Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week A/W 2010 Catwalk Review: Andrew Majtenyi by Amelia

Andrew Majtenyi by Maryanne Oliver
Andrew Majtenyi by Maryanne Oliver

Sometimes fashion designers decide to show in strange venues, there and such was the case with Canadian born designer Andrew Matjyeni, generic who decided to show in a fancy room at the top of an important looking building not far from Somerset House (Canada House, I believe. I can see how that makes sense). Ushered into a lift we were soon bunched into a weird little corridor several floors up, alongside lots of other slightly overheated and irate fashion punters. Not good when you suffer from fashion week freebie overburdenment combined with mild claustrophobia. And I was also bloody STARVIN I tells ya: this being late in the day and having not yet eaten. As Matt and I settled into the front row I casually wondered aloud if it would be okay to gobble down the rest of my Pret sandwich – Matt looked so mortified I quickly thought the better of it. I’m really not very good at fashion week etiquette, but I guess it’s not a good look really is it?

The first thing I loved about Andrew’s collection was the big big crimped hair, held back with delicate plaits. Possibly not what he was trying to sell, but hey, props to the hair stylist! The second thing I really liked was the cute oversized 50s inspired prints – bold, painterly and large, they featured parasol picnic tables, dogs on leads and elegantly dressed ladies on a day out. The pink splash silver birch digital print offered a more modern take on textile design, and it comes as no surprise to learn that Andew Majtenyi prefers to design directly with fabric rather than pen and paper.

Andrew Majtenyi by Maryanne Oliver
Andrew Majtenyi by Maryanne Oliver

Skirts were short short short and delicate pockets on sleeves made for interesting understated details. I can’t in all honesty remember a great deal else, other than it was all tasteful, elegant and wearable. A little research shows that Majtenyi clearly fancies himself a designer for the international jet set. And I quote verbatim from his website: “From his frequent international trips and the latest art/fashion installations, all keep on the pulse of what’s to come in the world of fashion and trends.” Here he also boasts of international tours. I thought those were the sole preserve of rockstars! It’s a shame that I can’t ultimately feel incredibly enthusiastic about the kind of fashion that promotes what I consider a very out of date lifestyle. And a dangerous one at that. Because ultimately someone somewhere will suffer because of the actions of those who take more than they need. My advice? Andrew, stick to doing what you do, well, in one country. We don’t need more global hyperbrands. Really we don’t. Why does everyone want world domination? My two pence, is all.

For Matt Bramford’s view of this show read on here.

Categories ,50s, ,Andrew Majtenyi, ,Canada House, ,catwalk, ,Hyperbrands, ,London Fashion Week, ,Maryanne Oliver, ,textiles

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Amelia’s Magazine | Copping Out: The latest from Trafalgar Square

Illustration by Verity Smith

Waking on Friday morning I can tell by the sunlight streaming into my room that for a change it’s a bright and clear day, doctor cheapest good news for those taking part in the COP OUT down at Trafalgar square. I’ve been going back and forth from the square since last Saturday, cost the day when following the hugely successful event ‘The Wave’, buy in which around 40,000 decked out in blue descended on Parliament to demand direct action against climate change, the resilient bunch that is Climate Camp went the extra mile and set up camp right between Nelson’s Column and that giant Christmas tree. Known as the ‘hardy types’ the next day in The Sunday Times, they popped up their tents, hung up their banners and got the tea going on a make-shift stove.


By the time I arrived on Sunday, learned a few names and attempted to help out in the kitchen-tent, which for me involved eating cous cous, (which was amazing) and X-factor related chit-chat, it was clear the original planned 48-hour stay was a given and this was just the tip of the melting iceberg. After a quick meeting in the afternoon drizzle, the resolution was clear; the campers would continue to occupy Trafalgar Square until the end of the Copenhagen Summit on the 19th, meaning a 2 week stay. As the meeting broke-up and everyone started to busy themselves in preparation for the ‘alternative’ carol service that evening, I began to wonder how on earth this was going to pan out; how the group would manage to stay in The Square without it ending in them being dragged away by the authorities, kicking and screaming.



