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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The Treehouse Gallery: Tree’s Company

Eco Art, Collaboration

Written by Alice Watson

Featuring competitions in the already overly competitive world that is Art may seem somewhat crude to say the least. But in fact it’s through these well supported and sponsored prizes that new and underexposed artists and creative mediums gain a platform and a voice, information pills page and a fairly fair and just route for career progression out of the studios and into the spotlight. It’s also a darn good excuse to curate a fine exhibition of very talented folk, hospital and in a collaborative sense get together with a common thread, clinic be it the format, subject matter or genre, and share opinions, ideas and approaches. I call to the stand Foto8 and their annual Photographic Prize an exhibition of which opens with a right knees up of a party this weekend in London.

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Joerg Brueggermann (2009 Entry)

Foto8, in their own words, is ‘a space to share, comment and debate photography. The site exists to bridge the divide between photographers, authors and their audience through interactive displays and a constant stream of new works and resources’. Based on the belief that documentary photography has a vital role to play in contemporary society, Foto8′s ethos firmly pushes the medium as a valued tool for communication and self education about the world around us and the lesser understood worlds of others.

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Abbie Traylor-Smith (2009 Entry)

The London based website has regular postings of reviews, commentaries, interviews and picture stories as well as photographic events and news items, and serves as an outlet for the biannually published 8 magazine, which can be previewed, ordered and subscribed to from there. Now up to issue 25 the magazine blurs and tests the boundaries between photography, journalism and art and represents ‘the very best in design and print, following a graphic format that uses the medium of the printed page to its fullest.’

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Robert Hackman (2009 Entry)

The Gallery that will house this spectacular show was established by director of Foto8 Jon Levy along with Adrian Evans, the director of Panos Pictures, and celebrates it’s fourth birthday this year. HOST is dedicated to the specialised promotion and exploration of photojournalism and documentary photography, ‘from classical black and white reportage to contemporary mixed media’. They pioneer both new and traditional methods of manipulating the gallery setting with innovation and passion. The gallery proudly boasts a highly-respected exhibition schedule, complimented by an on-going program of face-to-face encounters with photography and film, including screenings, talks and regular book club meetings.

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Clemence de Limburg (2009 Entry)

From around 2300 images submitted from 44 different countries from as far afield as Thailand and Turkey, just over 100 carefully selected images will make up the final display at this year’s Foto 8 Summer Show at London’s HOST Gallery. As well as each entry appearing in the show’s published book, each photograph will be for sale to the public from the opening night and throughout the exhibition, and of course each and every exhibit will be in with the chance to win either the ‘Best in Show’ category or the ‘People’s Choice’, both highly sort after and respected prizes in the industry.

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Dougie Wallace (2008 Winner of ‘Best in Show’)

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Guido Castagnoli (2008 Winner of ‘People’s Choice’)

Whereas the Best in Show is awarded by an elite team of experts in the field, including The Times’ Director of Photography Graham Wood and the V&A’s Head of Images Andrea Stern, and entails a £1500 reward, the People’s Choice will be determined by public visitors to the show and in many respects is a more coveted title, given that each exhibitor’s work must speak to those with perhaps a less trained eye for artistic and technical merit, and must rely on more personal and emotional responses from the everyday spectator.

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Domenico Pugliese (2009 Entry)

The brief for prospective entrants was simple. They seek images that challenge and engage, convey stories and raise questions. They state that they ‘encourage free expression’ and ‘new ways of seeing and telling’, also adding that they value photography ‘that conveys feeling as much as fact.’ The entry requirements allow for up to three submitted images per person, and the submissions look set to be as diverse and varied as 2008′s collections were.

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Rachel Bevis (2009 Entry)

Being the biased art appreciators that we are, there is already a winner of an entry in our opinion, an image that stands out for us and will be certainly receiving the ‘Amelia’s Choice’ award at the opening on Friday evening. ‘Marie’ by semi-professional London based photographer Rachel Bevis commands our attention and holds our gaze. At first seeming to be a mono-chrome image of a lone figure at night, on second appreciation is actually a wintery street scene in which a female is immersed in falling snow. Mysterious, evocative and powerful this photograph is one we cannot tire of looking at. Best of luck Miss Bevis.

Who will you be exercising your democratic rights and voting for?

