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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Yuko Michishita: A New Tradition

Interview

Written by Alice Watson

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On our way out of an informative but visually underwhelming lingerie exhibit in south bank’s Fashion and Textiles Museum, this site all was soon forgiven when a well deserved browse through the museum shop led us to surface designer Jason Cheng’s bouncy bangles. This clever designer elevates the humble rubber band to where it shares the shelf with metalsmithed jewlelry.
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Accomplished with tight little knots and a muted monochromatic palette, these bangles begged to be touched, plucked and donned.
Jason Cheng’s accessories were apparently inspired by maps, geographical references, board games and sports themes. Although in our imaginations they conjured more organic visions of snipped veins (is that all I got from my biology textbooks?) underwater life (maybe because we know what a snorkel tastes like) and braces (those damn little rubber bands we had to attach, drooling, to our teeth’s hardware).
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A surging theme of associations points to the lowly rubber band’s first appearance on our scene in grade school. Manifesting itself as a hand held projectile mechanism capable of launching anything from bent paper clips to entirely-too-sharp pencils, the rubber band ignited the weaponry engineer in legions of boys.
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Whilst among the girls it became the emergency hair tie (taking with it most of my ponytail when removed) or the inspiration for the-more-the-better bracelets. Jason Cheng’s innovative application for the meager office supply has caused this accessory collector to make some room in her jewelry box.
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Best thing about them, they won’t break when you drop them, pack them or smash them during a particularly vigorous night on the dancefloor. All a girl could ask for from an accessory. That, and you could always take a cue from the boys in class…keep a pocket full of pebbles on your walk home at night. Just in case.
Monday 3rd August

Camp for Climate Action – Scotland

Climate Camp hits Scotland this week – there is no time to act but now! Come to the Camp for Climate Action in Scotland 3-10 August

For a week of low-impact living and high-impact direct action, story keep 3-10 August free and join us in Scotland to take direct action against the root causes of climate change and ecological collapse. This summer the struggle against a capitalist system intent on extinguishing life on the planet will hit the Firth of Forth!

Location to be confirmed.
3rd-10th August

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Illustrations by Sachiko

Tuesday 4th August

Forest Gardens, sickness Geoff Lawton Talk

Renowned international Permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton outlines the methods of designing and building your own food forest from conception to completion, drug demonstrating the evolution of a food forest from day one through to a living 2,000 year old example still flourishing in the Middle East.

7pm – 8pm – Passing Clouds, Dalston
(440 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 – Corner of Kingsland Road and Richmond Road, behind Uncle Sam’s pub now called the Haggerston)

Wednesday 5th August

Terribly Tall Towers

Learn more about the oldest building in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower, and be inspired to create your own towering construction! This is a workshop run by The Building Exploratory for children of all ages, who must be accompanied at all times by an adult.

14:30-16:30 – St John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens

Contact: The Building Exploratory – 020 7729 2011 – mail@buildingexploratory.org.uk

Thursday 6th August

Vestas Rally

Campaign Against Climate Change continue the struggle to save Vestas wind turbine factory. Hit the streets.

8pm
outside Dept of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place.

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Friday 7th August

I think, I see

Join Sally Booth for a large-scale outdoor drawing project : interact with the built environment on the Southbank. More details here.

Drop-in, 12noon – 5pm
Southbank, outdoors.

Saturday 8th August

Introduction to Permaculture

A lively and dynamic weekend, run by Naturewise, looking at the foundations of permaculture and some of the practical tools it offers. Can be considered a stand alone introduction to ethics, principles and design, or a lead-in to the more in depth full 72 hour Design Course.

Contact: Marianne – londoncourses@naturewise.org.uk
Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm – Hornsey Rise Gardens, N19
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Yesterday morning seven climate change activists from Workers Climate Action glued themselves together across the entrance to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They were wearing black, remedy green and red to symbolise the diversity of their political opinions, but one thing unites them all and that is their belief that the closure of the Vestas wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight is madness. At a time when our government is publically promoting the need for green jobs how on earth can this be allowed to happen? Sounds like a lot of hot air to us. Millions is used to bail out the banks whilst the future of our renewable energy sector is allowed to falter at the first hurdle of NIMBYism, which is preventing the construction of large scale onshore wind power in the UK. Strung around the necks of the activists were the simple words Take Back the Wind Power.

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Last week the Big Green Gathering was cancelled for extremely spurious reasons, as highlighted by good old Monbiot in today’s Guardian. Could it be that there is a political desire to keep green activists from gathering together and raising money, some of which might go towards funding actions? Are we becoming too powerful as a movement? It seems somewhat crazy, given that the BGG is predominantly known as a relaxed family festival with a hippie vibe, but there you go.

