Tuesday, 26 May 2009

South of the River, Ahead of the Game

jotta has been looking south for summer, establishing the links between the South London massive. A recent discovery is Off Modern: five graduates from Goldsmiths and Camberwell, united in their aim to do good by South London through regular exhibitions, club nights and happenings, making critical art accessible and fun for all.

Off Modern’s most recent adventure is Frontiers, an exhibition currently taking place in the Elephant Room, which is managed by independent creative space finders Corsica Studios. It’s an empty shell that was once a discount shop in the sprawling modernist mess that is Elephant and Castle shopping centre. Stains on the carpet and broken wires give it that freshly vacated and squatted vibe, lending the new and expressive art that hangs inside a juxtaposed dimension. The curious looks of local shoppers is a reality check to the blank expression of the typical white cube gallery.

Read the full interview with the Off Modern mavericks: http://www.jotta.com/magazine/articles/109/south-of-the-river-ahead-of-the-game#big_image

By Esther Bradley

The Takeaway Festival of DIY Media

Electric jellyfish and robotic choirs, just some of the toys and tricks presented in a fusion of art and science, as the Takeaway Festival of DIY media lands at the Science Museum for the fourth year running.

The 2 week long event will see a series of performances, talks and workshops where, with help from art nerds and super geeks, participants can make their own electronic devices and fun software to take home. Until May 30th visitors are welcome to experiment with the festival’s commissioned interactive installations, and maybe release the geeky computer kid that hides in us all.

Hidden in various rooms and corners of the Dana Centre, each object and temporary environment is structured around Radio Frequency Identification. The festival aims to challenge the conventional use of RFID’s in Oyster cards designed, in some may say, an Orwellian effort to track our every thought and action.

30 artists and computer wizards fulfilled a brief to break down this technology and create exciting interactive play things. When merged with a little creative vision and set design, the results can provide hours of entertainment as each movement triggers a switch that makes fun stuff happen. Never ones to pass up playing games in the name of research, jotta got immersed in the sensory world of electric jellyfish and robotic choir singers…

Check out jotta's video of the event http://www.jotta.com/magazine/video/96/the-takeaway-diy-media-festival

By Esther Bradley

Friday, 22 May 2009

The Crucial 3-0 Post Punk Liverpool

Liverpool’s notorious post-punk past lives again, as veteran NME photographer Kevin Cummins pays homage to the scene in his latest exhibition.
Running for a month from May 22nd the show coincides nicely with the opening of the new film based on Kevin Sampson's cult novel, Awaydays. Both film and exhibition pinpoint the height of the football casual era and the seething music sub-culture that reined throughout Liverpool in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The exhibition takes it’s name from Cummins’s relentless documentation of notorious band The Crucial Three, whose counterparts later enjoyed world-wide fame, including Ian McCullohs formation of Echo and The Bunnymen. The show itself presents 30 intimate and definitive prints of the influential era, featuring a recurrent backdrop of the gang’s infamous haunt, Eric’s. This was the club from which so many legendary bands emerged, a place Awaydays director Kevin Sampson claims inspired his film’s leader-of-the-pack character: “Elvis embodies the spirit of ‘Eric’s’ – a council estate wastrel with poetry in his soul and Berlin on his mind.”

The exhibition runs until June 22nd at The Hard Days Night Hotel Gallery in Liverpool, and Awaydays, in case you missed all the tube posters - opens tomorrow!

All this reverence of post punk Liverpool style should inspire the design inclined to enter jotta’s latest competition. Recreate the promotional imagery for the film Awaydays and win a placement in the wardrobe department of the director’s next film.
Read more here

By Esther Bradley

Vague Paper

No ordinary fashion magazine, Vague Paper combines elements of fashion, art, beauty and photography, with a heavy dose of biting satire.

Demanding a sense of fun in a self-conscious industry, Vague Paper refuses to take itself too seriously. Instead, founder Matthew Holroyd and his five regular contributors play on the reader’s perceptions of the fashion industry through witty columns, a satirical editor’s letter and edgy photo shoots. The name, a parody of Vogue magazine, sets the tone for a magazine able to push the boundaries of taste, fashion and art.

Not merely a satirical rag, wit is a medium to communicate ideas which stand outside the industry norms. Vague rejects the traditional format of a fashion publication, ignoring trends and instead using clothing as a means to accentuate the ideas it wishes to convey. With distribution at Milan, Paris and London Fashion Weeks, as well as the haute couture shows, Holroyd is able to pass the message on to those in the circle.

Why did you start Vague Paper, how long has it been running?

I started it in the summer of 2005, under the working title of ‘I Haven’t Laughed So Much, Since My Auntie Caught Her Tit in the Mangle’. It was originally a photocopied fanzine, in the back of the original issue; we had an illustration of a Vogue cover, we had renamed it Vague. I added ‘paper’, as “vague paper” means a poorly written essay. I started it as a critic of pop culture, but as it’s grown I realise it’s very much about myself, someone once described it as ‘cruel, jealous and cold’, for those who know me, is a good description of myself!

Your magazine is laced with irony and wit, how far is Vague a satire and how far is it a straight fashion and art publication?

On the surface we are satire, but beyond that we use irony and wit as a catalyst for understanding and communicating. We explore Industry a lot in the publication; perhaps we are suggesting that humour is a commodity in trade and even government and control?

How would you describe Vague Paper’s approach to fashion as opposed to other publications?

Most fashion publications are review magazines, for which we are not. We do not report on trends or predict or suggest them in our shoots. We are interested in making a photograph with depth that perhaps has some critical practice (whether great or not). The clothes in the photos are there to aid the photograph, I happen to use designer clothes, as it’s a free costume department. We comment on the fashion industry as I am fascinated by it. As Katharine Hamnett once said “Fashion is the fourth biggest industry in the world and industries control the world”, which I believe is a pretty accurate description of our current world.

How is Vague distributed?
We distribute in concept stores, galleries, fashion week, art events and shows. Sometimes we stick them inside some of the glossies, guerilla tactics!

Where do you find your stories?
The content is often self-confessional. Often we commentate on current affairs and how the masses are responding to. We also enjoy collaborating with artists, such as a project space does, and printing the outcome.

Issue 6 of Vague Paper launches on May 1st, entitled ‘Smile love, it might never happen’, tell us more….
We were influenced by current affairs to explore whether destruction and demise is in fact entertainment to the majority.

Where does Vague go next?
I am thinking a fashion show, lots of glitter, Danni Minogue and dancing queens.

Issue 6, ‘Smile love, it might never happen’, featuring the work of Cataline Bartolome, Ian J Whitmore, Edith Bergfors, amongst others, is launched on the 21st May at no-one boutique, 1 Kingsland Road. Alternatively, check out where you can buy your copy at www.vaguepaper.com .

