Amelia’s Magazine | Graduate Fashion Week 2010: Nottingham Trent


Danielle Reed, viagra buy illustrated by Gabriel Ayala

The Central Lancashire show was an upbeat, patriotic affair. Models strutted down the catwalk to a stonking soundtrack provided by students from the performing arts department, and we waved collections along with the cute Union Jack flags left on each seat.  

The clothes were a lot of fun too – with the standout students playing around with conventional British icons – from Beefeaters and Big Ben to British school uniforms.  

Kirsty Stringfellow created interesting textures with her whimsical collection of knitted designs. Column dresses in thick, appliquéd floral cream ruched across the models’ chests like a curtain, and were adorned with sparkly crochet, printed lace and gold netting. Whilst some of the curtain-esque dresses seemed a little heavy, Stringfellow is clearly gifted at manipulating different textures – the fine-knit cream designs with intricate layers of ruffles were sheer romance.  


Kirsty Stringfellow, illustrated by Zarina Liew

On the other end of the scale, Danielle Reed and Rachel Wolstenhome both had fun with a tough, urban take on sportswear. Reed paired white bobby socks with black Dr. Martens, black grommet-laced waistcoats with slouchy joggers and manipulated aertex fabric into loose jumpsuits. The effect was a strong collection of grunge-inspired sportswear, with PVC fabrics and a monochrome palette adding a gothic edge.  


Danielle Reed, illustrated by Gabriel Ayala

Wolstenhome created the sole male collection on show, and her futuristic sportswear borrowed shapes and fabrics from a manner of sportswear, a mash up of scuba-esque one-pieces, foam hoods, and deconstructed jersey sweat pants, with cut-out holes and harem-style drapes and folds.  

Rachel Wolstenholme, illustrated by Aniela Murphy

A special mention should also go to Sunny Kular for her attempt to spice up school uniforms with Indian elements. We loved seeing that boring grey fabric we remember from our school days twisted into sari shapes, ties and blazers in Ikat prints and jackets emblazoned with a ‘Ganesh’ school badge.  


Sunny Kalar, illustrated by Donna McKenzie

But UCLAN’s strongest suits are clearly printed textiles, forming the basis of two of the most eye-catching collections.  

Jessica Thompson’s surreal collection of printed designs was full of quirky, cartoonish imagery, manipulated onto a spectrum of designs, from fitted shift dresses to sporty anoraks. Everything demanded attention, from the Beefeater printed slip that made the model into a marching drummer, to the dreamy shifts emblazoned with chimps and birds.

Some images were distorted into unrecognisable shapes and quirky patterns, forcing a closer look.  The final piece was a red, floor length printed mac, that looked like it was printed with moon craters – the coolest cover up for a rainy day.  


Jessica Thompson, illustrated by Gemma Milly

Saving the best till last – Sara Wadsworth’s amazing printed collection chimed with the patriotic mood. The whole collection was crafted in chiffon, printed with British icons – the Union Jack, Big Ben the London Eye and what looked like parts of Trafalgar Square, all blown up, re-sized, and patterned across wisps of fabric.


Sara Wadsworth, illustrated by Abi Daker

Wadsworth let the prints do the talking, choosing almost sheer chiffon in muted shades of grey, white and occasional splashes of olives and teal. Bright yellow bras peeked out from beneath the designs, ranging from floor length kaftans to a Vivienne Westwood-esque draped dress, and a sweet smock top and short combo. Who would have thought our most touristy landmarks could be re-imagined into such wearable designs?

Images courtesy of catwalking.com

Danielle Reed, pills illustrated by Gabriel Ayala

The Central Lancashire show was an upbeat, cialis 40mg patriotic affair. Models strutted down the catwalk to a stonking soundtrack provided by students from the performing arts department, and we waved collections along with the cute Union Jack flags left on each seat.  

The clothes were a lot of fun too – with the standout students playing around with conventional British icons – from Beefeaters and Big Ben to British school uniforms.  

Kirsty Stringfellow created interesting textures with her whimsical collection of knitted designs. Column dresses in thick, appliquéd floral cream ruched across the models’ chests like a curtain, and were adorned with sparkly crochet, printed lace and gold netting. Whilst some of the curtain-esque dresses seemed a little heavy, Stringfellow is clearly gifted at manipulating different textures – the fine-knit cream designs with intricate layers of ruffles were sheer romance.  


Kirsty Stringfellow, illustrated by Zarina Liew

On the other end of the scale, Danielle Reed and Rachel Wolstenhome both had fun with a tough, urban take on sportswear. Reed paired white bobby socks with black Dr. Martens, black grommet-laced waistcoats with slouchy joggers and manipulated aertex fabric into loose jumpsuits. The effect was a strong collection of grunge-inspired sportswear, with PVC fabrics and a monochrome palette adding a gothic edge.  


Danielle Reed, illustrated by Gabriel Ayala

Wolstenhome created the sole male collection on show, and her futuristic sportswear borrowed shapes and fabrics from a manner of sportswear, a mash up of scuba-esque one-pieces, foam hoods, and deconstructed jersey sweat pants, with cut-out holes and harem-style drapes and folds.  

Rachel Wolstenholme, illustrated by Aniela Murphy

A special mention should also go to Sunny Kular for her attempt to spice up school uniforms with Indian elements. We loved seeing that boring grey fabric we remember from our school days twisted into sari shapes, ties and blazers in Ikat prints and jackets emblazoned with a ‘Ganesh’ school badge.  


