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ISSN 2056-919X


EDITOR’S LETTER In an era when there has been more debate around news and journalism than ever, and facts are increasingly becoming more about who shouts their opinion louder, The Reflection Issue of Artefact is about sitting back and taking the time to learn about all aspects and layers of an issue. This issue is a reflection of, not only the times that we live in or the particular events, but our values and beliefs attached to the problems of today. Perhaps in today’s ambience of endless tweets and swipeable stories, it is difficult, if not impossible, to claim you are telling stories that no one else is telling. But with the last issue to be produced by BA Journalism students to graduate this year, we would like to believe that we tried to offer a more in-depth approach. Diverse, and at times personal, angles to complex stories. As a final challenge, we tried to tell stories in ways no one was telling them. Because here at Artefact, we believe it is a crucial time to start listening. We believe it is time to be more curious, open-minded and to listen to the sides we do not necessarily agree with. And perhaps more importantly, it is time to reflect on our own views. In Let’s Have A Kiki, James Underdown questions the notion of now being the best time for gay people. Scraping beneath the surface, he walks us through the colossal drug issue that you would not know about unless you are part of the community. Chaz Layton’s powerful and personal account in Misplaced, Misunderstood and Self-Harming addresses a misinterpreted issue that is affecting many young adults in the UK, challenging the stereotype of people who self-harm. In Walthamstow: A Whole New World, Edena Klimenti who has lived in the area for over a decade, portrays the impacts of gentrification on the community. Similarly, the urban renewal versus the underprivileged is debated through A Room in the Elephant, giving everyone a voice — including our university which is at the heart of redevelopment plans in Elephant & Castle. Exploring African Parenthood in Britain, Ginny Pettitt tells the story of home being in a photographed village, presenting the challenges many Black British people have had to face to connect with their heritage while embracing the multi-cultural city life. Josephine Schulte takes us on a journey from Berlin to India with In Orange for Osho, the scandals of the Indian guru contrasting with some of his loyal supporters. In conversation with James Barnor, Tayo Andoh catches a glimpse of the many things Ghana’s first photojournalist has witnessed in his life. In our issues throughout this year, we talked about what we felt matters and needs to be talked about. Beginning with The Difference Issue, followed by Resolution and Progression. Ultimately, we believe that the latter cannot be achieved, or even dreamt of, without Reflection.


CONTRIBUTORS Magazine Danielle Anastasi, Jesus Barrera Rodriguez, Fiona Berbatovci, Josie Collins, Valentina Curci, Elana Dickson, Natalia Faisal, Jennifer Freitas De Castro, Teresa Gottein, Charlotte Layton, Elyse O’Donnell, Diana Orfani, Anjuman Rahman, Alba Regidor Diaz, Defne Saricetin, Alysha Shariff, Michael Ukaegbu, James Underdown, Alexandra Vislyaeva, Flavia Wright Social media Tayo Andoh, Molly Burgess, Zaynah Butt, Andrea-Maria Ciupitu, Christopher Forsythe, Rachel Garner, Bartosz Kielak, Danieka Lafayette, Apai-Ketuya Marchant, Carla Mbappe, Zoe Mundell, Ginny Pettitt, Luisa Rossi, Elsa Sanchez-Barbera, Emilia Slupecka, Pavel Troughton, Phali-Tavia Wakadima, Danyang Zheng Website Valentina Bulava, Charisse Chikwiri, Connor Davidson, Anna Dolgova, Omima Elmattawaa, Elizabeth Gillings, Jamie Hilferty, Edena Klimenti, Shannon Lyford, Danielle Mayall, Isabel Ramirez-Cintron, Phoebe Robinson, Josephine Schulte, Aino Silvennoinen, Antoinette Wentworth-Smith Tutors Simon Hinde (magazine) Vivienne Francis (social media) Russell Merryman (website)

Website artefactmagazine.com Facebook artefactmagazine Twitter @artefactlcc Instagram @artefactmag

CONTENTS 04 The return of Twisted Wheel Christopher Forsythe

48 Walthamstow: a whole new world Edena Klimenti

05 Hi-tech sex workers Antoinette Wentworth-Smith

55 Misplaced, misunderstood and self-harming Charlotte Layton

06 My Kurdish me is all of me Fiona Berbatovci 08 London’s queer history Andra-Maria Ciupitu 10 Farewell to Colette Carla Mbappe 12 A room in the Elephant Defne Saricetin 18 Oh thanks, it’s vintage Natalia Faisal 20 The village from the high street Andra-Maria Ciupitu 24 James Barnor: Ghana's first photojournalist Tayo Andoh 32 Let’s have a kiki James Underdown 40 Frédéric Kanouté: A different football star Jesus Barrera Rodriguez 44 Animal welfare in agriculture Josie Collins

60 Identity matters Ginny Pettitt 64 In orange for Osho Josephine Schulte 70 Is 20 too young to become a parent? Anna Dolgova 72 YouTube’s content crisis Jamie Hilferty 74 Fighting structural discrimination Anjuman Rahman 76 Who are Humans of the Sesh? Luisa Rossi 78 Shame on you, Canada Goose Elana Dickson 80 Vox pops Teresa Gottein 82 Clean air in the square Josie Collins

32 “The group sex was enough to shock most people”

Feedback artefactlcc@gmail.com Art Direction & Design Oswin Tickler, Smallfury

Published by London College of Communication, London SE1 6SB 3


The return of Twisted Wheel After a three-year hiatus the Manchester rockers are back

This year, 2018, marks the return of Twisted Wheel who just announced their forthcoming tour Snakes and Ladders. It’s been three years since the band announced their split on Facebook, and fans are more than excited to catch the band playing their notoriously riotous shows in venues up and down the country. ‘The Wheel’ made their debut back in 2009 with ‘Twisted Wheel’, featuring tracks such as ‘You Stole The Sun’, ‘Lucy The Castle’ and ‘We Are Us.’ The band’s ‘balls out’ approach to song writing brought something new to the scene at the time and saw them collect fans such as Paul Weller, Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher and land a slot supporting Oasis at Heaton Park back in 2009. The boy was even joined on-stage by original Oasis Member Bonehead for a one-off gig in 2013. Twisted Wheel were quoted as the ‘second most gigged band in the country’ by PRS. They support smaller venues and have built a loyal fan base, without major radio play. The line-up of the group has gone through several changes over the years, with frontman and songwriter Jonny Brown being the only original remaining member. During the three-year hiatus, Brown took off on his own to play a string of solo shows around the UK, performing Twisted Wheel classics as well as some new material. Artefact caught up with Jonny Brown about their plans for 2018. What can fans expect from the forthcoming album? It's just straight up classic rock n roll merged with Twisted Wheel's usual punk approach. We’ve gathered a wide range of influences from The Cure, The Jam, Neil Young, Small Faces, Neil Young, Dr Feelgood and a bit of Fleetwood Mac. A diverse range of unique sound with many a hook and sing long melodies, not to mention my lyrical poetry. We’ve named one of the tracks Snakes and Ladders, which is basically about the opportunities and problems we all face at times. I would say you should expect a classic album — to be loved by some but not by others. Maybe we’ll call the album marmite! How did the return come about? Do you feel more prepared now than before? 4

So, me and the drummer James Highton started a new band and brought in Richard Allsopp on guitar and a random bass player called Sideshow Bob. Bob left so we brought in Harry Levin who was a top guitarist but fancied playing bass with us. We learnt new songs and were originally going out with a new name. During this time, I’d been doing a series of acoustic shows which had sold well. I had my last show at Manchester’s Band on the Wall — the show had sold out so I decided I was going to introduce the new band at the end of the gig. In the run up I was speaking to couple of people from the industry about the plan and the majority said don’t use a new name, stick to Twisted Wheel. You boys have a massive and loyal fan base. I had a think about it and realised they were actually right, so just before the final acoustic gig of the tour I announced the new line up. The lads were introduced at the very end of my set and although playing for the first time together live, it went down a storm. We have a massive database of fans and a good following on social media, so it was really a no brainer. A few weeks after this gig we made an official announcement that the band was back and set out on our first tour. Gigs sold out in just a few days! We’ve also got offers flooding in for more and a couple of slots to announce in the festival season. New music is out April/May and the album a little later. The Wheel is rolling again. Are we prepared? Yep, it’s going to be a full-on assault!

Words: Christopher Forsythe Images: Trust A Fox Photography, Manchester, courtesy of Jonny Brown and Trust A Fox

Do you feel your writing style has changed over the break? Definitely. I’ll leave it to the people to decide, but I’d say my writing has matured and I’ve got many, many more life experiences, both good and bad to express. I read you have been working on an electro/hip-hop album. Can you tell us a bit more about that? I was and it was pretty cool. Kind of The Prodigy but slowed down with 32 bar raps. I’m no longer working on this project, although it was great and helped get me writing again. I have to follow my heart and it lies deep within rock n roll. You’re about to embark on a UK tour. What dates are you looking forward to the most? Can’t wait to get out there and meet the fans. They are all top and so loyal. Obviously, Manchester, but I’m looking forward to all the gigs. Some are grassroots venues and need support as many of them have recently been closed due to noise issues. People should always support these venues. Once they are gone that’s it, you don’t get them back. Who are you taking as support? In many areas, the promoters will select locally. However, we’ve also selected a few bands. The Darlies, Sauce and The Jack Fletcher Band. Go check em out! I’m really made up with the response of this comeback. I’d like to thank all our fans old and new. We can’t wait to blow your heads off. b


Hi-tech sex workers Could robots be the future of prostitution?

Words: Antoinette Wentworth-Smith Image: Cyril Cabon via Flickr

Sex dolls and sex robots have been in production and development for decades, but have now come to a forefront in a discussion, even outside of the sex industry. Many Twitter users have been making memes and jokes about the robots, but could there be a pinch of truth under the humour? In the Kontakthof brothel located in Vienna, Austria, sex robot Fanny has become more popular with punters (visitors) than the live women. Psychologist Gerti Senger tells the Daily Mail that this is likely because the men can do anything with her as she has no will. Up to recently in history, sex dolls have been posable, but inanimate, meaning that those seeking more adventurous or even taboo sex could do so without having to gain consent. Sex doll Roxxxy made by company ‘True Companion’ comes with a resistance setting, designed for men to simulate rape. Website punternet.com, which proclaims that it is ‘The UK's oldest escort/ sensual massage directory and review site’, features thousands of reviews where members rank bookings between themselves and escorts and give details of what has transpired. Positive reviews often praise the women's bodies, pointing out details such as stretch marks, tattoos, and their plastic surgeries, and include phrases such as ‘everything I wanted was available and given with enthusiasm’. In one such positive review, user Volvic reveals that he monitors the website and checks regularly for escorts who offer certain services, and went on to speak about how ‘Chloe’ was happy to do what he wanted to, even stating that she was ‘completely compliant and did not resist’. It appears that the only difference in these interactions is that the escorts are human, which does not seem to be a major concern for these men. A report by Responsible Robotics states that the success of dolls for sexual gratification has set a clear path for the role of robotics in the future of sex, which brings us back to the original question: could sex robots replace escorts? Sex doll retailer Real Doll offers different models of dolls, starting at $3,999 (£2,765), and are customisable. Buyers can choose their preference, from body style and skin tone even to their fingernail colour. Eyes can also be chosen;

This, amongst other responses, gives the impression that whilst people are intrigued, there is still some apprehension to the dolls becoming a normal part of sex and relationships. A commonly acknowledged benefit that recurs is the ability to perform unorthodox sex acts, as although sex is not as taboo as it was in previous generations, people are still too embarrassed, to be honest about what they would like to do, and so a robot can assist. Whilst sex is in the job title, it is not the only purpose for men to hire sex workers, especially around times of the year which are associated with spending time with family. As modern sex dolls become more popular, companies who manufacture them are looking to increase their market share by creating moving robotic dolls who can utilise speech recognition technology, and have conversations, which could become an unexpected benefit as 9 million people across the UK report feeling lonely either often or always. Martina*, who has an eight year old son, told The Journal IE that she continues to offer her services at Christmastime, saying: “For me, I work because they are lonely. I do not charge more. Maybe they stay for a while also. We talk and maybe have a drink if I have no more clients that day.” Loneliness can have serious negative effects on a person’s health; research conducted in 1988 found that being socially isolated can have the same illness risks as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. A major cause of loneliness is self isolation, which often than not has anxiety at its roots. Charity Mind proclaims that generalised anxiety disorder affects almost six in every 100 people, and mixed anxiety and depression affects more at nearly eight in 100. Loneliness can also be caused by low self esteem, as those who struggle with low self esteem may feel that they are incapable of being loved, whereas paying for sex gives lonely people the affection they may crave — though, this could further lower the buyer’s self esteem, The ability to have a real, genuine conversation with a live human may become the deciding factor for a punter who is choosing between a doll, robot, or sex worker — only the future can tell. b

colours, but also whether or the eyes can be positioned or not. A post shared by RealDoll (@abyssrealdoll) on Jan 24, 2018 at 12:41pm PST It is understandable why those who purchase sex are interested in life-size playmates, as sex workers can use fake pictures, or have many but not all of a punter’s preference. Though, the ability to choose so specifically is another area which may cause concern for human women.

When it comes to whether or not everyday people are actually willing to have sex with robots, the answer is, to some degree, yes. A survey with 100 participants ranging in age between 20 to 61 with 43 percent females and 57 percent males found two-thirds of males were in favour of using sex robots, while almost twothirds of females were against. But 86 per cent of all respondents thought that robots would satisfy sexual desire. Users of website Quora, which is a question-and-answer forum, have explored the idea of sex with robots. Author Ezra Willson, a psychology student, responds to the thread stating: “Yes, I would honestly. You want an honest answer and you’re going to get one.” I think having sex with a robot would be kind of hot. I could act out the weird fantasies that I’m way too shy to do on [sic] a real person.” A robot shouldn’t replace human intimacy but rather be used as a unique tool for masturbation. Plus, you can practice on it so when it comes to a real human, you’ll be a great love maker.”

* name changed 5


My Kurdish me is all of me How one woman’s identity was formed amid the Kurdish diaspora in Europe

Words: Fiona Berbatovci. Image: Rojda Yavuz and William John Gauthier

The Kurdish are an ethnic group from the Middle East, they inhabit a mainly mountainous region covering 500,000 square kilometres and spanning four countries; Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The Kurds are the world’s largest nation without a state. While ‘Kurdistan’, which means ‘Country of the Kurds’, can often appear as a country on world maps used by Kurdish militants, no such state is recognised by international law. No census has been carried out

are somewhere between 1.5 and 1.7 million Kurds living in Western Europe, including 800,000 in Germany. Some 50,000 Kurds are believed to be living in the US and estimates suggest more than 25,000 are living in Canada. Artefact spoke to 22-year old Rojda Yavuz about her experiences of being part of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe. Yavuz describes herself as, “a Kurdish girl born and raised in Belgium”, the daughter of first generation Kurds. She

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on the Kurds by country, but estimates indicate that they form a population of between 20 and 40 million. It is believed that there are around 12 to 15 million in Turkey, around six million in Iran, between five and six million in Iraq, and more than two million in Syria. There are also significant Kurdish diaspora communities around the world; in Europe, the USA, Canada and Russia. The largest is in Europe, and statistics released by the Paris Kurdish Institute suggest that there


says that her father was one of the first Kurds to arrive in Belgium and many family members followed him so now the majority of her family are living there. Her family had to leave their home in order to avoid political prosecution: “I come from a family of political refugees. My father was involved in underground political activities and had to flee from the Turkish regime. My uncle was locked up in Diyarbakır prison, a prison known for its torture techniques”. The prison is infamous for the atrocities that were carried out there in the early and mid-80s, particularly in the years between 1981 and 1984, prisoners in Diyarbakır Prison were subjected to horrific acts of systematic torture and dire living conditions. The Times named it as one of the ‘ten most notorious jails in the world’, and 34 prisoners lost their lives between 1981 and 1984 in a period now referred to as the ‘period of barbarity’. For Rojda’s family, the move was necessary but she explains the difficulties in being part of a Kurdish immigrant family: “Every immigrant kid growing up in the West goes through an identity crisis but I think the story is particularly difficult for Kurds. You grow up in a place that says you don’t belong here and you don’t have a homeland to call home, so where do you go?”. Many immigrant children face a dilemma when it comes to their identity, but the issue is heightened when you do not have a country to call your own and there has been systematic discrimination against your people and historic attempts to eradicate your culture and identity. This is a painful reality for children of the Kurdish diaspora. “First generation immigrant kids grow up with two different cultures. It very hard to decide to which one you belong to more, especially when one of the cultures you belong to is denied. My Kurdish identity is the connection I have with my parents and my home land. Leaving it behind would mean to leave behind a big part of me”. Rojda stresses how vital her family has been in forming and cultivating her Kurdish identity as they are still very much established in their culture, having kept their language and maintained their traditions: “It is thanks to my family and their history that I have always felt proud of who I am and where I am from”. For her and her family, being Kurd-

“Every immigrant kid growing up in Europe goes through an identity crisis but the story is particularly difficult for Kurds”

ish is central to their identity: “Before anything else, I am Kurdish. I grew up in a family that takes pride in being Kurdish, despite of what any regime says, and that was passed on to me. They showed me how beautiful my culture can be”. It has been difficult for her to witness that many Kurdish people have been forced to hide their identity: “I went to Merdin this summer and now you see Kurds no longer speaking their mother tongue in their native land because they get shamed for being Kurdish and get treated like second class citizens. Kurdish clothes no longer worn and Kurdish holidays no longer celebrated because Turkey banned them”. Rojda feels that it is the responsibility of all Kurds to maintain their culture and traditions “If we don’t hold on to it, it will soon be gone and forgotten”. Rojda is defiant in her stance: “The whole world may deny my existence and try and take away from me what I so dearly consider my native land, but it won’t ever make me feel differently about where I am from”. This is a feeling that is shared by her father and uncles, “Their