By Jack Moss

Worthless: more than you bargained for

What makes a Damien Hirst sell for £9.2 million while a Monet doesn’t even make its reserve? Creative collective Pollocks invite you to ponder this for yourselves during their live art installation Worthless: a recession-inspired experiment that explores the value of material objects.

“It's simple - bring in your worthless item, have it transformed into a work of art and pay how much you think it is worth,” goes the tag line; a clever, straightforward concept that will unfold over the next week from their base in London’s Seven Dials.

Pollocks’ creative director (and artist in his own right) Josef Valentino describes how the idea came to him as High Street institution Woolies met its maker.

“I really love playing around with words and I thought it was funny how you could get the word worthless out of Woolworths’ name,” he reveals. “There was a pun, and the pun grew into the concept.”

Sponsored by London Graphic Centre, Worthless will see art manifested in all shapes and forms. “We’ve got artists bringing flocking machines and jewellery designers bringing down soldering irons,” Josef explains. “Anything goes, it’ll be a complete mishmash: from fashion through to sculpture, from portraiture through to film and music. You could bring in a T-shirt and someone could write a song about it.”

The team have already garnered public support, ahead of the event’s launch. “Because we’re in such a great location, we’ve had people coming in all throughout the preparation saying ‘we’ve been watching you progress and have gone down to the basement and pulled something up that will be perfect…’ It’s exciting to see people inspired by the concept.”

It will be interesting to see what challenges people throw at the arsenal of artists, on hand to render the most mundane of objects into something worth cherishing. Josef mentions Mingei in his references, the Japanese art theory that looks at finding beauty in imperfection. “There is a beauty in something that isn’t financially valuable, or that has got a different type of value that isn’t so 21st century,” he says.

“It’s nice to see people engaging with art and not being intimidated by it - a lot of people I know don’t go to art galleries but they’ll go to this event.”

Worthless will run from 22-29th May at west central’s Endell Street. A pick’n’mix of ‘worthless to priceless’ creations will be exhibited in the store from 1st – 5th June, with several items being auctioned at Whisky Mist Club on behalf of the MS Society on Thursday 4th June. Click here for more information.

By Imogen Eveson

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tales from the Electric Forest

This Thursday Blackapple and Cactus productions bring a host of artists together, taking up residence in the creepy Crypt Gallery, to shine a light on society’s obsession with mythical creatures of the city’s underworld.

Tales From The Electric Forest exposes how, as humans have migrated to urban environments, they have packed with them age-old folk tales and fears of the unknown, spawning urban myths and new mutated outcasts.

The imagery of such misfits frequents popular culture in many forms. They seem to represent the fallout from the city’s façade of beauty and prosperity, dwelling in abandoned factories, derelict houses and sewers. Think Tim Burton’s Penguin Man in Batman Returns, or that creepy guy who lurks in corners in Mullholland Drive.

Comprising work by 15 UK artists and situated in the appropriately chilling Crypt Gallery in Kings Cross, the show aims to illustrate the fears and aspirations of the early 21st century and compare them to those of bygone days.

On until May 30th, there is still time to escape the dazzling lights of London and confront the city’s real wilderness.


by Esther Bradley


This autumn sees the launch of huge new multi-disciplinary arts festival set to showcase the best in emerging talent from across Europe in an innovative virtual and physical environment.

NEU/NOW Live will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, during Vilnius' - European Capital of Culture 2009 celebrations, from the 19th - 22nd November 2009.

The NEU/Now Live Festival will provide a new and unique platform for young creativity from the disciplines of design, film, music, theatre and dance and the visual arts. Organised by The European League of Institutes of Arts (ELIA), NEU/NOW is a fantastic opportunity for current students and recent graduates, and jotta has teamed up with ELIA, to create NEU/NOW virtual- the online component of the festival.

The NEU/NOW Live Festival will provide a perfect opportunity for artists, designers, musicians and performers to present and promote their work within a professional forum, receive constructive feedback, and gain invaluable networking opportunities. If selected, your creativity can help set the benchmark. "We're laying emphasis on innovative work in particular.

"Floris Solleveld, the NEU Now Live Event Coordinator, explains the kind of work ELIA are seeking, "And since the first part of the festival is virtual, it sure will help if it already looks appealing online."

ELIA have orchestrated a number of innovative and inspiring creative projects which focus on uniting students fro across the 350 ELIA member arts institutions.
Watch one of the wonderful films from their 2007 project…I See You Peek into some of the amazing murals painted by a host of fine artists from ELIA schools across the rooms of HOTEL BLOOM. The annual short fim competition organised by ELIA, Languages Through Lenses is a cinematic celebration of Europe's linguistic diversity. Watch some of the 2008 winners of Languages through lenses here. And get a sneak preview at the entrants from 2009 here.

If you're project is chosen for NEU/NOW, you and your school will be part an innovative programme of 700 arts-based events scheduled in 2009 for the Vilnius celebrations, that will ultimately reshape perceptions of the host city, Vilnius. In the same vein, the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Liverpool received widespread acclaim after hosting a number of highly successful arts projects. Held in conjunction with Tate Liverpool, these included a football themed sculpture from Polish artist Pawel Althamer, a specially designed board game entitled 5Dimensional Everything by Liverpool artist Nina Edge.While international media attention during 2008 reaffirmed Liverpool as a cultural destination, it communicated the work of many emerging artists involved within the 2008 Capital of Culture projects to a greater audience.

Artists, designers filmmakers and musicians are now invited to submit project proposals for the NEU Now Live Festival via member institutions before June 10th. Entrants must be a student or recent graduate of an ELIA affiliated arts institution. All short listed work will receive financial assistance with presentation costs for the exhibition finale in Vilnius.
Submit your project here.

By Nick Davies

Credit Crunch Cinema

As people tighten their belts, cinema is luxury and dvd’s have become the past time du jour. It seems certain cinema’s and the distributors of films are responding by opening their doors for free screenings.

Credit Crunch Cinema kicked off last week with a free preview screening of the equally hilarious and horrific One Eyed Mosnter. A schlockfest starring adult film legends Ron Jeremy and Veronica Hart and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” pin-up Amber Benson, “One Eyed Monster” is an outrageous homage to the classic sci-fi horror of "Alien" and "The Thing".

The next credit crunch screening takes place this Friday 22nd May with the gory Manhunt. One of the most controversial European horror films of the decade takes the newly reanimated ‘grindhouse’ genre of classic 70s horror cinema back to its unrelenting, visceral roots.

June 5th Kerrang! present an advanced screening of the highly anticipated Dead Girl. From the producer of the seminal Hellraiser and legendary 80s spawner of quotes, Heathers, Dead Girl is a new genre bending a no-holds-barred look at the horror of growing up. A warped odyssey that forces a pair of outcasts, their high-school tormentors and adolescent crushes to all decide just how far they're willing to stretch their understanding of what is right and what is very, very wrong.

