Amelia’s Magazine | Vita Gottlieb: London Fashion Week A/W 2014 Catwalk Review

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by xplusyequals

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by xplusyequals.

We ran a preview of Vita Gottlieb’s fourth collection, so I had an inkling of what to expect from the Fashion Fringe finalist before she took to the Fashion Scout catwalk for the first time for a stunning rendition of what she does best: combining sumptuous textiles with an intriguing silhouette.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb by Kit Wagstaff

Vita Gottlieb by Kit Wagstaff.

Vita Gottlieb names this collection Caged, after an imaginary film featuring Grace Jones in a Majaraja’s palace. The idea of birds in flight at sunset (this would obviously be a beautiful cinematic experience) influenced the romantic warmth of the fiery colour palette, with prints and textiles rich in multi-coloured spice hues. A more literal interpretation came in the form of birds floating across a pretty landscape print.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

The caged theme appeared in a skirt and jacket made up entirely of strips, and appeared in more commercial form as glossy black bindings, highlighting womanly curves. Alongside skin tight separates there were also boxy jackets and eye-catching layered maxi skirts. Furled scarfs gave detail to the neck, buckled arm cuffs added edge and sheer and textured black fabrics were rendered especially stunning with the addition of multi coloured appliqué details. The show closed with a magnificent yellow dress, split to the upper thigh and resplendent with a dramatic zig-zag design.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014-end

All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,A/W 2014, ,Caged, ,Fashion Fringe, ,Fashion Scout, ,Grace Jones, ,Kit Wagstaff, ,Majaraja, ,review, ,Vita Gottlieb, ,xplusyequals

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Amelia’s Magazine | We Are All In One: The return of the jumpsuit

FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, find which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, sales and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, hospital which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, visit and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, approved which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, clinic and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, buy information pills which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, website and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, sale or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.

Yeti Lane rAll Photos Couresy of Sonic Cathedral

Yeti Lane should know what they doing; with three quarters of now defunct band Cyann and Ben making up the ranks they have all the experience and credentials for making reflective, healing dreamy music. But Yeti Lane are no limp reincarnation, online instead they’ve taken on a new challenge in their self titled debut to produce a light yet layered sound, sale driven by an unavoidable love affair with the playful elements of pop and rock.

You’re more likely to see members Ben Pleng, Charlie Boyer and LoAc poring over their menagerie of synths, organs and drum machines than smashing guitars in a new found cliché rock madness but nevertheless Yeti Lane place their emphasis on the dazzling relationship between rumbling drumbeats and soaring guitars.

YETI_LANE_LJ2

Yeti Lane never insists on your attention, instead drawing you in slowly, hypnotized by a galaxy of layered electronic waves and hushes, but can at times appear in the wider context like a supporting cast to The Flaming Lips’ Oscar winning performance.

A naturally quiet subtlety runs through the songs of Yeti Lane but unless you can apply your full attention span to the task, the album sometimes slips away from your consciousness, an unfairly forgettable face in a crowd. First-Rate Pretender opens the album heralding the positives of Yeti Lane, all soft vocals that lead you by the hand into their world of delicate anti-romance.

first rate

The band are clearly eager to experiment with different avenues of sound and songs such as Only One Look and Lucky Bag catch glimpses of an interest in glitchy loops and synthesizers but they never truly announce themselves in the foreground. An indulgence in a fresh direction stirs an excitement for the record that is never quite satiated until standout track Lonesome George. The haunting echoes permeating previous tracks have momentarily disappeared as Yeti Lane indulge in a poignant dedication to youthful resilience and unfazed anticipation, led by stirring organs, xylophones and horns.

YETI_LANE_LJ1

The trio aren’t giving much away about their French origins and lean towards an unavoidable American sensibility, though Pleng’s sweet Parisian lilt adds a bonbon charm to darker edges. A contention with stereotypes doesn’t stop there as home for Yeti Lane is the traditionally shoegaze associated label Sonic Cathedral, though the band seem to have enough ideas to distance themselves from being pigeonholed too easily, even if these adventures can come across a little diluted. They bend and navigate the framework of a pop sound, but often this meandering leads to some indulgent deviations.

And so it seems Yeti Lane, overflowing with ideas in the second phase of their musical careers, aren’t quite sure where exactly they’re heading but are taking the road travelled more confidently by stalwarts of the New York scene of decades before. Plaudits for their own ability in melding the vast array of instruments with each other to a pleasant and intriguing effect should not be denied them, though perhaps in time Yeti Lane can mature this sound to a more arresting result.

Yeti Lane rAll Photos Couresy of Sonic Cathedral

Yeti Lane should know what they doing; with three quarters of now defunct band Cyann and Ben making up the ranks they have all the experience and credentials for making reflective, cialis 40mg dreamy music. But Yeti Lane are no limp reincarnation, instead they’ve taken on a new challenge in their self titled debut to produce a light yet layered sound, driven by an unavoidable love affair with the playful elements of pop and rock.

You’re more likely to see members Ben Pleng, Charlie Boyer and LoAc poring over their menagerie of synths, organs and drum machines than smashing guitars in a new found cliché rock madness but nevertheless Yeti Lane place their emphasis on the dazzling relationship between rumbling drumbeats and soaring guitars.

YETI_LANE_LJ2

Yeti Lane never insists on your attention, instead drawing you in slowly, hypnotized by a galaxy of layered electronic waves and hushes, but can at times appear in the wider context like a supporting cast to The Flaming Lips’ Oscar winning performance.

A naturally quiet subtlety runs through the songs of Yeti Lane but unless you can apply your full attention span to the task, the album sometimes slips away from your consciousness, an unfairly forgettable face in a crowd. First-Rate Pretender opens the album heralding the positives of Yeti Lane, all soft vocals that lead you by the hand into their world of delicate anti-romance.

first rate

The band are clearly eager to experiment with different avenues of sound and songs such as Only One Look and Lucky Bag catch glimpses of an interest in glitchy loops and synthesizers but they never truly announce themselves in the foreground. An indulgence in a fresh direction stirs an excitement for the record that is never quite satiated until standout track Lonesome George. The haunting echoes permeating previous tracks have momentarily disappeared as Yeti Lane indulge in a poignant dedication to youthful resilience and unfazed anticipation, led by stirring organs, xylophones and horns.

YETI_LANE_LJ1

The trio aren’t giving much away about their French origins and lean towards an unavoidable American sensibility, though Pleng’s sweet Parisian lilt adds a bonbon charm to darker edges. A contention with stereotypes doesn’t stop there as home for Yeti Lane is the traditionally shoegaze associated label Sonic Cathedral, though the band seem to have enough ideas to distance themselves from being pigeonholed too easily, even if these adventures can come across a little diluted. They bend and navigate the framework of a pop sound, but often this meandering leads to some indulgent deviations.

And so it seems Yeti Lane, overflowing with ideas in the second phase of their musical careers, aren’t quite sure where exactly they’re heading but are taking the road travelled more confidently by stalwarts of the New York scene of decades before. Plaudits for their own ability in melding the vast array of instruments with each other to a pleasant and intriguing effect should not be denied them, though perhaps in time Yeti Lane can mature this sound to a more arresting result.
FAK 2

Since hearing First Aid Kits debut album The Big Black and The Blue we’ve been incredibly impressed with the sibling duo. The album is full of lush harmonies, about it moody melodies and lyrical narratives. I was able to catch up with Klara and Johanna before their gig at Rough Trade East. The girls were eating dinner at a curry house on Brick Lane with their father Benkt before the gig and I dropped in afterwards to ask them a few questions.

Andy Devine. How’re you finding England?

Klara. Oh we just got here but we’re already enjoying it. It’s like coming home because we spent so much time here last year when we were on tour.

AD. You have a three month tour coming up. Is that something you ever imagined doing when you first started recording songs?

Klara. I guess, search we imagined it, but not so soon. It was definitely in the plan, but we thought it’d be in about five year’s time. It’s happened really fast, but we’ve always wanted to make music.

AD. On the Whichita site it says that you were finishing school while you were recording your debut album. How did you manage to find the time to do both.

Johanna. We recorded it during weekends and holidays and at night when we were finished with homework.  It was really stressful.

hardbelieverpackshot

AD. How long did it take you to finish recording it?

Klara. From November 2008 to the summer 2009. It was because we were at school that we couldn’t do it quickly.

Johanna. Yeah we didn’t have all the songs; they were finished gradually.

Klara. Yeah, along the way.

AD. How do you approach your song writing?

Joanna. Well they all just pop out eventually

Klara. Yeah

AD. You’re both from Sweden but all of your songs are sung in English. Is there any particular reason why?

K. We both went to English school

J. Yeah, for four years

K. So it made sense. We’re also really into American and English culture and almost all the music we listen to is in English so when we make songs that’s the way they come out.

firstaidkitsinglepackshot

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and your songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 1

AD. OK, you’ve said that you’re interested in Folk music, but is there anything else which inspires you to write the music that you do?

K. Sure, like films and books we read.

AD. Anything particularly or are you just absorbing it from everywhere?

K. Well I mean some songs have direct songs which we’ve been inspired by. Like, the movie Into The Wild, I was really inspired by it. I wrote a song that’s on our album called ‘Wills of the River’ which I literally wrote while I was watching the movie. I wrote a poem and then we made a song about it. That’s one quite extreme example of how we’re inspired.

AD. What do you think of the British folk scene, and is it similar at all to Sweden’s.

K. We love it, and we’re inspired by it.

J. There’s no such thing in Sweden at all.

K. No

J. I mean we’re the only band really doing this. I think.

AD. Do you play much at all in Sweden then?

K. Yeah.

J. We did at the beginning, we played in Stockholm for a year, or something like that but now we only really play over here.

firstaidkiteppackshot

AD. Do you find that being siblings makes it easier to write songs together.

J & K. Yep

(laughter)

K. Yeah, I mean we haven’t really recorded with anyone else, but definitely. It might just be us, I don’t know if every sibling would be able to but we’re on the same page almost all of the time, and we get along most of the time. I think.

AD. When you met Amelia at Glastonbury you had your parents with you, and obviously your dads along with you this time. How do you find that, does it mean you can’t get up to any classic touring antics?

K. We get a little annoyed I guess

J. But I don’t think it’s because he’s a family member, it’s just being with someone all the time.

K. Yeah, all bands become a family eventually. I mean our dad, it feels a bit weird talking with him sat there.

(Benkt puts his hands up in mock surrender)

K. But he does a lot. He’s our sound technician on the tour as well so we really need him.

J. He’s been doing it too, in the 80’s, he had his own band for a few years. He’s very experienced. So it’s very good for us to talk to him about these things.

(At this point Benkt brings out a copy of Mick Jaggers autobiography and points at it knowingly)

AD. You played on the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury last year. Is that something that’s quite important to you?

K. Yeah sure

J. We think about it alot. I don’t know if it shows in our songs but it’s important to us. We have this thing in Stockholm now which is called No More Lullabies.

K. There were 24 Swedish artists all playing together.

J. Yeah, we all played 10 minutes each. There’s a film on the website where you can watch it and that was to get awareness to the issue.

K. It was really nice.

J. We love to do those kind of things. We’re not afraid of it and talking about it with people.

AD. OK, finally, what is it you’re most looking forward to doing this year?

J. Touring

K. What we’re doing

J. Yeah, we want to go the US and try to make some new songs.

K. And just enjoy ourselves.

The Big Black and the Blue was releasd on Monday and can be found in all decent record stores.

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and you’re songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 2

Since hearing First Aid Kits debut album The Big Black and The Blue we’ve been incredibly impressed with the sibling duo. The album is full of lush harmonies, troche moody melodies and lyrical narratives. I was able to catch up with Klara and Johanna before their gig at Rough Trade East. The girls were eating dinner at a curry house on Brick Lane with their father Benkt before the gig and I dropped in afterwards to ask them a few questions.

Andy Devine. How’re you finding England?

Klara. Oh we just got here but we’re already enjoying it. It’s like coming home because we spent so much time here last year when we were on tour.

AD. You have a three month tour coming up. Is that something you ever imagined doing when you first started recording songs?

Klara. I guess, dosage we imagined it, but not so soon. It was definitely in the plan, but we thought it’d be in about five year’s time. It’s happened really fast, but we’ve always wanted to make music.

AD. On the Whichita site it says that you were finishing school while you were recording your debut album. How did you manage to find the time to do both.

Johanna. We recorded it during weekends and holidays and at night when we were finished with homework.  It was really stressful.

hardbelieverpackshot

AD. How long did it take you to finish recording it?

Klara. From November 2008 to the summer 2009. It was because we were at school that we couldn’t do it quickly.

Johanna. Yeah we didn’t have all the songs; they were finished gradually.

Klara. Yeah, along the way.

AD. How do you approach your song writing?

Joanna. Well they all just pop out eventually

Klara. Yeah

AD. You’re both from Sweden but all of your songs are sung in English. Is there any particular reason why?