Sunny Kalar, illustrated by Donna McKenzie

But UCLAN’s strongest suits are clearly printed textiles, forming the basis of two of the most eye-catching collections.  

Jessica Thompson’s surreal collection of printed designs was full of quirky, cartoonish imagery, manipulated onto a spectrum of designs, from fitted shift dresses to sporty anoraks. Everything demanded attention, from the Beefeater printed slip that made the model into a marching drummer, to the dreamy shifts emblazoned with chimps and birds.

Some images were distorted into unrecognisable shapes and quirky patterns, forcing a closer look.  The final piece was a red, floor length printed mac, that looked like it was printed with moon craters – the coolest cover up for a rainy day.  


Jessica Thompson, illustrated by Gemma Milly

Saving the best till last – Sara Wadsworth’s amazing printed collection chimed with the patriotic mood. The whole collection was crafted in chiffon, printed with British icons – the Union Jack, Big Ben the London Eye and what looked like parts of Trafalgar Square, all blown up, re-sized, and patterned across wisps of fabric.


Sara Wadsworth, illustrated by Abi Daker

Wadsworth let the prints do the talking, choosing almost sheer chiffon in muted shades of grey, white and occasional splashes of olives and teal. Bright yellow bras peeked out from beneath the designs, ranging from floor length kaftans to a Vivienne Westwood-esque draped dress, and a sweet smock top and short combo. Who would have thought our most touristy landmarks could be re-imagined into such wearable designs?

Images courtesy of catwalking.com

Shinsuke Mitsuoka

The world of fashion is notoriously fickle and grabbing the attentions of a fashion crowd for any extended period of time seems tricky. Catwalk shows do their best with an array of light shows and thumping soundtracks which could sometimes do with a warning.

Nottingham Trent have prepared it all for their outing at Graduate Fashion Week with glossy door staff, viagra 100mg designer goody bags and even a rather trendy loitering DJ (wearing a somewhat dubious puffa jacket). They’re raring to go, diagnosis but there’s just one cog in the works; a serious lack of bums on seats. Well, there is of course the age old excuse of being fashionably late, but even the pinched smiles of women ferrying around have started to crumble.

All becomes clear as a dull thudding bass infiltrates the theatre and the sound barrier takes a bashing as the trill of hundreds of screaming girls hit the roof. Apparently Tinie Tempah is a big deal (and from the glimpse I got, genuinely teeny Tinie). He’s had all of one song, which luckily for Nottingham Trent, he dispatches quickly, and soon a bustle of activity swells at the theatre doors. If Tinie didn’t make them ‘Pass Out’ (see what I did there? Here all week folks…) then the efforts of Nottingham Trent’s 2010 graduates will surely do their best to stun the senses. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Nottingham Trent has a clear passion for encouraging students to experiment with unique techniques and textures in knitwear, producing a modern and varied aesthetic across the course. Their catwalk show oscillates between detailed, intricate knitwear and sleek takes on womenswear with bursts of energy injected at intervals by the likes of Emma Dick, showcasing sharp, graphic prints of televisions and arrows just at home in a museum of Pop Art as the runway. Integrated hoods give the look a futuristic feel but there’s a touch of the retro about her two-tone body con jumpsuit with a classic 1960s palette contrast between red and black.

Nottingham Trent keeps the volume turned up with Claire Hartley’s cutaway knitted one pieces, exposing flashes of green, yellow and red for a futuristic sci-fi look. Hartley’s dedication to forward thinking stretches beyond the aesthetics as she hopes to generate a new innovative, zero waste policy in manufacturing to ensure the sustainability and evolution of the clothes. 

By now Tinie’s long forgotten as each model stalks down the catwalk to puffa DJ’s painfully hip soundtrack. Nikki Lowe dazzles with gold lamé suits complete with built-in gloves worthy of an evil Jackie Collins penned character, but flashlight necklaces add a distinctive disco feel caught somewhere between the 1970s and the 1990s.

Miranda Boucher’s collection is a dark and luxurious celebration of femininity with plush midnight blue coats and velveteen details just obscuring the model’s modesty.  

Emma Philpot’s knitwear seems to grow from the models bodies, twisting and turning upon itself and forming knots and twists likes a chunky chainmail, while Tiffany Williams continues the fairytale edge with her menswear collection in dark, brooding colours and heavy volume that weigh on the shoulders as a hulking, masculine presence. Backs reveal shimmers of gold thread intertwined, adding a lighter side to the depth of her work. 
Jenna Harvey’s dresses change at every turn as each layer of tiny fabric is double printed and loosely set so as it moves a new picture is revealed. At times it feels like 3D glasses are needed just to keep up with the transformation before your eyes.

Meanwhile, Phoebe Thirlwall’s beautiful knitwear dresses, inspired by the intricacies of the skin, show a level of workmanship that is breathtaking under the lights of the catwalk. Each ribbed layer clings to the models with hundreds of different levels working together. Her hard work has clearly not gone unnoticed as her work was also photographed by renowned artist Rankin, a stunning portrait duly displayed in grand terms at Earl’s Court.


 
Izabela Targosz’s equestrian turn on tailoring injects some more colour into Nottingham Trent’s show, with jackets made with horsehair pockets and backs adding a silky but quirky feel. Riding hats are the natural yet perfect accessory to a collection that shows an equal strength in its attention to detail for an upheaval of the British tailored look. 