All screenings will take place at the following participating Vue Cinemas;
Vue West End
Vue Cambridge
Vue Edinburgh Omni
Vue Manchester Lowry

Find out how to access free tickets by emailing creditcrunch@metrodomegroup.com

by Millie Ross

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Karim Batoun

Graphic artist and illustrator Karim Batoun, aka Karimo, was born and raised in Amsterdam. Known for his sketchy, typographic, black and white style, Karim swings from illustration to graphic design, murals and clothing prints, to his ‘free guerilla action’ posters.

The ambitious 25 year old is currently working hard at getting his name out there through a numbe rof avenues while studying graphic design at the Koninklijke Academie in Den Haag, jotta spoke with Karim about the plethora of projects and his future plans.

Could you tell us something about yourself?
I have been drawing since I was very young but after a while I was in a bit of a rebellious period, hanging out on the street and I did not draw as much any more. After a couple of years I decided to start drawing again and I bought a dummy book in which I have drawn a lot. It helped to explore my creativity and do my own thing.

How would you describe your style?
In my illustrations I use a lot of graphic elements and in my graphic designs I am quite illustrative, because I mostly draw everything by hand and only then I start using the computer. I like it more if it is drawn by hand.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired most by other artists. I observe a lot, the colours they use, the lines, patterns, or letters. That makes me think about how to improve my own work, be it in a different way. I am absolutely no copycat but it does inspire me a lot. I am also inspired by classical art from the Medieval ages, such as the Nachtwacht [Rembrandt] and sometimes that is reflected in my drawings. I also like Japanese prints and manga. I am influenced by a lot of things but I won’t let it influence me too much, so that you can develop yourself. If I see a good art work I want to do it even better.

Can you describe your process?
That differs, but sometimes I just start with some letters or a word, such as ILK (I love Karimo), then I just start sketching and eventually complete the drawing with a black stilo. It can take one hour or a whole day or sometimes weeks. But when I work too long on something I don't like it anymore. Just recently I made a large painting for Club 8 in Amsterdam, that took me about 4 days in total. I can draw whenever I have a sort of rest point, be it in the train or in the park, I just start drawing with my headphones on.

What is your favorite subject?
I like myths and mysterious things, about life, death, weird lines, hands or eyes and images from other cultures, such as Japanese symbols, Mexcian skulls or Arabic calligraphy. The Arabic influence also comes back in the patterns in my drawings. I also have made my own calligraphic pattern as a tattoo which means valuable and friendly, I designed it myself with painted lines and had it tattood on my arm.

What are you currently working on?
I have a lot of projects running, I design a poster every month which I print in a limited-edition from 70-100, and I spread them in different places such as stores or magazines. I also send a couple of posters to artists I really admire. So, that is basically my ‘free guerilla action’ and I am just seeing what I can achieve with it. A while ago I put 30 posters in London and about 40 in Amsterdam, before that I put some posters in Paris. I try to spread them everywhere I go, I also give them to people who might mean something for me in the future but also normal people, who aren’t in the art scene. I am just doing my thing, even though some people criticised me, saying I shouldn’t spread these posters for free, but I like it and who knows it may help me further.

You are also part of ‘Vage Gasten’, an art collective, can you tell us more about it?
We are an art collective consisting of about 15 creative people, we do live paintings at parties and festivals. Besides that we also make designs for companies, from web logo’s to photography or film. We are a close group of friends with a lot of different background, from DJ’s to photographers.

Any upcoming exhibitions?
I have made a design for two t-shirts which will be sold in a new store in Amsterdam with Vage Gasten, who are introducing a new clothing line ‘Het is aan’ (It’s on) including a hat, short, flipflops a hoodie and a t shirt. We have made a very large painting and used that for the different garments.

Check outr Karim's work on jotta here

By Nicky Ruisch

Creative Graduate Prize

In increasingly trying times the Creative Graduate Prize stands as a glimmer of hope for emerging artists and image makers, providing an opportunity to kick-start a career, present work to a jury of creative luminaries and win a fair share of prizes in the process. Interested? Read on…

Established in 2005 by Medium Magazine, an online publication dedicated to emerging creativity, along with visionary think tank Societas, the Creative Graduate Prize has established a roster of talented and exciting new artists. Divided into three categories, the ‘Static Art Prize’ (anything 2D – painting, graffiti, photography, illustration), the ‘Moving Art Prize’ (animation, film) and the ‘Installation Art Prize’ entrants are encouraged to display vision, diversity and innovation whilst keeping to this year’s fitting theme of ‘Change’.

Last year’s theme of identity yielded a number of talented entries. The winner of the Static Art Prize, Canadian Edith Maybin, presented a collection photographs displaying a whimsical inter- play between mother and daughter, whilst the winner of the Moving Art Prize in the same year, Carlo Pott, combined illustration and animation into a surreal exploration of the quest to fit in, entitled ‘Wolf On Door’. With Pott now providing images for publications in a variety of countries, such as Canadian media magazine ‘Blitz’ and Italian magazine ‘Umbigo’, the ‘Creative Graduate Prize’ is a stepping stone to long term success. The winners of other categories have gone on to build a career based around this early success, testament to the competitions diversity and global scale.

The overall winner will receive a £5000 ‘Key 2 Luxury’, which unlocks a lifetime of VIP access to swanky restaurants, free champagne, hotel upgrades and a veritable cornucopia of luxury offers. With notable key holders including Madonna, Daniel Craig and Eva Herzigova, you will certainly be in good company. As well as this, the winner’s work will also feature in an editorial for Medium Magazine, enjoy coverage here on jotta.com, and with the prize being supported by hub for creativity, Creativepool and online magazine, Eye Petrol the winner will have an opportunity to show off their work to a broad array of creative individuals. Furthermore, the jury consists of a range of influential creative professionals including contemporary artists Stuart Semple and Tessa Farmer, Penny Martin of the London College of Fashion, photographer Ellis Scott, sculptor Lone Sigurdsson known for her collaborations with Hussain Chalayan and award-winning creative director Justin Champney.

All entries must be submitted by Friday 30th October 2009 and the winners will be announced in November. Good luck!

For more information visit www.mediummagazine.net/cgp2009.html.

by Jack Moss

Friday, 15 May 2009

Bring On The Big Ideas!

In the ultimate call out, Arts Council England have invited artists from anywhere and across any discipline to use the nation as a blank canvas – with kitty of up to £500, 000 to make your vision a reality!

The project is called Artists Taking The lead and it is one of the most ambitious arts projects ever launched in the UK, in an effort to showcase British creativity to the world during the 2012 Olympics.

Open to artists of all kinds from across the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the challenge is to envision an art project that reflects and is inspired your regional area.

