Amelia’s Magazine | Valentines Day: Gifts and Ideas


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, unhealthyJoan Wasser announces to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, discountJoan Wasser announces to introduce “Hard white wall”, adiposity a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, recipe Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.


But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, viagra ” announces Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.


But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, recipe which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, here now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. But between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think? Especially the ladies amongst us…

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

You can read more about my abysmal love life in my Valentines blog post from 2010.

Categories ,ACOFI, ,Adam Smith, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Andrea Peterson, ,Anieszka Banks, ,Ankolie, ,Artist Andrea, ,Becca Thorne, ,Bex Glover, ,Can We Shall We, ,Diana F+, ,EC One, ,Emma Block, ,Ethical Gold, ,etsy, ,fairtrade, ,Fisheye 2, ,Flowers, ,Gemma Smith, ,gifts, ,Gold, ,hearts, ,ica, ,Je t’aime, ,Jenny Lloyd, ,Jenny Robins, ,jewellery, ,Joana Faria, ,Laura Gravestock, ,Liz Lewis, ,Lou Cloud, ,Museum of Everything, ,Natsuki Otani, ,Oria, ,Peacock Heart, ,Peter Blake, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Prick your Finger, ,Quinky Art, ,rob ryan, ,Simon Critchley, ,Society 6, ,Soma Gallery, ,The School of Life, ,Valentine’s Day

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Amelia’s Magazine | Real People do the Catwalk

realpeople1

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Last night I was delighted to be invited to the ICA for an emphatic catwalk show with a difference. The event was organised by former designer Elaine Foster-Gandey; director of Designer Sales UK.

Elaine developed Real People do the Catwalk after hosting a fashion show which included both dancers and models on stage. “I asked my customers about it and they said they related to the dancers and not the models”.

Spurred by this Elaine set about putting together a pioneering show to further the arguement that replacing super-thin models with people who reflect society could lead to increased sales for the fashion industry.

icacatwalk13

The show opened in silence with the models resembling extras from Scream in their attire of long black robes and white masks. Each model first vocalised how they felt the fashion industry related to them, stomach cheap followed by revealing their beautifully styled outfits and their real identities.

therealfaceofbritain

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

The driving force behind the model casting to show the fashion industry that different body shapes can be celebrated in fashion shows and advertising campaigns.

“It is about not creating an elite world where no one else can join in,” Explained Elaine. “So many people want a chance, but know that because they are five foot tall, or a size 14-16, they never will have.” The models featured within the show ranged from a 6’1” Drag Artiste to a 5’4” male; dress sizes 8 to 20 and ages between 25 to 60+.

What I enjoyed most about the show was the diversity and celebration of the models differences. It was fresh and modern with all the models having poise, confidence and importantly a great sense of humour. Their
good spirits and sense of fun gave the show an electric atmosphere.

icacatwalk8

The models’ charismatic personalities brought out something unique in the clothes that might not have been projected if worn by a ‘normal’ model. Whether this is because they were real people displaying how the clothes would fit on our own bodies or down to their insurmountable energy and passion for highlighting an issue intricately linked to the size zero debate.

Afterwards there was a riveting post-show debate featuring: Elaine Foster-Gandey; Real People do the Catwalk organiser, writer Dariush Alavi; Eleni Renton, founder of Leni’s Model Management; Hilary Alexander, esteemed fashion director at The Daily Telegraph and was chaired by writer and broadcaster Bidisha.

icacatwalk12

The debate began by Dariush Alavi somewhat controversially enquiring as to why Real People do the Catwalk
was produced to “enact a traditional fashion show.” Suggesting that by keeping the traditional format, could anything change by replacing the models with real people as it is not the models who are at fault but the stage on which they stand. Alavi suggested doing away with the catwalk altogether.

This prompted both Hilary Alexander and a member of the audience to defend the catwalk as “fashion’s world stage” and looked back to a John Galliano show where the entire collection was presented on an overhead track of basic clothes hangers. Dariush’s response suggested making models obsolete and displaying clothes on a fashion conveyer belt went down like a lead balloon. The audience and the rest of the panel remained sceptical of high fashion designers considering a presentation that in a format is more commonly associated with The Generation Game.

realpeople3

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Questions were raised about the morality of the fashion industry and the spotlight on the size zero debate intensified. Hilary spoke about the Telegraph not facing the same constraints from advertisers as glossy fashion titles and said that the newspaper’s “aim to strike a balance between real people and models and actively try to include both types of woman in spreads… the oldest woman we’ve ever featured was 94.”

Panellist Eleni Renton mentioned that the Editor of UK Vogue Alexandra Shulman spoke out against size zero in June accusing designers of making magazines hire models with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips” by supplying them with “minuscule” garments for their photo shoots. She claimed that Vogue frequently “retouched” photographs to make models look larger. In response Hilary questioned whether things had begun to change at UK Vogue as they still fail to represent body diversity within their pages, suggesting it would become apparent what their real stance on size zero is over the coming months.

realpeople2

(photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Elaine added that whilst magazine images are not healthy for women, they have a considerable impact on impressionable teenagers who start to believe they need to emulate perfect bodies in order to be considered beautiful and successful.

“Look around, everything we see is airbrushed… these aren’t real images.”

To emphasise her point Elaine spoke of teenagers being more body conscious than any generation before citing her own children as an example: “I have a six-year-old daughter and 11 and 15-year-old stepdaughters who are constantly looking in the mirror. My stepdaughters are so skinny and so conscious about what they eat and what they see in the media. They are constantly aware of body image issues. It is a big issue for adolescent girls and boys.”

icacatwalk14

The panel and audience agreed that the media are responsible for putting different demographics into the mainstream and popularising diversity, and that they have a moral responsibility to society to not glamorise super skinny body shapes. Elaine believes that there has “been a spike in our body consciousness” in recent years and we have turned into a society “afraid of flesh, hair and wrinkles”.

Eleni, director of Leni’s Model Management only works with girls “who are sizes 8 to 12… They are the type of girls you see in the street and think, ‘I would like a body like hers.”

As the debate drew to a close the supermodel era was discussed, with Hilary citing that the greats in the industry: Linda, Kate and Naomi all had personality, and that was what made them famous, rather than their figures. On the flip side other great supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Sophie Dahl were celebrated for having curves.

Through the conversations it became apparent that the only modern day equivalent of a curvaceous celebrity pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in mainstream is Beth Ditto, who won LOVE magazine a prestigious industry award for her iconic nude cover

love-magazine

The overall outcome was for women to take responsibility for themselves and their bodies and actively promote positive body attitudes to their daughters, friends and grandchildren. Everyone agreed that while it is easy to blame the media for the size zero trend, consumers need to use our buying power to actively challenge the fashion industry into reconsidering their design practices and elitism.

I left the ICA feeling very empowered, wanting to help revolutionise the fashion industry from the outside in.

