Amelia’s Magazine | Haiti: Time to Cancel all Debt and Pay Back What We Owe

6All Photographs courtesy of New Museum, viagra buy except where otherwise stated

It is now time for the absurd to take center stage. Swiss-born “imperfectionist” Urs Ficher makes the gallery goer rethink his or her own reality and I am grateful to the New Museum for introducing me to this brilliant artist. Ficher is an artist renown for his non-traditional creations. Thinking the world as a populated center of objects that interact and create an artificial reality, his aim is to call the viewer’s attention to his singular inner realm; his interpretations of what this life is are conveyed through different types of installations. New productions and iconic works are aplenty and together compose a series of gigantic still life and walk-in tableaux choreographed entirely by the artist. I find myself exploring neither a traditional survey nor a retrospective but the culmination of four years of work. These new productions reveal the true scope of Fischer’s universe and I am enthralled by what I am discovering.

3

IMG_6475

Above photograph courtesy of Vanesa Krongold

Fischer has taken over all the three floors of the museum. Illusion and reality are intertwined in the artist ‘s show thanks to a game of trading places and multiple reflections. Chrome boxes are arranged in a grid of monoliths that create a cityscape of mirrored cubes onto which the artist has silk screened a dizzying array of images. I think it’s perfect; It’s just how I’ve been feeling when walking about New York city – drunk from trying to take it all in! It is very interesting how the artist plays with bi dimensions; I am strangely attracted by some disregarded toys. Its all about combining the reality through dimensions, perspectives, and collage. The viewer is thrust into an uneasy place, trying to understand how to walk in this new world. The hyper real state of the objects are meant to represent your and my reality…

72009 Plaster, paint, bread 10 x 21 x 15 cm.

Urs Fischer presents an installation that turns the Museum’s architecture into an image of itself—a site-specific trompe l’oeil environment. In a maddening reproduction exercise, each square inch of the Museum architecture has been photographed and reprinted as a wallpaper that covers these very same walls and ceiling it is meant to portray. A piano occupies the room, appearing to melt under the pressure of some invisible force. Simultaneously solid and soft like a Salvador Dalí painting in three dimensions, this sculpture seems to succumb to a dramatic process of metamorphosis.

8Marguerite de Ponty.

On the fourth floor, Fischer presents five new aluminum sculptures cast from small clays and hand-molded by the artist. Hanging from the ceiling or balancing awkwardly in space, these massive abstractions resemble strange cocoons or a gathering of enigmatic monuments. Fischer is an engineer of imaginary worlds who has in the past created sculptures in a rich variety of materials, including unstable substances such as melting wax and rotting vegetables. In a continuous search for new plastic solutions, Fischer has built houses out of bread and given life to animated puppets; he has dissected objects or blown them out of proportion in order to reinvent our relationship to them.

2

In 2007, in a now-legendary exhibition, he excavated the floor of his New York gallery, digging a crater within the exhibition space. Throughout his work, with ambitious gestures and irreverent panache, Fischer explores the secret mechanisms of perception, combining a Pop immediacy with a Neo-Baroque sense for the absurd. And I am glad a taste of it!

5

The exhibition Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty is ending on February the 7th, 2010. The New Museum is a modern building located in 235 Bowery Street, New-York.

Is it just me, this web or did anyone else find the mainstream media coverage of Haiti’s earthquake confusing, misleading, inconclusive and, quite frankly, infuriating?  OK, so that’s what I should expect from mainstream media sources, I hear you cry.  But when all the countries now so involved in aid have been so recently implicated in the de-stabilisation of Haiti’s government and economy, not talking about it in over two weeks of constant prime time broadcasts constitutes pure misinformation. 
finished[1]
Illustrations by Anieszka Banks

There was perhaps a fraction of an abstract half-mention about previous US intervention somewhere…but basically nothing.  Instead, we heard vague statements about Haiti’s ‘history of violence’ and ‘bloody revolutions’ rolled out like a broken record as if this was actually meant to tell us something.  It could easily lead us to conclude that Haitians’ economic poverty was down to themselves, their culture and their inability to sort their country out.  Haitians are being represented as savage looters to justify the need for foreign military presence.

So how about the country that was the first ever to revolt against slavery and emancipate itself from centuries of barbaric colonial rule?  And how about the socially, politically, environmentally and economically destructive role of France, the US and other Western nations in Haiti?  I resolved to get back to BA French books, essays and notes for some intense history revision.  This week I looked at Haiti’s colonial history and debt.

Haiti, now 98% deforested, was a rich and beautiful island before colonisation and debt.  Haiti’s name comes from the native language, which described the island as ‘Ayti’ (mountainous), until the Spanish changed it to ‘Hispaniola’ (little Spain), which the French later changed to Saint Dominique.   Columbus found it in 1492, tried to form a settlement, found the natives hostile to his ideas, and returned in 1493.  Hispaniola was the first European settlement in the ‘New World’.
world[1]

The Spanish colonisers gradually eradicated the native population with diseases and inhumane treatment, so hundreds of thousands of Africans were enslaved and transported to Haiti to meet the rising need for labour.  The French started getting interested in the booming economy, and gradually gained possession of the island by 1659.  By 1750 Haiti was Europe’s most important exporter of sugar, making it the main source of economic growth for the French government.

By 1791 the slaves had started organising themselves in revolt and what followed was a long battle for emancipation.  Led by figures like Toussaint L’Ouverture , they freed themselves from their European masters and gained independence in 1804, the first colonised country ever to do so.  They had managed to defeat the last-ditch attempts of the huge armies of three empires to recapture Haiti:  Britain, who sent 50 000 troops in 1796, France in 1803 (the Haitians defeated 35 000 troops led by Napoleon Bonaparte), and numerous Spanish armies between 1791 and 1804.   The US, another nation dependant on slavery, only recognised Haiti’s independence almost 60 years later, in 1862. 

But by 1825, Haiti was again trapped by extreme debt.  The French government, defeated and humiliated by the loss of its most prized colony, ordered Haiti to pay the ex-colonisers compensation for the property they had lost, and the estimated economic loss to the French government.  This totalled $150 million: $150 million that ex-slaves had to pay back to their ex-masters.  France and other Western powers, fearing that their other colonies would also start revolting, threatened Haiti with an economic embargo if they refused to pay the compensation, so Haitians had no choice.  It was a sum that left the island crippled with debt to French, US and German banks, and one that it was only able to finish repaying about $90 million of in 1947.  So until so recently, Haitians were still repaying this sum to the wealthy French government, preventing them from investing it in their own economic development.

Haiti also still owes the International Monetary Fund $165 million.  IMF and World Bank loans came with strict conditions called Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs).  SAPs aim to reorganise a country’s government and economy so it can repay debt as rapidly as possible.  Requirements include cuts in public spending, making more money available for debt repayment but meaning health care and education become inaccessible for the majority of the population.  Cheap, intensive, trade-union-free labour needs to be made readily available for easy foreign investment.  The economy needs to become export-led. Imported products become cheaper than domestic goods.  Farmers and manufacturers within the country can no longer compete and lose their livelihoods meaning domestic agriculture industry and trade are stifled.  The best land is used for intensive, large-scale, export-bound production, leading to soil erosion and deforestation. 

Deforestation in Haiti
deforestation

Food production was so badly managed as a result of the structural adjustment free-market policies, that Haiti, once a huge exporter of rice, became a net importer of it.  Growing starvation in the once self-sufficient rural regions meant that people had to migrate en masse to cities, forming slums on its outskirts.  This is also why the devastation in Port au Prince was particularly severe.  

Haiti continues to owe about $891million to international banks and governments and NGOs worldwide are calling for people to sign petitions for it to be dropped.  So next time you see appeals for aid, remember how much of it Haiti will have to send back in debt repayment.  

“It is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) response to the earthquake was to offer a $100 million loan. This loan would increase Haiti’s debt burden at this time of crisis. If  Haiti’s debts aren’t cancelled, the country will be sending tens of millions to the IMF and other international bodies even as it struggles to rescue and rebuild” say Oxfam

There are various petitions you can sign to pressure the IMF to drop Haiti’s debt, whether they help or not is another question.  Haiti should, in fact be repaid every last penny of what it paid in compensation to ex-colonisers.  But what certainly is needed is a rapid growth of consciousness about how sustainable development and democracy continue to be stifled by the economic policies of our governments and financial institutions.

Join the No Shock Doctrine for Haiti facebook group,  and here are two petitions calling Haiti’s debt to be canceled :
Oxfam International
Avaaz

Categories ,Aid, ,Anieszka Banks, ,cancel debt, ,debt, ,deforestation, ,Haiti, ,Hispaniola, ,oxfam, ,peition, ,rice, ,Saint Domingo, ,Saint Dominique, ,structural adjustment programme

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Amelia’s Magazine | Haiti: Time to Cancel all Debt and Pay Back What We Owe

6All Photographs courtesy of New Museum, viagra buy except where otherwise stated

It is now time for the absurd to take center stage. Swiss-born “imperfectionist” Urs Ficher makes the gallery goer rethink his or her own reality and I am grateful to the New Museum for introducing me to this brilliant artist. Ficher is an artist renown for his non-traditional creations. Thinking the world as a populated center of objects that interact and create an artificial reality, his aim is to call the viewer’s attention to his singular inner realm; his interpretations of what this life is are conveyed through different types of installations. New productions and iconic works are aplenty and together compose a series of gigantic still life and walk-in tableaux choreographed entirely by the artist. I find myself exploring neither a traditional survey nor a retrospective but the culmination of four years of work. These new productions reveal the true scope of Fischer’s universe and I am enthralled by what I am discovering.

