Amelia’s Magazine | R-Art Attack!

Undercover: Lingerie Exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

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“Welcome to Limehouse.” With those words, about it Jarvis Cocker set off on the latest instalment of his 30 year musical odyssey, visit this site launching into set opener Pilchard from his new solo album, Further Complications. For such a long, often tortuous journey which began at a Sheffield secondary school and the formation of what was originally known as Arabicus Pulp, the Troxy did seem a rather apt stopping point – a former theatre turned bingo-hall in the deepest End End, where Stepney and Limehouse blur into each other, now restored and reborn as an unlikely concert venue.

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In fact, Cocker did remark, in his own inimitable way, that the place reminded him of an ice-rink from his youth, where he went to “cop off” with someone, and you still half expected to hear calls of “clickety click” and “legs eleven”, even as support band the Horrors were going through their Neu! meets Echo and the Bunnymen infused motorik indie.

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There were a few half-hearted requests from parts of the audience, but tonight was most definitely a Pulp-free zone (the presence of longtime sidekick Steve Mackey on bass was as near as we got). The set leant heavily on Cocker’s sophomore solo effort, which has a rockier, heavier edge to it than its’ predecessor (not surprising given the pedigree of producer Steve Albini). That said, old Jarvis still has the wry wit and subtle smut that made albums like Different Class such stand outs back in the day (witness news songs Leftover and I Never Said I Was Deep), and he still has plenty of those weirdly angular dance moves up his sleeves. As if that weren’t enough, he even dusted off his old junior school recorder skills on the introduction to Caucasian Blues.

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A couple of numbers from Cocker’s debut solo album made an appearance towards the end of the set, including a driving Fat Children, whilst the encore opened with Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time. We ended on the closer from Further Complications, You’re In My eyes (Discosong), where Jarvis appears to channel the spirit of Barry White – there was even a glitterball to dazzle the Troxy’s faded glamour.
As Jarvis took the adulation of the massed faithful, it seemed like, after a bit of a wilderness period post-Pulp, old Mr Cocker has most definitely got his mojo back.

12 June – 27 September 2009

The Fashion and Textiles Museum‘s summer exhibition hopes to present the evolution of underwear over the last hundred years. The result is a lacklustre exhibition with a thrown-together-in-minutes appearance.

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The exhibition is organised into areas covering research, more about innovation, seek materials, order celebrity, marketing, print and colour. Despite the ‘evolution’ title, there isn’t any sense of a chronological representation, apart from a small part of the opening corridor of the exhibition where underwear is displayed by year.

It is here where the most interesting pieces are displayed. Beginning with a Charles Bayer corset from the 1900s, we take an (albeit short) walk through the brief history of underwear. There are great examples from Triumph International – then a pioneering underwear brand, now underwear powerhouse governing brands like Sloggi.

We see a sanfor circular conical stretch bra, reminiscent of Madonna’s iconic bra designed by John Paul Gaultier in the 80s (which the placard reveals, to nobody’s surprise, is where JPG sought his inspiration).

In the main arena, there are corsets hanging from the ceiling, of which there are 8 or 9 examples. The corset, as the information details, is one of fashion’s most iconic items. So how can so few examples tell us anything we didn’t already know? Only one of the artefacts is pre 21st century – most are borrowed from burlesque ‘celebrities’ such as Immodesty Blaze and Dita von Teese – hardly representative of underwear’s evolution.

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The bulk of the exhibition centres around print, pattern and colour, and again the exhibition relies too heavily on modern pieces, with a small scattering of interesting M&S items. This area, again, relies too heavily on modern underwear – usual suspects La Perla and Rigby & Peller extensively featured – but other key brands, such as Agent Provocateur, fail to get even a mention.

Pioneer of modern underwear Calvin Klein isn’t covered nearly enough as he should be, save for a couple of iconic 1990s white boxer shirts. In fact, men’s underwear isn’t given any coverage at all, which is a shame considering this exhibition’s bold title.

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This exhibition does hold some key pieces, and regardless of what I think, it’s definitely worth seeing if you are a fashion follower. Its many flaws could have been ironed out with more attention to detail, and it’s a shame that the FTM isn’t more of a major player in London’s fashion scene. If you want to see stacks of salacious, expensive, modern-day underwear, why not just take a trip to Harrods? They have a larger selection and don’t charge an entry fee!

Dear Readers, symptoms

I am writing to share something a little bit special with you. We all know that warm butterflies-in-the-belly feeling when envelopes arrive through the letterbox with your name and address handwritten carefully on the front with a return address of a friend or lover on the reverse, pilule a beacon of personal correspondence among a mundane plethora of bills, more about takeaway menus and bank statements. How much more sincere is a ‘Thank You’ or a ‘Sorry’, how much more romantic is an ‘I Love You’ or ‘Marry Me’ when it comes in pen to paper form rather than digitalised and, heaven forbid, abbreviated via modern technological means.

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Letter writing may be an old fashioned and somewhat dying art, one that we all claim to still do or intend to do, but actually don’t make time for in a world of convenient instant messaging, free text plans and social network sites, but Jamie Atherton and Jeremy Lin refuse to abandon the old worldly ways of communication just yet.

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Finding their stationery was like being invited to a secret society for letter writers, a prize from the postal Gods to congratulate and reward all those who participate in mail exchanges, to inspire us to keep going to strive on and not let the Royal Mail network collapse from lack of traffic. The more I find out about this creative pair of gents the deeper I fall under their spell. Two handsome young men, madly in love with each other, one English one American, live together in London nowadays but in the 12 years that have passed since they fell head over heels they have lived in San Francisco too and co-created Atherton Lin, the name under which they produce, distribute and sell their products.

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Their work, such as the collections of Winter and Summer greeting cards, is as collectable as it is sendable. Each of the four cards in a set tells a tale; funny, sentimental, melancholic and earnest. They strive to avoid clichés or overused formulaic recipes for ‘commercialised cute’, but instead the boys have created a world of butterflies, badgers, bicycles and balloons, using recycled materials and harm-free inks. It is not just their illustrated correspondence materials that Atherton Lin have become known and adored for, that paved the way to being noticed by and sold alongside Marc Jacobs’ wears and tears, as well as being stocked at places such as London’s ICA, LA’s Ooga Booga and San Francisco’s Little Otsu.

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Working on the basis that not all correspondence is text, stationery therefore does not have to be exclusively on paper. With a nod to their burgeoning passion for mix tapes, which featured heavily through their transatlantic courtship, they created artwork for a series of blank CDs. The pair have collaborated with a number of talented outfits such as the musicians Vetiver and Elks, and for a book of poems published by Fithian Press, in addition to eye wateringly lovely calendars.

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They cite their inspirations to include the charmingly unaware wit of Japanese stationary with its mysteriously nonsensical English translations, Peanuts comic strips, the lyrics to strumming shoe gaze bands such as Ride and poet Dylan Thomas. Having conducted the first three years of their blossoming relationship as long distance partners, they perhaps know better than anyone the value and worth of the handwritten word, the virtues of patience while awaiting the postman and the magnified importance of every tiny detail when letters are sustaining your longing heart.

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Now that I’ve been well and truly bitten by the Atherton Lin bug, I have an overbearing urge to dig out my address book and scribe catch up letters to friends in far-flung corners of the globe, and those just around the corner. And for the scented pastel coloured envelopes about to reach the letterboxes of my acquaintances in the next couple of weeks, you have Jeremy and Jamie to thank, for restoring my faith in the romantic, timeless pastime of writing letters.

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Yours ever so faithfully,

Alice Watson
Last Thursday, order I negotiated my bicycle through the customary crush of Trafalgar Square to the RSA, find for a talk by R Beau Lotto in association with the Barbican Radical Nature series. Beau heads up Lotto Lab, whose aim is to explain and explore how and why we see what we do (do check out their website) – mainly through looking at how we see colour, which is one of the simplest things we do.

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All images by R Beau Lotto, courtesy of Lotto Labs

Here’s a quick science bit, which he gets in at the beginning of the talk to a packed full lecture theatre – light and colour are not the same. Light can be represented on a linear scale. It has just wavelength and intensity. Colour has three bits to it. So it’s much more complicated to describe : hue (red-green-blue-or-yellowness), brightness, and saturation (greyness).

The whole talk is full of questions I asked as a six-year-old, and I’m left with a kind of wide-eyed amazement at how clearly everything is explained and presented – I’ll pick out one of the most satisfying.. Why is the sky blue? This is one to try at home. Get the biggest glass bowl or see-through container you can find, and fill it with water. Shine a desk lamp through it – the lamp’s now the sun and the water space. If we had no atmosphere, the sky would be black with a bright sun – as it is from the moon. Now add a little milk at a time to the water, stirring as you go. As it spreads through the water, the milk will scatter the light like the atmosphere does, and at the right level, will scatter blue. Add a bit more, and you’ll make a sunset – the longer-wave red light scatters when it goes through more atmosphere, as sunlight does when it’s low in the sky. Add more again, and it’ll go grey : you made a cloud, where all the light scatters equally.

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The colour of space changes. We never quite see the surface of anything in the world – we see the result of the light shining, the character of the surface, and the space in between. So colours really are brighter in St Ives than Old Street. So the patterns of light that fall onto the eye are strictly meaningless.

We learn to see. We find relationships between things we look at – the context of anything we look at is essential to how we see it. This is what the ‘illusions’ spread through this article show so bogglingly. And context is what links the present to the past – we associate patterns with what we did last time, and learn from it. Beau asked at one point for a volunteer from the audience. I was desperately far back, in the middle of a row – smooth escape from that one. But the demonstration itself was quietly mind-blowing. A target was projected on the screen, and Rob the lucky volunteer was asked to hit it (this as a control – the exciting bit comes next). Next, he put on a pair of glasses which shifted the world 30 degrees to his right. Throwing again, he missed by miles. After a few goes, though, Rob’s whole body movement changed and he hit the target every time. Then he took the glasses off again, and immediately missed the other way – his mind had learnt for that moment to see the world utterly differently.

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We don’t see the world as it is – in fact it doesn’t make much sense to talk about the world ‘as it really is’ – only what’s useful. Colour, for example, is great for not being eaten by orange tigers in a green jungle. We constantly figure out what is ‘normal’ – and what should stick out from this normal. So… there are no absolutes – only perceptions of a world relative to a changing normal. No one is outside of this relativity. We are all defined by our ecology. We all learn to live in the world that’s presented to us – and that in a very relative way.

Beau has four ‘C’s that he leaves as teasing thoughts – Compassion, Creativity, Choice and Community. And this is where, if you’ve been reading along wondering quite why I thought this was a good idea for an ‘Earth’ article, I started thinking about the way we tell stories about the environment, the way we tell stories about what happens in the world around us. Getting your head around different mindsets could be wonderfully informed by these ideas – things like understanding how to persuade business profit-heads that sustainability is the only way to long-term profit, or grassroots activists that FTSE 500 companies have been organising and managing disparate groups of employees for years – there’s surely something to learn there.

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Knowing that everything we do – down to something so simple as seeing colour – is essentially informed by what we did before, and the kinds of context we’ve ever been exposed to – this can only add possibility to whatever buzzes round our brains : more compassionate, as we see where others might have come from; more creative, questioning these reflexes; more conscious in our choices, if we think a little past the instinctive; and more communal, in a broad sense, as we’re each a unique part of a whole, all sharing in individual perceptions and histories.

That was what I took from it, anyway. Do get in touch, or leave a comment, if you saw any other cool patterns here – I’d be intrigued to hear.

Come July 16th, ampoule Amelia’s Magazine will be packing the bikini’s, sunglasses and factor 15 to rock up to one of the biggest highlights of our social calendar. Continuing our Festival season round up, we are going to focus our attention on the Daddy of the European festivals; Benicassim. Building rapidly in status, this cheeky Spanish live wire began its incarnation in 1995, but even then it was reaching for the stars, with heavy hitters such as The Chemical Brothers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Stone Roses headlining. Now firmly established as a major player on the summer festival season, Benicassim is the ultimate go-to when you want your music fest to go easy on the mud, and heavy on the sand, sea and sun.

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Desde Escenario Verde by Oscar L. Tejeda

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Getting back to the music, the organisers have come up trumps for this years festival. Just in case you were unaware of the lineup, allow me to share the treats that will be in store if you’ve got tickets. Top of the bill will be Oasis, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. It is not just about the headliners though, Beni makes sure that there is something for everyone, and while most acts indie rock , the many stages showcase plenty of other genres, such as electronica, experimental and dance. Each night will see a plethora of fantastic and diverse acts and my personal favourites that will make me nudge through the crowds to the front are Telepathe, Glasvegas, Paul Weller, Tom Tom Club, Friendly Fires, The Psychedelic Furs, Lykke Li and my BFF Peaches. With guaranteed sunshine and a beachside backdrop, it promises to be a memorable event. While the 4 day passes have all sold out, there are still one day passes available for Thursday 16th July. You might consider it impractical to get down there for just one day (not that we are going to stand in your way), but if you happen to be passing through the Costa De Azahar around that time, then why not get yourself a wristband, grab a Sol and pitch up?

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You know, the more we think about it, the more we realise that Benicassim is tailor made for Amelia’s Magazine. As our loyal readers know, we are strong supporters of all things sustainable and environmentally friendly and Benicassim is leaps and bounds ahead of many of the other festivals in terms of environmental awareness. Having been awarded the Limpio Y Verde (Clean + Green) Award by The European Festival Association, Beni is serious about taking initiatives which minimise the impact that a festival causes. For example, to offset the Co2 emissions that are generated while the festival is underway, they are creating an authentic Fiber forest, which has come as a result of planting over 2,000 trees during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 festivals. For those attending the festival, the organisers have laid on a number of shared transport facilities to get to and from the site, including frequent shuttle services into town and bicycle hire. Once inside the site, ticket holders will find that there is a strong and active recycling policy, with different bins for glass, plastic and paper and reusable glasses in the bars and restaurants which are made from biodegradable material. Several charities and NGO’s will be on hand – look out for the stands where Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Action Against Hunger and Citizens Association Against AIDS amongst others will be distributing information.

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Bear in mind for future visits to the festival (or if you haven’t yet booked flights to get there), that there are various options for how to get to Benicassim that don’t involve flying. While most people will be boarding planes, the options of rail, or even ferry as transport can turn the holiday into a completely different experience. Spain has a fantastic and well regulated rail system, with all major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia operating trains to the town of Benicassim. Full details on how to arrange your rail itinerary are here . If you were interested in beginning the journey by ferry, (information on routes can be found here there are regular services from Plymouth to Santander, or Portsmouth to Bilbao (both cities have rail links that will get you to Benicassim). Otherwise, there are plenty of ferries from Dover to France, if interrailing it through part of Europe was also a consideration. Obviously, these options are considerably longer than flying, but there is something much more civilized about this way of travelling, and you get to see much more of the country which is hosting the festival, and that can only be a good thing.

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Fibers En Zonas De Acampada by Pau Bellido

For more information on Benicassim, go to Festival Internacional De Benicassim
Bless-ed: Superimposing The Thought Of Happiness

Cosa
7 Ledbury Mews North
London W11 2AF

10th July – 31st July

11am – 6pm Tuesday – Friday
12pm – 4pm Saturday

Free

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“Artworks created from smashed vinyl records and recycled packaging. Hot on the heels of their highly successful New York show, no rx Robi Walters & Leanne Wright, side effects aka ‘Bless-ed’, dosage hit London with their unique series of collages and constructed works featuring smashed vinyl and recycled packaging. “

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Robots

The Old Sweet Shop
11 Brookwood Road
London SW18 5BL

10th July 2009 – 25th July

Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm
or by appointment

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Image: Doggy Robot (Detail) by Ellie Alexandri

“Do you remember when robots were a futuristic fantasy? The Old Sweet Shop gallery’s latest exhibition takes a warm hearted look at these retro-tinged creations through the eyes of up-and coming artists and illustrators, peeking into the inner world of clunking creatures built to make human lives easier. ‘Robots’ will appeal to all ages, and features a diverse range of talent in many different media.”

Robots exhibition featuring work by: Alec Strang, Emily Evans, Freya Harrison, Moon Keum, Vinish Shah, JMG, Catherine Rudie, Hanne Berkaak, Cristian Ortiz, Elli Alexandri and Serge Jupin.

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Antony Gormley: One & Other

Fourth Plinth
Trafalgar Square
London

6th July – 14th October

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Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, ordinarily reserved for statues of the bold and brave, is staging one of the most exciting art ventures of the year. Under the direction of Anthony Gormley a steady stream of voluntary contributors will, every hour on the hour for the next 100 days, be occupying the space to create, make, do or perform as they wish. One such selected applicant is Tina Louise, whose slot will be Sunday 12th July, at 11am. She plans to stage “involves a bit of a sing-along where I am inviting various choirs, a Muslim call to prayer man, some whirling Dervishes (fingers crossed)” and invites you all to get down there this week and help celebrate human diversity in all it’s glory.

Find out more about Tina here.

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The Museum of Souvenirs – The Surrealist Photography of Marcel Mariën

Diemar/Noble Photography
66/67 Wells Street
London W1T 3PY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 6pm

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An exciting UK premiere of Belgian Surrealist Marcel Marien’s photographs taken between 1983 and 1990. Marien was a master of many trades, and not all of them art based; as well as being a poet, essayist and filmmaker, he branched out as a publisher, bookseller, journalist and even a sailor.

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The Importance of Beauty – The Art of Ina Rosing

GV Art
49 Chiltern Street
Marylebone
London W1U 6LY

Until 25th July

Tuesday to Friday 11am to 7pm
Saturday 11 am to 4 pm
or by appointment

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Inspired by her interest in inner silence and beauty, Ina Rosing’s work sails through immovable mountains and vibrant red flowers with dignified grace and spirituality. She explores the personal yet universal connections with landscape and culture, asking where and how can we capture the true importance of beauty using graffiti-like political and environmental messages.

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James Unsworth: I Love You Like a Murderer Loves Their Victims

Sartorial Contemporary Art
26 Argyle Square
London WC1H 8AP

8th July – 30th July

Tuesday – Friday 12:30pm – 6pm
or by appointment

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James Unsworth is not a new name for us here at Amelia’s Magazine, having featured him a short while ago in Issue 8 of our publication, but this new collection of work from the controversial outspoken illustrator and filmmaker takes his hyper-unreal visions of all things dark and disturbing to a new level. The movies and photographs use low-budget charm and dangerously close to the bone references to murder, sex and dismemberment to win us over, free our minds and freak us out, not particularly in that order.

Monday 6th July
Why? The Garage, buy London

“Why should I go and see Why?” you ask.
Well, cialis 40mg because Why? are probably one of the most innovative exciting bands around at the moment their albums Alopecia and Elephant Eyelash are very high up on my “Most-Listened-To List”. Fronted by the excellently named Yoni Wolf, Why? fuse hip hop and indie rock to create something totally unique. Wolf’s lyrics are strangely intimate and often funny; bar mitzvahs and Puerto Rican porno occassionally pop up- and why not?

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Tuesday 7th July
!!!, The Luminaire, London

Here are two facts about !!!
1. You have probably had the best time dancing to them.
2. According to Wikipedia: !!! is pronounced by repeating thrice any monosyllabic sound. Chk Chk Chk is the most common pronunciation, but they could just as easily be called Pow Pow Pow, Bam Bam Bam, Uh Uh Uh, etc.
So go along to the Luminaire and make strange noises (“thrice”) and dance your socks off.

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Wednesday 8th July
White Denim, Heaven, London

White Denim are the best thing to come out of Texas since ribs and good accents, they have been compared to Os Mutantes and Can which is no mean feat. Expect a healthy dose of psychadelia with a smudge of grubby rock n’roll

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Thursday 9th July
The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Kill It Kid, The ICA, London.

