Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Victoria Foster of The Aviary

the aviary Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar
Victoria wears the Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar.

The Aviary is the brainchild of two fine art graduates, Victoria Foster and Ben Fletcher. In late 2009 the project began life as a way of upcycling the ever-growing array of clutter that surrounded these inveterate magpies, by re-appropriating curios as jewellery, charms and stationary. The couple have a commitment to living mindfully in all they do: read on to discover more about their inspiring outlook on life, where to hang out in Kent, and how their latest illustration collaboration came about.

the aviary Autumn Breeze vintage pendant
Autumn Breeze vintage pendant.

the aviary kent
Hello! firstly, I didn’t realise you live in Kent. What took you to Kent and whereabouts are you? What do you recommend that visitors to your part of the world should do? 
Hello! Well, we came to university in Canterbury and haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from Kent since! Recently many of our friends and contemporaries have made their way to the bright lights of East London, and although we’re often there, we made a conscious decision to reject the trend and have now set up our home and studio on the stunning North Downs, between rolling fields and a forest! Perhaps growing up on the outskirts of the Big Smoke spoiled the magic a bit.

the aviary home woods
Ben in the woods.

If you’re heading away from London for a day or two, these are some of our fail-safe favourites! Maybe we should get sponsorship from the Kent tourist board?! Stour Valley Arts is based in Kings Wood on our doorstep, and most loved works have to include Jem Finer’s Score for a Hole in the Ground and London Field Works Super Kingdom.

the aviary home 1
The second Folkestone Triennial took place last summer and the town now houses an array of permanent artworks by artists such as Cornelia Parker and Mark Wallinger that allow you to encounter a faded seaside town with fresh eyes. There’s also some interesting creative collectives like Diver School who provide good nights out and a great burgeoning underground music scene thanks to Box Social Records who put on great gigs. Very excited about Tall Ships on Wednesday 1st February!

the aviary home 2
Turner Contemporary in Margate has a brilliant programme of exhibitions, and the Old Town is now full of gorgeous vintage stores like Showtime Retro, cafes and independent, ethical shops like Blackbird that champion designer-makers as well as running great workshops. And of course, there’s the cobbled streets of Canterbury where coffee at Boho is a must, then seasonal food, cocktails and bad dancing into the early hours at The Farmhouse.

the aviary home 3
Summer is the best time to be here for impromtu beach gatherings, sea swimming and woodland walks. It really comes to life with the yearly arrival of Lounge on the Farm music festival. Sondry Folk’s inaugural jamboree was pretty special last year too.

the aviary roost
The Aviary grew out your love of hoarding charity shop finds, something that I suffer from myself, any tips on how to make the most of such finds within the home?
Ha! Well, our studio is in a state of perpetual chaos, and is in serious danger of looking like a room from Grey Gardens. However, since relocating to the sticks we have been a lot stricter with what vintage and thrifted finds are allowed across the threshold from our workshop and into our home. We’re in no way stylists but do both love domestic interiors. As a rule of thumb we favour decorative yet genuinely functional objects. Either they must be of use at home, or work well as props to display our work against. Obviously there have been a few special exceptions! Small grouped collections are always better than cluttered surfaces, and mixing up the old with new and handmade stops our house looking like a local history museum, or worse still, a care home! One of the best things about living in Kent is that bargains can still be found in local charity shops, boot sales and flea markets. We picked up our antique organ for a fiver, a beautiful 1920s portable typewriter for £3.50 and an ornate gold mirror out of a skip!

the aviary charm pendant
Charm pendant.

Your products are exquisitely made, can you tell us something of the process? Do you ever find it hard to dismantle or cut up old things?
Thank you! We place a lot of importance on craftsmanship. We’re both pretty fastidious about the finish of our products so it’s lovely to know it shows. A clear desk, a box of favourite finds, a sketchbook and pen, scalpel, pliers, piercing saw and files, blowtorch and solder, along with patience, tea and 6music are the bare essentials at the start of our design process! All of our jewellery and accessories are, wherever possible, made from reclaimed, recycled or preloved items. Gathering these disparate fragments of vintage ephemera, taking them apart and then making temporary collages from them is always the first process in translating them into new, one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes the decision to dismantle a particularly old, or rare item can be difficult, but usually the items that we are using have already come to the end of their previous useful lives either through decay or neglect so we feel that we’re rescuing them from being lost to landfill, or simply forgotten about. It’s as much about uncovering aspects of lost stories as it is about upcycling existing materials.

the aviary pocket watch case collage pendant
pocket watch case collage pendant.