3

IMG_6475

Above photograph courtesy of Vanesa Krongold

Fischer has taken over all the three floors of the museum. Illusion and reality are intertwined in the artist ‘s show thanks to a game of trading places and multiple reflections. Chrome boxes are arranged in a grid of monoliths that create a cityscape of mirrored cubes onto which the artist has silk screened a dizzying array of images. I think it’s perfect; It’s just how I’ve been feeling when walking about New York city – drunk from trying to take it all in! It is very interesting how the artist plays with bi dimensions; I am strangely attracted by some disregarded toys. Its all about combining the reality through dimensions, perspectives, and collage. The viewer is thrust into an uneasy place, trying to understand how to walk in this new world. The hyper real state of the objects are meant to represent your and my reality…

72009 Plaster, paint, bread 10 x 21 x 15 cm.

Urs Fischer presents an installation that turns the Museum’s architecture into an image of itself—a site-specific trompe l’oeil environment. In a maddening reproduction exercise, each square inch of the Museum architecture has been photographed and reprinted as a wallpaper that covers these very same walls and ceiling it is meant to portray. A piano occupies the room, appearing to melt under the pressure of some invisible force. Simultaneously solid and soft like a Salvador Dalí painting in three dimensions, this sculpture seems to succumb to a dramatic process of metamorphosis.

8Marguerite de Ponty.

On the fourth floor, Fischer presents five new aluminum sculptures cast from small clays and hand-molded by the artist. Hanging from the ceiling or balancing awkwardly in space, these massive abstractions resemble strange cocoons or a gathering of enigmatic monuments. Fischer is an engineer of imaginary worlds who has in the past created sculptures in a rich variety of materials, including unstable substances such as melting wax and rotting vegetables. In a continuous search for new plastic solutions, Fischer has built houses out of bread and given life to animated puppets; he has dissected objects or blown them out of proportion in order to reinvent our relationship to them.

2

In 2007, in a now-legendary exhibition, he excavated the floor of his New York gallery, digging a crater within the exhibition space. Throughout his work, with ambitious gestures and irreverent panache, Fischer explores the secret mechanisms of perception, combining a Pop immediacy with a Neo-Baroque sense for the absurd. And I am glad a taste of it!

5

The exhibition Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty is ending on February the 7th, 2010. The New Museum is a modern building located in 235 Bowery Street, New-York.

Is it just me, this web or did anyone else find the mainstream media coverage of Haiti’s earthquake confusing, misleading, inconclusive and, quite frankly, infuriating?  OK, so that’s what I should expect from mainstream media sources, I hear you cry.  But when all the countries now so involved in aid have been so recently implicated in the de-stabilisation of Haiti’s government and economy, not talking about it in over two weeks of constant prime time broadcasts constitutes pure misinformation. 
finished[1]
Illustrations by Anieszka Banks

There was perhaps a fraction of an abstract half-mention about previous US intervention somewhere…but basically nothing.  Instead, we heard vague statements about Haiti’s ‘history of violence’ and ‘bloody revolutions’ rolled out like a broken record as if this was actually meant to tell us something.  It could easily lead us to conclude that Haitians’ economic poverty was down to themselves, their culture and their inability to sort their country out.  Haitians are being represented as savage looters to justify the need for foreign military presence.

So how about the country that was the first ever to revolt against slavery and emancipate itself from centuries of barbaric colonial rule?  And how about the socially, politically, environmentally and economically destructive role of France, the US and other Western nations in Haiti?  I resolved to get back to BA French books, essays and notes for some intense history revision.  This week I looked at Haiti’s colonial history and debt.

Haiti, now 98% deforested, was a rich and beautiful island before colonisation and debt.  Haiti’s name comes from the native language, which described the island as ‘Ayti’ (mountainous), until the Spanish changed it to ‘Hispaniola’ (little Spain), which the French later changed to Saint Dominique.   Columbus found it in 1492, tried to form a settlement, found the natives hostile to his ideas, and returned in 1493.  Hispaniola was the first European settlement in the ‘New World’.
world[1]

The Spanish colonisers gradually eradicated the native population with diseases and inhumane treatment, so hundreds of thousands of Africans were enslaved and transported to Haiti to meet the rising need for labour.  The French started getting interested in the booming economy, and gradually gained possession of the island by 1659.  By 1750 Haiti was Europe’s most important exporter of sugar, making it the main source of economic growth for the French government.

By 1791 the slaves had started organising themselves in revolt and what followed was a long battle for emancipation.  Led by figures like Toussaint L’Ouverture , they freed themselves from their European masters and gained independence in 1804, the first colonised country ever to do so.  They had managed to defeat the last-ditch attempts of the huge armies of three empires to recapture Haiti:  Britain, who sent 50 000 troops in 1796, France in 1803 (the Haitians defeated 35 000 troops led by Napoleon Bonaparte), and numerous Spanish armies between 1791 and 1804.   The US, another nation dependant on slavery, only recognised Haiti’s independence almost 60 years later, in 1862. 

But by 1825, Haiti was again trapped by extreme debt.  The French government, defeated and humiliated by the loss of its most prized colony, ordered Haiti to pay the ex-colonisers compensation for the property they had lost, and the estimated economic loss to the French government.  This totalled $150 million: $150 million that ex-slaves had to pay back to their ex-masters.  France and other Western powers, fearing that their other colonies would also start revolting, threatened Haiti with an economic embargo if they refused to pay the compensation, so Haitians had no choice.  It was a sum that left the island crippled with debt to French, US and German banks, and one that it was only able to finish repaying about $90 million of in 1947.  So until so recently, Haitians were still repaying this sum to the wealthy French government, preventing them from investing it in their own economic development.

Haiti also still owes the International Monetary Fund $165 million.  IMF and World Bank loans came with strict conditions called Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs).  SAPs aim to reorganise a country’s government and economy so it can repay debt as rapidly as possible.  Requirements include cuts in public spending, making more money available for debt repayment but meaning health care and education become inaccessible for the majority of the population.  Cheap, intensive, trade-union-free labour needs to be made readily available for easy foreign investment.  The economy needs to become export-led. Imported products become cheaper than domestic goods.  Farmers and manufacturers within the country can no longer compete and lose their livelihoods meaning domestic agriculture industry and trade are stifled.  The best land is used for intensive, large-scale, export-bound production, leading to soil erosion and deforestation. 

Deforestation in Haiti
deforestation

Food production was so badly managed as a result of the structural adjustment free-market policies, that Haiti, once a huge exporter of rice, became a net importer of it.  Growing starvation in the once self-sufficient rural regions meant that people had to migrate en masse to cities, forming slums on its outskirts.  This is also why the devastation in Port au Prince was particularly severe.  

Haiti continues to owe about $891million to international banks and governments and NGOs worldwide are calling for people to sign petitions for it to be dropped.  So next time you see appeals for aid, remember how much of it Haiti will have to send back in debt repayment.  

“It is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) response to the earthquake was to offer a $100 million loan. This loan would increase Haiti’s debt burden at this time of crisis. If  Haiti’s debts aren’t cancelled, the country will be sending tens of millions to the IMF and other international bodies even as it struggles to rescue and rebuild” say Oxfam

There are various petitions you can sign to pressure the IMF to drop Haiti’s debt, whether they help or not is another question.  Haiti should, in fact be repaid every last penny of what it paid in compensation to ex-colonisers.  But what certainly is needed is a rapid growth of consciousness about how sustainable development and democracy continue to be stifled by the economic policies of our governments and financial institutions.

Join the No Shock Doctrine for Haiti facebook group,  and here are two petitions calling Haiti’s debt to be canceled :
Oxfam International
Avaaz

Categories ,Aid, ,Anieszka Banks, ,cancel debt, ,debt, ,deforestation, ,Haiti, ,Hispaniola, ,oxfam, ,peition, ,rice, ,Saint Domingo, ,Saint Dominique, ,structural adjustment programme

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Amelia’s Magazine | Hard Rain exhibition highlights need for global action on environment

Gasmask wedding: Using nuptials to protest against pollution in Russia

Given the fact I think Bob Dylan‘s something of a genius, information pills it would probably come as no surprise to you that I was eager as a leaf blowin’ in the wind is tossed this way and that to check out the Hard Rain exhibition, discount now to be seen free of charge – and, fittingly, out in the elements – in London.

Featuring challenging photographs that come together to document environmental and social issues from around the world, this exhibition is currently displayed along Imperial College Road, off Exhibition Road, as a 60-metre long banner of photographs, together with commentaries.