What are Fat Cat doing on Thursday?
Oh, you know, just being as awesome as ever at the ICA.
Fat Cat seem to have excellent taste in music, and the three bands playing tonight carry on the high standards of Fat Cat label veterans like Animal Collective. Expect melancholy and sweetness from The Twilight Sad and post-punk from the others. Lashings of fun all round.

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The Weekend
Loop Festival, Brighton.

Let’s go to the sea! Brighton’s Loop Festival; a celebration of music and digital art has the most mouth-watering line-up ever. Fever Ray, Karin from The Knife‘s solo project, play alongside múm, the hot-to-trot Telepathe (pictured) and Tuung to name but a few. If I were going I’d invite them all to make sandcastles with me afterwards…hopefully they would.

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Monday 6 July

Whose landscape is it anyway?

Nicholas Stern and Ramachandra Guha consider the tensions between environmental concerns and industrial and economic development in South Asia today.

£5 including day pass to Royal Botanic Gardens, mind Kew.
6.30pm, cost British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1.

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Illustration by Joanna Cheung

Tuesday 7th July

Garbage Warrior Film Screening

The epic story of radical Earthship eco architect Michael Reynolds, and his fight to build off-the-grid self-sufficient communities.

7pm (86min), Passing clouds, Dalston (review + directions)

An Alternative Energy Evening?·

Lecture and Panel Discussion?· Professor Vernon Gibson, with Jonathan Leake, ??Chief Chemist of BP, in discussion with key experts in the field of sustainable and renewable energy.
Please join us to hear the latest on this hot topic.

Free to attend. Admission is by guest list only.
??Email events@weizmann.org.uk to reserve your place.
+44 (0)20 7424 6863?  www.weizmann.org.uk

7pm
Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
London SW7 2AR

Wednesday 8th July

Renewable Energy, All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group meeting with WWF

Dr Keith Allott leads the discussion.

4-6pm, House of Commons, Westminster SW1

Thursday 9th July

Conflicting Environmental Goods and the Future of the Countryside

Caroline Lucas MEP talking on possible futures.

Contact – judithr@cpre.org.uk
5-7pm, The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, EC1

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Illustration by Faye Katirai

A Climate Mission for Europe: Leadership & Opportunity

Lord Browne, Roger Carr, Lord Giddens, John Gummer MP and Roland Rudd

8–9.30am
Royal Academy of Engineering,
3 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y

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Illustration by Michaela

Wise Women Speaker Event: John D Liu

John D Liu speaks on integrated poverty eradication and large-scale ecosystem rehabilitation. Since the mid-1990′s he has concentrated on ecological film making and has written, produced and directed films on many aspects of the ecology. In 2003, Liu wrote, produced and directed “Jane Goodall – China Diary” for National Geographic. Hailed as a visionary for the future, Lui is director of the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) and will discuss his groundbreaking work.

RSVP: polly@wisewomen.me.uk

7pm, ?£10 on the door
The Hub,Islington,
Candid Arts Trust,
5 Torrens Street, London,
EC1V 1NQ

Friday 10th July

The End of the Line

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Imagine an ocean without fish. Imagine your meals without seafood. Imagine the global consequences. This is the future if we do not stop, think and act. The End of the Line is the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Rupert Murray.

7pm, Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2.
Contact – events@frontlineclub.com

Saturday 11th July

The Artic And Us

Lemn Sissay discusses the making of the poem “What If”, inspired by his recent trip to the Arctic to highlight climate change.

£7, 3.30pm, South Bank Centre

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Illustration by Lea Jaffey
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This year I spent a record six days at Glastonbury. On Tuesday we set off from London with a mission to “tat” along the way. Tatting is a favourite occupation of the fictional Wombles and is a process central to Climate Camp – it basically means relieving skips and front gardens of useful discarded objects – such as sofas, pilule chairs, tables and carpeting – for reuse in another situation. En route to Glastonbury we managed to fill the van up with various items including a full set of dining chairs that looked swanky but collapsed as soon as we sat on them and a rather manky looking mouldy mattress. It was pointed out that this would seem the lap of luxury after a couple of days in a field with no soft surfaces to rest upon, so we duly lugged it into the van. In fact we needn’t have worried – the mattress was left out to air as soon as we arrived and stolen almost immediately. Desirable already!

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Our journey had an added frisson of excitement given the rumour that everyone was being locked out of the site at 10pm every night. Fortunately (and thanks to GPS on my poncey new iphone) we made it to Pilton Farm on time, whereupon we were greeted by the cheery sight of our big red and yellow marquee. It seems that making merry in the fields of Somerset has turned into a week long affair for many, so vast quantities of people were already cruising the fields, beers in hand.

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For us there was still much work to be done, so in the morning we dressed our area with significant amounts of bunting and colourful flags that we had screenprinted beforehand, all bearing Mia Marie Overgaard‘s beautiful artwork.

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Climate Camp was given a generous corner of an otherwise predominantly camping field – with a big fire pit in the middle and a yurt (housing Ecolab‘s Future Scenarios exhibition) demarcating one corner. Around the yurt I strung the story of Climate Rush so far – printed upon weather resistant banners that billowed dramatically in the gusty winds.

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By the field boundary a “tripod stage” had been constructed – an inspired bit of naming that made reference to the grand pyramid stage down where the rabble doth hang about.

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As we beavered away to beautify the site some classic festival munters pitched up and decided to erect their box fresh tents directly under our Welcome to Climate Camp banner – thereby easily misleading the public in to believing that they were indeed Climate Camp. Within minutes they were yelling “Ogee-ogee-oy” at each other through a megaphone. I kid you not. They were the perfect festival munter cliche right on our doorstep. Needless to say these same creatures left an absolute disaster zone in their wake when they left the festival – but more on that later…

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Many more Climate Camp kindred spirits arrived as we sorted out our space, and by Thursday many curious festival-goers were stopping by to listen to a bit of music or take a wander around our exhibition. Danny Chivers delivered his usual wonderful poetry to a rapt audience and Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors (set up in honour of Joe Strummer and named after a Clash song) took a turn on the stage.

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Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors provides guitars with which to rehabilitate prisoners through music, and the two lads playing for us had since left prison and are trying to build a career in music. After a shy start they were soon regaling the receptive crowd with tales of prison life and left amidst promises that they would return, possibly with the real Billy Bragg in tow – a rumour that quickly gained momentum but was sadly never fulfilled.

Then out of nowhere came possibly our most exciting idea yet; instead of just teaching how to take direct action in workshop form, we would actually do some mock actions right there in Glastonbury. It all seemed too good an opportunity to miss – this year Greenpeace had created a full-on third runway experience, including a miniature Sipson with it’s own international airport which was clearly ripe for the blockading.

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We all donned one of the Climate Camp t-shirts that I’d printed up (I’ve been on a bit of a screenprinting frenzy) and marched noisily down to the Greenpeace field with our tripod and an orangutan in tow. As you do.

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Twenty people blockaded the entrance to the bemusement of passersby, as faux security guards tried to pull them off and the orangutan climbed triumphantly to the top of the tripod. It was a pretty good re-enactment of a real direct action, until actors hired by Greenpeace waded in and stole our thunder with some attention grabbing shouting.

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On Thursday night there was the most spectacular storm, with torrential rain pouring down off our Climate Change is Pants bunting (made from, erm, pants, of course) and into the tent as we sheltered from the monsoon. It stopped just in time for our Mass Night Game, for which I played the part of a security guard (they’re never far away on a direct action)

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As each team arrived at our base in the stone circle they had to climb the tripod as fast as they could before the guards could pull them off. In one surreal moment as the dusk fell some real Glastonbury stewards materialised in pink dayglo waistcoats to my yellow dayglo one, and really confused both themselves and those playing the game.

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As evening fell a group of us went off to discover the new Shangri-La area, where a gaggle of totally drunk pre-pubescent girls fell into us yelling “Michael Jackson’s dead!” Soon the whole festival was ringing with the news – as well as his back catalogue – though we all remained uncertain about the veracity of the rumours and decided to spread a counter rumour that Timmy Mallett was dead. Looking back it was odd that noone seemed particularly sad to hear the news, but then I think most of us have already mourned the cute little black boy who vanished under drastic surgery long ago. It was almost as if Michael Jackson had been one big fat joke for so long that his death was as fantastical and unreal as his life had become, and therefore hard to take seriously.

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The rest of the festival was spent in a whirlwind of outreach and fundraising. I wasn’t so comfortable with the bucket rattling, but luckily others were brilliant at it and we managed to raise loads of much needed cash to help put Climate Camp on this year.

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I spent most of my time chatting to people, both in our field and out around the Green Fields area. And of course taking lots of photos – because that’s where I feel most comfortable of all, recording everything that we do for future posterity.

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We facilitated another few mini direct actions – one day in defiance of the cheap flights on offer in the mock travel agents in Shangri-La, and on another using arm tubes to blockade the mini village of Sipson.

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Friends wandered by to see me but I didn’t really go further than the Green Fields for much of the festival. I have a love hate relationship with Glastonbury and tend to be happiest away from the seething crowds down near the main stages. There were a lot more police on site this year and there were at least two arrests in our field, presumably for drug dealing – thus we found ourselves offering solidarity to the friends that were left behind “we get arrested quite a lot you see…” We got the paddling pool out when it was especially roasting, and I jumped in with all my clothes on before rushing onto the path to offer wet hugs to passersby.

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On my rare trips down to “Babylon” I got in a mild panic – huge crowds of fucked people crashing into me is not my idea of fun. Bruce Springsteen was a major disappointment and I only saw brief bits of Blur from the very back of the field before wandering off to find a friend at the Prodigy, where I got thoroughly freaked out by the gazillions of men and women screaming “smack my bitch up” at the top of their voices, I mean – I like the tune, but there are some totally suspect lyrics going on there. Over by the John Peel stage I was amused to see a huge (high as a skyscraper) board of protest banners bearing one of the Climate Rush picnic blankets from our Heathrow protest.

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It was very surreal to see it high above me, when last it was sitting in a crumpled mess in my hallway. On more than a few occasions we found ourselves at the uber decadent Arcadia area of an evening.

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It was the ultimate irony that the closest stage to Climate Camp featured hugely wasteful gas flares that shot into the night and made a mockery of our frugal ways; any energy savings made by our solar powered camp so obviously swallowed in the dystopian heat of the dramatic flames. Needless to say we were drawn to Arcadia like fossil fuel moths, dancing under the sizzling spectacle with all the other revellers, all part of the same species careering towards self-destruction.

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But back to the beautiful green space of Climate Camp, where our little tripod stage proved to be a real winner. My trusty music editor Roisin had contacted some music prs a mere day or so before I left for Glastonbury and secured performances from the wondrous First Aid Kit and the equally brilliant 6 Day Riot. First Aid Kit arrived fresh from a gig on the Park Stage with their parents in tow, and wowed everyone with a simple acoustic set that highlighted their delicate use of harmonies.

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Unfortunately I missed 6 Day Riot due to outreach with our “aggie animals” whereby a homeless alcoholic orangutan, polar bear and tiger went out to engage with the general public.

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The idea was to subvert the traditional cutesy perception of said animals, a plan which worked really well during the day, but in the evening faltered as the distinction between performance art and actual fucked festival munter blurred to the point of impossibility. Especially when one of our animals spewed into the bushes in a prize bit of method acting (she’d just downed a pint of homebrewed cider)

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On Sunday afternoon we held a random raffle, which was made possible by blagging prizes from various stalls and performers during the course of the festival. A large amount of people were happy to part with cash to purchase a raffle ticket, and a small crowd was persuaded to attend the actual event, compered with aplomb by our resident poet Danny. Prizes included the beer can that Jack Penate had allegedly drunk from (won by a child, woops)

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It was all beautifully ramshackle but seemed to entertain. The girl who has inadvertently become part of this year’s logo (by virtue of an image of her at the Kingsnorth camp that is strewn across the interweb) stopped by and did some dazzling acrobatics on our tripod stage.

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By the evening I still hadn’t managed to figure a way to get out of the festival so I ended up staying on until Monday evening for “tat down” – taking down the tents and sorting stuff to be transported back home. The mattress that we had lovingly cleaned made a sudden return, and small children started to circle our site like hyenas on the look out for valuable abandoned belongings, and undrunk alcohol (festie children eh?! Cheeky buggers!)

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Stories reached us of people leaving their tent for one moment and returning to find it removed within moments by opportunistic “tatters”. I went on a roam of our general area to search for useful stuff, but returned feeling sick to the pit of my stomach and unable to take anything for myself.

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Is it really that much hassle to take your pop-up tent home? What kind of person abandons so many reusable things? Do you really have that much disposable income in the age of the credit crunch? The festival munters camped under our welcome banner departed leaving a wasteland behind. Piles of rubbish streaming across the ground, a stereo, blow up mattresses, perfectly good tents (not pop-up!) – debris of an unaware society.

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I returned home exhausted, but already formulating plans to put forward Green Kite Midnight as the Climate Camp house band next year – a celidh would really have set things off a treat. Until then there’s always the Big Green Gathering, where we’re house band for the Last Chance Saloon. Come see us there!
At Glastonbury when not navigating through guy ropes clutching half drunk bottles of cider with dirty shorts, order haystack hair and generally looking like I’ve emerged from the mountains, medicine I like to ‘do’ things. Last year, store I paid eight pounds to have an astrology reading, where I crouched goggle-eyed in a small tipi opposite a warm, smiling, apple-cheeked evil money-sucker who ethereally told me the biggest pack of lies you’ve ever heard.

Eight pounds! Not going back there, NO WAY JOSÉ! Given the size of Glastonbury, there are, of course, a multitude of ways to enjoy yourself in the most concrete and non-superstitious of manners – in fact, in the spirit of ‘Reclaiming Craft’ making something with my hands seemed the perfect antidote. On the Thursday Amelia’s Magazine floated on over to the Green Craft Fields where we found ourselves in a tent filled with lots of small drawing children. On the other side were some adults milling around a life model like no other. Life-drawing: a sensual sketching of the nude human physique? Less so if it’s an unshaven superhero clad in a spandex bodysuit and purple pants – and that’s Mr Spandex to you and I. So I got involved, producing a multi-angled ‘sketch-book’ of questionable quality that sadly got ruined when my tent turned out not to be waterproof, but while it’s destruction is in fact probably a blessing for the art world, I appreciate that such a catastrophe may have accidentally granted my artistic skills with an unearned aura of mystique.

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Chatting to the mistress of ceremonies Leanne afterwards, she told me a bit about R-ART, their creative collective based in East London. They are fusing ideas of art and fashion in an interactive and educational capacity, providing holiday workshops, after-school clubs and Saturday schools; all with a push towards sustainable making, free-thinking and responsibility that’s locking horns with that image of the pie-eyed child with a peanut-butter sandwich in one hand and a Nintendo controller in the other on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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Set up by Leanne and her friend Ita and developed with eco-entertainment company BASH Creations, they naturally play the big sister role to the kids, with a sole mandate to lighten the ecological footprint of the British entertainment industry and to teach them the heart behind the making of things with your own two hands. Given my own scribbling skills, I too belong at the children’s table, a bit like Jack out of that Robin Williams film (except not really, I do get ID’d a lot, so I don’t look that old. But I digress.)

One of their projects involved working with Nova Dando, constructing a couture gown out of old copies of the Financial Times, which again, in its trashionista spirit hammered home the process of recycling making and getting everyone involved – children doing couture! Great stuff.

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To get in touch and to find out their workshops and other upcoming projects, visit their website at www.r-art.co.uk, or e-mail Ita and Leanne at us2@r-art.co.uk. Look out for a report on how it all went down at Glastonbury for them too – if you too managed to swing by their tent let us here at Amelia’s Magazine know about it!

Categories ,Art, ,Children, ,Couture, ,Craft, ,East London, ,Fashion, ,Glastonbury, ,Life Drawing

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Preview: Rachel Freire

Nick25
Gemma Milly_Nicholas Stevenson
Illustration by Gemma Milly

Nicholas sent me his CD and tape, approved accompanied by a lovely letter about living and musing about in Bristol. One of my favourite pastimes – we may have been staring into the same middle distance…! Like a quill pen into my heart, recipe I am a sucker for a personal letter. Especially on such nice paper. After reading his scribe, I listened to Nicholas’s album: Phantom Sweetheart, available now on Hilldrop Records.

phantom sweetheart cover by nicholas stevenson
Album Cover, Phantom Sweetheart, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

It’s a splendid listen. Thoughtful and wistful. It’s like a less brash (blah). It has a Californian, surf sound, mixed with a smattering of New York – and the mighty UK. This mixture of locations is perhaps a reflection of Nicholas’s various home locations from birth. Since my initial listen, I now enjoy playing the album when I’m in my own little zone, cleaning. Because you could be anywhere. And if you don’t overly want to be where you are right now, there’s your ride. This interesting, sentimental man will take you away. Or indeed in my present case, scrub that flat ‘til in shines like the summer sun reflecting in my – prematurely purchased, cat eyed – sunnies. I miss you sun. I’d like to meet him to discuss travel, home, love and art. Oh yes, he’s an illustrator too. As Nicholas was so eloquent in his letter, I thought an interview would be perfect. So here it follows:

Nicholas Stevenson with phantom

Could you introduce yourself for us Nicholas…?
Hi there, my name is Nicholas Stevenson and I’m a songwriter and illustrator.

Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I currently reside in Cambridgeshire, but I was born in Scotland, lived on an island in the Seychelles for a while, and then moved back to England. I’m also half American so I sometimes have a confusing accent; it’s all a bit confusing actually. I usually give people fake biographies about growing up in the North Pole or being found in the wilderness to avoid explaining the complicated truth…

The Aeroplane Darling cover by Nicholas Stevenson
EP Cover, The Aeroplane Darling, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

How long have you been playing music? Could you describe it?
It would be hard to say when I started making music, but I found a tape of myself shouting a song I made about giraffes aged four the other day. The music in the shape it is now probably started about three years ago when I moved away to go to Art College. I had a band in high school that made fuzzy alt rock like the Smashing Pumpkins, but when we went our separate ways I started recording songs on my own in my room. It’s a sort of alt folk sound, with lots of layers, and a big emphasis on melodies.

How long have you been illustrating? Could you describe your style?
I’ve been drawing a lot longer than I’ve been making music, but I don’t think I could ever have considered myself an illustrator up until the last couple of years. I try to make work that’s fun, mysterious and occasionally a bit unsettling where possible.

chase in a sketchbook by Nicholas Stevenson
Chase In A Sketchbook, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Do you use your illustration and music to compliment/influence each other?
Most definitely. I think both of these activities really boil down to an urge for me to be story telling. Both my music and illustration usually revolves around some sort of implied narrative and it’s pretty common for a drawing to influence a lyric or vice versa.

What inspires your creativity, both re: music and illustration?
Cosmography, polar exploration, time travel, childhood, memory, feral children, miniature painting, amateurs and outsiders; a lot of things that I read about or places I visit. I try not to rule anything out as potential fodder for making stories and art about.

bayonets album sleeve
Bayonets Album Sleeve, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Have you ever had a ‘phantom’ sweetheart?
Well not a sweetheart per-se, but in the Seychelles I had two childhood ghost friends called Coco and Silent. Coco lived in a palm tree, and Silent lived on an abandoned ship. They were both only a foot tall, and wore white sheets with eyeholes, although I think Silent wore a baseball cap. The name ‘Phantom Sweetheart’ came about partly because all of my records have had terms of endearment in the name (Dearest Monstrous, The Aeroplane Darling) and I wanted this album to be really ghostly and spectral. Phantom Sweetheart just seemed to be the perfect title.

