Amelia’s Magazine | Protest: Why We Support The Student Occupations

Bust Craftacular
Josie Long and Darren Hayman support the occupations. All Photographs courtesy of UCLOccupation.

Since the first protest over two weeks ago, viagra 40mg there has been something palatable in the air; occupation, seek occupation, occupation! Across Britain students have left the streets and occupied their University halls in protest against the outcome of Lord Browne’s report: tuition fees to rise, the abolishment of EMA’s and the suggested removal of the state funding Universities receive to aid their research and teaching budgets.


In the face of the Coalition’s seemingly never-ending barrage of cuts targeting every section of the welfare state, there has been the inevitable attempts to label the student protests as self indulgent (though what is self indulgent about fighting to preserve access to higher education for all, in perpetuity?!). I was disappointed to see the always readable Polly Toynbee state: “Sorry Students, but you’re low in the pain pecking order” we should be avoiding the desire to turn the terrifying breadth and width of the cuts into a hierarchical system of the most deserving.

Emmy the Great dropped by UCL…

Yet the students are fighting back against charges of indulgency, one of the demands made by the UCLOccupation is for all University employees to be paid the London Living Wage. The inclusion of this demand has lead to increased support from Toynbee and her more recent article “Thatcher’s Children can lead the Class of 68 back into action” signaled a change in approach. The Students are using their platform of occupation not only to campaign against sweeping changes to the perception of Higher Education, but to join forces -as I learnt whilst visiting UCLOccupation- with other groups (NHS, Library Workers, Legal Aid etc) to protest against these draconian, unnecessary and dogmatic cuts.

Céilí Dancing

Personally, I completely support the occupations of Universities, I’ve tasted the education cuts proposed by the Coalition and the impact they had on my student body was terrible, morale was low, people questioned why they were plunging into debt when they were receiving so little in return. It made many students question the worth of their courses, which is what The Browne report wants to achieve – the commodification of learning. Education is not about financial worth and society will quickly become lacking in innovation and discussion if this thinking becomes the norm.

This is the inevitable problem when turning education into a competitive market rather than an individual choice about whether or not to further their learning. Maybe I was idealistic at what university would offer, but the sly cuts in teaching, space and access to workshops was not what I was expecting. During my second year at Goldsmiths we spent the year fighting against bigger class sizes on a third of the teachers, compounded by the loss of workshops and studio space so small, people stopped coming into the studios. Luckily for our third year, we managed to claw back studio space and instigate a system of visiting tutors, but the depth of knowledge we lost with the axed tutors was unmistakable.


Goldsmiths was the second university I tried, I left my first in protest against their education cuts. I bring up my experiences because despite Clegg’s lame protestations, it is not only the higher fees that would put me off if I was applying now, it is the slow destruction of our higher education system. The forcing of universities to act like businesses is not working and nor should it. Education is not a marketable commodity and we need to protect it alongside our incredible welfare state (the first hospital has already been all but privatised – Andrew Lansley’s white paper is a slippery slope), why are we allowing free universal access to medical care slip through our fingers? No-one in the Cabinet paid for their higher education and they experienced the best it had and still has to offer. We need to support the student occupations, we need to support the preservation of higher education.


I visited the UCLOccupation“>UCL occupation on Saturday and it was amazing hive of activity (as all the occupied universities will be). This weekend the Slade are mobilising art against the cuts, you can see their manifesto here. Since my visit the protestors marched again on tuesday and ran circles around the police’s attempt to kettle them or in the words of newspeak, ‘detain.’ There are many excellent accounts of what happened available across the internet or join twitter for live updates.


Rather disappointingly UCL Lawyers have been called in to secure an injunction to evict the students, a move being instigated no doubt by all Universities currently occupied. It would be a breath of fresh air for the University bodies to support the students who fill their halls.