Deforestation in Brazil: the timber being felled in this image had to be sold by parents to pay for their children’s TB medication

Its images reflect global challenges of today, from environmental change to human rights, with each one referring to – and, in turn, being referred to by – a line from the lyrics of Dylan’s iconic song ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. Why this song? Well, written as it was by Dylan in reaction to the Cuban crisis of the early ’60s and, thus, influenced by a potentially cataclysmic event itself, it inspired the project.

According to Mark Edwards, renowned photographer and Hard Rain’s organiser, the aim behind the project is to draw attention to global concerns and help enthuse people to put huge pressure on governments around the world to address the environmental and global problems we face. It’s a lofty ambition, certainly, and maybe sounds rather too idealistic; however, it’s hard not to be moved and feel somewhat invigorated after taking a look – however long – at the exhibition. The photographs portray a range of problems from deforestation to the aftermath of conflict, pollution and abject poverty. And there’s certainly a sense of ‘cause and effect’ to all of them displayed together – the reality of the problems we face as a world leap out of these often very striking and memorable images and, as a whole experience, they do underline the need to tackle all of these problems together, not individually one at a time.

Fancy a snack: the West stuffs its face while millions elsewhere suffer from food shortages

Impressively, before reaching Imperial College Road, Hard Rain travelled all around the world, ensuring it’s apparently so far been visited by more than15 million people. It runs until Friday – 12 March – at Imperial College’s South Kensington Campus; I urge you to brave the elements and take a look before it’s gone, even if you have to do so in a break between it pouring with heavy, nay, hard rain.

Categories ,A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, ,Adam Bollard, ,Bob Dylan, ,deforestation, ,Hard Rain exhibition, ,Mark Edwards, ,poverty

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Amelia’s Magazine | Ken dumps Barbie: Greenpeace’s Indonesia Deforestation Campaign

Barbie and Ken by Claire Byrne
Barbie and Ken by Claire Byrne

Ken dumped Barbie. Over trees and endangered tigers. Seriously. You probably already know this, web since the Greenpeace campaign that first revealed this earth-shattering piece of news has been all over the Internet in the last two weeks.

Barbie Crying by Claire Kearns
Barbie Crying by Claire Kearns.

But it’s time to wipe those tears off your keyboard. Not only has this traumatic event turned Ken into quite the eco-warrior and provided some great moments of Twitter comedy, seek but Amelia’s Magazine illustrators have responded, buy information pills providing the greatest collection of illustrations of a chainsaw-wielding Barbie you might ever see in one place.

Barbie with chainsaw by Claire Byrne
Barbie with chainsaw by Claire Byrne

Barbie was dumped by Ken after Greenpeace discovered that her maker, Mattel (and other toy companies like Disney), use packaging produced by a company called Asia Pulp and Paper, part of a huge conglomerate called Sinar Mas, accused of major deforestation in Indonesia. This deforestation is pushing critically endangered species like the Sumatran tiger ever further towards extinction.

Barbie Deforrestation by Anna Blachut
Barbie Deforrestation by Anna Blachut.

This particular Barbie campaign actually only scratches the surface of an investigation into how global toy manufacturers are complicit in Indonesia’s deforestation problem. Watch this brilliant graphicy animation video for an explanation of Greenpeace’s findings:

Toying With Deforestation
YouTube Preview Image

It was a wise move to link the broad issue of deforestation in toy packaging and manufacture to the most famous toy (read ‘most mass produced gender-conditioning piece of plastic’) in the world. It even topped Creative Review’s ‘Nice Work’ list for advertising on the 10th of June. It’s a shame Ken hasn’t embraced his inner rebel enough to more openly blame Mattel rather than his ex over this, but I suppose that’s the job of Greenpeace. Ken is still finding his voice, as his heart wrenching twitter updates show, and I have a feeling he’s gradually unleashing the hitherto dormant revolutionary within. Equally shameful is the fact that the feminist within me finds images of Barbie wielding a tool instead of a handbag strangely satisfying. Let’s just hope that Barbie sees the light, joins Ken and decides to become an eco feminist or something asap.

barbie by karla-perez
Barbie by Karla Perez.

The fact that we live on a planet where rainforest destruction and species extinction is contributed to in even the smallest way by the packaging for a plastic toy is, quite frankly, weird. How did it come to this? Despite a huge movement to increase our awareness of the environmental impact of fashion and food, toys haven’t been touched upon with the same momentum. And yet toys are associated with our most formative years, so an awareness of what goes into their production is essential.

Barbie by Liz Rowland
Barbie by Liz Rowland.

One of my all-time favourite books is Mythologies by Roland Barthes. It was included in the Guardian’s recent 100 Greatest Non Fiction Books list last week, one of only three chosen for the culture category. It investigates the hidden political, economic and cultural ideologies behind everyday aspects of mass culture – from washing powder, to the burlesque dancer, to cars, wine, cheese and plastic.

Barbie logging truck by Claire Byrne
Barbie logging truck by Claire Byrne.

My favourite essay is the one on Toys, where Barthes explores our increasing obsession with plastic toys, as opposed to simple constructions and tools made of natural materials.

Barbie by Novemto Komo
Barbie by Novemto Komo.

The way I understand it, right from childhood we are taken further and further away from the process of making and creating. From day one we’re encouraged to be mindless consumers of complex finished products, emotionally and physically removed from how they were made, who made them and where the materials came from.

Barbie by Zofia Walczak
Barbie by Zofia Walczak.

This is something we could easily continue into adulthood, through the dreamy lifestyle mythologies in fashion and technology advertising. To me this Barbie campaign is an attention-grabbing antidote to this broader cultural issue, as well as a solid evidence-based environmental campaign.

You can check the Greenpeace UK blog for various ways to get involved, the latest of which involves rating and reviewing Barbie’s ‘dirty deforestation habits’ on Amazon (brilliant, do it!).

Categories ,Anna Blachut, ,Asia Pulp and Paper, ,Barbie, ,Claire Byrne, ,Claire Kearns, ,Creative Review, ,deforestation, ,Disney, ,Greenpeace, ,Guardian, ,Illegal, ,Indonesia, ,Karla Perez, ,Ken, ,Liz Rowland, ,Mattel, ,Mythologies, ,Novemto Komo, ,Plastic, ,rainforest, ,Roland Barthes, ,SInar Mas, ,Sumatran Tiger, ,Toys

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Amelia’s Magazine | Love Life Hate Palm Oil

In the festival preview vein, no rx malady here’s one that promises stimulating discussion, patient music, viagra order dance, crafts and walks with fellow readers and contributors to the spiritual and ecologically aware Resurgence Magazine. A more enchanting and vibrant mix is barely to be found outside the Resurgence Reader’s Weekend and Camp.

0623%20resurgence%20camp.jpg

The camp will be hosted in Europe’s only tented conference centre, Green and Away, situated on an idyllic site near Malvern, Worcestershire. They’ll feed us ‘mostly local, mostly organic’ food, there’ll be wood-burning hot showers to bathe away sleep-shod morning eyes, solar and wind-sourced electricity, and saunas too, as if this camp didn’t sound chilled out enough already.

0623%20resurgence%20talk.jpg

Entertainment and conversation stimulation will come from a host of speakers : Jenny Jones, Green party member of the London Assembly; Miriam Kennet, founder of the Green Economics Institute; Satish Kumar, Earth pilgrim and current editor of Resurgence magazine; Peter Lang, an environmental consultant and researcher, John Naish, author of Enough and initiator of The Landfill Prize, Brigit Strawbridge, of the BBC’s ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ fame and founder of The Big Green Idea.

There’s to be a glut of creative workshops – on poetry, Deep Ecology, Tai Chi, finding your voice, and one that should see us sitting comfortably for a round of storytelling.

Music’s coming from the UK, Europe and beyond : bands like Dragonsfly, a wonderfully energetic live band, rocking a pretty unique Celtic-Eastern-Folk Fusion sound, and Bardo Muse – an improvisational acoustic trio, who say they play music simply inspired by life and love.

0623%20tent%20sunflower.jpg

Do get booking, as previous events have tended to sell out. For a gently spiritual, artistic weekend a little off the the beat of the usual track, have a listen to the Resurgence Weekend.

Contact – Peter Lang,
Events Director for Resurgence Magazine,
Tel: 0208 809 2391
Email: peterlang(at)resurgence.org
As with a lot of art, order what is taken out or omitted is as important, online if not more so, malady than what is put in. Kako Ueda, a Japanese artist working and living in the US, applies this principle to paper with intricately beautiful results. There is something haunting yet delicate about these shadow like cut-outs; the skulls, spiders, jellyfish, butterflies, feathers, insects and serpents all intertwined in designs in which one may gladly lose hours visually disentangling.

kako1.jpg

Her choice of medium was inspired by the cut patterns used for producing kimonos, and Ueda’s appreciation for the history, flexibility and simplicity that using paper entails. The everyday throwaway relationship our society has with materials such as paper makes me evermore excited and sympathetic to artists using these seemingly basic mediums for creating innovative and aesthetically wonderful pieces of work. It was a true honour to pick Kako’s brain about her work, as well as her likes, hates and aspirations.

kako3.jpg

How long does it take you to create the average sized piece?
It used to take me a couple of months to make one mid-size work but lately my works are getting bigger and more complicated that sometimes it takes 6 months or longer to finish an installation or bigger work with
separate parts with paint and 3-D objects.