Categories ,Bidisha, ,Dariush Alavi, ,Designer Sales UK, ,Dove Real Beauty Campaign, ,Elaine Foster-Gandey, ,Eleni Renton, ,Hilary Alexander, ,ica, ,Kate Moss, ,Leni’s Model Management, ,London Fashion Week, ,Mark Fast, ,Naomi Cambell, ,Real People do the Catwalk ICA, ,Size Zero Debate, ,The Daily Telegraph, ,The Guardian

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Amelia’s Magazine | Real People do the Catwalk

realpeople1

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Last night I was delighted to be invited to the ICA for an emphatic catwalk show with a difference. The event was organised by former designer Elaine Foster-Gandey; director of Designer Sales UK.

Elaine developed Real People do the Catwalk after hosting a fashion show which included both dancers and models on stage. “I asked my customers about it and they said they related to the dancers and not the models”.

Spurred by this Elaine set about putting together a pioneering show to further the arguement that replacing super-thin models with people who reflect society could lead to increased sales for the fashion industry.

icacatwalk13

The show opened in silence with the models resembling extras from Scream in their attire of long black robes and white masks. Each model first vocalised how they felt the fashion industry related to them, followed by revealing their beautifully styled outfits and their real identities.

therealfaceofbritain

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

The driving force behind the model casting to show the fashion industry that different body shapes can be celebrated in fashion shows and advertising campaigns.

“It is about not creating an elite world where no one else can join in,” Explained Elaine. “So many people want a chance, but know that because they are five foot tall, or a size 14-16, they never will have.” The models featured within the show ranged from a 6’1” Drag Artiste to a 5’4” male; dress sizes 8 to 20 and ages between 25 to 60+.

What I enjoyed most about the show was the diversity and celebration of the models differences. It was fresh and modern with all the models having poise, confidence and importantly a great sense of humour. Their
good spirits and sense of fun gave the show an electric atmosphere.

icacatwalk8

The models’ charismatic personalities brought out something unique in the clothes that might not have been projected if worn by a ‘normal’ model. Whether this is because they were real people displaying how the clothes would fit on our own bodies or down to their insurmountable energy and passion for highlighting an issue intricately linked to the size zero debate.

Afterwards there was a riveting post-show debate featuring: Elaine Foster-Gandey; Real People do the Catwalk organiser, writer Dariush Alavi; Eleni Renton, founder of Leni’s Model Management; Hilary Alexander, esteemed fashion director at The Daily Telegraph and was chaired by writer and broadcaster Bidisha.

icacatwalk12

The debate began by Dariush Alavi somewhat controversially enquiring as to why Real People do the Catwalk
was produced to “enact a traditional fashion show.” Suggesting that by keeping the traditional format, could anything change by replacing the models with real people as it is not the models who are at fault but the stage on which they stand. Alavi suggested doing away with the catwalk altogether.

This prompted both Hilary Alexander and a member of the audience to defend the catwalk as “fashion’s world stage” and looked back to a John Galliano show where the entire collection was presented on an overhead track of basic clothes hangers. Dariush’s response suggested making models obsolete and displaying clothes on a fashion conveyer belt went down like a lead balloon. The audience and the rest of the panel remained sceptical of high fashion designers considering a presentation that in a format is more commonly associated with The Generation Game.

realpeople3

(Photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Questions were raised about the morality of the fashion industry and the spotlight on the size zero debate intensified. Hilary spoke about the Telegraph not facing the same constraints from advertisers as glossy fashion titles and said that the newspaper’s “aim to strike a balance between real people and models and actively try to include both types of woman in spreads… the oldest woman we’ve ever featured was 94.”

Panellist Eleni Renton mentioned that the Editor of UK Vogue Alexandra Shulman spoke out against size zero in June accusing designers of making magazines hire models with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips” by supplying them with “minuscule” garments for their photo shoots. She claimed that Vogue frequently “retouched” photographs to make models look larger. In response Hilary questioned whether things had begun to change at UK Vogue as they still fail to represent body diversity within their pages, suggesting it would become apparent what their real stance on size zero is over the coming months.

realpeople2

(photograph by Natasha Caruana)

Elaine added that whilst magazine images are not healthy for women, they have a considerable impact on impressionable teenagers who start to believe they need to emulate perfect bodies in order to be considered beautiful and successful.

“Look around, everything we see is airbrushed… these aren’t real images.”

To emphasise her point Elaine spoke of teenagers being more body conscious than any generation before citing her own children as an example: “I have a six-year-old daughter and 11 and 15-year-old stepdaughters who are constantly looking in the mirror. My stepdaughters are so skinny and so conscious about what they eat and what they see in the media. They are constantly aware of body image issues. It is a big issue for adolescent girls and boys.”

icacatwalk14

The panel and audience agreed that the media are responsible for putting different demographics into the mainstream and popularising diversity, and that they have a moral responsibility to society to not glamorise super skinny body shapes. Elaine believes that there has “been a spike in our body consciousness” in recent years and we have turned into a society “afraid of flesh, hair and wrinkles”.

Eleni, director of Leni’s Model Management only works with girls “who are sizes 8 to 12… They are the type of girls you see in the street and think, ‘I would like a body like hers.”

As the debate drew to a close the supermodel era was discussed, with Hilary citing that the greats in the industry: Linda, Kate and Naomi all had personality, and that was what made them famous, rather than their figures. On the flip side other great supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Sophie Dahl were celebrated for having curves.

Through the conversations it became apparent that the only modern day equivalent of a curvaceous celebrity pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in mainstream is Beth Ditto, who won LOVE magazine a prestigious industry award for her iconic nude cover

love-magazine

The overall outcome was for women to take responsibility for themselves and their bodies and actively promote positive body attitudes to their daughters, friends and grandchildren. Everyone agreed that while it is easy to blame the media for the size zero trend, consumers need to use our buying power to actively challenge the fashion industry into reconsidering their design practices and elitism.

I left the ICA feeling very empowered, wanting to help revolutionise the fashion industry from the outside in.

Categories ,Bidisha, ,Dariush Alavi, ,Designer Sales UK, ,Dove Real Beauty Campaign, ,Elaine Foster-Gandey, ,Eleni Renton, ,Hilary Alexander, ,ica, ,Kate Moss, ,Leni’s Model Management, ,London Fashion Week, ,Mark Fast, ,Naomi Cambell, ,Real People do the Catwalk ICA, ,Size Zero Debate, ,The Daily Telegraph, ,The Guardian

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Amelia’s Magazine | The ACOFI Book Tour: the first night at Tatty Devine, Covent Garden

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

On Tuesday evening The ACOFI Book Tour got off to a flying start at the Tatty Devine store in Covent Garden. As people started to arrive Rosie, Sonja and I laid out fragrant pots of Lahloo Tea to be drunk from beautiful retro china mugs and placed the gorgeous Cute as a Cupcake miniature cupcakes on a Tatty Devine laser cut doily: adorable in pink with butterflies on top.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Lahloo Tea
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Lahloo Tea
Sonja serves up some delicious Lahloo Tea.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
Cute as a Cupcake. Indeed.

