Amelia’s Magazine | Morphopolis: an illustrated computer game inspired by the natural world

Morphopolis computer game
Morphopolis is a visually stunning adventure game lovingly crafted by two architecture graduates and designers, Dan Walters and Ceri Williams. It was inspired by two other games: Machinarium and The Tiny Bang Story, with players taken on a lucid and fantastical journey of transformation and discovery that enables them to explore and interact with beautifully illustrated scenes to find hidden objects and solve puzzles.

Morphopolis computer game
Morphopolis won the Association of Illustrators Award in the Design category for New Talent and will be on display at Somerset House in London during October before touring nationally. I asked Ceri to explain the process behind their creation, and he was happy to oblige.

YouTube Preview Image
Morphopolis is an independent game conceived and produced Dan Walters and myself. The production began in July 2012 and has continued as a part time project alongside professional work. Dan and I met whilst studying a the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff and he subsequently qualified as an architect before quitting the profession to become a games developer. He asked me to collaborate on a project last year since he wanted to work with an illustrator who did not have preconceptions about video game art direction.

Morphopolis computer game
We set about trying to create a game that would appeal to a broad audience regardless of age, gender or previous experience playing games. The narrative and tone for the game came from this starting point and we hope that the natural insect world taps into people’s innate curiosity and reminds the player of a time when they have peered into the undergrowth to quietly observe the bugs and beetles. This idea of looking closely at a micro world is a fascination that we think all people have shared at some point in their lives, usually as toddlers and children.

Morphopolis computer game
The game is a hidden object adventure, which is a genre sometimes known as point-and-click. Essentially its a bit like an interactive Where’s Wally with extra puzzles and interaction within the scenes. Players must uncover puzzles and find items hidden around the scene to progress in the game.

Morphopolis computer game
The game explores the idea of metamorphosis and increase of scale. Each chapter sees the character changing into a larger insect and therefore seeing more of this larger world that they inhabit. As the chapters progress the natural environment starts to take on a more architectural language with intertwined roots becoming huge cathedrals and plants becoming canopies. There is also this architectural quality at the smallest scale where blades of grass become skyscrapers and individual plants become huge landscapes.

Morphopolis computer game
The art style was developed to reflect this intricate and lush world. A number of ink washes and pencil markings where created to form texture layers used within the colouring process. To create the scenes large drawings were produced as chapter ‘blueprints’. These included the whole chapter with various scenes and the routes for character movement, puzzles and interactions. From these the various parts were traced off and turned into pen line drawings which were scanned before being coloured in Photoshop. Each element of the scenes were created as individual layers to allow for larger compositions to be made and the scenes to be grown organically. These images were then uploaded to an editing software which was created by Dan especially for this game. Components were added to scenes or composed to make animations and puzzles were added.

Morphopolis computer game
The game currently exists as an Open Alpha which is a playable but unfinished version available for purchase from our website. We are working towards releasing the finished version this year and hope to coincide the launch with an exhibition at Somerset House which shows the game alongside other winners of the Association of Illustrators Awards. While we finish off the game we’re incorporating as much feedback as we can get so it would be fantastic to hear any thoughts from your readers. (please do leave your thoughts below in the comments section x)

YouTube Preview Image
Hear Dan and Ceri talking about the game above. Isn’t Morphopolis beautiful? You can get involved with Morphopolis here.

Categories ,Adventure Game, ,Association of Illustrators Award, ,cardiff, ,Ceri Williams, ,Dan Walters, ,game, ,Machinarium, ,Metamorphosis, ,Morphopolis, ,New Talent, ,Open Alpha, ,Photoshop, ,Point and Click, ,Somerset House, ,The Tiny Bang Story, ,Welsh School of Architecture

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Amelia’s Magazine | New Designers 2011 Part One: Ceramics and Glass Graduate Show Review

New Designers review 2011-Tim Rawlinson
Glassware by Tim Rawlinson.

Ceramics and Glass took up most of the upper balcony at New Designers part one, pill curling against the railings in small exhibition spaces that brought home to me just how important it is to put together a really great eye catching main graduate exhibition: the Royal College of Art‘s small space did not show off work to anything like the standard that was seen at their own show and I would have easily passed by some of their most compelling student’s work if this was all I had seen. Luckily I did see Ceramics and Glass in situ at the RCA – read a full review of their show here.

New Designers review 2011-Emily Woodcock
From University of Westminster I was drawn to Emily Woodcock‘s ceramic photo frames piled crazily on top of each other.

New Designers review 2011-Sally SzczechNew Designers review 2011-Sally Szczech
Next to her Sally Szczech had interspersed ceramic bobbins embedded with old photos amongst sewing threads.

New Designers review 2011-Tim Rawlinson
At Bucks New University I liked Tim Rawlinson‘s curvaceous coloured glassware.

New Designers review 2011-Nan Kong from the University of Sunderland
Nan Kong from the University of Sunderland MA course showed a beautiful glass decomposing pear. Nom nom.

New Designers review 2011-Michelle Taylor
At the University of Wolverhampton Michelle Taylor had deconstructed baroque with knitted teacups and half gilded ceramics.

New Designers review 2011-New Designers review 2011-Nicala Hellinger
At University of Wales Institute Cardiff Nicala Hellinger displayed a wall of red and green flocked ornamentation.

Categories ,baroque, ,Bobbins, ,Bucks New University, ,cardiff, ,ceramics, ,Emily Woodcock, ,Frames, ,Gilded, ,Glass, ,knit, ,Michelle Taylor, ,Nan Kong, ,New Designers, ,Nicala Hellinger, ,rca, ,Royal College of Art, ,Sally Szczech, ,Teacups, ,Tim Rawlinson, ,University of Sunderland, ,University of Wales Institute, ,University of Westminster, ,University of Wolverhampton

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jerwood Drawing Prize 2011: Exhibition Review

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence
Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence (detail).

This year the Jerwood Drawing Prize grows more influential than ever. During his speech at the opening of the exhibition last night art historian Tim Marlow told us that there were a record number of entrants this year: 1, ampoule 779 artists submitted 3, ambulance 354 entries in total. In describing the continuing importance of drawing judge Tim Marlow drew our attention to the new Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which opens this weekend. It concentrates on Degas‘ relationship with the new disciplines of photography and film as he explored ways of recording movement in ballet 150 years ago. Despite the prevalence of these other mediums today they can never entirely replace the visual discipline of drawing.

Without further ado here’s the work of the winners, order and my favourites from a selection of everything else.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary LawrenceJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence
I was drawn to Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence the minute I stepped foot in the gallery. This giant biro drawing is a complex, surreal, fantastic piece of artwork. Gary accepted this years Jerwood Prize turned out in scruffy tracksuit bottoms with a greying beard and described his drawing as ‘a tribute to all the anonymous artists through history who made work but are unrecognised.’ The Essex based artist took a year to create his work of art, which was based on a view of Pothea on the Greek island of Kalymnos, which he visited on holiday. Over time the drawing gradually transmogrified into something far more complex, taking on historical references to town views by other artists across time.

The Cut (detail) by Jessie BrennanJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-The Cut (detail) by Jessie Brennan
The Cut (details) by Jessie Brennan.

Jessie Brennan‘s five metre long The Cut was inspired by oral histories of the Lea River Navigation Canal, and features a delicate array of found objects piled up in curious arrangements. Scale becomes distorted when you realise the presence of little people at the foot of the drawing.

Sketch by Nicki Rolls
Nicki Rolls took second prize in the Student Awards for her Sketch, a black and white film that screens against a sketchbook.