What equipment do you use for cutting paper?
It is called in the US, an Xacto knife (with no. 11 blade), I suppose in Europe or Japan they have a similar knife with different names.

kako4.jpg

Who is your art for? What space does your art work best?
I don’t limit/choose my audience; anybody who would look at my work and have a reaction positive or negative. So far my artworks need a wall/walls. So they don’t work so well in the outer space.

Do you have a different reaction here in the UK and in Europe compared to in Japan?
Honestly I have no idea. I would love to have a show in the UK, any European countries or Japan to find out. The only European country I exhibited so far was Finland. Although I was born in Japan I moved to the States as a teenager and my active/public artistic life began here in the US.

kako5.jpg

Which artists do you most admire?
There are too many to mention and the list gets longer every day. So today and at this moment I say Salomon Trismosin.

Who or what is your nemesis?
My biggest nemesis is my brain; obsesses too much on energy sucking thoughts and is critical of everything.

kako7.jpg

If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
It is too difficult to choose but at this moment I would say Edo period in Japan (mid. to late 18th century). I want to experience the urban life/culture in Edo (present Tokyo).

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
Jackie Mittoo’s “Summer Breeze” or “Oboe”. I have a CD called “Cambodian Rock”, which is a collection of various rock bands from Cambodia playing and singing in Cambodian; really cool sound.

kako8.jpg

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Gold digger.

What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?
Tolstoy novels.

Who would your top five dream dinner guests be? Who would do the washing up?
Duchamp, one of the cave dwellers who made those awesome animal drawings, Hildegard of Bingen, Utamaro, Buddha. I guess we cannot ask a cave dweller to wash up, can we?

kako9.jpg

What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
My electric mind-reader.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Doing nothing.

Tell us something about Kako Ueda that we didn’t know already.
My eyelashes are naturally curly so I never have to use a lash curler in my entire life.

kako11.jpg

Kako Ueda is definitely one to cut out and keep.
It was a peaceful Sunday morning in the City like any other, drug when:

‘Slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks… from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke; and now we saw it was the head of the Leviathan… advancing towards us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.’

So wrote poet and prophet William Blake in his iconoclastic work ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.’ Over two centuries and a plethora of literary Leviathan motifs later, symptoms musician and composer John Harle has unleashed his own re-imagining of the monster from the deep on London’s Square Mile. Taking a leaf out of weighty tomes from The Book of Job to Hobbes, pilule from Milton to Melville, Harle has conceived a work in which the clamour of 800 saxophonists evokes the satanic spirit of chaos itself. Crikey. When I strolled out of Liverpool Street Station at 11:30am and followed the strains of an al fresco band practice I was, admittedly, greeted with a rather benign pyjama-clad presence in monochrome. So much for the demonic display of Old Testament torment, I thought.

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The City of London Festival, an independent arts organisation which is none the less jointly supported by the City of London Corporation and the business community, commissioned Harle to compose an Ode to the City of London. But a straightforward gala tribute this isn’t; Harle boldly intends both homage and criticism, in light of the economic havoc of recent months. Notably, the event is not for profit. His aim in orchestrating a saxophone procession on an unprecedented scale is to ‘purge the City of its crisis of confidence.’ We’re in for a sort of musical exorcism, then? Well, of the humanist variety. Although biblical references to the Walls of Jericho are made in the promotional material, by way of metaphor, you understand. Through the medium of MP3, audio recordings and commentary are available for download on the Sustain! website. Accessibility is all; the score itself was written with a range of musical abilities in mind. Harle’s voice-over informs voluntary participants that through music, they will be ‘taming the forces of chaos by concerted, unanimous effort.’ No mean feat for a Sunday morning, then! But it is no coincidence that the event is scheduled to coincide with the Summer Solstice, and also commemorates the 800th anniversary of the first stone bridge across the Thames. Organisers envisage a renaissance of optimism and inspiration as music pours from the City’s four historic gates on to those same streets which just three months ago were the scene of violent discontent.

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In spite of these lofty sentiments, passers by on their way to potter round Spitalfields might have been forgiven for mistaking the motley crew assembled outside Starbucks for a Morris Dancer outreach group, or perhaps an avant-garde yoga collective- is this really what city workers get up to on their day off? However, those that found themselves in earshot when the clock struck noon could not fail to be arrested by the pandemonium that simultaneously wended its way from Bishopsgate, Aldgate, Moorgate and Ludgate to descend on London Bridge.

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Snaking through the winding historic streets past countless architectural landmarks and disgraced monuments to capitalism, the gleaming white and gold troop cuts quite a dash in the midday sun. Less of a march, more of a meander, but the ungodly din they generate en masse quite literally stops traffic. Bemused bystanders are both attracted and repelled, from an amused rickshaw driver given a rude awakening from his nap to a disgruntled OAP with his fingers defiantly shoved in his ears. Each saxophonist has been instructed to repeat a set phrase ad infinitum, but with rhythmic independence and free reign to improvise on the theme (and take a breather) when they please. Only when all four groups converge on the Monument can the true discord of four different keys played uproariously be heard in all its dissonant glory. An unlikely assortment of soulful characters, hippie types, consummate professionals and Brassed Off-esque blokes rub shoulders in eccentric solos, father and daughter duos, jazzy trios of mates and whole family bands. Never have I seen such an array of instruments going by the name of saxophone- alto, tenor, soprano and baritone of all shapes and sizes, even one spectacular specimen in pillar-box red! On reaching the foot of the Bridge the various strands begin to unite on one key before the pivotal moment of transition, as all fall under the aegis of Harle himself, conducting in a pinstripe blazer atop a makeshift podium. Order and harmony is restored as the collective serenely parades across the water towards Southwark, before settling on a final, triumphant ‘concert C,’ fading to silence.

And relax. Or, alternatively, begin impromptu jam session. These are saxophonists after all. In between riffs I managed to snatch a moment with three minstrels of the Aldgate crew, congregated in the shadow of a towering office block. ‘We had no rehearsal whatsoever, just downloaded the music off the web and turned up,’ said Denver of South London. ‘It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,’ he explains. ‘We usually play gigs at the Vortex or at Effra. This was mad chaos, but it worked!’

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‘He got me into it,’ chimed in band mate Len who travelled up from Brixton to take part. ‘It was tiring- I’m used to playing sitting down or standing up, not on the go! It’s tough.’ When asked about the logistics of playing on the move and in so big a group, Len admitted that despite the fetching pinstripe, ‘I couldn’t even see the conductor! I just had to listen for the change, that was the biggest challenge.’ Fellow Brixton sax player Dave was similarly enthused: ‘I’ve got a day job so I just play when I can, but this was absolutely brilliant. I just heard about it at the last minute- on Front Row on Friday night. I’d definitely do it again.’
‘Never in the rain though!’ Len added before they were lost to another round of spontaneous play.

Amid the swirling, laid back notes I catch the eye of the affable maestro himself who tells me that the event has ‘surpassed all my expectations.’ But generously he insists that its success is ‘all down to the participants- I did the least work of anyone here today. The work took on a life of its own.’ This will be key to the future of the piece, the recording of which will be recycled via the Sustain! website until it is revisited for the Festival’s 50th anniversary in 2012. A momentous year in more ways than one it seems, but surely even London can only cope with one Leviathan at a time?

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C.R.A.S.H. Contingency is a useful urban survival manual that points at the target seriously whilst disguised as a funny game.

What I enjoyed the most about this experience was my complete ignorance of the whole thing. I would feel a little bit guilty if this had been the preview of the performance, treatment but since the show is now over, I will just describe how it went.

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Photos by Marta Puigdemasa

After checking Two Degrees festival’s website, a week-long programme of work by radical and politically engaged artists about climate change, I decided to bet on a theatre play: C.R.A.S.H. Contingency. At the beginning of the play I felt like I did watching the shows of the wild Spanish theatre company La Fura dels Baus (well-known for their opening show in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) : that is, excited about the unexpected, but this time without the fear of getting naked or soaked to the skin.

We were led in pairs, in complete darkness, to our seats – which were actually placed on the stage. “We are not actors, we’ll need your help, and this is not a theatre play.” And it was not. Defining themselves as an experiment in three acts in which to imagine a post-capitalist future, the performance was run by a mixture of artists, activists and permaculturists (permaculture being the design of sustainable human environments based on the relationships found in natural ecologies) and performed along with the audience. It was something in between resistance and creativity, culture and politics, art and life. We started with a game that made us laugh and forget the fact that we were on a theatre stage.

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The second part was more or less like a workshop. We split into small groups and the supposed actors fed us with little doses of urban self-sufficiency. They taught us how to make a home-made radio station, a vegetable garden and an origami flower; always taking into account some of permaculture’s core values : earth care and people care. When our tasks finished, they gave us another challenge, the final performance. At that point, we used a new old technique for taking group decisions : consensus. They explained to us how to show agreement and disagreement just with the use of our hands, and how to measure the “temperature” of a decision with our arms.

