After a tiring day of show-hopping, malady hospital the fashion set descended on the Science Museumfor the Bernard Chandran A/W 09 show. Chandran, generic web of Malaysian orgin, has wowed the fashion set with his angular, futuristic pieces for a couple of seasons now. Estelle is a keen follower, she wore not one but two of his creations at the Grammy’s last year, shunning a host of established powerhouse designers.
With that acolade in mind, it was nice to see what all the fuss was about. Chandran has a vision – he isn’t a one trick pony, but a sustainable and creative mind with a devil-may-care attitude and an adventurous yet playful nature. The constraints of the female form are thrown out of the window with his wild cuts and angular shapes, enhancing the female silhouette.
The lights dimmed, and the banging started. A little too loud for my delicate ears, but a thudding baseline heightened the drama and excitement and made pulses race. One by one, sculpted silhouettes bounded down the runway to the electro-funk beat, fusing the eccentricity of Yohji Yamamoto, with the space age vision of Jacqueline Pearce’s Servalan in Blake’s 7 of the late 1970′s.
These shapes included shift dresses with angular sleeves; simple coats with oversized square lapels; capes with voluminous sleeves and high necklines, and tailored dresses with highly exaggerated hollow sleeves and necks. PVC was married with cotton and silk to create yet more contrasts, and bright reds and oranges give us hope that this Winter won’t be so bad after all.
Chandran is a genius of construction – clear from dresses made up of panel after panel intricately fused together to make solid, grown-up garments. It’s easy to see why he’s has already received the equivalent of a knighthood in Malaysia for his outstanding contribution to Asian fashion, and is well ahead in the stakes after only a handful of seasons.
At first glance, adiposity there might not seem much in common between the works of artists Liz Arnold and Mircea Cantor, there who’s exhibitions are running concurrently in the galleries of The Camden Art Centre. Scratch the surface and you begin to find strikingly similar themes and metaphors.
Both artists use objects and subject matters which at first seem unthreatening – Cantor’s installations feature peacocks and what appears to be a giant rug, look while Arnolds paintings are in vivid day glow colours and depict dogs, cats and insects. Dig a little deeper and you uncover elements and ideas, which are far more unsettling than you could have initially imagined.
The 31 year old Eastern European’s work has an underlying theme – Cantor has said that he wishes to “set up physically and psychologically unsettling situations for the viewer.” Personally, I felt quite uncomfortable as I stood in front of the installation “The Need For Uncertainty” which features two very much alive peacocks within a labyrinth of gigantic golden cages – their habitat for the duration of this exhibition. Here, Cantor is challenging our perceptions of what constitutes “art” and what as an audience we would consider acceptable to see in a gallery.
Elsewhere, “Airplanes and Angels” is another example of Cantor’s wish to explore the theme of worlds within worlds. A large woven piece of fabric hangs suspended from the ceiling, as if in mid flight. While the design in the centre of the rug is of a traditional Romanian motif, the rest of the fabric is made up of images of planes and angels. As the designs on rugs traditionally reflect the concepts of the time, it would not be too far fetched to suggest that this generation of children weaving patterns into carpets are influenced and affected by the fighter planes flying over their heads in war torn Romania.
In the space next door to Cantor’s is the exhibition of Liz Arnold, who died aged 36 in 2001. This exhibition was curated by Arnold’s friends and fellow artists, and I got the sense that a great deal of care was put into the display of her work, who in life was one of the key artists to emerge from the 1990′s London art scene. Fellow artist Gavin Turk recently said, “I think it’s fantastic that the Camden Arts Centre exhibition is giving an original and much loved painter the exposure she deserves”.
One critic described her work as “providing an irresistibly silly antidote to the seriousness of much modern art”, but to look only superficially would miss the point somewhat. While her work obviously reflects her inspirations of cartoons, video games and fashion magazines, there is an underlying darkness to much of the fantastical and almost cutesy imagery of the ‘little worlds’ in which to escape to.
One of her most well known paintings is “Quality Time On Your Own”, which depicts a reclining ladybird smoking a cigarette and lazily blowing smoke rings into the sky, while another work shows a woman with a dogs face and tail (or is it a dog with a woman’s body?) as she strolls along the beach. For those who are more familiar with the Disney-esque anthropomorphism of animals, seeing them portrayed in a very different light – and sharing the more realistic traits of humans (smoking, dressing inappropriately etc), makes it even more unsettling..
Never let it be said that Londoners don’t take their pancakes seriously. Or their pancake races for that matter. Today on Shrove Tuesday, advice 12.30pm prompt, residents and workers in Brick Lane turned out in their hundreds to cheer on the brave pancake flippers.
The even was organized by The Alternative Arts, story and took place in Dray Walk, part of the Old Truman Brewery. Also on hand was a crepe stall, music in the form of The Lost Marbles String Band, and bizarrely, a doctor’s station; perhaps there are more pancake related injuries then we are led to believe?
