Featuring competitions in the already overly competitive world that is Art may seem somewhat crude to say the least. But in fact it’s through these well supported and sponsored prizes that new and underexposed artists and creative mediums gain a platform and a voice, information pills page and a fairly fair and just route for career progression out of the studios and into the spotlight. It’s also a darn good excuse to curate a fine exhibition of very talented folk, hospital and in a collaborative sense get together with a common thread, clinic be it the format, subject matter or genre, and share opinions, ideas and approaches. I call to the stand Foto8 and their annual Photographic Prize an exhibition of which opens with a right knees up of a party this weekend in London.
Joerg Brueggermann (2009 Entry)
Foto8, in their own words, is ‘a space to share, comment and debate photography. The site exists to bridge the divide between photographers, authors and their audience through interactive displays and a constant stream of new works and resources’. Based on the belief that documentary photography has a vital role to play in contemporary society, Foto8′s ethos firmly pushes the medium as a valued tool for communication and self education about the world around us and the lesser understood worlds of others.
Abbie Traylor-Smith (2009 Entry)
The London based website has regular postings of reviews, commentaries, interviews and picture stories as well as photographic events and news items, and serves as an outlet for the biannually published 8 magazine, which can be previewed, ordered and subscribed to from there. Now up to issue 25 the magazine blurs and tests the boundaries between photography, journalism and art and represents ‘the very best in design and print, following a graphic format that uses the medium of the printed page to its fullest.’
Robert Hackman (2009 Entry)
The Gallery that will house this spectacular show was established by director of Foto8 Jon Levy along with Adrian Evans, the director of Panos Pictures, and celebrates it’s fourth birthday this year. HOST is dedicated to the specialised promotion and exploration of photojournalism and documentary photography, ‘from classical black and white reportage to contemporary mixed media’. They pioneer both new and traditional methods of manipulating the gallery setting with innovation and passion. The gallery proudly boasts a highly-respected exhibition schedule, complimented by an on-going program of face-to-face encounters with photography and film, including screenings, talks and regular book club meetings.
Clemence de Limburg (2009 Entry)
From around 2300 images submitted from 44 different countries from as far afield as Thailand and Turkey, just over 100 carefully selected images will make up the final display at this year’s Foto 8 Summer Show at London’s HOST Gallery. As well as each entry appearing in the show’s published book, each photograph will be for sale to the public from the opening night and throughout the exhibition, and of course each and every exhibit will be in with the chance to win either the ‘Best in Show’ category or the ‘People’s Choice’, both highly sort after and respected prizes in the industry.
Dougie Wallace (2008 Winner of ‘Best in Show’)
Guido Castagnoli (2008 Winner of ‘People’s Choice’)
Whereas the Best in Show is awarded by an elite team of experts in the field, including The Times’ Director of Photography Graham Wood and the V&A’s Head of Images Andrea Stern, and entails a £1500 reward, the People’s Choice will be determined by public visitors to the show and in many respects is a more coveted title, given that each exhibitor’s work must speak to those with perhaps a less trained eye for artistic and technical merit, and must rely on more personal and emotional responses from the everyday spectator.
Domenico Pugliese (2009 Entry)
The brief for prospective entrants was simple. They seek images that challenge and engage, convey stories and raise questions. They state that they ‘encourage free expression’ and ‘new ways of seeing and telling’, also adding that they value photography ‘that conveys feeling as much as fact.’ The entry requirements allow for up to three submitted images per person, and the submissions look set to be as diverse and varied as 2008′s collections were.
Rachel Bevis (2009 Entry)
Being the biased art appreciators that we are, there is already a winner of an entry in our opinion, an image that stands out for us and will be certainly receiving the ‘Amelia’s Choice’ award at the opening on Friday evening. ‘Marie’ by semi-professional London based photographer Rachel Bevis commands our attention and holds our gaze. At first seeming to be a mono-chrome image of a lone figure at night, on second appreciation is actually a wintery street scene in which a female is immersed in falling snow. Mysterious, evocative and powerful this photograph is one we cannot tire of looking at. Best of luck Miss Bevis.
Who will you be exercising your democratic rights and voting for?
