The eponymous release from New York based The Pains of Being Pure at Heart has everything you could want from a summer album. A certain been-in-the-sun-too-long hazy-headyness without the too-much-ice-cream sugariness of many indie-pop summer albums. No-No! I’m rallying for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart being trail-blazers for a new genre we shall call ‘Sandalgaze” aka Shoegaze for when it’s not raining out.
From the rip-roaring opener ‘Contender’, buy more about the album manages to be catchy without being twee, shop noise without being dreary, imagine My Bloody Valentine on a beach doo-wopping and you’re halfway there.
Whilst treading this line The Pains of Being Pure at Heart consistently avoid being schmaltzy. The track; Young Adult Friction is danceable, its lyrics of a whimsy worthy of Stuart Murdoch yet reflect on themes like first love with a sort of yearning nostalgia, again souring the sweetness. Here the oft-overdone boy/girl singing duo is slightly off-kilter and the effect is more reminiscent of early Yo La Tengo or Jesus and Mary Chain than Belle & Sebastian.
The Pains of Being Pure of Heart is definitely tinged with nods towards the 80s and early 90s,yet it is perhaps too easy to criticise the album for this. The band manage to utilise certain stylistic tropes without being too retrospective or shallow.
In fact The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is refreshing in it’s redefinition of certain preconceptions: summer isn’t all about whistling and tambourine jangling anymore and Shoegaze is reinterpreted with a sunny touch rather like enjoying a 99 flake with Kevin Shields!
The album ‘The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’ is available now and the single ‘Young Adult Friction’ is released on 18th May (Fortuna Pop!)
They play The Lexington, London on 15th May
Kitsuné has really got its groove on this time. Left eyebrows are often tilted to a 74-degree angle at the mention of a Parisian fashion boutique that puts out compilation CDs, symptoms amongst other music releases. At first, tadalafil you kind of expect endless Dimitri From Paris types churning out catwalk-flavoured lint, but Kitsuné really knows what it is getting, and won’t be holding onto the receipt. With utter confidence and bravado, you see, it was Kitsuné that released Wolfmother’s ball-busting old-metal limited edition EP. Benetton scratches its head in confusion.
For all that, Compilation 7 is a danceable disc, with lots of European disco-beats, and plenty of fruity basslines in the Frenchified Electro style. But it’s not the kind of thoughtless, juvenile poppy end of it. You won’t hear anything approaching “Lady, give me tonight, cos my feeling is just so right”, since the Maison-people (Maisonettes?) are clued up. They listen to Tangerine Dream and Elvis Costello, and anything they select from the here and now is selected with a certainty that reminds me of the chap who picks the leaves for PG Tips: He just knows where the good stuff’s at.
Highpoints include Chateau Marmont’s Beagle, filled with synths fresh from Tomorrow’s World demonstrations, sidewinding through arpeggiated chords, with the occasional crash-bang with a wooden spoon by the stove, and Beni’s Fringe Element, which popcorns along with hi-hats before going to a thoroughly spiffing hiatus of slap bass with one of the squidgiest, wiggly-wormiest synth solos since Mr.Scruff’s Shrimp. Probably the most exciting track here is Crystal Fighters’ (above) Xtatic Truth, a journey involving Epic-Ragga-Happy-Hardcore, hints of Chinese Folk, and a choir of the ether.
But it’s a plentiful CD. There are nineteen songs, in all, and although everything chugs along to the metronomic pulse of cubase, there is pacing and variety to the beast overall. Gentle relief comes best of all in This Sweet Love by James Yuill (above), as remixed by Prins Thomas, a ponderous chillscape based on the warmest fingerpicking, and an embrace of vocals. You will feel truly hugged. And once you’ve digested it all, you can take that lovely warm glow on the Eurostar with you, and buy yourself the bestest clothes (I’m not a fashion writer, actually) in all Pareeee!
You can buy the Maison’s goodies at www.kitsune.fr or at their myspace.
If you are a university student, online what do you make of your schools environmental policies? Do they even have green policies to speak of? This week, the students of the University of Arts London have been bringing environmental issues to the forefront, and discussing the various ways that both themselves, their campuses and the courses themselves can be more environmentally aware.
The Go Green Week, also known as Green: The New Black has been running for the last few days and culminates in talks and workshops on Friday, that include Fashion Forward: Creating an Ethical Label between 4pm-6pm RHS East Space, LCF, John Princes Street
which asks: “How can you create a label that looks good, but is also good to the environment?” ECCA and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion present fashion design businesses that are sustainable throughout from their manufacturing processes and materials, to marketing methods that aim communicate and promote their ethical processes to their customers.
Also on Friday afternoon at LCC is the meeting “Students Going Green” –top of the agenda are the following points “Fed up with the lack of recycling at your College? … Want sustainability on the curriculum? … Think Arts London should GO GREEN?” Speaking with the Press Officers of the Student Union, I learnt that a large number of students have voiced their concerns over this topic. The recycling issue specifically has been on ongoing and much debated subject. Many students feel that not enough is being done to provide facilities to recycle. The Green Charter laid out by the Student Union demands that “Sufficient recycling facilities should be available at all Arts London Sites and all Halls of Residence, with consideration also given to specialist recycling e.g. textiles, wood at relevant sites.”
Also on the agenda is for the issues of sustainability to feature more heavily in the Universities curriculum, either in the form of specific modules, or integrated as a whole, and for the campuses to switch to a green energy provider. The student union also explained that they are setting up an “Ethical and Environmental assembly” that will set future Go Green Assembly’s. They have also been encouraging students to sign a petition that is campaigning for a greener Arts London. Realising that strong visuals are the best way to get the point across, the students were asked to be photographed with the green charter and upload their pictures to the blog. An example would be these brave folks.
Learning about the concerted efforts to raise environmental awareness amongst students started me wondering how other universities and student bodies broach this subject. As this is a topic that is dear to our heart, we would love your input on whether your schools and universities are committed to the environmental cause, and if so, do you feel that they are doing enough? . Tell us more at email@example.com and maybe we can help to highlight the issue.
Be featured in this limited edition anthology of the best new illustrators engaged in environmental thinking. Read on to find out more…
***Please note that this brief is now closed: you can now order a copy of this book online by clicking here***
an illustration by Laura-Maria Arola from issue 9 of Amelia’s Magazine
Now, malady anyone who is following me on Twitter – my new favourite thing in the whole world – will know that I asked my dad to do the research for this book. I know what he’s like – apart from being a typical male who loves nothing more than “disappearing down the rabbit-hole” as my mum calls it (also known as busying himself in new projects) – he also loves a challenge. So I asked him to dig up some info on all the most obscure new alternative technologies currently being explored, sale so that I could put together a brief for Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.
He rose to the challenge and then some… almost immediately I started receiving email updates on strange new ways of producing energy. But not only that… it seems I have been the unwitting catalyst for a whole new venture – or a whole new rabbit warren to explore, depending on your point of view. A trained if somewhat out of practice scientist, Bruce (that’s my dad, I know, wierd, I call him by his first name)- gleefully told me on Bank Holiday Monday that he’s just designed the best new wave power technology not yet invented. Having read nearly 2000 patents for various wave power technologies he has, in his inimitable way, decided that his idea is quite clearly the best (my dad ALWAYS knows best). Except he won’t share it with me, cos I might, like, post it on the internet or something, before he’s applied for a patent.
Still, exciting stuff, and just the kind of thing I hope to do more of with both this open brief and the resulting book that comes out of it. Amelia’s Magazine in print may be no more, but I could never leave print entirely, and so the idea for this book has been mulling around in my head for sometime now. What we need right now is a whole heap of imagination, because humans need to make a big leap forward if we want to get out of the mess we currently find ourselves in. And whilst the scientists and boffins of this world busy themselves with the minutae of complicated chemical reactions and intricate moving parts, we also need the skills of artists to make these technologies a concrete reality. Without both visions together we will continue to move at a snail’s slither, so my aim is to help quicken that pace. If I can inspire designers and illustrators to better consider the way their energy is produced by drawing alternatives, then maybe they will make better choices about where their own energy comes from. Of course I don’t believe that technology alone is a cure all for all our ills, but it’s a move in the right direction, and I aim to produce a book that provides a comprehensive resource of all the best new illustrators capable of engaging with environmental issues and envisaging future alternative energy sources.
an illustration by Allan Deas for issue 9 of Amelia’s Magazine
What will be in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration ?
The book will be a compendium of profiles on the best illustrators who submit to this brief. Anyone is eligible to submit work, from anywhere in the world. I would particularly encourage new illustrators; those who are still at college, just graduating, or new to the field. Amelia’s Magazine is used by many influential creatives looking for new talent to employ, and this will be an even better way of getting your work noticed globally.
What will the book look like?
The book will be the same dimensions as Amelia’s Magazine, thereby sitting nicely on the shelf with any copies of the magazine that purchasers might already possess! It will be designed in a similar fashion but also expect some new ideas.
When will it be published and where will it be sold?
Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration will be self-published (again!!!!) The lead-times are just too long with the big publishers, plus they would want more design control than I am prepared to give to them. The ones I have spoken to also insist on producing all their books in the Far East, something I am very uncomfortable with given the dodgy environmental credentials of many industrial operations in that part of the world. It will be produced in the UK by Principal Colour as a limited edition hardback towards the end of 2009, in time for Christmas. Advance orders should be available to purchase on my website by the end of the summer, and will be much appreciated in order to finance the production process as it is going to cost me much more to keep production in the UK. The book will be sold worldwide at specialist art book shops such as those that already stock the magazine. I will aim to produce a second (possibly softback) edition the following year to be made much more widely available.
What can I do to contribute?
I need a number of different artworks from aspiring contributors, so please read the following information carefully and make sure that your submissions meet the criteria before you send them in to me.
EXCLUSIVE WORK: produced specifically for AMELIA’S ANTHOLOGY OF ILLUSTRATION
1. Most importantly:
ONE EXCLUSIVE LARGE PIECE done specifically for this anthology and not featured anywhere else.
This should feature an alternative technology that has not yet been built or mass-produced in any great scale. NO RUN-OF-THE-MILL WINDMILLS AND SOLAR PANELS PLEASE!
an intriguing design for a line of windmills on a bouncing rod
This is a challenging theme, but thanks to my dad there are dozens of links below that will lead you off in the right direction. You will need to disappear down the rabbit hole for awhile for this brief requires time and thought to complete. It also requires huge amounts of imagination, which is what illustrators specialise in! And my dad! I’ve always held a belief that the scientific mind and the artistic mind are not really so different from each other. How else do you explain me? The child of two scientists?! but rubbish at science….