Shinsuke Matsuoka’s work is saved for the final spot and with the breathtaking effect of the garments, it’s easy to see why. Bondage style zips snake across panels of black hi-shine material; the sound of the clothes are a foreboding presence in themselves, but as six outfits stand together the models are transformed into an unnervingly attractive chain gang from the future. I’m not sure if it was this effect or not, but my camera also spluttered its final breaths at this point, perhaps overwhelmed by the power of Matsuoka’s collection.

In any case, it proved a spectacular way to end things and is not something I can imagine being trumped by Tinie any day soon.

Images courtesy of catwalking.com

Categories ,1960s, ,3D, ,Bondage, ,Claire Hartley, ,dj, ,Earls Court, ,Emma Dick, ,Emma Philpot, ,Graduate Fashion Week, ,Izabela Tagosz, ,Jackie Collins, ,Jenna Harvey, ,knitwear, ,london, ,menswear, ,Miranda Boucher, ,Nikki Lowe, ,Nottingham Trent University, ,Phoebe Thirlwall, ,Pop Art, ,Rankin, ,Sci-Fi, ,Shinsuke Matsuoka, ,Tiffany Williams, ,Tinie Temper, ,vogue, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | Exhibition: A Concise Dictionary of a Dress

Conformist Illustration by Marnie Hollande

Blythe House, order once a colossal bustling post office savings bank full of clerks’ activity now stands (almost) empty as a memorial to times past. Currently the home of not only the Victoria and Albert Archives but the British and Science Museum it double doors remain closed even to those who work in the museums. It takes a special request to get inside these vaults.

Luckily for a limited time (these doors swing back tight at the end of June) the V&A section has had its doors pushed slightly ajar by fashion curator Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Philips. Together they have curated a delicate show examining ideas and understandings of dress alongside concepts of preservation in the midst of a vast archive that documents humanity’s progression.

Essential Illustration by Marnie Hollande

Titled The Concise Dictionary of a Dress, the exhibition consists of 11 exhibits nestling amongst the archives, taking up position in the nooks and crannies of the ghostly building. The audience is shepherded silently though the sections of the building we were allowed to see, at times overwhelmed by the space and the delicate nature of the objects it protects. The wondrous treasures awaiting selection by V&A curators, their position elevated from extensive hoard into status objects, indicative (so stated) of the human condition, all too often caught ones eye.

Loose

11 exhibits accompanied by 11 pieces of card form a mini-lexicon of dress or a concise representation of ideas of what it is to ‘dress’:

Armoured
Comfortable
Conformist
Creased
Essential
Fashionable
Loose
Measured
Plain
Pretentious
Tight

Is it as Comfortable suggests: 1 A Refuge; a nostalgia; the calm before or after. 5. Space protected to forget that protection is required. or do you find yourself agreeing with Loose: 1. Never knowingly over-attached; a disappearing act. 3 Of Uncertain Boundary? Or do the words fall flat?

Pretentious

Words and their meanings can provide a point of conflict: at times the words on the card and the image of dress produced a harmonious moment of why people chose particular items of dress. In this moment the dictionary of a dress becomes clear as the exhibition mirrors the dictionary’s almost circular nature of providing two meanings for one word.

The curators have invited the audience into a hidden world; the vast depths of the museum. The audiences’ eye drawn to objects not in the exhibition but whose presence demands attention: Why is it there? Why did they choose this room or that cupboard? Can meanings be created between the juxtaposition of dress and the objects in the room?

Measured

A weekly definition taken from the website: MEASURED 1. Against chaos; a way of thinking about disarray; calculated excess. 2. The fitted as fitting. 3. Proportion as the mother of virtue. 4. The milder ecstasies of the considered. 5. Contained by the idea of containment.

The word and their phrases present one idea of what it is you are viewing, whilst the objects potentially visualise and neuter simultaneously. The sentences add conflict as they embellish the meaning of the single word and the idea of why we dress, collect and preserve.

Comfortable

No word is mealy a word, it becomes heavy through each individual understanding of it’s context. Each interpretation of the exhibits arrived upon by our unique thought processes formed by our own experiences. It is an oddly lonely experience wandering though the locked archives looking at how meaning is embedded into objects. Can meanings be created from the idea that a function of the archive is personal, an act of preservation and eventually historical.

The final exhibit; Creased presented a Junya Watanabe dress behind the bars of an old coal bunker open to the outside world. The end mimicing the beginning; the first exhibit high on the roof stands a ghostly gown open to the elements, it’s resin skeleton delicate in the glare and heat of the sun. These two decisions scream against the museum’s usual desire to keep everything hidden and preserved in temperature controlled rooms.

Armoured Illustration by Marnie Hollande

Seen against the sky scape of London, the resin dress showed just how delicate the human body, our sense of dress and concepts of who we are can be against the hard bustling ever moving city.

Take yourself on a guided walk through an unseen section of our national museums, question the ideas of preservation and the difference between the museum’s archive and your personal ‘hoard’.

