Thursday, 3 September 2009

Anna and The Witch's Bottle

By Millie Findlay

A unique fusion of narrative, image and music, Anna and The Witch’s Bottle is a fairytale turned on its head, with echoes of Alice in Wonderland meets Aubrey Beardsley.

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The inaugural project of creative boutique Black Maps Press, Anna and The Witches Bottle represents an attempt to experiment with how narrative is communicated and appeals to the imagination through a multi-sensory experience. Not only are there beautiful words and images to shape the story, there is also a wonderful minimalist soundtrack provided by Martin Roman Rebelski of Doves.

Written by author Geoff Cox, (who is currently working on Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, starring Marilyn Manson as Lewis Carroll and model Lily Cole as Alice), Anna and The Witch’s Bottle is a modern fairytale turned on its head, at once whimsical and childish, but with a dark underbelly.

The book is illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason, known for his collaborations in the fashion world, he recently created a pair of hand-inked gloves for Yoko Ono. His illustrations perfectly reflect the darkly idiosyncratic tone Geoff Cox’s narrative, filled with sad-faced dog waiters and a hut made of crabs.

Black Maps founder Stuart Suitor brought the three elements together to present an alternative to the standard children’s books currently on the market. "I was absolutely struck by the pedestrian nature of these modern children's books," says Stuart, who was reintroduced to children's literature whilst teaching English to children from ethnic backgrounds. "I found myself lamenting the strange, creepy, weird but entirely marvellous books I had read as a kid." This served as the catalyst to bring the three creative forces together in what would eventually become Anna and The Witch's Bottle.

"Whilst being music driven, Black Maps aims to expand the idea of a record label, including experimental film, private press literature, design commissions, textile works, events and beyond", affirms Stuart.

Anna and the Witch’s Bottle is to be released in a limited edition of only 300 copies this month, making it an immediate collectors item for fans of mellifluous beauty. This unique and magical book has all the makings of a future classic: this is children's literature like you have never seen/heard it before.

Anna and The Witch's Bottle Launches at The Pumphouse Gallery Summer Party in Battersea Park on 22nd of September 2009 with a special reading and preview event.

Copies of the book are available at the Black Maps website or at the following real-world portals: select Paul Smith stores, MySugarland, Howie and Belle, Merchant Archive, Galleri Kleerup, and, for the bargain price of £30. But hurry, only 300 copies are available!

The Exchange Room

By Ian Bruce

The brainchild of portrait painter Ian Bruce and entrepreneur Tom Daly, The Exchange Room is a week long pop up show featuring a collective group of artists taking the market into their own hands and rewriting the rules. You can’t buy it (read: afford it), then barter for it. And that they did: the show is made up of ‘exchanges’, all is explained in this Facebook chat.

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121 Charing Cross Road
Opening 1st September 6-9
Show open through until 8th September 10 am - 8pm


By Millie Findlay

Fight that sickening feeling of dread following graduation with Immersion, a collaborative programme between University of the Arts London, Passport and Palmer Hamilton Partnership which aims to give graduates the skills they need to get their foot in the door of the creative industries.

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We have all had it - that panicked feeling and the question, "What am I doing with my life?" You may have just graduated with flying colours, but now what? Perhaps you have been picked up by a gallery, or landed a huge commission, or perhaps you have not been so lucky. Those first few steps after finishing your degree seem the hardest ever, and with times as hard as they are, the job market can seem a daunting prospect.

Help is at hand: Immersion is an intensive programme designed to help art and design graduates fight their way through the quagmire that is graduate employment, identify their goals and give them the skills to achieve them. With a diverse programme including CV writing, portfolio assistance, mentoring and networking events, Immersion is unique in offering creative graduates advice from a business perspective, which can be hard to find!

With a stellar line-up of industry insiders including Ian Nelson, Worldwide Head of Design at Ellesse and Alistair Hall, Director of We Made This, Immersion aims to provide a wealth of knowledge to new graduates from those who have already made it. Learning takes place in the form of workshops, expert presentations, peer learning and practical group exercises, all of which encourages participants to identify their goals, enhance their skills and get the contacts to take those all-important first steps into the world of work.

The cost is £160, and the programme takes place over 12 weeks part-time.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, check out the jotta Immersion group, or the Immersion website for more details and the application form.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Art Schmart

Opening at Swanfield Yard, a curious menagerie of undergraduate artists just emerging from the behemoth that is Central St Martins come together as Art Schmart. With an eclectic mix of work, they attempt to put a name to the face of emergent concerns and styles of current young artists, an oddly-placed generation within history processing the concerns of the world today.

