Amelia’s Magazine | Small Show Very Pro

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Categories ,Central Saint Martins, ,design, ,graduates, ,textiles

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Amelia’s Magazine | Xuan-Thu Nguyen Interview

Here at Amelia’s Magazine HQ this week we are all feeling rather revitalised, this salve with the prospect of spring safely in our sights and a stomach full of Easter eggs we thought what better time to share our energized disposition with you are faithful readers, and boy do I have a treat in store for you fashionista’s today.

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It comes in the form of exciting new Aussie talent Fashion Designer Josh Goot, heralded as “modernisms new messiah” it’s enough to get anyone in the fashion sphere jumping up and down excitedly in their Chanel heels. Goot first catapulted his way into the fashion sphere in 2005 after winning Young Designer of the Year Award in Sydney, but only made his debut on the London fashion circuit at this years London Fashion Week with his S/S 09 collection

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Goot studied Media Art and Production at Sydney’s University of Technology where he graduated in 1999. This background has shaped his distinctive approach to fashion design, renowned for his use of print and his minimalist aesthetic Goot has injected a healthy dose of artistic expression onto the catwalk.

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Goots A/W 09 collection did not fail to get our taste buds flowing, paying homage to the natural world it’s an explosion of texture and colour. Heavily inspired by geology the collection focuses on organic lines and silhouettes.

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Goot’s exquisite tailoring techniques come to the forefront in his A/W 09 collection. Enthused by the erosive textural quality of rock Goot uses angular tailoring with reverse contour lines to mimic the harsh lines that occur in sedimentary rocks. This masculine tailoring is then softened by his subdued use of colour; the palette is a hazy of distilled greys that merge with soft violets, yellows and blues to create quixotic and distinctly feminine pieces. His modernist aesthetic creates a look that is both functional yet expressive, with styles ranging from tailored jackets, panelled shirts to asymmetric tops and body con suits.

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The most enthralling element to the A/ W collection has to be Goots Marble effect series. Audiences were mesmerised by the haze of colour gliding down the catwalk. To me it conjures old childhood memories of marbling from art class. I remember excitedly leaning over a tank of water mixing oil inks and eagerly gliding my stick through the water to create patterns. I was mesmerised by the beautiful hues merging together to create such vivid canvases of colour. Goot encapsulates this perfectly in his prints, which were created from large-scale digitally printed water coloured pieces.

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After such awe inspiring pieces in his A/W collection I am eager to inspect what else Josh Goot has tucked up his sleeve. With stores such as Browns Focus in London and Marie Luisa in Paris already stocking his collections I have no doubt Goot is set to take the fashion sphere by storm!

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Lewes’ quaint, story cobbled streets and Dickensian finery belie the town’s rebel status and heritage. Thomas Paine, ask 18th century philosopher and all round radical was a local while the annual bonfire festivities are the kind of Pagan perverse, politically loaded Wickerman shindigs that grab national newspaper headlines. Situated slap bang in the life-affirming environs of the Sussex Downs and home to Harvey’s ale, it’s easy to see why Lewes is something of a hippy haven – genteel on the outside, pretty bizarre on deeper investigation. The perfect host to the neo-psychedelic revolution. Or a place where a bunch of bearded dudes get to hang out and discuss obscure Nuggets. Either way, I was home.

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The happening unfolded in the All Saints Centre, a church where, most appropriately, Pink Floyd played in 1966. Heightening the sense of lysergic lasciviousness that characterised the night was the mind mulching lightshow provided by locally sourced hero, Innerstings. Such visual freak-ery was offset perfectly by the evening’s DJs who, for the most part, dealt in psychedelic music of the guitar based variety. No bad thing, especially if the crate digger behind the decks is Richard Norris, whose set seemingly unearthed the kind of gems Lenny Kaye would kick himself for missing. As was the desired effect, this all blended perfectly with the live performances which served to give the evening a modernist sheen and kick several shades of shit out of any sense of nostalgia that pervaded. Take, for example, The Notorious Hi-Fi Killers, whose singer resembled Jerry Garcia but whose band kicked up a beautifully godless stoner-rock racket. (Un)natural heirs to Rocky Erickson’s throne perhaps, they tore their way through an acid-spanked set of psychedelic garage punk and sounded far bigger than you’d expect from three blokes from South London.

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Having obliterated the dance floor of rug cutting psychedelic Mods, it was left to headliners, The Yellow Moon Band, to restore some kind consensual good will. This was entirely apt as the Yellow Moon Band’s founders are Jo and Danny, hirsute curators of the Greenman Festival. Consummate professionals to a hilt, they play note for note the majority of their recent (and peculiarly danceable) debut album, Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World. On paper, their Steeleye Span meets Slayer schtick looks decidedly unappealing but, bathed in a wash of kaleidoscopic lights and played out with merciless efficiency the Yellow Moon Band are a strangely alluring, downright compelling and very psychedelic experience. Just ask the mass of people throwing shapes and gyrating down the front. Pouring out into the graveyard post show, chatting with likeminded souls and new friends, it seemed Lewes had given birth to a new spring time institution, one worthy enough of taking its place next to the other grand traditions of this beguiling and beautiful town.
The Otesha Project team are an ambitious lot. They want to tackle climate change, more about poverty, cheap injustice, and educate thousands of young people on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Their weapon of action? The humble bicycle. You heard me! But the folks behind Otesha are a clever and forward thinking bunch. They can achieve more with a bicycle and a deceptively simple mission statement then most global corporations could possibly dream of.

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Back in 2003, the team that would go onto create the Otesha Project in Canada had recently returned from working in Kenya. Rather than being inspired by life in Africa, Jocelyn Land – Murphy and Jessica Lax were dismayed to find vast inequalities between the North Americans and the Kenyans. The extent of the unfair trading, irresponsible over consumption and labour exploitation that they witnessed left a bitter taste in their mouth but equally seemed too insurmountable a problem for two people to tackle. The feeling of powerlessness acted as a catalyst for their own personal change. On return to Canada they began to alter their lifestyles to reflect the change that they wanted to see in the world. And thus began the Otesha way of being. It’s a beautifully uncomplicated concept, and practically the only one that we can adhere to when all of the world’s problems seem too huge to tackle – that change can occur on the most massive scale by simply altering your own life – in other words, be the change! So this is what they did, and set off through Canada on their bikes, stopping off to make presentations to young people about the importance of social change. Seeing that this was a resounding success, and that they made over 250 presentations to more than 12,00 young people, Otesha was ready for more!

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This brings us to the Otesha Project UK, which promotes social change in a number of ways. The most well known way is through their cycle tours. I met with some of the team behind Otesha UK; Liz McDowell and Hanna Thomas recently, and they filled me in on these expeditions. Needless to say, I am not much of a cyclist, but even I was segmenting off part of my summer for the following year to join the next wave of cycle tours. So, for any of you that are interested in spending your summer doing something slightly different to the status quo, this is how it works. A team of volunteers (like yourself, or me after I have done a couple more spinning classes) cycle around a particular part of Britain for around 6 weeks; last year the venues included Cornwall and Wales; this year’s venues are East Anglia, a section of Scotland, and the coast of Wales. Whilst on the travels, the team stop off to speak at schools and communities about environmental and social sustainability. They don’t just speak; plays and workshops are also performed. Whilst on the road, the team record their experiences on journals and video recorders.

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There is a bit of a travelling circus element to it; and Liz and Hanna told me that the team clearly love what they are doing. Equally as important – the response from the groups that they speak to is always overwhelming. Many of the group return year after year; Otesha are good to their teams! As well as stopping off at schools, the team also have excursions organised for them. In Wales they get a couple of learning days at the Centre for Alternative Technology, as well as a visit to a permaculture farm. Those who head over to East Anglia get a chance to stay in a tipi at a Roman archaeological site. While this is all good fun, the skills that the team take away with them are invaluable. Getting a head start in public speaking, learning to work alongside and live with a large team of people – and maintain a great relationship with them – are attributes that can be taken anywhere.

When they are not cycling around Britain, The Otesha Project are working with groups of young people over longer periods of time to help create change in their local community. They work from the Otesha Handbook, which highlights issues such as Food, Money, Fashion, Energy, Trade and Transport. Last summer, Otesha worked with students in Tower Hamlets Summer University, who chose to do a project about food; specifically the issues of seasonable and organic food. The students approached local cafes, shops and markets to discover who was using organic, fairtrade food, and wrote to their MP’s asking that organic food be subsidised. This culminated with the students creating a Seasonal Summer Feast for their friends and family, which by all accounts was a great success.

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(all images courtesy of The Otesha Project UK)

Other projects have included Getting Ethical About Fashion, held at the Princes Trust XL Club in Barnet, where students discussed issues in fashion that are often swept under the carpets, such as sweatshops, child labour, and the chemicals put in clothes. My favourite sounding workshop was the Dirty Weekend held at Goldsmith’s EnviroClub Community Gardens. Ok, so it was not that kind of dirty weekend, and it involved plans for creating a garden for the local residents and students, but at least the students still got their hands dirty!

The Otesha Project like to say that they are germinating good things, and it does seem that way. Everything that they do is for the benefit of the Earth, and the people who are inhabiting it. If you are interested in working with them, get in touch at:
info@otesha.org.uk
After last years’ unforgettable appearances from Bobby Digital, physician Felix Kubin, online Gay Against You and Agaskodo Teliverek amongst others, one cannot help but be wracked with anxiety about what they can pull out of the bag for this years’ follow-up Futuresonic Festival. The festival will be taking place between Thurs 14th – Saturday 16th of May, this year.

Taking a glimpse at the line up it promises to be something to rival last years’ festival unequivocally.

Starting off with Mexican electronic pioneer Murcof (& AntiVJ) with Jóhann Jóhannsson, the festival then dips its toe into Hip Hop with the New York collective ‘The Anti-Pop Consortium‘. From this we trawl through some dark and muddy psychedelic rock from Electric Wizard. A real highlight comes in the form of a one off performance from the legendary Philip Glass; playing Etudes and Other Work for Solo piano.

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Not to omit an audio assault from Ariel Pink with Marnie Stern and Crystal Antlers. It’s gonna be an absolute monster of a year for the futuresonic team.

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“The best, most explosive, most all-encompassing Futuresonic music line-up to date, covering genres as diverse as dubstep, contemporary classical, lo-fi indie, electronica, deep house, math rock, leftfield hip-hop and italo disco.” – The Futuresonic team.

Some of the venues sequestered for the festival include the RNCM, The Deaf Institute and Urbis, where you will see “a celebration of musicianship and a salute to those who perform on the cutting-edge”.

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Photo by www.andthewardrobe.co.uk

With oodles of other events going on over the entire weekend including exhibitions, theatre productions and club nights, there’s no excuse to completely miss out, unless you’re in a coma that is.
You may not have heard much about My Tiger My Timing – yet – but I guarantee that you will be hearing their curiously titled name a lot more in the upcoming months. This is a band destined for success. Their songs are an irresistible mix of hypnotic dark alt pop and potent melodies . Sung by smart and self aware South Londoners, drugs they have a killer style, approved a strong image and are in it for the long haul.

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I sat down with three members of the five piece recently, abortion Anna, James and Jamie, to talk about their debut single, ‘This Is Not The Fire‘, as well as their musical style and influences, and what it means to be geeky and sexy at the same time.

So, your new song, ‘This Is Not The Fire’ is released this week. Tell me a bit about the first single –
James: The song it’s quite rhythmic. It’s a dark pop song.
Anna: It is kind of about the moment that we are at now. With our lyrics, we want to be universal but at the same time not vague. The lyrics are about that moment when you know something that no one else does. It could be when you are about to unleash something; this is the moment when we are about to unleash the fire. But equally it is a personal song about the breakdown of relationships. We want people to be able to relate to the song as well as to be able to dance to it. Having an emotional side to the music is something that we try to do as well.

There is a brother and sister team here somewhere?
Anna: Yeah, James and I.

So who does what?
James: I play guitar and bass, and Jamie does the same. And we all sing. We have a new guy, Sebastian who is on synth, so we have now become a five piece. Which is logistically a bit difficult getting everyone in the car at the same time!

And you are all from New Cross, is that right?
Anna: Yes, we are based around there, and we formed just over a year ago. We were all in different bands; Seb was in The Cock N’ Bull Kid.

You have a good pedigree behind you – can you explain this?
Jamie: Andy Spence, who does the producing of New Young Pony Club has produced our new single “This Is Not The Fire’ , which was also up for single of the week on Radio 2 recently.
Anna: We lost out of the single of the week to Bat For Lashes – who we love, so that’s fair enough!
Jamie: There seems to be a Mercury Music Prize trailing us! (laughs) She beat us for Single Of The Week, and she was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize . Andy produced us, and he was also nominated. And we have just recorded with Joe from Hot Chip – who has also been nominated!

How did the Hot Chip connection come about?
Anna: We met him at a party – he knew our manager Brian, so we got chatting. We talked about the band name – we were named after a song by Arthur Russell. He was one of our initial influences, he was a New York based electronic artist; quite avant-garde. We bonded over that and he got in touch the next day.

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You have a very strong image. There is a bit of an 80′s electro vibe going on, right?
Jamie: Our image is very important to us. You get up on stage and people are paying to come and see you, it’s almost disrespectful to ask people to watch a bunch of scruff bags jumping around! (laughs). It’s definitely important, it’s to do with us being quite exuberant. And our music is quite fun and vibrant, and that comes through with what we wear.
Anna: The whole visual side of things is very important to us, even beyond what were wearing on stage and in photos. We also want to incorporate light shows and visuals into our shows.
James: One of the things we decided early on with our visual side was that we wanted our images to be back to basics, using almost solely primary colours. So we are aiming to hone a streamlined, simplified look. We don’t adhere to a particular image or era. Overall though, it’s about putting on a show.

Are you all inspired by the same music?
James: No, it’s rag tag.
Anna: We are all big Blur fans though. It’s a mixture of pop and the dark stuff that we like. Happy Mondays, Primal Scream– we definitely like dark British pop music.
Jamie: Also, musically we are influenced by each other. There is a friendly one up-manship in the band. Especially with the brother and sister!

Anna, how do you find being the only girl in a band full of guys? Do you get to rule the roost?
Anna: I am a bit of a tomboy, so I feel like one of the guys most of the time. But I can get away with not having to lug amps – although I actually can do it (laughs)
James: It’s cause we a band of gentlemen. We have old fashioned values. (All laugh)
Jamie: Anna is definitely not out on a limb – she is the driving force!

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There was a great description of My Tiger My Timing on your website – that you are geeky and sexy. Who is the geeky or sexy one, or are you all a bit of both?
Anna: We are all a bit of both, the two terms aren’t mutually exclusive.
James: We wear that oxymoron on our sleeve.
Jamie: We like the French phrase – “jolie/ laide”, which means ugly/ beautiful – the common definition about what is cool and sexy is so arbitrary.
Anna: We are making quite dancy music, quite rhythmic music but we are all quite…. white!.. so we are not particularly cool! (laughs!)
James: What’s wrong with being geeky? It’s part of the geeky thing to be into anything in an obsessive way, like how we are with music. And that is always going to come across with us.

Where do you see My Tiger My Timing heading? What are your goals?
Anna: We are writing an album, we hope to have the beginnings of an album by the end of the summer, and we are trying to tour a lot.
James: It’s rocketing along pretty quickly, we just don’t stop writing. If you had told us last year where we would be…. it’s mad, we wouldn’t believe it. We are doing festivals, we’re playing The Great Escape in Brighton, Hinterland in Glasgow and we have a few lined more lined up, and a few to be confirmed, which is all pretty exciting. As a band you don’t want to go into festival season and not be on the line up!
Anna: We have got a bit of an alternative band name, and every time I say it, people go “what?” (laughs) so one of my goals is that we so well known that we won’t have to say the band name twice! And we also want to champion the idea of British pop music.
In a world of fast fashion and cheap labour for inflated profit margins it’s sweet relief to meet a person who is wholly true to her craft. Xuan-Thu Nguyen (pronounced Swan-Toe nuhWEN) is a Parisian haute couture and prêt-à-porter designer whose approach to each isn’t altogether different; when it comes to materials and execution she spares nothing to perfectly produce the design in her head, stomach at times closing that typically wide divide between couture and ready to wear. Her mix of Old World skill and care with innovative techniques results in garments and accessories that are both exquisitely crafted and fashion-forward.

Thu offers us a glimpse into her work and explains what makes her pieces so extraordinary (with some prodding, and she’s very modest!)

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Tell us a bit about yourself, Thu?

