Webzine Edition Issue 5

Christmas Shopping Event: Ethical Just Got Fabulous

20th Century Theatre, Notting Hill, London W11, UK
Saturday 4th December and Sunday 5th December 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

ethical_just_got_fabulous_logo
As Ethical Just Got Fabulous’ Christmas event is certain to put a sparkle in the eye and provide a very welcoming, inspiring and glittering festive  one-stop ethical shopping experience, it is entirely appropriate that at one point in the 150 year history of its venue, Notting Hill’s wonderfully atmospheric 20th Century Theatre, it was called the Bijou.

Following on from the success of their launch event in June 2010, at East London’s The Rag Factory, EJGF’s debut event in West London, will present a unique selection of clothing, accessories, homewares, jewellery, gifts, stocking fillers, and edible treats, from a carefully selected and eclectic mix of the most up and coming, ethical and design focused, fashion and lifestyle brands. The event is supported by Livia Firth, creative director of Eco-Age, the shop, showroom, consultancy, and green hub, that offers “inspiration, ideas, and specific domestic solutions, for all those who want to lead a greener and more energy efficient life.” Eco-Age will also be exhibiting at EJGF. Champagne Lanson and the independent London radio station, Magic 105.4 FM, have also partnered with EJGF for the event, at which shoppers will also be treated to live jazz, mini manicures, mulled wine and a raffle for a chance to win a Fabulous Christmas Hamper worth £1,000. Proceeds from the raffle will go directly to Magic 105.4’s Cash for Kids, a charity dedicated to giving the neediest local children a better and brighter future.

“There is such a lack of presence for quality ethical product on our high streets,” says Naomi Cornelius-Reid, who with Leoni Mani and Katy Pullen, is one of the triumvirate of ethically-minded female entrepreneurs who created Ethical Just Got Fabulous. “The media interest in ethical fashion is huge but for consumers there is often little choice aside from online ethical websites. Too often the system prevents these boutique brands from reaching consumers, with exhibitions and fairs sometimes poorly organised and charging exorbitant prices. We want to show that there is another way, the Fabulous way.”

A facet of the ‘Fabulous way’ is that EJGF is a non-profit company which only charges a fair and honest split of the event’s running costs to the exhibitors, as a key part of its dedication to raise the profile of “the multitude of high quality, beautifully designed, fashion focused, boutique ethical brands out there,” and the shared passion of the founders to bring “feel good fashion to the people,” and to support “the good work of those forward thinking enough to create companies that strive to be both fashionable and ethical in their production. Proving once and for all, that ethical can indeed be fabulous.”

NV London Calcutta Coco with Rob Ryan scarf

NV London Calcutta Coco with Rob Ryan scarf

The ethical business credentials of all three of EJGF’s founders are impressive. Naomi Cornelius-Reid is the founder of NV London Calcutta, an ethical accessories company that is dedicated to bridging the gap between high fashion and traditional ethical offerings. Their products are designed in Britain and produced, entirely by hand, in Calcutta, West Bengal, in so doing the company combines, she says, “the best of UK design talent with the promotion of age-old Indian craftsmanship and artisan skills,” which as a result supports and champions “marginalised producer groups to ensure that those who create our products receive both a fair wage and a healthy, happy working environment.”

Aspara, the company founded by Katy Pullen, began with a simple idea, she says, “to make a difference to the communities of artisans we work with.” Aspara’s unique and exclusively designed evening bags, purses, scarves, and shawls are all hand-crafted from silk and the finest natural materials by Cambodian artisans trying to support their families. “Aspara works directly with these producers to cut out the middleman,” says Pullen, “we pass on our knowledge and help financially so that these small businesses are able to meet Western production standards as well as offering a competitive and beautiful product.”

As project manager for the commemoration events for the 2007 Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, Leona Mani gained a further understanding of the importance of promoting Fair Trade. To facilitate this she created BestFairTrade.com, which is the only web-based directory for Fair Trade products, and through which her aim is, she says, “to raise awareness of the huge range of Fair Trade products available and also to promote smaller businesses.” Mani also has a wealth of experience of trading in the textile industry, gained through her time working in Hong Kong and India following graduation from her degree in International Business.

All three women felt that it was high time that the best in ethical fashion and lifestyle were available under one roof, and so in creating Ethical Just Got Fabulous they also gave birth to the first ethical pop-up department store. “Ethical fashion can, and should, be elegant, chic and desirable,” says Naomi Cornelius-Reid, and this is key to all the luxury boutique ethical brands that will be showcased at  Ethical Just Got Fabulous’ Christmas event, including Izzy Lane, Fifi Bijoux, Enamore, and Bottletop.

Knitwear by Izzy Lane

Izzy Lane knitwear

Izzy Lane knitwear is made with the fleece of Wensleydale sheep, an endangered breed, their dresses, skirts and jackets are made from the fleece of the rare and primitive Shetland breed, and their cashmere garments are made from the fibre of Scottish cashmere goats, thus helping to support the declining Scottish cashmere industry.

Isobel Davies, the founder of Izzy Lane, pays equal and better prices to farmers for her sheep, which are predominantly animals that would otherwise be, as she says, “sent to slaughter for being male, missing a pregnancy, being a little lame, being too small, being too old or having imperfections such as a black spot in a white fleece.” The sheep then live out their lives at the Izzy Lane Sheep Sanctuary, whilst their wool is spun, as part of Izzy Lane’s commitment to support the ailing British textile industry, “using the last of 51 worsted spinners”, and dyed at “one of the last dyers in the Bradford area.” Similarly Izzy Lane’s cloth is “woven at an ancient mill in Selkirk using Victorian machinery that has been operating for over a hundred years.”

By taking their garments from every stage of the process from fleece, through manufacturing, to finished product, Izzy Lane know and can provide the full provenance for every item they sell.

Fifi Bijoux star fish pendant

Fifi Bijoux star fish pendant

Vivien Johnston, the director and designer of Fifi Bijoux, launched the ethical, luxury jewellery brand in 2006, with the precept of applying the principles of Fair Trade to gold, precious ethical gems, and ethical diamonds. “Luxury jewellery has a profound history of romance, intrigue and glamour,” she says, “however, this often concealed a harsher reality of cruelty, corruption and abuse.” To counter this, Fifi Bijoux source all their materials from suppliers who make a positive impact, and who do not exploit their workers or cause environmental damage. As Johnston says, “we believe in luxury as it should be; without the blood, sweat or tears.”

Enamore’s founder and creative director, Jenny Ambrose, launched the luxurious lingerie and accessories brand in Brighton in 2004, with a vision  “to create beautiful, playful and quirky garments from reclaimed and sustainable materials,” in reaction to the damage she felt the fashion industry was doing to the environment. Enamore continue to develop this vision with both their range of eco-friendly lingerie that offers a new twist on the modern day pin-up, and their accessories, all created from eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton, bamboo, soya, hemp and natural silk.

Enamore Black Lashes bra and knickers

Enamore Black Lashes bra and knickers. Photograph by Jack Willingham

In addition to this not only does the company actively support ethical and fairly paid labour, also making use of manufactures local to them in the UK, but, as they say, “when we have no further use for fabrics, we donate the remnants to local schools and colleges for students to use for their own projects, reducing our own waste in the process!”

The empowerment of young people through grass roots education projects is at the core of Bottletop, which was founded by Cameron Saul and Oliver Wayman. The trading arm of the company, Bottletop Trading Ltd, is dedicated to designing and producing ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products. Their focus on quality, sustainability and local craftsmanship enables Bottletop to not only “create beautiful products that people want to own,” but also to generate employment in poverty stricken regions and countries around the world. Profits are invested back into the communities to perpetuate the benefits and reinforce the sustainability.

The Bottletop Campaign, which is Bottletop’s charity, supports their education projects for young people and also funds grass root initiatives that highlight and tackle adolescent health issues, particularly those “taking a longer term holistic approach, tailored for the local needs of young people and addressing simultaneously key issues such as sexual and reproductive health, substance abuse and gender equality.”

Supporting younger generations of talent is also key to EJGF. To this end they have fostered a partnership with London College of Fashion. At the EJGF launch event, LCF graduating students were given free exhibition space, and at the Christmas event students with an ethical fashion focus have been given the opportunity to help with all aspects of the event, thus gaining valuable industry experience.

Also to further “practice what they preach” EJGF created the Future Fabulous competition working with four schools local to Notting Hill. As part of which the EJGF founders have been visiting each school to talk to the pupils about ethical consumerism and the part they can play in that, and also inviting them to design and make their own ethical Christmas cards and decorations to enter into the competition. The entries will be judged by EJGF’s  special guest judges including Livia Firth and Neil Fox, Magic FM DJ, director of Green Rewards, and patron of Trees for Cities. The winners will receive a framed picture of their entry, signed by the guest judges, ethical goodie bags to the value of £100, and their cards and decorations will be displayed over the weekend.