Why is it so important to you to be sustainable in your business practice?
Without wanting to sound trite, we really see The Aviary as an extension of the way we’re trying to live. For us, being in an incredibly rural community is about learning to slow down a bit, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. We feel it’s impossible to justify cheap mass produced items and a ‘throwaway’ attitude when the impact of climate change and the strain on resources is already so evident. Therefore the only option left to us as contemporary designer-makers is to create sensitively and responsibly. As makers, it is also wonderful to see a design through from start to finish. Thankfully, we also adore the aesthetic of low impact materials!

the aviary workbench
How did you get from fine art to handmade limited edition products? Were there any bumpy moments along the way and how does your partnership work?
Our practices always seemed to mix fine art concepts with craft-based techniques so the transition has mostly felt like a natural progression. We still employ many of the same skills too, such as illustration, collage, assemblage and small sculpture. After our degrees we were both still making work, exhibiting and interning for artists and arts organizations, but working within the confines of limited studio access and equipment meant we started to reassess things. The final ‘change’ came after taking part in the 2009 Art Car Bootfair with our collective, Club Shepway. Selling our first, unofficial range of miniature fine art works and curios went down a storm. We haven’t looked back since! As a partnership we work alongside one another to create overlapping bodies of work that then form our collections comprising of individual pieces. It’s so helpful to have someone to share ideas with and perhaps enables us to be more ambitious yet playful. The only thing that is less fun is bickering over who does the greater share of the admin! There are still bumpy moments, mostly involving money and time, but on the whole it’s been brilliant. It has taken a couple of years to shake off the art school guilt and officially ‘come out’ as designer-makers, but we’re getting more confidence in the integrity and worth of our products.

harriet gray illustration collab
Harriet Gray illustration collaboration.

You have recently collaborated with some illustrators, including Gemma Milly who appears in ACOFI, how did you hook up with them and what were you looking for in a potential collaborator?
To be honest, the collaborative projects stemmed from frustration! Surrounded by a sea of half-made collections, half drunk cups of tea, scrawled lists, collages and quick sketches we felt in desperate need of some fresh perspectives – something that we probably took for granted whilst at art school. We put a call out via Twitter asking for young illustrators who would consider working with us to communicate the nostalgia and uniqueness of our trinkets and treasures and reflect back the kind of girl they thought would wear our jewellery. We were completely taken aback by the number of creatives at similar points in their careers who also wanted to join forces but quickly settled on three incredible illustrators – Harriet Gray, Gemma Milly and Scarlett Rebecca, not only because of their amazing technical skills, but because we felt that they, and their work shared a similarity in spirit to ours.

gemma milly illustration collab
Gemma Milly illustration collaboration.

What have you produced with these illustrators?
The girls each created a range of beautiful illustrations using a selection of samples we sent them as their starting points. They took our trinkets and treasures and translated them into something more than the objects themselves. In return, we are now in the process of making a small collection of pendants and brooches based on their illustrations. This collection won’t be for sale but will be documented and shown online alongside the original drawings. The project has opened up new and exciting dialogues about our work and has really helped push fledgling ideas forward, as well as being really fun!

scarlett rebecca illustration collaboration
Scarlett Rebecca illustration collaboration.

You are featured on Not On the High Street, a great website for independent designers. How did you get together?
Well, we’d heard a little about through friends and fellow designer-makers. After making some tentative enquiries we were really pleased to be invited to become a ‘partner’. It seems to be a brand that lends another layer of credibility and professionalism to our little venture, which has helped with making other retail and press contacts. We’ve been impressed with the functionality of the site and the control we’ve been given over the content of our ‘shop front’ with them. They’re very supportive of young businesses and allow us real flexibility.

the aviary deer one pendant
Deer one pendant.