Do check out what events are happening at the various spaces, during my visit to UCL I caught the end of Billy Bragg, saw the rousing support of the National Union of Journalists, sat through a book reading and the tutor’s rallying support for the plight of students across Britain and had the opportunity to listen to David Wearing discussing a brief and indept history to capitalism and Dan Hind talk about the ideas contained -democratising debate via a public editorial system, removing the power from the elite- within his latest book, The Return of the Public.


This week Slade Art School students occupied in opposition to cuts that “threaten the existence of arts and humanities education in England and Wales…we vehemently oppose the transformation of the university system into a market based model; education should be a public debate, not a private economy.” Rather brilliantly the Slade are using their space as an assembly point for all art colleges to get together and organise “non-violent direct action” against the Government’s attacks on the arts. It is worth mentioning that course that appears de rigor for politicians -the PPE- would be considered a humanitarian subject and that the people who are forcing these changes on us, had free access to University, despite being millionaires. This weekend the Slade will be hosting lectures, events and workshops to “highlight the value of intellectual and cultural exchange within art courses.” Supported by the The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, the events run from the 3rd December to Sunday 5th.

This Saturday (4th) sees a national day of action against ALL cuts proposed by the coalition and another protest with teachers, students and parents is being planned for the 9th. This was originally and remains banking crisis, a crisis of capitalism, we can negotiate a new space if we work together. The government bailed out the banks and populations across the world are paying the price. This type of capitalism continually fails as do the unchecked belief in unregulated markets. Why would we let people involved in this crisis, advise us that the best model for Universities is one based on the market??


Categories ,Billy Bragg, ,Cuts, ,David Cameron, ,Education, ,Falmouth, ,Fees Increase, ,Josie Long, ,kettling, ,Kings College, ,Little Miss Wilde, ,Nick Clegg, ,protest, ,slade, ,SOAS, ,The New Left Project, ,UCL, ,UCLOccupation, ,UEL Occupation, ,University of East London, ,Whitehall

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Amelia’s Magazine | Putting optical illusions on homeware: an interview with designer maker Dionne Sylvester

Dionne Sylvester plate designs
I first discovered the striking homeware of designer maker Dionne Sylvester at Spitalfields Market earlier this year, where they immediately caught my attention. Her colourful designs give traditional teacups, plates and upholstery a zingy modern update inspired by the play of light on the Caribbean sea and a fascination with optical illusions. I love them!

Dionne Sylvester portrait
Where do you find inspiration for the combinations of colours that you put together?
My inspiration first came from looking at different menswear books, which led to researching the phenomenon of British Dandies and the collections of Ozwald Boateng in particular. I like the smart appearance of the Dandies and the extravagant colour clashes so beloved of Boateng, who uses unexpected shades for the inner lining as his signature look. My shocking colour ways are also influenced by Caribbean culture. You can see these references running through my range because it is both fun and traditional.

Dionne Sylvester designs Meadow
How do you create the feel of optical illusions within your artwork?
I use a combination of simple techniques to create illusions. The main image is often created in a prominent colour so that your eye is led to it, even though it has been well hidden in the final design. Sometimes other colours further distract the eye from the original image. When your eye detects a form your mind will then create logic from the whole pattern. It’s really nice to hear what people see in my designs: birds, dancing people, faces and just about anything you can think of. Everyone sees something different in my work.

Dionne Sylvester bolster cushion
What was the best thing you learnt during your degree in fashion design in Falmouth?
The best thing I learnt was digital printing, I was really lucky that I had the best technicians and I was taught so much about the practical uses of the equipment because I was in the first year to do the fashion degree. This meant that the technicians had a bit more time to give us tips on using everything and it was all new. I completed the first year on a Contemporary Crafts degree before I changed over to Fashion, which is funny since I have now gone back full circle and my work could be included under the umbrella of ‘craft’. My studies enabled me to pick up a real fusion of different skills.

