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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Love Spain, Hate Bullfighting – Art with a Heart

King's Cross London

Written by Jessica Stokes

Fashion Week is traditionally a feeding ground for all the freeloading vultures who can generally be found ligging their way around London and who go into an absolute feeding frenzy when the seasons change twice a year. As a barely paid, salve bargain-hunter and general scrounger extraordinaire, drugs I was worried that the current dismal economic climate might have put paid to all the goody bags and champagne receptions at the Autumn/Winter 09 shows in the name of good taste and blah blah blah…

First stop was Julia Smith, pharmacy where a little stall in the lobby serving proper tea and coffee and exotic fruit boded well. Goody bags on the seats with some good make up and natural skin products were also a good sign, although I now realise that come Wednesday, I will actually be swimming in cloth bags. There was not a drop of water in sight however, which was puzzling as I could see Evian logos all over the place and was sure that there should have been bins full of them. Had the Evian cash flow dried up? Worrying.

Still, we were there to see the clothes (promise) and so, parched, we joined the throng and took our seats at the catwalk. The much anticipated (40 minutes late of course-yawn) stream of playful feminine dresses and jumble of colours soon made us forget that the only liquids to hand were discarded bottles of that horribly sickly sweet ‘Vitamin’ water.

Knee-high socks and androgynous tailoring provided a back-to-school feel. And Julia Smith has definitely done her homework. Her careful research into sustainable fabrics shows in the heady contrasts of textures – winding woolen scarves knitted onto silky dresses, and organically tanned suede with cotton.
I especially loved the long white dress dotted delicately with red knitted bows. Proof that recycled clothing is like an intellectual ex-junkie, grubby beginnings but effortlessly hip.

julia-smith-1.jpg

julia-smith-2.jpg

I haven’t decided whether the compact ‘White Rabbit’ bow ties were chic or a bit too cutesy. But I’d rock them none the less, especially when listening to the Siouxsie and The Banshees’ rendition of Dear Prudence, which was playing at the time. This brilliant track has been very popular at shows this week-not that I’d ever be allowed to forget, what with it being the namesake of my co-writer of this article, who wiggles excitedly every time it plays.

All together this was a well thought out, wearable and clever collection. Bravo to Julia Smith for not jumping brazenly on the increasingly naff ‘eco-clothing’ bandwagon but still caring about where her clothes come from. Thorough research into sustainable fabrics and ethical production oozes from this skilled and elegant collection. And the knitting provides a home-madey feel, which is very appealing in the present circumstances. Much better than the imported fruit (screaming ‘carbon footprint!’) we consumed guiltily pre-show.
Emerging fashion designer Julia Smith is showing at this season’s London Fashion Week with her ethically produced, physician completely on trend and interesting designs. She has also created a ‘Made in Africa’ collection of dresses, more about which have been produced and hand printed in Ghana and will be sold in Topshop as part of Fairtrade Fortnight from 23rd February until 8th March.
She tells us about what inspires her and why it was important to her to start an ethical fashion label:

Hi Julia, ailment when did you decide to pursue fashion design as a career?
As a child I was always designing – making clothes for my Barbie dolls and helping my mum to make clothes for me and my sister. I studied textiles at college and realised that my heart was in fashion.

What has been your greatest personal achievement so far?

That’s difficult because after each achievement it’s important to move on and find a new goal – something new to achieve. It is great to see your clothes in the shops and the press though – but I’m really looking forward to my first catwalk show for London Fashion Week with Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Julia-Smith-1.jpg

Julia-Smith-2.jpg

Why did you decide to found an ethically fair label?

My MA collection was all about sustainability. It’s such a broad subject but once you delve into it there’s just no looking back…

Do you only wear eco-friendly labels?
I normally wear either my own label or things I’ve made/customised, as well as vintage or just old! I love delving through my sister’s wardrobe to pick out things that she’s bored of! American Apparel is good for classics though.

How do you feel ethical fashion is perceived in this country?

