and play them some awful 90′s dance music so they just leave us alone. I’m not horrible or anything it’s just that I really don’t want aliens sucking my insides out.


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

I’d probably still be doing something creative or different to the norm. Maybe I’d be in a sick band. Or maybe just a plumber, but i’d only wear a cardboard outfit and a fisherman’s hat whilst working. I cant ever picture myself being normal…

Who or what is your nemesis?

Chavs who get in the way at skateparks and fight you for no reason. Worst people on Earth.

What piece of modern technology could you not live without?

The best modern invention made is obviously the skateboard!! If i had to live without it, i’d become one of those grumpy old blokes in the pub.


Tell us something about George Mitchell we might no know already.

I was once paralyzed from head to toe for two days straight due to me having a rare genetic disease named HypoKalemicPeriodicParalysis. Oh and i love cats.

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?

Never give up with what you’re doing! Ever! Progress ‘your own’ visual signature and push it out there into the open! “Keep your mind on the shit you want, and off the shit you don’t.”


What would be your pub quiz specialist subject?

I’d specialise in guessing!

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

I’ve always said I wanted Black Flag’s ‘Fix Me’ playing at my funeral when they lower my coffin. The song is about 30 seconds short so it would fit perfectly!

I say Modern Art is Rubbish, you say..?

Has the kettle broke?


Who would be your top 5 dream dinner guests? Who would do the washing up?

I’d have Ray Mears because he loves food so much, Steven Seagal in a massive coat, Ghostface Killah straight maxin like Santa, Johnny Kingdom, and last of all Conan the Barbarian. No one would have to do the washing up because we’d be round at Seagal’s yard and he’s got a nice new dish washer!


What is your guilty pleasure?

I eat so many sweet’s my teeth are nearly see-through!

Perhaps it does make sense that we all stick with what we do best. So for now at least, I am going to stick with writings the words and let people like the sublime George Mitchell do the visuals; he does manage a pretty good job of it after all.

What do you do best?

The first time I met Julian he asked if I was a banker. I can confirm that this is the first and only time that this has happened to me, unhealthy and can only imagine that it must have been something to do with the fact that I was wearing my black woolen winter coat (since retired to certain moth doom for the summer months) This is in fact the first sensible coat that I’ve ever owned – courtesy of my generous (and exasperated) mother – who finally decided that I did actually need said coat now that I’ve hit my mid thirties and am properly an adult. (Well, recipe officially anyway.)

I have to say I was relatively affronted since it’s not like I ooze city trader mannerisms is it?! But then again, erectile I was sitting outside the Foundry pub in Old Street – a favourite hangout for activists, couriers and anyone else looking for a proudly down-at-heel independent and artsy bar. Maybe I did stand out that day. It’s a sociable place and Julian got chatting to us, charming me once we got beyond his mistaken ideas about my career. And I didn’t even have to rip open my coat like Superman, to reveal the bright coloured garms that I was most certainly wearing underneath. (Did I mention that I was not allowed to appear in a piece for the news about Climate Camp – they wanted a few bods to place in the background of a talking head, but I wasn’t allowed. Too bright, they said, and I might have been distracting! Hurumph.)

Julian, where was I? It wasn’t long before I discovered Julian’s plan to cycle around the world, something which my ex-boyfriend has harped on about for years, but will surely never do. It’s something I would love to do too, and so of course I was entranced immediately. So we decided to meet more formally for a chat – and thus it came to pass – over a ginger beer in my local pub.


Julian, I think, would be happy to describe himself as an angry young man. Yet he is self aware enough to realise why he’s cross with modern life – with our over dependence on a consumerist capitalist society and the lack of meaning many of us feel – and instead of descending into the meaningless drug and alcohol consumption that so many people choose he has instead decided to channel his frustrations into an ultimately more rewarding venture. Yesterday, on 10th June 2009, Julian left on his attempt to break the world record for circumnavigating the world on a bike… riding off from his chosen starting point of Rouen cathedral in France “because Gustav Flaubert lived there, and he was a genuis.” (For those less literary than Julian, Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary – don’t worry, I’m a total pleb and I didn’t know either.) “Leaving from the UK would be an anticlimax,” he explained, “cos I would have to stop and cross the channel straight away. There will be a few mates and family to see me off in France, but a big part of my preparation has been not getting a girlfriend!” Girls, always a distraction eh?!