Anyway, I digress. In this illustration I want to see ways that a new technology would be integrated into our future lives… so interaction with the surroundings or people will be good. This is not a technical illustration, it’s an aspirational one, but you should imagine this technology in some detail, however fantastical it may be. You could even look back at technologies that were patented as far ago as the 1800s, but that have never become part of the mainstream. Your chosen technology should be the main focus of your whole picture, but don’t forget to add detail.
This should be accompanied by a short written piece describing why you picked this particular technology and what the illustration means to you. This should be no more than 300 words.
A word to the wise: the more obscure your choice of technology the better, since I will probably choose different technologies for each illustrator that I choose to profile.
You can choose to work in two sizes:
Double page (as was used in Amelia’s Magazine)
SIZE: page size: 400mm wide x 245mm high, with a bleed of 3mm all around; ie. final size of your artwork: 406mm x 251mm.
SIZE: page size: 200mm wide x 245mm high, with a bleed of 3mm all around; ie. final size of your artwork: 206mm x 251mm.
NOTE: Don’t put important stuff in the 3mm bleed zone (but do continue your image into it) as this is where the printers may cut bits off when the magazine is cut and bound.
RESOLUTION: 300dpi, as a photoshop file in CYMK mode, using Photoshop print profile: euro standard swap coated 20% (or euroscale V2)
GUTTER: please also note that the book will have a very deep gutter in the middle so it is good to keep important parts of your illustration away from the centre of the spread in double page images.
MY STYLE: if you want to know about my taste in illustration you should check out the current issue of the mag, or buy a back issue here!
2. A exclusive PICTORIAL LOGO on an environmental theme
Logo designed by Adrian Fleet for Climate Camp in the City at the G20 protests
If you have submitted something for the Climate Camp logo open brief then you would be able to resubmit it for this brief, irrespective of whether it was used or not. The logo could be for an event or a company or a product or anything at all, but it must be promoting environmental themes and ideas. I will be looking for colourful and engaging logos. Consider the work of Adrian Fleet for the G20 Climate Camp in the City logo when thinking about what to enter for this. My style tends to be maximalist, but the words must always be a bold and easy part of the logo to read. It could be work that you have already created and has already been used by a brand (though please check with them before sending it to me) or you could create a new piece of work for a real or fictional brand. It should encompass a creative use of typography with illustration. There will be plenty of food for thought amongst the alternative technologies you will already have researched.
This should be accompanied by a short written piece describing what the logo has or would be used for. 50 words max.
It can be any size, but please create work at 300 dpi to a largish size.
3. Typography: YOUR NAME!
Please create your name in the most imaginative way possible. This could be done by hand, or on a computer, but you should really go to town! Amelia’s Magazine is well known for the use of creative typography, and for Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration the floor is open to you to create your own type for your own name (or how you would like to be known professionally) Don’t think of it as branding, but as something to go to town with. If your work is chosen it will be used to head your page, and it should therefore be really creative and fun. Think of this as your chance to really grab the reader’s attention!
For this reason please work to these dimensions and no smaller. (it could be bigger)
SIZE: 200-400mm wide x 40mm high
RESOLUTION: 300dpi, as a photoshop file in CYMK mode, using Photoshop print profile: euro standard swap coated 20% (or euroscale V2)
4. A Border
Again this should fit a single page and reflect an environmental theme. Be sure to work with 3mm bleed and no more than 25mm in from the edge.
SIZE: page size: 200mm wide x 245mm high, with a bleed of 3mm all around; ie. final size of your artwork: 206mm x 251mm.
NOTE: Don’t put important stuff in the 3mm bleed zone (but do continue your border into it) as this is where the printers may cut bits off when the magazine is cut and bound.
RESOLUTION: 300dpi, as a photoshop file in CYMK mode, using Photoshop print profile: euro standard swap coated 20% (or euroscale V2)
NON EXCLUSIVE work:
4. Two other bits of illustration.
These should be your best recent work. They do not necessarily need to be on an environmental theme but should showcase as wide a range of imagery as possible, eg. people, things, places, typography etc. If you have created artwork for any of my previous open briefs this could form part of your submission although I would prefer to see new work. Be sure to stick to one style though – illustrators with a strong style of their own will always make the biggest mark, and I am unlikely to pick anyone who does not show a strong style throughout their submissions.
These can be any size, but please label each illustration clearly with a name and date of creation.
SIZE: as big as possible to fit the book’s page sizes.
RESOLUTION: 300dpi, as a photoshop file in CYMK mode, using Photoshop print profile: euro standard swap coated 20% (or euroscale V2)
CLOSING DATE: Monday 3rd August, by midnight please.
Please send lo res versions of your images (saved for web) to firstname.lastname@example.org in an email clearly marked ANTHOLOGY OF ILLUSTRATION so that I don’t lose sight of it in my inbox if I am rushing through things on the day it arrives.
(This should be 6 pieces of work altogether. PLEASE DON’T SEND MORE THAN THIS)
If you are chosen for inclusion in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration then you will be notified shortly after this date, once I have made my decisions. I have yet to decide how I will put together the profiles, but I may well need a photo from you and a short interview. If this is the case you will be notified later on in the summer.
And if you have any questions that are not answered above then please email me for clarification.
Join the facebook event here to ensure you get updates as they happen.
Best wishes and happy drawing!
Below is a very long list of links, courtesy of Bruce: this is by no means conclusive, and the technologies may never work, but they are all being explored and would be valid ideas to illustrate. Youtube and Google Images are both a great source of innovative technologies, and I am sure you can find more. Feel free to go off and google you heart out – but you must illustrate something real and possible, and not a fantasy idea of your own. (unless you are also a scientist of course)
Wikipedia wind power info
Magenn’s revolutionary wind power system on youtube
Magenn Air Rotar system
Magenn’s home page
The Floating Balloon Wind Generator
Motorwind Camping Set Wind Turbine
Knex wind turbine
Magnetically Levitated wind turbine
Great pic of huge Maglev wind turbine
Wikipedia entry about Maglev wind turbines
Maglev wind turbines homepage
Mag-Wind Vertical Axis Turbine
A Flying Wind Machine!
Floating Wind Turbines
A great blog about lots of different alternative energy projects including wierd and fantastical wind turbines
Optiwind accelerating turbine
Rotating wind power towers
FloDesign wind turbines
Wikipedia definition of airborne wind turbines
downloadable PDF containing interesting info about different types of airborne wind turbines
Wikipedia definition of Kitegen
Kitegen website – plans for a huge airborne wind farm!
Great picture of how kites could generate electricity
Guardian article about kite power
Video showing how a kite ladder would work
Makani Power high altitude wind kites
Google have put money into the Makani vision
Makani “wind dam” picture
Great article about Saul Griffith — wind energy entrepeneur, and president of Makani
Tom Van Sant makes amazing kite ladders as sculpture
Wind Harvesting farms
More Helix Wind porn
Google search results for wind power technologies
Mariah Power wind turbines
Google videos about wind power
The huge offshore aerogenerator
Quiet Revolution wind turbines
Oscillating water columns
Anaconda wave technology
SIE-CAT wave energy accumulator
A list of wave power patents going back to the 1800s
Danish Wave Energy Society
the Wave Dragon
Wave Star Energy
Wave Energy Centre
the Aegir Dynamo
Float wave electric power station
the Manchester Bobber
Orecon oscillating water column
Sperboy wave energy converter
The Seadog Pump
Floating power plant
the Wave Roller
Langlee Wave Power
video about Harnessing the Gulf Stream! (is this a good idea?)
Wikipedia entry about wave power
Pelamis on wikipedia
Pelamis wave power
Pelamis being tested in Portugal
Google videos on wave power
Biowave power system
video showing Biowave power working
Video – giant rubber snakes!
SRI wave powered generator
Ocean Power Technologies
video – Aqua Buoys
Aqua Buoy movie
Oyster wave power
Wikipedia on tidal power
Video – tidal wave energy
youtube – idea for tidal energy barrage in florida
google video links for Sea Gen
Marine Current Turbines
video of Biostream tidal power system
Gorlov helical water turbine on wikipedia
Gorlov Helical Turbine
3D interactive model that shows blades of Gorlov turbine
Wikipedia on solar energy
wikipedia on thermal solar energy
wikipedia on solar energy generating systems
wikipedia on solar power tower
BBC news report on solar power stations
Solar Power tower in Spain
image of Solar Power tower
more images of solar power tower in spain
Bright Source solar power on wikipedia
Bright Source Energy
youtube on solar tower energy
solar tower energy in spain on youtube
Enviromission solar tower
Dual axis solar tower structure
youtube on israeli solar energy
First Solar free field power plants
youtube about plastic solar cells producing solar power
Konarka power plastic
Geothermal power on wikipedia
youtube geothermal energy vid
Wikipedia – enhanced geothermal systems
youtube video on enhanced geothermal systems
Hot Rock Technology
Alta Rock Energy
The Reluctant Photojournalist
Features a variety of vintage and modern prints from Werner Bischof’s well known humanitarian photography including the Bihar famine, more about Europe post WWII and the South Korean war. Alongside these sit Bischof’s equally beautiful but perhaps lesser known early experiments with abstracts and nudes.
Photographic co-op Magnum Photos Ground Floor, 63 Gee Street, London EC1V 3RS, 0207 490 1771
Reorienting common notions of contemporary Arab art and lifestyle and debunking ‘Orientalist’ depictions. Arab artists Marianne Catzaras, Dora Dhouib and Wael Shawky explore themes of mass media, Diaspora and religion via film and photography.
Selma Feriani Gallery, 23 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2QN
7th Apr – 13th May 2009
A new joint exhibition by former Wimbledon College of Art students, Nicola Stead and Dan Jupp.
The Outside World, 44 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP
7th May – 13th May By appointment Thursday to Saturday
The Hiding Place
Exquisitely rendered pencil drawings whisk the viewer away into muted landscapes
which toy with scale, suburbia and the surreal.
James Hyman Gallery Savile Row, London W1S 3PD, 020 7494 3857
30th April – 30th May
Contemporary Craft and Fine Art
An exhibition celebrating the materials, processes and techniques involved in making extraordinary objects, the exhibition will feature nine artists from different arts and craft and design fields.
Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Church Lane, Carmarthen SA31 1LH
4th Apr – 16th May 09, 10 – 5 Mon – Sat
Monday 11 May
Telepathe are a too-cool-for-school three piece from Brooklyn. They’re playing 93 Feet East. They get obtuse Krautronica and make it go “POP!” – maybe they’ll be the next Animal Collective… Supported by Ou Est Le Swimming Pool.
Tuesday 12 May
Dan Mangan plays The Electroacoustic Club, salve housed at The Slaughtered Lamb, viagra Clerkenwell. He’s a heartfelt songwriting kind of guy, information pills sings like he means it, and he’s much better than that Elbow record. Support comes from Deer Park.
Wednesday 13 May
Our new favourite boyfriend-girlfriend duettists, Young Paul, will be giving The Cobden Club, 107 Kensal road a taste of 80s electronic treats. get in touch with the band for hassle-free entry, as it’s a private members club. Not just a fine gig, then, but also a chance to see where the Old Etonians schmooze.
Thursday 14 May
Alice and The Cool Dudes at Barden’s Boudoir. This is the high point of our music week. Alice Grant of Fulborn Teversham, is leaving her jazzhead buddies to one side to unveil some pensive indie songs, delivered by a totally unique voice that totters across a tightrope of uncannily powerful and tearful exhaustion. Surely she won’t disappoint?????
Friday 15 May
Up in Nottingham, North-East London’s finest jokeshop salesmen of parallel-universe, narrative ska will be testing out some new material where they think no one can hear them. If you can find a place called Demo, you must prove Hothead Show wrong. Prepare for shockingly tight wizardry of the jerky-jerky groove.
Saturday 16 May
A night of so-angry-we-can-only-tell-you-very-very-slowly Metal, with some catatonically droning Grunge, and atonal noise that may cause loss of balance on all but the lowest of seating. Roll up at The Constitution and enjoy Dethscalator, Scul Hazzards and Batrider. If you don’t take earplugs, then take cotton wool to mop up you bleeding lugholes.
Sunday 17 May
Always a good bet for a sunday night is Cross Kings, 126 York Way, in King’s Cross. On the ground level, David Goo will jolly along an open mic, which always has a few very eccentric envelope-pushers pencilled in. The avant-gardishness couples nicely with the family warmth, houmous and pitta that makes this a great pub. It’s worth paying a few quid to be allowed into the basement also. Things are a bit more organized (sound-checks and everything) but happily, there’s still no obvious divide between the musicians and the audience. What sundays are for.
Tuesday 12th May
The Science Museum’s Dana Centre, dosage
?165 Queen’s Gate?, sildenafil
+0044 (0)207 942 4040
Rescuing the planet requires behavioural change on an unprecedented scale. From individual action to global politics, what are the different strategies attempting to achieve this? Social psychology, advertising, policy and direct action are all thrown into the mix in this debate. ??This event is trying out a new format called Policy Slam, which is funded by the Democratic Innovation Fund of the Ministry of Justice. With the help of the experts, you will discuss, present and vote on several different options.
Illustration by Lea Jaffy
Wednesday 13th May
Morphic Resonance, Collective Memory and Habits of Nature – An evening with Rupert Sheldrake
6.30pm drinks & buffet at Gaia House,
(18 Well Walk, Hampstead, NW3 1LD)
7.30pm Talk & discussion at Burgh House
(Opposite Gaia House, New End Square, Hampstead, NW3 1LT)
When Rupert Sheldrake first put forward his idea of Morphic Resonance more than twenty years ago, it caused a great stir in the scientific community. The Editor of Nature denounced it as “the best candidate for burning there has been for many years” and proclaimed that it was “heresy”. In his recently published new edition, available on the evening, Rupert documents the evidence that has built up in support of this hypothesis. He will reflect on the Human Genome Project and other reductionist ideas, where few of the grand claims have come to fruition, not unlike the economic bubble that has recently burst.
The paradigm shift that Morphic Resonance offers is coherent with the Gaia Hypothesis, where the cosmos is understood to be a developing organism, where nature is alive, interconnected and creative. There is an inherent memory in nature, and evolution is an interplay of habit and creativity, like our own lives. According to this way of seeing formative causation, all self-organising systems, including crystals, plants and animals contain an inherent memory, given by a process called morphic resonance from previous similar systems.
These ideas also resonate with diverse indigenous traditions around the world, including those of European ancestry. For much of our history humans have experienced our relationship with the Earth, and indeed the Universe, to be fluid and reciprocal. Rupert has taken up the challenge of exploring this ancient wisdom thorough the modern scientific tradition.
You can reserve your place online at: www.gaiafoundation.org/learning/online.php
Or send a cheque for £10, made payable to The Gaia Foundation.
For further details please contact Sarah at: email@example.com or 020 7428 0055.
Rupert Sheldrake is recognised as one of the world’s most innovative biologists. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Research Fellow of the Royal Society, and is currently Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project. He is author of more than 80 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and many books, including ‘The Presence of the Past’, ‘The Sense of Being Stared At’, ‘Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home’ and ‘Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness’. His web site is www.sheldrake.org
llustration by Eco Labs
Thursday 14th May
TAKE BACK THE POWER!? THE IMPORTANCE OF DIRECT ACTION TODAY
?Amnesty International UK
Human Rights Action Centre?
17 – 25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
Nearest tube: Old Street
Free entry, refreshments and snacks provided
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07534 598 733 (Early booking recommended!)
Find out what YOU can DO to stop climate change.?Throughout history ordinary people have been responsible for all major social changes – women’s rights, civic rights and even democracy itself in many places can be said to be result of direct action. Taking action is the very first step in making big changes happen. Direct action is taken by people who feel that the political process is not working to address profoundly important issues.
Climate change is the most urgent challenge we’ve ever faced – and politicians are not showing the strength of character needed to actually address this problem. Instead of serious sustainable solutions we see new runways and new coal fired power stations- deals that benefit the bottom line of the big players and not the wider population. Climate Camp believes that people everywhere need to work out what they can do – and then do it. Taking action yourself to make the world you want to see is a logical response to a very serious situation.
Are you interested in doing more to highlight the urgency of climate change? Or the relevance of direct action to struggles for jobs, peace and justice? Are you intrigued but feel uncomfortable about going outside the mainstream political process? Would you consider getting involved but don’t know how? Are you nervous about the consequences?
‘Take Back the Power! The Importance of Direct Action Today’ will be unique opportunity to hear about direct action from people who have participated in different ways. Speakers will range from people on the front line to those helping in the background. This includes Deborah Grayson – one of the Parliament Climate Rush – who is on bail and will be speaking about Climate Rush (photgraphed below)
To reserve a place/s please RSVP to email@example.com or call 07534 598 733.
Photograph by Amelia Gregory
Saturday 16th May
Euroflashmob: Europe United Against Airport Expansion
Stop Airport Expansion
Saturday 16 May 2009. The day of the Eurovision Song Contest. 12 noon on the dot at Heathrow
Terminal 1 Departures. Join Heathrow Flashmobbers in a Europe-wide Flash Mob – taking place on the same day at 6 airports across Europe.
Flash Heathrow! Flash Paris! Flash Frankfurt! Flash Schipol! Flash Brussels! Flash Dublin!
Each flashmob will be singing Eurovision classics (song-sheets provided), so download your favourite eurovision song onto your ipod or phone and bring your friends, instruments, hats, wigs, and your dancing shoes and let’s party. Now for the serious bit: airport expansion is seriously bad for local people, increased noise, air pollution, and especially the climate. The aviation industry want to expand airports across the UK and Europe, but opposition is huge, and the scientists are telling us we have to drastically cut emissions if we are to beat climate change. Flashmobs are a fun way to highlight the real opposition there is to expansion at airports across Europe. Here’s another big chance to show our opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
See you in Heathrow Terminal 1 Departures at 12 noon on the dot!
Tell BAA to get in tune: No Third Runway.
Illustration by Sachiko
Green Wedge II
A major Green Party benefit gig, to aid the Euro Election campaign.
72 Stamford Hill,
The highly eclectic lineup includes:
The Refinements (Raucous Ska)
Sarah Ellen Hughes Duo (jazz singer)
Selim: 07853 725476
Come along and support the local bands by cheering loudly, the Green Party by giving us your money and support, and the Pangea Project by drinking copious amounts.
It’s all shaping up to be a fun night, ably facilitated by your host Matt Hanley (ahem), with comprehensive Eurovision updates throughout the evening!
You can buy advance tickets here:?http://www.skiddle.com/tickets/
I love good days. Days that unfold in a series of pleasant surprises that put a spring back in your step and remind you that the world can be a good place. Three such things occurred today, buy well, four if you include the free coffee I was given for no reason, and five if you take into account the particularly magnificent texture of the water in which I swam early this morning (a good start surely), breathing fresh and clean from the night’s rain, silk to the touch and causing my skin to tingle for hours after; but silk water aside, only one of these things is relevant to you Zach, can I call you Zach?
There was a moment at tonight’s concert where you clasped your fingers behind your head, raised your eyes towards the ceiling, and sighed a private smile – do you sometimes not quite believe it? I couldn’t believe it. I’d given up the hope of seeing you (you the object of a little musical infatuation), play at the Forum tonight – a torment when that venue is within spitting distance of my home. I’d cycled past and seen the queues outside (one of the nicest looking crowds to gather outside the Forum, believe me I know), my head hung low and my pedal stilted, perhaps I could sneak in, how could I live here so long and not know a secret entrance? Just as I was reconciling myself to a night of listening to Gulag Orchestra within the confines of my bedroom and strumming Postcards from Italy alone on the roof, a good thing happened – buzz buzz in my back pocket.
“Hey Luisa how are you?”
“I’ve been better, well actually it’s been a pretty good day, but – ”
“Yeah well listen, you like Beirut right?”
“Like them? I Love – I mean yeah, they’re ok. I guess they’re ok.”
“Well you couldn’t do me a favour. I know it’s late notice and you’ve probably got plans”
“Erm, yeah I’ve got plans”
“Well I’m supposed to be reviewing them tonight but they wouldn’t give me a plus one and I don’t want to go alone, you wouldn’t go instead would you?”
(I’ve pulled over and am silently raising my fists to the sky)
Hmm…I suppose I could, I mean I would like to see them but then I don’t know what I’d write, I’m sure I’ll think of something-”
“So you’ll go?”
“Yes, yes I’ll go.”
“Oh great, thanks, just say you’re me, get some pictures, you know the drill, thanks again,”
“No problem, really,” (jumping up and down a little bit),
“What’s that noise?”
