Charcoal Art & Sculpture - Emma Vidal East London Group - 1928-1936 Philosophical Photography - Ben Knight British Lo-Fi Satrical Art Legend - Harry Pye and more...
FASHION ARTS CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT
Illustration by: Nick Sheehy
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Laissez Faire may be as rare as an appearance of Halley’s Comet, but when the stars are this aligned, the dominatrix of smart-art journalism is cracking open a divine box of delights conjured up by some very brilliant artists
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Bagging centre stage is British artist, Alexander James, with some amazing underwater deep trick of light effect It’s a wrap, with a rollicking Australian illustrator, Nick Sheehy, making his solo London debut Taking you outside of the norm from your tiny pea sized head is an interview with Ben Knight, on his philosophical photography journey aiming to capture the moment Man; it’s hotter than a devils armpit when Harry Pye is in town. This British legend lays bare with some amazing colour combo’s that will make you chuckle Sit still and drink in the richness of the moment as the East London Group collabs depicts east London before Shoreditch hipsters ran amok “I sense a disturbance in the Force young Skywalker”, when charcoal wielding, Emma ‘Vader’ Vidal, is at her finest with a masterful display of multi-dimensional and eye-catching detailed charcoaled drawings bending the law of physics altogether Our writer’s cuts a concerned face when publishers must now succumb to the digital kryptonite. But these old pros play it to-the-manor-born with our regular literary reviews, the best film fests, and some alternative lo-fi beats Better late than never, Laissez Faire is back like a Return Of The Jedi, supplementing you with some ink stained wretchedness Your muckraking editor Maximus Jo Kerr McGuire.
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Words by Fanny Janssen
Fanny Janssen get’s a slice of Harry’s ‘humble’ Pye, as he describes his early self-publishing beginnings and an eye for DIY curating, ultimately paving the way for his own satirical and very British style of art.
Come on in the waters lovely: 2008
making degree and then I got interested in writing scripts and making fanzines and I didn’t really get round to painting again until I was 31. Now I think art helps me “Well...I can’t remember not enjoying drawing and find things out about myself. Some philosophers believe painting. My parents, friends and teachers encouraged me the secret to happiness is to find out what you’re good at from quite an early age. I think it was fun and exciting and then set yourself projects or targets that are difficult to do and a way of making myself and other people but not impossible. I think that if I didn’t paint I don’t happy. When I was a teenager I took everything seriously think my life would have much meaning.” including painting. Then when I was 19 I did a print When did you become seriously interested in painting and why?
How would you describe your style?
Harry in Elephant and Castle
“I had a show about ten years ago and at the opening I spoke to a friend of a friend. I said - what do you think and he answered that he thought it was all “very Harry Pye”. I think he was right. I think my style is “very Harry Pye”. I’ve always been a fan of Pierre Bonnard who is described as being “a painter of feelings”. I’m sure most people would say my work was just Pop Art - they’re probably right. But It would be nice if one day I was described as being a painter of feelings too.”
Elephant and Castle by team Beswick and Pye Part of your style seems reliant on and loyal to collaborations with other artists, how important do you feel these relationships are and have been in your work?
How did you feel by being called the master of Lo Fi British Art by Jessica Lack in the Guardian? That’s quite a large responsibility; did things change for you
“Well, there’s a Country song by Willie Nelson called “On The Road Again” and he sings about how the life he knows is making music with my friends and touring. And I’m someone who is at their happiest when painting with his friends. I’ve had lows, health problems and failed at lots of things but I feel really lucky to be friends with Gordon Beswick, Rowland Smith, Marcus Cope, Billy Childish and all the other people I’ve painted with. I’ve also collaborated with Julian Wakeling, Dan Connor and Jasper Joffe - we haven’t painted together but we’ve collaborated in lots of other ways on different projects. I like working alone as well though.”
“Well I always loved the Do It Yourself attitude that sprang up in the late 1970s. And then later on I was always a fan of fanzines and comics like Viz. I remember when Vic Reeves used to put on shows at the Albany Empire in Deptford, like Frank Sidebottom before him; they were all done with no budget. So I guess I was influenced by people like that and continue on from them in some ways. I think if someone in a magazine or a newspaper says something nice about you it’s wise to enjoy it but not take it very seriously and just carry on as you were.”
after that title?
Your paintings often look like portraits or settings that you could have done from memory, how much of your work is ‘made up scenarios’ and how much is observational from a picture or a sitting? Do you even see a distinction (important or not between these?
“Totally depends. Usually it’s about someone else but someone who is somehow expressing how I feel. For example I might see a film about a boxer and then paint that boxer but with a bit of me mixed in. I might use a photo of him or might do it on memory depending on what seemed important.” What’s the most important thing you have learnt about art and the art world from all your years involved in it?
“Well, I love getting ideas, doing stuff, failing and trying again, collaborating and everything like that but I don’t love the art world. In fact it’s hard to think of anything great about the art world really aside from the odd free drink. A friend from Scotland, who lived in London for a bit, once asked me - why is it not enough to be good? She wanted to know why she couldn’t just work hard and then succeed. And she talked about how silly/depressing the London Art Scene was and concluded that in order to do well you had to put on enormous big boots and wade through loads of shit. She’s probably right. Being good and working hard is not enough in the art world. You have to put up with a lot!” Can you tell us a bit about Rebel Mag, it’s role in the art scene, and how it came about?