As Julian criss-crosses the globe, he will be chasing the adrenalin high that has engulfed him, since he first learnt to ride as a small boy on the asphalt behind some garages. In order to break the world record he will have to beat the previous record of 194 days, which was set by Mark Beaumont last year, and he will also be up against James Bowthorpe, who set out in March this year and is still en route. The difference is that he won’t be doing it under the sponsorship of any companies that are not totally ethical in their credentials (Mark Beaumont became an ambassador for Lloyds TSB – that bastion of sustainability). Julian is a man of morals! “I’ve had help from Bikefix in Lambs Conduit Street – the owner just loves bikes and wants to see their full integration into society. He delivers food for the cafe over the road for payment in kind, so it’s a barter system.” Since our interview he’s gained other sponsors, but they have all been heavily vetted for ethical practice. “I believe that bikes are really important for both social and holistic reasons but you can’t tell people what to think, so it’s best to show them through actions rather than words. I am hoping to show that the bike is an excellent means of transport, and whether that makes someone want to cycle the world or just cycle to work once a week, either is a good outcome – I just hope they will be inspired. But I don’t want a corporate face; that is sacred to me.”


Julian graduated from Sussex University a year ago, and since then he’s been working as a bike courier, of course! “I love the minutae of life.” Clearly couriering is the perfect profession for someone thus inclined. “Working as a courier is great for social observation – sometimes I sit on Bond Street opposite Cartier, just watching the shoppers and pitying them. But then again, they probably look at me in my rags and pity me. I get paid £2.50 to go across London for one delivery, yet we hold Bentley drivers in high esteem. It’s ridiculous!”

Like me (and the Buddhists), Julian believes that the journey is more important than a destination. “We have divorced meaning from process,” he explained. “Bread is an ideal example – we just buy it off a supermarket shelf with no thought for its creation. With travel, you can just buy your destination on the high street. Travel used to be intrepid, but now it’s just marketed as another product.” I think it’s fairly certain that Julian’s trip will be full of adventure – it’s probably why it appeals to me, no stranger to risk and excitement myself. But what about the day to day tedium of getting from A to B? “I’ll probably get up at 6 or 7am every morning and cycle for 3-4 hours at a time until 7 or 8pm, when I’ll stop to pitch my tent, write or sketch, and look at my map so that I can gauge where the nearest town to buy food is. I’ll be in bed by the time the sun goes down at 10pm.” I wondered whether he might get lonely? Wild camping in the middle of god-knows-where, with only the stars for company. “Previously my longest trip was a month, so I will probably get lonely!” With a partner he rode down to Turkey, and has done many other shorter journeys since he was a teenager. “But you go through stages of emotion in cycles – from uncertainty to doubt to euphoria and back to normalcy – I can feel these within the space of a month or a day. And I like the solitude – being on my own up in the alps for hours on end is such a beautiful pure mental space it’s a bit like meditation.” He might get a bit smelly though. “I usually wash in rivers every 3-4 days, but this time I might spend a bit of money on hotels. I’ve got a budget of £10 a day, and £1800 for whole trip.”


In a way the plan to break a world record has given Julian’s trip a reason, but he didn’t seem too bothered about actually breaking the record. “It’s not really a specific aim!” I have no doubt though, that as the competitive male spirit kicks in he’ll become more determined to actually do so. He loves writing and will write a book on his return, although it will be more of a social commentary than a “bland narrative.” Apparently bookshop shelves are already groaning under the weight of deathly dull cycling tour literature.


Despite being a self-confessed luddite, Julian is connected up to a state of the art GPS system that is feeding his location onto a google map conveniently posted to his website as you read this. He’s also endeavouring to engage with such modern social networks as facebook, twitter and an online blog. You can follow his adventures here: on his website and on twitter.

But remember, this is not for charity – if you are inspired by Julian’s quest to cycle the world then the best thing you can do is dig out your bike and get on it wherever you are. Or delve deeper into the organisations that inspire Julian the most – NEF, Tax Justice Network, the London Cycling Campaign and Camra.
(Because, after all, what would life be like without a really nice pint at the end of the day?!)

About a month ago, viagra approved I caught up with the lovely Caroline from Brooklyn-based Chairlift for an interview. Having had relative commercial success with their song ‘Bruises’ used in an Apple advert, site they have been touring now, cheap stiring up support for their debut album ‘Does it Inspire You?’. Their music sounds like fusion between an eerie ambience of spooky emptiness and straight up pop, they sound like they should be playing in a bar in Twin Peaks, or dressed as ghosts in a haunted house.


Hello! How would you describe Chairlift in 5 words?

Hmmmm….I would say.. .foggy… aqua… melodic… tree-house pop.

Can you tell me a bit about how you develop your sound?