“Oh, nothing, some kid, thanks a lot, have a good night,”
“You too, byeeeee.”
So that’s how a good day found me watching you tonight, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a gig. You came out to rapturous applause, rewarding the audience kindly with Nantes, how does it feel to have a crowd sing your songs along with you? It was as though you were singing old folk songs of a collective homeland from which we’ve all strayed, not something created from a photograph and a few months in Eastern Europe and Paris. And now you’ve moved over to Mariachi influences? I was raised on Cumbia, and I’ve always thought the sound is very similar to that of Eastern Europe, accordions and trumpets and powerful melodies. Everyone around me was in hushed silence for the entirety of the performance, and you seemed so relaxed, demure, a sound like yours doesn’t require anything else – I did like the occasional hand conducting though. On behalf of the audience, not that anyone would make me spokesperson for anything, thank you, it was wonderful incredible; but then you know that, not everyone gets two encores. See you again soon I hope, and erm, if you ever need someone to tap a tambourine or a cowbell, or maybe an old foot pedal harmonium just rescued from cobwebs, then … hi.
SM (small print): emotional content may have been exaggerated slightly for effect.
Will Morgan is an excellent photographer, store clever person and all round nice guy. His photographs are subtle and dream-like; intimate yet austere, information pills all of us here at Amelia’s Magazine are big fans of his beautiful and exciting work. I was lucky enough to catch up with Will to talk about his work and the politics of photography.
Hi, patient Will, how are you today?
Hello Roisin, I’m very good today thanks , the sun’s out and things are pretty much perfect.
I really love your photographs especially your use of light and attention to details- what makes a good photograph for you?
Thank you, that always nice to hear. Images work for me when they inspire an emotional response or are successful at conveying a mood and atmosphere. It’s the same for me with any art work really, every discipline. When I was at college I was really interested in domestic photography, family albums and the like, I always felt that these images were incredibly powerful because they are loaded with so much meaning, they tie into notions of memory, loss, happiness, sadness and the passage of time. I’m sounding a bit pretentious here but never mind eh? I think that an image can stand on it’s own purely by being beautiful as well, ideally one would combine the beauty with an emotional response. I think photographs are a form of language so it’s nice if they say something.
Can you tell me about your average working day?
I don’t really have an average working day, I shoot a lot of editorial so the jobs are varied and my personal work is even more so. If I’m on a commissioned job it’s usually an early start, double check the equipment as I have been known to leave vital bits behind. Drink some very strong coffee, try not to smoke (fail) and head to the location, be very nice to everybody and start to shoot. Obviously keep to the deadline, work in close conjunction with the art director and hope the client is happy! All my commissioned work is digital these days so there’s normally an hour at the end of the shoot to go through the images then I retouch and deliver. My personal work is far looser I identify a project I’m interested in and shoot on my own, with minimal equipment. I do get up a lot later on these days, probably smoke more cigarettes though.
Do you have a favourite camera?
I started off using a 1960′s Hassleblad and I still love it, but these days I mainly shoot with a 645 contax and a P30 back, with the advent of digital clients just won’t pay for film and now days they want to see everything immediately, plus you get used to the freedom of digital, you can shoot to your hearts content. I do like my contax but the Hassleblad is probably my favourite although I rarely shoot film these days, I used to have a Polaroid land camera which I throughly enjoyed but I lost it. Lets move on I’m getting a little emotional
What do you make of the whole film vs. digital photography debate? I mean do you view the advent of digital photography as a completely bad thing?
I’m not sure it’s even a debate anymore, digital photography is here and it’s a photographic tool, you just have to learn to use it and I think to deny it is a bit self defeating. I do believe that images shot on film look better than digital raw files but the technology is so good now and if you know a little about digital retouching I can’t really tell the difference. Digital has a huge amount of freedom, film is expensive with digital after the initial investment you shoot for free really, you can really experiment and as I’ve said all my commissions assume I’m shooting digital. I don’t think digital is a bad thing or a good thing really it’s just the way photography has evolved. Different jobs/projects lend themselves to different platforms/cameras and so on, whatever works for you is the best really. Even when I do shoot film I scan it and tweak it in photoshop so it becomes a digital image anyway.
I think that’s really interesting, it’s quite taboo I think to be positive about digital photography, it’s refreshing to hear that you’re pro-digital and proud; whilst film is beautiful, people can always become purist about things like that and I agree that digital technology can add something great to photography- as we can see in your work!
Continuing with this foray into the ethics or politics of photgraphy, do you agree with the idea that a photograph is the truest form of representation?
I’m probably misinterpreting the question but umm, not really, I think a photograph captures how someone or something looked in that split second the shutter clicked, it’s a tricky one but as a photographer you’re imposing yourself on the scene, you crop in camera, use apertures and f-stops different focal lengths, different formats, you edit your images, decide how to present them, all of this creates a selective reality, I’m not even sure if reality is the right word, also now with the computer technology you can completely alter the original image . All of these things have a huge bearing on whatever you’re photographing and of course you want it to look good. I don’t think it’s a true representation of reality but it has the edge over painting I think.
Can you tell me about your journey to where you are today (career-wise rather than transport-wise!)? Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Well I went to India for a year when I was 20, I picked up a camera there for the first time and really enjoyed it, I’d stayed in India too long so I missed my University place to study English so i did a part time course in photography. I loved it so went the route of art foundation, photography BA at LCP (also this got me to London). I did well at LCP I won a few prizes and it gave me the confidence to believe I might actually be able to make a living from photography. After my degree I worked part time at the National Film Theatre and assisted various photographers as well as picking up a few commissions for my self. It’s only really been the last three years that I’ve made a reasonable living purely from my own photography but it’s always been fun and I’ve never wanted to stop. I think getting over the fear of the portfolio meetings was crucial! The only advice I would give is to keep at it, never be afraid of showing your work, shoot as much as you can and enjoy it, I think it’s the best job in the world (apart from rock star maybe)
Which photographers inspired you early on in your career?
I was always hugely impressed with Philip Lorca-di Corcia in particular his Hollywood Hustler series, I was and still am a big fan of Eva Vermendel and Martina Hoogland-Ivanow, Paolo Roversi’s work is always beautiful, Christian Boltanski, Stephen Gill, Bruce Davidson, Azim Haidaryan, Nadav Kander, there’s a lot of them but I’ll leave it there.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a few, I’m shooting a series of confessional boxes in Catholic churches, a series on cineastes based around the National Film Theatre and bus stops at night.
I can’t wait to see them!
All photographs appear courtesy of Will Morgan
At first glance, mind you might have thought that activism, arts and permaculture would make the strangest of bedfellows, but don’t let any preconceived notions cloud your judgement. The imaginative people behind ArtsAdmin are laying on a fortnight of activities which will demonstrate how effortlessly these subjects can work together. Under the name of Two Degrees , and with the recent quote by George Monbiot acting as a kind of frame of reference – ‘We have to stop treating climate change as an urgent issue, we have to start treating it as an international emergency” – the week long series of performances, activities, exhibitions and installations will have one thing in common; our relationship with the environment and the impact of climate change.
I chatted recently with ArtsAdmin, in their beautiful and unexpectedly peaceful surroundings (well, they are on Commercial Road!) of Toynbee Studios (also the setting of many of the forthcoming events). They explained that even the title of the festival is apposite. ‘Two Degrees’ is in reference to the reports that global temperatures are set to rise by that amount in around 40 years. A relatively ‘small’ rise such as this could lead to catastrophic changes on our planet.
While the message is serious, many performances will be light hearted, and all will be engaging. A case in point, the ‘set list’ reads thus;
“A reconstructed airplane serves real airline food delivered from City Airport; permaculturists and artists lead a foraging exploration of the City; a crowd of Londoners, an artist and a water dowser trace the course of a great London river; radical temporary transformations of lunchtime London; an artist-activist family confess to past flights they have taken; climate change cabaret; an urban-rural walk to City Farm; a bicycle-powered DJ set (run by good friends of Amelia’s Magazine; Magnificent Revolution) and a filmed rural idyll accompanied by passenger jet noise form Two Degrees”
Personally, I like the sound of the climate change cabaret. It’s about time that cabaret branched out a little, don’t you think? Speaking of avant-garde performances, a particular highlight of the week will be C.R.A.S.H. A Postcapitalist A-Z, a collaboration between ArtsAdmin and the fantastically named collective that is The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. While it is difficult to predict exactly what will occur, (it’s best just to come down to the City of London to watch), C.R.A.S.H will be creating a phantasmagorical world where “Eight postcapitalist commissions transform lunchtime in the City including the very last opportunity to purchase a real woman, a soup kitchen distributing bowls of gold soup to City workers, a lone cyclist pedalling a field kitchen around the Square Mile, a forum of bankers, ex-bankers, climate activists, artists and others confessing their capitalist tendencies, and a café of equivalence where a bowl of food costs the same as a banker’s daily salary in parallel with food costs in the developing world.” I believe it is safe to say; brace yourself!
Elsewhere, the issue of airline travel is of course, a pertinent topic in an event that is engaging in dialogue about climate change. At Toynbee Studios, it will be dealt with in an unexpectedly humorous way. In an activity that Dada would be proud of, the artist Richard DeDomenici (and his cabin crew) will be serving out helpings of airplane food, in its airline style packaging. Just in case you didn’t think that this was authentic enough, your meal will be served as you sit in a recycled airplane interior, which Two Degrees hasten to add, also includes in flight entertainment. For any of you who would pitch up just because you like the taste of airline meals (someone has to…?) there is a deeper meaning behind this. DeDomenici is responding to a recent quote by chef Marcus Wareing about British pub food, which he declares being of poor quality, so much so that for a proper meal, “you would be better off getting on a plane”. Now, I would disagree with chef Wareing on both counts. Has he never eaten at The Eagle? Moreover, it is an irresponsible comment to make, one which highlights the ease in which we get on and off flights, almost as if they were trains. So, rather than getting on a plane, you can experience all the wonders of a flight (but without the guilt of actually flying). Hurrah!
If you are anything like me; a bit of a hippy with a nerdish fondness for maps and discovering secret, ancient rivers, ( I’ll admit that there are very few of us around!) then you will especially enjoy the outing that Two Degrees have planned. The artist Amy Sharrock will be leading a walk which she describes as her response to global concerns. This will come in the form of an excursion from Islington to the Southbank, tracing the lines of the ancient, and lost Walbrook River. Not obscure enough for you? Did I mention that any participants will be dressed in blue and tied together to resemble water molecules?
