How did you guys meet? Come on now, drugs tell the truth!
We met at the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2003 – we studied at the same class for six years and became good friends. While doing our Masters studies we realised that we wanted to do our MA theses together and in doing so created the base for our label R/H. Both of us have always dreamt of having our own label and what could be better than putting all our skills together to create a fashion label.
What’s best about working together? (and worst)
We have been doing very well for a label that has existed less than a year. The reason for that is that together we are stronger; we have the same motivation to build R/H up to become a solid fashion label. We create our own ways of working and the environment we like to work in. We always trust one other and support each other when needed. This is a tough business and it’s good to have someone to share the responsibilities and worries with otherwise it could be quite lonely. Of course we need to work well as a team and be able to put R/H the label before our own needs and visions. R/H is us but at the same time we like to think that it’s the third person in our company. For example while designing we always question each other whether it is ‘R/H style’ and think about the R/H girls and women who buy it and what kind of style we like to offer to them.
R/H Label S/S 2011.
The worst is that as close friends we might spend a bit too much time together talking and gossiping – sometimes it affects our working days so that the work that we are supposed to do gets held up. Of course sometimes we do not share an opinion about something that affects R/H and then we just have to discuss together and come up with the best possible solution. We definitely have our own, sildenafil personal design styles that we combine in the design process and that’s how R/H style is made at its best! Hanna has a more feminine and black style where as Emilia’s style is wilder with more colours and of course prints. There are similar aspects in our styles too. We both share the visual need to bring a rougher edge to the design. So in R/H garments the soft and beautiful is always mixed with rough details. R/H always comes with an attitude!
How do you split the work up and who is best at what?
We both do everything. It’s a small two ladies company at the moment so we have to be able to do whatever it takes to make R/H work. We share tasks with each other according to our interests and skills. There are always some tasks that are no-one’s favourites but we both try hard to take care of everything. Hanna is very good at taking care of the production process and contacts and Emilia is in charge of the PR meaning social media, magazines etc. Of course we have some people helping us out with certain tasks which we appreciate enormously!
R/H Label S/S 2011.
When it comes to designing the collection, we definitely design together. The only thing that we have divided is that Hanna is in charge of making sure that the collection sustains its major theme and style in the cuts, the silhouette and the core design. Emilia designs all R/H prints and creates the colour world of the collection. Designing the collection is always a random group of unique situations so it’s hard to say who had the first idea. We sometimes have the same ideas, maybe because we spend so much time together. It can be that another one comes up with an idea that the other one then continues. We both design first by ourselves and then start to combine the ideas together. We like to play with the contrasts of masculine and feminine through mixing soft materials with rough details.
R/H Label S/S 2011.
What’s your biggest sources of inspiration?
We get our inspirations from different fields of life. It can be a picture in a local newspaper, a certain mood in a movie, colours combined together and seen somewhere, people you might meet and their style, atmospheres in the city at different times of year, from each other, different historical eras, artists, female anatomy, photography, music and musicians. Very often music actually!
R/H Label S/S 2011.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
We like to use fine materials such as silk, silk-cotton, bamboo jersey, wool, cotton and ecological reindeer leather. Most of the materials that we use in our designs are natural and the reindeer leather that we use in R/H garment details comes from Lapland of Finland. In R/H jewellery we use materials like silver, ceramic and birch wood. We produce our jewellery mainly in Finland but also in the UK. All clothing production is done in Tallinn, Estonia. The factory is very close to us and makes great quality garments. This way it is ecological and at the same time very convenient for us. Working with a quality factory that is close to where the label retails is definitely an ethical choice.
What was the best part about our trip to Moscow? What was the most important thing you learnt?
We loved the trip to Moscow! It was so educational and at the same time so much fun. We got so many new friends and got to know a little bit of Moscow. Everybody was friendly and warm and everything was so well organised. The most important thing that we learned was that there are many fantastic designers in the world and they all share the same kind of passion and problems that we have been facing. Toby Meadows‘ lecture about the fashion business in general was very important for us.
R/H Label A/W 2011.
Where do you go and what do you do to relax?
We both love to travel. We also share a love for the sun as it is a rare luxury up here in Finland. We love to do picnics in the summer time in Helsinki by the sea and in the winter we go to sauna to relax. We listen to a lot of music, read books, draw or go to see a good movie. We spend time with our beloved ones and travel to our summer cottages to relax. We drink wine with our friends and have long analysing discussions about different fields of life. We both love to laugh and dance!
R/H Label A/W 2011.
What are you working on next?
We just opened the R/H Label webshop and now we are working on the R/H Spring/Summer 2012 collection. We would love to do some collaborations with different kinds of companies – not particularly fashion – so that is something that we would like to start looking into as well. We are also looking for a place to run a little shop in the centre of Helsinki. So we’ll keep you guys posted about that.
Finally, who would your ideal stockist in the UK be?
We are still looking for one to find us!
Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label.
I met Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label on my trip to Moscow, click where they came by train (very jealous) to pitch their brand to a panel of experts for feedback, website of which *ahem* I was one. The girls studied together for six years at the University of Art & Design Helsinki, and have forged a strong partnership which made them a delight to hang out with during my stay in Russia and I was utterly charmed by their playful style, for which they are the best ambassadors. In the first of two blog posts here’s a summary of what R/H Label are up to.
R/H Label was named for a combination of the girls’ surnames, and was founded only last June in Helsinki after being in the planning for way longer, both girls having studied and worked in fashion at home and abroad after graduation – I actually met Emilia a few years ago when I borrowed clothes from Agency V, where she worked as a PR. Small world eh? They took this time in the industry to learn about the commercial sides of the business and analysed what they could do best when starting their own label: clever girls. It is no surprise that their designs perfectly encapsulate the Agency V aesthetic; playful, colourful, printed. All good things in my book!
Whilst the Finnish design scene is strong on the international stage, the fashion scene is something new, and so for them indigenous inspiration comes from the likes of well known furniture designers Alvar Aalto and textiles supremo Marimekko who mainly produces textiles for the home. IVANNAhelsinki is one of the only major Finnish fashion designers to have a profile abroad, as well as Laitinen menswear which has a high profile in Milan and Paris.
Hanna Riiheläinen of R/H Label in Moscow.
But now is an exciting time because there is a new generation of creatives coming through. Ones to check out include fashion photographer Susanna Majuri and Helsinki based illustrator Laura Laine. Emilia and Hanna work with creatives across lots of disciplines and are inspired by Finland’s location between the east and west – a place where different visual aesthetics easily meet and mingle. Functional solutions come over from Sweden, but there is plenty of rich decorative detail to play with from the eastern side.
S/S 2011 was R/H Label’s first commercial collection, inspired by Dolly Parton, Mickey Mouse, Black Magic and the Nordic Summer Sky. You don’t get much more fun than that! It features a mix of local reindeer leather and bamboo jersey and all the bespoke prints were digitally printed onto silk – they like to create every element of the collection. I particularly love the purple sky and dotty dahlia prints, and was thoroughly enamoured of their ceramic eyeball necklace, created in collaboration with a local ceramics studio.
For A/W 2011 they were inspired by Dragons, Mountains, Acrobats and Vagabonds. Another rich inspirational mash up! Role models that helped to inspire the collection included the strong character of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, and Finnish author Sofi Oksanen. Lots of black is offset again with bright prints in louche easily wearable shapes.
R/H Label A/W 2011
Production is mainly done in Tallinn, Estonia which is 80km away, but the reindeer bags are made in Helsinki and they are keen to do more with local materials. Interest in the collection has been quick and enthusiastic and as well as stocking at home in Finland they already have stockists in Berlin, Vienna and New York. Naturally Agency V has been looking after press, which is also going pretty darn well for such a new label.
With many universities leaning heavily towards womenswear – in some cases wholly – Epsom pleased many with several of its strongest collections coming from menswear designers. One of the running themes throughout the Epsom show seemed to be an obsession with blood, advicebuy the body and corporal violence (you’ve got to wonder what’s going on down there) with one dress revealing a Westwood-esque red, cialis 40mg jewelled wound-like gape on its back.
Not pandering to this was Antigone Pavlou, viagra buy who opened the show with loud, bold and funky collection for the streetsmart city boy, with bomber jackets, tracksuits and distressed denim (the latter a phrase that struck fear into my heart when I first read it in the notes, only to be pleasantly surprised). With coloured headphones carelessly slung around the models’ necks, the designer plainly had a clear lifestyle in mind and played to its strengths in all the right ways, combining strong block primary colours with clashing graphic prints.
If some previous designers during GFW have shown a tendency to elevate and romanticise the pastoral, I think Pavlou successfully did the same for the city, offering an attractively laid-back vision of urban life where you pull on some comfortable but sharp threads, plug into your walkman and swagger down the street, content to shut the outside world away for a moment, a sentiment I’ve evidently been drawn to in featuring CTRL and Daniel Palillo in recent weeks. Another menswear designer of note was James E Tutton, whose reversible designs (addressing the issue of functionality in contemporary fashion) we’ll be featuring later in the week.
Soozi Welland’s ‘Geeks Know Style’ penultimate menswear collection was best received by the audience, with an endearing ode to all things geeky: spectacles, anoraks, bobbled hats, bow ties, and socks tucked into trousers. The geek has oft been described as the personification of a roll of duct tape, with functional apparel that will always get you out of a sticky situation, and Welland’s designs seem to celebrate this idea, with an abundance of oversized pockets, accessorising her looks with binoculars and cameras.
By the last look, though, this geek had got himself a makeover, and was now spec-free, with the bow tie sexily hanging loose and sporting a satin and velvet playboy jacket. An endearing and humorous collection that I thought was commercially viable too, and that’s no mean feat.
Amongst the womenswear Stephanie Moran gave us a hard-hitting collection about desire, fabulously quoting Mae West ‘s ‘Ten men waiting for me at the door?…send one of them home I’m tired’, and a vision of the glamorous dominatrix. One of the standout pieces was a cream PVC dress with a cinched feather corset around the waist, and for better or worse, one of the most popular trends during GFW was feathers. This was certainly one of the better examples:
Considering Epsom had given us notes on each designer and their collection, I think it was admirable that Moran’s designs needed no explaining whatsoever, with her models bombing down the runway dressed in all manner of things naughty.
A particularly well-crafted collection was April Schmitz’s, who gave us a series of garments with some serious work put into unusual fabrics including hardware, folded leather and metal rings and eyelets. Entitled ‘Visions of the Future’ it gave a throwback to 1930s aviation with leather flight caps, a retro colour palette and the repetition of some swinging circles, with panels ejecting out of the garments providing strange contraption-esque silhouettes that you expected to take off at any moment.
Feathers popped up again, this time from Lucie Vincini with a stunning jacket from an eclectic menswear collection. Mixing embroidered jumpers with carrier bag trousers, basket weave coats with a jacket constructed out of Royal Mail bags, it showed that it is possible to draw from resources across the board and still construct a cohesive collection. A thrifty delight, and with its recycling sensibilities, obviously an Amelia’s Magazine favourite!
Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969–2009
Barbican Art Gallery Barbican Centre
London EC2Y 8DS
19 June – 18 October
Daily 11am-8pm except Tue & Wed 11am-6pm
Open until 10pm every Thursday
A new season of ecologically focused exhibits, talks, events and screenings is taking place over the Summer at the Barbican. Kicking off the proceedings is this fascinating exhibition which deals with land art, environmental activism, experimental architecture, and inspiring ideas about utopian solutions to the urgent matter of climate change.
See the Barbican website for full details of all events over the next few months.