Kurdish identity has stayed very important to them because it is the reason they were forced to leave their native land. You don’t forget about things like that. Their pictures are up on my wall of heroes. I still speak Kurdish every day and we celebrate Newroz every year. My love for Kurdistan started at home and it’s the greatest gift my father could give me.” She wrote a poem, My Kurdish me, is all of me, which talks about her own Kurdish identity while also dealing with the preconceptions many people have about Kurds. ‘MY KURDISH ME, IS ALL OF ME’ I think as Kurdish people we get politicised from the day we are born. Introducing myself, and someone has already asked “from which part?”. We are a people without a land, before we are human. We are a victim of Turkey’s oppression, before we are people with dreams. We are Iraq’s oil dreams, before we ever become something else. We are Kurdish, before all. Our identity is defined by our ethnicity. You grow up in homes with your dadheroes on the wall and learn to respect them till the last day. At five years old you already know about how your uncle got tortured in Diyarbakır prison and how your cousins had to flee because Turkish soldiers were raiding their houses. Twenty years later you’re sitting with your uncles at the big table discussing politics with them. Öcalan engraved in my heart. I am a product of my heart breaking history. And I will always be. Rojda is adamant that although she is a product of a long and tumultuous history, it she doesn’t let it define her: “I am more than the trauma and the pain that comes along with being Kurdish, I am the beauty of it too. Before we even get to decide what being Kurdish means, people have already put this political trauma on us” she said. “I dedicated my piece “My Kurdish me, is all of me” to that. Kurds are more than a bloody history and traumatic political situation. We are people with dreams, we are families, we are doctors and we are artists. We can be anything”. b 7


London’s queer history A new project looks back to a time when homosexuality could lead to imprisonment or even hanging

The word ‘queer’ describes somethingstrange or unusual: it became, linked to the LGBT community, especially to gay men, often as an offensive term. In British history, homosexuality was seen as a crime against nature, which became punishable by death with the institution of the Buggery Act in 1533, during the reign of Henry VIII. For the next 300 years, gay men were imprisoned and hanged until this law was repealed by the Offences against the Person Act 1828. The last hangings took place on November 27, 1835. Despite the barbarity with which the LGBT community members were treated almost half a century ago, there is still speculation about which seven British royals are likely to have been attracted by same-sex persons before and after homosexuality became illegal. King Richard II (1377-1400), James VI and I (1567-1603), and even William of Orange (1689-1702) and his successor, Queen Anne (17021707) were all suspected of homosexuality during their reigns. In 1957, Lord John Wolfenden stood up for the gay men’s rights and claimed that ‘homosexual acts between consenting adults’ should be legalised, which was later followed by the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that allowed men above 21 years-old to have sex in private circumstances, although this did not apply to the members of the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces. However, according to Peter Tatchell of Stonewall, “the repression grew much worse’ as the annual number of convictions had increased by 300 per cent by

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1974.” Therefore, the freedom of sexuality was very limited for gay men and for other LGBT members until the criminalisation of anal sex was repealed in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences Act in 2003. Northern Ireland adopted the reform in 2008 and was followed by Scotland a year later — although it did not apply in the case of sodomy until 2013. As Peter Tatchell said: “it seems scarcely credible, but gay sex ceased to be a crime in the UK only four years ago.” This subject was picked up and highlighted by Goldsmiths University in London, which launched the World’s first post-graduate degree in Queer History in 2017. On January 17, 2018, the university held the Queer Public History Fair, which was “a really great opportunity to bring together individuals and organisations from heritage, from archives, from libraries and LGBT groups to talk about the kind of outreach they do and work they do in communities in queer history, because so much really important work in queer history is done in a way that engages with the public, but there still is so much to do,” says Dr Justin Bengry, senior lecturer in Queer History and also one of the people behind the event. At the fair, there were representatives of the National Archives, the Bishopsgate Institute, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Metropolitan Archives and also of the Gendered Intelligence non-profit organisation, who presented not only a vast range of documents and newspaper articles on queer history but also journals and heart moving love letters. All these showed a very different yet still similar reality that people had to face not long ago in the UK in comparison with today, and discussed the improvements brought about by the legalisation of same-sex marriages in England, Wales and Scotland. Dr Bengry told Artefact about the relevance of the issue and the way it affects our society, he drags attention to understanding the past and its importance. “Queer history is an opportunity for us to explore histories of lives and experiences of non-normative genders and sexualities, the challenge in the norms of society across period, across region, and across identity category.” “It allows us to look into lives and identities that might look familiar to us

Words: Andra-Maria Ciupitu Images: LCC Zine Collection

“Queer history helps to reflect on the similarities of the past and the vast differences”

at first, but other lives and identities that are really unfamiliar to us as well, so just because someone expressed the samesex desires in the past doesn’t mean necessary that they understood their lives the way we might understand our lives today.” “And part of the point with queer history is looking at that, reflecting on that, really try to understand both the similarities of the past, but also the vast differences.” So, what does queer history mean for a member of the LGBT community? Alfred Russo, a member of Goldsmith’s’ Student Union spoke openly about the representation of his community in history and importance of it. “We do have memoirs to help and we are starting to have some very good books coming


out. Some should come out in the next few months. Peter Acrkoyd has written a wonderful book, Queer City, which I suggest you read.” “For trans people there is still not as much representation because it is very hard to find them. Historians have to look through archives and archives are now more willing to help, but some people disappear through the pages and it’s very hard to go and find them.” “Luckily, we will have more in the future. I think, in 50 years, what will become the past, will be much more available to people. But still, compared to 50 years ago, how much you can identify yourself with the people from the past and how empowering it can be … more for the lesbian and gay community than the trans people, but it is good to remember that trans people were part of the movement. That should be remembered in the whole community.” As Russo points out, it is important for people to have access to this information; not only for researchers or just simply curious people, but especially for the new generations of LGBT community members who will need it in order to understand their nature. The lack of these resources not only creates gaps in history but also confusion in the minds and souls of people who struggle to identify themselves. As this issue still exists in some Eastern European countries, it is important to understand its consequences and also observe the steps that the United Kingdom is taking forward in this direction. “In many countries in Eastern Europe, people find it very hard to accept who you are. When I was living in Italy I had no information available to understand what my situation was. I struggled a lot, especially through puberty because there was no information. We didn’t have a proper LGBT community in my town, in Verona. No one could have told me what was happening to me,” Russo said. “The Internet actually is what helped me, English and American YouTubers who were transitioning made me realise that that was my case. I am very grateful that I had the chance, when I turned 18, to come here in the UK, because although it’s not a perfect country, it’s amazing how open they are with certain things.” “There is a lot of support here for trans men. A lot of good friends come

from this community of trans men that I found in the UK. In a sense, the UK is the home of the person that I am now, which I am very grateful for. It’s a very strong community. Especially here, at Goldsmiths, it is very welcoming as a university.” By the end of 2016, the United Kingdom was the home of one million people (two per cent of the population) aged 16 or over who identified themselves as LGB, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows. People aged 16 to 24 were the age group most likely to identify as LGB (4.1 per cent), with more males (2.3 per cent) than females (1.6 per cent). However, those who identified as LGB in 2016 were more likely to be single, never married or civil partnered, at 70.7 per cent. The numbers show an increase of 0.3 per cent since 2015, which means the United Kingdom has become the home of more LGB people in the past few years. As this has a direct impact on soci-

ety and their integration into society has started quite recent, more significantly after gay marriage was legalised in England in 2013, it is necessary to acknowledge the past and identity of these people and fight against stereotypes. Moreover, according to ONS, “London has the largest proportion of the population who identified as LGB (2.7 per cent), which could be associated with a relatively young and diverse population.” The diversification of the population is a direct effect of the high immigration in the United Kingdom, especially in London, which had a population of 8.7 million in 2016, and just as Alfred Russo, people from all over the world come here to embrace their identity. The launch of the world’s first degree in Queer History and also the amazing implication of so many institutions in the Queer History Fair not only raises awareness among people but also gives hopes for a better, well-documented future of this community. b 9


Farewell to Colette The famed Parisian concept store is closing its doors for the final time

Words: Carla Mbappe Images: Jesarqit via Flickr

After being open for 20 years, the iconic Parisian concept store Colette bid ‘adieu’ to its clientele — December 20, 2017 marked the end of an era which allowed street wear to be recognised as high fashion. The boutique was founded in 1997 by Colette Roussaux in Paris on 213 rue Saint-Honoré, and has been run by her daughter Sarah Andelman in recent years. Andelman shared the news in a post on Colette’s Instagram account the morning of July 12, 2017, outlining the official announcement of the store’s closure. Parisians and fans all over the world got an understanding about the store’s abrupt closing in that post: “Colette ne peut exister sans Colette” which translates as ‘Colette Roussaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time; and Colette cannot exist without Colette’. With the growth of online shopping and social media emphasising how limited our time is, the spate of closures of retail chain locations came as no surprise. Consumers are now attracted to specialist items with a strong brand story; expensive fast-fashion, just doesn’t cut it. Speaking to sales assistants at Colette really created a vibe of the store during its most significant moments. After five years, sales assistant Michael

rior was decorated to showcase the latest trends, beauty products, fashion, style, clothes, books, art. Guillaume said, as PR, their role was to spread word of the store: “It’s a good image to read a shop like a magazine, which was my exact experience when visiting Colette for the first time before it closed.” Travelling to Paris is always exciting, but then being in Colette is super enriching — you would meet customers and staff that were all different and unique. The shop had many significant moments with Brands. Hari, 27, who worked at Colette for two years mentioned that “Elton John came into the store one day and made note that he was going to buy everything to gift.” Karl Lagerfield had also made it known that he finds it is the only store he shops at because it has everything. It has been collaborating with some of its favourite brands — the recent Chanel takeover saw a pair of Pharrell-designed Adidas collab trainers that are rumoured to resell at £30,000. Since it is rumoured that Yves Saint Laurent will be permanently moving into the space when the boutique closes, the last collaboration was with the brand despite their past mishaps. An iconic moment in 2013 YSL and Colette cut ties when Sarah Andelman got into a riff with the creative director Hedi Slimane over the T-shirt that stated “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.” Having been in business with one another since 1998, Saint Laurent decided to sever all ties with the retailer despite Andelman spending €440,000 (£387,209) for Laurent’s previous Spring and Fall 2013 collections. Just days before the closure of the store, the day I interviewed the Colette staff, rapper Travis Scott came in store for the Saint Laurent vinyl signing worth €600 (£528) each. The staff were lucky enough to get a private performance from the rock star. Other significant celebrity moments included a famously known fight between rapper Theophilus London designer ASAP Bari and ASAP Rocky’s Stylist Ian Connor. Colette will remain a significant pioneer concept store, as it saw what young people were wearing before designer brands, they clocked onto what people actually wanted to buy and gave those small brands a platform and a larger audi-

“Established luxury brands such as Chanel, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga sat next to emerging designers like Sacai and Christopher Kane”

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believed the culture of the store allowed people to, “Discover the universe of Colette”. It is the most famous concept store in Paris. It is known for being the point of reference for every person who is ahead with the trends. Roussaux and Andelman’s criteria for the store was as simple as pie — the store only included brands they liked. Colette’s PR, Guillaume Salmon, explains: “Sarah would wear a Comme des Garçon skirt with a pair of trainers, it’s so natural and it was important for the shop to have exactly the same stuff.” There you could find brands that you couldn’t buy anywhere else. Colette was known for its exclusive collections and bold high-low product prices. He continues “It’s this idea of blending a big brand with a young designer.” Established luxury brands such as Chanel, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga next to emerging designers like Sacai and Christopher Kane. It was also a haven for emerging designers, being stocked in Colette was an important vote of confidence which could solidify a brand’s reputation and subsequently lead to more orders from other stores. It was a rite of passage of sorts for some brands such as Off White. Guillame added, it wasn’t their idea to make it cool “we’re just like that”. From the jump the store had trainers, T-shirts, sweatshirts, denim brands and designer brands. Pierre Nicholas remembers getting his sales assistant job just before the closure: “It was the first to have Bape, Supreme and Billionaire Boys Club in store, which drew me to work here as I wear those brands.” When I first heard about Colette it was through word of mouth from my friend who lives in Paris. The same as Quentin, 21, who told me about his experience at Colette when his friend offered him a job. “Pharrell would pop in every Saturday as he had multiple collaborations with the store”. Being able to present illustrators, photographers and others was really important for the store because it was such an animated space not just a shop. The free flow of the place made Colette, well, Colette. You weren’t obliged to buy a product; you could just come here and discover a piece of art. The window and displays were changed every week for 20 years, the window like a magazine was the cover of the week and the shops inte-


“Colette was an incubator for emerging talent and an unmissable shopping destination”

ence and clientele. Marvin, 45, worked at Colette for 15 years, “we watched street culture brands emerge”. Thanks to people like Roussaux we have seen the rise of street culture. Many brands have taken a less traditional approach of suits and couture in their collections and are designing clothing people can wear every day. It’s more than the starting point of limited edition clothes and shoes (because that was its start) but it was the rise of the street culture experience and influence into designer brands like Louis Vuitton x Supreme. Colette is the future more or less. It contributed to the domino effect in the fashion industry today. Post-announce-

ment of the closure of store, in an article Harling Ross described Colette’s purpose “as an incubator for emerging talent and an unmissable shopping outpost for locals and tourists alike”. With ready-to-wear fashion moving at such a fast pace it has caused many designers to leave fashion houses or step down from creative director roles to take a break from the pressure of the industry. The way we consume fashion is changing, consumers are no longer swayed by sustainability and exclusivity, meaning many brands including Colette are having to pause their breaks and conjugate their next steps on keeping people excited and engrossed in the fashion conversations of the next big thing. b

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A ROOM IN THE ELEPHANT A major development in south London — which includes a new home for LCC — is dividing opinion in the area

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On a wintery and particularly windy night in London, a small crowd of people sporting elephant face masks slowly start to gather together. Parking their bikes and throwing fuchsia banners over them which read ‘housing action’, whilst others wrap up in their scarves, holding up pale pink flags with pretty, child-like elephant drawings on them. An older lady urges her granddaughter to skip towards the crowd and strike a pose for a picture in front of the banner reading ‘protect our barrios’ conveniently placed right under the Southwark Council sign on Tooley Street. As the amount of policemen (two are now present, urging about two hundred people not to block the bus route), banners and neon backpacks grow, so does Raul’s confidence — the man in control of the mic following a failed attempt to blast Despacito. “We know that social and ethnic cleansing is taking place across London and we need to stop that. If you go to Elephant & Castle or Heygate, or any of the new buildings in central London, you will find that at night all the lights are off,” shouts Raul. He compares these places to safety deposit boxes for investors rather than “real homes for real people” and council housing which he says is what London desperately needs. “Not greedy developers, not profit, we need ordinary housing. I was brought up in Southwark, and I don’t recognise Elephant and Castle at all. What we have is Heygate estate demolished by greedy property developers.” “Houses for people, not for profit!” echoes the crowd who are there to protest gentrification, while the Southwark Council planning committee meets up to make the postponed decision about the Elephant & Castle Town Centre regeneration plan, as proposed by developer Delancey. The plan will see the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre demolished and a new campus site for London College of Communication built alongside a new London underground station, commercial space and a thousand new homes. Those who protest the terms of the Elephant & Castle development plans are not alone in their concerns, many Londoners are unhappy with the current housing situation, blaming Mayor Sadiq Khan for the lack of affordable homes. Amandeep Singh Bhogal, a conservative campaigner, wrote on Twitter “not a single affordable home built under Labour Mayor Khan in ten boroughs in FY17/18,” alongside a hashtag which said, “you can’t trust Khan.” Mayor Khan has set out his plans to “put Londoners living on social housing estates at the heart of decisions that affect their homes,” adding that Labour

leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to roll this out across the country. The day following the protest, seated in a cosy local coffee shop around the corner from the Imperial War Museum’s gardens, the owner Andrew quietly pours some mint tea. “Did you know that Elephant & Castle used to be called South London’s Piccadilly?” he asks me whilst quickly flipping through a hefty architecture book. The glossy pages list all the buildings and monuments of the area filled with blurry 1960s photographs of tipsy women in fur, and men with cigars grinning at the camera — half their smiles covered by the champagne bursting out of a vintage bottle. The picture was taken in the tavern, referred to as a “historic boozer” by Southwark News, and gave the area its name ‘Elephant & Castle’ — an impressively large meeting point for locals at the time. The old pub was swept away in the post-war remodelling of the road layout. Between 1971-1974, the Heygate housing estate was constructed, providing homes for over 3,000 people. While the estate developed a reputation for crime, poverty and dilapidation in the later years, there were differing opinions on whether it was a vital housing necessity, or according to some: a slum filled with crime. The demolishment of the estate, as part of the urban renewal of the Elephant & Castle area, between 2011-2014 was highly controversial, as the community was frustrated with Southwark Council. They felt that an established community had been scattered throughout the borough and beyond for the benefit of developers. “I’ve lived in the area for as long as I can remember and I still haven’t forgiven Southwark Council for the job on the Heygate estate in which I lost two close friends to new areas,” Ernesto Ortiz Delgado, a broadcasting assistant technician who works at the London College of Communication (LCC), tells me. “You will seek people to buy the land in Southwark, make 99.9% profit on it — but the majority of the residents will never firsthand see that profit. As someone in the local community, I think Southwark have messed up, but they won’t see it that way,” Ernesto says. The dream to rebrand the Elephant and revive the vision of the Piccadilly of the South is hardly a new concept as Southwark Council have been looking for a developer to transform the Elephant & Castle shopping centre for the past twenty years. Soon after it opened in 1965, it was disregarded by some as an eyesore but it remains as a significant cultural and social hub for the local community and traders.