I think people’s perception of ethical fashion is still quite out of date – hemp sacks and hand knitted things from your granny! It is changing though – but the average Joe public is quite oblivious to it, as we need to be educated. I think the government; the media and the education system need to make people consider where their clothes have actually come from. After all – we wear clothes every single day of our lives – and yet people just don’t seem to question their origin?

Julia-Smith-4.jpg

Julia-Smith-3.jpg


Who or what inspires you?

Everything and anything! Music, art, people, and technical processes – I’m a geek! Working in Africa has been a massive inspiration for me too – but more on a personal and social development level.
The new collection began with the philosophy in mind of ‘make do and mend’, which then evolved into an eccentric woman who collected a lot of things – some beautiful, some just interesting to her. Vintage lace, reclaimed buttons, recycled fabrics, organic fabrics, wools and yarns that she began to knit into plaits and organic shapes.
The result of this should be sophisticated clothes with a fluidity of lines and shapes. Sharp tailoring contrasted with soft draped jersey and knitted plaits and ropes. All dusted off with a sense of humour!

Who are your favourite designers?

Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and Moschino – for its playfulness.

How would you describe your personal style?
Black!! No – quite understated. Classic with an occasional twist.

Thanks, Julia, it’s so refreshing to see an up-and-coming talented designer who has chosen to make an ethical label, and is successfully working to dispel those preconceptions about ethical fashion being frumpy!
We’re very excited, sales there’s only four days to go until Friday 20th February – the start of London Fashion Week! The Autumn/Winter ’09 season kicked off on Friday 13th in New York, healing and very soon it’s our turn to show them what we’ve got.
The fashionistas will cross the pond to our very own city for what is commonly described as the ‘edgiest’ of the fashion weeks due to its focus on new designers rather than the established greats.
With that in mind, here’s our pick – in no particular order – of designers showing in London to keep your eye on this season:

Mark Fast

Knitwear is huge right now and we love the direction Mark Fast has taken his needles in. More experimental than sculptured, his designs are – and here’s two words we never thought we’d put together – provocative knitwear.
Showing on schedule this season, this 27-year-old Canadian has already designed knitwear for Bora Aksu and is definitely one to watch.


Alexandra Groover

Although only her first catwalk show, Alexandra Groover will be showing not one but two collections this season. She has a black label, which is interestingly a collection inspired by the architecture of shells and a more casual grey label. This American native is clearly not work shy and determined to make her mark with her edgy gothic-esque designs.

London-Fashion-Week-AW-09-1.jpg
(Pictured: Mark Fast and Emilio de la Morena, both S/S 09)


Emilio de la Morena

This St Martins graduate has consistently produced stunning and innovative collections, his focus on silhouettes and attention to shape means he always produces covetable collections. Spanish born de la Morena has nurtured his talents through the years by working for designers Rafael Lopez and Jonathan Saunders.

Noir

Danish label Noir use sharp tailoring and androgynous styling to produce high fashion pieces. The fact that they work within the realms of ethical fashion is a bonus. They’re showing on schedule this year and are a brilliant example of the direction in which fashion should be moving.

Julia Smith

Making her catwalk collection debut this season, Julia Smith not only creates very wearable designs but her clothes are completely ethically made. She is a designer with morals and integrity; her aim is to make ‘fashion with a conscience that does not compromise on design.’ An excellent mantra to have.


Spijkers en Spijkers

If you need more of a reason to love this label with it’s wearable yet quirky pieces, the fact the designers are Dutch identical twin sisters should do it. Truus and Riet are the brains behind Spijkers en Spijkers, the label they set up in 1996 and that has been gaining acclaim ever since. Showing this year as part of the fashion scout and are definitely worth a look.

LFW-09-2.jpg
(Pictured: William Tempest S/S 09 and Truus and Riet Spijker)

William Tempest

The London College of Fashion alumni and brilliantly named William Tempest learnt his trade under the guidance of Giles Deacon and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, where he honed his tailoring skills. He launched his own label in January 2008 and is set to be one of this year’s biggest names.

Victim

So many words spring to mind when you hear the name of this label and they don’t immediately connote the most positive of images, however, a look at the collections of designer Mei Lui dispels all bad thoughts. Brilliantly eccentric, reminisant of the great pieces by Galliano and Gaultier, and in many ways a perfect example of the avant garde talent London Fashion Week is renowned for.

