Diogo Guerner

Diogo Guerner caused rather a stir recently among the press at my university after winning the prize for best fiction in the Yorkshire Region for his film Snapshot at the 2013 Royal Television Society Awards.

Diogo is now a third year student on the BSc in Film and Television Production course at the University of York and directed his winning film in his second year. The judges said Snapshot stood out because of the way “a simple story was so effectively told with assurance and real skill, with the quality of the script matched by the quality of the camera work”. They also commented on the great use of special effects and overall high standard of direction.

When asked, Diogo said: “It was a great honour to receive the prize for best fiction film at the RTS Yorkshire Television awards. I’m really proud and excited to have Snapshot representing Yorkshire but also the University of York at the RTS national competition.”

He also wanted to thank everyone involved in the project and thanked his department and fellow students for their hard work and commitment to the cause.

The head of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at York, Andrew Higson, commented on his pride in his student. The aims of the course are to create world-class film-makers of every kind, and he commented that he was happy his students were rising to the challenge.

To check out Diogo’s other work, check him out on Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/user4403019

Eleanor Davies

For every Londoner, trying to do some shopping on Oxford Street sounds like planning to spend next couple hours of their lives in hell. However, this reckless decision may surprisingly change to an opportunity to get to know some of the brightest British creative talents and that’s what happened to me when I found myself staring at the Selfridges’ window in the middle of the really aggressive crowd of shoppers. Thanks to Eleanor Davies’ work, it was worth it and I made it, alive.

So, who is this artist named one of the Bright Young Things of 2013 by the iconic store and honoured with having her work displayed in the famous Oxford Street windows?

Eleanor is a sculptor artist who graduated with First Class Honours from Goldsmiths University of London’s BA Fine Art class. In her work, she likes to be experimental and playful with different materials, particularly thread of different colours and lengths. The outcome is breathtakingly beautiful – Eleanor’s creations are playful, visually engaging and original.

My favourite of hers is “Over 200 Beautiful Colours” – the artists’ graduation project in form of a giant pompom made of wool, newspaper and rope. The combination of colours and wool’s structure makes a strong and dramatic statement, truly provokes and inspires at the same time.

Eleanor’s recent work focuses on the role of the accessory and performance and fetishisation of objects.  Hopefully, thanks to being featured as the Bright Young Things, her work will get a bigger exposure and her name will become known not only to art lovers but also those who just glanced at the shop window and fell in love from the first sight.

 Eleanor’s website 

Strawberry Kats

I first spotted this brand about 3 years ago, on one of my first trips down to Spitalfields Market.  Walking through hundreds of stores and thousands of people, I saw some of the prettiest dresses I’d ever seen.  After a quick flick through, I selected three of the dresses, and rotated them around for most of the summer, and (I’m pleased to say!) that whenever I wore one of those dresses, there was always someone who would complement me and ask me where I got my dress from.  The answer was: Strawberry Kats.

Strawberry Kats’ mission is to offer newness, quality and fashion forward garments for their customers who want to “own it”; and they describe their line as “fresh, femininity, fashion”.  Mainly known for their beautiful strapless dresses, they come in dozens of colours and patterns, making them suitable for both summer and winter (the pictures show a couple of the different patterns available).  My personal favourite is one I picked up at the Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model (BINTM) Live Catwalk show in 2011 – black, with a gold paisley design for a mere £15!

In addition, with ethical clothing a hot topic at the minute; Strawberry Kats makes sure to tackle any issues by keeping in close contact with their manufacturers at all elements of the design from start to finish; and they encourage all customers to wash their garments in cold water.

Whilst Strawberry Kats are only trading via a stall on Spitalfields Market on a Sunday at the minute, they’re currently in the process of updating their website, which when complete, will show off their full collection.

Alternatively, you can check out their Facebook page here.

