George Ezra

Hailing from Bristol, this singer-songwriter has just hit number 5 on the BBCs ‘Sound of 2014’ list. And he’s only 19.

According to his page on the BBC, he was first spotted in 2012 by BBC Bristol who were “championing his bluesy, acoustic ballads”. Since then, he’s had a slot on the Glastonbury Introducing Stage as well as recording sessions at Maida Vale (the BBC recording studios in London for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term).

Zane Lowe recently described him as “One of the most compelling and powerful new vocalists around”, and I would have to agree. George’s vocals are far beyond his years, and his bluesy style is reminiscent of the greats like Bob Dylan and his hero Woody Guthrie. He fits very nicely into the emerging style in the industry, creating a beautiful vintage sound and merging it beautifully with modern accoustic tracks.

In spite of his recognition from London, George stays true to his roots, playing a lot of gigs in Bristol and sticking around his hometown. According to him, the town is exciting and “things are happening”.

To hear more of George’s songs or to see where you can see him live, visit his website: www.georgeezra.com

Tom J Newell

Having lived in Camden Town my whole life, moving to Sheffield to study was a strange experience. It can be hard balancing a life in two cities, one wishes that there were something you could bring with you to both places. Imagine my delight when I discovered the striking similarity between the dark yet fascinating cartoons I was used to seeing on the side of the Unicorn Pub down the road from me in Camden and the equally beautiful and twisted work on the walls and in the burger menus within The Harley, Sheffield.

The man responsible for these home comforts (and the beautiful artwork) is artist and illustrator Tom J Newell. Raised in Chesterfield, Tom J Newell has worked on all kinds of projects. Aside his fabulous wall murals he also produces paintings, comics, posters and all things in between. Born and raised in Chesterfield, he has now moved to Sheffield a five year stint in London, working closer to home in a city that is bursting with creativity.

Tom’s inspiration seems to spring from all over the place, which perhaps is what makes his work so unique. Taking influences from the Beano and Dandy as a child, he began drawing comic book characters, and was further influenced by video games and graffiti as he grew older.

Moonlighting as a DJ, its not just the visual that keeps his creative juices flowing. He also takes a lot of inspiration from music and literature. “Music and musicians inspire my artwork just as much as visual sources” he says, “I approach the construction of a new image by manipulating existing imagery”.

It’s not hard to see that Tom is a forced to be reckoned with, his illustrations alone have had something of a viral effect already. His artwork is splattered across the menus of the Twisted Burger Company, Kraken Rum and all over the walls of bars, tattoo studios and galleries.

What’s more, despite significant grounds for arrogance, Tom J Newell strikes me first and foremost as a a wholeheartedly Decent Guy. Won’t take my word for it? Ask Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he ran workshops in 2010 “That was another great excuse to get out of the studio,” he told me “and seeing the approach that kids have towards drawing is always inspiring.”

Still working in his studio developing old doodles that he did in school and having his work put up all over sheffield and beyond, Mr. Newell is a fireball of compassion, talent and ultimately an unrestrained creativity. His imaginative, sometimes slightly unhinging illustrations are impossible to forget.

Curious? Visit TomJNewell.com.

Ailene Gray

I found Ailene Gray on the internet. She appears to be an undergraduate student, just like me. But unlike me, she can draw some very pretty pictures.

There is a site online which I’d never heard of called the ‘just us’ collective. It showcases student illustrators and artists and gives them the chance to appear in exhibitions and publications in the coming year. Hundreds of people submit their work and you can vote online for your favourites. The top fifty get accepted into the collective. This voting page is where I discovered Ailene Gray.

On the site, the artists are given the opportunity to describe themselves alongside examples of their work. Ailene’s says:

Escaped from Bedford to somewhere with more sea and less Bedford to study Illustration. If ink was a person, me and ink would be in love. The first inspiration I can remember was seeing the concept art for ‘The Ocarina of Time’ instruction manual when I was 6. I’m a mother to two rats, I’m obsessive and my insides are made out of bread.

I liked her description.

As well as the evident quirkiness of character which this artist displays both in her work and her words, I think Ailene’s illustrations are marvellous. The three pieces shown offer a fantastic range – one shows intense intricacy where another appears haphazard and amusing. In spite of this, they all exude a style that shows true artistry – you can tell they all came from the same artist. Her whole page exudes personality – her succinct use of language only supports the fantastic artwork she submits to be judged.