Now that this little preview has whet your appetite, keep checking back here from Friday as we’ll be posting updates, reviews, street style snaps and our general musings from the shows. It’ll be just like actually being there. We promise.

Emerging fashion designer Julia Smith is showing at this season’s London Fashion Week with her ethically produced, more about completely on trend and interesting designs. She has also created a ‘Made in Africa’ collection of dresses, order which have been produced and hand printed in Ghana and will be sold in Topshop as part of Fairtrade Fortnight from 23rd February until 8th March.
She tells us about what inspires her and why it was important to her to start an ethical fashion label:

Hi Julia, when did you decide to pursue fashion design as a career?
As a child I was always designing – making clothes for my Barbie dolls and helping my mum to make clothes for me and my sister. I studied textiles at college and realised that my heart was in fashion.

What has been your greatest personal achievement so far?

That’s difficult because after each achievement it’s important to move on and find a new goal – something new to achieve. It is great to see your clothes in the shops and the press though – but I’m really looking forward to my first catwalk show for London Fashion Week with Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Julia-Smith-1.jpg

Julia-Smith-2.jpg

Why did you decide to found an ethically fair label?

My MA collection was all about sustainability. It’s such a broad subject but once you delve into it there’s just no looking back…

Do you only wear eco-friendly labels?
I normally wear either my own label or things I’ve made/customised, as well as vintage or just old! I love delving through my sister’s wardrobe to pick out things that she’s bored of! American Apparel is good for classics though.

How do you feel ethical fashion is perceived in this country?

I think people’s perception of ethical fashion is still quite out of date – hemp sacks and hand knitted things from your granny! It is changing though – but the average Joe public is quite oblivious to it, as we need to be educated. I think the government; the media and the education system need to make people consider where their clothes have actually come from. After all – we wear clothes every single day of our lives – and yet people just don’t seem to question their origin?

Julia-Smith-4.jpg

Julia-Smith-3.jpg


Who or what inspires you?

Everything and anything! Music, art, people, and technical processes – I’m a geek! Working in Africa has been a massive inspiration for me too – but more on a personal and social development level.
The new collection began with the philosophy in mind of ‘make do and mend’, which then evolved into an eccentric woman who collected a lot of things – some beautiful, some just interesting to her. Vintage lace, reclaimed buttons, recycled fabrics, organic fabrics, wools and yarns that she began to knit into plaits and organic shapes.
The result of this should be sophisticated clothes with a fluidity of lines and shapes. Sharp tailoring contrasted with soft draped jersey and knitted plaits and ropes. All dusted off with a sense of humour!

Who are your favourite designers?

Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and Moschino – for its playfulness.

How would you describe your personal style?
Black!! No – quite understated. Classic with an occasional twist.

Thanks, Julia, it’s so refreshing to see an up-and-coming talented designer who has chosen to make an ethical label, and is successfully working to dispel those preconceptions about ethical fashion being frumpy!
Monday 26th October, cheap ATP Film w/ Les Savy Fav, buy The Forum

Legendary event and festival organisers, approved ATP, launch their DVD with multiple screenings of the film, compiled by footage from fans, and what better way to celebrate than with the sounds of 90s smartpop, Les Savy Fav, playing live.

Tuesday 27th October, Japandroids + 4 Or 5 Magicians + William, Rough Trade East

What would a week be without a trip to one of the finest purveyors of new music, a free instore? Consistently being worth your attendance, Canadian duo Japandroids will be at Rough Trade to scream at you tonight, in return for you being kind enough to buy their album which will be conveniently on sale.

Wednesday 28th October, Efterklang And The Britten Sinfonia, Barbican Centre

Amelia’s Magazine are big fans of the album and think that this performance with The Britten Sinfonia will be an extra delectable chance to catch the sonic beauty of Danish outfit, Efterklang.

Thursday 29th October, The Dead Weather + Creature With The Atom Brain, Brixton Academy

Jack White’s latest supergroup incarnation play their second ever London dates and have recruited Belgian providers of fuzzy, stripped back garage rock, CWTAB for support duties. There will also be a pop up record shop by the band’s label, Third Man Records, in east London’s Shoreditch Church this Friday and Saturday to fuel the hype fire of the band’s European promotional trip.