Dionne Sylvester teacup designs
Why did you decide to crossover into the production of homewares, and what has been the easiest and hardest things about the transition?
I’m still not sure how it happened! But, I knew I wanted to do something of my own and I love making and being creative. I bought the same equipment that I used at uni to do digital printing for fabric and it started from there when I began to experiment with the equipment boundaries. The first products I produced were sets of teacups which I got into a shop in Margate a week later, and the original prints on those are still being used on products which I sell.

Dionne Sylvester designs mugs
The easiest part of all of this is how creative I can be and I am basically making, designing, painting and producing pretty things on most days. But the hardest transition is that I’m learning as I go along. I didn’t know anything about homewares or the craft business. From production to location of selling and keeping accounts, I am constantly learning. But it is still fun and I have met lovely people on the journey.

Where and how are your products made?
I source all my products locally or from within the UK, and I produce all my products from my home studio in Kent. It’s a bit crazy and gets messy, but it works at the moment. I’m looking into getting the ceramics made by a specialist outsource as I want to expand my ceramic range.

White Horses Whitstable art sails
How did you get involved with the White Horses Whitstable project and what inspired the final design that appeared on a sail? (see Dionne’s sail on the far left)
I got involved with White Horses when I saw their advertisement for local artists and I wanted to be part of the project because it sounded very unusual and I have never been involved with producing public art before. The print that was featured on my sail is called A Water Dance and was inspired by my travels to the Caribbean – inspiration came from looking at how the sea reflects the different colours around it, changing the tone and creating movement and textures. I thought that would fit in well with the theme and it is also one of my favourite designs that is featured on my range of cushions.

White Horses Whitstable 2013
White Horses Whitstable 2013. Photo courtesy of Leo Mason.

Whom do you produce fashion prints for, and how do these complement your own range?
I have sold to Bally, Gap and straight to textiles houses. My designs for fashion are very different as they tend to feature hand drawn illustrations in pen and ink and use a lot less colour than in my own work. I make mini collections of prints around themes such as decaying nature, the human body and creepy animals.

Dionne Sylvester- a water dance
Dionne Sylvester – A Water Dance.

How has the Prince’s Trust enabled your business to grow?
The Prince’s Trust has been brilliant! I went to them when I was unsure of what I wanted to do, and my mentor made me think about the possibilities of my small idea. She made me realise how much I had learnt from my studies and what an enormous love of art, craft and design I have. Taking part gave me the confidence to use all the skills I have.

Dionne Sylvester designs cushions
Where can interested readers find you in the run up to Christmas?
With the run up to Christmas, I’m going to be selling in Style Market on Saturdays at Spitalfields Market, at Handmade Christmas in the O2 on 15th December and at the Of Cabbage of Kings Christmas Market in Stoke Newington on 15th December.

Lastly, I believe you now live in Chatham in Kent – can you share with us what is happening creatively in the area? I’d love to know…
I have always worked and socialised in London but it has been three years since I left uni and I’ve kind of settled in Chatham now. There is a really creative buzz going on in Medway with lots of artists and designers hosting interesting events. This is not just because of the different arts universities in the area – it feels as if the local people are coming together to make a creative community, which is growing very quickly. It will be interesting to see how Medway artists affect the local landscape in the coming years.

You can find Dionne Sylvester‘s etsy shop right here. Photography by Caroline Wenham.

Categories ,A Water Dance, ,Bally, ,Caribbean, ,Caroline Wenham, ,Chatham, ,colour, ,Contemporary Crafts, ,craft, ,Dandy, ,designer, ,Dionne Sylvester, ,Falmouth, ,fashion, ,Fashion Print, ,Gap, ,Handmade Christmas, ,Homeware, ,kent, ,Leo Mason, ,Maker, ,Margate, ,Medway, ,Medway Towns, ,O2, ,Of Cabbage of Kings, ,Optical Illusion, ,Ozwald Boateng, ,Sail, ,Spitalfields Market, ,Stoke Newington, ,Style Market, ,textile, ,The Prince’s Trust, ,White Horses Whitstable

