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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

These New Puritans – Hidden – Album Review

These New Puritans, They Want War

Written by Emma Tucker

For decades fashion has told us what women want and need in their lives to satisfy their latest ‘fix’. Brands spend millions on research to discover what us complicated and complex creatures truly want to fulfil our desire for the new. Many brands simply don’t get it right and there are those who have triumphed, online but while we are stuck in this hole of economic depression it seems unlikely that there could be an unknown brand that could confidently tempt us to part with our hard earned cash – or could there be?

Mint Velvet has filled us with this confidence. Launched only three short months ago in October of last year, approved they have managed to start building a brand which seems to fit with the desires of modern women. Thinking back only 3 months ago it seems crazy that a brand could not only have a successful launch, but have built up a solid following already. With new boutique style stores opening at a considerable rate, as well as creeping up on us in our favourite department stores it would look as if Mint Velvet is here to stay.

With 15 years of knowledge behind them, the minds behind Mint Velvet have had much experience within fashion and the high street. Liz Houghton, Lisa Agar-Rea and Jane Rawlings took this experience and focused on what they felt was needed within their lives: “Inspiring women to express their inner confidence in fabulously wearable pieces.” With all the collections being designed and manufactured in house in the UK Mint Velvet are offering beautiful pieces designed for women by women – a great collaboration indeed.

The new collection for S/S 2010 brings a fresh, invigorating start to the year. As you flick through the pieces your senses are delighted with a scrumptious mix of soft palettes and textures, glamorous feminine design but with a modern woman’s confidence and attitude. Attention to detail, quality of fabrics, and shape appear to be the main focus. For me the love affair with this collection is the way each individual piece can become part of a layer of an outfit. A new vibrancy is brought to your wardrobe, and yet works elegantly next to every other garment in the collection itself, making you feel like a kid in a sweet shop again, mixing and matching all your favourite goodies.

Prices – from a student’s prospective – may seem slightly more than usual, but you get what you pay for: quality eco-conscious fashion. In a time when we are saturated with mass produced, too good to be true fashion, a new sobriety when it comes to buying our clothing is exactly what we need. If not only for the fact that we are fed up with our clothing wasting away after a week, also because we are morally and ethically more aware knowing that quality triumphs over cost and Mint Velvet is there to offer us just this. If natural beauty which oozes effortlessness and quality is your priority this spring then Mint Velvet is a step in the right direction… Most definitely worth checking out on your next shopping trip, you’re guaranteed to be in for a treat!

LouisaDAll Photographs courtesy of Natalia Calvocoressi

Louisa Lee: When and how did you first become interested in photography?

Natalia Calvocoressi: I started to become interested in photography just before I left school where there was a darkroom. Then I picked it up again when I went to Camberwell to study graphic design. I took an elective in photography and from then on spent most of my college life underground in the dark room. I started off with black and white because I could print easily myself and did most of my projects around Peckham and Camberwell: on buses, pharmacy in parks, dosage old launderettes, buy information pills and run-down car parks; with pin-hole cameras and borrowed cameras. I then bought myself a Pentax manual film camera. I did a project with my friend Sarah Cresswell, who is now a fashion photographer, in a field somewhere in Buckinghamshire, using mirrors to distort the landscape. That’s when I became really fascinated in creating pictures that blur the lines between fantasy and reality, that seem a little out of the ordinary. One of the first photography books that got me really into photography was the work of Anna Gaskell - I find the contrast of childhood innocence with a sinister undertone, in her photographs, intriguing.

LouisaA

LL: Which people or places inspire you most?