Where else can you buy Aviary products? 
We’re so lucky to stock with some fantastic independent shops across the UK! We currently have collections on sale with Of Cabbages & Kings in London, Pretty Scruffy in Chichester, Chapter Arts gallery shop in Cardiff, Made in the Shade in Glasgow and in the very near future we’ll also have ranges available at Moonko in Sheffield and Lionstreet Store in Rye.

the aviary double sided pendant
double sided pendant.

If you want to come and see us in person we’ll be at Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair in London on Saturday 11th February as well as the Designers/Makers market at Old Spitalfields throughout the year.

What are you most excited about working on at the moment?
So many things! In some ways, this is the best time of the year for us because it’s the recovery time following the Christmas rush. We’re currently developing new collections looking at charms and amulets because of having this time to be playful. And we’re having a bit of breathing space to concentrate on other side projects, such as Ben’s Tatterattles EP release on Holy Ghost Records. We’re also really excited about other future collaborations, putting together a ‘proper’ look book with a great photographer, and having chats with potential summer interns!

Categories ,Art Car Boot Fair, ,Autumn Breeze vintage pendant, ,Ben Fletcher, ,Blackbird, ,Boho, ,Box Social Records, ,Canterbury, ,cardiff, ,Chapter Arts, ,Chichester, ,Club Shepway, ,Cornelia Parker, ,Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar, ,Designers/Makers, ,Diver School, ,Folkestone Triennial, ,Gemma Milly, ,Grey Gardens, ,Harriet Gray, ,Jem Finer, ,jewellery, ,Kings Wood, ,Lionstreet Store, ,London Field Works, ,Lounge on the Farm, ,Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair, ,Margate, ,Mark Wallinger, ,Moonko, ,North Downs, ,Of Cabbages & Kings, ,pocket watch case collage pendant, ,Pretty Scruffy, ,rye, ,Scarlett Rebecca, ,Score for a Hole in the Ground, ,sheffield, ,Showtime Retro, ,Sondry Folk, ,Stour Valley Arts, ,Super Kingdom, ,sustainable, ,Tall Ships, ,Tatterattles, ,The Aviary, ,The Farmhouse, ,Turner Contemporary, ,Upcycling, ,Victoria Foster

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Amelia’s Magazine | Walkabout: Soundtrack Your Summer


On our way out of an informative but visually underwhelming lingerie exhibit in south bank’s Fashion and Textiles Museum, this site all was soon forgiven when a well deserved browse through the museum shop led us to surface designer Jason Cheng’s bouncy bangles. This clever designer elevates the humble rubber band to where it shares the shelf with metalsmithed jewlelry.
Accomplished with tight little knots and a muted monochromatic palette, these bangles begged to be touched, plucked and donned.
Jason Cheng’s accessories were apparently inspired by maps, geographical references, board games and sports themes. Although in our imaginations they conjured more organic visions of snipped veins (is that all I got from my biology textbooks?) underwater life (maybe because we know what a snorkel tastes like) and braces (those damn little rubber bands we had to attach, drooling, to our teeth’s hardware).
A surging theme of associations points to the lowly rubber band’s first appearance on our scene in grade school. Manifesting itself as a hand held projectile mechanism capable of launching anything from bent paper clips to entirely-too-sharp pencils, the rubber band ignited the weaponry engineer in legions of boys.
Whilst among the girls it became the emergency hair tie (taking with it most of my ponytail when removed) or the inspiration for the-more-the-better bracelets. Jason Cheng’s innovative application for the meager office supply has caused this accessory collector to make some room in her jewelry box.
Best thing about them, they won’t break when you drop them, pack them or smash them during a particularly vigorous night on the dancefloor. All a girl could ask for from an accessory. That, and you could always take a cue from the boys in class…keep a pocket full of pebbles on your walk home at night. Just in case.
Monday 3rd August

Camp for Climate Action – Scotland

Climate Camp hits Scotland this week – there is no time to act but now! Come to the Camp for Climate Action in Scotland 3-10 August

For a week of low-impact living and high-impact direct action, story keep 3-10 August free and join us in Scotland to take direct action against the root causes of climate change and ecological collapse. This summer the struggle against a capitalist system intent on extinguishing life on the planet will hit the Firth of Forth!