Friday 30th October, Fleetwood Mac, Wembley Arena

Rumours (geddit?) abound that a new album is in the pipeline. And surely they’ll be gracing Pyramid Stage next year for the Glastonbury 40th anniversary (yes, bookies are already taking bets). If you’re lucky enough to have bagged a ticket for this arena gig you’ll no doubt be in for a treat experiencing the best Greatest Hits of all time.

Saturday 31st October, THE END OF THE WORLD – ZOMBIE ATTACK, Village Underground

To relieve you of the mither that is deciding what to do on Hallow’s Eve, Amelia’s Magazine is giving you and a friend free entry into what we think is a damn fine option. To win, follow us on twitter and tell us which chart-topping female is managed by Queens of Noize, the good-time revelers hosting this Halloween shindig. Remember to tag your answer with #HalloweenComp.

Sunday 1st November, London Improvisers Orchestra, Café Oto

Nurse your Halloween hangover with a cacophony of unordered noise. This ten-year-old improv sprawling collective create a new piece of music during the day, then perform it in the evening. Regular members of this institution include Harry Beckett, Alan Tomlinson, Lol Coxhill and Evan Parker.

To celebrate Halloween, try Amelia’s Magazine are giving you free entry to one of the gigs below. Read on to find out more…

les savy fav

Monday 26th October, unhealthy ATP Film w/ Les Savy Fav, The Forum

Legendary event and festival organisers, ATP, launch their DVD with multiple screenings of the film, compiled by footage from fans, and what better way to celebrate than with the sounds of 90s smartpop, Les Savy Fav, playing live.

japandroids2

Tuesday 27th October, Japandroids + 4 Or 5 Magicians + William, Rough Trade East

What would a week be without a trip to one of the finest purveyors of new music, a free instore? Consistently being worth your attendance, Canadian duo Japandroids will be at Rough Trade to scream at you tonight, in return for you being kind enough to buy their album which will be conveniently on sale.

efterklang

Wednesday 28th October, Efterklang And The Britten Sinfonia, Barbican Centre

Amelia’s Magazine are big fans of the album and think that this performance with The Britten Sinfonia will be an extra delectable chance to catch the sonic beauty of Danish outfit, Efterklang.

dead-weather

Thursday 29th October, The Dead Weather + Creature With The Atom Brain, Brixton Academy

Jack White’s latest supergroup incarnation play their second ever London dates and have recruited Belgian providers of fuzzy, stripped back garage rock, CWTAB for support duties. There will also be a pop up record shop by the band’s label, Third Man Records, in east London’s Shoreditch Church this Friday and Saturday to fuel the hype fire of the band’s European promotional trip.

fleetwoodmac1

Friday 30th October, Fleetwood Mac, Wembley Arena

Rumours (geddit?) abound that a new album is in the pipeline. And surely they’ll be gracing Pyramid Stage next year for the Glastonbury 40th anniversary (yes, bookies are already taking bets). If you’re lucky enough to have bagged a ticket for this arena gig you’ll no doubt be in for a treat experiencing the best Greatest Hits of all time.

queens of noize

Saturday 31st October, THE END OF THE WORLD – ZOMBIE ATTACK, Village Underground

To relieve you of the mither that is deciding what to do on Hallow’s Eve, Amelia’s Magazine is giving you and a friend free entry into what we think is a damn fine option. To win, follow us on twitter and tell us which chart-topping female is managed by Queens of Noize, the good-time revelers hosting this Halloween shindig. Remember to tag your answer with #HalloweenComp.

london improvisers orchestra

Sunday 1st November, London Improvisers Orchestra, Café Oto

Nurse your Halloween hangover with a cacophony of unordered noise. This ten-year-old improv sprawling collective create a new piece of music during the day, then perform it in the evening. Regular members of this institution include Harry Beckett, Alan Tomlinson, Lol Coxhill and Evan Parker.
bullparty4

The Big Chill House in King’s Cross was host to Love Spain, unhealthy Hate Bullfighting last Thursday evening, recipe a street art competition ran by the League Against Cruel Sports, in association with Don’t Panic. The work they do is very commendable and campaign against the unnecessary and brutal cruelty towards animals in the name of sport. Their message is simple: enjoy the Spanish culture, the food, the beaches, the history. But don’t support their bullfighting arena. A speech made by a representative from the league informs me of some shocking facts. Subsidies from the EU fund this trade every year – to the tune of £20 million in fact. Inadvertently, we are supporting it through our taxes, which hits home quite hard.

