Posts Tagged ‘Foldback Right’

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.

JT Burke:
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Hotel Estela Barcelona:
Brooks Institute Gallery 27:
Corey Helford Gallery:

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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


“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.


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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

'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

'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'

'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


Mark Powell
Sandra Higgins
Barry Lategan
Romano Cagnoni
Iain McKell

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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. 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. 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, 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. 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. 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.

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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

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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, 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.

Scion Installation L.A.:

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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


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.”


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

Richard Colman:
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Screening & Film Writing Workshop: Le Mépris Film Salon

De La Warr Pavilion
Saturday 22nd  May 2010

by Guy Sangster Adams
Le Mépris Film Salon is a multi-faceted event curated by Jay Clifton exploring  “the relationship and influences between words and images, literature and film, writers and the media they work in.” It combines an afternoon writing workshop lead by novelist, biographer, and screenplay writer, Harriet Vyner, a networking event in conjunction with New Writing South, and a screening of Jean Luc Godard’s highly influential film, Le Mépris (1963), introduced by Harriet Vyner and Jay Clifton.

Harriet Vyner

Harriet Vyner

Attendees may either buy combined tickets for the workshop and screening, or just for the screening. The full timetable for the event is:

2pm – 5pm: Writing Workshop
Harriet Vyner, whose books include Among Ruins and  Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser, both published by Faber & Faber, will lead the workshop using The Faber Book of Movie Verse as an inspiration, and the session will practical writing exercises, film clips, group discussion and reading work created during the session.
The workshop is suitable for writers of all types who are interested in using Hollywood or art house film as an inspiration for original writing, as well as film makers and enthusiasts.

6pm – 7pm: Open networking session in association with New Writing South and book signing by Harriet Vyner.

7pm – 7:45pm: Pre-Film Discussion
Jay Clifton and Harriet Vyner will discuss the influence of film on twentieth century writers, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Terry Southern, the disparity between the worlds of writing and filmmaking, and the particular influence of Godard’s Le Mépris on Harriet Vyner’s work.

8pm: Screening of Le Mépris
The contemporary promotional material for Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1963 film, which stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Fritz Lang playing himself, proclaimed: “Bardot at her bold, bare and brazen best! Reveling in Rome, cavorting in Capri…jolting even the jaded international jet-set in her pursuit of love!” Based on Alberto Moravia’s novel, Il disprezzo, the film is a satire on the film industry, but also in charting the conflict between artistic expression and commercial opportunity charts the parallel and progressive estrangement between Camille Javal (Bardot) and her husband, Paul Javal (Piccoli), a writer hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial.

Le Mépris Film Salon is presented in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion and New Writing South, as part of the wider programme Modern Times exhibition at the DWLP  exploring the art of the 20th Century which runs until 13th June 2010.

Le Mépris Film Salon
from 2pm Saturday 22nd May 2010 at the De La Warr Pavilion, Marina, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1DP

Workshop + discussion + film: £25
Film + discussion: £5
Tickets can be booked by telephone or online from the De La Warr Pavillion:
Telephone: 01424 229111

De La Warr Pavilion

New Writing South

Exhibition Preview: Art From The New World – A Big Brash Exhibition of the New American Art Scene

Presented by Corey Helford Gallery in collaboration with Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery

Saturday 15th May –  Sunday 22 August 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams
The new American art scene covers a range of genres from lowbrow and pop surrealism, to neo-figurative, street art, and on through terms such as pervasive art, which Gary Baseman coined to describe his work which blurs the line between toy culture and fine art. Baseman is one of the 49 emerging and noted, living American urban and contemporary artists which Art From the New World brings together for the first time in an international exhibition, to provide an exciting, striking, and diverse survey of the scene.

The curator of the exhibition is Jan Corey Helford, who founded Los Angeles’ Corey Helford gallery in 2006 with her husband  the television writer and producer, Bruce Helford (Roseanne, The Drew Carey Show, The Oblongs). Many of the artists included in Art From the New World have had solo, or featured in group exhibitions at the Corey Helford Gallery, including Gary Baseman, Ron English, Josh Agle (SHAG), Buff Monster, COOP, Natalia Fabia, Korin Faught, Sylvia Ji, Eric Joyner and Chris Anthony.

Art From The New World: Ray Caeser

Art From The New World: Ray Caeser

In describing the significance of Art From the New World, Jan Corey Helford says: “America is gushing forth a new wave of taste and style born of Pop Iconic culture, expanding American diversity, resistance to the mainstream art world and a need to communicate to an art audience looking for relevance in America’s Age of Uncertainty. The selected artists are part of an exciting new art movement that encompasses all forms of media and art – painting, sculpture, printing, stencil, photography, digital art. Their work defies traditional paths and has been embraced by a new generation of collectors and enthusiasts who crowd the exhibitions of a growing circuit of alternative galleries spreading throughout the United States. This is an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of this movement to new audiences.”

The majority of the work included in Art From the New World has been created specifically for the exhibition and includes Mike Stilkey’s sculptural installation created on a ‘canvas’ formed from a ten foot wall of around 2000 books. Plus Buff Monster’s fifteen-foot tall “ice cream cone” balloon sculpture, topped with his characters. Whilst work that has been previously exhibited includes, in the main rotunda, Todd Schorr’s painting, An Ape Allegory, which featured in San Jose Museum’s Todd Schorr retrospective and is on loan from the Corey Helford private collection.

Art From The New World: Sas Christian

Art From The New World: Sas Christian

Buff Monster also features in Banksy’s new film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and with Art From the New World, Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum will be looking to build on the runaway success of last summer’s Bansky vs. Bristol Museum, which attracted an average of 4,000 visitors a day, helping to earn it the top spot in the Art Newspaper’s annual worldwide survey of museum attendance for 2008/9.

Art From The New World runs from Saturday 15th May to  Sunday 22 August 2010
at Bristol  City Museum & Art Gallery
Queen’s Road, Bristol BS8 1RL
Open daily 10am-5pm
Free entry

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Exhibition: Teen Age – Cathy Ward

Usurp Art Gallery
17th April – 30th May 2010

From Teddy Boys to Emos, whichever generation you belong to, there will be teenage hairstyles through which you rebelled, after which you lusted, from which you  ran away, at which you laughed.  In actuality time may have diminished their power – the hair length for which the 17 year old David Bowie created the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, now looks positively tame – but hairstyles are more often than not  intertwined with our most powerful memories of our teenage life.