NC: I am very inspired by Scotland. I grew up in Edinburgh and go back regularly, particularly to the Highlands. I enjoy re-visiting places and seeing how they have changed. I often return to certain themes when re-visiting a place. For instance, some of my photos have quite a nostalgic childhood feel to them, perhaps a result of returning to somewhere that meant a lot to me as a child.  I’m inspired by things every day. Often I’m reluctant to read my book on the bus because there are too many things going on out of the window I don’t want to miss. Recently, I was at the bus stop on my way to work and the morning sun was shining brightly through the trees and casting an intense glow onto the patch of grass outside a nearby block of grey flats. There were a few crows in the patch of light and quite a lot of rubbish and it looked really beautiful. I wish I’d had my camera on me! My friends inspire me – a lot of them are photographers, illustrators and designers. My younger sister is my ‘muse’ – she’s used to me pointing my camera at her. Like a lot of photographers, Antonioni’s film ‘Blow-Up’ made a big impression on me. It sparked off my obsession with discovering things in photos you don’t see at the time.

LouisaB

LL: Your work has a cinematographic quality to it. Are you mainly influenced by photographers or do other art forms influence you too?

NC: Photographers have a huge influence on me, but yes, I’m influenced by many other art forms too. I love Gerhard Richter’s paintings especially the ones which emulate snapshot photographs. One of my favourite films is ‘Morvern Caller by Lynne Ramsay – the beginning with the coloured fairy lights turning on and off, intermittently lighting up the dark room. Other photographers who influence me include Annelies Strba, Rineke Dijkstra, Hellen van Meene, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston and Bill Brandt.  I’m also influenced by Andrey Tarkovsky’s photographs, video artist Pipilotti Rist and the London School painters like Kitaj.

LouisaC

LL: Mario Testino has said he very much likes your work and is looking forward to discovering what comes out in the years to come. How do you feel about this?

NC: I’m thrilled! I once showed him my work and he was really encouraging. He really liked my photos, which was great, was extremely thoughtful and took a great interest. That was the same day I found out I got into the RCA so I was very happy.

LouisaE

LL: Would fashion photography be something you’d ever consider getting into?

NC: I’ve done some fashion photography in the past. I took the photographs with another girl for the RCA fashion catalogue in 2003 and have worked on a couple of other fashion shoots. At the RCA I enjoyed creating the sets and finding cheap props. I wouldn’t like to be a fashion photographer though – I don’t think I’d be very good at it. Some of my photos are quite fashion y but I prefer to take pictures alone. If I had control over clothes, make-up (or no make-up!), location, props etc, then maybe… I also don’t like to be under pressure behind the camera. A lot of my photographs happen by chance – I catch an unexpected moment and grab my camera. I often think when things are too planned, staged or set up it can ruin the spontaneity of the photo.

LouisaF

LL: How do you achieve the grainy, vintage quality in your photographs?

NC: By using an old Pentax film camera and experimenting with different films – sometimes old, out-of-date film. Also experimenting with printing techniques. I like the feeling of nostalgia so try to create old-looking photographs, so a lot of the objects and locations that I photograph and look for are old. I like to try and tell stories with my images, and I also like there to be a sense of mystery and ambiguity which perhaps gives a vintage feel.

LouisaG

LL: Windows and mirrors seem to be a recurring motif, are you aware of this and if so is there a particular reason for it?

NC: Yes I know! I think it all started in that field with Sarah. I look for ways of framing my shots, and I therefore often capture scenes using the outlining effect of door frames, windows or mirrors.  I look at the landscape through the window on a train and see it as millions of landscape paintings flashing by. I used to sit in the car when I was a child and draw the outline of what I saw – tracing it on my knee. There’s something quite intimate about a portrait of a person in a mirror, especially if they’re not looking directly at you. I like the idea of shrinking what I see into a frame – perhaps I was inspired by childhood trips to Bekonscot miniature model village, which happens also to be in Buckinghamshire! In ‘Scale’ by Will Self I found an articulation of my desire to distort scale.

LouisaH

LL: What’s the single most important thing you’ve learnt about taking a photograph?

NC: To be spontaneous and brave. I would like to be braver when it comes to photographing people, especially on the street. Sometimes I don’t have the nerve to point a camera at someone in the street close up. I need a spy camera!