I was born in Vietnam and grew up in Holland. When I was 10 years old I wanted to become a florist, but I always wanted to design, so I decided to go fashion design school. Up graduating in 1999 I started my own label in Amsterdam before coming to Paris to open my boutique four years later, in 2005. I began showing my prêt-à-porter collections at Paris fashion week then added the haute couture, which I’ve been showing since July, 2008.

Can you take us through your creative process?

I design in my head, see the pattern and work out the adjustments before I begin putting anything together. In school I would do up the sketches after I’d made the garment! I have so many ideas, it can be difficult to focus on one thing and I have to separate my ideas and choose one direction. Sometimes the starting point is something as simple as a colour, a shape or a technique.  My creations are a mixture of modern and geometric pleated shapes with fragile and delicate accents like handmade embroideries. I use natural fabrics like 100% cotton, silk or wool which give the garment even more of a delicate expression.

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Do you have a design team???

No, I design everything myself.??

Where is your prêt-à-porter made???

Some pieces, like the accessories, are made here in Paris. I do the first few myself. The prêt-à-porter is made in Holland. My parents own a textile factory there and the numbers I need are small enough that I’m able to produce there.

??Do you find that allows you to control the production???

Yes, I have some unique finishing processes that I’ve had to work hard to get right on the production side, but in the end I’ve gotten things made as I want them. I could have my clothes made in China, but for me, it’s not about bigger profits. ?

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With that kind of commitment to detail in your prêt-à-porter it seems you blur the lines a bit between that and your haute couture collection, would you agree with this?

??You could say that. I will do some prêt-à-porter pieces like haute couture, like if I really want to use an expensive fabric or trim I will, or I might spend a lot of time to get the detail just right. Many of my pieces look very simple from the outside but have a lot of work on the inside. It’s not about making a big show of it; these are likely things that just the wearer and I will know. (Ed. note: Whilst browsing Thu’s Paris boutique I noticed some examples of this understated yet significant detailing: her placement of jacket side pockets, invisible button holes on shirts and the extensive finishing on the underside creates clean lines and gives the garment a polished simplicity. Truly chic.)

Your Fall/Winter 2009 collection is very light and summery; what was your thinking behind that?

I don’t really follow the seasons; I design what I want to at that time. Also, many people live in places where they don’t have winter or they need clothes for warm holidays, and I don’t want to restrict myself to working in just wools and dark colours or be dictated by a season. And we could all use some brightening up during the winter!

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What’s next for Xuan-Thu Nguyen?

We’re working on launching the brand in Asia for 2010..

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Xuan-Thu Nguyen will be showing her A/W collection at Paris Haute Couture week in July, so we can anticipate more inventive and truly beautiful clothes that will surely brighten the spirits, regardless of the season!

Categories ,Couture, ,Denise Grayson, ,Design, ,Fashion, ,Xuan-Thu Nguyen

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Amelia’s Magazine | Xuan-Thu Nguyen Interview

In a world of fast fashion and cheap labour for inflated profit margins it’s sweet relief to meet a person who is wholly true to her craft. Xuan-Thu Nguyen (pronounced Swan-Toe nuhWEN) is a Parisian haute couture and prêt-à-porter designer whose approach to each isn’t altogether different; when it comes to materials and execution she spares nothing to perfectly produce the design in her head, at times closing that typically wide divide between couture and ready to wear. Her mix of Old World skill and care with innovative techniques results in garments and accessories that are both exquisitely crafted and fashion-forward.

Thu offers us a glimpse into her work and explains what makes her pieces so extraordinary (with some prodding, she’s very modest!)

contributer-6.jpg

Tell us a bit about yourself, Thu?

I was born in Vietnam and grew up in Holland. When I was 10 years old I wanted to become a florist, but I always wanted to design, so I decided to go fashion design school. Up graduating in 1999 I started my own label in Amsterdam before coming to Paris to open my boutique four years later, in 2005. I began showing my prêt-à-porter collections at Paris fashion week then added the haute couture, which I’ve been showing since July, 2008.

Can you take us through your creative process?

I design in my head, see the pattern and work out the adjustments before I begin putting anything together. In school I would do up the sketches after I’d made the garment! I have so many ideas, it can be difficult to focus on one thing and I have to separate my ideas and choose one direction. Sometimes the starting point is something as simple as a colour, a shape or a technique.  My creations are a mixture of modern and geometric pleated shapes with fragile and delicate accents like handmade embroideries. I use natural fabrics like 100% cotton, silk or wool which give the garment even more of a delicate expression.

contributer_1.jpg

contributer_2.jpg


Do you have a design team?



No, I design everything myself.



Where is your prêt-à-porter made?



Some pieces, like the accessories, are made here in Paris. I do the first few myself. The prêt-à-porter is made in Holland. My parents own a textile factory there and the numbers I need are small enough that I’m able to produce there.



Do you find that allows you to control the production?



Yes, I have some unique finishing processes that I’ve had to work hard to get right on the production side, but in the end I’ve gotten things made as I want them. I could have my clothes made in China, but for me, it’s not about bigger profits. 


contributer_3.jpg


With that kind of commitment to detail in your prêt-à-porter it seems you blur the lines a bit between that and your haute couture collection, would you agree with this?



You could say that. I will do some prêt-à-porter pieces like haute couture, like if I really want to use an expensive fabric or trim I will, or I might spend a lot of time to get the detail just right. Many of my pieces look very simple from the outside but have a lot of work on the inside. It’s not about making a big show of it; these are likely things that just the wearer and I will know. (Ed. note: Whilst browsing Thu’s Paris boutique I noticed some examples of this understated yet significant detailing: her placement of jacket side pockets, invisible button holes on shirts and the extensive finishing on the underside creates clean lines and gives the garment a polished simplicity. Truly chic.)

Your Fall/Winter 2009 collection is very light and summery; what was your thinking behind that?

I don’t really follow the seasons; I design what I want to at that time. Also, many people live in places where they don’t have winter or they need clothes for warm holidays, and I don’t want to restrict myself to working in just wools and dark colours or be dictated by a season. And we could all use some brightening up during the winter!

contributer_4.jpg

What’s next for Xuan-Thu Nguyen?

We’re working on launching the brand in Asia for 2010..

contributer_10.jpg

Xuan-Thu Nguyen will be showing her A/W collection at Paris Haute Couture week in July, so we can anticipate more inventive and truly beautiful clothes that will surely brighten the spirits, regardless of the season!

Categories ,Couture, ,Denise Grayson, ,Design, ,Fashion, ,Xuan-Thu Nguyen

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Amelia’s Magazine | Zakee Shariff at Beyond the Valley

Having spearheaded the new London folk scene with their debut album, there medical Noah and the Whale are back with their hands full up, releasing a new single, album and film out this summer. We talk school plays, Daisy Lowe, weddings, gardening, Werner Herzog in the studio with the effortlessly charming frontman, Charlie Fink.

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Photos by Katie Weatherall

Amelia’s Mag: You’ve got a whole host of new releases coming up – single, album, film – how are you feeling about it all, happy/nervous/excited?

Charlie Fink: All of the above… I dunno, we did the album so long ago… From the last album, I realised the only satisfying feeling you’re going to get is the feeling you get when you’ve finished it and you think it’s good, that’s the best it gets. Reading a review of somebody else saying it’s good is good to show off to your mum, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Likewise, if there’s something you believe in and someone says it’s bad, you’re still going to believe in it.

AM: And the live shows must add another dimension to that?

CF: Yeah. What I’m excited about really is that this record realises us as a band more than the previous one. So that’s going to be really exciting to go out and play that live to people.

AM: And is there anything in particular that has done this or has it been the natural progression of the band?

CF: It’s a million small things, from us playing together more, us growing up, learning our trade a bit better, from what happens in lives and the records you listen to. I very much try to rely as much as I can on instinct and satisfying myself. And this is not a selfish thing because the only way you can supply something worthwhile to somebody else, is if you’re totally satisfied with it yourself. Doing the right things for us and hoping that’ll transfer to the audience.

AM: Was there anything in particular you were listening to whilst making the record?

CF: The things I’m listening to now are different from the things I was listening to when I wrote the record. When I first started the record, I was listening to ‘Spirit of Eden’ by Talk Talk, which is a different sounding record to what we did. Nick Cave, lots by Wilco

AM: So tell me about the film, ‘The First Days Of Spring’, that accompanies the album (of the same name)… which came first?

CF: The first thing was the idea of a film where the background and the pace was defined by an album. But it totally overtook my whole life. It’s one of those things you start for a certain reason and then you keep going for different reasons. The inspiration was sort of how people don’t really listen to albums anymore, they listen to songs. We wanted to try making an all emersive record where the film puts people into it. We’re not dictating that this should be the only way people listen to music, we just wanted to offer something alternative. On a lot of records these days, you don’t feel like the unity of the album gives it more strength than each individual song. Whereas with this record, the whole thing is worth more than the individual parts. That’s how I see it anyway.

The First Days Of Spring Teaser from charlie fink on Vimeo.

There’s this quote from I think W. G. Collingwood that says, ‘art is dead, amusement is all that’s left.’ I like the idea that this project, in the best possible way, is commercially and in lots of other ways pointless. It’s a length that doesn’t exist. It’s not a short film or a feature, it’s 15 minutes and the nature of it is that it’s entirely led by its soundtrack. It’s created for the sake of becoming something that I thought was beautiful.

AM: And Daisy Lowe stars in it, how was that?

CF: She’s an incredibly nice and intelligent person. I met with her in New York when we were mixing the album and I told her I was doing this film… She was immediately interested. And her gave her the record as one whole track which is how I originally wanted it to be released. Just one track on iTunes that had to be listened to as a whole and not just dipped into. She sent me an email two weeks later, because she’s obviously a very busy person. With her listening to the album, a kind of live feed of what she thought of it. Making a film and having her was really good because she kept me motivated and passionate. She genuinely really took to this project. The whole cast as well, everyone really supported it and it was a pleasure to make. I had to fight to get it made and understood. It’s one of those things that people either passionately disagree with or agree with. From thinking it’s absurdly pretentious or beautiful. Fortunately all the people working on the film were passionate people.

AM: So is film making something you want to continue with?

CF: Yeah, definitely! At some point I’d like to make a more conventional film. The thing that really stuck with me about making a film was surround sound. When you’re mixing a film, you’re mixing the sound in surround because you’re mixing for cinemas. You realise the potential of having five speakers around you as opposed to just two in front of you. The complexity of what you can do is vast. So I’d love to something with that. If you record in surround sound you need to hear it in surround sound, so maybe some kind of installation… Then another film after that…

AM: You’ve been put into a folk bracket with your first album, is that something you’re ok with?

CF: I like folk music, I listen to folk music but then every folk artist I like denies they’re folk. It’s one of those things, it doesn’t really matter. We played last year at the Cambridge Folk Festival and I felt really proud to be a part of that. It’s a real music lovers festival. That was a really proud moment so I can’t be that bothered.

AM: I recently sang your first single, ‘5 Years Time’, at a wedding, do you ever imagine the direction your songs may go after you write them?

CF: Wow. That’s really funny. I’ve had a few stories like that actually. It’s touching but it’s not what I’d imagine.

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AM: Do you write songs in that way? Some bands set out to write a love song, dance song etc…

CF: I can’t really remember how I write… I was writing last night but… do you drive?

AM: I just recently failed my test.

CF: Perfect! Well, you know when you start driving you have to think through everything – put my foot on the clutch, take it off the clutch etc. Then when you’ve been doing it a while, you just do all those things without even knowing you’ve done them. That’s how it feels with songwriting, I can’t really remember doing it. It just happens how it happens. Or like gardening… you’ve just gotta chop through and it’ll come.

AM: Is being in a band everything you imagined it to be?

CF: For me it’s more about being creative. I do some production for people, the band, the writing and now the film. I just love what I do and just keep doing it. I follow it wherever it goes. The capacity I have for doing what I do is enough to make it feel precious.

AM: So are there any untapped creative pursuits left for you?

CF: At the moment what I’m doing feels right. I never had any ambitions to paint. I don’t have that skill. I think film and music have always been the two things that have touched me the most.

AM: So how about acting?

CF: I did once at school when I was 13. I played the chancellor in a play the teacher wrote called ‘Suspense and a Dragon Called Norris.’ Which had rapturous reactions from my mum. I don’t think I could do that either. When you direct though you need to understand how acting works. It’s a really fascinating thing but I don’t I’d be any good at it.

AM: Do you prefer the full creative potential a director has?

CF: The best directors are the ones that build a character. Building a character is as important as understanding it. It needs major input from both the director and the actor. You can’t just give an actor the script and expect it to be exactly right. You need to be there to create the little details. The way they eat, the way they smoke… That’s an important skill.

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At this point, Charlie asks me about a note I’d made on my reporter’s pad, which was actually a reminder about a friend’s birthday present. Which draws the conservation to a close as we recite our favourite Werner Herzog films. Turns out, he shares the same taste in film directors as my friend.

Monday 24th August
Mumford and Sons
The Borderline, more about London

UK’s answer to Fleet Foxes, online Mumford and Sons, visit this celebrate their music video to the first single off their debut album in North London tonight.

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Tuesday 25th August
Wilco
The Troxy, London

If Charlie from Noah and the Whale tells us he likes Wilco, then we like Wilco. It’s as simple as that. It’s time to get educated.

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Wednesday 26th August
The Hot Rats
The Old Blue Last, London

Otherwise known as half of Supergrass plus hot shot Radiohead producer, The Hot Rats get their kicks taking pop classics by, amongst others, The Beatles and The Kinks and infusing their own alt-rock psychedelica – worth a gander.

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Thursday 27th August
KILL IT KID
Madam Jo Jos, London

Their blend of durge blues, barndance and freestyle frenzy jazz blues make KILL IT KID a gem to behold in a live setting.

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Friday 28th August
Swanton Bombs
Old Blue Last, London

If you like your indie adorned in Mod and brimming with angularity, then Swanton Bombs will be pushing the trigger on your buttons.

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Saturday 29th August
South East in East Festival – Teenagers In Tokyo, Tronik Youth, Ali Love, Publicist
Vibe Bar, London

It’s all about South East London – full stop. In this cunning event, it up sticks to East London, where synth-pop Gossip descendents, Teenagers In Tokyo headline a night of New X Rave.

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Sunday 30th August
The Gladstone Open Mic Night
The Gladstone, London

As it’s Bank Holiday Weekend and all the bands are at Reading/Leeds Festival, London is starved of big gigs. No fear, The Glad is here – A little known drinking hole in Borough that continually serves up a plethora of folkey talent… and pies!

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Sunderland born designer Rosie Upright is truly passionate about design. Aren’t we all I hear you say? Well, health she’s up, recipe all hours, medical day or night… cutting away with her trusty stanley knife… stopping only when her numb fingertips plead for rest. Do your fingertips bleed? I thought not! Rosie developed her unique hand-crafted techniques whilst at university in Epsom, where she learnt all the usual computer design programs… and then decided to steer clear of them. She’s fled the suburbs of Epsom now, to live in London town with all the other hopeful new freelancers. She spends her days photographing, drawing, organising balls of string… and deciding what hat to wear.
We caught up with Rosie for a little chat…

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Hi, how are you today?

I’ve got a bit of a sore throat coming on, the irritating children over the road are noisily playing some kind of shooting game, a car is beeping its horn continuously just below my window, itunes is refusing to play anything other than Billy Idol (which I’m not in the mood for), my coloured ink cartridge has just ran out, I’ve got a blister from my favourite pink shoes, an uninvited wasp is stuck in my blinds, my ginger hair has faded to a weird brown, I forgot to buy milk and Ronnie Mitchell is still crying on Eastenders – but apart from that I’m topper thanks.

What have you been up to lately?

Fingers in pies, fingers in pies!
Including…cross-stitch and a week in a cottage in Norfolk (no telephone signal or internet connection, bloody lovely!)

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

I don’t think I would have done a degree in graphic design if my ever-encouraging parents hadn’t taken me to a Peter Saville exhibition at the Urbis in Manchester many moons ago. Made me see the ideas process at its very best and the crucial-ness (that’s not even a word!) of initial doodles and sketchbooks.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Where would any of us be if it weren’t for Dr Seuss?
I really love a bit of Russian Constructivism, in particular Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, bloody genius.
Mr Vaughan Oliver, for making us all think differently about where to crop the image, for being an ongoing influence and for that opportunity.
Harry Beck, Robert Doisneau and most recently Philippe Petit.

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If we visited you in your hometown, where would you take us?