All of the events can be booked online at www.artsadmin.co.uk. It promises to be a thought-provoking and engaging week. Knowing ArtsAdmin and the people behind this event, however out of left field the performances may be, the message will be central: we are running out of time in which to save the planet, and the time in which to act is now.
Crochet, help shells and pipe cleaners…beasts banished forever to the chasmic closet of craft have broken free of the plastic furniture covers and dried flowers to be resurrected as one of the most entertaining young collections to have paraded down the catwalks in some time. Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, the Australian born and bred design team behind Romance Was Born have glued-gunned themselves firmly in place as the merry pranksters of Sydney.
No one would blame you for crinkling your nose at the idea of a fashion collection inspired by someone’s nana. But peeking through the kaleidoscopic vision of these wizards of Oz . Driven by textures, shapes and above all colors, Romance Was Born in the fertile imaginations of these two talented designers when they met while studying fashion at the East Sydney Technical College.
After graduating in 2007 they were invited to attend the Fourth International Support Awards in Italy where they turned down internships with Galliano because “their fashion fairytale had another date with destiny”. These young (water)guns were intent on starting their own label with, and why not, the suitcase size booty of Galliano laces and silks they’d received as a prize from the competition.
These two confectioners are just as much substance as they are style. Clever tailoring and feminine shapes pepper the opulent couture showpieces. Collaborations with Australian artist Del Kathryn Bartonproduced original digitally printed fabrics and a 12 piece collection entitled ‘Garden of Eden’, which was exhibited at Kaliman Gallery alongside Barton’s work.
Romance Was Born has also found its way onto the figures of Debbie Harry, Lily Allen, MIA, Cyndi Lauper and Karen O (who opted for a red tulle dress with googly eyes) and rising star rockers Architecture in Helsinki, who wore their puppetry inspired glo-in-the-dark pieces for the filming of their band’s new clip. They must surely have tagged one particular Icelandic songbird for their next mark. we can’t wait to see what they pull out of their party hats next!
When you first gaze upon the work of Accessory designer Fred Butler it’s all rather indigestible, case flying from one medium to the other with all the energy and flair of an excitable child. She is constantly adding more layers, no rx depth and colour to her pieces, help the result culminates in mind bogglingly colourful and decidedly hap hazard pieces.
With such gusto It’s hard to fathom how to predict her, one instance you could be presented with a outlandish mathematical headpiece rather reminiscent of a futurist rubix cube. Then next your met with a piñata style headdress (lets hope the model isn’t planning on attending any children’s parties, it may conclude in a rather unpleasant knock to the head) Each piece is as brilliant as it is unique, Butler is one of the few designers it’s hard to typecast, her work has been vaguely linked to that of fellow kitsch designers Peter Jensen and Alistair Carr but apart from these she seems a law unto herself.
Her latest collection featured a hallucinogenic short film entitled “Conspicuous consumption” to which ethereal models clad in swarouski encrusted headpieces serenely sway in a rather hypnotic manner, its all rather like a trip back to Kate Bushes Wuthering Heights video, alas minus the haunting vocals!
Fred Butler is an infamous character in the fashion sphere; regularly her work adorns the pages of the magazine elite from Elle, I-D, Vogue, Lula, and Hommes Japan to Wonderland. She even graced the pages Amelia’s Magazine to which she featured in issue 10, which is still up for grabs for the record, it’s worth taking a peak!
Her success is universal, making waves not merely within the fashion sphere but within Music also. She boasts eccentric followers from electro folk icon Patrick Wolf to the elegant Bishi. But she doesn’t just appeal to London’s Underground sphere, she has a whole host of high calibre clients from MTV, Selfridges to the V&A!
Who knows what Fred Butler has hidden under her brightly coloured sleeve, I for one can’t wait to find out!
The Dø are Dan Levy and Olivia B. Merilahti, view who luckily for our ears found each other and started making pop music for fun whilst working on a soundtrack together.
They have already made it big outre-manche, site with their album A Mouthful got to Number 1. Their vibrant sound swings from the playground to the streets and back again, viagra making for an exciting album brimming to the rafters with curiosity, exuberance and passion. It’s strings sweep with cinematic drama over lullabies and hip-hop.
From their genre-switching music to their diverse cultural background; a mix of French (Dan) and Finnish (Olivia), their sound is more unique than any boy-girl duo to have come along for a while.
Hello Olivia, how are you today?
I’m good thank you- trying to relax …it’s been a while since I’ve had a day off, and we’re getting ready for our crazy UK/Germany tour
Wow, it sounds like your super busy! Are you in Paris right now? I’m jealous, I used to live there and I miss it…
Yes- shall we swap? i’d rather live in London! I dont know why, I’ve always felt very close to England.
It’s a plan! I’ll pack my suitcase as soon as we’re done interviewing!
So it’s probably the first thing most people want to ask about, but how did you guys decide on the name The Dø ? I read it means ‘death’ in Danish…
d+o=Dan+Olivia. Do=do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do! “do(e), a deer, a female deer” (check The Sound of Music). In Denmark it means somthing about death, yeah but, the “ø” was mostly because it looks like the note as written in traditional music theory.
I like it, The Dø is a big melting pot of languages and cultures; even Austrian with The Sound of Music! I suppose musically as well you mix up the languages with English and Finnish…but not French- was that a concious decision?
Yeah- French was never an option in music for me, my musical language is English, it’s always been, because it is also my musical culture, and pop music has always been in English
Also French in it’s nature for me anyway seems very structured and constrained linguistically- maybe thats hard to put into music?
Like Opera was mostly sung in Italian, German or French…but not in English, really.
It’s just like using the instrument that feels right.
What about singing in Finnish? Listening to your album A Mouthful- it really adds a ethereal touch when it’s used, it such a lovely sounding language!
Hum, I guess the song & the melody of “Unissasi Laulelet” just came up naturally in
Finnish. I didn’t really plan to write a song in Finnish, but I do sometimes need to change and use Finnish in my compositions.
Cool, it’s great to be able to use language like another instrument like you said. Do you think you both approach music with different views on art and music or do you have a lot of similar tastes?
On some stuff we don’t agree, but we’re usually extremely connected. Two people working together is a very intense activity…our musical backgrounds are different, but we’re so complementary…
Talking about other experiences and influences- what are/were your personal inspirations musically?
I grew up on a lot of songs, in English or Finnish. My mum used to sing me a lot of lullabies in Finnsh, and I guess it is still an inspiration…Then I discovered Nirvana and Hole, then Bjork, Fiona Apple, Ella Fitzgerald, Goran Bregovic, The Wutang and Eminem.
Dan grew up on jazz and discovered classical music in his teens.Dan’s influences are John Coltrane (Dan played the saxophone for many many years), Bela Bartok, Zappa, etc. He was always sure he would become a composer, while I was singing in bands from age 14, but I was very shy about my own songs.
Wow, from 14! So music, even at a young age, was something you definitely wanted to do later in life? And what about for Dan?
Yes, but since I didn’t grow up in a family that was artistic in any way, I didn’t realise until quite late that it could actually become a job! Whereas there was no doubt for Dan.
So what does the future hold for The Dø ?
We’re gonna keep touring until august, in the UK and the rest of Europe, and then we record album 2…we’ve started recording a few songs already and it feels amazing!
I’m really excited to hear that! Thank you!
A Mouthful is out now.
Welcome to the weird, order wonderful world of Catherine Le Page. This Quebecoise knows how to draw and her illustrations are have a beautiful je-ne-sais-quoi about them. The most interesting pieces create a unique vision of femininity from childhood to womanhood. Brands, case diets, boys, careers and children appear throughout her work, highlighting the concerns of the modern feminine psyche whilst utilising a self-consciously girly whimsical aesthetic. The combination of the two give a deeply intimate view of womanhood.
As we see below, she seems to condone a sort of universal sisterhood of happiness; the “for better” whilst marriage is perhaps implied as the “for worse”. She both embraces the feminine in her themes of nature, motherhood and celebrations of the female body whilst questioning its social implications.
The colours and lines used by Le Page are delightfully naive, like the imaginings of a teenage girl; all crushes and crying carved in crayon on pages torn out of squared exercise books, taking us back to the days of secret notes passed in class and writing boys names in pen on our knickers.
Her work is always mature in it’s treatment of subject matter; like her couple holding hands at the corner of a page faced with giant colourful block arrows, with Le Page‘s native Canada imprinted hauntingly in the background, like the big scary future looming. Or a couple coping with a long distance relationship. Le Page‘s illustrations manage to be both personal whilst universal whilst still maintaining a strong sense of narrative.
Le Page tightropes the line between a twee femininity and these astute quasi- feminist observations, whilst being neither particularly approving nor politically critical in her work. Yet because she, as a female artist, is asserted as a subject of creativity and expression; it is men who become objects of desire, whilst female concerns take centre stage. Yet does being female and addressing issues of femininity in art always have to be a feminist matter? Opinions welcome…I’m off to burn my bra.
Yesterday, about it an impassioned plea in the form of an email dropped through into my Amelia’s Magazine inbox. The subject matter was a slightly different topic to what usually features in the Earth section, unhealthy but instantly we knew that it warranted a feature, and needed to be shared with our readers. So todays topic is about 10,000 ex- battery farmed chickens that need rehousing urgently, otherwise they will be sent to slaughter.
Henny Penny was found at the bottom of a battery farm cage unable to stand.
It may seem a slightly incongruous topic, but then I have always had a soft spot for hens. While I love the little corner of urban sprawl that I now occupy in East London, I spent my formative years in Cornwall. Growing up in bucolic, pastoral countryside, my parents (recently decamped from Wandsworth) decided they wanted to have a bit of The Good Life, and got themselves a chicken hutch and about 10 hens. Every morning, my job was the Collection Of The Eggs – I took my job very seriously. Armed with a basket I would quietly step into the hatch; I will never forget the peaceful, warm atmosphere that I would encounter. Ten contented, almost post coital chickens clucking gently to themselves as they settled down for a rest after a morning spent laying eggs. Needless to say, the eggs tasted delicious – rich, thick and creamy. So, with these memories in mind, there is an incomprehensible difference between the hens in our back garden all those years ago, and the pictures of the chickens that accompanied the email. Emaciated, featherless and pathetic – the real image behind battery farming that you don’t see on boxes of eggs.