Watch the trailer here: The Concise Dictionary of a Dress
All photographs by: Julian Abrams

Categories ,A Concise Dictionary of a Dress, ,Adam Phillips, ,Archive, ,Art Angel, ,Blythe House, ,British Museum, ,Costume, ,Dress, ,fashion, ,Judith Clarke, ,Julian Abrams, ,Marnie Hollande, ,Science Museum, ,va, ,Vaults

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Amelia’s Magazine | Lana Del Rey: Blue Jeans remixed by Kris Menace

Lana Del Rey by Jo Ley
Lana Del Rey by Jo Ley.

I am sure I should know more about Lana Del Rey than I do but the fact is, beyond the basic concept that she’s had an awful lot of hype this is one pop vixen who has thus far stayed totally off my radar. But not any more: not since I was sent a link to the remix of her tune Blue Jeans by Kris Menace, a music maestro who has worked with the likes of Kylie, Robbie Williams and Depeche Mode.

Lana Del Rey by Kris Keys
Lana Del Rey by Kris Keys.

Like Lana del Rey, producer Kris Menace uses a pseudonym – doesn’t sound quite so mysterious and glam when you say that good old Christophe Hoeffel has worked on a remix with Elizabeth Woolridge Grant does it? Kris Menace runs two of his own record labels, a radio station and in the way of superstar DJs he travels around the world to play at all the top nightclubs. Where does he find the time?! Anyway, enjoy. This remix is utterly addictive, I warn you.

Lana Del Rey by Rukmunal Hakim
Lana Del Rey by Rukmunal Hakim.

Lana del Rey by Janneke de Jong
Lana Del Rey by Janneke de Jong.

Lana Del Rey by Gemma Cotterell
Lana Del Rey by Gemma Cotterell.

Lana Del Rey by Deborah Moon
Lana Del Rey by Deborah Moon.

Kris Menace has a new album out in April: Electric Horizon follows on from 2009′s Idiosyncrasies, with a blend of magical melodies and hypnotic trance-like tunes that belie his Germanic roots. The first single Falling Star came out on March 5th 2012. Lana Del Rey releases her version of Blue Jeans on April 8th.

Categories ,Blue Jeans, ,Christophe Hoeffel, ,Deborah Moon, ,Depeche Mode, ,dj, ,Electric Horizon, ,Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, ,Falling Star, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Idiosyncrasies, ,Janneke de Jong, ,Jo Ley, ,Kris Keys, ,Kris Menace, ,Kyle, ,Lana Del Rey, ,Matt Nevin, ,Producer, ,Radio Station, ,Record Label, ,Remix, ,Robbie Williams, ,Rukmunal Hakim

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Amelia’s Magazine | Food For Thought


22 year old Luciano Scherer is truly dedicated to his cause. Working 8-10 hours a day, more about 7 days week, he produces paintings, sculptures and animation until his back hurts too much to carry on. The Brazilian self-taught artist works alone as well as with a collective called ‘Upgrade do Macaco’, and has collaborated with Bruno 9li and Emerson Pingarilho. I found him to be much older than his years, with some very insightful and philosophical things to say about everything from art to life and the internet.

scherer1.jpg

When did you realise you had creative talent?

When I was 8 years old my school had a drawing challenge for a children’s book, the teachers read the book to us and we should drew parts of it. My drawing was chosen, it was not the best, but it was the craziest, and the teachers said to me that I was very creative. I started to draw again when I was 15, and only seriously when I was 18.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

From the past: Bosch, Brueghel, Jan van Eyck, Crivelli, Albrecht Altdorfer, gothic art in general. I also like alchemical drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and popular art from my country. But my real influences are my artist friends, they helped me to transform my spirit, not just my art, modifying my inside shell, something that still happens everyday. They are: Carla Barth, Carlos Dias, Bruno 9li, Emerson Pingarilho, Talita Hoffmann, Upgrade do Macaco collective. My current master is Jaca, he is genius.

scherer2.jpg

Who or what is your nemesis?

My nemesis is somebody with lot of dedication and creativity to create evil things, like guns, bombs, wars, murders, lies.

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

I would go to the late-gothic era, in the end of the 15th century and early 16th century, just to understand or comprehend a little better how artists can do those masterpieces. I want to know about the places, the woods, the people’s clothes, the churches, the religions and the spirituality of this time. It is my all time golden age of painting. They all invested years of dedication to each piece, the result of it is bigger than our current comprehension.

scherer3.jpg

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

My hometown is a very small city in the extreme south of Brazil, almost Uruguay. There’s no galleries, no museums, no cinema, no nothing! But there are very beautiful natural places, like mystery fog woods, beautiful beaches with nobody, lakes, fields, lots of different animals; I will take you to all these places.

scherer10.jpg

To what extent is your work influenced by your religion or spirituality?

I’m a son of a catholic father who takes me to the church every Sunday, and a mystic mother who is deeply connected with questions of spirituality. All my life I’ve been in catholic schools, and the people that I know there appear to be dedicated to God with tons of saints in sculptures, bracelets, necklaces, flyers, but the rest of their lives they spend being so petty, earthly, extremely connected with just the image of faith, and the concepts of guilty, suffering and impotencies. This contradiction makes me feel revolted, and at the same time I too have been into spiritualism, a Christian based doctrine, but much more metaphysical. This time the metaphysical seems to me so curious, respectable and scary, very scary. So when I started to paint, the images of Catholicism caused a strange fusion of respect, fear, nostalgia, and anger. I felt I needed to work over them, to learn about them and get more intimate, question the images and dogmas and lose the fear. It was a period of destruction like a renaissance. For a year now I’ve found myself distant from the doctrines, but between all of them, mainly the oriental ones like Buddhism and Hinduism, I’m feeling more spiritualized than religious. But this is just the start; I have much more to learn and I’m trying to not answer all the questions but instead learning to live together with them. All of this reflects in my artwork.

scherer5.jpg

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

An artist’s assistant, or a curator, or a collector; art aside, I’d be a garden sculptor.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Living in a self-sustainable vegetarian community, with all my friends and family, in a place not too hot and not too cold, with as many animals as possible, all of them free.

