Amelia’s Magazine | Alice Lee: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Catwalk Review

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Alice Lee by Claire Kearns

I had been emailing back and forth with Alice Smith a few days before the Alice Lee A/W 2012 show, trying to get a preview finished before London Fashion Week began. As a huge knitwear fan, Alice Lee is one of the names that I get excited about – a must-see show for me on the Vauxhall Fashion Scout schedule. With the preview live, all I had to do now was turn up for the show, and enjoy.

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All photography by Amelia Gregory

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Alice-Lee-by-Amelia-Gregory-LFW-AW12

So it was to my great frustration that 5 minutes before the show began I found myself stuck in traffic: I had an awful sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to review the show, but after racing into the grand salon room at the Freemasons’ Hall I found that I wasn’t too late, and that although the music had started, the first look was not yet out. Phew.

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And for me, it was a good start. An off white knitted cape, with a super cosy roll neck, split right from the top and paired with dark cream knitted leggings. For S/S 2012, the collection was made up of similar cream and off white hues, in modern body con dress shapes, so it was great to see a change in shapes they were producing. The second two looks were also cream coloured, the first of which was made up from a knitted jacket with leather and faux-fur details, which I will lust after for a little while. The intricate weave of the jacket showed a great attention to detail, and helped to show off the skills of husband and wife team, Lee Farmer and Alice Smith respectively.

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Alice Lee by Catherine Meadows

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Alice-Lee-by-Amelia-Gregory-LFW-AW12

Another colour that Alice Lee like to work with is black – which is always key for an A/W collection, but they didn’t play it completely safe, and brought in flashes of bright red and cobalt blue. Blue was used as an accent or detail to lift black outfits. It worked as a contrast line to the neckline of a black knitted dress, but was better as a fun detail to longer sleeves of a lovely black roll neck jumper, which also had strips of the blue run through the chest. A bright red knitter jumper and asymmetric skirt came in the middle of the show, reminiscent of the pop of red that they also used for S/S 2012.

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Alice-Lee-by-Amelia-Gregory-LFW-AW12

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Alice Lee by Rosa and Carlotta Crepax

Most of the collection was made up from dresses and knitwear separates, which is what Alice Lee do very well. They also do layering really well, and the middle outfits had knitted coloured sleeves poking out from the bottom of knitted jumpers and dresses. This wrapping up effect was also channelled in the model’s hair styling – which was wrapped fully around the models face, only exposing the mouth. The accents of colour in the clothing were also mimicked in the hair, which had strands of blue and red attached into it. I’m not sure how the models managed to walk in reasonably straight lines with limited sight, especially in those high wedge heels, so well done to them.

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Alice-Lee-by-Amelia-Gregory-LFW-AW12

The last look was finished with a striking head decoration, a black, white and red rose head piece that came down all the way over the face. Some of the dresses were worn with woven coils or tubes around the shoulders and neck, that were stitched with leather, and it was eccentric additions like these that kept the knitwear collection modern. It also gave a nod to the futuristic influence that we had seen in the S/S 2012 collection, but this time in a much more earthy and autumnal colour palette.

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This collection may not have broken any fashion boundaries, but it did show what Alice Lee do best – and that is extremely well crafted knitwear. Alice Smith had told me that one of the influences behind the collection was to give a feeling of being protected and armoured, and these designs live up to that. They are perfect for wrapping yourself up in this winter, and with the edge of leather work woven through the intricate knits, thoroughly modern.

Categories ,Alice Lee, ,Alice Smith, ,Catherine Meadows, ,Claire Kearns, ,Dante, ,Faux Fur, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,knitwear, ,leather, ,Lee Farmer, ,London Fashion Week A/W 2012, ,Ones To Watch, ,Rosa and Carlotta Crepax, ,VFS

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Amelia’s Magazine | Hell’s Half Acre: A Review

Back Camera
Blue Fever by Polly Morgan. Photograph by Tim Adey

On Monday night, treat Amelia’s Magazine delved into the depths of hell, site handily located beneath London’s Waterloo Station. For a limited time (show ends on the 17th October), Lazarides Gallery in collaboration with The Old Vic Tunnels have recreated Dante’s Inferno within the bowels of London’s Transport system.