We started getting together in Aaron’s shed, and experimenting with electronic loops and ambient vocal loops, and just building them up, and then incorporating acoustic instruments into that and then making these sound-scapes that didn’t really have melodies that stuck out but were just kind of these blurry repeating loops, and we started thinking about music for haunted houses as you said like how we could make spaces that built a lot of tension and suspense without having any theatrical BOOMS that would startle you, which is what most people associate with horror music, but we liked the idea of creating a space that would be like eerie, ghostly and transparent, and have many layers…

So kind of like the bit just before the big BANG?

Yeah! or creating a space like…I don’t know if you’ve ever played the game Myst? It was a 90s computer game, where you had to pick up clues in these abandoned civilisations, and it was the scariest game I’ve ever played, it was scary because you always felt like something was going to jump out at you, you always felt you were on the verge of discovering something really scary, but the whole world was abandoned so I was really into the idea of a space where there’s nothing in it and yet it was terrifying. So we always had the idea of having that kind of ambience going on in our music.


I can kind of see that in your music, I guess I picked up on a kind of Angelo Badalementi [composer of the Twin Peaks’ soundtrack]/ David Lynch eerie pop vibe when listening to Chairlift- I’m a massive Twin Peaks fan...

Me too!

Brilliant! I mean it’s kind of like Mist actually, the possibility of what could be there, rather than what actually is, kind of like what is creeping around the edges of familarity and comfort.

I actually really love that comparison because it gives us space to make straight-up pop music as well, because you know how in Twin Peaks they’ll be like pop songs on the jukebox that in contrast with the scene that’s actually happening, that are quite…not ironic but the disjunction between the action and the background music is like totally rad, I like looking at our pop songs like that too- like ‘Bruises’ for example, it’s a pop song straight up but we tried to incorporate the vibe that it’s not what it seems, in the production; I mean the whole song was recorded at 3 in the morning in Patrick’s basement, even as we were recording it; it was the late night wax face state of mind we were in! Yeah I think that is a really cool comparison [with Twin Peaks] because it leaves room for humour and mystery at the same time.

Exactly- it’s totally scary and funny at the same time, I suppose a score that is often in total contrast to what you see, I guess such a juxtaposition of the aural and the visual is something that is particularly brilliant about Lynch… I could talk about him all day..So to move on what was the last song you listened to today?

I haven’t listened to any songs yet today, we woke up in Manchester got in the van and slept, we had a really silent trip here…let me think, I think the last song I listened to was the sound of the wheels on the road!

Silence is golden! What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

I guess New Age music….I just got a record a couple of days ago, it’s just so tacky but I really like it, it’s ultimate guilty; Ulrich Schnauss! Also things like “Healing Music for Synths”, yoga music… not the world stuff – that totally cheeses me out!

I think my musical guilty pleasure is like Euro-pop, in other languages from the early 90s like 99 Luftballons….

Why are you guilty about that?! That song is amazing it’s totally amazing, the video has this guitarist in a tiger stripe jacket standing in a field not really doing anything….


Awesome! Can you remember the first record you ever bought?

Yes, it was Alanis Morrisette ‘Jagged Little Pill’, I was in 5th Grade.

I remember singing along and not really understanding it, but going for it anyway..

Me too! Like “this is what being a grown-up girl is about”!

As a band, do you prefer playing live or recording?

I guess they’re kind of incomparable, at the moment I feel like I have so many ideas and I don’t have the time to get them down, so I’m fetishising the idea of going back into the studio. Playing live is more of a challenge to us; there’s only three of us and one album’s worth of material; it’s really a test of how far we can push our material to make an interesting show, we’ve only been touring for a couple of years, we’re babies as far as it’s concerned.

I imagine it’s quite an adjustment to make…

Yeah, I mean you have to get used to seeing every place as temporary and everything as disposable; everything you own will get lost or damaged, you have to make home inside yourself and after that it becomes way easier.

What do you ask for in your rider?

We ask for Red Stripe, we also ask for fruit, fresh vegetables, hummus, we ask for Maker’s Mark, red wine. We also ask for a spare battery, clean socks, gum and local cheeses..

Do you have a memorable Chairlift tour story?

We tried to crash a frat party in Philly a couple of nights ago, and they wouldn’t let us in. So, it was completely typical, big white columns in the front, a varsity football player outside with a list, and he was like “What frat are you guys in?” and we were like “Ummm…We’re alumni” and we spent half an hour messing with this guy trying to get in, meanwhile loads of girls were coming out in their bathing suits, it was so funny, we stuck out like sore thumbs all shaggy, wearing a lot of dark clothes!