Words and images: Defne Saricetin

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The land which the shopping centre resides upon has been bought by Delancey, and the Elephant & Castle Town Centre regeneration plan is seen as the final milestone in the grander scheme of development in the area. The project was met with a massive backlash and campaigns such as Up the Elephant, supported by Latin Elephant and Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth amongst other groups who were also in protest. On January 16th, the planning committee of Southwark Council rejected the motion to approve the Elephant & Castle Town Centre Redevelopment application after a seven-hour meeting, going against the case officer’s recommendation to grant permission. The application was not rejected but postponed until the next scheduled meeting on 30 January. The local community and traders expressed worry about social and affordable housing, the relocation of shops in the shopping centre, the future of the traders as well as the bingo hall — a much-loved leisure spot for some locals. “Elephant & Castle is like the heart of the Latin American community, all the restaurants and the Latin American businesses, we almost feel like we’re in Latin America when we go to Elephant & Castle,” said Rosa, one of the many protesters standing with Latin Elephant — a charity that promotes innovative ways of engaging and incorporating migrant and ethnic groups in processes of urban change in London. “If this planning goes ahead, all of that is going to be destroyed,” she continues, “our community is going to lose, you know, its home and heart,” Rosa explained. Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth have also stated that they view it as a huge insult to all the people who make up the local community that there is not even any council housing as part of this development. Their members are mostly homeless families living in temporary accommodation and hostels in Southwark and Lambeth who are suffering from high rent prices and poor accommodation. “It is all going to be luxury flats the people who are in housing need can’t afford,” their representative stressed, “so we are here to demand 100% council housing and good leisure facilities for the local community.” Falling at the heart of this debate was University of the Arts London with its new proposed site for LCC to be built where the Elephant & Castle shopping centre stands, right across the road from their current campus. Some questioned whether a liberal arts university should be part of a controversial development plan protested by the local community, while others highlighted the benefits of the college staying in the area. 14

LCC has been considering moving options over the past decade, as staying in the current campus has proved increasingly difficult due to the age of the building. Back in 2016, when the model for the new campus was first displayed, John Parmiter (a member of the University of the Arts’ Court of Governors who also chaired the Estates Committee) told me that staying in LCC and trying to fix the current building was also an option. However, it would take eight years while the students are attending the college. Southwark Council believes that LCC is a valuable part of the area and does not want them to move to the other discussed locations such as Stratford or White City. “You cannot replace what a university and the students bring to an area by putting shops or houses or anything else,” said Jon Abbott, Head of Regeneration North from the Council. Head of College, Natalie Brett believes LCC must stay in the area as they have been in Elephant & Castle for over 50 years and if they suddenly have to leave, it would create a huge hole in the outreach work that they do with young people and local school kids. “I’ve never sat until two in the morning, did you know that?” Brett chuckles, referring to the planning committee meeting on January 16th. She is the Head of LCC, one who resists the stereotypical imagery of her job with a fashionable bob and a big smile accompanied by her trademark red lipstick. “I’m not very happy in the way it turned out because I think there was so much noise going on about the concerns people have, that there wasn’t enough opportunity for the benefits of the project to come through,” she says. The Regeneration and Cultural Partnerships Manager of the College, Gill Henderson, agrees with Brett, stating that they have been exploring and developing local partnerships and collaborations, and there is so much more they could do with a building that is welcoming, flexible and one that allowed them to build on those relationships. “I think there are some valid and understandable concerns that have been raised,” Henderson says of the protests against the redevelopment plans. “However, I’m not convinced that the ‘local community’ are all quite as vehemently opposed as it is being presented.” Having lived in the area since the 80s, Henderson hardly ever used the shopping centre which she claims is also the case for many friends who are longterm residents. She says she was very surprised by the sudden declarations of love for the shopping centre. “It is vitally important to support the Latin American and BAME traders who have revitalised

“It’s all going to be luxury flats the people who are in housing need can’t afford.”


the place and to get them into new premises — which is why we worked with some of them on our Shop Front project,” she says. “We need to celebrate the past, but look towards a future which retains diversity, culture and creativity at the heart of the Elephant. That is when regeneration will work. When it’s not just for developers and local authorities. But also for communities and LCC.” Not everybody felt the same way following the decision to postpone the application for the plan; there was a sit-in protest by students inside the LCC campus accusing the university of being complicit in the ‘social cleansing’ of the area by partnering with Delancey. The protesters who participated in the occupation stated that LCC’s relocation is less of a concern to them and their primary focus is UAL’s involvement with Delancey, the tearing down of the shopping centre and the replacement being unaffordable luxury flats. “Basically, because of UAL’s involvement, Delancey can push down the 70.5% social housing requirement that all council planning in Southwark has to meet to 3% because UAL is technically ‘used for the community good’ which is a quite common loophole that planning projects use,” said a student at the occu-

pation who did not want to be named. “They team up with a public institution to whitewash the problems of this plan.” When asked whether they think they can stop gentrification, another student who wished to remain anonymous replied that gentrification will always continue to happen, but at the same time it can be continuously stopped. They listed Southwark being a Labour council as a big part of why they think this area can be successful in terms of combatting gentrification and getting more council houses. “Most specifically for this project, Delancey has already bought the land that Elephant & Castle shopping centre is on,” the first protesting student continued, “and we think that this is a really good opportunity for UAL to push for a project that involves more social housing and is just a better deal for the community — and a more socially responsible one.” Sahaya James, the campaigns officer for the university’s Student Union, who was leading the occupation inside the college, tweeted that she received an email which stated that she is under disciplinary investigation and cannot enter her university without permission; which James claims were due to her protest of “UAL’s complicity in gentrification.” James is seemingly more petite in

real life than her Twitter picture suggests, yet she possesses the same determined eyes and dark hair with turquoise dye at the bottom bits, minus the two red lines of face paint on her cheeks in the ‘Sahaya for NUS President’ campaign poster. Sahaya James also criticises the university for the way the protesters have been treated, claiming they have been intimidated and that “the UAL management have refused toilet access to a section of the occupiers for a whole night in a cruel attempt to wait us out.” Other supporters on Twitter showed solidarity with James and criticised the university’s decision to block an elected union representative’s access to the institution, deeming it as anti-democratic and unacceptable. The email sent to Sahaya James discloses the university is undertaking an investigation under the University’s Disciplinary Code for Students. The grounds for investigation stated in the email are that she opened a fire door at LCC to allow people to enter the building without permission and without going through the security procedures which are mandatory at the College. Head of College, Natalie Brett, responds that the majority of the occupiers at the college were not LCC or UAL students and were actually students

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from University College London and the London School of Economics. “There was a campaigns officer for the university, and yes, she is ex-LCC, and I am aware of one, maybe two other LCC students but at least eleven out of fourteen were actually from outside of the university. So was it really our occupation I have to ask,” she says. Resembling the occupation to “a bit of a red herring, in a way,” Brett says she witnessed the students from LCC and a lot of the staff who also live, work and were born in the area, getting very frustrated with the demonstrations. “It is very difficult talking about the occupation because I feel as though it was led by people’s own personal agendas to do with their political view, and not a representative of what people in this building might think,” she states. Brett expressed she was perplexed that while there was an occupation going on, the university had a hundred school

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kids from the local area who came in for a class and they nearly had to cancel that because “one of the occupiers had opened a fire exit to let people in the college, who were not a part of our community, which is a major safeguarding issue for the university.” Others inside the college are divided up in their views. Staff member Ernesto Ortiz Delgado thinks that the students would have done better by occupying the bases of Southwark Council rather than the university, as the council “make the final or all decisions on what is going to be built or not.” While he understands the motives behind the occupation and feels it is something to get behind, he describes the protests inside LCC as “a childish sit-in where students think they are forcing the hand of UAL.” Delgado suggested asking the public how they can go about renovating Elephant & Castle without damaging its presence; he believes that while this can surely be done, more communication needs to happen. On 30th January, the planning committee met again regarding the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and LCC development, deferring the decision to allow Delancey’s improved affordable housing, retail and bingo offer to be fully considered. “Decision over the Elephant & Castle development is being deferred following last-minute concessions from Delancey with rumours of actual council housing being offered,” tweeted the Up the Elephant campaign, “they are listening to our demands, and we will keep up the pressure until they are met.” Delancey issued a statement on February 5th, on behalf of the Elephant & Castle Town Centre Regeneration Project. They stated that the developer has listened to the concerns and issues raised by the local community, Ward Councillors and Southwark Borough Council on their initial planning application for the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle Town Centre. Submitting their revised offer to Southwark, they added that a consultation process would be started to present and discuss these proposals. Delancey confirmed that the revised offer includes: all social rented housing to be owned and managed by either Southwark Council or another registered provider, the delivery of Elephant Box Park to further supplement the independent trader relocation strategy for the shopping centre, as well as re-visioning Pastor Street to create a vibrant affordable, mixed commercial environment alongside an advisory group. A 21-day re-consultation on these proposals will be undertaken to discuss the issues and concern raised regarding the previous proposal, and a detailed

discussion will be carried out around the newly updated offer according to Delancey. While the Delancey party has not given answers to specific questions regarding the social housing percentages and consideration of the ideas during the four years of consultations with the local community, they tell me that “in the interest of managing expectations we may not have the answers to all your questions but will do our best to come back to you with something.” Their statement ends by stating that they “look forward to continuing to work with all the relevant parties to reach a mutually acceptable and positive result for all, and a conclusion which delivers the new town centre and essential improvements to the transport, education and housing provision for the community in and around Elephant & Castle.” “I think it was the right decision to make,” says Brett of the deferral decision, “I think a lot of people in the room there know that this is about time to have a proper conversation. Let’s try for Southwark and Delancey to work really hard together and try to push as much as they can out of this project to answer the people in the local area and hopefully then; we can move forward with the development.” As for the college, Brett believes that the university’s outreach work and impact in the area got a bit lost in the last few months, and the deferral gives them more time to articulate that better. Following chants and playing bingo on their feet in the crisp, clear night, the protesters outside the Southwark Council building see the deferral decision as a victory to celebrate. However, Latin Elephant tweets they are still waiting to be consulted following Delancey’s recent announcements, adding that they don’t view learning about this offer and letter via social media as a good start. “I think that it is now more clear than ever that after four years of consultations, our demands, the community’s requests are the same ones from the first day until today,” Santiago from Latin Elephant tells me, whilst holding a banner with one hand and gesturing at the Southwark Council building with the other. “And it seems that they are only just now conceding certain things, actually taking our concerns into account and we think it is quite late. We welcome that if they actually commit to our requests, but we believe that this is the best example as they have never listened to the community because otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this situation and there would not be a last-minute offer with pretty much what we were requesting in the past four years.” b 17


Oh thanks, it’s vintage Veteran make-up artist Mariella Smith-Masters gives the inside track on her competitive world

Words: Natalia Faisal Pictures: via Pexels

“I always remember Calvin Klein said ‘if a woman comes into my room, you want to say she looks beautiful NOT her clothes look beautiful’. I totally get it and that’s what I think a woman should be.” The Sixties was an era filled with sophisticated glamour, from the iconic bouffant hair to the flawless flicked eyeliner and subtle pink hues it was all about perfection. Back then vanity wasn’t based on how much make-up you used but rather how you maintained your look to stay elegant and chic. Artefact magazine was able to interview Sixties make-up artist Mariella-Smith Masters who is best known for her work with top fashion outlets such as Vogue, GQ, as well as working with artist Andy Warhol and training make-up professional Bobbi Brown. Here is a personal outlook on how she built her success in such a competitive industry, her most memorable moments and her advice for any aspiring make-up artists out there. “I started in the 60s, a fantastic era. The Beatles, Twiggy, the fashion was amazing, I loved it. I lived it,” she told us. “I’ve been in the industry for 35 years and it was a whirlwind, to say the least! Since the beginning, my mind was not in school but on things that were fun and didn’t need much effort. I loved fashion, hair design, and make-up. I was always experimenting.” After leaving boarding school and moving to London when she was 18 years old, Mariella landed an apprenticeship with international cosmetic company Yardley of London. “Yardley’s was huge in the 60s and I felt grateful to be there. During that time, Twiggy and I were around the same age and I adored her, eventually, we would end up working together.” “I was only 18/19 years old when working in Yardley but that was when I saw my work published for the very first time. It was so exciting to see my name at that age even if the pictures weren’t exciting.” Two years after she joined Leichner of London, a theatrical film TV company, where she learned theatre and film makeup. “Leichner was great because I learned a lot which was a great help in the future. I remember we would we would go to the subway wearing horrible bloody scars on our faces without a care in the world.”

new clients and advertises your skills. There was nothing like that back in those days and I wish there was, I always undersold myself.” When it came to a vision of a certain look, there was much more than just the client that mattered. There were the photographer and editor who needed to be equally, if not more pleased with the final outcome. “It was all down to the editor but the photographer and I had to constantly communicate. I would tell the photographer I thought I knew what he wanted, that I would that and be very happy to adapt or change if necessary. Some didn’t care but if it was a close up cosmetic shot, it would be grueling to make it perfect and not make everyone happy.” Mariella describes her style has natural and subtle. When asked what was her signature look she replies: “I was known for being natural and meticulous, I think it is the most flattering. This gave me a lot more work I think than wilder make-up artists as natural make-up was more in demand.” Finally, her hard work started to pay off when she was approached by Glossy magazine. “Sometimes the magazines would do celebrities which is when I started to build a famous clientele. The first bunch of famous people I did were Sophia Loren, Twiggy and some TV stars like Joanna Lumley and Anoushka Hemple.” After gaining recognition for her simple make-up style, Mariella moved back and forth between London and New York. During that time she approached Vogue magazine in the 80s, it gave her the opportunity to work with big celebrity names. When asked how she felt during her first ever Vogue cover, she said: “ I was breathless with excitement, I felt so honoured!” Vogue was not the only high-end fashion magazine that Mariella worked with, she also worked for Vanity Fair and GQ where she was able to do make-up for actor Mel Gibson and artist Andy Warhol. “Working with Mel Gibson for a GQ cover happened in the 80s when I worked with Richard Avedon who did all the GQ celebrity covers. He was perfectly nice but to my amazement when it comes to doing his make-up he dropped to the floor and a series of one-handed pushups and said that will give him some

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When it comes to becoming a professional beautician learning the theory of make-up is one thing, but putting those skills into practice is where your skills are challenged. It takes more than just a brush stroke here and there, it requires being creative, confident and patient. Over the years, the industry has become a lot more versatile but with social media being a big contributor to launching an artist’s career, it definitely does raise the bar higher. Mariella remembers how much easier it was in the 60s. “Back then this business was not as overcrowded as it is today and didn’t get long to get going. All it needed was passion and hard work and I had that.” She continued by saying “it’s all about building your portfolio. My early days were spent doing make-up on young ambitious models for young ambitious photographers and of course, we would work long nights.” It is often a career that is criticised for being ‘easy’ but it is truly not just learning about ‘how to apply make-up nicely’. Every client that is being dealt with has completely different facial characteristics than the other one. Just like people, the make-up industry is constantly evolving and you will need to be on top of that. This includes learning all about skin care, working with clients of all different complexions and skin types, from even studying various facial shapes to determine what style of make-up would best suit them. Not to mention the most stressful aspect of it all, making sure not to turn the client’s world upside down with a fail final result. Mariella didn’t get an official beauticians certificate but however was very aware of what was being asked of her. “I wasn’t that interested in the degree aspect but I knew all the basics and in the seventies, I lectured in the Middle East and Eastern Europe on how to use skin care and make-up products.” Not having a qualification can be limiting today as there is a constant clash between trained and untrained make-up artists. There has been a constant debate on why officially-certified make-up artists are prioritised over self-taught ones. After all, art is subjective and cannot necessarily be taught. Mariella had to manage everything on her own and wished she had an agency to back her up: “An agent, as we know today, finds you


healthy glow and we won’t have to use too much make-up at all. He also had his ponytail tucked into his shirt at the back so it wouldn’t show!” Her experience with Andy Warhol was not as talkative: “It was Vanity Fair and the photographer was Alexis Chatelain. Warhol was this very shy, quiet man who said absolutely nothing I can remember the whole shoot. I think the reason he was so quiet was that he was either ‘high’ or still a bit shell-shocked from being shot not so long before. He wore a bulletproof vest under his clothes the whole time too.” Despite meeting two of the biggest names at the time, that was not even Mariella’s most memorable moment. “One of the most memorable shoots I had was three weeks in Japan for British Vogue with Liz Tilberis (the editor before Anna Wintour). It was amazing and we travelled all over the country eating fish three times-a-day. The model was young

and also homesick but unfortunately, she couldn’t stop eating away her anxiety and she started to pile on the pounds! We had to keep trying to disguise her weight gain and shoot in certain lights like dawn or dusk that would flatter her,“ she told us. “We went to a small island in the South and were told there were these beautiful pearl divers which we were eager to put in the pictures. It turned out they were all in their seventies but with great bodies and most of them had no teeth! This island hadn’t seen a tourist in twelve years so we were real freaks to them. We stayed in the only hotel. There were at least ten of us in the crew, all the women in one room and all the men in another. There was one toilet in the basement and a hole in the cement floor. The pictures were not as good as we had hoped but it was a great experience, also a very expensive one!” After so many years in the industry surprisingly Mariella says that the indus-

try has not evolved as much as we think: “Sadly, I really don’t think it has evolved much. It changes all the time and doesn’t really show a huge trend here or there. However, I do think that the application of make-up has become so much better, more meticulous and nothing is worse than badly applied make-up. Better to wear none.” Her advice for young aspiring makeup artists out there is: “Well, Mac has a make-up school which would be a good place to start. I would do as many courses as I could find. I would also contact a model agency and say if there is a test shoot with models, I would be happy to do the make-up for nothing in return for photos to build a portfolio. I would find a friend who is pretty and another friend who takes good pictures and never stop experimenting. It’s a terribly crowded business and you have to expect to be disappointed and rejected sadly but drive and ambition are the greatest tools.” b