Twelve inspirational commissions will be chosen and the successful commissions will be developed across 2010 and 2011, and all twelve will take part in the most massive private view this country’s ever seen, before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

It’s common knowledge that people from all over have been feeling disgruntled about the Olympics, there’s been feeling that the event ahs been draining funding from the Arts and elsewhere, in their bid to refurbish the city for 2012. This is an opportunity for artists to get a voice, and to create a work that will long outlive the Olympics.

Don’t be scared by the size of the commission, if you have a great idea the Arts Council can help you deliver it.

The other amazing aspect is that the projects are being chosen by artists and arts producers – there is one member of the arts council on each panel and the rest (up to 7) are artists or producers.

They are simply looking for the most brilliant ideas, that best suit the region, and fit with the project’s deliberately broad criteria.

The application process is really easy – you just need to describe your idea in 400 words and you can upload images, film or audio clips to support your idea if words just don’t quite do it. But you don’t have long – the application deadline is next week 29th May!

Find out how here-
For further information see www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk

By Millie Ross

My Town - Lila Loupias

jotta was introduced to Parisian art student Lila Loupias' beautiful blog, A Drawing A Day Keeps The Sheep Away, after a chance meeting in Hyeres. Updated religiously with quirky illustrations, fashion shots and musings on life, we were instantly converted. Here, she paints a picture of her very own city of love. Where do you live?

Paris, right on the banks of the Canal St Martin, which is a cool & lively place, crowded with young creatives. It is North East of Paris. Recently a whole family of ducks (and twenty of their babies) arrived on the canal, and the kids are hysterical about them, especially on Sundays...

Where do you work?
I am a student at L'ENSAD (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) in Paris. I'm only a first year there, and I wish to be in the Animation department next year.

How do you get around?
Bike only. Biking is my strength. I find Parisian public transportation atmosphere so depressing, it makes me feel grumpy and aggressive towards everyone, so, two years ago, at the end of an exhausting grey day, gazing at everybody's grey face in the subway, I decided to give up on it. And now I have muscled legs (haha) and I know Paris really well!

Your favourite gallery?
Well, I used to live in Le Marais for a long time, where almost all the upcoming galleries in Paris gathered. My Parents live in the same building as Yvon Lambert's gallery, where I first discovered Anselm Kiefer's work. I like Tools Galerie, they always have a great selection of young designers, and the staff are really nice . Both of them are in the Rue Vieille du Temple street, facing each other. I also like Emmanuel Perrotin on the Rue de Turenn and Thaddeus Ropac in la Rue Debeylleme. Maybe I don't have a favourite gallery after all!

Where’s the best place to shop?
I might sound a bit obsessed with that place, but to me, it is Le Marais again... as with contemporary art, all the independent and underground fashion designers tend to have a place there. If I had the money, I would only shop there... I'm especially fond of brands such as Acne, Vivienne Westwood, Wood Wood, A.P.C, and lots of local French designers.

Best place for a good coffee.

The Swedish Institute. It is among my favourite places in Paris because I grew up there, I used to be part of the Swedish traditional celebration of light every year, although I don't have Nordic roots at all...They had wonderful storytellers who captivated me for hours with Pippi Longstockings adventures! They also have great exhibitions and the best hidden garden in all Paris!

Best place to see some nature.
Hard to answer; Paris is really not the place for great green places...If you want to be away from the city's noise and pollution, the best thing you have to do is to leave Paris for real, I suppose. One hour away from Paris by train, you already have nice countryside, little villages, cows and all...

Favourite piece of street/public art near you…

The morning spring light makes my own street really beautiful, and when you have the water of the Canal glowing, it is even greater!

The view from your bedroom is…
Straight on my neighbours' life... my curtains save my life everyday. Whenever I want to smoke at my window, I feel like Cary Grant in Hitchcock's Rear Window film...

The view from you workplace/studio is…
My school was redesigned by Philippe Starck six or seven years ago, and that was the worst decision ever. We have no windows, bad air conditioning, almost no light coming in, so no view at all. Starck obviously didn't think that students need to breathe to be able to produce...

Where do you go for music?

To my father's place. As a music journalist for more than thirty years now, he’s got the most impressive vinyl & record collection that I know. I never had to buy a single album.

Strongest or most unusual memory?

This year: The Hyères International Fashion and Photography festival, without a doubt!

Name a song that best sums up how you feel about your town.

'My Man' sung by Billie Holiday. I have no rational explanation.

Name an artwork that you feel represents your town.

Is might sound old, but I think 'Playtime' by Jacques Tati, has managed to catch something about Paris, even if the film does not take place in Paris, so to say.

Your ideal day out would include…

Great sun, blue sky, fresh breeze. Friends. A sweet loverboy. Great shopping. A great, green river with big, big trees. A picnic. A boat. Great food, and lemonade. A party. Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen accidentally dropping by.

By Imogen Eveson

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Win Tickets To Stag & Dagger!

East London’s answer to Austin’s SXSW- the first one-wristband-gives-access-to-all music event to wreaks havoc across London’s East End.

Next Thursday 21 May - one night, 20 venues and a truck load of amazing bands.

Catch Micachu & The Shapes welding their homemade instruments, Texan garage stompers White Denim, dark blues brother and sister duo Joe Gideon and The Shark, not to mention headliners Evan Dando, Cold War Kids, The Mae Shi and sooo much more.

All you need to do is bring your skates and try and see them all!

To win a pair for next Thursday 21 May, the London night of Stag & Dagger email info@jotta.com

with the answer to this question in the subject heading.

Which member of the Brazilian band CSS will be perfoming solo at Stag & Dagger?

Include your full name and contcat details.

Tickets can be picked up at Shoreditch Church from 6pm. Guest list closes at 10pm.

CHeck here for full ine up and venue dteails


by Millie Ross

Marjo Loponen

Browsing through illustrator Marjo Loponen’s designs is like rifling through a box of secrets. Spanning across design mediums and encompassing both public and private experience, Marjo’s captivating illustrations reveal an artist unafraid to cross traditional boundaries.

From a visual diary of Polaroids to sketches of sleeping figures on the tube, alongside posters, layout designs and fashion photography, Marjo's work could never be pigeonholed amongst conventional expectations of illustration. Emblematic of the diversity and cross-disciplinary nature of today's creatives, Marjo’s dedication to creating an engaging narrative draws this wide body of work together into a cohesive and thought-provoking collection.

How would you describe your illustration style? What materials and processes do you use?
My style is relatively clean. I sketch a lot, I plan a lot. I do research to the point where it almost turns against me, this is what I'll try to learn from during future projects, to narrow down and trust my gut. I love the crafting side of creating an image, when I go down to the silk screen and letter press it's like a fun day out for me. I suppose balance would be ideal. To use both tools, the digital and the manual.