Foto8 Summer Show
HOST Gallery
1 Honduras Street
London, EC1Y 0TH

24th July: Opening Night Party
6:30pm – 11:30pm

Tickets: £5 in advance, £8 on the door
Tickets available to buy here

24th July – 5th September
Opening times:
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm
Sat 11am-4pm

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Kurt Tong (2009 Entry)
One of the organisations we’ve been following of late at Amelia’s Magazine is the Ethical Fashion Forum. Springing up in 2004 following the concerns made famous in the international press during the 1990s – sweatshop working, information pills terrible wages and mass environmental damage – a group of designers decided to do something about it by raising awareness. Liasing with over 400 designers, fashion brands and other fashion businesses, the EFF connects people who want to promote a sustainable future for the fashion industry; this includes creating safe working environments and increasing wages in oft-exploited third world countries, as well as encouraging minimal environmental damage. Closely tied to this venture is the Fair Trade Foundation – pinpointing exactly how topical a sustainable fashion industry has become in recent years alongside the massive interest in Fair Trade products.

Earlier in the year EFF launched it’s biannual “Innovation” competition for designers, the first being PURE, rewarding and recognising those who have shown innovation (!) and initiative regarding the greater good of the fashion world. The shortlist of competitors was announced last month, and gave publicity to an assortment of passionate designers who are keen to support a sustainable and ethical fashion future through their business strategies and design work. The competition hopes to raise awareness of the EFF’s goals and views by rewarding those who have shown similar ethical principles to itself, whilst at the same time inspiring this generation of designers to work together for a better future. The overused cliché of “green is the new black” really seems to be ringing true at EFF!

This years shortlist of 12 included designers from all over the world, all excited to promote the EFF message; those from or working in South Africa, Malawi, India, China and North America were all on show, with a good percentage of designers working in poverty-stricken Third World countries. The designers largely sourced their materials from traditional industries all over the world, and particularly in struggling areas, as shown by this quick survey of the territories they work within. Others are supporting local industries within the UK, such as crofting in the Scottish Highlands. Each were judged on their collection’s overall design and finish, their brand ethics, and their sale-ability, by a panel including Anna Orsini, head of London Fashion Week, Donna Wallace of ELLE magazine, alongside other senior fashion journalists and lecturers.

So who came up trumps in the end? Being selected to show at the PURE trade show, the winners were Cape Town brand Lalesso, and MIA, another African working in Malawi. Lalesso was a clear box-ticker: initially set up to provide a “socially responsible method of manufacturing”.

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Designing clothes based on East African traditions and current trends, the label aids struggling unemployment by providing well-paid work for several different groups, from the unskilled ‘beach boys’ to the traditionally skilled Masaai tradesmen. The clothes are vibrant, fun and youthful, including patterned prom dresses and casual beach wear, showcasing typical laidback African style tailored for a fashion-conscious audience who care.

MIA was an equally obvious winner. Recycling vintage pieces is no new idea; however MIA has taken this to new lengths with her remade clothing. Using second- hand streetwear combined with traditional Malawian dress, she has created designs that are thoroughly modern, embracing the current fascination with all things retro and uniquely individual.

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MIA’s message is to embrace our wardrobes and recycle them in order to prevent such widespread textile waste in the way that we recycle food packaging and other products in the new millennium. She’s another designer interested in the capacities of upcycled clothing, and is keen to promote change with her range of smock style mini dresses combining different materials in their zig-zag skirts.

Some of the other candidates we were keen on included Henrietta Ludgate, a Central Saint Martins graduate and Scottish designer hailing from the Highlands.

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Embracing her Highland roots, this designer used crofting techniques in her collections in a way that has not been seen in recent years, supporting local industries with her work. Crofting involves reusing excess waste material from mills as part of a small community of workers who all support each other.

A similar idea can be seen with Outsider, who support the oft-abused textile industries in China and India through sourcing organic fabrics and providing fair labour conditions and wages, true to the EFF message. Stating that “we believe ethical fashion should just look like fashion” these designers are certainly up there with the best of the bunch.

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Their latest collection featured reworked classic shapes with pleat detailing and simple lines, all in sophisticated black, with the main focus of the design work being on the use of sustainable fabrics to inspire confidence in what we’re wearing and how it is sustaining the fashion industry globally.

Coming up in September will be the Esethetica awards when more winners will be announced – what did you make of the shortlist and did you agree with the winners? Let us know!