And what do you think about love and ‘being in love’ ? 
I think it’s a really nice special thing, I’m probably a bit of a softy and a romantic. It might seem like I’ve written a few songs from an anti-love position, but as Harvey Danger once said: “Happiness writes white”.

Have you been in love?
Oh yes mam.

hilldrop business card blank small
Hilldrop Business Cards, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Who else is in your band?
Dan Lewis plays the drums, Tom Harrington plays the bass guitar and glockenspiel whilst Oliver Wilde plays lead guitar.

When/how did you get together?
I met Dan and Tom in Hereford where I was studying at Art College. My manager Joe introduced us and we started arranging my songs and got performing almost straight away as a three piece. Oliver joined the band just last autumn. He not only signed me to his label Hilldrop Records, but he also produced and recorded the album with me in his house in Bristol. We worked really closely together on Phantom Sweetheart and Oliver had a big impact on the way those songs turned out. Of course by the end he knew how to play them all back to front and it seemed like a no-brainer that he should come out on tour with us.

And who is your record label, and how did you get signed?
Hilldrop Records are my label. I think they requested I send them some of my demos in the mail over a year ago. They liked what they heard and I played some gigs for them and we hit it off pretty fast, I started making posters for their shows too. We were all coming from a similar direction and they were interested in promoting art and building it in to the performances. We’d got to know each other reasonably well by the time we decided to sign a contract and make the album.

hilldrop cult 1300_1300
Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

What was it like going on tour? Did you get inspired?
It was a blast, definitely not glamorous, but great fun. Our car broke down on the way to a sold out show in Bakewell and we had to jettison half the gear and get a taxi. We arrived just in the nick of time with no drums or drummer, and played entirely unplugged to a wonderfully attentive packed room. We spent the night in a big old house; there were teddy bears in the beds. Bakewell is such an old fashioned and charming town (home to the bakewell tart) everyone was so kind and interesting there, it sort of inspired us to play more small places on tour. It doesn’t seem fair that the big cities get all the tour dates, where people can sometimes be so jaded towards the barrage of live music anyway.

Nick25

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully doing the same things I’m doing now, but more masterfully. I’m fully aware I have a long way to go and lots of room to grow before I’m satisfied… I just hope I’m fortunate enough to find time for it all.

What about now, what is coming up for you?
At the moment I’m working on a sort of audio zine project called ‘Dead Arm’. It’s going to be a series of cassette tapes, each with a different set of new songs and sounds. Its quite fun telling myself to sit down and make a continuous twenty-minute tape, rather than getting too hung up on individual songs; it makes me less precious and hopefully more inventive. I’m quite excited to see where it goes… 
You can buy Phantom Sweetheart, on Hilldrop Records, here.

Gemma Milly_Nicholas Stevenson
Illustration by Gemma Milly

Nicholas sent me his CD and tape, ailment accompanied by a lovely letter about living and musing about in Bristol. One of my favourite pastimes – we may have been staring into the same middle distance…! Like a quill pen into my heart, buy more about I am a sucker for a personal letter. Especially on such nice paper. After reading his scribe, I listened to Nicholas’s album: Phantom Sweetheart, available now on Hilldrop Records.

phantom sweetheart cover by nicholas stevenson
Album Cover, Phantom Sweetheart, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

It’s a splendid listen. Thoughtful and wistful. It’s like a less brash (blah). It has a Californian, surf sound, mixed with a smattering of New York – and the mighty UK. This mixture of locations is perhaps a reflection of Nicholas’s various home locations from birth. Since my initial listen, I now enjoy playing the album when I’m in my own little zone, cleaning. Because you could be anywhere. And if you don’t overly want to be where you are right now, there’s your ride. This interesting, sentimental man will take you away. Or indeed in my present case, scrub that flat ‘til in shines like the summer sun reflecting in my – prematurely purchased, cat eyed – sunnies. I miss you sun. I’d like to meet him to discuss travel, home, love and art. Oh yes, he’s an illustrator too. As Nicholas was so eloquent in his letter, I thought an interview would be perfect. So here it follows:

Nicholas Stevenson with phantom

Could you introduce yourself for us Nicholas…?
Hi there, my name is Nicholas Stevenson and I’m a songwriter and illustrator.

Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I currently reside in Cambridgeshire, but I was born in Scotland, lived on an island in the Seychelles for a while, and then moved back to England. I’m also half American so I sometimes have a confusing accent; it’s all a bit confusing actually. I usually give people fake biographies about growing up in the North Pole or being found in the wilderness to avoid explaining the complicated truth…

The Aeroplane Darling cover by Nicholas Stevenson
EP Cover, The Aeroplane Darling, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

How long have you been playing music? Could you describe it?
It would be hard to say when I started making music, but I found a tape of myself shouting a song I made about giraffes aged four the other day. The music in the shape it is now probably started about three years ago when I moved away to go to Art College. I had a band in high school that made fuzzy alt rock like the Smashing Pumpkins, but when we went our separate ways I started recording songs on my own in my room. It’s a sort of alt folk sound, with lots of layers, and a big emphasis on melodies.

How long have you been illustrating? Could you describe your style?
I’ve been drawing a lot longer than I’ve been making music, but I don’t think I could ever have considered myself an illustrator up until the last couple of years. I try to make work that’s fun, mysterious and occasionally a bit unsettling where possible.

chase in a sketchbook by Nicholas Stevenson
Chase In A Sketchbook, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Do you use your illustration and music to compliment/influence each other?
Most definitely. I think both of these activities really boil down to an urge for me to be story telling. Both my music and illustration usually revolves around some sort of implied narrative and it’s pretty common for a drawing to influence a lyric or vice versa.

What inspires your creativity, both re: music and illustration?
Cosmography, polar exploration, time travel, childhood, memory, feral children, miniature painting, amateurs and outsiders; a lot of things that I read about or places I visit. I try not to rule anything out as potential fodder for making stories and art about.

bayonets album sleeve
Bayonets Album Sleeve, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Have you ever had a ‘phantom’ sweetheart?
Well not a sweetheart per-se, but in the Seychelles I had two childhood ghost friends called Coco and Silent. Coco lived in a palm tree, and Silent lived on an abandoned ship. They were both only a foot tall, and wore white sheets with eyeholes, although I think Silent wore a baseball cap. The name ‘Phantom Sweetheart’ came about partly because all of my records have had terms of endearment in the name (Dearest Monstrous, The Aeroplane Darling) and I wanted this album to be really ghostly and spectral. Phantom Sweetheart just seemed to be the perfect title.

And what do you think about love and ‘being in love’ ? 
I think it’s a really nice special thing, I’m probably a bit of a softy and a romantic. It might seem like I’ve written a few songs from an anti-love position, but as Harvey Danger once said: “Happiness writes white”.

Have you been in love?
Oh yes mam.

hilldrop business card blank small
Hilldrop Business Cards, Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

Who else is in your band?
Dan Lewis plays the drums, Tom Harrington plays the bass guitar and glockenspiel whilst Oliver Wilde plays lead guitar.

When/how did you get together?
I met Dan and Tom in Hereford where I was studying at Art College. My manager Joe introduced us and we started arranging my songs and got performing almost straight away as a three piece. Oliver joined the band just last autumn. He not only signed me to his label Hilldrop Records, but he also produced and recorded the album with me in his house in Bristol. We worked really closely together on Phantom Sweetheart and Oliver had a big impact on the way those songs turned out. Of course by the end he knew how to play them all back to front and it seemed like a no-brainer that he should come out on tour with us.

And who is your record label, and how did you get signed?
Hilldrop Records are my label. I think they requested I send them some of my demos in the mail over a year ago. They liked what they heard and I played some gigs for them and we hit it off pretty fast, I started making posters for their shows too. We were all coming from a similar direction and they were interested in promoting art and building it in to the performances. We’d got to know each other reasonably well by the time we decided to sign a contract and make the album.

hilldrop cult 1300_1300
Illustration by Nicholas Stevenson

What was it like going on tour? Did you get inspired?
It was a blast, definitely not glamorous, but great fun. Our car broke down on the way to a sold out show in Bakewell and we had to jettison half the gear and get a taxi. We arrived just in the nick of time with no drums or drummer, and played entirely unplugged to a wonderfully attentive packed room. We spent the night in a big old house; there were teddy bears in the beds. Bakewell is such an old fashioned and charming town (home to the bakewell tart) everyone was so kind and interesting there, it sort of inspired us to play more small places on tour. It doesn’t seem fair that the big cities get all the tour dates, where people can sometimes be so jaded towards the barrage of live music anyway.

Nick25

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully doing the same things I’m doing now, but more masterfully. I’m fully aware I have a long way to go and lots of room to grow before I’m satisfied… I just hope I’m fortunate enough to find time for it all.

What about now, what is coming up for you?
At the moment I’m working on a sort of audio zine project called ‘Dead Arm’. It’s going to be a series of cassette tapes, each with a different set of new songs and sounds. Its quite fun telling myself to sit down and make a continuous twenty-minute tape, rather than getting too hung up on individual songs; it makes me less precious and hopefully more inventive. I’m quite excited to see where it goes… 
You can buy Phantom Sweetheart, on Hilldrop Records, here.


Rachel Freire S/S 2011, site illustrated by Krister Selin

‘I’m terrible at interviews’ I announce shortly after arriving at Rachel Freire‘s East London studio. A bit of a melodramatic introduction, viagra 60mg maybe; but as I now sit staring at my notes which resemble the scribbles of a toddler I now know why I said it.

My trouble is that I just like to listen to people. I get lost in conversation and forget to write anything down. I refuse to record interviews because I hate the sound of my own voice and I find it a bit of a distraction, viagra sale so my erratic notes are all I have to record our meeting. Sometimes, if I meet up with somebody and they don’t say much, I can manage it; when I meet people like Rachel Freire – gorgeous, mesmerising, opinionated, articulate – I’m left with nothing.


A/W 2010, illustrated by Abby Wright

Rachel is based at the Dace Road studios, home also to the likes of Christopher Raeburn (featured in ACOFI) and Rui Leonardes. Ex-tennants include Mark Fast and Mary Kantrantzou who’ve now moved to Shacklewell Studios, aka hipster central, but despite her successes, Rachel’s staying put. I meet her on a grey Saturday afternoon, she’s been up for most of the night, but you wouldn’t notice despite her protests.

”Whoever says January is a dead month is LYING!’ Rachel exclaims as she makes the tea. I do find that I get on better with people who drink lots of tea. I just don’t trust people who don’t like it. I know, as she gives them a stir, that we’re going to get along. We sit at a big oak desk in the centre of the studio, Rachel lights a cigarette and we begin our conversation. I ask Rachel how it’s going, and she seems pretty positive. She has an army of interns and creates ‘a sense of family’ in her studio, which is adorned with all sorts of interesting antiquities like skulls and baseball paraphernalia. A sign above the door, Rachel’s mantra, reads ‘IF IN DOUBT, SPRAYPAINT IT GOLD,’ a statement I wholeheartedly agree with.


A/W 2010, illustrated by Naomi Law

Rachel brands herself as a ‘costumier’ who happened to fall into fashion, which explains her unique and innovative approach to dressing. ‘I’ll never lose track of my costumier routes,’ she tells me, ‘I’m pretty anti-fashion. It dictates what we wear and how we feel, and I’ve never subscribed to that.’ Her models ‘need to have an arse’ and she’s conscious of the responsibility a fashion designer must adopt, whether that be ethical or environmental. ‘I am the cheapest person!’ Rachel admits, ‘but I will never shop in Primark. I look at the clothes and think ‘somebody suffered for this’. I want customers to hold things knowing somebody’s crafted it – that something is special.’


S/S 2011, illustrated by Gemma Milly

Rachel won’t compromise. She’s staying true to herself and won’t put her name on anything that she hasn’t rigourously vetted and knows exactly where everything has come from. Rachel is as much an ethical designer as any of the Estethica designers – if not more so. She values the work of other people and believes that you ‘have to be ethical in so many different ways’. How you treat your interns, where you source your fabrics, how you communicate with suppliers – all these things, Rachel believes, are necessary for good business, not just opting for ethical fabrics.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Bex Glover

Rachel’s previous collections provide sculptural, architectural pieces with innovative techniques (read all about her glow-in-the-dark S/S 2011 collection here) and it seems A/W 2011 will be even more exciting. As we chat about the boy Rachel’s texting and get mixed up with whose tea is whose (easy mistake – Rachel’s recently got a new mug but the Queen of Fucking Everything option she’s given me still has sentimental value) we’re surrounded by leather nipples. REAL nipples.

Rachel and her team of merry men (and women) have been hard at work in the previous weeks to marry them together to make roses. They’re absolutely beautiful to touch and look at but there’s something rather unsettling about them. ‘That’s my aesthetic!’ Rachel declares.

A sneak peek at some of the fabrics, techniques and colours Rachel’s preparing to show this week:


A/W 2010, illustrated by Joana Faria

Rachel’s also working with Ecco, who are developing processes for leather manufacturing for couture houses. Rachel has devoted a lot of her time visiting the Netherlands tannery working alongside them in their quest to transform how we produce and approach leather goods. ‘I’m obsessed with materials!’ Rachel tells me. ‘It’s much nicer to make a jacket out of something that you’ve had an input in from the start.’ She shows me a new process she’s working on (damned if I can remember the name) which gives leather an ethereal ripple-like pattern that looks as if it’s been photoshopped. I’m speechless, and we both sit caressing it for a while until I can think of something to say.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova

So what’s up next for Rachel? Well, A/W 2011 looks set to be her bravest collection yet, and I had a sneak peek at some of the fabrics, textures, techniques and cuts she’s working on. On a grander scale, she ‘loves to teach’ and wants to establish a system where the efforts of designers to instil good practises and skills into their army of interns is recognised. She describes mainstay teaching as ‘box ticking’ and, as someone whose never done what she was told to do, feels there’s more to give in a studio-based environment than anything in the classroom. I hear ya, love.

Rachel’s excited about the future. She plans to dazzle once a year at the A/W 2011 shows while maintaining commissions with an ever-expanding roster of clients and other projects during the rest of the year. She also wants to live on a boat and explore costume design in cinema. She references Jean Paul Gaultier‘s work on flicks like The Fifth Element and is excited by the prospect of applying her unique aesthetic to film. It all comes down to financing. ‘Money dictates and creates a standard,’ Rachel tells me. ‘The system to support new designers is very small, but I won’t compromise my values. I’m here to stay.’

I should bloody hope so.

Rachel’s original draqing for her collaboration with Neurotica:

All photography by Matt Bramford

Categories ,A/W 2011, ,Abby Wright, ,Bloody Gray, ,Christopher Raeburn, ,Dace Road studios, ,East London, ,Ecco, ,estethica, ,Fifth Element, ,Gemma Milly, ,Gold, ,Jean Paul Gaultier, ,Joana Faria, ,Krister Selin, ,London Fashion Week, ,Mark Fast, ,Mary Kantrantzou, ,Naomi Law, ,Netherlands, ,Nipples, ,Rachel Freire, ,Rui Leonardes, ,Yelena Bryksenkova

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashioning an Ethical Industry: A Two Day Conference

It was a bittersweet moment for Fashioning an Ethical Industry supporters last month as they invited educators, information pills students, sales designers, labour activists and business thinkers to join them at RichMix in East London for a well-attended workshop on sustainable fashion. The project is now at the end of its three year funding term and hosted this two day conference in order to explore what fashion educators can do to inspire future designers to assume responsibility for the workers involved in the creation of their clothes; recognising that their job as educators is to equip students with the tools to design ethically-conscious clothes. 

Funded by Labor Behind The Label, the FEI works with tutors and students through the help of guest speakers worldwide to give an overview of how the industry works, from the moment a seed for fibre is sown to the time it reaches the shops. The life cycle of clothing, or any other product, has become more transparent as consumers become better informed, but every inch of that process and its effects need to be considered. 

The workshop opened with an exercise aimed to give the participant an idea of what it’s like to work in a factory, with patterning and cutting assignments being distributed and a meet-your-neighbour workplace atmosphere. The result: a cute little paper dress shirt.  We were then introduced to guest speaker and self-proclaimed haute-couture heretic Otto Von Busch who is known for ‘critically hacking and re-forming the operating system of fashion and the industrial modes of production.’ A tall slender Swede in tight all-black industrial chic, his brilliant ideas and hot designs had everyone wanting more. Much has been said about the importance of community in structuring our efforts in sustainability as well as managing labour rights in this Big Bang thrust of global production. And to this, Otto’s ‘Neighborhoodies’ project plants one right on its chin. Otto explains, “Your neighborhood has an impact on your stride, your gestures, your actions – the tacit signals of your body techniques. how do you dress for your hood and how does it dress you?”

So participants are invited to reflect their neighborhood through an image that’s then printed onto fabric and made into a specially designed hoodie – a ‘neighborhoodie’ as he calls them. A source of super cool ideas and an warp-speed thinker, he was certainly the highlight of the day.
But before we get ahead of ourselves the focus of this conference was to address the issues that designers rarely even see. The rights and conditions of those gathering the materials; the producers of the textiles; the garment manufacturer, and even those shipping the goods; not to mention of course the effects on the environment at each stage. It’s enough to make your head spin! People in the audience, clearly willing but at times confused asked how they were supposed to keep track of certifications, like labels we encounter on food, and know the difference between ethically/sustainably produced/sourced and all their variations. The panel offered some advice, “Focus on one thing, like materials, labour, factories. We do need a lexicon but having a universal label opens it up to panacea.” Excellent advice for those who find it all a bit overwhelming. 

Throughout the day we heard from labour rights activists such as Anannya Bhattacharjee, whose organization Asia Floor Wage Campaign is involved in the complex business of unifying, representing and demanding a universal minimum wage for workers throughout Asia. Progress has been made as brands like M&S are now mediating and influencing factories to implement a fair wage because, as she puts it,”the supplier market and government shouldn’t have to.” Therefore, we need to make sure brand leaders of the future understand the leverage they possess and make use of it properly. Check out her film here.

Another point that often arises in these multifacted overhauls is ‘who’s checking to make sure everyone is doing what they say they’re doing?’ Sophie Koers from the Fair Wear Foundation who monitors the workers’ environments explains, “Fair trade focuses on the workers of raw materials, we want to focus on the factories. We’re governed by NGOs, trade unions and business associations which keeps us credible and independent. Even though they announce their audits they conduct off-site interviews the week before, collect info and call them later to see what factory managers might have falsified.”

Nieves Ruiz Ramos used to work, tirelessly though well-compensated, for high street brands for years until she realized the effects of the consumerism she was supporting and started her own fair trade fashion label Bibico. Working closely with women’s cooperatives in Nepal and India she encourages us to consider the value in getting close to your suppliers and personalizing the process. The name ‘bibi’ was her childhood nickname and also a hindi word used to respectfully refer to women. 

At the other end of the world, as well as the fashioin food chain, Alex McIntosh from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion explained how his organization supports fashion businesses by addressing how their aesthetics interact with their ethics. Often, he says, they deal with young designers whose work was not born with an interest in ethical fashion but can elevate and help power the movement with the help of the centre’s research and curriculum. 

A lovely little play, first performed in 1908, named Warp and Woof: Food for Thought perked everyone up from a long day of information overload. Adapted by Dr.Clare Rose it was a period-piece peeking into the world of labour rights auditors in early 1900 London and served to drive the point home in a way videos of far off regions could not. 