Plenty of teams had signed up for the race, and had outdone themselves with their costumes. A run down of some of the teams included The Ghost Busters, The Vegans, The Scientists and The Flipping Tossers. There was one group of school children, but it soon became obvious that it was the grown ups time to have a play day, and all the groups took the competition very seriously.
One by one the groups were eliminated, until the heated finals, which was a very close call, but it looked like The Flipping Tossers beat out the competition. There was an equally important award given out for Best Dressed Group, which was unanimously given to The Inflatables. (How they managed to run in their inflatable costumes whilst flipping pancakes is beyond me)
The winning groups received vouchers, bottles of champagne, and an engraved frying pan. All the participants received free pancakes, although hopefully not the ones used in the actual race, because these spent most of the time on the ground (some of the tossing skills were questionable, at the very least). All in all the day was a flippin’ success ( I had to squeeze that in somewhere!)
Aussie lads Tame Impala bring us retro-tastic shenanigans from their sunny shores, doctor and boy, medical does it sound hip. The seventies are revived in this EP’s scrumptious haze of guitar and neo-hallucinogenic groove. Take The Beatles’ more spaced-out tracks; add swirling colours, generic otherworldly melodies and spangly bits and you’ll be nearly as far out as all this sounds. And the debut is actually self-titled although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was called Antares, Mira, Sun due to the sleeve artwork. The graphics are in fact only an interpretation of an astronomy lecture (what else?).
Inside, five tracks of feral passion are let loose in a pulsing improv jam session. From Desire Be, Desire Go’s free-flowing riffs to the sublime fiesta of Half Full Glass of Wine – to quote Homer Simpson in the ‘Hullabalooza’ episode: ‘Yes, yes, this rocks! and ‘No, no don’t stop a-rocking!’ This particular wine glass is most definitely not empty. Lyrics too are guttural and range from the sublime to the ridiculous: ‘My pet cockroach died of starvation’ is a gem. Closing track Slide Through my Fingers grinds this relentless psychedelic train-ride to its journey’s end. You won’t want it to stop, it’s music that brings alive the Antipodean landscape – outback vibes not dissimilar to the early desert antics of Kyuss.
Amidst all this guitar virtuosity and mysticism, what’s not surprising is the band’s experimental ethos. Kevin Parker and pals enjoy nothing more than a recording session up on their roof and they began honing their primitive recording skills as kids. The EP gives you just a flavour, but Tame Impala’s is a moreish taste you’ll want to sample over and over. Last year they supported The Black Keys, Yeasayer and MGMT, this year they’re headlining their own tour and releasing an album: I predict a busy future for Tame Impala. Star-gaze a go-go, man.
Tuesday March 3rd
Abel Auer is exhibiting at Corvi Mora in Kennington. Using ink, patient oil, page and acrylic to canvas, illness the Hamburg residing artist creates surreal landscapes and fantastical creatures that make your eyes swirl. Exhibition ends on March 28th.
Wednesday March 4th
Father of Mail Art and seminal in the pop art movement, New York artist Ray Johnson is exhibiting posthumously at Ravens Row. It will be the first large UK show of his work, comprising largely in his mailings, objects he regarded as gifts, as well as some of the collages he subjected to a seemingly endless process of reworking and overlaying. Please Add and Return will run at Ravens Row until the 10th of May.
Thursday March 5th
First Thursdays, of course.
But also, to coincide with International Woman’s Day on the 8th of March (wow, a whole day! What should we do first?), a group of sixteen artists will be exhibiting a diverse collection of work that focuses on the fairer sex without using the “f” word. This is not a F******* Art Show! is running in a temporary art space at The Electricians Shop between the 5th and the 10th of March. The exhibition aims to raise lots of questions relating to feminism and art and how they are related in a post-feminist society.
Friday March 6th
A new month, and a new exhibit at FRED. If you don’t get to Vyner Street for First Thursdays, go for the quieter option of a Friday afternoon stroll, and have a look at Dan Coombs current exhibition, The Dreamers.
Saturday March 7th
It’s time for Sanpit no. 9, this time at the Barbican Centre, surely a place designed for play – once again we present to the world of new pervasive games. Sandpit is a monthly event of playful activity with the intersection of games and other forms of culture: games plus theatre, games plus sport, games plus music, games plus guided tours, and so on. Each event operates under a loose theme, and this one is in conjunction with the Barbican’s Do Something Different Weekend. Sandpit will be running the show from 7pm until 10pm, with plenty of chasing, hunting, hiding, seeking, and doing. The event is free, and there’s no need to book – just turn up in the foyer of the Barbican Centre, next to the the Lakeside Terrace. As well as the Sandpit games, there’ll be knitting, films, bicycling to Brighton, and much more.