MARCO

I was more than happy to sign their petition, agreeing to never visit a bullfight, as was everyone else who came to support the evening. Running simultaneously in Barcelona, was the same event, announcing their own winner. The aim of this competition was for talented street artists to come up with a design that promotes the ‘Love Spain, Hate Bullfighting’ message, whilst celebrating Spain’s many attributes.

GENEVIEVE BEHARRY

After scanning the room a few times (and with a complimentary bottle of Estrella Damm in hand – nice touch LACS), I settle upon the poster of Genevieve Beharry from Toronto, Canada. The powder blue and blood red palette is subtle yet effective, with your attention draw immediately to the strong form of a bull’s head shaped as a heart in the centre of the page. The poster is beautifully symmetrical, with simplified lines and shapes to describe the bull’s features. The black typography has quite a romantic sensibility, like the signature of a love letter. Flowing voluptuous curves follow the ascenders, bowls and descents of each letter, hugging the emphatic image of the bull at the core. The words have a hand crafted feel to it, like Beharry may have rendered them herself. This makes for quite a pleasing contrast between the hand made and the computer generated – both playing off one another harmoniously. As with all of the posters here, type and image are both necessary and important components to the design of the poster and this isn’t an easy balance to get right. Beharry successfully melds these elements together in a coherent way for the viewer to read. She says of her approach to the brief, “I wanted to do something simple and iconic for this poster. I chose not to focus on any violent aspects of bullfighting visually, and instead made a bull’s head into a heart, to represent the word ‘love’”.

MELANIE MCPHAIL

One of my few favourite pieces on display is by Manchester based artist Melanie McPhail. Less graphically influenced than some of the other entries here, her delicate and charming illustration still manages to pack a punch. A brown paper background is the foundation for this hand-drawn image. A duo of graphite pencil and colour pencil work together to form a bull in the foreground and what appears to be a landscape of hills behind it. At first it looks like drops of blood are cascading down the hill to the bull from a gated, Spanish coat of arms. On closer inspection, they are tiny red love hearts and it becomes clear that the ambiguous nature of them was intentional by McPhail. The artist plays on this specific style of illustration with the hand drawn type, in a naïve manner. ‘Love Spain’ is in lowercase and again, in joined-up handwriting that sits above ‘HATE BULLFIGHTING’, in thicker, blocked capitals. In this way, her point is emphasized, the gentle nature of the first part of the slogan is submissive to the forcefulness of the latter. She may not be as literal with her point as others are, but I think this works to her advantage – finding a way to communicate the rather brutal message in a subtle way. McPhail says, “Spanish people should be embracing the power and beauty of this animal, which represents their country, instead of killing it”.

MATT GLEN

The work of Matt Glen is a strong contrast to the style of the previously described posters. The remit of ‘street art’ is probably most apparent in this case, as we are presented with a plaque nailed to a white-washed wall. Made to imitate the sort of sign that you would see in a housing estate to warn children against ball games, the plate reads, ‘no bull games’. You may decide at first that this is perhaps a rather cheesy pun, but it is also simple and straight to the point. There is nothing flowery or over embellished about his approach and this means that it translates well, in a language that can be understood across the board. It does make me consider what is the most effective way of communicating a message such as this. Is it better to convey something in plain and simple terms at the expense of making it look what might be considered, a beautiful illustration? The use of red on white is a very powerful visual technique for high impact and certainly reaches the mark. There is also something about the photographic element to the work that makes it feel more tangible, like it is a real documentation as opposed to a drawing.