The second day of the event was rounded off with a panel discussion of authors and editors on the sustainable fashion shelves, titles such as ‘Eco-Chic: The Savvy Shoppers Guide To Ethical Fashion‘ by Matilda Lee and ‘Eco-Chic:The Fashion Paradox‘ written by Sandy Black, were available to leaf through. In addition to books, guests took advantage of the chance to engage speakers of particular interest, such as Annie Dibble on the Himalayan giant nettle’s incredible fibre yielding properties and the Rai women who cultivate it, or the Pechakucha style presentations by Carolina Gomez-Auber on her project ‘Social Alterations‘ in El Salvador, which aims to reappropriate waste in an effort to save cultural craft skills from extinction. Dimitra Giannopolou’s project ‘Tell Teens Tales’ addresses how to reach marketing-weary teenage girls with the message about sustainability through fairy tales. Check out her video, too.

 And so dynamic discussions were popping off left and right, numbers and emails were exchanged and the seeds of future collaborations were planted. It was reassuring to see, after hours of discussion on topics of such gravity and scope, that furrowed brows gave way to a broader perspective and, finally, optimism.

Is sustainable fashion an oxymoron? Read more here.

Categories ,Asia Floor Wage Campaign, ,Bibico, ,Centre for Sustainable Fashion, ,Communities, ,East London, ,Enviroment, ,Fair Wear Foundation, ,Fashioning an Ethical Industry, ,FEI, ,India, ,Labour, ,Labour behind the Label, ,LCF, ,Matilda Lee, ,Neighbourhoodies, ,Nepal, ,Nieves Ruiz Ramos, ,Otto VOn Busch, ,Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, ,Sandy Black, ,Sutstainability, ,Tell Teens Tales

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Amelia’s Magazine | Graduate Fashion Week 2010: East London


Alice Early, approved from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, skip and a jump from the capital, but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.

Alice Early, pills from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, and skip and a jump from the capital, cheapest but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.


Alice Early, sickness from her graduate work

Kingston University might be a hop, order skip and a jump from the capital, viagra sale but the 2010 fashion graduates aren’t letting a little thing like distance stop them from becoming real contenders in the fashion stakes. I went along to Graduate Fashion Week to find out just what the noise from the suburbs is all about. 

Standing at the front of the cavernous Earl’s Court 2 arena, River Island’s Graduate Fashion Week sings it’s assault on the senses, a holding pen for the designers of the future. Bright lights, pumping music and hundreds of discerning fashion devotees mill around institutes’ stands; groups form and disperse, giggle and buzz through the milieu. ‘I like her shoes, I wonder if that’s a wig, isn’t that Vivienne Westwood?!’

Amongst the activity, a stand glows at the front, a beacon of minimalist beauty: welcome to Kingston. 

Representative students are dressed in clean black t-shirts, hints of their individuality breaking through with a slick of lipstick or a quiff set just-so. White stands display student portfolios. The monochrome serenity of Kingston’s presentation is impressively slick, but I am struck by how, behind the blank white covers, the students’ portfolios come alive with a turn of the page. Illustrations of every kind dance like flickbook figures running across the paper, the minute but ornate versions of the catwalk to come. Pocketing an equally gorgeous guide to the designs to be shown, I’m soon heading off to Kingston’s prime time catwalk slot, seated just in time for the lights to go down. 


Live front row illustration by Lauren Macaulay

Alice Early’s designs make for a grand debut with her exploration into the craft of tailoring; rounded cape shoulders and flowing dresses enhance the silhouette of the slinky models, but leather tops and soft, wearable tailoring on high waisted trousers show Early has been paying attention to the direction of fashion today. Baby blues and smattering of peacock prints add a subtle femininity that appears in drops across Kingston’s show.

Sophie Hudspith’s rose and teal sheer knitwear seems to play under the lights of the catwalk, a fine lattice intricately woven together. Meanwhile, Lucy Hammond takes to the other end of the feminine spectrum with her tongue-in-cheek girl about town sweaters pronouncing ‘I Love Knitting, I’m not Shitting’. If Dennis the Menace can put up with her potty mouth he’d love Hammond’s knit’n’purl girl decked in red and black stripes and oversize, floorlength scarfs inspired by the work of Sonya Rykiel.

Nathalie Tunna showcases some of my favourite designs of the show in cute, round shoulder dresses, completed by a zesty palette of pastels. The lines of her garments have an exactness befitting of Jackie O, but a playfulness is inherent in the accessories as leather trim backpacks and printed holdalls make an appearance.    

For an institute hitting so many marks, it’s odd that 21 year old knitwear Zac Marshall should announce that he likes ‘getting it wrong’. But experimentation and an exploration into deconstruction and altering panelling have left Marshall with a wrong-and-yet-so-right collection of menswear. The audience could barely take their eyes off their cute, hand-knitted creatures adorning the jumpers, but clever twists on tailoring meant Marshall’s clothes are more than just fancy dress costumes.

David Stoneman-Merret’s garments share a sense of hyperactive jumper joy (you know the joy, when you find that amazing jumper with a teddy bear eating a cheeseburger on it in a charity shop for a pound), with pixelated digital prints of flowers and his Nan in a Christmas hat. Her death two years ago inspired an exploration into the garments worn by the elderly and the darker realms of dementia, but David is adamant that his Nan would be jumping for joy too: ‘She would have loved the attention- she’d be telling everyone ‘That’s me on that top!’ I’d have to agree with Nanny Stoneman Merret, appearing on such odd but strangely entrancing garments is an accolade to be proud of. 

Naama Rietti sends models down the catwalk with breathtaking, contorted knitted headwear and matching neck pieces. They twist and come to life as faces emerge from their fabric as a bestial addition to a collection scattered with snakeskin prints and rich blue furs coats.

Angharad Probert’s lust for large scale ‘Where the Wild Things Are‘ style fur creations is evident as models strut to a hypnotic, trendy beat; the large collars and dip-dye effect rustling to the rhythm. Sheepskin and fur headpieces hint at mohicans and transform the catwalk into a beautiful Darwinian manifestation, complete with extra details such as razor sharp teeth adorning leggings. Panelling slits reveal gasps of skin on a knee or shoulder, the armour of the modern warrior woman.

Zheng Zeng mixes up the female shape with contours etched into the patterns, dipping and diving over the curves of the body and ballooning on the shoulders like a superhero. 
The final two showings cross polar opposites in fashion but bring the show to a fantastic finale. First Vivian Wong shows her deconstructed business suits – parts removed, ripped up and replaced. Wong creates entirely new shapes on the body; a lapel is moved and a neckline becomes a triangle, or a collar hangs glibly down. In a comment on the recent MP expenses scandal, Wong is asking her audience what it means to have a rule or a uniform broken down, taken back to the drawing board and reimagined in a new way. Her suits conjure glimpses of the 1980s power woman but distinct lines on the body and luxury greys and browns bring the look up to date.

Finally, Harriet de Roeper closes the show in style, as her moody, androgynous suits are paired with Dr. Martens, in an homage to the anarchy of Lord of the Flies. Flies stamp the exterior of her suits in spludges and splashes, a sense of chaos that jars against the formality of button up collars and polo necks. 

As the last model trails off the catwalk, I’m struck by the maturity inherent in much of Kingston’s work. Whilst fashion inspiration can be tenuous and at times somewhat off the mark, the Surrey fashion gang have certainly been doing something right. Collections express a clear and solid direction. For a class that draws so much inspiration from rebellion against tradition, it would be promising to see the next students amp up the risks a little more, but you can’t complain about a graduate collection that is making this writer head off for some serious talks with her bank manager.


Live illustration of the UEL front row, doctor by Lauren Macaulay

Kicking off Graduate Fashion week, search the East London Show was a blend of slick, commercially-minded pieces, and the challenging designs this pocket of London is famed for. From the glossy brochure showcasing the class of 2010, to several wearable, beautifully crafted collections, it could quite easily have been a commercial catwalk show.
 
Several collections chimed with existing trends – Charlotte Macke’s black moulded felt and macramé dresses, with accessories draped with chain-mail, were a reminder of the ‘urban warrior’ we have seen marching catwalks for a few seasons, and there were countless versions of the nineties body con, maxi length and minimalist aesthetic that Louise Goldin and Marios Schwab have played with.  

Equally easy on the eye was Jane Branco’s “Kiss Me Deadly” collection of draped, soft-toned silk-jersey dresses, and Queesra Abbas Dad’s upmarket traveller, with models wrapped up in fur hats, camel coats, brocade trousers and matching suitcases, off on an exotic expedition. Both collections wouldn’t have looked out of place on a luxury label’s shop floor.  

But you come to a graduate show expecting fresh blood, and there were plenty of students who brought the East London edge.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Bunmi Olayi’s ‘Matriarchy’ collection went for the warrior vibe, but with striking results. Inspired by the Ekpe ‘leopard masquerade’, a women-only cult in pre-colonial Nigeria, and Scottish missionary Mary Slessor (a revolutionary figure in the Victorian age) Olaye’s designs were a fierce combination of the tribal and traditional. Models stormed down the catwalk with sticks topped with pom-poms, and feathered masks and headdresses, their bodies clad in a sharp Victorian silhouette. This was playful power dressing, with well-tailored jackets, balloon sleeves, and a sweet skirt suit in burnt ochre and deep red, adorned with raffia, bells and beads, and cartoonish giant pom-poms.  

Another stand-out name was Johanna Greenish. ‘Unfold’, a collection of simple, exquisitely crafted monochrome pieces, explores “the effect of folding and unfolding fabric”. Layers of rough, unfinished materials were manipulated into geometric shapes, and origami-like creations were toughened up with leather accents – from a leather dress with a paper-thin collar, to rippling skirts paired with thick leather belts. The star of the show was a top that unfolded in two different directions, creating a ‘concertina’ on the model’s chest.  

Uniform across the collections was the attention to detail –with eye-catching accessories just as exciting as the clothes. Diana Gevorgian’s collection of black leather suits and sheer organza shirts were inspired by “metal roosters bought from a car boot sale”, evident in the metal decorations of feathers adorning everything from leather gloves to the avant-garde shoes.  

“The starting point was a photograph of nuns smoking”. Hard to believe, but Stephanie Hemphill’s collection of short, cobalt wool dresses, grey hooded tops and latex peekaboo layers were a contemporary take on the nun’s habit. We doubt you’ll be seeing these designs down a convent anytime soon, but Hemphill’s clean, futuristic designs were some of my favourites in the show.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Also worth a mention was Anna Grzegorczyk’s “Patterns of the Earth”, a rustic range of cocoon shaped dresses, paired with thick wooden sandals, and clunky jewelry. Inspired by “trips to Scandinavian countries” and “the beauty and harshness of Norwegian Fjords”, each dress had an organic feel, with hand-dyed fabrics, and soft romantic shapes. Each garmet was decorated with ripples and cracks from a book of natural patterns, and whilst the shapes weren’t particularly adventurous, they billowed around the frame beautifully.  

In a show of strong, ‘warrior’ inspired shapes, strong colours and heavy embellishment, Grzegorczyk’s pared-down palette and natural aesthetic was rather refreshing.


Live catwalk illustrations by Lauren Macaulay

Images courtesy of catwalking.com

Categories ,Anna Grzegorcyzk, ,Bunmi Olaye, ,Charlotte Macke, ,Diana Gevorgian, ,Earls Court, ,East London, ,Graduate Fashion Week 2010, ,Jane Branco, ,Johanna Greenish, ,london, ,Louise Goldin, ,Marios Schwab, ,Mary Slessor, ,Missionary, ,Nigeria, ,Nuns, ,pom-poms, ,Queesra Abbas Dad, ,scotland, ,Stephanie Hemphill, ,UEL, ,urban, ,Victorian, ,Warrior

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Amelia’s Magazine | Graduate Fashion Week: Day 1, University of East London

This Saturday, information pills pill The Land Is Ours collective will occupy some disused land near Hammersmith. An eco-village will take root, viagra sale peacefully reclaiming land for a sustainable settlement, and getting in touch with the local community about its aims. In a year when nearly 13,000 Britons lost their homes to repossessions in the first three months, eco-villages point the way to a more down-to-earth lifestyle.

Back in May 1996, the same collective took over a spot on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth, in a land rights action that grew up over five and a half months into the Pure Genius community, based on sustainable living and protesting the misuse of urban land. Here are some photos from that project.

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The Land Is Ours channel the spirit of the Diggers , a group of 17-century radicals who picked out and dug over a patch of common land in St George’s Hill in Walton-upon-Thames back in the day. They were led by Gerard Winstanley, who thought any freedom must come from free access to the land.

Here’s a little more from ‘Gerard Winstanley’ about this weekend:

What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?
Have a meeting. One of the first priorities is to leaflet the local area in order to inform the local people of what we are doing. Another priority is the construction of compost toilets.

Do you have lots of plans for sheds, vegetable patches and compost toilets?

Yes. Due to the nature of the site (ex-industrial) we will likely be using raised beds to grow vegetables and buckets for potatoes. It being London, there should be a good supply of thrown away materials from building sites and in skips. Compost toilets are pretty essential.

?What kinds of people are you expecting to turn up?
All sorts. Hopefully a mixture of those keen to learn and those willing to teach. ??

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?I read the Chapter 7 manifesto. Have you notified the council or planning authority of your plans, or are you keeping to the idea that once you’re there, with homes under construction, it’s difficult to evict?
We haven’t notified the council yet- but we have a liaison strategy in place for when we’re in.

On that note, how long do you hope to be there?
The longevity of the Eco-village depends on how committed its residences and just as crucially how the local urban populus respond to our presence. If we receive the support we need, the council will likely think twice before embarking on an unpopular eviction (at least that’s the theory!).

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Could this realistically become a permanent residence, or is it more likely to be valuable simply as campaigning?
Hopefully it can be both. There is no reason why this site cannot sustain a core group of committed individuals and serve as a brilliant awareness raiser to the issue of disused urban land, lack of affordable housing and the a sustainable way of living that is friendly to people and planet and liberating.

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?Can I come along?
Of course, we are meeting at Waterloo Station at 10AM this Saturday (underneath the clock).

What might I need to do?
Bring a tent, sleeping bag and some food and water. You may be interested to read an article written by a journalist from the Guardian concerning the eco-village.

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So dig yourself out of bed this Saturday, and go discover the beginnings of London’s newest eco-village.
If the dark shades of under-duvet hideouts dominate the colour of your Sundays then you need to wake up and get greened. Arcola Theatre in East London hopes to be the first carbon neutral theatre in the world and has been appointed as the secretariat for the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre plan, this which aims to deliver 60 percent cuts in theatre carbon emissions by 2025.

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Illustration by Faye Katirai

As part of this environmental drive, the first Sunday of every month is a Green Sunday at Arcola Theatre. June’s event is part of Love London, the biggest green festival in Europe and looks at ethical consumption, promising ‘entertainment and inspiration for the ecologically curious’. From 3pm there’s a swap shop market plus cakes and tea to take you through the evening of Senegalese percussion, cool short and feature-length films, starting from 4.30pm. As the afternoon turns to evening, there will be a discussion with Neil Boorman, author of Bonfire Of The Brands, an account of his journey from shopping and brand addiction to a life free from labels. As part of the project, Neil destroyed every branded product in his possession, incinerating over £20,000 worth of designer gear in protest of consumer culture. This will be chaired by Morgan Phillips.

Neil and Morgan will later be joined by Richard King from Oxfam to talk about their 4-a-week campaign- encouraging shoppers to do their bit for sustainability each week.

Then at 7pm – Feature length film presented by Transition Town Hackney
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

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I spoke to the sustainability projects manager at Arcola Theatre, Anna Beech, to find out more about Arcola’s arts world-changing philosophies:

All at Arcola must be extremely proud that a theatre founded only 9 years ago – and on credit cards! – is well on the way to becoming the first carbon neutral theatre in the world. Can you tell us a bit about how and why you made the decision to lead the green theatre movement?

Since 2007, Arcola has launched many high-profile green initiatives (including the pioneering use of LEDs and the on-site installation of a fuel cell to power bar and stage lighting). There are a number of reasons for this – because it contributes to reducing Arcola’s carbon emissions and resource use, because it makes financial sense – reducing energy bills; because it supports funding applications; because it integrates Arcola into the local community; allows Arcola to reach a wider audience and stakeholder base; and provides an effective platform upon which to publicise the name ‘Arcola’ – as a hub of creativity and sustainability.

Sustainability is part of Arcola’s core unique business model, alongside professional theatre and our youth and community programme.

Have you found that arts and science professionals are eager to integrate and come up with exciting ideas and actions or has it been difficult to bring the two fields together?

Arcola’s ArcolaEnergy has had considerable interest from technology companies and brokers, including the Carbon Trust. As a reocgnised innovator in sustainability in the arts, Arcola has been able to broker extremely advantageous relationships with private sector companies – who have provided the theatre with free green products, including LED lights – as well as other theatres and arts organisations (National Theatre, Arts Council, Live Nation, The Theatres Trust), and Government bodies like the DCMS and Mayor of London’s Office. Arcola’s reputation as a sustainable charity has created these partnerships and allowed them to grow and develop into mutually advantageous relationships. So this demonstrates that the arts and sustainability worlds can come together to form mutually advanteous relationships. However, there is plenty of work to be done.

So far, what has been the most successful pioneering energy practice you’ve introduced?

The installation of Arcola’s fuel cell in February 2008 made the venue the first theatre in the world to power its main house shows and bar/café on hydrogen. The Living Unknown Soldier gained reverence as London’s most ecologically sustainable show, with the lighting at a peak power consumption of 4.5kW, a reduction of 60 per cent on comparable theatre lighting installations.

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Previous Green Sunday events at the Arcola Theatre

Arcola’s ‘greening’ goes from the stage to the box office. Among other things, we produce ‘green’ newsletters for staff, we recycle, we provide free tap water to audiences (to lessen use of bottled water), we serve fairtrade, organic and local produce wherever possible (including organic vodka and whiskey!), we host Transition Town meetings, we installed a cycle enclosure for staff in 2009 and try to incentivise both staff and audiences to use public transport more and their cars less.

How do you think the technical creativity of sustainability has significantly shaped any of the plays Arcola has produced?

One example of the ‘greening’ of Arcola’s shows and working closely with production companies took place during the pre-production and staging of ‘Living Unknown Soldier‘ in 2008. The production explored the use of more energy efficient lanterns, including LED moving heads and batons (see Fig. 1) florescent tubes and some other filament lanterns such as low wattage source 4′s and par 16s. The crew tried to travel by public transport wherever possible, use laptops rather than PCs, limit phone use, source sustainable materials and managed to keep energy requirements low in order to use Arcola’s fuel cell to power the show.

‘‘The idea is that once you expose people to this stuff and they know you for doing it, they’ll gravitate towards you. Ultimately we should end up with some really good art about sustainability and some really good ideas about how to do art sustainably.” – Ben Todd, Executive Director and Founder of Arcola Energy.

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Illustration by David Elsley

Why do you think its particularly important for the arts to become more involved in green issues?

Because the arts have the power to influence behaviour change. Whilst the theatre industry itself has a relatively small carbon footprint (2% of total carbon emissions in London), and thus its capacity to deliver direct carbon emission reductions is relatively small; the power of theatre and the wider arts/cultural sectors to rapidly and effectively influence public behaviour and policy makers to drive significant indirect carbon emission reductions is very large (entertainment related activity accounts for up to 40% of travel emissions).

However, theatres and other arts venues must first address the ‘greening’ of their venues and practices in order to communicate climate change and environmental messages to audiences effectively and with impact.

Green Sundays is a great idea, how do you hope to see it develop in the future months?

We have a variety of themes in mind for future events, including a focus on the climate talks in Copenhagen in December, a water theme, ethical business, natural history and a Green Sunday programme tailored to children and young people.