Photograph by Sally Mumby-Croft

The journey begins with a preamble through a heavily graffitied (and location of Banksy’s last exhibition in London) tunnel behind Waterloo Station.

If like me, you are unfamiliar with the nine circles of Hell, let’s have a quick recap! Limbo, Lush, Gluttony (or the Worldwide Banking system), Avarice and Prodigality (Hoarders or Squanders of possessions), Wrath and Sullenness, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and finally the ninth circle is Treachery.

Artist: Zac Ove Photograph by Sally Mumby-Croft

Hell it appears, is a heavily stratified society (not that dissimilar from our own??), where the ring you inhabit is entirely dependent on various decision makers on the level of your sin… First up are those whose punishment for doing nothing with their lives -either for good or evil- is to remain outside the doors of Hell. Dante then progresses into Limbo, where the unbaptised and non-sinners, who rejected the word of God are doomed to stay in an decrepit form of heaven. The eight remaining circles bore into the centre of the Earth until Satan is revealed bound in chains.

Holy Smoke Quintet by Conor Harrington, Photograph by Ian Cox

After researching Danta’s Inferno on the internet, each sin’s punishment takes the form of poetic justice, for example “fortune-tellers have to walk forwards with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because they tried, through forbidden means to look ahead to future in life” What poetic justice lies ahead for those who tried to predict the future through the economy? For Steve Lazarides Hell’s Half Acre is “a vision of our hellish society under coalition rule.”

Sun by Paul Insect, Photograph by Sally Mumby-Croft

As my companion and I wondered around the horrors produced in response to Dante’s Inferno (they had been provided with a copy of the book a year before the show) we came across an alcove in which a projection of fire reflected across unmoving water. What is it about fire that never bores us? As my friend noted with images of heaven (Clouds) people tune out fairly quickly, but show the audience a mirrored projection of fire and we’re mesmerised.

Leaping Flames by Doug Foster. Photograph by Sally Mumby-Croft

Corrupt, treacherous and flattering politicians better watch out… Dante has a place for you in the eigth circle of hell, specifically within the fifth stone ditch, where you shall be immersed forever within a lake of boiling pitch.

Artist: Paul Insect, Photograph by Sally Mumby-Croft

Mark Jenkins, Chrysalis 1-6, Photograph by Ian Cox

Mark Jenkin’s Chrysalis, consisted of identical hanging bodies dangling as if caught in a spiders web. The entombed bodies evoked thoughts of Huxley’s A Brave New World and the final outcome of our endless embracement of mass production finally turns on recreating ourselves forever more.

On exiting the exhibition, the audience passes through a fine misty rain, evoking perhaps Dante’s description of the punishment awaiting those more gluttonous members of society… their fate is to lie on the ground, underneath endless icy, poisoned rain, as the empty sensuality of their lives is imprinted forever upon their body.

At the end of the exhibition, the moment of respite arrives in the form of Tokujin Yoshioko’s immense crystal sculpture. Sponsored by Swarovski, this huge sculpture drowns the world in bright white light. An unexpected treat in this dankest of underworlds, for a brief moment Heaven penetrated the circles of hell.

Photograph by Tim Adey

Hell’s Half Acre is an intriguing use of The Old Vic Tunnel’s and I cant wait to see what exhibition comes next… Oh! Before I forget, there was of course, the most excellent bar – what sort of Hell would be without that?!

Hell’s Half Acre runs until the 17th for further information please visit here and here. If you feel like a break from Frieze this year, this might be the perfect alternative.

Categories ,Dante, ,Hell’s Half Acre, ,Inferno, ,Lazarides Gallery, ,Nine Circles of Hell, ,Steve Lazarides, ,The Old Vic Tunnels, ,Waterloo

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Amelia’s Magazine | The eye at the centre: An interview with artist Sam Knowles

Portrait of the Artist (manipulated found book page)

I’m a little early for my meeting with Sam Knowles, look giving me a chance to wander the rooms of the Simon Oldfield Gallery by myself for a while. This means I’m all immersed by the time the artist arrives, cheapest slightly shy as he asks me what I think. For a moment I feel self-conscious at sharing my thoughts; this is a public gallery but what happens on the walls feels oddly private. But however personal the experience of viewing the art may be to the audience, viagra order this is Knowles’ first solo exhibition so it’s probably infinitely more precious to him.