The people asking for our, and your help are a group called Little Hen Rescue, based in Norfolk. Yesterday I spoke with one of the volunteers, Emma, who told me that all of the group volunteer, and all are working up to 14 hour days in the pursuit of rescuing battery chickens. She explained that the hens will have spent most of their life in a tiny battery cage, laying eggs until their production level drops, after which they will usually be sent to slaughter. At this point, they are generally only sixteen months old, and seeing that chickens usually live for up to six years , they are not even halfway through their life span. The operation that they are currently undertaking is their most ambitious, and largest yet. At the end of June, a farm in Norfolk will be sending 10,000 chickens to slaughter, and Little Hen Rescue are hoping that all will be rehoused to members of the public throughout Britain. If anyone has ever thought of keeping chickens before, now would be the time to step forward. Although this may seem a daunting task, Little Hen Rescue are promising to guide every hen-keeping novice through all the initial steps. They are asking for a donation of £1.50 for each chicken ‘brought’, but more is always welcome, (and anyone who wishes to donate, but not get a hen is also welcome to do so, the website has details of their PayPal account. ). I asked Emma what the chickens are like, half expecting a description of severely traumatised birds, but she was quick to prove me wrong; “They are gorgeous! Where do you start? They are more friendly than any other breed of hen I’ve found. They are such loving little pets and considering what they’ve been though, they give you their all”
One characteristic to be expected of the chickens is the state of their feathers – or the lack of them. Unfortunately, this is just another by product of being a battery hen. Little Hen Rescue have already factored this in, and have a web page with instructions for how to construct fleeces and jumpers to keep the birds warm while their feathers grow back – which they always do. Helpfully, there are also pictures of the hens wearing breast plate knitted jumpers and fleeces to show you the finished ‘product’. I defy you not to be moved by these photos.
Illustration by Jessica Pemberton
One thing worth remembering if you want to go ahead and adopt a hen is that you will need a garden in which they can roam, and preferably you will need to construct or purchase a secure, fox-proof chicken house with an attached run. Amelia’s Magazine is not usually in the habit of acting as a broker in the sale of chickens, but then an appeal like this does not come along every day. If there is anything that you can do to help, get in contact with Little Hen Rescue and help a feathered friend.
Illustration by Jessica Pemberton
Phuong-Cac Nguyen left America more then two years ago to start a new life in São Paulo, visit this Brazil`s ginormous metropolis and the main economic and cultural center in the country. She went away with the purpose of sending contributions about the city to blogs and websites such as coolhunting.com and joshspear.com. However she found in town countless choices of how to spend her free time and decided to compile her favorite hidden Sao Paulo haunts into a brilliant guidebook. It`s been a hit between locals, so in order to find out more about how she came up with the project we chatted almost endlessly about the book – but also about Sao Paulo`s social problems, the paulista lifestyle and Brazilian politics.
I didn`t get if you`re American, Brazilian…??
Oh ok. Could you tell us a little about the book? It seemed very interesting. Loved the layout too.?
It comes from two years living there. While writing for coolhunting and joshspear, i picked up a ton of info. Also a lot of it came about naturally – I’m a super curious person, so to keep myself entertained I went discovering the city and chatted with people and as I did all this stuff about the city came out and I had all this info that I didn`t know what to do with and knowing that there was a lack of this type of book for Sao Paulo, I figured it would be a good idea to do a book and share these gems.??
That`s great! I`m looking forward to reading it.
?Thank you! The majority of the people who worked on it are Brazilians who live in São Paulo. I wanted to present a true insider’s view.
So you went to Sao Paulo by yourself and then started with the freelance jobs?
?Yes. I had saved up some money from my previous gigs. Jobs in the U.S.
And what made you choose São Paulo??
It was one of my stops during a South American trip I made in 2006, and when I got there I felt at home – first time in my life I have ever felt that way about a place.
Where are you from in the US?
?I am from L.A. California.
That`s a big change! What do you love the most about SP and the least??
Most: I haven’t figured it out totally, but I think it’s the sense that something is always happening, always changing, always moving, and I like being a part of that.
Least: the pollution – my acne has come roaring back as a result.
Yes it`s horrible! But isn`t this movement sentiment a thing that all the big cities have it? This idea that there`s always something going on?
?Yes, i guess so, but I’ve been to lots of big cities… there’s just something different about Sao Paulo’s movement… maybe it’s because it’s still developing yeah – and I also love the people there.
What do you love about them?
?People are so nice! And people from other Brazilian states complain that they think Paulistanos are snobby (back to the whole big-city thing), but I have met so many amazing people there, people from all over Brazil come to SP.
I think Paulistas are the best!
?hahah are you a Paulista???
Yes I am! But I`ve lived most of my life in Porto Alegre.?
Ah people there are so nice too! A lot of my friends are from the south.
So you got to learn some Portuguese??
Yes. I’m fluent.
Cool! Was it hard??
Believe me, after dealing with the printer, I am definitely fluent! Yes it was hard – but after about 6 months I was able to be understood.
??So that was quick!
?I knew my Portuguese was up to speed when I could complain with everyone else about the traffic and pollution haha.
??Hahaha. And that`s when you became a real paulista!?
Awesome! So do you plan of translating the book to Portuguese?
?Yes, that’s in the plans. the book is practically sold out in Brazil already, even in English!
Uau that`s amazing!
Yeah I’m shocked really.
Where did you use to live in SP??
So how would you describe SP`s like in a more detailed way? Because the idea people usually have from Brazil is from being a country with beaches everywhere, girls in bikini drinking caipirinha and dancing samba the whole day. But we both know that`s not true.?
Definitely. Well, SP is a modern city where you can get gourmet olives imported from Italy and we get stuck in traffic jams like in NYC, but combine that with a strong Brazilian culture and you have a totally unique place.
Museu De Arte Moderna
So in the book you describe the main neighborhoods??
Yes.?Restaurants, bars, boutiques, hidden gems.??
So would you say it`s targeted more to SP`s high class?
?Noooo! It’s for people working in the creative industry, people like artists, designers, architects, writers.
So not high class – when I think of high class I think of super rich and my readers are not. But they are by no means unsuccessful, if that makes any sense.
It totally makes sense. Do you plan on writing another guide??
Writing i don’t know but producing more under the Total series, yes. I have to take a rest before I would consider writing another one… I’d like to hire someone else to write the next one!
?Any idea for cities??
Yes – we’ll stick with South American cities. But as for what city next, that will have to be kept under wraps for now.
So could you tell me what are your favorites places in SP? Like a top 5 maybe?
?Bar do Museu, praça por do sol, filial, the historical center of the city, the Arab area of the Bras neighborhood. And of course I love my neighborhood! But that would be 6 and you asked for 5.
Loja do Bispo
So you`re still living in SP? Thought you were back in LA.
?I’m back in L.A. to handle the business end of the book, but will be back in SP this year. All my things are still there!??
How do Brazilian people usually react when you say you`re American? Probably a silly question, but I`m just curious.?
They are super curious, they love Americans and being Asian on top of that, I’m definitely an interesting specimen. They wonder why the heck I moved to SP when they all want to move to America!??
Exactly! Did you get to follow Brazilian politics? What do you think about it?
?I did a little bit, yes, and I find it fascinating the infamous bureaucracy, the corruption, but I see that there are also some good hearts in the government, trying to work against those two aspects. And it’s working, because Brazil is growing and being accepted into the worldwide market.
Really? Do you truly believe in that?
?Yes – you see it more on a local level. I don’t really understand national politics as much, my Portuguese is weak in this area, but nevertheless even though Brazilians are required to vote, and we aren’t in the U.S. but yet we’re infinitely more involved when it comes to campaigns, i find that Brazilians should take a deeper interest in helping to shape change…. but it’s complicated because they don’t trust the government. This is a sentiment that many Brazilians share with me, that they would in fact love to be more involved but they see it as kind of hopeless.
Yes that`s exactly what I think. It`s one of the reasons that made me leave together with crime as well, which it`s related, of course.?
Yes, definitely. The crime is insanely bad compared to America. I think this is why Paulistanos are so special… they have to deal with all of this and yet they are able to maintain a happy nature and positive view on life. This is amazing to me. I love SP with all its faults, I have gotten days where I wanted to pick up and move somewhere else because I was frustrated after hearing about a bounty hunter killing someone in my neighborhood, but I don’t because the city and its people have so much to offer
Yes totally. That`s what I`m always telling people about Brazilians: they can be miserable, completely poor, live in a shit hole, but they`re are smiling, cooking their Sunday barbecues and drinking their beer.
Yeah totally. In fact, what you say is what my friends say is the problem with Brazil, why things in government aren’t changing… instead of getting up and doing something about things, people don’t want to deal with it and rather focus on making churrasco. I can understand in a way.
Sad but true. Phuong thank you so much. Is there anything else you would like to say??Well I definitely would not have been able to do it without my team of photographers and illustrators! They believed in the project and as a result it shows through in the final product. That’s all!
Now, buy more about I know Surbiton quite well. It’s a place I associate with Waitrose, cost semi-detached houses, wife-swapping, Audis, Felicity Kendall’s loin-stirring fringe, and the Class System. Artistic notions don’t really seem to fit in this anodyne suburban mould.
And the good people of Surbiton probably don’t notice the gaping wound in their emotional channel. But here, in the valley of the shadow of death, cometh the man. A man with the vision to inject into their sterile lives the force of the creative spirit. And much calcium.
Robin Hutchinson graduated in Fine Art before Duran Duran discovered hair gel, a bit conceptual and performancey, and then embarked on life’s great journey. Decades later, he’s a happily married man who drinks a lot of Pinot Grigio and follows his arty heart. Ha has an amazing knack for getting people in authority to do things. One day, he decided that Kingston needed a theatre, and turned himself into a one-man lobby, pestering the Council and developers for years, until it was done, with the beautiful result of the Rose Theatre, a rounded Shakespearean structure that keeps it real with proper plays and comedy.
Then he decided to celebrate the life of photography legend and Kingstonian Eadweard Muybridge with a 20ft projection onto the facade of Kingston Police Station, located opposite Muybridge’s birthplace. A projection of Muybridge’s work, followed by a creepy-as-hell pair of eyes looking out across the town, framed rectangular, as though from a burqua. Behold surveillance society, and trust in society laid bare not in a gallery setting, but on Kingston’s High Street, with people strolling by to drink beer or buy kebabs.