Location to be confirmed.
3rd-10th August

Illustrations by Sachiko

Tuesday 4th August

Forest Gardens, sickness Geoff Lawton Talk

Renowned international Permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton outlines the methods of designing and building your own food forest from conception to completion, drug demonstrating the evolution of a food forest from day one through to a living 2,000 year old example still flourishing in the Middle East.

7pm – 8pm – Passing Clouds, Dalston
(440 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 – Corner of Kingsland Road and Richmond Road, behind Uncle Sam’s pub now called the Haggerston)

Wednesday 5th August

Terribly Tall Towers

Learn more about the oldest building in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower, and be inspired to create your own towering construction! This is a workshop run by The Building Exploratory for children of all ages, who must be accompanied at all times by an adult.

14:30-16:30 – St John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens

Contact: The Building Exploratory – 020 7729 2011 –

Thursday 6th August

Vestas Rally

Campaign Against Climate Change continue the struggle to save Vestas wind turbine factory. Hit the streets.

outside Dept of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place.


Friday 7th August

I think, I see

Join Sally Booth for a large-scale outdoor drawing project : interact with the built environment on the Southbank. More details here.

Drop-in, 12noon – 5pm
Southbank, outdoors.

Saturday 8th August

Introduction to Permaculture

A lively and dynamic weekend, run by Naturewise, looking at the foundations of permaculture and some of the practical tools it offers. Can be considered a stand alone introduction to ethics, principles and design, or a lead-in to the more in depth full 72 hour Design Course.

Contact: Marianne –
Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm – Hornsey Rise Gardens, N19

Yesterday morning seven climate change activists from Workers Climate Action glued themselves together across the entrance to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They were wearing black, remedy green and red to symbolise the diversity of their political opinions, but one thing unites them all and that is their belief that the closure of the Vestas wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight is madness. At a time when our government is publically promoting the need for green jobs how on earth can this be allowed to happen? Sounds like a lot of hot air to us. Millions is used to bail out the banks whilst the future of our renewable energy sector is allowed to falter at the first hurdle of NIMBYism, which is preventing the construction of large scale onshore wind power in the UK. Strung around the necks of the activists were the simple words Take Back the Wind Power.


Last week the Big Green Gathering was cancelled for extremely spurious reasons, as highlighted by good old Monbiot in today’s Guardian. Could it be that there is a political desire to keep green activists from gathering together and raising money, some of which might go towards funding actions? Are we becoming too powerful as a movement? It seems somewhat crazy, given that the BGG is predominantly known as a relaxed family festival with a hippie vibe, but there you go.


I had been looking forward to going for the first time and playing a daily celidh as part of the houseband in the Last Chance Saloon, which was already fully erected on site when the plug was pulled (our friends have lost £6000 in the process). But instead and given the circumstances, why not go on a holidarity to the Vestas “Vestival” down on the Isle of Wight, where workers have been staging a sit in occupation since the 22nd of July.

So we, Green Kite Midnight, packed all our instruments and amps into the back of a large car which suddenly seemed very small, and pootled on down to the dock at Portsmouth. The sun shone as we sailed (expensively – book online first ladies and gents) across the Solent, smiling at the beautiful blue sea in the breeze.


Shortly after we landed our spirits were elevated still further by the sight of the Bicycology crew, travelling in convoy towards the Vestas plant, tucked away at the back of a new and half empty light industrial estate.


In front of the factory a roundabout has been turned into a temporary camp – a place to gather for people from all different political backgrounds, all of whom have come to fight for the future of the workers at Vestas.


Marooned together on the “magic roundabout”, as it has affectionately come to be called, there are members of various trade unions (no Vestas workers were members of a union before the sit-in) as well as activists from slightly differing factions of the Socialist movement and members of Climate Camp and Workers Climate Action (the latter having born out of the former) If you’re already confused imagine how I felt. I’ve never been particularly politically active until my involvement with Climate Camp, and I feel as though a whole strange new world has opened up to me – where the most unlikeliest of friendships are forged over shared causes.


Down at Vestas everyone wants a slice of the pie, but all for slightly different reasons. And in the process something really quite beautiful is happening – all these little groups are rubbing along quite happily together and coming to learn about each other and how we can work together to create a better future, because ultimately there can be no climate action without climate justice at the same time. We may be looking at the situation from different angles, but for the most part we’re interested in similar outcomes.