Bridging the gap between sculpture and collage, Sarah Bridgland’s intricate paper creations combine her own made printed media with junk shop treasure to form nostalgic pieces of meticulous craftsmenship. Simultaneously dreamlike and miniature while remaining technically genius, Bridgland’s collection of new work will transport you to other colourful, playful worlds.
Various Artists: Two Degrees 2009
28 Commercial Street
London E1 6AB
The opening night of Two Degrees, Artadmin’s week long programme of politically, socially and environmentally charged events, is this Tuesday. Getting it’s name from last month’s report that a hugely damaging global temperature rise of 2C could be a mere 40 years away, the 20 or so artists involved are putting the issue of climate change at the forefront of our concerns.
The opening night features among other things Daniel Gosling’s video installation ‘I Can Feel the Ice Melting’ and the forward thinking London based group Magnificent Revolution generating music for the evening with a live bicycle-powered DJ set.
R-art assist BASH@The Sustainable Art Awards 2009
65-71 Scrutton Street
London EC2A 4PJ
“The Sustainable Art Awards are open to any UK artist working within on the themes of sustainability, environmental issues, climate change and ecology. R-art will provide the awards for the SAA, these mini eco sculptures are the oscars of eco art! Sustainable Art Awards are a 2 week showcase of eco talent @ BASH Studios.
The Sustainable Art Awards is part of Respond! who aim to engage arts audiences in discussing and questioning environmental change. Respond! highlights how the arts industries are in a unique position to communicate environmental issues. Featuring exhibitions, talks, programmes, workshops and other activities. Respond! is an initiative co-founded by the Arts and Ecology center at The Royal Society of The Arts and BASH Creations.”
Current artist in residence Alexandre da Cunha is putting together a Swapshop, which is becoming an ever increasingly popular means for people to get together and shed some of their unwanted belongings in exchange for new. Anything goes at this particular exchange; buttons, furniture- even art. To book your own stall please contact Ben Roberts on 0207 472 5500.
If the extensive material on show at Brick Lane’s Free Range isn’t enough to satisfy your graduate show cravings, hop along to The Rag Factory to catch Out of Range where work from 29 emerging UK and European photographic artists recently set free from the University for the Creative Arts at Rochester is on display. The work promises to be fresh, innovative, exciting and diverse.
Dominic Allan: The Irresistible Lure of Fatty Gingo
With what might just be the best title of an exhibition I’ve ever heard, Allan’s work is self described as ‘a world of rotten teeth, bubble and squeak and uncommon sense.’ With an unhealthy interest in British seaside culture and the bizarre link-ins local holiday getaways have with sugar coated junk we feast on, Allan’s work is repelling, alluring, mysterious and addictive all at once.
Monday 15th June
The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo at the Southbank Centre, sales London.
Tonight’s gig is one not to be missed- The Jonas Brothers at Wembley, health only joking of course. If you like your music a little more deflowered and lots more awesome, then I excitedly announce that Yo La Tengo will be playing the Southbank Centre tonight as part of Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown Festival. Yo La Tengo have shaped what is almost the last 20 years with their beautiful music which moves between eerie girl boy woozy vocals and minimal keyboards, to rocking genre bashing highs. Also ‘I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass’ is the best album title ever!
Tuesday 16th June
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at Pure Groove, London.
I really love dinosaurs, so imagine my delight when I saw that a band called Totally Enormous Extinct Dinousaurs are playing Pure Groove on Tuesday evening. Being a music editor and planing gig going around loving extinct creatures is never the best idea so I checked their myspace and I can conclude my top 3 favourite things about this band, in descending order are:
3. They dress as dinosaurs a lot!
2. They have the longest list of alphabetised dinosaurs listed as their band members (Alphabetisation being my second favourite thing after fore-mentioned dinsosaurs)
1. Their keyboard tinged synthy-fun electro sounds so fun it makes me want to make up all kinds of dances called things like the ‘Triceratops Jive’ and the ‘Stegosaurus Shake’.
What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Wednesday 17th June
Jolie Holland at Dingwalls, London.
When Tom Waits says he likes something you can pretty much tell it’s going to be good and Jolie Holland doesn’t disappoint. This Texan singer has had Waits’ outspoken support since the very beginning of her career, and her fresh take on traditional folk, country, blues and jazz place her as a definite protegée of Waits, as well as a talented musician in her own right.
Thursday 18th June
A Hawk and a Hacksaw at Cecil Sharp House, London.
A Hawk and Hacksaw have skittered and clattered their way into my heart with their Klezmer- Indie hybrid loveable mess music. It sound like if Neutral Milk Hotel (indeed they share a drummer) got lost in the Baltic States for several decades in the early 20th century, armed only with a full brass band and a trusty band of wolves who were also in their own Mariachi band- and quite frankly how could that not sound amazing?
I was lucky enough to see Clinic play last year and they are terrifying (they wear surgical masks) and brilliant in equal measure- like a melodic nightmare, lots of keyboards, creepy samples, garage-y clatters and wails are a-given, yet they manage to be as enjoyable as they are creepy.
I don’t like camping. Going to bed shivering and waking up sweating doesn’t appeal to me much, mind and claustrophobia in a two-man tent isn’t fun either. Don’t even mention the word ‘porta-loo’…But all this I will get over for Lounge on the Farm.
For the past four years, sickness thousands of people have invaded Merton Farm in Canterbury, with a view to enjoying laid-back choons and getting down to some serious lounging. Despite it’s status as a ’boutique’ festival (one of The Time’s top twelve Boutique festivals, dontchaknow), there’s plenty to muck in with, down on the Farm.
Each of the six stages caters to a different taste, The Cow Shed hosting The Horrors, Edwyn Collins and The King Blues (as well as whoever you want, thanks to the You Say, They Play initiative – just mind the dung), Farm Folk, leaning towards a more acoustic experience and The Bandstand, rockin’ out the opera and punk rock karaoke.
I’ll be spending most of the weekend with Gong, Canterbrerians of the ’60s who sing of teapot taxies, and the Wolf People, hairiest band I’ve ever seen who weren’t actually animals, down at the psychedelic Furthur Tent, and doubtlessly joining Mr. Scruff for an epic six hour afternoon tea mash-up at the Hoedown – blanket and thermos a!
Lounge is foremost a local festival (for local people…) and it wouldn’t be, well, right, without Psychotic Reaction, Amber Room, Cocos Lovers, Syd Arthur, Electric River and Zoo For You, to name but a meagre few of the Kentish best performing this year.
It’s not all about the music though, in fact, in the Meadows area it’s not even about the music. New for 2009, the Meadows contains an outdoor theatre, petting zoo (pigs or partay?!) and The Red Tent if you feel in need of some spiritual healing after all the exhausting lounging about. Natural Pathways will be providing bushcraft courses, fulfilling all your wild wo/man fantasies and the Make do and Mend lane focuses on local craftsmen and their skills, with workshops running all weekend.
Whatever tickles your pickle, solar powered cinema or life-drawing class – and music too – Lounge on the Farm is the perfect place to do exactly that.
Lounge on the Farm runs from the 10th to the 12th of July, at Merton Farm, Canterbury. Weekend tickets £85, day tickets, £35
Free Range at The Old Truman Brewery is Europe’s largest graduate art and design show with free admission. Graduates of everything from interior design to fine art who studied outside of London finally get a chance to showcase their talents in the countries capital.
I’ve been to a few Free Range shows this summer already, approved but last Thursday’s exhibition of photography graduates was the one I was most excited about.
In this age art can really be anything, web Kant has been moved to the back seat and nobody thinks art has to be beautiful anymore. That said it’s almost impossible for photographers not to take images that look good. Just by being photographed the most mundane subject is rendered interesting and the most ugly object or person becomes so lovely that you just want to lick their glossy surface.
The best of all the exhibitions on that week had to be Swansea, stuff Farnham and Maidstone. With so many photographers on show it seems pointless to make a reductive comment on whether entire graduate years were good or bad so I’ve decided to create a contact sheet if you will, of the people whose photographs looked that bit extra special.
In Lauren Eldekvist’s evocative series Landscapes, unmade beds are photographed and shown huge on the Truman Brewery’s walls. For the artist the bed “connotes the human condition; birth, life, sex, sleep, illness and death”. The pieces remind me very much of one of my favourite artists Felix Gonzalez Torres and his billboard photographs of an empty, but obviously slept in, bed.
Also intriguing were James Rugg’s photographs, which aim to capture small instances, chance meetings and gestures. In them the simple act of a girl twirling string around her fingers becomes something we should give our undivided attention to.
Over at Maidstone University College of the Arts there were some strong conceptual works.
Lee Gavin presented an installation of Mapping a project that he undertook after the death of his Grandfather, he decided to cycle to Elvington in Kent, the birthplace of his Grandfather. Lee showed as his work the tent and bike he used for the trip and an interactive google map of the journey (available from his website and well worth a look.)
As a lover of old box televisions and a distruster of 40” LCD monstrosities I almost cheered when I saw Jack Quick’s work. The artist is stepping into Nam June Paik rather large shoes with his television manipulation photographs and sculptures in which he attempts to challenge uses for, sadly, now defunct technologies.
Cassandra Vervoort questions the role of the photographer and the weight of their influence and command over the photographed. In these “social experiments” she asks subjects to have a five-minute sleep in her bed while she is naked underneath the covers.
There were other photographers creating situations for their unwitting volunteers to perform in. Gemma Bringloe was one, “Can you turn around, sit down, stand up and sit down” … “Can you take off as many clothes as possible”.
And finally Laura Jenkins, who produced my favourite project of the entire show. The Tender Interval is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Actors were called forward in complete darkness and instructed to kiss. The photographs provide a record of the interval immediately before the kiss.
Free Range exhibitions continue until the middle of July. The Private view for the next group of photography shows is 6PM on Thursday. For a full list check out the Free Range website.
Words like ‘buzz’ and ‘hype’ sometimes transpire to be untrustworthy words bandied around by desperate press offices, ed but with the mid-afternoon Ravensbourne show the anticipation is undeniably huge. And rightly so – after rave reviews (two more alarm words) as well as producing the winner for the past two years, search we’re expecting an awful lot, ambulance and luckily we were not disappointed. In fact, far from it – it would be easy to ramble hyperbolically about how consistently brilliant the show was, or to point out how as a university it’s completely isolated in GFW by its galactically high standard, as elitist as that sounds, so I’ll try and keep focused.
If you’ve been following our reports (and you will have done if you know what’s good for you) you’ll have been aware of this years’ output of some truly outstanding menswear. Ravensbourne, of course, was no exception, with menswear designers Calum Harvey and Hannah Taylor opening and closing the show respectively (both of whom I’ll be interviewing in the coming days). Harvey had made a collection constructed from raw materials scavenged from car interiors, attesting to the strengths of the transformative powers of recycled fashion and making something beautiful – and indeed, wearable – out of something normally perceived as solely functional.
A selection of huge knits (the oversized scarf on the opening look was a favourite) were followed by jackets layered with woven and shredded seatbelts worn over sheer shirts and gold pinstripe trousers. Making it no surprise that he later won the http://www.gfw.org.uk/event/winners.aspxTextile Award, Harvey had created a gorgeous paisley pattern on a shirt out of frayed gold zips, while seatbelts also served to layer and tier to help create voluminous silhouettes, in one case a high collar for a knitted jumper, whilst continuously coupling the industrial looking wool with plaid and tweed to neutralise the effect.
The last look – an enormous tulle tiered cape in grey and black – seemed to typify a collection that was eminently wearable whilst staying on the right side of theatrical, and as for the patent leather bag with seatbelt fastener – yes please.