In her highly evocative new exhibition, Teen Age, Cathy Ward who is renowned for phenomenally intricate and beautiful drawings and paintings of hair, has  returned to the youthcultures of her own teenage years and to the definition of contemporaries by their hairstyles and musical tastes. Below she describes her motivations and inspirations for the exhibition, and how it became a far more intimate journey and exhibition than she first imagined.



by Cathy Ward

A child in the 60’s, teenager in 70’s, unemployed 20 something in the 80’s. I grew up in a time of defiant youth culture. One could move into different groups of people that were mostly defined by their hairstyle and music taste. The 70’s were fantastically experimental, a fertile breeding ground for creating strong individuals. My defiant sensibilities were well established by the time punk arrived. A reaction initially teased out by the greaser-bikers I’d hung out with in my ween-teens. Motorbikes, Heavy Metal, ‘Snake bites’ (cider and lager), Hickies and those illicit parties in  straw-cut fields accompanied by exciting police raids. My hair was short by the age of 14, and for some inexplicable reason I started collecting and bagging the trimmings. Sunk and Age of Reason are painted with applied ground hair harvested from my teens and 20’s eras. Sunk, is an apocalyptic mire of teenage angst, my very own Passchendaele; Age of Reason seems calm, measured, an idealistic pasture forever draining away with a looming tornado. Glass paintings Forever and Passing reflect later passages of my life and romance, incorporating beautiful, yet tarnished objects of sentimental value.

The next group I moved into was the long-haired dangerous lot, whose long hair made them stand out as rebels though certainly no hippies. They were older, into drugs and music in a really big way. It was more dangerous, so more alluring, they knew how and where to party all the time. Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were major players in the look and their sound followed us everywhere, in every smoke filled car, skinning joints, dropping acid and speeding up motorways at night, playing on space invader machines at motorway cafes …..

My drawings have developed over 15 years and depicting hair is a natural course in my work. As some of the big players in my life from that time died tragically young, it was their hair that began to subconsciously come through in my work and the places we had been appeared within my lines as places I was yet to arrive at. The work transcended what was initially a remembrance and became a tapping in of an internal landscape, an uncovering of a very personnel and buried world. Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures was an album that’s sound and artwork made a great impression on me.


Cathy Ward’s drawings have been commissioned by Steven Severin (founder of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and Stephen O Malley for SUNN 0)))’s 7th album Monoliths & Dimensions 2009. O’Malley’s Keep an Eye Out accompanies her animation Sonafeld, which features in Teen Age, screened on two monitors. As does Ward’s animated film, Passing, made with Eric Wright and featuring a soundtrack composed by Peter Wyer  and narration by L.M. Kit Carson (screen writer of Paris Texas).

Teen Age Cathy Ward runs from 17th April to 30th May 2010
at Usurp Art Gallery,  140 Vaughan Road,  London HA1 4EB
(By undergroud, Usurp is 2 minutes walk from West Harrow station which is 20 mins from Baker Street station on the Metropolitan Line)
Open Thursday – Sunday, 2pm – 8pm

Last Sunday of Teen Age Special Event
From 4pm – 8pm, on 30th May to mark the final day of  Teen Age, there will be a performance in the gallery featuring: Adam Bohman (amplified objects), Leila Dear (Theremin & FX), Mark Pilkington (synthesiser), Rodrigo Montoya (shamisen), Steve Beresford (electronics/objects), Tania Chen (electronics/objects),  Zali Krishna (guitar & FX) and (hopefully) Andrew Bailey (paraphanalia & toy instruments).

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Exhibition/Label Launch: Daisy de Villeneuve – In her Shoes/D de V London

March 29th until 25th April 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

daisy-de-v-shoe1Like following in the footsteps of a fantastic shopping spree around a department store, perhaps Liberty itself, or being given free rein to plunder the much coveted wardrobe of another, Daisy de Villeneuve’s new solo exhibition allows one to step into the array of shoes, to say nothing of the clothes and accessories, and by extension the lives of three stylish women about town. Or perhaps the three women are the same woman, delighting in presenting different faces to the world. It is up to the viewer’s imagination as de Villeneuve intends no strict interpretation. The onus of In her Shoes is on fun, and across the forty, new pen and ink works presented, all in her signature multi-coloured, whimsical style, that is exactly what abounds, providing a very welcome, pure pop celebration of joie de vivre.


De Villeneuve is both an illustrator and a product designer and In her Shoes also marks the launch of her new label, D de V London. The first product from which is a line of luxury scented candles, Daisy Rose, which for the duration of the exhibition will be available exclusively from Liberty. Roses are de Villeneuve’s favourite flower, and the four candles in the Daisy Rose collection feature different scents from the Rose family. The deep red wax candles are hand poured in London  into similarly deep red glass, which in addition to the cylindrical packaging, carry different artwork for each scent, complementing the exhibition: Herbal Rose features a perfume bottle, Violet Rose and Vetivert, a necklace, Tuberose, a handbag motif, and Rose Incense and Cedar, a retro suitcase.

In her Shoes
Runs from 29th March until 25th April 2010
4th floor gallery, Liberty, Great Marlborough Street, London W1B 5AH

Daisy Rose candles
RRP. £28
From 29th March until 25th April 2010 available exclusively from Liberty.
Then from selected retailers throughout the UK.

Read Daisy de Villeneuve reflecting on the documentary Beyond Biba in issue 3 of the print edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick: for availability  CLICK HERE

Watch Daisy de Villeneuve interviewed by Guy Sangster Adams on the Plectrum Broadcast Player  CLICK HERE

Read the feature about Daisy de Villeneuve from Plectrum – The Cultural Pick issue 1  READ MORE

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Exhibition: Raskols and Sing-Sing – Stephen Dupont

Jack Bell Gallery

26th March – 25th April 2010

In February the Australian photographer, Stephen Dupont, was awarded the 2010 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography by Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, through which, under the project title, Guns and Arrows: The Detribalization of Papua New Guinea, he will continue his photographic documentation of the dramatic changes that Papua New Guinea is undergoing.

As his new exhibition at the Jack Bell Gallery, Raskols and Sing-Sing, demonstrates globalisation is impacting heavily on the fabric of the traditional  Melanesian society. The exhibition features photographs from the six years he has already spent documenting these changes, which include the recasting of tribal society into an urban proletariat and the effects of violence and lawlessness in Port Moresby, in addition to the westernization of traditional society in the Highlands. Raskols and Sing-Sing provides not only an in-depth study of cultural erosion but also a celebration of an ancient people. It is, as Dupont says, “a reflection and a meditation on a unique place, and it may also be seen as a warning for other, seemingly more ‘secure’ cultures.”


