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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The 10:10 campaign launches

Tate Modern, September 1

Written by Satu Fox

Graham Carter’s joyful prints reference many of the most loved images in modern culture: the characters from Star Wars or the eerie but manageable magic of Spirited Away. The artistic sensibilities stop these nostalgic influences from turning into twee: the gorgeously rendered digital art glows with vibrant colours and many of the works are made 3-dimensional with painstakingly applied wood veneers, find sale or cut-out perspex shapes that lend shadows to a noir city scene.

This is the kind of art you’d love to have in your own house (I made enquiries! Prices average at around £150). The small details show wit and add a lovely personal feeling to the prints: a towerblock soars above a city landscape but is made friendly by a pair of eyes and a winning smile. When you spot a tiny figure peeping out of the digital grass you fall in love with the world in the picture. Each picture tells a story that you can imagine going on far beyond the edges of the frame, like that of the little girl and her huge Samurai friend, pictured below.

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Amelia’s Magazine interviewed the artist to find out more.

AM: Tell me a bit more about the title of the exhibition, “East Meets West”.

GC: It was an intentionally open title really, to try and represent my current fascination with Eastern culture whilst also allowing me to continue experimenting with elements of early American design, which have been creeping into my work of late. I should point out that my work is never extensively researched (as you can probably tell) as I prefer to make things up – or put my own spin on things. The world as I would like it to be and not really how it is…
Towards the end of its development I wanted the show to almost be a kind of travel diary/scrapbook; a couple of recurring characters making their way from one city to the next (New York to Tokyo, via New Yokyo, a hybrid of the two). And in some pictures in the distance you can spot elements of previous images (something I always tend to do).

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AM: You are obviously inspired by screen culture (especially Sci Fi!) Could you tell me about why these influences appeal to you? The original influences are quite tech-y and macho but your works are really whimsical and beautiful, they remind me more of Hayao Miyazaki than Michael Bay.

GC: I’ve always loved sci-fi films so I guess it was only a matter of time before elements crept into my work. It’s largely the machines that fascinate me rather than the action. My favourite parts of the film are usually when the protagonists are just sitting around/hiding/waiting inside their pods/spaceships without the stress of battle!
I have been watching a lot of Miyazaki of late. He and Wes Anderson are my favourite film makers as they have created their own little worlds that seem to make perfect sense despite all the unusual happenings on screen.
I’m also a sucker for a robot.

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AM: Some of your works are printed on wood or made of inlaid wood. What is it about wood as a material that appeals to you? Is it very hard work getting the solid wood pieces manufactured? How are they made?

GC: A phase I am going through largely, but one I am constantly fascinated with. From getting one thing laser cut, it has opened me up into a whole new way of seeing my work and the possibilities are pretty huge.
The texture of wood appeals to me and also the ‘natural’ connotations. I love the idea that someone may have constructed a working robot from found wood for example. Wood also has that old-fashioned appeal. I’m more enamoured with the look of bygone toys and their clock-work components than anything sleek and soulless.
I worked with a company called Heritage Inlay on the laser cut images and the inlaid pieces. Usually I design them and they construct them. But in some cases I like to order the separate components and put them together myself as in the case of the 3 images composed of laser-cut perspex, silkscreen backing and screen-printed glass [see image below].

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AM: I loved the perspex “landscape” pieces. Is it very different creating something 3D to making a print?

GC: I treat the process the same way as a 2D piece really. They all start out life as a digital layered file on my computer so I can see roughly how they will work. I’m never entirely sure how the 3D piece will work until I have a finished one, due to unforeseen elements such as shadows running over parts of the background print etc. That’s why I find it an exciting way to work.

Graham Carter@The Coningsby Gallery
www.coningsbygallery.com
August 31 – September 12
30 Tottenham Street , London, W1T 4RJ

If you’d like to see an online array of Carter’s works, investigate e-gallery Boxbird.

When scouring the latest releases for something worthy of talking about, unhealthy an album opener of the primary school rhyme to remember Henry VIII’s wives, is going to catch your attention. Recently signed to Andy Turner‘s ATIC Records, The Witch and the Robot are a treasure trove of oddities waiting to assault and bemuse your senses with their first release ‘On Safari.’

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Aforementioned opener, ‘Giant’s Graves’, introduces a theme that runs throughout the album of pagan chanting, psychotic percussion and bizarre lyrics. With a name check to philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the following track, lead singer Andrew Tomlinson screams: “God is mackerel” against an array of fowl (as in bird) noises.

Standout track, and title for that matter, ‘No Flies On Me (Jam Head)’ is an example of the alluring world that the band create, rich in competing layers of sonic beauty. If you were wondering, it’s about wealthy golfers who employ a man to take the bait of flies by covering his bonce in the sticky stuff.

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Live performances are known to emulate some kind of terrifying children’s party with helium balloons, cream pies, fighting and bunting all playing a part. In addition to putting out the most unique blend of folk, psychedelia and prose heard this year, the band run a night where each punter is entered into a compulsory meat raffle. They explain: “We sometimes play surrounded by raw meat on stage. It’s referencing our own mortality, the fragility of life, it’s visceral, sexual even, but also it is nicely weird.”