BRANDS INVOLVED IN  ETHICAL JUST GOT FABULOUS’ CHRISTMAS EVENT:

ASPARA, NV LONDON CALCUTTA, ECO-AGE, BOTTLETOP, PINKI, NANCY DEE, GREAT ELM PHYSICK GARDEN, JUZI, JUST TRADE, IZZY LANE, KNOCK ON THE DOOR, BETTY & BETTS, BIOME LIFESTYLE, HEATHER O’CONNOR, FIFI BIJOUX, MAMA CHA, MOTTIES, ENAMORE, SPRINKALICIOUS, KATE BEAUGIE, RE-JIGGED.

Chistmas Ethical Just Got Fabulous
20th Century Theatre
291 Westbourne Grove
Notting Hill
London W11 2QA
UK
Opening times: Saturday 4th December 2010 10am to 6pm
Sunday 5th December 2010 11am to 5pm

Admission: Free

Links:

Ethical Just Got Fabulous
www.ethicaljustgotfabulous.com

Eco-Age
www.eco-age.com

Magic 105.4 FM
www.magic.co.uk

NV London Calcutta
www.nvlondoncalcutta.com

Aspara
www.asparasilk.com

BestFairTrade.com
www.bestfairtrade.com

Izzy Lane
www.izzylane.com

Fifi Bijoux
www.fifibijoux.com

Enamore
www.enamore.co.uk

Bottletop
www.bottletop.org

Christmas Shopping Event: Homeworks Christmas Sale

20th Century Theatre, Notting Hill, London W11. UK
Thursday 25th November – Friday 26th November 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

homeworksflyer2010ff1
Returning to the 20th Century Theatre for its third year, the Homeworks Christmas Sale, which brings together a wonderfully eclectic range of predominantly handmade or upcycled gifts, has become an inspiring fixture on the festive calendar. Providing, as it does, a fantastic array of unique, original, and innovative products including jewellery, ceramics, cushions, hats, scarves, children’s clothes, and Christmas cards.

The women who make up Homeworks were brought together through a shared passion for “things that are made with thought and care,” and the shared circumstances of “working from home” and “living within a stone’s throw from each other” in London. Now numbering 28 designers, from small start ups to established brands with international stockists, they all support each other, swapping ideas and information, sharing expertise, arranging sales and events, and, as they say, “drinking tea!”

Designers who are part of Homeworks and who are taking part in the sale include Jo Gordon, Thornback and Peel, and Twisted Twee.

Knitwear by Jo Gordon

Knitwear by Jo Gordon

Natalie Portman and Gwen Stefani are both fans of Jo Gordon’s traditional Scottish knitwear with a modern edge, which is handmade in Scotland. Gordon originally studied fine art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland, but when she moved to London to attend the Royal College of Art diversified into design. Since she founded her company in 1995, it has grown into an international label selling in 19 different countries, but her office is still on the ground floor of her London home which she shares with her husband and daughter.

Goldfish and coral, jellies and cake, pigeons, rabbits, cabbages, ships, all adorn Thornback and Peel’s intricate and elegant items for the home, which are all hand screen printed in Britain, and include fabric and wallpaper, cushions, table linen, tea towels, aprons, deckchairs, bags, t-shirts, handkerchiefs , baby wear, and cards. Liberty and Paul Smith are amongst the 60 shops across the UK which stock Thornback and Peel’s wares, in addition to shops across Europe and the USA.

Thornback and Peel fish napkin with jelly wallpaper

Thornback and Peel fish napkin with jelly wallpaper

“Some things we make ourselves, others are knitted by Mongolian shepherdesses, hand-printed in Bath or forged by Elves in the mines of Lothren,” say Twisted Twee, “we even have a Chinese grandmother making four foot long Twisted mannequin rag dolls from lilac Tweed!” Amongst their self-proclaimed, “daft and ingenious objects,” Twisted Twee’s creations include Lover’s Gloves, for two people to wear at once, men’s Sock Trios, a ‘pair and a spare’ to counter against the sock that inevitably goes ‘missing’, twinsets for dads and their babies, and knitted Ear Gloves.

Twisted Twee pocket money cloth

Twisted Twee pocket money cloth

Other Homeworks designers include:
Mrs Booth, Handworks, Fiona Bailey Designs, Smith and Coates, Huggermuggers, Homespun & Vintage, Lou Rota, and Petra Boase.

Homeworks Christmas Sale
20th Century Theatre
291 Westbourne Grove
Notting Hill
London W11 2QA
UK

Opening times:

Thursday 25 November: 2 – 9pm
Friday 26 November: 10 – 9pm

Admission: £1 (which will be donated to The Special Yoga Centre)

Links:

Homeworks
www.thisishomeworks.blogspot.com

Jo Gordon
www.jogordon.com

Thornback and Peel
www.thornbackandpeel.co.uk

Twisted Twee
www.twistedtwee.co.uk

Exhibition Preview: Interior: Constellations – Tereza Stehlíková

Kingsgate Gallery, West Hampstead, London NW6. UK
17th September – 3rd October 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

interior-constellations-1-tereza-stehlikova
In Teresa Stehlíková’s The Story of Violet (Go Together Press, 2007), her illustrated book for children and adults, her eponymous young heroine wonders, “How can it be so beautiful here? Why are all the colours more intense than in the world at home? Why can’t it be the other way round? Why does it feel more real here than in the real world?”

Like Violet’s reverie, Interior: Constellations, Stehlíková’s new mixed media installation, allows the viewer to become completely immersed in beautiful, atmospheric, and mysterious, richly coloured interior and exterior images, from spiral staircases to spirals of forest flora and fauna that swirl the familiar and the unexpected, into new realities. Heightening one’s perception of reality in order, as she says, “to offer a fresh and poetic vision of the world” is key to the work of the multi-talented, Czech-born, London-based, Stehlíková, who is an artist, filmmaker, writer, co-editor and founder of the cross-disciplinary biannual magazine, Artesian, and lecturer in animation. Whilst also continuing to work towards a practice-based PhD at the Royal College of Art, in London, “researching ‘tactile memory’ and its relation to the moving image”.

interior-constellations-2-tereza-stehlikova
Interior: Constellations develops her work with tactility and memory, as she says, “both thematically and practically, as the means by which time imprints its histories into objects and sites and as the process whereby those stored impressions might subsequently be retrieved.” Made on location in the Czech Republic and Iceland, all of the pieces in the exhibition, “focus on objects and places charged with individual or collective resonance,” says Stehlíková, from her childhood home to “the equally resonant landscapes of the natural world,” and all are “imbued with the textured potential of the un/conscious”.

Stehlíková is influenced by the rich tradition of Czech Surrealism and in particular by the highly influential artist and filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer, whose work has similarly inspired Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, and the Brothers Quay. Švankmajer worked closely with his wife, the equally inspirational Czech surrealist artist, Eva Švankmajerová, and when the Communist Czech regime banned them from making films for seven years in the 1970s, they worked pseudonymously creating other artworks, including three-dimensional ‘tactile art’. “As an art form touch is a sense without any defined convention,” Švankmajer has said, “it has the advantage of not lending itself solely to aesthetical purpose. That is why touch can bring into our consciousness a great amount of authentic material.”

interior-constellations-3-tereza-stehlikova
The French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard, is also a primary influence on Interior: Constellations and Stehlíková’s work in general. In particular his book, The Poetics of Space,  which explores how we experience intimate places, and how our perceptions of houses and other shelters shape our thoughts, memories and dreams. The final chapter puts forward Bachelard’s concept of ‘intimate immensity’, which Stehlíková has utilised in the exhibition in the way that her work “plays with notable shifts in scale and point of view”.

Using projection, assemblages, and photography, Interior: Constellations creates an evocative multi-layered experience, that is aesthetically, sensorily, and theoretically inspiring, and both a wonderful trigger to the imagination and an underscore to the importance to allowing one’s imagination freedom. In the words of Švankmajer: “Imagination is subversive, because it puts the possible against the real. That’s why you should always use your wildest imagination. Imagination is the biggest gift the humanity received. Imagination makes people human, not work. Imagination, imagination, imagination…”

Tereza Stehlíková will give an Artist’s Presentation at the Kingsgate Gallery at 2pm on Saturday 2nd  October 2010.

There will be also an off-site screening event during the exhibition (date tbc) of new and recent films by Tereza Stehlíková, alongside work of influence by Jan Švankmajer, Stan Brakhage and others. For more information check the links below.

Interior: Constellations runs from 17th September – 3rd October 2010
at Kingsgate Gallery, 110-116 Kingsgate Road, West Hampstead, London NW6 2JG. UK
Telephone: 020 7328 7878

Open Thursday to Sunday 12 – 6pm
Free admission

Links
Tereza Stehlíková: www.terezast.com
Go Together Press and Artesian Magazine: www.gotogetherpress.com
Kingsgate Gallery:  www.kingsgateworkshops.org.uk

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Exhibition Preview: Inspired by Soane

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, UK
10th September to 1st October 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

inspired-by-soane
Damien Hirst, Vivienne Westwood, Richard Rogers, Tracy Emin, Grayson Perry, Manolo Blahnik, and Daniel Libeskind, are amongst the host of contemporary artists, architects, and designers (a full list follows at the foot of this article) who have been inspired by Sir John Soane’s Museum and have contributed original artworks to an exhibition and ‘blind sale’, Inspired by Soane. They join generations upon generations who have been similarly inspired.