Foto8 Summer Show
1 Honduras Street
London, EC1Y 0TH
24th July: Opening Night Party
6:30pm – 11:30pm
Tickets: £5 in advance, £8 on the door
Tickets available to buy here
24th July – 5th September
Kurt Tong (2009 Entry)
One of the organisations we’ve been following of late at Amelia’s Magazine is the Ethical Fashion Forum. Springing up in 2004 following the concerns made famous in the international press during the 1990s – sweatshop working, information pills terrible wages and mass environmental damage – a group of designers decided to do something about it by raising awareness. Liasing with over 400 designers, fashion brands and other fashion businesses, the EFF connects people who want to promote a sustainable future for the fashion industry; this includes creating safe working environments and increasing wages in oft-exploited third world countries, as well as encouraging minimal environmental damage. Closely tied to this venture is the Fair Trade Foundation – pinpointing exactly how topical a sustainable fashion industry has become in recent years alongside the massive interest in Fair Trade products.
Earlier in the year EFF launched it’s biannual “Innovation” competition for designers, the first being PURE, rewarding and recognising those who have shown innovation (!) and initiative regarding the greater good of the fashion world. The shortlist of competitors was announced last month, and gave publicity to an assortment of passionate designers who are keen to support a sustainable and ethical fashion future through their business strategies and design work. The competition hopes to raise awareness of the EFF’s goals and views by rewarding those who have shown similar ethical principles to itself, whilst at the same time inspiring this generation of designers to work together for a better future. The overused cliché of “green is the new black” really seems to be ringing true at EFF!
This years shortlist of 12 included designers from all over the world, all excited to promote the EFF message; those from or working in South Africa, Malawi, India, China and North America were all on show, with a good percentage of designers working in poverty-stricken Third World countries. The designers largely sourced their materials from traditional industries all over the world, and particularly in struggling areas, as shown by this quick survey of the territories they work within. Others are supporting local industries within the UK, such as crofting in the Scottish Highlands. Each were judged on their collection’s overall design and finish, their brand ethics, and their sale-ability, by a panel including Anna Orsini, head of London Fashion Week, Donna Wallace of ELLE magazine, alongside other senior fashion journalists and lecturers.
So who came up trumps in the end? Being selected to show at the PURE trade show, the winners were Cape Town brand Lalesso, and MIA, another African working in Malawi. Lalesso was a clear box-ticker: initially set up to provide a “socially responsible method of manufacturing”.
Designing clothes based on East African traditions and current trends, the label aids struggling unemployment by providing well-paid work for several different groups, from the unskilled ‘beach boys’ to the traditionally skilled Masaai tradesmen. The clothes are vibrant, fun and youthful, including patterned prom dresses and casual beach wear, showcasing typical laidback African style tailored for a fashion-conscious audience who care.
MIA was an equally obvious winner. Recycling vintage pieces is no new idea; however MIA has taken this to new lengths with her remade clothing. Using second- hand streetwear combined with traditional Malawian dress, she has created designs that are thoroughly modern, embracing the current fascination with all things retro and uniquely individual.
MIA’s message is to embrace our wardrobes and recycle them in order to prevent such widespread textile waste in the way that we recycle food packaging and other products in the new millennium. She’s another designer interested in the capacities of upcycled clothing, and is keen to promote change with her range of smock style mini dresses combining different materials in their zig-zag skirts.
Embracing her Highland roots, this designer used crofting techniques in her collections in a way that has not been seen in recent years, supporting local industries with her work. Crofting involves reusing excess waste material from mills as part of a small community of workers who all support each other.
A similar idea can be seen with Outsider, who support the oft-abused textile industries in China and India through sourcing organic fabrics and providing fair labour conditions and wages, true to the EFF message. Stating that “we believe ethical fashion should just look like fashion” these designers are certainly up there with the best of the bunch.
Their latest collection featured reworked classic shapes with pleat detailing and simple lines, all in sophisticated black, with the main focus of the design work being on the use of sustainable fabrics to inspire confidence in what we’re wearing and how it is sustaining the fashion industry globally.
Coming up in September will be the Esethetica awards when more winners will be announced – what did you make of the shortlist and did you agree with the winners? Let us know!