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THE VILLAGE FROM THE HIGH STREET A traditional rural settlement in the centre of Romania’s busy capital 20


In a world ruled by technology, there is a place where time seems to have stood still for hundreds of years. Located in the heart of busy Bucharest, this place looks like a gate to another world, a realm of peace and freedom where nature takes the place of technology and becomes the main source of life in all its aspects. The village from the high street, as it’s known, encompasses hundreds of households, two churches, a fishery and constructions that nowadays would seem at least odd in our society, such as an old-fashioned whirlpool or a gold ore hydraulic break. All these represent the culture and traditions of Romanians, simple people who could build houses, breed animals, till the soil and produce cereals, harvest food, shape clay, weave, and decorate their houses in a way that confers them a unique identity. As I entered the village and walked down the path, I was stunned to see the multitude of different houses — some were made of wood and stone, others were made of adobe with roofs coated in moss, but none of them looked like the other. However, all of them were protected by gigantic hand-crafted wooden gates engraved with traditional motives. The first house that can be seen is built on a high stone pedestal, having a porch with pillars and railing on three sides, with walls of fir planks, joined on

the corners in dovetail technique, plastered inside and a high roof in four slopes covered with fir shingles. The stone foundation not only protects the house from flooding but also helps to keep a low temperature in the rooms at the lower level of the house, which was used to deposit food and barrels of wine. Also, wood is a material that was used by richer people at the time, distinguishing them from the lower-class people who would build their homes with a mix of soil, water, hay and manure, which was shaped into bricks and let to dry in the sun. Judging by the size and the architecture of the house, it might be correct to assume that its past occupiers were at least middle-class peasants. Also, the objects inside the house bear witness to the Romanian culture: low furniture (bed, table, bench), positioned beside the walls in order to create optimal space for household activities, hand-made clay pottery with traditional motives. Back in the day, weaving clothes or decorative rugs, such as the ones that can be seen hanging on the walls, was a custom for women. Nowadays, the only places where all these can be seen is at the countryside in some parts of the country, where the modernisation hasn’t taken place at a big scale yet and the youngsters have moved to the city, leaving their elders behind,

Words and Images: Andra-Maria Ciupitu

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who continue to live in the same old-fashioned manner. The nearby household is completely different from the first one, starting with the architecture and ending with the materials that were used. It comprehends a house, a shed and a food storage, all made of wood with roofs covered in moss and hay, while the fence is made of beautifully interlaced twigs. The piles of hay covered with moss used for the roofs protect the house from humidity and also keep a constant temperature. While the landscape brings the onlooker closer to nature, it also shows how nature's resources were put to better use in the past in comparison to now. The occupations of the people who lived in the house can be observed by looking at the objects around the household, which gives an idea of the main activities carried out by people at that time. On one side of the house, there can be found an old-fashioned oven that is linked to a barrel through a pipe, which is attached to a cauldron. This was used for making two traditional Romanian bever22

ages: țuică and palincă, which would be consumed on special occasions or offered as a welcoming gift to the guests. The way it works is simpler than it might look, all you need is fermented fruits, most often plums, which would be boiled in the cauldron. The steam from the fruits would then go through the pipe, transforming it into liquid and offering the final result. Making these beverages is a tradition that has been taking place since ancient times in Romania, and it still continues to this day. Next to the house is a wooden table with two hollows: a rectangular one, where the cereals were put, and a circular one, where the housewife would make mush or bread, which were consumed on a daily basis. To this day, no Romanian dish would be served without bread. Entering the house uncovers other secrets about its past occupiers. On the wall on the left-hand side of the hallway is a T shaped wooden object, which was used for making cheese, an activity that is still carried out in the present by people who live in the countryside. While its

“All the objects inside the house bear witness to traditional Romanian culture”


length allowed the person who used it to stir the cheese, which was kept in a special barrel, the ribbed side of it is what made the cheese soft and was also used to grate it afterwards. Next to it is an alpenhorn, another authentic object in the Romanian folklore, as Romanians have music in their blood: whether it’s a dulcimer, a whistle, an alpenhorn or even a leaf, they will find a way to make it play. The following room served as a kitchen, as the old-fashioned fireplace can be observed in a corner surrounded by cast iron pots and cauldrons, and also wooden dishware. Handcrafting wooden objects is a custom that gets transmitted from generation to generation, which nowadays continues only in some parts of the country. However, handcrafting cast iron or other metal objects is a tradition within the gipsy community, who used to travel in caravans from village to village and sell their goods to Romanian peasants. To this day, traditional gipsies still support their living by selling cast iron pots in markets. Not too far from the house is the church, with an imposing spire going up to 35 m height. It was built in 1722 by replacing another, burnt down by the Tartars (nowadays’ Turkish) on their plundering raids in 1717. The peasant craftsmen succeeded in lending it a supple and slender form by interrupting the roof both vertically and lengthwise. The inside walls were also painted by peasants, whose imagination was used freely to mirror folk beliefs and superstitions of that time (happiness in Heaven and torture in Hell), specific to Christianity Nearby, 15 minutes walking distance from the church, there are two half-buried houses, dating from the 19th Century. For the walls and roof structure, it was necessary to find a significant amount of oak, which suggests that these half-buried houses were not housing for poor people, for its construction being required almost a double the amount of wood in comparison to the amount used for the construction of a house above the ground. At the entrance of the half-buried house two purlins with outer heads carved in horse head shape protect the living place from dangers and evil spirits, according to the myths. However the reasoning behind the constructions until the first half of the 20th Century were not only the harsh climate with strong winds and large temperature differences between summer and winter (the half-buried house being a housing that preserves the cool in the summer and warm in the winter) but also the constant Turkish raids and the strong origins of the traditions.

Not far away from the half-buried houses is the lake, on which shore there are a fishery and also installations such as a pestle stamp for crushing gold-bearing ore and an old-fashioned whirlpool. The simplest hydraulic device to process large woollen fabrics, such as rugs and counterpanes, is the whirlpool or eddy, having the shape of a truncated cone, with the wide basis in the upper part, placed on wooden circles. The water flow, directed through a slanting groove, reaches the whirlpool with great speed sideways, making the fabric spin around, and after 15-20 hours in the whirling water, it becomes thicker and fluffy. The device is also used to wash clothes, and it is on this principle that modern washing machines are conceived. The pestle stamp for crushing gold-bearing ore is an installation that was needed in Romania until 1948 when the socialist nationalisation took place. Before that, gold digging was an ancient craft. Participating in the gold digging activity were all members of the household; men would do the hard and most demanding work: taking the ore and panning gold, while transporting it from the mine to the pestle stamp, the pounding of the core in the pestle stamp, the grinding of the concentrate in the hand grinding mill were all done by women, children and elders. The hardest and the most lasting work was the pounding of the core in the pestle stamp: 24 hours for one load. The ore was broken up into little pieces using the hydraulic brake and then ground in a hand grinding mill until it turned into a paste. The paste was then washed with the help of a sluice box, a chest with a lid with holes and a slanting bottom to which were attached pieces of wool. Finally, the grains of gold were retained by the fabric which was then washed in a tank until the gold remained at the bottom. The last element that brings everything together is a horse-head fountain, which actually hides a well that is protected by a sloped roof with supporting beams carved in horse-head shapes. An ancient symbol with apotropaic meanings, the horse head is linked to the cult of the Sun and is meant to protect the place from evil influences. All these stands as an eloquent proof of the millennial continuity of the Romanian nation. A visit to a place like a village from the high street is like a walk through history, serving as a gate to two hundred years ago and also celebrating nature in a way our society doesn't do it anymore. Showing off pure Romanian culture, it is a national symbol that remembers the true roots of this nation and serves as a proof of the fact that some of their traditions are still continuing today. b 23


JAMES BARNOR —GHANA’S FIRST PHOTOJOURNALIST The 88-year-old LCC alumnus looks back on a career documenting black culture in Africa and Europe

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Words: Tayo Andoh Images: James Barner

As I make my way to the home of photographer James Barnor, a mixture of nerves and excitement begin to build. I had only met James a hand full of times in my life. Once was during one of the saddest times I’ll ever experience. James had photographed my little brother’s funeral. The photos are treasured by my family and I. Another time, my father and I met James when we were out on our travels. My dad gave him a lift and proudly told me I am to call him “granddad”. The last time I saw James was on his 85th birthday back in 2014. My dad took me to his exhibition in his hometown, Hounslow. It was the first time I had seen his work, and I was blown away. James was exhibiting stunning pictures that captured black culture — Ghana in the 50’s, black cover girls in the 60’s and images of influential people such as Muhammed Ali whom he pictured at a fight at Earl’s Court in 1966. It was clear that he had witnessed so much in his life, and we were able to see just a glimpse of it through his photographs. I arrive at his flat, and I immediately feel at home, I look around, and I see posters from some his exhibitions including the one I attended. It blows me away that within the small confines of his residence is a plethora of photographs and negatives that illustrate some of the most historically significant events. I feel I could learn a lot from James and

he certainly has many stories to tell, too many for our meeting he tells me, “When I sit here on my own I have a story, but I don’t know when it will be written.” Before I have even asked my first question James begins to share his story. James’ career spans six decades, but it was only in recent years that his work began to receive recognition with exhibitions in France, Italy, Ghana and here in the UK. He has exhibited at the V&A museum, October Gallery and the Black Cultural Archives. His work represents societies going through some of the most prominent and historical transitions — from his native Ghana gaining independence in the 50’s to London becoming a multi-cultural hub in the sixties. He says there were many reasons why he went into photography, but the main factor was because he had seen photography within his own family. “My mother’s big brother was a photographer, and another uncle was a photographer. Even their brother who was a professional teacher also took photographs. But I don’t know whether that influenced me more.” It is clear that the art of photography was in James’ blood. He credits his cousin who was a leading portrait photographer in Ghana’s capital Accra at the time with teaching him the craft. James added, “Besides him, I met somebody else who I got to know was my close cousin, and I should say he influenced me in the journalistic side of photography.” James 25


was already in journalism as the editor of his school magazine. Photography wasn’t a typical career choice or expectation in Ghana when leaving school, he says, “When you go to school and get to secondary school then you’re heading for a lawyer, an accountant, you know something big, a doctor. So, photography is low.” However, it was possible to learn the photography through apprenticeships without going to or finishing school. One of James’ cousins were concerned about school and thus pushed him towards ‘books’, the other wasn’t so concerned. At one point he took a different career path heading into the teaching profession but had concerns about the amount of income he was earning. James resigned from teaching and went into photography in June 1947. James tells me how there were not many picture papers in Ghana. The Daily Mirror group decided to establish a press in the country which was to become the Daily Graphic in 1950. Cecil King, chair of the Daily Mirror group, visited Ghana with a delegation to see how they could

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start the paper. A photographer was commissioned by King to search for another photographer to join the publication, “This man was directed to my master, my cousin who taught me as the chief photographer in Ghana and he said I don’t do this type of photography but I know somebody who does.” After the pair looked at some of James’ images, they replied: “not quite, but we’ll train you”. They asked James to visit the Daily Graphic and started to recruit some of the best journalists in Ghana. As well as the journalists James worked alongside a close-knit team of editors and sub-editors. He explained that the team were already at work, practising and planning ahead of the first copy coming out in October 1950. James became the first photojournalist and newspaper photographer in Ghana. He opened his first studio ‘Ever Young’ a short distance from his house in Jamestown, Accra in 1953. He kept his studio going while working at the Graphic. James proudly showed me an image of the studio. Here he offered a day and night service photo-


graphing people from all walks of life. I am fascinated to learn about my native country Ghana’s which celebrated its 60 years of independence last year. James documented the countries move towards independence; he describes the prominent transition as ‘exciting’. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence from colonial rule under their first Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah. The country had 6-7 years to prepare for independence, during that time it had a legislative assembly. James who was in his youth at the time attended the assembly hall almost daily, either as

part of a newspaper or on his own taking pictures of all of the assemblymen from different regions of the country. Before independence Members of Parliament (MP) were previously known as Members of Assembly. The album which is sadly now lost contained details such as names and constituencies. He tells me how there were not any paparazzi at the time or ‘hustle and bustle’ as he described it. James followed rallies and politicians, “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was the young man at the assembly hall that they could call at any time with a camera.” He 27


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“His pictures document some of the most significant social and cultural events of the last fifty years�

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describes his closeness to key political figures at the time, “I did visit the homes of some of the parliamentarians if not the ministers, that’s how close I was with them and I could go to Nkrumah and then go to Danqaah (one of the opposition leaders) I was very close to them.” James emphasised the importance of keeping negatives and not throwing them away, something he learnt from both his cousins. He now scans and catalogues his work. It is clear that his focus is very much on the future and thinking ahead. “The negatives and all the pictures were used for a purpose, and they’ve finished their life. But with the modern technology and modern information, they’ve all got another life that they’ve got to live because now we can scan them and we can pass them on, we can use them to write stories and history.” You can’t help but warm to James’ while in his presence, his humorous side shines through and what I found very touching is the fact that he refers to himself as ‘Lucky Jim’. A term he says he adopted from a film with the same title. When asked why he’s given himself such a name he replies, “Because it seems as if everything was set for me.” A conference by the World University Service (WOS), Canada was held at the University of Ghana in Legon, Accra looking into the effects of Independence on Ghana one year on. James stayed at the University to cover the conference where many people from across the globe attended; he says, “This intensified my urge to travel.” One of James’ tutors at Elementary school came to London, upon leaving James asked that he tell him if England is good. In a letter to James his tutor simply wrote ‘London is the place for you’, he goes on to tell me that he is trying to find that very letter. James came to London on 1st December 1959. He lived with a Jamaican family in Peckham, South London. I asked him about his first impressions of the city, “I saw a lot of people of different nationalities which I wasn’t used to in Ghana, I was excited to see red buses.” He added, “Even though in Ghana we were colonial, it was very big coming to London.” James spent a lot of time at Drum Magazine’s offices on London’s Fleet Street. The South African magazine is credited with pioneering black journalism through photo and investigative journalism. He described life at Drum, “It was my house, my office, I got everything done for me there.” It was through Drum that James sold his first picture which he said earned him money to prove that a photographer can get money. Through Drum an agency wanted an image of an African beauty, James went through his negatives and

found a couple of images from a Miss Accra competition which he says took place either during or after the country’s independence. Many of the images James captured in London were captivating and striking, from Drum cover girl Erlin Ibreck holding a pigeon in Trafalgar Square to BBC broadcaster Mike Eghan holding his arms out wide with a massive grin on his face in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. He described a significant breakthrough in his career when he met fellow photographer Dennis Kemp whom he praises greatly. Kemp was going to Nigeria to cover the Queen’s visit to the country in October 1960 following their independence. James helped Kemp plan the trip and ended up going with him following his experience with Ghana’s independence. The pair also travelled around the UK giving lectures on photography. James started to learn colour processing while taking night classes at the then London College of Printing. He pulled out a badge that read ‘CPL’ and with pride he spoke of how he worked at the Colour Processing Laboratory, referring to himself as lucky Jim once again he spoke of how he had little qualifications but with the help of his co-workers at CPL and encouragement from Kemp to go back to school, he gained a place at the Medway College of Art in Kent. It seems that James achieved a lot of firsts, first photojournalist in Ghana and to add to that he later introduced Ghana to colour processing for the first time in the 70’s, he tells me, “If you are giving a lecture and you are using pictures that are grey, they are not so attractive.” While showing me many of his images James describes how amazing it is to have them in his extensive archive collection to look back on, “You should see me when I discover a picture, I jump for joy” he says with a massive smile on his face. He adds, “There are so many things I am discovering all the time, so my pictures are having another life.” His disbelief at being ‘Lucky Jim’ is amazing to see, “I was ambitious at the time, but I didn’t think one day I would publish a book.” James says his work is now recognised in Paris, where his book ‘Ever Young’ came about in 2015. The book shows just some of James’ amazing archive. It’s amazing to hear James at the age of 88 say that he still feels young, “I still have a lot of work to do” he tells me. James wants to educate the young through talks and continue archiving his work, “Inspiring young ones, that’s my aim. Inspiring young ones to be serious and work.” After being with James for a few hours, it’s clear that the term ‘Ever Young’ is certainly fitting to both his spirit and mentality. b 31


LET’S HAVE A KIKI

The destructive association between drugs and sex in the gay community

Words: James Underdown Images: Zoe Kayser Landwehr @zoekayser 32


Kiki: “A party including good music and good friends, held for the express purpose of calming nerves, reducing anxiety and stress and generally fighting ennui. May involve locked doors, tea and salacious gossip.” (Urban Dictionary) As an openly gay man and member of the LGBT community, I will happily admit that life throws very few challenges my way, especially in comparison to the trials the martyrs and ones who fought against social injustice faced before me. It is because of the bravery of those people, that I know that I will not be discriminated against in the workplace, in the housing market, I can marry whomever I fall in love with, I can start a family with that man, I can live a joyous, content and conventional life. It is not only gay or bisexual people who have seen massive strides in equality. Transgender and gender non-binary people have seen gender neutrality being widely adopted in more liberal environments. Many universities and LGBT venues now offer gender-neutral bathrooms. One would be mistaken, therefore, assuming we were living in a golden age for queer people. As with any civil rights movement, there is still progress to be made on all fronts, both domestically and internationally. Australia, for example, a country that is perceived as extremely tolerant has only just passed a bill legalising same-sex marriage after the results of a non-binding referendum came back in favour.