If you too like the pictures on this article, please vote for Ailene Gray at http://www.justusdesigncollective.com/lumpygraybles

 

Amy Fletcher

We have always had a complex relationship with technology: the dictionary defines the term as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, but technology in its most abstract form could simply be defined as an apparatus or thing that aids us – a functional tool or a way of being. In that sense, we could argue that we have been intertwined with technology since the dawn of man. Artist and filmmaker Amy Fletcher explores these intricate ideas as part of her ongoing practice at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

In her most recent work Let’s Play, Fletcher creates a playful, whimsical space that seems to invite the viewer to interact with the screen even though there’s no viable form of participation. Amy notes that her work “has a childish sensibility to it […] most recently I have been examining the subject of technology within my practice; looking at its constantly evolving presence within society and our innate desire for the next slickest gadget and gizmo.”

As in popular culture, art itself is increasingly enmeshed by and within technology. Using the film medium, a high-tech camera and stop-frame animation, the artist appears in her own work through the form of disembodied limbs: poppy music accompanies a set of magical hands that conjure and play with a set of objects set against a flat backdrop.

As an audience, we know that it is not “real” and that the objects on screen are not really changing from 2D to 3D from one frame to another. Rather than trying to hide its fabricated nature, however, the video actually tries to emphasise this quality through the loud camera clicks that accompany each shot.

There’s something clever in the film’s careful positioning and flickering frames that captures the eye: like a deft magician, Amy uses the stop-frame animation genre to create an illusion the viewer is willing to invest in – despite, and perhaps because, of its honest and effective duplicity.

Take a look at Amy Fletcher’s online behance portfolio to see more of her past, current and ongoing work.

Stephen Eyre

Glittering, charismatic and ever affable: aspiring singer-songwriter and producer Stephen Eyre springs from the buzzing London suburbia as a shining vision of our contemporary English zeitgeist. Much like his own multicultural background, the Essex-born musician dips his fingers in eclectic genres, from pop to Kraftwerk-esque electro to ethnic.

Eyre is, however, more than just a simple musician: currently studying BA Fine Art at UAL, he brings a vivacious body of performance work to the table that accompanies alternating soft and jazzy synths. Subtle exotic notes throb in the backdrop of his tracks like the faint after-note of a perfume – what Stephen calls an “oriental kind of sound”, acquired through the frequent use of pentatonic scales.

In his most accomplished track to date, Electric Girl, muffled drumbeats accompany a twirling, fluted melody that melts around Eyre’s deep, throbbing vocals. We are transported to a more romantic era and yet, simultaneously, a techno-futuristic dimension. The track is a juxtaposition, an oxymoron, a beautiful contradiction and portmanteau of universal sounds.

Something old, something new, something borrowed. The lingering feeling one receives is one of an upbeat, tender nostalgia, like hazy disco lights pulsing in a small jazz club located somewhere in a grungy basement (where all the cool art kids go at night).

Sitting in our art studio, Stephen answers a few of my questions about his influences and ambitions for the future:

 1.    How would you describe your music?

Oooh, that’s difficult! I focus on the instruments. I’d describe my music as alternative but with a pop sensibility – a pop structure, blending different sounds into a pastiche of different styles and hopefully creating my own genre. Basically an eclectic mix of styles blended into a hodgepodge of lush instrumentation with big synth influences.

2.    Name three of your favourite musicians.

Kate Bush, David Bowie, MGMT.

3.    What kind of music are you working on right now?

I’m really getting into live work at the moment. Last month I had my first gig, my second gig is coming up very soon. And I’m currently collaborating on a project with Michael Oliviere AKA Bubbles, songwriter for Jennifer Lopez, Eminem and Gwen Stefani. But I can’t say too much about that yet!

 4.    Do you think you bring your art degree/education into your music?

I think my study of art definitely affects the visual presentation of my music, but not the music itself. Contemporary art can tend to be quite intellectual and about ideas, whereas the music I make tends to be intuitive and emotional. I do think that music has a lot of unconscious cultural connotations, however.

5.    If you could give any advice to someone starting out writing and producing their own music, what would you say? 

Hmm, I think it is important to find creative ways around a problem or something that’s holding you back. I think you have to take a look at yourself as an artist and ask yourself if this is an artist you would really like to listen to or see!

Intrigued? Follow and hear more of Stephen’s lush music on his soundcloud, or treat yourself to a live performance at his next gig this Friday at White Rabbit.

 

 

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

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.

Mano’s Daughter

I am a fan of Tim Minchin, and as such, I follow him on Twitter. So, naturally when I read the tweet, “Tim Minchin: Gig Tip: Saw @ManosDaughter live the other night. Huge fan. Unique sound, brilliant lyrics, beautiful vocalist. Next gig Dec 6th @Cargo_LDN.”, I decided to check them out.