K. We both went to English school

J. Yeah, for four years

K. So it made sense. We’re also really into American and English culture and almost all the music we listen to is in English so when we make songs that’s the way they come out.

firstaidkitsinglepackshot

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and your songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Club. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 1

AD. OK, you’ve said that you’re interested in Folk music, but is there anything else which inspires you to write the music that you do?

K. Sure, like films and books we read.

AD. Anything particularly or are you just absorbing it from everywhere?

K. Well I mean some songs have direct songs which we’ve been inspired by. Like, the movie Into The Wild, I was really inspired by it. I wrote a song that’s on our album called ‘Wills of the River’ which I literally wrote while I was watching the movie. I wrote a poem and then we made a song about it. That’s one quite extreme example of how we’re inspired.

AD. What do you think of the British folk scene, and is it similar at all to Sweden’s.

K. We love it, and we’re inspired by it.

J. There’s no such thing in Sweden at all.

K. No

J. I mean we’re the only band really doing this. I think.

AD. Do you play much at all in Sweden then?

K. Yeah.

J. We did at the beginning, we played in Stockholm for a year, or something like that but now we only really play over here.

firstaidkiteppackshot

AD. Do you find that being siblings makes it easier to write songs together.

J & K. Yep

(laughter)

K. Yeah, I mean we haven’t really recorded with anyone else, but definitely. It might just be us, I don’t know if every sibling would be able to but we’re on the same page almost all of the time, and we get along most of the time. I think.

AD. When you met Amelia at Glastonbury you had your parents with you, and obviously your dads along with you this time. How do you find that, does it mean you can’t get up to any classic touring antics?

K. We get a little annoyed I guess

J. But I don’t think it’s because he’s a family member, it’s just being with someone all the time.

K. Yeah, all bands become a family eventually. I mean our dad, it feels a bit weird talking with him sat there.

(Benkt puts his hands up in mock surrender)

K. But he does a lot. He’s our sound technician on the tour as well so we really need him.

J. He’s been doing it too, in the 80’s, he had his own band for a few years. He’s very experienced. So it’s very good for us to talk to him about these things.

(At this point Benkt brings out a copy of Mick Jaggers autobiography and points at it knowingly)

AD. You played on the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury last year. Is that something that’s quite important to you?

K. Yeah sure

J. We think about it alot. I don’t know if it shows in our songs but it’s important to us. We have this thing in Stockholm now which is called No More Lullabies.

K. There were 24 Swedish artists all playing together.

J. Yeah, we all played 10 minutes each. There’s a film on the website where you can watch it and that was to get awareness to the issue.

K. It was really nice.

J. We love to do those kind of things. We’re not afraid of it and talking about it with people.

AD. OK, finally, what is it you’re most looking forward to doing this year?

J. Touring

K. What we’re doing

J. Yeah, we want to go the US and try to make some new songs.

K. And just enjoy ourselves.

The Big Black and the Blue was releasd on Monday and can be found in all decent record stores.

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and you’re songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, viagra which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, cost and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, buy information pills or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, cost which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, try and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, for sale or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
Polka Lace copy Image courtesy of All In One, this photographed by Stephanie Sian Smith.

What attracts you to the idea of the onesie jumpsuit / all in one?
I just think they’re pretty unusual and fun to wear – and when you find an amazing one you just look mega cool.

How did you develop your idea into a business? From your blog you’ve sold to a variety of people from Burning Man and bankers to vitamin water and a variety of performers including Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
A friend of mine had a blue jellyfish sting protection suit that she’d nicked when she went diving in Australia. When I saw it I instantly fell in love and commandeered it as my festival outfit for the next few years! I soon built up a collection of these suits and got a bit of a reputation as being ‘the onesie girl’ – when the festivals finished I realised that there were hardly any all-in-one’s out there that I could just wear normally. So I started making my own – it kind of seemed natural for me to just start my own business making things which I love. Now, page I sell a mixture of my own work and custom costume designs.

African One copyAbove and all images below courtesy of All In One, information pills photographed by Dan Wilton.

What would you say is Nina Ribena’s design aesthetic?
Massive hoods.

Who or what are your design inspirations?
I’m hugely inspired by the circus. I just got a massive book of old circus photos for Christmas, which is a great reference for one-piece related costumes. I really love bright, crazy, repeat patterns. I love Brian Lichtenberg, Cassette Playa, JCDC and Jeremy Scott’s work…and I would say M.I.A is quite a big inspiration (probably because she wears quite a lot of the aforementioned designer’s clothes!). I love the whole 90′s revival that’s happening at the moment as well, I can’t get enough of tacky gold jewellery and R Kelly.

originals3 copyWhat materials do you particularly like to work in/with?
The majority of my designs are in cotton jersey or anything with a bit of stretch to it. I’ve also been working with PVC quite a lot recently – I quite like the sculptural qualities it can have.

What do onesie’s make you think of?
Fun. Stretching. A good night out. Grace Jones.

all in one .01 (5 of 1) copyHow would you describe your creative process?
I am super organised in some ways and a complete mess in others. So, I usually spend my time trawling the Internet looking through fashion blogs and pulling out anything that catches my eye – this can be anything from London Fashion Week to Where the Wild Things Are to Cheryl Cole. Then I go through them all and decide the themes, that I want to work within – which usually end up being about 7 or 8 different things. I’ll draw some ideas and designs down and then just make the ones I like the most. I’ve never studied fashion – I’m completely self-taught, so I don’t have the ‘correct’ way of designing a collection mastered, at all.

What’s been your favourite appearance of your onesie so far?
I think it has to be the one I made for Fred Butler recently. I.D Magazine are running a feature of 100 portraits of creative/influential people – Fred Butler being one of them – and she asked me to make her an amazing holographic inspired all in one for the shoot. The photos were taken by Nick Knight for his SHOWstudio project so you could watch the whole shoot live on their website. So yeah, my design will be in I.D Magazine, shot by a famous photographer and worn by a really talented designer. Definitely my favourite onesie appearance!

blue african trim copyWith Fashion Week slowly creeping up on us which designers will you be watching out for?
I’ve always been really interested in Gareth Pugh’s work – especially his last collection – I thought everything from the clothes to the lighting and feel of the catwalk just looked amazing. I always like to check out the new designers supported by Fashion East/ Vauxhall Fashion Scout etc…it’s always good to study the sort of designers who win these opportunities.
Aside from that – House of Holland, Ashish, Givenchy, Pam Hogg, Viktor & Rolf, Mark Fast and Jeremy Scott, of course. He always make things a bit more interesting!

As a holder of a blog – what are your thoughts on the blogging ‘sphere’?
I think it’s really important to have a blog if you’re a designer. Just having an online shop or website doesn’t really cut it these days. I think the people who buy your clothes (and are ultimately fans of your work) want to have more of an insight into your creative processes and the things that inspire you. Plus it’s a brilliant way to network with people and get your work out into the open. I wouldn’t have had half of the opportunities or ideas I’ve had without having access to all the blogs out there.

all in one .01 (3 of 5) copyWhat’s next for Nina Ribena?
Lots. I’m really enjoying printing my own fabric at the moment so you can expect to see a lot of zebras, puffins and multi-coloured leopard skin prints making appearances on my designs soon! I want to bring out my own line of leggings and a friend and me have just started our own dance/club night collective.
I’m also planning an exhibition of all my designs to be shown at the end of the year, which is going to involve a mixture of fashion, art and theatrics – all in onesies, of course. It’s going to be a busy year!

Categories ,Ashish, ,Brian Lichtenberg, ,Burning Man, ,Cassette Playa, ,Cheryl Cole, ,Fashion East, ,Fred Butler, ,Gareth Pugh, ,Givenchy, ,Grace Jones, ,House of Holland, ,I.D Magazine, ,JCDC, ,Jeremy Scott, ,London Fashion Week, ,M.I.A, ,Mark Fast, ,Nick Knight, ,Nina Ribena, ,Pam Hogg, ,R Kelly, ,Stephanie Sian Smith, ,Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,Viktor & Rolf, ,We Are All In One, ,Where the Wild Things Are

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Amelia’s Magazine | We Are All In One: The return of the jumpsuit

FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, find which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, sales and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, hospital which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, visit and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, approved which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, clinic and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, buy information pills which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, website and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, sale or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.

Yeti Lane rAll Photos Couresy of Sonic Cathedral

Yeti Lane should know what they doing; with three quarters of now defunct band Cyann and Ben making up the ranks they have all the experience and credentials for making reflective, healing dreamy music. But Yeti Lane are no limp reincarnation, online instead they’ve taken on a new challenge in their self titled debut to produce a light yet layered sound, sale driven by an unavoidable love affair with the playful elements of pop and rock.

You’re more likely to see members Ben Pleng, Charlie Boyer and LoAc poring over their menagerie of synths, organs and drum machines than smashing guitars in a new found cliché rock madness but nevertheless Yeti Lane place their emphasis on the dazzling relationship between rumbling drumbeats and soaring guitars.

YETI_LANE_LJ2

Yeti Lane never insists on your attention, instead drawing you in slowly, hypnotized by a galaxy of layered electronic waves and hushes, but can at times appear in the wider context like a supporting cast to The Flaming Lips’ Oscar winning performance.

A naturally quiet subtlety runs through the songs of Yeti Lane but unless you can apply your full attention span to the task, the album sometimes slips away from your consciousness, an unfairly forgettable face in a crowd. First-Rate Pretender opens the album heralding the positives of Yeti Lane, all soft vocals that lead you by the hand into their world of delicate anti-romance.

first rate

The band are clearly eager to experiment with different avenues of sound and songs such as Only One Look and Lucky Bag catch glimpses of an interest in glitchy loops and synthesizers but they never truly announce themselves in the foreground. An indulgence in a fresh direction stirs an excitement for the record that is never quite satiated until standout track Lonesome George. The haunting echoes permeating previous tracks have momentarily disappeared as Yeti Lane indulge in a poignant dedication to youthful resilience and unfazed anticipation, led by stirring organs, xylophones and horns.

YETI_LANE_LJ1

The trio aren’t giving much away about their French origins and lean towards an unavoidable American sensibility, though Pleng’s sweet Parisian lilt adds a bonbon charm to darker edges. A contention with stereotypes doesn’t stop there as home for Yeti Lane is the traditionally shoegaze associated label Sonic Cathedral, though the band seem to have enough ideas to distance themselves from being pigeonholed too easily, even if these adventures can come across a little diluted. They bend and navigate the framework of a pop sound, but often this meandering leads to some indulgent deviations.

And so it seems Yeti Lane, overflowing with ideas in the second phase of their musical careers, aren’t quite sure where exactly they’re heading but are taking the road travelled more confidently by stalwarts of the New York scene of decades before. Plaudits for their own ability in melding the vast array of instruments with each other to a pleasant and intriguing effect should not be denied them, though perhaps in time Yeti Lane can mature this sound to a more arresting result.

Yeti Lane rAll Photos Couresy of Sonic Cathedral

Yeti Lane should know what they doing; with three quarters of now defunct band Cyann and Ben making up the ranks they have all the experience and credentials for making reflective, cialis 40mg dreamy music. But Yeti Lane are no limp reincarnation, instead they’ve taken on a new challenge in their self titled debut to produce a light yet layered sound, driven by an unavoidable love affair with the playful elements of pop and rock.

You’re more likely to see members Ben Pleng, Charlie Boyer and LoAc poring over their menagerie of synths, organs and drum machines than smashing guitars in a new found cliché rock madness but nevertheless Yeti Lane place their emphasis on the dazzling relationship between rumbling drumbeats and soaring guitars.

YETI_LANE_LJ2

Yeti Lane never insists on your attention, instead drawing you in slowly, hypnotized by a galaxy of layered electronic waves and hushes, but can at times appear in the wider context like a supporting cast to The Flaming Lips’ Oscar winning performance.

A naturally quiet subtlety runs through the songs of Yeti Lane but unless you can apply your full attention span to the task, the album sometimes slips away from your consciousness, an unfairly forgettable face in a crowd. First-Rate Pretender opens the album heralding the positives of Yeti Lane, all soft vocals that lead you by the hand into their world of delicate anti-romance.

first rate

The band are clearly eager to experiment with different avenues of sound and songs such as Only One Look and Lucky Bag catch glimpses of an interest in glitchy loops and synthesizers but they never truly announce themselves in the foreground. An indulgence in a fresh direction stirs an excitement for the record that is never quite satiated until standout track Lonesome George. The haunting echoes permeating previous tracks have momentarily disappeared as Yeti Lane indulge in a poignant dedication to youthful resilience and unfazed anticipation, led by stirring organs, xylophones and horns.

YETI_LANE_LJ1

The trio aren’t giving much away about their French origins and lean towards an unavoidable American sensibility, though Pleng’s sweet Parisian lilt adds a bonbon charm to darker edges. A contention with stereotypes doesn’t stop there as home for Yeti Lane is the traditionally shoegaze associated label Sonic Cathedral, though the band seem to have enough ideas to distance themselves from being pigeonholed too easily, even if these adventures can come across a little diluted. They bend and navigate the framework of a pop sound, but often this meandering leads to some indulgent deviations.

