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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

A review of Silent City, Part One: A Symposium on Climate Change

An exhibition that addressed the issue of climate change with a particular focus on its impact on the Third World: A reaction against exhibitions such as ‘Earth: Art of a Changing World’ hosted by the RA which tend to present a classless vision of ecological justice made in the West, prioritising the needs of the developed nations over all others.

Written by Max McCormick

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of Peggy Sue by Antonia Parker.

Peggy Sue have been around in various incarnations for sometime – previously accompanied by the Pirates – and it comes as a real surprise to discover that their first long player has only just come out, this site so already engrained are they in the indie consciousness: a true band of our internet led times.

Released at the end of April on Wichita Recordings, more about Fossils and Other Phantoms therefore finds the work of an already mature band with a strongly identifiable sound of their own. A combination of indie and folk with a strong streak of the blues and even doo-wop, remedy husky vocalists Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex take turns to lead the tunes against a firm rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Olly Joyce, who comes crashing in halfway into opening track Long Division Blues after a slowly spiralling build up. His presence is never far away, even when the girls resort to the glorious simplicity of a simple guitar, kazoo or uke to back their playfully tumbling harmonies – I Read It In The Paper, Green Grow The Rushes and The Shape We Made soon grow into bigger songs with the addition of percussion.

Peggy-Sue-Fossils-And-Other-Phantoms

Single Watchmen is a tuneful favourite that is accompanied by a gorgeous animated video. Soulful lyrics sound heavily influenced by complicated love lives (though I discovered this is not quite the case when I interviewed the band) and render this album the perfect heartbreak sound track, but the point when you most definitely feel it’s time to pick yourself up and stand proudly independent again. Yo Mama sees them stand defiant “I’m gonna go downtown and find myself someone,” they assure us.

The album was launched with a free gig at Rough Trade East, which also happened to fall on Katy’s birthday. Accompanied by extra violin and cello “the one who bought me the cake is my favourite out of our string section” the trio powered through an energetic set in front of a clearly adoring though somewhat coy crowd. Despite problems with feedback and tuning “normally we tune up properly before a gig but we drank beer instead cos it’s my birthday” it was a great showcase for these talented and very individual multi-instrumentalists who are nothing if not prolific.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of the string section by Antonia Parker.

Today they release a new EP. Lover Gone was the result of a road trip to Devon. “Officially we were supposed to be recording demos but we somehow managed to create another EP instead,” explains their website. You can buy the new EP here.

Look out for my interview with the band, coming soon.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of Peggy Sue by Antonia Parker.

Peggy Sue have been around in various incarnations for sometime – previously accompanied by the Pirates – and it comes as a real surprise to discover that their first long player has only just come out, pharmacy so already engrained are they in the indie consciousness: a true band of our internet led times.

Released at the end of April on Wichita Recordings, Fossils and Other Phantoms therefore finds the work of an already mature band with a strongly identifiable sound of their own. A combination of indie and folk with a strong streak of the blues and even doo-wop, husky vocalists Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex take turns to lead the tunes against a firm rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Olly Joyce, who comes crashing in halfway into opening track Long Division Blues after a slowly spiralling build up. His presence is never far away, even when the girls resort to the glorious simplicity of a simple guitar, kazoo or uke to back their playfully tumbling harmonies – I Read It In The Paper, Green Grow The Rushes and The Shape We Made soon grow into bigger songs with the addition of percussion.

Peggy-Sue-Fossils-And-Other-Phantoms

Single Watchmen is a tuneful favourite that is accompanied by a gorgeous animated video. Soulful lyrics sound heavily influenced by complicated love lives (though I discovered this is not quite the case when I interviewed the band) and render this album the perfect heartbreak sound track, but the point when you most definitely feel it’s time to pick yourself up and stand proudly independent again. Yo Mama sees them stand defiant “I’m gonna go downtown and find myself someone,” they assure us.

The album was launched with a free gig at Rough Trade East, which also happened to fall on Katy’s birthday. Accompanied by extra violin and cello “the one who bought me the cake is my favourite out of our string section” the trio powered through an energetic set in front of a clearly adoring though somewhat coy crowd. Despite problems with feedback and tuning “normally we tune up properly before a gig but we drank beer instead cos it’s my birthday” it was a great showcase for these talented and very individual multi-instrumentalists who are nothing if not prolific.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of the string section by Antonia Parker.

Today they release a new EP. Lover Gone was the result of a road trip to Devon. “Officially we were supposed to be recording demos but we somehow managed to create another EP instead,” explains their website. You can buy the new EP here.

Look out for my interview with the band, coming soon.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of Peggy Sue by Antonia Parker.