Lake by Kristian Fletcher
A very well deserved first prize went to Kristian Fletcher of the University of West England, who boasts ten years experience in the construction industry. His dimly lit Lake consists of an eery industrial space where hard edged architecture looms over an ominous section of chainlink fence.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain AndrewsJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain AndrewsJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain Andrews
Surrealism was a common theme amongst short listed entries. I particularly liked Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain Andrews, which was stacked up loosely on a table. Giant fish lie on chicken feet tables and maidens sit beneath crepuscular bugs, in scenes inspired by the words of Tolkien.

Interior by Adam Bainbridge
Adam Bainbridge‘s Interior combines memories with absurd imaginings: tracking the formation of clay ornaments in soft focus.

Gefallener by Johanna Love
Gefallener by Johanna Love.

Untitled 2 by Janine Rook
Untitled 2 by Janine Rook.

The abstract patterns of dirt were big news: Johanna Love and Janine Rook traced the minutest amounts of fluff in delicate detail.

Untitled by robert Battams
Abstract paper layers featured in several artworks. Robert Battams used graph paper to stack patterns inspired by the fragmentations of digital recording.

Organic Structure, Animation still by Kasia Depta-Garapich
Kasia Depta-Garapich‘s Organic Structure, Animation Still merges drawing, sculpture and animation in a curious fluttering object of semi-transparent layers.

Untitled by Leahy Clark
Simon Leahy-Clark stacked newspaper in random grid formations created around the missing content.

Polly Yates (folds)
Polly Yates considers herself a weaver of paper: circular cutouts and felt tips create the push and pull of space in Untitled (Folds).

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-EelesJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-EelesJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-Eeles
Explosions of colour and pattern will always turn my eye. I loved Imagery Imaginary Volume 1 by Lottie Jackson-Eeles, a concertina-ed sketchbook tracing her journeys through London in glorious colourful detail. Peeks between the pages reveal details such as wind mills and towerblocks. Do take a look at her website: there is some fabulous work on there.

Shepherd's Fry Up by Steven Lowery
Steven Lowery‘s artwork is a protest agains the mindlessness of celebrity infested tabloids and reality TV, set against a love of improvisational music – the tightly crafted words and images curling in and out of each other in Shepherd’s Fry Up.

Mouth Full of Triangles by Sally Taylor
Mouth Full of Triangles 4 by Sally Taylor is a clever and curiously amusing piece.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Ground Truth and Deep Grief by Louisa Fairclough
Ground Truth and Deep Grief by Louisa Fairclough are simple watercolour paintings of tents, formed after ritual cycle rides taken along the Severn river at full moon. She sleeps on the ground, at the edge of the river: feeling the pulse of the tides.

Drawing Room by Fran Richardson
Drawing Room by Fran Richardson is a large charcoal artwork, an evocative space of flouncy curtains that invites the viewer inside.

Girl Bag by Evju_Kristian
Photorealism in Girl Bag by Kristian Evju cleverly catches the sense of limbo within a narrative.

25a GF067 by Reginald S. Aloysius
Reginald Aloysius used pencil and enamel paint to create an eery netherworld, where ancient temples and airplane routes collide.

Tree (catocala) by Ash Summers
Fashion meets art. Inspired by memories and moths, Tree (Catocala) by Ash Summers perhaps unwittingly echoes the ikat patterns of the new season’s fabrics.

This year there was a greater prevalence of barely there diminutive abstracts, surely a reflection of influential judge Rachel Whiteread‘s tastes.

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is a must for all practicing artists, whatever your discipline. It runs until 30th October at the Jerwood Space and then heads out to BayArt in Cardiff and Burton Museum & Art Gallery in Devon. Full listing information here.

Categories ,2011, ,Adam Bainbridge, ,Animation Still, ,Ash Summers, ,BayArt, ,Burton Museum & Art Gallery, ,cardiff, ,Charcoal, ,Deep Grief, ,Degas, ,Devon, ,drawing, ,Drawing Room, ,Essex, ,Fran Richardson, ,Full Moon, ,Gary Lawrence, ,Girl Bag, ,Ground Truth, ,Homage to Anonymous, ,Iain Andrews, ,Imagery Imaginary Volume 1, ,Interior, ,Jerwood Drawing Prize, ,jerwood space, ,Jessie Brennan, ,Judge, ,Kalymnos, ,Kasia Depta-Garapich, ,Kristian Evju, ,Kristian Fletcher, ,Lake, ,Lea River Navigation Canal, ,Lottie Jackson-Eeles, ,Louisa Fairclough, ,Mouth Full of Triangles 4, ,Nicki Rolls, ,Organic Structure, ,Papercutting, ,Pattern of Faerie Tales, ,pencil, ,Photorealism, ,Polly Yates, ,Pothea, ,Rachel Whiteread, ,Reginald Aloysius, ,review, ,Royal academy of arts, ,Sally Taylor, ,Severn, ,Shepherd’s Fry Up, ,Simon Leahy-Clark, ,Sketch, ,Steven Lowery, ,Student Awards, ,surrealism, ,The Cut, ,Tim Marlow, ,Tolkien, ,Tree (Catocala), ,University of West England, ,Untitled (Folds)

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jerwood Drawing Prize 2011: Exhibition Review

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence
Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence (detail).

This year the Jerwood Drawing Prize grows more influential than ever. During his speech at the opening of the exhibition last night art historian Tim Marlow told us that there were a record number of entrants this year: 1, ampoule 779 artists submitted 3, ambulance 354 entries in total. In describing the continuing importance of drawing judge Tim Marlow drew our attention to the new Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which opens this weekend. It concentrates on Degas‘ relationship with the new disciplines of photography and film as he explored ways of recording movement in ballet 150 years ago. Despite the prevalence of these other mediums today they can never entirely replace the visual discipline of drawing.

Without further ado here’s the work of the winners, order and my favourites from a selection of everything else.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary LawrenceJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence
I was drawn to Homage to Anonymous by Gary Lawrence the minute I stepped foot in the gallery. This giant biro drawing is a complex, surreal, fantastic piece of artwork. Gary accepted this years Jerwood Prize turned out in scruffy tracksuit bottoms with a greying beard and described his drawing as ‘a tribute to all the anonymous artists through history who made work but are unrecognised.’ The Essex based artist took a year to create his work of art, which was based on a view of Pothea on the Greek island of Kalymnos, which he visited on holiday. Over time the drawing gradually transmogrified into something far more complex, taking on historical references to town views by other artists across time.

The Cut (detail) by Jessie BrennanJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-The Cut (detail) by Jessie Brennan
The Cut (details) by Jessie Brennan.

Jessie Brennan‘s five metre long The Cut was inspired by oral histories of the Lea River Navigation Canal, and features a delicate array of found objects piled up in curious arrangements. Scale becomes distorted when you realise the presence of little people at the foot of the drawing.

Sketch by Nicki Rolls
Nicki Rolls took second prize in the Student Awards for her Sketch, a black and white film that screens against a sketchbook.

Lake by Kristian Fletcher
A very well deserved first prize went to Kristian Fletcher of the University of West England, who boasts ten years experience in the construction industry. His dimly lit Lake consists of an eery industrial space where hard edged architecture looms over an ominous section of chainlink fence.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain AndrewsJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain AndrewsJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain Andrews
Surrealism was a common theme amongst short listed entries. I particularly liked Pattern of Faerie Tales by Iain Andrews, which was stacked up loosely on a table. Giant fish lie on chicken feet tables and maidens sit beneath crepuscular bugs, in scenes inspired by the words of Tolkien.

Interior by Adam Bainbridge
Adam Bainbridge‘s Interior combines memories with absurd imaginings: tracking the formation of clay ornaments in soft focus.

Gefallener by Johanna Love
Gefallener by Johanna Love.

Untitled 2 by Janine Rook
Untitled 2 by Janine Rook.

The abstract patterns of dirt were big news: Johanna Love and Janine Rook traced the minutest amounts of fluff in delicate detail.