So here’s a chap who likes a little confrontation, and wants the populace to let some Apollonian/Dyonysian into their lives. So maybe you’re wondering where the calcium fits in with this…
Robin (who, given the right costume, could easily pass for a Marvel supervillain), tells me of his Damascus moment. One afternoon, while having his car fixed up at Kwik-Fit next door, he popped into The Lamb for a pint and thought he’d try a selection from the deli counter. Yes, deli-counter! This would be a major revelation for anyone who remembers the way the pub used to be; an intimidating grotto of dirty looks for non-regulars, shifting Carlsberg-flavoured water to a single-digit client-base who would ruminate each afternoon on the finer points of Daily Star stories. Maybe a dartboard by the door to the ladies, maybe a jar of pickled onions – it’s all the stuff of legend, now (except for the huge plastic letters of the SKOL sign that adorn the side of the pub, in memoriam).
Deeply inspired by the warmth of fledgling Landlord and Lady, Adam and Liz, and the quality fare on offer (largely sourced from a relative’s Dorset farm), Robin decided firstly that the pub’s internal revolution should be advertised to the wider public, and that the wider public was deserving of a revolution of its own.
He admits that the first Homage De Fromage event was dominated by Robin’s personal friends, and was fairly low-key. However, by the time I discovered Surbiton’s Cheese Underground, months later, things were a little more lively, even unhinged. At the end of a busy evening, I had travelled to the pub to meet a couple of friends who were already cheesed up. When I arrived, they were building a monorail course out of straws and sellotape, for the passage of a tiny straw and sellotape basket, housing a pickled onion (you see, pickled onions aren’t wrong per se – it’s all about the context). At the end of the course, the basket landed in a tray of water and was suddenly deemed a boat. Well done, I said, but it was no good – I was near sober, whilst they had not only imbibed more than me, but had also been in the zone since 7.30 sharp. It seemed to make perfect sense to them that pickled onions should need transportation. I saw so clearly the dichotomy between us: I was just a citizen of the State, whereas they were engines of creation. They had the same spark that enabled the invention of the Artesian Well, pyramid-construction techniques, or the aquaduct. I would have to get in on the act from the beginning of the evening to attain this enlightened state. Nothing could stop them!… Except the end of licensed opening hours, or running out of chutneys.
Let me tell you how Homage De Fromage works: Claim your table (you’ll probably have to book, these days), pay your money, enjoy your cheese-platter (themed on a region of the British Isles) while examining your cheese-menu and discussing your observations with your cohorts, fill in your answers to the quiz which nobody seems to care about, then partake in the month’s challenge.
The cheese, obviously, is a big focus, and Adam and Liz put in the research to get the most exquisite and diverse cheeses from each region. There’s usually a bit of Goat’s, a bit of Blue, and some Brie-like, as well as the more familiar types. But this isn’t a foodie review, and the cheese is not what it’s all about. It’s the challenge, the problem-solving.
The challenge that I had walked in on yielded brilliant results, all put together in around half an hour. Little cars with olives for wheels and toothpicks for axles, a hot air balloon, rafts, a glider. And this is exactly what Robin wanted to see. It’s Art, but not as we know it.
For Art’s greatest achievement can only be shining the light of imagination into the hearts of ordinary men and women. Robin’s strategy for achieving this is so simple, yet it achieves so much for its very directness. A little of society’s familiar lubricant, alcohol, followed by the gustatory excitement and discussion that only the complexity of cheese can bring, and then the simple laying down of a gauntlet.
The month that followed the transport-design forced each table-team to create a Wicker Man, which was then burnt in the beer garden as the horde of possessed Suburbitonians chanted and danced, and occasionally gestured the pretence that it was ironic. A month later came the command to build a whale, using only blue sheets of A4, straws, sellotape and bravado. The variety of approach was broad. Some built a skeleton first, some were cartoony, one had a little Jonah sitting in it’s mouth, two used a live human as the basis of the beast, One referenced the evolutionary ancestry of the whale with ambulocetus features. And the room was filled with love.
The most recent event had the challenge of designing a work of public sculpture, specifically an alternative to Wallinger’s big horse, planned for the mouth of the Channel Tunnel. There wasn’t a single half-hour proposal that I didn’t prefer to the Wallinger. Just for the sheer ridiculous Pythonesque and throwaway ethos that infused each work. And Bacofoil was the medium of the day. Shiny, shiny.
(Apologies, dear reader, but there’s no way I can get through this feature without the words “You had to be there!”)…You had to be there.
Homage De Fromage is an evolving project. Or maybe the trunk of a tree of projects. In the last four months, popularity has shot through the roof, with the April event being fully booked before the March event had finished. The clientele is changing, too, with younger people and artier people increasingly following (that’s right, following) les petits bourgeoises into this vibrant new scene. Robin is planning to harness this force, with plans to build a scaled-up model of the board game Mouse Trap on the beer garden, and a community art project, called My Life In A Box, in which anyone and everyone is invited to represent their life inside a cardboard box measuring 25x25x7cm. Effectively, the man is luring people into Kingston’s underweight cultural life with cheese. A mousetrap will make a very fitting monument to Hutchinson’s methods.
But is it Art? Proper, capital-A Art? Does it need to justified in relation to The Death of the Author, Public Art Theory, Art Brut, Relational Art, blah, blah? Is Robin a Rirkrit Tiravanija of the non-gallery-dwelling suburban breed?
Robin gives the impression that Art is nowhere near as crucial as his real buzzword – Creativity. Art is almost a hang-up, totem of the stagnant and the done, whereas what matters is the force that drives creation. That’s why everything ends up in the bin at the end of Cheese Night; no debris shall slow the passage of creation, as it joyfully gushes downstream in half-drunk flux.
For some reason, this involves girls wearing false moustaches. And they look good.
You can involve yourself in the Homage on the website, or the facebook. Why not go the extra mile and help out the Mousetrap, or put your life in a box.
It helps to have a few aces up your sleeve when you’re trying to make it in the fashion/art world these days. In which case you wouldn’t want to be the one staring across the table into the lovely poker face of this particular card shark. French Illustrator extraordinaire Coco, healing has stacked the decks with talent and expertise in razor sharp and uber feminine illustrations in magazines like Nylon, Slurp, Russh, Wonderland, years of fashion consulting for designers, PR work for Valery Demure, and most recently her own line of luxurious silk scarves called Forget-Me-Not.
Coco’s graceful drawings appear in Illustration books, displays for London and Barcelona Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfield’s AW ’09 catalogue and milliner Yasmin Rizvi’s turbans. Sitting down with the skillful drafter and in a plaiting of French and English we talked about her unique perspective on what it takes to stay in the game these days.
“I started out studying at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Dupres but after that I didn’t draw for ages. I was actually working in fashion PR in Paris when Valery Demure asked me to do some illustrations for an invitation. Then a few magazines asked me to do some artwork for them. Once my pieces were out there, I sent out a quarterly update to the right people. Valery, by then a good friend, suggested I do the scarves and three months later I was doing it and now she’s my agent.”
Fearless and instinctive, I suppose that’s the kind of nerve you’d need to contend in the notoriously fickle world of fashion.
“When someone offers you to do it and you say ok, that’s one thing. But to come up with something on your own and to push it is too anxiety ridden. I admire those people that can do it. To be able to say merde ou oui (sure or piss off) to someone. ”
Do you feel your connections and savvy in that milieu helped you avoid some of the pitfalls most young designers face?
“So many things can go wrong but you’re on your own so you have to follow up on everything yourself. People say it’s so easy but it’s a nightmare to find the right factory. Sometimes the graphics look dirty if they’re not done to a high standard. After 6-10 tests I’m still not happy with them. Then there’s transport, corrections, it gets expensive. But that’s not really a big surprise because I’ve worked with so many young designers. Mais le vivre et le faire….(But living the life and doing it are not the same thing).”
What suggestions would you offer to designers/illustrators new to the game?
“Above all you must do it with your own identity and always be thinking ‘who will buy this?’ As soon as you do one thing, everyone thinks that all you do until you prove otherwise. If you do just one thing without taking risks you’ll end up like a rat. It could be just a poster or a book.”
“When sending your work to the PR’s you need to make an effort, to think about the little things and make it easy for them… like including simple texts. And you have to keep at them. I understand why designers are so stressed out. Often they’re timid by nature. I put everything I have into it. The successful ones are really aggressive and they put the effort the whole year through rather than laying back. Everything goes so fast these days it’s hard to know who’s coming or going.”
The internet must play an enormous influence in the role of the consumer. What can you tell us about the quickening pace of the fashion industry?
“Buyers are some of my favorite people to work with, they can be so much more informed and creative than they’re given credit for. When I first showed my silk scarves I didn’t tell them they were my designs, just so I could get their honest opinion. In commercial showrooms I got to know a lot about their customers through them.”
“The client comes super early in the season (AW 09) and they know exactly what pieces they want by summer. They used to depend on magazines and whatever they dictated. But now they’re seeing it all, instantaneously. They’re informed and decisive. My S/S ’09 line of scarves went into Colette immediately. I get orders from the shops in April and they want it by June because that’s when their August display windows are being designed.”
I hope are readers are keeping up because this is very much the nature of many a conversation with designers these days. Delivery dates are creeping forward so fast it’s all most designers can do to keep up, much less concentrate on the fun of designing.
Where did the designing process start for you Coco?
“I can’t do just one thing or I get bored. I think that comes from my education in France, although it can stifle you at first by forcing you to take certain paths before you’ve had a chance to develop or explore. But you had to be an academic to do well in the arts, you have to do one thing exceptionally well. There had to be an identity behind the facade… which always fades. I need to observe and understand before attempting it but because I had a good technical base I could just move on to anything I fancied, like designing a font. ”
A box of samples from the manufacturer have arrived and there’s an excitement about seeing what surprises lay inside. She unfolds a giant piece of diaphonous silk with 8 or of the same print, each slightly different in hue or tone. She inspects it closely, turning it over delicately in her hand.
These gorgeous silk scarves you’ve done are so rich and detailed. Is it easy enough to get your hyper-fine drawings onto them?
“No, actually it’s extremely difficult. There’s a massive difference from screen to product. Firstly I chose to work on an unusually large size square so you can wear it plenty of different ways. Also silk absorbs ALOT so its very difiicult to get details because the silk just drinks the inks up. It’s important to have the back look good too, not blotchy but properly bled through. When Barney’s buys you and puts you on the shelf next to Pucci it better be good.”
Know your opponent. Something to keep in mind. When rising stars are quick to burn out it can be invaluable to do your homework. And this triple-threat artist from France has a full house of extra sweet designs on her newest collection of scarves forget-me-not available at her online store going live next week so check back with us here for details. Because as the French are fond of saying, ‘On ne vie pas sur l’air et l’eau fraiche’….We can’t live on love and fresh water alone.