One hundred and seventy-five years ago, Issac D’Israeli, the British writer, scholar, man of letters, and father of the British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, wrote an evocative letter to the architect Sir John Soane about how inspiring the museum  he had created within his home was. “Your Museum is permanently magical, for the enchantments of art are eternal,” he wrote, “some in poems have raised fine architectural edifices, but most rare have been those who have discovered when they had finished their house, if such a house can ever be said to be finished, that they had built a poem. All this you have accomplished…What the nation wanted your hand has bestowed.”

sir-john-soanes-museum
Between 1792 and 1824, Soane demolished and rebuilt three houses, numbers 12-14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, ultimately creating what is now 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Through the success of his architectural practice, Soane was able to build incredible collections of books, paintings, sculpture, antiquities, furniture, timepieces, and architectural models, drawings, and salvage. These collection include Egyptian, Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance  antiquities, such as the sarcophagus of Seti I, and Roman bronzes from Pompeii, Neo-Classical sculpture, paintings by Canaletto, J.M.W. Turner, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress and An Election.

In 1806 when he was appointed Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, Soane proposed opening his house for the use of  Royal Academy students the day before and the day after each of his lectures to view his collections, and began to arrange his collections accordingly. In 1833 he negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture. The Act came into force on his death in 1837, since when the Museum’s Trustees have continued to uphold Soane’s aims and objectives, and generations of people have continued to be inspired by his collections, and by Soane.

Inspired by Soane brings together the 208 pieces created by artists, architects, and designers in the UK and USA, who this summer were sent blank, framed cards and invited to create an original work celebrating the museum. The works will all be displayed anonymously and visitors to the exhibition will be offered the chance to buy a £200 ticket which enters them into a draw which guarantees ownership of one of the pieces on view. Though no one will know which piece they have ‘bought’ until an official adjudicated draw takes place at a fund-raising gala held at The Banqueting House on 7th October 2010. The monies raised by Inspired by Soane will go towards Opening up the Soane,  a £7M project to restore, refurbish, and improve the Museum.

FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS TO INSPIRED BY SOANE:
A EUGENE KOHN, ADAM CARUSO, ADAM KOSSOFF, ALAN DODD, ALAN POWERS, ALEC COBBE, ALEXIS HARDING, ALI KEPENEK, ALISTAIR BOWES AND KIRSTEN MAVRIC, ALLEGRA HICKS, ANDREW BARROW, ANDREW LAWSON, ANDREW LOGAN, ANDY DAVEY, ANNE-MARIE CREAMER, ANTHONY GORMLEY, ANTONIO SANTACROCE, ANTONY POWELL, ARABELLA BROOKE, BARBARA FRANCIS, BEN DE LISI, BILLIE TSIEN, BIRCH COFFEY, CAMERON MACTAVISH, CAROLINE BULLOCK, CELIA BIRTWELL, CELIA PAUL, CERITH WYN EVANS, CHARLOTTE CORY, CHARLOTTE HODES, CHARLOTTE VERITY, CHRIS RIDDELL, CHRIS WILKINSON, CHRISTINA NIEDEBERGER, CHRISTOPHE EGRET, CHRISTOPHER BAILEY, CHRISTOPHER J HOBBS, CHRISTOPHER LE BRUN, CORINNE NOBLE, CRAIG HAMILTON, DAMIEN HIRST, DAN CRUICKSHANK, MARENKA GABELEN, DAN PEARSON, DANIEL LIBESKIND, DAVID BARBARINO, DAVID DOWNTON, DAVID GENTLEMAN, DAVE BROWN, DAVID HARRISON, DAVID KOHN,DERRY MOORE, DON CAMPBELL, DOUG PATTERSON, EVA JIRICNA, FLO BAYLEY, FRANCIS TERRY, GEORGE CARTER, GEORGE SAUMAREZ SMITH, GEORGINA BARCLAY, GRAHAM RUST, GRAYSON PERRY, GREG ROOK, HENRY HUDSON, HUGH BUCHANAN, IAN HISLOP, IGNACIO VALDES, INGRAM PINN, IRAIDA ICAZA, ISAAC JULIEN, IVAN CHERMAYEFF, JAMES WILLIS, JAMIE FOBERT, JANE BUSH, JANE WILDGOOSE, JANEY SHARRATT, JINNY BLOM, JOEL BARKLEY, JOHN BRIDGES, JOHN GUNTER, JOHN MADDISON, JOHN OUTRAM, JOHN SOANE, JONATHON COLEMAN, JULIA CONDON, JULIAN BARROW, JULIAN HARRAP, KEITH MILOW, LANGLANDS AND BELL, LEWIS BUSH, LINDA ALOYSIUS, LINDA KARSHAN, LOUIS HELLMAN, LUCIANNE LASSALLE, LUCY DE ALBUQUERQUE, LUKE MOLONEY,LUTZ BECKER, LYALL THOW, MAGGI HAMBLING, MANOLO BLAHNIK, MARCOS LUTYENS, MARGARET MORGAN, MARIA CHEVSKA, MARK ADLINGTON, MARTIN E BATES, MARTIN GUSTAVSSON, MATTHEW RICE, MICHAEL CRAIG-MARTIN, MICHAEL FLEISHER, MICHAEL GRAVES, MICHAEL PETRY, MICHAEL WOLFSON, MILES THISTLETHWAITE, MONIKA VERIOPOULOS, MUSEUM CLAUSUM, NATASHA MORLAND, NATHALIE HAMBRO, NICK FOX, NICKY HASLAM, NICOLA GREEN, NICOLE HEIDARIPOUR, OLIVER BEER, ORIEL HARWOOD, PAUL COLDWELL, PAUL RYAN, PAUL SMITH, PETER BROOKES, PETER RICE, PETER SCHRANK, PETER SHEPPARD, PHILIP NOBLE, PHILIPPA STOCKLEY, PIERS GOUGH, POLLY HOPE, QUINLAN TERRY, RACHEL HOWARD, REBECCA JOHN, RENATO BENEDETTI, RICHARD DYER, RICHARD SAMMONS, RICHARD ROGERS, RICHARD SHIRLEY SMITH, RICHARD WALKER, ROBERT ADAM, ROBERT FRANKLIN, ROBERT VENTURI, ROBERTO EKHOLM, ROBIN VAN NUTT, ROBIN WYATT,RONALD SEARLE, ROY OSBORNE, RUI PAES, RUSSELL TAYLOR, SARAH ARMSTRONG-JONES, SARAH JANE MCCLELLAND, SCOTT CLISSOLD, SIMON HURST-, STEPHEN CALLOWAY, STEPHEN COX, STUART WREDE, SUE ELSDEN, SUE WILLMINGTON, SUSAN BARNET, TADAO ANDO, TERESA ALBOR, TERRY FARRELL, TERRY GILLIAM, THERESE OULTON, THOMAS GORDON SMITH, THOMAS JAYNE, THOMAS KLIGERMAN, TIM GOODCHILD, TIM GOSLING, TIM HUNKIN, TIM KNOX, TODD LONGSTAFFE, TODD WILLIAMS, TRACY EMIN, TUCKER & MARKS INC, VESNA AKSENTIJEVIC, VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, WALTER CHATHAM, WILL ALSOP, WILLY SPILLER, YOLANDA SONNABEND.

Inspired by Soane runs from 10th September to 1st October 2010
at the Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,  London WC2A 3BP, UK
Telephone: 020 7405 2107

Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
(Also on the first Tuesday evening of each month, 6-9pm)
Free entry

Links
Sir John Soane’s Museum: www.soane.org

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Exhibition Preview: Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise) Images by JT Burke

The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol, UK
28th August – 2nd October 2010
Hotel Estela, Barcelona, Spain
2nd July – 28th September 2010
Brooks Institute Gallery 27, Santa Barbara, California, USA
5th August  – 29th August 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

Portal to a Beautiful Place by JT Burke, from the exhibition Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise)

Portal to a Beautiful Place by JT Burke, from the exhibition Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise)

A glittering and gilded ornithic array, including flamingos, peacocks, humming birds, and wide-eyed owls, grace the 26 resplendent images that make up JT Burke’s latest body of work, Beautiful Again. Which also cascade luxuriously with glistening flora and fauna, as daisies, roses, thistles, and leaves, kaleidoscopically merge with frogs, rabbits, and iguanas. Drawing inspiration from ancient Rome, Renaissance manuscripts, Muslim arabesques, Hindu and Tibetan mandalas, Burke has crafted each work from individual photographs of discarded costume jewellery which he finds, as he says, “at swap meets and yard sales and conjure them into new images of life in ebullient and glorified forms. They dance and soar in front of me in harmonic expressions of trinket afterlife joy. A big, blingy, bijou Shangri-La.”

The images presented in Beautiful Again, both explore Burke’s theme that “paradise is a myth,” that it is “a concoction of our own devices created to comfort us from the rigours of daily life and the sorrows of the human condition,” whilst he also seeks to “perpetuate the myth” as he “create[s] visions of a remanufactured utopia.”