Untitled by robert Battams
Abstract paper layers featured in several artworks. Robert Battams used graph paper to stack patterns inspired by the fragmentations of digital recording.

Organic Structure, Animation still by Kasia Depta-Garapich
Kasia Depta-Garapich‘s Organic Structure, Animation Still merges drawing, sculpture and animation in a curious fluttering object of semi-transparent layers.

Untitled by Leahy Clark
Simon Leahy-Clark stacked newspaper in random grid formations created around the missing content.

Polly Yates (folds)
Polly Yates considers herself a weaver of paper: circular cutouts and felt tips create the push and pull of space in Untitled (Folds).

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-EelesJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-EelesJerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Lottie Jackson-Eeles
Explosions of colour and pattern will always turn my eye. I loved Imagery Imaginary Volume 1 by Lottie Jackson-Eeles, a concertina-ed sketchbook tracing her journeys through London in glorious colourful detail. Peeks between the pages reveal details such as wind mills and towerblocks. Do take a look at her website: there is some fabulous work on there.

Shepherd's Fry Up by Steven Lowery
Steven Lowery‘s artwork is a protest agains the mindlessness of celebrity infested tabloids and reality TV, set against a love of improvisational music – the tightly crafted words and images curling in and out of each other in Shepherd’s Fry Up.

Mouth Full of Triangles by Sally Taylor
Mouth Full of Triangles 4 by Sally Taylor is a clever and curiously amusing piece.

Jerwood Drawing Prize review 2011-Ground Truth and Deep Grief by Louisa Fairclough
Ground Truth and Deep Grief by Louisa Fairclough are simple watercolour paintings of tents, formed after ritual cycle rides taken along the Severn river at full moon. She sleeps on the ground, at the edge of the river: feeling the pulse of the tides.

Drawing Room by Fran Richardson
Drawing Room by Fran Richardson is a large charcoal artwork, an evocative space of flouncy curtains that invites the viewer inside.

Girl Bag by Evju_Kristian
Photorealism in Girl Bag by Kristian Evju cleverly catches the sense of limbo within a narrative.

25a GF067 by Reginald S. Aloysius
Reginald Aloysius used pencil and enamel paint to create an eery netherworld, where ancient temples and airplane routes collide.

Tree (catocala) by Ash Summers
Fashion meets art. Inspired by memories and moths, Tree (Catocala) by Ash Summers perhaps unwittingly echoes the ikat patterns of the new season’s fabrics.

This year there was a greater prevalence of barely there diminutive abstracts, surely a reflection of influential judge Rachel Whiteread‘s tastes.

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is a must for all practicing artists, whatever your discipline. It runs until 30th October at the Jerwood Space and then heads out to BayArt in Cardiff and Burton Museum & Art Gallery in Devon. Full listing information here.

Categories ,2011, ,Adam Bainbridge, ,Animation Still, ,Ash Summers, ,BayArt, ,Burton Museum & Art Gallery, ,cardiff, ,Charcoal, ,Deep Grief, ,Degas, ,Devon, ,drawing, ,Drawing Room, ,Essex, ,Fran Richardson, ,Full Moon, ,Gary Lawrence, ,Girl Bag, ,Ground Truth, ,Homage to Anonymous, ,Iain Andrews, ,Imagery Imaginary Volume 1, ,Interior, ,Jerwood Drawing Prize, ,jerwood space, ,Jessie Brennan, ,Judge, ,Kalymnos, ,Kasia Depta-Garapich, ,Kristian Evju, ,Kristian Fletcher, ,Lake, ,Lea River Navigation Canal, ,Lottie Jackson-Eeles, ,Louisa Fairclough, ,Mouth Full of Triangles 4, ,Nicki Rolls, ,Organic Structure, ,Papercutting, ,Pattern of Faerie Tales, ,pencil, ,Photorealism, ,Polly Yates, ,Pothea, ,Rachel Whiteread, ,Reginald Aloysius, ,review, ,Royal academy of arts, ,Sally Taylor, ,Severn, ,Shepherd’s Fry Up, ,Simon Leahy-Clark, ,Sketch, ,Steven Lowery, ,Student Awards, ,surrealism, ,The Cut, ,Tim Marlow, ,Tolkien, ,Tree (Catocala), ,University of West England, ,Untitled (Folds)

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Victoria Foster of The Aviary

the aviary Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar
Victoria wears the Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar.

The Aviary is the brainchild of two fine art graduates, Victoria Foster and Ben Fletcher. In late 2009 the project began life as a way of upcycling the ever-growing array of clutter that surrounded these inveterate magpies, by re-appropriating curios as jewellery, charms and stationary. The couple have a commitment to living mindfully in all they do: read on to discover more about their inspiring outlook on life, where to hang out in Kent, and how their latest illustration collaboration came about.

the aviary Autumn Breeze vintage pendant
Autumn Breeze vintage pendant.

the aviary kent
Hello! firstly, I didn’t realise you live in Kent. What took you to Kent and whereabouts are you? What do you recommend that visitors to your part of the world should do? 
Hello! Well, we came to university in Canterbury and haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from Kent since! Recently many of our friends and contemporaries have made their way to the bright lights of East London, and although we’re often there, we made a conscious decision to reject the trend and have now set up our home and studio on the stunning North Downs, between rolling fields and a forest! Perhaps growing up on the outskirts of the Big Smoke spoiled the magic a bit.

the aviary home woods
Ben in the woods.

If you’re heading away from London for a day or two, these are some of our fail-safe favourites! Maybe we should get sponsorship from the Kent tourist board?! Stour Valley Arts is based in Kings Wood on our doorstep, and most loved works have to include Jem Finer’s Score for a Hole in the Ground and London Field Works Super Kingdom.

the aviary home 1
The second Folkestone Triennial took place last summer and the town now houses an array of permanent artworks by artists such as Cornelia Parker and Mark Wallinger that allow you to encounter a faded seaside town with fresh eyes. There’s also some interesting creative collectives like Diver School who provide good nights out and a great burgeoning underground music scene thanks to Box Social Records who put on great gigs. Very excited about Tall Ships on Wednesday 1st February!

the aviary home 2
Turner Contemporary in Margate has a brilliant programme of exhibitions, and the Old Town is now full of gorgeous vintage stores like Showtime Retro, cafes and independent, ethical shops like Blackbird that champion designer-makers as well as running great workshops. And of course, there’s the cobbled streets of Canterbury where coffee at Boho is a must, then seasonal food, cocktails and bad dancing into the early hours at The Farmhouse.

the aviary home 3
Summer is the best time to be here for impromtu beach gatherings, sea swimming and woodland walks. It really comes to life with the yearly arrival of Lounge on the Farm music festival. Sondry Folk’s inaugural jamboree was pretty special last year too.

the aviary roost
The Aviary grew out your love of hoarding charity shop finds, something that I suffer from myself, any tips on how to make the most of such finds within the home?
Ha! Well, our studio is in a state of perpetual chaos, and is in serious danger of looking like a room from Grey Gardens. However, since relocating to the sticks we have been a lot stricter with what vintage and thrifted finds are allowed across the threshold from our workshop and into our home. We’re in no way stylists but do both love domestic interiors. As a rule of thumb we favour decorative yet genuinely functional objects. Either they must be of use at home, or work well as props to display our work against. Obviously there have been a few special exceptions! Small grouped collections are always better than cluttered surfaces, and mixing up the old with new and handmade stops our house looking like a local history museum, or worse still, a care home! One of the best things about living in Kent is that bargains can still be found in local charity shops, boot sales and flea markets. We picked up our antique organ for a fiver, a beautiful 1920s portable typewriter for £3.50 and an ornate gold mirror out of a skip!

the aviary charm pendant
Charm pendant.