RHIAN ROWLANDS

The winner was announced at the end of the evening, a very deserving Rianne Rowlands. As I am having thoughts of making tracks, I note that although every single poster entered in this competition has used a palette of reds, blacks and whites or variations thereof and this has been completely coincidental. I discover from an organiser from the League Against Cruel Sports, that the brief never specified the colours to be used. There seemed to be a unified response to the brief, not only in the choice of colour and printing methods but also in the need and want to make a worthwhile statement. It was encouraging to see people come together in this way and to engage young people in this campaign.

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5 Responses to “Love Spain, Hate Bullfighting – Art with a Heart”

  1. Alejandro says:

    An amazing display of ignorance goes into the sentence “I was more than happy to sign their petition, agreeing to never visit a bullfight, as was everyone else who came to support the evening.” Somebody who has never experienced the magic of a bullfight and who ignores its realities is unfit to criticize it. They may even prefer the decidedly tacky artwork displayed at this exhibit to the monumental paintings of Picasso, Goya and other great and sensitive artists who loved both Spain and bullfighting.

    As for its cruelty, a superficial look into the world of bull rearing will evidently show that no other animal is better treated than the bull for the 5 years before it’s set out to die its heroic death – which lasts for 15 minutes. It roams freely and eats, sleeps and has sex as it pleases, and I bet that the farmed chickens, cows and pigs that we eat would trade anything to live the life of a bull.

    As we say in Spain, ignorance is bold.

  2. Amelia says:

    You ain’t gonna persuade me that bull fighting is humane I’m afraid, but thanks for your comment x

  3. Michel Michaeljohn says:

    Bullfighting is the most indefensible type of animal abuse. Bullfighting is not a “fight” at all, but a systematic “torture-killing” that pits a gang of armed thugs against a lone, terrified; confused; “fatally” disabled and wounded animal.

    It’s a “sickening” economic industry based on HORRIFYING victimization; sadistic abuse; extreme cruelty and “mutilation and torture” of bulls (and horses) during the cruel exhibitions of “bullfights” (which are “blood” fiestas).

    Handlers weaken the bull for days before the bullfight. They put laxatives in his food and heavy sandbags on his back. They file his horns down to the tender quick; they blind and drug him; they stuff his ears so that he cannot hear; they stuff his nostrils so that he cannot breath. In the ring, they drive “razor-sharp” lances into his back and neck muscles so he can’t lift his head. By the time the matador appears, the bull is weak from blood loss and dizzy from being chased in circles.

    The horses used in bullfights are old and drugged. Wet newspaper is stuffed in their ears and their vocal cords are cut so the audience will not hear their cries. They wear long blankets to hide their entrails, which spill out when they are “gored and disemboweled.”

    It’s no fun to see an innocent, crazed animal “tortured” before a screaming crowd of people, who should be hanging their heads in shame. Even if you leave after 15 to 20 minutes, the damage has been done – your money has gone to support this hellish business, which decent people are working to end.

    The continuation of bullfighting depends on government subsidies and the “tourist industry.” Don’t be an accomplice to this savagery by supporting it with your dollars.

    Please help these suffering animals – STAY AWAY FROM BULLFIGHTS and speak out against them.

    Michel Michaeljohn; California; United States.

  4. Carolina says:

    Hello there, I’d like to get in touch with Jessica Stokes, because my artwork was part of the exhibition and I’d I like to have pictures of it.

    Thnks!
    Regards,

    Carolina from Argentina.

  5. JM says:

    Hello!
    I’m from Spain and I do not like bullfighting anything or any party where the torture of animals, but it gives me a sense of humor as these Anglo-Saxon specially England and the USA, which seek to give lessons to Spain of “good behavior “with animals … forget you the slaughter of seals with sticks in Canada? Do you forget fox hunting in England? if fox hunting, a little fox running for his life, for that a hundred dogs not dismember him.
    I hope that someday all cruelty to animals disappear from Spain, and these enemies of bullfights also clean your house before criticizing the neighbor’s house. and you the anlgosaxons, you are less animals and more people, more humans, especially in USA, a country where human rights are at the level of third world countries.

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