Stroll down to Seaburn beach because when you don’t live next to the sea anymore you really miss it, and it has really nice sand. Then to my very best friend Sarah Bowman’s house, to play with Peggy Sue the kitten, have mental vegetarian sandwiches off a cake stand, and a glass of red wine, ice cubes and coke. We should pop to an art shop in Darlington and then to The Borough, the best pub for tunes, a pint of cider and a Jaeger bomb.

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Who would most love to collaborate with creatively?

Mike Perry and YES art studio please. Thank you.

When did you realise you had creative talent?

When some hippy artist came into my junior school to create banners for some event at the local library with us. I was told after five minutes of colouring it in that I had to go away and read because I couldn’t keep within the lines.

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

A teenage Mam or an actress, haven’t decided which yet.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

I’d like to be the designer than graphic design students hate because their tutors always tell them to get their book out of the Uni library. And I’d quite like to have my own shop in London, Brighton or maybe Newcastle (or all three, and maybe Paris then if we’re going crazy) selling things made by me!

What advice would you give up and coming artists such as yourself?

Take other peoples advice but make your own mistakes, don’t be a dick and always colour outside of the lines.

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How would you describe your art in five words?

Hand made/ typography/ narrative/ personal/ I’d like to say idiosyncratic too but don’t want to sound like a twat.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Seeing people fall over.
(and cake)

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If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?

It was horrific enough moving away to University and into London and trying to find a job and start my life up. I think if I had to go backward or forward to another era I would probably just straight up die. Having said that though I would like to be a highwayman’s assistant.

Tell us something about Rosie Upright that we didn’t know already.

I can’t wait till I’m an old lady so I can wear those lacy nighties from Marks & Sparks and I love animals in clothes.

What are you up to next?

Going to make a cuppa tea, kill this wasp and then take over the world.
While most of us at the tender age of 19 rooted our existence in smacking down vodka jelly shots at the bar with kebabs at four in the morning and the Hollyoaks omnibus on a Sunday, pilule some people, of course, are born to shine in different ways. Take, for instance, London College of Fashion student Millie Cockton, somebody who has already had their work featured in a shoot for Dazed and Confused, styled by Robbie Spencer.

As a lover of clean lines and beautiful silhouettes, Millie looks for the wearer to bring their own identity to her gender non-specific pieces. At the moment under new label Euphemia, with her AW09/10 about to be stocked in London boutique and gallery space Digitaria, after being chosen to be the first guest designer at the Soho store. Check out the Dazed piece to see some brilliant Shakespearian-style ruffs that Millie has also created working with paper (a material proving popular as with Petra Storrs, who I featured last week).

Each to their own, mind you. I could totally do all that, if I wanted to.

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At the age of 19 you’ve already received quite a lot of attention – how has that been?

It’s been great so far! It’s very flattering but its also very daunting! I am on a constant learning curve and my work is developing all the time so although the attention is great it creates a lot of pressure!

Describe your design aesthetic in three words.

Clean, sculptural, understated.

Who do you see wearing your designs? Are they reflective of your own personality?

I like to think of a real mixture of people wearing my designs. I love the way that the same garment can look completely different on different people- for me its all about the individual and how they carry themselves, bringing their own identity to the piece.

I don’t think that my designs are necessarily a true representation of my personality and personal style. I feel that my designs are more of a reflection of the aesthetic that i find desirable and aspirational.

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Thinking about the ruffs featured in Dazed, people have touched on the theatrical nature of your designs – is the idea of performance important to you in fashion?

The idea of performance within fashion is something that interests me but I wouldn’t say that it’s a key element within my own designs. I like the notion of a performative element within a piece or a collection as i think that it helps gain a further understanding and insight of the designers thought process and inspiration.

What else do you respond to?

I am constantly discovering new sources of inspiration, being so young I know that I still have so much to learn!

Who are your fashion icons?

Yves Saint Laurent, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Jones.

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Is craft something else you’re interested in too?

I like to use elements of craft within my designs, such as origami style folding. Craft elements can add interesting details to simple pieces.

What are your plans for the future? Who would you like to work for?

I am about to launch my new collection which will be stocked in Digitaria, recently opened on Berwick St, Soho. I have just started to work with Digitaria’s creative director , Stavros Karelis and stylist Paul Joyce on some future projects which are really exciting and I am thoroughly enjoying. I want to continue learning and developing my ideas, challenging myself and most importantly keep having fun!

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‘Having fun’ of course might well translate to ‘becoming future fashion empress of the galaxy’. This is a talent to watch out for.

Photographs:George Mavrikos
Styling: Paul Joyce
Model: Antonia @ FM models

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Image by Mia Overgaard

The Camp for Climate Action 2009 is almost upon us – now’s the time to gather ourselves and prepare to swoop. Convinced that the response to climate change needs more? Ready to share skills, stomach knowledge and experiences? To be part of the grassroots swell of people demanding a difference? To get out there and do something?

Climate Camp is for you.

Be ready next Wednesday, 12th August, from noon, in London. We’re going to swoop on the camp location together. The more people the better. Secret until the last moment, you can sign up for text alerts and join one of the groups meeting scattered about central London before moving together to the camp.

Why Camp? We can all meet each other and learn stuff – reason enough? – I mean, an enormous, public, activist-friendly child-friendly student-friendly climate-friendly gathering with an ambitious and well-prepared programme of workshops covering all things from Tai Chi for those of us up early enough, through histories student activism, DIY radio, pedal-powered sound systems, legal briefings, stepping into direct action, singing, dancing, jumping and waving.

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Why London? Climate Campers have listed ten reasons to focus on London – right up the top of that list is : tall buildings and low flood plains. London is big corporate central, the City square mile itself accounting for a huge proportion of the UK economy, that FTSE100-flavoured slice of barely accountable, shareholder driven pie. And yet, as the Thames Barrier should always remind us, the whole city sits low on the ground. Just check out what the centre looks like with a few metres rise in sea level.

So what’s first? The Climate Camp Benefit party/shindig/jamboree/palooza/knee’s-up/gala ball/discotheque/rave/soiree at RampART, 9pm-3am this Friday 21st August. Consisting of fun/revelry/ribaldry/tomfoolery/jocularity/jive/merriment/high kinks, low jinks, jinks of all stature/cheer/gambol/horseplay & frolic. With bands & DJ’s including Rob the Rub & Sarah Bear & those amazing skiffle kids ‘The Severed Limb’. That’s at:

9pm-3am
rampART, 15 -17 Rampart Street,
London E1 2LA (near Whitechapel, off Commercial Rd)
Donations on the door much appreciated (and needed!) – all going straight to Climate Camp

And then? The Swoop – Night Before – Londoners and out-of-town visitors are welcome to ‘the night before the swoop’ – near the bandstand in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 7-8.30pm, Tuesday 25th August – for any last minute info, a legal briefing and an opportunity to join an affinity group and get excited. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is just behind Holborn tube station – this map here might help.

Awesome. See you soon.

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Ctrl.Alt.Shift dropped us a line to let us know about a comics-making competition so get your promarkers and layout pads at the ready. Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmarks Corruption is giving you the opportunity to design a unique comic style story. Ctrl.Alt.Shift is the experimental youth initiative politicising a new generation of activists for social justice and global change. The competition hopes to raise awareness of the Ctrl.Alt.Shift and Lightspeed Champion goals and views by inspiring this generation of designers to work together.

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Oscar nominated Marjane Satrapi, medical V V Brown and Lightspeed Champion are amongst the judges for the Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption competition launched today. Corruption is both a cause of poverty, and a barrier to overcoming it. It is one of the most serious obstacles to eradicate.

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Entrants to the competition will be in with the chance to create a unique comic style story in collaboration with acclaimed musician and writer Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion. After the first round of judging at the end of September, shortlisted entrants will be given Lightspeed Champion’s comic script as inspiration and asked to create a visual adaptation of the story.

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The winning commission will be published in a comic alongside new work exploring the issue of Corruption by some of comic’s greatest talents. The work will also be showcased as part of a new exhibition, Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption, later this year at Lazarides Gallery, Soho.
To enter the competition please send relevant examples of your visual work along with your contact details to Ctrl.Alt.Shift by Friday 25th September by visiting www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk/unmaskscorruption.

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Five short listed artists will then be given a comic brief to respond to and a winner chosen by a panel of judges including: Marjane Satrapi (Writer and Director of Academy Award Nominated Animated Film Persepolis) Paul Gravett (Comica founder), V V Brown and David Allain (Musician and Comic Book Writer/Artist duo), Lightspeed Champion and Ctrl.Alt.Shift.

The competition is restricted to UK Residents only
For further information about the competition please contact John Doe on 020 7749 7530 or Hannah@johndoehub.com / Jo.bartlett@johndoehub.com
Brooke Roberts is my favourite new designer. Why? Well, more about after exchanging several emails with her over the last few weeks, for sale for a young designer making such waves in the industry, her witty and playful personality has impressed even via my inbox! Having worked with such characters such as Louise Goldin and Giles, her avant- garde aesthetic really shines through in her highly tailored and retro-feel designs. Miss Roberts is going places, and she’s more than willing to take us along with her!

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What made you want to be a designer? What’s your design background?

I’m definitely not one of those designers who always knew that’s what they wanted to do. I did a degree in Applied Science at Sydney University (I’m from Australia) and worked as a radiographer for a year before moving to London to find out what I wanted to do. I did some work as a stylist with a fashion photographer (random hook-up). I knew his girlfriend and she knew my massive extensive collection of vintage clothes and shoes. My mum had a boutique when I was growing up and I loved clothes – I just never knew it was going to be my career.

I did a few jobs in London (pub, bank – more randomness) before realising I wanted to study fashion. I went to London College of Fashion and Central St.Martins (graduated 2005) wanting to be a pattern-cutter or tailor. I really wanted to create, rather than design. I get most satisfaction from making beautiful things and being involved in the whole process. I have a close working relationship with my suppliers, and go to the factories to develop my garments. I cut them all myself, which is probably bordering on control freakery, but I feel it shows in the final product and I can realise my designs exactly as I imagine them.

I’m waffling. I worked for Giles for two seasons after I left Uni, and started with Louise Goldin when she launched her label. We worked together for three years (until last October when I launched my label).

What are your inspirations for your collections?

I get lots of inspiration from my radiography job (I do that part-time to fund my label). So I’m running between the hospital and my studio all the time. I have used CT (cat) brain scans this season to create knit fabrics and digital prints. My obsession with reptile skins never seems to go away, and I have worked with Anwen Jenkins (awesome print designer) to create skull slice python skin prints. Basically, the python scales are replaced with multi-dimensional skull slices.

Apart from that, I research at museums and LCF Library. This season went to the British Museum and discovered Yoruba sculpture and traditional costumes. I researched these for silhouette and style lines. I also looked at Niger garments. They’re beautifully colourful, vibrant and flamboyant.

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What are your favourite pieces from your latest collection?

Umm. I wear the cat suit most. I actually met my boyfriend the first time I wore it. So I’m renaming it Lucky cat suit. I also love the Flex jacket in red snakeskin. The razor sharp points make me feel like I am ready for world domination!

What was it like working with Giles Deacon and Louise Goldin? What did you learn from them?

I learnt that I hate taking orders from others! I’m really not one to toe-the-line. I am a perfectionist and this drives other people mad sometimes. I was a pattern-cutter at Giles, doing mostly tailoring, which suited me fine. Most people wanted to do the showpieces, but I was most happy cutting jackets. Giles is a really lovely bloke. Working with him was really my first experience of doing shows and the pressure and stress of getting everything done.

With Louise, my job was broader because in the beginning it was just the two of us. I learnt so much, I can’t even write it down. I worked in the London studio and the knitwear factory in Italy. I had the opportunity to learn knitwear programming, selecting yarns and cutting and constructing knit. I still work in the factory for my own label and really love it. The other big thing was learning about running a business and starting from scratch. The hoops you have to jump through, the process of getting sponsorship, doing shows, sales and production… It’s a massive undertaking starting your own label. And I still chose to do it! Bonkers.

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Who do you think are the most important designers of your generation?

Hmm. Well, I like the work of Tina Kalivas and Gareth Pugh. If we’re talking most important, it has to be Gareth.

I’m really a lover of 80′s and 90′s designers. I find the work of Gianni Versace, Thierry Mugler and Rifat Ozbek most relevant to my style and most exciting.

What do you think are the problems facing young designers at the moment?

The biggest problems are funding and dealing with suppliers, particularly for production. Creating a beautiful product that you can reproduce is actually really difficult! You need to understand the technicalities of fabrics and construction (or hire someone who does) otherwise it all goes wrong.

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What’s next for Brooke Roberts?

In fantasy land, what’s next for Brooke Roberts is a holiday. In reality, I’m working hard on marketing and sales for London Fashion Week. I’m collaborating with jewellery designer Chris Edwards and shoe and bag designer Laura Villasenin on side projects for the label. Look out for skull slice stacked rings and metal bone-fixation embellished super-soft bags for SS10!!

Find Brooke stocked at the King and Queen of Bethnal Green.

Not slim tomatoes, viagra dosage narrow cucumbers or squashed, um, squashes – no, we’re talking about digging for victory in our own meagre abodes. With allotment waiting lists stretching beyond a century in Hackney and not many of us owning the half-county some how-to books seem to assume, options on grow-your-own approaches might look limited. But before you get the howling fantods at the piling impossibilities. As those of you who read the Amelia’s Magazine review of Growing Stuff (an Alternative Guide to Gardening) will know well, even the meagrest city apartment can burst forth in cornucopic life.

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Illustrations by Maxime Francout

And but so then it seems the thing to do is simply to get a pack of seeds and a container and get growing, no hesitation about it. If a brief pause in favour of screenreading sounds like it could lead to better inspiration, I entreat you, read on. There’s a glut of blogs and enthusiasts all over the place to speak to or read up upon. Here are just a few of our favourites.

Life on the Balcony tells Fern Richardson’s encounters with gardens small and smaller, great for fresh faces and old hands alike, with an awesome friendly dirt cheap ways to garden.

Carrie, of Concrete Gardening blogging fame (true in a juster world), digs organic urban gardening, and has gotten into gardening without the erm, garden, since buying a house in the city (Philadelphia) and sees all the possibilities of planting up, sideways and over – just recently blogging about taking things to the next level and climbing up on her roof to plant out veggies, seedlings to sit and soak up sun.

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Herbs and Dragonflies is written by a group set up by Kathy Marshall back in 2008 for the Pudsey Carnival and have been creatively, craftily planting since, encouraging others to get their green fingers dirty – doing activities with children and volunteering about the place. Most recently, they encouraged us blog-readers to leave the comfort of plastic planters and terracotta pots – most anything can sit with some soil in it. They suggest novelty Cadbury’s Fingers tins, I’ve used fancy jamjars, and seen anything from skips to wellington boots enlisted in the service of greenery.

Emma Cooper (I’m cribbing now from the ‘Growing Stuff’ contributor biogs page) lives in Oxfordshire with two pet chickens – Hen Solo and Princess Layer – and six compost bins. She has written an ‘Alternative A-Z of Kitchen Gardening’, which Karen Cannard The Rubbish Diet reckons is ‘an inspirational tour of an edible garden that can be recreated in the smallest of backyards. An essential guide for a new generation of gardeners who are keen to join the kitchen garden revolution.’And she blogs about anything from compost to pod plants to the future of food…

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Madeleine Giddens loves herbs, which I guess you’d guess from the name of her blog – Mad About Herbs. But there’s nothing off the wall about any of it, she’s plunged into an obsession and come out smelling of roses and lavender, buzzing about bees too, recently, and their favourite flowers.

So there you have it, just a few spots and pointers. Good evening, and wishes for a fruitful weekend from Amelia’s Magazine.
The Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS. Formally known with pride as the “oil and gas bank” due to their close alliance with the fossil fuel industries. What on earth would I have to do with them? They may have lost the unfortunate moniker, treat partly due to a hugely successful campaign by People and Planet student activists who launched a spoof ad campaign and website named the Oyal Bank of Scotland before delivering a host of greenwashing awards – but they’re certainly not due for any special ethical mentions yet.

Not yet.

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There was of course a massive £33 billion bank bailout from the taxpayer for RBS last year. But RBS didn’t spend the money on anything worthwhile. Oh no, the truth is that RBS still has oily blackened hands. Most people will remember the Fred Goodwin debacle, he who managed to retire at the age of 50 on a £16 million pension funded by taxpayers. But that’s not the whole of it – since the bailout some of our money has been used to arrange loans for the fossil fuel industries worth a staggering £10 billion, including a substantial sum for E.ON, the company that wants to build a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth. Despite the best efforts of activists –  there was an impromptu snowball fight during the winter, Climate Rush held a luncheon dance and Climate Camp set up camp down the road at BishopsgateRBS continues to invest in unsustainable resources.