Your products are exquisitely made, can you tell us something of the process? Do you ever find it hard to dismantle or cut up old things?
Thank you! We place a lot of importance on craftsmanship. We’re both pretty fastidious about the finish of our products so it’s lovely to know it shows. A clear desk, a box of favourite finds, a sketchbook and pen, scalpel, pliers, piercing saw and files, blowtorch and solder, along with patience, tea and 6music are the bare essentials at the start of our design process! All of our jewellery and accessories are, wherever possible, made from reclaimed, recycled or preloved items. Gathering these disparate fragments of vintage ephemera, taking them apart and then making temporary collages from them is always the first process in translating them into new, one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes the decision to dismantle a particularly old, or rare item can be difficult, but usually the items that we are using have already come to the end of their previous useful lives either through decay or neglect so we feel that we’re rescuing them from being lost to landfill, or simply forgotten about. It’s as much about uncovering aspects of lost stories as it is about upcycling existing materials.

the aviary pocket watch case collage pendant
pocket watch case collage pendant.

Why is it so important to you to be sustainable in your business practice?
Without wanting to sound trite, we really see The Aviary as an extension of the way we’re trying to live. For us, being in an incredibly rural community is about learning to slow down a bit, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. We feel it’s impossible to justify cheap mass produced items and a ‘throwaway’ attitude when the impact of climate change and the strain on resources is already so evident. Therefore the only option left to us as contemporary designer-makers is to create sensitively and responsibly. As makers, it is also wonderful to see a design through from start to finish. Thankfully, we also adore the aesthetic of low impact materials!

the aviary workbench
How did you get from fine art to handmade limited edition products? Were there any bumpy moments along the way and how does your partnership work?
Our practices always seemed to mix fine art concepts with craft-based techniques so the transition has mostly felt like a natural progression. We still employ many of the same skills too, such as illustration, collage, assemblage and small sculpture. After our degrees we were both still making work, exhibiting and interning for artists and arts organizations, but working within the confines of limited studio access and equipment meant we started to reassess things. The final ‘change’ came after taking part in the 2009 Art Car Bootfair with our collective, Club Shepway. Selling our first, unofficial range of miniature fine art works and curios went down a storm. We haven’t looked back since! As a partnership we work alongside one another to create overlapping bodies of work that then form our collections comprising of individual pieces. It’s so helpful to have someone to share ideas with and perhaps enables us to be more ambitious yet playful. The only thing that is less fun is bickering over who does the greater share of the admin! There are still bumpy moments, mostly involving money and time, but on the whole it’s been brilliant. It has taken a couple of years to shake off the art school guilt and officially ‘come out’ as designer-makers, but we’re getting more confidence in the integrity and worth of our products.

harriet gray illustration collab
Harriet Gray illustration collaboration.

You have recently collaborated with some illustrators, including Gemma Milly who appears in ACOFI, how did you hook up with them and what were you looking for in a potential collaborator?
To be honest, the collaborative projects stemmed from frustration! Surrounded by a sea of half-made collections, half drunk cups of tea, scrawled lists, collages and quick sketches we felt in desperate need of some fresh perspectives – something that we probably took for granted whilst at art school. We put a call out via Twitter asking for young illustrators who would consider working with us to communicate the nostalgia and uniqueness of our trinkets and treasures and reflect back the kind of girl they thought would wear our jewellery. We were completely taken aback by the number of creatives at similar points in their careers who also wanted to join forces but quickly settled on three incredible illustrators – Harriet Gray, Gemma Milly and Scarlett Rebecca, not only because of their amazing technical skills, but because we felt that they, and their work shared a similarity in spirit to ours.

gemma milly illustration collab
Gemma Milly illustration collaboration.

What have you produced with these illustrators?
The girls each created a range of beautiful illustrations using a selection of samples we sent them as their starting points. They took our trinkets and treasures and translated them into something more than the objects themselves. In return, we are now in the process of making a small collection of pendants and brooches based on their illustrations. This collection won’t be for sale but will be documented and shown online alongside the original drawings. The project has opened up new and exciting dialogues about our work and has really helped push fledgling ideas forward, as well as being really fun!

scarlett rebecca illustration collaboration
Scarlett Rebecca illustration collaboration.

You are featured on Not On the High Street, a great website for independent designers. How did you get together?
Well, we’d heard a little about NOTHS.com through friends and fellow designer-makers. After making some tentative enquiries we were really pleased to be invited to become a ‘partner’. It seems to be a brand that lends another layer of credibility and professionalism to our little venture, which has helped with making other retail and press contacts. We’ve been impressed with the functionality of the site and the control we’ve been given over the content of our ‘shop front’ with them. They’re very supportive of young businesses and allow us real flexibility.

the aviary deer one pendant
Deer one pendant.

Where else can you buy Aviary products? 
We’re so lucky to stock with some fantastic independent shops across the UK! We currently have collections on sale with Of Cabbages & Kings in London, Pretty Scruffy in Chichester, Chapter Arts gallery shop in Cardiff, Made in the Shade in Glasgow and in the very near future we’ll also have ranges available at Moonko in Sheffield and Lionstreet Store in Rye.

the aviary double sided pendant
double sided pendant.

If you want to come and see us in person we’ll be at Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair in London on Saturday 11th February as well as the Designers/Makers market at Old Spitalfields throughout the year.

tatterattles
What are you most excited about working on at the moment?
So many things! In some ways, this is the best time of the year for us because it’s the recovery time following the Christmas rush. We’re currently developing new collections looking at charms and amulets because of having this time to be playful. And we’re having a bit of breathing space to concentrate on other side projects, such as Ben’s Tatterattles EP release on Holy Ghost Records. We’re also really excited about other future collaborations, putting together a ‘proper’ look book with a great photographer, and having chats with potential summer interns!

Categories ,Art Car Boot Fair, ,Autumn Breeze vintage pendant, ,Ben Fletcher, ,Blackbird, ,Boho, ,Box Social Records, ,Canterbury, ,cardiff, ,Chapter Arts, ,Chichester, ,Club Shepway, ,Cornelia Parker, ,Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar, ,Designers/Makers, ,Diver School, ,Folkestone Triennial, ,Gemma Milly, ,Grey Gardens, ,Harriet Gray, ,Jem Finer, ,jewellery, ,Kings Wood, ,Lionstreet Store, ,London Field Works, ,Lounge on the Farm, ,Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair, ,Margate, ,Mark Wallinger, ,Moonko, ,North Downs, ,Of Cabbages & Kings, ,pocket watch case collage pendant, ,Pretty Scruffy, ,rye, ,Scarlett Rebecca, ,Score for a Hole in the Ground, ,sheffield, ,Showtime Retro, ,Sondry Folk, ,Stour Valley Arts, ,Super Kingdom, ,sustainable, ,Tall Ships, ,Tatterattles, ,The Aviary, ,The Farmhouse, ,Turner Contemporary, ,Upcycling, ,Victoria Foster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Los Campesinos! at Koko, Feb 25th – Live Review

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

From outside, look the Koko in Camden looks a bit like one of those Swiss clocks – the ones where a girl in lederhosen comes out on a rail every hour to strike the chime. The bare white front façade is broken only by the large ‘KOKO’ illumination and the two doors at either edge of the building which allow the audience access to the smoking balcony, generic and there’s a fair few of them pacing backwards and forwards. Imagining them as clockwork Bavarians is the kind of thing I find amusing. It passes the time, try waiting in the coffee place across the road for the rain to ease and the doors to open.