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I had been looking forward to going for the first time and playing a daily celidh as part of the houseband in the Last Chance Saloon, which was already fully erected on site when the plug was pulled (our friends have lost £6000 in the process). But instead and given the circumstances, why not go on a holidarity to the Vestas “Vestival” down on the Isle of Wight, where workers have been staging a sit in occupation since the 22nd of July.

So we, Green Kite Midnight, packed all our instruments and amps into the back of a large car which suddenly seemed very small, and pootled on down to the dock at Portsmouth. The sun shone as we sailed (expensively – book online first ladies and gents) across the Solent, smiling at the beautiful blue sea in the breeze.

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Shortly after we landed our spirits were elevated still further by the sight of the Bicycology crew, travelling in convoy towards the Vestas plant, tucked away at the back of a new and half empty light industrial estate.

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In front of the factory a roundabout has been turned into a temporary camp – a place to gather for people from all different political backgrounds, all of whom have come to fight for the future of the workers at Vestas.

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Marooned together on the “magic roundabout”, as it has affectionately come to be called, there are members of various trade unions (no Vestas workers were members of a union before the sit-in) as well as activists from slightly differing factions of the Socialist movement and members of Climate Camp and Workers Climate Action (the latter having born out of the former) If you’re already confused imagine how I felt. I’ve never been particularly politically active until my involvement with Climate Camp, and I feel as though a whole strange new world has opened up to me – where the most unlikeliest of friendships are forged over shared causes.

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Down at Vestas everyone wants a slice of the pie, but all for slightly different reasons. And in the process something really quite beautiful is happening – all these little groups are rubbing along quite happily together and coming to learn about each other and how we can work together to create a better future, because ultimately there can be no climate action without climate justice at the same time. We may be looking at the situation from different angles, but for the most part we’re interested in similar outcomes.

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Mind you, there was a burger van set up in the adjacent carpark (run by a lovely man – he was happy to post Climate Camp posters on the outside!) from which union members would habitually return bearing meaty burgers stuffed into those horrible landfill-bound-on-a-fast-train polystyrene containers whilst we munched on our latest vegan meal.

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In a dance of food-offering decorum the burger would be offered to us and politely declined, our yummy vegan soup or salad refused in return by a bloke (invariably) more used to fast food than fresh roundabout ‘plat du jour’.

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Spirits were high as we arrived in the late afternoon sunshine and an impromptu conga snaked its way around the roundabout. Food had been successfully delivered by Climate Camp activists earlier in the day – having finally despaired of the manager’s efforts to starve the workers into submission they staged a rush of the factory, organising the operation with precision via mobile phone calls with the workers who were ready and waiting with equipment to haul the booty in as soon as it arrived.

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As the evening rally kicked off Bicycology where able to provide a bike-powered soundsystem, much to the bemusement of the attendant locals and workers’ families.

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Freshly-cooked Welsh cakes made on the miniature children’s oven set were served and the workers on the balcony cheered.

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Evenings on the roundabout are where friendships are cemented – gathered around an oil drum full of palettes in the sodium moonlight. The next day was spent getting together an impressive new Climate Camp banner and taping the prayer flag banners I printed onto the hoardings.

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The banners turned out to make good headscarves as stencils were created and bunting sewn as we sat in the blazing sunshine.

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Mini pastel bunting to be precise – a good foil for the huge bright RMT flags flying above our heads. Due to a lack of loo facilities (as well as local council recycling, though of course we had put a system in place) we had to make frequent treks down to the B&Q at the end of the industrial estate and en route I found a cherry plum tree laden with fruit as well as abundant fat juicy blackberries. After a successful trip into town to visit the local charity shops (great craft magazines) I returned with a bag full of tasty fruit to be shared around. Locals also baked cakes, brought fresh water and in the case of Sue – a local Catholic lady of a certain age – hot fish and chips for the boys on the balcony. These had to be delivered before they went cold – obviously – so a plan was hatched to get them into the precinct as the rally happened on day two of our visit. Once again a group of activists was coralled, and with Sue at the helm they made a dash for the Vestas factory, as the police (always two of them standing around, with very big metal badges on their helmet, must be a real strain on the neck for the Isle of Wight constabulary!) slowly cottoned on.

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A farcical chase and grab ensued with the privately employed security guards inside, but we had decoys in place and the food was successfully delivered as Sue turned around and walked calmly through the maelstorm and back out through the Harris fencing with maximum confidence.

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What a lady! We later heard that the management, largely due to our actions, had agreed to feed the workers on demand instead of at sporadic intervals with small amounts of unnutritious food (although this has since to happen as they appear to have reneged on the deal).