Mind you, there was a burger van set up in the adjacent carpark (run by a lovely man – he was happy to post Climate Camp posters on the outside!) from which union members would habitually return bearing meaty burgers stuffed into those horrible landfill-bound-on-a-fast-train polystyrene containers whilst we munched on our latest vegan meal.


In a dance of food-offering decorum the burger would be offered to us and politely declined, our yummy vegan soup or salad refused in return by a bloke (invariably) more used to fast food than fresh roundabout ‘plat du jour’.


Spirits were high as we arrived in the late afternoon sunshine and an impromptu conga snaked its way around the roundabout. Food had been successfully delivered by Climate Camp activists earlier in the day – having finally despaired of the manager’s efforts to starve the workers into submission they staged a rush of the factory, organising the operation with precision via mobile phone calls with the workers who were ready and waiting with equipment to haul the booty in as soon as it arrived.


As the evening rally kicked off Bicycology where able to provide a bike-powered soundsystem, much to the bemusement of the attendant locals and workers’ families.



Freshly-cooked Welsh cakes made on the miniature children’s oven set were served and the workers on the balcony cheered.



Evenings on the roundabout are where friendships are cemented – gathered around an oil drum full of palettes in the sodium moonlight. The next day was spent getting together an impressive new Climate Camp banner and taping the prayer flag banners I printed onto the hoardings.



The banners turned out to make good headscarves as stencils were created and bunting sewn as we sat in the blazing sunshine.




Mini pastel bunting to be precise – a good foil for the huge bright RMT flags flying above our heads. Due to a lack of loo facilities (as well as local council recycling, though of course we had put a system in place) we had to make frequent treks down to the B&Q at the end of the industrial estate and en route I found a cherry plum tree laden with fruit as well as abundant fat juicy blackberries. After a successful trip into town to visit the local charity shops (great craft magazines) I returned with a bag full of tasty fruit to be shared around. Locals also baked cakes, brought fresh water and in the case of Sue – a local Catholic lady of a certain age – hot fish and chips for the boys on the balcony. These had to be delivered before they went cold – obviously – so a plan was hatched to get them into the precinct as the rally happened on day two of our visit. Once again a group of activists was coralled, and with Sue at the helm they made a dash for the Vestas factory, as the police (always two of them standing around, with very big metal badges on their helmet, must be a real strain on the neck for the Isle of Wight constabulary!) slowly cottoned on.


A farcical chase and grab ensued with the privately employed security guards inside, but we had decoys in place and the food was successfully delivered as Sue turned around and walked calmly through the maelstorm and back out through the Harris fencing with maximum confidence.



What a lady! We later heard that the management, largely due to our actions, had agreed to feed the workers on demand instead of at sporadic intervals with small amounts of unnutritious food (although this has since to happen as they appear to have reneged on the deal).


After the rally protest band Seize the Day played their newly recorded Vestas song with a bit of backing vocal help from some Vestas WAGS. We all sang along with the chorus which I thought was pretty darn rousing, and they tried to bluetooth it out to the crowd. The plan is to get it out as soon as possible so that it can raise money and awareness for the cause.

I’m not sure they’re impressed though.


Next up it was the turn of my new celidh band Green Kite Midnight to put on a dance. I managed to persuade a mixed bunch of folk, including a local morris dancing lady in full traditional gear, to dance along with us in the middle of the road. We didn’t get many takers – clearly celidhs are not that cool in the Isle of Wight – but we did thoroughly entertain the workers, who cheered us on through the whole affair.


The next day we took most of the day to get off the island – it’s a very hard place to leave when the ferries are all booked up and you haven’t got your wetsuit. But we got to paddle in the sea in the drizzle and I got to eat a fresh crab sandwich. The Big Green it wasn’t, but our holidarity was a whole other affair that I was extremely glad to have taken part in. Today Vestas is in court as the management once more seek an injunction to evict the workers. Who knows what will happen? But one thing is sure, new allegiances have been formed and lessons learnt. Vestas workers will tell their story at this year’s Climate Camp, and the need for a just transition to a green economy has never been more high on the agenda. Interesting times indeed.

