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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Beauty in the broken places: A conversation with Anna Brønsted of Our Broken Garden

Ahead of Wednesday’s gig at St Giles-in-the-Fields, we sat down with Our Broken Garden singer Anna Brønsted and talked about making connections through music, dark undercurrents and the struggle to find the right words.

Written by Jessica Furseth


Erdem, information pills illustrated by Katie Walters

The Whitechapel Gallery is, this month, hosting a series of talks which see a host of London-based fashion designers in conversation with curator Kirsty Ogg. The first of these talks saw Turkish/English/Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu take to the stage. 

Personally I’m a massive fan of Erdem and the inherent beauty he’s displayed across collection after collection. Amelia’s Magazine supported the designer since his first show, with an interview and feature in Issue 08 of the printed magazine. It’s a shame, then, that we didn’t get a ticket to his most recent show so we haven’t covered his work in a while. Yes, they probably go faster than Take That tickets, but, y’know, we’ve been on the Erdem wagon longer than it takes to correctly spell his surname.

Above: Erdem S/S 2011 Below: Erdem S/S 2010, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

After a warm introduction from Elle‘s fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis, who thanked Erdem for her wedding dress (cringe), the conversation began, as these things tend to, rather awkwardly. We got a brief synopsis of Erdem the man so far – he relayed stories from his childhood, described his Virgin Suicides-esque hometown and discussed his fascination with right and wrong. He’s a man after my own heart who has always been fascinated by women and the impact that fashion has on their lives. The contrast of cultures – a Turkish father, an English mother, a Canadian upbringing – has had a massive impact on the designer’s work and life. He has always been obsessed by reality, fantasy and femininity.

This unusual series of talks see fashion designers talk about the influence of the art world, generally speaking, on their work. Each designer has been asked to pick 10 pieces of art that they feel have been most inspirational. Erdem had hand-picked a wide range of pieces that had been influential, from centuries-old paintings to the work of modern photographers.
From Ryan McGinley‘s ethereal firework images to Singer Sargent‘s oil paintings, all genres were covered, with an unsurprising theme of women and figures running throughout. Here are a few of his picks:

Seeing Peter Doig’s White Canoe (1990-1) in oils appeared like a close-up image of Erdem’s many digital prints, but also evoked his own memories of growing up near this ‘large lake’…

Singer Sergant’s Madame X conveyed Erdem’s fascination with mysterious women…(detail)

Ryan McGinley’s Fireworks Hysteric was a combination of the female form and his obsession with reality…

Inspiration from Tina Barney’s Matador, from the conscious influence of Erdem’s detailing to the juxtaposition of the elaborate jacket with the crispness of the shirt and tie… 

While there’s no doubt that art and fashion are physically and psychologically intertwined, it did feel at times that the emphasis was on the deeper and often patronising themes that existed in Erdem’s choices. I would have happily listened to his dulcet Canadian tones wax lyrical about fashion than hear him struggle somewhat to form concepts from pieces of art that just weren’t there. ‘There isn’t really a meaning, love!’ I kept thinking to myself as Ogg tried to worm out themes from his choices. ‘Leave him alone!’ I forced myself not to say aloud. ‘LEAVE MY ERDEM ALONE!’ It was a little like sitting in on a psychiatrist extract information from a sane person who didn’t really need to see a psychiatrist.  

Generally, the idea of a fashion designer discussing his influences, and purely artistic ones, is a great concept, but what it didn’t need was patronising drivel. Just my philistine opinion, obviously.  


Illustration by Katie Harnett

You can catch Marios Schwab in conversation with Daniel F. Herrmann on Wednesday 24th November. Click here for more details.


Erdem, viagra illustrated by Katie Walters

The Whitechapel Gallery is, viagra this month, drugs hosting a series of talks which see a host of London-based fashion designers in conversation with curator Kirsty Ogg. The first of these talks saw Turkish/English/Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu take to the stage. 

Personally I’m a massive fan of Erdem and the inherent beauty he’s displayed across collection after collection. Amelia’s Magazine supported the designer since his first show, with an interview and feature in Issue 08 of the printed magazine. It’s a shame, then, that we didn’t get a ticket to his most recent show so we haven’t covered his work in a while. Yes, they probably go faster than Take That tickets, but, y’know, we’ve been on the Erdem wagon longer than it takes to correctly spell his surname.