Upon my arrival on Monday, I learned I couldn’t have been more wrong. I glimpsed from the crossing on The Strand a small huddle and a flash of day-glow yellow and thought, “yikes”, this spells trouble. However all it really meant was what seemed to be a friendly discussion with a police man and a police woman who just wanted to know what was going on, but warned that the Greater London Authority planned an eviction notice for around 4.00 that afternoon. The camp by now was certainly smaller; the kitchen was reduced to a stove for tea and many loaves of organic bread, which had been donated by a local bakery. However still lots of the same determined faces, one of which was Marina who won me over on Sunday in the meeting, she is animated and commands attention, and I generally gravitate toward her and pester her about the latest goings on. Still no word from the GLA, I get handed a leaflet by a smiley chap in a blue suit whose name I didn’t catch about what I should do if I am to be arrested, “eek”, is trouble a brewing? No, that’s just the tea. Still no word so I trudge home in the rain.


Tuesday morning and a guy in a polar bear suit has joined the camp, word is he was protesting against Tar Sands outside the nearby Canada House. Marina updates her Twitter telling how the bear has given her some shoes, as hers were soaked (her tent is by a fountain), what a bear indeed!
Illustration by Verity Smith

A few new faces have appeared and the numbers are still good, the GLA eventually deliver letters to the tents saying they cannot camp in the square without permission, but it’s not an eviction notice. I rush back to work because it’s the launch of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration later at Concrete Hermit, which goes down a treat complete with Adnam’s carbon neutral beer. On Wednesday I’m running late for work after accompanying my pal Katie to the station, so I don’t get down to the COP OUT. I hear they’ve called up Boris Johnson but he’s in Copenhagen.


Come Thursday morning and the GLA are after the names of the campers, like they are going to tell them. Jenny Jones of the Green Party was also down there making cups of tea. I head down on Friday and the camp is buzzing. After an amazing week of action, negotiation and discussion it is time to bid farewell to those off to Copenhagen, and what better way than with a special lunch. A new kitchen has sprung up as well as yet more new faces, eager to get involved. I get a leaflet about the ‘Feeding the 5000’ event that is taking place next Wednesday the 16th, in which waste food will be used to prepare delicious meals. So with one more week in The Square what is in store? Who knows but Climate Camp still needs volunteers, as well as useful items such as water bottles, blankets etc. All week they’ve been joining forces with other groups that occupy Trafalgar Square during the festive season, from The Salvation Army to Hare Krishna’s to collectively push for effective solutions to the climate crisis.



On Monday at 10.00am, in solidarity with the activists in Copenhagen, will be an open action taking place in The Square and at Canada House to protest against the use of Tar Sands.  In order to develop these large deposits of sticky crude oil rainforests the size of our country will have to be cut down, as well as the extraction and processing of just one barrel of Tar Sands equalling 3 barrels of natural gas and 4 barrels of water; do the maths, it equals bad news for planet earth.

With COP15 in full swing those remaining in the UK need to get together and stand against the further destruction of our planet. So if that sounds like your cup of tea, why not go down to Trafalgar Square and tell your friends, as the COP OUT will only succeed if people lend as much or as little of their time as they can.
Illustration by Verity Smith

For more updates and information on the COP OUT and Climate Camp

Follow Twitter updates on what is happening in Copenhagen from Amelia’s Magazine’s Amelia Gregory

Categories ,activism, ,camping, ,Canada House, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Change, ,COP OUT, ,earth, ,london, ,polar bear, ,police, ,protest, ,Tar Sands, ,Trafalgar Square

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Amelia’s Magazine | Craftivism Direct Action against the Tar Sands: an interview with artist Lucy Sparrow

Image by UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow, designer Daniel Sliwka