One of the first to arrive was Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration contributor Gemma Milly, who was unable to come to my first launch party because she swanned off to Canada for several months, so it was really wonderful to finally meet her. She wasted no time in grabbing a pen and settling in to some wonderful window painting.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Gemma Milly
Gemma Milly gets down to some serious window painting.

Soon she was joined by ACOFI illustrators Jo Cheung and June Chanpoomidole, also known as June Sees. Both of whom studied at Westminster and are known for their very different but equally colourful illustrations.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-June Chanpoomidole
June Chanpoomidole with cupcake.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jo Cheung
Jo Cheung painting one of her inimitable feathered friends. Here’s her round up.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jo Cheung, June and Gemma Milly
ACOFI illustrators – Jo Cheung, June and Gemma Milly.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Ester Kneen
I finally got the chance to meet Esther Kneen, who has been a long term contributor to Amelia’s Magazine. Just check out that stunning sewing machine tattoo! So marvellous. And she’s also written a nice little blog about the event.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Maria Papadimitriou Juiceology
Maria Papadimitriou wearing some of her Plastic Seconds.

Also present was Maria Papadimitriou, who – as well as creating illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine – makes stunning and unusual jewellery from upcycled objects under the name Plastic Seconds, available in the ICA shop. I particularly like her deodorant lid necklace which was hanging from her neck like a giant brightly coloured egg. I’m going to start saving my lids so she can make me something! She’s currently planning a wall for Supermarket Sarah: expect big things from this talented girl.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Juiceology
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden 2011-Juiceology
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden 2011-Juiceology
I found it most entertaining that so many people were brightly dressed to match the wonderful Juiceology drinks.

Juiceology have kindly offered to donate juice for every single one of my book tour events, so please do come down and take the opportunity to try one of their stunningly flavoured natural juices, Apple, Lime & Mint, Lychee, Berry & Basil or Mandarin, Citrus & Cardamom. Each juice has been created according to the fine art of mixology, most often used to conjure up cocktails: it should therefore come as no surprise that Juiceology juices are so very special. I particularly love the Mojito-like kick of Apple, Lime and Mint, but it’s hard to choose a favourite out of the three. The Lychee, Berry and Basil is a stunning purple colour which in my mind can only mean good things, and all the juices contain a nice dose of very healthy Milk Thistle extract, renowned as a liver detoxicant.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden michalis christodoulou
Also present was new fashion illustration contributor Michalis Christodoulou

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Ursula Gregory
My mother became most enamoured of a wonderful Tatty Devine fireworks necklace, so we persuaded her to buy it, isn’t it amazeballs?

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Emma Crosby Sara Darling Imogen Belfield
Emma Crosby, Sara Darling and Imogen Belfield.

PR and Tribaspace representative Emma Crosby came along with jewellery designer extraordinaire Imogen Belfield and fashion stylist Sara Darling (who I’ve known for over ten years! She was on reception at The Face when I was an intern.)

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Veronica Crespi
It was also a delight to see Veronica Crespi of Rewardrobe, London’s first slow wear consultancy, who I introduced to some new eco fashion friends.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Amelia Rosie
Myself with Rosie of Tatty Devine.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Gemma Milly
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Gemma Milly June sees
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

At about 7pm everyone gathered in the store and sat down to listen to the talk, which was a bit strange for me to do in such a relaxed setting as this: I am more used to lecturing at universities. But I tried to keep it as informal as possible and encouraged everyone to ask questions. I talked a little bit about the history of Amelia’s Magazine, how I put together my two books, eco fashion and the importance of social networking for creatives.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
Windows painted!

Afterwards everyone carried on networking and chatting and at the end of the night the atmosphere was so relaxed that no one really wanted to leave. I take this as a good sign! Especially without alcohol! Everyone commented on how nice it was to have a booze free event: a mild sugar high being the only consequence of so much cupcake consumption.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Dr.Hauschka
Dr.Hauschka once again donated some lovely freebie skincare samples for attendees to take away with them. Some of the boys were particularly intrigued to try out the Firming and Rejuvenating Masks, so I look forward to some photos of hairy faces sporting creamy masks very soon.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jeremy Scott sunglasses, Love them
Jeremy Scott sunglasses available at Tatty Devine, love them. My necklace is also Tatty Devine.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Emma Crosby
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

In the meantime if you would like to join The ACOFI Book Tour please do make sure you check in with the various places I will be visiting, and book where necessary so we can anticipate numbers. Read all about my future destinations here. I will be back at Tatty Devine in Brick Lane on the last date of my tour on Tuesday 7th June. I look forward to seeing you very soon!

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Sara Darling

Our paintings will remain on the window of the Tatty Devine Covent Garden store at 44 Monmouth Street for the next few weeks, and you can buy ACOFI online here. Read Tatty Devine’s blog about the event and Maria Papadimitriou’s lovely blog from the night. Jo Cheung even wrote a synopsis of what I spoke about!

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
Oh go on then, just one more Cute as a Cupcake

Categories ,ACOFI, ,ACOFI Book Tour, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Apple, ,Apple Lime & Mint, ,cupcakes, ,Cute as a Cupcake, ,Dr.Hauschka, ,Eco fashion, ,Emma Crosby, ,Ester Kneen, ,Gemma Milly, ,ica, ,Imogen Belfield, ,Jeremy Scott, ,jewellery, ,Jo Cheung, ,Juiceology, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,June Sees, ,Lahloo, ,Lahloo Tea, ,Lychee, ,Lychee Berry & Basil, ,Mandarin Citrus & Cardamom, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Milk Thistle, ,Mojito, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Rewardrobe, ,Sara Darling, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Sunglasses, ,Tatty Devine, ,Tribaspace, ,Veronica Crespi, ,Westminster

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Amelia’s Magazine | The ACOFI Book Tour: the first night at Tatty Devine, Covent Garden

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

On Tuesday evening The ACOFI Book Tour got off to a flying start at the Tatty Devine store in Covent Garden. As people started to arrive Rosie, for sale Sonja and I laid out fragrant pots of Lahloo Tea to be drunk from beautiful retro china mugs and placed the gorgeous Cute as a Cupcake miniature cupcakes on a Tatty Devine laser cut doily: adorable in pink with butterflies on top.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Lahloo Tea
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Lahloo Tea
Sonja serves up some delicious Lahloo Tea.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
Cute as a Cupcake. Indeed.

One of the first to arrive was Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration contributor Gemma Milly, visit who was unable to come to my first launch party because she swanned off to Canada for several months, site so it was really wonderful to finally meet her. She wasted no time in grabbing a pen and settling in to some wonderful window painting.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Gemma Milly
Gemma Milly gets down to some serious window painting.