…And as I complete this blog news has just come in of an occupation at the second Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight, where Climate Camp activists and members of the trade union have together scaled the roof, vowing to stay there until their demands are met. Long live direct action…

I’d been looking forward to July for a while. Me fave Punk-Jazz act releasing a new album, me fave South Coast creole Rock’n’Rollers go big league with man-of-the-moment celeb producer. Surely, this would be a month to take music in a sunny direction, and give me many hours of iPod joy. But my heroes have failed me. The stench of re-used ideas and self-consciousness has overwhelmed my hopes. Instead, July belonged to a very unprepossessing girl releasing her debut solo album, with no grander fanfare and hype than she alone can muster with a myspace, a spamming list, a charismatic strawberry blonde afro and her beautiful wee ditties.
Putting Fiona Bevan’s record on was pure refreshment. Maybe I’ve been overdosing on clever-clever music this year, but I was really bowled over to hear such a soulful and sincere voice giving its all to songs of life and love, written for the sake of honesty rather than statement or ego. Bless her cotton socks, it’s stunning! It feels pretty rare in our decadent and cynical age to hear someone who recalls the honest, big-hearted decency of a Joni Mitchell or even Nina Simone on an unguided tour of the maze of the heart. She’s still capable of a couple of moments when complex grandeur works its way in, courtesy of skilful violin and brass orchestration, that variously evoke The Kinks, Al Green, and most obviously, the funeral march (which sits in strangely comfortably amidst samba-plucked guitar chords and Erykah-Badu-puppeteering-Adele vocals), but these are held back for needy moments. Emphasis that would be overused and squandered by a man-of-the-moment celeb producer, goes in just the right place here.
Most of the production is in the clean as a whistle spacious style of the Kings Of Convenience with occasional zones of Kate Bush echoes. The band is the perfect loyalty backing band, there to give Fiona’s voice the space or gusto it needs. They do this as well as Minnie Riperton’s collection of session wizards did, and there are plenty of to-wet-yourself-for jazzular chord changes.
And then there are the bits that don’t really fit with the impression I’ve just given you, like the title track which is heavy on production and quickly turns into an experiment by Unkle, John Zorn and Satan (not the band, but actually Satan). And the lyric in Fatal Cocktail, which goes “I will dance away when I leave, I will have her intestines to hold up my best stockings, one use only, then holey, throw them away”, which is more Eli Roth than Joan Baez.
This is a folk-soul album blessed with a skilful tightrope-walk of purity without becoming overly simple and thus dull. Fiona gets top marks for songwriting; there’s only one filler track on here (first track, strangely). All else is either strong and hummable enough or deep and luscious enough to get double-thumbs-up. And top marks for performance; hers is a sweet caress of a voice that reaches it’s extremes with a tender whimper of truth.
Moral of the story: Whence cometh the joy, ye shall ne’er predict…
Over the years it has become routine that designers are often been as much defined by their clothes as by the manner in which they are presented. Fashion and spectacle have long been well married together and it’s the most spectacular that are the most memorable: Alexander McQueen ‘s psychiatric ward in SS01′s ‘Voss’. Viktor and Rolf often hold unauthorised, website like this underground shows during Paris fashion week and have even tap-danced in one of their own shows. Maison Martin Margiela has used dummies and giant dolls instead of models. It’s well-known that McQueen in particular has developed an almost Artaudian approach to his shows, viagra order attaching value to the sensory experience beyond the clothes themselves.

Fashion and art label Cosmic Wonder, ask owned by Yukinori Maeda, sees its fashion cell Cosmic Wonder Light Source also experimenting with the boundaries in which collections can be presented, attempting to evoke a response from consumers who perhaps don’t always engage with a designer’s thought-process. In the case of its SS09 collection, we find the garments on show in perhaps the least exciting of arenas – an office.