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After the rally protest band Seize the Day played their newly recorded Vestas song with a bit of backing vocal help from some Vestas WAGS. We all sang along with the chorus which I thought was pretty darn rousing, and they tried to bluetooth it out to the crowd. The plan is to get it out as soon as possible so that it can raise money and awareness for the cause.

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I’m not sure they’re impressed though.

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Next up it was the turn of my new celidh band Green Kite Midnight to put on a dance. I managed to persuade a mixed bunch of folk, including a local morris dancing lady in full traditional gear, to dance along with us in the middle of the road. We didn’t get many takers – clearly celidhs are not that cool in the Isle of Wight – but we did thoroughly entertain the workers, who cheered us on through the whole affair.

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The next day we took most of the day to get off the island – it’s a very hard place to leave when the ferries are all booked up and you haven’t got your wetsuit. But we got to paddle in the sea in the drizzle and I got to eat a fresh crab sandwich. The Big Green it wasn’t, but our holidarity was a whole other affair that I was extremely glad to have taken part in. Today Vestas is in court as the management once more seek an injunction to evict the workers. Who knows what will happen? But one thing is sure, new allegiances have been formed and lessons learnt. Vestas workers will tell their story at this year’s Climate Camp, and the need for a just transition to a green economy has never been more high on the agenda. Interesting times indeed.

…And as I complete this blog news has just come in of an occupation at the second Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight, where Climate Camp activists and members of the trade union have together scaled the roof, vowing to stay there until their demands are met. Long live direct action…

I’d been looking forward to July for a while. Me fave Punk-Jazz act releasing a new album, me fave South Coast creole Rock’n’Rollers go big league with man-of-the-moment celeb producer. Surely, this would be a month to take music in a sunny direction, and give me many hours of iPod joy. But my heroes have failed me. The stench of re-used ideas and self-consciousness has overwhelmed my hopes. Instead, July belonged to a very unprepossessing girl releasing her debut solo album, with no grander fanfare and hype than she alone can muster with a myspace, a spamming list, a charismatic strawberry blonde afro and her beautiful wee ditties.
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Putting Fiona Bevan’s record on was pure refreshment. Maybe I’ve been overdosing on clever-clever music this year, but I was really bowled over to hear such a soulful and sincere voice giving its all to songs of life and love, written for the sake of honesty rather than statement or ego. Bless her cotton socks, it’s stunning! It feels pretty rare in our decadent and cynical age to hear someone who recalls the honest, big-hearted decency of a Joni Mitchell or even Nina Simone on an unguided tour of the maze of the heart. She’s still capable of a couple of moments when complex grandeur works its way in, courtesy of skilful violin and brass orchestration, that variously evoke The Kinks, Al Green, and most obviously, the funeral march (which sits in strangely comfortably amidst samba-plucked guitar chords and Erykah-Badu-puppeteering-Adele vocals), but these are held back for needy moments. Emphasis that would be overused and squandered by a man-of-the-moment celeb producer, goes in just the right place here.
Most of the production is in the clean as a whistle spacious style of the Kings Of Convenience with occasional zones of Kate Bush echoes. The band is the perfect loyalty backing band, there to give Fiona’s voice the space or gusto it needs. They do this as well as Minnie Riperton’s collection of session wizards did, and there are plenty of to-wet-yourself-for jazzular chord changes.
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And then there are the bits that don’t really fit with the impression I’ve just given you, like the title track which is heavy on production and quickly turns into an experiment by Unkle, John Zorn and Satan (not the band, but actually Satan). And the lyric in Fatal Cocktail, which goes “I will dance away when I leave, I will have her intestines to hold up my best stockings, one use only, then holey, throw them away”, which is more Eli Roth than Joan Baez.
This is a folk-soul album blessed with a skilful tightrope-walk of purity without becoming overly simple and thus dull. Fiona gets top marks for songwriting; there’s only one filler track on here (first track, strangely). All else is either strong and hummable enough or deep and luscious enough to get double-thumbs-up. And top marks for performance; hers is a sweet caress of a voice that reaches it’s extremes with a tender whimper of truth.
Moral of the story: Whence cometh the joy, ye shall ne’er predict…
Over the years it has become routine that designers are often been as much defined by their clothes as by the manner in which they are presented. Fashion and spectacle have long been well married together and it’s the most spectacular that are the most memorable: Alexander McQueen ‘s psychiatric ward in SS01′s ‘Voss’. Viktor and Rolf often hold unauthorised, website like this underground shows during Paris fashion week and have even tap-danced in one of their own shows. Maison Martin Margiela has used dummies and giant dolls instead of models. It’s well-known that McQueen in particular has developed an almost Artaudian approach to his shows, viagra order attaching value to the sensory experience beyond the clothes themselves.