Which 5 famous people would you have round for dinner?

Oh! Excellent question! I think I’d have David Lynch, Oscar Wilde, Bjork, umm….Mick Jagger circa 1972 and Madonna

Who would wash up though?

I would make Oscar Wilde do the dishes just so I could hear him complain about it, but Bjork might turn it into a bubble bath so maybe she’s the one.

Definitely not David Lynch!

No, it would take too long!

So you’re based in Brooklyn at the moment, where would you take Amelia’s Magazine out?

There’s a venue in Brooklyn called Glasslands, and it’s really cool, it’s totally home-grown, every month there’s a different artist who turns it into a different installation, but all the bands that play there are bands that are connected through a network of Brooklyn bands, like big touring bands would never know about this place, it really feels like a family, every time I walk in I’m like “There’s the guys from Yeasayer…there’s MGMT‘s touring drummer”. My favourite place to eat is called Diner, it looks like it’s in a boxcar, the food is amazing it’s all organic and local, they have their own butcher! Thats a neighbourhood place too.


If you were making us a mix tape what 5 songs would you put on it?

If I had to make it for the mood I’m in now, I’d do…
Do Your Best by John Maus
99 Luftballoons by Nena- because we spoke about it earlier
Bad Fortune by PJ Harvey
Places on the Run by a band called The Dream Academy, I’m totally obsessed with them right now
Hypnotise by Spacemen 3

Nice choices!

Categories ,Brooklyn, ,David Lynch, ,Indie, ,Interview, ,Pop, ,Synths

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© Becky Barnicoat

Becky Barnicoat works as the commissioning editor on the Guardian Weekend magazine, story but is also a cartoonist and currently works on a new comic about a musical bear – you can see a couple of sketches from it on her blog.

She’s always drawn, pharm and when she was at school I did a whole English project (the title was ‘My future career’) in comic book form. She got a D- and a detention for it. One could say that was kind of the theme of things – most authority figures think cartoons are for babies. “I wish I could have shown them Maus so they could see how wrong they were, case but I didn’t know it existed back then” Becky says.

Everyone is here zine

© Becky Barnicoat

She started the blog Come in, Everyone is here already a couple of years ago and since then has started drawing for various people – including Le Cool magazine, Harry Hill and Five Dials. She was on the panel at the Salem Brownstone event at Comica this year, and last year drew the ‘Bowie and Bowie’ comic strip for Comica PoCom – which was on the wall in the ICA.

She is an enterprising gal as she also sporadically self-publishes a zine called Everyone Is Here Already.

Valerie Pezeron: What is the inspiration behind your work? Did you use visual references doing your faces?

CIMG1395Photograph Becky Barnicoat© Valerie Pezeron

Becky Barnicoat: Actually, that particular page all came from my head. It’s probably what I have always done from when I was a kid sitting in lessons, just drawing faces and caricatures of my teachers, that was quite a big thing. One of them was quite a nice woman, but she had an odd-looking face and I drew an awful caricature of her. She found my notebook and she looked really hurt, that was awful!

CIMG1392Photograph Becky Barnicoat© Valerie Pezeron

VP: Was it the lady who sent you to detention?
BB: She wasn’t one of the bad teachers but one of the good ones. It’s just that she looked a little bit like a guinea pig. But I won’t say anymore because she might read this! So this what I have always done; I just did “Faces” from my head, I find it really fun. I love the possibility of how ugly something could be but I don’t find that disgusting: I love weird faces so much and sometimes I see people on the street and their faces are just bizarre. The odder the shape the better it is.

VP: I agree with you there are so many different characters out there, especially where you live, in Stoke Newington.
BB: Oh yes! I cycle to work and I see many faces I want to draw! The other day I was cycling through Newington green and I saw this woman crossing the road and she had so much of something on her face that her skin was almost reddy-orange. And I was thinking “My, she’s put a bit too much foundation on, it looks extraordinary” and I thought maybe the poor woman has some terrible skin condition. And she would be a wonderful drawing but not in a way that would be mocking her. I love it when people look unusual.

VP: So would it be fair to say it is people that draw you to being creative? It’s not about the blandness of objects…

BB: That’s probably true; I’m not very good with objects. Landscapes? Not so much. It’s never been my thing, which is actually now a problem. I can get my pen going on a person or an animal but I have to put them somewhere and perspective is tricky.

VP: Don’t downplay your abilities!

BB: (Laughter) So this is one side of what I am interested in. These were people who were on the Internet, and I drew them in on style…

VP: Glad you bring that up. I have noticed you don’t have one particular style.

BB: No, Definitely not!