Mehmet Ali’s menswear (which later won the Menswear Award) was a gorgeously sophisticated collection in a neutral palette of pink, cream and wine, layering summer jackets and waistcoats for the occasional Brideshead-lite feel. A series of simple and exquistively crafted designs that was lent a sweet personal touch by the use of Ali’s own suitcase with his initials emblazoned across.
A strong showing for the womenswear came from Hannah Buswell ‘s collection of Missoni-esque knits, combining multi-patterned cardigans with knitted dresses for a beautiful and commercial winter collection.
Laura Yiannakou was girly, quirky and unusual, working with digital prints and synthetic fabrics to create a colourful and seriously modern collection for the fashion forward woman.
Yasmina Siddiqui also impressed with a series of Viktor & Rolf-style illustrated prints tied to ordinary silk dresses; surrealist prints that created unusual silhouettes, attempting to understand and rebrand perceptions of art and fashion:
Hannah Taylor’s knitwear as the closer was easily the evening’s most enjoyable and surprising. Entitled ‘You’ll Grow Into It!’ it was a selection of oversized knits covered in animals ranging from tiny ducks to guinea pigs to foxes, paired with multicoloured balaclavas and enormous pom-pom headpieces (what did I tell you last month?)
It successfully recreated the endearing sense of childlike fun in trying on something too big and it falling around your knees; combining loud designs with mustard-colour Rupert Bear pants, tweed trousers and enormous pom-pom collars. I especially loved the knitted balaclavas (creating an ironic sense of menace that could never be fully realised when you’ve got a massive guinea pig plastered across your body).
Aside from this, irony is something that would elude such a collection that by nature was so ostensibly warm and affectionate, with a strong sense of sentiment that I think appealed to an awful lot of people (including Erin O’Connor who was whooping in the crowd). Hannah was later nominated for the Gold Award, and despite missing out was given a special mention by the judges, and currently has her collection on display in River Island.
A truly fantastic show and a great way to finish Amelia’s Magazine’s stint at Graduate Fashion Week – look out for our interviews with a few of the graduates over the next couple of weeks!
Way back in 2006, viewNeil Boorman lit a bonfire in Finsbury Square and burnt all of his branded possessions. Of course, there was a back story to this, rather than it simply being a case of a pyromaniac getting one over on the City of London council. Neil made this bold statement for two reasons. To protest the all pervasive consumer culture and to address his own issues and addictions to branded and labelled goods. In one fell swoop, £20,000 worth of designer products were incinerated. Since then, Neil has been living his life brand-free, and documenting the results on his blog, and in his book, Bonfire Of The Brands.
While this bonfire took place three years ago, the argument about consumer culture, and the willingness of the general public to spend money that they don’t have on something simply because it ‘looks cool’ is as pertinent now as it was then. Few people in 2006 could have predicted the economic and environmental mess that we are now in. By raising concerns over the irresponsible actions of large corporations who would use every trick in the bag to entice us to buy their products, Neil was already drawing attention to the cracks in the system. As often happens, a prophet is never appreciated in his time, and Neil’s actions were met with a flood of negative responses, many from people who argued that his posessions should have been donated to charity rather than burnt. Exploring the reasons behind the criticism, he suggested that “this reaction has less to do with charity than the overall value that we have come to place on branded things; nowadays, to willingly destroy an expensive bag amounts to the same moral and cultural neglect as burning a book.”
Having seen that Neil was going to be speaking recently at the Arcola Theatre’s Green Sundays event in Dalston, I was interested to hear an update on how his brand-free life is working out, and what he made of the new, paired down version of consumerism that is being peddled to us. While brands are wising up to the facts that a) we don’t have much money to spend on non-essential items and b) we are savvier about how these products are being produced, many labels are going out of their way to champion phrases in their marketing, such as ‘fair trade‘, ‘ethically produced’, ‘locally sourced’ etc, but is this all a white wash? And if we continue buying from the big brands – no matter what placatory words they might throw at us – are we still missing the point?
When you came up with the idea for the book in 2006, consumerism was still king. Now in 2009, the Bonfire of The Brands manifesto has become all the more apparent in the current economic climate and environmental chaos. Do you feel a element of schadenfreude seeing that you were one of the first to voice your concerns?
It does feel like the country’s mood towards shopping has changed in the last few years. Recently someone confessed to me that they used to nip out to buy a new pair of sunglasses whenever they felt down, but now that money was tight, they felt stupid about it all. I get a lot of people confessing their consumer sins to me. I’m not sure how I feel about that – I didn’t write the book to make people feel embarrassed. If anything, I wanted people to feel angry that consumer culture is rammed down our throats so often. I definitely would have sold more copies of the book had it come out this year. But what would I spend the money on? There’s only so many non-branded plimsolls a person can buy.
Are people more responsive to your message now then when your book was first published?
People think I’m slightly less bonkers than before, but they’ve not stuck my poster on the wall in Selfridges just yet. We all got sidetracked by the boom a few years back, and most sensible people have snapped out of it for the time being. It’s the legions of people still flooding into Primark that I can’t work out. So many people buy gear on the never-never that the recession is meaningless to them. People laughed at me when I suggested that we are a nation hooked on shopping, but you can see it for your own eyes on the high street every day. The world might be on meltdown, but there’s still time to buy a pair of deck shoes.
Do you think that the big brands have responded appropriately to the economic crisis and new wave of consumer awareness about where their products are coming from?
Recessions strike at the heart of big brands. Not just at the till, but at the value of the brand. Luxury is based on the principle that more is more – the more you spend, the more luxury you get. As soon as you start to discount your stock, that myth goes out of the window. And all those uber-luxe ads you see in Sunday Supplements look ridiculous next to reports of mass unemployment. Luxury is a house of cards like that. The best they can hope for is that the economy picks up, and consumers forget about all this ‘ethical nonsense’.
Are there any brands that you would consider buying from again?
I’m slightly less militant now than I was after the bonfire. I’d be happy to buy something from a brand that has it’s house in order – a brand that looks after it’s staff and doesn’t needlessly pollute. But there’s no way I’d wear their logo on my chest ever again. Looking back, I was like a human billboard. Back in the 1920′s, companies used to pay people to pin company slogans on their clothes. Now we do it for free – in fact we pay for the privilege. How on earth did we get here?
Amelia’s Magazine are always keen to support ethical designers and products. Do you find that a non-brand generally equals something ethical? I would think that on the one hand you can spot the holes in a large brand, and it is easier to find out information about them, but if you were to pick up, say, a plain t-shirt from a charity shop, you would have no way of knowing if it had potentially come from a sweat shop. What are your thoughts on this?
You’ve found the gaping hole in my argument – brands do help us to identify which product does what, and how it was made. But then there’s so much greenwash about right now its difficult to decide which brand is telling the truth. I mean, American Apparel boasts that it only uses American labour. But as far as I know, they still pay a rock bottom minimum wage and only Mexican immigrants on skid row that can afford to work in their factories. Those kooky young things in the ads – they don’t stitch liquid tights for a living.
The easiest way to cut through all these dilemmas is to concentrate on wants and needs. Every time I’m tempted to buy something new, I ask myself if I really need it. If the answer is no, then I put it back on the shelf and walk out the store a richer man. Life goes on.
Going back a few years ago, you founded the infamous Shoreditch Twat; having experienced many Londoners in perhaps their least appealing and most pretentious forms, do you ever doubt the sincerity of those who are now jumping on the anti consumerism bandwagon? And if so, is this necessarily a bad thing if the outcome of non brand buying is still a positive one?
I don’t know about people in Shoreditch, but I do slightly worry about all the Sloaney fashion journalists that have started banging on about frugal chic. Alarm bells have got to start ringing when people at The Sunday Times call something ‘chic’. They’re terrified of committing to anything meaningful in case it goes out of style. And then where would they be? Trust me, they’ll be back down to Hermes when the economy picks up. But what the hell, I reckon its better to dip in and out of anti-consumerism than not at all.
What is news with your blog now? Will this remain an ongoing issue for you, and will you continue to write about your experiences with anti-consumerism?
I’m writing less but campaigning more. I’ve got a few stunts that I’m going to pull later in the year, and a big push in the run up to the election. Right now, I feel like less talk and more action. When shopping isn’t a Saturday afternoon leisure option, you have to find other things to do.
How important is the relationship between an artist and her aunt? For Miriam Zadik Gold, approved whose latest exhibition ‘Who is Mary Jane’ opens at Prick Your Finger on June 18, online it’s a pretty damn important relationship.
Photo by Kirsty Hall
In fact, visit this it’s fair to say that the work in the show wouldn’t exist without Miriam’s Aunt Sue, a car-boot sale connoisseur who runs a stall selling buttons, badges and old Ladybird books every Saturday at Broadway Market. It was Aunt Sue who found six old ceramic dolls heads in a charity shop and bought them for her niece whom she thought would like them. Miriam did like them, but couldn’t think what to do with them and put them high on a shelf in her studio for a few years.
It wasn’t until she was crocheting a pair of Mary Jane shoes for her own daughter that Miriam began to wonder about Mary Jane – why were the shoes named after her? Who was she? And why did so many musicians name-check her in their songs?
Things began to take shape. Miriam spent hours on the internet, noting down every Mary Jane-related song lyric she could find, from Nick Drake through to John Lennon to Mary J. Blige. Taking the lyrics as her inspiration she created a different Mary Jane persona for each of the dolls’ heads, and began to craft bodies, clothes and backgrounds for each one. When she came across things she couldn’t make, such as a tiny denim jacket, she turned to dolls’ clothes makers on etsy.com and commissioned miniature pieces for her band of tiny muses.
Miriam hopes that by giving these dolls a little more of an identity, she will bestow more of an inner life to the somewhat submissive Mary Janes described in the songs: ‘There was something quite passive about the way the dolls were waiting on the shelf for me to give them a story, to give them a life. For each one, I quickly had a clear sense of a little story of my own that sat behind the lyrics.’
Click here for more information about Prick Your Finger and their upcoming events.
It was Daniel Almeroth’s “The Birth of Feminism” series that formed an entry into Dazed & Confused’s Free Range competition that first caught my eye and drew me in. These sparsely yet beautifully constructed collages are not only visually pleasing but make a bold statement about the feminist movement too. He explains the work as “moments of metaphorical and symbolical events before and after this dramatic political movement. The point of the series is to highlight the tight control Men had over Women throughout our past; through religion, symptoms marriage and general social attitudes.”
Delving deeper into Almeroth’s work, I notice a similar thread of stunning aesthetics teamed with clever insights running through his artistic repertoire. The Injured Body, for example, “tries to highlight the factor of deformities due to accidents and incidents. It comments on the relationship of a figure of heroism and the true reception they may receive.”
The sign of a good artist in my opinion is one who can create work with meaning or a message, yet leave it up to the audience to form their own perspectives, drawing on individual personal references and experiences. Nothing is less attractive then artists who dictate your reactions and responses. Almeroth concurs, saying “I want to leave these images open to interpretation, to challenge the observer to reach a personal conclusion of the images intent.”
It was a pleasure to get to know him a bit better and find out what makes him tick.
When did you first realise you were creative?
I first got into illustration when I was a little’n, I use to draw landscapes of cities being destroyed by dinosaurs, covering it in glitter and dry macaroni. I like to think I’ve changed since then!
Tell me about your school days.
I completed my A’levels at Shenfield High School (where Richard from Richard and Judy, and Des from Diggit went to school!). I then studied my foundation at Thurrock & Basildon College, Essex. Then got into the Arts Institute at Bournemouth studying the Ba Hons Animation Production course, changing to Ba Hons Illustration at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in my second year.