He continues,  “this body of work will counter stereotypical myths of Papua New Guinea with honest representations of the people, their culture and identity. It is an attempt to relate the experience of communities that would otherwise just disappear, people at the bottom of a half ruined country.”

Raskols and Sing-Sing – Stephen Dupont runs from 26th March – 25th April 2010
at the Jack Bell Gallery,  276 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 1BB
Open 11am – 6pm Thursday – Sunday

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Momiji Couture Contest Winner & Exhibition of Finalists

By Guy Sangster Adams

Last July the Momiji Couture Contest was launched at the New Designers show at the Business Design Centre in London. The competition called for entries not only from fashion and textile students and graduates, but also the global crafting community to fulfil the challenge of creating their own exquisite, fabric Momiji doll.

Choux Choux the winning entry by Louise Evans aka Felt Mistress

Choux Choux the winning entry by Louise Evans aka 'Felt Mistress'

Momiji [‘mom-ee-jee’] are the oddly-addictive, hand-painted collectible message dolls, launched three years ago from the English village of Henley in Arden (previously best known for its ice cream!) since when through their collaboration with the freshest design talent they have attained international cult status and were included in the goodie bags at last year’s Brit Awards.

Exhibtion of Momiji Couture Competition finalists at Royal/T

Exhibition of Momiji Couture Contest finalists at Royal/T

Chelsea College of Art and Design in London hosted the judging of the contest and the panel included Pip McCormac the commissioning editor of the Sunday Times Style Magazine, Beth Smith deputy editor of Selvedge Magazine, and Susan Hancock the owner on the innovative and quirky Royal/T in Los Angeles, and Barbara Hulaniciki, founder of the highly influential Biba, who said, “I am absolutely amazed by the standard of the entries. I’d be rather intrigued to see all the designers in person as I wonder whether each doll was created in their maker’s image!”



After many hours of deliberation, in December the judges chose Louise Evans AKA ‘Felt Mistress’ as the winner for her Marie Antoinette-esque entry Choux Choux, which was adorned with an elaborate, towering wig. Choux Choux and the twenty short listed finalists are now on display in a special exhibition until 18 January 2010 at the extraordinary Royal/T in Los Angeles until which imaginatively fuses a 10,000 square foot gallery and retail space with the city’s first Japanese inspired maid café.

The maid café at Royal/T

The maid café at Royal/T


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Last call for entries: Momiji Couture Contest

by Guy Sangster Adams

Momiji Couture Contest launch at the New Designers Show

Momiji Couture Contest launch at the New Designers Show

Be quick! The deadline is fast approaching for entries to the Momiji Couture Contest which closes 30th October 2009.  Momiji are the hand-painted collectible message dolls, launched three years ago from the English village of Henley in Arden (previously best known for its ice cream!) since when through their collaboration with the freshest design talent they have attained international cult status.

The Momiji Couture Contest competition launched at the New Designers show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London,  in July, calling for entries from fashion and textile students & graduates as well as the global crafting community, to fulfil the challenge of creating their own exquisite, fabric Momiji doll.



The competition judges include Barbara Hulaniciki, founder of the highly influential Biba, Pip McCormac the commissioning editor of the Sunday Times Style Magazine, Beth Smith deputy editor of Selvedge Magazine, and Susan Hancock the owner on the innovative and quirky Royal/T in Los Angeles.

The Contest’s shortlisted ten finalists will be showcased in a special exhibition at Royal/T, which imaginatively fuses a 10,000 square foot gallery and retail space with Los Angeles’ first Japanese inspired maid café.

Royal/T café

Royal/T café

For a full design brief for the contest and details on how to enter, go to:

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Exhibition: London Creatives Polish Roots

Museum of London
1st October – 1st November 2009

by Guy Sangster Adams

Adam Ficek photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Adam Ficek photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Londoners listening to travel news on the capital’s local radio stations will be overtly familiar with hearing that rush hour traffic is stretching back past the Polish War Memorial on the A40; one of the main routes into London. But in that familiarity how often do listeners hearing the name, or those using it to give directions, actually specifically register the words they are hearing or saying – that it is Polish and that it is a war memorial – or, for the post war generations particularly, the significance of those words, such is the degree that this West London landmark has been assimilated into the city. But in fact the memorial does more than commemorate the specificities of its name it also bears witness to all the political upheavals and changes of the last seventy years of Polish history, and many of the different routes and reasons that have brought Poles to live in London.

The Polish War Memorial, which commemorates the 1902 Polish airmen who lost their lives in World War II fighting as part of the Polish Air Forces in France and Great Britain, was not government sponsored, rather it was erected with the help of contributions from the British public by officers from the Polish Air Force Association, who were among those that had been evacuated from Poland in 1939 following the Nazi-Soviet invasions of Poland, and who could not return to their homeland post-war due to the Soviet occupation. It was designed by the sculptor Mieczyslaw Lubelski who had survived internment in a concentration camp following his role in the Warsaw Uprising. It was not until after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the subsequent fall of the communist regime in Poland and the birth of the democratic Third Polish Republic that a Polish president, Lech Walesa in 1991, visited the memorial, whilst the second presidential visit, by Aleksander Kwaśniewsk in 2004, was in the same year that Poland joined the European Union. As a coda, the British Government’s official memorial to the 500,000 Polish military personnel that fought under British command in World War II and constituted  the fourth largest allied army in the fight against Nazi Germany was unveiled on 19th September this year.

Waldemar Januszczak photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Waldemar Januszczak photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

The dichotomy inherent in the Polish War Memorial, of being both an intrinsic part of the fabric of London whilst also tacitly representing successive layers of Polish national and cultural identity is at the heart of the exhibition London Creatives: Polish Roots. Conceived by the London based Polish creative practitioners photographer Grzegorz Lepiarz and filmmaker Bartek Dziadosz, and Anna Tryc-Bromley the Deputy Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, the exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Museum of London where it runs from 1st October to 1st November 2009. The exhibition features black and white portraits and accompanying video interviews with the growing number of Londoners of Polish origin, or Poles living in London, who play a key role in the cultural identity of the city, and explores how London and their Polish identity have affected their creativity and  approaches to life and work in the capital. As Wanda Koscia Rostowska, a BBC producer and director specializing in history and current affairs who was born in London to Polish parents says in the trailer for the exhibition,”it’s this culture of tolerance and art, of living alongside each other and compromise, that sets the tone for London and the parameters in which all this variety can thrive and survive.”