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: Designers Makers Market at Old Spitalfields Market

designers makers market flyer
Following a tip off from fellow mummy Helen of East End Prints, I went along to the first Designers Makers market to be held in Old Spitalfields on Saturday afternoon. It was a hideous day – cold and damp – so hardly ideal conditions to be manning a market stall and I really did feel for the designer makers in attendance, especially since this is a funny time of year to be selling gift wares. Designers Makers was sharing the main hall with a vintage market as well as various other mainstays, so it was hard to locate the right stalls, but I was glad I did find them as there was some wonderful new talent on display: I do however have one major gripe. Promotion! Or lack thereof… Business cards, especially ones with all the necessary information (website, etsy, twitter, facebook, pinterest, ANYTHING but an email) were in very short supply, and only one stall holder I talked to had a mailing list: others seemed befuddled when I asked to sign up for one. Designer makers would do well to read up on how to get the most out of a craft fair before going to so much effort – there are many great resources online, such as this blog from The Design Trust: How to prepare for a Craft Show or Design Trade Fair. It makes me so frustrated when talented artisans are not properly prepared to promote themselves at a market: many people are likely to be window shopping but they are all potential customers who may well buy something online at a later date. Or indeed at another fair, to which they have been alerted by social media (of course). Here were my top finds:

Dionne Sylvester digital print cushions
Psychedelic ink splot cushions were inspired by magic eye patterns and optical illusions. Designer Dionne Sylvester trained in fashion at Falmouth, and is now decorating homewards in imitable style.

lulu and luca cushions
Lulu and Luca: super pretty Art Deco inspired prints on organic & upcycled fabrics.

Jessie G Designs needlepoint cushions
Handmade needlepoint tapestry cushions by Jessie G came in a variety of eye popping colour ways: they represent the most unbelievable amount of work. An absolute steal.

Zinc White upcycled derwent pencils jewellery
Seriously genius: Zinc White husband and wife team had travelled down from Huddersfield to sell their innovative upcycled jewellery made out of waste Derwent pencil stubs, which are set into resin then carved into broaches, rings and cuff links.

Don Manolo jewellery Designers Makers
I couldn’t resist a few pairs of these incredibly well priced laser cut and painted Art Deco inspired jewellery by Don Manolo. Either I am very attracted to Art Deco or I sense a trend emerging.

i am acrylic volcano necklace
Fun volcano necklaces by i am acrylic came in neon brights.

Hazel Nicholls babushka print
Hazel Nicholls: cute slogans on kitchenwares and prints featuring graphic versions of the ever popular Babushka doll. I couldn’t agree more: It’s Whats Inside That Counts.

Categories ,Art Deco, ,Artisan, ,Babushka doll, ,Craft Fair, ,Derwent, ,Designer Makers, ,Designers Makers, ,Dionne Sylvester, ,Don Manolo, ,East End Prints, ,Ecofashion, ,Falmouth, ,Hazel Nicholls, ,How to prepare for a Craft Show or Design Trade Fair, ,Huddersfield, ,i am acrylic, ,It’s Whats Inside That Counts, ,Jessie G, ,Lulu and Luca, ,market, ,Old Spitalfields, ,Promotion, ,Social Media, ,sustainable, ,The Design Trust, ,Upcycled, ,Zinc White

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with illustrator David Doran


Illustrator David Doran is a recent graduate of Falmouth University and was one of the standout graduate illustrators discovered at the 2014 shows (read more in my New Blood review)… I caught up with him to talk inspiration from the USA, working with new clients and how to engage with the commercial world before graduation.

How has your recent trip around America informed your work?
It was great to get out and about, see new sights and meet new people. Illustration is one of the few jobs that you can do from pretty much anywhere. After finishing University, my girlfriend and I felt the need to travel to new places. We had a few contacts in New York, Boston, Portland and San Francisco, and decided that it was the perfect time for us to just head off. I met with clients at newspapers and magazines, and together we also managed to meet up with other creative people. It was great to make more personable relationships with clients I’d been working with and to realise how international illustration and the industry is. Visually, the American landscape is incredibly inspiring. We took a few days to drive down the Highway 101 from Portland OR to San Francisco, taking in the wild coastline.