What advice would you give up and coming artists?

Over and over I’ve heard people say “art doesn’t make any money” or “what do you want to be an artist for, it’s so useless”. I’ve stopped listening to the cynics now though.

scherer6.jpg

What was the last book you read?

I read the David Lynch book about transcendental meditation “Into Deep Water” (This is the name in Brazil), and the Krishnamurthy’s “Freedom from the Known”- it’s like a bible to me, I read it over and over. I’ve been reading H. P. Blavatsky “Voice of the Silence” and “Isis Unveiled” too. Now I’m reading Nietzsche’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, it’s awesome.

What piece of modern technology can you not live without?

The Internet. It’s my mail, my books, my telephone, my all time world museum 24-7.

scherer7.jpg

What is your guilty pleasure?

The excesses, in food, drink, work, sleep. Anytime I get too much of these things I feel so regretful, but I’m working on it.

Tell us something about Luciano Scherer that we didn’t know already.

I have a post-rap band, named Casiotron. And I’m working on my first individual exhibition, at Thomas Cohn Gallery next year.

scherer8.jpg

This is certainly a young man full of promise.
As a purveyor of Steve Reich meets Daniel Johnston instrumental music, sickness Graeme Ronald, a.k.a. Remember Remember, is keen to take it to the stage as nature intended:
“I’ve put together a seven piece band for this tour. It’s hard to time it right but it’s worth it. Using a laptop isn’t the same as a live band is it?”

remember_remember_interview%201.jpg

Sitting in the back of a Brighton drinking den, Ronald exudes a boyish sense of wide- eyed enthusiasm. Currently touring with influential US noise crew, Growing, he’s rightfully proud of his self-titled debut album on Mogwai‘s Rock Action Records. Ronald’s sweet, Glasgow brogue suffuses our conversation as he gives me an insight into his formative days:
“I played with Mogwai as an additional keyboard player. I kept pestering them to let me join the band. I was working on my own stuff with a Loop station and started playing live regularly. Mogwai came down to hang out at one show and then offered to do an album”

remember_remember_interview%202.jpg

As it has afforded him so many opportunities, Ronald is proud of his home city:
“Glasgow does have a great music scene. It takes going away to appreciate what’s there. The art school or dole queue are great places to meet musicians. It’s a vibrant environment. Best steer clear of the Neds though”

The music of Remember Remember mirrors the urban, comfortingly grey, concrete beauty of Glasgow:
“It was a conscious decision to make a record that sounded Scottish. I hate it when people sing in American accents. Or think they’re German. There’s a sense of shame attached to being Scottish. Growing up, I was embarrassed by the Proclaimers, Rab C Nesbit, bag pipes. I saw Kurt Cobain on MTV and that was it! Getting older, you look to your own identity to create more honest art”

remember_remember_interview%203.jpg

Ronald is refreshingly grounded and deadpans:
“I’m not deluded enough to think I can become a pop star off of minimalist drone music. Making money is not a priority. Shouldn’t music be free? CDs, selling music – they’re all imposed business models.”

Forever the Modernist, he’s already got his sights on the future:
“The label wants me to promote this record more but I’m so keen to start working on new music. Touring’s new enough to be exciting but it’s still work. I’m quite up for doing a Brian Wilson and sending out other people to play my songs…”

remember_remember_interview%204.jpg

All photos by Ken Street

Chatsworth Road, earmarked in the ‘Secret Streets’ feature of Time Out some twelve months ago, viagra lies deep in the E5 environs of Hackney- between Millfields Park and Homerton Hospital. Since it was said to be ‘bearing the fruits of the slow gentrification process,’ it seems the high street is ripe for development. With the arrival of such bijou retailers and eateries as Book Box and L’Epicerie, change is certainly in the air. As an actress friend and young Mum in the area recently put it: ‘it’s all gone a bit Guardian reader,’ the latest manifestation of which is the bid to reinstate the erstwhile street market.

0701%20krishna1.jpg
Illustrations by Krishna Malla

Never one to bypass a strikingly rainbow-fonted poster in my local newsagent, especially not one bearing the promise of a shopping opportunity, I found myself drawn down to Chats Palace on the rainy evening of 14th July. The former Homerton library turned community arts venue had generously offered its premises free of charge for an open meeting of the Chatsworth Road Traders and Residents Association. A veritable cross-section of the neighbourhood populace, fifty or so strong, had assembled to hear the results of the spring opinion poll. But with Spitalfields, Broadway and Ridley Road already doing a roaring trade in the borough, does East London really need another market? Judging by 863 responses to 1200 leaflets distributed, of which 96% voted in the affirmative, it would seem so.

I tracked down campaign front man Ashley Parsons in the bar, post-Power Point presentation, to get the lowdown on launching a market from scratch.

What first inspired or provoked the idea to mount the campaign?