Michael Nyman photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Michael Nyman photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

The process of being photographed and interviewed for the exhibition also lead the subjects to question their identities. As Adam Ficek, drummer with Babyshambles, who has just released the first album from his solo project Roses Kings Castles, writes in his blog, “it’s quite odd, I’m not Polish, or am I? How do you know? Blood? Place of birth? Parents? I have never considered myself Polish to an extent but I have always had a healthy interest in where my grandparents were born and raised.” Whilst composer Michael Nyman, who was born in the East End and whose grandparents on both sides were Polish Jews who had left Poland for London at the turn of the last century, says in the trailer, “I don’t know how Polish I feel, I don’t know how Jewish I feel, I don’t know how English I feel.”

Featuring three generations, the exhibition also by extension reflects the changes that have brought the subjects to London, be it fleeing persecution by the Nazi’s and the Soviets, the search for freedom of creative expression during the Cold War, or the freedom to study, live, work and collaborate with different nationalities across the member states that accession to the EU has brought.

Zbigniew Pelczynski, emeritus Professor of Political Science at Oxford University who taught the future US President Bill Clinton, was as a teenage volunteer in the Polish Home Army and fought in the Warsaw Uprising, but as a result of the members of the Home Army being demonised by the Soviet Union was not welcome in post-war Poland. Whilst Mira Hamermesh, the award-winning documentary film-maker, writer and artist, was one a group of Jewish teenagers who managed to escape Wilno-Vilnius in World War II for Palestine before coming to London to study at the Slade School of Arts; both her parents died in the Holocaust.

Iwona Blazwick photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Iwona Blazwick photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

The representatives of the baby boomer generation born in London to Polish parents include Iwona Blazwick, the director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, art critic Waldemar Januszczak, and Andrew Czezowski who ran the infamous Punk club The Roxy, before going on to create The Fridge in Brixton.

Andrew Czezowski photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Andrew Czezowski photographed by Grzegorz Lepiarz

Whilst artist Slawa Harasymowicz is indicative of a new generation, as are Lepiarz and Dziadosz themselves. Harasymowicz grew up in Krakow, before coming to London to study at Royal College of Art, from where she graduated in 2006, and has continued to live and work in London. Lepiarz moved to London in 2002 and has since worked with BBC3, Royksopp, Gotan Project, Emiliana Torrini, Storm model agency, and LMVH. With the exhibition he was equally interested in stripping away the layers people project around themselves, as he says, “In the creative fields of music and visual arts, the branding of the person, their ‘image’, becomes an integral part of their life. I wanted to capture the essence of a person’s individuality, within the soulful moments of their silence. I believe that these moments, the ones behind the glamour, are the portraits worth registering.”

Illuminating, intriguing, reflective, and moving, London Creatives: Polish Roots is also both a wonderful celebration of the enduring dynamism and openness of London’s cultural identity but also the resurgence of Polish creative expression that has followed the birth of the new Polish republic, and of course the excitement and innovation of the coalescence of the two; entirely fitting in the build up to the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

London Creatives Polish Roots runs from 1st October to 1st November at Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2

The exhibition is part of Polska Year, running from Spring 2009 to Spring 2010 featuring over 200 projects which showcase contemporary Polish film, theatre, architecture, design, music & fashion.


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London Creatives Polish Roots
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The Wolfmen: Marco Pirroni & Chris Constantinou


by Guy Sangster Adams

To put an exact start point on The Wolfmen, whose new AA-side single Cecilie and Wak This Bass has just been released, is slightly to miss the point of why and how they came together. But I only realise this having suggested 2004, to which vocalist and bass player Chris Constantinou, replies questioningly “I think it was 2006, wasn’t it?” and guitarist Marco Pirroni says with a smile, “I can’t remember, I mean I don’t know where I was last week, it was all very organic as they say, it just sort of happened with no real plans to do anything you know.”

From the outset, which for the non-organically minded the press release splits the difference with 2005, it was very important to Pirroni and Constantinou that The Wolfmen would be an umbrella name for their work on a wide range of projects over and above the traditional concept of a band. A range that, as Pirroni says, “makes it interesting, I mean I’ve spent my entire life in bands; in the twilight of my years going back into a band… I never really wanted The Wolfmen to be a band with drums and amps and vans and flight cases and things like that” though he then adds “but this is what we are turning into.” To which Constantinou reposts “Well we’ve turned into it, but we’ve missed the van, we haven’t done the van!” and Pirroni retorts, “Hopefully we’ll go straight to bus! I don’t really want to do the van!” An exchange which leaves them both laughing.

The laughter is symptomatic not only of the great iconoclastic rapport between the two men but also of the wonderful atmosphere that pervades the South London studio in which The Wolfmen have taken up residence to not only record the follow up to last year’s debut album, Modernity Killed Every Night, but also produce new albums by Sinead O’Connor (Pirroni has worked with O’Connor on her four previous albums) and Daler Mehndi [?], and where I go to meet them. Pirroni and Constantinou are clearly thoroughly enjoying the present, which although informed by their pasts they are clearly not shackled by them, the ‘then’ is viewed with as much enjoyment as the ‘now’, which consequently denudes The Wolfmen of retrogression and makes the project the latest step in an exiting journey.

For Pirroni this began at the age of 17 when he played guitar in the impromptu and infamous first incarnation of Siouxsie & the Banshees, which also included Sid Vicious on drums, for their 20 minute set improvised around The Lord’s Prayer at the 100 Club Punk Festival in London on 20th September 1976. He went on to play with The Models, Rema Rema, and Cowboys International before in 1980 he joined Adam Ant in the new line up of Adam and the Ants and began a phenomenally successful and highly influential song writing partnership, with the albums Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming reaching number one and two respectively and a string of Top Ten singles including Ant Music, Dog Eat Dog, Prince Charming, and Stand and Deliver which won Ivor Novello awards for Pirroni and Ant. When the Ants disbanded in 1982 Constantinou, who had worked closely with Diz Watson and been in the band Drill, joined as the bass player in a new line up with Pirroni and Ant performing under the name Adam Ant. The albums Friend or Foe, Strip, and Vive Le Rock followed along with another nine Top 20 singles, including the number one Goody Two Shoes.