The last 50 years have been a turbulent half-century for queer people. 1967: The Sexual Offences Act decriminalisating homosexuality between men over 21 in England was passed in the House of Commons. However, the law was not changed until 1980 in Scotland and 1982 in Northern Ireland.1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City, effectively beginning the gay liberation movement in the USA. 1972: The first Pride is held in London, attracting around 2,000 people. 1981: The first known death due to an AIDS-related illness in the UK - the beginning of the HIV pandemic. It is estimated since then around 20,000 people have died due to the illness. 1988: Margaret Thatcher’s government passes Section 28, stating councils should not “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” in schools or areas of work. 1999: On April 30th, David Copeland left a nail-bomb by the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, London, the heart of the city's gay community.Three were killed and around 70 sustained non-fatal injuries. It was the last of three attacks targeting minorities in London, 2001: Age of consent was equalised to that of heterosexual couples — 16 years of age. This comes after previously being defeated in the House of Lords in 1998 2003: Section 28 is repealed. 2004: Legalisation of civil partnerships between same-sex couples with the Civil Partnerships Act being voted into law. 2005: Adoption rights for same-sex couples were passed in England and Scotland 2013: The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed legalising marriage and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Came into force in England and Wales in March 2014, Scotland followed suit that December. Currently, Northern Ireland is the only place remaining in the United Kingdom where marriage equality is yet to be accomplished. 2016: 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida

The predominance of drugs within the LGBT community is one of the most worrying issues facing queer people. In recent years, it has almost become accepted that gay men can attend weekend long chemsex parties. Where excess is celebrated and methamphetamines (referred to as meth, crystal or Tina), mephedrone (Mkat) and GHB/GHL (simply shorted to G, but more commonly known as the date rape drug). While the other two are powders, GHB/GBL is normally taken as a liquid, diluted in a drink, and has similar properties to being intoxicated on alcohol. Users are required to measure doses and time the period between consumption to avoid poisoning themselves. It seems like a cliche to being this particular tale with “It was a warm summer morning, mid-August…” but that is exactly what it was. That particular Sunday morning was one of those where you wake feeling stifled, almost suffocated by the humidity and there is only a handkerchief-sized section of bed linen covering your body. I had to rise, the chances of a leisurely morning were dashed by the brutality of a rare glorious London morning. I shower, constantly having to adjust the temperature. The first one to wash in the morning always had to be vigilant for sporadic changes in water temperatures as the fatiguing gas boiler prepared itself for the day ahead. Skin care, serums and moisturiser are applied while sitting at my desk. The window in front of me, although clean on the inside, was awash with pollutants and dust from the outside. Regardless, it let the August haze filter through, and let me look out. It was not much of a view, a south-east London council estate green, but a view all the same. Grindr has a complete monopoly as a dating app (or more commonly used as a hook-up tool) among gay men. Its premise is simple, any man within a certain distance will be shown on a grid on the screen, from then, you can choose to message any of them for whatever purpose one wishes. Anyone who has known the app will know the notification tone of Grindr. On that very morning, a flurry of messages came in from the same location, notifying me with the familiar jingle. Messages of “you free?”, “how are you this morning?” and then the more interesting “want to come to a chill out party?” I had always heard of chill out parties but never received an invitation to one. My interest was piqued. But it was 11:00am and I could not help but 33


wonder what state of despair these men would be in. Eventually, I agreed, after much persuasion by profiles with varying levels of anonymity and sculpted torsos. I found the venue, a modest flat in Borough. It was the middle of summer and yet the heating was on, perspiration formed on my forehead almost instantly. The room had that distinctive smell of ‘sweaty teenager’, I couldn’t help but think of the changing rooms for PE in my state secondary school; they looked like they’d not been redecorated since the 1980s and certainly smelt like it. This flat had that particular odour. I knew there were going to be narcotics there, I was not naive to that fact, but I was surprised at the sheer amount of powders and liquids being offered and consumed so flippantly. Lines of methamphetamine and mephedrone were being passed around on black marble plates, empty bottles of GBH strewn on the kitchen counter. The sex. In every room. I am not prudent when it comes to sex, however, walking into any room of this two bedroom abode and seeing group sex, it was enough to shock most people observing a chemsex party for the first time. I had seen all I had needed to see and spoken to enough of the attendees, a journalist and a PR spin doctor included; I had seen enough to realise that these excesses cannot be positive for anyone going to these events or the community as a whole. In light of this, I decided to delve further into the secretive and problematic world, especially as it is something that until recently, seemed to be almost totally unknown to heterosexual people. I spoke to Monty Moncrieff, the Chief Executive of LGBT health and wellbeing charity, London Friend. I asked about the history of this scene. “Sex parties themselves are nothing new and have been organised by both gay and straight people for many years. We started hearing about the specific trend of what’s now understood as a chemsex party in the late 2000s.” Gay and bi men seeking support for their drug and alcohol use started reporting the same patterns of behaviours. Groups of three or more men meeting, usually at weekends, sometimes for two or three days, and using one or more of three chemsex-related drugs: crystal meth, GHB/GBL, and mephedrone.” I press the issue of methamphetamines, as it widely known to be an 34

extremely harmful substance and one, before that day, I had never seen taken without consideration of the implications. “Crystal meth had been used in other parts of the world and was highly problematic on the gay scene and in society as a whole, but in the UK we hadn’t seen much use of it. Today, use of crystal here is mostly limited to gay men in a chemsex setting.” He continues to tell me about GHB/GBL and mephedrone, the two other substances used predominantly in chemsex parties. “GHB had been used for a time, but users switched to GBL after it was made illegal. GBL is similar but stronger and longer lasting. It’s now also illegal. Mephedrone was one of the so-called ‘legal highs’ that emerged around 2008, with a different chemical structure to illicit drugs but mimicking their effects.” The fact that GBL and mephedrone were, for a time, available to buy legally led to many people switching from other drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, although the fact that the purity of those drugs had dropped also played a part in people seeking alternatives. The three drugs became linked with sex, and their use to facilitate and enhance sex became known as chemsex.” Tom Jenkins, also works for a charity called Nightlife Outreach that works with young people and the LGBT community to combat mental health and substance abuse. He spoke to me about his first-hand experience with chemsex parties and the highly detrimental effect they had on his life. “I used to work at a bar on the scene and was pretty quickly introduced to chemsex. The fact it was so easy, so laid back, and with no obvious consequences was amazing. Soon you couldn’t have sex without drugs and you couldn’t have drugs without sex,” he says. “They became intertwined but still attractive. Hook up apps just increased the ease at which to meet people and soon it became a regular occurrence.” Dating and hook up apps are very modern components of a gay culture. Grindr has an almost complete control of the market, with niche or specialist competitors like Chappy or Scruff claiming what market share is left. However, I could not help but wonder, as these seem as gateways to harmful drug taking, whether applications like this should be regulated. “We have to be careful not to demonise the apps; in many ways, they’re just the new version of contact ads in the paper or the lonely hearts columns, a way to meet people. It’s

down to the individual using them to decide what they’re going to do, and many will indicate they don’t want to do chems or hook-ups or are looking to meet for an old-fashioned date.” The app providers all have policies on not allowing drug references, but of course we often see people getting around this with coded language like H&H for ‘high and horny’, or ‘3 guys chilling’, indicating there’s a party happening there. We’d like to see more engagement from the app providers to work with community organisations who can do some good work with guys around their health and wellbeing,” I am told by Moncrieff. “All the parties and meet-ups I ever took part in were organised through hook up apps. I think its one of the big dangers of the modern world; the ability to just download an app and find someone, meet up and have sex, without any interaction or safety check. As David Stuart from 56 Dean Street once said: ‘There’s something about our relationship to our sex; that’s causing harm and needs addressing’,” Jenkins concurred. Gay dating and hook up apps provide the opportunity for your LGBT youth gain access to no string sexual hookups. It provides access to drugs, chemsex, as well as group meetings and the danger cannot be overstated. Regulating this industry won’t help; we need to look at the root cause of what is fuelling this epidemic. The social and mental health reasons


“Lines of methamphetamine and mephedrone were being passed around on black marble plates.”

behind this surge in HIV/STD cases related to chemsex and casual hookups. Only when we look at why young LGBT people are engaging in these activities can we truly start to try and reduce the problem.” I asked Moncrieff whether the impact of chemsex parties was wholly negative, or whether they could have a positive influence on the community. “This is exactly what most people tell us they’re looking for when they first get involved. A chemsex session can be very intimate and bonding and lots of people feel they meet and connect with other guys this way. The risk is really when things start getting out of hand or causing other problems like missing work, relationship tensions, money, other health issues. The sad thing is that many people who go on to have a problem with drugs don’t realise this until it’s too late, or if they do they don’t know what to do about it.” Jenkins, speaking from his own experience, had a much stronger view on the matter. “I don’t think it has any positive impacts. I think there are some fake positives, where you believe whilst you’re involved that it’s improving your social standing or self-worth, but in fact, it’s just damaging and destructive,” he tells me.

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“I think really; thinking back on it, it was always destructive. But to start with, you kind of just go along with it. You don’t realise the damage it’s causing or the way it’s affecting you. So for a year or so, you think its great. You become popular; you have great nights out, everyone wants to be your friend. It’s only after about a year you start to see the downside. The fact that it’s all fake. Your relationships aren’t real and people are just using you for drugs, money or sex. You start to realise that all you’ve been doing is destroying yourself.” The subject of consent is one that is reported frequently in the media. From Donald Trump to Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and the

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#MeToo campaign. In UK law it is set out simply that sex without consent is classified as either rape or sexual assault. However, within an environment where lines are blurred and judgement is inhibited such as a chemsex party, is consent still given. “The troubling issue with consent is it depends if you look at it legally or morally. Legally, you cant give consent if you aren’t of sound mind; high on drugs,” Jenkins says. “However this becomes more complicated if the people consented prior to taking drugs; where the line is drawn between what can be judged to be acceptable if, for instance, they go under on GHB. It’s a question the Crown Prosecution Service raised last year as a concern for vulnerable adults, and my advice would be simple, don’t ever put yourself in a position where you don’t know or understand what is happening; even if you consented previously.” Drugs used by gay or bisexual men and women are notably higher than their heterosexual counterparts. Moncrieff tells me, quoting data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales from 2014, that “33 per cent of gay and bi men had used an illicit drug in the past year, compared to 11 per cent of straight men. For lesbian and bi women it was 22 per cent compared with five for straight women.” Continuing on, going into the depth of the sociological reasons

why this could be. “There are many factors that could be behind this: a lot of LGBT socialising is in bars and clubs, and that’s also where many of us start exploring our identities and meeting other LGBT people so alcohol and other drugs are around from the start. People might also use or drink to cope with things like prejudice and discrimination — so-called ‘self-medicating’ is common. Also, LGBT people are usually less likely to have other responsibilities like childcare, which is perhaps the biggest thing that slows most people’s youthful partying days down.” Following this up with Jenkins, I wanted to know what substance he was taking while participating. In a frank manner, he says, “I took both Meth, GHB, Mkat, and Ketamine as well as a few other drugs not normally used in the LGBT scene. GHB, Mkat, and Meth are the most commonly used drugs on the gay scene; with their stimulating and sensory heightening effects increasing the sexual experience of young gay people, as well as the lowered inhibitions that encourage one-off sexual contact.” “I think that substance use in the LGBT community is far more accepted than elsewhere; and is in danger of becoming a lifestyle choice. Issues around self-esteem, coming out and sexuality are common problems for the LGBT community and drug use helps suppress these issues and allow

people to ignore issues affecting their mental wellbeing. This leads to a huge rise in drug and alcohol misuse, from a community that is suffering from a lack of self-belief in its own identity.” It is common knowledge that drugs are harmful, the most recent data from the Office of Nation Statistics show 3,744 people died from consuming fatal amounts of both illegal and legal drugs, 160 of which were due to amphetamines such as methamphetamines and 123 from new psychoactive substances which include mephedrone and GHB/GBL. “We don’t fully know the longterm impacts, but all drugs have the potential to have serious negative health impacts,” Moncrieff answers when I asked about the long-term effects. “Probably the most concerning aspect is the impact on mental health. Crystal meth and mephedrone are both strong stimulants, so can keep the user awake for several days. That impact of not sleeping can have effects such as agitation, paranoia, delusions or even psychosis. "It certainly feels as though these issues have become more common in the decade or so we’ve been working with chemsex. GHB/GBL has the potential to become physically dependent, in much the same way as heroin or high amounts of alcohol would. We’ve seen people taking it every couple of hours, just to avoid what can be a dangerous withdrawal. If anyone is using that frequently it’s important they don’t just try to stop, but get medical support to do so.” There are other dangers associated with GHB/GBL. “The other risk with GHB/GBL is an overdose. You only need a very small amount to have the euphoric effect people are seeking, a little too much and you can pass out, or even die. We saw an increase in GHB/GBL related deaths in clubs and at parties over a few years, and it was the main drug linked to the murders and sexual assaults carried out by Stephen Port.” Stephen Port, known as ‘The Grindr Killer’, was found guilty of murdering four men, ten offences of administering substance with intent, four of rape and four of sexual assault. He received a life sentence. It is not just the risk of drug-related harm that can plague men indulging in chemsex. STIs and HIV can also be a risk. “Research from Public Health England has shown an association between chemsex activity and the transmission of HIV and other STIs. It’s thought that chemsex played a role 37


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in the numbers of new HIV infections increasing in gay and bi men for many years. People tell us that either they don’t, or forget, to use condoms during chemsex, although research by Sigma for The Chemsex Study also found groups of men who planned their chemsex use well, and regularly used condoms, so it’s a complex picture,” Moncrieff tells me. “The nature of HIV prevention has changed too. Since PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has been available HIV risk can be vastly reduced for men who are HIV negative and having sex without a condom, and increased testing and earlier treatment means men who do test positive and are on treatment cannot pass the virus on. "We know that plenty of men who are engaged in chemsex are choosing these newer ways of protecting themselves and others against HIV, and we’ve seen a significant drop in new HIV infections, particularly in London. There’s an indication in early figures from the 56 Dean Street clinic that some STIs might be falling, which could be because people who are on PrEP or under the care of an HIV clinic are getting tested for these more often, so this could help with earlier identification and treatment for these.” I wanted to ask Jenkins about his view on the risk, as he was someone who had personally experienced the scene. “At the time, HIV or STD’s didn’t even cross my mind. I wouldn’t even worry about the implications of

unsafe sex with strangers. The danger was kind of exciting. And with the drugs, your inhibitions just disappeared; I would do things I would never even think about doing when sober. I think that’s one of the most dangerous things; the idea that you can make one stupid mistake and it will affect the rest of your life. After I stopped doing drugs; I learned that one of my friends had caught HIV from a sex party that was organised on Grindr. He was high, took loads of Mkat and GHB and then woke up to find he’d caught HIV. The idea that he won’t ever recover from that stupid mistake; it should make us all stop and think.” It would be foolish to believe that there will be a time when no one dies from drugs, where simulating highs or mellow lows can be experienced in safety and without fear of macabre endings. While increasing drug use in the LGBT community is a worrying trend, it is understandable why. Minorities will always face challenges in life, and drugs can offer a welcome escape from these. The irony, however, it that these only lead to greater challenges. If there is anything I have learned from talking to these men, is that support is out there when the blurred lines between fun and danger are crossed. Both London Friend and Nightlife Outreach, based in London and Birmingham respectively, can assist in giving information and support and helping people take control back. b 39


Words: Jesus Barrera Rodriguez Images: Federico Mora and FAMSI via Flickr

FRÉDÉRIC KANOUTÉ: A DIFFERENT FOOTBALL STAR Sometimes you get to know people that you would never imagine you will. It happened to me when I met Frédéric Kanouté

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“I’ve never thought I was getting too much money because I knew how to invest it to help people, to have a voice and a positive influence on youth, to be able to change things” Sometimes you get to know people that you would never imagine you will. It happened to me when I met Frédéric Kanouté. He is a prestigious former footballer who played for West Ham, Tottenham and Sevilla among others. He is considered by the Spanish team to be the best foreign player in their history and his football has marveled during the first decade of this century. As a former football star, he obviously got a really good salary, Kanouté thinks that the money he was getting paid was not an exaggerated amount; “Thank god I’ve never thought that I was getting too much money because I knew what to do with it. You have to understand the economy of football, if you get this money it´s because you worth it.” However, he considers it a little unfair to other professions: “There are professionals who really change people’s lives and they earn much less money, then you feel bad; but if you know how to invest the money and help people to improve their lives you stop feeling like this, that’s why it´s never been a problem for me,” he says. Kanouté’s words transmit a peaceful energy, feelings of calm, quietness. It is like there is no signal of a football star at all when you are talking to him. In fact, his modesty, humbleness and his humanity, as people who know him say, are his greatest values. His dedication to charities, humanitarian help and the needed kids in Africa are well known in the world of football. Projects as Kanouté’s Foundation, Champions for Africa and the Kid’s City in Mali among others, have marked Frédéric Kanouté out as one of the most caring and charitable figures in football. “My dedication to the others started a long time ago. I have always thought to help people, I think it came as a mix of everything: my religion, my education, my personal experience, and also my status as a footballer. I’ve always felt a sense of responsibility towards the other.” He remembers the start of this journey well: “I started with a charity when I was in England. I used to come back from training and I sat down to write down ideas until I thought about my project, the city of orphaned children.”