Motoi Yamamoto

In japanese culture, salt is a traditional symbol for purification and mourning, often used in funeral rituals. Following the death of his sister, Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto started using salt as a medium, creating intricate labyrinths and mazes. In his culture, the salt  is placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and businesses to fight off evil spirits, but what he does with it is breathtaking in a tranquil way. Yamamoto manages to create a deep connection with the mineral, all the while mourning the death of his sister.

Creating labyrinths could be a way of preserving his memories of her, enclosing her between walls and circles. The interesting part is when one realizes the paradox in the medium: salt is easily effaceable, blown away, just like memories. Yet, the installations work on a deeper level as Yamamoto has to take part in them -he knows all the exits and the entrances, but chooses instead to ignore them, focusing instead on enclosing memories of his sister.

Yamamoto’s artworks are rooted in themes of life, death, and rebirth, and his manipulation of salt acts as a performance of grief and pain. There is a palpable tranquility that emerges from his pieces, especially given the fact that they could disappear forever at any blow of the wind.

 

Motoi Yamamoto 

ARCHIBALD PHOTOGRAPHY

Most of us are pretty much content with the three likes we got on Facebook from the Instagrammed picture of our feet sunbathing in front of the sea last summer. When you entrust Mark from Archibald Photography with a phone that has a decent camera, the result is not exactly the same. Who knew that you could master photography to the point that shots taken with a phone camera look like a professional photo shoot?

In Mark’s Nokia Lumia 920 Camera Project, the conventions of traditional photography (convention n°1: use an acceptable camera) are successfully subverted and it is a combination of both talent and technique that allow him to capture the beauty of Scottish landscapes. They say you can tell a good workman by his tools, but clearly Mark doesn’t go by old sayings. The 32 shots taken from his phone positively show that he has an impeccable eye for photography as they take us on a journey through the colorful, vibrant – and sunny – Scottish countryside.

Archibald Photography was created in 2003 by Donny, who is in charge of marketing and client contact, and her husband Mark, the photographer. Both born and raised in Scotland, they have done some projects at home, but their main focus is travel documentary photography. Mark’s work is already recognized in the United Kingdom and he has won many awards: the 2009 Best Complete Wedding Photographer, the 2010 Scottish Fashion Photographer of the Year and the 2012 Scottish Portrait Photographer of the Year. He and Donny are now based in Biggar, in Scotland, and have specialized in wedding photography, along with portraits, commercials, and fashion and music photography.

Interestingly, Mark’s shots of Scotland strongly contrast with the rest of his work – and whether his vision of Scottish weather is accurate can become a subject of serious debate. In his travel pictures particularly, he makes a strong use of black and white that gives a dramatic and almost tormented atmosphere to the places he shoots: even an innocent palm tree in Lagos becomes threatening from the perspective of his camera. This is because he works a lot with film and not digital cameras, which is quite an unusual initiative that lends more authenticity to his work. His photos seem like they are from another age and in this sense, they allow us to travel not only through space, but also through time.

To be kept informed of Mark and Donny’s projects, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or visit their official website.

Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin don’t really need an introduction, but I’ll give them one anyway, just in case you haven’t before been blessed with this eccentric, Leeds-based brand of indie rock. This four-piece formed in 2005, have supported the likes of fellow northerners The Cribs and math pop rockers, Dutch Uncles, and have once again rushed into the limelight this year after the recent release of their highly-anticipated, fuzz-filled grunge pop album, Motto.

Aggressive and boisterous, Motto screams and shouts about the struggles experienced by many emerging artists desperate to have their creative contributions taken note of. The group’s angst-ridden melodies, fused with the sometimes delicate, sometimes savage guitar grooves and slamming chords of lead guitarist, Nile Marr, create a brilliantly imperfect platform for the honest, colloquial vocals of front-woman, Katie Harkin. Not unlike the speech-like singsong vocals of fellow Brit, Kate Nash, Harkin’s choral abilities speak to listeners with a lush melodiousness and a cutting sharpness – no need to worry though, Harkin doesn’t have even a snifter of the cutesy, twee, faux-Cockney whines characteristic of Nash. She and her band are northerners through and through, and we don’t do faux anything. Nor pretension, for that matter.