A lot of your illustrations relate to personal experiences, do you find illustration cathartic?
I like the challenge when I'm expected to illustrate other people's ideas or answer the briefs given to me, but I suppose it is an outlet for me when I create something that is from a personal experience. It takes the role of a diary almost. Sometimes I just have to make something out of an experience so that I won't forget it.

You work with a number of different mediums - photography, drawing, printing, collage – how do you balance these techniques?
I suppose I don't really know how to stay in the pathway of specific mediums. Then again, the more open the brief is the more I struggle in choosing how I'll work. I always start by sketching, and I handwrite everything down. Sometimes it stays in that stage… sometimes I know that it'd look better when done in a different media.

Are there any artists or illustrators that have shaped your personal style?

I'm a media, visual media, junkie. I seek images and I write down things that I hear. My older sibling is a designer, the most organised person I've ever known, and from there I suppose I've grown to appreciate good ground work. She has shaped my style, made it more considered, more thought through. I also find a sense of humour important. The illustrator and comic artist Tom Gauld manages to impress me every time and I suppose I've wanted to tell stories in a similar way to his. Another one whose work I often look at for inspiration is a young illustrator in New York, Patrick Moberg.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
I'm working towards a deadline that I am very excited about; a combined exhibition with some of my fellow illustrators. We have a theme, and I am planning on using constructed photography as my media. I'm looking at the way domestic photography is in our lives, I am questioning the meanings we give to photographs and vice versa. I will be shooting abroad soon, lots of planning to do until then, and lots of experimenting. Just what I love!

See more of Marjo's work here

by Jack Moss

Awaydays: Create a Campaign for the Casual Cult

Ever heard of Football Casuals? Yeah, they were before our time too. Prepare to be educated – Awaydays is the first feature film to be set during the era of the football casual fashion cult, and it had us buzzing from the sheer adrenalin and razor-sharp style that jolts through this story.

“It's 1979 and, in Birkenhead, smack and Maggie Thatcher are still less of an issue than Lois jeans and Adidas Forest Hills trainers.”

From opening scene, when lead character Carty bends down to lace his adidas trainers, the camera lingers on their shiny white brilliance and pans up his Lois blue jeans and anorak- it’s crystal clear that these boys, while hooligans and thugs, were obsessed with style.
In 1998 Kevin Sampson wrote a book about casuals called Awaydays. Arguably the best thing written on the casual scene, told in it's own acurate and witty style, it's paints a perfect picture of a time and scene many can seldom tell or understand.

Set during the height of Liverpool’s post-punk renaissance, pulsating to a soundtrack of Joy Division, The Cure, Magazine, Echo & The Bunnymen and Ultravox, it's a time when the city’s youth blazed a trail across pop culture, defining a look and a sound that was made by the Mersey. Liverpool football club were enjoying unparalleled success at home and abroad, and their unique achievements were mirrored by their travelling army - working class boys who pieced together a whole new look, inspired by their travels far and wide. In time, that look - wedge haircut, Fred Perry or Lacoste t-shirt, Lois jeans and Adidas training shoes - would be aped, annexed and reduced to the absurdity of being known as Casual (never was a fashion cult more dedicated to the obsessive minutiae of styling detail more misleadingly named by the London media), but throughout 1978 and most 1979 this was the Liverpool Look.

In Awaydays, it’s how The Pack dress that counts, and part of lead protagonist Carty’s mission in trying to gain acceptance is keeping up with their ever-changing modes. Ensuring Awaydays’ wardrobe styling was spot-on, Executive Producer Kevin Sampson called upon former casual Gary Aspden at Adidas U.K to help out with the supply of training shoes that had long since passed into the realms of folklore. Forest Hills, Nastase, Malmo… whatever the challenge, Aspden seemed able to find a supplier, be it a long forgotten warehouse in Buenos Aires or a quirky little specialist in Amsterdam. His own (Aspden’s) collection was hauled down from his mother’s attic in Darwen, dusted off and lent to the film crew on pain of death. No spillages; no stains; no rips and tears - look after them like your life depends upon them. Come what may, The Pack look spectacular in this film - the styling is spot on to a degree that other gangland films never come close to.

Opening May 22nd in cinema's, Awaydays is a must see for anyone wanting to know were the British obsession with sportswear and designer labels came from.

That’s why jotta and has teamed up with the filmmakers to present a brief to fashion students and designers with a curiosity and/or fanaticism for fashion and visual communication.

The brief:
To create a promotional campaign to go for the film Awaydays that pinpoints the fashion cult of the football casual. Research the era, the labels and what they were trying to communicate- and reinterpret the campaign for the film.

Format: enter your work through jotta by uploading the material to your portfolio. It can be in any medium- illustration, photography, film, new media.

Deadline: Friday June 5th

What you could get:
The chance to work on Kevin Sampson's next film, here it is, straight from the horses mouth-

"Our next film will be POWDER, based on my novel about a young indie band who break through on a global scale, only to self-destruct. The prize is an opportunity to work alongside the movie's wardrobe department for one week and design one iconic item of clothing that becomes synonymous with the enigmatic lead singer Keva McCluskey. It could be a t-shirt, a wrist band, a pair of tatty corduroy shoes... the interpretation and the execution is in the eyes of the competitors!"

Plus coverage across jotta.com - featured on our homepage, you'll get a featured article and gallery in the magazine.

Works will be judged by the film's director Pat Holden, the author of the original cult novel and executive producer on the film, Kevin Sampson, label founder and designer of 6876, Kenneth MacKenzie,and London College of Fashion, Fashion Illustration course director Tony Glenville.

Read more about the little known football fueled Fashion movement here


Click here to enter the competition
by Millie Ross

Monday, 11 May 2009

Carlo Mollino: Interiors

Sebastian+Barquet’s latest exhibition looks back at the unique visual eye of Italian designer, photographer and architect, Carlo Mollino.Ushered upstairs into a compact and airy gallery, private viewers were greeted with twelve Polaroid pictures, providing the basis of the exhibition. The 8 x 10 Polaroids, dating from 1962 to 1973, stand as one of Mollino’s most unique projects.

An architect, designer, photographer and writer, not to mention a race-car driver and a pilot, Mollina's buildings include the Royal Theatre in Turin, and his furniture, like his photography, is ever more valuable. Inspired by the Surrealist movement, the Polaroids fuse together the interior space and the female form, encompassing Mollino’s desire to link strong representations of femininity with architectural design. Between 1960 and 1973 Mollino took over two thousand Polaroids of women within the interior setting, each picture carefully staged, and the twelve exhibited pictures serve as an example of this wide breadth of work. The women in the pictures, mostly nude, are mysterious, staring back at the camera lens through smoky eyes, independent, imperfect and knowing. Whilst each Polaroid tells a visual story the photographs also function as a collective, demonstrating Mollino’s dedicated vision of femininity and the interior.