So get over your hangover, get on your bike and cycle down to Dalston on Sunday to help spread the word about arts and sustainability coming together to communicate environmental messages to your local community.

To find out more about Green Sundays and the Arcola Theatre go to:

www.arcolatheatre.com
Continuing our odyssey of festival previews, page I bring you the amazing Green Man!

I don’t keep it secret that I’ve had a crush on Jarvis Cocker since I was 10 and first heard Common People, I suppose announcing it on a blog was just the next logical step in my snowballing lust for the bespectacled one. Imagine my delight when I saw he was headlining as a solo outfit at this year’s Green Man Festival.

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Green Man 2006

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Jarvis Cocker

All the other festivals will be green with envy over Green Man’s line-up, one of the most exciting and diverse of the summer. Alongside Jarv, Animal Collective will also be headlining and having seen them a couple of times over the past few years they are really not to be missed live, their shows can only be described as being in an underwater topsy-turvy world where you can feel the rhythm wash over you in waves.

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Animal Collective

Green Man is in no short supply of indie darlings and big names, with Wilco, Bon Iver, Gang Gang Dance, the delicious Beach House and Grizzly Bear; who I’m gagging to see live after finally getting a copy of their amazing second album Veckatimest. Not to be transatlantically out down; Green Man boasts an impressive array of home-grown talent- including Four-Tet, national treasures British Sea Power, and to woo the romantic in you; Camera Obscura.
Ex- member of my favourites Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki Euros Childs, Andrew Bird, 6 Day Riot and James Yuill also stand out as bands (as well as the above mentioned) not to be missed.

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Beach House

Whilst Green Man has managed to pull in such an awesome line-up, it has a reputation for a boutique-y intimacy and a friendly atmosphere. Green Man is most definitely a festival for music lovers, and one that I won’t be missing!

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Green Man Festival 2007

Green Man Festival takes place amidst the Breacon Beacons from 21st to 23rd August. Click here for ticket information.

Thumbnail by Roisin Conway
Some people have the knack for discovering those amazing pieces in charity shops – it’s generally the preserve of both the patient and the fashion-savvy who are content to rummage away until they emerge with some designer find that leaves you flapping your arms and wondering why it wasn’t you.
Now ten minutes in Topshop – that’s a quick fix. Why bother buying something old when you can buy something new? If last week’s Style Wars was only a half-formed idea, generic intent to float and suggest a concept, but not to follow through, TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) has articulated the remaking and reselling of used clothes as an ethical necessity. Citing the whopping £46 billion spent on clothes and accessories every year, TRAID highlights the colossal wastage resultant of constantly changing trends that are both cheap and easily available. The ease of shopping on the high street seems to problematise the feeling that the act of recycling is an almost paradoxical idea for an industry that is by name and nature grounded in an obsession with the new and the innovative.
Here lies the problem in normal charity shop shopping. The dowdy and stale image affixed to them is arguably (however unfortunately) justifiable, and TRAID has been taking the steps to rebrand the public perception of recycled clothing by actually joining the dots between the environment, recycling and fashion itself. Charity and fashion are practically mutually alienating concepts in most people’s minds. In short, charity shops aren’t trendy, so how do you turn that around? Chief Executive Maria TRAID recognises the problem and goes straight to the heart of it, saying “we have worked incredibly hard to change the face of charity retail by ensuring that our shops are stylish and affordable”, two words you might associate with the high street.

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TRAID has 900 textile recycling banks across the UK, and the company take the donations and sort by quality and style to then sell in one of their charity shops – clothes that are stained or torn are deconstructed and redesigned into a bespoke garment by the company’s own fashion label TRAIDremade.

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In a way it’s an absolute no-brainer: to take things people don’t want and make them something they do, especially as they follow high street trends, crafting sexy asymmetric dresses, bags cut from old leathers, signature hand printed tees and flirty dresses.

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Two weeks ago TRAID opened their tenth shop in their tenth year in Camden, which as well as being an area that’s a promising resource in terms of fashionable finds, is a landmark for a really inspirational company. To date TRAID has donated £1.4 million to help fight global poverty, supporting charities by funding projects in Malawi and Kenya amongst others. TRAID has ten shops located across London and Brighton, and TRAIDremade is available on getethical.co.uk.

Monday 8th June

The End of the Line

Imagine a world without fish. Released in cinemas across the country to coincide for World Ocean Day, medical an inconvenient truth about the devastating effect of overfishing.

Opens today, check your local cinema for screenings.

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Lambeth Green Communities Open Evening

Organised in partnership with Transition Town Brixton, Hyde Farm CAN and ASSA CAN, this is a chance to celebrate Lambeth’s Green Communities and be inspired to reduce your community’s environmental impact.

18.30-21.00 drop-in to Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton
Contact – Susan Sheehan, Ssheehan (at) lambeth.gov.uk

Tuesday 9th June

The Great British Refurb
Housing for a low carbon energy future – a talk at the The Royal Society

A talk by Professor Tadj Oreszczyn, chaired by Professor Chris Rapley. Theoretical carbon reductions have often been slow to materialise, new buildings can use up to twice the energy predicted, and energy use can actually go up when efficiency increases. This lecture will look at the possibilities for new building, and whether technology can solve our energy use problems. Tadj Oreszczyn is Professor of Energy and Environment and Director of the Energy Institute at UCL.

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This lecture is free – no ticket or booking required. Doors open at 5.45pm and seats are first-come first-served. Lecture starts at 6.30pm, The Royal Society

This lecture will be webcast live and available to view on demand within 48 hours of delivery at royalsociety.tv

Wednesday 10th June

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Illustration by Kerry Lemon

GM Crops and the Global Food Crisis

Dominic Glover, Erik Millstone, Peter Newell talk about possible solutions to the encroaching global food crisis – how will GM crops fit in to the struggle to raise yields, and could they be part of a truly sustainable answer?

6pm, Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster.
Contact – c.matthews (at) ids.ac.uk

Thursday 11th June

Walking on the Edge of the City

Join a popular walking group on a stroll around this fascinating part of London. There’s no charge and no need to book. Do get there ten minutes before the start time, wear comfortable shoes and bring a small bottle of water.

11am – 12.15pm, meeting at St Luke’s Centre, 90 Central Street, London, EC1V

Clothes Swap at Inc Space

Daisy Green Magazine and ethical stylist Lupe Castro have teamed up to host what is hoped to be the UK’s biggest ever clothes swap. Nicola Alexander, founder of daisygreenmagazine.co.uk, said, “It’s like a fashion treasure hunt!”

The evening will kick off at 6.30 and, as well as the swish (apparently the ‘scene’ word for a clothes swap), it will feature an ethical styling demonstration by Lupe Castro, music from top green band, The Phoenix Rose, burlesque dancing and shopping opportunities from ethical fashion brands including Bochica, Makepiece, Bourgeois Boheme, and natural beauty company, Green People.

Tickets are £10 in advance and £15 on the door.
More information can be found on our facebook page
From 18:30 at INC Space in Grape Street, London WC2

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Illustration by David Elsley.

Friday 12th June

Compost Clinic and Recycling Roadshow

Redbridge Recycling Group are running a friendly information stand all day. Want to bin the bags and green your shopping habits? Fancy making your own compost or confused about packaging labels? Pop along any time of day to have your questions answered and find out how to make the future waste free.

11am – 4pm, Ilford High Road, opposite the Town Hall/Harrison Gibson

Saturday 13th June

World Naked Bike Ride

Taking place all over the country, all over the world, the World Naked Bike Ride protests against oil dependency and car culture, celebrating the power of our bikes and bodies. Every June, more than a thousand cyclists gather in London to take part. The easy 10 km route passes through London’s busiest and best known streets. Bring your bike and body (decorate both of these ahead of time)

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Assemble from 3pm in Hyde Park (South East section, near Hyde Park Tube) – east of the Broad Walk, south of the Fountain of Joy, and north of the Achilles Statue.

Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June

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Sustainability Weekend

Celebrate the Love London, Love Your Planet Festival 2009 at the London Wetland Centre this weekend. Check out TFL’s new hybrid bus, see the Richmond shire horses and get a load of green tips and tricks. There will also be face painting for the kids, the Richmond cycling campaign and other environmentally friendly organisations.

11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday
WWT London Wetland Centre, SW13 9WT
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Maaaan, pilule those bloomers are HOT!

My morning started bright and early on Monday 1st June: called upon as I was to document a Climate Rush action at Chatham House just as the E.ON sponsored conference began: Coal: An Answer to Energy Security? (like, drug duh… NO!)

As I was sitting in the very pleasant St James Square to avoid undue police annoyance (there were vehicles parked right outside the entrance) I found my eyes drawn to the undergrowth in the thicket of vegetation at the edge of the park. I should have been looking for activity outside the venue, but instead I found myself engaged in a dance between two Robins. I always thought Robins were solitary birds, but a quick google ascertains my reasoning that this pair must have been mates, although I’m fairly sure Robins don’t scavenge at ground level. There was also a young Blackbird, happily scrabbling around in the undergrowth for some nice tasty worms (I’m guessing… but that sounds like the perfect breakfast for a Blackbird) As I sat there wondering what was to pass in the street beyond I felt my heart sing. Here, even in the centre of our grubby and concreted capital city – nature finds a way. This is what I’m fighting for, I thought! The sheer joy of the natural world.

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a Blackbird in the undergrowth

And then, I noticed two coppers striding towards me. Would they find my Climate Rush badges? And pre-emptively arrest me for possible crimes against cotton with a badge pin? Asking why I was acting suspiciously by peering into the bushes I replied, “why, I’m taking photos of the birds” and showed the officers the photos on my camera playback. But they weren’t having it, and asked for my ID, which I refused. It’s not illegal to refuse to show your ID, but they took this as admission of guilt – a typical ploy of the police and one which I must check up on the legality of. They then searched me “because you must have something to hide if you don’t want to give us your name Angela Gregory” Ah!!! Clever officer! He’s been reading his little FIT watch spotter card and cribbing up on Climate Rush central. Only the trouble is, I’m not Angela Gregory – clever but not so clever officer. I’d love to see what they use as my mugshot – I hope it’s flattering.

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When I questionned the validity of their reason to search me, one officer told me that “you are believed to be a member of a group called Climate Action, no that’s not it… Climate Rush, and they have committed criminal damage on buildings.” Wrong again Mr. Officer! Our parliament gluers have been bailed away to return to charges of possible criminal damage, for one drop of glue that fell on the statue in parliament. Glue that washes away with one dab of a damp cloth. Like that’s got a rat’s chance in hell of standing up in court.

Still – they got my name right after a cursory search of my camera bag, which revealed an old business card that had been lurking in a side pocket for at least three years. But they didn’t find the badges, even though they were rattling like bastards. I knew they wouldn’t, the MET not being the brightest cookies in the biscuit jar. Oh, I will be in trouble the next time we meet! Woops! If they had discovered the badge stash they would have found not only climate rush badges but also E.ON F.OFF ones from the Climate Camp campaign – that would have got them very excited no doubt, given the sponsor of said Coal Conference.

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As usual I’ve gone off on a tangent… not long after the police accosted me there was a loud commotion the other side of the St James nature reserve, and the police and I were off like a flash to find out what was going on. Across the road a bunch of white clad people were trying to hold onto a bike sculpture, as the police tried to tussle it off them. Within moments the police had gained the upper hand, and instead the eleven protesters were trying to pull sashes from Deeds Not Words bags, and unfurl a lovely red banner reading No New Coal, before the police frogmarched them across the road and threw them into the “pen”.

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I dashed off home in the hopes of getting some images into the London papers – alas my speed was not rewarded with any success, but our actions did reach the attendees of the conference – one academic at the conference apparently spoke with a protester, and agreed that direct action was pushing matters in the right direction (he was a specialist in CCS, but held out little hope for it’s implementation, given the probable massive costs) Score one massive point to us! I hope that E.ON and their cronies were suitably rattled, even if the press didn’t feel see fit to publicise the action. In the end five activists were arrested but most were released within hours. One brave Climate Rusher was refused bail after glueing herself onto the Chatham House railings (you go girl!) and the judge at her hearing the next morning allegedly told her that our protest had been pointless, since it had not garnered any press – before slapping a massive 40 hours community service on her for aggravated trespass. We think not…

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the bike sculpture lies forlorn on the pavement

In recent weeks we’ve attracted a lot of interest from film makers, and by the time I arrived at Tamsin’s house to get ready for the Bike Rush that afternoon (and to hastily knock up one more pair of bloomers) there were cameras everywhere I turned. It’s not a sensation I particularly like, and have thus far managed to stay out of the current crop of films – leaving it to the more exhibitionist members of Climate Rush to hog the limelight. I worry that it is easy to manipulate our actions in the editing suite, and portray us in a way with which we will ultimately be unhappy and out of our control. But I guess it’s a situation that I need to grow used to – many of our sort – as well as being involved with an undoubtedly exciting group – are very attractive, garrulous and media savvy – an irresistable combination to a film maker. Me? I much prefer to stay behind the lens…

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finishing off the flags

As soon as the drawstring was threaded into the last pair of bloomers it was time to hit the high roads of Kilburn – seven of us on various bikes, none of which, I noted disappointingly, were even vaguely Edwardian-esque. Instead we had Geeky Rushette on a fold-out Brompton with a helmet. And we had Virgin Rushette with wispy blonde locks and billowing white damel-in-distress dress over her bloomers, and Not-Very-Good-on-a-Bike-in-London Rushette on a crappy mountain bike with a rusty chain that nearly fell off before we even set off.

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I was dressed in a simple black dress in the hope that my vintage hat from Hebden Bridge would be enough of a distraction and provide the right elegant touch – which was exciting as it tipped over both my eyes and my camera. We made a right merry site gunning down the bus lane towards Marble Arch, flags flapping behind as people turned to gawp at us. After taking a short cut through Green Park we traversed the Mall and came to a screeching halt at our destination, where we were seriously outnumbered by police. But blimey did we look good!

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gathered in Green Park as we approach!

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As we pulled sashes and t-shirts and badges and stickers from our panniers people began to arrive in their droves. The sun shone down as the cyclists spilled from the pen into the road and the police did little to resist.

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Tim cranked up Pedals, the bike sound system, and I chatted to people – it was great to discover that people had come from afar on the strength of joining our facebook group – ah, I do love to feel vindicated on the subject of social networking. I was also very pleased to see lots of children along for the ride, suitably togged up with sashes and of course helmets.

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maybe our youngest Rusher?

And a lot more customisation of sashes, which have suddenly found new lives as headbands on hats, ties around bike baskets, cumberbund style belts and a whole host more. Marina just opted to pile a whole load on, and looked a treat for it.

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a basket full of skipped flowers gets the sash treatment

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my fabulous vintage visor-meets-pie hat!

Then the Hare Krishnas arrived with a mighty noise that had the whole gathering swivelling their heads; a whole band seated in two trailers behind bicycles. I was astonished to see that a drum kit could indeed be transported this way (plus a rather large drummer).

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Once several hundred people had gathered in place there were a few false starts before it was time to take off for a ceremonial circuit of the square, wooping all the way before we stopped off at our first destination, just yards from the starting point – BP’s head offices – they of the infamous byline “Beyond Petroleum“. And fact fans, you’ll no doubt be interested to hear that BP have in fact spent more on the whole Beyond Petroleum (as if!) advertising campaign than they have in fact spent on alternative energy. Brilliant! Why pour money into researching renewables when you can instead rape and pillage the earth for a fraction of the cost? And spend any extra cash on greenwashing instead. Fabulous plan; congratulations BP.

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With that it was onwards on a winding route up to Piccadilly Circus, and from there up Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street, that grand bastion of consumerism -one of the biggest drivers of Climate Change. Tim gave a running commentary from the backseat of his tandem as we hollered our way down London’s flagship shopping street, before coming to a grand halt in the late evening sunshine smack bang in the middle of Oxford Circus. What a grand feeling! Many people seemed amused and even happy to see us, a grand diversion from the glittering goods in the windows.

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stopped in the centre of Oxford Circus

As we sailed downhill along Regent Street I spotted a Lush store, still with our Trains Not Planes banner proudly displayed in the window. A bike-bound copper looked on worriedly as someone went closer to take a look. Duh! They’re our friends – just take a look at the Evening Standard-alike banner outside the shop. We love Lush. We’re not about to do anything naughty!

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hmmm, the Queen’s residence ahead in the late evening sun…

On our second stop at Piccadilly Circus Tim cheekily waited until the lights went red “cos us cyclists always run red lights” before leading us across the main junction and down towards the Mall, where we sallied into the sunshine up to Buckingham Palace. I met the naked cyclists, who I’d been promised were attending. The girls had bikinis on and they all wore lots of paint, the better to cover up with, but they still looked rather fetching, if slightly less than wholely naked. And despite rumours to the contrary they were happy to sport a sash to protect their modesty as well.

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It was then but a short hop down to Victoria, where we paused to consider the headquarters of BAA – boooooooo. And then on past BERR, where, funnily enough, Neil “the weasel” FIT photographer was waiting for us. We all waved “hi” to him as he lowered his massive equipment and smiled slightly sheepishly at us. You know who we are Neil, and we all know who you are too. Why don’t you just get a better job? One in which you are helping to protect a better world for all, not just the interests of the few? Still, I have to commend the actions of the police who came along for the ride – for once they really did seem to be protecting the rights of protesters – having cross words with impatient drivers revving their engines and generally preventing overly aggressive behaviour from motorists.

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wave to Neil everyone!

Oh god, this has turned into a bit of an opus as usual, and I haven’t even mentioned all of our stopping off points! The fact is that unless you were right down the front near the sound system it was pretty impossible to hear the guided tour. And anyway, everyone was just so happy to be commandeering the streets of London – there’s nothing like reclaiming our public highways to feel empowered – that it didn’t matter if our tour was a little haphazard in the end (and we left our notes at home anyway, so it was a bit of an ad-lib).

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solidarity with the Tamils

And then we were at Parliament Square – the police momentarily blocked our entrance onto the roundabout, but then decided better as we filtered around them anyway. Soon we were level with the Tamils, who seemed somewhat bemused by our peace signs in solidarity. But oh what an inspiration they have been! Such tenacity. And then onwards to Westminster Bridge, where we turned in a big loop near the junction on the north side and stopped. Perhaps this would be an opportune place for that picnic we promised? A statement of our intent right next to the very seat of power that is failing us? The suggestion was met with amusement as it dawned on our riders that this was what we had in mind.

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that bike sign on the road has gotta mean “stop” right?

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Some clearly were not expecting it, but almost everyone was soon dropping their bikes to the road and pulling out their picnic blankets and food. As the sunset on Big Ben above us we raised our bikes aloft in joy, unfurled banners aplenty, and stood our ground. The police didn’t know what to do – FIT finally made it down from BERR, and climbed on top of a barrier right above where I’d left my bike. Weirdly the bamboo pole holding up my lovely Climate Rush flag was latter found snapped in two shortly afterwards. I hate to make accusations but…

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what a marvelous family!

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bike aloft

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As a bendy bus made an awkward 360 degree turn on the bridge passersby continued to stream past, snapping away and generally beaming at our audacity. A string of brightly coloured bunting cordoned off our blockade.

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fun with a bendy bus!

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The soundsystem was commandeered by a variety of eloquent speakers and Mark played us a tune or two. Sadly the promised celidh didn’t happen – our erstwhile fiddler had failed to materialise yet again and I was too busy running around like a headless chicken (taking photos) to figure out an alternative. I do apologise – multitasking got the better of me again.