Sky Larkin, as well as their brash musicality, are wholly down to earth. The group’s instrumentation, and most noticeably Nestor Matthews’ punching and kicking drumbeats, screams desperation and riotous rebellion, and punctuates each track like a heart abruptly stopping and starting again, like some kind of tuneful resuscitation at work. The strings of the bass, on the other hand, are plucked methodically throughout Motto by bassist, Sam Pryor, providing the scuzzy, lo-fi foundations of an album whose focal point is its emotional rawness. To top it all off is Marr’s crushing guitar-driven blasts and slashes, the crowning glory of Sky Larkin’s instrumental layering, practically cry out for musical mutiny.

If a little slice of autumnal grunge-rock sounds like your kind of thing, then this 13 track album, which plays out like the torment-ridden diaries of a bunch of West Yorkshire adolescents, should be just the thing for you. It isn’t ground-breaking stuff by any means, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t helping to expand the unexplored boundaries of indie rock, and moreover, that it isn’t worth listening to. On the contrary, Motto is a touching, tender and painful collection of tracks that should be heard the world over, if for no other reason than that their track, ‘Overgrown’, is one solely based on an accident which occurred ‘on the hills above Bradford!’

Interview: Ransack Theatre

Ransack is a new theatre company initially conceived in 2010 and formerly known as Bracket Theatre. Recent University of Manchester graduates Alastair Michael, Piers Black-Hawkins, Claire O’Neill, Verity Mullan Wilkinson and Emma Colledge make up the five member collective who in the past three years, have worked together producing and directing new and other writing, and have decided to take their work beyond university and into the professional theatrical arena.

Ransack’s journey started with Solve,  a piece of new writing by Black-Hawkins which was part of the University of Manchester Drama Society’s Autumn Showcase which was subsequently taken to the  Edinburgh Fringe. Their 65 seat venue was sold out every night and their performances achieved 5 star reviews; even more impressive was that the group made money back from their show which is practically unheard of for a student production. According to Ransack’s Alastair and Piers, this was the catalyst for them to take the theatre company and develop it outside of university and beyond.

After an arduous re-branding, with a logo designed by Will Jenkinson, Ransack is taking great steps into becoming a fully-fledged company, using theatre to ask questions and address today’s issues, as well as being a proactive part of Manchester’s recent cultural explosion. Check them out at their new website, http://ransacktheatre.co.uk , on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ransacktheatre?ref=br_tf  and on Twitter https://twitter.com/RansackTheatre

How is Ransack being funded?

We paid for Edinburgh with a fundraiser, private donations, and then the cast put their own money into it: this is the sort of model we’re using at the moment.  We’re learning about Arts Council funding as we go along really. The first play we’re doing doesn’t need much: we have a free space in the Lass O’ Gowrie pub just off Oxford Road, we have lighting and staging, and plenty of friends who want to be involved. What we do need to pay for is rehearsal space, which we’re finding we can pretty much fund ourselves. We’re also meeting with a guy called Pete from a company called, somewhereto_ (http://somewhereto.com/) which is a Lottery funded organisation set up in the wake of the 2012 Olympics’ legacy programme which helps young people involved in the arts, culture and sport to buy spaces.

What is the ethos behind Ransack?

We have a big focus on new writing but we’re not solely dedicated to that. We’re young and we have things to say about what’s going on in the moment now, giving a voice to that. We really want Ransack to produce stories and work that will speak to everyone. We don’t have a big budget, and it’s not about the spectacle for us; we want to make Ransack a bare bones company all about the stories, the writing and the raw performance.

Ransack is based in Manchester, is it going to stay there or are you going to plan a move?