“We have no control over our lives but we can control our art projects. I love putting magazines and zines together. I started doing The Rebel in the Summer holiday before secondary school. I’ve interviewed all sorts of people for it. Harry Pye and Fracis MacDonald
Gilbert & George and Bruce McLean’s earlier stuff I like a lot. Edwyn Collins and Jerry Dammers had so many Jon Ronson? (If yes, what did you think?) great ideas and were impressive the way they started record labels. I’m influenced by all sorts of people that you “No, I read most of the book in WHSmiths and I read some probably wouldn’t expect such as Jo Spence, Mexican Day guardian articles by Jon Ronson with interest. I’m sure I’ll of the Dead artists, Van Gogh, Harold Pinter, Bacon & see it on DVD one day. I liked Frank. I met him several Freud, friends like Christopher Owen. I can’t pick just one times over the years and still kept various letters, artworks person but I think about things Jean Dubuffet said a lot.” and badges that he sent me when I was a school boy.” I know that you had some affiliation with Frank Sidebottom, have you recently seen the film Frank by
You’re not just a painter, you write, edit, curate and you Who has been your biggest influence, (artist or non-
make music too, is there anything you regret doing?
artist), and why?
“I think with every project there’s a moment where you “I loved Peter Cook and Andy Warhol - they had their own find yourself thinking: I’m never doing this again. But then magazines, drew cartoons, made films, loved music etc. it seems funny and comes good in the end.” I think the Monty Python team had a big impact on me. Matisse and Picasso and loads of other obvious ones. www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Whos Go Is It - Pye and Smith
Talking about elephants in the room, you are going to be part of Elefest starting soon; can you tell us about your project for that?
I’ve curated a little show of Ugly/Beautiful art that will be part of the festival. I’m really looking forward to it. Lots of great artists like Rose Gibbs, Mel Cole, Sir Peter Blake and Gavin Nolan are included. I’ll also be launching the latest issue of The Rebel Magazine at the P.V.
arry ye www.harrypye.com www.francismacdonaldandharrypye.com www.therebelmagazine.blogspot.com
Lifedrawing class 2012
And after Elefest, are there any further exciting plans or collaborations set that we can look forward to seeing?
“I’m making an album with a really talented singer songwriter called Francis Macdonald. I’ve sent him tapes of me talking about Mondrian and other art heroes and I’ve e-mailed him poems and lyrics which he’s turned into songs. We’re both really happy with the results. I had a strange time recently - my Landlord dies and so I have to find somewhere new to live, my Grandmother died and then my father died. So I guess I’ve had a lot to think about and write about. Not all the songs on our album are sad though. I think there’s lots of humorous stuff on there too. I’m also co curating a show with my friend Kes Richardson. We’ve got some really great artists such as Dom Kennedy, Rose Wylie, Peter Doig, Billy Childish, and Chantal Joffe involved in a transcription project. It’s going to be great. I’ve also made a painting with Marcus Cope called The Four Tates. Our painting will be exhibited in Pimlico Tube and will feature on the cover of a staff handbook that every single person who works for the Tate will receive a copy of.
Words by Jon Madge
ART IS MEANT TO DISTURB
Charcoal, pins and metaphysics, Emma Vidal gides us through her world
mma Vidal’s art is not for the faint of heart. It’s busy, complex and usually has more than a hint of menace stalking its dense foreground. Ahead of a show in London and one in the USA, Emma spoke to Laissez Faire about what secrets were hidden behind and in her multi-layered pieces. “I construct dramatic theatrical stages questioning the vulnerability of humanity and its ultimate quest, a disintegrating world where humanity has gone awry.” Explains Emma, describing the charcoal pieces that make up the bulk of her work. “I aim to present a surreal and apocalyptical take on the future of the human condition. A world blown away where it’s only remaining inhabitants are a society of feral children.”
Charcoal on paper
Emma’s descriptions of her work might seem dramatic but that only does justice to the incredible amount of drama in the images she has created. Her works is packed full of crumbling edifices and faceless, distorted figures and its effect can be incredibly disorienting. The children who inhabit her chaotic world are very much the protagonists of Emma’s work, which is undeniably narrative. They seem constantly drawn between a wild, uninhibited natural world and a rigidly dystopian man-made one. As she explains, this rift draws heavily on her own spiritual influences.
“Nurtured from various religious experiences, through my childhood in a catholic family and my travels influences, I have an obsession for religious symbolism and cults, questioning the reason and primary quest of human for faith and transcendence. Mixing and collecting different stories from various cultures and beliefs, I am setting up scenarios that propose the question ‘is religion a naïve hope?’” It’s a big question and one that calls to mind the sort of introspective artists that have peppered recent and historical art, from Francis Bacon to Hieronymus Bosch. Both those artists, in very different ways, used the transformation and representation of ordinary objects to help portray the complex, metaphysical ideas they were dealing with. I asked Emma a similar kind of symbolic expression was behind the appearance of recognisable architectural structures in her work. www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
“Entities possess their own construction and ideology, which transferred to the free open space of drawing recreate a new whole context. Thus, classical monuments with their strict appearance can be recognized anywhere, engaging a strong symbolic essence and ideology through their architecture.”
Hearing Emma describe how complete her vision of her charcoal sketches is, it then seems odd to acknowledge that they are only of three very disparate media she works in. Also sculpting and creating animated video pieces, she can seem like three very different artists. “The freedom of working in different medias is amazing in art,” Emma explains, “and important in my practice. In my studio, I organised my time working simultaneously on different projects: I am currently working on three drawings, one sculpture and two other drawings hung on another wall, waiting for their final touches for my solo show ‘Gold String’ in the USA and group show at the Graham Hunter Gallery, London.” This freedom of media allows me to switch easily from one practice to another as soon as I get ‘stuck’ in one. Different media, different ways of working and shaping them: my drawings rely on the importance of construction and composition, having always in the top of my head references to Classical representation, a process of observation and balance smudged and powdered onto the large paper frame.”