Which artists or illustrators do you most admire? Klaus Voorman is top notch, Tara Donovan is definitely my artist of the hour and the illustrator Meyoko is particularly phenomenal.
Who or what is Crabwolf and what is your involvement?
Recently I have joined a collective with four other illustrators/designers under the name of CRABWOLF. Crabwolf was born one night over dinner, beers, drawings, some roulette and a scorpion. All consisting of graduates from the illustration course at the Bournemouth Arts Institute. We commonly all collaborate on projects such as our recent Limehouse Magazine front covers, greeting cards, promotional posters/materials, possible exhibitions in London and Dublin are lined up, a zine or two in the pipeline and discussing ideas for t-shirt ranges and hand screen printed posters that are just so good for the environment. Today Bournemouth, tomorrow? …The world.
Tell us something about Daniel Almeroth that we didn’t know already.
I’m an Essex boy, born and raised, at Eastgate shopping centre is where I spent most of my days.
If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
I’d go back to the Victorian times, making a couple of stop offs along the way. Firstly the 90′s and don an under cut then the 70′s to acquire a taste for free love, then become the most insanely popular/rich/famous man that ever lived in the Victorian era.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Probably get started on making that time machine.
Which band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
“MODERN ART = I COULD DO THAT + YEAH BUT YOU DIDNT” Craig Damrauer.
What would your pub quiz specialist subject be?
Probably a mixture of Arts, Entertainment, Geography, History, Sports, Nature, Food and Miscellaneous. They call me the quiz meister, a necessity for every team!
Who or what is your nemesis?
Tomato Ketchup & Moths.
What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
My desktop iMac. Her name is Selina.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Having a pint, a rollie and drawing in the garden.
What has been keeping you busy of late?
I’ve recently received briefs for editorial work in a few magazines, promotional posters and flyers for events, I also had my work exhibited in a local exhibition named Ishihara (which is possibly branching out to London in the near future). Me and fellow illustrator Selina Kerley also have produced a three edition Fanzine named Chien Schuanz that promoted ourselves and other local artists, selling them on the internet and local events in Bournemouth. I have also produced a limited stock of screen printed t-shirts and jumpers that are selling like hot cakes that’s keeping me warm from the recession!
What advice would you give up and coming artists?
Shameless self promotion, self initiated projects, collaborating, spending all day on the internet and with a pencil in your hand.
Who would your top five dream dinner guests be? Who would do the washing up?
I think it would have to be in a Come Dine With Me layout with Frieda Kahlo, Jean Claude Van Damme, Ghandi, Sir Alan Sugar and Picasso. I’d make Ghandi and Sir Alan Sugar wrestle, the loser would do the washing up.
What’s next for you then?
At the beginning of July some friends and I are exhibiting and manning a stool at the next D&AD space in Earl’s Court, so pop along for a chat and some freebies! I also plan to help create and brand a Fashion magazine which is currently starting to emerge on the drawing boards.
All hail Daniel Almeroth and The Crabwolf Collective. You heard it here first.
All good superheroes have an alter ego; Peter Parker/ Spiderman, doctor Clark Kent/ Superman, Bruce Wayne/ Batman, and now Randolph J. Shabot/ Deastro. As super-hero names go it’s a pretty good one, and his new album ‘Moondagger’ plays like a soundtrack to an epic sky scraper top battle between ultimate super-powered nemesis, whist retaining a bashful sweetness of a superhero’s geeky quotidian alter-ego.
What’s more Deastro is exactly the same age as me, which on a personal level makes him all the more awesome, whilst I get finger cramps from trying to play my ukulele, he has created an epic synth-driven outer space soundscape; of course it’s not a competition but if it was he’d win.
How did you get into music? My Uncle bought me a guitar when I was 5 and taught me to play ’3 Little Indians’, and I’ve been singing in choirs since about then too, and so I guess I’ve always been into it.
If you had to pick someone as a main influence who would it be? It’s really a tie between Brian Wilson and Steve Reich.
Ok, good choices! Who would provide the soundtrack to your life? I would have to say Starflyer 59, they’re like this Christian shoegaze band and they have these lyrics that are about really simple things. It’s great, I love it.
If you weren’t making music right now what do you think you’d be doing? I’d be a teacher.
What piece of modern technology could you not live without? Probably my laptop, it’s what I make music on so it’d be hard to live without it.
Who or what is your nemesis? (laughs) My guitar player is my nemesis.
Really? Is he a secret nemesis or is it quite an open thing? It’s pretty open, We love each other but we fight all the time.
What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate ice-cream, you can’t put me in front of a thing of chocolate ice-cream, I’ll eat the whole thing!
If you were making a mixtape for me which 5 songs would you put on it? ‘Come on, Let’s Go’ by Broadcast
If you had a time machine which era in the past or future would you travel to? This is going to sound really lame, but I’d probably go back to the dinosaur era.
That’s not lame at all! Dinosaurs are ah-mazing… Yeah, it would be really interesting to see another evolutionary path, just mind-blowing.
What would be your quiz specialist subject? Bible trivia, I went to school to be a pastor when I was 17, I’m not really a Chrisitan anymore but I was the 10th ranked Bible quizzer for a short minute there when I was a kid.
Wow! Do you have any good Bible trivia for me? Who was the oldest man in the Bible?
Errm…God? (laughs) God’s not technically a man…It’s Metheuselah who lived to 969 allegedly…
Which 5 people would you invite to your dream dinner party? Socrates, Michael Jackson, Jesus…ermm this sounds ridiculous Michael Jackson and Jesus!, Chris Martin just because I’d like to see him in a room with those people and Mahatma Gandhi.
…and who would do the washing up? Chris Martin (laughs) no, I’d probably end up doing it myself actually.
Tell us a secret… A lot of mine are really disgusting, I’m trying to think of one that’s kosher…both my front teeth are fake, I fell of my bike and chipped them as a kid.
After a week of technicolored, malady although not always technical, capsule undergraduate shows, ailment rife with misdirected or altogether unmanned piloting of a laser cutter, and occasionally some superior sparks of creative genius, we come to the much anticipated collections of MA graduates from the Royal College of Art. A troop of fine tailoring, sophisticated textiles and stellar styling, this year’s cadets are ready for the fray. Recurring in various forms were the bow tie a la 1920′s, pom poms which echoed the catwalks overseas, silicone, galaxy prints and leather in more variations than you can shake a needle at.
Johanne Kappel Anderson
Johanne Kappel Anderson’s magpie inspired collection was full voluminous fabrics and illustrative prints, solar dust blasted leathers and super oversized graphic pastels on black. Digitally printed leotards flashed patterns comprised of jewelry, spoons, bolts and found objects just the kind of shiny thing a magpie might take home to his nest. A few prints and shapes seemed to conjure up another winged creature…moths.
Some earthy prints with contrasty ‘eyes’ fluttered down the catwalk… there was even a cocoon jacket!
Heidi Wikar ‘s collection ‘Singing Silence’ was a series of diaphorous clouds said to be inspired by a Scandinavian landscape’s emptiness. Makes sense…if you were planning to experience it through a window, from the downy comfort of your bed. Puffy duvets appeared trapped in spiderwebs of muted greys, ochres, creams and white. All the shape and volume of modern silhouettes but without the overly structured and cresting shoulders prevalent in so many other collections this year. What resembled a bright orange parachute with clever gathers and seaming became a dress filled with pockets of air and completely weightless. Air itself acted as a material, giving shape and structure to the pieces. Apparently part of a design challenge the entire collection can be packed into one 20 kg rucksack. As if those rosey cheeked fraus needed anymore help looking amazing in the dead of winter.
Up from the realm of textiles rose an innovative take on shibori by Siofra Murphy. What seems to have started as a super large muted floral print soon condensed into a rippled shell of body-con dresses with necklines that rose around from behind the shoulders like neck supports. Paired with stretchy basics the nuanced surface went from bold to muted but remained incredibly intriguing.
Liam Evans presented one the best examples of laser cutting in a year rife with its abuse. Transcending the weighty characteristics of leather, he exploited the laser cutter for the impossible precision it was made to do. With the aid of sturdy zips Evans jigsawed his garments into a collage of ultrafine leathers. Loose motorcycle jackets were studded with an organic arrangement of thorny spikes and paired with chiffon dresses a la 90′s.
Inspired by photos in Corinne Day‘s Diary, Rachael Barrett’s collection was a modern assortment of soft feminine silhouettes constructed of a soft silicone rubber. Conservative hemlines and generous shaping gave the illusion of transparent shells revealing moments of black chiffon lace. Clever cutting allowed for ease of movement and portrayed the designers interest in the “trapped space between body and dress”.
Based on a post-apocolyptic Mexican hi-tech tribal gang in LA (that explains the Hollywood flash) that has reverted to Aztec/Mayan rituals and beliefs (still with me?) Alex Mattson’s collection is like a well tailored Malibu super hero’s wardrobe. Full of comic book colors and supple leathers the foam helmets and neckpieces were a cartoony take on the tooth-n-claw talismans of ancient Incans. Only a matter of time before they make their way onto the set of an ‘Empire of the Sun’ video, yes?
These delicately squiggly pinstriped suits made for one hot ice cream parlor attendant. Keith Gray presented a series of bright and fresh menswear in expertly tailored shirts and snug trousers with tromp l’oeil knits. Dropped crotches and retreating hems kept the whole look impossibly modern 20′s chic.
The only textiles MA graduate to send a collection down the runway did not disappoint. Louise Loubatieres juggled an exotic mix of bold ikat prints and roomy knits. A rich palette and roomy shapes complete with a 20′s beachsuit. Wonder if Walter Van Beirendonck will be knocking on this one’s door.
As this was a show it’s safe to say that Luis Lopez-Smith was the circus leader. Marching band jackets in various forms and a few green googly-eyed caterpillars adorned a few torsos with the piece de resistance being a puffy vest that looked as though it’d walked right off the set of Terry Gilliam ‘s ‘Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen’
A fantastic display of craftsmanship and impeccable tailoring lent it’s support to an impressively balanced offering of innovative textiles and experimental shapes. All the intelligent risk taking one can continue to expect from such a world class school.
Have you got a favorite of your own?
Browsing old PhD theses, this as you do of the odd grey Sunday evening, you might come across the quiet mindbend that is Stephen Stirling’s ‘Whole Systems Thinking as a Basis for Paradigm Change in Education: Explorations in the Context of Sustainability’. Gosh. Well, you made it past quiet armchair moments (not quite The Foundry of a Friday night) and the obligatory don-speak of Stephen’s title – and somehow you’re still reading, and maybe you’re starting to get the problem I see before us in this article : that, shrouded in the ivory mist of academia, someone has written clearly and thoughtfully about changing the way we think, but a first glance all too easily sees a glut of Greek and runs away. Instead, try putting your head into a mindset quite different:
Everyone tells themselves stories about the world. I’m a student, a writer, a brother. Don’t worry, you’ll not have my life story – not tonight, anyway – but there is one, or several, smoothly edited to my audience’s appetite for imaginary journeys around the world, or encounters with mad professors. But before you pin me down as some grand raconteur, check yourself out, last time you introduced yourself or got chatting to someone new.
Here’s the story-about-the-world jam. We look at the world, then we have a think about it, then we decide what to do.
Mostly, we look at the world bit by bit. Everything has a reason, and we try to find *the* reason. When something needs to be done, the straight way is best. Results delivered, satisfaction guaranteed. Kiss frog, find prince, all shiny.