Peggy Sue have been around in various incarnations – previously accompanied by the Pirate – for sometime which means that it comes as a real surprise to discover that their first long player has only just come out, medications so already engrained are they in the indie consciousness: a true band of our internet led times.

Released at the end of April on Wichita Recordings, troche Fossils and Other Phantoms therefore finds the work of an already mature band with a strongly identifiable sound of their own. A combination of indie and folk with a strong streak of the blues and even doo-wop, husky vocalists Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex take turns to lead the tunes against a firm rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Olly Joyce, who comes crashing in halfway into opening track Long Division Blues after a slowly spiralling build up. His presence is never far away, even when the girls resort to the glorious simplicity of a simple guitar, kazoo or uke to back their playfully tumbling harmonies – I Read It In The Paper, Green Grow The Rushes and The Shape We Made soon grow into bigger songs with the addition of percussion.

Peggy-Sue-Fossils-And-Other-Phantoms

Single Watchman is a tuneful favourite that is accompanied by a gorgeously surreal animated video by Betsy Dadd. Soulful lyrics sound heavily influenced by complicated love lives (though I discovered this is not quite the case when I interviewed the band) and render this album the perfect heartbreak sound track, but the point when you most definitely feel it’s time to pick yourself up and stand proudly independent again. Yo Mama sees them stand defiant “I’m gonna go downtown and find myself someone,” they assure us.

The album was launched with a free gig at Rough Trade East, which also happened to fall on Katy’s birthday. Accompanied by extra violin and cello “the one who bought me the cake is my favourite out of our string section” the trio powered through an energetic set in front of a clearly adoring though somewhat coy crowd. Despite problems with feedback and tuning “normally we tune up properly before a gig but we drank beer instead cos it’s my birthday” it was a great showcase for these talented and very individual multi-instrumentalists.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of the string section by Antonia Parker.

Look out for my interview with the band, coming soon.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of Peggy Sue by Antonia Parker.

Peggy Sue have been around in various incarnations – previously accompanied by the Pirates – for sometime. So already engrained in the indie consciousness as they are, page it comes as a real surprise to discover that their first long player has only just come out. A true band of our internet led times.

Released at the end of April on Wichita Recordings, Fossils and Other Phantoms therefore finds the work of an already mature band with a strongly identifiable sound of their own. A combination of indie and folk with a strong streak of the blues and even doo-wop, husky vocalists Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex take turns to lead the tunes against a firm rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Olly Joyce, who comes crashing in halfway into opening track Long Division Blues after a slowly spiralling build up. His presence is never far away, even when the girls resort to the glorious simplicity of a simple guitar, kazoo or uke to back their playfully tumbling harmonies – I Read It In The Paper, Green Grow The Rushes and The Shape We Made soon grow into bigger songs with the addition of percussion.

Peggy-Sue-Fossils-And-Other-Phantoms

Single Watchman is a tuneful favourite that is accompanied by a gorgeously surreal animated video by Betsy Dadd. Soulful lyrics sound heavily influenced by complicated love lives (though I discovered this is not quite the case when I interviewed the band) and render this album the perfect heartbreak sound track, but the point when you most definitely feel it’s time to pick yourself up and stand proudly independent again. Yo Mama sees them stand defiant “I’m gonna go downtown and find myself someone,” they assure us.

The album was launched with a free gig at Rough Trade East, which also happened to fall on Katy’s birthday. Accompanied by extra violin and cello “the one who bought me the cake is my favourite out of our string section” the trio powered through an energetic set in front of a clearly adoring though somewhat coy crowd. Despite problems with feedback and tuning “normally we tune up properly before a gig but we drank beer instead cos it’s my birthday” it was a great showcase for these talented and very individual multi-instrumentalists.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of the Peggy Sue string section by Antonia Parker.

Look out for my interview with the band, coming soon.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of Peggy Sue by Antonia Parker.

Peggy Sue have been around in various incarnations – previously accompanied by the Pirates – for sometime. This means that it comes as a real surprise to discover that their first long player has only just come out, patient so already engrained are they in the indie consciousness: a true band of our internet led times.

Released at the end of April on Wichita Recordings, web Fossils and Other Phantoms therefore finds the work of an already mature band with a strongly identifiable sound of their own. A combination of indie and folk with a strong streak of the blues and even doo-wop, husky vocalists Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex take turns to lead the tunes against a firm rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Olly Joyce, who comes crashing in halfway into opening track Long Division Blues after a slowly spiralling build up. His presence is never far away, even when the girls resort to the glorious simplicity of a simple guitar, kazoo or uke to back their playfully tumbling harmonies – I Read It In The Paper, Green Grow The Rushes and The Shape We Made soon grow into bigger songs with the addition of percussion.