“It feels very normal,” Pirroni replies to my question as to how it feels when one’s in the midst of such success, “because it’s all very gradual, it’s not like one day you’re in a club and the next day you’re playing huge venues; the venues start getting bigger, then there’s more people in your crew, you find yourself in business class, then you find yourself in first class, it’s almost like you don’t notice it. It only struck me once in Japan, I was in a hotel room looking out of the window at the Tokyo skyline and I thought how did I get here?! Eighteen months ago I was sitting at home with an acoustic guitar and now I’m here. There are moments when you think is this really happening or am I just imagining this, is this a sort of daydream I’m having.”

That it is now approaching three decades since Pirroni first teamed up with Ant also disconcerts him, “I can’t grasp that concept of 30 years,” he says, “it seems like, I know it’s a long time, but it seems like 8 years ago, but as we get older, I keep thinking, God, I’m going to be dead in another 30 years.” To which Constantinou chips in, “You might be dead before that!” and to Pirroni’s response of “Thanks that’s really cheered me up!” laughingly ripostes “30 years, that’s a bit ambitious! You’re a rock star you’re supposed to be dead!”

With the passing of time the influence of the Adam Ant/Adam & The Ants back catalogue is increasing rather than diminishing with Carl Barât and Tim Burgess covering Antmusic for C4’s Transmission last year, and Stand & Deliver featuring on the soundtrack of the current series of Gossip Girl, the list of acts taking inspiration also includes Suede, Elastica, Nine Inch Nails, Robbie Williams, Sugar Ray. “You listen to a lot of young bands, 18 to 20 years olds, now you can hear the influences,” says Constantinou, “they’ve probably taken it from the generation after us; it’s great.” Pirroni concurs saying “I am such a product of my influences, in my mind everything is shoehorned in like a great big jigsaw puzzle, to be someone else’s influence is really nice; I always wanted to be someone’s influence.”

The influenced also become collaborators, as Constantinou explains, “we met up with Courtney Taylor-Taylor from the Dandy Warhols recently, and he’s going to be mixing some tracks on this album, and he was saying Marco was his guitar hero.” Indeed, it was Pirroni’s idiosyncratic guitar sound that triggered the reunion between Pirroni and Constantinou, their paths having diverged in the mid-90s, and the formation of The Wolfmen. “We weren’t in touch for a while,” explains Constantinou, “and then I was with Jackie Onassid and trying to get the guitar sound that Marco does, and I ended up trying to do it myself very badly, and then I thought in the end I’d just phone him” which as Pirroni explains is “the strange thing that happens to me, a lot of people phone up and say do you know anyone that plays like you; for some reason they’re too shy to say do you want to do it, and so I end up saying, what about him, he could do me!”

The Wolfmen’s first projects were all soundtracks. They created the music for the series I Predict A Riot, presented by Loaded founder James Brown and screened by Bravo in January 2006, and in May 2006 their soundtracks accompanied two films in the inaugural Fashion in Film Festival (FFF). As Pirroni explains, “Marketa [Uhlirova the director of FFF] phoned us up and said do you want to do some music for a silent film; so we did a kind of rock soundtrack to two films.” Screened as part of the Shoes, Eroticism, and Fetish programme of the festival the films were The Gay Shoe Clerk (Edwin S. Porter, 1903) and Amor Pedestre (Love on Foot, Marcel Fabre 1914). Both very much enjoyed the process, Constantinou describes the films as “amazing” and says “that it would be good to get that [the soundtracks] out at some point” and Pirroni says, “We wanted to do more but they haven’t asked us!” I suggest that waiting to be asked is slightly daft as he is now on the board of FFF, but he demurs with a smile “I think it would be a bit embarrassing to be there at these board meetings with all these academics and go to them, oh we’ll do that, and we’ll do that as well!”

In many ways Pirroni presaged his involvement in FFF with the sequence of CDS he released in 2003 and 2004 on his Only Lovers Left Alive label which explored both his own influences and fashion’s relationship to rock. The three albums Sex: Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, Granny Takes A Trip: Conversation’s Dead Man (compiled by Nigel and Louis Waymouth) and Biba: Champagne and Novacaine featured the music played in each shop.

The links to fashion have continued with The Wolfmen’s 2007 collaboration with Primal Scream on a cover version of Screaming Jay Hawkins being used for an Alexander McQueen catwalk show, and the shoot for the video for the new single Cecilie playing an infamous part in the last series of Living TV’s Britain’s Next Top Model, when tantrums and stand-offs ensued as not all the proto-models relished director Paul Hills’ rock bordello concept; the footage of which is all now on You Tube!

An elegant erudition imbues the new single as a whole, as Pirroni and Constantinou, with infinite panache and a broad lupine smile that equally attests they have lost none of their bite, play fast and loose with all they have accrued in the past 30 plus years, cutting a glitter dusted swath across the tracks and their track record, like the tail of a comet across a perfect midnight blue sky. Cecilie broods like a femme fatale in killer heels caught in a tornado guitar spiral, Wak this Bass is a feedback triggered Jack in the Box grabber of glamour punk. Be seduced; lycanthropy is nothing to be scared of!



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Watch a filmed interview with Marco Pirroni and Chris Constantinou and the video for Cecilie on the P-TCP Broadcast Player

The Wolfmen

Fashion in Film Festival

The Irrepressibles


by Guy Sangster Adams

With music that enwraps, enraptures, and enobles, a stunning visuality in performance that combines elaborate, fantastical costume and make-up, balletic motif, and fabulous spectacle, such as the island stage, gondola, and white butterflies of last summer’s Latitude appearance, the first time, and indeed every time, one sees The Irrepressibles is a magical experience.

My first time was within the entirely appropriate dramatic majesty of the British Museum’s Great Court last November. Where, as part of the Statuephilia exhibition, The Irrepressibles, in tight fitting stone coloured garments and fabric swathes, and barefeet – statues come to life – performed on an impromptu stage in front of the Reading Room to a wonderfully eclectic audience of those that knew and those that were passing by. Everyone, be they friends, fans, PR company invitees, museum staff and visitors from near and far, were taken on a such a transcendent journey which swooped and swirled around the curves and porticos of the entire two acre space and uplifted to the undulating diamonds of Norman Foster’s glass roof, which had it not been there I would have floated off to the stars quite happily!

“Where it began,” explains singer songwriter Jamie McDermott, whose brainchild The Irrepressibles are, “was that I was writing songs with acoustic guitar and performing incredibly cathartic and explorative of the voice song based work that was becoming so intense that it needed something to surround it, and it was either go more to my roots, because I come from more of a rock background, or surround it with classical instrumentation.”