Monday 27th July
Coco Electrik- Pure Groove, help London

On it as we generally are, hospital we included Coco Electrik in our magazine a while back. Fun poppy danceable electro with a surreal twist.

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Tuesday 28th
First Aid Kit – The Lexington, London

We love First Aid Kit and their oddball folk complete with tinkling harmonies, and they carried of their set at Climate Camp Glastonbury with aplomb I hear. Support comes from Blue Roses, whom I’ve known of for a while under her “day-to-day” name Laura Groves, her music is achingly delicate and beautiful.

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Wednesday 29th July
Simian Mobile Disco- Roundhouse, London

Simian Mobile Disco have been shimmying their way into our hearts and minds for a while now. Funky and exuberant, their latest release features vocals from Alexis Taylor and Beth Ditto

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Thursday 30th July
Maps – Hoxton Bar and Grill, London

I would definitely put Maps‘ lo-fi bedroom electronica on my “Top 3 Things To Do With Maps” List alongside every indie schmindie’s make-out song of choice by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and actual maps which are great. A must for fans of Low and My Bloody Valentine.

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Friday 31st July
Left With Pictures- Bush Hall, London

Left With Pictures is a whirling mix of vocal harmonising, melodicas, violins…the whole shebang. It’s quite exciting and suprising to listen to and more than a little bit evocative of another era. Lovely stuff!

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Saturday 1st August
Field Day- Victoria Park, London

Ahh London’s favourite festival returns, highlights include the mighty Mogwai, Final Fanatsy, Four Tet and Fanfarlo.

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Sometimes, discount the maxim that “two heads are better than one”, page certainly rings true. Well, check never has this been more appropriate than with dynamic design partners in crime, Siamese duo, Fanny and Jessy, the East London pair causing a stir on the design scene at the moment. Having recently graduated from the London College of Fashion, these young designers have set about refusing to pigeonhole their collections into trends or even genders, preferring to leave it all unisex. How Judith Butler would have approved!

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The new collection, cheekily named “I hope you die soon”, features designs that are something of a cross between Donnie Darko and Topshop Unique. Think fringing, fraying, and rippling, pod shapes, skinny fit leggings and rock star fur. Imagine Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler raiding David Bowie‘s wardrobe; its rock’n’roll mixed with futuristic meets minimalistic; it’s a bit special indeed! Inspired in their own words, by music, art, film and life, the collection is something of an exception to trends of the moment. There’s no hint of these clothes fitting into a Vogue run-down of current catwalk trends emergent this season.

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Featuring cut out, holey leggings paired with cocoon-like tops with shoulder padding, shape and volume are a clear focus of the collection. Pod- like hoods and wide wide wide, sharp, triangular shoulder pads sculpt the tops, or only collars are left with no top to speak of! One constant is the shock or avant garde factor, alongside of course the extreme precision and talent that has gone in to combining so many different shapes and effects in a way that isn’t garish or over the top. The collection is very balanced in a Gemini like way. Must be the dual influence.

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The different photo shoots capturing the collection also serve to capture its different facets. Mark Cant‘s photography delineates the beautiful precision of the pieces with his optical illusions of blurring motion in black and white – whereas Christopher James’ pictures evoke the Hoxton art student feel, which was clearly a subconscious influence on the designers as students of East London.

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The models ride bicycles and lean against Brick Lane-esque graffiti scenes to give the clothes a really modern ‘James Dean‘ rebel feel. Ellie Scott too focuses on the youthful vibrancy of the pieces combined with an urban backdrop featuring railway arches and garages, even including a matching mottled car. The designers clearly knew when working with these photographers that the ideas behind their clothing would not be lost.

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The pair have unsurprisingly gathered something of a cult following, largely as a result of their collaborations with other artistic projects (as seen with their impeccable taste in fashion photographers). ‘Collaboration’ is a key word for these designers, it seems. Having worked with artist/film maker Danny Sangra on the logo of the label, the duo set about making a short film of the new collection released this month. The film perfectly captures the ethos of “I hope you die soon”. Featuring flashing torch light and heavy drum and bass, the jilting camera follows models stepping in and out of the spot light before beginning to dance. The underground, dirty basement setting adds scare factor, whilst also appealing to that underworld art student vibe of the collection, like a secret drum and bass rave.