VP: Is it on purpose or did you try to develop one or you don’t care that much?

BB: Good question as I think about it a lot. I definitely don’t try not to have one style. I just can’t imagine myself committing to just one style; I’d really miss too much the other style.

VP: So do you apply one style to one specific subject?

BB: Yeah, I suppose that is it, but it’s not that conscious. It just happens. I think of an idea and it’s immediately obvious to me what style should be for that.

VP: I see, very interestingly, you use all kinds of medium, inks, pen and washes, watercolour…

BB: It’s not premeditated when I use, and I love to use pen and ink. And I use this medium mostly.

VP: Tell us about the fanzine. When did you start it?

BB: That was a project a comic book artist friend of mine called Tom and I started. Just like me, he has a full-time job. We both want to be comic book artists and we decided we should do a comic book. A friend of mine who used to work in a bookshop called Persephone proposed we do a comic book evening; it will be in two months, you both work on the comic book and then we can sell it in the shop with drinks and music and we invite people along. They were ALL of our friends, there weren’t any strangers there at all!

VP: How many people?

BB: It was quite full actually…all of my family, friends of friends! I had about 50 copies of my magazine and they all sold! But another project came up at the same time and I had to really rush it!

VP: So this is issue 1 and issue 2 is planned for later? When did you do this one?

BB: That was earlier this year, sort of June / July.

VP: How often would you see yourself doing this fanzine?

BB: I’d like to do them much more often than I do but with my full time job, it’s not really that straightforward. Wake up every morning at 6.30 am, draw for an hour and then go work full-time at the office. I’d like to do it much more often. What Tom and me are going to do in the next couple of weeks is a 12-hour comic and whatever comes out of that will probably be issue 2. It will be much messier, scruffier and perhaps not make much sense!

VP: So I’m really interested to know about your journey? Did you go to university and study journalism?

BB: I didn’t, no, not for journalism. I went to an all-girls school in Barnes and then to Wimbledon Art College for foundation. It’s not that exciting, I was shocked at how crap it is. Everyone said “this is one of the best art schools” but it was awful! I stayed and I just about scraped a pass. Some of the people who I thought were the best there got fails because they just didn’t care. They were vicious about your actual work: “This is fine”, looking at someone’s beautiful drawings “but where is your reflective notebook and diary…sorry but that is part of your course requirements. If you don’t have those then we can’t pass you. Some of the students were part of that course in the 1st place because they are dyslexics, they didn’t want to write, and that’s why they are artists! It’s just insane. Wimbledon wanted everyone to be totally institutionalised, do their 9 to 5… The people whose work was the least inspiring but came in every day got the best grades. They were the stars of the year- the work was not great but they got lads of it!

VP: Woody Allen said a big part of success is showing up. It’s one of my favourite quotes and I think about it often.

BB: It’s so true! There were these brilliant dysfunctional characters with amazing imaginations and absolutely raw talent…you should allow them to thrive and allowing people work in the way that they naturally do because that is going to produce the best work. I hated doing the foundation. I really liked the idea of going to art school and part of me regrets it now; I don’t regret the choice I made because I had a brilliant time going to Leeds reading English Literature. Before that, I had a lot of pressure from everybody; I went to an all-girls private school all through my secondary school and all they were interested in was academia. They didn’t care about you wanting to be an artist; they just thought that was pathetic, they hated me. I’d say I want to be a cartoonist when I am older, and they’d go “Come again?” I always wanted to be a cartoonist since I was about 5. And then I ended up doing English, what was I thinking!

VP: I think it actually ties in, as it’s very close. I call what I do visual journalism or… cartoonist?

BB: Oh, but you’re not allowed to say cartoonist! We are visual communicators or sequential artists.

VP: So you knew that young! I remember doing my 1st graphic novel at 7.

BB: But in France, they have a much stronger culture of comics.

VP: That is true if you come from the right background. My family did not have a clue and I had to come here to explore all that was possible…

BB: I feel exactly the same. I did not even know people did comic books until I was maybe in my 2nd and 3rd year at university. I was in Cornwall on a holiday with my family and I was getting the train back to London. We went into Waterstones as I wanted to buy a book for the train. I noticed this really colourful cartoon and I picked up this book and it was Daniel Clowes “20th Century Eight Ball”. I thought grown-ups didn’t do cartoons, I had nor idea! Some of his pictures are so grotesque and disgusting; then I realised some of them were just about people chatting over coffee and having existential conversations.

VP: It’s very close to what you do, isn’t it? It’s definitely inspired you?