Los Campesinos! are a band that I’ve had to convince myself that I actually loved, because for a while I was in denial. As far as my last.fm statistics go they’ve been my favourite band of the last 18 months, and I even found myself buying a ticket for their latest tour as soon as physically able and not really being sure why. It always felt like some kind of weirdly innocuous indulgence that support groups put out literature for – y’know, you swear it’s not a big deal, you could walk away at any second, it doesn’t control your life, etc. etc., only to wake up one morning and realise that you’re deeply addicted and in trouble. It’s frightening to realise you’ve had a new favourite band for so long and not even realised.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Once inside the venue, I buy a drink and text my erstwhile companion, struck down with food poisoning. “I’m probably the oldest person here – where are the adults?“ I ask (and I’m only 22) – there’s a distinct whiff of Lynx in the air (at a guess: Africa). LC! are a bit of a joke to some people thanks to lead singer Gareth’s scribbled-journal lyrics, and frankly they’re right – they can be acutely embarrassing. I try to justify my love (my addiction, you could say) to my friends by being clever – they’re tongue-in-cheek, I say! The literal meaning is totally ironic, but the intent is still sincere! It never works. My first instinct, looking around the venue, is that these skinny, shy kids find Gareth endearing and sincere without any ironic pretension, which would be sweet and naïve if so. Or it could be seen as pathetic – sample lyric: “As if I walked into the room/to see my ex-girlfriend/who by the way I’m still in love with/sucking the face of some pretty boy/with my favourite band’s most popular song in the background/is it wrong that I can’t decide which bothers me most?” – but then ‘pathetic’ sounds so much like ‘pathos’ and I’m sure that their must be some kind of link or derivation at play there, because then there’s my excuse. The band excels at drawing out an emotional response in its audience.

As I’m trying to figure this out (I’m on my own, remember, so those kinds of thoughts are all I have to amuse myself – another excuse) the first bunch of musicians stroll on stage – it’s barely past eight, which leaves me thinking that I’ll probably be home and in slippers before eleven. But as for the band: the lead singer reminds me of Sinbad, and he starts wooping.

“Woop! … Woop! … Woop!” etc. – he’s jumped over the crowd barriers at this point, and is walking through the still-thin crowd, clearly sizing people up. Every now and again somebody will recoil, which I assume is because they assume that he’ll either a) want them to join in (poor, timid children), or b) eat their ears, because he’s mental. I think it’s hilarious. The rhythmic wooping is augmented by the rest of the band joining in with their instruments, using Sinbad as a metronome. They’re a four-piece – Sinbad, fringe girl, moustache guy, and Sweater (his sensible sky-blue knitwear is his most defining feature, I suppose) – and they blew me away. Rotating between instruments, chanting and howling, they managed to bridge the divide between the danceable electro-wash that I so admire in Holy Fuck or Gang Gang Dance and the careful racket of no-wave. One tune sounded like Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ shoved backwards through a plane turbine, i.e. sort of inverted by chopping it up into small pieces and reassembled with the bass brought forward and the optimistic chants turned into these awful, angry shouts… I was a total convert. Only by cornering Sinbad in the lobby afterwards did I manage to get their name – Islet. The internet tells me they’re from Cardiff, and they don’t like the internet, they have no recordings available for streaming or purchase (except this BBC live session), they have no website, they are entirely offline. The only way to experience Islet is as a live band, so go. See them live. They kick ass.

The break between the supports is short, and next on are somewhat-hyped London duo Swanton Bombs. To be fair to them, everything I’ve heard about their album has been positive (including a review on this very site), so I’m going to chalk their disappointing live presence up as unexpected. Every song reminded me of that nasty period in the early 00s when blues-rock groups were two-a-penny, where every song could be plotted on a chart with one axis labelled “Killing Floor“, and “Hey Joe” on the other. In short – it was dull, every song sounded the same, and Blood Red Shoes do this kind of thing with much more aplomb. I drifted out towards the back of the room and then upstairs, where I could fully appreciate how atrocious the Koko’s sound quality is for anyone not on the ground near the front – it’s an embarrassment for London, really, considering how much slack the place has had to take up now that the scuffed and glorious Astoria’s gone.

The audience of kids, mostly bored by what’s happened so far (Islet’s tribal antics went down like a civil servant in Downing Street), persists in ignoring whatever’s happening on stage. They’re very clearly only here for LC!, and it’s something of a relief that they come to life when the main act eventually makes an appearance – making me reassess my earlier assumption, that they were here out of a pathetic sincerity, as completely wrong. Namely: I was being pretentious and snobbish, and these kids just like how enjoyable a band LC! are – the lyrics are just plain funny, the music just plain fun, and whilst people like me with too much time on their hands (I blame my friend standing me up and leaving me to my own interior monologue) might debate the extent to which the band take this influence, or that level of twee irony, or said indebtedness to blah blah, this is bullshit. So I forgot about all that, and started jumping about with the rest of the mosh pit.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Gareth’s certainly a livelier presence than I expected (seeing as he can come across as a bit wet sometimes). Tonight he bounds around like an over-stimulated puppy, and keeps thanking everybody – his friends, their manager, the audience (I count seven separate breaks between songs where he thanks the fans), the venue, the tour promoter. It’s sweet. The set opens with the steamrolling “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know,” which is a bastard of a song, frankly. Their latest album is filled with these, how to say, crunchy numbers, loud and a bit ridiculous, and each one sounds like an anthem tonight – the crowd on ground alongside me is just a heaving sweaty coagulation of fists and smiles, right through the more recent tracks (“There Are Listed Building”, “A Heat Rash in the Shape of The Show Me State; Or, Letters from Me to Charlotte” (it is assumed that if you cannot abide this kind of ludicrous titling of songs then LC! are not a band for you)) to the classics of a couple of years ago (“My Year in Lists,” “This Is How You Spell ‘HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics’”).

One of the best things about seeing these guys live, though, was that their first album suddenly made a lot more sense. Their sound in the flesh isn’t hugely similar to their last two releases (‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ and this year’s ‘Romance Is Boring’), which were relatively crisp and clean to the ear – live, they sound like the horrible mistake that was the David Newfeld-produced debut ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’, where the levels were all over the place and the whole thing was a sorry soppy mess of a release that would stick to a wall if it was thrown at one and would congeal into just a bloody mass of nothing at the bottom. It was poorly produced, is what I’m saying. But hearing them tonight I suddenly realise that Newfeld had captured them as they actually sound, essentially that exact kind of mop bucket softness, without edges, without any definition to grab onto. They aren’t half as exciting on there as they are here because, well, that’s the nature of live music, but I have greater respect for the Broken Social Scene producer now I can understand his Sisyphean intentions.

The highlight for most people comes towards the end, when the band crack out the song that they will presumably still be ending their sets with in middle-age – “You! Me! Dancing!” – which I detest. It’s a horrible song. I don’t know why it grates when I enjoy everything else that they do so much, but there it is. However, in the interest of balance I’ll say that this once it was awesome because, well, it was. I’d never danced to it alongside a few hundred other people before and the sensation was not, shall we say, unpleasant. When the band left the stage it was the end of their largest headline show to date – despite their quirks, their oddities, their introspection and their glee, I fully expect them to be playing even larger venues within a very short time indeed. They are the biggest and best niche group around. To hell with thought – it’s my gut that wants to see them again as soon as possible.

Categories ,camden, ,cardiff, ,headline tour, ,hold on now, ,islet, ,koko, ,london, ,Los Campesinos, ,romance is boring, ,septet, ,seven, ,swanton bombs, ,we are beautiful, ,we are doomed, ,you me dancing, ,youngster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Los Campesinos! at Koko, Feb 25th – Live Review

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

From outside, look the Koko in Camden looks a bit like one of those Swiss clocks – the ones where a girl in lederhosen comes out on a rail every hour to strike the chime. The bare white front façade is broken only by the large ‘KOKO’ illumination and the two doors at either edge of the building which allow the audience access to the smoking balcony, generic and there’s a fair few of them pacing backwards and forwards. Imagining them as clockwork Bavarians is the kind of thing I find amusing. It passes the time, try waiting in the coffee place across the road for the rain to ease and the doors to open.