Thing is, this doesn’t quite do our complex world justice, and imagining the world inadequately means we’ll make wrong decisions. Instead, Stephen suggests we look at everything all together, relations and systems rather than objects and actions. Be much more sensitive to all of the causes and consequences – the stone scudded across a river sends ripples in all directions, cheers me up a moment, and sinks, tickling a snoozing whiskered fish. Turns up a hundred years later, tumbled bumped and rounded to perfection, and stubs a distant relative’s toe on Brighton beach.
This systems approach was pioneered in, amongst other works, Limits to Growth by Dana Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers – an awesome book, classic of eco-lit, stuffed with graphs from the future that go shwoop-kerbang as people and pollution go up, food and farmland go down, and all the balance of the world’s systems are shown together. There’s a new edition out, a thirty-years-on update, which I haven’t read yet, but is high up on my list, just after ‘The Italian’s Defiant Mistress’.
Stephen Stirling is concerned with getting this kind of joined-up thinking a matter of course, throughout design education, but also throughout education in the more general, lifelong way. There’s a way to go, I can tell you from a wee bit of personal experience. Sat in the back of a GCSE Electronic Products class six or seven years ago, the three marks of my coursework dedicated to sustainability caught my attention for a long three minutes as I knocked off a paragraph to tack on to my project, jumping another hoop. This is about as far as sustainability in design education goes for now.
First off, says Stephen, is changing things we do without changing how we think. So, less waste makes more sense because I’ll save money, whether I care about where it goes or not. Similarly, not growing one single kind of crop year in year out won’t wear out the soil, and helps against pests and disease – good business plan.
Next level is the change in the way of thinking that goes along with this. Understanding our relation with the world not in the straight ‘man conquer forest’ way but ‘man use a bit of forest but is careful before his greed comes back and kicks him in the teeth’. Stephen Stirling calls it the ‘postmodern ecological worldview’ and suggests it as the best way forward from mechanical modernism and text- and sign- obsessed postmodernism. The 2012 imperative Teach-in, which Amelia’s magazine blogged about back in January, puts sustainability right at the centre of design education in this way.
Finally there’s the kind of wondering that Stephen’s thesis looks to – thinking about thinking about thinking, if you’re that way inclined. Wondering about how we tell stories about the world, and how our ways of telling might change, how they might need to change if we are to learn to live many many moons longer under these skies.
‘Whole Systems Thinking’ and ecological literacy are no longer just things to know about. They should certainly not be mere buzzwords tacked on a Corporate Social Responsibility statement or curriculum check-box and forgotten about. They need to start informing our every action. Eventually, they’ll be as mundane as sitting in a quiet armchair of a grey Sunday evening, flicking through a history of the early twenty-first century green-shift. Here’s to that.
For anybody out there who ever got given a jumper that was too big for them by doting aunt or grandparent – Hannah Taylor, order the Ravensbourne graduate whose praises I was singing on Tuesday, there is right there with you. Her collection is a paene to the nostalgia attached to the big old jumper, when things were less complicated, when the hemline fell below your knees and when somebody had to tie your shoelaces for you (velcro was always easier, no?). Sometimes, though, you wouldn’t be caught dead in said jumper. Spare a thought for the Weasley children. Mrs Weasley WISHES she could knit this good.
Tell me about making your collection.
Well, most of them I knitted using my domestic knitting machine, and the two with the ‘balaclava faces’ on them, including the balaclavas themselves are hand knitted. Everything is either oversized somehow or has shrunken sleeves, the collection is called “You’ll Grow Into It!”
As in traditional knitwear which features ‘motifs’ of animals or objects, each animal is a motif to represent ‘Victor’ (my dad) and the North, and kind of tells its own little story. For example, there’s a pigeon because stereotypically everybody up North keeps pigeons in a shed next door to their outside toilet.. The 3 flying ducks are after Hilda Ogden’s living room wall in Coronation Street, and also at home where Victor lives, we had 3 pet ducks. The Fox is a symbol of English Heritage and the sad fact that Victor only now has two ducks because at Christmas one was eaten by, yep, a fox, and the guinea pig is there because i used to keep them when I was younger, and Victor would tell me off for never cleaning them out as much as I should have done. Oops.
What’s your favourite piece?
I love each one you know, they’ve all got their own little stories to tell! However I think it has to be Nigel the Guinea Pig jumper as he is the first one I knitted in the collection.
It was probably one of the best received in the whole of Graduate Fashion Week – why do you think it appealed to people so much?
Aw thank you! I am really glad people enjoyed it, people were probably a bit surprised by it to be honest, and weren’t expecting that to come out on the catwalk! I had fun with my collection, in both the designing and the making, and hope the light-hearted element was was portrayed as I think everyone has an affinity with knitting in some way, shape or form, be it jumpers knitted for them by relatives or someone else they know. I think in the past few decades knitting has become percieved as ‘humorous’ too, so that tends to make people laugh whereas in the past knitters (and knitting) were taken much more seriously.
What was it that drew you to knitwear initially?
I just love knitting! I was shown when I was younger by my mum but I was AWFUL – I lost my patience with it but picked it up again when I got a bit older and taught myself. Before I started at Ravensbourne I used to run knitting groups in my hometown of Warrington! I think there’s alot of potential in men’s knitwear, I like to think of a boy and ‘dress’ him in a certain way or feeling. I am looking forward to continuing with it.
There seemed to be a massive amount of knitwear at GFW – have you noticed an increase too and why do you think it’s becoming more popular?
Knitting is becoming more popular, especially the social aspect of it and I wonder if it’s going to die down again at some point. If more people are learning the techniques and processes then they will use this for constructing a garment. I also wonder if it is because people are wanting something hand-made or hand-finished, one offs.
Apparently Giles Deacon was trying on your stuff afterwards – what did you make of that?
Surprising to say the least! It was quite a fast paced few days going from a bit of last-minute linking an hour before it was due to start(!) to then being put forward for the Gala Shows – I wonder if Giles is reading this? I’m taking orders soon if you want one!
In the aftermath, would you have alterered anything at all?
No I don’t think so – if it’s not broken don’t fix it.
Where next from here? Where could you see yourself working?
I like Walter Van Beirendonck‘s work, I think he’d be great to work for, although there’s a couple of people i’d knit for as it’s the knitting I enjoy the most. I wouldn’t mind my own studio actually, and be able to do all the knitting there. I’ll be starting at the Royal College of Art in September to do my MA in Men’s Knitwear, a 2 year course in which I’m really looking forward to and eventually knitting up another collection!
To keep up with Hannah, make sure to keep checking both her website and her blog.
Waking up at around half 11 the last thing that I expected I would be doing today was going to see a band that up until a few months ago I thought I had missed the boat with. But having checked the blur forums (something which has now become part of my flatmate’s and I morning routines during the last few months) I discover that Blur are playing a gig somewhere in London tonight. I should probably explain here that blur are without doubt my favourite band and have been for some time; 13 was the second album I ever bought. Details about are sketchy; all I know is that there are 170 tickets available, drugs that I have to go to Brixton to get one and that they have already been available for the past three quarters of an hour. Shit. I rush upstairs and begin shouting nonsensically to my two flatmates that we have to get to Brixton and fast, there there will be no time for showers (an unfortunate circumstance for fellow tube users given that I spent the previous day travelling and it is a warm day – apologies). Luckily they are on side so we sprint down to the station and navigate our way to towards Brixton, sprinting between tube changes only stopping when we arrive at Brixton to question someone as to where exactly the academy is from there. They give us directions and inform us that we will definitely get wristbands for tonight’s gig as they have just got some themselves. We continue sprinting never the less.
When we arrive we are given pieces of paper with numbers on them – 68, 69, 70. There is a short wait in line and as we are given our wristbands we are warned that when we are informed of the whereabouts of the gig (by email and text) that we should not reveal it to anyone as if too many people arrive it may jeopardise it taking place. Given that I have only been awake for an hour now this is all rather surreal. We reward our efforts with breakfast in a greasy spoon round the corner.
Five o’clock; showered and shaved now we get the email.
“Blur will be playing a few songs for the lucky few that have passes at Rough Trade East, Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, today, Monday 15th June.
Please get to the venue no earlier than 6.30m otherwise you may jeopardise the gig. The band will be on stage at 7pm sharp.”
This time travelling is a much more relaxing experience, there is no panicking when the train pauses between stations and we arrive in plenty of time. Having queued up and taken our spot (front stage, to the left, in front of Coxon’s mike) I talk to someone who tells me that he has been following Blur live since 1995. He looks slightly taken aback when I tell him that this is my first gig. There is a tangible sense of anticipation in the audience, no doubt increased by the intimate setting – when the band do come on stage even though I am three deep in the crowd I rarely more than three feet away.
The band come on stage Damon strutting, Graham looking slightly awkward, and Alex James once again taking the cool rock star mantle (as opposed to the cool cheese farmer). She’s So High is the first track and in my opinion at least the audience seems unsure of quite how to react, a little awed. Any lingering notions that this will be a quiet gig are soon dismissed though as the band launch into Girls and Boys followed by Advert, the air is thick with the sweat of not just the audience but also Damon as he jumps about the stage much in the same vein as in the mid 90′s and the audience react in kind. Following this we are treated to a version of Beetlebum with an extended muted intro. End of the Century is next, before Graham assumes lead vocals for Coffee and TV. Years of playing solo must have imbued him with an increase in confidence but he still has a tendency to sing into the microphone rather than towards the audience. I would argue that this was more endearing than an annoyance as was a moment later on in the set when Tender was played as neither Graham nor Damon appeared to be entirely sure of who should be singing but simply smiled off the mistake. Out Of time is next up, the only song which is played from Think Tank (the album Blur recorded mostly without Graham). Graham’s new guitar part for me is a welcomed edition personally, though my flatmate disagrees – perhaps it should have been a little lower in the mix. Tender’s sprawling ballad like nature is pushed out even further to include an acoustic only segment near the end before launching back into the full band version. For me this was the best song of the night for a number reasons, not because of the Freudian banter about Alex’s upturned bass functioning as a double bass “It’s anything you want it to be”, yes Damon.
It is the final part of the gig that audience anticipation reaches its climax in though, Popscene turns the crowd into a manic, sweat filled, pulsating machine. The intensity only increases when this is followed immediately by Song 2 and Parklife. The latter of these two is almost certainly an a grade example of how to whip a crowd into a frenzy, threaten to come off the stage but don’t ever quite do it. Finally the band ends with This is a Low, a song which succeeds in leaving the audience wanting more, staying to shout for an encore which unfortunately is not forth coming.
Perhaps the best thing about last night’s gig was pointed out by my friend, Blur played with such intensive energy that it didn’t feel like you were watching a well established act. Rather a new band that was just starting up and had to make a name for themselves.
1 man. 8 weeks. 15 sites. 41 cities. 50 sofas, prostate beds and mattresses.
These are the numbers in the equation of Lithuanian Photographer Paul Paper’s latest project, unhealthy entitled Photodiaries, which took him around the continent in 2008 and make up the content of a travelling exhibition currently taking up residency at the Senko Studios in Viborg, Denmark.
Paul explained to me that the only planning that went into the voyage consisted of printing out an A4 sized map of Europe, on which he made small dots with possible “places to stay”, though was only certain of his destinations one stop in advance. He tells me his spontaneous nature isn’t entirely to blame for this; a combination of offers from hosts coming last minute and the uncontrollable unexpected twists of fate, including rail strikes in France, all contributed to a more freeform journey.