Choosing work that tries to represent the incipient practices of the current crop of undergraduates, Art Schmart spreads across media and disciplines, creating a platform for young artists to show their work, without having to contend with the agenda of the gallery system.

Featuring work from Kyle Zeto, Ruth Francesca Daniels, Katie Hare, Millie Findlay, Charles Drinkwater, Una Savic, Phoebe Mitchell, Tom Clark, Spike Blake, Tom Campell, Mikael Monchicort, Eleanor Purseglove, Alexander Clarke, Amber Bowie-Lowe, Jessica Sarah Rinland, and Jammie Nicholas.

Swanfield Yard, 2b Swanfield Street London E2
Tuesday 22nd-Tuesday 29th September 12-5pm
Private View Thursday 24th September 6-9pm

Graham Carter's East meets West

By Millie Findlay

While jotta member Graham Carter has been one of the most sought after illustrators in the UK over the last ten years, as one of the founding members of Peepshow Collective, he’s now celebrated for his prolific repertoire of silkscreen prints, which explore childhood fantasy, the animal kingdom and now, a collision of eastern and western culture.

Deer Boy, Quiet Carriage, Ever Red, Seeking Samurai (Click any image to enlarge it)

Graham rediscovered his love of silkscreen printing in 2005 and hasn’t stopped since with a string of successful solo shows across the South East, and exhibiting in galleries throughout the UK. His unique printmaking style has made him one of the most collected printmakers in the UK over last 5 years, with characters and exquisite colour pallets which transport the viewer into a land of robots, giant bears, origami creatures and of course, yeti’s.

What were your main inspirations for the work you have made for your upcoming show?

I’m kind of caught between two phases at the moment. On the one hand I am into retro American culture and design, and on the other, a more Oriental inspired approach.

My desire to visit China/Japan is evident in my work, although it’s more of a fantastical version rather than a true study of their culture. So the show in general is a meld of the two cultures. Like a travel diary

How do you approach your personal work as opposed to your commercial projects?

The excitement factor is at a zero generally when I ‘m working on commercial briefs so I tend to go about things on a robotic level. In some cases I just automatically produce what I think the client wants rather than ‘how I would do it’ - because I know from past experience that they will say, ‘hmmm. We like it, but can it be more like this....?’ So I just cut that stage out to save time.

There is a completely different feeling when I’m producing my own work and I become absorbed in it and quite excited about reaching the end result. I speedily try to get through commissions to give myself time to work on my own ideas, which usually begin life on the page of a sketchbook, scribbled or in a coffee shop while watching the world go by.

How did you come to focus back on your own work, rather than company briefs?

I wanted to give the Brighton Art Fair a go because it looked like a fun thing to do and thought it would be interesting to see how my ‘other’ work went down as it had largely been unseen. Luckily the response was overwhelming so I’ve just carried on from there. Until that point I didn’t realise the print business was such a big thing, so it proved to be great business shift as well as a personal one.

How did you rediscover your love for screenprinting?

Ah it’s always been there and I’ve always kept my hand in even when working for Habitat etc. Wherever I’ve lived I’ve always investigated the local open access print workshops. I’ve tried alternative working methods but always came back to silkscreen. I’ve only scratched the surface really when you consider just how many screen printing methods and surfaces there are to play with, so I should be doing it for a while longer. Investing in my own printing studio was the next natural step for me so I’m lucky enough to be able to immerse myself in it - as long as my back holds itself together!

How did you come to the yeti as a recurrent character?

It’s only really featured in 2 or 3 recent prints but it seems to be a favourite with people. I just enjoy the idea that the Yeti truly exist and are revelling in the fact that no one can find them, and living quite a happy peaceful existence. I produced around 40 yeti clay sculptures for a show at ink-d gallery brighton so I need to wait a while before I revisit Yeti land.

What are you working on at the moment?

Just finished working on a design for a high-end ladies fashions company. They specialise in using artists to design their tops and it’s basically like working on a huge cross-shaped print. Quite a departure from my usual way of working but quite enjoyable towards the end.

Just about to start on a limited edition screen print as part of a group show for ink-d gallery, based on the kissing policemen by Banksy (I maintain I sketched it out first before he produced it – so now my version can finally see the light of day!).


Check out Graham's work on jotta

Face Off part 2

By Millie Ross published

Wimbledon College of Art interview Central Saint Martins in the final stage of This Is Why We Meet.