There are also nods to Mollino’s more famous design work. A pair of red theatre chairs, from the RAI Auditorium, Turin, stand alongside a maple and glass coffee table and a red upholstered plywood chair, again from Turin. These pieces demonstrate Mollino’s position as one of the most successful furniture designers of all time, with one particular oak and glass table, sold at auction for £3.8 million, a record price for a post-1945 item of furniture. The Polaroids work in tandem with the exhibited furniture, exposing the underlying themes of sensuality and eroticism that run through much of Mollino’s work.

‘Carlo Mollino: Interiors’ is the most comprehensive exhibition of his work in the UK so far, providing a unique perspective of Mollino’s innovative and eclectic genius. The exhibition runs from the 7th May to 27th of June in Sebatian+Barquet’s Mayfair gallery space.

Sebastian+Barquet, 19 Bruton Place, London, W1J 6LZ

By Jack Moss

Hats by Stephen Jones

Millinery, unlike fashion, doesn’t follow trends. It springs from the fathomless imaginations of creatives the likes of Stephen Jones, guest curator of the V&A’s latest exhibition, Hats: An Anthology.

Taking his cue from the gallery's first ever fashion show, Fashion: An Anthology by Cecil Beaton back in 1971, Jones has lovingly created an homage to what he considers 'the ultimate accessory.'

A single room is dedicated to the exhibition, filled to the brim with fanciful concoctions culled from every inch of the globe and every point in history. From an Egyptian funerary mask dating back to 600-300 BC, to a twelfth century fez and the original Darth Vader mask from the 1960s, it's all here.
Rather than displaying them chronologically, Jones has seized the chance to show off the timelessness of the hat by arranging them laterally according to style.

What we end up with is a velvet and silk bonnet from 1835 cheek by jowl with one of Jones' almost identical creations from this year. Or an electric pink Philip Treacy hat made from goose feather in 1995 that echoes a Caroline Reboux feather tricorne from 1935.

An 1870s straw bonnet piled high with flowers and buds looks strikingly modern and Jo Gordon's ominous 'Kiss of Death' bonnet from 1996 could have come from a Gareth Pugh show yesterday.
In fact the only real recognisable era is the '20s; who could mistake a powder pink felt cloche hat by a one Miss Fox for any other decade?

We're soon brought bang up to date though with a look at how headgear translates to the catwalk, as well as a low down on today's top new milliners, including the much raved about Nasir Mazhar.
Just as Cecil Beaton put fashion 'on the map' four decades ago, Jones is stamping millinery well and truly on to London's cultural conscience. This is an exhibition that, much like its creator, bursts with colour and character. Who ever knew hats could be so exciting?

By Imogen Eveson

CinemaScope: An Exhibition of Contemporary Printmaking Inspired by 100 Hundred Years of Cinema.

This month a host of illustrators pay homage to international cinematic history. Referencing a century of film favourites, 35 illustrators including Jon Burgerman, Graham Rawle and Modern Toss reinterpret imagery from A Fist Full of Dollars, E.T, The Goonies and Reservoir of Dogs. With a firm nod to film memorabilia, CinemaScope is one for any avid movie fan, while uniting the finest talent UK printmaking and illustration.

The month long exhibition features a collective of thirty-five illustrators and printmakers displaying screen-printed depictions of their film favourites. Through a broad range of imagery and caricatures, CinemaScope artists provide kooky interpretations of a broad genre of films.

Spencer Wilson’s recreates the film noir backdrop of ‘Taxi Driver,’ complete with his own version of Robert De Niro. Invited to exhibit alongside established Boxbird artists are renowned illustrator John Burgerman, Modern Toss and members of critically acclaimed Peepshow Illustration Collective. Peepshow are famed for a number of highly successful exhibition projects spanning a decade, from Victoria & Albert Museum to collaborations with super brands such as Diesel, Levis and MTV. And of course, Jon Burgerman, one of England’s most revered illustrators, his distinctive doodling has seen pride of place in galleries as far and wide off as LA, to Shanghai and Melbourne, and he’s designed everything from tees, toys, books, stickers and sneakers to bags, sick bags and video games.

While only established in February 2008 as an arts venue Boxbird studio is now accredited for specialising in limited edition and original artwork by many exciting names currently breaking on to the British art scene. Through both word of mouth and following a series of highly successful shows, the Hove based gallery has now become a choice location for the UK’s emerging illustrators, printmakers, and fine artists. Since the launch of Boxbird studios, founders Graham and Alice have also contributed to the acclaimed Brighton Fringe Festival, as well as securing winning artists from the Visual Arts Prize awards for several past Boxbird projects.

CinemaScope opens on Friday 8th May and will be open Wednesday to Sunday 11am - 4pm untill Sunday 31st May.

By Nick Davies

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Rise of the Interns

How many internships, placements and Starbucks runs must a creative graduate endure before they receive this mythical offering some call a wage? This Saturday the Creative Jobs Survival Fair debunks the falsehoods of the creative internship!

It is a well known but little discussed fact that the so-called 'creative industries' are supported by a cadre of free and precariously employed labourers. As the sector becomes increasingly engrained in for-profit endeavors, workers continue to be strung along by old myths and false promises.

Including but also expanding on the notion of worker's rights, The Carrot Worker's Collective offers a performative investigation into the inter-connections between free labour, precarity in the cultural sector and new policies developing around the creative industries.

Staged as a 'Creative Jobs Survival Fair', research will be presented and developed through a series of interactive booths, including opportunity to make your own, 'Tell It Like it Is' anonymous video testimonials, have your fortune read in relation to the future of creative industries policies in the UK, listen to hourly motivational speeches, and construct your own 'Ideal Type' for creative employment.

The Carrot Workers Collective is a London-based group of current or ex interns, researchers, precarious and full time employees in London's cultural sector. Their research and projects around voluntary work, internship, job placements and compulsory free work seeks to understand the impact these roles have on material conditions of existence, life expectations and sense of self, together with their implications in relation to education, life long training, exploitation, and class interest.

Look out for the Carrot Workers 'Survival Guide for Interns' in London's cultural industries.

A Creative Jobs Survival Fair 9 May, 2009. 1-5 PM
Open to anyone. Free of charge
Christie's Education London, 153 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 5BD

By Millie Ross

Out Of Line

This week London College of Fashion Illustration students adorn the walls of a Carnaby Street gallery with stunning imagery that does not always align with the traditional conceptions of the fashion sketch.

Using various mediums and methods, the 18 students exhibiting are practicing the art of representing style - whether through illustration, photography, collage, new media or moving image. Honing their skills in illlustration, graphic and visual communication so they can ultimately find work in the fashion publishing, beuaty, trend and lifestyle industries.