Yesterday I was alerted to an inspiring direct action designed to draw attention to the ongoing destruction involved with the extraction of oil from the Tar Sands in Canada. Together with the UK Tar Sands Network artist Lucy Sparrow created a large scale felted artwork. Lucy describes how she put her plan in action…

Image by UK Tar Sands photo by You and I Films

After nine intense days of frantic sewing and knitting, I made my way with the guys from the UK Tar Sands Network to Canada House to protest against the Canada Europe Energy Summit which brought together Canadian ministers and heads of big oil companies planning how to push highly polluting oil onto the world. Ironically, there was also an exhibition on embroidery happening at the same time within Canada House so they were surrounded by fabric from all angles.

I created a fabric oil spill that would seem like it was spilling out of the building scattered with dead animals, toxic waste and a big stitched oil refinery. I think that often the best way to get people’s attention is in the most visual way possible which also acts as a way to soften the blow for serious subject matter. It was an installation as well as a performance piece that lasted just over an hour and caught the attention of all the people arriving for the meeting. We thought that by placing the oil spill on every doorway, it would create an inconvenient obstacle and truth to those entering. It was an amazing collaboration to be involved in and really highlighted some important issues through the medium of felt and wool.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman 4

What images and ideas inspired your craftivism piece?
I was particularly inspired by the vast landscapes of pure ruined earth. It’s that level of destruction that you can’t even fathom without having been there. It makes you feel very small, like a tiny ant in this huge colony of devastation.

How did you construct your artwork?
The main oil spills were made out of plain black cotton that I bought in a huge 100 metre roll. I then split this into three sections to sew together so I’d have a spill for each doorway that people visiting the meeting could possibly go through. We really wanted to cover all bases so that it would be symbolic of a dirty mess that you can’t escape.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman

How long have you been involved in craftivism and how did you first get involved with the Tar Sands Network?
I think my work has always been involved with tackling big issues but I’d like to think that I go about it in a kind of ridiculous and humorous way. I think people underestimate the power of humour when approaching big subjects because anything else can seem preachy and hard to swallow. I’ve always made big things that demand people to look at them. They’re always very blatant, a little child-like and have faces. I think you can’t get outraged at something with a cute face. Suzanne Dhaliwal from UK Tar Sands Network and I met through a mutual friend and on first introduction, within 10 minutes, we were planning to make enormous felt seagulls to chuck off buildings in central London. I think it was inevitable that we would join forces eventually.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman.jpg 3

What were the biggest issues you encountered in taking you art to Canada House?
The whole thing had to be kept incredibly secret so it was really hard creating all this stuff and not being able to talk about it but I think that served us well in that the Canada House security were probably expecting us to turn up with banners and signs. The police were there when we arrived but generally everyone was very accepting of what we were trying to do and I hope that in our creativity, we brought a smile to their faces and made them think a little.

What do you hope that this act of craftivism will achieve?
I hope that it will inspire people to accept that protest comes in all different forms. It’s not always a group of angry people with placards. When you meet anger with anger, the only thing that’s achieved is that you crash against each other. We’re simply offering them an alternative viewpoint which is sugar-coated so that they can accept the harsh realities of what they’re decisions are doing.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman.jpg

Any other projects in the pipeline?
Many… so many. I’ve just completed a grant for the Arts Council today so I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed because if that goes ahead, it’ll be wall-to-wall felt for a good while. I’ve also just completed a series of buildings out of felt in a series called Ministructures with Time Out London so I’m hoping to take that to other cities… New York ideally…. although that will involve sewing a lot of windows…

Follow Lucy Sparrow on @sewyoursoul and the UK Tar Sands Network on @notarsands

Categories ,@notarsands, ,@sewyoursoul, ,Arts Council, ,Canada Europe Energy Summit, ,Canada House, ,Craftivism, ,Direct Action, ,Felt Artist, ,Lucy Sparrow, ,Ministructures, ,Suzanne Dhaliwal, ,Tar Sands, ,Time Out London, ,UK Tar Sands Network, ,You and I Films

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