Soon she was joined by ACOFI illustrators Jo Cheung and June Chanpoomidole, also known as June Sees. Both of whom studied at Westminster and are known for their very different but equally colourful illustrations.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-June Chanpoomidole
June Chanpoomidole with cupcake.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jo Cheung
Jo Cheung painting one of her inimitable feathered friends. Here’s her round up.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jo Cheung, June and Gemma Milly
ACOFI illustrators – Jo Cheung, June and Gemma Milly.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Ester Kneen
I finally got the chance to meet Esther Kneen, who has been a long term contributor to Amelia’s Magazine. Just check out that stunning sewing machine tattoo! So marvellous. And she’s also written a nice little blog about the event.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Maria Papadimitriou Juiceology
Maria Papadimitriou wearing some of her Plastic Seconds.

Also present was Maria Papadimitriou, who – as well as creating illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine – makes stunning and unusual jewellery from upcycled objects under the name Plastic Seconds, available in the ICA shop. I particularly like her deodorant lid necklace which was hanging from her neck like a giant brightly coloured egg. I’m going to start saving my lids so she can make me something! She’s currently planning a wall for Supermarket Sarah: expect big things from this talented girl.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Juiceology
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden 2011-Juiceology
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden 2011-Juiceology
I found it most entertaining that so many people were brightly dressed to match the wonderful Juiceology drinks.

Juiceology have kindly offered to donate juice for every single one of my book tour events, so please do come down and take the opportunity to try one of their stunningly flavoured natural juices, Apple, Lime & Mint, Lychee, Berry & Basil or Mandarin, Citrus & Cardamom. Each juice has been created according to the fine art of mixology, most often used to conjure up cocktails: it should therefore come as no surprise that Juiceology juices are so very special. I particularly love the Mojito-like kick of Apple, Lime and Mint, but it’s hard to choose a favourite out of the three. The Lychee, Berry and Basil is a stunning purple colour which in my mind can only mean good things, and all the juices contain a nice dose of very healthy Milk Thistle extract, renowned as a liver detoxicant.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden michalis christodoulou
Also present was new fashion illustration contributor Michalis Christodoulou

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Ursula Gregory
My mother became most enamoured of a wonderful Tatty Devine fireworks necklace, so we persuaded her to buy it, isn’t it amazeballs?

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Emma Crosby Sara Darling Imogen Belfield
Emma Crosby, Sara Darling and Imogen Belfield.

PR and Tribaspace representative Emma Crosby came along with jewellery designer extraordinaire Imogen Belfield and fashion stylist Sara Darling (who I’ve known for over ten years! She was on reception at The Face when I was an intern.)

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Veronica Crespi
It was also a delight to see Veronica Crespi of Rewardrobe, London’s first slow wear consultancy, who I introduced to some new eco fashion friends.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Amelia Rosie
Myself with Rosie of Tatty Devine.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Gemma Milly
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Gemma Milly June sees
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

At about 7pm everyone gathered in the store and sat down to listen to the talk, which was a bit strange for me to do in such a relaxed setting as this: I am more used to lecturing at universities. But I tried to keep it as informal as possible and encouraged everyone to ask questions. I talked a little bit about the history of Amelia’s Magazine, how I put together my two books, eco fashion and the importance of social networking for creatives.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-window painting
Windows painted!

Afterwards everyone carried on networking and chatting and at the end of the night the atmosphere was so relaxed that no one really wanted to leave. I take this as a good sign! Especially without alcohol! Everyone commented on how nice it was to have a booze free event: a mild sugar high being the only consequence of so much cupcake consumption.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Dr.Hauschka
Dr.Hauschka once again donated some lovely freebie skincare samples for attendees to take away with them. Some of the boys were particularly intrigued to try out the Firming and Rejuvenating Masks, so I look forward to some photos of hairy faces sporting creamy masks very soon.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Jeremy Scott sunglasses, Love them
Jeremy Scott sunglasses available at Tatty Devine, love them. My necklace is also Tatty Devine.

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden-Emma Crosby
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden

In the meantime if you would like to join The ACOFI Book Tour please do make sure you check in with the various places I will be visiting, and book where necessary so we can anticipate numbers. Read all about my future destinations here. I will be back at Tatty Devine in Brick Lane on the last date of my tour on Tuesday 7th June. I look forward to seeing you very soon!

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden
ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Sara Darling

Our paintings will remain on the window of the Tatty Devine Covent Garden store at 44 Monmouth Street for the next few weeks, and you can buy ACOFI online here. Read Tatty Devine’s blog about the event and Maria Papadimitriou’s lovely blog from the night. Jo Cheung even wrote a synopsis of what I spoke about!

ACOFI Book Tour Tatty Devine Covent Garden Cute as a Cupcake
Oh go on then, just one more Cute as a Cupcake

Categories ,ACOFI, ,ACOFI Book Tour, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Apple, ,Apple Lime & Mint, ,cupcakes, ,Cute as a Cupcake, ,Dr.Hauschka, ,Eco fashion, ,Emma Crosby, ,Ester Kneen, ,Gemma Milly, ,ica, ,Imogen Belfield, ,Jeremy Scott, ,jewellery, ,Jo Cheung, ,Juiceology, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,June Sees, ,Lahloo, ,Lahloo Tea, ,Lychee, ,Lychee Berry & Basil, ,Mandarin Citrus & Cardamom, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Milk Thistle, ,Mojito, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Rewardrobe, ,Sara Darling, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Sunglasses, ,Tatty Devine, ,Tribaspace, ,Veronica Crespi, ,Westminster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Rosalind Nashashibi Eyeballing

jonquil4.jpg

Amelia’s Magazine likes folk music, visit this site drugs and Jonquil are deliciously, timeless folk music. Yet they are also indescribable and I like not to be able to pin point a band’s genre. It could be said, they are folk music because of the tradition of group harmonies, the rich depth of sound created through the carefully crafted relationship between instrument and voice. Furthermore, the entire band appears to be multi-instrumental

This autumn witnesses Oxford-based, Jonquil begin another of their massive European tours of whimsical venues beginning last night in the Macbeth pub, London. They return to Camden’s Proud Gallery on October 24th, miss your second chance to see this band at your peril because as any supporter will tell you there is nothing more enjoyable, inclusive or liable to start a smile on your face than a Jonquil performance.

jonquil2.jpg

Jonquil are six; Kit Monteith plays the drums providing the ever-rhythmic backbone to their songs, Jody Prewitt is on guitar, Hugo Manuel provides the voice for the majority of the songs with the rest of the band contributing to choruses and introductions, Ben Rimmer, Robin McDiarmid, Sam Scott and Hugo Manuel juggle instruments throughout the gig. Swapping from guitar to keyboard to double bass to flute and the accordion with only the occasional hiccup, which by the time this usually happens, the crowd are so enamored with the music that a misplaced flute is the least of anyone troubles.

jonquil3.jpg

This autumn sees the showcase of new songs composed for the eagerly awaited second album (Lions was released in 2007 and Whistle Low an EP in 2006). The new songs see an increased presence of the entire band’s individual voices, whilst Hugo’s remain centre stage. The added depth of sound provided by the variety of voice increases its instrumental presence rather than functioning as ornamentation. The voices of Jonquil complete their harmonious sound, it is this attribute which makes a Jonquil gig so special, as a viewer you feel enveloped in their creativity and part of their imaginary world conjured by the lyrics of each song.

jonquil.jpg

Moreover, rather fantastically Jonquil started a blog where you can find Kit musing on their recording and practice sessions as well as the lead up to their current tour. It is refreshing to be let into the everyday life of a band and how they essentially function in order to produce songs. The blog is really lovely to read and I look forward to it being updated throughout their up and coming tour.