But the good news is there is hope for change!

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As I’ve got more and more involved with activism I’ve got to know members of PLATFORM, who together with People and Planet and the World Development Movement have launched a legal challenge against our government to make sure that public money used for bailouts is put towards building sustainability. PLATFORM is an organisation that combines art with activism, research and campaigning, so in many ways we are perfect partners and I was really excited when they recently approached me to collaborate on an exciting new project at the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol.

As part of a wider festival named 100 Days, PLATFORM will be co-producing over 50 events, installations, performances, actions, walks, discussions and skill shares over a period of two months. This season is called “C words: Carbon, Climate, Capital, Culture” and is intended to highlight what needs to be done to change the world in the run-up to the incredibly important (but unlikely to solve anything) COP 15 conference (think Kyoto 2 – it failed first time around so why would it succeed now?) in Copenhagen in December.

Your part in this audacious experiment?

We’re going to re-envision RBS as a bastion of sustainability – the Royal Bank of Sustainability in fact. And it will be down to you to create the artwork… once more I will be running one of my becoming-somewhat-regular open briefs. We would like you to submit either a logo or a poster (or both) that will suggest a swing in the direction of all things sustainable in the most imaginative way possible. Around ten of the best artworks will be shown for a week at the prestigious Arnolfini gallery in Bristol as part of the whole shebang, culminating with a public judging and prize-giving overseen by yours truly and helped out by the folk at PLATFORM and no less than the Marketing Manager of the Arnolfini, Rob Webster, and Fiona Hamilton of Soma Gallery (Bristol), a woman with great taste in the arts who runs a cult art shop that has been a long standing supplier of my print magazine. We might even invite someone powerful from RBS! (invite being the operative word) After the event PLATFORM will profile you on their website with links to yours, and prior to the actual event I’ll be posting the best entries onto my website – one good reason to get your artwork in as quickly as possible.

If you are interested read on:

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What you need to know:

Ideas:
Yeah yeah – we all know wind turbines are great news and polar bears are having a terrible time, but for this brief we’d like you to think a bit outside the box. We’ll be looking for the most refreshing ways of thinking about how we can live in the most sustainable way possible, and most importantly how RBS could play a possible role in aiding this transition to a low carbon world. Don’t forget that we, the taxpayers, own 70% of RBS – why not make it into the people’s bank? You should make clear in your chosen design the re-imagining of the old RBS into the new. Instead of investing in carbon-intensive industries the new RBS will serve the public interest by investing only in socially conscious, ethically driven, and environmentally sound projects.

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Style:
Think serious or earnest, kitsch or ironic, warm and fluffy, abstract or illustrative; whatever best communicates the concept and appeals to the broader public, the press and perhaps even people in government. It should engage and inspire. You can collage photography on your computer or paint with your fingers and toes – what matters is the outcome. We want to see imagery that speaks of something new, radical and POSSIBLE. Think positive social force. We love the Obama image that was used in the run up to his election – the reworking of his image in a simple pop art style somehow speaks volumes about new, positive change – and has fast become an iconic piece of graphic design, so we thought we’d use it here to demonstrate that you don’t have to be too literal in your interpretation of the brief to create a successful image. If you choose to create a poster remember that it could be made as an advert.

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Technical specifications:
your image should be created to these sizes and scannable or put together on a computer:
A1 for the poster.
A2 or squared off A2 for the logo.
Please send me a lo resolution version but make sure you work to these sizes. We will arrange for the printing of your image should it be chosen.

Deadline:
We need your submissions to reach me by Monday 2nd November. Please send lo res versions of your design to info@ameliasmagazine.com

Future projects:
Please bear in mind that if we really love your work we might want to use it in further literature and exhibitions. Just think, your work really could persuade RBS to change course at a pivotal point in our history. What a fabulous idea!

Join the facebook event here to stay in touch with updates
And join the “Stop RBS using public money to finance climate change” facebook group here

Below is a list of links you might want to peruse for inspiration:

PLATFORM’s website
Transition Towns
Centre for Alternative Technology
Zero Carbon Britain
Post Carbon Institute
the Oyal Bank of Scotland
Capitalists Anonymous
Britain Unplugged
Climate Friendly Banking
Banca Etica
GLS Bank

Get scribbling folks! Any queries please contact me directly via email rather than on the comments below.
If you have been to a UK festival in the last few years, pharm chances are that at some point you found yourself dancing in the OneTaste tent. Having residency at Glastonbury, sickness Big Chill and Secret Garden Party to name but a mere few, OneTaste have acquired a devoted fan base of festival goers who want a guarantee that when they walk into a tent they will get the following components; top quality live music, an high-spirited and friendly crowd, and twenty four hour revelry.

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OneTaste in Hyde Park, London

Yet their festival appearances are just one aspect of the multifaceted music troupe. When they are appearing at say, SGP or Glasto, they perform as a collective of musicians, poets and artists who, for many of the festivals, break bread and share space with Chai Wallahs. When they put on events in Greater London and Brighton, (where every night is different from the last), their roots run deep, towards diverse and innovative singers, performers and spoken word artists. They are fiercely proud of their reputation of facilitating and nurturing emerging talent; promoting, not exploiting it, connecting with the audience and creating a true OneTaste family, both onstage and off.

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I have known of OneTaste for years, being friends with some of the artists who have performed with them. Having shamelessly utalised their tent at this years Secret Garden Party to dance, drink, chill, detox and then re-tox, I felt it was time to get to know them a little better. The perfect opportunity came at the recent OneTaste night at the Bedford in Balham which I attended recently on a balmy Thursday night. The vaudeville past of the Globe Theatre within the Bedford was an apposite setting for the style of event that OneTaste puts on. As the preparation for the evenings entertainment began in this deeply historical building, I managed to catch a quick chat with the creator of OneTaste, Dannii Evans, where we talked about the rhymes, reasons and the meaning behind this unique and innovative event.

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photograph by Kim Leng Hills

When I saw OneTaste’s excellent night in the Jazz Cafe a while back, I saw a lot of different styles of music and spoken word. What would you say is the one common thread that unites everyone?

We’ve always been trying to find out what the thread is! It is definitely not genre, we do every single style and welcome every style, probably the only genre we haven’t booked yet is heavy metal! The thing that links us all together .. (pauses)… is that everyone has got a massive social conscience; it is not always explicit, but it is implicit within a person, it’s in their art. It’s something that holds us all together, everyone at OneTaste has that in mind – that there is a bigger picture and that we need to better ourselves in everything that we do.

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Charlie Dark performs at OneTaste Bedford

How did OneTaste begin?

The OneTaste music and spoken word night, started four and a half years ago by myself, and Jamie Woon. We basically started it in order that these musicians can do something where they could get paid.

You pay the performers? That’s so rare!

Definitely. We wanted to put on a night where the quality of every single act was really high and it could be where musicians could start their career, so that was the premise. Also the concept is that the event is always half music, half spoken word.

So is it a collective, a record label, an event? I’m kind of confused!

It started off as an event, with us meeting a number of artists and acts that we got on really well and gelled with, who we took on tour around festivals, and then out of spending three months together we formed the OneTaste collective. It started becoming an artist run collective where people would help with the actual event production and then it ended with them all collaborating on material together.

Who are some of the artists involved?
Portico Quartet, Stac, Inua Ellams, Gideon Conn, Kate Tempest, Newton Faulkner, to name just a few!

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How do artists become part of OneTaste? Is it something that they can dip in and out of?

Absolutely, it’s not exclusive. It grew organically, it’s not an in or out thing – it happens more naturally than that.

Do you have to audition to get in?

To take part in the OneTaste night, either myself or someone running it have to have seen them live. Audience engagement is very important to us, to reach out and to be able to communicate with the audience is really vital. The live aspect and their live dynamic with the crowd is so important, so while they don’t audition, we do need to see how they will perform.

So it seems to have grown hugely in the last four years; Can you give me an idea of the numbers of acts that you have worked with?

In the collective, we have around 30 acts that we are currently championing, but in the last four years we have worked with around 300 artists. The audiences have grown from 40 people to 300 here at the Bedford, 500 at the Jazz Cafe, and 5,000 at the recent gig we did in Hyde Park.

How does OneTaste promote its artists?

It has always been very grass roots, we’ve never done an advert, it’s always just been people coming down and then telling their friends and from that it grew really quickly.

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Are there many of the artists signed to labels, and do you help them along their way?

We do, we give them industry advice – we develop their music, or spoken word, we try to help where we can. Some of the artists like Jamie Woon or Portico Quartet have gone on to get more media attention and they kind of carry the OneTaste name with them and still do gigs for us.

What is the direction that OneTaste is heading in?

Potentially, we might have our own venue at festivals next year, which is really exciting. We have a digital compilation coming out, the first one will be coming out in September, and eventually we may form a OneTaste record label.

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Gideon Conn performs at OneTaste Bedford.

Dannii and I continue chatting for a short while, and after this she has tasks to do. The audience is filling up, and the night is about to start. Sitting on a bench in the back with a big glass of red wine, I watch the event unfold. The performers are electric, and completely different from one another, yet equally complimentary. Most appear to be old friends, and loudly cheer each others performances. The atmosphere is infectious, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much at a gig (and it’s not because of the wine!). I’m quite au fait with the open mic nights and acoustic gigs of London, but I haven’t been to a night which is as cohesive and inclusive as OneTaste. If you want to experience it for yourself, OneTaste are easy to find. Check out their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr for images, articles, and dates about upcoming shows, which include a September 8th gig at The Distillers in Hammersmith and 27th September at The Hanbury Club in Brighton.
This week Climate Camp 2009 swoops on London, this site aiming to pressure politicians ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit in December. Climate Camp will achieve this by encouraging individuals to think about lifestyle changes possible both collectively and personally to prevent climate change.

Sharing these sensibilities, the French Collective Andrea Crews encourage a new life philosophy outside the corporate rat race so often associated with London and other major cities. Being introduced to the fashion/art/activist collective Andrea Crews felt like a breath of fresh air often associated with Amelia’s magazine, a long time supporter of sustainable fashion, craft, activism and individual design.

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Andrea Crews Collective express their desire for economic and social change through “the use and the reinterpretation of the second-hand garment” calling it “a social, economic and ethical choice.” A choice displayed by the sheer volume of abandoned second hand garments used throughout the catwalk shows, art exhibitions and activist events. The group criticise the relentless waste of modern consumption, fast fashion has helped to create, through visualising the stress on land fill sites around the world in their staged events. Subsequently by ignoring market pressures: mass seduction and seasonal calendars, Andrea Crews re-introduces a slower, more individual fashion culture through the processes of sorting and recycling.

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The Crews Collective march to the same tune as Climate Camp, not only by caring for the environment but in their dedication towards an alternative developed sustainable economy. Andrea Crews encourages mass involvement stating that the project “answers to a current request for creative energy and social engagement. Recycling, Salvaging, Sorting out, are civic models of behaviour we assert.” Thus the power of low-level activism or grass roots activism becomes apparent, if enough people participated with Climate Camp or The Andrea Crews Collective. The pressure on governments to look for an alternative way of living would be undeniable.

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The ever-expanding coverage of ethical, eco fashion on the internet plays testimony to the idea that the individual is changing. The Andreas Collective through their exquisite catwalks –particularly the Marevee show with the appearance of clothes mountains which the models scrambled over to reach the runway- draw attention to the powerful position regarding sustainability, fashion can occupy if it so chooses.

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All quotes and images are from the Andrea Crews website.
DIY LONDON SEEN
The Market Building
Covent Garden, doctor London WC2 8RF
Until 5th September

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DIY LONDON SEEN hopes to illustrate the growth of the movement inspired by the ‘Beautiful Losers’, doctor which is now a global phenomenon, generic by showcasing the work of local artists whose work takes the ethos of the Alleged gallery Artists and runs with it.

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Hepsibah Gallery

Brackenbury Road, London W6

Show runs from: 28th August- 2nd September ’09,
with a preview on the 27th September from 6.00-9.00pm

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Artists: Ellen Burroughs presents intricate technical drawings of a surreal nature, Sophie Axford-Hawkins shows bespoke jewelery that follows an identical theme.

The Jake-OF Debut UK Solo Show
Austin Gallery

119A Bethnal Green Road,
Shoreditch London E2 7DG
Running from the 3rd-16th September.
The opening evening is on the 3rd at 6:30pm.

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Featuring a collection of his best print, sculpture and instillation work from the past four years. The show will include prints from the Quink series and the first original Quink painting to be exhibited.

So Long Utopia
East Gallery
214 Brick Lane
?London ?E1 6SA

Until 2nd September

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EASTGALLERY is proud to present the first solo exhibition of UK artist Sichi. ‘So Long Utopia’ will feature a thematic collection of new paintings and drawings. ??‘So Long Utopia’ is an energetic exhibition focusing on the theme of the lost Utopian dream. The artworks in this collection are of portraits, statements and imagined characters, where any premonition of ‘Utopia’ is quickly dispelled by the creatures inhabiting Sichi’s dystopian world.

Art In Mind
The Brick Lane Gallery
196 Brick Lane,
London E1 6SA

Opening 19 August 6:30 – 8:30
20th – 31st August
Free

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A busy August Bank holiday weekend is almost upon us, dosage and if you cant make it to Climate Camp starting on Wednesday there is plenty of other events to keep you occupied this week.

Festival of The Tree 2009

Delve into the world of wood and trees with sculptors, workshops, walks, art exhibitions and more with all proceeds going to treeaid, a charity that is enabling communities in Africa’s drylands to fight poverty and become self-reliant, while improving the environment. Weston Arboretum has a week long run of activities, with the organisers calling it a radical transformation from last year with exciting new additions.

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Check the full programme of events here.
From Monday 24 – Monday 31 August… 
Open daily from 9am-5pm?Admission: Adult £8, Concession £7, Child £3.?

Camp for Climate Action

A week long event kicking of this wednesday with with a public co-ordinated swoop on a secret location within the M25, make sure you sign up for text alerts and watch Amelias twitter for updates. Join your swoop group here, the locations have been revealed so get planning your route.
Check the great list of workshops here, and get ready for some climate action.
There’s workshops to suit everyone from direct action training to consensus decision making for kids, as well as evening entertainment from the Mystery Jets among others. Come along for a day or the whole week.

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Wednesday 26 Aug 2009 to Wednesday 02 Sep 2009
E-mail: info@climatecamp.org.uk
Website: www.climatecamp.org.uk

Carshalton Environmental Fair

The Environmental Fair is one of the biggest events in the London Borough of Sutton. 10,000 people attend with over 100 stalls with environmental information, arts and local crafts, with stages showcasing local musical talent, a Music cafe and a Performing Arts Marquee. Food stalls and a bar thats also showcasing some local talent. There is a free bus operating from Sutton.

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Adults £3, concessions £1 and kids get in free.
Monday 31st August
Contact: fair@ecolocal.org.uk
Website: http://www.ecolocal.org.uk/

Green Fayre

Range of Green craft workshops where you can learn about the most pressing environmental issues and how you can live a more sustainable life, all set in the Welsh country side. Yurt making, permaculture design, spinning, screen printing, pole lathe, bird box making, cooking from the hedgerows and much more.

Date: Friday 28 Aug 2009 to Monday 31 Aug 2009
Weekend Camping for the family £40?E-mail: info@green-fayre.org
?Website: www.green-fayre.org

Benefit gig for Anarchists Against the Wall

At RampART social centre, music with Hello Bastards, Battle Of Wolf 359,Suckinim Baenaim (Israel), Julith Krishum (Germany). The AWW group works in cooperation with Palestinians in a joint popular struggle against the occupation.

Monday 24 August 2009 19:00
RampARTSocial Centre?15 -17 Rampart Street, London E1 2LA?(near Whitechapel, off Commercial Rd)

London Critical Mass

Cyclists get together to take control of the roads around London usually with a sound system in tow. The London Mass meets at 6.00pm on the last Friday of every month on the South Bank under Waterloo Bridge, by the National Film Theatre. critical_mass.gif
Not got a bike, dont worry, any self propelled people from skateboarders, rollerbladers to wheelchairs are welcome.

Friday 28 August 2009
Website: http://www.criticalmasslondon.org.uk/
Earth First Gathering 2009 was held over last weekend. It’s an event we’ve been looking forward to since it appeared in our diary back in July. Check out our Earth First preview for more information. We all pitched up our tents in the wettest place in Britain which unluckily lived up to its name, doctor but although it didn’t feel like summer it didn’t stop any of the numerous workshops from going ahead and there was even a handy barn where people could take refuge if their tents didn’t survive the downpours.