Fanfarlo‘s album Reservoir opens with pianos that rise up like the morning sun, shop lush and warm. Their songs unravel like stories that balance between light and dark; definitely melancholic but never without a touch of child-like optimism.
Reservoir swoop and soar like a bird, from cinematic highs and gigantic orchestral arrangements not dissimilar to the brilliant chamber pomposity of our beloved Arcade Fire only to diminish into whispery vocals and xylophones. There is something magical about Reservoir, it reminiscent of fir tree forests, Northern Lights, magic stories and a yearning for yester-years.
This self-assured debut is a must for bookish types who are fans of fore-mentioned Arcade Fire, Beirut, Sleeping States, Belle and Sebastian and dream of woozy adventures in far-away lands.
Produced by the infamous Peter Katis (mind-bogglingly good producer of Interpol and The National ) this multi instrumental, melodic smorgasbord is whimsical, nostalgic whilst being meticulously arranged and intensely structured.
Having played SXSW this year, they are currently touring the UK including this weekend’s Great Escape and Reservoir is released on 25th May on Raffle Bat. Fanfarlo are very much kings of their own castle eschewing conventional modes of distribution in favour of authentic and personal approach by running their own living room based make-shift business; buy Reservoir direct from the band themselves!
Still in its infancy, page although you wouldn’t know from the sheer number of enthusiasts it has already won over, Craft Guerrilla is set to take over the world. Not just THE world but YOUR world.
With Portugal born Walthamstow based Deborah Daniel at the helm, steering a crafty crew of artists, movers, shakers, designers and visionaries, Craft Guerrilla is on a mission to capture your hungry hearts and idle hands with a creative collective to literally get in yourself in a stitch over. She shares responsibility for its genius with two others, Lisa Magreet and Louise Batten, and her encounters with numerous etsy-ites along the way. Deborah Daniel is a fingers in pies kind of girl; Head Girl for Craft Guerrilla, a former ceramicist and current mastermind behind the company Munano, described in her own words as ‘A kawaii project…lots of evil but cute bunnies and forest creatures so lots of sewing, cutting and stuffing!’ This all supplements a day job that pays the rent, and yet Deborah shows no signs of sitting still.
Well equipped with principled idealism, utopian collectivism and a whole host of other worthy ‘isms’ to get the ethical activist juices flowing, these ladies are dedicated to The Cause in a big way. Far less about being anti and far more about being pro, Craft Guerrilla talk a lot more about what they do care for than what they don’t; a refreshing wide eyed optimism to grace these somewhat grey and gloomy times. Using unoccupied buildings as venues; supporting independent businesses and small-time designers; they are far more interested in promoting collaborations, forming opportunities and hosting workshops than bitching about the depressing state of the high street and its predictable conformity. Siding with the peaceful rather than the anarchic, Deborah happily reports her movement has been embraced with open arms and is gratefully received across the board. However she does tells me ‘We did have a funny incident in Wanstead, east London though…a few older ladies thought we were actually funding South American guerrilla armies through our craft market sales. Maybe if we knitted them some guns but…the word “Craft’ kind of gives it away.’
Her down-to-earth grass roots approach to matters is mirrored by her citations of inspiration; ‘I guess as inspirational people go my Auntie Maria Jose epitomises everything I’m trying to do. She was a real socialist, great humanitarian, artist and person. She valued the power of art and craft and the teaching of skills so to leave a lasting legacy for others to follow through out their lives.’ This is one upbeat lady. In fact the only vaguely negative thing I squeeze out of her is her rejection that craft is exclusively for the middle classes. ‘It’s not a privilege it’s a right! Luckily things are changing and people see it not only as a hobby but as a valuable resource and an art form.’
I ask her how intrinsic the ‘make do and mend’ ethos is to Englishness and vice versa. ‘The term D.I.Y. is so English that I’ve had quite a time trying to translate it to Portuguese. People do D.I.Y. but the essence is very much a British one. Like afternoon tea and the attitude to craft! The Americans are quite tuned in to the whole Craft thing too though I guess the main thing that divides us is their “can do attitude”. I wish we were more like that sometimes! BUT London is a really creative place filled with self sufficient people and I’m constantly surprised how little help people need at our d.i.y. events. Also I’m amazed at how forthcoming other craft groups have been in offering to help us advertise our events and work together with us. The sense of community and sharing is really something!’
What’s so lovely about Craft Guerrilla is the distinct lack of competition. No commission charged for Craft Guerrilla’s online shop, no attempting to out doing each other with bigger brighter hipper events – in fact, copycat behaviour is actively encouraged. Print out and keep packs are readily available to people wanting to start out on their own, as well as advice and tips on running your own get together. Well, when you have your sights set on global domination you have to can’t expect to do it all single handedly. I wonder whether she worries about short cuts and reinterpretations of her original manifesto, if allowing people to grow their own means risking people shaming the name. ‘We have a few guidelines in place but in general we hope people have requested to be part of Craft Guerrilla because they identify with our ethos and principals so they too are likely to follow it. We need to keep some consistent but it’s not set in stone. We also want people to make it their own by adding their own ideas and energy to the collective. I have faith in people and if there is something we really don’t agree with we are all open and intelligent enough people to discuss it with each other.’ ‘Before we take anyone on we like to see what they make. Our criteria is that all designer makers must sell only hand made item. We also look for originality and quality designed products. We just feel that we need to choose wisely because we all represent each other as a whole.’
With monthly events springing up and taking off such as Crafternoon at the Old Queen’s Head, Craft Market at Beautiful Interiors and Swishing at the Pink Bar, she is one busy bee. And the demand is ever increasing. Inspired by these quirky gatherings of like-minded arty types in reclaimed buildings, more and more is appearing rapidly and not just in East London. With Edinburgh set up to follow suit with a ‘Sister Army’ this Summer, and interest mounting from as far afield as Sweden and Sydney we are at the brink of a revolution in doing it for our selves and having a darn good time while we’re at it.
It feels like a pilgrimage, help like I’m on some kind of DaVinci Code quest. Potent truths that remain hidden from most around me will soon be revealed. The Band Before The Band I’m Here For churn out some unimaginative geezer-rock. Wearing a selection of Hoxton-twat-headgear and oozing the “Oi, cheapest oi!” flavour to entertain a herd of jolly boppers, they leave me cold. I’m not in the mood for pacy (yawn), exciting (yawn) rocking out (yaaawwwwn) tonight.
I’ve been psyching myself up for a gig by Alice and the Cool Dudes. All else is distraction. Ever since Punk-Jazz emperor Seb Rochford enlisted her as the voice of his Fulborn Teversham project, Alice Grant has been one of my favourite singers in London. The soft end of her voice is all head-resonant, tender and earnest but never quite soothing. There’s always a dissatisfaction in there. When the lungs get involved too, it’s a shockingly obtuse cavernous roar, a cross between primal wheeze therapy and shouting yourself hoarse. The cusp of these two sounds tends to give the impression that her precious heart could shatter at any second. It’s beautiful.
But that’s just a voice, as it is used in a different band. How would the Cool Dude ethos differ from that of Teversham? And would the siren/banshee voice be the same? The moment had come, the previous band had removed all their pedals and their hats from the stage, and all that was left was a drumkit, a set of keyboards, and a bass. And so began a selection of songs that never got so weird you’d call it experimental, but never got so familiar that you could classify them. Among the most striking was Boobs, baroque in its harpsichord sound, baroque in its fingerwork, not so baroque in featuring a cockney sparrow singing about boobs and somehow basically being kind of a lovely pop ditty. There is top notch songcraft in this. Strong melodies, twists and turns, a beat-rest at the end of a verse in which Alice holds the “oo” of “boobs” for a crystal-clear couple of seconds. Mmmmm.
And it gets even better. The gig progresses, and we are treated to Toes, a sway-friendly trombone waltz (that’s Joe the drummer’s other instrument). Then comes Changebrain, which is easily the catchiest tune on offer. Alice’s sequencer starts things off, then comes the hooky vocal, then the backing vocal, then the rhythm section builds it up, suddenly we’ve got a really tasty driving hit, yet still with it’s quirky authenticity, as Alice sings of wrapping dogshit in a Tesco plastic bag. This is also where bassist Ruth Goller (familiar to fans of Acoustic Ladyland) shines brightest. Her vocal lines are the perfect counterpart to Alice’s. It’s not just backing vocal, it’s a cleverly intertwining thread of its own. In the end sections, where it seems like all the preceding parts have come together in a rich ecosystem of tone and chord, it’s Ruth keeping it deep, reusing a previous vocal, then inventing a Ringo-style flat melodic version of the main line, and playing an inexplicably perfect bassnote at the same time. It all comes across as quite sweet and simple at first, so it’s ability to take you over is a proper thrill.
Finally, The Truth, a song that feels just as epic as the name suggests. A boomy tom-tom beat, and a thick, deep hammond provide the perfect backdrop to Alice’s consoling utterances of what feels like pity. Really, just go and listen to them do it.
Returning to my stupid idea that this might need comparing to Fulborn Teversham, well, yes, it was stupid. There is a portion of common ground, but Alice and the Cool Dudes don’t need those shackles. The central motifs that make up Teversham are gone, and replaced by something which is more pure, or less diverse, depending on how you see it (and certainly less screamy). But either way, it’s no less playful, no shier about complexity, and no less true. For all their dryness, and stone-cold confrontational chutzpah, Alice and the Cool Dudes are the most intense, interesting, sincere, meaningful and promising new band in my life this year.
But there is something amiss down at Barden’s Boudoir tonight. And there are two possible solutions. The first to occur to me was that they could use a more intimate venue, maybe the Slaughtered Lamb or Cross Kings. I think most of us in the crowd were first-timers, and the message might have come across a bit more pokey without a sound system designed for noisy ragers, without a room designed for beerbottle dance moves. The other solution is the one I prefer though. They release an album, everybody in the kingdom buys and loves it, and then, when everybody knows what it’s about, a gig in Wembley even could not fail. For intimacy can take on huge proportions to the initiated.
Let’s be honest though, the Hoxton-hat brigade will probably beat them to it. Alas, there’s no justice in this cruel business. I’m off back to the bar for another lament of amaretto.
You can hear demos and find out about future gigs on the myspace.
Categories ,barden’s boudoir, ,cross king’s, ,indie, ,jazz, ,lo-fi, ,london live review, ,slaughtered lamb, ,songwriter