BB: Oh yeah, oh god, completely! I picked up this thing and it was a revelation! I recall thinking I can’t believe this thing is real; I can’t wait to read it. I was laughing so much while reading it on my way back on the train. Then I read this comic strip called “Art School Confidential”. You have to read it if you did not have a good time at art college. It’s so fun, it’s just the best, it’s perfect, and it’s exactly my experience of Art College! And then I realised other people were like me, they wanted to be a cartoonist and everyone at art school told them they were fools. You have to read it, it’s very good, it’s a collection of a lot his fanzines. It’s a satirical expose of his time at art school with a lot of people who are very pretentious. It seems amazing now that I didn’t know that he existed. I always associated comics with either superheroes, for boys or the dirty and sexy stuff like Vizz. Part of me wishes I could really love Vizz but I am put off every time I read it. “Yeah, right, woman with massive boobs naked in some joke…” it’s really basic toilet humour!

VP: We need more women graphic novelists!

BB: I agree. From those books, I discovered a whole world of cartoonists in America. It’s massive over there!

VP: What do you think of the UK comic book industry?

BB: I don’t think it even exists. There is not even a publisher that has an interest in it, really. Jonathan Cape do a few but they mainly bring American ones over. They just publish so very few British people. I don’t feel there is anyone really looking for it. So everyone over here is getting obsessed with Daniel Clowes, Charles Burnes and Chris Ware. They’re just about discovering people that, if you don’t know who they are, you must be living in Britain.

VP: Have you had a look at what’s going on in Europe?

BB: I did take a look. I went over to Portugal, in Lisbon to write a feature on the arts scene there for the Guardian. I met up with a load of comic book artists and illustrators such as Andre LemosJoao-Maio Pinto, Filipe Abranches.  It was fantastic! They had that wonderful European attitude: “We grew up with comic books, it’s part of our culture”. I said I only discovered “Strip Burger” when I was 21. They said “Strip Burger, we knew about that when we were only 2!”

VP: That’s true with French people too. When you went to Comica festival, did you feel that something was about to take off? I know Paul Gravett feels very religiously that it is happening!

BB: Ah, Paul! Paul is incredible and without him, it would be…he is basically the comic book scene now. It all kind of stems from him, it is fantastic to have him there like this uncle who advises all those artists who didn’t’ think they could do this. He is the catalyst. Since I have discovered that, I’ve realised there is this world of people who want to do this, who love it, who know about all these artists. And they’re really frustrated in this country because it’s not really understood. People are quite illiterate, I think, regarding comics. But I have met loads of people now through Comica and other things. I just discovered this guy called Dash Shaw; his first book is about a thousand pages, called “Bottom Lisp, Belly Button”, Fantagraphics. He did this living in a tiny bedroom; he said he was so poor. I asked him how he made it as a comic book artist, how he paid his rent. He said, “ When I left college, I went and rented a tiny, tiny room for $200 a month and I worked part-time as a life model and I drew every second of every day. And he said it took him years, he must have drawn over a thousand pages of comics until anything happened. And he presented a manuscript to a big editor at a comics’ fair; they took him on and published it immediately. It’s a fairytale.

VP: Well, it is. You have to have some kind of break otherwise…

BB: Otherwise you are plugging away in the bedroom!

Tune-in next week for Part 2 of the interview!

Amongst friends, pharmacy I can easily consider myself to be a Tori Amos fan. But once I arrived at the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town, I was promptly reminded of the hierarchy firmly established amongst Tori Amos’ devoted following.

‘Devout’ can be a bit of an understatement in this case. The lucky hundred or so fans present at tonight’s concert have queued outside a high street music shop in the very early hours of this wet day in order to grab one of the coveted wristbands that would grant them free entry for this very intimate, one-off gig in London. Some of them coming from places like Bristol, and even as far as Poland just for this gig.

I myself had a laid out plan, of waking up at the crack of dawn, grab my coffee flask and take the 38 bus at 5 am from East London into town, to the said shop. But the opportunity to review the concert for this rather wonderful magazine has made my action plan somewhat redundant, and I am not complaining!

Tonight Tori enters to the small stage where a piano and a keyboard await, dressed in a stunning bright red silk gown. She seems absolutely at ease in this pocket sized gig as I imagine she would be also in bigger venues. A club like the Jazz Cafe might as well be reminiscent of the earlier days in her career, when she would perform in bars, since the age of thirteen accompanied by her supporting father, a preacher.

She improvises a song to entertain the audience whilst re-arranging the settings of her portable keyboard – making jokes about her apparent dyslexia. She mentions the fans that she recognizes from the audience during the track “London Girls”, literally mentioning every country they had been following her to. She gives me the goose bumps every time she plays both instruments simultaneously and completely at ease.