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There were chances for people to get to grips with water activities like building rafts and kayaking on the nearby Derwent lake, help plenty of discussion groups and chances for people to learn new skills. A forge kept many enthralled, viagra me included, and it was great to see the dying trade in action and people learning from the experienced blacksmiths.

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Seeds for change, a group that holds workshops for action and social change, were down at the camp, get in touch with them if you’re thinking of holding your own event and they will be willing to facilitate a range of engaging talks and discussions.
Tripod, a Scottish based training collective working with grassroots and community groups is another to check out – there is plenty to benefit from with training and support that gears towards social action.

Earth First has been going for decades and with direct action at the heart of what they do, it has helped and nurtured many to get involved and start taking action themselves rather than relying on leaders and governments. Look out for the next gathering, as EF notes, “if you believe action speaks louder than words, then Earth First is for you.”
We legged it up the amazing waterfall that created a great backdrop to the camp before tea one evening to get some great views over the valley.

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Joining the queue for our meals was a daily highlight, you could browse the radical bookstall along it that had numerous zines and books for sale. Then the food, put on by the Anarchist Teapot, was amazing and i was queueing up for seconds at every opportunity. Evening entertainment was put on by a ramshackle group of poets and musicians and hecklers, and sock wrestling was also a new experience for me, got to try that one again.

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On cue the heavens opened on the last night, but I managed to get my tent down and joined the chickens in the barn where I literally hit the hay.
Just thought I’d say well done to the police FIT team who were able to navigate the windy and tricky road to turn up most days: good effort!
The Legion in Old Street has undergone a bit of a refurb since the last time I was there. Vague recollections of dodgy sauna-style wood panelling on the walls and a Lilliputian stage awkwardly occupying one corner are now banished by what seemed like an even longer bar than was there before. The venue has had a fresh wave of new promoters which appears to have progressed it from a jack of all things club-based, website like this in an area drowning in the like, there to somewhere incorporating a broader musical palette. A case in point tonight, being the headline band, Death Cigarettes.

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I’d seen Death Cigarettes a couple of times around various East London venues over the last twelve months. For a band whose reputation is in part founded on an explosive live show, the cavernous confines of the Legion seemed to take some of the sting out of them, compared to more intimate settings.

Musically, they inhabit that driving New York No Wave inspired sound – thrashing guitars, pounding drums and rumbling bass coupled with urgently delivered vocals. An obvious comparison is with early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and there is certainly more than a touch of Karen O in enigmatic lead singer Maya.

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With this band though, the music is only half the story. Coming on unusually late for a Sunday night, Maya emerges from the encaves of a slightly startled audience to take the stage to join the rest of the band as they thrash away around her. It’s not long though before she heads back out into the throng… One group of people were ensnared by her mic lead, another was treated to an intimate introduction with a flying mic stand before Maya suddenly reappears behind the audience, exhorting the crowd before her from atop a table. At this point, the guitarist also wanted a piece of the audience action and decides to go walkabout, before concluding the set with a piece of probably not premeditated Auto-Destruction, reducing his guitar to matchwood.

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Death Cigarettes have certainly been making a few noises of late, with the likes of Artrocker and The Fly singing their praises, and they are set to appear at the Offset Festival (new guitar permitting). For a band with a distinct approach to their music and performance, it will be interesting to see if they will, over time, develop their sound to the same extent that NYC steadfasts, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have so spectacularly done.
Liberty prints have become something of a British Institution in the fashion world, cialis 40mg inspiring the current vintage scarf and headband trend as well as influencing designers to include whimsical prints in their own creations (basically everybody on the high street). Prints conjure up an image of refined country values, thumb and have a truly English feel to them, stomach reminding us of our grannies chicly riding their bicycles in winding country lanes after World War 2 (maybe that’s just my overactive imagination!)

Until 2nd September an entire exhibition is being dedicated to this quintessentially British item on the fourth floor of the London Liberty store, and Amelia’s Magazine think you should get in touch with your inner fifties housewife and check it out!

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Aptly entitled Prints Charming, the designs at Liberty’s exhibition certainly do what they say on the tin. Six designers were invited to contribute to the show to create their own unique take on Liberty’s iconic prints. Designs span from the pottery artist Grayson Perry’s enigmatic creations featuring tombstones, teddy bears, knuckle-dusters, swings, roundabouts and bicycles mounted on fabric, to uber-famous Meg Matthews’ teeny floral print wallpaper pieces given an injection of rock and roll heritage (like Meg herself) with snakeskin and skulls motifs. Other artists involved with the project include Paul Morrison, Mike McInnerney, Michael Angove, Anj Smith and Simon Hart, each taking an individual and modern approach to the eponymous Liberty print.

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The exhibition reads like a piece of installation art. In fact, art aside there is much more happening. Take note of the furniture and décor (mirrors, chairs, chandeliers and tables) coated in Liberty prints, heavily featured throughout the window display designed by Interiors company Squint. Not forgetting that the store’s entire exterior is decorated in the Betsy micro-floral print. The show also includes full size dolls dressed in Liberty rags, a Wendy house covered in strips of print by artist Helen Benigson, and vintage bicycles by classic bike-maker Skeppshult redesigned with a Liberty twist (complete with feather headdress!)

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(Image from: fashion-stylist)

Being an exhibition, the history of the iconic print is thrown in for good measure too. Documentation of the label’s historic collaborations can be found throughout, featuring modern legends such as Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony, APC, NIKE and Kate Moss for Topshop. This is an art-fashion collaborative experience not to be missed!

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Everything designed is available to buy; whether that be in fabric, notebook, scarf, luggage tag, boxer short, wellie boot or lampshade form! With the endless list of talent involved, there’s no doubt something to catch anyone’s magpie eye. Several prints are one-off pieces made especially for the show, such as Matthews’ wallpaper, therefore ensuring a chance of grabbing a piece of history in the making. And who doesn’t love a bit of print patterning? After all, with the current revival of all things retro, Liberty prints are up there with shoulder padding and acid wash in fashionistas’ hearts! So get down to the exhibition before the opportunity to soak up the artistic atmosphere disappears (like most the stock will be sure to do!)
Swap shops, ampoule Freeshops, generic give away shops, visit this site they all aim to go against the capitalist framework, and often people can’t quite get their heads around the idea, that, yes it is free and you can take it!

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Illustrations by Thereza Rowe

When I dropped by the free shop near Brick Lane, I received firsthand experience of this when a woman asked the way to the ‘trendy’ Shoreditch area and when invited to look around the Freeshop declined with a shrug of the shoulders. It appears it just wasn’t hip enough, that or she couldn’t quite comprehend the idea of a piece of clothing for under 50 quid.

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When speaking to some of the squatters, the Freeshop felt like an organic progression from the original squat in the building: “The idea of this Freeshop had come out from a series of workshops held in the squatted building last month. Originally, the building was opened up for a free school, and when that was over we realised we had this shop front on Commercial Street and felt it would be interesting to kind of undermine the shops down the road.” Donations from friends helped to get it off its feet and now they seem to be undated with more than enough.

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With our ‘throw away society,’ Freeshops can form direct action and can engage people to think about the way they live and consume. They also see it as a chance to try and engage with the community, which means the squatters don’t get isolated in the neighborhood. They also feel the shop was an important medium of communication to people. It seems to be working well with most people having a chat or picking up leaflets when they come in to look around. The basic idea is that it should not just be about taking things, but sharing ideas too.

The squatters make efforts to engage with the community, with flyers sent out when they set up shop. Although the state has rigid bureaucratic rules to follow regarding squats they hope that support from the community will help their cause. The court date regarding an impending eviction is on 28th August, but they are hopefully looking to get it adjourned. Signatures and people giving support certainly can’t hinder their defense.

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As well as offering clothes, shoes and household items, the Freeshop also has space for regular workshops and events where members of the community and network can get involved. A wind turbine course is in the pipeline so make sure you drop in to check when it’s happening.

I had a chat with one of the squatters to get a better insight into the ideas and experiences behind the Freeshop.

Have you had any experiences of Freeshops before you came here?

Berlin, Barcelona, Bristol all have set up freeshops and there are plenty more around the world. One time in Barcelona went down the main commercial road with a stall, loads of people came to pick up stuff, completely ignoring the chain stores. It was like people were just interested in consuming products wherever they came from. The cops were called of course.

Can you get moved on for that?

Maybe, I mean, but look at the number of people selling sausages in the centre of town – it depends on how big or moveable the stand is. We had the idea of maybe setting something up down in Hanbury Street, just at Spitalfields Market, but that’s just an idea so far.

What kind of people do you get coming in?

Some homeless people come in and others, how shall we say, are like the kind of people who go down Brick Lane on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. There’s a really broad range.

Can people get involved in the Freeshop?

Come along to say hello or to the meeting on Tuesdays, that’s a good place to start, talk about and organise things we want to make happen, maybe do a shift in the shop.

Do you look to publicise, and how do people find out about the Freeshop?

There’s a big difference between being on the net and Facebook/social networking, and just relying on old style traditional methods, just by being here, and it works like a shop that people can just come into. It’s good to see how far just traditional ways can get us, and if that works well, then maybe others will do the same. It’s not rocket science, there’s no big intellectual concept behind it, it’s just a free shop.

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Located on Commercial Road at the end of Quaker Street, drop in to pick up some new stuff while it lasts and offer your support.
What was formerly the Lush store in Covent Garden’s main piazza is now host to the exhibition ‘DIY London Seen’, this site a homage to the subjects of the film ‘Beautiful Losers’.

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The film recounts the story of a group of likeable young suburban artists who, approved despite creating work outside the established art system in 1990s NYC, more about very quickly rose to commercially vaunted fame and success.

Their ethos, borne of skateboarding, punk, graffiti and DIY living, was to be an artist without adhering to art history or education. Doing what you love whatever the rest of the world thinks. These artists, Harmony Korine, Ed Templeton, Mark Gonzales, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairey, Jo Jackson, Thomas Campbell, Deanna Templeton, Stephen Powers, Chris Johanson, Mike Mills and the late Margaret Kilgallen were united by the then curator of Alleged Gallery, Aaron Rose, now Director of the film “Beautiful Losers’.

In the 90s, the Beautiful Losers’ work was outsider. In 2009, the art exhibited at DIY London Seen is mainstream commercial fodder that is regularly used for major branding.

However, this fact doesn’t reflect negatively on the spirit of the artists’ work or the exhibition itself. It merely highlights an unprecedented support for the arts (commercial or otherwise) and a vastly adjusted attitude about what it means to be an artist where to be commercial does not mean being a ‘sell-out’.

The space is donated by Covent Garden London, which provides gallery space in the West End to diverse forms of art through part of Covent Garden’s Art Tank movement.

The exhibition is curated by Bakul Patki and Lee Johnson of ‘Watch This Space’. Their previous experience in the commercial and critical art markets spans over ten years and as a result, they know how to put together a good exhibition.

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The private view, replete with canapés filling enough to make a full dinner, was packed mainly with trendy young adults in their 20s and early 30s and a few stylish characters in their 40s. The invitees milled about in the two-storey, three-roomed space, drinking free cider, looking at the art and gathering in pockets outside to chat and smoke.

The exhibition space boasts 52 pieces of mainly original art including a seven foot tall mirror-tiled bear created by 21-year-old Arran Gregory and a lightbulb suspended from the ceiling, revolving on a record as it spins (I kept hoping that the bulb would eventually melt the record but instead the record keeps endlessly spinning).

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There is a lot of illustration and photography of the sort you see around in many galleries in East London and on various advertising paraphernalia and as usual, some of it is good.

What stands out most about the exhibition is how, in a decade and a half, enough has changed so that what might once have been outsider art is now perfectly at home and fully catered for in the bustling centre of one of London’s most well-trafficked areas.

Young artists and older artists, property organisations, the public and the commercial world are a blur, shaking hands in every direction.

Disused property is now the breeding ground for emerging artists and successful commercial art curators are there to provide fully functioning and well-run exhibitions.

Whether the Beautiful Losers were the seminal artists paving the way for opportunities afforded to such artists as those of London Seen or not, they were lucky enough to rise to success. The acceptance of skateboard, graffiti, DIY culture could have come earlier, later or not at all.

London Seen and Beautiful Losers are reminders that in a commercially driven market making art isn’t about how much the public loves, or ignores, what you do. As trends come and go, their message is to never forfeit the ethos of doing what you love whatever the rest of the world thinks. History will always move forward and with it, the randomness of success.

Check out DIY London Seen in Covent Garden until 5th of September at 11, The Market Building, Covent Garden, London WC2 8RF.

Beautiful Losers is now available on DVD from the ICA.

Images courtesy: Joshua Millais (bear) and Watch This Space.

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Are you a budding comic artist? By that I don’t mean stand-up of course, approved but rather someone who fancies themselves as a bit of a comic stripper…

Well, visit this if so you might fancy getting your teeth sunk into this little competition from Ctrl.Alt.Shift.http://www.myspace.com/lightspeedchampion Judged by such luminaries as Dev aka Lightspeed Champion and Paul Gravett – who directs the Comica festival at the uber cool ICA and has authored countless books on comic art – this should be an excellent chance to get your work seen by a wide audience.

All that is required is for you to submit some examples of your work to Ctrl.Alt.Shift. by Friday 25th September.

So what happens then? If your work is picked as the winning entrant you will be asked to interpret a comic script written by Dev, which will then be featured in a 100 page book about corruption in politics and contributed to by all the best names in the world of comics and graphic novels. 5000 copies of the book will be sold in aid of charity and your work will feature in a month long exhibition about political comic art in the Lazerides Gallery in Soho during November.

The suggestion is that you pick as your submission something that is applicable to the theme of the competition (ie. corruption in politics), but bear in mind that the final entrants will be chosen on the basis of their visual flair rather than subject content. You can see the competition flyer below.

This is your chance to have your work included a really great project with a whole host of the best names in comic art. Plus it’s for a really worthwhile cause… Sounds like a great plan to me!

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Here at Amelia’s Magazine, sales we’re aligned more with uplifting, buy information pills good time folk than gut wrenching, angst-y emo. We just think, why be so sombre? So when an album lands on the doormat like the Mariachi El Bronx‘ new output, well, we couldn’t be happier. Those formerly depressed LA lads in The Bronx, have employed a guitarrón, knocked back a heavy dose of tequila and picked up their maracas to deliver an album that is more Latino fun times than their usual emotional dirge.

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A quick glance over the track listing tells you that they haven’t lifted their mood all that much, as the titles still bemoan tales of ‘Cell Mates’, ‘Litigation’ and ‘Slave Labor.’ Although tracks on this album have been masked by a scrim of vihuela solos, trumpet fanfares and accordion bellowing.

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Mixing traditional music with a hardcore ethos is nothing new – think 90s Finnish folk metal of Finntroll and Moonsorrow – which blend a 6-piece folk band with paganism tales. This combination of Hispanic sounds and wailing of lyrics, such as “The dead can dance if they want romance/All I need is some air” on ‘Quinceniera’, seems to make perfect sense when you consider the Mexican celebration, Day Of The Dead, where they leave out food and gifts for the deceased.

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Despite sounding like the tough LA outfit have gone soft and found God, take a closer listen to tracks like ‘Silver Or Lead’ and you’ll find they’re singing, “Quit asking Jesus for help/Go out and find it yourself.” Rather a rebellious punk rock move, when sung in the musical style of a devoutly Catholic culture.

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El Bronx might not be everyone’s cup of tea (-quila), but it’s a fun, refreshingly, tongue-in-cheek album whose Mexican flight of fancy will have you in the mood for a corona and nachos in no time. I say more bands should get out of their comfort zones and explore new genres like El Bronx have – ¡Arriba!

Grey Gardens is a documentary by Albert and David Maysles on the lives of Big and Little Edie at their East Hampton Mansion of the same name, more about Grey Gardens.
When watching the film, treatment the fashion influence of Little Edie becomes undeniable, ambulance beginning with the 1940′s inspired shoulders and nipped in waist, (an Autumn 2009 trend) to the headscarf held in place by jewellery combination (also seen on recent catwalks) finishing with the 1950′s shaped swimming costume worn during interviews. Not forgetting, it is Little Edie’s stamp, which is all over the luxurious granny chic trend favoured by Mary Kate Olsen and the catwalks in recent seasons. All this is without mentioning her quirky fashion advice!