First Aid Kit – The Lexington, London
We love First Aid Kit and their oddball folk complete with tinkling harmonies, and they carried of their set at Climate Camp Glastonbury with aplomb I hear. Support comes from Blue Roses, whom I’ve known of for a while under her “day-to-day” name Laura Groves, her music is achingly delicate and beautiful.
Wednesday 29th July
Simian Mobile Disco- Roundhouse, London
Thursday 30th July
Maps – Hoxton Bar and Grill, London
I would definitely put Maps‘ lo-fi bedroom electronica on my “Top 3 Things To Do With Maps” List alongside every indie schmindie’s make-out song of choice by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and actual maps which are great. A must for fans of Low and My Bloody Valentine.
Left With Pictures is a whirling mix of vocal harmonising, melodicas, violins…the whole shebang. It’s quite exciting and suprising to listen to and more than a little bit evocative of another era. Lovely stuff!
Saturday 1st August
Field Day– Victoria Park, London
Sometimes, discount the maxim that “two heads are better than one”, page certainly rings true. Well, check never has this been more appropriate than with dynamic design partners in crime, Siamese duo, Fanny and Jessy, the East London pair causing a stir on the design scene at the moment. Having recently graduated from the London College of Fashion, these young designers have set about refusing to pigeonhole their collections into trends or even genders, preferring to leave it all unisex. How Judith Butler would have approved!
The new collection, cheekily named “I hope you die soon”, features designs that are something of a cross between Donnie Darko and Topshop Unique. Think fringing, fraying, and rippling, pod shapes, skinny fit leggings and rock star fur. Imagine Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler raiding David Bowie‘s wardrobe; its rock’n’roll mixed with futuristic meets minimalistic; it’s a bit special indeed! Inspired in their own words, by music, art, film and life, the collection is something of an exception to trends of the moment. There’s no hint of these clothes fitting into a Vogue run-down of current catwalk trends emergent this season.
Featuring cut out, holey leggings paired with cocoon-like tops with shoulder padding, shape and volume are a clear focus of the collection. Pod- like hoods and wide wide wide, sharp, triangular shoulder pads sculpt the tops, or only collars are left with no top to speak of! One constant is the shock or avant garde factor, alongside of course the extreme precision and talent that has gone in to combining so many different shapes and effects in a way that isn’t garish or over the top. The collection is very balanced in a Gemini like way. Must be the dual influence.
The different photo shoots capturing the collection also serve to capture its different facets. Mark Cant‘s photography delineates the beautiful precision of the pieces with his optical illusions of blurring motion in black and white – whereas Christopher James’ pictures evoke the Hoxton art student feel, which was clearly a subconscious influence on the designers as students of East London.
The models ride bicycles and lean against Brick Lane-esque graffiti scenes to give the clothes a really modern ‘James Dean‘ rebel feel. Ellie Scott too focuses on the youthful vibrancy of the pieces combined with an urban backdrop featuring railway arches and garages, even including a matching mottled car. The designers clearly knew when working with these photographers that the ideas behind their clothing would not be lost.
The pair have unsurprisingly gathered something of a cult following, largely as a result of their collaborations with other artistic projects (as seen with their impeccable taste in fashion photographers). ‘Collaboration’ is a key word for these designers, it seems. Having worked with artist/film maker Danny Sangra on the logo of the label, the duo set about making a short film of the new collection released this month. The film perfectly captures the ethos of “I hope you die soon”. Featuring flashing torch light and heavy drum and bass, the jilting camera follows models stepping in and out of the spot light before beginning to dance. The underground, dirty basement setting adds scare factor, whilst also appealing to that underworld art student vibe of the collection, like a secret drum and bass rave.
Stepping back, you can see that Fanny and Jessy’s combined talents manifest themselves in a holistic sense, since they can be seen throughout not just the collection but also the promotional artwork surrounding it. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
- London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Fashion Mode, James Hillman
- London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Blow Presents Fanny and Jessy
- LFW 09 – Osman, the White collection
- London Fashion Week Autumn/ Winter 2010 Catwalk Review: Ashish
- LFW09 – Hannah Marshall s/s 2010 – Paint it Black