We are particularly enamoured with Anastasia Vodennikova's eerie faceless models, Rosie Hudston's faded black and white photography suggesting seedy undertones, and Victoria Lyon's delicate sketches of amorphic women.

By Millie Ross

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Surviving Suspiria: Dario Argento's cult creation

jotta listened as Italy’s horror legend Dario Argento (director of Deep Red, Suspiria, Tenebrae, Opera and Sleepless), and his long-time composer Claudio Simonetti of rock-supergroup ‘Goblin’, spoke to an audience of cult fanatics and horror freaks.

Argento and Simonetti helmed a panel discussion before both were bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement award by cult film festival, Cine-Excess for their work on the ground-breaking super-nartral thriller Suspiria. The award coincides with the July re-release of Argento’s 1977 horror masterpiece.

Widely regarded as Argento’s best work, the film is highlighted by the chilling atmosphere set by the Goblin soundtrack. Suspiria is set in a German dance academy where horrific acts of evil witchcraft terrorize the students, and the audience, from the very beginning. It is the first of the trilogy ‘The Three Mothers’, in which the beings of an evil underworld attempt to wreak havoc among the living.

Simonetti composed scores for Argento’s films since 1975, working almost exclusively together, they are the Hitchcock and Herrmann of the cult crowd. Together they make a formidable duo - not just for their wild-eyed and macabre appearance, (a look that’s mirrored by the audience’s dress code). Argento’s films are hailed as outstanding contributions to art house horror, inspiring experimentation in all aspects of cinema, from surreal cinematography to theatrical set design. Europe’s leading horror director, he was extremely influential during the 70’s, known for shock tactics that pushed the boundaries of conventional cinematic style.

Many of the questions thrown to Argento during the discussion expose the audiences desire to categorise and theorise his work. They demand to know why he makes certain choices in his films: What is the underlying meaning? What is he trying to say about the role of women? Why such a fascination with disfigurement? Answering in Italian, his translator relays his elusive replies, ‘Again, Argento says he doesn’t know why he decided to make the films this way, it just came into his head and he did it.’ At this point our presenter, who did his MA on the films of Dario Argento, looks lost. 

Argento explains his surprise at the immense positive feedback his films have received. It seems that, somewhere in the dark recesses of his imagination, he had stored a goldmine of excessive and outlandish violence and supernatural gore. It was a slap in the face to existing rules of filmmaking and something people were dying to see (pardon the pun). His huge fan following, the vast amount of literature and homage paid by countless directors, are all testament to the relentless success of the genre of which Argento is a pioneer.

When probed about the remake of Suspiria by David Gordon Green later this year, Argento seems excited, happy that a new generation will be able to appreciate the film. Simonetti is more blunt. He has but two cynical words for the new director, encapsulating what is at the very heart of Argento’s imagination, the originality, the impossibility to explain or to repeat it. “Good Luck”.

Argento returns to the cinema this year with a new scholtastic horror starring Adrien Brody and Emmanuelle Segnier, Vincent Gallo and his daughter, Asia Argento. The title, Giallo is a reference to the genre that he himself has mastered, there is no release date set for the film as yet.

by Esther Bradley

Ashley Boer

Fabric artist Ashley Boer’s youthful energy, delicate detailing and feminine textiles have carried her across the pond to work for New York designer Philip Lim. jotta talks inspiration, American life and the subtleties of textile design with this compelling new talent.

Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art, Ashley Boer has made significant headway into the textile field. After completing her graduate collection, 'This Little Game Called Life', Ashley went onto work with Ann-Sofie Back during Stockholm fashion week, and is now enjoying life in Williamsburg.

What first drew you to studying and consequently working with fashion and textiles?
I started an Art Foundation and my tutor let me run wild, any boundary box I had struggled to fit at school she broke down and encouraged me to try everything. It was then that I found myself in the textile/fashion pathway. However, it was the process of starting from scratch, how knitwear comes from a spun yarn or print starts with creating your own colour, that really caught my attention. It was at that point that I really knew what I wanted to do.

How would you describe your designs?

I design in a very naive and feminine way. I love the way that fabric on the female form seems to have no restriction. The naivety in my work comes from my drawings and colouring in, I spend weeks painting before prints and colour develop. I paint with watercolour and ink creating lightness and a youthful energy to my designs.

How have your designs progressed since you graduated from Chelsea College of Art?
Now I have learnt the process of adapting my style so that I can design with others, being able to take my ideas and feed them into a designer’s vision. Two heads are better than one and I enjoy the process of applying textiles to fashion.

Is it a handmade craft, for example, do you knit your own knitwear and screen print textiles?

I create all my own fabrics, the prints are developed from drawings, paintings and collages. I manipulate them in Photoshop and Illustrator and print digitally. For textured print surfaces I use screen printing and for subtle colour effects like white on white. For knitwear I dye all the yarn to selected colourways and then knit on fine gauge knitting machines or hand knitting for chunky detailing.

What fashion designer or brand would you most like to work with?
After their last shows Comme des Garcons has become my new obsession. I have always been an admirer of Japanese design, its simple individualism has always been a weakness for my attention, however, the Fall '09 collection to me was the perfect balance between silhouette, construction, and femininity. The layers and colours were perfect... Yes, I think this is definitely a little future goal.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I am influenced by a lot of film work, my last personal project took a lot of inspiration from director Sofia Coppola, I admire the atmospheres she creates with image, for example the attention to sunlight; be it in the difference between summer and spring, or early-morning to dusk. This delicate detailing I find I can translate to weights and tones of fabric, I enjoyed exploring her themes of femininity and entrapment and how I could capture this by creating contrasts in fabrics, it pushed my imagination.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently I have my hands tied up in New York as the Fabric Artist at Phillip Lim. I am working on his women’s and men’s collections for Spring '10 with the other designers, drawing and painting away. It is exciting to be involved in a company, to see the process from start to finish on a larger scale rather than being concerned on the limitations you place on yourself when creating your own small collection. I have also just wrapped up a few projects that I was working on with Ann-Sofie Back, Swedish designer; I was assisting her in designing a window display for Stockholm fashion week, her show invitations and a project for SHOWstudio.

How is living and working in New York compared to life in London?

I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which is very sleepy compared to Manhattan where I work. Williamsburg reminds me very much of where I lived in London and is probably the only place in NY where you hear other English voices. I think the working environment differs from place to place but I do love that in New York I am based in the garment district, which is so handy, it means I have buttons, dye, fastenings and threads on my doorstep!

By Jack Moss

Richard E Grant Talks Films and Memories

Last week the Cochrane Theatre at Central Saint Martins was host to a chap who many view as the quintessential British actor, Richard E Grant. Born and raised in Swaziland, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t British at all.