“I created fetish sculptures related to voodoo practice and superstitious artefacts, depicting a new virtual form of cult venerated by these tribes of children.” Where her charcoal drawings are busy with detail, Emma’s sculptures are singular and striking. That said, they still reward the closer observer. “Different from my drawing approach, my sculptural practice could be said to be a slightly obsessive activity in the repetitiveness of superposing thousands of small objects from toothpicks to charcoal to pins and pegs. Sky burial the feast of the sacrifice is made of twelve thousand drawing pins.” Fetish Sculpture
“Charcoal had been my first “medium love story”, with its primitive, dark and intense aspect. It is simultaneously charged with sensuality, movement and softness with its powdery aspect applied directly onto the rough paper.” “The development of my practice brought me then to experiment in a sculptural approach, moving from the free drawing space to the actual open space of the third dimension.” Emma’s forays into sculpture still held onto her fascinations with religion and metaphysics but manifested those fascinations very differently. Rather than showing her symbolic world of feral children, she brought objects from it to life. www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
mma idal Emma Vidal will return to the UK for the exhibition ‘Drawing Breathe’ at the Graham Hunter Gallery, London, and during the Frieze Art Fair.
“The Jerwood Drawing Prize was a great opportunity, allowing me to make a first step in the art scene. The artist residency is an amazing place to focus day and night on my practice, meeting new people. It has been an amazing three months experience that influenced me a lot in the development of my new body of works ‘Gold String’. As an award-winning artist with solo and group shows on two continents, and the creator of an entire fictional world, it’s hard to imagine that Emma Vidal has many misgivings about what her audience thinks of her work. Yet, strangely, her response seems as if it would apply as much to the person who started out creating those questioning charcoal landscapes as it does to the multimedia artist she is now. “Art is meant to disturb,” says Emma, quoting Georges Braque, “I very much enjoy this quote, which to me represents what is important in art. Art has to give new options, to disturb what usually surrounds us, in order to raise questions, and to be someone that gives people another option, that to me is the gift of being an artist.” www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Feast of the Sacrafice
ART Britt PflĂźger interviews Alexander James
OPHELIA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Ophelia - Turned from heavenâ€™s doors
ritish artist Alexander James specialises in creating craftes sculptural scenes in large dark volumes of purifies water and photographing them, without the use of post-production, either traditional or digital.
Earlier this year, he moved his entire studio from London to Moscow and set up in the former Red October Chocolate Factory. His show Rastvorennaya Pechal (Dissolved Sadness), opened at the Triumph Gallery in April. Intrigued, we caught up with him for a chat.
Rastvorennaya Pechal - Jupiter You submerge objects under water and create exquisite light reflections beneath the surface. Can you expand on this technique?
Technically, I use liquid mechanics and the distortions in the surface tension of water to literally paint light onto subjects underwater. I cannot begin to explain my life-long fascination with the painterly effect that water can have on lighting these sculptural works, especially when documented on film; the organic intensity of it all; I know this is just me in my head; but I simply never tire of the way it keeps on teaching me new directions. When I am close to water working in this way which I have for a such a long time, it seems like my vision changes somehow, it kind of speeds up, and I can start to see the dance of light slowed down in my mind enabling me to react and work. I can never remember names, I think my entire mental RAM is geared to my eyes. www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Your most recent exhibition, Rastvorennaya Pechal (Dissolved Sadness), was held at the Triumph Gallery in Moscow. Why did you choose Russia?
I think any serious artist from the west or at least one that intends for their work to be talked about in art historical terms must at some stage consider Russia as a necessary if not mandatory way to further their practice. There is so much for you to absorb and learn from this amazing country that simply cannot be taken on board remotely. Russians, and I mean all Russians, have a deep understanding of culture, from their art to their pianos. With that comes compassion towards an artistâ€™s life and the suffering and joy that would entail. It felt like home - for once locking myself away in the studio for months at a time was not frowned upon, it was understood, accepted and admired as a positive dedication. I work eighteen hours a day and I donâ€™t really take holidays or weekends; when I travel it is usually because of a project: I have a lot to do in what little time I have. Russia is like a drug to an artist. I am glad to be considered among its junkies.
Rastvorennaya Pechal - Wicca in Red Do you find a purity in working with water? What symbolic meaning do you attach to it?
Water has been a constant source of inspiration my entire life and my work has been placed around it. When we look to the stars for validation of life we look for water, not little green Martians. It is life itself, with the power to cleanse and wash away the very mills of time; who could not be fascinated with that. Water is the oil of the future - soon, as humanity and its pollution and water management will start to see places run dry, it will see cities die and in a modern society that is a pretty scary concept to just ignore for me. Wars will be fought over water and that will be humanityâ€™s destiny. I have no fear of death or mortality but I do fear this disrespect for our planet and I am obsessed with its discussion and further exploring these fears in my mind.
Rastvorennaya Pechal - Mycenaen III
You combine three disciplines: painting, sculpture and photography, with water as a common theme linking them. How did you first conceive this idea?
It just evolved. I like things that have lots of layers, you can find new things all the time; that interests me. I was very young when I started making strange sculptural works underwater while making a living as a tourist dive photographer. These were just objects I found washed up, objects of human waste. Coke and beer cans, pieces of plastic, I must have looked very strange to the locals who I was living with. For me though I was compelled to do this as the reefs I worked on were about to be dynamited to make softer waves on the beach for tourists in front of the new hotels being built.
Over the years that has developed into making most of the objects and clothing that I work with myself, by hand, in this mass manufactuing world we live in where label is regarded above craftsmanship. I even went as far as studying entomology so I could breed butterflies, because I wanted to use them and could only permit myself to doing so if it was in an ethical way. For every subject I need to feel a deep sense of authenticity and that can only come from such a connection with every artwork I create. Alexandrovana
Your work is reminiscent of Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro style. Are you playing with the concepts of darkness and light? And why does it appear to be a leitmotif in your work?
