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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Hudson and Klonek: A Plasticine Englishman and a Woodcut Pole

Hudson, Trolley Gallery, London, Klonek- Kemistry Gallery, London

Written by Gareth David

A Saturday night in downtown Kilburn saw the long awaited (and, case decease considering it was recorded about 18 months ago, treat long overdue) launch of Horses for Courses, more about the debut album from Teesside trio Das Wanderlust. Taking the stage after sterling support from the ever wonderful Bobby McGees, the place of lead singer and keyboard player Laura Simmons was taken by the mysterious “Rock Wizard”, decked out like some prog-tastic spawn of the mid-70′s Rick Wakeman. But – lo and behold! – ‘twas indeed that cheeky scamp Laura underneath (the cape and false beard were in fact discarded because it was bloomin’ hot)!

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Das Wanderlust are one of those bands that can be guaranteed to divide opinion. So much so that, confusingly, the NME decided to produce a schizophrenic review which on the one hand raves about the album, whilst on the other describes one track (Sea Shanty) as “literally the worst song we’ve ever heard and annoying on an almost nuclear level” (guitarist Andy Elliott ruefully reminded the audience of this). Personally, I think they’re great.

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Musically, they are very reminiscent of X-Ray Spex, particularly Simmons’distinct vocal delivery, and late-70′s Fall. Crunchy guitars, buzzy 20p second hand Casio-style keyboards and melodies that don’t go quite where you expect, it’s a style that Das Wanderlust describe as “wrong pop”. The single Puzzle is what Elastica might have sounded like if they hadn’t spent all their time transcribing Wire and Stranglers albums whilst, conversely, the piano-based Turn to Grey has a very nursery-esque quality.

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One thing to say about Das Wanderlust is that in no way do they take themselves seriously on stage. After a little dig at the archetypal Shoreditch gig crowd, there is much onstage banter (which apparently led to a bit of a rebuke from a rather sniffy reviewer in Cardiff recently) and they appeared to be having so much fun that they didn’t realise they’d reached the end of their set.
Heading back to the distant north, I’m sure their hearts were gladdened by the response to their set and the generally positive reviews to Horses for Courses suggest that hopefully we shall be seeing much more of Das Wanderlust soon.

Live photos appear courtesy of Richard Pearmain
For the next few weeks, purchase London will be transformed under an umbrella of environmentalism and sustainability. Which ever corner of London is your turf, treatment you will find something to watch, shop learn, listen to or take part in. Love London: The Green Festival is the biggest green festival in Europe, and will be running from June 4th – June 28th. It will encompass hundreds of cheap and free events in and around the capital that will be categorised under three themes: Green Places, Green Living and Green Innovations. There will also be an onus on Eco – Thrift, a topical theme given the current climate that we are all facing. From a Love London Recycled Sculpture Show at the Wetland Centre in Barnes, Community Garden Open Days, London Farmers Markets Picnic on The Green, Eco-Cultural Festival…. the list seems almost infinite. That is before we include the talks aimed on sharing tips and ideas on how to live a more sustainable and green lifestyle.

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I spoke with the people behind Love London and asked a little bit more about what we can expect in the next few weeks.

What is the purpose of the Love London festival?
The purpose of the festival is to empower Londoners to build a more sustainable future for the Capital. The festival achieves this by bringing communities together to share ideas and celebrate innovations. It supports and promotes grass roots action.

What types of events take place during the Love London festival?
A huge range of events take place during the festival – all have an environmental /
sustainable focus. Events are organised by themes. The 2009 main theme is Green Places. Sample events: Culpeper Community Garden (growing veg in small spaces) Love London Recycled Sculpture Show, WWT London Wetland Centre, Waste Free Picnics Tour the Greenwich Eco-House.

Sister themes + sample events include Green Living Green Innovations, The Art of Green Cleaning Eco-Vehicle Rally (Brighton– London), Energy Doctor Surgeries Insider London – Eco Tours, There is also a cross-theme focus on Eco-Thrift this year – many events will teach Londoners how they can save money and save the environment eg Swap Shops and Energy Use surgeries.