Tori Amos-Midwinter Graces Cover Art

She does not play any of the well known hits, and none of the seemingly more personal material either. Instead she alternates tracks like “Mrs. Jesus” (the Gospel changes meaning/ if you follow John or Paul/ and could you ever Let it be/ the Mary of it all ) and “Rattlesnakes” (Jodie never sleeps/ ‘cause there are always needles in the hay – hay/She says a girl needs a gun these days/ Hey on account of the rattlesnakes) with numbers from her, as she puts it, “solstice album” – and I wish some mulled wine was handed out every time she played them.

“Midwinter Graces” is an album made by a spiritual rebel at heart, someone who has questioned God, authority and the patronising aspects of masculinity – and yet seeking into reintroducing her audience to these traditional forms of yearly celebration.

At the core of her rebellious spirit, Tori Amos is an extraordinarily talented artist, oscillating between suffering and redemption on her way to personal and creative transcendence.
Tori Amos is a singer, songwriter who’s been around since the 80s, a prodigy who has played the piano since the age of two, and a musician who prides herself of the fact she cannot read sheet music (as the name of her 80s outfit “Y Tori Kant Read” hints at).

Tori Amos_1212_Final

Tori’s (many) painful personal experiences became mythologized in her albums (From the international breakthrough ‘Little Earthquakes’ to the haunting and yet alluring songs from ‘From the Choirgirl Hotel’). Her lyrics can come across as bluntly honest, revealing, and yet, sung in some sort of self made language at times – ever so often touching every single facet of every taboo to ever associated with femininity, religion and American society.

Tonight Tori Amos has cordially invited us all to join in this intimate experience – in her rather mysterious, captivating and charming way – and in the audience one could see the sheer bliss in every staring, startled face, watching this remarkable lady onstage. And as for me, this year, there is nothing more to ask Dear Santa for.

Categories ,Jazz Cafe, ,live, ,music, ,review, ,Tori Amos

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Amelia’s Magazine | Interview: Johnny Flynn

A couple of weeks ago, medications I was sifting through work emails and idly wondering how my forthcoming weekend was going to shape up; it seemed to be taking on the familiar pleasures of the default setting – drinks, pilule lazing around Shoreditch Park, case catching a gig or two, having a coffee at Columbia Road flower market; the same old same old essentially, and then an email dropped into my inbox that quickly made me revise my plans. It was from Ben, an old friend of Amelia’s Magazine from French-Music Org, and Liz from Brittany Tourism who were both involved in the French music festival des Vieilles Charrues in Brittany, and wanted to know if Amelia’s Magazine was interested in coming along to check it out. Being a champion of all kinds of festivals, both in England and abroad, but at the same time staying true to the ethics of not flying wherever possible, I was pleased to see that the festival encourages all non-flight forms of travel, and had a good deal with Brittany Ferries worked into one of the ticket packages that also includes transfers to and from the festival. I had a quick look at the line-up, which included performances from Phoenix, Midlake, The Raveonettes, Fanfarlo, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and Julian Casablancas. Then I checked my ipod and saw that apart from a little Francoise Hardy and Charlotte Gainsbourg, it was woefully lacking in French music and decided that this Gallic version of Glastonbury could be my guide to France’s vibrant music scene, especially seeing that Chapelier Fou, Revolver, Indochine, Fefe and the brilliantly named Sexy Sushi were all headlining. So that was that. All I needed to do was grab my trusty pillow and I was off to France! A few hours later, after a bumpy ferry ride that unfortunately took place on the windiest day of the year, I found myself in the picturesque town of Carhaix, home of the festival, and about 45 minutes inland from the coast.

Sune and Sharin of The Raveonettes give us a shock and awe performance.

Watching The Raveonettes with my friends – wet and bedraggled but happy.

It was straight to the festival and to the front of the crowd to watch The Raveonettes do a typically kinetic set of howling, fuzzy guitar riffs, liberally sprinkled with lots and lots of noise. Just how the audience like it. The Danish duo, made up of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo are a dark force to reckon with and played an incredibly tight set, featuring songs from their fourth album, In And Out Of Control. I hadn’t see them play before and I came away thinking that the bands waiting in the wings such as Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Crystal Castles and Vivienne Girls still have a long way to go before they steal the crowns off of these two. Later I managed to get in some talk time with Sune who refused the offer of dinner with his bandmates in favour of shooting the breeze over mugs of vodka cranberries for a whole hour. (Interview to come in the next few weeks)