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At this stage, you’re probably wondering where a band of such peculiar entities are from… That picturesque, romantic stretch of idyll, the Lake District of course… That same region of the UK that has inspired the poems of Keats, Collingwood and Wordsworth to name but a few. This could perhaps explain the spoken word entry on ‘Sex Music(Beef on Music)’, which does narrate a meeting of the sexes but in a less romantic context than our nineteenth century forefathers. Their eccentric yet catchy sounds have caught the attentions of fellow Cumbrians and Amelia’s Magazine faves, British Sea Power and they were asked to open their festival in north Yorkshire.

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If you can’t make your mind up whether they are performance art with access to a recording studio or actually have the intention of being a band at all, De-Nihilism should answer this for you; a sprawling rock track that transports you to the Arizona Desert, but there you’d most probably be wearing a silly outfit and singing a shanty.

This album is humorously fun yet dark and mysterious all delivered with a conviction and musicianship that compels another listen… “Divorced, beheaded, died/Divorced, beheaded, survived.” Just in case you’d forgotten.

Less of a protest than a gentle nudge, physician the aim of the 10:10 campaign is to sign members of the public up to a pledge to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% by the end of 2010. A star-spangled event at Tate Modern encouraged thousands to sign up to make this change. It was a very different approach from the grassroots events at the Climate Camp last weekend and had an entirely different goal: to get ordinary people to make small changes to save the world.

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But hasn’t this message been preached for years with little result? I always refuse carrier bags at the supermarket but this does not appear to have yet halted global warming. Support in reducing my consumption of resources in all parts of my life is very welcome and, patient having signed up, cheap I’m going to take up some of the tips on offer such as going vegan three days a week. I’m a lazy environmentalist: I care and I know what needs to be done, but I find it hard not to fly, as many people do with relatives who live abroad. I get confused as to whether this cancels out all of my efforts on the recycling and public transport front. There are many of us out there, and still more who find it hard to get motivated when the problem seems so big.

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Campaigns like 10:10 often draw mixed responses from the green movement. Many of those who have informed themselves about climate change and have made meaningful changes to their lifestyle will be puzzled by the half-measure of asking people to take one less flight a year. It’s frustrating to see 10% held up as a magic figure when in reality we need to be drastically reducing our use of resources to avoid being the most reviled generation in the history of mankind. We don’t need to switch off a light every now and then; we need to stop using freezers and eating meat. These aren’t sacrifices that the majority of people are willing to have prized from their cold, dead hands, so instead they do nothing. That’s why it is necessary to have well-promoted and unintimidating ventures like 10:10, because otherwise instead of 10% it will be 0%.

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However, with all the best intentions, it’s not realistic to rely on individual decision-making and a small change in some lives won’t make enough of a difference. International politics and the Western economic model, which views increased consumption and growth as the only positive outcome, make it very hard for governments to lead the way. And if they did try to radically change the way the average Briton lives it would be hard for us to stomach. But we can’t have our cake and eat it. There are very difficult decisions to be made and at the moment they are being taken by a vanishingly small minority. It can’t be one lightbulb: it must be everyone’s lightbulb, every night, forever.

Both Climate Camp and 10:10 show that green campaigning can be given a high profile in the media through well-designed websites and using new modes of communication such as Facebook and Twitter. The mainstreaming of climate change awareness can only be a good thing, and it’s important to normalise making big changes in lifestyle. Living a “green” life needs to be seen as less expensive and we need to cultivate a better array of things to do in Britain that don’t require a car or a credit card. What is required is a paradigm shift in the way the majority of the population lives and going green needs to be seen as “just something you do”. Soon enough, owning more than one car will become embarrassing rather than a status symbol, but by the time the sea is lapping at everyone’s front door, it will be a little late to argue about who was the best environmentalist in 2009.

It can be done. It just needs to be done at a slightly quicker rate. Going green needs to be cheap and cheerful and to be made easier psychologically. Efforts like 10:10 help with this, but at the end of 2010, the bar needs to be set a little higher. We need to knock off another 10% in 2011, and then another. Asking for more all in one go won’t work but perhaps turning up the heat a little at a time will.

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3 Responses to “The 10:10 campaign launches”

  1. Milady says:

    I think the main point of the 10:10 campaign is to use people pledging to reduce their emissions to give the politicians the ‘space’ as they keep saying they require, to plan those sort of changes (and promise them at Copenhagen).

    I don’t think plastic bags were ever about climate change (although I suspect some media got -that- idea and spread it (stupidly) about.. they were about not littering the environment and landfill!

    From the people I have sent the 10:10 campaign to, I’ve had a very positive response. Climate Camp (and its wonderful and I love it!) doesn’t get that sort of response at all. It is still seen as too ‘extreme’ no matter what we say!

  2. Racheblue says:

    I agree Amelia – the 10:10 campaign seems a little half-hearted in its teeny-tiny aims and I guess this will suit those individuals and corporations who are not yet prepared to take the necessary bigger steps.

    What will it take for us to start making real, effective, positive change? Oh yeah, real, effective, and honest government leadership and action – I’m holding my breath…

    Or we can just get on with getting on with the job ourselves. Climate Camp, Transition Towns and the like are the people truly making a difference.

    Hi Satu – I don’t think the government really need us to make pledges to give them the ‘space’ needed to get on with reducing emissions. They need a kick up the proverbial and to just get on with it!

    Plastic bags and climate change are inextricably linked: Plastic bags are made from oil. Used plastic releases emissions and toxins in landfill and oceans…

  3. Racheblue says:

    erm, yeah, I meant Satu for Amelia and Mlady for Satu – doh!

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