Beautiful Mask by JT Burke

Beautiful Mask by JT Burke, from the exhibition Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise)

From 1984, JT Burke worked as a commercial photographer, cinematographer, and graphic designer, work for which he garnered many awards. But in 2006, he and his wife the artist, Leanne Triolo, retired from commercial practice and reconfigured BurkeTriolo studio as a fine art studio and publishing house, and began exhibiting their work from 2009.

Beautiful Again, is presented by Richard Scarry, the executive director of the Los Angeles based Corey Helford Gallery, and the exhibition’s arrival in Bristol comes hot on the heels of the highly successful Corey Helford curated exhibition, Art From The New World, which ran at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery from 15th May to 22nd August 2010. READ PLECTRUM – THE CULTURAL PICK’S PREVIEW OF ART FROM THE NEW WORLD

Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise) Images by JT Burke
runs from 28th August – 2nd October 2010
at The Grant Bradley Gallery,
1 St Peter’s Court, Bedminster Parade, Bristol, BS3 4AQ
Telephone: +44 (0)117 963 7673

Open: Mon-Sat, 10am – 5pm
Free entry

The exhibition is also showing:

from 2nd July – 28th September
at The Hotel Estela Barcelona
Av. Port Aiguadolç, no. 8, 08870 Sitges, Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: +34 93 811 45 45

Open daily: 9am – 9pm
Free entry

from 5th August  – 29th August 2010
at Brooks Institute Gallery 27
27 Cota Street, Santa Barbara, California 93101, USA
Telephone: +1 805 690 4928

Open daily: 10am – 9 pm
Free entry

All works will be for sale, prices ranging from £600 to £3500.

Links
JT Burke: www.jtburke.com
The Grant Bradley Gallery: www.grantbradleygallery.co.uk
Hotel Estela Barcelona: www.hotelestela.com
Brooks Institute Gallery 27:  www.brooks.edu
Corey Helford Gallery: www.coreyhelfordgallery.com

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Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories #3

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 12th September 2010 from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams

scott-bradfield-people-who-watch-her-pass-by-cover
Jay Clifton’s and Sam Collins’ Brighton Live Lit series, Ace Stories, continues apace with the third in the five event sequence taking place in September. This time the literary headliner is novelist, Scott Bradley, whose unsettling latest novel, The People Who Watched Her Pass By (Two Dollar Radio, 2010), tells the story of Salome Jensen who as a three year old is taken from her home by a man fixing the hot water heater, with whom she drifts through other people’s homes and laundrettes across California, along the way developing an insightful understanding of people and perspective on society. Bradfield is also the author of The History of Luminous Motion (Picador, 1994) which was adapted into the 1998 film, Luminous Motion, starring Deborah Kara Unger.

Michael J. Sheehy

Michael J. Sheehy

The live music set which concludes each Ace Stories event this time features singer-songwriter, Michael J. Sheehy. The former vocalist for late 1990s cult rock band, Dream City Film Club, Sheehy’s solo work draws on a breadth of influences from early American rock ‘n’ roll, blues, gospel, and country through to traditional British hymns. His most recent albums are Ghost on the Motorway (2005) and With These Hands (2009) a concept album which recounts the rise and fall of a fictional Irish boxer called Francis Delaney.

Support readings come from Brighton based writers, Neil Palmer (author of Place Explosion) and Lucy Harvest.

Ace Stories, Sunday 12th September, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.

Links:

Ace Stories Facebook Page

Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject heading.

Hotel Pelirocco
www.hotelpelirocco.co.uk

Michael J. Sheehy
www.myspace.com/michaeljsheehy

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of the inaugural Ace Stories event

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of  Ace Stories #2

Television Review: The Avengers – The Complete Series 4

avengers-series-4-cover

(Optimum Home Entertainment)
On release

By Guy Sangster Adams

First broadcast between 1965 and 1966, with series 4 The Avengers entered the era for which it is best remembered and which was also its most influential, as
Diana Rigg, in the role of Emma Peel, took over from Honor Blackman’s Dr Cathy Gale, as sidekick to John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee. Emma Peel’s name, so the story goes, came from ABC’s (Associated British Pictures, the programme’s production company) press officer, Marie Donaldson, saying that the character need to have ‘man-appeal’, which became abbreviated to ‘m-appeal’… Emma Peel.

avengers-diana-rigg
The crackling sexual tension that had already existed between Steed and Cathy Gale, was ramped up to become far more overt in Steed and Emma Peel’s relationship. Equally the use of leather and PVC costumes, which had been introduced in series 3 for Cathy Gale, particularly for the fight scenes, was continued and became more body conscious and more markedly fetishistic, with zips and buckles. The fetishism was taken even further in the episode, A Touch of Brimstone, when she is dressed as the ‘Queen of Sin’, in a leather corset, knee-length stiletto heeled boots, and a dog collar studded with six inch spikes. All of which played up the vaunted man-appeal of the character, but Emma Peel also, as with Cathy Gale before her, equally and importantly subverted stereotypical roles for women combining not only brains, beauty, and independence, but also physical prowess; she dispatches her male, whip wielding adversary in A Touch of Brimstone in very short measure. Emma Peel became just as much an icon for women as she did for men. Though the dominatrix look proved too much for the American censors, and the episode was banned in the US.

avengers-patrick-macnee
With her striking op-art clothes designed by fashion designer, John Bates, Emma Peel also became a key fashion influence. Under the label, Avengerswear, Bates also licensed his designs to a number of manufacturers, and they were available in shops around the country from the moment series 4 aired. Bates’ geometric designs were also groundbreaking in that before their use in The Avengers it had been considered they would not work on the film cameras of the day. Both reflecting the times and setting the times, Emma Peel’s Mod style, replete with Lotus Elan and Vespa 150 scooter, juxtaposes pleasingly with the continuance of Steed’s bowler hatted and furled umbrella, dandy-edged, vintage Bentley driving, English gentleman.

Sexy, stylish, witty, and inventive, this first series of the Emma Peel era of The Avengers remains as influential and enjoyable now, extraordinarily 45 years on, as it was first time around.

Links
Optimum: www.optimumreleasing.com

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Exhibition Preview: Pop Surrealism

Presented by Alexandra Mazzanti and Gianluca Marziani
In collaboration with Dorothy Circus Gallery (Rome) and Jonathan LeVine Gallery (New York)
Museum Carandente, Spoleto, Italy
26th June to 15th October 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

pop-surrealism-poster

“Landscapes, bodies, animals, history, nature, objects: this is the world reinterpreted by Pop Surrealism,” say Alexandra Mazzanti and Gianluca Marziani in describing their current exhibition, and continue evocatively, “a no-space where everything looks like the real thing, but where we perceive suspended atmospheres, a sense of agonizing waiting and silent doubt and danger, where abnormal silences or strange noises are coming.”

Depending on one’s point of view, Pop Surrealism is either interchangeable with Lowbrow art, or a separate but closely related movement. The term Lowbrow was coined by painter and cartoonist, Robert Williams, for the title of his influential 1979 book, The Lowbrow Art of Robt Williams, which collected all his paintings to date.  Following its publication, as Barret S. Bingham writes on Williams’s website, “the seminal elements of West Coast Outlaw Culture slowly started to aggregate,” or to put it another way, a new art movement was born. A style of art that Williams has described as, “cartoon-tainted abstract surrealism.”

Portrait of Romeo & Gelsomnia by Joe Sorren

Portrait of Romeo & Gelsomnia by Joe Sorren

In 1965, having pursued a career as a fine artist, Williams had joined the studio of Ed Roth, Rat Fink creator and legendary figure in California’s hot-rod and Kustom Kulture, and his work was influenced not only by this, but also by the underground comix culture which he became part of in 1968, when he joined the San Francisco based, Zap Comix Collective, whose number also included highly influential underground artists Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. These influences fused with inspirations from film noir and apocalyptic, and from across a subcultural breadth including psychedelia, and punk rock, to inform Lowbrow art, though equally earlier art movements, particularly Dadaism and American Regionalism.

In 1994, Williams founded the magazine, Juxtapoz, which has gone on to be one of highest circulation art magazines in the USA. Juxtapoz has played a key role in championing the new American art scene, both through celebrating and helping to define Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism, whilst also embracing and showcasing the work of diverse range of urban and contemporary underground artists, across a multitude of genres, such as neo-figurative, street art, pervasive art, which have mushroomed through the 1990s and into the 2000s.

Landscape with Deer by Marion Peck

Landscape with Deer by Marion Peck

The impressive and exciting line-up of forty international artists that Alexandra Mazzanti and Gianluca Marziani have gathered for the first exhibition to provide an overview of Pop Surrealism are no strangers to the pages of Juxtapoz. They include husband and wife, Mark Ryden and Marion Peck, Joe Sorren, Todd Schorr, Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Gary Baseman, Sas Christian, Ray Caesar, and the leading Italian proponents of the style, Nicoletta Ceccoli and Niba (for a full list of participating artists scroll down). The exhibition features more than eighty works from the participating artists, works which Mazzanti neatly encapsulates as:

“The confusing and hallucinated psychic automatisms of the surrealist movement are now mixed with the American hot rod culture, underground comics and punk music, creating a perfect chaos , where absolute iconographic anarchy reigns . Pinups from the 50’s smile at a gothic Alice rival of Lolitas dancing softly to the songs of the Pixies and Cure. Scenarios inspired by Hieronymus Bosch are filled with strange animals, clumsy figures and comical demons. A paradoxical atmosphere with weird presences that reminds us of a David Lynch film, a multicultural melting pot: street culture, pure pop, bizarre illustration, manga culture, tattoo art. It’s everything that comes from videogames, indie music and sci-fi to strange multicoloured skulls celebrating the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.”