When Kanouté talks about his projects, he puts an emphasis on his tone, his French accent seems to become clearer when he is in a conversation about serious stuff. “It is in Seville when it took another dimension, also thanks to my success as a footballer I started to organise the Champions for Africa with UNICEF, which was a great success, we have raised a lot of money from people from the entire world.” Champions for Africa was a charity match where football stars played each other to raise money for children from the Horn of Africa. Every year this match brings together more than 30,000 people to the stadium. Kanouté talks about his village: “This is also how Sakina, the village of children, settled outside of Bamako (Mali),” he continues, and explains: “It is a small town for orphaned children with adoptive mothers. There is a primary school, high school, kindergarten, there are sports activities and we are developing courses about agriculture, livestock and vocational training”. His commitment can be appreciated in every word when he is talking about ‘the children’s village’. “The idea is to provide these people with a better life, to be capable of self-development. Everything is almost finished and, in a short time, it will be autonomous,” he says. Although Kanouté’s best years as a footballer occurred when he was playing in Seville, where he scored more than 100 goals and

won both European and Spanish titles, he holds onto happy memories from his time in England. “London is where I learned to be a man. I arrived at 21 years old, it was the first time I left my city, I was living alone, in a foreign country, I had to learn the language. It was a lot of responsibility.” He looked back at his memory and outlines a grin: “I was really fortunate to arrive at West Ham, which is a great club with incredible fans and a familiar atmosphere. They helped me a lot,” he says. After hanging up his boots in 2013, Kanouté is still linked to football; “I have a consulting and sports management company that covers many activities related to the world of football. We accompany smalls clubs from Mali, Zambia, also in Brazil, and we take care of giving it a touch of professionalism in regarding the development of young players”. Frédéric talks about his business interested today: “We also work with other institutions, with the Dubai Sports Committee, we are developing football academies in China too.” As a businessman, Kanouté is aware of the importance of money in his life. For him, it would be really difficult to develop his projects without it. “It is very important for the activity that we do because we help clubs with less money and we prevent that larger clubs take advantage signing their players without giving the money back to those small clubs. We

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make sure that the money has to come to the training club.” When you hear a conversation about football today, fans usually end up talking about the huge amounts of money involved. Many people argue about the commercialisation of this, the king of sports. The simple definition of football would be: A sport played with a ball, in which two eleven-players-teams compete with the foot kicking it to score in the opponent’s goal. Everything in this definition is true but nowadays, football is much more than a sport but is considered one of the greatest business in the world. In most countries, football is the main social sportive activity. In the last century, the importance of football has been growing and growing in comparison with the rest of sports. The evolution of the game means today it is considered one of the biggest economic activity in the world. Football represents the 0.7 per cent of the total GDP in the world, said, in other words, football is the 24th biggest business in the world. Asking Kanouté about the controversial changes that are shaping football today, he gives us his perspective: “Football is the most popular sport in the world and it generates a lot of money, it’s an economy that moves so much money,” he says. “It’s true that sometimes the essence and the spirit of football is lost with all this money. But whenever money is used for development and giving more opportunities to people who need it most, is positive, but sometimes clubs spend and splurge where it is not necessary, it is a pity,” he tells us. The commercial exploitation of this sport has attracted numerous large investors coming from different countries. In every main football league, there are clubs owned by wealthy foreign businessmen. Kanouté thinks that it is normal, and it belongs to our economic system and the market. “I believe that football must be regulated with the economic laws of the international market, there is no difference between football or any other company bought with foreign funds. All sectors must be regulated,” he says. “It could be positive because it develops a League, as Qataris are doing with PSG, but there are also negative aspects because the competition diminishes.” While the football industry has been 42

growing for many decades, last year was a revolution. Paris Saint-Germain, the principal club of the French capital, paid almost £400m for two players. The team, owned by Qatar Sports Investments, paid £197m to get Neymar from FC Barcelona, the Brazilian player became the world record transfer. But there was another transaction which totally changed the football market. The French team paid another £166m for signing Kylian Mbappé, just 18 years old at that time. Currently, the prices of young players have doubled or even tripled in comparison with the previous year. As the topic of PSG came up to the conversation, I asked his opinion about the Parisian team splashing out hundreds of millions. “When something is wanted in the entire world, it is normal for prices to skyrocket, but it is true that the spirit and essence of football is lost, we must maintain an ethical essence,” he tells us. “PSG fans will be really happy to acquire players like Neymar and Mbappe for sure, it is also an added value for French football, and it can attract more business and the League One can get more value. Although for the competition is worse and probably they will win the League every year, but now they can get their goal to win the Champions League playing with the same weapons than Madrid or Barcelona”. Kanouté is concerned about speculation in the football industry: “I think there is a lot of speculation with the prices, in football and in any other business, when prices go up without meaning the bubble could detonate and there will be negative consequences.” Another controversial topic surrounding football is the high salary of the players, and there has been debate about his fellow countryman Mbappe, who is getting a net £16m salary at just 19 years old. “It is clear that this amount of money for such a young player can blow anyone up. It is dangerous for young people’s career because they don’t value what it is to grow as a person and as a player.” Kanouté knows it is happening constantly and it worries him: “The most important thing is education, I don’t talk about school, I mean knowing how to live, what matters in life, they will need people who teach them to know what to do with money and what do not, otherwise it could be very harmful.”

After his brilliant period in Seville, he played for one year in the Beijing Goan; China is another country which is investing huge amounts of money in football. They are pursuing to be the capital of this sport in 2050. “They are investing a lot of money, a bubble has been created investing in European players”. Kanouté thinks there was a change in the model of growing and now Chinese clubs and the Chinese Football Federation are trying to regulate football in a better way. “They implement now limitations of foreigners, they need to have at least three players under 23 in the starting eleven and every team have the obligation to have their own academy to develop their youth”. His experience as a professional on and off the pitch there tells him that Chinese football will grow significantly: “They are developing their football with European professionals, coaches, doctors, technicians and investing a lot, at first it was a bit of a barbaric thing, but now it is improving and there will be results in a long-term period.” Frédéric Kanouté is the only footballer not born in Africa to win African Footballer of the year (in 2007): “For me, it’s a pride that people from Mali consider me as another fellow citizen although they know I was born and raised in France. Since I was a child I followed African football. I always liked African football and I imagined myself playing with the Malian National Team.” The Franco-Malian was born in Lyon and he played for France Under-21s until 1999, then he decided to play for Mali. “I was close to the French national team but in 2004 the legislation changed and I was able to play for my other country, it was not an easy decision. But it was a wise decision because it has opened the door for me to work in Africa.” A new FIFA statute was introduced 2003 which meant players could change the nation they represented internationally as long as they had not already played for another nation in a competitive game. It was in his first year playing for Tottenham, back in 2004 where Kanouté was eligible for Mali through his father. The West Africans call him straight away to the African Cup of Nations. Spurs were not very happy to lose their forward in the middle of the first season. They even put it in an appeal to FIFA seeking a confirmation that he was truly eligible for


Mali. David Pleat, the Spurs coach at the time was very angry with that decision: “I don’t know where Mali is, I am going to have to ask someone. We signed him as a French international,” he raged. Kanouté said it was a significant decision in his life. The impression that he feels to be more linked to Africa drives me to a necessary question. Do you consider yourself more African or European? “I feel I am African, European, French. Sometimes I feel more European but I have always felt linked to Africa, I have family there and I have a great link with my roots”. He tries to explain his notion of being African, “Being African is not only where you come from, but where your heart is. I certainly don’t see any conflict in being French and African.” Kanouté wants to be clear about this particular issue that nowadays has become a real problem in France. “I am not a nationalist at all, I don’t understand much about flags. We are human beings and we have to do as best as we can in this life.” Frédéric Kanouté has always shown solidarity with vulnerable people. He has been involved in many charitable causes, such as the Palestinian cause showing a shirt in a goal celebration with a support message after Israel’s attack which killed more than 700 people. He was fined by the Spanish Football Federation for showing political messages. His eyes show a peaceful stand-

ing. There are no awkward silences, nor a ruthless gesture. Asked about what he considers is the best side of being a footballer, the answer also does not go in the way we anticipated: “The best thing is that you can make your passion your profession and dedicate yourself to what you like,” he says. “Also it is great to have a voice and a positive influence on youth and be able to change things. To be a good example for youth.” Kanouté leads by example and lets his actions speak for themselves; in Seville in 2007 he paid more than £500.000 of his own money to buy a mosque which was about to be sold. The local Islamic community could not afford it anymore. Kanouté tried to keep it as an anonymous contribution. Talking about his childhood, Kanouté feels grateful to his parents; “My mom took me to a small football club when I was very young because I couldn’t stop kicking everything at home, she was really patient, I was playing with the ball all the time,” he laughs. “My father taught me not to be satisfied with my performances.” His family seems to be fundamental in his life. “My parents have always insisted in human values. Education was the most important thing for them, to be a respectful person and to be respected.” He continues talking about his father: “He is probably the reason why I got to be professional. He was never satisfied, he tried to get the most out

of me so I always looked for something to improve. He always made me look for ways to improve and keep me down to earth.” As a follower of the Muslim faith, he is critical of the growth in Islamophobic discourse in recent years; his values are totally in opposition to the xenophobic views of Islam’s critics, especially the values espoused by Donald Trump; “I deplore him not just because I am Muslim. I think any human being with a minimum of common sense cannot understand how this type of person can rule the most powerful country in the world. He is a danger,” he says. “There are many people who support him, but also there are many people totally against him in the US. You have to understand the history of the US, it is not by chance he became president, there is a lot of racism and cruelty in their history, if you go back to the history books you can perfectly understand why a person like Trump can be president,” Kanouté tells us. The footballer has lived in many different places, diverse countries in Africa, Asia, Middles East and Europe. His experience in life as a wealthy person does not disturb the reality his parents instilled in him during his childhood: “I don’t really know which is the first and the third world. Here we separate everything depending on money. The third world has much to teach to the first,” he says. “I have seen a lot more joy and more hospitality in there. People know what is really important in life.” He is not afraid to be critical of some Western societies: “There are higher rates of suicide, depression, and crimes in the first world. I have seen much more happiness in Africa despite being much poorer.” Frédéric Kanouté has been an important figure in both Spanish and African football, he was considered by football fans who have watched his games, a very sophisticated footballer, tall as a basketballer but with an ability to control the ball and getting past rivals with a fine style. However, how he uses his influence off the pitch and his philanthropic legacy is more important to him than his footballing one: “I enjoy training my children, in my academy, I love spending time with the kids. I have always been attracted to touch people’s lives and to be able to help. It is great to have a voice and a positive influence on youth.” b 43


Words and images: Josie Collins

ANIMAL WELFARE IN AGRICULTURE With Veganuary just passed, we are reminded of the mess that is the meat industry

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In a USA-influenced worst case scenario, factory farmed animals expect a short life devoid of the sun in cramped sheds, fed a diet of fish-meat and hormones. Their body parts (tails, beaks, nails) clipped or removed so they can’t hurt themselves or each other in their delirious desperation, before they are shipped miles away to potentially witnesses each other being slaughtered before dying themselves. Factory farms are breeding grounds for superbugs, the meat produced is fatty and unhealthy, the animals are obese with no exercise. Vets are threatened to keep quiet, slaughterhouses are manned by untrained and in some cases intoxicated or aggressive individuals. Not to mention the carbon footprint, agriculture being the number one factor in climate change with serious repercussions for the environment. Many feel the prolonged suffering of livestock is an unavoidable consequence of the meat-eater lifestyle choice. Swapping cheaper meat for free-range or organic you hope will equate to a happier life for them, but you never really know where your food comes from, right? To become vegan or vegetarian is noble but it isn’t for everyone. According to a study by Faunalytics, a non-profit that provides research on animal issues, 84 per cent of vegetarians and vegans eventually go back to eating meat. It isn’t easy, it’s an entire lifestyle change, people accept their lifestyle but hate to feel the animals suffer unnecessarily their entire lives just to end up on their plates at minimum cost. Eating meat is in no way more justified or ethical than vegetarianism but consumers can be more conscious of their food choices. Yes, livestock die at the end of it all, but do they need to be raped, beaten, pumped with hormones and confined to small pens in horrific conditions beforehand? This may be tough for vegetarians to chew, but I do believe you can have compassion and love — for your bacon. There are those of you who judge and condemn naturalists such as Sir David Attenborough and Steve Irwin, who have devoted their whole lives to the planet, on their omnivorous diet, but while we bicker over morals, meat corporations profit. The issue here isn’t with meat for the majority, it’s the messed up process that gets meat onto our shelves.

Whilst consuming a plant-based diet does avoid eating animals, it isn’t getting them out of factories, it isn’t saving them (unless we all commit). Whether you are vegetarian or not, it is clear that things will not change overnight. Though it may be ideal for the whole population to go meat-free, this isn’t an achievable solution right now, even if veganism is now one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle movements. You can try to preach it, but more often than not it pushes people away; a survey showed that 26 per cent of meat-eaters are discouraged to try giving up meat due to the attitude of certain vegetarians. The general public won’t give up meat and dairy. So does the meat industry get away with it in the meantime? Are customers allowed a say? With data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projecting global meat consumption to increase more than four per cent per person over the next ten years, something’s got to give. As Jenna Woginrich, a journalist who turned from vegetarian to now harvesting her own meat and vegetables has argued, “Your fork is your ballot, and when you vote to eat a steak or leg of lamb purchased from a small farmer you are showing the industrial system you are actively opting out.” Consumers can change the system

by choosing healthier alternatives and boycotting mass production factory farming which is a much more achievable goal; most shoppers in Britain are willing to pay more for ethically sourced goods, with the majority of Brits now choosing pricier free-range eggs. Caring and contributing to the welfare of farm animals is also a step towards breaching an emotional gap the general public has to their meat, it can ease people into wanting to know what happens to livestock. With more conscious consumers and more education on alternative diets, the vegan trend could continue to grow. Small-scale local farming allows for drastically improved animal welfare and the differences are astonishing. In order for this to work on a larger scale, buyers need to be more selective of their meat and attitudes need to change, it isn’t necessary to eat meat at every meal and if businesses produce less, we will buy less. Woginrich isn’t the only meat-eater to take a stand for animal welfare. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is a campaigning and lobbying organisation founded in 1967 by British farmer, Peter Roberts. They are the leading farm animal welfare charity, campaigning to peacefully end all factory farming practices, their research exposing all areas of industrial farming. Over the years CIWF has achieved significant progress, including legal recognition of farm animals as ‘sen-

“Whilst consuming a plant-based diet does avoid eating animals, it isn’t getting them out of factories, it isn’t saving them (unless we all commit).”