Above: Erdem S/S 2011 Below: Erdem S/S 2010, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

After a warm introduction from Elle‘s fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis, who thanked Erdem for her wedding dress (cringe), the conversation began, as these things tend to, rather awkwardly. We got a brief synopsis of Erdem the man so far – he relayed stories from his childhood, described his Virgin Suicides-esque hometown and discussed his fascination with right and wrong. He’s a man after my own heart who has always been fascinated by women and the impact that fashion has on their lives. The contrast of cultures – a Turkish father, an English mother, a Canadian upbringing – has had a massive impact on the designer’s work and life. He has always been obsessed by reality, fantasy and femininity.

This unusual series of talks see fashion designers talk about the influence of the art world, generally speaking, on their work. Each designer has been asked to pick 10 pieces of art that they feel have been most inspirational. Erdem had hand-picked a wide range of pieces that had been influential, from centuries-old paintings to the work of modern photographers.
From Ryan McGinley‘s ethereal firework images to Singer Sargent‘s oil paintings, all genres were covered, with an unsurprising theme of women and figures running throughout. Here are a few of his picks:

Seeing Peter Doig’s White Canoe (1990-1) in oils appeared like a close-up image of Erdem’s many digital prints, but also evoked his own memories of growing up near this ‘large lake’…

Singer Sergant’s Madame X conveyed Erdem’s fascination with mysterious women…(detail)

Ryan McGinley’s Fireworks Hysteric was a combination of the female form and his obsession with reality…

Inspiration from Tina Barney’s Matador, from the conscious influence of Erdem’s detailing to the juxtaposition of the elaborate jacket with the crispness of the shirt and tie… 

While there’s no doubt that art and fashion are physically and psychologically intertwined, it did feel at times that the emphasis was on the deeper and often patronising themes that existed in Erdem’s choices. I would have happily listened to his dulcet Canadian tones wax lyrical about fashion than hear him struggle somewhat to form concepts from pieces of art that just weren’t there. ‘There isn’t really a meaning, love!’ I kept thinking to myself as Ogg tried to worm out themes from his choices. ‘Leave him alone!’ I forced myself not to say aloud. ‘LEAVE MY ERDEM ALONE!’ It was a little like sitting in on a psychiatrist extract information from a sane person who didn’t really need to see a psychiatrist.  

Generally, the idea of a fashion designer discussing his influences, and purely artistic ones, is a great concept, but what it didn’t need was patronising drivel. Just my philistine opinion, obviously.  


Illustration by Katie Harnett

You can catch Marios Schwab in conversation with Daniel F. Herrmann on Wednesday 24th November. Click here for more details.


Erdem, troche illustrated by Katie Walters

The Whitechapel Gallery is, page this month, page hosting a series of talks which see a host of London-based fashion designers in conversation with curator Kirsty Ogg. The first of these talks saw Turkish/English/Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu take to the stage. 

Personally I’m a massive fan of Erdem and the inherent beauty he’s displayed across collection after collection. Amelia’s Magazine supported the designer since his first show, with an interview and feature in Issue 08 of the printed magazine. It’s a shame, then, that we didn’t get a ticket to his most recent show so we haven’t covered his work in a while. Yes, they probably go faster than Take That tickets, but, y’know, we’ve been on the Erdem wagon longer than it takes to correctly spell his surname.

Above: Erdem S/S 2011 Below: Erdem S/S 2010, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

After a warm introduction from Elle‘s fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis, who thanked Erdem for her wedding dress (cringe), the conversation began, as these things tend to, rather awkwardly. We got a brief synopsis of Erdem the man so far – he relayed stories from his childhood, described his Virgin Suicides-esque hometown and discussed his fascination with right and wrong. He’s a man after my own heart who has always been fascinated by women and the impact that fashion has on their lives. The contrast of cultures – a Turkish father, an English mother, a Canadian upbringing – has had a massive impact on the designer’s work and life. He has always been obsessed by reality, fantasy and femininity.