NY Times

Why have you decided to stay in Falmouth after graduation – what are the benefits of staying put? (other than the fabulous scenery!)
After seeing other places and spending time in a lot of cities, Falmouth felt like the most perfect place to return to. There’s something very unique about the town, it has a brilliant close-knit, creative community and there’s nothing quite like being so near to the coast!


How do you like your studio space set up?
I’m really enjoying having a studio. After a few years of working from home, I found that it was important for me to get out of the house in the morning and to have a routine of going to a different place to work. It also helps with the work/life balance. I try to stick to normal working hours, but occasionally a deadline will mean that there are a few late nights! My studio is set amongst other creative spaces, with architects, artists, jewellery designers, graphic designers and a print studio all working either side of me. There’s also a ping-pong table nearby, which is the highlight of every day.

The Weekends Start Here

What or who have been your biggest influences in illustration?
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but travel posters from the early 20th century have always been a large influence visually. I enjoy the traditional printing techniques and love seeing how tactile the posters feel. There’s plenty of contemporary illustrator’s making really great work at the moment, but I find inspiration from a wide range of artist’s, including Eric Ravillious, David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, Mark Rothko and Henri Mattise, to name a few!

NY Times Book Review

During your degree what was the best way of learning about commercial world of illustration?
There are so many resources available for students to learn about the commercial world of illustration, such as the libraries, illustration annuals, creative magazines and websites. I read lots of interviews with illustrators, art directors and graphic designers, and was always fascinated with the commercial world and the process of a job. Most tutors at Universities will also have a wealth of knowledge about the commercial world and the different areas within illustration, so it’s always worth making the most of them and asking as many questions as you can!

The Quarterly

You have unsurprisingly had a lot of success, despite having only graduated last year – what tips would you give other illustrators graduating this year?
Get your work ‘out there’ and seen as much as possible. Attend the graduate shows and make conversation with people, the people that commission work are regular people and putting a face to a name is always helpful. There may be quiet moments once you graduate, but you never know what you’ll be commissioned for in the near future, so keep on going! I think it’s important to keep your illustration work interesting for yourself by working on personal projects whenever there’s the opportunity between projects. I find this can complement my commercial work and keeps me inspired to make more work. As an illustrator you’ll often be working as part of a team with art directors and designers, which is great, but your personal projects are a nice opportunity to be in complete control of one area of your work.

The Weekends Start Here

How did you get involved with the project to illustration London: The Weekends Start Here and what was the process in researching and creating the images in the book?
Elen Jones, an editor at Ebury (Penguin Random House), got in touch with me last summer. She had seen my work at one of the London graduate shows and thought my work would fit nicely with the book concept. The process was very natural and collaborative: I was sent Tom Jones’ manuscript and I went through selecting what I’d most like to illustrate. There were a few places I hadn’t visited before, but Tom was able to help with his photographs from the research for the book. We had a meeting where we went over the list of illustrations and checked that we matched the criteria. Once we’d settled on the pictures, it was simply a case of making sketches for each of the illustrations and then working with Sophie Yamamoto, the designer at Maru Studio, to make the right adjustments to the illustrations. I then went through the list one by one making the final images. I was still in the States while I working on the book and Sophie was in Japan, while Elen was still in London, so we became quite an international working team… The time zones were very confusing! It was great to work on a larger scale project, especially compared to editorial projects, and it’s now very satisfying to be able to hold the final book and stumble upon it in bookstores.

