Amelia’s Magazine | The Makery – Bath gets Crafty

Very occasionally and normally with a good dose of tongue-in-cheek irony and predatorial bad-taste, illness is an older woman considered as an object of sexual-desire. In the Coen brothers’ latest, this site ‘A Serious Man’, click the ‘sexy-neighbour’ is a scary super-woman with too much make-up and too little decorum. The older woman and sex is a topic of taboo and avoidance. As Charlie Brooker recently pointed out, Susan Boyle is an average looking woman but in comparison to today’s airbrushed army, she is more than the wrong side of beautiful.

When Louise Bourgeois grins widely wearing a coat of monkey fur with a two foot-long latex phallus wielded under her right arm she is disarming and confrontational. Old women aren’t meant to make sexual jokes, are they? This is 1982 and the artist is in her early seventies. The photograph, taken by Robert Mapplethorpe the same year as her retrospective at MoMA, is subsequently cropped so all we see is the image of her wrinkled, smiling face. The erotic humour is therefore stripped from the image leaving the question; can erotic art and old age go hand-in-hand?

‘The glint in the eye refers to the thing I’m carrying. But they cut it. They cut it because the museum was so prudish’. Bourgeois suggests that the image is a joke on MoMA itself; having famously excluded females largely in it’s history of twentieth-century art, Bourgeois proudly grappling a crumbling, latex phallus pokes fun at this.

Hauser and Wirths’ latest all-female line-up of Bourgeois, Lynda Benglis and Alina Szapocznikows’ brought together three artists who address the taboo of eroticism and late-style or even death. Is this show an indication that the contemporary art world has come a long way since the Guerrilla Girls’ protests of the eighties?

Lynda Benglis’ most enduring image is of her posturing, greased, powerful and amazon-like with a giant dildo held between her legs. She is sexy yet terrifying with a perfectly formed body and ‘dyke-cut’. Originally created for Artforum in 1974, this work has had the most enduring impact and potentially effects the way we view everything she has created since. In the show her works are sensual, erotic and mirror the female/male emphasis of Bourgeois’ works. Similarly, Szapocznikow casts the female body and presents us with breasts, phalli-type objects and the idea of the female-body traumatised by the holocaust, dying early as a results of breast-cancer. Although Szapocznikow does not specifically address the idea of sexuality, she makes the viewer confront a body which is not aesthetically beautiful, desirable or even fully-finished.

These artists demonstrate a way in which the ageing female artist depicts eroticism or the female body without really depicting it. By making parts of the body, cast, crumbling or partially-shown, they create ‘acceptable’ versions of their own sexuality, while also subtly disrupting the idea of the complete, ‘perfect’ form in modernist sculpture. It is only when we are confronted with the photo, the ‘reality’ of late-eroticism in the form of Louise Bourgeois and her crumbling phallus that this question is truly addressed. You can be old and erotic, you can even be old, ugly and erotic so long as you don’t take a photo of it.
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It’s a buoyant sign of the times when a child chooses to celebrate their birthday not with fat-fuelled tour around the local burger chain kitchens and a game of musical chairs led by a man in a grubby, information pills sinister clown suit but by brushing up on their sewing skills. AS the make-do-and-mend approach to life seeps back into the mainstream public consciousness, ampoule the enthusiasm to reskill and bask in the glow of DIY pride is being felt by a new generation very aware of its ecologic and economic environment – and determined to enjoy itself without trampling all over its ethics.

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The Makery, price a new creative community workshop-cum-DIY help centre in the bustling ‘Artisan Quarter’ of the historic city of Bath, is on hand to help out with this. Husband-and-wife team Kate and Nigel opened The Makery just a few weeks ago – collecting the keys just days after the birth of their first child – and are on a mission to steer Bathonians away from the shopping centres and towards their sewing machines.

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“We’ve made things forever,” says Kate who, along with husband Nigel, left television careers in London for the West Country good life a year ago. “We moved here and we thought, ‘Let’s do something we really enjoy.’ So we brainstormed ideas. There’s been so much press about make-do-and-mend, making things is so en vogue again, and people are proud to say they made things themselves. It’s a backlash against everyone spending loads of money. That’s exactly up our street – all our furniture at home is from Freecycle or auctions, and we make it look beautiful ourselves. Friends always comment on it, and say, ‘Ooh I wish I could do that,’ so we thought, ‘Right, well, we’ll teach people how to do that then.’”

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Location hunting, key-swapping, floor-board stripping and a birth ensued, with The Makery now running regular workshops in everything from crocheting your own snowmen to making natural soap. “My speciality is sewing, so we run workshops like ‘Get to know your sewing machine’, or making your own clothes and bags,” Kate continues. “But we’ve got loads of freelance tutors so its not just sewing; we teach ceramics, there’s an upholsterer who’s going to get upholstery workshops going, and we’ve been approached by a lady who makes natural toiletries. There will be bookmaking, printmaking – we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves.”