Pop Surrealism runs from 26th June to 15th October 2010
at Museum Carandente,
Palazzo Collicola, Piazza Collicola, Spoleto, Italy.

Full list of participating artists: Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren, Todd Schorr, Shepard Fairey, Marion Peck, Camille Rose Garcia, Alex Gross, Ron English, Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, Sas Christian, Kris Lewis, Ray Caesar, Jeff Soto, Travis Louie, David Stoupakis, James Jean, Adam Wallacavage, Tara McPherson, Missvan, Lola, Esao Andrews, Scott Musgrove, Jonathan Viner, Naoto Hattori Natalie Kukula Abramovich, Kathie Olivas, Natalie Shau, Mijn Schatje, Ana Bagayan, Michael Page, Tim McCormick, Nathan Spoor, Paul Chatem, Ken Keirns, Aren Hertel, Leila Ataya, Aaron Jasinski, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Niba.

Links


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Dorothy Circus Gallery: www.dorothycircusgallery.com
Jonathan Levine Gallery: jonathanlevinegallery.com

Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories #2

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 11th July 2010 from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams

Amanda Smyth

Amanda Smyth

By all accounts the inaugural Ace Stories evening, with Cathi Unsworth topping the bill,  rocked the Hotel Pelirocco, no mean feat given that it is one of Brighton’s most rock ‘n’ roll hotels.  Now the second in  Jay Clifton’s and Sam Collins’ five event Live Lit series is fast approaching. This time around the headlining writer is Amanda Smyth whose debut novel, Black Rock  (Serpent’s Tail, 2010),  has been shortlisted for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and gained widespread critical acclaim. Including Anita Sethi, writing in The Independent: ‘In painterly images, Smyth evocatively shows more than she tells. Not only people but place exerts a powerful force…There are echoes of the archetypal “mad woman”, if not in an attic then in a marital room in the Caribbean, with scenes reminiscent of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea… this is a vivid and compelling story, exploring the extent of our control over our destinies.’

Support readings come from Brighton-based poets,  Theodore Koulouris and Naomi Foyle, whilst the evening closes with live music from singer-songwriter, Birdengine.

Ace Stories, Sunday 11th July, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.

Links:

Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject title.

Hotel Pelirocco
www.hotelpelirocco.co.uk

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of the inaugural Ace Stories event

Single Review: One Born Every Minute – Roses Kings Castles

one-born-every-minute-cover

360 Degree Music
On Release

By Guy Sangster Adams

That Roses Kings Castles’ new single, One Born Every Minute, hooks you immediately with a rhythm section that, like bright sunlight preceding louring storm clouds, mixes the catchiest pop with a darkly alluring rockabilly edge, should come as no surprise, since RKC is the creation of former Babyshambles drummer, Adam Ficek. Though to purely classify Ficek thus is to fail to highlight that he is also a gifted multi-instrumentalist, DJ, and, as his RKC lyrics and his blog show, an erudite writer, all of which One Born Every Minute ably clarifies. Whilst also demolishing any generic stereotyping of drummers! The tabloid outplaying of Pete Doherty’s life sometimes threatens to occlude the fact that his musical collaborators have been as talented as they are.

adam-ficek
Ficek began RKC as a side project in 2007 as a way to release the songs he was writing during the long periods on the road whilst on tour with Babyshambles. The extraordinary journey, in all senses, that he went on both within and without Babyshambles has also inspired One Born Every Minute, as he says, “the song is mainly based around the characters I have met over the past few years in this crazed whirlpool of an industry. It takes all sorts…. some nicer than others.”  Through Ficek’s vocals, which pleasingly mix shades of Deram period Bowie via Anthony Newley with a rawer modernity, One Born Every Minute presents snapshots of the knife-edge of success and hype, the steep drops that lie either side, and the people that all too often gather around someone whose life is lived in the public eye, when they are at their most vulnerable.

All things are possible with One Born Every Minute. One can choose to project upon its lyrical allusions, to unravel who might be who, or one can choose to be swept up in its rhythmical and melodic insistency, or like all the best singles one can choose both. Choose the latter, and just as the best singles always do, the joyousness of One Born Every Minute will propel you into feeling that all things really are possible.

Links

Adam Ficek: www.adamficek.com

360 Degree Music: www.360degreemusic.com

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Film Review: Wild Target (Cible émouvante)

Second Sight Films
DVD On release

By Guy Sangster Adams

wildtarget-cover
“I shall be severe, but show affection occasionally,” says fifty-something, professional hitman, Victor Meynard (Jean Rochefort), outlining the terms of the ‘stage’, or internship, he offers to an artless, young messenger, Antoine (Guillaume Depardieu), rather than killing him, after Antoine inadvertently witnesses one of Victor’s hits. Motivated by the fact that is unmarried, and has no heir to whom he can pass on the family business of killing, the perks Victor offers as part of his proposal to train Antoine in the ways of assassination include a Carte Orange (the unlimited travel pass for Paris, which has just been replaced by the ‘Navigo’).

But it seems that Victor’s midlife crisis is gathering pace when he not only fails to carry out his next assignment, to kill a beautiful art forger and petty thief, Renée Dandrieux (Marie Trintignant), who has duped a gangster into buying a fake Rembrandt, but also begins to fall for her, as the seemingly ill-assorted trio go on the run from the gangster.

Wild Target (Cible émouvante) is a masterful black comedy, with a wonderful mix of impressively realised knock about farce, subtle comedic moments, and a gripping thread of menace, which earned its writer and director, Pierre Salvadori, a César nomination for Best First Work, when it was originally released in 1993. Rochefort’s performance is superlative, indeed all three lead actors give superb performances, and the crackling interplay between them, and also with Madame Meynard (Patachou), Victor’s gloriously batty and utterly ruthless mother, creates a thoroughly enjoyable film.

Both the now octogenarian Rochefort, whose career spans five decades, and nonagenarian Patachou (aka Henriette Ragon), are and continue to be much loved and legendary figures of French cinema and theatre. Trintignant and Depardieu, both born into famous French acting families, became favourite actors for Salvadori to work with, taking roles both in his next film, Les apprentis (1995), and again sharing the lead roles in White Lies (Comme elle respire, 1998). Very sadly, both subsequently died at an early age. Trintignant died in 2003, aged 41, of a cerebral edema as a result of being punched by her boyfriend Bertrand Cantat, lead singer with the French rock group, Noir Désir, and  Depardieu died in 2008, aged 37, after contracting severe viral pneumonia whilst filming L’Enfance d’Icare on location in Romania.

A British remake of Wild Target, starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint has just been released.

Links
Second Sight Films www.secondsightfilms.co.uk

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Shop & Exhibition Launch: Mark Powell/A Celebration of Style – Cool London Through the Photographer’s Lens

2 Marshall Street, London. W1F 9BD
Exhibition runs 17th June 2010 – 17th July 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

Twiggy by Barry Lategan 'This is the face of '66 TWIGGY the Cockney kid at sixteen' © Barry Lategan www.barrylategan.com

'This is the face of '66 TWIGGY the Cockney kid at sixteen' Twiggy by Barry Lategan © Barry Lategan from the exhibition A Celebration of Style: Cool London Through the Photographer's Lens

In some ways it seems extraordinary that Mark Powell’s new shop, which launched on 17th June 2010 at 2 Marshall Street, Soho, London, is his first shop in 20 years. Such is the dash that he and his suits have cut in those intervening two decades, from the streets of Soho, of which he has become an always immaculately attired intrinsic part, to his client list that includes internationally famous actors, rock stars, and models, such as George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Keira Knightly, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, George Michael, Paul Weller, Bianca Jagger, Naomi Campbell, fashion labels with which he has collaborated, including Michiko Koshino, Mulberry, PPQ, and his own Mark Powell Autograph range for Marks and Spencer, and the films for which he has designed costumes, like Absolute Beginners, Shopping, Gangster No.1, Pimp,   that to have had such success without a shop front is surprising.

Mary Quant by Romano Cagnoni 'Mary working in her studio in Chelsea' © Romano Cagnoni www.romanocagnoni.com

'Mary working in her studio in Chelsea' Mary Quant by Romano Cagnoni © Romano Cagnoni from the exhibition A Celebration of Style: Cool London Through the Photographer's Lens

Powell’s first shop, Powell & Co, which he opened in 1984 in Archer Street, Soho, when he was just 24 years old, and his suits which re-interpreted influences from his East End childhood, including the style of the Krays (for whom he later made suits), and earlier looks such as the 1950’s Neo-Edwardian, and 1930’s mobsters, have subsequently being recognised by The Savile Row Bespoke Association as, “the missing link between Tommy Nutter and the New Generation Savile Row tailors of the early 1990s.”