Upon entry, it seems like a regular day. Desks, shelves, pot plants, whitewashed walls – that sense of despair. Yet there’s something dodgy going on. Have you seen The Truman Show? That bit where he suddenly bangs into the skyline? Well, here, the office workers just so happen to be models, the books and magazines are blank, and there are box files that simply read ‘Business Business Business’. The office, as a site perhaps most associated with loss of identity that manifests even in what we wear, seems an ideal centre to explore different ways to express yourself via the medium of fashion. Similarly by choosing the most utilitarian of spaces, the functional aspect of the clothing is examined, whilst eliciting the idea that on a day- to- day basis there is something intimate about the garments we choose to live our lives in. The line itself is chic and edgy, sometimes androgynous and with voluminous silhouettes – with soft pastels playing with ideas of light with the aim to produce an environmental effect.



Achieving a cult status after appearing in Paris Fashion Week in the Pompidou Centre in 2001, Cosmic Wonder shares with Comme de Garcons the wish to operate outside of pop culture. Instead it shows a willingness to examine how art, fashion and commerce can successfully interact together that prioritises wearability at the appropriate times, at one point showing a giant bra that filled a whole space by itself (now that’s not for a faint-hearted fellow). Cosmic Wonder’s line can be bought on b-store: gigantic bras not currently available much to our disappointment!

Yuko Michishita is a self described hair obsessive, pharmacy braided hair in particular. This immediately established my respect for her, pilule which only grew and grew once I discovered she has illustrated for Fleet Foxes, has an interest in traditional costume and almost entirely draws in pencil. Yes, we are destined to be friends.


Fresh off the acclaimed Illustration BA at Brighton University, Yuko is working freelance in that creative hub of a city by the sea and sources most of her inspiration from ‘tribes engaged in traditionally womanly activities such as weaving and embroidering’, in particular the indigenous tribes of Asia from which her heritage hails.


The way Yuko describes her work processes makes it sound like drawing is almost an impulse, something she cannot help but do, as if she would implode if she didn’t. I found it hard to believe the images she creates are current art, as the folklore type aesthetic uses what is, in my mind, a very understated palette and composition, uncomplicated figures carrying out traditional tasks. We had a quick chat about Murikami, dating and guilty cheesecake pleasures. A girl after my own heart indeed.


Hi, how are you today?

I’m good thanks.

What have you been up to lately?

A lot of sitting on the beach and reading. I’ve just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s new book 1Q84, which was so so so good that it made me want to read his books again. So at the moment I’m reading Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

Hieronymus Bosch


If we visited you in your home town, where would you take us?

I would firstly take you to Cine-Twin which is a tiny independent cinema in which I spent most of my high school life in and watch whatever is on. They always have a good selection of films. Then we’d go to Libro which is a really good book shop and browse there until we get sick of looking at books. Later we’d go to Blue Flat Cafe and have salmon and avocado on rice and an after meal cappuccino.

Wow this is like my ideal date! I wish you were a nice man preferably with curly hair…

Who would most love to collaborate with creatively?

I can’t say who exactly but someone who does non-illustration things I guess. I collaborated with my friend graphic designer Richard Carey last year on a vinyl cover project and it was so much fun and final piece was something I could never create on my own! So I’d love to collaborate with graphic designers/photographers/sculptors etc to see how we could develop our work together and create something we have never created before.


If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

Working in a cafe most likely.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Somewhere that keeps me happy. Somewhere nice.


What advice would you give up and coming artists?

I want to receive advice not giving! … sharpen your senses and see your strength, maybe?

How would you describe your art in five words?

Meticulous on the ridiculous level. (5 words just! Well done me!!)


What is your guilty pleasure?

Waitrose cheese cake.

Oh my, me too! Tell us something about Yuko Michishita that we didn’t know already.

I have an acute sense of smell.


What are you up to next?

I’m just starting up as a freelance illustrator so I’ll be trying to get commissions as well as doing my personal work. It’s not the best timing to graduate because of this credit crunch thing, but I’ll have to do my best and get the most out of what I’ve got!

What wise words indeed.


Much of the focus for campaigners for ethical fashion has been concerned with making it a priority for absolutely everybody, viagra especially endeavouring to change the attitudes of the supposedly apathetic youth of today.