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When we all finally agreed about how and where to make our intervention (all, except a woman who said she was starving and wouldn’t have time for it, and a girl who didn’t understand the purpose of the action), we put on our lifejackets, took our tools (a wheelbarrow for each pair) and started walking towards Bishopsgate. Once there, in the middle of the financial district, we built our own patch of paradise : a shelter made of wheelbarrows, canvas, vegetables, an umbrella, and piles of imagination. We warmed up some water for the tea, ate some lettuce leaves and chilled out for a while. We reclaimed the streets. I felt like a child ringing on a doorbell and running away. But this time we didn’t run. We stood up and waited for the slap or, as was the case, the smile of those that ran into our tiny harmless outside-of-the-law act.

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Unfortunately (for my adrenaline’s childish need), the police didn’t come. But in less than three hours we had learnt many things, too many in fact to explain in six hundred words. It was a condensed degree in Life. It also made me understand that another kind of education, non-academic, humble and free (all the meanings of this word included), was possible. I admit that possibly some of their suggested proposals were just utopian. This may be. But it is far better to live dreaming of utopia than sleeping or wandering aimlessly in a rotten world, isn’t it? Good work, guys.

An ear shattering shriek comes down the line, treat the noise of a passing child’s tantrum. As I tentatively return the phone back to my ear Jan Williams, side effects one half of The Caravan Gallery, illness chirps amusedly “Oooh, Greetings from Portsmouth!” and adds, almost by some way of explanation; “We’re just approaching Asda now.” It may not set a perfect picture postcard scene, but that’s not what The Caravan Gallery are about.

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The Caravan Gallery are Portsmouth based artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. You may already be aware of their work from the postcards they produce. If you’ve ever rifled through a spinning stand of postcards at a tourist attraction and chanced upon a card that portrays the grittier, gaudier and, let’s be honest, more realistic side of Britain then chances are The Caravan Gallery duo are behind it. Their best selling postcard is entitled ‘Bank Holiday Britain’, which brings together familiar images of Britons ‘enjoying’ the British sea side in the pouring rain.

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Although Williams and Teasdale have created 170 postcards in total, these are an offshoot of a much larger artistic endeavour. The pair have been travelling the length and breadth of Britain since 2000, capturing unusual and unexpected scenes of its leisure, landscape and lifestyle. The photographs are displayed at each location for the local community to see. Their rather unique, portable gallery allows them to do this; a mustard-coloured, egg-shaped 1969 caravan that is white walled and wooden floored inside. “We don’t really treat it as a caravan,” Williams tells me during our initial phone conversation, “We just think of it as a gallery that happens to be in a caravan.”

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This little gallery on wheels came along to Spitalfields market on Sunday the 14th of June, as part of a promotion with The White Stuff clothing company. After having chatted with Williams on the phone a few days before, I couldn’t wait to go along and see this unique art space for myself.

Plonked on the side of Spitalfields, the little caravan was a charming sight from the outside, but held plenty more charming sights awaiting within. With over 60,000 photographs in their archive, Williams and Teasdale had plenty to choose from to exhibit on their new tour. In their previously released book ‘Welcome to Britain’ their images were separated into chapters such as ‘Concrete’, ‘Smut’, ‘Conifers (thriving)’ and ‘Conifers (dead)’. “We cover all sorts of stuff.” Williams tells me, “A lot of it’s about the built environment and regeneration, how Britain is and how it’s changing.”

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Whilst many of the images throw light on dilapidated areas or the more tasteless aspects of Britain (shut up shops and naughty gnomes), The Caravan Gallery’s work never feels snobbish or patronising. Good humour shines through with every image.

“I think a lot of what we do is a celebration,” Williams admits “and even though places get tarted up there are quite a lot of little bits that refuse to give up the ghost. We really like this juxtaposition of things, it gives places character.”

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Whilst the caravan has travelled the whole of the UK, from Glasgow to Cornwall, North Shields to the Isle of Wight, one unexpected recent jaunt saw the artists taking their work all the way to Japan for an event with Paul Smith.

“Quite a lot of our photos are to do with language and signs so we weren’t quite sure if it would work. But Paul Smith’s staff said that the people there would love anything colourful, anything rude and anything a bit cheeky.”

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And the reaction? “They absolutely loved it!” Williams laughs. “They were saying how it’s just really refreshing to see how Britain really is, instead of just all the same old clichés of Big Ben and the Queen.”

So with us Britons already aware that a bowler hat is not obligatory day wear, and that cucumber sandwiches are actually quite rubbish, what can The Caravan Gallery’s more accurate portrayal of our nation tell us that we don’t already know?

“I suppose the idea is to provoke people and say ‘There’s all this stuff going on around you, have you noticed? What do you think?’” Williams muses. “We’re not saying it’s good or bad but just; ‘Look at it!’”

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But never mind the intricacies of social commentary and the seriousness of urban reflection; at heart The Caravan Gallery is a great laugh. When confronted by the absurdity of a man mowing the pavement outside his home, or a sign advertising ‘Have your photo with a ferret and certificate – £2.60′, there’s nothing you can do but laugh about this crazy place we call home.

And humour, The Caravan Gallery artists have found, is a brilliant social lubricant; “It ends up as like a little social club on wheels,” Williams says. “If we get invited to some kind of prestigious art event, we get the art loving audience, but then maybe we’ll also get a Big Issue seller and someone walking the dog. Shoppers, tourists and passers-by will come in and take a look. We end up with a whole mixture of people in the caravan who never normally have much to do with each other and they end up talking, which is really good.”

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This is certainly true, as I witness the caravan become filled with Spitalfields shoppers. Soon everyone, strangers and friends, are pointing out the most humorous and shocking pictures to one another and the caravan is filled with laughter. If it’s true that us Brits are a reserved bunch then The Caravan Gallery certainly loosens our collective stiff upper lips!

If you’d like to have your upper lip un-stiffened, go see The Caravan Gallery visit the White Stuff stores of Chichester on the 28th June (that’s this Sunday, folks!) and Battersea on the 11th of July.

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We are giving The Caravan Gallery our stamp of approval.
It was a night of contrasts. A contrast between a halcyon past and the here-and-now. It was also a contrast in the ages of the audience, viagra dosage from the veteran disciples to the new believers. Brought together, pill under some nebulous Mojo Magazine honour, generic on the same bill for probably the first time since the opening night of the long defunct Vortex on Wardour Street in July 1977, the evening opened with the original punk poet, John Cooper Clarke. Looking exactly the same as he did over 30 years ago, with wild Robert Smith-style hair, black, skinny drainpipe jeans and black shades, sardonic Salford drawl still intact, this one time partner in crime with the doomed former model, Fellini starlet and Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico (after she fetched up in the unlikely surroundings of early 80′s Manchester) entertained the crowd with a series of gags that literally creaked with age. He finished his brief set with a rendition of one of his most famous poems, Evidently Chickentown, a quick fire dissection of the grim everyday mundanities of life in a no hope town (which also appeared in the recent Joy Division movie, Control, with John Cooper Clarke bizarrely playing himself).

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The friend I was with had never seen the Fall before. I just told them that it’s never a dull moment. Never a truer word spoken. The Fall are only predictable in their (or rather Mark E Smith’s) unpredictability. Even so, it must have proved a novelty (if an unwelcome one) for Mark E Smith to play second fiddle to someone, regardless of their pedigree. Coming on stage typically late, with yet another band line-up (save for keyboardist and current Mrs Smith, Elena Polou), Mark E Smith launched into his trademark stream of consciousness delivery. Movement hindered by a recent broken hip, Smith nevertheless wandered around (and occasionally off) the stage, switching microphones and fiddling with assorted amps, even nonchalantly borrowing Buzzcocks’ snare drum for some impromptu bashing (much to their roadies’ undoubted annoyance), whilst the rest of the Fall thundered ominously around him. The Fall are uncompromising live, rarely given to such trifling matters as pleasing the audience. Their set lists resolutely stick to whatever their current or forthcoming material may be, rarely playing anything more than even a couple of years old (though that may be as much to do with Smith not remembering the songs as much as artistic integrity). True to form, tonight’s set consisted heavily of new songs and tracks from last year’s rather patchy effort, Imperial Wax Solvent. That said, Wolf Kidult Man and 50 Year Old Man did go down a storm. Unusually, there was a rare display of nostalgia with the inclusion of Psykick Dancehall and Rebellious Jukebox, from the Fall’s first two albums. Smith must have been feeling particularly charitable, as not only did we get an encore, but he actually ambled out to join it!

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As for Buzzcocks, well, what is there left to be said? The band that defined the term “indie” with their self-released debut EP, Spiral Scratch, which set the template for the likes of Factory, Rough Trade and Creation? The band that brought the Sex Pistols to the provinces and, with two shows at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, inspired the likes of Messrs Morrissey, Curtis, Sumner, Hook, Wilson et al? The band that toured with Joy Division as support? Well, that was then, what about now? After their initial reformation over a decade ago, Buzzcocks are now a core of Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, and basically what they gave us (in contrast to the Fall) was a greatest hits package. But who are we to complain, when you have a back catalogue such as theirs? After a sardonic “thanks to the support band” from Diggle, Buzzcocks launched into Boredom, from the aforementioned Spiral Scratch.