Stepping back, you can see that Fanny and Jessy’s combined talents manifest themselves in a holistic sense, since they can be seen throughout not just the collection but also the promotional artwork surrounding it. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Hackey Wicked Festival

Various Locations in Hackney Wick
1st August – 2nd August
Free Entry

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Photo by Margaret Stone

Hackney has for a while now been a hub of new exciting art activity. In celebration of the localised talent Hackey Wicked is back this year and according to NY Arts Magazine is ‘the most vital art event of the Summer’. Covering all bases of creativity there will be a live Graffiti Jam, order outdoor film screenings, sildenafil workshops, flash mob punk choir, a raffle even a floating gallery, as well as open studios around the E9 area, details of which can be found on their site here.

Saturday 1 August
12.00pm – 10.00pm
Famous artist will cut the ribbon at noon

Hackney WickED’s OFFICIAL Art Fete with Artist-run Stalls, Live Art, Infatigable Decima Travelling Shop, Bribery Stall, Dog Races, Mobile Galleries, Games and Prizes, Raffle, Vintage Fashion, Bric-a-brac, Books and Records Food Stalls, Credit Crunch ‘n’ Fun and Hackney WickED Live Music Stage.

Sunday 2 August
12.30pm – 10.00pm
Closing Party along the Canal, Wallis Road, E9

The festival will be closing with a massive soiree and BBQ during Harry Meadow’s Coracle Regatta at 2pm, Watercolour Challenge, projections on the Olympic Fence, boat rides and Burning of the Wicker Man at dusk.

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Vauxhall Skate

Secret Shoreditch Location
July 29th
8pm – late

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“Vauxhall will be pushing the conventions of roller disco to another level this summer with their Vauxhall Skate event, which promises to take us on a journey through a 21st century vision of the future where 70s disco meets Knight Rider on roller skates. If the time travelling journey fails, at the very least, guests will get to enjoy the skating joys of their truly weird but wonderful Vauxhall Corsa roller skates.

DJs Remi Nicole, Alfie Allen, Carl Barat, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Smash and Grab’s DJ duo Queens of Noize will be manning the decks for the night. The Queens will also be bringing in Florence Welch from Florence and The Machine (who they manage and art direct) for a guest DJ spot. Other than the vehicle skates, there will be distractions a-plenty involving cakes, dressing up and hair styling. Jonny Woo will be hosting a ‘car-aroke’ complete with dressing-up props. A car pit-stop hair salon with free styling from Lyndell Mansfield, who’s currently working with The Gossip. Skaters can make energy pit stops at the hot dogs and cup cakes stands and Kate Moross has also been working on a special four-wheeled piece of art that will be on display.

Dazed and Vauxhall have partnered up to give away 35 pairs of free tickets for the roller skate extravaganza. Just click here to enter your email address to enter.”

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Rankin Live

Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
E1 6QL
London E1 6QL

31st July – 18th September
Daily 10am-8pm
Thursday until 10pm
Tickets: £10/£7

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You may have seen the huge black and white posters around in the last couple of weeks asking innocent passersby whether they ‘fancy a quick Rank?’ Well, the answer is a very definite ‘yes’ from us. The week is the opening of the hotly awaited Rankin Live exhibition, the first ever retrospective of the world renowned photographer Ian Rankin’s work covering an impressive 22 year career. To add a participatory element to the show, ‘Shoot Me, Rankin!’ is offering 1000 member of the public the chance to be captured by the man himself and for their portraits to instantly become part of the exhibition.

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Association of Illustrators: Images 33

London College of Communication
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SB

29th July – 12th August

Weekdays: 10 – 5pm
Saturdays: 10 – 4pm
Closed Sundays
Free Entry

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Image: Daniel Pudles’s dramatic editorial image Latitude, Leonard And The Mob

“The Association of Illustrators (AOI) are proud to present Images 33 – the best of British contemporary illustration 2009, the most prestigious and comprehensive illustration awards and exhibition in the UK today. On display are over 300 artworks showcasing the incredible talents of illustrators who have made a significant contribution to their industry over the last year.”

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Iconography of Masks

Resistance Gallery
265 Poyser Street
Bethnal Green
London E2 9RF

30th July – 2nd August
All Events Weekender Ticket: £15

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From festish, to death, to superheroes and tribes, masks are widely used and interpreted by all sorts of cultures and communities. This weekend you are invited to join the Iconography Of Mask folks and the likes of Bonnie Baker, Charles of London, Suckadelic and Pam Glew in celebrating all things mask, including workshops in mask making and a masked fashion show with DJs and live music.