And so it seems Yeti Lane, overflowing with ideas in the second phase of their musical careers, aren’t quite sure where exactly they’re heading but are taking the road travelled more confidently by stalwarts of the New York scene of decades before. Plaudits for their own ability in melding the vast array of instruments with each other to a pleasant and intriguing effect should not be denied them, though perhaps in time Yeti Lane can mature this sound to a more arresting result.
FAK 2

Since hearing First Aid Kits debut album The Big Black and The Blue we’ve been incredibly impressed with the sibling duo. The album is full of lush harmonies, about it moody melodies and lyrical narratives. I was able to catch up with Klara and Johanna before their gig at Rough Trade East. The girls were eating dinner at a curry house on Brick Lane with their father Benkt before the gig and I dropped in afterwards to ask them a few questions.

Andy Devine. How’re you finding England?

Klara. Oh we just got here but we’re already enjoying it. It’s like coming home because we spent so much time here last year when we were on tour.

AD. You have a three month tour coming up. Is that something you ever imagined doing when you first started recording songs?

Klara. I guess, search we imagined it, but not so soon. It was definitely in the plan, but we thought it’d be in about five year’s time. It’s happened really fast, but we’ve always wanted to make music.

AD. On the Whichita site it says that you were finishing school while you were recording your debut album. How did you manage to find the time to do both.

Johanna. We recorded it during weekends and holidays and at night when we were finished with homework.  It was really stressful.

hardbelieverpackshot

AD. How long did it take you to finish recording it?

Klara. From November 2008 to the summer 2009. It was because we were at school that we couldn’t do it quickly.

Johanna. Yeah we didn’t have all the songs; they were finished gradually.

Klara. Yeah, along the way.

AD. How do you approach your song writing?

Joanna. Well they all just pop out eventually

Klara. Yeah

AD. You’re both from Sweden but all of your songs are sung in English. Is there any particular reason why?

K. We both went to English school

J. Yeah, for four years

K. So it made sense. We’re also really into American and English culture and almost all the music we listen to is in English so when we make songs that’s the way they come out.

firstaidkitsinglepackshot

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and your songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 1

AD. OK, you’ve said that you’re interested in Folk music, but is there anything else which inspires you to write the music that you do?

K. Sure, like films and books we read.

AD. Anything particularly or are you just absorbing it from everywhere?

K. Well I mean some songs have direct songs which we’ve been inspired by. Like, the movie Into The Wild, I was really inspired by it. I wrote a song that’s on our album called ‘Wills of the River’ which I literally wrote while I was watching the movie. I wrote a poem and then we made a song about it. That’s one quite extreme example of how we’re inspired.

AD. What do you think of the British folk scene, and is it similar at all to Sweden’s.

K. We love it, and we’re inspired by it.

J. There’s no such thing in Sweden at all.

K. No

J. I mean we’re the only band really doing this. I think.

AD. Do you play much at all in Sweden then?

K. Yeah.

J. We did at the beginning, we played in Stockholm for a year, or something like that but now we only really play over here.

firstaidkiteppackshot

AD. Do you find that being siblings makes it easier to write songs together.

J & K. Yep

(laughter)

K. Yeah, I mean we haven’t really recorded with anyone else, but definitely. It might just be us, I don’t know if every sibling would be able to but we’re on the same page almost all of the time, and we get along most of the time. I think.

AD. When you met Amelia at Glastonbury you had your parents with you, and obviously your dads along with you this time. How do you find that, does it mean you can’t get up to any classic touring antics?

K. We get a little annoyed I guess

J. But I don’t think it’s because he’s a family member, it’s just being with someone all the time.

K. Yeah, all bands become a family eventually. I mean our dad, it feels a bit weird talking with him sat there.

(Benkt puts his hands up in mock surrender)

K. But he does a lot. He’s our sound technician on the tour as well so we really need him.

J. He’s been doing it too, in the 80’s, he had his own band for a few years. He’s very experienced. So it’s very good for us to talk to him about these things.

(At this point Benkt brings out a copy of Mick Jaggers autobiography and points at it knowingly)

AD. You played on the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury last year. Is that something that’s quite important to you?

K. Yeah sure

J. We think about it alot. I don’t know if it shows in our songs but it’s important to us. We have this thing in Stockholm now which is called No More Lullabies.

K. There were 24 Swedish artists all playing together.

J. Yeah, we all played 10 minutes each. There’s a film on the website where you can watch it and that was to get awareness to the issue.

K. It was really nice.

J. We love to do those kind of things. We’re not afraid of it and talking about it with people.

AD. OK, finally, what is it you’re most looking forward to doing this year?

J. Touring

K. What we’re doing

J. Yeah, we want to go the US and try to make some new songs.

K. And just enjoy ourselves.

The Big Black and the Blue was releasd on Monday and can be found in all decent record stores.

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and you’re songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 2

Since hearing First Aid Kits debut album The Big Black and The Blue we’ve been incredibly impressed with the sibling duo. The album is full of lush harmonies, troche moody melodies and lyrical narratives. I was able to catch up with Klara and Johanna before their gig at Rough Trade East. The girls were eating dinner at a curry house on Brick Lane with their father Benkt before the gig and I dropped in afterwards to ask them a few questions.

Andy Devine. How’re you finding England?

Klara. Oh we just got here but we’re already enjoying it. It’s like coming home because we spent so much time here last year when we were on tour.

AD. You have a three month tour coming up. Is that something you ever imagined doing when you first started recording songs?

Klara. I guess, dosage we imagined it, but not so soon. It was definitely in the plan, but we thought it’d be in about five year’s time. It’s happened really fast, but we’ve always wanted to make music.

AD. On the Whichita site it says that you were finishing school while you were recording your debut album. How did you manage to find the time to do both.

Johanna. We recorded it during weekends and holidays and at night when we were finished with homework.  It was really stressful.

hardbelieverpackshot

AD. How long did it take you to finish recording it?

Klara. From November 2008 to the summer 2009. It was because we were at school that we couldn’t do it quickly.

Johanna. Yeah we didn’t have all the songs; they were finished gradually.

Klara. Yeah, along the way.

AD. How do you approach your song writing?

Joanna. Well they all just pop out eventually

Klara. Yeah

AD. You’re both from Sweden but all of your songs are sung in English. Is there any particular reason why?

K. We both went to English school

J. Yeah, for four years

K. So it made sense. We’re also really into American and English culture and almost all the music we listen to is in English so when we make songs that’s the way they come out.

firstaidkitsinglepackshot

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and your songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Club. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK 1

AD. OK, you’ve said that you’re interested in Folk music, but is there anything else which inspires you to write the music that you do?

K. Sure, like films and books we read.

AD. Anything particularly or are you just absorbing it from everywhere?

K. Well I mean some songs have direct songs which we’ve been inspired by. Like, the movie Into The Wild, I was really inspired by it. I wrote a song that’s on our album called ‘Wills of the River’ which I literally wrote while I was watching the movie. I wrote a poem and then we made a song about it. That’s one quite extreme example of how we’re inspired.

AD. What do you think of the British folk scene, and is it similar at all to Sweden’s.

K. We love it, and we’re inspired by it.

J. There’s no such thing in Sweden at all.

K. No

J. I mean we’re the only band really doing this. I think.

AD. Do you play much at all in Sweden then?

K. Yeah.

J. We did at the beginning, we played in Stockholm for a year, or something like that but now we only really play over here.

firstaidkiteppackshot

AD. Do you find that being siblings makes it easier to write songs together.

J & K. Yep

(laughter)

K. Yeah, I mean we haven’t really recorded with anyone else, but definitely. It might just be us, I don’t know if every sibling would be able to but we’re on the same page almost all of the time, and we get along most of the time. I think.

AD. When you met Amelia at Glastonbury you had your parents with you, and obviously your dads along with you this time. How do you find that, does it mean you can’t get up to any classic touring antics?

K. We get a little annoyed I guess

J. But I don’t think it’s because he’s a family member, it’s just being with someone all the time.

K. Yeah, all bands become a family eventually. I mean our dad, it feels a bit weird talking with him sat there.

(Benkt puts his hands up in mock surrender)

K. But he does a lot. He’s our sound technician on the tour as well so we really need him.

J. He’s been doing it too, in the 80’s, he had his own band for a few years. He’s very experienced. So it’s very good for us to talk to him about these things.

(At this point Benkt brings out a copy of Mick Jaggers autobiography and points at it knowingly)

AD. You played on the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury last year. Is that something that’s quite important to you?

K. Yeah sure

J. We think about it alot. I don’t know if it shows in our songs but it’s important to us. We have this thing in Stockholm now which is called No More Lullabies.

K. There were 24 Swedish artists all playing together.

J. Yeah, we all played 10 minutes each. There’s a film on the website where you can watch it and that was to get awareness to the issue.

K. It was really nice.

J. We love to do those kind of things. We’re not afraid of it and talking about it with people.

AD. OK, finally, what is it you’re most looking forward to doing this year?

J. Touring

K. What we’re doing

J. Yeah, we want to go the US and try to make some new songs.

K. And just enjoy ourselves.

The Big Black and the Blue was releasd on Monday and can be found in all decent record stores.

AD. Ok, you’ve probably heard this one quite alot, but, you’re still quite young and you’re songs show a lot of maturity

K. (smiling) Oh really

(Laughter)

AD. Sorry

K. Oh no no

AD. You show a lot of maturity, especially in the lyrics. Do these come from your own experiences or are they just stories?

K. We are young, and we haven’t experienced that much. We haven’t run away from our husbands after long marriages. We just like the tradition of telling stories in the country/folk scene. I mean if you go way back to The Carter Family and all of those guys and they all tell these sad stories about outlaws and things.

AD. Last year you were over here supporting Fanfarlo and Slow Dive. How does it feel this year to be coming back and you’ll be headlining your own gigs?

K. Well the Fanfarlo tour was meant to be a double headline

AD. Oh Really?

J. But it didn’t quite work like that, for some reason.

K. I mean they’re six and we’re only two so …

J. Yeah, it’s new and exciting and we’re both a little nervous.

FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, viagra which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, cost and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, buy information pills or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
FAK_BBB_packshot

The first time I heard First Aid Kit was when they supported Slow Club during their tour last year. They were kicking around the empty venue watching Slow Club’s sound check.

The Swedish sisters looked so young that I thought someone had snuck their daughters into the venue before the doors opened.

I have been a massive fan of First Aid Kit since that gig in October. I listened obsessively to their Drunken Trees E.P and I’ve been counting down the days til their release of their debut album The Big Black and The Blue.

It was completely worth the wait; the album sounds fantastic from the get go. The Big Black and The Blue opens with the stunning ‘In The Morning’; it starts with an acappella harmony, cost which leads into the quietest and gentle strums of an acoustic guitar, try and instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart.

FAK 1

The interesting thing about First Aid Kit is the contradiction in two young girls writing the occasional song about middle-aged women, for sale or tackling stories that seem beyond their teenage years. Just like You’re Not Coming Home Tonight from their E.P, ‘In The Morning’ is just one of the songs about a life the musicians are too young to lead themselves.

It sounds patronising, but there really aren’t any other musicians as young as these girls writing lyrics of this depth or maturity.

The Big Black and The Blue alternates between acappella styled harmonies and country tinged guitars to create 11 beautifully crafted songs that you won’t get bored of. Hard Believer is the standout song of the album; it’s another track that shows off the maturity and wisdom in the lyrics.

On first listen this isn’t in the same league as their Drunken Trees E.P, but if you give it enough time, it’ll grow on you. I think there’s a space in everyone’s music collections for this stunning release. I shall be upgrading my press CD for a vinyl version next week.
Polka Lace copy Image courtesy of All In One, this photographed by Stephanie Sian Smith.

What attracts you to the idea of the onesie jumpsuit / all in one?
I just think they’re pretty unusual and fun to wear – and when you find an amazing one you just look mega cool.

How did you develop your idea into a business? From your blog you’ve sold to a variety of people from Burning Man and bankers to vitamin water and a variety of performers including Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
A friend of mine had a blue jellyfish sting protection suit that she’d nicked when she went diving in Australia. When I saw it I instantly fell in love and commandeered it as my festival outfit for the next few years! I soon built up a collection of these suits and got a bit of a reputation as being ‘the onesie girl’ – when the festivals finished I realised that there were hardly any all-in-one’s out there that I could just wear normally. So I started making my own – it kind of seemed natural for me to just start my own business making things which I love. Now, page I sell a mixture of my own work and custom costume designs.

African One copyAbove and all images below courtesy of All In One, information pills photographed by Dan Wilton.

What would you say is Nina Ribena’s design aesthetic?
Massive hoods.

Who or what are your design inspirations?
I’m hugely inspired by the circus. I just got a massive book of old circus photos for Christmas, which is a great reference for one-piece related costumes. I really love bright, crazy, repeat patterns. I love Brian Lichtenberg, Cassette Playa, JCDC and Jeremy Scott’s work…and I would say M.I.A is quite a big inspiration (probably because she wears quite a lot of the aforementioned designer’s clothes!). I love the whole 90′s revival that’s happening at the moment as well, I can’t get enough of tacky gold jewellery and R Kelly.

originals3 copyWhat materials do you particularly like to work in/with?
The majority of my designs are in cotton jersey or anything with a bit of stretch to it. I’ve also been working with PVC quite a lot recently – I quite like the sculptural qualities it can have.