In light of all the above, it is very fitting that the opening of Powell’s new shop should also include in the basement gallery the exhibition, A Celebration of Style: Cool London Through the Photographer’s Lens. Curated by Sandra Higgins, the exhibition features fantastic photographs by the host of photographers that Powell has worked with since opening his first shop. The works on show, all of which are for sale with 10% of the proceeds going to Powell’s chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital, include Barry Lategan’s iconic 1966 shot of Twiggy, Iain McKell’s 1982 photograph of Madonna for the cover of Number One magazine, which was the first cover shot she ever did and which has never before been printed for sale, and his trilogy of photographs of Kate Moss, taken last year for V Magazine, which have never previously been for sale as an edition. Other photographs on show are Romano Cagnoni’s Mary Quant at work in her Chelsea studio, John Stoddart’s Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Bruce Fleming’s Jimi Hendrix, Derrick Santini’s Lily Allen, and Patrizio Di Renzo’s photograph of the writer, broadcaster, and Soho habitué, Dan Farson.

Lily Cole by Iain McKell  © Iain McKell 'London Lily' www.iainmckell.com

'London Lily' Lily Cole by Iain McKell © Iain McKell from the exhibition A Celebration of Style: Cool London Through the Photographer's Lens

A Celebration of Style: Cool London Through the Photographer’s Lens, curated by Sandra Higgins, runs from 17th June 2010 to 17th July 2010
at Mark Powell, 2 Marshall Street, Soho, London. W1F 9BD

Links:

Mark Powell www.markpowellbespoke.co.uk
Sandra Higgins www.sandrahiggins.com
Barry Lategan www.barrylategan.com
Romano Cagnoni www.romanocagnoni.com
Iain McKell www.iainmckell.com

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Exhibition Preview: Ray Lowry London Calling

Paying tribute to Ray Lowry, 30 artists create reinterpretations of The Clash’s iconic ‘London Calling’ album cover
Presented by The Idea Generation Gallery in support of the Ray Lowry Foundation
18th June – 4th July 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

The Clash London Calling cover created by Ray Lowry © Pennie Smith Ray Lowry: London Calling, 18th June – 4th July, www. Ideageneration.co.uk/The Ray Lowry Foundation.

The Clash London Calling cover created by Ray Lowry © Pennie Smith. From Ray Lowry: London Calling, 18th June – 4th July 2010, www. ideageneration.co.uk/The Ray Lowry Foundation.

London Calling is one of a handful of extraordinary albums that with every facet, from songs to sleeve, bring together and harness the talents of all those involved at just the right moment, that coalesce layers of inspiration, innovation, and insightful creativity, and that remain as powerful and influential on the day they are released as they are, in London Calling’s case, 30 years later. The Clash wrote (with three exceptions) and performed the songs, that include the seminal title track, The Guns of Brixton, Rudie Can’t Fail, and Train in Vain, Guy Stevens, the legendary manager, producer, and Mod DJ, produced it, Pennie Smith took the iconic photograph of Paul Simonon smashing his Fender Precision Bass on stage at The Palladium in New York City on 21 September 1979, which Ray Lowry incorporated into his design for the cover, which has become one of the most identifiable and loved album covers of all time.

Lowry met The Clash when they played at the Electric Circus in Manchester, supporting the Sex Pistols on the infamous Anarchy in the UK tour. A friendship began which lead in 1979 to The Clash inviting Lowry on their 1979 US tour to be, as Strummer dubbed him, the band’s “official war artist.” From there, Lowry was invited to design the sleeve for the band’s third album, London Calling, which was released in December 1979. An avid fan of 1950s rock and roll, Lowry was inspired by the cover of Elvis Presley’s debut album cover, from which he took the idea for the pink and green typography, and married it to Pennie Smith’s photograph of Simonon, which at first she did not want used because it is out of focus.

Billy Childish's reinterpretation of the cover of London Calling © Billy Childish/L-13 Light Industrial Workshop.

Billy Childish's reinterpretation of the cover of London Calling © Billy Childish/L-13 Light Industrial Workshop. From Ray Lowry: London Calling, 18th June – 4th July 2010, www.ideageneration.co.uk/The Ray Lowry Foundation.

“The London Calling album cover had to feature the infamous pink and green rock ‘n’ roll lettering. God made me do that ….” Lowry said, “Actually I had no idea that it was out of focus. Half blind at the best of times and probably half pissed at the time, that simply had to be the one.”

Born in Greater Manchester in 1944, Ray Lowry had no formal art training, but became a renowned illustrator, cartoonist, and satirist.  The 1960s counter-culture magazines, Oz and International Times, both published his cartoons which lead in the 1970s to the beginning of his long association with the NME, for which he produced pocket cartoons, strips and a wide variety of illustrations. He also became a regular contributor to The Guardian, Private Eye, and Punch, and also wrote a column for The Face magazine. Towards the end of life, Lowry had stopped working for periodicals, and was focussing primarily on paintings and drawings. Following an highly successful exhibition of his paintings in 2008 at the See Gallery in Rossendale, he had begun working on a series of paintings inspired by Malcolm Lowry’s semi-autobiographical novel, Under the Volcano, but he died suddenly on 14th October 2008.

Cathy Ward's reinterpretation of the London Calling cover ©Cathy Ward.

Cathy Ward's reinterpretation of the London Calling cover ©Cathy Ward. From Ray Lowry: London Calling, 18th June – 4th July 2010, www. ideageneration.co.uk/The Ray Lowry Foundation.

To pay tribute to Ray Lowry, and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of London Calling, the exhibition features the reinterpretations of the famous sleeve by 30 artists who have been inspired by Ray Lowry. They include Paul Simonon himself, and key associates of The Clash at that time: Kosmo Vinyl, The Clash’s press agent, manager and spokesperson, Johnny Green, The Clash’s road manager, and Don Letts, whose 2003 documentary about The Clash won a Grammy Award. Plus a diverse line-up that attests to the breadth of Lowry’s influence and includes: Tracy Emin, Billy Childish, Malcolm Garrett, Julien Temple, Kevin Cummins, Humphrey Ocean, John Hyatt, John Squire, Nick Hornby, Keith Allen, Arthur Smith, Harry Hill, Cathy Ward, John Butterworth, Magda Archer, Ian Wright, Amy McDonaough, Sam Jackson, Luke Jackson.

Each artist has looked at how Ray influenced their art as well as the personal influence he had on their artistic output. As celebrated photographer, Kevin Cummins has said, “Ray Lowry’s cartoons, Pennie Smith’s photos and Nick Kent’s rambling prose were the three things in the NME that had me standing in the rain waiting for the newsagents to open every Wednesday at 7am. I couldn’t wait to devour it all so I could be as cool as they obviously were.”

All the new works will be exhibited, for the first time, alongside a retrospective of Ray’s work. The original sketches, designs and ideas for the album cover, private sketchbooks, personal letters and previously unseen photographs, paintings and more will be on show, to provide a personal insight into the mind and work of Ray Lowry and reveals his motivations and working practice.

John Squire's reinterpretation of the London Calling cover © John Squire

John Squire's reinterpretation of the London Calling cover © John Squire. From Ray Lowry: London Calling, 18th June – 4th July 2010, www. ideageneration.co.uk/The Ray Lowry Foundation.

The exhibition also marks the launch of the Ray Lowry Foundation which has been created by Samuel Lowry, Ray Lowry’s son, and Julian Williams and Jackie Taylor, the directors of the See Gallery, and will work in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to provide a scholarship to a student studying a course in art to a higher degree level, and also to make financial awards linked to individual art based projects. As the Ray Lowry Foundation exlain, “Ray valued further education and would have liked to have supported his interest with more formalised training but due to family circumstances this was not an option. Ray wanted to study, he wanted to improve his skills and develop new styles, Ray would probably have been a challenging student bringing a edgy controversial twist to the art world. The foundation has been set up to help fulfil dreams for others that Ray was not able to.”

Following the run at the Idea Generation the exhibition will tour the world, before the new works created for the exhibition are auctioned in aid of the Ray Lowry Foundation.

Ray Lowry: London Calling
Runs 18th June 2010 to 4th July 2010
at Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance Street, London E2 &JB
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm; Saturday & Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Admission: free.

Links
Ray Lowry & Ray Lowry Foundation: www.raylowry.com
Idea Generation: ideageneration.co.uk

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Book Review: Repeat it Today with Tears – Anne Peile

(Serpent’s Tail) £10.99

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

repeat-it-today-with-tears

Occasionally, a book arrives in the post for review, that grips so tightly from an initial glance at the jacket blurb and the first line, that one reads it in a single sitting, straight from the Jiffy Bag, unable to tear oneself away, even if one should want to. Anne Peile’s debut novel, Repeat it Today with Tears, is one of those books.

Set in London in the early 1970s, and narrated by Susanna, a teenager who is studying for her ‘O’ levels, the book charts her search for the father she’s never known, the idealised figure who has been absent from her life, the part she needs to make her whole. When she discovers he is living within walking distance of her home in Clapham, across the river in Chelsea, she affects a meeting, but chooses to conceal her identity, and adding a startling rapier tip to the parrying straightforwardness of the book’s opening line, “The first time I kissed my father on the mouth it was the Easter holiday,” begins an affair with him. To borrow from King Lear, to which there are parallels, in that moment it is as clear to Susanna, as it is to the reader, that ‘that way madness lies’, but so engulfed is she, both by her love and her role, that she becomes both perpetrator and passenger, as ensnared in the tragedy that unfolds, as the reader is compelled to keep reading.