Thurs 30th July Art Opening Exhibition: 7pm. Free (donation to IOM trust)

Friday 31st July Live Art, Bands, Dj’s & Masked Fashion Shows: 9pm-2am. £5

Saturday 1st August Mask Making Workshops and Seminars: 2pm-7pm. £5

Saturday 1st August Hoodlovers Ball, Dj’s & Performances: 10pm-late am. £10

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Elizabeth Peyton: Live Forever

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX

Until 10th September
Tuesday–Sunday:11am–6pm
Thursday: 11am–9pm
Free Entry

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New York resident Elizabeth Peyton is showcasing 70 or so paintings, including depictions of historical figures such as Bonaparte, iconic figures she has been inspired by such as Frida Kahlo, and artists from her own generation such as Matthew Barney. Oil paint, watercolour, ink or pencil, Peyton’s small but perfectly formed portraits using a combination of ‘realism, luminous palette and a rhythmic energy of line’.

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Craftwerk

St Aloysius Social Club
21 Phoenix Rd
London
NW1 1TA

Saturday August 1st
1pm – 5pm
Free

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Craftwerk is a sale of affordable handmade goods including clothing, homewares and toys from London-based artists and craftspeople. There are Funky Finds swag bags for the first 50 arrivals; also cakes and sweets stalls, a bar and a raffle.’

Thumbnail by Nishant Choski
Monday 27th July

Agrofuels: The Miracle of Creative Carbon Accounting

Deepak Rugani explains the problems with simply replacing a fossil fuel economy with an agrofuels one. Agrofuels promise to cut carbon emissions, malady burning plant oils not fossil fuels. In fact, this is wrong – according to Friends of the Earth, they ‘often deliver poor greenhouse gas savings and some of them pose a threat to ecosystems that act as vital carbon sinks.’

6.30 pm – venue to be announced (more info : Campaign against Climate Change)

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Illustrations by Sergio Membrillas

Tuesday 28th July

Workshops for Community Hydro Power

Water Power Enterprises, who specialise in community hydro power projects, are running some free workshops for community groups interested in setting up their own community-owned hydro schemes.

Friends of the Earth have previously worked with Water Power Enterprises to create their case study page for hydro power. They’ve also been involved with the Settle hydro project.

They’ve just won a national award with the Co-op for the ‘best’ collaborative venture regarding community hydro schemes. They’re looking to recuit more people to their workshops and I thought this worthwhile promoting. The workshops take place in Manchester and are scheduled for : July 28th, Sept 29th, Oct 29th, Nov 24th.

More information can be found at www.h2ope.org.uk or call Steve Welsh on 01706 813663

Wednesday 29th July

The Big Green Gathering

The Big Green Gathering is a five day family camping event which concentrates on all aspects of sustainable living. It combines entertainment with environmental awareness. Various fields are devoted to different aspects of sustainable and alternative lifestyles. Children are well catered for.

Contact: Big Green Gathering P.O. Box 3423 Glastonbury BA6 9ZN – 01458 834629 – info@big-green-gathering.com midday Wednesday to midnight Sunday – Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin, Somerset

Teddy Bear’s Picnic at RSPB Rainham Marshes

A special day at the Rainham marshes for the under 6′s. Bring your teddy and a picnic for a wondrous woodland adventure. Booking Essential. WEX members: £3.50, child non members: £5, adult members:
£1, adult non members: £3.50

Contact: Rainham.marshes@rspb.org.uk – 01708 899840
11 am-1 pm – RSPB Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet. RM19 1SZ

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Thursday 30th July

An Introduction to Transmission Meditation

Share International invite you to a simple group meditation providing both a dynamic service to the world and powerful, personal spiritual development.

Contact: 020 7482 1113
7-9pm – admission free – Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1

Friday 31st July

Living roofs

This course will look at the why, how and what of living roofs and living roof installation. There is growing interest in the use of green roofs on buildings, and also a growing number of people who wish to do part or all of the installation themselves, with the least possible impact on the environment (in terms of materials) and of course on the pocket.

The course will be run by John Little of The Grass Roof Company, and Dusty Gedge of livingroofs.org and the Green Roof Consultancy.