“Why wear a skirt upside down? You do if your waistline has expanded and you can’t close it at the waist.”

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The fashion community from Marc Jacobs to Ashley Olsen (The Twins are often credited with continuing to have fun and make ‘mistakes’ with fashion) has embraced little Edie’s alternative style and self-expression. Play is inherent in her choice of clothes and embellishment. It is Edie acting as herself that transformed her into a style icon. The film is a credit to Albert and David Maysles skill and compassion as documenters in how they managed to capture the two Edie’s individual spirits. For this reason the film becomes truly special as it replicates on screen their at times complex loving, resenting and co-dependent mother/daughter relationship.

The documentary is peppered with half-told remembrances to make past lives bearable, poignant for Big and Little Edie’s heartbreaking denouncement of each other’s memory. The dialogue throughout the film is often refreshing for their –intentional or unintentional- political philosophical undertones.

Near the start of the film, a five-minute conversation discusses the symbiotic relationship between freedom and support (Little Edie argues the opposite to her mother, saying without support you can’t be free). A prophetic conversation, whose sentiment is applicable to the British Government’s ever increasing reliance on business and continuing refusal to accept the pressure big business places on the climate.

Big Edie: “You can’t get any freedom when you’re supported.”

How can the Government make a rational decision on Climate Change when they build over-familiar relationships with Heathrow BAA and the aviation business?

Big Edie: “When are you going to learn Edie your part of the world?”

Whilst Big Edie’s comment is more of an undertone, this is what I hope the Government will realise this week during the Climate Camp protests. That governments and societies cannot exist without the physical world. We must be accountable for looking after the planet.

The film is beautifully composed enabling Big and Little Edie to have their moments in front of the camera, both alone and together. The film’s editing conveys an idea of a romantic time endlessly passing, though quite still and almost stagnant. It is the perfect fashion moment and Little Edie’s style becomes timeless in it’s absence.
The film watches Little Edie reminisce refuting her life choices, whilst Big Edie forever reminds of how different the past looks as one ages stating, “everyone thinks and feels differently as they get older.”

The documentary records the power struggle between the two women choosing and not choosing their unconventional decaying life style. Within each conversation, the viewer senses that Big Edie is the controlling personality and Little Edie the controlled. The relationship is summarised with the phrase “I didn’t want my child taken away, I would be entirely alone.” The sadness of the film occurs at the references to the stories off stage, which appear to surround the two Edies’ day after day. Forever acting out their parts within their own play. In front of the Maysles camera the endlessly groomed Little Edie becomes a star. Grey Gardens is a celebration of complex relationships and the unique individual, additionally highlighting the frequency at which fashion’s history is plundered to influence catwalk designs today.

See Grey Gardens and Little Edie’s outfits at Rich Mix Cinema as part of the Fashion on Film Season

http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/
Grey Gardens is a documentary by Albert and David Maysles on the lives of Big and Little Edie at their East Hampton Mansion of the same name, case Grey Gardens.
When watching the film, the fashion influence of Little Edie becomes undeniable, beginning with the 1940′s inspired shoulders and nipped in waist, (an Autumn 2009 trend) to the headscarf held in place by jewellery combination (also seen on recent catwalks) finishing with the 1950′s shaped swimming costume worn during interviews. Not forgetting, it is Little Edie’s stamp, which is all over the luxurious granny chic trend favoured by Mary Kate Olsen and the catwalks in recent seasons. All this is without mentioning her quirky fashion advice!

“Why wear a skirt upside down? You do if your waistline has expanded and you can’t close it at the waist.”

greygardens2.jpg

The fashion community from Marc Jacobs to Ashley Olsen (The Twins are often credited with continuing to have fun and make ‘mistakes’ with fashion) has embraced little Edie’s alternative style and self-expression. Play is inherent in her choice of clothes and embellishment. It is Edie acting as herself that transformed her into a style icon. The film is a credit to Albert and David Maysles skill and compassion as documenters in how they managed to capture the two Edie’s individual spirits. For this reason the film becomes truly special as it replicates on screen their at times complex loving, resenting and co-dependent mother/daughter relationship.

The documentary is peppered with half-told remembrances to make past lives bearable, poignant for Big and Little Edie’s heartbreaking denouncement of each other’s memory. The dialogue throughout the film is often refreshing for their –intentional or unintentional- political philosophical undertones.

Near the start of the film, a five-minute conversation discusses the symbiotic relationship between freedom and support (Little Edie argues the opposite to her mother, saying without support you can’t be free). A prophetic conversation, whose sentiment is applicable to the British Government’s ever increasing reliance on business and continuing refusal to accept the pressure big business places on the climate.

Big Edie: “You can’t get any freedom when you’re supported.”

How can the Government make a rational decision on Climate Change when they build over-familiar relationships with Heathrow BAA and the aviation business?

Big Edie: “When are you going to learn Edie your part of the world?”

Whilst Big Edie’s comment is more of an undertone, this is what I hope the Government will realise this week during the Climate Camp protests. That governments and societies cannot exist without the physical world. We must be accountable for looking after the planet.

The film is beautifully composed enabling Big and Little Edie to have their moments in front of the camera, both alone and together. The film’s editing conveys an idea of a romantic time endlessly passing, though quite still and almost stagnant. It is the perfect fashion moment and Little Edie’s style becomes timeless in it’s absence.
The film watches Little Edie reminisce refuting her life choices, whilst Big Edie forever reminds of how different the past looks as one ages stating, “everyone thinks and feels differently as they get older.”

The documentary records the power struggle between the two women choosing and not choosing their unconventional decaying life style. Within each conversation, the viewer senses that Big Edie is the controlling personality and Little Edie the controlled. The relationship is summarised with the phrase “I didn’t want my child taken away, I would be entirely alone.” The sadness of the film occurs at the references to the stories off stage, which appear to surround the two Edies’ day after day. Forever acting out their parts within their own play. In front of the Maysles camera the endlessly groomed Little Edie becomes a star. Grey Gardens is a celebration of complex relationships and the unique individual, additionally highlighting the frequency at which fashion’s history is plundered to influence catwalk designs today.

See Grey Gardens and Little Edie’s outfits at Rich Mix Cinema as part of the Fashion on Film Season

Read more

Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Showroom Review: EcoLuxe London

'Ecolooks' EcoLuxe London Exhibition LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

‘Ecolooks’ by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

I was hugely excited that during this London Fashion Week I had the opportunity not only to go and see but also exhibit at the EcoLuxe London exhibition that took place in a beautiful space on the ground floor of the Kingsway Hall Hotel almost next to the Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Freemasons’ Hall. Ecoluxe London takes place twice a year during London Fashion Week and is a non-profit platform that promotes fashion related ecoluxury brands and aims to raise awareness of ecological issues with the public. Its organisers, information pills Stamo and Elena Garcia, who are sustainable womenswear designers themselves, featured over 40 brands this year and EcoLuxe London is growing every year – here’s only a few examples that took my fancy!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Lucy Harvey Ethical Stylist

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Ethical Stylist Lucy Harvey and Hetty Rose

Ethical stylist Lucy Harvey styling shoe designer Hetty Rose with a Plastic Seconds headpiece and necklace.

Upon entering the exhibition visitors were greeted by superbly talented stylist Lucy Harvey and her assistant Charlie Divall, who offered to upstyle them with various pieces from the exhibitors’ tables and then photograph them and tweet about it. I thought in this way Lucy offered a really fun, interactive introduction to the exhibition and a great way of promoting both the designers’ and the visitors’ work.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Lupe Castro wearing Supported by Rain and Plastic Seconds

Stylist Lupe Castro styled by Lucy Harvey with a Supported by Rain coat and a Plastic Seconds headpiece, photo by Charlie Divall

Walking further into the exhibition the first thing to catch my eye was a series of gloriously colourful raincoats by Maria Ampatielou’s new brand Supported by Rain – seen above. Made of recycled umbrellas and end-of-roll waterproof fabrics, these raincoats are not only beautiful but also cleverly fold into their own pockets or hoods, whose insides have remained dry, so that you can put them back into your bag without any soaked diary dramas!

STAMO EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Celine Elliott

By Stamo S/S 2012 by Celine Elliott

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 STAMO belt

By Stamo, which featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is another brand I enjoyed especially because of the theatricality in the designs and the extensive use of found and recycled materials whose original form is often retained – as seen in this bullet belt.

INALA LONDON EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Caire Kearns

INALA London S/S 2012 by Claire Kearns

My neighbour exhibitor Alani Gibbon of INALA London showed some designs which were a natural hit with me becuase of their bright colours, but they further impressed me with their cleverness and versatility. For example a hooded short dress could be turned around and worn as an all-in-one playsuit! Not to mention the use of pulped eucalyptus fabric which felt amazing to touch.

OUTSIDER Ecoluxe London LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Outsider Fashion S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

I was thrilled to see the brand Outsider winning the JP Selects womenwear award at the end of the show as they stongly promote the notion that ‘ethical’ fashion should just look like very good fashion with their range of classic but very stylish designs.

HEMYCA EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Celine Elliott

Hemyca S/S 2012 by Celine Elliott

Hemyca is a multi award winning brand and I was most attracted by this beautifully tailored matching dress and coat.

LFW SS2012 Agnes Valentine Ecoluxe London by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Agnes Valentine S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Along with Hemyca above, whom I was not aware of, it was great to discover my dream swimsuit designer Agnes Valentine! The brand sources fine italian eco fabrics and their designs are minimal and classic but with bold colours and very feminine indeed.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Hetty Rose shoes

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Hetty Rose shoes worn by Alice Wilby

It was an honour to meet another ACOFI designer Hetty Rose whose fun bespoke shoes are made using vintage Japanese kimono fabrics, Alice Wilby from Futurefrock modelled this pair and did not want to take them off!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Golden Grass Company clutch

Next to Hetty Rose I found the friendly couple behind the Golden Grass Company who design jewellery and accessories for native artisans in Brazil to make out of a naturally golden, light and durable fibre, which is grown without chemicals or pesticides, under fair trade standards – LOVED this clutch!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Monique Luttin headpiece

Sharing a table with me was Monique Luttin who makes intriguing headpieces using offcuts or vintage fabrics and found objects – I particularly liked this bird scull one which has a tribal, ritualistic element to it.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Palstic Seconds printer packaging pendand

And finally a piece from the Plastic Seconds recycled jewellery collection I exhibited made out of the plastic, colourful bits one finds when unpacking a new printer…

As Hannah Bullivant pointed out in a previous post on EcoLuxe London, hopefully sustainable practices in fashion design will become mainstream and the brands that are still termed ‘ethical’ will no longer have to exhibit in separate showrooms and sections such as EcoLuxe or Estethica. Hopefully soon.

All photography by Maria Papadimitriou unless otherwise stated.

Categories ,Agnes Valentine, ,Alice Wilby, ,By Stamo, ,Celine Elliott, ,Charlie Divall, ,Claire Kearns, ,Classic, ,Coat, ,design, ,designer, ,Dress, ,ecodesign, ,Ecoluxe, ,Elena Garcia, ,estethica, ,Ethical brands, ,fashion, ,Feminine, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,Futurefrock, ,Headpiece, ,Hemyca, ,Hetty Rose, ,Inala London, ,jewellery, ,Kingsway Hall Hotel, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lucy Harvey, ,Lupe Castro, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,minimal, ,Monique Luttin Millinery, ,Outsider, ,Outsider Fashion, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Pulped Eucalyptus, ,Recycled Materials, ,shoes, ,Slow Fashion, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Supported by Rain, ,Swimwear, ,tailoring, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,vintage, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Ethical Fashion Forum’s Innovation Winners 2009

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I’ll put up my hands and admit that as a girl, health medications not yet a quarter of a century old, remedy talking about music is utterly intimidating. Yet I try. At some point in my life I’ll make a concerted effort to dance about architecture too. There is an endless wealth of information on bands that have already been, that I am never, ever going to be able to catch up on. Yet I try. As a music fan (enough to write about it), I’m embarrassed to admit that I only really discovered my, now, all time favourite band, Talking Heads within the last five years. I know, shoot me down. My convoluted point is that, as much as I try and piece it together, I can only imagine what The Slits releasing ‘Cut’ meant to the females and general youth and music fans of 1979. Yes there was a sex bomb fronted Blondie, intriguingly androgynous Patti Smith and unconventional Kate Bush, but an all female, punk rock band that posed naked on their album sleeve and generally didn’t give a f***. No one saw that coming and their influence has reverberated ever since.

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Fast forward then 30 years and their new album, Trapped Animal, has been unleashed to a society that is certainly far from sorted. But can the music still have the same punch? The garage approach of Cut has inevitably given way to a slicker product all round. That same mixture of reggae rhythms, scratchy guitars, anger and mischief abounds. Rather than sounding like a band thirty years past their prime, as could be said of many a reunion album, there is a freshness that means you could be mistaken for thinking you’re hearing the latest South London council estate collective. This could be explained by the new multi-generational line-up that features Sex Pistol Paul Cook’s daughter, Hollie. You also get the impression that frontwoman Ari Up has as much energy as her fourteen year old self that met original member, Palmolive, at a Patti Smith gig.

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Lyrically, the album doesn’t stretch the boundaries of the concept of rhyming but you wouldn’t hear Girls Aloud bemoaning of “Men who want us to be their mother/Men who hate us because of their mother.” Where the Pop Idol-ers are concerned with their “cappuccinos to go-o”, Up and her girls are hollering about ‘Peer Pressure’, “issues with child abuse” and eschewing the shackles of a nine to five: “We don’t pay rent with a passion, and we don’t wanna follow fashion.”

The fact that foul-mouthed Lily Allen launched her career on the wave of reggae-tinged pop is no accident. The Slits invented the model for anti-establishment, men-bashing, unselfconscious pop and even though this new offering will never live up to Cut standards, it’s a welcome return of punk’s finest.

Helping to keep the pressure on governments across the world, health activists in Australia held a mass action last week against Hazelwood Coal Power Station, erectile one of the dirtiest in the world. The climate camp held a day of planning and workshops, nurse followed by the day of action where a group of over 500 people placed a ‘Community Decommission Order’ on Hazelwood to switch on the renewable energy transition.

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Images from Hazelwood Flickr

Twenty-two people were arrested on the day and, with the Governments lack of conviction, it seems many more are ready for the same sacrifice. As one secondary school teacher put it, “not such a big sacrifice in the scheme of things.” Looking at pictures and reports as well as listening to the radio report, it looks like a well planned day of disobedience. Affinity groups such as the Wombat Warriors, Radical Cheerleaders and Climate Clowns show great initiative. Apparently the police wouldn’t let “bikezilla”, a massive 8-person bike, join the protest though. Shame.

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I caught up with Louise Morris, one of the organisers of the action to get her account of the action and see what’s in store for climate action in Australia.

How long have you been involved in the protest movement in Australia and was there a catalyst for getting involved?

I’ve been involved in campaigning in Australia for over a decade, starting off with the campaign to stop the Jabiluka Uranium mine in Kakadu National park and spending many years as a forest activist and blockader in Tasmania (as a result now one of the Gunns 20) and Western Australia.

I decided to devote my time to climate campaigning in 2006, as the realisation set in that no matter how many pieces of forest we saved through campaigning and blockades etc – if climate change is not dealt with, the climatic conditions forecast will spell the end for all the places we have campaigned for and protected over the years.

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I grew up in mining towns in Western Australia, so am very aware of the sort of environmental and social scars the mining and logging industry inflict. My decision to work on climate issues has been heavily based on the mitigation angle. I am a strong believer in trying to solve a problem, rather than trying cope with the problem as best we can through adaptation measures. This has led me to focus strongly on coal issues and to work within the grassroots realm of climate campaigning. I really do think it’s in the grassroots community movement that we have the most power.

What was your personal experience on last weeks action?

I was one of the key organisers of the Switch off Hazelwood – Switch on Renewables weekend. My experience ranged from having to deal with the police in the lead up to the event and during the event with their complete over-reaction to the whole affair, talking with people who were prepared to be arrested and acting as media spokesperson for the group.

My experience of the action and watching other peoples reaction to the day was extremely positive.

This action was the first of it’s type for the Victorian Climate Movement. For the past few years people have lobbied, rallied in cities etc but never actually taken action at the site of the pollution and been prepared to be arrested.

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We had 500-plus people from all possible walks of life turn up. A lot of families, older folk and a massive representation from the quite mainstream ‘Climate Action Group’ demographic that is strong in Australia. We had 22 people manage to scale the security fences and police lines that were put up prior to our action. In that list of arrestees are doctors, teachers, electricians, stay at home mums… the list goes on.