My signature aside of the obvious water, is the use of black which always forms my canvas - and I mean black, the deepest pitch black, which is not as easy to achieve ‘in camera’ as it sounds. For me black is boundless in its raw potential. Caravaggio of course was the first to adopt this style which influenced the Vanitas painters whose work seems bring their subjects from the darkness, from the void. I use water on my brush to deflect and literally paint the light into that darkness. A very similar style but there are no pigments on my brush, just precise deflections running in its wake as I paint directly to the surface tension of the water. Everything is exact and precise, nothing is chance or accident. Vanitas
Riverbrook with roses
I document that single moment on 10 x 8” film, the plates are just glorious objects in themselves. Just that huge piece of film. I recently completed a new body of work called ‘Transparency of a dream’ where I have designed a frame that looks like that of a formal painting, lush in a cotton velvet with a perfectly beautiful light coming from behind the actual transparency held between two pieces of museum glass. I never get asked the ‘Photoshop’ question now, which is amazing after so many years in which it continually did, and this series reinforces my ‘no post-production’ process by serving up the raw films as the final artwork; no prints, no editions, just this piece of film in a five-kilogram frame to preserve it, oh and yes, the frames are black….
Lament in free fall
composers who had built a reputation for this artist. Is this the artist’s equivalent of working method that includes long solitary method acting? sessions in their workplace with intense focus on their work, occasionally - indeed, arguably The Flemish Vanitas painters like Maria van ideally - eventually losing any sense of time. Oosterwijck and Pieter Claesz whose work I admire - I am not only fascinated with the artworks I don’t make conscious decisions to do these they made but also the life and lifestyles they had things, just little steps, each and every one leads like lots of the artists of this movement. They to this path I am on. I consider myself extremely lived dedicated to their art as if it were a lover; it fortunate to have discovered the joy of not having was a very intense relationship for them. If they to work another day ever again if you do what wanted to paint a fish they would save up their you love. money, go to the fish market every day until the perfect specimen was seen. Everything would be I am not fashionable, I know. I don’t go to ‘A’ list prepared in the studio of whoever would bring parties; I really have no interest. I am always keen home the prize subject and begin to paint it and to meet new and interesting people and places would not leave the studio until it was done, and and discover their stories and culture. But I don’t then they and their friends would eat the fish. want to be away from my studio to be swanking around in some party circuit. The studio’s call is Recently I read some research papers about ‘flow louder than that. practice’. It was commonplace with early You seem to live like a seventeenth-century
Ophelia - Turned from heavens doors Your work seems to expunge the inferiority complex which photography once endured. Is this a deliberate intention?
Photography has been a cornerstone delivery medium in my work - it would be impossible to bring all of these underwater sculptures to a wider audience without this powerful documentary medium; but it does seem to have lost its way, and thatâ€™s only natural with the immediate gratification of the digital world, but we seem to have forgotten its essence. Everyone just wants to look at the screen when they hear the ping noise: we have become better editors than creators. I am not old school in this sense, not in the slightest, as I use state-of-the art technologies throughout the studio, but I love the organic feel and look of film: these carefully contructed moments in my studio, going into the darkroom and exposing these light sensitive cellulose sheets to a swathe of harsh chemicals in infinite variants of mixes, temperatures and times. To see a plate of film for the first time in this very unique mix of time, event and process, thatâ€™s alchemy. There is no inferiority complex to expunge if you do not allow it in your work in the first place; and I can only be responsible for my own work.
What is next for you?
Siberia for winter; I have a very important body of work calling me there. Completely in dialogue with who I am. The subject â€˜Oil & Waterâ€™ crude oil freezes just below minus 30 degrees, so it is the perfect location as the average temperature will be minus 40 degrees. It will be amazing. Ophelia - Turned from heavenâ€™s doors Some of your pieces, such as A Beautiful Announcement of Death, which directly refers to Ophelia by John Everett Millais, take their inspiration from historical art and the classics. Your method is clearly very contemporary, if not groundbreaking. Is it important to you to straddle the past and the present? And have you ever been tempted to expound on contemporary matters?
I am a tragic Baroque artist, my dialogue is a Momento Mori .The subject of the transience of life has never had more meaning than it does right now, today! Referencing the past is of course deeply important, especially to pay homage for me to this particular message. Look at the power patrons could exert with their painters and sculptors to hand. All of them political or religious, sending powerful messages whether true or false, enforcing their values and stamping into the minds of the time. Art is powerful, it can have messages, a dialogue; now imagine that same power, but this time it is the viewers of the artwork that see what they see alone; this time it is their dialogue. I hope to give that dialogue back, past and present.
ART Interview by Fanny Janssen
FORCES OF THE FRAME
Moments of the mind captured through the lens of up and coming photographer, Benjamin Knight
How would you describe your photographic style and the concepts you are interested in?
I am generally wary of style. Someone looking at it could comment on a directness consistent to all the images, so you might say this is a point of my style. I do believe that centre frame is best. The concepts I am most interested in might be collected under the term existentialism; I am aware that the first window on the world is my own conscious experience of it I would like my work to address the difficulty of this.
Germaine Greer once said that she did not like photography or photographs because they seem to always be saying goodbye to something. Do you find this a struggle while using photography to explore existentialism?
I wonder if Greer means saying goodbye to things prematurely; ultimately, of course, you can either say goodbye or not when things go, rather than commute the death sentence. Actually, at a finer scale, things go out of existence all the time, so there can almost be no goodbye that is premature; that’s just like Heraclitus saying you cannot step into the same river again. Photography makes a point of the temporariness that everything has and that might make it distressing, I suppose, but it’s all to its good as a tool for exploring what it means for something to exist. I believe that examination is best, rather than turning a blind eye. Life begins on the other side of despair, as Sartre says.
What were the films you enjoyed watching and influenced you to distill them?
I’ve liked film ever since I first became aware of it at a time that is now pre-memory for me; as to which particular group of films I like, this naturally hasn’t been the same for all of that time. Generally, as a viewer, I’m looking to have an authentic and powerful experience, i.e. close to lived experience, but if it’s been tailored, so much the better; undirected moving pictures and sound wouldn’t give this sense of it happening in my own life and I’m looking for meaning also, not just any episode but worthwhile ones.
Do you feel you may have an issue with the passing
Any artists or photographers that influence you
of time and temporal and earthly existences?
and your work?