LouisaI

LL: Is this the same advice that you might pass on to someone interested in getting into photography or is this specific to your working method?

NC: I’d definitely tell people to be bold and also experiment with techniques and styles as much as possible. I remember being told at college that some of my photographs were good but I should not be afraid to take hundreds and hundreds. That was really good advice because there is no point being precious about taking photos.

LouisaJ

LL: What’s the next place you’d like to exhibit your work?

NC: My last exhibition was at the Islington Arts Factory in Holloway. It’s an old converted church and you can see the dusty broken church windows when you look up from the exhibition space – very atmospheric. Last summer I showed a few photos in the Royal Academy Summer Show. Next I’d like to exhibit in a small-scale, structured space.  I really like the Victoria Miro gallery!

http://www.nataliacalvocoressi.co.uk/

Good-housekeeping-biscuitsAll photographs Camilla Blackie

I’ve just spent a snowy weekend in my friend’s country kitchen, information pills elbow deep in flour, page spice and all things nice. It’s for my vintage cake-spot. Here, visit I bake and blog, throwing some of the best and most well-loved cake recipes of the last century into the mixing bowl.

Lemon-Buns-in-spotty-case

I mixed my ingredients for a classic marmalade pudding (sourced from The Constance Spry Cookery Book,1956) in a small, glass basin. After wrapping this in a clean tea-towel, I left it to gently steam on top of the Aga. Three hours later the pud was a picture of dome-shaped perfection; all steaming suet and glinting orange rind. This was going to be a good baking day.

Lemon-Buns

Constance Spry, described as the ‘Martha Stewart of mid-century Britain’ joins a long list of bakers, homemakers and celebrated authors who’ve left a lasting legacy in the culinary world. As a girl who’s partial to the sweeter side of life, I became fascinated by one legacy in particular – the cake.

Small-jess

As writer for the Women’s Institute membership magazine, WI Life,  my research began in earnest. Lunch breaks were spent in the national archives, dusting off leather-bound periodicals dating back to 1919. Economy cake, plum pudding, and gingerbread were just some of the suggestions listed in the H.H.H. (handy household hints); a modest few lines of recipes printed in the then WI membership magazine Home and Country.

Flapjacks

By the time I’d test-baked a batch of spiced buns, my mind was made up. My good friend Camilla came on board as cake-spot photographer and we haven’t looked back. If I’ve got the nose for burning crumbs, she’s got the eyes to weigh up a perfect cake shot.

Valentines-Biscuits-2

Baking, and blogging about it, is fast becoming my number one past-time – not forgetting the odd ‘tweet’ as part of the global PR cruise. Yes, I was inspired by Julie and Julia – who wouldn’t be charmed by a French-talking Meryl Streep? – but the vintage cake-spot is more than show and tell. These are real cakes using classic, trusted recipes. And they’re tasty, too.

Tiled

Jessica-6

The good news is, everyone loves cake. But while the red-velvet iced delights of Portobello Road still cause a stir for hungry Londoners, I must stay true to my recipe books. If a slice of dripping cake’s not to your fancy, look away now. This is no time for counting calories.

Small-Yorkshire-teacakes

The blog has opened my eyes up to a new London. East-end antique stores and charity shops have taken on a whole new dimension, many harbouring the battered old cook-books held so precious for women now and during the last century.

Small-baking-equipment

Cake is one of life’s pleasures and I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to celebrate the fact. If my blog can inspire anyone to grab an apron, some pantry essentials and get baking, I’m a happy girl.

