LUNA SILVA

School musicals. If you are one of my kind, they will evoke painful memories of endless rehearsals for two-line parts and overpriced tickets that the entire family insisted on getting to watch your timid and sole appearance on stage. For Luna Silva, on the other hand, the school play was a time of excitement, of frenetic activity, and probably of massive stress. Yes, Luna was ALWAYS in charge of the music for what was possibly the greatest event of the year at my school – and as we all saw her handle the extremely important responsibilities that this implied, we all knew that she was made for music. A few years later, our predictions seem to be confirmed: she has not let go of her ukulele, and, with a bindi on her forehead and a smile on her face, she composes and performs pieces of world music that accompany her through her various travels.

Despite her young age, Luna has clearly already found and worked on her musical style, which harmoniously mingles pop-folk notes with melodies that are specific to a particular culture. In “Rain”, for example, she sings in three different languages – French, English and Spanish –, simply sitting on the beach in Málaga with her inevitable ukulele and a red flower in her hair. Add to her very feminine and soothing voice, and I assure you: you will feel Spain (I swear). No need for autotune or synth (those probably make her blood boil): it is in a simple, authentic way that Luna’s work takes us on a journey.

Today, Luna is a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where she participates in a variety of shows and events, all of which can be found on her Facebook page. She is currently recording an album and making new videos that should be released soon. In the meantime, if you’re feeling blue, you can check out her Youtube channel – instant inner peace guaranteed.

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.

Emma Sywyj

Having just recently been acquainted with Emma Sywyj – and having only a short amount of time to view her pieces – I have been taken by the level of emotional response that her pieces have evoked in me. The worlds Emma distils in her photographs are so replete with colour, capture the focal point with such an apt sense of perspective, that you can feel the iris inhabit the lens and locate you in the scene at that very moment.

In her landscape photographs, the edge of the frame doesn’t seem to be the limit of the scene. The panorama extends in the imagination as the mind seems to draw inspiration from the surface textures and the terrain pictured in the bounds of the frame. However brief the you spend with her pieces may be, you get a larger sense of their scope through the ways it incites the mind to really see.

Being so focused on the themes of travel and identity, this quality of observation in Emma’s work is conducive to a grounding sense of place. Emma’s dual heritage informs her focus and her glances towards her two genealogical homes has led her to consider how the self is constituted in art.

This pursuit has also extended to an exploration the identities of DJs, writers, artists and musicians. Some of her other work looks at the relevance of print literature in the face of new publication technologies such as Kindles. These critical artistic experiments, her reviews and installation art pieces can be viewed on her website:

Emma Sywyj

Gallery on the Modern Contemporary Art Facebook page