Well it certainly didn’t start out as a carefully hatched plot. It’s been a decidely organic affair so far, inspired mainly, I think, by a collective sense of pride in the local high street and aspirations for its future success as the community’s favourite place to shop.

0812%20chatsworth1.jpg
Photo: Joe Lord

I’d say that if there was any ‘provocation’ it was that many of the traders at these 2008 meetings seemed to agree that business on the street was slower than last year – as on high streets everywhere. But the residents attending these meetings were equally concerned at the number of closed shop units on Chatsworth Road, particularly when it became apparent that Tesco was planning to massively expand the nearby Morning Lane store and that the Council were considering imposing a new tax on shopkeepers using the forecourts in front of their shops. So there was a general sense of concern that a much-loved independent high street – and a distinctive community hub to boot – was at risk of further decline. There was a very positive sense of, ‘let’s try and do something about it ourselves’.

Have you played a part in similar grassroots/ community ventures in the past?

A few years ago I was involved with Open Dalston when it was trying to prevent the demolition of the Four Aces / Labyrinth / Theatre building, and a pair of Georgian townhouses, on Dalston Lane. The campaign questioned whether the Council’s plans for the Dalston Junction area were sustainable or appropriate, and proposed a different style of development to that which you now see shooting up into the sky. It was gutting to see that particular campaign fail. But the act of mounting the campaign did result in Open Dalston going on to become a fully-fledged community organisation. Ever since that campaign they’ve been impressively committed and imaginative in trying to engage with their local community as the future of that area is fiercely debated.

0812%20chatsworth2.jpg

How is the Chatsworth Road Market campaign different?

One of the invigorating things about it has been that it’s not a ‘no campaign’ working against someone else’s clock. It’s much more of a ‘yes’ campaign. And, to an extent, it’s been afforded the luxury of not having to react to outside events. Having said that, the campaign is, of course, going to face challenges, and it may be harder to motivate people without a sense of immediate jeopardy. But the high number of people who have attended our meetings and participated in the survey does suggest a really proactive community spirit.

When & why did the original Chatsworth Road market close?

The consensus seems to be that it closed down around 1989 or 1990. But the anecdotal evidence as to why it closed varies. Some traders who have been on the street for decades described a prolonged process of a new brick pavement being laid and re-laid, and causing such chaos and disruption to pedestrians and to the stalls’ ability to trade that the market died as a result of the work. Other residents have reported that the stalls simply declined in number and quality throughout the late ’80s. It’s certainly a story that needs to be told at some point. It’s amazing how quickly things get forgotten.

0812%20chatsworth3.jpg

What would the major benefits of a new market be for the local community?

A new market could – and I stress ‘could’ – be a great way of improving shopping choices for local residents, which in turn might persuade more people that they don’t need to use supermarkets any more. It could bring people back to the high street and increase passing trade, benefiting all the existing businesses as well as encouraging new ones to open and fill empty shop units. It could help ensure the future of the high street as a community hub by regularly bringing together all parts of what is a hugely diverse community. It could allow more opportunities for people to set up and develop new businesses without committing to a shop lease. It could be fun!

Why is this local high street so crucial, would you say?

Firstly, because the surrounding residential area is originally based on this high street being the focal point. Many high streets are essentially lines of shops that grew up along major highways in or out of cities – they can feel transitional, cramped and chaotic. But Chatsworth Road was nothing but a field path before it was laid out by Victorian developers in the 1860s & 70s. What you see now is no accident – it was purpose built to serve a planned community, conceived as a public space with handsome proportions and wide pavements where people would shop, stroll and meet. It was built as the heart of an aspirational new working class suburb. So, for starters, it’s an unusually good urban space.

Secondly it’s important because Chatsworth Road’s renegade charm is rooted in its independence. There are very few chain names on the street, it’s almost entirely a centre of entrepreneurship, in an age of ever-expanding supermarkets and identikit city centres.

As soon the sense of community is diluted it becomes a transitional space, a way to get somewhere else rather than a destination in its own right. I’d suggest that a community-led market could just be another way of safeguarding it, another tactic for helping ensure it thrives for another 130 years, and doesn’t contract any further. For me, it’s not about fixing something that’s broken, so much as taking out a community insurance policy.

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Are you ready to pass on the baton to a new line-up of committee members in September, and will you continue to be involved?

Absolutely, yes. Personally, I’ll probably take a step back after ensuring that the report on the survey is published and properly publicised, because I have to get on with earning a crust. But I’ll help out where I can because I think it’s got great potential to bring the area together.

I certainly hope that by the end of 2009 you’ll see a new Market Committee established with new faces taking things forward. That will probably be the focus of the next big meeting in Autumn 2009 – offering people the chance to shape the Association and to get more involved. People can keep an eye on the website for details of that meeting – www.chatsworthroade5.co.uk. Or they can email- info@chatsworthroade5.co.uk – and ask to be added to the mailing list. If enough people step forward there’s a great chance of making a new Chatsworth market happen.