What do onesie’s make you think of?
Fun. Stretching. A good night out. Grace Jones.

all in one .01 (5 of 1) copyHow would you describe your creative process?
I am super organised in some ways and a complete mess in others. So, I usually spend my time trawling the Internet looking through fashion blogs and pulling out anything that catches my eye – this can be anything from London Fashion Week to Where the Wild Things Are to Cheryl Cole. Then I go through them all and decide the themes, that I want to work within – which usually end up being about 7 or 8 different things. I’ll draw some ideas and designs down and then just make the ones I like the most. I’ve never studied fashion – I’m completely self-taught, so I don’t have the ‘correct’ way of designing a collection mastered, at all.

What’s been your favourite appearance of your onesie so far?
I think it has to be the one I made for Fred Butler recently. I.D Magazine are running a feature of 100 portraits of creative/influential people – Fred Butler being one of them – and she asked me to make her an amazing holographic inspired all in one for the shoot. The photos were taken by Nick Knight for his SHOWstudio project so you could watch the whole shoot live on their website. So yeah, my design will be in I.D Magazine, shot by a famous photographer and worn by a really talented designer. Definitely my favourite onesie appearance!

blue african trim copyWith Fashion Week slowly creeping up on us which designers will you be watching out for?
I’ve always been really interested in Gareth Pugh’s work – especially his last collection – I thought everything from the clothes to the lighting and feel of the catwalk just looked amazing. I always like to check out the new designers supported by Fashion East/ Vauxhall Fashion Scout etc…it’s always good to study the sort of designers who win these opportunities.
Aside from that – House of Holland, Ashish, Givenchy, Pam Hogg, Viktor & Rolf, Mark Fast and Jeremy Scott, of course. He always make things a bit more interesting!

As a holder of a blog – what are your thoughts on the blogging ‘sphere’?
I think it’s really important to have a blog if you’re a designer. Just having an online shop or website doesn’t really cut it these days. I think the people who buy your clothes (and are ultimately fans of your work) want to have more of an insight into your creative processes and the things that inspire you. Plus it’s a brilliant way to network with people and get your work out into the open. I wouldn’t have had half of the opportunities or ideas I’ve had without having access to all the blogs out there.

all in one .01 (3 of 5) copyWhat’s next for Nina Ribena?
Lots. I’m really enjoying printing my own fabric at the moment so you can expect to see a lot of zebras, puffins and multi-coloured leopard skin prints making appearances on my designs soon! I want to bring out my own line of leggings and a friend and me have just started our own dance/club night collective.
I’m also planning an exhibition of all my designs to be shown at the end of the year, which is going to involve a mixture of fashion, art and theatrics – all in onesies, of course. It’s going to be a busy year!

Categories ,Ashish, ,Brian Lichtenberg, ,Burning Man, ,Cassette Playa, ,Cheryl Cole, ,Fashion East, ,Fred Butler, ,Gareth Pugh, ,Givenchy, ,Grace Jones, ,House of Holland, ,I.D Magazine, ,JCDC, ,Jeremy Scott, ,London Fashion Week, ,M.I.A, ,Mark Fast, ,Nick Knight, ,Nina Ribena, ,Pam Hogg, ,R Kelly, ,Stephanie Sian Smith, ,Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,Viktor & Rolf, ,We Are All In One, ,Where the Wild Things Are

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Amelia’s Magazine | Simon Ekrelius: New S/S 2012 Season Interview

Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Natalia Nazimek
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Natalia Nazimek.

Simon Ekrelius has been slowly building a reputation for his futuristic yet feminine style. Here’s a peek into his new S/S 2012 collection Bar-Red, page and a chance to find out more about his unique vision.

Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Milly Jackson
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Milly Jackson.

What brought you from Sweden to set up your studio in London? 
I first discovered London in 1993 and since then I have been back and forth. My designs work better in London than in Sweden, healing where people are very careful with their wardrobe. In 2002 my partner Tom and I decided to move here and settle down.

Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
All photography by Marc Lavoie.

Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Sampo Lehtinen
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Sampo Lehtinen.

You have a wonderful way of making futurism seem eminently female and wearable – what inspires you and how do you keep this look fresh each season?  
I’m inspired by many things other than fashion; architecture, painting, sculpture and artistic movements in general. I don’t look at the work of other fashion designers because I can’t help but be affected, which is not good for my creative process. I also tend to avoid fashion magazines, which helps to keep my head clear and enable me to work hard on my feelings for the next season. I decide what I really like and what I feel will work, bearing in mind that it’s easy to go way too crazy and futuristic. It’s important to find the right balance – that’s what fashion is all about.

Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Natalia Nazimek
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Natalia Nazimek.

What in particular is the new season’s collection Bar-Red based on and what does the name refer to?
I think that back in 1919 people were maybe experiencing similar things to what we are going through now, so Bar-Red is based on the Bauhaus movement, mainly with regards the geometric forms used in architectural design. I like the way that the Bauhaus integrated different forms in order to construct a new kind of style and I translated this into our time so that the collection is not completely retrospective. Bar-Red is so named because it can also mean Barred. The shape of a Bar is rectangular and the colour Red is the main colour in the collection, plus the words Bar and Red work together perfectly. I used bar-shaped objects in my prints such as cigarettes and there are big chunky arrows pointing at naughty areas or sometimes just away.

Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Sampo Lehtinen
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Sampo Lehtinen.

You showed in Ottawa this season which is quite exciting – how did this come about?
I was asked to take part by the organisers of Ottawa Fashion Week and at first I did not even believe they had a fashion week. Plus it was during Paris Fashion Week, which was very awkward. But they wanted me to come so badly that they offered me a very good package, so then I just couldn’t say no, especially since the economy in Europe is so tough now. I met members of the Swedish embassy when I was over there and that was interesting because they want to import more independent Swedish design to Canada.

Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius by Gareth A Hopkins
Simon Ekrelius by Gareth A Hopkins.

Will you be showing again in London anytime soon? We loved your last catwalk show with On/Off here. Any London based plans that we can share with readers?
Yes, absolutely, I’m planning to do an exhibition again next season at London Fashion Week. Perhaps I will share space with another designer to see how that goes, and after that I’m sure that I will be back on the catwalk again. But it all depends on the sales I’m afraid…

Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Lesley T Spencer
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Lesley T Spencer.

What is your preferred music to listen to when you are working and have you discovered any new musicians or bands recently that we should know about?
I’m just putting together a playlist on Spotify, and it features Grace Jones, Best Coast, Fever Ray, The xx and The Knife. When I am working I sometimes listen to 6 Music, but sadly I don’t have much time to really discover new bands.

Simon Ekrelius Bar-Red SS 2012 - illus
Illustration by Simon Ekrelius.

Your fashion illustrations are beautiful – how do you ensure this side of your work practice stays alive?
I do my illustrations as I go along. I create them in my head and then if I have a pen, some colours and a bit of paper they will come out automatically like a machine. So I will always illustrate as long as I am creatively productive. They are not always pretty – sometimes they are just a few lines that will help me to remember what has come into my head.

Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Milly Jackson
Simon Ekrelius S/S 2012 by Milly Jackson.

What are your future plans for the Simon Ekrelius brand? 
Aww, this is a difficult one! I think for the moment I just want to get a better relation with buyers abroad and perhaps one boutique here in London to stock Simon Ekrelius exclusively. But then of course it would be great to eventually do my own shows in Paris or London, with high level production so that I can explain my stories properly in all areas. After that I would like to have my own place (to sell from). But first I need to focus on finding buyers.
 

Categories ,6 Music, ,architectural, ,Bar-Red, ,bauhaus, ,Best Coast, ,Buyers, ,Fever Ray, ,Futuristic, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Grace Jones, ,illustration, ,Lesley T Spencer, ,london, ,London Fashion Week, ,Marc Lavoie, ,Milly Jackson, ,Natalia Nazimek, ,onoff, ,Ottawa Fashion Week, ,paris, ,S/S 2012, ,Sampo Lehtinen, ,Simon Ekrelius, ,Spotify, ,Swedish, ,The Knife, ,The XX

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Amelia’s Magazine | Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014: London Fashion Week Preview

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by xplusyequals

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by xplusyequalshttp://www.xplusyequals.co.uk.

Since taking part in Fashion Fringe as a finalist in 2013, new designer Vita Gottlieb has been busy refining her unique vision, taking multiple influences from across the world and melding them into incredible constructions and beautifully tailored dresses. Her love for the environment is carried through into every aspect of her business; working with ethical suppliers, keeping wastage to a minimum and giving 10% of profits to charities. Here’s a sneak (illustrated) preview of the new A/W 2014 collection.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014 mood board

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014 mood board long

Three things that I notice looking at your mood boards for the new collection: caging, owl, snail shell – how do these things and ideas impact the new collection?
Actually the owl and shell (it’s a mollusk) are there just as general mood images – I often have images piled up and all over the walls, just to aid the dreaming! But in a more focused mindset it’s just the collection images. For AW14 I was looking at cages, birds, palaces in India, in particular an old ruined Maharaja’s palace I visited in my gap year- and the idea of Grace Jones roaming through the palace with birds flying in and out of the ruins. I’m always taken with the juxtaposing strength against something more delicate or falling apart. There’s always a bit of an imaginary landscape in my concepts but also I imagine a character in a film and draw inspiration from what I perceive they will do and feel.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2014 colour sketches

Vita-Gottlieb-AW-14-sketches

Sketches by Vita Gottlieb.

You’re showing at Fashion Scout for the first time, how did this come about and what are you most nervous about?
I applied and got in! It’s so great to get to show with Fashion Scout as they support really innovative designers who go onto do big things in the industry, so it’s very exciting. At the moment the studio is quite relaxed as the collection is done, but we’re planning all the practical tasks before the show – casting, music, accessories, etc, plus organising sales documentation and planning some trade shows, also finalising production and deliveries for SS14 – the business side of things are always more nerve-wracking. I’m a bit nervous of the show though, that’s natural – mainly as it’s the first time as a designer that you see the whole collection worn together, and it’s a bit of a reveal – I just hope it’s coherent.

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Calamus Chan

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Calamus Chan.

What can we expect from your upcoming catwalk show?
Hopefully a bit of youthful energy and a strong dynamic.

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Leah Nelson

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Leah Nelson.

How have you achieved the technical details of the Caged collection? It sounds very complex!
Some pieces were very complex and technical but quite a lot of the collection is more commercial – I’m really aiming with this collection to break into new markets and territories and for it to do well on the sales side of things. But the fun stuff is always making the press pieces for editorial, you can really get creative and treat the materials in a more purely sculptural, instinctive way – I love that process, it’s one of my favourite parts in a collection’s development.

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Emma Farrarons

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 by Emma Farrarons.

It seems only  yesterday that you made the decision to enter the world of fashion and already you are onto your fourth collection… what have you learnt along the way?
So much, mainly about running a business. I ran a production company before and a gallery but both on a really small scale – this industry has taught me a huge amount about management – of people, time, juggling the various departments in the business. And about how to edit, to focus, and remain in the moment with whatever task you’re doing. It’s a huge, huge workload, but I’m learning to compartmentalize more and really hone in on something until it’s done as well as it can be. And I’ve learnt I really need space and time for myself, which is a rarity in this business! So something I’m working on achieving from next season on.

Categories ,AW14, ,Caged, ,Calamus Chan, ,Emma Farrarons, ,Fashion Fringe, ,Fashion Scout, ,Grace Jones, ,Leah Nelson, ,xplusyequals

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with jewellery designer Imogen Belfield

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, viagra sale but hey, illness we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, ailment but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, more about but hey, store we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about the subject matter on here: here is some of the best.

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture
Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, diagnosis but hey, more about we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, medical according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about the subject matter on here: here is some of the best.

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture:
YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, doctor but hey, diagnosis we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about the subject matter on here: here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, medicine but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, cheapest but hey, buy we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, viagra dosage but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

But in the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. So in a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts and banking bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few. Join Climate Camp at the global headquarters of RBS in Scotland. Let’s make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, order but hey, prescription we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

Ready. Set. Go!

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, buy but hey, viagra sale we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, treat but hey, look we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck,

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, dosage but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here are links to some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, information pills but hey, ask we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

James-Shedden_Crowd-Hands-Up
Illustration by James Shedden.