It was a big thing for all of us, we really wanted to stay in Manchester. The obvious place to go is London, but it’s probably the worst thing you can do as an emerging theatre company because you can end up being a tiny fish in a giant pool. Living in London is so expensive as well: here we can work full time jobs and then have time to work on Ransack too. We know Manchester well because we’ve been here for years and culturally; it’s on the up, and not just in a competitive way. The city’s so supportive and nurtures emerging artistic and cultural collectives and there are so many opportunities to do more exciting and thorough work here.

Look out for Ransack on the 3rd, 4th and 5th December 2013 when they are putting on performances at the Lass O’ Gowrie in a night of new writing, ingeniously dubbed ‘Write Night’, for which they are currently holding auditions. Alastair told me: ‘we don’t want people to just come and see the show; we want people to engage with the show, we want people to be provoked to talk to each other about it and talk to us about it. So the event is as much a social event as it is a theatrical one’. The group are also looking forward to getting involved with the Manchester Fringe Festival and 24/7 Theatre Festival in 2014.

Alex Ekins

Anyone walking around Sheffield the past few weeks might have noticed a new addition to the neighbourhood. Wheatpaste images of Sadhus – distinctive looking Hindu monks in striking dress – have started to appear on the walls of the city.

These Sadhu images are the work of Alex Ekins and his 7 Sadhu project. Alex is a Sheffield-based artist and photographer specialising in international travel and adventure photography. He studied photojournalism at Sheffield College, and began working internationally as a rock climbing and adventure photographer. Alex took an interest in photographing people in “unwelcoming circumstances and strange environments”.

“I’m looking at people on the margins of society” he says “I like the idea of people going where perhaps society doesn’t want them to be.” With this in mind, Alex travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal to photograph a group of people living on the edge of society – the Sadhus. The Sadhus, as Ekins puts it “have chosen to give up work, materialism and the trappings of modern society” and have removed themselves from common society to focus on their spirituality.

After befriending a Sadhu, Alex was able to take many photographs, which he brought back to the UK and blew up to life size. Wanting to introduce the Sadhu to the UK urban landscapes, Alex cut them out and put them up over the city.

 

www.alexekins.co.uk

Tumblr/AlexEkins

Phoebe Baines

In an artworld that has never had more money, it is unsurprising that it is being drowned by art work being bought, sold and shipped worldwide for the masses to admire and pay homage to.  The costs are exponential; the impact to the public, very little. In true reverence to the ideology of the dematerialisation of art [with an environmental and humble twist] Phoebe Baines is doing something different.

Having recently been funded by UAL’s Mead Scholarship, Baines has been able to take her temporary artworks on a tour of some of the UK’s remote rural landscapes far from the commercial grasps of the artworld hub.

Her works is simple but with high impact and only existing for a short amount of time. Overcoming the practical issues of being a working artist and incorporating it into her practice Baines has created some stunning and exciting work.

Sat down with some jerk chicken and corn on the cob [not your typical interview setting] we talked life, art and the issues facing young artists today.

What made you decide to make temporary work?

The idea for making temporary works came from a placement with a practicing artist. I had a first hand experience in the difficulties of storing old work, transporting pieces to be exhibited and the prices of shipping. I felt as though temporary work that were easy and fast to install and take down would side step these issues as well as speeding up my turnover of ideas. I found that this change also allowed me to expand the scale of work a lot more simply.

Who/What inspires you?

I’m inspired by all kinds of things mostly visual materials I see on the street, buildings and natural places. Artists who inspire me to push forward with my ideas and to be ambitious with my work are Ernesto Neto and Tomas Saraceno who both create the most immersive ethereal installations. Richard Serra has been an important influence for me in his approach to space and the way we occupy and engage with the spaces in our lives.

Do you see yourself as a land artist?

I find the best work comes from an interesting space and the outside world is a far better site for me than a clean white square. Because of my materials I wouldn’t classify myself as a land artist but in terms of the importance of the landscape / site in the work, there is an element of land art there; especially in recent works where the pieces have been made in natural surroundings. Whether it’s natural or urban it’s the ‘site’ that comes first and often defines the form.

What environmental concerns are expressed in your work?