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tient beings’ and the banning of animal confinement in veal crates, sow stalls and battery cages as just some of their victories. I asked Phil, a member of the research team at CIWF, who is responsible for factory farming, he responded, “We’re all responsible, everybody in the chain, as consumers it is your responsibility to buy high welfare food. As suppliers, their responsibility is with the procurement, and as farmers, it is to produce a high welfare product”. I was sceptical on how accessible free range and organic meat is, Phil argued that by cutting down on the meat you buy and paying more attention to plants and vegetables in your diet, the cost isn’t so hefty. In terms of how people can combat factory farming and whether going meatfree is the solution, Phil put plainly: “Becoming vegan/vegetarian is one answer, you will ultimately reduce slaughter and factory farming. Eating higher welfare and less meat is the other answer.” CIWF is in the “persuasion business” lobbying, researching and campaigning for higher welfare standards in the food industry, for the moment things aren’t perfect, however: “If you eat meat you understand that animals will die and that’s your choice. However, if you buy higher welfare meat, you can know that they live a better life.” I asked if CIWF believe you can love animals and eat meat, “We neither promote nor oppose meat consumption. We would leave people to make their own decisions about this based on the facts and their values. If you love animals, or perhaps better if you wish to improve their lives, then if you do eat meat you should eat less and better meat”. Choosing to boycott factory food and replace with ‘ethical methods’ can encourage eco-friendly farming methods to flourish. In relation to purchasing free range at the supermarket, there is the issue of trust, however, as going free range can be confusing, especially with such a multitude of labels with ambiguous meanings. Is what you’re buying really cruelty-free? Having to blindly trust labels can be off-putting for consumers, including myself, especially if you are paying more for ‘supposedly’ cruelty-free meat. CIWF has released a ‘compassionate food guide’ to help make this process easier, they also list their rating on various

labels so you know which has higher standards and also which is the best for your budget. They predominately recommend Organic (Soil Association is best), Free range or RSPCA-assured. Labels such as just British or Farm Fresh do not mean free-range. Even abiding by these rules, the system isn’t perfect, for example, if a farmer fears of any disease outbreak, they can keep their livestock in sheds for months at a time and free range currently might only mean for a portion of their lives. There is much room for improvement but the more consumers choose free range over cheap meat, the more businesses are encouraged to cater to this trend. If you have the money or dedication to go farther, one way to achieve clarity is to purchase from a company whose manifesto is cruelty-free. Farmdrop, the ethical grocer, is an online shop that sources meat and groceries from small local farmers and fisherman. They pride themselves on their animal welfare standards and have been recognised by The Independent as “the app that could be the beginning of the end for supermarkets”. Farmdrop is an app that links customers directly to local farmers. All producers have to contribute is a high welfare standard, ensuring all animals are properly cared for whether it be in terms of their feed or their freedom of movement. Farmdrop aims to be sustainable, with no wastage, deliveries in electric vans and never overproducing. At a food talk in Kings Cross, CEO of Farmdrop, Ben Pugh discussed his company and how they manage financially, ensuring their ethical values aren’t compromised. A level-headed businessman, Ben is transparent on the issues Farmdrop faces. He understood that to preach to the masses on eating ethically is an impossible task for a start-up and that they aim to reach everyday people who may not be fully interested in ethical consumption, with a really good product. “Unless you give people something that is completely compelling, they’re not gonna use it […] amazing food brilliant service, great value […] building a product that people just want to use for entirely selfish reasons because they’ll be enough of those that we can fix the food chain”. When asked about the pricing, Ben responded that as a start-up, they need to have higher prices for the first few

thousand customers and then as things become more consistent, the company aim to reduce pricing and become more accessible for every budget. “You’re not gonna sort this thing out by selling really expensive food to a tiny number of very wealthy people” he said. Ben aims to please the farmers, financiers and consumers and leave the issue of ethical production to himself. He makes it an incentive and a necessity for farmers to produce ethically in order to work with Farmdrop and reap benefits such as the 75 per cent of profit. He is working with bursars who understand their goal and would never pressure him into doing anything unethical. “Gone are the days when the bread’s made around the corner and the cows are down the road and that’s something we’re trying to reinstate here with modern technology […] this whole thing’s complicated but that’s OK”. If the industry doesn’t change for the sake of the animals and environment it may for the sake of humans, studies have shown the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals is affecting our resistance to these drugs and it’s clear keeping animals in cramped conditions can lead to the spread of superbugs. The impact agriculture makes on our environment, the CO2 it produces and the land it takes might inspire many to reduce their meat intake also. Maybe someday we will all be vegetarians, or maybe lab meat will take over. But even as meat-eaters now it is a responsibility to be educated and involved and to not turn a blind eye to cruelty. Whether it be to campaign, purchase free-range and look for greener alternatives or to eat fewer animal products, with Brexit underway, this is a great opportunity for agriculture in the UK to make positive changes in regards to animal welfare and sustainability and many have expressed their concerns and optimism (#GreenBrexit). It doesn’t have to be one way or the other, demonised as a murderer our compassion hypocritical, or hailed a saint only when dropping meat altogether. As customers of the meat industry, it is us that can shape it through our food choices, whether it be purchasing from ethical businesses, researching and understanding which labelled goods to buy or reducing the amount you are eating. b 47


Words: Edena Klimenti Image: Edena Klimenti and Phil Beard via Flickr

WALTHAMSTOW: A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Walthamstow is undergoing major regeneration, but what problems does this create for underprivileged members of the community?

If you have ever been on holiday for longer than two weeks, returned home and felt like everything looked and felt different, then you will understand how it feels to live in an area that is being transformed, one memorable location at a time. For many years now the gentrification of Brixton has been a controversial topic. Brixton is one of the many areas 48

in London that are being redeveloped, which is often called ‘urban renewal.’ Many residents are debating the loss of culture and value within these famous neighbourhoods, and the prioritisation of the wealthy, whilst others are arguing the need for improvement within these areas. However, Brixton is not the only location in London that is being taken


over. In fact, gentrifying an ‘underdeveloped’ area is not uncommon. Anybody living near or in the Walthamstow area will understand the extent of the transformation this borough has undergone, as it is the newest target for redevelopment. Just like those living in Brixton, many of those who have lived in Walthamstow all of their lives are shocked at the magnitude of the transformation in the Waltham Forest borough. With our new coffee shops, fancy restaurants and cocktail bars, the Waltham Forest we once knew is slowly evolving into something far more extravagant and not quite ‘Walthamstow’ like. Those who have studied abroad or outside of London have come back to their homes in Walthamstow, not quite recognising many of the places they grew up. Their local pubs and cafes have been transformed or completely refurbished, with noticeably higher prices. After living in Walthamstow for over 10 years, the changes have become increasingly noticeable more recently. The famous cinema we were promised for more than 15 years has in fact opened. Although it felt like a lifetime of “it will happen next year, we promise”. The transformation is not fully complete, however, with your typical chicken and chips shops acting as middlemen to all these new ‘fancy’ locations, leaving this area in a ‘halfway there’ state. Although many of the historical landmarks and locations that attract people to this East London hotspot will still remain, the transformation is still undeniable. The on-going redevelopment does not end with the new

restaurants and bars, this is only scratching at the surface of Walthamstow. The regeneration of housing in Walthamstow has been on-going for the past two years. It was first brought to my attention when it was announced that the council estates in the Marlowe road area will be knocked down, but wait, don’t worry, they will be rebuilt and transformed. Waltham Forest council has expressed their goals for social and economic growth. In partnership with Countryside, a UK home builder specialising in regeneration, the council will transform the Waltham Forest area into a pedestrian-friendly location with new and improved spaces for commercial use around a public plaza. The Countryside website states that, “the masterplan designed by Stitch Architects puts a focus on attractive, tree-lined streets with landscaped open spaces and pedestrian friendly connections, all helping create a safe and attractive environment that links well with its surrounding area.” What seemed like an exciting prospect, soon turned into a stressful miscommunication between residents and council members. Residents were promised ‘priority bidding’ for new housing should they decide to move out and find new homes. However, those choosing to remain and patiently wait for their ‘brand new’ flats, will be checking their mail every day for news and updates of their future homes. The regeneration was even called off, and called back on only in a matter of months, leaving residents confused and frustrated. Despite the rocky start, the regeneration continues and council estates in the

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Wood Street area are already half-way built, while others are being knocked down and prepared. The only remaining housing left is the famous Northwood tower on Wood street. However, the pricing of the housing in the Marlowe Road/Wood Street area has significantly increased, as more than half of the flats and apartments being re-built will be sold as ‘private housing.’ Residents currently living within these estates will have a discounted price for their flats because of the inconvenience of being moved out of their current homes. Some will even receive a compensation sum, if they qualify. The privatisation of homes within this area may leave little room for the underprivileged members of the community, as the discounted homes may not benefit them entirely. Despite this, many of those living in this area for the majority of their lives have in fact been re-homed and a significant amount of them have found permanent housing. Although many of these residents have been re-homed and are happy with their new living spaces, other members in this community have expressed great concerns with the future of their living situations. Some residents even stating that they feel ‘neglected’ and have given up on this process. There are many pros and cons of gentrifying an area, which is why the regeneration has been a controversial topic for many years. Although some residents believe it will benefit Walthamstow in the future, the current impact this has will leave many in difficult situations when looking for new homes. The WalthamForest.Gov website states that residents currently living within the Marlowe road estates will be looked after and prioritised during this process, “All council tenants affected by the regeneration have been given right to return. They will be given ‘decant status’ meaning they’ll get priority bidding if they want to move out of the estate. Leaseholders can now negotiate with the council to sell their properties back at the current market value. Also, generous compensation packages are available to those who qualify.” Despite the aim to prioritise and cater to the current residents, many have expressed their concerns as the process has not been entirely positive and helpful for them. Keta Nazmiu, 27-year-old recruitment consultant, has lived in the Marlowe Road estate for over 15 years with five other family members. Having lived in the community for the majority of her adult life, Nazmiu has expressed a great concern for the way in which her and her family members have been treated during this process of redevelopment. She told Artefact that the state of anti-social behaviour around the Marlowe 50

“Other members of the community have expressed great concern about the future of their living situations.”

Road blocks has resulted in many people being on board with the plans to re-generate, as they believe this will create a more safe and accepting environment for the residents. Initially, the regeneration was a shock to most members of the community. Despite this shock, they were warming up to the idea as many believed this would be a smooth and fair process. The miscommunication that has taken place during this time has resulted in many residents feeling disheartened and neglected. “The estate was in very bad condition from continuous ASBO [anti-social] behaviour, noise levels, theft and dirty communal spaces, making life in Marlowe Road a difficult and stressful time. However, despite all the hardship me and my family have built some of our best and worst memories in this estate as we have spent a great time of our lives here,” Nazmiu told us. She and her family believed that they would be treated fairly during this process because of the amount of time spent within this community, and despite the difficulties they have faced living in Marlowe Road, they still consider this their family home. “As a council resident I am pleased to see the council give back to our community and help redevelop the estate, and I am excited that we have been given the opportunity to have a brand new home.” Many of the residents feel the same way. There is no doubt that this community is in need of ‘help’ and the redevelopment will tackle many issues that residents have expressed in the past, however, the process is what has caused a setback for many of the members within this community, with some feeling pressured to opt for council association homes rather than the council


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“The new Empire cinema, Nandos, Pizza Express, Turtle Bay, Creams, and many more locations have attracted a whole new crowd within the Walthamstow community.”

flats they wish to keep due to availability and pricing. “I don’t believe that we have been dealt with fair consideration from the council or their advisors considering how long we have been living at the estate,” Nazmiu said. “Me and my family have been living in Marlowe Road for over a decade and have been bidding for a new home for over three years, and we are yet to be rehoused. Our neighbours who have been here for less than two years have been rehoused into three or two bedroom council properties,” she continued. “The council have informed us that these properties are rare to come by whenever we enquire about our rehousing status as the estate is due to be demolished in August 2018. We have explicitly informed the council and the rehousing advisors based in the Marlowe Road project office that we only want to be rehoused in a council flat, but we have been told that we should take a Housing Association property, leaving us with little or no choice.” The properties within this area are still in the regeneration process, and many other locations within the Walthamstow area are still undergoing constant change. Although many members of the community have had negative encounters during this regeneration process, a clear majority believe that the new developments to the restaurants, community areas and even the homes will invite a more welcoming and safe location for the people of Walthamstow, whilst allowing the community to thrive economically. The plaza near the Walthamstow mall was once an empty space that only drew attraction from its street market that famously stretches for more than a kilometre, making it the longest out-door market in Europe.

However, in recent years it is not only the famous market that attracts people to this space. The new Empire cinema, Nandos, Pizza Express, Turtle Bay, Creams, and many more locations have attracted a whole new crowd within the Walthamstow community. Kathryn Roth, a 21-year-old actress has lived in Walthamstow all of her life. She believes there is a very positive future for commercial buildings in Waltham Forest, however, she says more residents need to be taken into consideration when regeneration plans are put forward. “I think regeneration for commercial buildings is a positive thing, in terms of new shops in the village and town centre for example. Our youths tastes and interests are developing and growing, so these can be positive changes,” she told Artefact. However, Roth almost feels like the regeneration has been taken too far in regards to housing, especially considering the residents who have lived in these homes do not appear to have much say in the decision-making process. “The council needs to take on board the residents’ opinion more. I feel like they are trying to change a lot of things, like putting a massive block of flats in the middle of Selborne Walk, which will not look good as we also value and need that green space. We should seek out residents approval in terms of housing.” Many members of the community have argued that the new commercial spaces have brought a completely different feeling in Walthamstow. The new and improved spaces are positive for the future of the economy, but there is still the underlying question of whether all of the members within this community will feel welcome and will be able to keep up with these new developments. Many areas that are being gentrified within London pose the same questions. These underdeveloped areas are being transformed into fancier and unrecognisable locations. However, within these communities there are underprivileged members who may feel alienated and forced out of their own home town because of their financial statuses. The changes may be positive for Walthamstow in the future, however, many will feel left out and excluded. Walthamstow has seen many changes in the past years. We can only anticipate the future of this community. It forces us to question whether fancy new locations and ‘prettier’ homes will really solve the underlying issues within this community, or will this just do a better job at covering it up? New regeneration plans are being proposed and adapted each day in attempt to ‘fix’ an ‘underdeveloped’ area, perhaps this will only stop when every street corner resembles the last. b 53


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Words: Charlotte Layton Pictures: Alba Gomez Urquia

MISPLACED, MISUNDERSTOOD AND SELF-HARMING It isn’t just your socially inadequate ’emo’, or your average teenage girl who self-harms as the stereotypes might suggest

Sat on a slowly deflating blow-up bed, in a dark, almost empty bedroom, with nothing more than a pink storage box, with two pair of jeans and three T-shirts folded neatly within it. A lamp sat perched upon it, desperately trying to illuminate the room. A black dustbin bag across the room held the only remaining property of my Dad that was salvageable from his now-desolate flat. The Del Vikings, The Drifters and The Ronette’s on vinyl were among what was left of his belongings. His last and only bag of belongings was now the only thing left to keep the memory of the life that he had lead before falling into drug addiction. Drawing out a neatly-folded letter from the pocket of a pair of snug jeans, absently holding it between small, clammy palms — just for a moment, I sat there and questioned whether it should be read. The last things that he would ever say were written on this single piece of paper. “When you said that you would have to get social services involved, I panicked. I lied to you and told you that I had stopped taking drugs. If I lost my daughter, I don’t know what I would do,” read a few lines from the poorly written letter, that had never, and will never be

sent. Wiping away frustrated tears, the now disintegrated letter went back into its comfortable hiding spot, beneath the still deflating blow-up bed. Reaching behind the bed, out comes an impressive hunters’ knife — one that I had managed to salvage from Dad’s collection. Fiddling with it, between my small palms, the cat comes bounding towards me, rubbing herself up against my legs, trying desperately to see me bare a smile, though it did the complete opposite. Racked with guilt, and frustrated hopelessness, suicidal thoughts began to seep in. Staring down at the knife that I was now clenching tightly, frustrated tears began to roll down pale cheeks again. “Should I do it,” I thought. “Will it stop the pain?” Without a second thought, the blade found its way across bare skin. The cat now bewilderingly looking to me for comfort, jumps up on my lap, sniffing worriedly around the wound. Lying back on the now deflated bed, I stoked her until I fell asleep. At age thirteen, this marked the beginning of a seven-year struggle with self-harm. Unfortunately, self-harm isn’t something new, especially amongst young adults here in the UK. What is new, 55


however, is the rapid increase of young people turning to self-harming behaviour, within the last three years alone. A study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), explored data from around 674 GP practices nationwide, which suggested that self-harm amongst young people had increased by a staggering 68 per cent, with an influx of hospital admissions, following self-harming incidences, in the last year alone. Almost every report indicates that self-harm amongst teenagers is reaching epidemic levels here in the UK. However, it isn’t just your socially inadequate ’emo’, or your average teenage girl who selfharms as your typical stereotype would suggest. Self-harm is a direct response to overwhelming emotions, or a symptom of mental health illnesses that many individuals will use to cope. When people discuss the ideas and causes behind selfharm, they tend to focus on what many identify as socially unacceptable behaviours, such as cutting or punching walls. However, self-harm isn’t always visible. As the BMJ suggests, those who self-harm are twice as likely to develop issues with alcohol and extreme dieting. However, binge drinking, or extreme dieting are also forms of self-harm, despite being seen as socially acceptable aspects of British culture. The BMJ also discussed the relationship between self-harm and suicide. It was suggested that those who use self-harm, are twice as likely to attempt suicide later in life. It was reported that 42 per cent of those who had a history of self-harm were likely to act on suicidal thoughts. However, the first thing that most people who self-harm will try to explain, is that self-harm is not the problem, but an attempt to cope with intense and difficult emotions that they often cannot quite put into words. The act of self-harm, for many people, brings a sense of relief, as well as helping them to feel as though they are emotionally grounded, if self-harm isn’t used as a form of self-punishment over situations, which they have no control over. However, for some, self-harm is exactly that. A form of self-control. For others, self-harm acts to inform those closest to them that they need help. For university student Holly, selfharm was precisely that — a way to ask for help when she simply didn’t know how. “I was first detained under the Mental Health Act after shaving off all of my hair in December 2008, for my mental health illness of depression, which was then diagnosed as schizophrenia in February 2009,” she told Artefact. “After being detained and sectioned under the Mental Health Act, things actually started to look up. I was compliant 56

with my medication, which has become the most important aspect of my life.” However, her brother’s reaction to online bullying had an enormous impact on Holly’s mental health and how she chose to deal with it. “My brother had tried to kill himself, after getting a lot of negative vibes from so-called friends on Facebook. Until the news, I was getting better, but when I found out, I tried to take more tablets than I was prescribed because the news was too much for me. I intentionally took too many prescribed tablets as a cry for help, because I felt like I couldn’t reach out to anyone,” Holly concluded. Despite taking too much medication, which could have had such a detrimental effect, Holly had no intentions of killing herself. Many believe that those who self-harm, will often succumb to suicidal tendencies, whereas this isn’t always the case. Self-harm is often a strategy to prevent a suicide attempt altogether. However, the response to self-harm can sometimes produce a negative feedback from loved ones. Those who self-harm, are often considered attention-seekers, while others respond as if it is a cycle of half-hearted suicide attempts, which often impacts on the individual who self-harms. It is often a response to a manifestation of negative emotion, caused by a variety of mental health illnesses such as depression, borderline personality disorder and bi-polar. This mind-set towards those who self-harm as a direct response in dealing with these illnesses, can often be the final straw for someone who is already feeling suicidal. This kind of mind-set reinforces the negative feelings which caused the individual to self-harm to begin with — as well as reinforcing the idea that those around them simply do not care. For 25-year-old Jamie, self-harm became his only release from his unpredictable mood swings, which he believes were triggered by his parents’ divorce. “When I was a child, I remember my parent’s relationship being extremely volatile. My mum suffered from depression and drank heavily, which always seemed to start an argument,” Jamie told Artefact. “Things at home got worse over time, until they started actually, you know, fist fighting. I remember that I’d be sat in my bedroom, with my tiny portable TV, turning up the volume just to try and block them out. I remember one time, when I was about 11, Mum had been drinking and an argument had broken out. Mum was just screaming, and screaming and screaming. In the midst of all of it, Mum had told my Dad that I was a mistake, and that I was the reason why their relationship had broken down. “My parents split up when I was