In conversation with Vladimir Mirodan, (Chairman of the Conference of Drama Schools and a member of the Executive and Council of the National Council for Drama Training), Grant was there to discuss his own experiences of writing and directing Wah-Wah, his 2005 film for which he has recently published a set of memoirs, “The Wah-Wah Diaries.”

Having kept a diary from a very young age, Grant was inspired to write about a time in his life that is bookended by two very traumatic experiences; the first witnessing his mother having sex with his father’s best friend in a car where he was apparently asleep in the back seat, aged 10, and the death of his father years later, who he reveals to be a violent alcoholic.  The interview is peppered with fantastic insights and anecdotes into his professional influences.  From his praise for his mentor, Bruce Robinson (director of Withnail & I) to his utter contempt for the incompetent French producer of Wah-Wah, simply cited as the “quadruple barrelled s**t f**k”, as both her forename and surname are double-barrelled.

Most interesting of all was his account of the big screen preview of Withnail & I; not only was he horrified at his performance, Grant was genuinely convinced that he had ruined not only his own career, but that of director Bruce Robinson.  He even offered to return the money he was paid for the part.

The audience was both entertained and charmed by Grant’s quips and revelations of his first forays into scriptwriting.   Mirodan sings praises for “The Wah-Wah Diaries”, claiming it should be included on all scriptwriting course reading lists as it covers the full breadth of experience a novice writer and director will encounter.   

By Vesna Pavlovic

Hyères 2009 Teaser

We could have been forgiven for thinking ‘inspirational’ was just an overused buzzword when we set out at Hyères Festival International de Mode et de Photographie. But after three days of superb exhibitions, unbridled creativity and sea air in a sleepy Provence town, it felt like the only word to use. 

Dedicated to unearthing new talent in the realms of fashion design and photography,  Hyères has been gathering momentum for twenty four years, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Blanc. Its nucleus is the Villa Noailles, an early modernist house perched high up in the hills above the town of Hyères where during the festival it hosts exhibitions and installations in the many rooms and terraces.

Ten young photographers and designers set up camp with their portfolios, subject to scrutiny of public and industry figures alike. Tim Walker fronted the photography jury while Kris Van Assche headed an illustrious fashion jury that included Jefferson Hack and Fantastic Man’s Gert Jonkers.

Previous winners of the festivals’ prizes showcased new work, while the likes of photographer  Steven Meisel and fashion imagery pioneer Peter Knapp hosted their own retrospectives. Shuttle buses were on call to whisk punters to the beach where fashion shows were staged daily in a grand marquee. Awards may have been handed out, but anyone will attest to the fact that, at Hyères, it’s the taking part that counts.

Sunday’s downpour may have been the first time the festival has seen rain in its quarter-of-a-century history but it didn’t dampen spirits. Hyères’ energy is one that seeps in and leaves a glow in the cheeks, if not a suntan.

Stay tuned for our Hyères Festival International de Mode et de Photographie video special, with interviews from Diane Pernet, Jefferson Hack and Kris Van Assche, amongst others.

By Imogen Eveson

Lucy and Bart: genetic manipulation and beauty expression

Creative collaborators since 2007, Lucy McRae, an Australian ballerina turned body architect, and Bart Hess, a Dutch design forecaster, tell jotta about making mundane materials magical, a love of being in front of their own camera and a desire to create anthropomorphic fashion.
How did you meet? 
We met working at Philips Design on a project that accelerates a vision for next generation sensitive technology mounted under the skin. It was clear when working together we had a similar vision and from there it started.

What are your backgrounds?

(Lucy)I trained as a classical ballerina for fourteen years and went on to study Interior Design at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Since moving to London, and now Holland, my work has been taking new directions and in many ways this has been influenced and dictated by the cities and the people I have around me. I have been working as a Body Architect at Philips Design in a far future design research programme exploring the human body and technology. I have a new studio in the Red Light District and am developing projects around moving image and fashion. I naturally gravitate to the unusual and outlandish, it’s what I like doing and being part of.

(Bart) In 2007 I graduated from the Design Academy in the Man and Identity department. This department looks at finding new materials, forecasting trends in fashion and culture. I made a collection of fake fur that touches on elements of fetishism, human instinct and new animal archetypes. With that collection I did not try to mimic real animal kingdoms but create a fantasy world of my own. 

What inspires your work together?

Very ordinary objects and materials inspire us. If we are looking for new inspiration for a project we go to the supermarket and have a look around. With our newly found material, we exploit its limits and explore its every possibility. It is amazing to see how a material can change in appearance and original purpose when you incorporate the skin and body.

Do you see your work fitting into a specific genre? Is it performance art? Is it dance? Is it sculpture?

We think our work is a reflection upon society and current technologies, but we have no specific intended audience or genre. During Dutch Design Week in 2008, we had a live ‘plastic surgery session’, where we manipulated faces of the audience. Some reactions were quite extraordinary when they let us totally transform the folds of their skin and face.

How do you create each work? What sort of process do you go through from an idea’s conception to its realisation?
As we work we allow ourselves to make mistakes, we find new possibilities for a material. We are both model and photographer and don’t need to explain or give reason to a concept we want to create. It’s like working in an upward spiral we make each other more and more enthusiastic as the day goes on.

How do you source your materials and what inspires you? There seems to be many unconventional ‘clothing’ materials, such as those in the Germination and Grow on you series, how do you go about sourcing and obtaining materials?

'Grow On You' was an experiment with washing up liquid, water and food dye. We had no idea how the liquid would react or drape over the body we only had an idea of what silhouette we wanted. The material and its behavior ultimately defined the end result working fast before the foam dropped off the body.

How does your background in dance effect the way you work?

I have an idea of what shapes I can create with my body without seeing them in a mirror. For example in Evolution I knew what I wanted to see and where my arms and legs should be placed. Bart learnt fast, too, and now he also knows what positions look good. We both like being in front of the camera!

Do you see your work as being within the trajectory of artists such as Orlan or is this predominantly a fashion venture?
We work in a primitive and limitless way that does not rely on fashion but on instinct. We start with a single material, exploring volumes on the body and ways of re-shaping the human silhouette. We just enjoy experimenting with materials.

Tell me about Hook and Eyes. How did it come about? With this sort of shot are we being asked to read into anything, is there a deeper message being relayed? Or should we take it for surface value?

Hooks and Eyes happened in an afternoon of sticking things on our face, contorting or skin and creating temporary expressions not usually possible. When we made this image we were discussing issues around plastic surgery and the boom of the ‘monoaesthetic’. I guess subconsciously this was our reaction. 

If you could create any “genetic manipulation” what would it be? 

We have an imagined fantasy brand, which is a fashion that grows from the body. It is part human, part animal, self replicating and devoid of a brand name. Grown at different densities and viscosity, it lives and breathes with us.


Check out more of their work at www.lucyandbart.com 

By Eleanor Weber