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Illustration by Jessica Pemberton


Sustainability is a very topical subject matter isn’t it?

Very much so, obviously sustainability is always on the agenda, and this year we have a large aspect around eco-thrift. People think that sustainability will cost them more more but it will actually save them money.

How long has Love London been running?
The festival is now in its seventh year. Over the years it has grown from a weekend event to one week, then two and is now three weeks long. It has evolved from London Sustainability Weeks to Love London Green Festival. Starting with less than ten events it now offers hundreds.

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Events from previous Love London Green Festivals. Note the Naked Bike Ride of 2006!

How can Love London benefit the city and the lives of Londoners?
Love London events give Londoners the knowledge and inspiration to do their bit to make the Capital cleaner and greener. As the festival spreads the word and people take action the city will become a more pleasant place for all.
The main theme for 2009 encourages Londoners to celebrate and protect the city’s vital Green Places. Londoners will get out cleaning up rivers and carrying out conservation work as well as enjoying the space with picnics in the park and nature craft workshops. The Love London Recycled Sculpture Show is a highlight event.

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The Heron is the focal piece in the Recycled
Sculpture Show. It is by the artist Ptolemy Elrington and has been
made from old shopping trolleys dragged out of a canal.

Who organises the festival?
It’s a partnership of like minded charities such as London 21 Sustainability Network,
The London Environment Co-ordinators Forum, London Community Recycling
Network
, London Sustainability Exchange, The Federation of City Farms and
Community Gardens, London Civic Forum, Sponge, Government Office for London,
Open House, Global Action Plan and The Mayor of London.

Click here to find out more about Love London Green Festival.
Henry Hudson is a strange chap. I’m absolutely sure of this, ambulance though the only evidence I have is his art. I’ve seen plenty of wacky art made by otherwise normal people. You can usually tell. But this is the real deal. Luscious gilt picture frames house these extraordinary works which don’t so much update Hogarth as render a more visceral, visit web decaying Hogarth. The works currently on show at the Trolley Gallery on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch are drawn from the Rake’s Progress and Harlot’s Progress series. They are details and deteriorations. And they are paintings made of plasticine, stained with tea.

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Hudson’s selection of the imagery brings us the moment when squalour invades the Eighteenth Century gentleman’s oasis of luxury. Everything is opulence bought with bad debts that are just turning nasty. A beautiful wall mounting for a candle tries to maintain its dignity beneath menacing cracks in the cieling. It feels like a very contemporary concern, refracted through a prism of history which we are doomed to repeat.
Fundamentally, these are works which straddle being good fun art, and being a veiled threat. It’s original, and supremely confident work, and leaves me in no doubt about one thing: Henry Hudson is a strange chap.

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On the other side of Shoreditch, Roman Klonek is exhibiting his stunningly vibrant woodcuts. 20th Century Russian Propaganda jostles with the lowbrow feel of Fantagraphics comix or some of Spumco‘s more knowing animation.

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Some of this is really stark and simple. A hairy-faced man does some ironing, but somehow it turns into an existential moment for him, but then, wait; that is filtered somehow through the bold and bright cuteness of it all. It’s as if Camus were a gonk. Other scenes are more complex, with a few figures going about their business, totally isolated from one another. I was reminded of some of Balthus’s better works, but with colour sense that comes purely from early comics.

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Some of the most striking works are laid out as comic book front covers, in fact, with text in Polish, Russian, and Japanese. Klonek’s work is seriously slick, and his background in graphics show’s through. Almost all of these prints made me wish there wre an animated TV show which made almost no sense and looked just like a Klonek. There’s just something about his associations betwen the cartoon world and the exotic characters of foriegn alphabets and spellings that draws you in and thrills. Judging by the little red dots appearing by the works, I’m not the only one who felt the need for a some Klonek in my life.

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Henry Hudson is at the Trolley Gallery until July 25, while Roman Klonek closes at Kemistry Gallery on May 30.

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