The resultant phantasmagorical orchestrated glamour pop played on guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, saxophone, and percussion by this elegant 10 piece, is baroque mixed with a flicker book of rock n roll finest stances, via Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio and Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine, akin to discovering Jean Genie being played on 17th century instruments in platform boots, tutus and ruffs, in a private audience with Pope Pius X in an ice cream parlour.

McDermott brought the first incarnation of The Irrepressibles together in 2002, which was a smaller group consisting of cello, violin, piano, bass, and McDermott playing guitar, whilst he was studying for a degree in Commercial Music at University of Westminster. The course, which was the first in the country to offer a mixed syllabus of music production and the study of music as culture, had a profound effect on the creation of The Irrepressibles. “It was entering this world of looking at music and also looking at what it can do sociologically, in terms of subcultures and things like that, which really began to fascinate me,” says McDermott, “and I started to read and understand and look at how I could create a project that might be more art based and I got very interested in the KLF, Bill Drummond, and Malcolm McLaren.” With McDermott’s studies coinciding with the relentless rise of the new generation of music talent shows, beginning with Pop Idol, Popstars, and Fame Academy, he realised that his new project also needed to take note of that, as he explains, “I wanted to create something that could take it on from a business level, that could take it on from a PR level.”

Further to that, McDermott says, “For me The Irrepressibles is about two things and one is that really honest catharsis and letting that through, I wanted to try to express something about being gay and about being in love as a gay man in a way that people would understand even if they were straight, or that people would just appreciate, rather than it being sensational or it being a certain sort of style of music, and the other thing is about play, we’re playing and we’re performing, but it’s like children playing and performing, it can’t go to that level where it’s very serious, I’m not really interested in that; I wanted to create something that a child can appreciate, but also something that someone who’s really into music can appreciate, then also someone from the council estate where I’m from can get.”

McDermott grew up in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, where he began piano lessons at 11 paid for by his paper round and quickly began to write his own songs and compose music, as he says, “I’d stand on the beach at Scarborough, or on top of the cliff by the castle, looking out at the sea, and just start to compose in my head.” He expands on this by saying, “my brain tends to work in harmony and the parts are quite polyphonic” which informs the idiosyncratic sound of The Irrepressibles because, as McDermott says, “with a rock band you’ve got a drummer that backs it, and with classical music you’ve got a conductor who leads it, but in The Irrepressibles there’s neither drums nor a conductor, so it’s kind of polyphonic parts that are all feeding into one rhythmical underpinning and often that’s from the guitar.”

After “flunking school”, McDermott went to sixth form college in Scarborough to study art, music, and drama, and in Sadie Parker, his A level drama teacher, met “one of the most important figures” in his life, who introduced him to a wealth of eclectic music and performance inspirations including the Carmina Burana, Bladerunner, Joan Littlewood, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham all of which have influenced the multi-disciplinary style of The Irrepressibles. Unsurprisingly David Bowie is a big influence, but equally many of the singers that particularly inspire him are female, Laurie Anderson, PJ Harvey, Yma Summic, Kate Bush, and the composer and performer Meredith Monk who describes her approach as working “between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing, where theater becomes cinema.”

Adding to the idiosyncratic roots of The Irrepressibles, following his A levels McDermott took a detour into “flamboyant cock rock”, having been awarded a scholarship to study rock singing in Guildford, the camp Spinal Tap humour of which is not lost on him as he explains that the course also involved being leather clad, taught to star jump and sing The Final Countdown! But, his singing teacher on the course unlocked the extraordinary breadth of his vocal range which is particularly evident in The Irrepressibles’ live performances when he will swoop through singing styles, up and down the vocal register, sometimes within one song, fusing operatic, choral, crooner, and Elvis Presley-esque.

By the close of his rock school course, McDermott had broken away from the genre and had begun to write the acoustic songs that would form the basis of his two solo albums Newclear Skies and Nude. Both of which received critical plaudits and comparisons to Jeff Buckley. Though the more prevalent Buckley reference that strikes one when listening to The Irrepressibles is Tim Buckley and in particular Song to the Siren which McDermott concurs is a big influence.

McDermott is currently putting the finishing touches to The Irrepressibles debut album, meantime they have been confirmed in the line up for this July’s Latitude, a festival they have very much made their own and are certain to once again take by storm with McDermott’s most elaborate and fantastic creation for the band to date, The Human Music Box. Which will be premiered on 19th June as part of the V&A’s Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificience, an exhibition for which The Irrepressibles are tailor made as they have resolutely brought magnifience back into style.

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Unsigned Focus: Kate Daisy Grant


by Guy Sangster  Adams

Though she wrote some of the songs as long as seven years ago, the impetus for unsigned singer songwriter Kate Daisy Grant to record her debut album, One Thing You Should Know About Me, came last year through a serendipitous meeting at Maison Bertaux with the songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Ken Rose. Grant was playing the battered, out of tune, upright piano in the tea-shop, which has been a beacon of fabulous cakes and intellectualism in London’s Soho since 1871, whilst Rose, a member of Marianne Faithfull’s band, had just finished playing guitar on Faithfull’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ tour. Discovering that they shared far more than floral names, the meeting generated a symbiosis through, as Grant says, “their perfectly matched mismatchedness”—she describes Rose as an “arch dude of LA horizontal ‘tude” and herself as a “spider-lashed Victorian marionette with slight Tourette’s”—and they decided to make a record.

The resultant album features an highly eclectic array of instruments, both acutely traditional and cutely non-traditional, as piano and autoharp are melded with the contents of a cavernous rainy day play box, containing a scarlet toy piano, toy bells, a bright yellow teapot, drums full of pennies, a double bass playing robot, and a string quartet is set against an orchestra of “cobbled together objects.” Given such a list it is not surprising that Grant says, “when we were recording I’ve never laughed so much, and when we play live and Ken’s playing glockenspiels and dustbin lids, if I catch a glimpse of that I piss myself!”

The presence of glockenspiels on a 2000’s pop album is as refreshingly kooky as the complete absence of glottal stops; in fact Grant’s singing voice is very hard to categorise or to place geographically. Born to a parental mix of Scottish-Dutch-French-English, her speaking voice transfuses Home Counties through West London, but in song, she has a completely seductive perfect counterpoise between breathy fragility and lip biting ardency, vulnerability and supremacy. In her lighter shades she might be Nordic or French with echoes of Ida Marie or Julie Delpy (particularly in the waltz title track, which brings to mind Delpy’s A Waltz for a Night from the soundtrack of Before Sunset), whilst her smokier, darker tones on the tracks Peaches or Truth evoke PJ Harvey or Siouxsie Sioux.