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astride Boudicca

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gawping at their nerve

And then three Rushettes mounted the huge emblematic Boudicca statue in their stripey bloomers! One climbed right up to place a sash around Boudicca’s neck, before returning to sit astride one of the great beasts in a gesture of defiant victory. The first attempt to fly a flag from the horses’ hooves failed, but no matter, we’d been prolific in our banner making and another one was soon unfurled. Deeds Not Words. I think that powerful queen would have approved.

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bike blockade

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on a tandem

Shortly before 9pm the police approached us politely and charmingly (someone must have had words with them in recent weeks) to say that they would eventually have to move us on. We decided that it would be best to go out on a high and declared our intentions to the crowd, with an accompanying recommendation to come join us in a nice pub on The Cut by Waterloo. As we cycled off across the bridge I was amused to find tourists sitting in the middle of the road – thrilled with the lack of cars and the unexpected reclamation for bipedal human use.

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enjoying the reclaimed bridge

At the pub we laid out our picnic blankets again and enjoyed the warm balmy night in the company of many new friends. I was particularly thrilled to speak with new Rushers and especially to those who had not expected our final destination to be quite so spikey, but who had welcomed the unexpected turn of events with open arms. Inspiring mass direct action – it’s what we do best… so join us on our next action against the dirty palm oil biofuel business; responsible for massive environmental degradation, huge contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the loss of 90% of the orangutans since the Suffragettes first walked this land. Don’t let those in power decide the future of our planet!

This Saturday, ailment The Land Is Ours collective will occupy some disused land near Hammersmith. An eco-village will take root, peacefully reclaiming land for a sustainable settlement, and getting in touch with the local community about its aims. In a year when nearly 13,000 Britons lost their homes to repossessions in the first three months, eco-villages point the way to a more down-to-earth lifestyle.

Back in May 1996, the same collective took over a spot on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth, in a land rights action that grew up over five and a half months into the Pure Genius community, based on sustainable living and protesting the misuse of urban land. Here are some photos from that project.

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The Land Is Ours channel the spirit of the Diggers , a group of 17-century radicals who picked out and dug over a patch of common land in St George’s Hill in Walton-upon-Thames back in the day. They were led by Gerard Winstanley, who thought any freedom must come from free access to the land.

Here’s a little more from ‘Gerard Winstanley’ about this weekend:

What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?
Have a meeting. One of the first priorities is to leaflet the local area in order to inform the local people of what we are doing. Another priority is the construction of compost toilets.

Do you have lots of plans for sheds, vegetable patches and compost toilets?

Yes. Due to the nature of the site (ex-industrial) we will likely be using raised beds to grow vegetables and buckets for potatoes. It being London, there should be a good supply of thrown away materials from building sites and in skips. Compost toilets are pretty essential.

?What kinds of people are you expecting to turn up?
All sorts. Hopefully a mixture of those keen to learn and those willing to teach. ??

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?I read the Chapter 7 manifesto. Have you notified the council or planning authority of your plans, or are you keeping to the idea that once you’re there, with homes under construction, it’s difficult to evict?
We haven’t notified the council yet- but we have a liaison strategy in place for when we’re in.

On that note, how long do you hope to be there?
The longevity of the Eco-village depends on how committed its residences and just as crucially how the local urban populus respond to our presence. If we receive the support we need, the council will likely think twice before embarking on an unpopular eviction (at least that’s the theory!).

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Could this realistically become a permanent residence, or is it more likely to be valuable simply as campaigning?
Hopefully it can be both. There is no reason why this site cannot sustain a core group of committed individuals and serve as a brilliant awareness raiser to the issue of disused urban land, lack of affordable housing and the a sustainable way of living that is friendly to people and planet and liberating.

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?Can I come along?
Of course, we are meeting at Waterloo Station at 10AM this Saturday (underneath the clock).

What might I need to do?
Bring a tent, sleeping bag and some food and water. You may be interested to read an article written by a journalist from the Guardian concerning the eco-village.

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So dig yourself out of bed this Saturday, and go discover the beginnings of London’s newest eco-village.
Those of us who have grown up in this country have it built into our subconscious from an early age that summer does not automatically equal sun. Summer holidays from school would be six restless weeks of pleading with the clouds to part for just long enough that we might be able to leave our houses, pharmacy get to the park and partake in an activity and hopefully home again all before the heavens open and the rain chucks it down. We accept and expect a lack of skin-bronzing ice cream-melting sun rays during June, website July and August just as we have learnt to accept and expect that December, information pills January and February make no guarantees for snow.

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So it makes it even more endearing that a west coast American, Elizabeth Jaeger, accustomed to the balmy climate of San Francisco would take it upon herself to pen a gently begging letter to the weathermen and women of England asking them to do all they can to ensure her project that takes place this weekend in Victoria Park is not going to be rained off. So excited is she that her creative get together is a success this weekend, copies of her preparatory pleading have made it into the hands of meteorologists in Britain this week.

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Dear Weatherman,

I hope this finds you well.

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you. Your advisories’ predictions of the upcoming weather have been impeccable as of late – I really do appreciate knowing when to bring my umbrella.

I am writing you, Mr. Weatherman, because I have a small favor to ask. I am planning to have a picnic in Victoria Park on Saturday, 6th June, 2009, and it is simply imperative that we have good sunny weather in London. You see, we will have delicious food, a spin party, a chalk party, and music, and it would be devastating if it happened to rain – as the food might get soggy, the spinning might have to be at a very slow pace, the chalk might not stick, and the rain might ruin the instruments. I am inviting picnic goers from near and far, and I would not want them to arrive to find only mud.

I ask you then, Mr. Weatherman, if you could plan on having sunshine all day on 6th June, that we may fully enjoy our delicious picnic. I would also like to ask that there be good weather for performance going on Sunday, 7th June 2009. A performance will take place at the gallery space of Ken, and it would be such a shame if the viewers were not able to come in their Sunday best (floral dresses, dress trousers, khaki shorts, collard shirts, sunglasses, and smiles). If you think this request might need to be forwarded on to other weathermen who deal with locations upwind of London – could you please, if you wouldn’t mind, make some suggestions of whom?

I hope that this request is not too much to ask of you, as I imagine you are very busy finishing off with the spring.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Jaeger

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As a co-founder of the delightfully pro active group ‘Do It Together Projects’ (DIT) and dabbler in the mediums of sculpture, photography, drawing, painting and craft, creativity may as well be her middle name. She is also partly responsible for the annual exhibition in Oregon with the Miranda July-esque title ‘I love you here is what I made’, and at only 21 years old this all deserves more than a little adoration.
‘Perfect Day’ is a two parter, only one of which relies on the lack of precipitation. Once the ‘picnic’/chalk party/spin party has drawn to a close on Saturday, the gaggle will reconvene under the shelter of Ken for continued performance and jollity.

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Her own prediction for the day is that it may turn out to be ‘horribly horribly pleasant’ and on reflecting just how the day will take structure she humbly offers that Im not sure if what i am doing is actually an art performance, but ‘bread, cheese and wine will be served, so maybe it would be fun to come along. ‘
If her previous DIT gatherings in the States such as card making, book writing and mask making are anything to go by, no amount of English rain will make this event a wash out.

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Saturday 6th June

2pm Victoria Park
Grove Road
Hackney
London E3 5SN

Sunday 7th June

7pm Ken
35 Kenton Road
Homerton
London E9 7AB

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We have our fingers and toes crossed that Elizabeth Jaeger gets her weather wish, and we hope you do too.
The Summer Exhibition 2009
Royal Academy
6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3EX

8th June – 16th August
10am-6pm Everyday except Friday 10am-10pm
Entry: £9/8

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This exciting annual show continues to be the largest of it’s kind in the world, stomach displaying new work from established as well as unknown artists under an open-submission policy with the curator appointed theme ‘Making Space’. With 241 years experience in bringing sculpture, approved photography, more about architecture, painting and printmaking to the public, they are clearly still on to a good thing.

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Russell Maurice ‘Given Up The Ghost’
STOLENSPACE GALLERY
Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL

11th June – 28th June
Tuesday – Sunday 11:00am – 7:00pm

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Since the mid 90′s, British born Maurice has produced paintings, prints, collages, sculptures and installations that reflect the spontaneous and informal nature of graffiti writing and have explored the recurring themes of energy, growth patterns and cycles in nature. This collection of new paintings, small-scale sculptures and installations, take these themes forward into new realms – to consider theories regarding the spirit world, the physical and metaphysical, consciousness and death.

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1001 Nights – An exhibition of Fabric Graffiti Screen Prints
Rarekind Gallery
Downstairs @ 49 Bethnal Green Road
Shoreditch
London E1 6LA

Monday – Saturday 10am – 6.00 pm
11th June – 28th June
Free

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Due to the huge success of this exhibition at Bristol’s Studio Amour, Rarekind is bringing the highly skilled and beautiful mix of traditional fabric printing methods with exciting cutting edge graffiti to London. Proving that both artistic mediums demonstrate dedication, physical input and love, Rarekind exhibits prints, hanging fabrics, room dividers and cushions including coveted one off prints by Ponk and Amour , Nylon, Pref, Fary, Kid Acne, Elph, Dibo, Dora, Paris & Solo One.

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Invisable Library
Tenderpixel Gallery
10 Cecil Court
London WC2N 4HE

12th June – 12th July
Monday – Friday 10:30apm – 7:00pm
Saturday 11:00am – 7:30pm
Sunday 1:00pm – 6:00pm
Free

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INK is an illustration collective that is holding the reigns at Tenderpixel Gallery for the next month for a busy schedule of events, talks and exhibitions. The Invisible Library is issuing an open invitation for cultural and musical figures as well as gallery visitors to write an opening or closing page of a ‘hidden novel’, the results of which will be published and exhibited.

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Golden Lane: The Super Estate
EXHIBIT
20 Goswell Road
Barbican
London EC1M 7AA

Until 30th June
Monday by appointment Tue – Fri: 11am – 6pm Sat: 11am – 5pm Sun: CLOSED

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“As part of the Golden Lane Estate’s 50th anniversary celebrations (1957-1962), EXHIBIT at Golden Lane Estate is commit to work with 13 artists in 10 ideas and 20 months. Inspired by the confluence of modernist design and community mission, EXHIBIT aims to create a legacy for the cultural future of the Estate, an archive developed through the interaction of artists and designers with the community mediated by EXHIBIT to celebrate this modernist design masterpiece and encourage an ongoing creative conversation that keeps the community at its heart.”

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Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair 2009
Old Truman Brewery
146 Brick Lane, E1 6QL

Sunday 14 June 2009
12pm – 6pm
Entry: £3

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Pitching themselves as the ultimate ‘Recessionista’ event of 2009, Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair at the Truman Brewery is set to be epic. Highlights for us include Secret Wars winners and all round adorable couple Ed Hicks and Miss Led who will be customizing anything and everything brought before them. Anyone who showed up for last year’s fun packed day will recognize Miss Led from her incredible live car commission. Look out for a preview of this event later in the week.

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Stop, Look & Listen
Subway Gallery
KIOSK 1 PEDESTRIAN SUBWAY
EDGWARE RD /HARROW RD LONDON W2 1DX
Until 30th June
open Monday – Saturday 11am – 7pm
Free

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Somewhere beneath Edgware Road where it meets Harrow Road is a 1960′s glass walled kiosk that three years ago was transformed by artist/curator Robert Gordon McHarg into a unique gallery space. Stop, Look & Listen is an exhibition about the space and it’s environment reflecting on the past shows and artists. They are also passionate about public interaction and interpretation, keen to spread the word about taking unused public space and using it for a creative outpost.

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Wagner Pinto– Floating
Concrete Hermit
5a Club Row
London
E1 6JX

Until 4th July
Opening Times: 10am – 6pm Mon – Sat
Free

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“Taking influence from the mix of religions and influences across South America such as candomble – a religion which melds Catholicism and African traditions Pintos paintings materialize forces of nature, mythology and religious icons, imaginary situations, mental impulses and fine energies. The idea is to bring to the surface, to the senses and to the view of visitors a floating universe, where even waves of thoughts have a rhythm, harmony, body and color, making the invisible visible to the human eye and in this way, to try to give a new direction to abstract art.”
Monday 8th June
Lissy Trullie at the ICA, visit this site London

New York’s lovely long-legged Lissie Trullie plays the ICA tonight, pill she sings of lost loves and first kisses in sultry world weary tones, with hooky bass lines and post punk-y drum beats in the background, not dissimilar to the Strokes. Her songs manage to be both wise and witty whilst endearingly naive. A refreshing take on a pretty male dominated music scene.

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Tuesday 9th June
Kid Harpoon at Enterprise, London

Kid Harpoon makes me swoon! A regular fixture on the London indie scene having supported Mystery Jets to name but one. Kid Harpoon is also a talented musician in his own right, with his intelligent and disarmingly unassuming folk rock, a troubadour of our times!

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Wednesday 10th June
The Fall and Buzzcocks at The Forum

Wednesday’s gig choice is an epic one this week…The Fall and Buzzcocks play The Forum! Mark E. Smith may be as mad as a bag of cats but there is no denying that The Fall are one of the most seminal and brilliant bands around, their live shows never fail to impress so I’ve heard. Plus who could resist dancing to Buzzcocks’ Never Fallen in Love and pretending to be 18 again?!

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Thursday 11th June
Chad VanGaalen at ICA

Chad VanGaalen sounds like a lovely man, he makes his music in his basement in Alberta, and he draws. There is a real homemade quality to his creative process (home recorded CDs with hand drawn art) that is audible and his dreamy music evokes the most awed oohs and aahs . VanGaalen has been compared to everyone from Daniel Johnston to Ben Gibbard.

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Friday 12th June
Vivian Girls at Cargo

I bang on a lot about the Vivian Girls at work (sorry other interns!) but they are genuinely very good indeed, which is why I’ll be heading to Cargo to see them this Friday, come on down and dance with me (because none of the other interns will…) to their all girl lo-fi surf punk!

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Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June
Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre, London

Ornette Coleman is curating this year’s Meltdown Festival and it’s an eclectic mix, this weekend catch The Roots, Yoko Ono and Cornelius. It continues into the beginning of next week, so it is with a note of mystery that I end this week’s listings:
“To be Continued…”

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Edinburgh

By the early afternoon this Sunday, what is ed the sun had begun to shine. Hooray! Where better to spend such glorious afternoon than in a pitch-black, advice gloomy tent saddled in between a couple of old dears wearing cheap perfume whilst their make-up runs down their faces?

Cheeky! It could only be one place – Graduate Fashion Week 2009!

Forgive my introduction. I arrived to see the Edinburgh College of Art show in a bit of a state – and to make matters worse, case it was boiling inside. The move from Battersea to Earl’s Court last year might have aided things, but not entirely. Regardless, the show itself was excellent. Well produced and structured with 11 of ECA’s elite womenswear designers, cherry picked to delight us with their collections. Not a single one disappointed.

Raine Hodgson opened the show, with a flamboyant display of Russian folk-inspired costumes. Models wore bearskin-style furry hats, teamed with patterned trousers and long capes, in vibrant colours. Sheepskin, leather and silk were combined to create a luxurious wintery collection.

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Mairi Dryden toned things down slightly, with a muted colour palette. This isn’t to say that the collection was boring – far from it – constructivist-inspired bronze printed dresses were teamed with voluminous tailored jackets and tapered trousers, providing a more sophisticated and fashion-forward look.

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Amelia Hobson‘s cosmopolitan collection included oversized pants with paper-bag waists, worn loose around the thighs, creating interesting silhouettes and promoting the female form. Colonial elements such as huge loose knots and large wooden jewellery complimented discrete hints of animal prints.

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Sarah Martin‘s intriguing but delightful collection consisted of ‘clean minimal silhouettes’ wearing basic tailoring, contrasting with bold ‘playful’ bright yellow accents in the form of rubber-like coats and accessories.

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The stand-out collection in this show was Natalie Morris‘s stunning all-black numbers. Art Deco-shaped fascinators were teamed with bold silhouettes, enhancing the female shape. Soft wools were married with stiffer fabrics, suggesting a hint of kink. Morris’ models sure got sex appeal.

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Overall, Edinburgh proved that they are a force to be reckoned with at Graduate Fashion Week. The shortest show I saw yesterday, it still packed the same punch as the larger university collections, and in a struggling financial climate it is great to see that nobody shyed away from fabulous, flamboyant, forward fashion. Edinburgh have produced a plethora of talented womenswear designers who will no doubt move on to big things.

Northumbria

Northumbria University whipped up a storm at Graduate Fashion Week on Sunday – to nobody’s surprise, frankly. Year after year the university never fails to deliver intelligent, fresh and innovative collections.

As UNN alumni, I am indeed biased. I cannot help but gush about the quality of fashion that Northumbria produces each year, so this is more of a love letter than a write-up. The show steals my heart and leaves me reeling.

Shakespearian amore aside, the show kicked off with Nicola Morgan’s top-notch tailoring accompanied by thumping music. The soundtrack is always so loud at GFW, sometimes too much, but it tends to add to the intesity of the event, and each song is selected as a suitable accompaniment to each student’s collection. Morgan’s innovative garments each comprised of individual pieces of fabric which interlock – breaking the boundaries of fashion and making clothing adaptable by the user. The technique, however subtle, still lended itself to producing fashion-forward garments.

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Ruth Davis’ vibrant knitwear came soon after. Worn for winter, hooded tops, scarves and dresses bore large-scale graphic patterns in the brightest hues…

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Sliding back to sophistication, Marie McDonagh presented an all black collection, redolent of the fabulous forties. High gloss materials complimented slick tailoring, and this geometric jacket was a winner – it’s sporadic shiny squares accenting the bejewelled detailing on a simple yet elegant dress.

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Steph Butler’s interesting use of layered, laser-cut material to create statement tops, pants and coats created interesting shapes and the models bore bold silhouettes.

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Rio Jade Maddison’s aim is to create ‘thought-provoking, creative’ garments with sex appeal. This she did. A sleek, mostly all-black collection, Maddison created sexy slim-line shapes. Models wore skull caps and ruffs, teamed with dresses embellished with shiny studs and spikes, for a hint of kink…

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Juxtaposed with Maddison’s slick and sexy collection was Holly Storer, who presented elegant dresses using a warm palette, heavily reliant on a gradient of red. Short yet demure dresses were decorated with pretty origami roses to create a glamorous yet sophisticated look.

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Finally, it is a given that the menswear at Northumbria is always of a very high standard, so it was no surprise to see Maxwell Holmes’ fantastic tailoring that any sartorial dresser would snap up in a flash. High-waisted tailored trousers were worn with brightly coloured braces, tartan bow-ties and smooth shoes, referencing a decades of classic menswear. The craftsmanship here is delectable and wouldn’t look out of place on a London Fashion Week runway ? in fact, I’ve seen much worse there! This embroidered dinner jacket doesn’t break any new ground, but boy is it hot… and the model’s not bad either…

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Until next year, Northumbria. I love you.

Maybe it was the heat. Yes, viagra dosage that’s it. The heat. The heat that caused the Old Blue Last‘s normally reliable PA to pack up for most of the evening, leaving an expectant throng, marinading in lager and gin, to bask in the receding sunlight whilst the sound engineer banged his head against a wall. The heat that made it seem like an eternity (well, to those of us who had unwisely not booked in advance for a ticket) as, once normal service was resumed, said throng dutifully filed in to fill the less than cavernous upstairs bar in a fashion that would suit a sardine. The heat that created a sweat-soaked (if you were stood at the front) fervour rarely seen on a Monday night. Still, it was worth it.