Peggy-Sue-Fossils-And-Other-Phantoms

Single Watchman is a tuneful favourite that is accompanied by a gorgeously surreal animated video by Betsy Dadd. Soulful lyrics sound heavily influenced by complicated love lives (though I discovered this is not quite the case when I interviewed the band) and render this album the perfect heartbreak sound track, but the point when you most definitely feel it’s time to pick yourself up and stand proudly independent again. Yo Mama sees them stand defiant “I’m gonna go downtown and find myself someone,” they assure us.

The album was launched with a free gig at Rough Trade East, which also happened to fall on Katy’s birthday. Accompanied by extra violin and cello “the one who bought me the cake is my favourite out of our string section” the trio powered through an energetic set in front of a clearly adoring though somewhat coy crowd. Despite problems with feedback and tuning “normally we tune up properly before a gig but we drank beer instead cos it’s my birthday” it was a great showcase for these talented and very individual multi-instrumentalists.

Peggy-Sue-Antonia-Parker
Illustration of the Peggy Sue string section by Antonia Parker.

Look out for my interview with the band, coming soon.


Untitled (CCD) by Claire Roberts (detail)

The central premise of Silent City, drug the group comprised of artists Emily Whitebread, Cara Nahaul and Sally Mumby-Croft, whose first exhibition has just opened in Brick Lane, is intriguing. Their starting point was a reaction against what they perceived as the standard Climate Change exhibition. Cara explained the original thinking behind the group:


Wilberforce’s 7000 oaks by Susanna Byrne (detail)

“We went to the RA’s ‘Earth: Art of a Changing World’, and we were completely disappointed. There were one or two standout pieces, for example Lemn Sissay’s performance video ‘What If?’, but on the whole it was a very shallow, one-dimensional show. It didn’t provoke us at all. We found the bright red neon globes and concrete flowers both obvious and pious. The worst thing though, was that it seemed almost entirely from a Western perspective. We’re the ones who caused this mess with our industrialisation, but the Global South is paying the highest price. Bangladesh will be submerged by our actions, but at that show countries that are actually directly affected by climate change didn’t even get a look in.”

They founded Silent City the next day. Their objective was to redress this balance by putting on exhibitions that would seek to present the full implications of Climate Change – especially what it would do to those nearer the equator.

I went along to Brick Lane to see if their exhibition could match her admirable words, and I was suitably impressed. A group show of around 20 artists of various backgrounds whose work all deals with the environment have joined the three founding artists, and the result is a pleasing mix between professionally polished ideas and the kind of activist idealism that was missing from Earth: Art of a Changing World.


Relics of our Past (left) and Vanishing Point (right) and by Tutte Newall

The work, in various mediums from painting and film to dead insects, was of a very high standard. Highlights included Tutte Newall’s beautiful but disturbing paintings of monochrome animals who stand in pools of their own colour, Jools Johnson’s fascinating installations of dystopian cityscapes fashioned out of screws and random computer components, and Claire Robert’s presentation of dead bees, a commentary on the emergence of colony collapse disorder, which threatens bees worldwide, and therefore a third of the world’s food supply.


God Lives in Detail IX by Jools Johnson

Works such as the documentary Drowning By Carbon, by Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell, which featured Bangladeshi children planting the trees that they hoped would one day save them from the looming climate catastrophe, ensured that the original promise that the exhibition would deal with the Global South was kept.

But perhaps the best thing about Silent City was that it managed to put forward a view of Climate Change that was not obvious, in spite of the fact that as a topic it has been talked to death from every angle. Featured documentary Mauerpark, for example, focused on the proposed development of the famous Berlin park. At first glance, this seems more a social than an environmental issue, but after watching the film its relevance to the Climate debate became clear: At its heart the film was about the choice between the short term pursuit of growth and a space that was for everyone, whose benefits could appear more intangible and immeasurable. It became easy to view Mauerpark as microcosm of the natural world itself.


Mauerpark Screening, Photograph by Stuart Sinclair

This outlook on Climate Change that seemed fresh and different, coupled with art that was as well thought out and made, as it was thought-provoking, made Silent City a big success. In fact it was so successful that the closing night film screening was such a scrum that people were camping out on the stairs, able to hear but not see the films. Silent City was apparently just the first of a planned series of exhibitions. It looks like next time they might have to rent out a bigger space.


Photography by Sally Mumby-Croft.

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3 Responses to “A review of Silent City, Part One: A Symposium on Climate Change”

  1. [...] This review first appeared on Amelia’s Magazine. [...]

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  3. [...] year Silent City presented a symposium (review) focusing mainly on climate change, but this latest publication shows the trio has a broader [...]

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