Songs of Innocence and Experience, the title that Faithfull borrowed from poet and painter William Blake’s two contrasting collections of poetry, might also be partly applied as a description of Grant’s album. Blakes’ works juxtapose an exploration of how the naivety of childhood hopes and fears are corrupted and repressed by the harsh realities of adult life. But in the songs on One Thing You Should Know About Me the knowing and the ingénue co-exist in the same moment; the losses of innocence, love, people do not bide their time for adulthood, and becoming an adult does not halt their tide. Grant describes the songs as coming “from the junk shop of my heart” though they are also infused with a magical toyshop as she is also very influenced by the work of the writer, animator and puppeteer Oliver Postgate, who created the children’s television programmes Bagpuss and The Clangers, and Victorian fairy tales like the Brothers Grimm and Henrich Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter. As Grant explains, “It’s me cherry picking things that were comforting to me when I was growing up—they were my favourite bits of childhood—and the Victorian era, that’s when fairy tales became popular; just to expose your children to the perils of strangers and the dangers of even loving something. That’s what struck me about Bagpuss, you really care about the characters, even if you are being told an incidental story about a little haggis creature or whatever, it’s all to do with them leaving. The Victoriana and the melchancholia spoke to me as a child; I liked sadnesses.”

Grant read a lot of World War I poetry whilst recording the album and this informs the theme of loss, as well as being a specific reference on two tracks. Truth is inspired both by the Wilfrid Owen poem Strange Meeting, “about meeting your doppelganger who you’ve just killed; could be part of yourself you’ve just killed” and Under Storm’s Wing the autobiography of Helen Thomas, wife of the poet Philip Edward Thomas who was killed in action in the Battle of Arras in 1917. Thomas had only turned to writing poetry under the stress of whether or not to enlist – as a married man in his late thirties at the outbreak of the war, he was not required to do so. Grant says, “It was one of the most upsetting books I’ve ever read, Helen Thomas said that the last time he left she knew for a fact that she was never going to see him again and he walked so slowly away from her, and it was snowing, and he just walked into the darkness, and they kept calling out, hello, hello, hello… until they couldn’t hear each other anymore.”

Harmsway, which is also inspired by WWI is a far more upbeat track, “at that point I was reading about the hopefulness of everyone setting off,” says Grant, “and it’s as if it’s their last stop in a town before they hit the battlefield – that one joyful, abandoned moment, where one is still clinging to the innocence of love songs and the innocent sentiments of what you think life means before you’re chucked in the deep end.” The opening bars of Harmsway have an echo of Tom Waits’ Innocent When You Dream, but although Grant cites Tom Waits as a specific inspiration she says that she has never heard the track, which adds an intriguing layer of referential chance.

Grant describes the WWI poetry as “the extremity of experience of facing your worst and then producing the best and most beautiful” which would make an equally apt epigraph for One Thing You Should Know About Me. “It is a cathartic album,” she says, “but it’s cathartic enough that I wouldn’t have to write an album like that again. Definitely the songs that I’m writing now are much lighter.”

One Thing You Should Know About Me seizes the listener from the seemingly carefree waltz of the title track, which is actually a decadent dance along the precipice, on an extraordinarily tempestuous voyage, through extreme pitches and rolls of emotions, and the spectre of an ominous wave that threatens to engulf everything, but leaves one ‘with the wild waves whisht’ in the last track, The Language of Science, which dazzles like the molten gold of low sunlight on wavelets, atremble with the thrills of after-shock, and imbued with the insight and wisdom of a survivor and the strength of resolve and beauty of hope that only the journey of experience can bestow on one.

Watch a filmed interview with Kate Daisy Grant and a performance of her song The Language of  Science on the Plectrum Broadcast Player.

Kate Daisy Grant has self-released One Thing You Should Know About Me and it is available as a download from iTunes, Napster, eMusic et al, or on CD at her gigs. She is playing live dates in London throughout April and May, for details click on the link below.


Carla Borel’s StillSoho by Barry Miles


Carla Borel lives and works in the West End. Her pictures are of Soho people but are not necessarily taken in Soho. She usually has a camera with her, waiting for that happy juxtaposition of light and shadow, shapes and gestures that distinguish a fine photograph from an ordinary snap, when everyday life arranges itself into a composition.

She works in an honourable tradition, beginning with Kurt Hutton’s famous photo essay on the French House in 1941, through John Deakin’s revealing portraiture of Francis Bacon and his circle, Charles ‘Slim’ Hewitt’s fifties Soho clubs and Ida Kar’s London painter series.

On her shelves are much consulted volumes of Lisette Model, Brassai and David Bailey’s sixties photographs – all masters of the monochrome. Like Bailey, she uses unfocused backgrounds to form abstract organic shapes and her pictures owe a lot to the photographers of that decade.


Sometimes the images fall into place easily: In ‘Even a Stopped Clock Tells the Right Time Twice a Day’, Simon Crabb on the bed, preparing to light one cigarette from another, just needed the raised arm, the angle of the fresh cigarette to make the composition.

At other times it is the recognition of patterns and textures: ‘Bourchier Street’ sees French House manager, Hilary Penn walking down ‘Piss Alley’, her polka dot dress echoed by the tie worn by Paul Lawford from the Rubbish Men and contrasting with the security grilles and blank concrete wall.

Paul Lawford appears again, caught in characteristic pose, his dark hair, beard and hat perfect for framing his eyes. In another picture, artist Stephen Fowler poses nervously in Beak Street with his bicycle, nicely chopping the window into the golden section.


My favourite is of Michael Smith, author of The Giro Playboy, and Mandana Ruane, manager of the Academy Club, sprawling on the pavement outside the club on Lexington Street at 2am on a hot summer night. It is a classic Soho image, combining misbehaviour and the familiar Soho setting of the faded grandeur of Georgian townhouses and recycling bins. This was a carefully composed shot, Borel had to wait until a passing car illuminated the couple with its headlights in order to shoot the scene. It’s like a movie still, it suggests a story, a series of images continuing before and after this moment in time.

Borel sometimes explores photographic clichés and makes them new: here the shot of lovers in the mirror becomes a tangle of curves and shapes, and the lovers outside the Soho House must have been just irresistible.