Repeat it Today with Tears is unsettling, not least in its examination of the fragility of boundaries and the close proximity of tipping points, between accepted mores and taboo, between sanity and insanity, between love and the (self-)harm, (self-)loathing, and destruction that can stem from its embrace. It is also an alluring and beautifully written book, with acutely well observed characters, from the protagonists to the vignettes, such as the women doing their laundry at the Nine Elms wash baths.

Peile’s evocation of London, and specifically Chelsea and the areas just south of the river, Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth, in 1971/1972, is also wonderfully done. She creates a fascinating mix of teenagers and teenage fashion along the King’s Road, in and around the Great Gear Market, and their confluence with the older Chelsea set of artists and bohemians, then still prevalent in haunts such as the Picasso café and The Chelsea Potter pub. Set against the very different world, across the river, a world that had not changed so fast, though change was on its way, not least in the demolition clearing the site for the New Covent Garden market.

All in all, Repeat it Today with Tears is a phenomenally powerful debut novel, and highly recommended.

Anne Peile will be reading from Repeat it Today with Tears at the P-TCP Live Edition at The Horse Hospital on Wednesday 23rd June 2010.  [THIS EVENT IS NOW PAST]

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Links:
Serpent’s Tail: www.serpentstail.com

Exhibition & Auction Preview: The 100 Helmets of The Vader Project

Freeman’s Los Angeles, USA
Auction Preview Exhibition 12th June – 20th June 2010

Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, UK
Auction Preview Exhibition: 25th June – 27th June 2010

Freeman’s Philidelphia, USA
Auction Preview Exhibition: 5th – 9th July 2010
Auction:  10th July 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

The Vader Project: Platicgod

The Vader Project: Plasticgod

With its fantastic re-imaginings of Darth Vader’s helmet from the Star Wars films, The Vader Project has created iconic layers upon layers which were already heavy with iconography and reference. As a young viewer of Star Wars, one never quite loses the mixture of fear and irresistibility that grips one when first exposed to Darth Vader on screen. John Mollo, the wardrobe master on Star Wars, has said that “Darth Vader’s helmet started as a World War I German Stahlhelm helmet”, the shape of the latter remained pretty much unchanged through the World War II and is in itself an instantly recognizable and charged object. Which equally was co-opted and customized by post-war subcultures, in particular rockers and multifarious motorcycle gangs.

The Vader Project: Gary Baseman

The Vader Project: Gary Baseman

The curators of The Vader Project, Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks of DKE Toys, first conceived the idea in 2005 and went on to commission 100 underground artists and designers, including Shag, Gary Baseman, Ron English, Jeff Soto, and Plasticgod (for a complete list scroll down), to customize a 1:1 scale authentic prop replica of the Darth Vader helmet. The results wonderfully subvert one’s responses to an innately recognizable object, familiarity and the shock of the new co-exist, the vividness and adornment add to the allure, but the menace – like a flower in the barrel of a gun – is never completely forgotten.

The Vader Project: Yoko d'Holbachie

The Vader Project: Yoko d'Holbachie

The Vader Project was first unveiled at an exhibition in 2007, since when it has toured the world, but now enters its final chapter with a 10-day exhibition in Los Angeles, a whistle stop 3-day visit to  Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh, before moving to Freeman’s Auctioneers and Appraisers in Philadelphia, where after a 5-day preview, the helmets will be sold at auction. A limited edition catalogue is also available, and at the Los Angeles exhibition there will be a catalogue signing event, with 20 of the featured artists, on 12th June 2010.

The Vader Project: Shag

The Vader Project: Shag

The Vader Project artists:
Josh Agle (Shag),Troy Alders, Kii Arens, Attaboy, Anthony Ausgang, Axis, Aye Jay, Gary Baseman, Andrew Bell, Tim Biskup, Mark Bodnar, BXH HIKARU, Andrew Brandou, Buff Monster, Mister Cartoon, Chino, Mr. Clement, Robbie Conal, CRASH, Steven Daily, Dalek, Dehara, DGPH, Cam de Leon, Devilrobots, Yoko d’Holbachie, Bob Dob,Tristan Eaton & Azk One – Thunderdog Studios, Marc Ecko, Eelus, Ron English, FERG, David Flores, Brian Flynn – Hybrid Design, Paul Frank, Gargamel, Huck Gee, Fawn Gehweiler, Mike Giant, Girls Drawin Girls, Dan Goodsell, Gris Grimly, Joe Hahn, Haze XXL, Jesse Hernandez, Derek Hess, Itokin Park, Jeremyville, kaNO, Mori Katsura- RealxHead, Sun-MinKim & David Horvath, Jim Koch, Frank Kozik, David S. Krys – DSK Designs, Peter Kuper, Wade Lageose – Lageose Design, Joe Ledbetter, Simone Legno – Tokidoki,  Mad Mad Barbarians, Madtwiinz, Marka27, Mars-1, Bill McMullen, Melvins, Mori Chack, Brian Morris, Nanospore, Niagara, Mitch O’Connell, olive47, Martin Ontiveros, Estevan Oriol, Alex Pardee, The Pizz, Plasticgod, PlaysKewl, Dave Pressler, Ragnar, Jermaine Rogers, Erick Scarecrow, Secret Base, J. Otto Seibold, Sket-One, Shawn Smith, Winston Smith, Jeff Soto, Damon Soule, Bwana Spoons, Jophen Stein, Suckadelic, T9G, Gary Taxali, Cameron Tiede, Touma, UrbanMedium, Usugrow, Michelle Valigura, VanBeater, Amanda Visell.

The 100 Helmets of The Vader Project
Auction Preview Exhibition 12th June – 20th June 2010
Including catalogue signing by 20 of the participating artists 12th June 2010
Freeman’s Los Angeles, 6812 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, C.A, U.S.A.
Open Daily from Noon to 6pm
Admission free.

Auction Preview Exhibition: Friday 25th June 2010, 10 am -5 pm; Sunday 27th  June  2010, 2 am -5 pm; Monday 28th June, 10 am -5 pm.
Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh. EH1 3RR U.K.
Admission free.

Preview exhibition/viewing: 5th July to 9th July 2010
Freeman’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, 1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, P.A. U.S.A.
Open daily 10am – 6pm
Admission free

Auction: 12 noon Saturday, July 10th 2010

Links
The Vader Project: www.thevaderproject.com
Freeman’s: www.freemansauction.com
Lyon and Turnbull: www.lyonandturnbull.com
DKE Toys: www.dketoys.com

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Poetry by Abi Curtis

abi-curtis

Abi Curtis lives in Brighton and lectures at Sussex University. Her poetry collection, Unexpected Weather, won Salt Publishing’s Crashaw Prize 2008. The poems below, Death by Lightning and Mandibles, are both from Unexpected Weather (Salt, 2009).

On 10th June 2010 she will be reading with Luke Kennard, Tom Chivers, Mark Waldron, Katy Evans-Bush, and Diana Pooley, at Salt Poets at Lauderdale House, from 8pm, Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG.

DEATH BY LIGHTNING

I left you in the house, your eyes on me,

suffering from a relative of grief,

took myself from here to the neighbouring village.

I don’t usually walk, preferring donkey or moped

but neither could fare in the weather:

rain slopped from eaves

turning the streets to streams

thin fish lost their bearings and followed

to be found tomorrow, breathless,

heads in the railings.

I doubt they knew anything about it,

sent to sleep by strange air lifting their scales.

Rain was in my neck, my boots were buckets,

sky a marbling of dark and unfamiliar faces,

clouds deep as difficult ideas, luminous at their edges.

Light cleaved the sky. I counted and wasn’t disappointed

by the sound of a giant piano dropped

onto a collection of empty cauldrons.

I smiled: the sky was furious for me

so I might stay inside the cupboard of my head.

But soon the water overcame, tipping

from flat roofs, stabbing from the arms of lampposts.

Paving slabs lifted to expose whole villages

of slugs and toads.

The sea, two miles away, suggested itself on the wind.

Unable to turn back, I searched for shelter.

Light revealed a  shape at the graveyard gate: a woman under

a yew older than landscape. Room for two. I joined her,

politely distant, staring at the knots and carvings in the trunk:

tracks of every death that’s marked elsewhere in stone,

hems of marriages leaving the gate, home for ivy,

sheets of frost and mushrooms shelving out like flesh.

The woman watched the rain as if to concentrate

on just one drop and shuddered when the thunder

spread its voice above the leaves.

She was not beautiful.

She didn’t hold her body supple as an animal.

I could not name her type of smile.

Later, I learned she felt the shock in her foot;

shared what I cannot remember.

I looked up through the branches holding

tight their fists of leaves.

I have that image stencilled in my eyelids.

I smelled the metal in the air and tasted

nothing.

You know, if you watch anything through flashes

of lightning, it appears suspended

as if life were frame after frame and never moving.