Los Campesinos! are a band that I’ve had to convince myself that I actually loved, because for a while I was in denial. As far as my last.fm statistics go they’ve been my favourite band of the last 18 months, and I even found myself buying a ticket for their latest tour as soon as physically able and not really being sure why. It always felt like some kind of weirdly innocuous indulgence that support groups put out literature for – y’know, you swear it’s not a big deal, you could walk away at any second, it doesn’t control your life, etc. etc., only to wake up one morning and realise that you’re deeply addicted and in trouble. It’s frightening to realise you’ve had a new favourite band for so long and not even realised.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Once inside the venue, I buy a drink and text my erstwhile companion, struck down with food poisoning. “I’m probably the oldest person here – where are the adults?“ I ask (and I’m only 22) – there’s a distinct whiff of Lynx in the air (at a guess: Africa). LC! are a bit of a joke to some people thanks to lead singer Gareth’s scribbled-journal lyrics, and frankly they’re right – they can be acutely embarrassing. I try to justify my love (my addiction, you could say) to my friends by being clever – they’re tongue-in-cheek, I say! The literal meaning is totally ironic, but the intent is still sincere! It never works. My first instinct, looking around the venue, is that these skinny, shy kids find Gareth endearing and sincere without any ironic pretension, which would be sweet and naïve if so. Or it could be seen as pathetic – sample lyric: “As if I walked into the room/to see my ex-girlfriend/who by the way I’m still in love with/sucking the face of some pretty boy/with my favourite band’s most popular song in the background/is it wrong that I can’t decide which bothers me most?” – but then ‘pathetic’ sounds so much like ‘pathos’ and I’m sure that their must be some kind of link or derivation at play there, because then there’s my excuse. The band excels at drawing out an emotional response in its audience.

As I’m trying to figure this out (I’m on my own, remember, so those kinds of thoughts are all I have to amuse myself – another excuse) the first bunch of musicians stroll on stage – it’s barely past eight, which leaves me thinking that I’ll probably be home and in slippers before eleven. But as for the band: the lead singer reminds me of Sinbad, and he starts wooping.

“Woop! … Woop! … Woop!” etc. – he’s jumped over the crowd barriers at this point, and is walking through the still-thin crowd, clearly sizing people up. Every now and again somebody will recoil, which I assume is because they assume that he’ll either a) want them to join in (poor, timid children), or b) eat their ears, because he’s mental. I think it’s hilarious. The rhythmic wooping is augmented by the rest of the band joining in with their instruments, using Sinbad as a metronome. They’re a four-piece – Sinbad, fringe girl, moustache guy, and Sweater (his sensible sky-blue knitwear is his most defining feature, I suppose) – and they blew me away. Rotating between instruments, chanting and howling, they managed to bridge the divide between the danceable electro-wash that I so admire in Holy Fuck or Gang Gang Dance and the careful racket of no-wave. One tune sounded like Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ shoved backwards through a plane turbine, i.e. sort of inverted by chopping it up into small pieces and reassembled with the bass brought forward and the optimistic chants turned into these awful, angry shouts… I was a total convert. Only by cornering Sinbad in the lobby afterwards did I manage to get their name – Islet. The internet tells me they’re from Cardiff, and they don’t like the internet, they have no recordings available for streaming or purchase (except this BBC live session), they have no website, they are entirely offline. The only way to experience Islet is as a live band, so go. See them live. They kick ass.

The break between the supports is short, and next on are somewhat-hyped London duo Swanton Bombs. To be fair to them, everything I’ve heard about their album has been positive (including a review on this very site), so I’m going to chalk their disappointing live presence up as unexpected. Every song reminded me of that nasty period in the early 00s when blues-rock groups were two-a-penny, where every song could be plotted on a chart with one axis labelled “Killing Floor“, and “Hey Joe” on the other. In short – it was dull, every song sounded the same, and Blood Red Shoes do this kind of thing with much more aplomb. I drifted out towards the back of the room and then upstairs, where I could fully appreciate how atrocious the Koko’s sound quality is for anyone not on the ground near the front – it’s an embarrassment for London, really, considering how much slack the place has had to take up now that the scuffed and glorious Astoria’s gone.

The audience of kids, mostly bored by what’s happened so far (Islet’s tribal antics went down like a civil servant in Downing Street), persists in ignoring whatever’s happening on stage. They’re very clearly only here for LC!, and it’s something of a relief that they come to life when the main act eventually makes an appearance – making me reassess my earlier assumption, that they were here out of a pathetic sincerity, as completely wrong. Namely: I was being pretentious and snobbish, and these kids just like how enjoyable a band LC! are – the lyrics are just plain funny, the music just plain fun, and whilst people like me with too much time on their hands (I blame my friend standing me up and leaving me to my own interior monologue) might debate the extent to which the band take this influence, or that level of twee irony, or said indebtedness to blah blah, this is bullshit. So I forgot about all that, and started jumping about with the rest of the mosh pit.

Illustration courtesy of Zoë Barker

Gareth’s certainly a livelier presence than I expected (seeing as he can come across as a bit wet sometimes). Tonight he bounds around like an over-stimulated puppy, and keeps thanking everybody – his friends, their manager, the audience (I count seven separate breaks between songs where he thanks the fans), the venue, the tour promoter. It’s sweet. The set opens with the steamrolling “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know,” which is a bastard of a song, frankly. Their latest album is filled with these, how to say, crunchy numbers, loud and a bit ridiculous, and each one sounds like an anthem tonight – the crowd on ground alongside me is just a heaving sweaty coagulation of fists and smiles, right through the more recent tracks (“There Are Listed Building”, “A Heat Rash in the Shape of The Show Me State; Or, Letters from Me to Charlotte” (it is assumed that if you cannot abide this kind of ludicrous titling of songs then LC! are not a band for you)) to the classics of a couple of years ago (“My Year in Lists,” “This Is How You Spell ‘HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics’”).

One of the best things about seeing these guys live, though, was that their first album suddenly made a lot more sense. Their sound in the flesh isn’t hugely similar to their last two releases (‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ and this year’s ‘Romance Is Boring’), which were relatively crisp and clean to the ear – live, they sound like the horrible mistake that was the David Newfeld-produced debut ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’, where the levels were all over the place and the whole thing was a sorry soppy mess of a release that would stick to a wall if it was thrown at one and would congeal into just a bloody mass of nothing at the bottom. It was poorly produced, is what I’m saying. But hearing them tonight I suddenly realise that Newfeld had captured them as they actually sound, essentially that exact kind of mop bucket softness, without edges, without any definition to grab onto. They aren’t half as exciting on there as they are here because, well, that’s the nature of live music, but I have greater respect for the Broken Social Scene producer now I can understand his Sisyphean intentions.

The highlight for most people comes towards the end, when the band crack out the song that they will presumably still be ending their sets with in middle-age – “You! Me! Dancing!” – which I detest. It’s a horrible song. I don’t know why it grates when I enjoy everything else that they do so much, but there it is. However, in the interest of balance I’ll say that this once it was awesome because, well, it was. I’d never danced to it alongside a few hundred other people before and the sensation was not, shall we say, unpleasant. When the band left the stage it was the end of their largest headline show to date – despite their quirks, their oddities, their introspection and their glee, I fully expect them to be playing even larger venues within a very short time indeed. They are the biggest and best niche group around. To hell with thought – it’s my gut that wants to see them again as soon as possible.

Categories ,camden, ,cardiff, ,headline tour, ,hold on now, ,islet, ,koko, ,london, ,Los Campesinos, ,romance is boring, ,septet, ,seven, ,swanton bombs, ,we are beautiful, ,we are doomed, ,you me dancing, ,youngster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Larmer Tree Festival 2011 Review, Saturday: Stornoway, Gabby Young, Caitlin Rose and Mud!