This unusual series of talks see fashion designers talk about the influence of the art world, generally speaking, on their work. Each designer has been asked to pick 10 pieces of art that they feel have been most inspirational. Erdem had hand-picked a wide range of pieces that had been influential, from centuries-old paintings to the work of modern photographers.
From Ryan McGinley‘s ethereal firework images to Singer Sargent‘s oil paintings, all genres were covered, with an unsurprising theme of women and figures running throughout. Here are a few of his picks:

Seeing Peter Doig’s White Canoe (1990-1) in oils appeared like a close-up image of Erdem’s many digital prints, but also evoked his own memories of growing up near this ‘large lake’…

Singer Sergant’s Madame X conveyed Erdem’s fascination with mysterious women…(detail)

Ryan McGinley’s Fireworks Hysteric was a combination of the female form and his obsession with reality…

Inspiration from Tina Barney’s Matador, from the conscious influence of Erdem’s detailing to the juxtaposition of the elaborate jacket with the crispness of the shirt and tie… 

While there’s no doubt that art and fashion are physically and psychologically intertwined, it did feel at times that the emphasis was on the deeper and often patronising themes that existed in Erdem’s choices. I would have happily listened to his dulcet Canadian tones wax lyrical about fashion than hear him struggle somewhat to form concepts from pieces of art that just weren’t there. ‘There isn’t really a meaning, love!’ I kept thinking to myself as Ogg tried to worm out themes from his choices. ‘Leave him alone!’ I forced myself not to say aloud. ‘LEAVE MY ERDEM ALONE!’ It was a little like sitting in on a psychiatrist extract information from a sane person who didn’t really need to see a psychiatrist.  

Generally, the idea of a fashion designer discussing his influences, and purely artistic ones, is a great concept, but what it didn’t need was patronising drivel. Just my philistine opinion, obviously.  


Illustration by Katie Harnett

You can catch Marios Schwab in conversation with Daniel F. Herrmann on Wednesday 24th November. Click here for more details.

Our Broken Garden by Karina Yarv
Our Broken Garden by Karina Yarv.

I have to say, if there hadn’t been a very special reason to go out I would have stayed in last night. Needling icicles of rain ain’t what I need heading into town at nearly 9pm on a Pashley with a flat tire. But head I did, website like this because last night Our Broken Garden were playing their only date in the UK for the foreseeable future and this I did not want to miss. And boy was I glad I made the effort. It’s no secret to my regular readers that I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with Our Broken Garden. They are nothing short of fabulous, especially the glorious vocals of sometime Efterklang keyboardist Anna Bronsted.

Our Broken Garden-live at St.Giles
Our Broken Garden perform live at St.Giles-in-the-Fields. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

On arrival I was in a bit of a grump to discover there was some time to wait before Our Broken Garden came on stage, but all that was put to rest when I sat down to listen to their support band Still Corners.

Still Corners-St.Giles
Still Corners-perform at St.Giles
Still Corners.

Against a blood red swirl of light the singer contributed dreamy vocals on top of swirling 60s keys and the odd dash of country and western melody. The beautific tunes worked particularly well where they stepped the beat up, and I’m eager to hear more. In the meantime enjoy the video for Wish. Just delightful.

Thereafter followed some fabulous electric noodling, which I presume came courtesy of Ulrich Schnauss, a once-upon-a-time Amelia’s Magazine interviewee whose latest stuff I have not heard, but was perfectly suited to the hushed setting.

Gareth A Hopkins OurBrokenGarden
Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins.

Against the up-lit cross at the back of St Giles a bit of stage set pfaffing took place before Our Broken Garden took to the stage – four cute Scandinavian guys and one absolutely stunning lady. And by stunning I don’t just mean looks, though I was very taken with her slinky metallic wide-legged pants suit. Anna has a voice to die for. Whilst the rest of the nation is wondering if any of the X Factor vocalists can even sing in tune, the real talent can be found in places like this. Quietly going about their exceptional way. We were treated to a selection of tracks from the new album Golden Sea as well as a few tracks from earlier album The Departure, as Anna skipped and bopped in front of a large fabric tree.

Our Broken Garden-St.Giles

And we all drifted off somewhere quite magical.

Really, more people should know about Our Broken Garden. They are surely my favourite discovery of the past few months, and every bit as good, if not better, in the live flesh. Oh, and did I mention that the drummer is really cute?…but I was so mesmerised by Anna that it took me better part of the gig to notice.

Our Broken Garden-drummer

Why not check out my review of new album Golden Sea, out now on the fab label Bella Union and an interview with the director of the Garden Grow video whilst you’re at it too. Jessica Furseth met with Anna before the performance and she will be posting an interview soon.