He took all the footage on film rather than by digital means, just how holiday snaps were done in childhood- only processed when back home and removed from the transient content in which they were taken, making one instantly nostalgic to be back on the road. When I asked Paul if travelling alone was a conscious decision he made, he explained “When you are alone you are the most vulnerable and absorbent of the environment. In my case it was really good as instead of chatting I had loads of time to write diary on the train or just reflect on the last couple of days.”
A comfortable solitude is most definitely present in his work; even those images which contain figures still resonate a quiet contemplation of their surroundings. I find his work to so carefully and accurately capture a glimpse of a moment that may otherwise have slipped away out of memory; his photographs are not sensationalist or arrogant, but subtle and melancholic. You can smell, hear and taste them. They are at once personal and open to interpretation.
They chiefly occupy themselves with capturing the miracle within everyday monotony. It may be a familiar practise for artists to hunt down and capitalise the rare and special from amidst the overlooked mundane, but Paper manages to use light and focus rather than say image cropping or careful composition to achieve this, which I find impossibly impressive.
Paul Paper is a man of simple pleasures. He daydreams, he sleeps, he walks and he eats. In winter he reads in bed about faraway places and long ago travellers. He finds company in animals and comfort in books. He also happens to take heartbreaking photographs, the ones of which he took around Europe late last year have been made into a zine by Cafe Royal. He cites his favourite subjects to photograph as people and awkward situations.
Paul Paper already has invitations to stay in homes in South America and Asia if Photodiaries is to be repeated across another continent in the future. I ask him what his future plans are looking like, though I only get a vague response; “Exhibitions, exhibitions, exhibitions. And maybe a book.” This only cements my impression of Paper as someone who is fairly content with what he has; A man who is happy to be a photographic observer to life’s little miracles and common tragedies, there to enjoy the ride and document it the best he can.
And the way he can, and does, is certainly best.
A few weeks ago, stomachAmelia and I attended a conference presented by Resurgence Magazine, what is ed a publication which promotes ecological sustainability, social justice and spiritual values. It was held on a Saturday, and to be honest, it was such a glorious warm sunny day that I wondered how I was going to be able to spend seven hours indoors. I needn’t have worried, because the time flew by, and every moment was spent in the company of wise, witty and informed people. What I discovered on that day was invaluable, and I soon realised that lazying around outdoors could wait, I had some learning to do.
The talk was entitled “Economic and Environmental Recovery: From Downturn to Steady State: Creating A Better World To Recover From The Credit Crunch And The Nature Crunch”, and was chaired by the Editor of Resurgence Magazine, Satish Kumar; alongside was Fritjof Capra, the Director of the Centre for Ecoliteracy in California and Ann Pettifor, the Editor of the Real World Economic Outlook. What seems like a wordy title actually translated as a disarmingly simple message; in order for the worlds economic problems to be solved, we must all switch to a truly sustainable and ecological way of living. As I was soon to discover, far from being two separate entities, the issues of economics and ecology are more closely intertwined than I would ever imagined.
Held in Cecil Sharpe House, Regents Park,home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The morning began with a talk from Ann Pettifor. While I have a few holes in my knowledge of how the economic system actually works, I could easily follow the discussion because Ann was extremely engaging and explained the complex system of economics and trade in a way which everyone could understand. Beginning by describing the relationship of commerce and environmentalism; “If we want to help the ecosystem we have to start with finance” and went onto highlight the direct correlation between easy money/consumption and emissions, adding “we have been convinced that the most important things is money, but what is important is our labour and how we exchange it. Money creates activity, it is not the result of it. Banks should not be at the center of the economy, labour and trade should be.”
After a short break, Fritjof Capra explained a few home truths to the audience. Not being familiar with his work, I was unsure of what to expect. It soon was obvious that this prolific author had his finger on the pulse of sustainability and the transdisciplinary world of ecology and economics. Capra was keen to promote the importance of what he deemed as ‘qualitative growth’, and viewed the current economic system as outdated and in dire need of an overhaul so that it can run harmoniously with a brighter ecological age.
Directing his thoughts towards the current economic crisis, he opined “At the basis is an economic system without ethics. To lift people out of poverty, you need redistribution of money, not economic growth. But equally, no growth is not the answer, growth is a characteristic of all life; in nature it is not unlimited. What we need to have is ‘qualitative growth’, not ‘quantitive’ growth. Since what we call growth is largely waste, actual growth is what enhances life. The planet is a living, self regulating system, and evolution is a co-operative dance. The over expansion of financial services is parasitic on the economy, economists only recognise cash flows, but no other form of wealth. Unlimited quantitive growth is unsustainable, whereas qualitative growth can be sustainable if it combines growth and decline. ”
“We need to distinguish between good and bad growth. Bad growth degrades ecosystems, while good growth involves zero emissions and renewables. The projects which would qualify as ‘good’ growth tend to be small scale projects, community orientated and create local jobs.”
After lunch; we listened to a dialogue between Satish and Fritjof . Speaking about how we can learn from nature, instead of taking from it, Satish explained “In nature, there is always decay, death and rebirth. Businesses are petrified by these concepts. In society we fear death, we equal it with failure. Our economic system isn’t resilient. ”
Capra added to this assertion. “The economy is in the hands of half educated people. Every lesson on economy has to be balanced with ecology. Right now, everything is about the economy. When you put this first you put human interest above the rest of the world. When you look at forests, seas, lands, it is as a resource for us. We have to change our world view, and see that natural resource is our friend, our community. But right now, we all suffer from ‘speciesism’. The holistic world view says that we are ‘nature’, in that we are as much nature as the trees, flowers and mountains. So by this definition, we need to think differently. Our world view needs to be more biocentric, and needs to be driven by hope and by love. The meaning of life is in the living. The things that give us most pleasure cost us very little money.”
Discussing the issues of how our food, clothes and general accruements of life are flown in from other countries, to a detrimental cost to our environment, Satish and Fritjof both advocated a radical change. “60% of our living should be local, 20% should be regional, and the rest should come from other countries. The problem is not consumerism, but waste”
Later on, we sat outside in the gardens of Cecil House. By chance, a group of banjo players were strumming not far from our patch, which made for an enchanting experience as Satish guided us though a conversation which took in life, love and the universe. Quoting Ghandi‘s words “Be the change”, he advocated that personal transformation needs to be first before we can transform the world. “The past, present and future exist simultaneously” he said, and our every thought should be beautiful, creative, warm and positive. Not exactly your stereotypical economics lecture, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Resurgence Magazine runs several workshops throughout the year at various locations, if they are half as insightful as this conference then I am signing myself up for many more, and urge you all to do the same.
Illustration by Sachiko
The second Ravensbourne wunderkind I managed to have a few words with was another menswear designer Calum Harvey, help whose standout collection, cheapest constructed from mostly unwanted materials, search won him the Textiles Award and showed us innovation in recycled fashion at its most potent. It was futuristic fashion that was actually – steady yourself- forward-thinking.
At fashion shows designers are falling over themselves to give us visions of the future pulled forth from the realms of their imaginations: modern lines, silver shellsuits and sci-fi accessories. Stylistic interpretations that are otherwise meaningless and often completely disconnected from a more earthy reality. It would almost be too earth-shatteringly avant-garde to imply that sustainable fashion is the real future, and it’s a problem I wondered about when I covered TRAID a couple of weeks ago. Right on cue, Calum (with a little help from his mother) is really using his imagination and beating down that path.
First of congratulations on your win – how do you feel?
Thank you very much! Well I’m ecstatic. As a menswear designer, to be nominated alongside dedicated textile designers is overwhelming. It”s been really exciting.
Tell me about your collection – how did it come about?
Well the project first started when my Fiat Cinquecento was scrapped, and as a reminder of her I decided to keep the seat belts. I began to research the partnership of recycling and fashion for my dissertation, and it was the scrapping of my car that started the process. Usually scrapped cars get sent to Africa or Russia to create landfill, and I found out that 95% of a car can be recycled. Over the Christmas break I realised that, when de-constructed, seat belts completely change and look so different – really delicate and fragile. It’s amazing. They are all different, made in different ways, using different yarns, resulting in different colours. So it’s all unraveled (a-hem) to dictate this 9 outfit collection.
Do you plan to continue working with recycled materials? Where do you think you could go from here?
From a young age working with unwanted materials always excited me, and this has stuck. I created a small clothing and accessories label, LONG LIFE, that dealt with ideas of recycling and re-using. These issues are both environmentally and economically important for everyone. I love the idea of altering purpose and function of materials, and I love making something new from something old. So yes, I will continue working with ideas of recycling!
How would you desribe your design signature?
I’m a bit of an OAP WANNABE. I love classic menswear with an element of risk/irony and humor.
There was a strong showing of both craft and knitwear at GFW too, wasn’t there?
Yes, and I think there will be more of that to come. People are falling back in love with old craft techniques, perhaps as a reaction to fast/mass produced fashion. There is so much you can do with knit, and it can act as such a spring board for design. You are self sufficient as well, no more trips to Shepherds Bush!
What was your inspiration for the collection? Who are your influences?
I went to the library and got loads of books out on South Polynesia. I was amazed at their scarification techniques, raw and abstract wood carvings and ceremony costume. I think this reference was an easy relation to the material I was working with. And obviously working with shredded seatbelts was a major influence on how I wanted the collection to look.
Which piece are you most proud of, and which caused you the most grief?
My favourite piece is the chunky knitted jumper that my mum flew over to knit. It’s a monster. It was a good chance to show Mum a week in a fashion student’s life! The most evil piece was the final fluffy coat. It took me and four friends three days to comb over three hundred shredded belt pieces. Because each belt is different some of them don’t go fluffy, and as a result I ran out and then I had to get more…it was tough!
How did you think the show went?
I was really overwhelmed when the show happened, hearing my music (Crawl by Kings of Leon) and seeing it all go out was amazing. I was running around hemming trousers and stitching on buttons minutes before they all went out and that was stressful, but it was the best moment of my life.
What are you plans for the next 12 months?
Over this summer time I want to spend more time concentrating on the LONG LIFE brand and making a more diverse range of bags and other accessories. I’m going to start an MA in menswear at the Royal College of Art as of September, so lots of sleepless nights I’m guessing!
In the run up to UCA Epsom‘s show at Graduate Fashion Week, approved James E Tutton was burning the edges of a brushed silk shirt from his first collection – ‘Oil on Water’. When asked why he simply claims; “the material melts and finishes itself.”
James’s designs are dark, advice sharp and are a new age approach to tailored menswear. Biker jackets and trench coats with one regular sleeve, page and one raglan sleeve are just one of the quirky details found in his collection. He explains “When designing my graduate collection I had in mind what John Keats would have worn, when he penned his famous poem, ‘Ode on Melancholy’ – but in this day and age.”
Mood reflective, the clothes are black with an emphasis on melancholy; reversible shirts demonstrate the highs and lows of a manic depressive’s state of mind. In an interview James says, “melancholy; a high or low mentality – it is the main plot. It seems to go hand in hand along the pathway of creativity.” Although interestingly, Keats’s preoccupation with “Beauty that must die” seems to be countered by James’s ability to recycle and remake beauty.
A mac made of Burberry Prorsum is a key piece in his collection; the inside lining is traditional Burberry beige – representing a higher mood, whilst the outer colour remains black. It’s not an easy job to pair conventional tailoring with melancholy – but this collection is far from bleak.