I was senseless: a snapshot of myself under a canopy.

I’m still here, now in the living room

where we question each other.

I didn’t replay memories or gain an answer,

but I’ve read the best stuff has the power

to take off the top of your head.

You’ve changed, though you never left this room.

Every day you run your hands over

the root-system printed red on my chest

and in the dark part of your eye

I detect a storm.

MANDIBLES

The archaeologists have been in the office again.
You’ve come to work through the night when

you find their shoe-boxes shelved with the books,
then face the other way, try to write, to look

at the dark-glazed view into the quad.
You turn around, fingering the lip of a box.

Nobody said, Don’t Touch. This one’s labelled
‘Mandibles’. As you slide the lid, a smell

of dried mouths and subtle rot.
Each piece of jaw in a plastic pocket

you can feel through to the nubs of bone,
unable to identify symphysis, molar, canine.

You recall Mr Fozard pulling a tooth
to leave a hole for your tongue to search, a taste

of pink, of omnivore. Bridges, dentures,
ivory tusks cross-sectioned

like the rings of an oak;
pulp canals, the roots that bind your mouth

to your thinking head.
Porcelain, amalgam, gold:

offerings to the speech of the soul.
But here, in this box, the bones are small,

herbivorous. At last you see animals,
re-skinned and furred, decay reversed,

their skulls re-clothed:
deer stripping red fruit from the hedge-row,

rabbits, light-headed and wet-eyed,
clipping the green from the fields.

Links:

Abi Curtis
web.me.com/abicurtis/

Salt Publishing
www.saltpublishing.com

Lauderdale House
www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk

Single Review: War is Noise – Jaakko & Jay

jaakko-jay-cover

Xtra Mile Recordings
Released 24th May 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

“Critics,” announces an answerphone message at the beginning of War is Noise, “you probably got this album for free, so please don’t trouble yourself with clever analysis, music is for listening to, not writing about, so why don’t you cut your hair and go and get a real job.” I did receive the album for free and although I am quite attached to both my hair and job, in the spirit of compromise that is abroad I will respond rather than analysing, whilst also heartily exhorting that you both listen to Jaakko & Jay’s debut album and also go see them live.

The Finnish duo, like their label mate, Frank Turner, for whom they have also been a support act, have maintained a near constant tour schedule, playing live with one microphone, an acoustic guitar, and a single snare and ride drum. The vitality and exuberance of their stripped back live sound has translated exceptionally well to the record, aided and abetted by harmonica, banjo, trumpet, and fiddle, to create fourteen punk folk tracks, underscored with an insistent and infectious rockabilly edge that propels you to your feet, whether you are dancing to save the world, to free your soul, or just because it’s a fantastic beat. Fuelled with shouts and harmonies, rattling riffs and drifting melodies, humour and insightfulness, through songs that protest, satirise, and wear their hearts on their sleeves, War is Noise leaves you in an excited spin, with a broad smile on your face, energised and wanting to engage (or reengage…) with life!

Links:

Jaakko & Jay: www.myspace/jaakkonjay

Xtra Mile Recordings: www.xtramilerecordings.com

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Exhibition Preview: Palate

Scion Installation L.A., Culver City, Los Angeles
22nd May 22 – 12th June 2010

by Guy Sangster Adams

Palete: James Reyolds

Palate: James Reynolds

Palate, playing on the homophony with ‘palette’, features new works and installations by an international group of artists exploring the idea of food both as a muse and a medium. Curated by the LA-based writer and editor, Zio Fulcher, who was managing editor of Shepard Fairey’s highly influential Swindle magazine, and whose book, The History of American Graffiti, will be published shortly, the exhibition showcases work by Clare Crespo, Jeph Gurecka, Scott Hove, Tamara Kostianovsky, Alan Macdonald, James Reynolds, Martha Rich and Jeff Vespa.

Palate: Tamara Kostianovsky

Palate: Tamara Kostianovsky

Clare Crespo, the author of the creative cookbook/art books, The Secret Life of Food and Hey There, Cupcake, has crocheted “a smorgasbord of fun foods,” whilst Jeph Gurecka’s  installation exploring the idea of food as sustenance, is built from bread he baked himself. Scott Hove and Tamara Kotianovshy’s have both contributed outsize sculptures. Hove’s monstrous cake sculptures “reflect on the relationship between the natural world and mechanical civilization, and the drama that occurs during this interaction,” and Kostianovsky’s giant slabs of meat are made from items of clothing.

Palate: Jeff Vespa

Palate: Jeff Vespa

Anachronistic items, such as grocery bags, baked beans, and chips appear in the stylistically classical paintings of pilgrims by the Scotland-based artist, Alan Macdonald. The series of photographs by London-based artist, James Reynolds, document the last meal requests by Death Row inmates. Cakes proliferate in the illustrations of Martha Rich, who is currently studying for an MFA in painting at the University of Pennsylvania, whilst fast food looms large in the giant Polaroids by artist, photographer, and Editor-at-Large  of LIFE.com, Jeff Vespa.

Palate: Candy Wrapper Museum

Palate: Candy Wrapper Museum

Palate also includes a large exhibit of retro candy wrappers, from Darlene Lacey’s Candy Wrapper Museum, which she founded 33 years ago, a vintage cookbook library, and a wall of vibrantly coloured, hard-to-find sodas.

Palate runs from 22nd May to 12th June 2010 at the
Scion Installation L.A., 3521 Helms Avenue, Culver City, CA 90232
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, or  by appointment at other times.

Links:
Scion Installation L.A.:  www.scion.com/space

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Exhibition Preview: Keep Out the Light – Richard Colman

New Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles
22nd May – 3rd July 2010

by Guy Sangster Adams

rc-pr-1

Through intricate, geometric, and day-glo landscapes, façades of surreal stage scenery or mazes, and artefacts, the subjects of Richard Colman’s paintings in Keep Out the Light, including headless bears, naked people, and disembodied heads, stand, as though frozen on stage, caught in the spotlight, in suspended anticipation of what will come next, but never offered the release of finding out. Whilst the geometry and colours around them coalesce and interplay to reveal occult symbols, silhouettes, piles of viscera, and a plethora of imagery and iconography. Violence and ecstasy, the  sinister and the comical, the beautiful and the claustrophobic, collide as Colman depicts “the struggles of the architect working ‘behind the scenes’ of the elaborate.”

rc-pr2

Indian miniatures, Byzantine art, and Islamic tiles and mosaics, have all inspired Colman’s work for the exhibition, which features new paintings, sculptures, and site specific installations, including a space via which visitors are able to “step into the art and explore and experience the landscape of Keep Out the Light.”

Keep Out the Light – Richard Colman runs 22nd May to 3rd July 2010
at New Image Art Gallery, 7908 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA  90046
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 1pm to 6pm

Links
Richard Colman: www.richardcolmanart.com
New Image Art Gallery: www.newimageartgallery.com

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Album Review: Beachcomber’s Windowsill – Stornoway

stornowayalbum-packshot

(4AD)
Released 24th May 2010

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

Despite their name, Stornoway came together not on the islands of the Outer Hebrides but in Oxford. Though it was a shared passion for the Scottish band, Teenage Fanclub, that united founder members, singer and principal song writer Brian Briggs and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Ouin, during Freshers’ Week at the university. In common with Teenage Fanclub, vocal harmonies, guitar, string, brass, and organ sections which reference 1960’s folk-, surf-, and psychedelic rock/pop, such as The Byrds, Beach Boys, and Love, abound on Stornoway’s debut album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill. Five years in the making, the album and the re-released first single, Zorbing, coincidentally share release dates with Teenage Fanclub’s first new album and single in five years.

But interwoven with their acute pop sensibilities, the songs on Beachcomber’s Windowsill are also imbued with sounds and images that evoke both the historical and the elemental. The layers of history and tradition set against the beauty of Oxford’s cityscape, seen at first light or under moonlight, echo through the inspirational mix, with the use of traditional instruments, bell chimes, and choral singing; an essence of Magdalen College Choir continuing their 500 year old tradition of singing in the dawn from the top of Magdalen Tower on May Morning. Though Stornoway also channel folk song traditions that have their feet more firmly on the ground, or on the deck, with both elements of Bluegrass and sea-shanties layered into a number of the tracks. It must be added that the band are also not averse to creating new instruments to supplant the traditional, such as turning carrot chopping into percussion.

stornoway-1

The elements course through the album’s lyrics, but not unlike an Hebridean island the force of storms and tornados can abate almost as soon as they’ve begun, leaving sunlit or starlit stillness and reflection in their wake. Beachcomber’s Windowsill’s tumult is love, and all the vistas through which a heart may be swept by passion and love requited, unrequited, lost, and tenderly remembered. From “zorbing [rolling along in a transparent plastic orb] through the streets of Cowley” in the single of the same name, to anthropomorphizing into a seabird in The Coldharbour Road, via an heartfelt exhortation to disengage people from a life of screens and return them to “free range” on We are the Battery Human, it’s a fantastic, surprising, and beautiful journey through an album that is an enchanted island in a sea that is all too often awash with mediocrity.

Links:
Stornoway: www.stornoway.eu

4AD: www.4ad.com

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