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As for Matt and Kim themselves. Well, where to begin? Mid-global tour to promote their new long-player, Grand, they rock up in deepest Shoreditch on their sole UK date and immediately tear a new one in this earnest heartland of skinny jeans and silly hairdos. With Kim mercilessly bashing the skins like a latter-day Moe Tucker, wearing a grin as wide as a Cheshire cat, and Matt pounding at his keyboards with wild abandon, the Brooklyn duo treated us to some (occasionally Ramones-velocity) nuggets such as Daylight, Yea Yeah and, of course, the gem that is Silver Tiles (sounding even more like the song Brandon Flowers would have given his last Britpop compilation for to have crafted).

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They meld spunky New Wave rhythms, the dirtiest end of DIY electro-pop and a whole lot of enthusiasm to create a heady brew.
And we had incident. Kim’s drum stool broke halfway through the set. We had crowd surfing. In fact, Kim had a brief crowd surf herself, accompanied by Matt playing the introduction to Sweet Child O’ Mine, to a roar of approval from the crowd.

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We also had a brief rendition of the synth riff to Europe‘s Final Countdown. It just seemed such a perfectly natural thing to do. And Matt and Kim seemed genuinely bowled over by the riotous reaction of the crowd. Ah, yes the heat. It was worth it.

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Photos appear courtesy of Richard Pearmain
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If you’re not careful, website after some time spent gazing at one of Femke Hiemstra’s illustrations you may start to notice that everything in your periphery has gone fuzzy, the antique spoon you were stirring your coffee with is grinning at you and the gingerbread man you were going to dunk and nibble has got a little bloodlust in his eye. This cadre of anthropomorphic objects and smoking creatures has me hypnotized and now ‘who to befriend?’ and ‘what are they up to?’ are the only things I care to contemplate. Unfathomably skilled and allegorically gifted, Femke paints the childplay of our subconscious onto antiques finds like books and cigarette tins. She has an appetite for description and reclaims vintage treasures as her canvases. Currently exhibiting in Lush Life at Washington’s Roq la Rue Gallery and a new book Rock Candy coming out this year and, from her home in Amsterdam, Femke Hiemstra tells us more about what goes into this pop surrealist’s soup.

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What’s the reason for using inanimate objects as characters?
Why an apple or a mikshake cup? I’m not quite sure, but I think that I’m appealed to the shape at first and I also see characters in them and want to put those personalities on a canvas. Also, I think that drawing a car would bore me.

So much of your work is about light and dark, a shadowy world of storytelling. For all the worlds you describe are there any worlds/places you would like to explore?
I look at things differently, through my own ‘high sensitive’ glasses so to say. In a way I’m already in another world.

The facial expressions in your characters are amazing, what do you refer to when you’re painting them?
I think my inpsiration comes from the ‘enlarged personalities’ I see on the big screen or read in comics. French and Belgian ones mostly. All the ones my dad read like Obelix & Asterix and Lucky Luke.

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That and the great adventurer TinTin of course! I ADORE the “Japanese Mountain Lady” piece. Sinister old ladies are always appearing in Asian stories.
Thanks so much! It was a piece I made for the Fantagraphics Beasts book. This is a compilation of illustrated cryptozoological curiosities. I choose to draw a Japanese Mountain Woman, a female demon who roams japanese hills in search of lonely travelers who she attacs and devours. When I read the story I first thought of the mountain woman as a young but creepy Japanese beauty in a lovely kimono. But when I did my research I found out that the ‘Yama-uba’ was actually an old hag in rags. I could have changed her appearance and take the artistic freedom to make her young and pretty but I choose to go with old bat version. This piece is an example of a digital work. I first made a graphite drawing, scanned it and coloured it digitally in Photoshop.

You mentioned some of the themes you draw from are strong emotions like battles, a hunt, a lost or tragic love or the ‘romantic’ death. Do you see those in the world today?
Well, yes, but my work is not about modern stories, politics or anything else that takes place in this century. And though the ‘actors’ I paint may be recent I beam them to other times. My interest goes to a time where everything had it’s own pace, where there was time for rituals. I do stand with both feet in modern times (except perhaps, that I don’t Skype), but ‘vintage’ with all the scratches that comes with it breaths more life and just appeals to me more.

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I couldn’t agree more that there is a void where value used to exist. Disposable objects, obsessions with the new and therfor youth. The absence of rituals, as you mentioned is a very good example of that. We’re too busy running about to notice and acknowledge something’s significance. Do you see any examples around you these days that some of that IS still around?
Im fascinated by smoking, even though Im not a smoker myself. I’m very attracted to the power of it, the Hollywood-esque forms it can have when a hunky bloke or a femme fatale lits a cigarette. It’s not what you’d call a ritual nowadays though, but it played an important role in older times, used in negotiations or to get in contact with the spirit world. In the Victorians days, certain gentlemen would put on a velvet or cashmere smoking jacket and a beautifully embroideried smoking cap to enjoy a cigar or pipe.
But other modern rituals? Not close to me I guess. But you can re-create them yourself. After reading The Devil’s Picnic, a book by Taras Grescoe on modern day taboo’s, I got into drinking Absinthe. It’s just a small ritual, but still a great thing to do. It begins by finding the right glasses or buying a beautiful absinthe spoon and then at home follow the steps to get that opalescence ‘louche’ drink.

Is there some of that represented in your work?
I’ve been inpspired by rituals for a while now. By burial or religious rituals, eating and drinking rituals… Today I went to see a wonderful Exhibition of Haitian Vodou in one of Amsterdam’s ethongraphic museum ‘The Tropenmuseum’. It was brilliant. A mix of African rituals and Catholic aspects blended into a religion with no dogma or hierarchy. You bet you’ll find influences of that in my future works.

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You’ve painted on everything from cigarette tins to holy water basins. Where do you find your lovely treasures?
Fleamarkets, second hand book stores and collectors fairs. And small town bric-a-brac’s that are run by the village idiot.

What object have you dreamed of one day painting on?
An antique bible with metal corners.

Every artist need a bit of release during their day…what’s the last song you danced to? Sang out loud to?
I sing out loud every day to all kinds of music! (I work at home. It’s a big advantage if you’re an ‘along singer’ like me). The last song must have been something from Iron Maiden or that last Elbow album, those are the two cd’s I listened to today. The last song I danced to was Death to Los Campesinos by Los Campesinos.

You must have incredible dreams! What was the last dream you remember having?
Oh man, I have the weirdest dreams sometimes. I’m not really drink much alcohol and don’t do drugs which, perhaps, makes it all even weirder, but every now and then I can wake up from a dream and be thinking ‘… did that all just happen in MY head?’ But dreams are fun. Today a friend of mine told me she found herself crying over her bike that got its ‘head’ chopped off on a bicycle battefield. Woooo… weird!

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Is there somewhere you’ve traveled that has influenced you. Is there some place you’d like to visit, bottom of the ocean, back alley in Shanghai, your neighbor’s attic…?
Russia, or more presicely, Moskow. I love to see that one day. I’ve read this book about it written by a Dutch correspondent who lives there and it must be such a contradictional place. That I just have to see for myself. And Japan, of course! Characters galore on every street corner and in every vending machine. Seeing the polar lights up north is also on my wishlist.

I could so easily see how your work could be translated into motion or animation. Has anyone ever approached you about that?
Disney wanted me to make a proposal for a tv animation short. Of course I was thrilled and I dropped everything I was working on to focus on it. But once I showed my first proposal this assignment with ‘total creative freedom’ turned into one of the biggest brain drains of my creative career. I wrote about it on my blog. (read about it) So animation… I dunno! I’m not exactly jumping of joy. But Disney’s sitll a bit fresh, for now I’m very happy painting.

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I just saw your badges/pins and was wondering if they are actually hand painted?
No, those are printed. Sometimes a bunch of collegues and me are invited to do live badge drawing at the Lowlands (alternative) music fesitval in Holland, together with our badge producer Buzzworks. People can make their own badges or have an artist draw one for them. It’s like a school trip for artists, amidst cool visitors and cool music. It’s always a lot of fun.

Wahoo, let’s all pile into to the school bus and make for the Dutch Lowlands, who’s with me? Femke’s skills as an illustrator/storyteller are razor sharp. Just so happens she’s incredibly fun to interview too. Hmmm, now what sinister playmates does that remind me of?

Recently Femke’s fantastical work has garnered the attention of an unlikely admirer in the form of a counterfeiter!!! Good grief, is no one safe?
Sunday 7th June, erectile 2009

Spare a thought for the student designers at Graduate Fashion Week. They’ve had innumerable sleepless nights and they’ve sewn into the small hours. Their reward? To stand up at GFW for over nine hours day, pharmacy grinning deliriously and trying their best to woo potential employers.

After a gruelling day on Sunday, prescription you can understand why people were starting to look forlorn. BUT what better way to cheer up than the University of East London show – an effervescent romp through the Capital’s latest talent? First out to get our pulses racing was Sam Hoy – presenting masculine tailoring juxtaposed with soft feminine shapes. Sport-inspired body-con tops were teamed with shiny gloss metal embellishments for dramatic effect.

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Shireen Shomaly’s collection focussed on the assembly of objects. Intricate geometric shapes in leather and suede were layered up to define the appearance of garments, whilst delicate laser-cut forms had the reverse effect on contrasting pieces. Shomaly’s use of rich purples and greens gave the collection a welcomed luxurious edge.

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Next, Ayroza Dobson’s collection came bounding down the catwalk to the sounds of MIA‘s Bucky Done Gun (the third time we’d heard this track this afternoon). Short dresses were plastered with large discs bearing graphic symbols, and one dress – one of my favourite pieces this year – had a sequinned ‘cheeky postcard’ illustration on the rear of a striking yellow dress.

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Sevda Salih’s sophisticated and mature collection featured structured blazers with masculine shoulders and a gorgeous combination of rich silks, married with gold PVC, providing accents on an otherwise monochromatic palette. Salih’s pièce de résistance was a voluminous hexagonal cape, drawing inspiration from architecture. Not one for the office, but fabulous nevertheless.

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Caelie Martha Jones presented some intriguing menswear – dressing models in bold baggy trousers paired with graphic prints. I’d bag this Smurf-illustrated shirt in a flash…

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One of my favourite collections of the show, by Natasha Goff, featured bold statement pieces bearing graphic prints. Inspired by dance, models wore asymmetric and maxi dresses featuring hand painted pictures. Vibrant, playful colours made this collection a winner.

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Kerry Louise Hobbs showed a mature collection which drew inspiration from original African dressing. Dynamic shapes with exaggerated features, such as huge blouson sleeves, accentuated the female silhouette. Hobbs also made great use of rural colours, and simple but effective prints.

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Closing the show was Lucy Bryan. Taking us back to black, Bryan’s collection was confident and sleek. Galvanised by the beauty of black swans and ravens, Bryan’s models wore structured dresses with a nod to conceptual designers. Jackets were structured to accentuate the shoulders for a more dynamic figure and pieces fitted tight around the waistline and then buckled around the buttocks. The show piece – a shell-like cape which hid the model’s figure and was adorned with a row of feathers, captivated the audience and was the perfect climax.

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I caught up with a couple of the students after the show to find out a little bit more…

NATASHA GOFF
‘Misfit’

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Where did the ideas for your collection come from?

Dance was a big part of my childhood – ballet, tap. I wanted to feature this huge influence in my collection.

How were the outfits created?

I used dancers and projected images onto the pieces. All the designs are hand painted, using a projector to define the image onto the fabric. Some were projected onto the garments when they had been constructed, some I projected onto the fabric first. This allowed for different effects to come through.

You worked for Siv Stodal during your placement year – how was that?

Great. I worked there for one a day a week, assisting her with her show and looking at things like sampling.

Has that influenced your collection?

Definitely. It was great to work in that kind of highly creative, East London studio-based environment. I also did a very commercial placement [Courtaulds UK] which was very different but just as enjoyable.

Which other designers do you admire?

I like designers who have combined art and fashion – Hussein Chalayan, who incoroprates sculpture into his work – for example. I also adore John Galliano – I love his use of colour and statement dressing.

What’s the plan for the immediate future?

I haven’t started looking yet! Definitely design – I’d like to work with a high-end designer where there’s more freedom, and you’re not restricted so much by money and figures.

LUCY BRYAN
‘Revenge of the Birds’

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Why birds?

Well, ironically, I’m scared of birds! I did loads of research, and started collecting images I liked and the research went on a journey which led me to birds.

How did this develop?

The main inspiration came from birds wings, in particular black swans. I used the wings on the female form to see what sort of silhouettes they made, which gave me the shapes for the collections.

Did you enjoy the show?

It was pretty stressful before hand, but watching the show was really exciting and it’s great to see your garments come to life.

Which designers do you look to for inspiration?

Gareth Pugh’s collections are always amazing, and his structural pieces have been the biggest influence on my collection. I also love Chloé and Lanvin.

What does the future hold?

I have no idea! I’d love to work in design or buying. [Lucy interned at Ralph Lauren as a buyer’s admin assistant] I guess I’ll just see what happens!

Categories ,Conceptual, ,East London, ,Geometric, ,Graduates, ,Graphic Prints

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Amelia’s Magazine | Ikebana AW15: An interview with fashion designer Sadie Williams

Sadie Williams by Bonaramis
Sadie Williams by Bonaramis.

Fashion designer Sadie Williams was inspired by the 1962 Best of Ikebana book on Japanese flower arranging to create a bold and innovative AW15 collection that features multiple textile techniques and a glorious mash up of fabrics. Here she tells us more…

Sadie Williams AW15
Where did you study on BA and MA and what were the best aspects of your courses?
BA in Fashion Design at Brighton. Best aspects were the technical training this gave you, and the amazing tutorship of Jane Shepherd, who introduced us young, clueless first years to many many brilliant and inspiring aspects to this vast industry. She also and helped us to develop into stronger designers, and taught us that we should be unafraid of creating something extreme, bizarre or seemingly ‘anti-fashion’.

Sadie Williams AW15
MA on the ‘Textiles For Fashion’ pathway of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins. This is where I finally felt like I found ‘my thing’, through lots of learning through mistakes! It was tough, but the best thing I have ever done. I feel honoured to have been taught by my textile tutor Fleet and the late great Louise Wilson.

Sadie Williams AW15
You’ve been much feted since your MA collection caught imaginations, what has been the best outcome of this?
Being able to continue working creatively and express myself and my vision, sometimes this is in collaboration with another brand or project and more recently under my own label. I have also loved being able to travel and meet so many brilliant people along the way. It’s all still very much a learning curve.

Sadie Williams AW15
Your collections are defined by sleek silhouettes, what is it about such graphic shapes that appeals to you?
For me, I really focus on creating the textiles, often quite laboured (multi-layered, printed, quilted, appliqued, embossed etc). I love clean simple silhouettes and feel that partnering them with my textiles is both cool and necessary way to present my work in a stronger and clearer way, and avoid the danger of fussy garments being overworked or theatrical.

Sadie Williams AW15
How do you source so many different types of metallic fabrics?
Always on the look-out! But also, I create a lot of different metallic fabrications through altering/re-working existing fabrics using various techniques, for example bonding shimmering transparent fabrics over satins or lurex, weaving metallic ribbons into fabrics, or stiffening flimsy loose-weave lurex by embossing and bonding it.

Sadie Williams AW15
What fabrics are your favourite kind to work with and why?
I think it’s clear that I rather like lurex! But honestly, I just really love working with all sorts of textiles. I love being set a project/job where I have to work with a fabric that I wouldn’t normally select myself, for example, one of my favourite projects form the CSM MA was working with lace, which I doubt I would ever have considered before.

Sadie Williams AW15
I understand you are in the process of moving studios, where is the new one and what would we see if we came to visit?
It’s in East London, Haggerston, right by the canal! There’s a lot of rolls of fabric! Shelves full of books and mags, lots of portfolio boxes, my heat-press, sublimation printer sewing machine, mannequin etc. Lots of crafty things like wire, plasticine, coloured acetates and tons of different kinds of papers (which I often use for making our animations). All the things I need to do what I do!

Sadie Williams AW15
I loved your latest collection, inspired by Ikebana flower arrangements, what was the process of translating the Best of Ikebana books into wearable garments?
It was more the idea of translating the spirit of those beautiful 1960’s images of floral arrangements into my work, rather than a visual translation. I liked the way that they were subtly vibrant, and very playful and fun yet so composed and still at the same time. I hope that makes sense! I worked with my friend Georgina Norris to create accompanying floral arrangements using the leathers that were featured in my collection, so we used these in my installation spaces at London and Paris fashion week, and I always intended to pair them up with imagery of my garments into a printed and digital lookbook.

How did you include techniques such as weaving, quilting and applique?
I wove together some brilliant vintage Indian ribbons that I sourced from a market stall in Shepherds Bush. In fact I bought up all his stock! I appliqued these as decorative patched onto the fronts of tops. I also used applique to apply metallic leather onto fine silk-prganza, which was actually pretty tricky and took a lot of sampling. It’s a multi-step process involving machine-sewing the leather and organza between layers of a specialist translucent quilting paper, which you can then tear away. I quilted a few lurex garments, by sewing around the print design through lyers of wadding and onto a backing fabric.

Sadie Williams AW15
Do you have any other collaborations with your brother Joe Williams on the horizon?
He is currently on a trip travelling for a few months, but we have an agent, and so when the right projects come up and we are both available, then yes! And I would love to work with him again to illustrate some of my own work again in the near future.

What’s next for Sadie Williams, can we expect another full collection next season and if so can you give us a clue about your new inspiration?
I am definitely going to be applying for NewGen sponsorship again for SS16, so fingers crossed! And I am afraid I’m going to keep my lips sealed at the moment!

Categories ,AW15, ,Best of Ikebana, ,Bonaramis, ,Central Saint Martins, ,East London, ,Fleet, ,Georgina Norris, ,Haggerston, ,Ikebana, ,interview, ,Jane Shepherd, ,japanese, ,Joe Williams, ,Louise Wilson, ,Lurex, ,Metallic, ,Newgen, ,Sadie Williams, ,University of Brighton

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Amelia’s Magazine | EA Burns: an interview with ethical jewellery designer Lizzie Burns

EA Burns, Ancient Rites by Rebecca May Higgins
EA Burns, Ancient Rites by Rebecca May Higgins.

Jewellery by Lizzie Burns first caught my eye on a market stall several years ago, and since then her work has gone from strength to strength. With a new website just launched and her wonderful new collection Ancient Rites now on sale, it’s time to catch up with the woman behind EA Burns.

EA Burns ancient rites
I love the fact that you produce an ethical collection that is also fashion forward – what prompted a move in this direction?
I really felt that (and still do) that designers have a responsibility to work ethically. We’re creative and there’s no reason why a good designer can’t be more experimental and work with less used materials or processes to create pieces which are still exciting but far less poluting or socially problematic.

EA Burns by Jenny Robins
EA Burns by Jenny Robins.

In your former life as a stylist who did you work for? any memorable jobs?
I worked for Mrs Jones (most well known for her white hooded catsuit that Kylie wore) for about 6 years, from work experience while I was still studying to just before I set up EA Burns when I worked much more closely with her. There were many memorable jobs- most unprintable(!)- but I’d say working with the Scissor Sisters back when I was still at uni takes the biscuit, I was on tour with them for 2 weeks at the height of fame, and they were headlining pretty much every festival. At Vfest after their encore with Franz Ferdinand I had to run onto stage to pick up clothes discarded in the moment, and being 20 standing on that stage looking out onto tens of thousands of people cheering for more is something I’ll never forget.

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What did you learn from working with iconic designer Mrs Jones?
Fee (aka Mrs Jones) is a truely inspirational person. Not only is she multi-talented (you should see the furniture she customises, or hear her DJ) but she’s a caring teacher who I was very lucky to have as a mentor. It’s very rare to find someone who is willing to impart the knowledge that they have taken years to acquire. I’ve learnt many things from her but I think the most important would be to stay strong and true to yourself and your vision.