You can find Jonquil on their myspace www.myspace.com/jonquiluk, which they have recently updated with new songs whilst retaining a known crowd favourite: Lions.

Eyeballing.jpg

The new exhibition by Rosalind Nashashibi, tadalafil a Scottish artist who was the recipient of the 2003 Becks Futures prize, deals with both the performative element of humanity and what is revealed when it doesn’t know it’s being watched. Both public and exclusive places are pictured, from a busy street corner to a private bedroom. All the works are about the connections or otherwise between things, whether it is the apparently arbitrary arrangement of a building’s features or the disconnect between the drab appearance of out-of-costume opera singers and the sound of their voices.

As I walked into the exhibition at the ICA galleries I heard a tinkle of piano and the sound of a woman singing opera, sudden and sublime. As I wondered where it was coming from it emerged that the first room shows photos of opera singers rehearsing on a stripped stage, all the artifice of their craft taken away. Nashashibi is known for a documentary-style examination of human beings observed unaware, for example in her short film “The States of Things”, which showed people sifting through clothes at a jumble sale. The beauty and warmth of the recorded singing, the final product as it were, was in stark contrast to the rather bleak and seemingly uncomposed photographs of the singers in rehearsal, whom we saw from every angle in a huge number of photos in the series.

RN62-1-Eyeballing%20-%20production%20still.jpg

Also on display was Nashashibi’s film “Eyeballing”, a series of shots trained on various buildings, every day objects and street furniture that contained the components of a human face. The faces were generally cheerful and the deadpan nature of the still camera and the occasional incursion of everyday human activity on the unconcerned, smiling faces made it funny, in the way that a running joke builds up over time. For some reason I found the little face Nashashibi documented on the back of her electric toothbrush especially funny and endearing. These parts of “Eyeballing” made me wonder if we were being asked to question our anthropomorphication of objects to make it easier to live in urban environments, or whether architects and designers include these details, consciously or otherwise, for the same reasons.

vaults.JPG

Cut in between the faces are scenes filmed at a New York police station, with a huge blue crest emblazoned on its doors, giving the slightly fantastical feel of a portal to an unknown space. Unlike the water fountains, wood knots and windows of the other scenes, these facings are unsmiling and it is here that the “eyeballing” suddenly seems a little darker and more threatening. The narrative tension is ramped during these scenes because occasionally one of the police officers, who we aren’t sure are aware they are being filmed, will look directly into the camera, just for a split second – it’s strangely thrilling. In fact, Nashashibi was filming illegally under a pretext.

IMG_0862.JPG

A series of still photographs echo the themes of the film: upside-down church vaults lead your eye to look for more faces. According to the literature, an influence of Nashashibi’s while making some of the work in this show is Proust, particularly although indirectly on “The Prisoner”, a film of a woman’s high-heeled feet walking and pausing, allowing the viewer to suspect that she knows she is being watched – a little like the NYPD. The film is a loose reconstruction from a film

The exhibition will run September 10 – November 1.

Categories ,art, ,film, ,ICA, ,Rosalind Nashashibi

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Amelia’s Magazine | London International Mime Festival: Where Performance Art meets Circus and Narrative

mime-festival-ockhams-razor
Ockham’s Razor by Rosalie Hoskins

I’ll admit it. I’ve never been to much performance art or modern dance before. But let’s just say that my circumstances have somewhat changed of late and at the moment I am enjoying being introduced to new types of creativity.

So, website what’s with this Mime Festival stuff? Well, if you thought that mime was all men in black pretending to grope a wall be ready to have your definition of mime challenged. It seems that mime nowadays is more a combination of contemporary dance and circus. It’s about story telling from an abstracted and expressionistic perspective. In a play you’ve got the constraints of character and storyline – well this modern form of mime is much more like creating a painting over time and space.

I went to my first mime festival performance with a completely open mind, but entirely unsure of what to expect. It’s good to be challenged! Staged in the sadly blighted ICA (threats of closure have been bandied about in the press) this was a truly bizarre tale from Russian troupe BlackSkyWhite – USSR Was Here. In what was to prove a staple the pre-show explanatory notes made absolutely no sense at all, so I just about managed to glean the idea that the ‘storyline’ was based on the brutal history of Russia.

mime-festival-blackskywhite
Blackskywhite by Rosalie Hoskins

The murky blackness of the stage was pierced by the coloured forms of two strange characters who occasionally merged and then separated, interacting in dysfunctional ways. The music and lighting (lighting, I was to learn, is THE key element in mime. God knows how these performers would survive without coloured gels) evoked the kind of freakshow mania I imagine you might have encountered in fairgrounds of yore, the type that could slowly induce madness, in me at least. I really couldn’t figure out how many people were performing, but thought that I counted at least three. Not until the end of the show did I discover that there were actually only two performers, so able to radically change their demeanour as to convince me of their multitude. Double headed? Wherein I presumed the dummy head was the one hanging sideways? Why yes. I was fooled. Clever puppetry such as a curiously adult head on a baby left me wondering where the full person was hidden. With the aid of cunning wide legged pants the two performers were able to mutate, wibbling into shortened gnome figures. Features so altered by elastic bands and hairnets completed my confusion. Despite this discombobulation I have to confess that half way through I was starting to think “When will this nightmare end?” It was not without some relief that an hour later the swirling red and green lights finally came to a halt. Clever for sure, but for a performance artist novice like me watching Blackskywhite was at times more of an arduous task to finish than an enjoyable experience. I think I may have started in at the deep end.

Ockhams Razor-The-Mill-2
Ockhams Razor-The-Mill-3
Ockhams Razor-The-Mill-4

Next up on my Mime Festival week smorgasbord was a trip to the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (get me), where it appears that there is an even split between people who dress up to the nines for their every operatastic outing, and those who slump along in their civvies. A background in circus was immediately obvious as the wonderfully named Ockham’s Razor performers sat perched deathly still atop giant bobbins as the audience filed in and dry ice swirled around. The centrepiece of this imaginative set was a vast wheel suspended centre stage and this excellent video put together by the troupe describes how the set informed the subsequent narrative of the performance. The five nimble performers scrambled with undue ease (and superb upper body strength) up ladders and along ropes in elegant procession, all the while making sure the wheel was turned. Until it all went intentionally wrong and the rapidly unwinding spools caused a dramatic panic. Yes, the premise of the ‘story’ was slim – the wheel of work goes round and round – but it was a great deal of fun to watch (one of the blokes was well fit which is always nice) and I grinned through the whole show. Plus I felt very pleased with myself for taking sneaky iphone pics which I then put together with my favourite panorama stitch application. Love that thing.