James’s design, pictured alongside Petra Taoujni’s
James focuses on androgyny in his designs; hard seams with no curves are combined with feminine fabrics – producing slim, angular silhouettes. “It’s about, how far can you push the conformity of menswear – without breaking all the rules?” He says. All of the seams have sharp edges and corners – to put forth the notion of harshness; at the same time the material is fluid and soft – the juxtaposition is edgy yet chic. James adds, “I tried to keep things simple while blurring the boundaries by having two things together that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.” I think his complex and contradictory mix of ideas have a dark yet beautiful outcome – that makes perfect sense aesthetically.
In the midst of a recession, second hand or vintage are less of an option and more of a must. Many find the balance of old and new a difficult struggle, and stick to either or. It’s refreshing to see a designer whose collection includes a jacket made entirely from old seventies leather, while the burnt edges of the shirts and tops add to the deconstructive dimension.
The accessories are made from recycled film reels; James says this was inspired by the underground film maker Arthur Lipsett – whose work is regarded avant-garde and innovative. He describes each look in the collection, “as a combination of the previous looks, getting bigger and madder each time – like a Russian doll.” ‘Oil and Water’ is a reflection of James himself; contradictory in thought, yet smooth and cohesive – in its final form. He states, “Oil and water don’t mix – but look as if they do. It’s a dirty rainbow in a puddle.”
When world leaders negotiate a new climate agreement this December, they will promote one solution above all others: carbon trading. The EU already has its own carbon trading system; in the US, Obama is working hard to push a ‘cap-and-trade’ system through Congress. But what is carbon trading? What is the theory behind it? How does it work in practice? Kevin Smith will give a critical perspective on market-based solutions to climate change.
Please email london(at)climatecamp.org.uk to book a place.
19.00 – 21.00
(£3 suggested donation)
65-71 Scrutton Street
Tuesday 23rd June
Out of the Wasteland: Hope for a greener world
A talk with Dr Richard Chartres, part of a series in association with the City of London Festival. Looking at what hope there is for London to turn itself into an environmentally friendly city. Gresham College is an independent institution, founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1597, of eight professors who give free public lectures.
6.15pm, St Paul’s Cathedral, OBE chabel.
Info: Gresham College lecture list.
A screening of this new documentary with director Joe Berlinger present to discuss the making of the film. Crude has been shortlisted for the International Documentary Award at the upcoming One World Media Awards. It is the inside story of the infamous Amazon Chernobyl case, which pitted 30,000 indigenous and colonial rainforest dwellers against the U.S. oil giant Chevron.
At the Flea Pit, 49 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG
7.30pm (nearest Tubes – Old Street/Bethnal Green)
Space for this screening is limited – but we’d love you to come (and there are spaces left as this blog post is going to print)! Please email contact(at)oneworldmedia.org.uk if you would like to come.
Calais No Borders Camp
This Tuesday sees the beginning of the Calais No Borders Camp, planned to continue until the 29th June. Protesting an end to borders and freedom of movement for all, building links with migrant communities, challenge the authorities on the ground, and protest against increased repression of migrants and local activists alike.
The camp will take place in the park in rue Normandie-Niemen, East Calais, France.
Cape Farewell – Andes Expedition, Peru
Working with the Environmental Change Institute, Cape Farewell are setting off on an expedition with artists and scientists to visit shrinking glaciers, cloud forests, lower forests, areas of deforestation & the Amazon. Follow them online where the crew will be sending back live updates from the trek.
Photo by scientist John Fisher, from a previous Cape Farewell expedition.
Wednesday 24th June
Seeing Myself See
The Royal Society of Arts joins Radical Nature to present neuroscientist R. Beau Lotto performing a series of experiments involving the sky, music and bumblebees. He will demonstrate how colour, vision and seeing-ourselves-see can contribute to a more empathetic view of the environment and each other.
The Royal Society of Arts
6 John Adam Street
Thursday 25th June
Part of the Radical Nature season at the Barbican. Have you thought of the horticultural potential of neglected spaces? How can we resist urbanisation using nature? For well-rehearsed tactics, strategies and instructions join South London based guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds, as he explores the colourful world of this illegal yet flourishing gardening movement.
Barbican Art Gallery, Redgrave Suite, Level 4
7.30pm, tickets £5, book here.
Age of Stupid
Another chance to catch the Age of Stupid, directed by Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out), with Pete Postlethwaite as the last guy alive in a climate-fried world.
At the Haringey Independent Cinema (map), 7pm
Friday 26th June
Eco-Design Summer Fair
Eco-Design Fair over the weekend presenting many contemporary designer-makers focussing on sustainable design processes.
Friday evening Recycling party special: multi-media event with design, fashion, music, DJ’s and more. Organic drinks and food, an eco street chic styling area, eco and vegan fashion and beauty.
Times: Friday 5pm – 9pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm
Free entry with a donation of an old mobile phone
Dray Walk Gallery, Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery, off 91 Brick Lane, London
Contact – Louise Kamara – info(at)ecodesignfair.co.uk
The exhibition will feature new film and installation commissions from Jeremy Deller and Matthew Killip in collaboration with Professor Richard Wiseman and Diana Thater, alongside existing video work by Bill Viola. New literature, commissioned from award winning authors Mark Haddon and Ruth Padel, will also form part of the exhibition, which explores Darwin’s book ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’.
Opens 26 June
Natural History Museum
London SW7 5BD
Saturday 27th June
Sheep and Wool Day at Vauxhall City Farm Dyework is a workshop dedicated to traditional textiles. Come and see our sheep being shorn and then the fleece being spun into yarn. Lots of woolly craft activities and woolly items to buy. Fun for all ages. Relax with a cup of tea and a slice of cake
11.00 – 16.00
Vauxhall City Farm, 165 Tyers Street, London
Contact – Penny Walsh – 020 8692 2958 – pennywalsh(at)dyework.co.uk
Sunday 28th June
Insider London’s Cutting-Edge Green Tour
Insider London tours take you round hidden corners of London’s flowering sustainable community. Browse through gorgeous shops, witness futuristic architecture and connect with inspiring communities.
A maximum of 8 spaces are available, letting the group get to know each other and to foster networking.
The green tour leaves from the Bishopsgate entrance of Liverpool Street station, finishing at the Oxo Tower around 3 hours later. Halfway through, there’s a fairtrade coffee break at one of London’s stunning green venues.
To book, email email@example.com, mentioning the London Sustainability Weeks special tour and stating the date you would like to attend, at least 48 hours in advance.
2pm (meet from 1.45pm)
£25 (Special rate for the Festival)
Meet at Bishopsgate entrance of Liverpool Street
Until 3rd July
Mon – Sat 10:00am – 5.00pm
A truly unique exhibition in that all exhibiting artists are under the age of 10. Galactica Hilton ( age of 9), cure Benjamin McGowan (age of 7) and Marguerite Fox (age of 8) present Small Worlds, this site a fascinating exploration into a child’s world “with the incredible sense of adventure and knowledge that only exists within the minds of children; wonder still intact, sildenafil with emotion etched on their faces.”
25th June – 30th August
Tues-Friday 10am-6pm, Thursday 10am-9pm, Saturday midday-6pm
Closed Sunday & Monday
Exploring the ties as well as the tensions between form and function, craft and fine art, the Louise T Blouin Foundation is featuring a series of educational events, discussions, lectures and workshops as well as an exhibition in collaboration with the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Artists include Marc Quinn, Pablo Reinoso, Thierry Dreyfus, Vincent Dubourg and Sebastian Brajkovic.
A well loved spot on the London craft event circuit, The Old Queen’s Head is having an afternoon of handmade craft and ethical products from designer clothing to jewellery to dolls and everything in between. There promises to be homemade treats to gobble, booze to glug and music to tap your feet to. And the best part of it all? It’s completely free!
Make Your Own Damn Festival! The Sun & Doves
61 – 63 Coldharbour Lane
London SE5 9NS
7 – 10pm
As part of Camberwell’s Art Festival this week the lovely folk at Stitch and Bitch London are taking over South London’s artsy pub The Sun & Doves and running a ‘Make Your Own Damn Festival!’ workshop with a knitted theme for all those interested, from beginners to old maestros. Wool and needles provided but feel free to bring your own.
“Joe Upton presents an eclectic range of works using 3D Film and Mixed-Media. In this week long exhibition Upton invites the audience to engage in ‘pseudo-activities’ which break the conventional roles of spectatorship through an immersive 3D Film installation and participatory Paint-By-Numbers.Inspired by the avant-garde movement of Situationism, Upton transposes the theory of The Society of the Spectacle to the modern day. He questions our role as producers and consumers of culture and explores themes of novelty value, pop culture and commodity fetishism.”
As a prologue to the upcoming Channel 4 broadcast this July in which the nation will be taught the skills and techniques of life drawing, a series of free classes are being held across the city and throughout the country, led by John Berger, Judy Purbeck, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume and Humphrey Ocean. In a different location every lunch-time, the first-come first-served classes are free but there is no advance booking. For full details click here.
Curated by Melanie Warner, after whose own biodegradeable sculpture, standing 3 metres tall and made from corn and starch based bioplastic, the show is named; this diverse collection of media from emerging British Artists aims to inspire and provoke debate around issues of sustainability and the environment.
Under, viagra 40mg over, pharmacy under, website like this over… who would have thought a spot of weaving could help me feel better? These past few weeks have been some of the most stressful of my life as a designer living in London. Worries about my degree work, money and job hunting have caused huge amounts of stress and, as I’m sure many would agree, we all need a bit of escape once in while.
Perhaps unusually, I’ve turned to crafting. I’m using a weaving loom brooch I made, to relieve my current feelings of anguish. I’ve always been a crafter and I’ve always turned to creative expression as an antedote to life’s pressures. I chose my graduating year as a design student at Goldsmiths to explore my relationship with craft further. After all, craft’s recent resurgence in popularity can be identified as a reaction to current circumstances. The craft trend highlights the importance of homemaking in people’s lives.
During this time of recession it seems logical to ‘make’ more. If you’re strapped for cash but want a new outfit why not try and make one? For me, the perfect alternative to a days shopping with the girls is a crafty party. Offering situations for discussion, laughter, relaxation and production, the beauty of these parties is no one has to be an expert; everyone can learn off each other and inspire each other.
The parties celebrate our natural instinct to make with our hands, and we gain a sense of achievement from the production of a handmade object. There’s something hugely satisfying in wearing something you made and you’re proud of. Hosting crafty parties led me to the realisation that craft could be powerful. Now I just needed to convince more people!
I designed to encourage the crafter in everyone. I made a series of ‘craft in transit’ garments allowing the wearer to be creative whenever and wherever the mood takes them. The crafty dress holds a variety of tools, and when worn and used forms a space and opportunity for creation. These portable tools for creative expression allow the wearer to make use of times of unproductivity. Using a portable weaving loom whilst the bus you’re sitting on is stuck in traffic is a rewarding experience. Although there might be a few strange looks, the ability to be creative avoids the feelings of frustration usually given when using public transport. Equally, wearing your crafty ring to the pub to meet your mates makes crafting both recreational and fashionably different.
By reclaiming craft we leave behind its traditional past and we celebrate its contemporary relevance. Craft offers a cheap and creative alternative to our over-consumption, and I believe by turning to craft during these stressful times we can celebrate ourselves as creative individuals, as makers, as designers. So why not host a crafty party this weekend, go ahead, make stuff – I’ll soon be doing a how-to guide right here at Amelia’s Magazine if you need some ideas!
Not going to Glastonbury? Don’t be sad, try turn that frown upside down and come to these!
Monday 22nd June
Wavves at the Luminaire, London.
Wavves are playing The Luminaire tonight, ride the wave of their reverb-y surfer noise fun!
Also keep you eyes peeled this week for our interview with San Diego’s strangest, we talked about murder, Arrested Development and crypto-zoology.