The Weekends Start Here

What has been your favourite editorial project of recent months and why?
I enjoy almost all editorial projects, I think there’s always the possibility to make an interesting image and the process of getting to that right image can be really fun. The added adrenaline of tight deadlines means that there’s always something new to be getting on with and keeps the work fresh. A recent editorial project that I particularly enjoyed was creating a series of illustrations for the next issue of Smith Journal magazine, based in Australia, which should be coming out very soon! The magazine has a great aesthetic and the articles had a large amount of scope for concepts; the images came together very naturally.

The Weekends Start Here

What are you working on next and what would your ideal project of the future be?
I’m currently working away on editorial projects and am slowly developing a children’s picture book of my own in between jobs. It’s in its very early stages, but hopefully one day it will be revealed to the world… watch this space! I would love to explore publishing more and work on book covers in the future. I’m excited to continue working on editorials and developing concepts too!

Categories ,Book Review, ,David Doran, ,Ebury, ,Elen Jones, ,Falmouth, ,Falmouth University, ,Highway 101, ,illustration, ,illustrator, ,interview, ,Maru Studio, ,New Blood, ,NY Times, ,Smith Journal, ,Sophie Yamamoto, ,The Quarterly, ,The Weekends Start Here, ,Tom Jones

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Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Illustrator Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes, aka Hyoos, is an Illustrator and Designer whose favourite word is ‘blimp’. Studying Animation at Falmouth, he’s currently working on some great projects, including cover art for Music Producer KickRaux and Singer-Songwriter Elly Jupp. Having trademarked his alter ego Hyoos, he’s hoping to spend the next few years building up the brand. Tom has plans to start collecting watches and a love of outer space and Wales, he’s also about to take the first steps towards forging a career in illustration. With all things comic and creepy as part of his signature style, you can’t but help be drawn (geddit?!) into his scary and intriguing world.

Tom Hughes

Whether it’s a panda wearing a giraffe Kigu-style onesie (with a sprinkling of superhero), a dinosaur indiscreetly parping, or a grimacing planet earth, his drawings are always raw, grumpy and, most importantly, engrossing. I spoke to Tom about the first time he picked up a pencil (a Tuesday) and his plans for post-university life.

Tom Hughes

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am an aspiring Illustrator and Designer from Falmouth, Cornwall.

How would you describe your illustration style?
Quite creepy and realistic but with a touch of humour added in some places. I love a bit of wordplay.

Tom Hughes

What are your influences?
Anything different and unusual really, at the moment I love looking and finding animals that people forget exist and drawing them

What’s your dream career?
To be a full time Illustrator, maybe selling my designs on T-shirts…

Tom Hughes

How do you make your images?
I usually draw them freehand on paper with my trusty pencil and then scan them/take a photo of them to then put them on the computer to make them digital and add colour.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt from uni?
It’s all over WAY to quickly. I did get some experience on freelancing which will hopefully help me in the future.

Tom Hughes

What do you have lined up for the future?
I am working on making my name HYOOS known around, and getting it an ‘internet presence’. Fingers crossed I get a lucky break someday.

What kind of projects have you contributed to in the past?
I have contributed in many different random projects, too many to mention. My favourites are ones where I get the creative juices flowing and design fun and quirky things!

Tom Hughes

What would win in a fight: a pencil or a computer mouse?
Pencil any day!! The mouse is a boring piece of technology that would probably just flip over and struggle to find its feet again..

Do you remember the first time you got your hands on a pencil?
I do, I think it was a Tuesday. I haven’t looked back since.

Tom Hughes

Favourite Illustrator?
Mr Keaton Henson.

Fill in the blank. You find illustration____________

Tom Hughes

You can see more of Tom’s work on his portfolio site

Categories ,Animaltion, ,comic, ,Cornwall, ,coverart, ,creepy, ,dark, ,Digital Art, ,Elly Jupp, ,Falmouth, ,Hyoos, ,illustration, ,illustrator, ,jessicasrcook, ,Keaton Heston, ,KickRaux, ,pencil, ,Technology, ,Tom Hughes, ,Tuesday

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