Upon doing so, I was amazed that this band hadn’t crossed my path before. They are an extremely talented trio, producing a wonderful collection of alternative electronic music, most of which cannot be described as anything less than hauntingly beautiful.

Hailing from London, the group consists of Sarah Carter (Vocals), Matthias Garrick (Synths, programming) and Dan See (Drums). They have been described as a mixture of Little Dragon, Florence and The Machine, with hints of Portishead. When seen live, (by audiences other than Tim Minchin) they have been described as “an explosive three piece, with their almost anthemic choruses and thought provoking lyrics”. They really do provide a really interesting listen, and go particularly well with essay-writing or coursework (something of a preoccupation of mine at the moment!).

Their influences range from The Invisible, Foals, Everything Everything to Bon Iver and Moloko. Mano’s Daughter make songs and song-writing the heart of their sound. The story and production values both play an equal part in this band’s finished product.

Check them out at http://www.manosdaughter.co.uk/ or just search for them on Youtube. Their own written stuff is incredible, but also I can thoroughly recommend their cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Towers’ which is just stunning.

Will Sweeney

There are fewer greater places to discover illustrative talent then at a celebrated institution like the Design Museum in London: it was there, during Vestige’s technology-based event, that I discovered the eclectic work of artist Will Sweeney. Treading somewhere between the mainstream and the obscure, Sweeney’s work nevertheless captures the popular imagination with elaborate drawings and renderings of fantastical alien landscapes and hybrid creatures – something Japanese, something 60’s inspired, something that entices and arrests your senses.

Some of Will Sweeney’s most commercially successful work includes his music videos for Birdy Nam Nam and his comic Tales from Greenfuzz. Watching Birdy Nam Nam’s music video The Parachute Ending is like taking a short acid trip: the colour positively pops in a psychedelic tableau of Iron Maiden-esque statues, flickering sci-fi screens and symbiotic plants in what Sweeney calls a “meat versus vegetables” kind of story.

Another of his works, Purposemaker, is a stunning pencil work of such detailed precision it likens itself as a futuristic interpretation of famed Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel’s Dulle Griet. A diorama of surreal characters juxtaposed on a flattened landscape, both works seem to reference allegorical interpretations of life and death – in times and places both real and imaginary.

Illustration, prints, comics, videos, toys, clothing and even exhibitions: the prolific artist has extended his incredible style to incorporate all aspects of commercial design and co-runs his London-based outlet Alakazam with Ayako Terashima. For more information or to see more of Sweeney’s portfolio, check out his biography on Big Active.

UNKN

Alper Dostal & Sylvia Moritz, a dynamic Austrian duo working under the pen name ‘UNKN‘ have teamed up again after previously collaborating on projects with the release of a short film discussing the idea of abstraction, focusing on the movement of ink on the human body. Having been featured for their previous work ‘Disappear’ on online art communities, which involved large scale psychedelic black and white pen drawings that filled an entire white room. Receiving praise from arts writer Sally O’Reilly, the pair are ‘sticking’ together with this messy but engaging performance art. 

“follow the track. step back. wear black. turn white by light. go dark if you like. transform by night. we pour. you take. you move. we pace. what once was black has now come back. you fear while hear. we shape we rape. we rinse we spin. you lose you win. you can’t deny. we identify.”

The ‘slick’ editing and contemporary production skill is immediately clear from Alper, incorporating a dramatised soundtrack that does the interesting footage justice – black and white ink, trickling over a professional model, performing under the watchful eye of Creative Director Sylvia Moritz. “Making a video like this it is important to have outgoing and like-minded collaborators to make it a reality”.

Artist: Tom Holmes

Aged just 17 years old, Tom Holmes is the latest artistic wünderkind to burst from the Sheffield scene. With Facebook buzzing about his promotional work for Tramlines festival, what else does he have up his sleeve? I find out:

What did you want to do when you were a kid?

A writer, originally my characters were made of words rather than pen marks. I started drawing the characters I wrote about, then the drawings came first and the stories followed. If I ever became a writer I think I would have to illustrate my book too, even though I never wrote kid’s stories.

Why did you want to go into art?

Getting into art ‘properly’ happened as a bit of an accident, I always drew and I had a style developing, but when I started drawing the bobbleheads I suddenly got suggestions that people might like to buy them. I gave it a shot and got into a really good gallery in Sheffield alongside some of the best artists in the city, which was an amazing start for me. It got me thinking that People might actually respond to what I do, and when the artwork I had in there sold it was confirmed.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I try not to copy other artists outright but a lot of the time my inspiration does come from other people’s work, which I think is fine so long as you’re not ripping anyone else off. When I work I tend to have videos of interviews with really big, successful artists playing in the background, and that motivates me to try and get onto their level. In the same way that a young musician might go to a gig, see the band on stage and think ‘I want to be up there’, I’ll go to a gallery and do the same with the artwork. I’ll go home and start coming up with some crazy ideas for a show I want to put on.