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Gabby Young and Stephen Ellis
Gabby Young and Stephen Ellis at Larmer Tree. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

By Saturday the rain had well and truly settled in at Larmer Tree Festival and it was quite a struggle to get out of the tent.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Bane Joe Bone
Our first stop was Daytime Club Larmer for the second part of Bane, thumb which was equally as much fun as the first episode. Apparently there is a third one kicking about too and if you are going to Secret Garden Party this weekend then you will get a chance to see it! Well jel.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Chameleon by Fiona Campbell
Overnight a host of art installations had sprung up around the Larmer Tree Gardens, page including this magical bottle top Chameleon by Fiona Campbell

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review The Thatcher and The Peacock by Simon SinkinsonLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review The Thatcher and The Peacock by Simon SinkinsonLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review The Thatcher and The Peacock by Simon SinkinsonLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review The Thatcher and The Peacock by Simon Sinkinson
…and a peacock hut inspired by a poem called The Thatcher and The Peacock by Simon Sinkinson, a tale of a poor boy who asks the advice of a peacock on how to win the heart of the girl he loves. How? Under the Larmer Tree of course! Simon is a thatcher as well as an artist, and he was also responsible for the ten hidden miniature woodland doorways dotted around the site. Sadly I didn’t find any myself.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Mis(Guided) Protest by Fuse
At the Mis(Guided) Protest by Fuse these girls were bearing placards with slogans such as Processed Cheese, Yes Please and Bunting for All Ages. Worth protesting for I’m sure you’ll agree. I do find it intriguing that protest has become ripe for artistic intervention – wherein ‘revolutionary rhetoric’ is rendered utterly banal.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Gary Stewart duetting with Rosie Doonan
The Oxjam stage was hosting an open mic when we wandered in and I caught the tail end of Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart duetting with Rosie Doonan (I sadly missed her own slot). Beautiful folk harmonies, and great yellow wellies!

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Pete LawrieLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Pete Lawrie
Pete Lawrie is a Cardiff based singer songwriter who nearly played on my Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury last year but had to pull out with a throat infection at the last minute, so I was excited to finally hear him properly. Since then he’s released an album and gained an enthusiastic following for his soulful singalong folk. His easy banter explained the premise of songs, including one dedicated to all those who’ve worked in shit jobs at petrol stations. At this show it was really brought home to me just how impossible it is to place a sound anymore – he may be Welsh but Pete’s music, as with most musicians now, boasts a host of international influences.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Caitlin RoseLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Caitlin RoseLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Caitlin Rose
On the Garden Stage Nashville born Caitlin Rose lucked out with a bit of brilliant sunshine for her lush country-influenced tales of love and loss. Americana never sounded so good: I particularly loved the laid back dude on the steel pedals. Read our interview with Caitlin Rose.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 reviewLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review artLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Flowerpot men
I’m not sure if the Bill and Ben Flowerpot Men were meant to be performance art or extreme fancy dress but who cares when they look this fab?!

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Wishing TreeLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review Wishing Tree
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Wishing Tree
Over at the Wishing Tree I took a few moments to read through the fabric wishes. The most striking thing was the amount of wishes that children should grow up to be healthy and happy – another indication of the demographic at this family friendly festival.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Moustache on a Stick
A festival favourite: Moustache on a Stick.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Gabby Young
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Stephen Ellis
Gabby Young by Gilly Rochester
Gabby Young by Gilly Rochester.

Gabby Young was accompanied by boyfriend Stephen Ellis at the ARC, dressed, as usual, with impeccable style (with a little help from Amelia’s Magazine contributor Katie Antoniou – the lilac striped dress cost £7 on ebay). Her opera trained voice sounded as beautiful as ever, and she closed the set by leading the captivated crowd in a rousing singalong of We’re All In This Together. This was Gabby’s only festival appearance this summer because she’s busy working on a new album. Very excited about that.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Mark KermodeLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Mark KermodeLarmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Mark Kermode
Film critic Mark Kermode performed some well arranged covers and plenty of old sounding new songs with his band The Dodge Brothers for the early evening slot at the Garden Stage, entertainment geared towards those who had dressed up for the 50s themed fancy dress parade.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
But it was Stornoway that I was most looking forward to on Saturday (read our pre-Larmer Tree interview) and they didn’t disappoint. Classic tunes such as Zorbing and Here Comes the Blackout from album Beachcomber’s Windowsill were played with great gusto – the guest violinist perched like a mascot at the top of the stage. Stornoway manage that masterful trick of combining folk elements and great song writing to create a new and instantly recognisable sound of their own.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
Stornoway by Meg McCarthy
Stornoway by Meg McCarthy.

Lead singer Brian Briggs had a slightly deadpan style of banter so it took me awhile to understand his comment about picking up two small buoys from a Stornoway beach to include in their act. What I hadn’t anticipated, climbing into the photographer’s pit, was just what a boyband Stornoway are. The audience was a sea of screaming teenage girls disappearing into the horizon… and they all seemed to want one particular band member: ever so cute drummer ROBBIEEEEEEE, owner of the aforementioned buoys and brother of equally cute guitarist Oli Steadman. The signing tent afterwards was a seething mass of prepubescent excitement that any sane adults had clearly balked at joining.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Stornoway
For the finale Stornoway released a couple of giant Prisoner-esque white balloons into the audience to bounce about over our heads. The band liked one of my twitpics so much that they posted it on their website. A wonderful set and one of my festival highlights.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Vieux Farka Touré
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Vieux Farka Touré
Over at the Big Top the ever so smiley Vieux Farka Touré finally took to the stage for his delayed performance (passport problem apparently). He’s an exceptionally gifted guitarist from Mali… the son of renowned musician Ali Farka Touré, and purveyor of that unique Mali sound: an adept blend of Western rock riffs and traditional African beats that have given him the moniker of the African Jimi Hendrix. Best of all Vieux Farka Touré was totally laid back and made it all look so utterly simple to play the guitar with such skill. Maybe not quite so rock and roll then! His drummer looked about 12 years old but played an amazing beatdown on a large halved gourd for the encore.

From the back of the packed main stage we caught the tail end of Asian Dub Foundation, who provided a suitably energetic party vibe for Saturday night.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Iain Stirling
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review -Gareth Richards
Finally we headed back to the ARC for our daily dose of comedy, compered by kid’s TV presenter Iain Stirling. Gareth Richards attracted some drunken heckles, which he bashed off admirably… but I have to say they weren’t totally undeserved. Mediocre.

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Arthur Smith
Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review Arthur Smith
Headline act was ‘old git’ Arthur Smith, who did a sturdy routine of well rehearsed classic one-liners before ending the show with his pants down.

Don’t forget to check out my Thursday review of Larmer Tree and my Friday review of Larmer Tree too.

Categories ,50s, ,African Jimi Hendrix, ,Ali Farka Toure, ,ARC, ,Arthur Smith, ,Asian Dub Foundation, ,Bane, ,Beachcomber’s Windowsill, ,Big Top, ,Bill and Ben Flowerpot Men, ,Brian Briggs, ,Buoys, ,Caitlin Rose, ,cardiff, ,Chameleon, ,comedy, ,country, ,Daytime Club Larmer, ,Fancy Dress, ,Fiona Campbell, ,folk, ,gabby young, ,Garden Stage, ,Gareth Richards, ,Gary Stewart, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Iain Stirling, ,Katie Antoniou, ,Mali, ,Mark Kermode, ,Meg McCarthy, ,Mis(Guided) Protest by Fuse, ,Moustache on a Stick, ,Nashville, ,Old Git, ,Oli Steadman, ,Oxjam, ,Pete Lawrie, ,rock, ,Rosie Doonan, ,Simon Sinkinson, ,Stephen Ellis, ,Stornoway, ,The Dodge Brothers, ,The Prisoner, ,The Thatcher and The Peacock, ,Vieux Farka Toure, ,Wishing Tree

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Georgia Ruth and review of debut album Week of Pines

Georgia Ruth by Gemma Cotterell
Georgia Ruth by Gemma Cotterell.