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What were your expectations before the project began?

Sofia: From the beginning, I found the idea of working with other CSM students from different courses exciting, if not a bit frightening as well. The opportunity of having my work up in one of the most viewed areas on Brick Lane and working inside such an innovative advertising agency made for some quite high expectations I have to say.

What was the moment when you came up with the idea for the project and what lead up to the idea?

Sandra: This was actually our first idea and we came up with it just by talking and trying to get to know each other. It turned out that we were all interested in literature, writing and books, so it was something that we all had in common.

Did you know each other before? Are you enjoying being part of a team?

Helen: We only met through this project and had been in touch via emails and facebook prior to meeting on the Monday morning.

Sofia: It is quite challenging working with people that you have never met before but at the same time it can be far more intriguing and interesting. In my opinion collaborative work is really important in the field of contemporary and applied arts. So it is not only about enjoying being part of a team but actually being able to embrace it and put your own personal touch.

What do you see as the projects biggest challenges?

Helen: It was a challenge to make a distinct piece of work from the other colleges. We also had the weight of the success of the previous installations to consider.

Sandra: We had to work very fast since it is such a short project so we did not have much time to test our ideas, but we were lucky anyway since we came up with our idea so fast. Another challenge was to stick to the budget and still make the installation look the way we wanted it to look.

Is the outcome something you think you would've created/thought about doing by yourself?

Jai: No, this is not something that I would have thought of making into an interactive exhibition. Prior to this project I had no ideas as I felt it was not possible to plan an exhibition without knowing my groups skill set.

Sofia: Yes, the general idea is really close to my way of thinking. But of course when you are working with other people the shaping of ideas is going in all different directions that you may have never thought yourself. That is what makes collaborations interesting and important after all.

What are your thoughts on 'iNTERACTION' in relation to art works and has this changed throughout the week?

Helen: The first screen is where the text will be entered, then the second displays the story in its entirety. The crucial point is that once the enter button has been pressed on the first screen, the thing has been said and a commitment has been made to join this collective story. The second screen visually vocalizes the narrative in an automated mode, like a type of monster that will grow from the input we’ve anticipated. We wanted to be generous with the level of input the audience could make but there are certain frustrations to the process (such as a limited word count). In this way, the piece is about taking part in a work that is permeable, but at the same time has an element of resistance and inaccess.

Jai: Interactivity within artworks engenders a feeling of belonging and adding to the artwork. There would be no art without interaction, without the audience all pieces of art have essentially failed. Unless the intention was to produce art works that require no stimulus of any sort.

Sofia: The communication with the audience is one of the things that make a work of art strong and successful. Interactivity takes it one step further. From this project and the technological difficulties we had I learned to try and keep it simple.

What do you hope others will get from your project?

Helen: A facility to possibly express their thoughts and to place these outside of themselves.

Jai: I believe the point of the project was for the community to create a piece of art that consist of themselves and their sense of individuality. So they feel a sense of belonging, knowing that without them there is no art work.

Describe the experience so far in 4 words...

Helen: Talking, talking, making, talking

Jai: Stressful, Tiresome, Enjoyable, Random

Sofia: Crash, boom, bang, yay!

Sandra: A never ending story.

Has the project made you consider your college's identity at all...?

Helen: A lot of people have told us that this has been the most eclectic group. I think the disciplines taught at the college can be quite removed from one another and don’t necessarily integrate together. It would be a good idea to take this project as a model for further collaborations organized within CSM and the University of the Arts. There should be more opportunities for students to meet future collaborators in advance of graduating.

Sandra: I agree with what Helen is saying. I think that projects like these are important to bring people from different pathways together and open you up to new ways of working and looking at your work. All disciplines are in one way or the other connected to each other and I think that interdisciplinary work should be more encouraged and even promoted by the different colleges.

But to answer the question I have to say that the identity of CSM as a college seems a little bit of a mystery to me, I do think there is one but I also think that the sense of community could be made stronger. A lot of the communal areas at the college have disappeared, for example the bar.

Re- instating that would be a good first step to increase the sense of community.

South London People Map

By Millie Ross
jotta has increasingly been drawn south of the river to marvel at the ascending stars of the young South London art scene. Forming collectives, curating exhibitions, going guerilla on unused spaces and taking 150 people to Venice Biennale, their community and productivity are a breath of fresh air in a city where the big-wig galleries had begun to bore.