A temporal existence is always going to be problematic but self-resolving; it ends and so do any issues with it, then. I think acknowledgement of it is one part of the equation but it very quickly becomes about the time that you do have and how, within that, do you make the right decisions? Before everything is wiped out there can be consequences that last right up until that point, so, as much as anything is important to consider, those realities are; it seems sensible to make an effort for the sake of a good result there.
I am influenced by everything I notice, just not always in the sense that I then try to produce something sympathetic to it; there are probably many more things that I am warned off doing by othersâ€™ examples. In the category of artists and photographers that do influence me in a positive, encouraging way, there are many but, if you think certain othersâ€™ works are excellent, you are hesitant to make the comparison with your own work, for obvious reasons. Better, as with style, that someone else reports on what has actually occurred. When trying to let yourself be influenced, I find it best to go outside the target media, and look for something sculptural for a photograph, or painterly for a moving image, for example; what to do with it is strangely clearer.
How important is an audience in your work and do you have a specific targeted audience?
The audience completes the work but I can’t know how; that’s the reality I’m dealing with. It’s a bit like sending a probe out into space, in that you can’t really plan for more than the first trip it makes and only that trip in a fairly limited way. The work, in a sense, finds its audience and I’ve created the work to do that but I don’t pilot it to a target; it’s autonomous at that point. The audience is potentially anyone, as far as I’m concerned; it’s guessable that only a minority of people will respond to something but I have to extend my reach to get to them. You can only try and be populist so long as you’re still doing what you yourself like, otherwise you won’t do it well and it won’t be widely liked, so you create for yourself to a certain extent but with a view to sharing it afterward.
Do you have any plans for exhibiting your work in the near future... or where can we see your work displayed?
Really, I’m looking toward the final show at Saint Martins in 2015 like it’s a boxing match and my work has to peak at that time, which is not so say I welcome troughs either side; I don’t want to falsify a peak like that; I really want to reach a new height. It means that whatever opportunities may come my way between now and then – and I won’t necessarily know far in advance what opportunities there will be – there is, on the horizon, this time when it will be the best or equal best time to take a look at what I’ve done and I want to urge people to do it then, if they only do it once.
ART Words by Jon Madge
GETTING UNDER THE SKIN
t first glance, the skeletons, blood vessels and skinned bodies of, Australian artist and illustrator, Nick Sheehy’s work are definitely shocking. If you’re not at least a little shocked by a skinless rabbit then maybe you’re more Dexter than you think. But behind that initial assault on the eyes, there is a subtlety to this work that not only justifies the subject matter but is teased to the surface by it.
Skeletons and skulls crop up in so many different parts of the artistic spectrum it can be hard to see how common they are, because of the ubiquity. Skulls were a common part of any impressionist still life, a tradition taken on from Roman art, which used them as a symbol for mortality. It took Cezanne and the postimpressionists to bring it the forefront and to confront that mortality head on. Since then it’s been an icon of every major movement, from Warhol to Hirst.
That link between the symbols of death and an exploration of life has been a recurrent theme in the art world, and itâ€™s one Nick Sheehy seems to have adopted. His work, at first seems distancing but in many ways it encourages us to see creatures we recognise in ways we never have before. The detail of the skinless rabbit, for example, is made all the more captivating by the care with which Sheehy creates his lines. Itâ€™s as if he is discovering this animal anew by drawing it in a way that it is so rarely shown.
The intricacy of detail in Nick’s work, particularly in the case of Skull 1, Skull 2 and Skull 3, is empowering to the subject matter. Assuming, for a number of reasons, that he didn’t draw this from a real human skull covered in blood vessels, what we’re witnessing in his work is the juxtaposition of a symbol of death used to create life. Nick is creating forms, recognisable images, with character and movement. You might say, “so are all artists” but that’s entirely the point: by breathing artistic life into an image that we are naturally inclined to approach analytically, he is peeling back the skin of his craft. It is art that has been stripped bare in all his images. www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
This fascination with life, and with creation both artistic and natural, is more vividly explored in some of Nick’s pieces that depict more than one image. The recurring characters of birds wearing frogs’ skins are often shown sewing with the blood red, nerve like tendrils that inhabit Nick Sheehy’s creations. This feels like it could be a reference to the classical Fates who worked on the tapestry of life, perhaps the birds are sewing life into the dead, monochrome creatures of Sheehy’s world. Perhaps the metaphor is more literal, the red is life, the greyish animals are death the later manipulating the former to it’s inevitable will.
Speculation is the best way to approach Nick Sheehy’s world, it practically invites it. The images are so bizarre that it would defy any kind of logic for them not to have an explanation, yet they’re so removed from any normal frame of reference that deciphering them is a challenge. They draw you in, urging you to make sense of them. Like a cross between a zen koan and a tattoo shop window, Nick Sheehy’s work draws out of their audience their own questions about the world around them. Nick Sheehy is that rare thing in the art world, a fusion of high culture and pop culture. His work has the kind of isntant accessibility and immediate charm that make for a picture you can look at again and again. Under that surface there is the deftness of touch, the artful musings and the philosophical questions which make great art great.
Nick Sheehy’s work is available to view and buy online at www.atomicagallery.com/artists/nick-sheehy-metamorphosis
ART Words by Britt Pflüger
FOR WHOM THE BOW BELLS TOLL The East London Group of Artists: From Bow to Biennale
his summer, the small but perfectly formed Nunnery Gallery, rather fittingly situated within the sound of Bow bells, presented a selection of works and archival material from the East London Group of Artists. Comprised of both Slade School of Fine Arts graduates such as John Cooper, the group’s leader and mentor, and working men and women who had no previous artistic training, the group flourished in the 1920s and 1930s and exhibited alongside Degas, Gauguin, Cézanne and Picasso as well as John and Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Vanessa Bell.