Week of Pines is the beautiful long playing debut album by Welsh singer-songwriter and harpist Georgia Ruth, it’s creation prompted by a return to Wales. Love that has been lost is tempered with joy at being home, and in the solitude of a Snowdonia studio she has melded together a plethora of influences to create an album that has an all pervading sense of calmness. Opening track and album namesake Week of Pines is a highlight, the gorgeous melody swinging along to a hastening drum beat. Welsh tune Codi Angor harnesses more obvious folk influences, and Dovecote includes the atmospheric clanging of bells, Georgia’s voice drifting in and out of the instrumental with hypnotic grace. Seeing You Around and In Luna trace the troubles of lost love, her vocals soaring in delicate arcs around the harp. A lonesome harmonica takes pride of place in Old Blue, a reinvigorated Appalachian song made popular by Joan Baez, and the album finishes with the slow beat of Winter, redemptive lyrics bringing the album to a fitting close.

Georgia Ruth
Week of Pines features songs in both Welsh and English – but I believe you did not even grow up speaking Welsh. How did you get to the position where you were confident to write and sing in it?
I grew up bilingually from the age of 4, when my family moved from South Wales to Aberystwyth and I started going to a Welsh language primary school. From then on, the two languages were an integral part of my everyday identity. And it’s very much true of my music, too. There are some things I feel only able to express in Welsh, and vice versa. But I knew the album would have songs in both languages.

Week Of Pines by Georgia Ruth.

You have said that most of your songs come from personal experiences – what experiences have made this record?
On the next album I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to write one song that relates to my actual life, just to see how I get on! Narcissistic bugger. But in many ways Week of Pines is a record about coming home. I moved back to Wales a couple of years ago, after living in London and Brighton, and the friends and relationships that I found waiting for me here have been so important and strengthening.. It’s a happy record, sun through the leaves stuff, despite some moments in the shade!

Georgia Ruth by Laura Griffin
Georgia Ruth by Laura Griffin.

Why did you decide to learn the harp, and what is the best thing about it?
I started learning when I was 7. But it wasn’t quite my choice. In our primary school, the instrument you got was very much dependent on your place in the register. I wanted clarinet (the instrument of the enviable 10 year olds) but being a Williams did not stand in my favour. All the Evanses and Griffithses got the clarinet. So they offered me the harp, and I said yes! The best thing about the harp is that it’s a great conversation starter. You’re standing at the bus stop with one of these beauties stood next to you, someone’s going to want to ask you about it! That being said, it’s a nightmare to get it on planes. That is absolutely the worst thing about it. 

Georgia Ruth by Rhi Pardoe
Georgia Ruth by Rhi Pardoe.

You happily meld influences such as sea shanties, appalachian tunes and traditional folk. What were you listening to as you grew up?
Lots of different stuff! My parents would play a lot of Hank Williams, American and British folk music, Paul Simon, Melanie. And then I was learning these Welsh folk songs in school. When I hit my teens, it was the solo women who took up most of my earspace: Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Aimee Mann, Sandy Denny

Georgia Ruth
What was it like to record in the middle of Snowdonia?
Very quiet! Bryn Derwen is such a wonderful, peaceful studio. We were there for a week in the middle of August, and the air was thick and heavy with the smell of the eucalyptus trees. At times, you weren’t sure which country you were in! It was a very happy time. 

Georgia Ruth by youdesignme
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.

This record has been described as a homecoming – what prompted the move back to Wales and will you be staying for the near future?
I just woke up one morning in Brighton, and realised that I missed Wales terribly. And I came back! I’m definitely very happy here, so yes: I’m not going anywhere. Unless someone forces me to live in sun-filled San Francisco, I would have to concede to their wishes… 

Georgia Ruth
What can musicians find in Wales that is not so easy to find elsewhere?
Mountains! Certainly for me, it’s been the sense of fraternity and support amongst the musicians here in Wales that has been the most amazing. In London, I often felt quite isolated as a musician. I didn’t feel as much a part of a community as I do now. And that’s been so key to the making of this record. I was all but ready to give up, and then I came home, met these remarkable people, and thought: nope! 

Georgia Ruth by youdesignme
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.

Where can fans hear you over the course of 2013?
I’ll be touring the album in May and June with the band (current list of dates is on georgiaruthmusic.co.uk with a possible few more to be added) and I’m particularly excited about playing in Spillers Records in Cardiff on the day of release. It’s such a brilliant record shop, that’ll be a real privilege. 

Georgia Ruth Week of Pines album cover
Week of Pines by Georgia Ruth is released on 20th May 2013 by Gwymon Records.

Categories ,Aberystwyth, ,Aimee Mann, ,americana, ,brighton, ,British folk music, ,Bryn Derwen, ,cardiff, ,Codi Angor, ,Dovecote, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Georgia Ruth, ,Gwymon Records, ,Hank Williams, ,Harp, ,In Luna, ,interview, ,Joni Mitchell, ,Kate Bush, ,Laura Griffin, ,Melanie, ,Old Blue, ,Paul Simon, ,Rhi Pardoe, ,Sandy Denny, ,Seeing You Around, ,Snowdonia, ,South Wales, ,Spillers Records, ,wales, ,Week of Pines, ,Welsh folk songs, ,Winter, ,youdesignme

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Amelia’s Magazine | Video: The Anchoress – You and Only You Feat. Philip Reach

The Anchoress
The Anchoress is a new project managed by Drowned in Sound supremo Sean Adams featuring the feisty Welsh lass also known as Catherine Anne Davies – a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and storyteller. The video for single You And Only You references The Anchoress‘ misspent youth training to become a dancer – a career scuppered by breaking her back and pelvis in a nasty fall, which led to her locking herself away at the piano to work on her early recordings. It was directed by Oliver Cross & Frances Main. The electronic version of ‘You And Only You‘ is a collaboration with Philip Reach and features the operatic indie-wail of Mansun’s Paul Draper as a guest vocalist.


Speaking about You And Only You, The Anchoress says:
This is the only song on the album that I wrote entirely on the guitar, when my hand was too badly mangled to play the piano (studio related injury…) and I had to wear a metal cast for months even to turn door handles. The song went through three different incarnations before it decided it wanted to be a duet (with co-producer Paul Draper on joint wailing duties here). We ended up recording this final version in my snatched sleepless so-called “days off” from the UK leg of the Simple Minds tour, replaying the guitar over the original drum, bass, and organ takes from the first studio sessions.
Originally it was something I’d written for my best friend, who had just come out of her first long term relationship after enduring horrific brain surgery from a burst aneurysm. Lyrically, I guess it continues with the album’s dominant themes of deconstructing normative ideas of love and romance. No ‘baby, baby”s here. This woman just basically wants you to leave her the fuck alone.
There’s another duet version with a full string section that we recorded just before the one that you hear on the album. I said to Paul that we had to scrap it due him sounding too much like Barry Gibb on the middle eight… Christ knows what I’m saying in French at the end. I don’t actually remember recording that due to an overabundance of Tramadol.

This track is taken from the 5-track You and Only You EP which is available to pre-order now here. Her forthcoming album ‘Confessions of A Romance Novelist‘ is out Jan 15th 2016 via Kscope. Preorder the album now and instantly receive 3 tracks (2 more coming before the albums release!)

Categories ,Catherine Anne Davies, ,Confessions of A Romance Novelist, ,Drowned In Sound, ,Frances Main, ,Kscope, ,Oliver Cross, ,Paul Draper, ,Philip Reach, ,Sean Adams, ,You and Only You

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