Coffe-cake

Jessica

What Jessica likes:

Places: Whitby in North Yorkshire. It’s got high cliffs, a beautiful old abbey and probably the best fish and chips you’ll ever taste (www.magpiecafe.co.uk). There’s also a fun caravan site called La Rosa and you can get your fortune told in a little shack on the pier

Food: A nice fish pie (see above)

Drink: Chambord and lemonade, whisky macs

Website: Find delicate hand-picked teas and a very inspiring lady

Music: Blondie, Moloko, Pink Floyd, Jay-Z, the Doors

Books: Shadow of the Wind’ by Carols Ruiz Zafon. I’m currently reading ‘The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton’ by Kathryn Hughes for inspiration

Film: Far from the Madding Crowd

Shop: Hemswell Market in Lincolnshire. It’s an antiques wonderland. I also can’t resist cos on Regent Street for a bit of office-glam.

Small-dripping-cake
Good-housekeeping-biscuitsAll photographs Camilla Blackie

I’ve just spent a snowy weekend in my friend’s country kitchen, page elbow deep in flour, drugs spice and all things nice. It’s for my vintage cake-spot. Here, I bake and blog, throwing some of the best and most well-loved cake recipes of the last century into the mixing bowl.

Lemon-Buns-in-spotty-case

I mixed my ingredients for a classic marmalade pudding (sourced from The Constance Spry Cookery Book,1956) in a small, glass basin. After wrapping this in a clean tea-towel, I left it to gently steam on top of the Aga. Three hours later the pud was a picture of dome-shaped perfection; all steaming suet and glinting orange rind. This was going to be a good baking day.

Lemon-Buns

Constance Spry, described as the ‘Martha Stewart of mid-century Britain’ joins a long list of bakers, homemakers and celebrated authors who’ve left a lasting legacy in the culinary world. As a girl who’s partial to the sweeter side of life, I became fascinated by one legacy in particular – the cake.

Small-jess

As writer for the Women’s Institute membership magazine, WI Life,  my research began in earnest. Lunch breaks were spent in the national archives, dusting off leather-bound periodicals dating back to 1919. Economy cake, plum pudding, and gingerbread were just some of the suggestions listed in the H.H.H. (handy household hints); a modest few lines of recipes printed in the then WI membership magazine Home and Country.

Flapjacks

By the time I’d test-baked a batch of spiced buns, my mind was made up. My good friend Camilla came on board as cake-spot photographer and we haven’t looked back. If I’ve got the nose for burning crumbs, she’s got the eyes to weigh up a perfect cake shot.

Valentines-Biscuits-2

Baking, and blogging about it, is fast becoming my number one past-time – not forgetting the odd ‘tweet’ as part of the global PR cruise. Yes, I was inspired by Julie and Julia – who wouldn’t be charmed by a French-talking Meryl Streep? – but the vintage cake-spot is more than show and tell. These are real cakes using classic, trusted recipes. And they’re tasty, too.

Tiled

Jessica-6

The good news is, everyone loves cake. But while the red-velvet iced delights of Portobello Road still cause a stir for hungry Londoners, I must stay true to my recipe books. If a slice of dripping cake’s not to your fancy, look away now. This is no time for counting calories.

Small-Yorkshire-teacakes

The blog has opened my eyes up to a new London. East-end antique stores and charity shops have taken on a whole new dimension, many harbouring the battered old cook-books held so precious for women now and during the last century.

Small-baking-equipment

Cake is one of life’s pleasures and I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to celebrate the fact. If my blog can inspire anyone to grab an apron, some pantry essentials and get baking, I’m a happy girl.

Coffe-cake

Jessica

What Jessica likes:

Places: Whitby in North Yorkshire. It’s got high cliffs, a beautiful old abbey and probably the best fish and chips you’ll ever taste (www.magpiecafe.co.uk). There’s also a fun caravan site called La Rosa and you can get your fortune told in a little shack on the pier

Food: A nice fish pie (see above)

Drink: Chambord and lemonade, whisky macs

Website: Find delicate hand-picked teas and a very inspiring lady

Music: Blondie, Moloko, Pink Floyd, Jay-Z, the Doors

Books: Shadow of the Wind’ by Carols Ruiz Zafon. I’m currently reading ‘The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton’ by Kathryn Hughes for inspiration

Film: Far from the Madding Crowd

Shop: Hemswell Market in Lincolnshire. It’s an antiques wonderland. I also can’t resist cos on Regent Street for a bit of office-glam.