Back in mid June I attended my third Transition Towns Conference down in sunny Devon at Seal Hayne, treatment an impressive looking agricultural school that has been gradually sold off and now houses a special needs education college. This year’s conference was attended by a record amount of people, visit this all involved or interested in the Transition Towns concept, which is a grassroots movement whereby local communities convene to find ways to become more resilient and self-sufficient in the face of peak oil and climate change.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It can be hard to reconcile the need to attend important events with a desire to cut out the carbon emissions that flying entails, but some Transitioners had so I got to meet loads of interesting people from all over the world. In fact, during the breakfast queue on the very first day I got chatting to someone who is part of the movement in the US, and found that she was encountering all sorts of problems due to the fact that one *entrepeneurial* character has already patented the term Transition (insert any state here) for himself. This is what happens when a grassroots movements with no particular code of conduct becomes successful in our current world. Telling, perhaps, of our innate human nature, and our desire for ownership of a good idea. Not only that but she told me how her nascent Transition organisation has managed to secure all its funding without really putting any working relationships in place at the grassroots level, and all the problems that has entailed. Sometimes I do wonder if we will ever learn…

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Rob Hopkins hands out name tags.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Future We Want_GarethAHopkins
Future We Want by Gareth A Hopkins.

I will hold my hands up and admit that I am not actively involved in a Transition Town myself, but I’ve known founding members Rob Hopkins and Ben Brangwyn for many years now and have always felt I can serve a useful role in bringing the concept of Transition Towns to the attention of others through my writing and photographs. Why am I not involved myself? Probably a combination of factors. People tend to get involved in Transition Towns at a certain stage in their lives. Hence it is a predominantly middle aged movement, although this year I was pleased to note a positive trend towards many younger participants, glimpsed amidst the sea of greying heads.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

And I don’t feel hugely settled in my life. I therefore don’t feel a strong affiliation to my very close locality, and there is no group in Bethnal Green that I know of, which would mean I would have to start one up myself. Which brings me to my next problem – I have a serious lack of spare time because I currently feel it’s more important to expose the root causes of our problems through direct action against the system with Climate Camp. Something which is always done in conjunction with efforts to build sustainable community. Indeed many people within Climate Camp are also actively involved with a Transition Town. By attending the Transition Towns conference I not only hope to spread ideas beyond the confines of those who can afford to make it to Devon for a weekend, but I also hope I can act as a bridge between different aspects of a much wider movement to build a better world.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

The weekend was taken up with many different forms of workshops and interactive lectures. We scribbled lots of thoughts on paper, talked in small and in large groups about all kinds of thorny issues, went for a wild food walk, climbed to the top of a little knoll high above the college to talk about the changes in landscape, provided our own entertainment… and watched the World Cup en masse. We were extremely lucky with the weather, sitting outside for lunch and enjoying fabulous views over Newton Abbot.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
James-Shedden_Nature-Man
Wild food walk by James Shedden.

Rob Hopkins introduced us to his latest idea, which combines his original 12 steps to transition as outlined in The Transition Handbook with the concept of ‘generative grammar’ behind A Pattern Language. This was the seminal work of some progressive American architects in the 1970s, and has since become a bible of permaculturists. A few years of learning down the line the initial 12 step process seems overly simplistic and so it was intriguing to hear Rob’s new ideas alongside the opportunity to feed our own ideas into his work. I can see how this new trajectory makes sense but I hope he will take into account the layperson’s inability to digest thick books filled with lots of complicated roman numerals.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
My contribution to Rob’s new ideas.

As always some of the most important conversations were had in the gaps between – chatting to my table mates whilst eating a delicious locally sourced vegan lunch, snatching a sneaky chat with old friends in the corridor or whilst propping up the bar. Such is the way at most such events – and Transition Town conferences are always planned with lots of open space in mind.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

2010 feels like a time of introspection for the movement. Throughout my conversations with people what struck me time and again was the importance of solid foundations and a network of successful relationships. Many Transition Towns have reached a critical point where they are struggling to hold their local group together, either because of a division in ideology, or because a committed few are getting bogged down with all the admin and are consequently too stressed to create a happy working environment for newcomers to enter – it’s a problem we are also experiencing within Climate Camp, and something which afflicts many organisations that have reached a certain stage in their lifecycle. Because people who get involved in social change tend to be passionate types they want to make change happen as quickly as possible by pushing forward with exciting new plans, often before a firm base has been built. And especially because it can be tedious to set up a solid core when all you really want to do is eat yummy local food. Food is always a main focus for Transition Towners. Admin less so. You can see why really, can’t you?

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

For this reason meetings need to be as pleasurable an experience as possible. I attended a wonderful facilitation workshop given by Matthew Herbert of the Rhizome Collective but it was sadly under-attended, probably due to the diversity of other offerings on offer at the same time. Climate Camp holds large scale consensus meetings extraordinarily well thanks to the kind of information spread by Rhizome, and all Transitioners struggling with group dynamics should attend such workshops. This is the kind of invaluable information you really can’t learn from a book – so it’s important to learn by doing. Fortunately Rhizome are available to come and speak to local grassroots groups everywhere across the UK.

Transition Conference 2010 Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

For me, the undoubted highlight of the whole conference was hearing from Nicole Foss – also known as Stoneleigh on her website the Automatic Earth – who lectured us in the most accessible way possible about the perilous state of our financial global economy. I am certainly no mastermind when it comes to understanding our current capitalist system, but Nicole somehow made the scariness of our disastrous potential future sound understandable and even inspiring, which was no mean feat. She was so wonderful I have decided to dedicate a whole blog to her ideas.

Stoneleigh
Nicole Foss, AKA Stoneleigh.

Transition Conference 2010 Amelia Gregory
Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory

It was telling, I thought, that at the end of Stoneleigh’s talk people asked how they could protect their own investments with little concern for those far less well off than themselves. “Are you trying to sustain the way you live or live sustainably?” asked another Transitioner. This is an increasingly important question for the Transition Towns movement, which continues to attract a predominantly white middle class demographic. How and what does Transition mean for those less able to commit their time, energy or resources? This and many other questions are currently being mulled over by individuals and groups up and down the country, something I find truly inspiring.

Natasha-Thompson-Transition-Towns-Illustration_landscape
Illustration by Natasha Thompson.

One of the best things about the Transition Towns movement is its ability to attract people who are already doing something wonderful within the field of sustainability in their local area. It is increasingly providing a sexy central hub for a growing network of dedicated individuals, and this aspect needs to be better recognised. Who isn’t already involved in growing their own food in some form of community setting when they join a Transition Town food group, for instance? Long may this wonderful movement continue to grow and energise communities everywhere. Find out how to get involved with Transition Towns by visiting their website here.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference - photo by Amelia Gregory
If we can't imagine a positive future_GarethAHopkins
If We Can’t Imagine a Postive Future by Gareth A Hopkins.
Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, cialis 40mg but hey, viagra buy we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, ask but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s (or lower) when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. Huge deflation will mean that the relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, information pills but hey, price we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, order but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 19th-25th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: Inspiring, no?

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, sale but hey, clinic we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, advice according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: Inspiring, no?

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, pharm but hey, we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: We’re going to shut it down on the day of action: August 23rd. Inspiring, no?

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, viagra 40mg but hey, erectile we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: Then we’re going to shut down the global headquarters of RBS on the day of action: August 23rd. Inspiring, no?

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, ampoule but hey, online we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

YouTube Preview Image

A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

YouTube Preview Image

Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tarsands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

YouTube Preview Image

This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: we’re going to shut down the global headquarters of RBS on the day of action: August 23rd. Inspiring, no?

YouTube Preview Image

Hire me by Joana Faria
Hire Me by Joana Faria.

Nicole Foss is a finance writer and energy analyst known as Stoneleigh when she blogs on The Automatic Earth website – a fact which confused me thoroughly for some time after hearing her fantastically absorbing talk at the Transition Towns conference back in June 2010.

Transition Towns 2010 Conference nicole foss
Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth.

We all know we’re stuck in a bit of a financial trough, capsule but hey, visit web we’re bound to bounce out the other side soon and things will all be hunky-dory again. Right? Wrong. The climate crisis and attendant social crisis notwithstanding, according to Nicole Foss we’re still heading for the biggest financial crash we’ve ever known.

Sayaka-Monji-Transition-Towns
Nicole Foss by Sayaka Monji.

This mess – the result of our insatiable capitalist global system – ain’t going nowhere. To make matters worse, declines in the economy are normally sharper than inclines, so get ready for a steep ride down and a big bump when we hit the bottom. Nicole is so determined to forewarn ‘ordinary’ people of the imminent perils we face that she’s left her native Canada to travel the world on a punishing lecture schedule. This way maybe the bankers won’t be able to lay their grubby mitts on all that remains of our money. Which would be a good thing, right?

money rollercoaster Kayleigh Bluck
The Money Rollercoaster by Kayleigh Bluck.

Here then, is a distillation of the lecture that she gave at the Transition Towns conference in mid June 2010. Nicole also has a website called the Automatic Earth where you can find out more about her research, but if you’re like me you may well find it a little hard to understand. For this reason I hope I’ve managed to distill her key messages into something a little more comprehensible to the masses – read on, and be chilled to the marrow.

Abi Daker - Valuation Graph
The Psychology of Valuation by Abigail Daker.

Nicole has a theory, backed up by rigorous research: that right now we’re in serious denial about the situation of the financial markets and according to an investment graph called the psychology of valuation we’re merely riding a momentary upward blip which describes every mania the markets have ever seen, including the famous tulip mania of the 1600s and the South Sea Bubble. And we always end up worse off than where we started.

Abi Daker - South Sea & Tulip Graph
Market Manias by Abigail Daker.

She dates the current bubble back to 1982, just as the banking regulations that had been put in place during the 1930s were beginning to be dropped. Sadly it seems we have forgotten the lessons of the depression just in time for everything to go wrong again, so her estimation sees us returning to the house prices of the 1970s when the bubble finally bursts. We’ve just had the most ginormous party, so imagine the hangover that’s coming: the next depression is staring us in the face and yet we carry on with business as usual. Sounds horrendous? Is this merely scaremongering or worth investigating further?

Automatic-Earth-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The party is nearly over, by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Maybe a rudimentary analysis of the financial system would come in handy at this point. Here goes: as credit expands to accommodate the demands of a failing economy (a process still occurring now) there will eventually be an excess of credit. Witness the huge derivatives market that sits at the top of this pyramid. Looks stable eh? You’ve probably heard of the great beast known as quantitive easing, or the 62 trillion dollar debt monetization market, both of which hand excess cash to those at the centre of the finance industry – hence bailouts are always for insiders, ie the bankers. Yes, our world economy currently relies entirely on the inside trading of debts, not real products or services. So, if that implodes we’re utterly fucked.

Abi Daker - Inverted Pyramid Cartoon
The Derivatives Pyramid by Abigail Daker.

As cash gets harder to come by people will start to hoard, resisting the temptation to spend in the economy. If there is no motion of money then the value of cash will start to rise. This effect can be likened to trying to run a car without any oil. The light is on to warn us that there is not enough lubricant, and indeed, if we carry on this way the entire economy will start to seize up. The relative costs of goods and services will go up as wages fall faster than prices, and this will be exasperated by increasingly rare and costly resources – think of our beloved gadgets that contain so many rare trace elements. As well as peak oil we’re heading for peak pretty much everything. Then credit will disappear. And of course those at the bottom of the pile will experience the worst of it when their credit card debts get sold to Vinny the Kneecapper. Who will try his hardest to get some of that debt repaid in anyway he can.

Vinnie_the_Kneecapper_by_Abigail_Nottingham
Vinny the Kneecapper by Abigail Nottingham.

This is what happened during the recession of the 1930s – buyers and sellers couldn’t be connected, and even though there were lots of things that could be bought the lack of money meant they went to waste. And when there is a demand collapse (due to a lack of available cash to spend) a supply collapse will follow, followed by civil unrest. In fact Nicole predicts a likely insurrection in places such as Saudi Arabia. To make matters worse, during times of shortage any available supplies get grabbed by the military. Of course.

At the moment we are in an “extend and pretend phase” that merely continues the fiction we have been living for many decades. Money continues to chase its own tail in the City of London (witness record profits from the banks, announced this week) but Britain is still headed for much bigger trouble.

Worlds highest standard of living by Jenny Costello
World’s Highest Standard of Living by Jenny Costello.

Pension funds are famously feeling the effects of a failing economy because they’ve been chasing risk and that makes them extremely vulnerable, but all kinds of financial investment have always been predicated on making money out of someone else’s misery and misfortune – for example when water becomes scarce we are encouraged to buy shares in water companies, thereby making money out of the desperate.

The agribusiness model will fail because the Just In Time model of production (much trumpeted as the best, most efficient method when I was at school in the 1980s, quelle surprise) is brittle and liable to fall apart at the first lack of resources. Many other product services have adopted this model and will likely suffer a similar fate.

automatic earth - octavi navarro
Illustration by Octavi Navarro.

The price of real estate could fall by up to 90% which means that we will be stuck with property in a recession in the desperate hope that its value will increase. For this reason Nicole recommends that renting is now a better bet because it offers more mobility than owning a property. What’s more, it’s likely that we will need centralised power for rationing. Urban areas, despite being more dependent on services, are more likely to survive in times of crisis due to their closer communities.

Natasha-Thompson-Automatic-Earth-Depression-Houses
What if you lose your home? by Natasha Thompson.