Our state government tried to label us as eco-terrorists in the lead up to the event. This failed dismally, as our lead up media campaign was very solutions focused (just transition to renewable energy) and we were very open in our aim of civil disobedience… this combined with images of the people who were at the action, got out to the wider world of so many kids, families, professionals and respected members of the community were taking action. We have had a lot of support from the public and arms of the mainstream media.

The feeling post this action is that people are ready for more peaceful community driven direct action, and more people are prepared to get arrested to push the government into some real action on climate change.

How did the mainstream media and the public react?

There has been a noticeable shift in public and media attitudes to people taking action on climate change, post our federal Government’s pathetic announcement of 5% emission reduction by 2020.

In the lead up to this event we put a lot of thought and energy into talking about our message of switching on a transition to renewable energy and switching off coal. Part of this outreach included a public meeting at the town of Morwell, which is the heart of coal country in our state. This was a ‘robust’ meeting but we got great feedback from everyone who came about the transition message and we were supported by unions representing coal workers that we were pushing for a just transition to renewable energy.

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In terms of media – we ran a pretty tight messaging strategy around the fact that this is a community driven event that is calling for a switch from renewable energy and this requires that we switch off coal.

At first we got very little interest, but as the word that people were going to partake in peaceful mass civil disobedience got out, the interest grew. On the whole, we got a pretty fair run in the media in the lead up to the event. A lot of time was spent explaining what civil disobedience was, as Australia has not had a strong activist culture in recent years. Once again the core message that we were calling for a switch from coal to renewables, with a just transition was central in a lot of the willingness of commercial media to hear us out.

Obviously on the day of the action some of the conservative media ran the ‘rowdy protester’ line and showed the fence shaking but considering the sort of coverage we usually get in the mainstream Australian press, I think we have seen a shift in how community protest and civil disobedience is being covered. That said, the large representation of families and ‘ordinary looking folk’ really did help that.

Do you think Australia is ready for a broader movement relating to climate change and what do you think the comparison is to movements across the world?

Yes. We had our first climate camp last year in Newcastle [NSW] and from this it was decided that in 2009 we would have state based events, of which the Switch off Hazelwood event was one. The reasons for this were many, including the fact that Australia is so geographically large that it’s not feasible (financially or environmentally) for people to trek across the country to come to a single climate camp.

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For the next 3 months there will be Climate Camp style events across the country from South Australia, New South Wales to Western Australia. The interest and willingness is there for a movement that is prepared to take action at the site of the big polluters and put some targeted pressure on government and the big polluters who are shaping the climate policy.

In terms of the broader movement relating to climate change there is definitely a lot more scope for more varied forms of action and campaigning. We are currently organising a bunch of movement building events and workshops using the lessons learnt from many countries and campaigns, including elements of the Obama community mobilisation strategy.

Comparisons are hard to make as we live in a massive continent with quite a sparse population, in comparison to many other countries who have strong climate movements. We also have a populace that has been alienated from the concepts of protest, civil disobedience and strong social movements from previous (and still current) governments who have demonised such things as ‘Anti-Australian.’

As one of the organisers of the action, what have you learnt from the process?

Honestly, the importance of networks, community and talking to people face-to-face to get them involved and part of creating the event they want to be a part of. Another lesson we always learn from these events is that people need to have fun organising and being part of events like this – best way to keep them coming back and get more people involved.

The Affinity Group and Working Group model was central in making a lot of elements of this event work. From the public meeting, the promotions, independent media to the action itself.

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What’s next for Climate Camp in Australia?

There are still a number of state based Climate Camps to come in the next few months across Australia after the ‘Switch off Hazelwood – Switch on Renewables’ event. The next immediate one is in South Australia and after that is the one at the Helensbugh coal mine in NSW. So much more Climate Camp action is on the cards. And here in Victoria we are looking ahead to what is next in the lead up to Copenhagen as a national climate event.

Looks like a lot going on in Australia, shame it would have to be a carbon intensive flight away, that or a 6 month cycle mission, hmmm.. now thats an idea.
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MATT AND KIM are a destructive dance duo hailing from Brooklyn, pilule NYC. There are very few bands that can always guarantee you a real good time with one single push of a button, but Matt & Kim never let me down. Ever. We caught this Brooklyn duo live back in June and they knocked our socks off.

Yeah, there are tons of happy-go-lucky bands with that high-energy, high-on-life exuberance, throwing shapes and keeping their toothy smiles fixed, verging on the robotic and the slightly scary. But there’s always the inevitable grating after a few listens as the cheer morphs into a cheesy mess of slobbery, over-enthusiastic group hugs and high-fives that leave you backing away into the safety of Morrissey‘s comforting drones, vowing never to venture away again. Promise.

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The weird thing is, Matt & Kim are super cheesy, but they seem so genuinely fun and unaffected that it’s tough not to abandon any self-concious hang-ups and just leap along with their carefree charm. And if their new tracks are anything to go by, they show no sign of quietening down and getting all mature on us.

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As the jaunty keys and sharp, tapping sticks that start ‘Daylight”s introduction trip and pop, the call and response of “We cut the legs off of our pants/Threw our shoes into the ocean/Sit back and wave through the daylight/Sit back and wave through the daylight” gets louder and fuller, there an immediate hit of teenage nostalgia. It’s a reminder to never grow up too much and when that alarm rings to get you out of bed in the morning – it’s time to wake up.

Watch the duo having fun in their DIY-esque video here:

‘Daylight’ is out on 28th September on Fader Label/Nettwerk.
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Obstinately avoiding the typical artistic “nude” and the potential sexist connotations of the form, medicine Sheila Wallis’s Threadneedle Prize-winning “Self-portrait” does feature the artist without clothes, medical but avoids rendering herself as a sexual object. Instead the artist describes herself as appearing to be a “small, look naked creature” rather than a coquette.

The painting feels very real as opposed to a being a fantasy of female sexiness. She gazes back at the onlooker with a slightly knotted brow but, despite being aware of the attention, doesn’t seem either to play up to it or to be exploited by it. She is vulnerable but remains in control through the action of painting herself. Perhaps a deciding factor in seeing the painting without sexual connotations as a female viewer is knowledge of the gender of the artist and that she is also the subject of the painting; it’s easier to enjoy a nude for what it is without the overtones of an artist/muse relationship.

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The prize is voted for online by visitors to the exhibition, at the Mall Galleries. This year’s exhibition was strong and there was a theme of interaction between man-made structures and nature. For example, Jennifer Godlieb’s eerie “Lurker” (below) seems to depict a gasometer set in a future time when cities are devoid of people and all is overgrown and transformed into a spookily beautiful Scandinavian forest. The message could be an environmentalist one: despite the messages about “saving our world” from climate change, eventually Mother Nature will reclaim all our efforts.

Zachary%20Peirce%20Chernobyl.jpeg

In contrast to the fairy-castle appearance of Godlieb’s post-human architecture, Zachary Peirce’s painting of “Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone 1” bleaches the colours out of the natural landscape, leaving washed-out pinks, bruise purples and a colour the same yellow tone as human skin. A slight touch of green appears murky and poisonous. In the background there is a building that appears to be melting: the black outlines drip down the canvas into the overgrowth. Here the impact of humanity’s failings on nature has created a dirty, deserted area without any of the peace of Godlieb’s twilight scene.

Peter Wylie’s brutalist tower block “Goldfinger four (with Le Corbusier flaking paint from Villa La Roche)” is actually still occupied but the exterior of the worn old concrete monster offers little comfort. The golden windows that presumably inspired the title do seem to imply little pockets of cosy humanity lurking within.

1148%20peter%20wylie%20goldfinger.jpg

Dotted across the image are pieces of flaking paint taken from a Le Corbusier building – perhaps the remains of a previous, shining image, gradually chipped away to reveal the reality of high-rise communal living? Le Corbusier’s use of concrete has led to some grim surroundings for those living there and it has been noted that as a material it wears much worse in the wet conditions of Britain compared to the sunnier climes of the South of France.

The buildings in “Goldfinger” block out any glimpse of sky and look like they belong in the pages of “1984”; but it’s unclear what commentary Wylie is making beyond the appearance of the building. How do these designs impact of the lifestyle of those who live in them? As in the other works, people are invisible but here they are not absent. I didn’t feel comfortable making assumptions about whether this represented a dystopian future or present because of the possibly classist assumptions – these buildings are usually destined for lower-income people. Can high-density urban estates ever live up to the utopian dreams of those who design them?

st%20peter%20louis%20smith.jpeg

The exhibition overall was extremely thought-provoking and varied, from the landscapes to the portraiture. A large-scale religious painting of the crucifixion of Saint Peter, by Louis Smith, was among the most physically imposing of the works on display along with a knitted bear and a huge photo-real “forensic examination” of a bespectacled man, painted in minute gory detail by Oliver Jones.
The Ethical Fashion Forum has been popping up all over the place at here at Amelia’s Magazine. Back in June we covered the first section of their biannual competition established to reward good deeds regarding sustainability in Fashion. Titled PURE, cialis 40mg the winners – South African designer Lalesso and Malawi designer MIA– would display their designs at the PURE tradeshow. Yesterday in the rather lovely setting of the Hospital Club, the EFF announced the second half of their competition, the Esthetica awards. Judged by Dolly Jones from vogue.com.

mia%20nisbet%203.jpg
MIA

As the crowd waited perched on sofas, leaning against walls as we huddled round the catwalk Dolly Jones announced the winners: Mark Liu, Henrietta Ludgate (who was championed by Amelia’s Magazine earlier this year as a one to watch), MIA and Lalesso (both of whom you will have noticed were mentioned earlier in reference to winning the PURE awards in June).

mia%20nisbet%204.jpg
MIA

After the announcements, the catwalk begin to sounds of bouncing pop and the models began to work the room. Each designer sent two designs down the catwalk, as teasers for their entire line. I would have loved to have seen more of the collections. Especially as the majority, if not the entirety, of what was sent down the Innovation catwalk was jump-off-the-catwalk-and-onto-my-back wearable.

lalessoeff2.jpg

Lalesso

To accompany the catwalk, the Ethical Fashion Forum provided recycled cardboard handouts detailing the reasons behind each designer’s selection. Mark Liu for developing a pattern cutting process that minimizes the amount of waste material produced by each garment, helping to “pioneering Zero Waste Fashion”. This made me think instantly of the “A-POC” line by Issey Miyake or taking it out of the acronym; the A piece of cloth project. From which the wearer is able to create endless items out of a single well-cut piece of fabric. Myakke is said to be continuing to develop this idea after becoming concerned about the impact of textile waste on the environment. It’s great to see young and established designers tackling the industry’s waste problem and turning it into a conceptual wearable idea. To compliment Liu’s pattern cutting he uses organic fabrics, low impact dyes and water based pigments. The two dresses, sent down the catwalk, were reminiscent of Peter Pan or an elfish child as they hung playfully off the models. Perfect for a summer’s day in the park.

lalessoEFF.jpg

Lalesso

Henrietta Ludgate worked with Osman Yousefzada after graduating from St. Martins and is now starting her own label. Ludgate’s philosophy lies in the maintenance of British craftsmanship. All the materials are sourced from British Mills and the collection is made entirely in a traditional Scottish crofting village. Her dresses really intrigue me being a combination of what appears to be felt and fleece. The pieces (not shown on the catwalk, but worn by members of the audience) had a similar feel in their shapes as Matthew Williamson’s graduate collection at St Martins. The new collection contained a wearable jersey dress with interesting piping detail to structure the back. Alongside a maxi dress which appeared to be an extended bankers shirt.

lookbook wtrmrk 3

Henrietta Ludgate

Lalesso creates women’s wear out of traditional East African Fabrics, which translate perfectly for a Saturday spent walking around town and sitting in parks. The bold floral patterns were instantly eye catching.

MIA’s recycled fabrics and traditional Malawain textiles produced a refreshing take on up-cycling old urban sportswear into summer dresses.

The Innovation competition is importantly drawing attention to the numerous ways new designers are tackling challenges of sustainability that the fashion industry faces as a whole.

lookbook wtrmrk 0

Henriette Ludgate

MIA is tackling craftsman’s jobs lost through the abundance of cheap second hand clothes on Malawi’s market stalls by employing local people in the process of up-cycling. All profits are put back into the community support, as well as buying equipment and training to maintain market access and community livelihoods. Furthermore (thanks again to the cards handing out by the Ethical Fashion Industry at the show), Lalesso recently founded SOKO – an ethical and eco fashion production plant in Kenya. Offering opportunities for other design companies to produce collections with the profits and increased job market to benefit communities in Kenya.

mark%20liu%202.jpg

Mark Liu

The Ethical Fashion Forum and Innovation are proving not only that designers are environmentally aware when making their clothes and considering waste. But importantly they are using their businesses to recreate jobs and a skill based workforce in local communities effected by both the waste and desire for Fast Fashion.

Categories ,Ethical Fashion Forum, ,fashion, ,Fashioning an Ethical Industry, ,Labour behind the Label, ,student, ,sustainable

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Amelia’s Magazine | Charlie May: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Review

Charlie May A/W 2013 by Chloe Douglass
Charlie May A/W 2013 by Chloe Douglass.

There was plenty of buzz surrounding Charlie May‘s second catwalk show thanks to her status as a blogging fashion designer, so I wasn’t surprised to see many familiar faces so early on a Sunday morning outside the Ice Tank. Charlie is a designer of the minimalist ilk and she had chosen an apt venue to showcase her new collection: a photography studio with a white infinity curve against which the models paused for photographs.

Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May A/W 2013 by Jane Young
Charlie May A/W 2013 by Jane Young.

The collection, which had been inspired by ice, rock and fire, began in crisp white: sheer polo necks worn beneath wide lapelled tailored wool coats, with pencil skirts and sheer black tights. A roll neck knit was worn under an ostrich skin biker jacket and there was a distinct 80s vibe to the oversized blazers. Red lips worked beautifully with a simple silk shift dress and an A-line maxi dress accessorised with a simple black clutch bag by Danielle Foster. Moving swiftly through a few black, wine and gunmetal grey garments we arrived at my favourite looks, a cherry red dress and skinny leg suit. Charlie May successfully mixed textures and tones to bring subtle interest to her minimalist aesthetic, and I’ll be intrigued to see what she comes up with next.

Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May AW 2013-photo by Amelia Gregory
Charlie May A/W 2013. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Charlie May AW13 by Isher Dhiman
Charlie May A/W 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

Categories ,A/W 2013, ,Charlie May, ,Chloe Douglass, ,Danielle Foster, ,Girl a la Mode, ,Ice Tank, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Jane Young, ,London Fashion Week, ,review

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Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Jewellery Designer Rosita Bonita

Rosita Bonita portrait by<strong> Laura Gill</strong>” title=”Rosita Bonita portrait by Laura Gill” width=”480″ height=”571″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-69903″ /></a><br />
<strong><a target=Rowenna Harrison portrait by Laura Gill

Working under the name Rosita Bonita, Camberwell illustration graduate Rowenna Harrison makes beautiful jewellery that would be at home in any trinket lovers dressing-up box. Her pieces celebrate all things vintage glamour and have a whole host of other influences from the mythical to the historical. We’ve mentioned Rosita Bonita before as Amelia stumbled across her work at Wilderness Festival 2011 and her stuff is still just as inspiring.

Rosita Bonita

Her pieces are gaining a following and she has recently been shortlisted to win a stand at Treasure Jewellery Show by Professional Jeweller Magazine (you can vote for her here). She’s a busy girl and a few days ago had a stall at the Secret Emporium Pop Up Shop in Boxpark, Shoreditch where she launched her latest collection Siren ’13.

Rosita Bonita by Louise Smith
Rosita Bonita by Gareth A Hopkins Top illustration of Rosita Bonita jewellery by Louise Smith, bottom illustration by Gareth A Hopkins.

More than just pretty pieces, her hand-crafted beauties are keep-sakes rather than regular old fashion knickknacks. I especially love the heart necklaces from her Sweet Black Heart collection, but all of her pieces are real treasures and her latest collection is sure to bring out your inner ’30s pin-up gal as well as rekindling your (my) childhood dreams of one day becoming Ariel the little mermaid. Siren is a collection of necklaces, earrings and more, which explore the sea-side feel from era’s past, as well as hinting at more magical influences. Looking at these treasures, I can’t help but think of the tongue twister we would recite on the playground: “she sells sea shells on the sea shore,” and be reminded of the feel of sand between my wiggling toes on British summer beach vacations.

I spoke to the lovely Ro Harrison, the face behind Rosita Bonita, about the launch of her new collection, her plans for the future and why she switched from illustration to jewellery design.