©Barry Miles 2009

About the author:

In 1966 Barry Miles co-founded Indica Books and Gallery, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono first met, and the Internaional Times (IT), Europe’s first underground newspaper, as a fund raiser for which hee co-organised the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream in 1967. A prolific author, his books include biographies of Paul McCartney, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, Charles Bukowski, and The Beat Hotel, In the Sixties,  Hippie, and Peace: 50 Years of Protest, 1958-2008.

StillSoho Photographs by Carla Borel runs until 31st May 2009 at The French House, 49 Dean Street, Soho, London W1

Carla Borel: www.myspace/carlaborel

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Kinoteka – The 7th Polish Film Festival


by Guy Sangster Adams

Kinoteka is the annual flagship event of the Polish Cultural Institute, a non-profit organisation, linked to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dedicated to promoting Polish culture in Britain. Marlena Lukasiac has been the artistic director of Kinoteka for the last four years, in which time she has overseen its development from a one day event at London’s Riverside Studios showcasing contemporary Polish films to this year’s 7th annual Polish Film Festival which not only features its widest ranging programme to date, presenting New Polish Cinema, a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Krzystof Kieslowski’s Dekalog, and a retrospective of Polish New Wave, but also its widest reaching programme whereby in addition to its London programme, which continues until 8 April, in March Kinoteka began began a nationwide tour which has already visited Belfast, Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Mold, and Hereford, and from 20 April – 4 May will form part of Canterbury’s Sounds New Festival, before continuing to Bristol, Warwick, and Wolverhampton.

Lukasiac brought the retrospective element to the festival because, as she says, “I think it’s nice to show the films which are now recognised as masterpieces, and make people think why they are masterpieces, what makes a film survive, and in Polish cinema there are so many wonderful masterpieces that can be fully appreciated by a foreign audience.”

In this year’s festival, the juxtaposition of the retrospective and the contemporary also illustrates and contextualises the seismic changes and extraordinary cultural journey that Poland has undergone over the last 70 years. The key featured directors fall neatly into two generations. Jerzy Skolimowski, Andrzej Zulawski, and Kieslowski, born in 1938, 1940, and 1941 respectively, were born into a terrible stage of Polish history as 6 million Poles lost their lives in World War II—the highest percentage of a population of any of the countries involved in the war—and Warsaw was nigh on completely reduced to rubble, followed by the USSR’s post-war absorption of Poland into the Eastern Bloc stymieing many freedoms of creative and cultural expression. Whilst Malgoska Szumowska and Kaisa Adamik were both born in the early 1970s and came of age with the reduction to rubble of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the fall of communism and Poland’s subsequent rebirth as the democratic Republic of Poland, and the country’s entry into the European Union in 2004.

The censorship of the Communist era acutely affected the careers of Skolimowski, Zulawski, and Kieslowski, leading them, at different points in their careers to both make films in co-production with other European countries and to live outside Poland. Skolimowski is based in Los Angeles and in recent years has been far more visible as an actor, appearing most recently in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. But, after a 17 year directorial hiatus, his new film 4 Nights with Anna, a black comedy about obsessive love and voyeurism, received its British premiere as part of the Kinoteka’s London programme. Zulawski moved to France in 1972, where he still lives, to escape the type of censorship that was meted out on his cult mid-1970s sci-fi epic On the Silver Globe which was suppressed and almost destroyed by the Polish authorities, a newly-mastered version of which he introduced to open the Polish New Wave season.

For Kieslowski it was, as Lukasiac says, “problems in a different kind of censorship because when he made Dekalog he was heavily criticised in Poland” that lead him to make what would be his last films The Double Life of Veronique and the Three Colours Trilogy predominantly outside Poland as French and Swiss co-productions. The success of these films directly lead to the posthumous international release of Dekalog which has become the most critically acclaimed film cycle of all time.

Parallels are often drawn between Malgoska Szumowska, and Kieslowski, in response to which she told online magazine Aviva-Berlin, “it seems it’s hard not to compare me to him, not because of the style of the films but because of the fact that I start to make films internationally.” Szumowska’s 33 Scenes From Life, which explores how a woman in her early thirties copes with losing both her parents in quick succession, is a German/Polish co-production, and her next film is being shot in France. “I think that is what’s happening in Polish cinema,” explains Lukasiac, “we have many co-productions with France, Germany, Britain, that’s what the Polish Film Institute is interested in, which I think is just a natural thing in Europe now, you have to mingle, you have to exchange.”

This internationalism also links Szumowska to Kaisa Adamik, though they also have in common the fact that they are both the children of filmmakers—Szumowska’s father was the late Maciej Szumowski, and Adamik’s parents are Agnieszka Holland, director of the Golden Globe winning Europa Europa, and Laco Adamik—and that they are part of a new generation of female directors overturning the previously heavily male dominated Polish cinema. Adamik was brought up in Paris, and has already had an extensive career in Hollywood as a storyboard artist. Her first feature film, ark, was an English language US production, whilst her second feature, The Offsiders, a comedy drama about a football team made up of homeless people, is both her first film to be both in Polish and a Polish production, and is included in this year’s Kinoteka.

One name that at first glance is perhaps surprising to find in the programme of a Polish Film is Michael Nyman. But Lukasiac explains that when she met Nyman at a film festival in Poland, he told her his grandparents on both sides were Polish, “their families moved to England at the beginning of the twentieth century, and his parents, who were both from Polish Jewish families, met here in England.” Michael Nyman joins forces with Motion Trio, an innovative and experimental Polish accordion trio, for the Kinoteka London Closing Night Gala Concert at the Barbican, in which they will not only reinterpret a selection of Nyman’s film scores, but also present the World premiere of Nyman’s celebration of Polish cinema that will be performed alongside a montage from the films that have inspired him, including the work of Andrzej Wadja, Zulawski, and Kieslowski.

With such a list of names, who have inspired so many audiences and filmmakers alike, it is clear that Poland’s, as Lukasiac says, “struggle to establish ourselves, to establish a spirit of Polish cinema” particularly over the last two decades since the fall of Communism is very much coming to fruition. “There’s a huge improvement in quality and a recognition,” says Lukasiac, in which both her passion and determination and the work of the PCI as a whole has played a key role in what has been a steep climb as she explains, “some countries have been promoting their culture for so many years and they have had the tools and means to do so, whereas we are like small toddlers who are trying to shout, yeah we are here! Please look at us!” Even the most cursory glance at the Kinoteka programme should convince one to heed Lukasiac’s exhortation and take a far closer look at the films, exhibitions, and events that make up the festival.