Contact: Taryn 01296 714184
Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August

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Saturday 1st August

Green Economics Institute Conference

The clash between ecology and economy. Transformation at a time of economic crisis. Women’s unequal pay and poverty stream. Intra-generational equity. And an international range of speakers from 20 countries including Prof Graciela Chichilnisky, Columbia University and Dr Joseph Halevi, University de Nice, Sydney University. This conference on Green Economics must be pre-registered, pre-paid (£89 per day, concessions £39).

Contact: Miriam Kennet, 01189 841 026 – events@greeneconomicsinstitute.eu
Mansfield College – Friday and Saturday

Sunday 2nd August

Green Sunday @ The Dalston Mill

A family day out this Green Sunday in partnership with the Barbican Art Gallery. All welcome, drop in anytime.

3pm – 5pm : Workshops and Activities – ecoACTIVE sculpture workshop for kids of all ages – creating natural forms out of unnatural materials. Bike MOT check, SwapShop, Homemade Toiletries and Cake Decorating workshops

5pm – 7.30pm : Evening Entertainment – Afro-Brazilian percussion and Capoeira – Angola-Kabula performance and workshop. VoiCE – a young, female a cappella trio.

Contact: Owen Calvert-Lyons – owen@arcolatheatre.com
Entrance to The Dalston Mill by the Peace Mural on Dalston Lane, between Ashwin Street and Hartwell Street, E8
For the past few years now since the release of Verses of Comfort and Reassurance, cheapest I’ve been biding my time until I’m invited to join Au Revoir Simone, generic I’ve practised looking fey at a keyboard and I’ve got the fringe and floaty dresses sorted. Having not yet received the invite I satiated my lustily illustrious day-dreams of touring the world, sick dinners with David Lynch (number 1 Au Revoir Simone fan and a reoccurring odd but loveable sort of uncle figure in the dreams) and having tea together in striped t-shirts; by going to Proud Galleries on Saturday to see them play. So if you’re reading Au Revoir Simone: Call Me!

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First up though were Those Dancing Days, who simmered last summer with their single ‘Hitten’, a year on and now pushing the grand old age of 19, they have honed and matured their style a lot whilst retaining the fun exuberance of last year.

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The mix of Linnea Jonsson’s strong voice, the swirling Hammond organs and heady keyboards show a homage to Northern Soul and a talent beyond their years. Add to that mix some hooky bass and excellent drumming and KA-BLAM you’ve got yourself a unique take on the average girl with guitar set-up and a totally enjoyable live act. The song ‘Those Dancing Days’ was standout, spinning into a dizzying crescendo as the show’s finale.

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Au Revoir Simone quietly appear on stage, looking like the Lisbon sisters from the Virgin Suicides and assuming a rather Kraftwerk-ian set-up behind a line of keyboards.

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This mix sort of sets a format for their show; an ethereal aesthetic grounded by musical ability and lots of gadgets.

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Dressed in white, there is something rather ghostly and transparent about the girls, as a stream of surreal and dreamy images are projected onto them. They mostly play songs from their latest offering ‘Still Night, Still Light’ which is more synth heavy and creepy than their previous two albums.

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The new material translates well live with songs like ‘Knight of Wands’ and ‘All or Nothing’ having a danceable crunchiness and thumping bass to them which was an exciting departure from their space-y mellowness of their studio work.

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Unlike the dreamy spontaneity I had imagined; there was a definite structure to their arrangement as they bounce and refract of each other in a triangle of music, which was particularly lovely on old favourite ‘Sad Song’.

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They were charming, surprising and entrancing in equal measure and if David Lynch is a fan then so am I!

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London has more galleries and art spaces than I’ve had hot dinners. New exhibition territories crop up on a seemingly regular basis, discount from the smart addresses in Mayfair to the warehouse lofts of the East End. But none have been more fantasy fulfilling than Regent Park’s new Treehouse Gallery, sale based down by the banks of the Boating Lake and acting as a hub for some inspiring and ethically sound creativity throughout July and August, in the form of workshops, talks, events, performances and events. Such attractions will include flower clocks and floating gardens; a walk in camera obscura; weaving and basketry classes; live painting and shadow puppetry; a solar powered tea station; a medicine garden; a delicious tree-flavoured ice cream parlour; recycled puppetry and shadow play; tree-top dancing and live instrument installations.