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Even after all these years, that two note guitar solo still sounds ludicrously glorious. Shelley may now look like a middle-aged geography teacher and Diggle was in danger of going all Pete Townshend with his guitar, but they can still rock a joint – a fact proved by the amount of moshing going on by a lot of people who were old enough to know better. The set did flag a little in the middle with the lesser known tracks, and the sound quality from the balcony (particularly the quality of the vocals) was a bit ropey, but Buzzcocks ramped it up for the not-quite-encore (due to the Fall’s tardiness, much to Steve Diggle’s obvious annoyance). After a rousing What Do I Get?, we headed inexorably towards that evergreen classic of pop-punk, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), which raised the Forum’s roof off. The set climaxed (as it were) with Orgasm Addict, Buzzcocks’s first post-Howard Devoto single, a song that still sounds so cheekily enjoyable.

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And so the sweat (and beer) soaked masses headed out into the Kentish town night, and our ears were left ringing with a little slice of musical history, one that proved so influential and can still be heard in venues like the Old Blue Last, Water Rats, the Macbeth and the Windmill almost every night of every week.
If you are a London resident, more about then head over to the East End this weekend for a fashion show with a difference. First of all, information pills there will be no door bitches or clipboard Nazi’s on hand to block your entry. You will be surrounded by friendly folk; ethical folk in fact. And that is the premise of the festivities, this a collaborative between Eco -Design Fair and Fashion-Conscience.com to highlight up and coming ethical designers in the fields of fashion, accessories, home furnishings, health and beauty, and stationary and cards.

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To mark the occasion, Friday night will see part of the Truman Brewery transformed into the location for the aformentioned fashion show complete with a recyling party. On hard will be design stalls, DJ’s and organic food and drinks. Kicking off at 7pm, there will be free entry for those bringing old mobile phones that they want recycling, otherwise an optional donation will be requested.

With sustainability in fashion being a key message of the event, those attending who are clearly – and cleverly garbed in vintage and charity shop outfits will be in with a change of being picked by the roving fashion spies to go into the draw for the Style Competition with prizes galore promised. Elsewhere, there will be makeovers, discussions and advice on how to “dress ethically for your shape.”

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Illustration by Sachiko

Saturday and Sunday sees the Design Fair on from 10 am – 6 pm in the same location. All the exhibitors will be showcasing their work in stalls around the building. An example of designers at the event include Believe You Can, Childstar Samantha, Hemp Garden, It’s Reclaimed, and Reestore Ltd. Also taking place will be weaving workshops courtesy of Catherine Daniel, who will be demonstrating how to make pouches, trays and boxes out of reclaimed cardboard, greeting cards and juice cartons – or anything else that you choose to bring along! These sessions will be held in the mornings and afternoons and booking is required. Email info@ecodesignfair.co.uk to reserve your place, stating your name and age. A donation of £3.00 is also requested.

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I spoke with the founder of Eco Design Fair, Louise Kamara to find out more about her work. Founded six years ago, when the concept of ethical and sustainable fashion and design was simply not an issue for both the high street shopper and the supplier, Louise had a lot of explaining to do to a bemused audience. Bringing new awareness to the general public was paramount to her. Having been brought up on a co-operative community, where creative workshops would be run, and food was collectively grown and shared, Louise was shocked by what she saw when she became an adult and entered the ‘real’ world. Thus the twice yearly design fair was sprung from the desire to feature and promote those who lived and worked closer to nature and to showcase work that had not sprung from a sweatshop. It also encourages the public to step away from the large brands who are claiming that their products are environmentally friendly to lure us back into their shops. “When somewhere like Primark says that they have an ‘ethical’ range, they are just using a trendy word” Louise tells me, “Whereas the Eco Design Fair is from the heart, for us it is a fundamental concern; and that is the huge difference. ”

So see you there then. Don’t forget to come in your charity shop finest!

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Illustration by Sachiko
If you thought that graduate fashion week had passed and you’d seen it all, viagra think again. In a small studio on Charring Cross Rd this week, viagra stood the works of a small, perhaps lesser known group of graduates…yet another gifted brood to emerge from the fertile loins of Central St.Martins. In something of a bridge between an MA and a BA, students of the the Graduate Fashion Diploma course spend a lightning 9 months or so working on various self directed projects under the tutelage of David Kappo.
Although open to all, the names listed showed a decidedly Pacific contingent, perhaps due to the school’s overseas reputation. And in part to the program’s fees which are democratically the same no matter where you’re from. Sorry EUers, no discounts here. Also notable was the fact that many of these fledgling designers signed onto the course when the ink was barely dry on their BA’s, which accounts for the elevated quality and a few research sketchbooks of biblical proportion. Which brings us to the first stop on our tour…

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Bevan Avery

New Zealander Bevan Avery who took his first swing at womenswear…and hit it right out of the park with a collection “based on antique medical photographs and Victorian deformities recorded in the Mutter Mueseum.” As an art student on the East Coast myself, many an hour was spent drawing in the creepy catacombs of that museum. Fun for the whole family! Back to Bevan… “I wanted to create a dark collection which focused on shaping an unusual silhouette through the shoulder and tilting the hems forward and focused on the black and gold colouring of the stained photographs.” This creator of bloated and beautiful sketchbooks says of previous collections he has “…used Voodoo, East London working men and Mongolian queens and wrestlers as inspiration.” Now THAT I would love to see.

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Nancy Stella-Soto

Next to bat is Nancy Stella-Soto’s brilliantly styled, loose and transparent blushed silk dress over a nude crotched slip. WIth vintage colored cottons (dyed using yesterday’s coffee) 1920′s steamer trunks and Charlie Chaplin canes, this writer would love to be a stowaway on Stella-Sotos’ next voyage.

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Sol Ahn

Seoul born Sol Ahn is on her way to an MA at RCA. Barely taking a breath between degrees this designer has got momentum a plenty. Fantastic textures and a balance of exaggerated proportions this menswear collection, with its DIY bleach splatter jeans and mammoth pompom (it IS a trend, believe it!) sweaters is so very London. Sol Ahn cites skinheads’ obsessive meticulousness about how they dress and the mixed up dressing of Diane Arbus’ mental subjects in ‘Untitled’ as her influences.

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Marian Toledo-Candelaria

Marian Toledo-Candelaria has a modern-day Boudicca in mind when he designs. For his final collection he drew ideas from the Roman Invasion of Britain, focusing on the cultural clash between the invading Romans and the native Celts. Heavy on adornment the dark silk dresses are topped with a snakepit of golden jewels, oversized beads and gold suede. The deep blue of the silks being inspired by the woad plant, “a European plant used for the extraction of a indigo pigment that the Celts used for painting their bodies when summoned to war. ”

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bouza

Bouza displayed an elegant tomato colored mini dress with a draping shoulder. An asymmetry mimicked by a single stone colored legging. Lucky for us there is also a website full of their previous works. But It was the display of dip dyed rubber bands and shocking red hairy wool samples that really got my motor running. Let us know when we can see the manifestation of those terrific textiles!

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Kim Kwang

Beijing born Kim Kwang who is already working alongside Jimmy Choo on his couture shoe collection, presented an amazing felted wool jacket complete with contrast lacing. The fibrous wads of wool formed a mystery of moulding whose shapes were victorian corsetry and medieval armor all at once.

These designers have high expectations, industry experience and another diploma shoved into their back pockets. We’ll be sure to let you know their latest and greatest as they hack their own paths through the fashion jungle.
Monday 29th June
Regina Spektor, remedy Serpentine Sessions, and Hyde Park, London.

I love London summers, blessed as we are with plenty of lush green space. Hyde Park are putting on a good show this year with their gasp-inspiringly good line-up for the Serpentine Session, tonight everyone’s favourite singing devushka; Regina Spektor takes to the stage, having made the transition from anti-folk to a more mainstream pop during her illustrious career, Ms Spektor has managed to keep her vocal intensity and gift for story-telling in tact; her balmy tales of the strange and the familiar in a voice not quite like any other, will be perfect for an evening in the park.

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Tuesday 30th June
M. Ward, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London.

M. Ward has one of the most heart-breakingly lovely voices I’ve heard in a while, quietly strumming and whispering away in a green and leafy Oregon, entrenched in a rich tradition of simple story- telling and with a predilection for musical simplicity and music of yore; M.Ward is the king of understated brilliance. A must for fans of Smog and other good stuff.

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Wednesday 1st July
Deerhoof, Scala, London.

The first time I heard Deerhoof, I was driving around San Francisco on my 19th Birthday and they seemed like a birthday gift from the gods of music. Their inspired sound is as fun as it is unique, like if Sonic Youth were hyper on lemonade at someone’s 7th birthday party; this is surely a live experience that is not to be missed.

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Thursday 2nd July
The Virgins, Scala, London.

The Virgins have whipped up quite the furore on the other side of the Atlantic, danceable new wave-y good vibes to be had.

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Friday 3rd July
Blur, Hyde Park, London.