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With artists collecting in the shadowy crevices of the world’s biggest cities in search of space on the cheap it goes without saying that they tend to be found on the frothy crest of the wave of gentrification. A canary of sorts, viagra artists are often trailed by real estate speculators and big businesses, lurking and waiting like stock brokers for their chance to turn a quick buck with something they see as nothing more than a commodity. They stand apart, at the ready to raise property taxes and muscle out what is often the cultural backbone of these city-bordering towns and pat one another on the back for “cleaning it up”. But in the heart of Dalston last month, I finally saw the merging of two social layers into something not only mutually beneficial but unselfconsciously beautiful.
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It began when experimental architecture collective EXZYT saw an opportunity to pirate an unused lot behind Dalston Kingsland Junction to build a 16 meter high temporary mill where land artist Agnes Denes had planted a lush wheat field thus giving life to an endless germination of ideas, all with the intent of bringing the local community together and raising issues of sustainability, economy and ownership. It played host to workshops, screenings, music, dance
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In a call and response kind of ……. EXZYT, commissioned by the Barbican as part of Radical Nature, literally built upon Denes’ concept by turning the disused lot (often the hive of criminal activity in cities) into the site for a wind powered mill. EXYZT’s wild haired and bighearted architect/artist Nicolas Henninger and Celine Condorelli, whose sleep in tents amid the mill’s scaffolding, refer their temporary autonomous zones as “pirate architecture”. The idea being to create spaces which, rather than dictate its use, leaves it open to its neighbors to determine how it will be used. And use it they did! Try to keep up…
The mill was used to grind flour which was used to bake bread in ovens which open to the public. Anyone who desired to came and baked whatever they brought, drank from the wooden open air bar which twinkled with wind power and catered to a nightly flocking of local families and hipsters alike drawn to the wheat gazing deck chairs and nightly DJ, whose equipment was powered by cycles. No shortage of well developed cycle muscles in this neighborhood!
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Every day saw a new manifestation of the space. A lab coat wearing urban psychoanalyst did research by asking questions like “if Dalston wear a fruit what would it be?”. Scarecrows were created to protect the wheat field, a gaffer tape poet pronounced his thoughts across the wood planks, and a local currency was baked with the help of world renowned baker Dan Lepard Even the super cool owner of local but now defunk jazz bar 4 Aces Club was a nightly fixture, ready to recount tales of its experimental jazz heyday in the 60′s staging the likes of Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, The Sex Pistols and Bob Dylan.
And in the most elegant example of this project’s cycle, Alexandre Bettler hosted a workshop in which participants could bake everything from the utensils and trays upon which their dinner would be served.
Although many a plea was voiced for this amazing catalyst to remain, it’s clear from all the smiling faces present that beyond the connections made, thoughts provoked and fun had was the distinctive flavor of Dalston’s pride.

Categories ,architecture, ,art, ,bar, ,barbican, ,dance, ,DJ, ,landscape, ,nature, ,workshop

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Amelia’s Magazine | Red Bull Music Academy: Steve Reich Lecture on Tuesday 16th February 2010

Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly
Steve Reich by Gemma Milly.

Steve Reich is a seriously cult figure for contemporary beats based music. Famed for his minimalist compositions from the 60s onwards he continues to be active today and even though I’ve heard he can be a difficult old bugger to interview, erectile at 74 years of age he was charming and lucid when he gave his lecture to the students of the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy.

Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.
Red Bull Music Academy lecture theatre.

I skirted into the back of the packed lecture theatre just as he was starting – and I use the term ‘lecture theatre’ lightly because we are talking the most comfortable lecture theatre you ever saw. Designer arm chairs stuffed with colour co-ordinated cushions were orientated around a sofa interview area above which hung the distinctive Red Bull coat of arms, if you will. Emma “rabbit” Warren, who I’ve known since I was an intern at The Face over a decade ago, was tasked with asking the questions – over the years she has carved a niche for herself in this particular music scene and acts as a “team member” for the academy.

emma-warren-gemma-milly
Emma Warren by Gemma Milly.

What follows is by no means a direct transcription of the interview, but an edited version that I hope will make sense to not only those who attended the lecture but anyone who is interested in finding out more about what makes Steve Reich tick. It was certainly an education for me.

Steve Reich‘s musical career started with piano lessons and then the study of drums at the age of 14. This conversation began with his move to San Francisco in 1962 where he decided to become a cabbie so that he wouldn’t have to teach. Emma asked whether it was hard to make music around his day job. “Night job,” he corrected her. “Necessity is the mother of invention – I coulda taught harmony and theory in Nebraska but I’d had it up to here with the academic world.” He saw how his friends became beaten down. “In my time almost all the composers in the US were in universities because that was the easiest job to get but I’m sure that now even being a DJ will be turned into academic trash. But you need to put a lot of energy into teaching and I think if you can’t then that’s immoral, and if you do then you’re gonna be too wiped out to make music.” Surely a sage piece of advice to anyone considering juggling teaching with a successful artistic career. “I had a good time driving the cab and I wasn’t invested in it – it really fit me and was making more money than most musical professors too!”

Unfortunately he wasn’t a cab driver for long: “I inched forward and bumped into someone and ended up working in a post office.” Emma asked if this was an influential period – down amongst the sounds of the ‘street’. “I don’t know how true that would be. All music comes from a time and place. I come from New York, the West Coast, during the 1960s and 70s.” New York was a noisy place to be. “I used to wander around with earplugs in.” He attributes his early experimentations with loops and phasing on a tape machine to such ideas being “in the air” during that period. “You are who you are and your music will bear evidence to the honesty of the situation.”