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Photo by Henry Adams

Self sufficient, self funded and carefully designed to work in harmony with it’s surroundings, the site is as environmentally thumbs up as it gets. The groups involved in the project are predominantly concerned with promoting a respect for the natural environment and with accordance with The Royal Park’s Tree Officer and the RoSPA, they have ensured that the venture leaves no damage in it’s wake once it is disassembled in September. The trees supporting the ‘rooms’ are specifically selected for their durability and strength; even the time of year has been considered carefully for minimal wildlife disruption. Independent organisations participating include HighLife TreeHouses, specialists in tree house design; Monkey-Do, tree-climbing and rigging experts; BASH, nature sensitive events organisors; Arcadiam Associates, structural engineers; Bosky Trees, arboricultural and ecology experts; Ob:Lab, social networking through suspended structures and the Area10 project space. There is an established charity presence too, with the gallery collaborating with a range of well-known charities such as D-Art (Shape), St Mungos and School Friend Etc. Artists and organisations including the likes of Space Studios, Temporary School of Thought, Bicycology, The House of Fairytales and The School of Everything will punctuate the site with evolving and spontaneous curatorial programmes.

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Photograph by Joseph Bloor

The structures are predominantly built from naturally sourced materials and reclaimed city waste. All timber and building materials are being donated to the project and are guaranteed lightweight, un-pressure treated and free from chemicals that corrupt the soil. The gallery will be fuelled by onsite renewable energy and transport will be kept to a minimum, where possible taking the form of bicycle and other alternative modes of transportation. Furthermore marketing materials and waste produced on site are being reused through specific art workshops and installations that reinvent the discarded. grass roots city dwelling initiatives, willow weaving, carpentry, protest site techniques, contemporary construction practices, tree netting and creative methods of re-using; a reflection of the various alternative narratives that inform our cultural resources and practices.

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Photo by Sarah Bush

The brains behind the collaboration are Claudia Moseley and Steph Smith, who between them have experience in revamping dis-used spaces, tree protesting and woodland protection, light installations and projects with DA! and The Temporary School of Thought. They name their inspirations to be an ‘ongoing dialogue with nature and experiences of innovation’, which rings true for and has attracted the support and skills of emerging as well as established artists, crafty folk, activists, specialists in architecture and permaculture to mention a few. Additional participators and co-conspirators include Sarah Bush and Anshu Asthana, who work under the name ‘The Art is in the Tea’ producing delicious elderflower champagne and nettle ale. Others include Theo Brown, Franni Donnohoe, Will Lasslett, Jude Lamb, Kieran Metcalf, Edward Shuster, Mike Shuster, Oliver Shuster, and Miriam Waltz.

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‘Franni Donnohoe and the Birds’ Photo by Sarah Bush

The main viewing platform is a trio of ‘growths’ nestled high up in a triangular series of trees. Bridges and walkways link these pods, which have been especially created by architects Henry Adams and Oliver Ogilvie. Consideration for the less able bodied as well as those who are auditorily and visually impaired has remain a top priority for the designers, and the activities have been planned with their needs in mind. The Budding Hub Gallery is the epicentre of the goings on, resembling a germinating bulb and built from donated end-of-season hazel and willow wood. Next up is the Box Galleries, stacked cube-shaped spaces which can be explored via a network of staircases. Netted walkways lead off these exhibits to playful hanging pods and the more contemplative Spherical Reading Gallery, which as the name might suggest is a ‘circular space that houses hundreds of bark bound books’ which rather smartly form ‘part of the inverted trunk’ when slotted back into the shelf. Titles covering all kinds of topics from ways to living, alternate worlds, philosphies and mythologies can be found here and are unique to the project.

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‘The Art is in the Tea’ Photo by Sarah Bush

There is a strong social element to the initiative. What is clever about the whole concept is that while aesthetically The TreeHouse Gallery will be a piece of art in it’s own right, the space will also become a metaphor for the collective learning and growing of it’s visitors and contributors. The project aims to act as a type of socially cohesive glue, bringing together and joining up sections of society and community that wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths. As way of a manifesto the Treehouse Gallery state “The project will embrace socially inclusive art practices and a wide reaching approach to community engagement; highlighting social and cultural diversity and varied access needs.”

Like all good things that must come to an end, the Treehouse Gallery has a shelf life and will be reinvented and recycled come the end of August. So I urge to go and catch this collaboration while you can, for such well principled and innovatively executed projects are few and far between.

Gallery opening times: 10am – 4pm Weekdays
10am – 8pm Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays

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