I wouldn’t say my work has and overtly environmental message but i aim to bring up questions about humans in space. Although the materials are mostly man made and synthetic the setting is often natural and organic. The tension between the two is particularly interesting to me and I suppose that hints and mans relationship with nature.

Are you rebelling against the art world?

Rather than rebelling I would say I’m challenging the art world and it’s boundaries. I hope to integrate everyday life into the art world through using domestic / real life spaces rather than spaces created and cornered off for art. I see art and my work as a part of life not a separate entity.

What do you love about being an artist?

I love the feeling of satisfaction from growing an idea from the first thought right up until it’s physically in front of you. Having the freedom to test your imagination and challenge yourself to keep moving forward. The innate emotional connection with my work is what keeps me going when it’s all going a bit wrong!

Phoebe Baines’ lives and works in London, to keep up to date with her exhibitions and new works follow phoebebaines.tumblr.com

 

 

 

Charlotte Rutherford

A lot of words may come to your mind while looking at pictures taken by Charlotte Rutherford, 21-year-old photographer and retoucher from Norwich but, there is one that you just can’t use to describe them – boring. Her work is, always bold, colourful and intentionally kitschy drag you into the crazy world of Charlotte where everything is covered in glitter and more is more.

Charlotte’s photographs are playful in every sense; they flirt with convention, make use of pop-cultural references (Myspace era anyone? Oh, I bet you did have a glittery background on your profile!), reverse roles and find beautiful in plain ugly. Apart from them, the photographer sometimes becomes a filmmaker and creates short fashion films or band videos while still maintaining a consistent personal style.

In the times where most young photographers are expected to present a polished, good-looking version of the world, Charlotte hits us with an extreme. There is no place for beige, neither there is for imitation and trying to be someone you’re not.

Oh, and did I mention that she is the loveliest person to talk to? I’ve had an opportunity to ask her a couple of questions on her work by e-mail and can ensure you she is as fun as her projects!

Enough with my talking, let’s see what she has to say about her work:

So, Charlotte – how did it all start? Getting your first camera? Lusting after someone’s perfect selfies on Myspace? Boredom?

Ha, yep exactly! I wanted a cool dude Myspace picture so I took pics of myself in the bathroom and did a horrible selective colour on them! And I’ve just been doing the same exact thing on a larger scale really.

You have your own, bold style and a clear vision of what you want your work to look like. How long did it take you to find your artistic voice and somehow define yourself as a photographer?

It took a while to kind of “get” what I wanted to do, but I think I’m getting there now. I used to take photos and not like them at all then it all just clicked that there are no rules and it is only a photo so it’s fun to do just anything you like.

Are there any pictures or collaborations you are particularly proud of?

I just shot the Gogo Phillip collection with Soki Mak, she’s mega fab and it was super fun to shoot. I think that’s my lil fave project at the moment!

Do you think living in Britain affects your work? Inspires you?

I think it does! Even if it is trying to take photos which are escaping looking at Britain.

Apart from you, who do you think is the one worth watching?

Photographers – Dominic Clarke, Nadia Lee, Hanna DiAmond are all so fab.

What are your plans for the future?

I wanna learn spray painting (you know, like the horrible graphics of women on 80s fun fair rides) and work more on set design and make some lil films!

If you want to see more of Charlotte’s work (and I know you do!) head to her website.

Luke Tristram Malkin

A talking squirrel isn’t what everyone looks for in a friend, but ‘Gary the Party Squirrel’ and his African adventure is what Luke Malkin is currently shooting in Tanzania. Luke; a film-maker originally from Stoke is currently living in Tanzania and working as a teacher. Some people just have all the fun!

The film he’s currently working on is a spin-off from a show that was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011 called “Squirrel Party”. It was an extremely successful show parodying Saturday morning children’s television, and Luke’s puppet, Gary, has since taken on a life of his own. Luke is the fictional children’s entertainer and Gary is, well, Gary, and they are struggling through the jungle in a futile search for the non-existent ‘Dark Green Squirrel’. Sounds a riot!