Dead Flamingo by Archibald Hattemore is in the Astley Cheetham Art Collection at Stalybridge, part of Tameside Council www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Thorpe Bay. Henry Silk
Bow Road, Elwin Hawthorne
Grove Hall Park, Bow, Harold Steggles
Considering their early success - their work was shown both at the Whitechapel Gallery and the Tate - and the sheer range of skills evident in this exhibtion, the fact that they seem to have been all but forgotten in recent years is nothing short of a mystery. Embracing London as their muse, the artists were particularly adept at depicting the industrial landscape of the streets and buildings of the East End, its municipal buidlings, music halls and factories â€“ the domestic landscape of the urbanist painter, and a world which was about to be irrevocably changed through bomb damage. Their palette is often subdued, heavy smog or morning mist betraying their early hour or late evening activity, fitted around their work.
Eileen, Phyllis Bray, sketch
East End Jewish Girl, Phyllis Bray On Guard, Albert Turpin www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Great Ventriloquist, John Cooper
Harry Tate by Albert Turpin is Bancroft Library at Tower Hamlets
Almshouses. Mile End Road, Elwin Hawthorne
Hackney Empire Albert Turpin
Farringdon Road by Cecil Osborne
Their main tutor, John Cooper, a successful artist in his own right, made it his lifeâ€™s work to champion the efforts of the East London Group, not only through teaching but by attracting wealthy benefactors. He even succeeded in recruiting Walter Sickert as a visiting speaker; dressed flamboyantly and ususally arriving hours late, his talks often lasted until midnight. His exotic anecdotes, including tales of his time as an assistant to the infamous Whistler undoubtedly provided his students with a window into the hitherto unknown world of the artist. Storm, Lyme Regis, John Cooper
So why did the group fade into obscurity following John Cooper’s death in 1943?
The Scullery, Walter Steggles
‘Once they lost their flagship man they just sank into people’s private collections, says Rosamund Murdoch of Bow Arts Trust. ‘They had these really high profile philanthropists who were looking after them but then the group just died from lack of leadership and because they were a bunch of working class people.’ www.laissezfairelondon.co.uk
Grove Road, Harold Steggles
Old Ford Rd, H Steggles
Stratford, W J Steggles
Cumberland Market Elwin Hawthorne
T he Nunnery Gallery : May-July 2014 www.eastlondongroup.co.uk Twitter @EastLondonGroup
ZER ALTERNATIVE Sometimes you must destroy first
Three Hares Publishing 378pp £7.25 (pb) £3.49 (ebook)
By: Luca Pesaro
ondon, in the near future: Scott ‘Yours’ Walker is a hard-nosed, successful City trader who, with the aid of his friend and colleague DM, has developed a secret software called DeepShare which is stunningly apt at predicting financial and political developments worldwide. At a time of great economic upheaval, DeepShare is of course invaluable – and Scott suspects that Frankel, a rival bank, is spying on him. His suspicions appear to be confirmed when he finds DM brutally murdered, but his problems are only just beginning: celebrating his windfall in the wake of the Italian election results (predicted by DeepShare), he has fallen into the clutches of Layla, who turns out to be a honey trap. Soon Scott finds himself on the run, not only from the authorities, who have him down as the main suspect in DM’s murder case, but the hitmen who have discovered that the stolen software has self-destructed. As Scott flees to the continent in search of the original copy of DeepShare, he is not only pursued by the killers but must form an uneasy alliance with Layla, still unsure whether he can trust her or not. On their journey through France, Switzerland and on to Sardinia, Scott discovers old loyalties stretched to the limits – and finds himself falling in love with Layla. But is she really who she claims to be? Can he trust his old friends and colleagues? With the killers hot on their heels, and leaving a trail of bodies in their wake, time is running out for Scott if he is to save the world from DeepShare falling into the wrong hands... On paper, Zero Alternative appears to be yet another conspiracy thriller with action-packed pursuits, daring men and dangerous women set in the world of high finance, but what sets it apart from its peers is its critical, almost satirical stance on capitalism and modern politics: contrary to first impressions, Scott Walker is not the ruthless, money-grabbing post-Yuppie we initially take him for, but has indeed a far more altruistic goal in mind. Yes, the thriller is brimming with blood and gore, car chases, fast women and big money, but refreshingly, it runs far more deeply than that, thus marking a welcome departure from the usual fayre. Luca Pesaro is a talent to watch out for.
Words by Britt Pflüger
Literary scout, agent and literary consultant at Hardy & Knox www.hardyandknox.com
BEFORE WE MET “The most dangerous lies are those close to home”
Bloomsbury 276pp £7.99 (pb) £7.99 (ebook)
n paper, life couldn’t be (much) better for Hannah. After years of working in New York, the thirtysomething advertisting executive is back in London with her new husband Mark, a fellow Brit whom she met through friends during a weekend on Long Island. Mark is handsome, charming and interesting, and runs his own software company. Despite her initial reluctance – for fear of turning into her mother, a bitter divorcée, Hannah had long been a commitment phobe – she fell head over heels in love with him and after they married, agreed to move back to London with him to save costs on a New York office. So far so good. Hannah is more or less happily ensconced in their lavish West London home, and life could only be improved if she found a new job to replace the one she so willingly relinquished back in New York. In between collecting Mark from his business trips to New York, she keeps herself busy with job applications and socialising with Mark’s friends. But then one evening he fails to show up at the airport on his way back from JFK, and, increasingly frantic when she realises that he has been spinning her a web of lies, Hannah turns detective. As her cosy life begins to unravel (maybe most alarmingly, Hannah discovers that Mark has emptied her account, leaving her with nothing but debts while he remains elusive), she finds more and more holes in his stories about his past. Has her brother been right to mistrust him all this time? Why don’t Mark and his friends’ stories about when they met tally? And then there is the mystery surrounding his family. What is the real reason why Hannah has never met them? Or is she just overly suspicious? Jaded by her previous experiences?