The next day, when I was a little less exhausted from twelve straight hours of travelling, and no sleep, I was able to properly explore the festival and see it through renewed eyes. Truth be told, it was refreshing to find myself at an overseas festival. The crowd were relaxed, extremely friendly (stand next to any random group of strangers and within a few minutes you will be conversing away happily in a garbled mix of Franglais) and the FOOD (and drink)! It doesn’t matter how many boutique festivals are springing up over England, festival des Vieilles Charrues trumps us with champagne bars all over the site (to be sipped insouciantly while you watch French rock gods Indochine) and food tents which can provide you cheese plates and fruits de la mer to go with your choice of wine. It being slightly earlier in the day, I was trying out the regional cider which was so tasty it practically made me weep, and made my way over to watch the Fanfarlo set. Unexpectedly, this was probably my favourite performance of the festival. Having toured constantly for the past year (watch the mini documentary on their website which painfully documents their incessant and exhaustion-inducing schedule), the performances of the songs from their 2009 release Reservoir have taken on a whole new level. Each band member seamlessly flitted between a myriad of different musical instruments; no-one ever held onto a guitar, trumpet, violin, mandolin or musical saw for more than a few minutes before doing some musical-chairs. I’m not sure how well France was aware of Fanfarlo, but the full audience loved every song they played, and noisily demanded an encore – which unfortunately they didn’t get, but then, the band do only have about twelve songs in their back catalogue.

Fanfarlo talk about life on the road and divulge the little known fact of lead singer Simon’s childhood love of ham radios.

Traditional Breton music. Everyone knew the dance moves but me.

Night time gave me a chance to flit between the bands playing. I watched Midlake, the indie Texans who are fast gaining popularity over on this side of the pond, serenade the audience as the sun set, their hazy Americana sound drifting over the breeze and through the fields. Then it was a hop, skip and a jump to watch Sexy Sushi, the raw Parisian rap of Fefe and – I didn’t see this coming – some traditional Breton music involving some old men, a couple of accordions and a lively crowd who were all versed in the dance moves that accompany the traditional folk style. Then the midnight hour was upon us and the audience was heading in droves to watch Phoenix, who are clearly the prodigal sons of France. I’ve heard before that some of the French don’t appreciate the fact that Phoenix record all of their tracks in English, as opposed to their mother tongue, but there was no such bad feeling in the crowd that stood around me that night, sending waves of love and adulation towards the stage which prompted lead singer Thomas Mars to briefly lie on the stage in slightly dazed wonder at this epic night.

It was frustrating to have to leave on Sunday, as I missed performances by Pony Pony Run Run, Julian Casablancas and Etienne De Crecy, but work commitments dictated an early departure. Nonetheless, I had such a great time that I am already planning next years Festival des Vieilles Charrues (which will be the 20th anniversary of the festival). Brittany was the perfect setting for such a chilled festival, and a welcome addition to the festival calendar.

Way back in 2007, click Amelia’s Magazine was one of the first to recognise the raw talent of a young Johnny Flynn, for sale who won us over with the delicately nuanced themes in his poetic and lyrical songwriting. (The fact that he could wield a Gibson guitar like nobodies business also helped make him alright in our books). Fast forward to today and it’s safe to say that the kid done good. Supporting Mumford & Sons in their upcoming October tour, performing at summer festivals all over the country (including this weekends Cambridge Folk Festival) and collaborating with Laura Marling and Anna Calvi, Johnny has more than established himself in the British folk canon. But Johnny is no one trick pony; his new album Been Listening shows a strong appreciation of musical diversity, and gives respectful nods to early 20th Century blues, African music, and even takes inspiration from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. His creative streak runs deep, and the animated video for his new single, Barnacled Warship (released August 16th) is a dark dystopia directed by Christian DeVita, lead storyboard artist on Wes Anderson’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ as well as Tim Burton’s forthcoming ‘Frankenweenie’.

So, as you can imagine, we felt that a catch-up with Johnny was long overdue, and so when we were approached by his team to do a video interview, it was only a matter of fighting over which contributor was the biggest fan (the honour went to the lovely Chloe) and then we were ready to go!

Watch the feature for Barnacled Warship here:
YouTube Preview Image

Go to Johnny’s MySpace and website for lots more, including his newly released tour dates.

Categories ,Anna Calvi, ,Been Listening, ,Cambridge Folk Festival, ,Fantastic Mr Fox, ,folk, ,interview, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Laura Marling, ,Mumford& Sons, ,Nu Folk, ,Siddhartha, ,tim burton, ,video, ,Wes Anderson

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