EA Burns by Lisa McConniffe
EA Burns by Lisa McConniffe.

On a personal level why is it so important to consider the provenance of materials in your creations, and are there other ways that your lifestyle reflects ethical thinking?
I’d say that I try to be ethical in my lifestyle, but I’m not militant. I’m a big believer in little changes which everyone could do to make a big difference. Changes like eating less meat, choosing sustainably caught fish, and generally consuming less, caring more and using public transport wherever possible, that sort of thing. To me thinking about where my materials come from is part of this lifestyle.

EA Burns - Ancient Rites
EA Burns, Ancient Rites.

What was the process behind designing Ancient Rites and where did you look for inspiration?
I can’t pin point a particular inspiration, I collect images which I like and often I’ll see a way of doing something, maybe in something completely detached to jewellery, which sets me thinking and I’ll start experimenting with a technique until I can get it to work, then shapes start to form and the jewellery evolves naturally.

EA Burns by Lisa McConniffe
EA Burns by Lisa McConniffe.

Apart from using recycled leather, what other materials feature in your new collection Ancient Rites, and why are they so special?
The material I’m most excited about using is Rhodoid, a cotton and wood based plastic which is biodegradable and doesn’t have any of the health implication or environmental toll associated with petrochemical plastics. It was the first plastic to be developed at the turn of the century and has an amazing history of use in art and fashion, but has somewhat fallen out of fashion and is now mainly used for high end glasses. It’s so diverse and I can’t wait to push it to the limit of what I can do with it, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface with this collection.

EA Burns - span the depth earring
EA Burns, Span the depth earring

How do you find skilled crafts people to create your pieces?
I’ve been really lucky to have been helped by DISC, a mentoring programme which sets up UK designers and manufacturers with each other. They introduced me to various benchworkers, platers and polishers over the UK without which I wouldn’t have been able to make any of my metal pieces.

EA Burns - reach ring
EA Burns, Reach ring

Can you drop any hints as to what we can expect to see in your next collection?
Colour and texture!!

EA Burns began life as a fashion brand, how did you end up being a jewellery designer? Any plans to branch out again?
The early jewellery was quite popular and it just started to make sense. The more I made jewellery the more I realised that the clothes I made were all about the embellishment and that I was actually more of a jewellery designer! I still love making and designing clothes and the intention is always to go back to it, it might not be for a while but it will definitely happen.

Categories ,Ancient Rites, ,DISC, ,EA Burns, ,eco, ,ethical, ,Franz Ferdinand, ,Jenny Robins, ,Lisa McConniffe, ,Lizzie Burns, ,Mrs Jones, ,Rebecca May Higgins, ,Scissor Sisters

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Amelia’s Magazine | EDE Knitwear: An interview with Ellie Jauncey

EDE men's moss jumper by Claire Corstorphine
EDE men’s moss jumper by Claire Corstorphine.

EDE was founded in 2009 by Ellie Jauncey. Having studied Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University and specialising in Knitwear she moved to London and spent a good few years working in soul-less fashion roles. Two redundancies in a year later and the penny finally dropped, why work for other people when you can work for yourself? Paying homage to her mother’s maiden name she started EDE, which is a knitwear label specialising in simple, modern clothing, inspired by traditional shapes and designs – and all made in England. She quickly formed a team of knitters, all living in and around Herefordshire (where she grew up) and using their incredible skills, produced the first collection.

EDE Knitwear bramble cornflower
EDE by Jamie Wignall
EDE by Jamie Wignall.

EDE is now in it’s third year and the A/W 2012 collection is made up of two styles of men’s jumpers, two women’s and the signature item, the BIG scarf. As well as running EDE, Ellie is also the co-founder of The Flower Appreciation Society, which you can read about here. She’s a busy, multi-talented lady, but I caught up with her to find out a bit more behind her second inspiring enterprise.

Ede Clothing Knitwear by Dom&Ink
Ede Clothing Knitwear by Dom&Ink.

How did you find your knitters?
I advertised in the local paper and put notices up in post offices and corner shops. 

EDE Knitwear Valentine and fisherman rib
They are all over 60 – do you think that despite the current renaissance in knitting most knitting is still an “old” pastime? Are we losing skills?
I think knitters who are over 60 approach it in a different way, it’s much more a part of their lives than for my generation who see it more as an occasional hobby. All my knitters need to knit, they’ve done it all their lives, it a bit of an addiction. They also grew up in a time when you knitted to clothe your family, it was the norm. Unlike today where the majority of people pop down to Primark instead. Saying that lots of my friends knit and even more want to learn to knit. Re-learning skills is definitely on the up! 

EDE Knitwear by Wiji Lacsamana
EDE Knitwear by Wiji Lacsamana.

Where do you sell your jumpers?
I sell through my website and this Christmas I am selling exclusively through the YCN shop.

Ede Clothing Knitwear Man by Dom&Ink
Ede Clothing Knitwear Man by Dom&Ink.

You’ve had some high profile press – for instance Little Mix looked super stylish in your jumpers for an editorial – did your previous jobs in fashion help to develop good contacts? How do you ensure good press? 
Not really, I’ve worked really hard at getting press. If you have a product which you believe in and you’re proud of then it’s easy to approach the press with it and sell yourself. It also helps a lot having wonderful friends like Fred Butler who constantly put you forward for things! 

EDE Knitwear Moss jumper
What is special about your big scarf?
Well probably that it’s so big and soft oh and also the colour choices. I always wanted a plain, block colour scarf which was a bit like a blanket and couldn’t find one anywhere so thought i should make one.  

EDE Knitwear bramble jumper
How do you manage both businesses at the same time? What are your top tips for an easy life?
Managing both businesses is a bit of a juggling act at times, you have to be pretty organised, which i’m working on!! I couldn’t do it with out the support of my wonderful flower partner, Anna. My top tips for an easy life are to make sure you are happy in your working environment – moving studios has changed my life and made working so much more productive and enjoyable. My other top tip is to swim in a lido as often as you can, it makes you feel wonderful.

EDE Knitwear moss
What inspires you when you are designing?
Colour and old things.  

EDE Knitwear By Lucy Freegard
EDE Knitwear by Lucy Freegard.

What next? Any other business plans? 
My next plan is to develop printing on to knit and i’m going to start doing ‘little EDE’, my kids range, again.

Sod Little Mix, I can’t wait to see what Little EDE will bring!

EDE Knitwear by Shy Illustrations
EDE Knitwear by Shy Illustrations.

Categories ,A/W 2012, ,Claire Corstorphine, ,Dom&Ink, ,Ellie Jauncey, ,Fred Butler, ,Herefordshire, ,Jamie Wignall, ,knitwear, ,Little EDE, ,Little Mix, ,Lucy Freegard, ,Manchester Metropolitan University, ,Sheilagh Tighe, ,Shy Illustrations, ,The Flower Appreciation Society, ,Wiji Lacsamana, ,YCN

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Amelia’s Magazine | Dolls Night Out

IllustrEIGHT is a series of live art installations by eight up-and-coming artists, pill ed which has been set up against the walls of Topshop’s Oxford Circus and Manchester Arndale stores. The gallery exhibitions, see due to run until the 7th September, cost include an exclusive capsule collection of eight t-shirts inspired by each of the artists themselves. With art and fashion being my two favourite things, the event sounded too good to miss.

So I flip flop along to Topshop with my soon-to-be-obsolete student discount card burning a metaphorical hole in my soon-to-be-replaced pocket. Any hesitation about spending the hottest Saturday in recent British summer history in quite possibly the busiest shop in retail history somewhat assuaged by IllustrEIGHT’s canny guise as an art exhibition.

But first, in the spirit of journalistic veracity, a confession: my name is Arabella Gubay and I am a t-shirt phobic, who avoids, or at best, approaches this most casual of garb with extreme caution and lives instead in the t-shirt’s polar opposite, the Little Black Dress.

Naturally then, I’m cautious about critiquing IllustrEIGHT’s capsule collection of eight illustrated t-shirts. But, bolstered by the knowledge that the ubiquity of the slogan/illustrated/statement tee shows no sign of abating and willing to overcome my streetwear phobia, I go where I have not gone before: the Topshop jersey section.

From Fern Cotton’s plausibly Dairy Association sponsored Topshop ‘Love My Bones‘ t-shirt, to ingénue Alexa Chung’s monochrome ‘In the Deep End‘ Marc by Marc Jacobs tee, this is the season of the statement t-shirt. Funny, mind, that the statement of the most recent raft of tees is so uniformly ambiguous; eco warrior Katharine Hamnett’s iconic slogan tees seeming positively cavalier in their comparative certitude. ‘Stay Alive in ‘85′ they scream; “I think that ship has sailed” I retort.

But I digress, nestled at the back of Topshop’s jersey section lie IllustrEIGHT’s eight tees, while scattered around the cavernous store their correlative installations. I use the word ‘scattered’ lightly as it’s more like an advanced level egg hunt with (imperative) map provided. This though, is perhaps integral to the concept of IllustREIGHT, the exhibition drawing inspiration from the creative art collective Designersblock, whose raison d’être is exhibiting work in unusual, labyrinthine locations.

Having located Pomme Chan’s illustration on a plinth near Topshop’s Boutique section with the kind of sartorial homing instinct usually reserved for finding cheap as chips Jens Laugesen separates at designer sales, I make a bee line for Chan’s long line jersey tee emblazoned with gothic floral illustration.

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All of the illustrations are exquisite. From Joe Wilson’s elaborate and painstakingly etched design on ethereal eau de nil tee, apparently inspired by Quantum Physics and Scientific exploration – whoa there, it’s way too early sub-atomics – to London-based Kerry Roper’s eye popping pink gnomic design on an oh so A/W ’08 purple tee. With Topshop true to populist retail form, there is truly something for everyone.

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My only criticism is the tees themselves. Forget the sometime incompatibility of art and fashion, the rendering of eight ineffably beautiful illustrations on poorly cut viscose jersey tees seems to me the height of aburdity. Take Barcelona-based Alex Trochut’s whimsical necklace design on periwinkle blue t-shirt dress. The print reminiscent of Ricardo Tisci’s £3,750 ‘It’ necklace; the cut reminiscent of a straitjacket.

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I’m tempted but with its batwing sleeves and heavily ruched seams the cut truly does preclude all but those most necessary movements; and I value my mobility. So with the foolproof dictum ‘fashion detail is style death’ ringing in my ears, I return Trochut’s beautiful tee to the rail, sadly surmising that this is, in fact, unwearable art. Brighton Art College graduate James Taylor’s graphic print tee with owl motif is perhaps the most successful overall. The plain white tee upon which the illustration is impressed allowing the print itself to make the statement, the cut and beautiful fit making this almost the perfect tee…but the fabric, oh dear the fabric.

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And so my unexpected foray into Topshop’s more casual recesses sees me leave with two jersey pieces. The first, a Fair Trade 100% cotton tunic in ultraviolet and the second a Fair Trade Zip Front Tee in classic black. Perhaps the age-old equine idiom should be revised, you can lead a gal to the jersey section but you certainly can’t make her don viscose.

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Sarah Howell

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Harry Malt

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Seripop
On Wednesday evening, help a handful of Amelia’s crew attended the Lee Moves East party to help celebrate the opening of a new Lee jeans showroom in Shoreditch. Arriving promptly on time, we helped ourselves to the drinks and then had a look around the two-floor display. Approached by friendly greeters, these denim experts were able to show us the collection and give us coupons for a chance to win a free pair of jeans. Unfortunately, none of us walked away with any.

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There was a nice variety in the collection, but it lacked anything extraordinary or unexpected. It was your traditional all-American Lee style, with plenty of plaid button-ups, denim, graphic tees and studded leather jackets(which happened to be my personal favorite).

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As the evening continued, the crowds gathered and the party was in full swing. There was an abundance of tasty hors d’oeuvres and drinks for everyone to enjoy while we mingled and satisfied our appetites. Live models and a DJ added to the atmosphere, with Pete and the Pirates scheduled to perform, but before we had the chance to check them out, we were on our way to the next event. Luckily, Sarah was able to hang around a bit to get a listen. Check out the music section soon to read more.

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notting%20hill%20street%20crowd
Getting there proved a little difficult

Me and Dearbhaile arrived at Westbourne Park tube to the sound of carnival, site and we then waited for a good half an hour for various other people to arrive, treat which unfortunately they did not. This was to set a trend for most of the day. A testament to the fun of Notting Hill carnival however is that queuing and waiting are my two least favourite things – but despite all the delays during our day, adiposity I still had an amazing day.

On the way to the Diplo & Switch Barbecue I got to enjoy some staples for the true Notting Hill Carnival experience, such as people selling rum punch from a bucket they were carrying around, people offering the use of their toilets for the price of £5 and, of course, endlessly slow moving crowds of people. I have to say I was overjoyed to get out of the raucous and into the area, under a flyover, where the party was.

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Oh dear

I then proceeded in spending the next few hours filling myself with beer, barbecue and music – and I couldn’t help but think that this is truly what bank holiday Mondays should be about. Especially when teamed with a line-up that made me child-like and girly with excitement.

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Unfortunately we missed the fantastically titled Mumdance, and didn’t catch an awful lot of Toddla T. The latter of which would have perhaps been the high point of my day. His own productions of more accessible Dancehall seem to work so well in British clubs, as they can sit alongside most line-ups, yet still stand out as something totally unique. However, we didn’t see much of his set, so it doesn’t really matter.

By the time we did manage to get on the dancefloor, (well, it was more of a section of car park), we were treated to the ridiculous sounds of Rusko. Although his own stuff tends to annoy me, due to the fact that he just tends to make less interesting, re-hashes of his biggest tune Cockney Thug – his set was a fairly mixed bag. He even reached for some bassline, which was, err, fun?

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After a rather squashed queuing for the bar, we then rejoined the crowd to see Heatwave’s set. This was perfect for a bit of late afternoon partying, it certainly got the crowd moving, and was the most carnival spirited set of the day – and perhaps because of this it served as a great warm up for Switch and Diplo’s sets.

I was excited to hear Switch and Diplo’s new dancehall project, but the reality was that whether Major Lazer made it on stage or not I really couldn’t tell you. It was more the case that anyone near the decks or the microphones could have a go. This would usually have ended in disaster, but it was great. Maybe I had been showing the free bar too much interest, but it just seemed like everybody was just genuinely thrilled to be there.

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As with every good party, there was also a good after party – this time in the form of Durrr. Perhaps one of the most established club nights in London, I always have high hopes when queuing outside. It never disappoints, but then it never really thrills, perhaps because the majority there had work in the morning. The DJs are always good though, especially when they stick to disco, as opposed to opting for techno – but by the time the headliner Boys Noize came on I was far too tired to enjoy as much as it deserved to be enjoyed.

A few weeks back the lovely Nikki knocked on our door to have a word with Amelia. Alas Amelia was out, discount but that gave us a chance to have a chin wag with the talented illustrator (it was our lunch break!) Amongst tea and complaining about the lack of summery weather, hospital Nikki mentioned that she had an exhibition showing in the Islington Arts Factory. So Kate (earth editor) and myself being the eager beavers we are, decided to check it out the next day.

Despite Kate falling down some escalator stairs and me not knowing what directions to take from the station; we did eventually arrive at the gallery. We arrived just at the right time as the owner had just opened the doors, accompanied by a playful pug.

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The building, converted from a church provides a cosy, oldsy feel which is perfect for the WAM (Women’s Art Movement) exhibition. WAM aims to ‘bring together the complexities of motivation, inspiration and continuity with the aim of providing a resource for information, advice, support and guidance’. With so many women artists the exhibition definitely feels eclectic.

Ofcourse we made a beeline for Nikki Pinder‘s work which is dark but playful and delightful at the same time. There is so much information to register, it makes your brain tick like clockwork.

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Janice Fisher‘s vintage large scale pieces also caught my eye. A simple rendition of movement with an age-old feel reminded me of images on vintage post cards.

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Ann Foster‘s pieces where Minnie Mouse looked distinctly 1950s, juxtaposed a cute kitch feel with expressive and modern strokes of paint in the background. Glitter dollar signs also popped up here and there. From the piece I could detect a cynicism towards consumer culture but also gender, performance and transgender were touched on. I liked the ideas behind the piece but wished she had done more to ‘doll up’ Minnie; making her a clearer symbol of an adult world of dress up, transvestites and materialism. The cuteness of minnie set against the dark current would have presented more of a discernible tension.

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One of my favourite works was from Silvia Cristo whose collages on metal used a mixed medium of old photographs, words cut up from magazine, scribbles and paints used to create a dissolved, worn down effect. They looked and felt like snippets from the past, of encounters from a trip down memory lane.

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After all that viewing, the friendly pug came back to say goodbye to us.

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clearly not impressed!

The show is definitely a mixed bag with some innovative pieces but also some that feel slightly outdated. But it’s definitely worth a pit stop if you live near by and want a dose of varied art from different female perspectives.

On the most part dolls are fairly likeable. Admittedly, this some have been given a slightly sinister reputation, pills thanks mostly to Chucky. But, what can’t be argued with is how likeable tea is. And when served with cake the likeability factor goes off the scale. Last Thursday, as part of the ongoing retrospective of Viktor and Rolf, the Barbican with Viva Cake had a tea party celebrating these three joys.

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Getting off the tube we played ‘Guess Who’s Going’, made a lot easier but the many takes on doll costumes tottering towards the Barbican. Following a toy soldier (there were a handful of guys in attendance) into the Garden Room, I felt like I had been catapulted back to the forties. The room, decked out by the Viva Cakes girls, was reminiscent of the mad-hatters tea party mixed with Gran’s best china. Even Alice (one girl had a costume inspired by the hallucinating blonde) was in attendance, but disappointingly no actual mad-hatter.

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Alice and friends

It had been a long week of events for Team Amelia’s and the promise of tea had kept my stamina up to enjoy another event. But here I was at a tea party with no tea and no cake! Made worse by watching others tucking into the treats, whilst also seated. Jealously, I tore my eyes away from all the happy tea diners. What to do? Not having been too many tea parties I was unsure of the etiquette. Was I allowed to march on over to a table and nab a cake or did I have to wait it out?

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A few boys enjoy cards and tea
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Cake! Tea!

Whilst pondering this potential faux-pas, relief came in the form of a trolley (dolly) piled high with cakes, oozing with cream, glowing from pink food colouring, devil flavoured, butter creamed and fruit topped. I tried to act the lady by not throwing myself at the cakes, after all this was a tea party, and daintliy picked up two delicious looking cupcakes. Then has luck would have more stools were brought out and we skipped (like I said acting like ladies) on over. Now if only the tea would arrive, we would have a tea party on our hands!

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Getting dolled up.
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We passed the time, spotting the doll costumes we liked the most and watching others having doll cheek make-up applied. Emma wandered over to the Lady Luck Rules Ok! little stall to buy a Russian doll personalised necklace for her friend who is obsessed with Russian Dolls as a birthday present. We all cooed over the necklace, which was a distraction from the wanting of tea. But oh, there is only so much waiting you can stand! Two hours is too long to wait for the promise of a cuppa. So, with the band playing we made our way out tea-less and dishevelled, as more dolled up ladies and a few gents made their way in.

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More dolls

I’ve heard really good things about Viva Cake tea parties, so I don’t want to be mean and I was told, there was a shortage of tea cups hence the tea hold up. But not having a cup of tea at a tea party is a bit of a let down. I mean, what are you supposed to do at tea party with no tea? Next time I’ll bring my own cup.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Chatsworth Road Market


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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”

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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”

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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…”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Categories ,east london, ,market, ,regeneration, ,renewal, ,urban

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