Luke did an MA in Digital Film Production at the University of York, and his final project, “Shed” (see production still far left) was a stunning and very moving piece of cinema. The 30 minute film was an adaptation of a play by his friend Tom Crowley, and followed the lives of a group of friends who had grown up visiting a shed in the woods in a small dead-end town. It was about growing up, getting out and letting go, and was a fantastic production. The whole film was shot inside a wooden shack they built within one of the York production studios and the logistics of the build were incredible.

Since that project, Luke has worked in Spain, making virtual learning films with the Virtual School as well as advertising films for a large independent Seville hotel. His portfolio is building and is set to be a big name in the film industry in a few years time.

If you want to check out more of Luke’s work, including his digital show reels, visit his website: lukemalkin.wordpress.com. There’s links to a lot of his films on youtube as well as an up-to-date blog of what he’s up to at the moment.

Barney Artist

You’d be right to expect an emerging artist to dream of being swept up by a hotshot manager and signed to a prestigious record label. This is where hip-hop rapper and wordsmith, Barney Artist, stands out.

For Barney, music is ‘painting sounds’ and independent, thought is not only a right, but a necessity. Most importantly, his stance on independent music is something of a moral statement; Barney Artist upholds that artists should be independent and not caught under the influence of corporate record labels in order to protect the realness behind their skill.

Raw and genuine talent: Barney draws upon the soulful and poetic face of hip-hop in what you could call urban chill-out. His easygoing vibe is particularly apparent in the 2013 track ‘Where’s Your Soul At?’ feat, fellow hip-hop connoisseurs Alfa Mist and Lester The Nightfly. This cool cat of a tune is four minutes of jazzy hip-hop built simply upon gentle clips, jazzy RnB chimes, a slinky syncopated bassline and laid back – yet cleverly poignant – rapped rhymes; Barney is certainly a profound lyricist.

“Find a solace in a certain type of writing.” Barney calls for authenticity and honesty in life:. The velvety piano, which comes out of its shell as the track develops, is reminiscent of a suave jazz bar whilst the steady padded beat paints a faded watercolour of Britain’s urban streets.

Keeping true to his philosophy of creating music as an art and not as a money making venture, Barney is offering his 12-track EP ‘BAEP’ free to download via his website. The third track ‘Turn Your Head Around’ feat. Emmavie & Alfa Misk is particularly hypnotic. Layered vocal samples bubble in the background, skipping in sync with the offbeat RnB pulses and furry bass. The main vocal showcases Emmavie’s luscious, chocolatey voice in a catchy – but not overly ‘stuck in your head’ – chorus. Above all, the video is particularly worth a watch. Modest yet endearing, it follows Barney on his wanderings around London, reminding us that he is as much a simple Londoner as the rest of the people of the capital.

Showing his poeticism in full force is track ‘Mystery’. Here Barney speaks rhymes over a warm, bluesy piano riff and crispy hi-hat. “Yeah, but there’s poetry in everything if you look for it.” His words become a metrical paintbrush, adding swagger and texture to the track. A nice touch: towards the end of ‘Mystery’, we hear Barney speaking interview style, transcending that listener/listened barrier as if he were right here in the room with us. He tells us, “Hip hop is like one big movement: one big family.”

One last track that deserves a mention is ‘Sit Still’ (prod. by DuqueNuquem). This piece takes a pitch-shifted sample, ephemeral synths and ringing strings to create an edgier sound than we’ve heard in Barney’s other tracks. The fragmented black-and-white music video directed by Gerald Boye is the perfect complement to this salient track. In a snapshot-esque mixture of close-ups and full-body shots we follow Barney: like a raconteur he tells us his story.

What is eye-catching about Barney Artist is his likeability; to listen to his music is to want to get to know him. It would be easy to spend all day dissecting each of his tracks word by word, teasing out the exquisite golden truths between each syllable. Yet this is pure relaxation music; sit back, listen and soak it up.