Ockhams Razor-The-Mill-1

Last up was possibly the most interesting piece of mime – a piece called Rankefod performed by a single lady, of indeterminate age, but certainly not in the first flush of youth. (I’ve since discovered that she is in fact over 50. Quite staggering considering what she is able to achieve physically.)

mime-festival-kitt-johnson
Kitt Johnson by Rosalie Hoskins

Kitt Johnson is apparently an ex athlete and her command of her body was quite enthralling: an hour spent in her company at the ICA went a lot faster than the first time around. Starting alone in the centre of the spartan stage for many moments she made use of just a few jutting back muscles and flicks of her legs to evoke the early stages of evolution, as interpreted through her body. At first I thought she was wearing just a pair of hotpants, but I then deduced that her plaited hair was actually conjoined with some cave woman-esque shorts. Despite her naked breasts there was nothing remotely sexual about her presence, which through sometimes barely perceptible movements gradually became more animalistic. Described as a “loner” on her website, Kitt Johnson was something of a revelation. I might yet be a convert to this performance art marlarkey.

Categories ,Blackskywhite, ,Circus, ,ica, ,Kitt Johnson, ,London International Mime Festival, ,Mime, ,Ockham’s Razor, ,Performance Art, ,Rosalie Hoskins, ,Royal Opera House, ,theatre

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion on Film: L’Amour Fou


Yves Saint Laurent by Krister Selin

The relationship between a fashion designer and his business manager-cum-lover isn’t a new concept to cinema. Anybody who has seen Valentino: The Last Emperor will have already witnessed the trials and tribulations when two men – one a rare, creative genius, the other a businessman, have to work together on a daily basis for fifty consecutive years.


Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge by Karolina Burdon

L’Amour Fou is a little different, however. For starters, where The Last Emperor was a celebration of Valentino‘s illustrious career, L’Amour Fou doubles as a celebration of Yves Saint Laurent‘s life. This film is more of a romantic tribute to the designer through the eyes of his partner, Pierre Berge.


Yves Saint Laurent A/W 1965 – the ‘Mondrian‘ dress – by Cruz

From the opening credits, I was hooked. An homage to Yves‘ ‘Love‘ cards that he designed and produced for staff (many on display at the Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech), flashes of colour and geometric shapes flood the screen. I saw the film at the ICA, and its diminutive cinema with old fashion red velour seats and dusty projector make the experience even more apt.


Yves Saint Laurent at his final show by Mitika Chohan

When the title sequence has rolled, we see Yves at a press conference declaring his resignation, juxtaposed with Berge‘s touching eulogy at Saint Laurent‘s funeral. We’re only about 6 minutes into the film here, and already I’m in pieces.


Yves Saint Laurent at Dior by Cruz

The film features archival footage of Yves Saint Laurent, from his days at Dior through to his greatest collections during the 1970s and 1980s, pieced together by Pierre‘s narration. The film skips between Yves Saint Laurent the fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent the art collector, and Yves Saint Laurent the tempestuous lover. The film culminates with the dramatic, poignant and record-breaking art auction of 2009 in which Yves and Pierre‘s entire art collection was auctioned for AIDS charities.


Yves Saint Laurent Wedding Dress S/S 1999 by Janneke de Jong

The film explores the early relationship between the pair – they met at Christian Dior‘s funeral and it was pretty much love at first sight. You can tell by how Pierre talks about Yves that this was not an easy relationship. Yves‘ crippling depression, substance abuse, morbid insecurities and changeable state of mind have taken their toll on ol’ Berge. But through all this, a glint in his eyes remains, as his relates countless stories about one of the world’s greatest, creative men.


Yves Saint Laurent for Zizi Jeanmaire by Joana Faria

Amidst the drama of the relationship, fashion fans won’t be disappointed. The film features never-before-seen photographs of Yves at Dior, adjusting hemlines and admiring his creations on models. There’s film footage of his most celebrated collections, from bridal wear to Russian-inspired collections in the mid-seventies. We see Zizi Jeanmaire dancing in one of Yves’ most spectacular creations made of feathers.


Opium advert (1977) by Katrina Conquista

Wondrous footage of the original Opium ad is one of the film’s many highlights – and Berge describes how controversial this was; not so much the advert but the name (the controversial adverts would follow, with Sophie Dahl naked and spread eagle for Opium and the first ever fully naked man in a print advertisement for M7). The irony, as Berge describes, was that Yves selected a name with a narcotic reference, when it would be alcohol and drugs that would almost destroy their relationship. Berge talks about this at length, and how Yves would only ever be happy moments after a show; Berge would have to wait another six months to witness that same level of happiness.


Opium advert (2000) featuring a naked Sophie Dahl by Katrina Conquista

But it is the couple’s love of art that dominates this film. After Yves‘ death, Berge decided to sell the collection that they had tirelessly put together over twenty years. Why? Because, after Yves‘ death, ‘the collection had lost the greater part of its significance.’ There are less sombre anecdotes in the film: ‘When Yves designed the Mondrian dress, we never dreamt that one day we would own one,’ Berge says with a smile.


Yves Saint Laurent A/W 1965 – the ‘Mondrian‘ dress – by Mitika Chohan

And so at the end of the film, during the auction, we see Pierre sitting backstage clapping his hands and marvelling at the record-breaking sales prices. Finally, he’s the last to leave the auction and we see him walking down the stairs of the Grand Palais. It’s a poignant ending to a pretty poignant film, and there’s something a bit sinister about it that I couldn’t really put my finger on – the endless shots of empty rooms? Christies‘ employees, the ‘undertakers of art’, boxing up paintings? Berge‘s willingness to openly discuss every facet of Yves’ personality, at the risk of seeming a little bitter? I’m not sure. But I loved it, nonetheless. It’s a sombre tribute, but a colourful one.

Categories ,AIDS, ,art, ,Christian Dior, ,Cruz, ,Dior, ,fashion, ,film, ,france, ,ica, ,illustration, ,Janneke de Jong, ,Joana Faria, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Katrina Conquista, ,Krister Selin, ,L’Amour Fou, ,M7, ,Majorelle Gardens, ,Marrakech, ,Mondrian, ,Opium, ,paris, ,Pierre Berge, ,Pierre Thoretton, ,review, ,Russia!, ,The Last Emperor, ,Valentino, ,Yves Saint Laurent, ,Zizi Jeanmaire

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion on Film: L’Amour Fou


Yves Saint Laurent by Krister Selin

The relationship between a fashion designer and his business manager-cum-lover isn’t a new concept to cinema. Anybody who has seen Valentino: The Last Emperor will have already witnessed the trials and tribulations when two men – one a rare, creative genius, the other a businessman, have to work together on a daily basis for fifty consecutive years.


Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge by Karolina Burdon

L’Amour Fou is a little different, however. For starters, where The Last Emperor was a celebration of Valentino‘s illustrious career, L’Amour Fou doubles as a celebration of Yves Saint Laurent‘s life. This film is more of a romantic tribute to the designer through the eyes of his partner, Pierre Berge.


Yves Saint Laurent A/W 1965 – the ‘Mondrian‘ dress – by Cruz

From the opening credits, I was hooked. An homage to Yves‘ ‘Love‘ cards that he designed and produced for staff (many on display at the Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech), flashes of colour and geometric shapes flood the screen. I saw the film at the ICA, and its diminutive cinema with old fashion red velour seats and dusty projector make the experience even more apt.


Yves Saint Laurent at his final show by Mitika Chohan

When the title sequence has rolled, we see Yves at a press conference declaring his resignation, juxtaposed with Berge‘s touching eulogy at Saint Laurent‘s funeral. We’re only about 6 minutes into the film here, and already I’m in pieces.


Yves Saint Laurent at Dior by Cruz

The film features archival footage of Yves Saint Laurent, from his days at Dior through to his greatest collections during the 1970s and 1980s, pieced together by Pierre‘s narration. The film skips between Yves Saint Laurent the fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent the art collector, and Yves Saint Laurent the tempestuous lover. The film culminates with the dramatic, poignant and record-breaking art auction of 2009 in which Yves and Pierre‘s entire art collection was auctioned for AIDS charities.


Yves Saint Laurent Wedding Dress S/S 1999 by Janneke de Jong

The film explores the early relationship between the pair – they met at Christian Dior‘s funeral and it was pretty much love at first sight. You can tell by how Pierre talks about Yves that this was not an easy relationship. Yves‘ crippling depression, substance abuse, morbid insecurities and changeable state of mind have taken their toll on ol’ Berge. But through all this, a glint in his eyes remains, as his relates countless stories about one of the world’s greatest, creative men.


Yves Saint Laurent for Zizi Jeanmaire by Joana Faria

Amidst the drama of the relationship, fashion fans won’t be disappointed. The film features never-before-seen photographs of Yves at Dior, adjusting hemlines and admiring his creations on models. There’s film footage of his most celebrated collections, from bridal wear to Russian-inspired collections in the mid-seventies. We see Zizi Jeanmaire dancing in one of Yves’ most spectacular creations made of feathers.


Opium advert (1977) by Katrina Conquista

Wondrous footage of the original Opium ad is one of the film’s many highlights – and Berge describes how controversial this was; not so much the advert but the name (the controversial adverts would follow, with Sophie Dahl naked and spread eagle for Opium and the first ever fully naked man in a print advertisement for M7). The irony, as Berge describes, was that Yves selected a name with a narcotic reference, when it would be alcohol and drugs that would almost destroy their relationship. Berge talks about this at length, and how Yves would only ever be happy moments after a show; Berge would have to wait another six months to witness that same level of happiness.


Opium advert (2000) featuring a naked Sophie Dahl by Katrina Conquista

But it is the couple’s love of art that dominates this film. After Yves‘ death, Berge decided to sell the collection that they had tirelessly put together over twenty years. Why? Because, after Yves‘ death, ‘the collection had lost the greater part of its significance.’ There are less sombre anecdotes in the film: ‘When Yves designed the Mondrian dress, we never dreamt that one day we would own one,’ Berge says with a smile.


Yves Saint Laurent A/W 1965 – the ‘Mondrian‘ dress – by Mitika Chohan

And so at the end of the film, during the auction, we see Pierre sitting backstage clapping his hands and marvelling at the record-breaking sales prices. Finally, he’s the last to leave the auction and we see him walking down the stairs of the Grand Palais. It’s a poignant ending to a pretty poignant film, and there’s something a bit sinister about it that I couldn’t really put my finger on – the endless shots of empty rooms? Christies‘ employees, the ‘undertakers of art’, boxing up paintings? Berge‘s willingness to openly discuss every facet of Yves’ personality, at the risk of seeming a little bitter? I’m not sure. But I loved it, nonetheless. It’s a sombre tribute, but a colourful one.

Categories ,AIDS, ,art, ,Christian Dior, ,Cruz, ,Dior, ,fashion, ,film, ,france, ,ica, ,illustration, ,Janneke de Jong, ,Joana Faria, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Katrina Conquista, ,Krister Selin, ,L’Amour Fou, ,M7, ,Majorelle Gardens, ,Marrakech, ,Mondrian, ,Opium, ,paris, ,Pierre Berge, ,Pierre Thoretton, ,review, ,Russia!, ,The Last Emperor, ,Valentino, ,Yves Saint Laurent, ,Zizi Jeanmaire

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Amelia’s Magazine | Hilum by Les Antliaclastes: ICA London International Mime Festival Review

Austra gig at The Windmill by Laura Godfrey
It may have been a typically miserable Monday night in January, viagra sale but we were safe from the elements within the hallowed hall that is the Windmill in Brixton. This unassuming little pub just off the busy thoroughfare of Brixton Hill (and in the shadow of a real windmill, pills the only one remaining in London), has seen many upcoming bands and surprise appearances from old faces grace its stage over the years. My favourite music venue in London (and my second gig there in 48 hours), I’ve had a lot of nights at the Windmill that have been great (including my second New Year’s Eve in London), hazy (ditto) and just plain bizarre.

The evening began with some haunting acoustica from Daughter, aka Elena Tonra. Plucking at an acoustic guitar, and backed by some subtle electric guitar washes, Tonra’s hushed vocals delivered some daintily dark lyrics that drew the onlookers in.

As the Windmill began to fill up, Viv Albertine took to the stage with her new band, Limerence. Once the guitarist and co-songwriter with iconic punk band The Slits, Albertine had been off the music scene for over 20 years after pursuing a career in TV and film directing, but she recently made a return to the stage (indeed, her debut was here at the Windmill) and has gone on to release an EP on the label of Sonic Youth’s very own Thurston Moore.

“Limerence” was a term coined to describe a near-obsessive form of romantic love, though Albertine joked that her songs were generally about pretty much the opposite. Limerence the band is a loose collective of musicians – I’d seen them play at the George Tavern in Stepney last year with pretty much a full compliment, but tonight it was just a pairing of violin and a combo of keyboard, guitar and ukulele. Musically, Albertine has moved on from the reggae infused sound of her old band, though her guitar is still as distinctive as it was on songs like Typical Girls. If anything, there’s a hint of Syd Barrett about songs like Fairytale and the twisted pop of Never Come, and the lyrics are as witty and spiky as you’d expect. Void references a darker part of her punk past, and was introduced with a few reminiscences of 1976. The paired down line-up actually gave an extra edge to Albertine’s songs, highlighted on the unsettling set closer, Confessions Of A Milf, which descended into a one-chord riff on suburban paranoia.