Tuesday 23rd June
The Thermals at Cargo, London.
The Thermals are heating things up at Cargo with their catchy simple punky indie rock. Short, snappy and fun.
Jamie T, the third best thing to come out of Wimbledon after Wombles and myself, has made something of a turn around with his come back, more noisy, angry and punk that before Jamie T proves he’s not a one-trick pony.
Thursday 25th June
Groanbox at the Luminaire, London
Groanbox bring their rootsy American folk to the Luminaire.
Friday 26th June
White Light/ Daft Drunk at the Lexington, London
Open Sesame! is a critical glance of our own world, order a view of nothingness, dosage by German sculptor Isa Genzken.
Although the doors of the recently refurbished Whitechapel Gallery are not programmed to react to the shout of any contemporary Ali Baba, cialis 40mg crossing the threshold is still a magical experience. Open, Sesame! is not merely an exhibition, but a complete retrospective –the first one in London– of the work of an art world veteran. The fusion of photography, painting, architecture and ‘objets trouvés’ in this sculptural body of work has influenced several generations of artists, the British Rachel Whiteread among them. I’m talking about the awe-inspiring German artist Isa Genzken who is already in her fifties. The route around the exhibition is a trip through the artist’s life, starting with her earliest works from the seventies on the first floor. Genzken reflects on emptiness, our loss of humanity along with the de-humanization of the city, and our inability to communicate.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. And from the beginning of your journey throughout this exhibition it becomes clear that windows are one of Genzken’s biggest obsessions. She perceives them as empty frames, without glass; absurd and cold; devices for looking at absolutely nothing. The works provide an insight into Genzken’s perception of humanity’s achievements which in her eyes, amount to nothing.
In the same space we can clearly see the topic of lack of communication in World Receivers, a huge radio and two speakers made of concrete ruins in 1987, just a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Up in the second floor (Not to be missed the lamps by Tobias Rehberger as you go up in the staircase), whoever is not paying attention to the notices and doesn’t know much about Genzken’s work, may think the work in the upper galleries is by someone else. Objects here are much closer to the ordinary; concrete, glass and plaster have been swapped by the leftovers of consumer culture. We are now told: we are what is around us – we are what we consume.
Her later work is pleasantly disconcerting; an optimistic container (thanks to her use of bright day-glo colours, reflections and glitter), for critical (and sometimes pessimistic) content. In general, the scene is distressing but colourful: walking aids for elderly people, wheelchairs like old sluts with too much make-up, and soulless dummies, with trolleys in their hands and gas masks on their faces, outlandishly glammed-up for a decadent Street Party which could be the non-stop Berliner Love Parade at 7am. A chance for the human being to get out of his boring routine and forget the bossy super self which keeps him tied to social mores.
One thing is clear: Genzken’s sculpture is influenced by architecture as much as architecture is influenced by her sculptural-way of thinking. Many of her works are ironic scale models for larger structures for two of the cities where she has spent her life: New York and Berlin. New York models are made of pizza boxes, found plastic and artificial flowers like those found on graves. Her Social Facades are superficial walls, without any depth, which integrate the image of the spectator into the art object itself. After all, Genzken’s perception of architecture is as the human being’s reflection. But the most controversial building proposal of the show is her alternative to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Although the fate of this space has already been written (with the building of six skyscrapers for business purposes), Genzken proposes two glass towers instead of the Twin Towers, covered by images of the 9/11 catastrophe as a memorial, a hospital, and a twenty-four-hour nightclub. Who said Germans don’t have sense of humour?
After seeing handicraft and sculptural techniques on show from so many graduates recently, seek it’s a pleasure to see the spirit also in the works of more seasoned designers. Investing traditional craft ideas to fashion is Swedish knitwear specialist Sandra Backlund, and whose handmade designs combine fashion, this art and craft to create what seems like architecture for the human body.
Backlund first came to public attention in 2007 at the Hyères Fashion Festival, winning with a daring collection entitled ‘The Ink Blot Test’, building her knitwear into a three-dimensional garment, as if brick by brick, until it became what she describes as appearing “a symmetrical accident”. It’s a method of working that derives from her tendency to build from ideas, rather than sketches, which allows the process of design to become a more organic, and perhaps emotive, experience.
A graduate from Stockholm’s Beckman’s School of Design, Backlund has worked for Louis Vuitton but now is at the helm of her own eponymous label. There she is free to experiment in search of increasingly new shapes and silhouettes for the body, through constantly changing knitwear techniques.
She views her pieces as art, admitting she approaches her work less as a tailor, more a sculptor. Usually found isolated within her studio knitting away for twenty hours a day, she acknowledges the pressure within the fashion world to renew oneself to stay on top, but she prefers to “recycle ideas”, always working with the human body as her inspiration. Trend, it seems, is an admirably redundant concept for Backlund.
The act of making as a source of well-being is a theme we’ve constantly returned to at Amelia’s Magazine in recent months (something Ester Kneen will be exploring more tomorrow) and Backlund similarly draws strength from this feeling of therapy, and has said “when others write poems to deal with themselves, I do fashion”.
It’s a warming idea that mingles with Shakespeare‘s assertion of both the healing and transformative capacities of making art in whatever form, and indeed, Backlund more than anything seems concerned with that sartorial transformation – anything else would be insufficient. Indeed, she likes to create from the ground upwards, saying that it’s heavy wool collage knitting that she finds most rewarding as it allows the freedom to actually construct her own fabric from scratch to work with.
Perhaps the most valuable impression of her designs comes from an emphasis on timelessness, an increasingly relevant strength pertaining to the credit crunch movement towards more classic pieces. As handmade knitwear they are also the beneficiaries of a uniqueness abstracted from homogenised fashion – ultimately creating what she views as ‘the real thing’. As we race towards the future at breakneck speed, with reality gradually living up to some existentialist nightmare, the real thing has never seemed more important.
Essi Kimpimäki is a Finish illustrator who will be featured in my upcoming 10th anniversary limited edition artists’ book, That Which We Do Not Understand. You can also buy her wonderful work as a limited edition print featuring real gold leaf: visit my Kickstarter campaign here to find out more. Essi relocated to Scotland to study at the Glasgow School of Art. She creates textures through the use of ink, rollers, watercolour, paint, sponge and pencils, before scanning her work into Photoshop where she plays around with the colours and arrangements. Shamaness (above) is her contribution to my book and is inspired by ancient Mesoamerican civilisations who believed there was a strong connection between the spirit and visible world. The jaguar was a protective spirit companion for shamans as they moved between the realms and the bird is emblematic of the ecstatic trance state.
How did you research the themes for Shamaness, and what was it in particular that appealed to you about the ideas you chose to illustrate?
I have always been really interested in different cultures, of both past and present, all around the world – the further away the better! I find it fascinating how differently people perceive the world we all live in, and especially the more abstract ideas in life, the things we do not fully understand. In my opinion, the old civilizations usually had the most interesting ways of seeing things, which is why I looked at the ancient Mesoamerican cultures for this project, and the way they saw and experienced the connection between the spirit and visible world.
The colour palette is amazing, where did you find inspiration for such a bold scheme?
Thank you! I work pretty intuitively when it comes to colours; I like using bold colours in my work in general, and I suppose with this one the bright colour palette came naturally with the exotic location deep in the jungle. I also wanted to create a stark contrast between the shamaness and the dark background of the night-time jungle.
How did you find out about the open brief and why did you decide to submit?
I think I first saw it on my Twitter feed. I have admired Amelia’s Magazine for a long time but never had the chance to even try to contribute to it, as it wasn’t in print anymore at the time I discovered it. So when I saw this opportunity, combined with the inspiring theme, I obviously had to give it a go!
What are your favourite subjects to draw and why?
I’d say my favourite subject to draw is definitely faraway places. There are so many places in the world that I’d like to see (but I’m pretty sure I’ll never see them all unless I win the lottery..), so I guess researching and drawing these places is kind of like alternative travelling to me. I don’t overly enjoy replicating an existing place right down to the comma, but I rather try to create an image that will hopefully convey the atmosphere of the location to the viewer.
Sketches for children’s book.
You also make your own screen prints, what do you love most about the process of creating art this way?
I currently work mostly digitally, but definitely want to get back to screen printing soon! Working digitally is faster and more cost efficient, but it’s just a completely different experience. When screen printing, you get so much more involved in the process, you are actually creating something tactile with your hands. I also find that screen printing can be pretty stressful at times; when things start going wrong, they really do go wrong, and you can’t fix it as easily as you can with Photoshop. But I guess this also adds to its charm! You can also end up with happy accidents that actually make the work better and more interesting. And seeing and feeling the lovely texture of the finished print definitely makes it all worth it.
You are originally from Finland but now reside in Glasgow… why did you decide to study in Scotland and what has kept you there?
At least at the time there weren’t really any illustration only degrees available in Finland, you had to study graphic design as well, which I wasn’t interested in. I also just wanted to live abroad again (I had previously lived and worked in England for a few short periods), so returning to the UK was an easy and natural choice for me. Because of the high tuition fees in England, I ended up looking at art schools in Scotland, decided that Glasgow seemed like a nice city, and that’s pretty much how I ended up here. My intention was never to stay here after graduation, but I guess things rarely go as you plan! I have my friends and boyfriend here now and I also find Glasgow an inspiring, exciting and friendly city to live in. If only it was located somewhere sunnier, though…
How much of an inspiration does your homeland remain, and how do you think your Finnish roots affect your approach to work?
I honestly don’t know; I’m not aware of actively being inspired by my homeland, but then again, I guess these things often happen subconsciously. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I read this from, but someone wrote that due to our location, Finnish culture is a mixture of West and East; more ornamental and romantic aesthetics from the East, and minimalistic and graphical approach from the West and Scandinavia. I think this is something I can relate to regarding my own work, so maybe that is where my roots show.
What are you working on at the moment.. can you give us any sneak peaks?
I’m actually preparing for the Christmas period at the moment; folding cards, cutting cardboard, packing prints, sending out orders. I have just received my Christmas cards and a few other new prints from the printers, ready for the Christmas market I’m attending next month. In addition to this, I’ve been doing some very early sketches of the main character cat for a children’s book that me and my friend are working on!
Don’t forget to visit my Kickstarter campaign if you like Essi’s work. Her print is for sale right here. Read about the creation of the print on her blog here. 50% of profits (after print, packaging and shipment costs are met) go to the artist, so if you like what you see, go support her!
I am seriously loving the video for Zebra and Snake‘s new single Sweetest Treasure – made by Sing J. Lee, a young award winning director from the North West – and featuring a fearless tribe of children who do battle with scary-toothed monsters in the woods. Zebra and Snake are Matti and Tapio, who hail from Finland and are currently settled in Helsinki, where their combined loves of synths and classical music has informed their own creation: fuzzy 80s influenced electronica with great melodies, of which lead single Sweetest Treasure is a great example.
Sing J. Lee said of making the video: ‘I had a great time working on Sweetest Treasure for Zebra and Snake. It transported me back to my childhood where I ran around my back garden pretending I was on some epic adventure.’ The idea began with the idea of incorporating children and monsters: Matti and Tapio wanted to include Nordic influences in the short story format, where a small kid is trapped by monsters, and Sing J. Lee added references to the games he enjoyed as a child. To keep the mood light hearted the monsters were made from balloons, the blood from powdered paint. The video was shot in various locations in South Wales and Epping Forest. Take a peek, it’s insanely moreish. Zebra and Snake go on a mini tour later in February, to support the release of their new EP on 100%.