Fashion and art label Cosmic Wonder, ask owned by Yukinori Maeda, sees its fashion cell Cosmic Wonder Light Source also experimenting with the boundaries in which collections can be presented, attempting to evoke a response from consumers who perhaps don’t always engage with a designer’s thought-process. In the case of its SS09 collection, we find the garments on show in perhaps the least exciting of arenas – an office.

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Upon entry, it seems like a regular day. Desks, shelves, pot plants, whitewashed walls – that sense of despair. Yet there’s something dodgy going on. Have you seen The Truman Show? That bit where he suddenly bangs into the skyline? Well, here, the office workers just so happen to be models, the books and magazines are blank, and there are box files that simply read ‘Business Business Business’. The office, as a site perhaps most associated with loss of identity that manifests even in what we wear, seems an ideal centre to explore different ways to express yourself via the medium of fashion. Similarly by choosing the most utilitarian of spaces, the functional aspect of the clothing is examined, whilst eliciting the idea that on a day- to- day basis there is something intimate about the garments we choose to live our lives in. The line itself is chic and edgy, sometimes androgynous and with voluminous silhouettes – with soft pastels playing with ideas of light with the aim to produce an environmental effect.

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Achieving a cult status after appearing in Paris Fashion Week in the Pompidou Centre in 2001, Cosmic Wonder shares with Comme de Garcons the wish to operate outside of pop culture. Instead it shows a willingness to examine how art, fashion and commerce can successfully interact together that prioritises wearability at the appropriate times, at one point showing a giant bra that filled a whole space by itself (now that’s not for a faint-hearted fellow). Cosmic Wonder’s line can be bought on b-store: gigantic bras not currently available much to our disappointment!

Yuko Michishita is a self described hair obsessive, pharmacy braided hair in particular. This immediately established my respect for her, pilule which only grew and grew once I discovered she has illustrated for Fleet Foxes, has an interest in traditional costume and almost entirely draws in pencil. Yes, we are destined to be friends.

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Fresh off the acclaimed Illustration BA at Brighton University, Yuko is working freelance in that creative hub of a city by the sea and sources most of her inspiration from ‘tribes engaged in traditionally womanly activities such as weaving and embroidering’, in particular the indigenous tribes of Asia from which her heritage hails.

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The way Yuko describes her work processes makes it sound like drawing is almost an impulse, something she cannot help but do, as if she would implode if she didn’t. I found it hard to believe the images she creates are current art, as the folklore type aesthetic uses what is, in my mind, a very understated palette and composition, uncomplicated figures carrying out traditional tasks. We had a quick chat about Murikami, dating and guilty cheesecake pleasures. A girl after my own heart indeed.

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Hi, how are you today?

I’m good thanks.

What have you been up to lately?

A lot of sitting on the beach and reading. I’ve just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s new book 1Q84, which was so so so good that it made me want to read his books again. So at the moment I’m reading Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?

Hieronymus Bosch

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If we visited you in your home town, where would you take us?

I would firstly take you to Cine-Twin which is a tiny independent cinema in which I spent most of my high school life in and watch whatever is on. They always have a good selection of films. Then we’d go to Libro which is a really good book shop and browse there until we get sick of looking at books. Later we’d go to Blue Flat Cafe and have salmon and avocado on rice and an after meal cappuccino.

Wow this is like my ideal date! I wish you were a nice man preferably with curly hair…

Who would most love to collaborate with creatively?

I can’t say who exactly but someone who does non-illustration things I guess. I collaborated with my friend graphic designer Richard Carey last year on a vinyl cover project and it was so much fun and final piece was something I could never create on my own! So I’d love to collaborate with graphic designers/photographers/sculptors etc to see how we could develop our work together and create something we have never created before.

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If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

Working in a cafe most likely.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Somewhere that keeps me happy. Somewhere nice.

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What advice would you give up and coming artists?

I want to receive advice not giving! … sharpen your senses and see your strength, maybe?

How would you describe your art in five words?

Meticulous on the ridiculous level. (5 words just! Well done me!!)

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What is your guilty pleasure?

Waitrose cheese cake.

Oh my, me too! Tell us something about Yuko Michishita that we didn’t know already.

I have an acute sense of smell.

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What are you up to next?

I’m just starting up as a freelance illustrator so I’ll be trying to get commissions as well as doing my personal work. It’s not the best timing to graduate because of this credit crunch thing, but I’ll have to do my best and get the most out of what I’ve got!

What wise words indeed.

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