Map drawn and designed by Barbara Ward (Click any image to enlarge it)

While the majority of the young artists have come out of colleges such as Camberwell College of Arts, London College of Communication and Goldsmiths, joining the dots between the growing number of collectives and galleries has become overwhelming, so jotta got the lowdown from Oliver Hogan, co-founder of LuckyPDF, Tom Harrad, co-founder of Off Modern (who's South East in the East opens tonight!), on where everyone fits and mapped out the connections.

To download a larger version of the South London People Map click here

SECRET CINEMA: Tell no one

By Millie Findlay

Prepare to dive headfirst into a unique cinematic experience, where the film comes to life around you. Secret Cinema is going outdoors for its biggest screening ever- just don’t ask where.

clockwise from top left: A Night at The Opera, Ghostbusters, Funny Face, The Harder They Come (Click any image to enlarge it)
If you like your cinema outings out of the ordinary, SECRET CINEMA is as exraordinary as it gets. Guests receive a mystery email invitation to a location, and upon arrival are greeted by sights, smells and sounds straight out of the chosen film. The catch is: no one knows what the film is. That is, until it starts. In the meantime audience members have fun deciphering the clues as they queue and enjoy the atmosphere.

At the last secret screening guests were transported to Jamaica for a screening of Jimmy Cliff’s reggae classic The Harder They Come. Celebrating in true Jamaican carnival style with reggae music, dancing and performance artists, before going into the newly transformed Coronet Theatre to watch the film. Other clandestine screenings have seen live rescores, installation artists, live musicians and performers. Locations can range from derelict theatres to city rooftops; Funny Face at the Royal Academy of Arts and Gus Van Saint’s Paranoid Park in a disused railway tunnel in south London.

This time around, all guests are being told is to come prepared to participate in a kaleidoscopic journey to the theme of an American cult classic. Can you guess what it is yet?

Just remember- tell no one (it’s a secret).

More info here.

South East in East

By Millie Findlay

Hold onto your hats, the south Londoners are coming! Artist collective Off Modern introduce South London’s finest to East London during not just one night – but a whole week’s worth of music, arts and literature.

Off Modern at Corsica Studios, Bradford Bahamas, Off Modern at Hannah Barry Gallery in Peckham, Casio Kids (Click any image to enlarge it)

This Friday sees the start of the seven day extravaganza, when by night music the likes of Hot Club de Paris, The Invisible and My Tiger My Timing, will run alongside theatre performances from New Cross collective Short Nights. By day workshops, films and a large group exhibition featuring Off Moderners Tom Harrad and Yuki Pattison, plus contributions from South London compadres including Deptford based gallery and party organisers Friendly Street Gallery, and fellow Peckhamites Lucky PDF, mad scientists and inventors Bradford Bahamas and Charlesworth, Lewandowski & Mann.

Off Modern was born in the depths of South East London, with the aim to provide a "lateral glance at art, music, aesthetics and culture", explains co-founder Tom Harrad. The collective have created a platform for young artists to show their work and get noticed, without having to bend to the will of larger galleries. Off Modern lies in the thick of the rapdily growing south London artistic community, with long-standing collaborations with the likes of Friendly Street Gallery and Hannah Barry Gallery.

Tom Harrad affirms that the community spirit down in South London has contributed to the success of Off Modern and other artist collectives: "Everyone knows that the best way to get things done is to work with each other, and to build a scene we can all be a part of."

After being approached by Vibe Bar earlier this year, the folks at Off Modern decided the timing was right for something big. The xOff Modern events at Corsica Studios have been popular since its first outing back in late 2008, however the opportunity at Vibe Bar presented a new challenge. "All our exhibitions have been focussed on South East London artists, lots of graduates from Camberwell and Goldsmiths, so we thought that we should take this into the heart of the London alternative arts scene in the east end."

However, Off Modern has no plans to emigrate east any time soon. "Peckham is a hotbed for untainted creativity. The East end is saturated and commercialised." Tom declares, "Cheap rent and free space always attract artists. The opportunities for people who don’t have loads of money (i.e. Us) are far greater down south." Off Modern certainly does not seem to need to seek success in the east, having lured art-lovers down to Elephant and Castle in ever-greater numbers.

Nor do they show any signs of slowing down, with plans for a record label, single release and permanent exhibition space in the pipeline, as well as the second issue of the Off Modern Zine and the next Corsica studios event in October! There must be something in the water in Peckham…

Want more info? SEiE website or jotta calender