What do you do in your spare time?

I would say draw, but recently all the drawing I do has been much more purposeful, it’s always for a design job or an exhibition rather than just doodles filling up space. I’m pretty lucky that the ‘work’ I do basically constitutes a hobby, I’ve not really had to change the way I draw just because I’m doing it for someone else rather than for my own entertainment. People like what I do already, which is great because it means I can stay consistent.

Who’s your favourite artist?

Asking for a single favourite artist is a really difficult one, I like anyone who can apply themselves to a lot of different disciplines but still stay consistent and recognisable in their work. I like most of what comes out of Sheffield, but especially Geo Law and Mute, they’re two artists who I looked up to massively who also turned out to be really nice people. On a wider scale I’m a fan of Buff Monster and the Beast Brothers, their work is so clean and bold, something I really appreciate in art.

You take a lot of influences from music – who’s your favourite band/artist?

For the past year or so Enter Shikari have dominated my iPod. I got into Slipknot when I was about ten so I’ve never been a stranger to heavy music, I just love the energy and noise of a live show. If I want something calmer Gorillaz are usually a good choice, their music always reminds me of going to London (my favourite place outside of Sheffield) because I picked up a couple of their albums when I was there a few years ago. I’m pretty involved with the local music scene in Sheffield too, I’ve designed posters and CD covers for a few of the bands and there really is a huge amount of talent here that should be recognised and promoted.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I was recently part of a group exhibition in the middle of Sheffield, it was only up for about two weeks but my work was hanging with some of my artistic heroes, and I got a lot of exposure and sales from it. I hadn’t known that kind of recognition before, and since then I’ve been approached to do more and more work, which keeps me busy and motivated. The whole thing felt like a big achievement and a sort of step up from what I had been doing before.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d love to put on a solo show and see how that goes. I’m working on another group show but to have a whole exhibition to play around with and show off new and old work would be fantastic.

Introducing emerging artists: Robert Hitzeman

ROBERT HITZEMAN

WHO

Robert Hitzeman was born in Pheonix Arizona and spent most of his early life in Southern California.  In 2010 Robert graduated with a BFA in Sculpture and Spatial Arts from San Jose State University in California, USA.  During and after this time he worked as a fabricator and foundry technician for Stoller Studio and for the Artist David Middlebrook for several years. In 2012 he graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design’s MA Fine arts program.  He currently lives and produces work in London, UK and his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in The United States and Europe.

 

WHY

During His Course at Chelsea College in 2012 Robert was commissioned to build Tetchen Bolt, a large outdoor Sculpture for The National Sculpture Prize competition, in Barnstaple, North Devon.  He recently co-curated Open Work, alongside the artist Mohammad Namazi and curator Emily Purser at The Albert, An Arts and community space re-imagined by WHAT IF: Projects.  Robert’s work has been included in several Exhibitions in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe such as the Synethesia, Curated by Gabrielle Cooper as well as Hot One Hundred co-curated by Ismail Erbil & Patrick Michalopoulos, currently on display at the Schwartz gallery in Hackney Wick.

WHAT 

Roberts practice looks to issues of decay and excess through the interpretation of sculptural materials as a form of time based medium, in a state between becoming and undoing, examining the conditions the warrant these designations.  Looking to sculpture as a blurring of materials with the actions taken out on them, his work looks to the making/ unmaking process often through the use of materials associated with DIY culture, questioning the social associations of these materials.  Projects usually stem from a study of biological cycles and anatomical functions which affect the building of works conceptually and physically.  Often delineating from this mode of thinking the work ends up in a realm of fantasy retaining only fragments of the source narrative. There is a focus on materials and process in the work but it is informed by an understanding of systems and structures changing over time and how these sometimes counter Ideas about permanence and preservation.

WHEN AND WHERE 

Schwartz Gallery Hot 100

Schwartz Gallery, 92 White Post Lane, Ground floor, Building 2, London, E9 5EN

Exhibition dates: 17/07/13 – 03/08/13

Summer Opening Hours: Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6 pm

First Thursdays late opening: Thursday 1st August

 

MORE!!

http://www.roberthitzeman.com/ 

http://www.schwartzgallery.co.uk/site/