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection
Rosita Bonita Siren CollectionRosita Bonita Siren Collection Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

How did you decide on the name Rosita Bonita?
The first product I made to sell commercially was pasties (nipple tassels). This came about after making a pair for a friend to replace ones she’d lost at a fancy dress party, then making a few more as birthday presents. They quickly evolved into brooch versions, for those (like me) that don’t tend to have the occasion to wear the originals! I’ve always hated selling my work, so I wanted to create a brand name to create a degree of separation; to make it easier for me to go out and find shops to sell to. I starting experimenting with variations of my name and Rosita Bonita just kind of popped out. I had a vision of her being a ’50s Mexican burlesque dancer, it just felt right!

Rosita Bonita by Victoria Haynes

Illustration of Rosita Bonita jewellery by Victoria Haynes.

What made you choose to take the jump from illustration to jewellery design?
For as long as I can remember I have been drawing and making. I love both and don’t see a huge difference between the two. Illustration and jewellery (for me) are both about decoration, engaging with materials and creating characters and fantastical worlds. After graduating I struggled to find enough work as an illustrator (I was never very good at trying to sell myself), so I spent years working in what were supposed to be temporary jobs, in a cafe and managing a vintage shop. All the time I was drawing and making and waiting to be ‘discovered’. In the end, I had the idea to take my drawings and put them onto a physical product that people would want to buy. I had done a lot of screen-printing at college, and I had made various accessories (jewellery, purses, fascinators) out of leather, so it seemed like the next logical step to combine to two. Leather is so tactile and a joy to work with and it seemed to be a great surface to print on, so I did some tests, liked what happened and out came my first collection (Orchard).

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

How do the two skills influence each other in your work?
All my pieces begin as drawings, and the pieces are often formed from a combination of separate 2D elements, so assembling them into the finished product is a bit like collage. Having had no training in jewellery, I suppose my whole approach is influenced by image-making; having said that, with each new collection, I am adding more metal elements and playing with different construction techniques. For my next collections I am working on a few more sculptural touches.

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

You worked as part of design duo Dirty Drawers with artist Laura Gill, how did this relationship come about?
My best friend from my Foundation course went on to do a degree at Central Saint Martins and I met Laura there. She’s such an inspirational character. She has tremendous energy, a really positive outlook, a carefree demeanour, and a brilliant imagination, which all come out in her work. Laura met a group of artists who were squatting a big house in Peckham and were turning it into a gallery to show their work. She’d been allocated a room in there to use as a studio and exhibition space, and she asked me if I wanted to show there too. It was all quite short notice and I didn’t have anything prepared, so she gave me some drawings she had been working on and asked me to add to them. We had a pile of books of documentary photography, full of inspiring characters and began drawing from them. The process worked like a game of exquisite corpse (which became the name of the series). We would draw sections and cover them up before swapping and continuing to draw. It was more to amuse ourselves than anything else, but we liked the results and kept working and exhibiting together for years to come.
[Jessica: You can see one of Laura’s illustrations in this article as she provided the beautiful portrait of Rowenna]

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection
Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

Do you feel Camberwell prepared you for entrepreneurship?
One highlight I remember from my course at Camberwell was a talk from Tatty Devine. They didn’t come from a jewellery background and didn’t have financial investment, and seemed like genuinely lovely people, so their success story was (and still is) a huge business inspiration. In my final year I did a number of work placements. The first was a short stint at an Illustration agency (CIA). They kindly took me under their wing and showed me a glimpse of the goings on. Then I was lucky enough to work for my 3 heroes of the time; Marmalade Magazine, Shona Heath (Art Director) and Julie Verhoeven [Jessica: I recently mentioned Julie in a Bath in Fashion 2013 Listing which you can read here] They were all hugely inspirational learning experiences and gave me the opportunity to use my craft skills, and feel valued for them. They also supplied me with bits of freelance work after I graduated. However I still didn’t feel I had the confidence to go out hunting for my own work in the real world. The course itself felt like a bit of a bubble. Because I got a 1st, I just stupidly assumed that people would come to my degree show and offer me work. When I graduated, the bubble popped.

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

What’s been the biggest challenge so far of setting up shop?
The biggest challenge in setting up shop is money. I started Rosita Bonita when I was still working four days a week managing a vintage shop. I didn’t have much cash (or time) to spare, so I have always made things according to the material costs I could run to and the skills I had to make things myself. It’s really frustrating as I have so many ideas of things I would love to make, but am very limited by costs. As things have been going better and better, these frustrations are highlighted more and more. Ideally I wouldn’t be producing everything myself. I would love to just be designing and making samples, then getting the bulk manufactured, and it would be great to have PR, but this is just not possible yet. The business is growing, but very slowly! The further it goes, the more you realise how much you need money. Designing, manufacturing, selling, promoting, building websites, taking photos, and doing accounts and admin all by yourself is not ideal. I’ve also just had one of my designs copied (by someone who does have money for manufacturing, sales & PR), but I can’t afford to take them to court.

Rosita Bonita Siren CollectionRosita Bonita Siren Collection

What are the main inspirations of your work?
My inspiration comes mainly from the past. I’m obsessed with vintage photography and graphic design, anything from the Victorian era through to the ‘50s. I look a lot at Hollywood studio shots from, particularly from the ‘30s. The sets and costumes are mind-blowing. I love watching movies from that time too. The characters are so glamorous and almost cartoon like. I am always amazed at how little we’ve artistically progressed since then. I’m not excited by realism and the mundane. I also love to look at the history of jewellery and the social meanings attached to it. I want people to put on my pieces and feel like they are becoming a fantastical character, or that the jewellery is bringing them luck or special powers.

Rosita Bonita Siren Collection

Your new collection Siren has a seaside theme, what made you choose this?
The Siren collection came out of my research into amulets. There was too much material in there for one collection (it’s actually now spawned 3 – Amulet, She’s my witch & Siren). Mermaids and seahorses, as well as certain types of shell, have been used as charms or amulets. I wanted to take these motifs, but treat them in a different way to the previous collection, which was quite dark and magical. They seemed to be perfect for a light summery collection. There is a still from a lost George Méliès film from c1905 which I had photocopied when I was at Camberwell and had always wanted to use somehow. It was a shot of six ‘mermaids’ posing in this great stage set in a star formation, with solid tails. I tend to visualise the photoshoot/video for the collection before I design the actual pieces (usually including which models/friends and which music to use), and knew I wanted something like this, but with a brighter, more ‘30s seaside resort feel to it. I drew my own version of this (which I’ve since printed on framed glass and t shirts), and that became the basis of the collection. I also looked at loads of other mermaid imagery, from ancient myths, fairytales, figureheads, movie stills, tattoo designs and carnival exhibits. I wanted to capture girlhood escapist fantasies of being a mermaid.

Rosita Bonita Siren CollectionRosita Bonita Siren Collection

Your jewellery has been featured in places like Nylon and Elle, how does it feel to see your work in mainstream mags?
It’s very rewarding to see my work in magazines, of any kind. I Google myself every few months and usually find some new mention in a blog or something. It keeps me going. More please!

What plans do you have for the future?
I’m not very good at planning ahead and managing my time. I have the next two collections designed in my head (just need to grab a moment to get them on paper and to develop the samples), but beyond that I’m never sure exactly what is to come. I will be working on finding some new stockists, so more people can discover me. I have three new international ones in the pipelines, which is all very exciting.

How would a reader go about purchasing one of your pieces?
I have a shop on my website . I don’t discontinue previous collections, as I don’t like the disposable nature of fashion, so most pieces are still available to order, if they are not in stock, and certain pieces can be made in custom colours. I’m also open to illustration, design, bespoke accessory/costume commissions and collaborations, so feel free to get in touch!

Rosita Bonita by Maya Beus
Illustration of piece from Rosita Bonita Siren collection by Maya Beus

All unreferenced illustrations and photography were provided by the lovely Rowenna Harrison.

Categories ,50s, ,amulets, ,Camberwell, ,Collaborations, ,Costume, ,custom, ,design, ,designer, ,Dirty Drawers, ,fairytales, ,fashion, ,framed glass, ,graduate, ,graduation, ,illustration, ,interview, ,Jessica Cook, ,jewellery, ,Julie Verhoeven, ,Laura Gill, ,leather, ,Louise Smith, ,magical, ,Mermaids, ,Myths, ,Rosita Bonita, ,Rowenna Harrison, ,seahorses, ,Shell, ,Shona Heath, ,Siren, ,special powers, ,T-shirts, ,Victoria Haynes, ,Victorian era, ,vintage, ,‘30s seaside resort

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Amelia’s Magazine | extInked – One hundred species one hundred tattoos

This November the Brilliantly Birmingham International Contemporary Jewellery Festival celebrates its tenth anniversary in style by hosting two exhibits at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery comprising of the annual selling show, ask promoting both international and home grown eco designers, website like this and a Tenth Anniversary Retrospective featuring the work of seven acclaimed designers whose work has headlined previous festivals: Mikaela Lyons, price Kathryn Marchbank, Betty Pepper, Lisa Juen, Anke Plath, Vaishali Morjaria and Sally Collins.

Firmly rooted within Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter (a designated conservation area which employs around 4,000 people and is home to more than 80 contemporary designer makers), Brilliantly Birmingham started in 1999 when a few designers started out to promote their work under a single brand name. Since its humble beginnings this festival has gone from strength to strength becoming an integral event in the international crafts calendar.

Among the wealth of innovative designers exhibiting this year are three British designers Sally Collins, Kathryn Marchbank and Betty Pepper whose quirky designs caught our eye. An avid champion of ‘Make Do and Mend’ culture Sally Collins creates her pieces from second-hand fabrics such as crochet and lace, heat treated copper and gold-plated elements to create compositions of layered pattern, colour and form. With a playful emphasis on excess detailing and frills Sally’s sometimes eccentric designs add to the charm of her work making her a much loved designer. Of her work Sally says: “My concern is not only with the ecological benefits of re-using and re-inventing something old, discarded or forgotten, but with the beauty of the history of an object when it has been passed down through a family or transformed into something else for another purpose.”

Kathryn Marchbank designs by the name of Everygirlsenvy creating jewellery with a playful yet elegant aesthetic, giving an interpretation of the forms and lines that she observes in the movement and language of dance. By interacting and working alongside artists established in the fields of performance, dance, choreography and music Kathryn aims to embody a visual expression of movement through form and colour in abstract styles and figurative shapes. Using materials such as oxidised sterling silver, Perspex and enamel Kathryn’s pieces are highly wearable and unique. Recent commissions have included London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre supplying accessories for their Hip Hop festival ‘Breakin’ Convention’. Having appeared in several publications a highlight this year saw Kathryn’s most eye catching designs feature in Mario Testino’s ‘Good Vibrations’ shoot for British Vogue back in May.

Betty Pepper’s stunning and ornate collection is made from recycled materials such as clothing, textiles and paper preferring to use materials that have a past rather than creating disposable fashion. Betty says of her designs: “I like to feel that they have ‘lived a little’ and have their own story to tell with signs of ageing and how they have been treated or, perhaps, mistreated. Every discarded object is a piece of the patchwork of someone else’s life. Fashion is so throw away, it’s that waste of textiles that makes me sad.” Inspired by stories, poems and memories Betty uses traditional jewellery techniques evolved into stitch; the threads of which translate into beautiful lace and crochet one-off pieces. Betty’s designs incorporate word games, hidden messages and secrets which reflect her personality and also inject a playful sense of humour into her jewellery collections.
Brilliantly Birmingham takes place from 21st November 2009 – 28th February 2010 at a selection of venues across Birmingham. For further information visit www.brilliantlybirmingham.com.
Ultimate Holding Company, pharmacy a design collective responsible for some of the most iconic and forward thinking projects over the past decade, abortion while remaining true to their ethical, environmental and social principles, have embarked on a new experiment to celebrate Charles Darwin’s bicentennial birthday.

EX2

ExtInked is giving people the chance to become life long ambassadors for threatened and rare birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, plants and fungi by getting a tattoo of one of 100 endangered species that live in Britain.

Tattooists from Ink Vs Steel will begin transferring these images to willing ambassadors from Thursday 26th November and continues until Sunday 29th November. This is no halfhearted walk-round exhibition, but will be pushing the boundary of volunteer-led and audience interaction.

ExtInked offers you the chance to stay involved for life by getting one of the tattoos. Instead of your conventional event, where leaving with a vague notion of the point and an overpriced notebook is the norm you will instead be walking out with a sharp and piercing perception and reminder of the importance of keeping some of beautiful species in Britain alive.

ex5

This will also be one of the first opportunities, possibly ever, for when your grandma asks you about why you got that tattoo you can have an answer ready to turn the scorn around. No longer the usual explanation, “yeah that’s a Celtic design that relates to mans equilibrium of strength” or “my first boyfriend’s middle name” or some such bollocks, this is a tattoo with real meaning! It will undoubtedly offer you the chance to explain the importance of conserving endangered species to hundreds of people throughout your life, a pretty important task if you ask me.

EX4

With assistance from prominent conservation charities, Marine Conservation Trust, Buglife and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species as well as taking inspiration from Charles Darwins meticulous documentation of species around the world the event is ready to kick off. Jai Redman from UHC has spent months creating the hundred intricate designs which will be exhibited at the opening in Manchester from tomorrow Thursday 12th of November.

EX3

Get yourself there early to make sure you get your preferred species: the humble bumble bees of Britain are already pretty popular. I’m not quite sure if bribes are being accepted yet, but possibly worth a try. The tattoos will be for free but as there is no commercial sponsor it would be good to offer some donation either on the day or on the website. There is list of all the species here to have a think about, as well as details on the venue – oh and start thinking which part of your body you want to keep at least the notion of your species alive on.

Categories ,ambassadors, ,Bug Life, ,conservation, ,design, ,endangered, ,ethical, ,ethical design, ,manchester, ,Marine Conservation Trust, ,People’s Trust for Endangered Species, ,social, ,species, ,Tattoos, ,UHC, ,UHC tattoo, ,Ultimate Holding Company

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Amelia’s Magazine | extInked – One hundred species one hundred tattoos

Ultimate Holding Company, a design collective responsible for some of the most iconic and forward thinking projects over the past decade, while remaining true to their ethical, environmental and social principles, have embarked on a new experiment to celebrate Charles Darwin’s bicentennial birthday.

EX2

ExtInked is giving people the chance to become life long ambassadors for threatened and rare birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, plants and fungi by getting a tattoo of one of 100 endangered species that live in Britain.

Tattooists from Ink Vs Steel will begin transferring these images to willing ambassadors from Thursday 26th November and continues until Sunday 29th November. This is no halfhearted walk-round exhibition, but will be pushing the boundary of volunteer-led and audience interaction.

ExtInked offers you the chance to stay involved for life by getting one of the tattoos. Instead of your conventional event, where leaving with a vague notion of the point and an overpriced notebook is the norm you will instead be walking out with a sharp and piercing perception and reminder of the importance of keeping some of beautiful species in Britain alive.

ex5

This will also be one of the first opportunities, possibly ever, for when your grandma asks you about why you got that tattoo you can have an answer ready to turn the scorn around. No longer the usual explanation, “yeah that’s a Celtic design that relates to mans equilibrium of strength” or “my first boyfriend’s middle name” or some such bollocks, this is a tattoo with real meaning! It will undoubtedly offer you the chance to explain the importance of conserving endangered species to hundreds of people throughout your life, a pretty important task if you ask me.

EX4

With assistance from prominent conservation charities, Marine Conservation Trust, Buglife and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species as well as taking inspiration from Charles Darwins meticulous documentation of species around the world the event is ready to kick off. Jai Redman from UHC has spent months creating the hundred intricate designs which will be exhibited at the opening in Manchester from tomorrow Thursday 12th of November.

EX3

Get yourself there early to make sure you get your preferred species: the humble bumble bees of Britain are already pretty popular. I’m not quite sure if bribes are being accepted yet, but possibly worth a try. The tattoos will be for free but as there is no commercial sponsor it would be good to offer some donation either on the day or on the website. There is list of all the species here to have a think about, as well as details on the venue – oh and start thinking which part of your body you want to keep at least the notion of your species alive on.

Categories ,ambassadors, ,Bug Life, ,conservation, ,design, ,endangered, ,ethical, ,ethical design, ,manchester, ,Marine Conservation Trust, ,People’s Trust for Endangered Species, ,social, ,species, ,Tattoos, ,UHC, ,UHC tattoo, ,Ultimate Holding Company

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