By: Lucie Whitehouse The truth, of course, is rather more sinister than she could have expected, and the final scenes of the novel are utterly nailbiting, turning the story into a real high-octane page turner. This is all the more welcome as the middle part lacks pace at times, not least because much of the back story – which we may or may not believe at this point – is told from Mark’s perspective, and as he relates it to Hannah . This makes sense in terms of the main reveal, but unfortunately, it falls a little flat here. However, there is no doubt that Before We Met is a domestic thriller on par with international bestsellers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. Just like her two previous novels, The House at Midnight and The Bed I Made, Before We Met proves that Whitehouse is an incredibly accomplished writer who knows how to spin a riveting and convincing yarn, brimming with menace and suspense. I for one cannot wait for her next novel.
We always coloured outside the lines The Wiyos on how to do live music
ecorded music feels like it’s alive again. And you know what, between Pono, Neil Young’s new, studio-quality digital music format, the ongoing resurgence of vinyl and real instruments showing up in electronica (Daft Punk) and hip hop (Childish Gambino), it feels nice to be part of something exciting! The nicest thing about these changes has been that us, the people who listen to music, get to decide what we want from it. If quality is what matters, there are now digital and analogue formats that capture all the crispness, all the mistakes and all the complexity of how the song sounded to the people who wrote it. If soundtracking your life is what matters, Spotify and Grooveshark have decided Apple doesn’t get to run that anymore. Green Day even released their last Record Day offering on cassette, so we can look forward to a lo-fi war between tape and vinyl fans. Options are great! So where are the options when it comes to live music? On the one hand there are the up and coming bands playing pub back rooms and mate’s parties, and not getting paid anything like what they deserve. On the other hand, stamped for no re-entry, are the professionals who charge £20 a ticket and, again, see very little of that once they’ve walked off the latest O2-branded stage. Where are the long-termers, the bands who have crafted their art without becoming branded and worth more as t-shirts than musicians? Well, one of the answers is here and it’s the Wiyos. Part swing band, part progressive old-timers, all undefinable, the Wiyos have walked the long road from buskers to becoming a band who innovate like Nikola Tesla and entertain like every show might be their last. Their near-permanent tour is bringing them to the UK in November, so the band agreed to talk to us about inspiration, sauerkraut and keeping it fresh.
T H E
W I Y O S
w w w.th ew iyos.com
For anyone who hasn’t heard the Wiyos before, how would you describe the band?
I would say that the band’s influences, or the ‘understory’ if I may employ a term painters use, come from the Piedmont blues, Hokum and the Great American Songbook.
In the past your albums have been pretty eclectic, with influences from jazz to the Wizard of Oz, what will the new album be like?
Our new album, One more for the Road has observations from our travels, an homage to one of our early influences, John Hartford, and a cover of a great Charlie Pool tune. It feels more in line with some of our early work, as it was recorded (mostly) live and completely analogue. Itâ€™s been said that you once described yourself as vaudeville, ragtime, jug band, 30s blues, hillbilly swing but found that too limiting. Do you enjoy being hard to define?
We wouldnâ€™t say that we necessarily enjoy it but it just seems to be part of who we are. It has always been that way. There was a period during the first couple of years of the band, where we were clearly wearing our influences on our shirtsleeves. We were firmly rooted in the tradition of the jug band and early swing era, from both writing and sourcing standpoint, as well as a sartorial one. Those bands had style. They were witty and funny and eclectic and that suited our skin just fine. The school of busking taught us that, even let us live it to some degree.
The thing is, we always coloured outside the lines and that spoke to our influences as well. Most of the bands that excited us from back in the day played all kinds of music. If they were hired for a dance, they played dance music. If they were hired for a fancy party, they played fancy party music. They were musical omnivores. It seems that today, with the resurgence of roots music, bands run the risk, and this is certainly conditioned by the music industry and plain old economics, of potentially reaching a ceiling too quickly. Change hats, change direction and suffer the consequences. We understand why this happens. You become a business and a brand, and we all need to make a living. Are your audiences in the UK and Europe different to the ones you attract in the US?
Yes and no. The UK audiences seem pretty savvy and genuinely interested in American roots music. Generally speaking, they seem pretty well informed. I think they sincerely appreciate all these bands coming over from the States who have really done their homework and are walking the walk and writing great tunes.
The Wiyos will be touring the UK in November For full details on the tour and their new album, go to : www.thewiyos.com
We love being out of our element. I think there is something that just resonates for all of us here: the climate, the topography, the ales and the ciders!
LAUGHTER TO THE BRAIN IS LIKE EXERCISE TO THE BODY
Thanks for all the jokes you have sent in. You lot clearly love this page! Try to keep them clean though London, some of these are really pushing it. Sorry for any offence caused. A husband and wife are trying to set up a new password for their computer. The husband puts, “Mypenis,” and the wife falls on the ground laughing because on the screen it says, “Error. Not long enough.”
Wife: “How would you describe me?” Husband: “ABCDEFGHIJK.” Wife: “What does that mean?” Husband: “Adorable, beautiful, cute, delightful, elegant, fashionable, gorgeous, and hot.” Wife: “Aw, thank you, but what about IJK?”
A mother is in the kitchen making dinner for her family when her daughter walks in. “Mother, where do babies come from?” The mother thinks for a few seconds and says, “Well dear, Mommy and Daddy fall in love and get married. One night they go into their bedroom, they kiss and hug, and have sex.” The daughter looks puzzled so the mother continues, “That means the daddy puts his penis in the mommy’s vagina. That’s how you get a baby, honey.” The child seems to comprehend. “Oh, I see, but the other night when I came into your room you had daddy’s penis in your mouth. What do you get when you do that?” “Jewelry, my dear. Jewelry.”
Husband: “I’m just kidding!”
The teacher asked Jimmy, “Why is your cat at school today Jimmy?” Jimmy replied crying, “Because I heard my daddy tell my mommy, ‘I am going to eat that p*ssy once Jimmy leaves for school today!’”