Chillingly Nicole predicts that the credit markets will fall in the next six months (remember that this lecture was a month and a half ago), and she predicts that the real economy will fall within about a year. Then the positive feedback will escalate fast. In September 2008 we came within 6 hours of complete seizure of the whole banking system… and Nicole accurately gave 6 months notice of the Icelandic Crash on her website – so she must be doing the sums right somewhere.

What then, to do with your money (presuming you have any?) Put it in precious metals? There’s a reason why humans have always valued gold – it holds its value for over 1000 years. Unbelievably Gaza has become a gold exporter in recent times, not because of the famous gold mines of Gaza, but because the people have become so desperate that they have sold their dowries. But even precious metal ownership may be banned as a failsafe route to retain the worth of your cash – it was banned in the depression. And anyway, what good is gold when there is no food to eat?

The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh
The Need for Gold by Olivia Haigh.

Not all green companies will turn out to be good places to invest, simply because no one can make 20 year guarantees at this time when there is so much upheaval ahead. Nicole suggests keeping money in government gilts as the next best option to keeping hard cash literally under the mattress. Simply because the government is likely to stand longer than the banks and it would be wise not to leave our hard earned cash to the whims of the markets. Although she warns against a mistaken perception of safety in the dollar because there is always the risk that the currency could be reissued in the US, thereby targeting foreigners who could not convert their cash quickly enough. Transition Towns have been launching their own community currencies – could this be the answer? Unfortunately local currencies may become redundant if authorities realise they want a cut. Risk will be everywhere, so we desperately need to move towards no growth economic models that rely on real skills and hard cash currencies.

Automatic-Earth-by-Mina-Bach
Illustration by Mina Bach.

Worst of all, social cracks are revealed in times of contraction because liberty tends to be the first casualty. Benjamin Franklin famously said that he who trades liberty for security shall enjoy neither, but frightened people will do these things. Multi culturalism is likely to be the first culprit – witness the rise of fascism across the West. Social unrest of the type we have seen recently in Greece will continue to happen as the centre pushes out to the periphery, creating horrible political divisions. But we have all been inveigled into this situation together – after all there would be no predator without a prey. We are all responsible for this crisis – like Hansel and Gretel, we’ve been tempted into the trap awaiting us by our insatiable desire to consume.

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

But not all is lost. Whilst there was a palpable air of unrest in her Transition Town audience Nicole remained resolutely upbeat – for she thinks (and I tend to agree) that we are living through exciting times of change. We cannot sustain our current pathological capitalist world economy so now is the perfect time to prove a more positive model of living and the folks involved in Transition Towns and all the other sustainable initiatives around the world are perfectly placed to showcase these new ideas.

Automatic-Earth-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Human relationships are the most important thing we have so we must work hard to build strong and resilient networks abundant with useful skills. We need to become more self-sufficient: looking after our own health and producing far more goods locally because there will be much less global trade. The final rub? Nicole predicts that we can expect to see the worst outcomes of the crash in just 2-5 years. No lie. So we need to show how sustainable systems can work with a slightly panicked sense of urgency.

Great Depression by Joana Faria
Great Depression by Joana Faria.

Of course this is all prediction, and I personally question how much of Nicole’s prophesies will come to pass. Will house prices really revert to those of the 1970s? Maybe it won’t be quite that bad. I hope not. What I don’t question in any way is the need for a massive change in our parasitical global financial systems. The huge risks to our current way of life are definitely there. And where better place to start making changes than at home, in the way we lead our own lives. Transition Towns offers one of the best possible ways to build a resilient and happy local communities and we should all be doing our best to make that happen.

Ready. Set. Go!

Dee-Andrews-Automatic-Earth
Illustration by Dee Andrews.

There’s a whole host of further information about this subject matter on the web and here is some of the best.

A tribute to The Automatic Earth, with voiceover snippets from the lecture I attended. Inspiration for many of the illustrators on this blog and essential viewing if you’ve got this far:

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A video of Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman discussing their response to Stoneleigh’s Transition Conference Lecture shortly afterwards:

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Another very comprehensive overview of the lecture courtesy of Shaun Chamberlin.

Mike Grenville discusses his thoughts on the lecture on this podcast.

In the meantime business continues as usual for the bankers, who have been celebrating record profits in the city once more this week as they continue to fund gross climate injustices such as tar sands and expansion of open cast coal extraction across the UK with our money – even as the financial and climate crises loom ever more prominently. In a few weeks I will be joining Climate Camp to help close down the epicentre of banking misbehaviour at the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland. Come and help us say no to austerity cuts which help to finance bank bailouts that jeopardise our future in pursuit of profit for the few.

Let’s connect the dots and make a better future together.

If Climate Camp made Avatar: the reason why we’re tackling RBS in Edinburgh between 21st-24th August 2010. Facebook event here.

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This is where we’re going to set up a sustainable camp where we can show the world a better way to live whilst drawing highlight to the root of our problems: we’re going to shut down the global headquarters of RBS on the day of action: August 23rd. Inspiring, no?

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Illustration by Andrea Peterson

A little while ago I went to a Felicities PR evening to view the new collections of some of my favourite designers – Orschel-Read, visit Emesha, this and Ada Zandition to name a few. Amongst all of these eccentric displays of fashion stood a tiny display of very intricate jewellery. It really caught my attention and I went over to chat to the timid looking occupant to find out more.

Said timid-looking occupant turned out to be the lovely Imogen Belfield. She creates jewellery like I’ve never seen before – incredible sculptural pieces from porcelain and metals, recipe which don’t really look like jewellery at all – they look more like works of art.

I managed to pin Imogen down (not literally, ooh-err-missus-etc-etc) to have a quick chat about her collections and the million-and-one other things she’s got a hand in…


Photograph by Anna Fayemi

Hi Imogen! What’s your fashion history?
My passion for jewellery began with an obsession for sculptural form. At school I’d produce huge plaster, wire and paper-mâché sculptures that dwarfed the art room. I loved the idea of playing with scale and felt I could really manipulate and experiment with the material and form when working on a big scale. This love for the Fine Arts continued during my Foundation course at Falmouth College of Art. I then specialised in Fashion and then Jewellery, and continued to create large sculptural forms that encased the body by creating a series of 8 foot high head and body pieces. Having specialized in jewellery I then went on to study at the Sir John Cass School of Art, which was a truly inspiring place to be. For my final collection, it was the incredible array fruits on Brick Lane that grabbed my attention, that I then transposed into organic jewellery pieces in silver, steel and porcelain.


Illustration by Bex Glover

Who or what influenced your current collection, Equilibrium? What has influenced your previous collections?
Equilibrium is inspired by the solar system with lots of golden bubbles and moltenous shapes. The Unshores, on the other hand, are like found objects, which are quite ambiguous in form with the combination of porcelain and metal.

What materials and processes do you use in your collections?  
I really enjoy experimenting, exploiting and utilizing a material’s properties and the processes involved to create the finished form. I do a lot of hand carving, casting and mould-making. In my limited editions I combine hand made porcelain with metal. The porcelain is made using a series of mould-making and casting processes.  

Each piece makes a bold, striking statement – what kind of woman wears Imogen Belfield jewellery? 
In my dreams it would be Grace Jones! Men are also drawn to some of the bigger chunkier rings. In fact, I am currently developing a new line of jewellery for men, which is really exciting. It’s a new angle for me, and I am really enjoying designing and making the collection just for men, so watch this space!

There’s been a redux recently in strong, contemporary fashion jewellery, with lots of new designers coming forward and the launch of London Jewellery Week to celebrate our designers. What do you think has caused this? 
There is a sense of freshly released freedom about new graduates and that in itself causes a stir and a real feeling of discovery. It’s great that opportunities for new designers are becoming more accessible with more and more great organisations outwardly supporting new talent. 


Illustration by Andrea Peterson

Which other contemporary jewellers do you admire? 
I’ve just discovered Yorkshire Pearl, and I’m in love. The designer, Bert, creates these lavish and oh so stunningly intricate and captivating chunky bangles, all hand stitched, and all one-off. Now I have the tricky task of choosing which one I want when I want them all, stacked up on all of my long limbs! ? 

Do you have any ethical or environmental considerations when designing or producing each piece? 
Every piece is made by hand in my studio. I would really like to keep production within the UK and celebrate the incredible industry of craftsman that we have here. 

Tell us about Flux Studios and what happens there?  
It’s a brilliant creative haven, stuffed full of talented jewellery designers. There’s a hub of 12 makers who are all members, so it’s an inspiring environment to work in for sure. The owner, Vicky Forrester, also a jeweller, and an incredibly talented one at that, organizes and curates shows through out the year. We always do something interesting for Coutts Jewellery Week. Last year it was great – we organized a very edgy and unconventional catwalk show, set in an industrial warehouse next to our studio, in the heart of buzzing Camberwell. We are always looking to try new things and different ways of showing our jewellery, so who knows what we’ll think of doing next year for Jewellery Week! 

Tell us about Not Just A Label…?
I love Not Just A Label and I think what they do is pure brilliance. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in their first ever Pop-Up Shop last October at Notting Hill’s über-funky Beach Blanket Babylon, which went down an absolute storm. It gave me the wonderful opportunity to work directly with the founder of Not Just A Label, Stefan Siegel, and the rest of his magnificent team. He’s a real inspiration – his visionary way of supporting new and undiscovered designers on a global scale really fulfills a desperately important need in the market.  

Well done on all your recent awards…  tell us about some of them?  
Thank you so much. I’m still slightly shakey from shock to be quite honest, it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. The New Designers Award was supported by Design Nation, which promotes British design but on an international scale. So they are going to help me with the business side of things, and as I’m a massive novice I have an awful lot to learn, so will lap up every ounce of help and advice that’s handed my way. My brain is now officially a sponge! 

What can we expect next from Imogen Belfield? How’s the new collection shaping up? Where will you be showing?  
Oooh I am so so excited about my latest collection, it just sizzles! I source a lot of my stones from the Natural History Museum, so I have been working with pyrite and phylite, both deliciously organic. That’s what I love about these minerals – their beauty is so natural and organic, no cutting or polishing needs to be done to them; their raw state is what is so compelling. So watch out for some stonkingly chunky jewels that will be launching very soon.


 
What advise would you give to graduate jewellery designers?
First thing you do, get a studio or any kind of space, even a shed that you can work in on you designs and collections. I was lucky to find Flux Studios when I did, literally within 2 months of graduating. Having a space dedicated to your practice really channels your thought and immediately enables you to get cracking on all your new ideas. The next thing would be to find a supportive PR company to promote your brand. As a designer, this really gets you on the map. I was very lucky to find Felicities PR at the beginning, and I’ve been working with them ever since. They really go out of their way to do everything to help designers and get their brand out there.
 
What do you get up to when you’re not thinking about or experimenting with jewellery? 
I do have a slight problem in that the jewellery light never seems to switch off. But hanging out with my lovely friends is the best switch off remedy if there is one!

For more information about Imogen Belfield Jewellery, visit her website.

Categories ,Ada Zanditon, ,Beach Blanket Babylon, ,Brick Lane, ,Camberwell, ,Coutts, ,Design Nation, ,Emesha, ,Equilibrium, ,Falmouth College of Art, ,Felicities PR, ,Flux Studios, ,friends, ,Fruits, ,Grace Jones, ,Imogen Belfield, ,jewellery, ,London Jewellery Week, ,metal, ,natural history museum, ,New Designers, ,Not Just a Label, ,Notting Hill, ,Orschel-Read, ,Porcelain, ,Sir John Cass School od Art, ,Stefan Siegel, ,The Unshores, ,Vicky Forrester, ,Yorkshire Pearl

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with jewellery designer Imogen Belfield


Illustration by Andrea Peterson

A little while ago I went to a Felicities PR evening to view the new collections of some of my favourite designers – Orschel-Read, Emesha, and Ada Zandition to name a few. Amongst all of these eccentric displays of fashion stood a tiny display of very intricate jewellery. It really caught my attention and I went over to chat to the timid looking occupant to find out more.

Said timid-looking occupant turned out to be the lovely Imogen Belfield. She creates jewellery like I’ve never seen before – incredible sculptural pieces from porcelain and metals, which don’t really look like jewellery at all – they look more like works of art.

I managed to pin Imogen down (not literally, ooh-err-missus-etc-etc) to have a quick chat about her collections and the million-and-one other things she’s got a hand in…


Photograph by Anna Fayemi

Hi Imogen! What’s your fashion history?
My passion for jewellery began with an obsession for sculptural form. At school I’d produce huge plaster, wire and paper-mâché sculptures that dwarfed the art room. I loved the idea of playing with scale and felt I could really manipulate and experiment with the material and form when working on a big scale. This love for the Fine Arts continued during my Foundation course at Falmouth College of Art. I then specialised in Fashion and then Jewellery, and continued to create large sculptural forms that encased the body by creating a series of 8 foot high head and body pieces. Having specialized in jewellery I then went on to study at the Sir John Cass School of Art, which was a truly inspiring place to be. For my final collection, it was the incredible array fruits on Brick Lane that grabbed my attention, that I then transposed into organic jewellery pieces in silver, steel and porcelain.