Anna from Our Broken Garden by Evie Kemp
Anna from Our Broken Garden by Evie Kemp.
Anna Brønsted Our Broken Garden by Alison Day
Anna Brønsted illustrated by Alison Day. Original photo by Eva Edsjö.

That is a really big sound coming from such a small woman, view I think as I’m standing at the back of the church. Anna Brønsted is up by the pulpit, sales tinkering with her microphone and ignoring the hustle of her fellow Our Broken Garden musicians doing soundchecks around her. St Giles-in-the-Fields, patient the little church tucked behind the Centre Point building, looks warm and cosy with its mood lighting – but in reality it’s barely warmer than it is outside as London is putting on a full cold and rain spectacle for its Danish guests.

‘It’s so cold in London!’ Anna exclaims as she walks over to me, holding her coat closed at the neck. She introduces herself properly, shaking my hand with a surprisingly strong grip. I ask her how she’s doing, with tonight’s gig only a couple of hours away. Does she like playing live? She smiles: ‘I like it very much! But I get nervous too. The anxiety and the … what’s the word – anticipation, they go hand in hand. You get this energy rising inside, and when you get excited the energy gets bigger as the nervousness and the joy of it mixes together. Does that make sense?’

Anna writes the songs for Our Broken Garden, while the band creates the musical arrangements. There is something of a sinister twist to the lyrics underneath the beautiful, dreamy music, I point out, thinking of the single track ‘Garden Grow’ where Anna sings: ‘make my lips bleed if you have to / throw me naked on the floor / just wake me from my sleep …’. Is this deliberate?. Anna squints at me, she’s hesitating over the meaning of the word ‘sinister’. Once explained, she immediate confirms that it is. ‘The darkness is definitely deliberate. Absolutely. I try and write happy songs and it doesn’t work. The songs always have a mellow feel at their middle.’

our broken garden by james ormiston
Our Broken Garden illustrated by James Ormiston

The band name was her idea: ‘It’s like a little take on the lost paradise. We have this innocence when we’re born and then we lose it. Our journey in life may be about finding our way back to that place where we feel natural, where we don’t have to do anything to feel like we belong. A place where we’re unique and perfect.’

She’s thoughtful, open and very eloquent, but it takes her a moment to get her words out as she wants to get it right in English. Words and lyrics are a very important part of Anna’s songwriting process. ‘I like to try and make an expression where all the little bits complement the whole. It’s difficult to explain …’ She stops herself again. The music and lyrics need to fit together, I suggest, and she nods. ‘I care very much about the words, but being Danish I use language differently so it might not make complete sense in English. I make certain mistakes because it’s not my mother tongue. But when you use words that make up pictures in your head it may be good.’

The songs are a revelation of her own self, she admits, but emphasises that it is difficult to capture everything that you are: ‘It varies from time to time which part of me dominates, but I do feel this is an expression of who I am. Who we are. Still, I’m more than this though. For instance I used to play a lot of soccer, and you might not have guessed that.’

our broken garden london 2010
Our Broken Garden’s soulful performance at St Giles-in-the-Fields

Music remains at the centre of Anna’s life also outside Our Broken Garden – she is a music teacher and student of music business management, and she also runs a small festival for women in music. ‘It’s really tough doing this, as you don’t make any money and you travel all the time. But there are moments when you feel you are connected to the people you play with, and for. Then it makes sense.’

I ask if she will tell us something unexpected about herself, and she laughs as she answers: ‘I really like reading women’s magazines, even though it’s such a waste of money. But I like the glittery paper and the pictures. I have many guilty pleasures.’ We get talking about how chocolate is presented by advertisers as a so-called guilty pleasure, but Anna shrugs it off in a true, pragmatic Scandinavian manner: ‘Chocolate isn’t guilty, it’s just a pleasure.’

Just like the music, Anna seems delicate at first – but give it a moment and you realise how much strength there is behind that gentle first impression. And once you’ve noticed it seems strange how you could ever have thought otherwise.

Read our review of Our Broken Garden at St Giles-in-the-Fields on 17th November. Also check out our review of the new album, Golden Sea, out now on Bella Union.

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One Response to “Beauty in the broken places: A conversation with Anna Brønsted of Our Broken Garden”

  1. [...] Published in Amelia’s Magazine on 19 November 2010. Original article here. [...]

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