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Split over two floors, The Makery’s workshop space is a crafter’s pick-and-mix dream, lined with piles of recycled fabrics awaiting a new lease of life, rows of eager sewing machines and reclaimed furniture whose drawers spew colourful buttons, yarns and threads. And, of course, there are the parties

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“We’ve got a little girl’s birthday party here on Saturday, and where possible the materials will be re-used. That used to be a jumper!” says Kate, pointing to stocking hanging in the shop’s window. “Each child will bring in an old T-shirt and spend the first half of the workshop designing a monster, and giving it a name and a personality. In the second half of the workshop, they’ll make the monster – they draw the outline, I’ll sew around that and they can stuff it and put the eyes on.” It certainly beats an afternoon trying to build things out of grease-saturated Happy Meal boxes.

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In addition to the workshops and shindigs, it won’t be long before The Makery offers itself up as the go-to place for advice and resources for people’s own homemade projects. Pop in, pick a sewing machine and pull up a chair. “We are getting approached by lots of people with lots of different skills, so it’s really exciting,” Kate enthuses about The Makery’s potential directions. “Ultimately, we want to teach people to be a bit more resourceful and do things for themselves rather than having to go out and buy it.”

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Categories ,Artisan quarter, ,Bath, ,bookmaking, ,craft, ,creative community, ,diy, ,ecology, ,Freecycle, ,printmaking, ,recycle, ,recycling, ,sewing, ,The Makery, ,workshop

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pecha Kucha: Death by Powerpoint?

HeroesAll Illustrations courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Imagine never having done any presentation to more than 30 people in your lifetime – and that did not really matter because they were your schoolmates. If you were to fall flat on your face in front of them, ambulance you knew you were all in the same bath water (so to speak) assessed by Mean Lady Big Goggled Eye! But what happens when it is your own lifework compiled over many years of blood, sildenafil sweat and tears you are showing to complete strangers? And there happens to be upwards of 400 of them there! Am I being melodramatic? Maybe…

Pecha-Kucha-crewThe Pecha Kucha crew. All photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron except when stated otherwise

I’ve always been fascinated by Pecha Kucha. The first time I heard it mentioned was a few years ago when it sent shock waves throughout Europe as the latest craze among designer types. Pecha Kucha is a presentation format hailing from Japan. It’s usually pronounced in three syllables like “pe-chak cha” (???????), viagra order although most people don’t bother trying to be authentic with the original pronunciation and I admit I have been just as lazy! The name Pecha Kucha is a Japanese term that stands for the sound of conversation (“chit-chat”). More than 170 cities now host such events.

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Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Tokyo’s Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa) are the instigators of this worldwide phenomenon; in 2003, Klein and Dytham sought to give young designers a venue to meet, network, and show their work and to attract people to their experimental event space in Roppongi. They devised a format that kept presentations very concise in order to encourage audience attention and increase the number of presenters within the course of one night.

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Did I know what I was getting myself into? A little bit. I was told I needed to show 20 images for 20 seconds a piece, for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Apparently, the secret of a good presentation is thorough preparation, so I selected my 20 slides and stood in front of my computer with a fake mike all week-end, well…faking. Why put myself through it? I wanted to shine a spotlight on my upcoming graphic novel, a collection of illustrations and extracts from the bible titled “Written by Men, Blame it on God” that I am currently developing. The publisher is selected (New Humanist and the Rationalist Association) and all that is left to do is finish the book in the upcoming months. I intend to exhibit the original artwork along with the launch of the book later this year.

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At the helm of this new brand of Pecha Kucha are Sian-Kate and Paul . Sian’s passion for Pecha Kucha Redux is infectious; she tells me the format previously lost its way in the UK when it ended up being open exclusively to high-profile and well established figures from the design, architecture, photography, art and creative fields – Joanna Lumley for instance. They wanted to go back to its roots as a platform for up and coming professionals and I was in good company on the night. Among the diverse and distinct line-up were a conceptual artist exploring desire and the female gaze (Nerys Mathias), a kick-ass rockstar who tore down the house (Bruno Wizard), a printmaker and sculptor and mountaineer (Martin Barrett) and the aptly named Minxy McNaughty!

Pecha-Kucha-ladyPhotograph courtesy of Pecha Kucha

Bruno-and-I Bruno Wizard of The Homosexuals band with artist friend and I.

I was terrified when I took to the stage. But the reception was overwhelmingly positive and the interaction with the public was very intoxicating; I heard laughter, cheers and received positive feedback from many women who encouraged me to complete the book! Afterward, I slumped over the bar; good thing the event was held at The Arches as it made for a pretty chilled-out atmosphere! “Alcohol free January? Pas pour moi!”All in all it was a great night and I now can say: “I fell into the deep end and I survived Pecha” Kucha!”

Video Courtesy of Pecha Kucha

Categories ,Alternative rock music, ,architecture, ,Astrid Klein, ,bar, ,Bruno Wizard, ,creative community, ,design, ,illustration, ,illustrator, ,Klein-Dytham Architecture, ,Live DJ Music, ,london, ,magazine, ,Mark Dytham, ,Martin Barrett, ,musician, ,New Humanist, ,Pecha Kucha, ,photography, ,Powerpoint Presentation, ,Presentations, ,printmakers, ,printmaking, ,Sian-Kate Mooney, ,The Arches, ,The Homosexuals, ,The Rationalist Association, ,Trashed Magazine, ,Valerie Pezeron, ,Valochedesigns

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