Illustration by Bex Glover

Who or what influenced your current collection, Equilibrium? What has influenced your previous collections?
Equilibrium is inspired by the solar system with lots of golden bubbles and moltenous shapes. The Unshores, on the other hand, are like found objects, which are quite ambiguous in form with the combination of porcelain and metal.

What materials and processes do you use in your collections?  
I really enjoy experimenting, exploiting and utilizing a material’s properties and the processes involved to create the finished form. I do a lot of hand carving, casting and mould-making. In my limited editions I combine hand made porcelain with metal. The porcelain is made using a series of mould-making and casting processes.  

Each piece makes a bold, striking statement – what kind of woman wears Imogen Belfield jewellery? 
In my dreams it would be Grace Jones! Men are also drawn to some of the bigger chunkier rings. In fact, I am currently developing a new line of jewellery for men, which is really exciting. It’s a new angle for me, and I am really enjoying designing and making the collection just for men, so watch this space!

There’s been a redux recently in strong, contemporary fashion jewellery, with lots of new designers coming forward and the launch of London Jewellery Week to celebrate our designers. What do you think has caused this? 
There is a sense of freshly released freedom about new graduates and that in itself causes a stir and a real feeling of discovery. It’s great that opportunities for new designers are becoming more accessible with more and more great organisations outwardly supporting new talent. 


Illustration by Andrea Peterson

Which other contemporary jewellers do you admire? 
I’ve just discovered Yorkshire Pearl, and I’m in love. The designer, Bert, creates these lavish and oh so stunningly intricate and captivating chunky bangles, all hand stitched, and all one-off. Now I have the tricky task of choosing which one I want when I want them all, stacked up on all of my long limbs! 
 

Do you have any ethical or environmental considerations when designing or producing each piece? 
Every piece is made by hand in my studio. I would really like to keep production within the UK and celebrate the incredible industry of craftsman that we have here. 

Tell us about Flux Studios and what happens there?  
It’s a brilliant creative haven, stuffed full of talented jewellery designers. There’s a hub of 12 makers who are all members, so it’s an inspiring environment to work in for sure. The owner, Vicky Forrester, also a jeweller, and an incredibly talented one at that, organizes and curates shows through out the year. We always do something interesting for Coutts Jewellery Week. Last year it was great – we organized a very edgy and unconventional catwalk show, set in an industrial warehouse next to our studio, in the heart of buzzing Camberwell. We are always looking to try new things and different ways of showing our jewellery, so who knows what we’ll think of doing next year for Jewellery Week! 

Tell us about Not Just A Label…?
I love Not Just A Label and I think what they do is pure brilliance. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in their first ever Pop-Up Shop last October at Notting Hill’s über-funky Beach Blanket Babylon, which went down an absolute storm. It gave me the wonderful opportunity to work directly with the founder of Not Just A Label, Stefan Siegel, and the rest of his magnificent team. He’s a real inspiration – his visionary way of supporting new and undiscovered designers on a global scale really fulfills a desperately important need in the market.  

Well done on all your recent awards…  tell us about some of them?  
Thank you so much. I’m still slightly shakey from shock to be quite honest, it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. The New Designers Award was supported by Design Nation, which promotes British design but on an international scale. So they are going to help me with the business side of things, and as I’m a massive novice I have an awful lot to learn, so will lap up every ounce of help and advice that’s handed my way. My brain is now officially a sponge! 

What can we expect next from Imogen Belfield? How’s the new collection shaping up? Where will you be showing?  
Oooh I am so so excited about my latest collection, it just sizzles! I source a lot of my stones from the Natural History Museum, so I have been working with pyrite and phylite, both deliciously organic. That’s what I love about these minerals – their beauty is so natural and organic, no cutting or polishing needs to be done to them; their raw state is what is so compelling. So watch out for some stonkingly chunky jewels that will be launching very soon.


 
What advise would you give to graduate jewellery designers?
First thing you do, get a studio or any kind of space, even a shed that you can work in on you designs and collections. I was lucky to find Flux Studios when I did, literally within 2 months of graduating. Having a space dedicated to your practice really channels your thought and immediately enables you to get cracking on all your new ideas. The next thing would be to find a supportive PR company to promote your brand. As a designer, this really gets you on the map. I was very lucky to find Felicities PR at the beginning, and I’ve been working with them ever since. They really go out of their way to do everything to help designers and get their brand out there.
 
What do you get up to when you’re not thinking about or experimenting with jewellery? 
I do have a slight problem in that the jewellery light never seems to switch off. But hanging out with my lovely friends is the best switch off remedy if there is one!

For more information about Imogen Belfield Jewellery, visit her website.

Categories ,Ada Zanditon, ,Beach Blanket Babylon, ,Brick Lane, ,Camberwell, ,Coutts, ,Design Nation, ,Emesha, ,Equilibrium, ,Falmouth College of Art, ,Felicities PR, ,Flux Studios, ,friends, ,Fruits, ,Grace Jones, ,Imogen Belfield, ,jewellery, ,London Jewellery Week, ,metal, ,natural history museum, ,New Designers, ,Not Just a Label, ,Notting Hill, ,Orschel-Read, ,Porcelain, ,Sir John Cass School od Art, ,Stefan Siegel, ,The Unshores, ,Vicky Forrester, ,Yorkshire Pearl

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Laura Mackness

Knitwear design student Phoebe Thirlwall was an unquestionable highlight of Graduate Fashion Week 2010. Her work demonstrated an impressive level of craftsmanship, cialis 40mg about it receiving recognition even before the shows when one of her dresses was photographed by Rankin. Phoebe’s final collection, see consisting of six looks, was a feast of beautiful and intricate knitwear. I caught up with Phoebe to learn a little more about the work that went into her final collection, and after the chaos of that week, what she plans to do next!

Graduate Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity for students. How did it feel to have your work selected for the show?
It was really exciting because I had never expected to be selected, and when I found out I was obviously over the moon. It made such a difference to see my work on a raised catwalk, it felt so professional, and although I was really nervous when it went out, it was a great feeling to see it up there and being photographed. It is an amazing opportunity for students and it is a shame that everyone doesn’t get to go.

Why did you choose to study Knitwear Design over a general Fashion degree?
The Knitwear course at Nottingham Trent University involves a sandwich year in industry, which was one of the reasons I chose to study the course. Employers always want experience, so I felt that a year in the industry would be attractive to potential employers. I never particularly preferred knitwear over wovens, but when you are designing knitwear you have so much more freedom to create exactly what you want. If you are making an outfit from woven fabrics, although you can print on them etc, you are still limited by the fabric itself. When you knit an outfit, you can control the whole thing. You can knit the fabric however you want it and create different textures and patterns. Also, I like knitwear because you can knit the pieces of fabric to size. You can approach the whole outfit in a different way.

Where did you complete your work experience and how valuable was it to you?
My year in industry was spent in a family run knitwear factory called GH Hurt and Sons in Chilwel, Nottingham. It is a fairly small factory where lace knit is designed, made and constructed into various pieces. They create baby shawls and christening blankets sold in high end department stores and items of clothing for a number of luxury catalogue retailers. We also produced a lot of items for retailers overseas, such as the USA and Hong Kong. I was able to learn about the first steps of the process – receiving yarns on cones and in big hanks, to designing and knitting the pieces and finally how each item is made and finished to a high standard. It was also nice to see the items for sale and being worn because I always thought -’I made that!’ – which is a great feeling.

Can you explain a little about the techniques that you used? Did you have a lot to learn in terms of advanced skills?
The outfits I made are knitted mostly in silk and bamboo, with an elastic yarn that I used to create the patterns. I developed the technique by experimenting on a knitting machine to see what types of fabric I could create. I knew that I wanted to use elastic because it developed from my concept of skin, and also that I wanted to work with luxury fibres such as silk. I used a combination of rippled stitches, stripes and transferred needles on the front of the bed of the knitting machine to create the fabrics that I made my collection from. These are all techniques that I had learned in previous years, but putting them together required a lot of experimentation, and luck.

Was there much change in your work from the conception of the idea to the work we saw on the catwalk?
Yes. I had worked on the project since Christmas, so there was a lot of time for ideas and concepts to change. Initially, I had no idea what my collection was going to look like and I still didn’t until a few weeks before the show. I had no idea what type of fabric I would use, or what techniques. It wasn’t until I developed a fabric that I was happy with that the collection began to come together. At the beginning, I was thinking about the concept of shedding skin, more than the skin itself. This gradually changed throughout my research and development, into a more specialised study of the skin. I know that if I had stuck with my original thoughts, then the collection would look a lot different. It would probably be a bit more structured, rather than the more subtle and slim-line way it is turned out.

Which of the other graduate collections were you impressed by?
There were so many great collections. It’s good to see other peoples work because it is all brilliant. I loved all of the collections from Nottingham (slightly biased obviously), but there were many other Universities that I liked aswell. I was backstage when the De Montford show was going on, and some of those were amazing!

Nottingham has made a bit of a name for itself as a hub of creativity. What it has it been like for you?
I like Nottingham because it is a small city. It’s more like a town and everything’s quite compact. There are a lot of creative people who come to study here, but everywhere is quite laid back, which I like. It’s not over crowded with arty types. There are lots of students with different interests, and there are good places to go to eat, drink or shop. I suppose it has got a bit of a name for itself, but it’s a fairly down to earth city to live in. I’ve lived just outside the city centre for 2 years, and I’m going to be sad to leave.

You described your collection as ‘based on skin and flesh on the human body’. Where did this inspiration come from, and what else inspires you?
The inspiration for my collection came originally from a general interest in the skin and flesh. I think that this comes from being a vegetarian since I was 11. I have a strange relationship with food. I like things that are untouched. I won’t eat meat. I took this fascination with meat and flesh and developed it into a concept which I could look into for my collection. I get inspired by anything and everything really, usually something small and ordinary because you can look at it in more detail. I think that even something small and boring to others can become inspiring if you look at it enough.

New designers such as Mark Fast have shown us some other unique techniques with knitwear. Have you thought about how you could further your own skills?
It’s strange to think that a technique can be what ‘makes’ a designer. To me, Mark Fast developed this brilliant technique and ran with it. That’s great because I had never thought about design from that angle before. I always thought you had to constantly create different pieces all the time. Designers like Mark Fast are inspirational because they open your eyes to the possibilities of what can be done on a knitting machine. Missoni also creates such beautiful and unique knitwear. In a way, I would like develop my technique further, but I also would like to focus on new tasks and new direction.


Phoebe Thirwall, photographed by Rankin

One of your dresses was photographed by Rankin. How did it feel to learn that your dress was selected?
Amazing. It was sent down to London, but I never expected it to be photographed. Apparently the university sends items down every year and they rarely get selected to be photographed. When I found out that it had been chosen to be photographed I was really happy, by Rankin especially! The fact that Kate Shillingford from Dazed and Confused actually chose the pieces is overwhelming. It was about 2 months later that the pictures were released. Seeing my work on the Vogue website was mental!

You also received praise from the fashion bloggers. How have you found the attention?
It’s been completely surreal having people like Susie Bubble write about my work. She said it was one of her favourites from the photos, and so did Lucy Wood. I used to read about fashion graduates and imagined they had such exciting lives, but I’m just in my room with my cat and not really doing anything. It’s really strange seeing photos and articles about my work. I feel now like it isn’t even mine and I’m looking at someone else’s. It doesn’t seem real.

It has been two weeks since the show. What’s the plan now?
Is that all? It feels like a lot longer ago than 2 weeks. My collection is being sent over to Shanghai in September for Spin Expo, and a few of the outfits are being used in a photo shoot in July. My plans now involve finding a job, going to interviews and hopefully being hired. I want to move down to London to be nearer to my boyfriend. Ideally, I want to see clothes that I have designed, being made. I also really want a long holiday, somewhere nice and hot, where I don’t have to think about knitting!

Knitwear design student Phoebe Thirlwall was an unquestionable highlight of Graduate Fashion Week 2010. Her work demonstrated an impressive level of craftsmanship, tadalafil receiving recognition even before the shows when one of her dresses was photographed by Rankin. Phoebe’s final collection, troche consisting of six looks, was a feast of beautiful and intricate knitwear. I caught up with Phoebe to learn a little more about the work that went into her final collection, and after the chaos of that week, what she plans to do next!

Graduate Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity for students. How did it feel to have your work selected for the show?
It was really exciting because I had never expected to be selected, and when I found out I was obviously over the moon. It made such a difference to see my work on a raised catwalk, it felt so professional, and although I was really nervous when it went out, it was a great feeling to see it up there and being photographed. It is an amazing opportunity for students and it is a shame that everyone doesn’t get to go.

Why did you choose to study Knitwear Design over a general Fashion degree?
The Knitwear course at Nottingham Trent University involves a sandwich year in industry, which was one of the reasons I chose to study the course. Employers always want experience, so I felt that a year in the industry would be attractive to potential employers. I never particularly preferred knitwear over wovens, but when you are designing knitwear you have so much more freedom to create exactly what you want. If you are making an outfit from woven fabrics, although you can print on them etc, you are still limited by the fabric itself. When you knit an outfit, you can control the whole thing. You can knit the fabric however you want it and create different textures and patterns. Also, I like knitwear because you can knit the pieces of fabric to size. You can approach the whole outfit in a different way.