Do you remember having to pick between Blur and Oasis at school? I do! I was 11 and I am proud to say I chose Blur every time, then this boy in my class bought me Definitely Maybe on cassette for my birthday- what a schmuck! Blur were the most seminal British band of the 90s from their fun Britpop through to the later dalliances with art-rock circa Thirteen. Expect a heady mix of singles and album tracks, and of course lots of fun. With support from Foals and Crystal Castles among others.

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Saturday 4th July
Internet Forever, Brixton Windmill, London.

I’m a big fan of fantastically- named Internet Forever and their exciting mix of reverb, keyboards and sweet vocals, like falling in love with a robot that was created by My Bloody Valentine and the Gameboy music people. Over-extended metaphors aside, Internet Forever get two big thumbs up from me, and if I had more thumbs they’d get them too! Head down to the Windmill I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Monday 29th June

The Domestic Carbon Time Bomb

A discussion with Peter Thom, order Kelly Butler, more about Roger Webb and Nigel Rees. Held in conjunction with the Carbon Neutral Company, Energy Efficiency industries are coming together on an invitation from Lord Rupert Redesdale, who is the Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group. They will be presenting information to highlight the need for much stronger policy in order to achieve the government’s Climate Change targets. Carbon from the built environment is responsible for approximately a third of carbon emitted in Britain. A website, G2 Action, will be launched for information.

2-4pm, House of Commons, SW1.
Info: catherine.martin(at)carbonneutral.com

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Tuesday 30th June

Musical Morals and Moral Music – The Artist and the Environment – a public lecture by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

What can we expect from our artists, and what should we demand of them? The independence of artists from society has become an effectively archaic notion, but what stance can an artist hope to take up on issues such as the environment where there are so many better-informed voices already clamouring to be heard? Why should we care what an artist says, and why should the artists bother? Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, is perfectly situated to consider these questions and will pay particular attention to the environmental issues which lie close to his own heart.

Time: 18:00
Gresham College
Free Event

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Wednesday 1st July

Shappi Khorsandi: ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English’ – Book Launch

In 1976, three-year-old Shappi Khorsandi, her brother Peyvand and their parents left Tehran for London. Without a word of English between them, they found themselves thrust into an incomprehensible culture – all cold weather, strange food and odd customs. If adapting to Britain wasn’t enough, it soon became clear that due to her journalist father’s criticism of the new Iranian regime, the Ayatollah’s henchmen were in pursuit.

Well known to British audiences for her warm and witty stand up, Shappi Khorsandi has now written a book about her experience of growing up in England. She will be talking about her new book and reading extracts. The event will be followed by a book signing and drinks reception.

7pm
The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, EC2

Thursday 2nd July

Marxism festival

The Marxism festival starts today, with over two hundred events – the opening rally is at the Friends’ Meeting House in Euston, entitled ‘Capitalism Isn’t Changing the World’.

Matthew Fort : Green Talk

Guardian Food writer, Matthew Fort chews over the nature of food and art in this talk at the Barbican, part of their Radical Nature season.

6.30pm, Barbican Art Gallery

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Friday 3rd July

Do the poor have to choose between sustainability & development?

Suzanne Jeffery asks the pressing question of the world’s poor – to conflate buzzwordy terms : how might the credit crunch affect our responses to the climate crisis?

7-8.30pm
Part of the Marxism festival
Royal National Hotel, Bloomsbury
Room: Alexandra B

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Saturday 4th July

Seed Saving

Join an all-day course on seed saving, taught by organic gardeners. In association with Transition Town Hackney.

(£21/£5)
Friday Hill House Learning centre, Chingford E4
Contact: 020 8523 9355/ or 07947 983347
Organisers: Waltham Forest

Sunday 5th July

First Sunday of the month, if you’re not up to speed yet, means Green Sunday at the Arcola theatre. Hop along to Arcola’s eco-cafe and roof garden where you can relax, learn something new, eat some sustainable brownies, meet new people and enjoy some music and film. There will also be a swap shop again, following its huge success at June’s event, so bring along any unwanted clothes, plants, DVDs, CDs and books to swap with others.
Unfold

Nettie Horn
25b Vyner Street
London E2 9DG

Until 2nd August
Wed-Sun 12-6pm
Free Entry

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Gordon Cheung

“Unfold questions a creative and explorative process which has the particularity of stepping, more about conceptually or concretely, about it from two dimensional mediums into a three dimensional space. These “new types of spatial fields” consecutively play and emphasize the virtual aspect of the “drawing process”, visit web the physical nature of its material (carbon, paper) and techniques often associated to paper such as cutting, collage, folding; and therefore focusing on an interest in the physical world surrounding us.”

Artists include: Abigail Reynolds, Tove Storch, Emma McNally, Rosie Leventon and Gordon Cheung.

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Yayoi Kusama: Outdoor Sculptures

Victoria Miro Gallery
16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW

Until 25th July
Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am-6.00pm
Monday by appointment.

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Yayoi Kusama fever hits London this month, with this presentation of new sculptural work at the Victoria Miro Gallery, as well as a more extensive collection at the Hayward Gallery as part of Walking in my Mind (see below). Celebrating her 80th birthday this year, Kusama has an impressive six decades of success under her belt. These oversized colourful formations have become something of a signature for Kusama, and the Victoria Miro Gallery does them justice in their placing of them by the canalside for all to admire.

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Time and Tide: Al Lapkoysky and Katya Evdokimova

Hay Hill Gallery
23 Cork Street
Mayfair W1S 3NJ

29th June – 18th July
Monday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Free Entry

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Photograph by Al Lapkoysky

“‘Time and Tide’ is a joint show of the most recent work by internationally recognised London-based Russian photographers Al Lapkovsky and Katya Evdokimova. Both Lapkovsky and Evdokimova have won many photographic awards including Professional Photographer of the Year and the International Photographic Awards and often work together. Lapkovsky’s collection of works in this exhibition juxtaposes the surreal and the ordinary enabling the viewer to take a leap of imagination and look at our ordinary lives through the realms of fantasy.”

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Walking in my Mind

Hayward Gallery
South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XZ

Until 6th September
Open daily 10am – 6pm, late nights Friday until 10pm
Entry: £9/£6

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Chiharu Shiota

Reminiscent of last summer’s hugely successful ‘Psycho Buildings’ exhibition, Walking in My Mind explores the imagination of ten international artists with individual large-scale interactive installation. Exploring interior worlds of thoughts, dreams, fears, memories and ideas and their inevitable confrontation with exterior reality, the boundaries between inner and outer space blurred and redefined.

Artists include: Charles Avery, Thomas Hirschhorn, Yayoi Kusama, Bo Christian Larsson, Mark Manders, Yoshitomo Nara, Jason Rhoades, Pipilotti Rist, Chiharu Shiota and Keith Tyson.

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Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed 09: Recent Graduates Exhibition

Photographer’s Gallery
16 – 18 Ramillies St
London W1F 7LW

Until 5th July
Monday – Saturday 11am-6pm, Thursday 11am-8pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm
Free Entry

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Photograph by Petros Chrisostomou

Navigating your way through the vast ocean of Graduate art shows that continue to fill the gallery wall space of the capital can be a daunting and exhausting exercise. Thank the heavens then that for photography fiends the highlights in new photographic talent can be found in this second annual showcase at the Photographer’s Gallery.

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We Dream of Language Without History


Paradise Row

17 Hereford Street
London, E2 6EX

Until 25th July
Wed-Sat, 12-6
Free Entry

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Samta Benyahia

Playing on society’s linguistic assumptions about names and origins, this exhibition of Middle Eastern or Muslim ‘sounding’ names is actually made up of artists who were born, grew up and live and work in a highly disparate series of locations and whose work reflects and explicitly engages, both individually and collectively, with the complex diversity of their backgrounds. This show raises issues of individual human identity and mass political definition; clever, challenging and thought provoking.

Artists participating in the exhibition: Farhad Ahrarnia; Lulwah Al-Homoud; Samta Benyahia; Shezad Dawood; Ala Ebtekar; Mounir Fatmi; Karim Ghelloussi; Aïcha Hamu; Hayv Kahraman; Timo Nasseri; Henna Nadeem; Ayman Yossri Daydban.

Thumbnail: Abigail Reynolds
There lies a certain harmonious relationship between music and art, ambulance sound and illustration, no rx noise and drawing. Perhaps more intensely paired than any of the other two senses, sickness our ears and our eyes stimulated simultaneously can spark something fairly major in both nostalgic recollection and creative interpretation. It appears that Alex Jako would agree with me, her poster and flyer artwork for bands being some of her most distinctive and brave pieces of illustration to date.

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Perhaps it’s her experience of working at Notting Hill’s rare record mecca Rough Trade, or maybe her impressively intimate knowledge of all things prog and psych circa Germany 1970, that means melodies and motifs find themselves overlapping inseparably throughout her work. She confesses that “Music consumes my thoughts… Some of my most articulate works involve representing music..the most exciting for me- as far as challenges go for my personal illustrative communication.”

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This is not a lady who does things by half. She describes herself as “a completely self-taught escapist”. She is more than aware of the hold that drawing has over her; in fact, she readily admits that artistic expression is a lifeline. “Drawing has become my most healthy habit. I have had to turn a lot of dangerous, self-destructive habits into positive obsessive ones. Drawing is one of those things which I can make as horrific or dark- or light as I want to without destroying myself or anyone around me.”