Canadian headliners Austra have been causing a bit of a buzz of late. Hailing from Toronto, and centred on vocalist Katie Stelmanis, with Maya Postepski on programming and Dorian Wolf on bass, they recently renamed themselves (having previously been going under Stelmanis’ moniker), signed to Domino and currently have a 12” single out, with an album in the pipeline for later this year.

IMAGE AUSTRA
Illustration by Anko

For the UK leg of a whistle-stop European tour, starting tonight, Stelmanis and co were joined by a drummer, keyboard player and two extra vocalists. There was a bit of a shaky start with a technical hitch before things got into their stride. It would be easy to make comparisons with Fever Ray and Glasser (especially as I’d seen both live fairly recently), and Austra do fall into that category of brooding female vocals over dark electronic beats. However, they’re not as dense as Fever Ray or as spectral as Glasser, especially live. I’d read somewhere that Austra were like “Fever Ray gone disco”, which actually isn’t a million miles off the mark. The single, Beat & the Pulse, is distinctly dance-friendly, and while Stelmanis’ vocal delivery may be reminiscent of Karin Dreijer Andersson, the general vibe is more akin to the early to mid 80’s indie-dance crossover. In the confined space of the Windmill, Austra’s songs become much more organic, with the live drums and bass giving an added kick. There was also plenty of theatricality, with Stelmanis and her sidekicks whirling and dipping during each song.

It was a typically great and varied mix of bands and styles tonight, another in a long line of great nights that I’ve experienced at the Windmill, and another one I’m sure that the venue’s legendary Roof Dog would approve of.

ringo deathstarr album artwork

You never see Ringo Starr and Gary Lineker in the same room. Come on, information pills think about it! Anyway, ed I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a band called Ringo Deathstarr. Some kind of black metal/merseybeat hybrid? I can categorically state otherwise, although I would be intrigued to hear what that sounded like. The album title gives more of an insight into their trippy, lysergic sound, but the key influences here are the late 80s/early 90s Creation bands like My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain, with their squalling feedback and dreamy soundscapes.

Ringo Deathstarr by Avril Kelly
Illustration by Avril Kelly

Now, terms such as Shoegaze and Cathedrals of Sound do not exactly fill me with glee, but luckily Ringo Deathstarr give us a fresh and playful take on this kind of stuff. The brilliant opener Imagine Hearts starts with distorted 8-bit drum sounds before coming on like The Breeders’ Cannonball, with it’s dizzy, swirling guitars and bass player Alex Gehring’s dreamy, Kim Deal-like voice.

Ringo Deathstarr by James Boast
Illustration by James Boast

Throughout the album Gehring’s pretty, girly vocals duel with guitarist Elliot Frazier’s deeper, Ian Curtis-like croon, which provides a great counterpoint. On penultimate track Never Drive the band sound like a souped-up Joy Division.

It’s clear that these three Texans (the line-up is completed by drummer Daniel Coborn) love their vintage British indie. They’ve toured with fey 80’s jangle-merchants The Wedding Present. The breakdown in Two Girls sounds exactly like the intro to The Smiths’ Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before. And in the song Do it Every Time, Frazier sings a lyric that may or may not say “We’re falling apart again, you took my cardigan”.

Ringo Deathstarr by Matilde Sazio
Illustration by Matilde Sazio

But rather than coming across as foppish miserablists, Ringo Deathstarr’s music is often powerful and joyous, and they’re at their best when playing the colour-saturated, nostalgic pop of stand out tracks So High and Kaleidoscope, which are the aural equivalent of a faded Polaroid taken on a sunny day in a park. In the 80s.

Ringo Deathstarr by Rukmunal Hakim
Illustration by Rukmunal Hakim

The fact that much of the lyrics are unintelligible, buried as they are under feedback and reverb, adds to the whole dreamlike quality of the record. When you do catch a phrase or word here and there, it feels like a stolen snippet of a faded memory. So, a host of 80’s indie references, dreamy girl/boy vocals and sun-faded guitar hooks – what’s not to like? Gary would approve. I mean Ringo…

Colour Trip is released on 14th February 2011 on Club AC30.

Les Antliaclastes by Stephanie Thieullent
Les Antliaclastes by Stephanie Thieullent.

Hilum opens with the ominous popping of corn, this web stealthily reaching a crescendo before the pan jerks off stage to reveal an oversized scullery into which emerges a gremlin fairy creature. It’s like a creepy abandoned nursery of the netherworld, prostate with recognisable objects and sounds mutated into the stuff of children’s nightmares. Almost immediately I fear for the dreams of the young children seated in front of us.

An array of wonderful grotesque puppets tumble and play, viagra order their strings pulled by the humans that tower above them in creamy lace outfits that resemble nightgowns. Their faces are covered, crocheted protrusions dangling trunk-like as they bend forward over their proteges, interacting with and manipulating them at the same time.

Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins
Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins.

But in this strange world full of curiously humanoid critters it is not the giant ogres that control the tale – such as there is one – but the rhythm of the washing machine cycles, underpinned by an evocative soundtrack. From crackling bleeps, to old time lullabies and the delicate tinkling of a glockenspiel (as a pathetic little mermaid creature made from pearly buttons meets its death) the music is an integral part of the atmosphere.

Hilum by Gemma Smith
Hilum by Gemma Smith.

Hilum by Abigail Daker
Hilum by Abigail Daker.

Towards the denouement things take a more surreal turn still, with the washing machine upending itself in a frenzy to reveal a furry trapdoor which gives birth to a baby washing machine covered in a placenta like ooze. A real man appears with a loud toy gun, a large humanoid skull spins grinning inside the washing machine. A huge chicken creature strides on stage as a snapping oversized finger clatters crazily agains the walls.

Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins
Les Antliaclastes by Gareth A Hopkins.

As the shutters close on this bizarre otherworld I feel oddly bemused. Hilum by Les Antliaclastes is a beautifully conceived project but with no real outcome, other than the guarantee of some very odd dreams, for adults and children alike.

Nevertheless, as we admire the stage shutters on our way out I feel very glad that creative endeavours such as Hilum are staged during events like the London International Mime Festival. We are lucky indeed to live in this place and in these times, where creativity can be expressed in so many different and unique ways.

Hilum shutters ICA
Hilum shutters ICA
Hilum shutters ICA
The wonderfully decorated stage shutters for Hilum at the ICA.

Hilum was put together by puppeteer Patrick Sims and runs until Wednesday 26th January 2011 at the ICA as part of the London International Mime Festival. You can read another good review of this show by Matt Trueman on Carousel of Fantasies. The Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011 – find out about other events here.

Categories ,Abigail Daker, ,Carousel of Fantasies, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Gemma Smith, ,Gremlins, ,Hilum, ,ica, ,Les Antliaclastes, ,London International Mime Festival, ,Matt Trueman, ,Mime Festival 2011, ,Patrick Sims, ,Puppets, ,Stéphanie Thieullent

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