Where did you complete your work experience and how valuable was it to you?
My year in industry was spent in a family run knitwear factory called GH Hurt and Sons in Chilwel, Nottingham. It is a fairly small factory where lace knit is designed, made and constructed into various pieces. They create baby shawls and christening blankets sold in high end department stores and items of clothing for a number of luxury catalogue retailers. We also produced a lot of items for retailers overseas, such as the USA and Hong Kong. I was able to learn about the first steps of the process – receiving yarns on cones and in big hanks, to designing and knitting the pieces and finally how each item is made and finished to a high standard. It was also nice to see the items for sale and being worn because I always thought -’I made that!’ – which is a great feeling.

Can you explain a little about the techniques that you used? Did you have a lot to learn in terms of advanced skills?
The outfits I made are knitted mostly in silk and bamboo, with an elastic yarn that I used to create the patterns. I developed the technique by experimenting on a knitting machine to see what types of fabric I could create. I knew that I wanted to use elastic because it developed from my concept of skin, and also that I wanted to work with luxury fibres such as silk. I used a combination of rippled stitches, stripes and transferred needles on the front of the bed of the knitting machine to create the fabrics that I made my collection from. These are all techniques that I had learned in previous years, but putting them together required a lot of experimentation, and luck.

Was there much change in your work from the conception of the idea to the work we saw on the catwalk?
Yes. I had worked on the project since Christmas, so there was a lot of time for ideas and concepts to change. Initially, I had no idea what my collection was going to look like and I still didn’t until a few weeks before the show. I had no idea what type of fabric I would use, or what techniques. It wasn’t until I developed a fabric that I was happy with that the collection began to come together. At the beginning, I was thinking about the concept of shedding skin, more than the skin itself. This gradually changed throughout my research and development, into a more specialised study of the skin. I know that if I had stuck with my original thoughts, then the collection would look a lot different. It would probably be a bit more structured, rather than the more subtle and slim-line way it is turned out.

Which of the other graduate collections were you impressed by?
There were so many great collections. It’s good to see other peoples work because it is all brilliant. I loved all of the collections from Nottingham (slightly biased obviously), but there were many other Universities that I liked aswell. I was backstage when the De Montford show was going on, and some of those were amazing!

Nottingham has made a bit of a name for itself as a hub of creativity. What it has it been like for you?
I like Nottingham because it is a small city. It’s more like a town and everything’s quite compact. There are a lot of creative people who come to study here, but everywhere is quite laid back, which I like. It’s not over crowded with arty types. There are lots of students with different interests, and there are good places to go to eat, drink or shop. I suppose it has got a bit of a name for itself, but it’s a fairly down to earth city to live in. I’ve lived just outside the city centre for 2 years, and I’m going to be sad to leave.

You described your collection as ‘based on skin and flesh on the human body’. Where did this inspiration come from, and what else inspires you?
The inspiration for my collection came originally from a general interest in the skin and flesh. I think that this comes from being a vegetarian since I was 11. I have a strange relationship with food. I like things that are untouched. I won’t eat meat. I took this fascination with meat and flesh and developed it into a concept which I could look into for my collection. I get inspired by anything and everything really, usually something small and ordinary because you can look at it in more detail. I think that even something small and boring to others can become inspiring if you look at it enough.

New designers such as Mark Fast have shown us some other unique techniques with knitwear. Have you thought about how you could further your own skills?
It’s strange to think that a technique can be what ‘makes’ a designer. To me, Mark Fast developed this brilliant technique and ran with it. That’s great because I had never thought about design from that angle before. I always thought you had to constantly create different pieces all the time. Designers like Mark Fast are inspirational because they open your eyes to the possibilities of what can be done on a knitting machine. Missoni also creates such beautiful and unique knitwear. In a way, I would like develop my technique further, but I also would like to focus on new tasks and new direction.


Phoebe Thirwall, photographed by Rankin

One of your dresses was photographed by Rankin. How did it feel to learn that your dress was selected?
Amazing. It was sent down to London, but I never expected it to be photographed. Apparently the university sends items down every year and they rarely get selected to be photographed. When I found out that it had been chosen to be photographed I was really happy, by Rankin especially! The fact that Kate Shillingford from Dazed and Confused actually chose the pieces is overwhelming. It was about 2 months later that the pictures were released. Seeing my work on the Vogue website was mental!

You also received praise from the fashion bloggers. How have you found the attention?
It’s been completely surreal having people like Susie Bubble write about my work. She said it was one of her favourites from the photos, and so did Lucy Wood. I used to read about fashion graduates and imagined they had such exciting lives, but I’m just in my room with my cat and not really doing anything. It’s really strange seeing photos and articles about my work. I feel now like it isn’t even mine and I’m looking at someone else’s. It doesn’t seem real.

It has been two weeks since the show. What’s the plan now?
Is that all? It feels like a lot longer ago than 2 weeks. My collection is being sent over to Shanghai in September for Spin Expo, and a few of the outfits are being used in a photo shoot in July. My plans now involve finding a job, going to interviews and hopefully being hired. I want to move down to London to be nearer to my boyfriend. Ideally, I want to see clothes that I have designed, being made. I also really want a long holiday, somewhere nice and hot, where I don’t have to think about knitting!

Knitwear design student Phoebe Thirlwall was an unquestionable highlight of Graduate Fashion Week 2010. Her work demonstrated an impressive level of craftsmanship, information pills receiving recognition even before the shows when one of her dresses was photographed by Rankin. Phoebe’s final collection, sales consisting of six looks, viagra dosage was a feast of beautiful and intricate knitwear. I caught up with Phoebe to learn a little more about the work that went into her final collection, and after the chaos of that week, what she plans to do next!

Graduate Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity for students. How did it feel to have your work selected for the show?
It was really exciting because I had never expected to be selected, and when I found out I was obviously over the moon. It made such a difference to see my work on a raised catwalk, it felt so professional, and although I was really nervous when it went out, it was a great feeling to see it up there and being photographed. It is an amazing opportunity for students and it is a shame that everyone doesn’t get to go.

Why did you choose to study Knitwear Design over a general Fashion degree?
The Knitwear course at Nottingham Trent University involves a sandwich year in industry, which was one of the reasons I chose to study the course. Employers always want experience, so I felt that a year in the industry would be attractive to potential employers. I never particularly preferred knitwear over wovens, but when you are designing knitwear you have so much more freedom to create exactly what you want. If you are making an outfit from woven fabrics, although you can print on them etc, you are still limited by the fabric itself. When you knit an outfit, you can control the whole thing. You can knit the fabric however you want it and create different textures and patterns. Also, I like knitwear because you can knit the pieces of fabric to size. You can approach the whole outfit in a different way.

Where did you complete your work experience and how valuable was it to you?
My year in industry was spent in a family run knitwear factory called GH Hurt and Sons in Chilwel, Nottingham. It is a fairly small factory where lace knit is designed, made and constructed into various pieces. They create baby shawls and christening blankets sold in high end department stores and items of clothing for a number of luxury catalogue retailers. We also produced a lot of items for retailers overseas, such as the USA and Hong Kong. I was able to learn about the first steps of the process – receiving yarns on cones and in big hanks, to designing and knitting the pieces and finally how each item is made and finished to a high standard. It was also nice to see the items for sale and being worn because I always thought -’I made that!’ – which is a great feeling.

Can you explain a little about the techniques that you used? Did you have a lot to learn in terms of advanced skills?
The outfits I made are knitted mostly in silk and bamboo, with an elastic yarn that I used to create the patterns. I developed the technique by experimenting on a knitting machine to see what types of fabric I could create. I knew that I wanted to use elastic because it developed from my concept of skin, and also that I wanted to work with luxury fibres such as silk. I used a combination of rippled stitches, stripes and transferred needles on the front of the bed of the knitting machine to create the fabrics that I made my collection from. These are all techniques that I had learned in previous years, but putting them together required a lot of experimentation, and luck.

Was there much change in your work from the conception of the idea to the work we saw on the catwalk?
Yes. I had worked on the project since Christmas, so there was a lot of time for ideas and concepts to change. Initially, I had no idea what my collection was going to look like and I still didn’t until a few weeks before the show. I had no idea what type of fabric I would use, or what techniques. It wasn’t until I developed a fabric that I was happy with that the collection began to come together. At the beginning, I was thinking about the concept of shedding skin, more than the skin itself. This gradually changed throughout my research and development, into a more specialised study of the skin. I know that if I had stuck with my original thoughts, then the collection would look a lot different. It would probably be a bit more structured, rather than the more subtle and slim-line way it is turned out.

Which of the other graduate collections were you impressed by?
There were so many great collections. It’s good to see other peoples work because it is all brilliant. I loved all of the collections from Nottingham (slightly biased obviously), but there were many other Universities that I liked aswell. I was backstage when the De Montford show was going on, and some of those were amazing!

Nottingham has made a bit of a name for itself as a hub of creativity. What it has it been like for you?
I like Nottingham because it is a small city. It’s more like a town and everything’s quite compact. There are a lot of creative people who come to study here, but everywhere is quite laid back, which I like. It’s not over crowded with arty types. There are lots of students with different interests, and there are good places to go to eat, drink or shop. I suppose it has got a bit of a name for itself, but it’s a fairly down to earth city to live in. I’ve lived just outside the city centre for 2 years, and I’m going to be sad to leave.

You described your collection as ‘based on skin and flesh on the human body’. Where did this inspiration come from, and what else inspires you?
The inspiration for my collection came originally from a general interest in the skin and flesh. I think that this comes from being a vegetarian since I was 11. I have a strange relationship with food. I like things that are untouched. I won’t eat meat. I took this fascination with meat and flesh and developed it into a concept which I could look into for my collection. I get inspired by anything and everything really, usually something small and ordinary because you can look at it in more detail. I think that even something small and boring to others can become inspiring if you look at it enough.

New designers such as Mark Fast have shown us some other unique techniques with knitwear. Have you thought about how you could further your own skills?
It’s strange to think that a technique can be what ‘makes’ a designer. To me, Mark Fast developed this brilliant technique and ran with it. That’s great because I had never thought about design from that angle before. I always thought you had to constantly create different pieces all the time. Designers like Mark Fast are inspirational because they open your eyes to the possibilities of what can be done on a knitting machine. Missoni also creates such beautiful and unique knitwear. In a way, I would like develop my technique further, but I also would like to focus on new tasks and new direction.


Phoebe Thirwall, photographed by Rankin

One of your dresses was photographed by Rankin. How did it feel to learn that your dress was selected?
Amazing. It was sent down to London, but I never expected it to be photographed. Apparently the university sends items down every year and they rarely get selected to be photographed. When I found out that it had been chosen to be photographed I was really happy, by Rankin especially! The fact that Kate Shillingford from Dazed and Confused actually chose the pieces is overwhelming. It was about 2 months later that the pictures were released. Seeing my work on the Vogue website was mental!

You also received praise from the fashion bloggers. How have you found the attention?
It’s been completely surreal having people like Susie Bubble write about my work. She said it was one of her favourites from the photos, and so did Lucy Wood. I used to read about fashion graduates and imagined they had such exciting lives, but I’m just in my room with my cat and not really doing anything. It’s really strange seeing photos and articles about my work. I feel now like it isn’t even mine and I’m looking at someone else’s. It doesn’t seem real.

It has been two weeks since the show. What’s the plan now?
Is that all? It feels like a lot longer ago than 2 weeks. My collection is being sent over to Shanghai in September for Spin Expo, and a few of the outfits are being used in a photo shoot in July. My plans now involve finding a job, going to interviews and hopefully being hired. I want to move down to London to be nearer to my boyfriend. Ideally, I want to see clothes that I have designed, being made. I also really want a long holiday, somewhere nice and hot, where I don’t have to think about knitting!

Photography preseves a moment forever – it marks and preserves time as it has been spent. It is, and to draw Barthes into the conversation, purchase a memento mori. Amy Gwatkin’s photographs (BA Editorial Photography, Brighton) blur the boundaries between fashion, editorial and fine art. Amy’s frequently updated blog documents shoots, time spent in the studio with models or other-sometimes-coffee-relative-activities, and has an incredible talent for turning personal adventures into moments representing a snapshop of a life.

An exhibition late last year – Interior Politics – and the launch of a new website introduced me to Amy’s exploration into the minuite obsqure moments that life has to offer. More recently Amy has been experimenting with film, and has kindly taken the time to answer questions for Amelia’s Magazines.

Amy! When and why did you first pick up a stills camera?

Because using the film camera involved waiting on unrealiable people! And I instantly loved it. I was supposed to do something more bookish at uni, but the minute I found a camera I was smitten. I had been obsessed with fashion since I could toddle into my grandma’s/mum’s wardrobes; suddenly I had found a way that I could make ima