In the early 60s the Cuban Missile Crisis got everyone “kinda concerned… we felt the clock was ticking. The crisis passed but it made its mark.” In 1964 he recorded Brother Walter in Union Square preaching about the flood and created seminal work “It’s Gonna Rain” where he made use of the sounds without focusing on their meaning. “Do you hear the ‘wap wap’ in the background? That’s the wings of a pigeon, a pigeon drummer.” He described at length how he played around with the sounds, feeding them through mono into stereo and then back again, to offset the source material and create the pioneering phasing technique that has influenced many contemporary composers since. Because he cut the tape loops by hand there was always going to be a bit of drift, creating a “sense of direction”. He gleefully describes how the sound “slides across your testicles, it’s really creepy! You can feel the vibration, and then it gets to one ear sooner than the other.” He found it intriguing that he could splice things together to make sounds that resembled the beats found in African music. “I thought – what have I got here? Mechanised Africans!” The piece becomes progressively more spooky and paranoid in feel. “We’re in the ark, locking the door, it’s the end of the world… a betrayal in sound.” Lest we doubt this sudden moribund turn he confirms, “Yes, I was in a bad state of mind at the time and given what was going on in the world.”

steve-reich & Emma Warren by gemma-milly
Steve Reich & Emma Warren in conversation by Gemma Milly.

A trip to Ghana in 1971 to study music was a key turning point. “All music there was a religiously, politically or historically orientated part of everyday life.” Whilst there he managed to contract malaria by picking up 100s of bites on his sandalled feet, despite a dose of anti-malarials. He realised that music was a form of communication that families were morally obliged to upkeep, but laughed that he met a Ghanaian man many years later who was no longer interested in “grandpa’s music”. Tastes change all over the world.

But Steve was keen not to fall into the trap of trying to adopt African music wholesale. “Many people from my generation drowned in India – it’s like an ocean containing thousands of years of music and as an individual it’s hard to make any sense out of it.” He bought some gang gangs in Ghana – iron bells that are used to accompany songs with a beautiful rattle. “They’re not that big, and I bought six of them. I thought I would use them in my music, but I don’t have perfect pitch and I was like ‘what do I do? They don’t sound right, should I get out the metal file?’ But then I felt like they would be saying ‘hi, I’m a gang gang, pleased to meet you,’ if I used them in my music. I am not an African and they carry the weight of a culture that’s not mine – so I had to think about what I had learnt that could travel, and that was the structure.”

He returned keen to play around with rhythmical complexity of the kind that is used in jazz such as the big band classic Africa/Brass by Coltrane. “It sounds like elephants coming through the jungle for half an hour, there’s no harmonic movement and yet it’s definitely not boring!” He concluded that there was tension and intensity precisely because there was no change. “In Shotgun by Junior Walker you’re waiting for another section, but there is no other section. There was something in the air [during that period] and it was harmonic stasis – even Bob Dylan was experimenting with one chord. It was coming in from other sources outside the west; the structural idea of a canon as an empty vessel that can travel anywhere.”

1971 was also the last year that Steve used the looped tape phasing technique, although he was keen not to be rude about laptop music in a room full of predominantly electronic musicians. “My live ideas came from a machine because all divisions are permeable.” Yet he felt trapped by gadgetry. “I felt like ‘I can’t leave this thing and I can’t do it live!’ I didn’t want to be a little tape maker.” The fact remains that he sees synthesisers and their ilk primarily as a means to an end. “I like the analogue sound so I was excited when the sampler was invented.” He felt liberated and exhilarated once he was able to say “look ma, no tape!” and started teaching ensembles to play his compositions live without the aid of traditional musical notation. Since then his music has got progressively more complex and he has always toured with a close clique of live musicians that he’s worked with for many years. “We’re the gold standard but other generations have picked it up. For instance the musicians in Riga in Latvia burnt Music for 18 Musicians right down into the ground.” Nowadays he uses midi mockups of live compositions to send out for performers to learn across the world.

Emma asked if there was some benefit in musicians learning his compositions without the benefit of written musical scores. “When music began we can speculate that there was no notation. Even early notation is in question. Notation as we know it started during the 10th and 11th centuries in the West – to save music for posterity. There were little pockets where people wrote things down, such as some isolated forms in Indonesia, but it was a marginal thing.” He concluded that notated music has only ever formed a very small part of all the music created worldwide and wonders if it even has a future. “Nowadays the normal position for walking down the street is like this,” he says, standing, head down, arm up, as if his mobile is in his hand. “It won’t be without it’s consequences…”

Steve believes that folk music can be used to describe whatever we interact with that’s around us, and can spontaneously arise in any culture. “Pop music is the folk music of our culture so in some sense electronics are the folk instrument of our time.” We’d come to the end of the guided lecture time, and sat in awed silence as Steve Reich played arguably his most famous piece, Music for 18 Musicians, through the huge lecture PA system… that is until an abrupt technical glitch snapped us all out of our reverie. “Anyone know how this thing works?!” asked Steve, frustratedly betraying his technophobery.

Find out how Steve answered a series of very well thought out questions from the floor in the next blog

Categories ,60s, ,70s, ,Coltrane, ,dj, ,Electronic music, ,Elephants, ,Emma Warren, ,Gemma Milly, ,ghana, ,jazz, ,Junior Walker, ,Minimalist music, ,Orchestras, ,Philip Glass, ,Red Bull Music Academy, ,sampling, ,San Francisco, ,Steve Reich, ,The Face

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