Small-dripping-cake
As I wait outside Rough Trade in the cold I look up from my book at the growing sea of people queuing up to get inside and am momentarily shocked at the number of guys wearing skinny jeans. I then realise that I am waiting outside to see a trendy band on the up and that I shouldn’t be surprised at such things, medications but it’s been a while since I attended a gig like this and it takes me a second to reacclimatise.

After being let in we’re left to stand around for twenty or minutes or so while the stand-up drummer fiddles around with his laptop. My housemate and I take this time to complain about things not happening on the time they’re supposed which segues into a discussion about the tardiness of our respective girlfriends. Our deconstruction of female time keeping is cut short (hoho) due to the lights being dimmed and the four members of the band strolling on stage.

The singer cuts quite a strange figure, discount I think to myself that he wouldn’t look out of place in a Ken Loach film with his awkward gait and pasty face. After getting adjusted the band launch into We Want War which is the first single from their new album Hidden. It’s a large sounding song with plenty of swelling synths and the singers odd talk/chant style of singing. The thing that draws my attention the most though is the dual drumming. These New Puritans have one sit down drummer with a full kit and one stand up drummer who has a large drum and a smaller one beside him. The dual drumming really adds to the sound of the band and gives it an ominous feel.

The last track they play is Three Thousand which is easily the most impressive of everything I’ve heard tonight. Always leave the best to last. The song sounds really dark with a loud beat which sounds like it would march armies to war. The two drummers carry on their assault on their drum kits and the singer keeps on chanting away. It’s a fitting end to a set which

Hidden All Photos courtesy of These New Puritans

Let’s be honest, pharm when I started listening to These New Puritans‘ latest album Hidden I found it a little bewildering. It kicks off with woodwind, which isn’t exactly the most inspiring instrument in the world. However once you’re past the opener things really heat up.

In fact they heat up so much that opening track Time Xone doesn’t even begin to prepare you for the assault that is We Want War. This is the album’s battle cry. The most amazing part of this song is the first minute, before any vocals. In some ways it’s a bit of an anticlimax when the slightly flimsy vocals eventually come in. That aside, there’s brass, there’s loud tribal drums, there’s a backing chorus of singers and yes, there is even a sound that’s like swords being drawn.

Another notable track is Three Thousand. For those of you who can’t be bothered to sit through all 7 minutes of We Want War, this would give you a good idea of the general vibe of the album. For those of us who find work a daily battle this is the perfect song to prepare for the office tribulations ahead.

Press Photo 6 - RESIZE- CREDIT - HARLEY WEIR

Also worth a listen is Drum Courts – Where Corals Lie, which is another beautiful ear-assault. Indeed the best songs on the album are the most defiant ones. Hologram, which seems to be the closest thing to the album’s requisite ‘ballad‘ and it doesn’t really hold up. It certainly wouldn’t work as a stand-alone track. It’s a bit too heavy on the piano and has a few too many ding-a-ling noises. I can’t help but feel like it’s a compromise.

Something to bear in mind about Hidden is that the drums hold everything together. The singing is sometimes off-key; sometimes more of a chant, but they seems to blend into the drums anyway, which pretty much rule every song. There are definitely times when the vocals could do with being more forceful than they are. That said, chants such as ‘some hearts beat, so do these’ are poetic in their simplicity.

These New Puritans want war. They really want war. Hidden is a call to arms for the world of music. I’m not sure what they’re declaring war against, whether it’s our fragile little ears or the general crapness of the situation the world’s in at the moment. I like to imagine it’s against the endless armies of spineless indie kids, churning out shit songs about failed romance, but that’s just me.

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