On the other hand, our generation has been miserably nicknamed the iPod generation: Insecure, Pressured, Overtaxed, Debt-ridden. When you’ve got all that knocking at your door, sometimes the last thing you want to see is the bigger (equally daunting) picture. The promising news from research commissioned by Labour Behind a Label ‘s education project Fashioning an Ethical Industry has found that more than two thirds of fashion students questioned were committed to making fashion more ethical when they enter the industry. Students from London College of Fashion, University of the Creative Arts, Central St Martins, Nottingham Trent University have shown concern about a wide range of ethical issues with almost three quarters of respondents highlighting workers’ rights, child labour, producer wages and sweatshops as particular areas of concern.


With the world surviving on a constant diet of generally crap news all round, this glimmer of hope is practically akin to a fan-fare, a massive parade with floats, confetti, brass bands and bunting, and just a generally drinks-all-round cause for celebration. Joint Project Coordinator for FEI Hannah Higginson points out that “at this time of economic uncertainty when fashion companies may be squeezing suppliers and thus undermining workers’ rights, it is extremely encouraging to see the commitment of fashion students and their tutors to play a pioneering role in transforming the fashion industry”.


According to the recent research, almost 40% of students now feel their tutors are actively engaging them in ethical issues – 20% more than three years ago. On the flipside, students highlighted the need for more resources and curriculum development around ethics, with more than 40% saying there was ‘little’ information about ethics on their courses. If we want fashion to have a viable place in our future, learning the ways to sustain it is evidently the key because there are problems on the up that aren’t going to go away. The fact that we’re moving that direction step by step is exciting, though, and its research that proves that maybe we could turn out to be more than a collective neurotic mess – and that creativity just might find a new force.

To find out more about its work and upcoming projects, visit the Fashioning an Ethical Industry website – where you can also see a variety of student work.
I’m not sure why summer feels like it needs a soundtrack more than autumn, diagnosis winter or spring, viagra but come June I find myself frantically making mix tapes for people so they have soundtracks too. While most people spring clean their house, viagra dosage I spring clean my i-tunes library in preparation for my self-inflicted Summer Mix-tape Frenzy. Inevitably, there is one song that is my mix-tape staple, one song I find myself putting on repeat pottering around in the sunshine, and playing it come gloomy winter whilst remembering wistfully warmer times. I have found this summer’s soundtrack song, at first I stuffed it greedily in my ears and kept it secret but some things are just too good to keep to yourself…

Walkabout by Atlas Sound with Noah Lennox

When I found out about the collaboration between Atlas Sound (Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox) and Panda Bear (solo artist and Animal Collective drummer Noah Lennox), I could barely contain my excitement (imagine here me spitting out coffee all over my laptop and wanky indie band t-shirt- I feel it adds rather nicely to the scene).
Walkabout began making rounds on the internet a couple of weeks ago prior to the October release of Atlas Sound’s eagerly anticipated second album; Logos.


Walkabout itself is a summer soundtrack dream come true. At its core is a looped riff sample taken from The Dovers’ “What Am I Going To Do” (in it’s own right a great song: listen!) and is layered upon to create a totally unique and beautiful soundscape that is at once both intimate and epic. Essentially, Walkabout sounds reassuringly like how you would imagine and indeed want a collaboration between Cox and Lennox to sound; both retain their individual styles and it is when these to overlap and diverge that makes Walkabout Summer soundtrack material, it is jingle jangly happy pop for sunny days, with just enough melancholy (notably in Cox’s simple but effective use of language) to help you mope your way nostalgically through a bitter winter. The song builds up with lapping guitars and swiftly departs somewhere strange and exciting, Panda Bear brings his psychedelic take on Surf music, like an alien Brian Wilson, which echoes in ooohhss and aaahhhs behind The Dovers loop; which sits perfectly with the trademark Atlas Sound crunchiness of the other sound samples and snippets of noise that glimmer throughout Walkabout.


So I leave you with this snippet of sunshine from my most beloved new dream-team, and the hope that Autumn might not be so dreary with Logos’ release to look forward; if its half as good as Walkabout my mix-taping, soundtracking obsession will lag on a few extra months.
What’s your summer song going to be this year?

Categories ,Animal Collective, ,Atlas Sound, ,Collaboration, ,Deerhunter, ,Dream Pop, ,Electronica, ,Mix-tapes, ,Noise, ,Panda Bear, ,Psychedelia, ,Sampling, ,Summer, ,Surf pop

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