The fact that the artwork is quite small in scale means you have to get quite close to take it in, adding to the sense of intimacy. But there’s something else to it as well, it’s a feeling that comes as you’re standing there, squinting, craning, wondering. The title of the exhibition is a reference to a quote by Pascal: ‘Nature is an infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’ It was Borges who called it a ‘Fearful Sphere’ in an essay discussing Pascal – just as Knowles makes his art from found materials, all these different elements are pieced together and subtly manipulated to hint at something else, something bigger, to some sort of truth we think is there but we can’t see or touch.

The Prisoner (gold leaf on found book page)

It’s the grand themes of metaphysics, philosophy and science that lie at the core of Knowles’ practice. ‘Metaphysics has to do with universal principles that helps you understand the world. While metaphysics is concerned with science, it also has a lot to do with God, as in, the idea that there are pre-ordained rules for things. That is how I see it, although others may not agree,’ Knowles explains as we sit down for a chat. Knowles is a keen reader of philosophy, and as we talk it becomes clear how the art incorporates many layers of meaning. Still, Knowles stresses how he wants the audience to feel free to interpret what they see in their own way: ‘I like leaving things to interpretation, and not give people strict ideas of what to think.’

Knowles’ titles are usually drawn from the topics in the old books that provide the base for the artwork, such as ‘Orbit’, ‘The Great Enterprise’ and ‘On the Nature of the Universe’. The common thread is a reference to a centre – it’s there as a halo around the ballerina’s head, it’s the point from which gold rays emerge, it’s the eye that remains still in the middle of swirled-paper vortex. ‘In Byzantine portraits, you’ll find that halos are perfectly centred on the right eye. There’s this idea that the eye is taking everything in, and it’s a bit arrogant, really. I wanted to contradict this idea.’

On the Nature of the Universe (manipulated found book, gold pin, wood and acrylic)

While Knowles is happy to explain the theoretical concepts when prompted, I should point out there is actually very little about the 27-year-old that suggests stuffy professor. While he’s eager to talk about his work, he asks me almost as many questions as I ask him. As we get sidetracked from talking about inspiration, Knowles breaks out of the artist-slash-philosopher mode for a moment when he tells me a story about his girlfriend; ‘Oh but don’t put that in!’

Back to the topic of inspiration, he admits to borrowing from many sources: ‘I take a lot of different things from different people, in fact a tutor once described me as a magpie,’ says Knowles, who graduated from Wimbledon College of Art in 2009. ‘But most of my inspiration comes from reading, fundamentally. I find objects, mainly books, and I spend ages searching for the right ones, looking for imagery that will work and then coming up with an idea. I sit endlessly in my studio, a tiny room with stacks and stacks of books, and go through piles of images. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all, it needs to be in that moment.’

One of the largest pieces in the show is called ‘Fundamental Principals of Metaphysics of Ethics’, where Knowles has laid out all the pages of a book by this name: ‘I absolutely loved that title.’ Painted in gold is a reproduction of Gustave Doré’s White Rose, an illustration from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Knowles has fractured the image so it’s up to the viewer’s to make a judgment about what it is, but in the right light you can still see the angels, circling the sun. ‘Sometimes a piece can come really quickly, but this one took time as I kept changing the idea,’ says Knowles, as we’re crouching down to catch the light reflecting off the gold. ‘I wanted the artworks in this exhibition to interact with each other. That was very important to me; the circle, the eye at the centre.’

Fundamental Principals of the Metaphysic of Ethics (gold leaf on found book pages)

Sam Knowles’ Fearful Sphere is showing until 11th June at the Simon Oldfield Gallery in Covent Garden, London. For more information see our listing.

Sam Knowles is also part of Beyond Ourselves, an exhibition showing at the Royal Society until 22 June. Read our review here.

Categories ,art, ,Beyond Ourselves, ,Borges, ,Covent Garden, ,Dante, ,Doré’s White Rose, ,Fearful Sphere, ,london, ,metaphysics, ,Pascal, ,philosophy, ,royal society, ,Sam Knowles, ,science, ,Simon Oldfield Gallery, ,Wimbledon college of art

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