Jako arrived in London a decade ago aged 17, a fresh faced yank with a penchant for the dark and the alternative, taking a string of “various horrible low-wage jobs.. and doodled away stale time.” She reflects that it was unlikely she was ever going to settle into a 9 to 5 work environment. “I’d always get into some sort of trouble in these jobs, until eventually winning my employers over. My time-keeping is awful, my compromising potential completely non-existent.. I’ve always felt like a caged animal working for other people.”

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When I ask her where her creativity can be traced back to, she tells me “I’ve always drawn since I was a child- like, a necessity. It was a great way to escape life fear, anxiety.. the never-ending cycle. Souls are powered by new music all the time. Everyone that saw what I was working on started asking me to do things for them.” Modestly, she describes herself as still just a beginner. “I still feel I have something to prove, personally and professionally.. I’m not at that stage yet where opinions don’t matter to me”. Having said that, her upcoming work schedule sounds borderline frantic; Italian horror film poster re-enactments using porn stars, fields of flowers using pointillism, monstrous blobs for LMNO Projects.
I’m interested in how much free range she is given, or feels she can take, with briefs or specifications for commissions. “There is a huge amount of personal autonomy when creating these pieces, like a burning flame; the more the resistance I feel against what I’m aiming for, the bigger the fire roars and rages rebelliously.. and the more intense the urge to make something amazing, in my own way, to prove them wrong.”

And once that’s established, how long do you spend on each project, on average? “Once the spark has ignited I can steam through most pieces within days, weeks. Some projects become more ambitious naturally and like a chess game or a puzzle, I will sit and look at them for hours until each stroke pieces itself together organically, into the final work, using my subconscious to direct the piece.. a sort of meditation also. Sometimes it just all falls into place at an extraordinary rate!”

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As a Londoner myself I am always curious as to what those who flock here from far flung corners of the world feel about the city and what it has to offer creatively compared with their home ground. “I have many people I admire and love over in the U.S. I spent time in NYC a few years ago and fell deeply in love with it. But sometimes I wonder if I truly exist when I am over there. I feel more real over here. I believe London holds an incredible amount of magic and opportunity and allows for anyone to be self-made if they seize the chance. London contains ‘beacons in the maelstrom’.”

And now for the quickfire question round.

Hey, Alex Jako, what makes you so awesome?
My pirate ship.. steering through the rough seas and mighty winds in search of freedom and gold.

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If you could travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
I’m scared of time travel at this speed let alone moving it backwards or forwards!

Which illustrators/artists do you most admire?
Nick Blinko the punk illustrator and musician, Austin Osman Spare, his line, and his wonderful world of ‘chaos magic’ , Henry Darger, his insanity, and his beautiful odd drawings, Hasegawa T?haku, his simplicity, his wisdom and finesse, Aubrey Beardsley .. the old masters.. I’m fascinated by painters such as Italian Renaissance artist Bernardo Belloto. His execution of detail is mind-blowing.. I can stare into any section of a painting for hours, days.. admiring his use of colour, application of paint onto page.

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If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Working in a record shop in Notting Hill.

Who or what is your nemesis?
Computers.. they hiss when they catch sight of me..

What piece of modern technology could you not live without?
ID cards- no one believes that I’m not 13 and who I say I am.

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
As Robert Crumb said “Draw your way out!”

Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
I listen to many different forms of music and musicians.. It’d be hard to pick just one. I’m very fickle with my flirtations with records also. This week the soundtracks to my life include: Pisces-A lovely Sight, Cate Le Bon’s forthcoming record on Randomonium (Gruff Rhys’ new label), Sam and the Plants, Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac.. Amon Duul II, Honest Jon’s new “Open Strings” compilation.

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I say Modern art is rubbish, you say..?
I don’t really consider simply being a fan of music or art as a great achievement. Nor is merely regurgitating music or art which one is a fan of already. I agree that artist should be social terrorist, as Billy Childish puts it.. crushing boundaries, fighting upstream, existing contrary to the flow that is fashionable. Symbolically, for this reason, we need modern art. As long as the cycle constantly renews itself with fresh ideas..approaches, I will adore modern art. But I refuse to glorify any particular fashion scene labeled as modern art. I like my coffee strong not watered down. Glorification by me is my silent open gaping mouth as I bury my head into my lap and stare at old things, objects, books, smelly old disintegrating yellow paper.. gawp at the old masters, etchings, paintings in Belgian art galleries…

Who would be your top 5 dream dinner guests? Who would do the washing up?
Roy Harper because I love what he has to say and he is incredibly handsome and writes beautiful songs, Werner Herzog because he might challenge everyone’s perceptions on life theory or imagery and might ruffle some feathers, Chris Packham because of his intensive geek knowledge about nature, Stewart Lee for his perverse sense of humour, and Jordan just because she’d rock the dinner boat. All five of these people are a great inspiration to me in their own way. Werner Herzog would probably do the washing up.. and then make a film about washing up, which could draw people to tears. Haha!

What is your guilty pleasure?
pushing buttons.

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Stop, Look AND Listen: Alex Jako proves there is more to music than the sound and more to art than the visual.
Tomorrow! – Wednesday 1st July, there 7pm, visit Millenium Hotel, Mayfair

Ever heard of palm oil? No? Biofuels ring a bell? Revolutionary green fuels from renewable plant matter, not oil. Well, Climate Rush invite you to think that proposal through. Biofuel is the biggest growth market for palm oil, and a growing palm oil industry means vast deforestation and huge carbon emissions.

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The UK is the second largest importer of Indonesian palm oil in Europe. Forty-three of Britain’s hundred top grocery brands contain palm oil, including Hovis, Kingsmill, Flora, Clover, Special K, KitKat, Diary Milk, Wrigleys, Persil, Comfort and Dove.

To find the land for palm oil plantations, people are draining and burning peat land, starting forest fires to clear land, and cutting down tropical rainforest. This is no good for carbon dioxide, indigenous communites, biodiversity, or orangutans.

Orangutans? The orangutan population has been decimated in the last 100 years, and now faces extinction. Palm oil plantations support only a tenth of the wildlife of virgin forest – and have removed more than 10 million hectares of tropical rainforest.

Climate Rush invite you to come celebrate tomorrow evening – there’s much that’s wonderful in the world – with local and homegrown seasonal food and juices, a swing band and the clear message against the growth of the palm oil industry.

Here’s the action bit – rush into a five star hotel holding yet another conference. This time “the 2nd Annual World AgriInvest Congress brings together the full spectrum of the agri value chain AND the financial community. Hear from and meet operators, producers, buyers, government, agri funds, and institutional investors.” These are the people who keep the wheels of the palm oil industry greased – coming off crude oil onto palm oil, laying waste to the rainforest in the process.

And there’s a special prize promised for the best orangutan costume. Be there 7pm sharp. How can you resist?

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Categories ,climate rush, ,deforestation, ,orangutans, ,palm oil

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Amelia’s Magazine | Agrofuels Don’t Roc(K) – Rally against Biofuels

On Monday evening as the sun set and the lights from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) blared onto the street, ask over a hundred protesters gathered to call for an end to government subsidies on biofuels.

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Agrofuels are seen as a green alternative to conventional oil but cause even more damage, indigenous communities are being dispossessed, land that was used for food is being handed over for the production of palm oil. The production of biofuel contributes the the acceleration of climate change through deforestation and its twin results of water and soil degradation . This ‘green’ subsidy is even starting to need carbon offsetting for it to meet government agenda.
Due to protests against biofuels power stations, plans to build have already been stopped at Ealing and Portland among others. However protests are still needed to push the government into action, currently agrofuel power is awarded double the number of subsidies compared to offshore wind farms.

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Joining the demo were a range of musicians that kept up spirits and entertained with witty biofuel songs, as well as several speakers highlighting the issue.

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John Stewart,Fight The Flights, spoke about the aviation industry plans to incorporate biofuels. Companies like BA complain about the increasing tax on fuel consumption using the inequality agenda as an argument. But when considering how agrofuels are largely made by exploiting poor countries while the rich benefit, their argument is quickly invalidated.

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The demo was also held on the International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People, which ironically falls on the same date Columbus discovered the Americas. A large group, part of ‘Global Mobilisation for Mother Earth’ called by Andean indigenous peoples joined us outside DECC and a speaker highlighted the problems faced by indigenous peoples in Latin America.

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The police set up a pen as per usual, making sure the left hand side pavement wasn’t blocked which would obviously have a huge detrimental effect. Instead they crammed us all inside the narrow fences; health and safety you know, can’t have a protest stopping people from having to cross the road to the other pavement to get passed. Anyway we all managed to listen and rally in any little space we could find and as darkness fell continued to put pressure on the energy department in the 100-watt bulb luminous lit rooms above.

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Categories ,agrofuels, ,biofuels, ,deforestation, ,demo, ,Department of Energy and Climate Change, ,government, ,Indigenous People, ,Latin America, ,palm oil, ,Plane Stupid, ,protest

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