A child asked his father, “How were people born?” So his father said, “Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on.” The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, “We were monkeys then we evolved to become like we are now.” The child ran back to his father and said, “You lied to me!” His father replied, “No, your mom was talking about her side of the family.”
Illustrated by: Alvaro Arteaga www.alvaroarteaga.com
Q: Why doesn’t matter how often a married man changes his job? A: He still ends up with the same boss. Q: What do you call a married man vacuuming? A: Doing what he’s told... Q: Why don’t some men have a mid-life crisis? A: They’re stuck in adolescence. Q: Why are Good Men like parking spaces? A: The good ones are already taken!
A family is at the dinner table. The son asks the father, “Dad, how many kinds of boobs are there?” The father, surprised, answers, “Well, son, a woman goes through three phases. In her 20s, a woman’s breasts are like melons, round and firm. In her 30s and 40s, they are like pears, still nice, hanging a bit. After 50, they are like onions.” “Onions?” the son asks. “Yes. You see them and they make you cry.” This infuriated his wife and daughter. The daughter asks, “Mom, how many different kinds of willies are there?” The mother smiles and says, “Well, dear, a man goes through three phases also. In his 20s, his willy is like an oak tree, mighty and hard. In his 30s and 40s, it’s like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his 50s, it’s like a Christmas tree.” “A Christmas tree?” the daughter asks. “Yes, dead from the root up and the balls are just for decoration.”
Q: Why are men like cars? A: Because they always pull out before they check to see if anyone else is cumming. Q: How many men does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: One. He just holds it up there and waits for the world to revolve around him. Q: How many men does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Three. One to screw in the bulb and two to listen to him brag about the screwing part. Q: Why can’t men get mad cow disease? A: Because they are pigs. Q: What’s the difference between a G-Spot and a golf ball? A: A guy will actually SEARCH for a golf ball. Q: What do you call a handcuffed man? A: Trustworthy.
Q: Why are men like lawn mowers? A: They are difficult to get started, emit foul smells and don’t work half the time!
Q: How do you find a blind man in a nudist colony? A: It’s not hard.
Q: How many men does it take to open a beer? A: none. The lady should already have it open on the table! Q: What did the elephant say to the naked man? A: “It’s cute but can you pick up peanuts with it?”
Illustrated by: Chris Chai
This is no time to hang about, so take a good look at yourself and make that change. As usual, a disclaimer is needed as these are only the premonitions of our grumpy star gazer and not the views of Laissez Faire!
The ability to speak several languages is an asset. The ability to keep your mouth shut is priceless. Although you may feel justified in doing what you do, there are definitely times in which your conscience will be pricked. A hard life will get harder for you this week as you start drinking heavily.
Opening up to a close friend will probably be the worst thing you could do, in your situation. Don’t trust anyone today. Stay inside until today is all over and done with. Don’t trust this horoscope either. Just don’t - okay?
Gemini’s have mastered the art of pretending things are okay, when in reality everything is a big mess. But when a Gemini is a bad mood, they become unresponsive moody jerks.
There are three stages of anger you must be aware of. First is the sulking. If this goes unnoticed, you will start shrouding your growing anger in a form of passive-aggressiveness. And then the final stage, all hell breaks loose and you’ll start pointing out every wrong someone’s done in one long session.
You’re a tough cookie, but even cookies crumble once in a while. You’re will know that you can turn from the sweetest person on earth to the rudest and heartless in just a blink of an eye if they screw you over.
When things don’t go your way this month, your critical side and bluntness is magnified by 10. Also, your, ‘Leave me alone if you don’t want me angry’ level is magnified by 20.
Your friends will call you Jumbo. Blimey, you ain’t harf as wot you used to, ain’t it? Since last month you have been finding it harder and harder to have fun. This month may see a big change.
Everything you have done is brilliant and you will get the reward you richly deserve. Hoping to find love in a chippy just shows how optimistic you are.
A forewarning this month as you are highly driven by emotions. It can be difficult to hide or control and all of a sudden you can have outbursts of anger or happiness. You can be silent for a long time, and then there are days when you can talk to no end. You are mostly deluded and easily able to imagine and summon up anything from feelings to illnesses.
Sometime in October you can be stuck inside your head for a few days at a time, thinking and contemplating a number of things. Then you will come out and insult someone and still sound nice.
If you never liked sprouts before, try them again. Your tastes may have changed. Always meet people you met on the internet in a dark place, preferably a graveyard or a disco.
Opening the window in your bedroom will be like opening your bowel, today. Cysts are a sign of overworking as much as anything else. Relax today whilst a loved one lances your soppiest boils.
As we move into autumn, film festivals become the focus to what we can see previewed before these films go on general release. They are sprinkled with goodies that would tempt any cinephile. The official programmes will not be announced until early September, but some news has already been released regarding the opening and; in the case of London, closing films.
Raindance Film Festival LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 24th September–5th October 8th–15th October The largest independent film festival in Europe, Raindance, now in its 22nd year, will be opening with the European premiere of Mike Cahill’s I Origins. The film boasts a stellar cast headed by Michael Pitt of Boardwalk Empire fame. It also features Steven Yuen, Brit Marling, and Astrid BergesFrisby. The director Mike Cahill will be attending the Gala screening for a Q & A after the film.
I O R I G I N S
The 58th BFI London Film Festival will open with The Imitation Game, a dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Alan Turing. The stars, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, and director, Morten Tyldum, are expected to attend the European premiere.
F U R Y
molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.
pril, 1945. As the Allies make their final advance in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
T H E I M I T A T I O N G A M E
ONES TO WATCH D Brian Mills is editor of ‘Movies By Mills’ http://issuu.com/brianalbertjohnmills/docs/issue_16
uring World War II, a mathematical genius named Alan Turing (Benedict) by diligence, stubbornness and optimism cracked the German Enigma code.
The Closing Night Gala will be a screening of Fury, directed by David Ayer and starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf and Scott Eastwood.
LAISSEZ FAIRE - MADE IN LONDON