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13, and I was put in my grandparent’s care. That’s when I started self-harming. I blamed myself for their problems, and wished that I could make things right, but I couldn’t. I know it sounds fucking stupid, but you don’t really think logically when you’re a child, and so pent up with issues,” Jamie explained. However, after an argument regarding Jamie’s self-harm, he had decided that he had finally had enough. “One day, Grandad asked me to help him in the garden, but I had fresh cuts up my arms. I didn’t feel as though I could say no to him though. Something aggravated the cuts and made them bleed again. Grandad noticed, and a major argument broke out. They told me that I had broken their hearts by being selfish and self-centred. That night, I ended up overdosing.” After being admitted to hospital and talking to a therapist, Jamie was free to go home as an out-patient. “I started seeing a therapist every week and ended up being diagnosed with depression. They helped me work on the things that I had tried to keep hidden. There are still days now that I feel as though I need to hurt myself, but no matter how hard things get, tomorrow is always a new day, and that’s what I have to focus on,” Jamie told us. Once self-harming becomes a coping mechanism, it seems almost impossible to stop. However, both Jamie and Holly managed to find alternative and safer ways to deal with their emotions. Yet, it isn’t the case for everyone — especially when much of societal culture demonises self-harming behaviours as a form of manipulative attention-seeking. Telling those that self-harm that they’re manipulative, attention-seeking, and that they ‘don’t really want to die’, are actively dangerous assumptions to make, and ultimately untrue. Self-harm is such a private act, that most people who do it will go to great lengths to keep it hidden from those around them. It isn’t until something goes wrong, that their behaviour is clear for everyone to see. However, those who do seek help from their GP, or those who present themselves at A&E, after a self-harming incident, are more likely to commit suicide within a year of trying to seek help. Eva Doubrabska, a first aider who has seen many students succumb to self-harming, explains just how self-harm and mental health go hand-in-hand. “The first thing that is needed, is to not be judgmental about it. Self-harm is the physical manifestation of a mental health issue, so one often goes with the other, and often the mental health issue needs to be addressed before the self-harming can get better,” Eva told Artefact.

“Self-harm is mostly about gaining control and dealing with difficult emotions. I think that, if the physical pain is bigger than the emotional pain, it often takes away the focus from the emotional pain. Self-harming isn’t about fitting into a group or attention seeking. “Unfortunately, this mind-set stops some from seeking help. There are different methods of self-harm, even if some people just drink a lot or take drugs. It’s all a way of self-harming and what I try to do is help students find alternative ways of dealing with it. Even if they decide to use ice, if they are not ready to stop self-harming completely,” Eva explained. “It’s most important that they are safe. Whatever the reason behind self-harming, it needs to be dealt with. Telling students, or anyone who does it, to ‘just don’t do it’, it’s not going to help. Although, I see my role as somebody who is mainly there to take care of the wound. I’m not there to judge or to ask difficult questions. But the situation with young people self-harming isn’t just going to go away, and it needs to be dealt with,” Eva concluded. It is unreasonable to expect those who self-harm to change this behaviour, especially if their environment isn’t providing a place where they can feel safe, and more importantly, validated enough to explore the reasoning behind their self-harming behaviour. Reversing the rapid rise of self-harming incidents will not improve overnight, although, it must start somewhere. Creating an environment where individuals feel capable in putting their struggles into words, would be the first step in dealing with the idea of self-harm as a coping mechanism. Greater access to talking therapies would of course be needed. Through talking therapies, discussing and working upon the challenging aspects of trauma or mood, could be of great use to someone who is likely to resort to self-harm. However, to not feel judged when discussing self-harm, could be beneficial to those among us who are risking their only form of consistency. Feeling judged, not only allows those to cling to selfharm more tightly, but hinders conversations around the issue altogether. Those who feel judged, are less likely to come forward, and openly discuss not only selfharm, but what caused them to self-harm to begin with. This hinders progress not only for those who self-harm, but the understanding of self-harm. No matter the reason behind selfharm, nor what those around us think, seeking help is always the better option in dealing with intense emotions. It is simply allowing yourself to overcome your fears of judgement long enough to make that first call to your local GP. b 59


Words: Ginny Pettitt Images: Ester Temenu, Darnell Temenu, Akua Bempah, Daren Dixon

IDENTITY MATTERS How African families in Britain stay in touch with their culture and heritage 60


There is no greater feeling than returning home to the sweet smell of plantains being fried, chicken stew being cooked and okra being grilled in a home surrounded with African decor. Or in a home cluttered with ornaments, images of a generation that grew up in a far different continent and fabrics telling a story of a tribe somewhere in a village. For many generations before me, home was in that photographed village. With the influence of the diverse city life, it would have been easy to diminish the family traditions to fit in. But many took it upon themselves to open restaurants, like Aunt Dee’s Bakery in Enfield, that teleport you to an island in Jamaica with the aroma of spices. Or to clothing shops in Forest Gate filled with African fabrics, and tailors designing traditional garments where women of both African and Jamaican descent unite to laugh, converse and enjoy the company of strong black women. Being half Zimbabwean was always something I took pride in, but this was due to my mum’s strict beliefs of ensuring I inherited every part of my culture, from the soothing sounds of our native language Shona to Oliver Mtukudzi and our traditional dish Sadza. As I get older I realise the challenges many Black British people have had to face to connect with their heritage and yet still embrace the multi-cultural city we live in. A city which can have one street that has a variety of different countries represented in it with shops from India, China, Jamaica, Greece, Turkey, Nigeria and Britain. It can be easy to become native to the surroundings and forget about your culture. So that’s why when I visited three African and Caribbean mothers and fathers with homes that invited me into a time capsule of history, culture and a lingering scent of spices filled my soul. I wanted to explore how they kept their identity and passed it onto their children. Akua Bempah is a 66-year-old business saleswoman; she worked in textiles and is a seamstress. Having grown up in the small town of Kumasi in Ghana, her number one goal was to make sure her son Nana absorbed the history and traditions of Ghana, keeping the strong dialect of Twi and remaining disciplined. “I wanted to make sure Nana can look after himself when I am not around,” she told us. Akua understood the effect that

Britain could’ve had on her children; as a result of this she ensured that in her house she only chose to speak their main dialect. “I chose to only speak Twi to the family so they never lose sight of their roots. Discipline in the UK is way more lenient than that of Ghana.” The difference in status is definitely a huge contrast for Bempah and her children as in Ghana her family are considered royalty. “In Ghana, my family are royals. We have everything we need and more.” Although her family have wealth in Kumasi, in Britain she works hard juggling three different occupations to keep her family looked after. The weather is definitely something Akua has never been able to adjust to. “I cannot stand the UK cold, my African self needs sunshine all the time.” Despite growing up as ‘royalty’ in Ghana and being surrounded by a tropical climate, the opportunities in Britain invited her here to pursue her passion in the textiles industry. “Britain was my destination to expand my business, it was less problematic with crime and more free and enjoyable. People may have been happier when I first moved, though, during that time rather than now.” Akua’s son Nana definitely felt the impact of his mother’s cultural teachings throughout his childhood and feels the culture strengthened his manhood. “I feel like the culture has helped mould my mentality which is, you want something you get it, don’t let anyone shoot you down,” says the 20-year-old. Even though in Ghana his family were elite, he remained humble in school and avoided discussing his upbringing with his friends. “In school, I never really explained my culture to those outside of my friendship group because my family are royals and I was always taught to be wary.” The trips to Ghana influenced Nana’s connection to somewhere he essentially calls home. “The history of Ghana, Africa in general really excites me and how it came to be such a great fortress to the world.” Nana described the impact of the slave castles in Cape Coast and how they made him proud to be Ghanian. He makes sure he returns on every visit and he always ends up feeling emotional seeing what his ancestors went through. Nana keeps the strong beliefs his 61


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Mum educated him with but he wants his children to be free with learning through their own experiences. “I will teach my kids what I can, but I’d rather let experience teach them.” Although 44-year-old Ester Temenu has Nigerian and British nationality, she was born in London, and thinks the influence of the culture at the time definitely impacted how she raised her son. “I wouldn’t say Britain affected how I raised my son but I’d definitely say London did.” says Temenu. “Culturally, well London most specifically, affected the way I brought up my child because of the influences of the area in which we lived. I had to put certain restrictions in place, and certain things I made sure he saw out of London.” During Ester’s youth, her experiences growing up were quite different to her son Darnell’s. “My own personal experience was great but my siblings didn’t enjoy it because London was quite racist and divided and when they went to school there was racism. I was quite lucky growing up in the 1980s. Funny enough, there were only two black families in my school but I didn’t really experience racism. I didn’t even realise I was black until secondary school, so for me it was good.” Despite his busy lifestyle surrounded by celebrity culture, Daren Dixon, who once worked closely with Destiny’s Child, never let the Hollywood lifestyle diminish his roots. His home was a breath of fresh air welcoming me into a space of achievements with signed posters framed on the wall from celebrities like Beyonce and Solange Knowles and family photos in the tropics. His love for his family came from his Caribbean culture. “My family are from Guyana, South America but our culture is Caribbean as we are the only English-speaking part of South America. Guyanese people are very family orientated and I’ve grown up with amazing memories.” says the father of one. His daughter, who is bi-racial, has already visited the Caribbean as Daren makes a conscious effort to show her the beauty of his family’s roots. “It’s vitally important to me that Autumn knows her Guyanese history. She’s only one year old at the moment but the first music she’s danced to was Soca and she’s got the moves already. I will take her to the Car-

ibbean as much as possible. She recently came away with us to visit my Mum, her Grandmother in Barbados and we will go to Guyana in a few months, something that’s taken me my whole lifetime to do,” he told us. “Soca music is in my blood. For many years I’ve witnessed my grandmother gather generations of people together from family and friends into her home and party. It wouldn’t even have to a special occasion it was about music and being together. Every house party is a carnival and celebration of living life. My Grandparents have instilled that in us and I will never forget the endless house parties.” The music isn’t the only thing Daren wants his daughter to embrace. “It’s important to me that she loves food like plantain, roti and all the other mouth-watering dishes. I don’t want her to be to westernised and it’s important to me that she can speak articulately about where her family are from. I picked her Godparents carefully so that our family morals and traditions will be reinforced by them as well. “Although I am getting older, the traditions have always remained the same since I was a little child. At Christmas Guyanese families have a dish called pepper pot which I swear is from the heavens. When you hear a Guyanese person speak about Christmas the conversation always heads in the direction of pepper pot. “You have to love the passionate manner in which my fellow Caribbean people speak about this lovely meat stew, most Guyanese serve it on Christmas morning with a thick slice of their traditional plait bread. The tender pieces of meat falling of the bones and the rich gravy. Yum that rich gravy! You’d rip a piece of the bread and dunk in into that sauce spiced with cinnamon, herbs and cassareep (a thick molasses like reduction made from cassava). It’s heavenly! I’ve had to make a slightly different version now that I’m a pescatarian.” Like Ester, Daren didn’t face much racism growing up in Britain. “To be honest I grew up all my life wanting to be American. I grew up trying to sing the US anthem but it was simply because I saw people who looked like me over there succeeding and I took inspiration from that.” His family made the decision to move him to Shirley in Surrey to go to a

great school in a safe area. “I suffered a little racism at times but because I was very good at football I was more accepted and less racism came my way. My parents encouraged me to be fearless and to embrace being Black and British and always emphasised to me how lucky I was to have opportunities which were not in Guyana.” Daren describes his youth in Surrey as multicultural. “l grew up with a kaleidoscope of friends that were a multicultural bunch. I’m so thankful of that as it’s served me well in the workplace, travelling and relationships as an adult. It’s a nice feeling to look back and feel like I had the best teenage years.” With social media providing an open space for people to discuss race and raise awareness for racism or sexism, Daren feels as if we are so focused on race as opposed to people. “I think we’ve gone backwards and we are less tolerant of one another. We talk about race and not people… all the time!” With the recent death of his close friend and top model Harry Uzoka, Daren took some time to re-evaluate the use of social media. “We now look at people via our phones. There are less of the house party type events in our lives and it just feels that in some ways we’re living a very Truman Show existence. We observe the lives of others we don’t know or may never meet perhaps more than the true family and friends around us. I think this has positives, too, but sometimes it takes a conscious effort to break out of that cycle. I travel up North, out of London or cities where things are smaller, don’t move so fast and day to day life is more about interaction with locals and discussion. I find this way of living in the Caribbean also, where I can feel ‘real life’ again. It’s better sometimes to be less connected as it helps you to appreciate the things around you more.” Due to his job, Dixon readjusted his use of social media. “I use social media and embrace it so much in my life but I think it’s maybe ruining society as there is no mystery to life anymore as we are all wired now. When I grew up we didn’t have that we just had our friends, your own experiences and adventures. I love my own time and would never change it for anything and I will try and ensure that my daughter feels about life in the same way.” b 63


IN ORANGE FOR OSHO How one Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh drew in thousands of truth seekers from around the world in the 70s and 80s

Words: Josephine Schulte Images: Vivian Yang @yiy.lab 64


The 1980s, Berlin. Dressed in orange and red from head to toe, a group of people interrupt the monotonous image of the grey capital’s streets. The city is teeming with Neo-Sannyas, a movement founded in 1970 by the Indian philosopher and guru Osho, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, that attracted spiritual seekers of the time like a magnet. His picture decorates the walls of the city’s bars, clubs and cafes, his followers wear it around their necks on a Mala, a necklace made from wooden beads, traditionally worn by Hindu Sannyasis — the guru is omnipresent, not just in Berlin but in many large German and European cities. Then in her thirties, Heidi had recently divorced and was jumping from one relationship to the next. “It was always the same thing over and over again,” she says. She was getting into relationships, staying in them until they wore out and was stuck in that cycle. Everything kept repeating itself in her life, everything was superficial and nothing ever really changed. Then for a birthday,

her then-boyfriend gifted her one of Osho’s books and she remembers thinking that it was written just for her. Having always had too many questions, even as a kid, she had always thought a lot about the meaning of life, with Osho and his meditations she felt she might have found someone who had the answers. Many people from the West left to find the truth about themselves and the significance of their lives in India. Who am I? What am I doing? Am I good? The answers were said to lay within the white walls of the Pune Ashram in Koregaon Park. Leaving for India to many offered an escape from the conformity of western life, a way to find their way back to their roots and nature and a place where they could experiment and develop themselves without being met with judgement. So, Heidi packed her bags and bought a oneway plane ticket to India. However, as more and more people left to join Osho to meditate in Pune and open ashrams in Europe, others saw a different side to Bhagwan, one that was not as pure, one

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that bore elements of a cult. A Sannyasi or Sannyasini, in Hinduism, describes a person on a spiritual quest, one that has renounced the world and is living utterly free from material possessions. With the Neo-Sannyas Osho, established a counter model and attribute to the traditional, abstinent, spiritual search of the past. The guru is said to have been exceptionally well read, possessed the power of direct energy transmission and, in contrast to many of his time, advocated modern technologies and concepts. He was not traditionally attached and did not have a problem with sex — he was, what some might have described as, a free spirit. A very long, free-flowing silver beard, is what made the thin man stick out from the masses. As the oldest of 11 children, Osho was born by the name Chandra Mohan Jain in a small village in the Indian Region of Madhya Pradesh. After initiating his first students and followers in Mumbai in 1970, at the age of 43, he relocated and established an ashram in Pune, at the time known as Poona, where he could receive more people and concentrate on the individuals instead of the masses. It was during this time that he gave himself the title of Bhagwan which literally means ‘blessed.’ Mixing sex with Indian spirituality, Osho became notorious as a sex guru, receiving, on the one hand, a lot of negative press in Europe but also attracting prosperous Westerners by the thousand. Sexual therapy, for example, Tantra, was offered in Pune, but it was, says Heidi, widely misunderstood and many started to come just because of it. Osho considered sexual barriers should be the first ones that someone should get rid of for

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their authentic essence to unfold. He thought that sex was something to go through until it came out of your ears. Only then one could experience the next step. Of course, everyone experienced Osho differently according to their own state of mind and preferences. “From my upbringing sex was something terrible. I learned to be more open during my time in Pune,” says Heidi. The ever-growing influx of westerners led to the Pune ashram’s constant expansion, and by 1981 it had its own bakery, cosmetic and clothes manufacturer and a health centre all voluntarily run by the 5,000-or-so disciples staying there at any one time. When Heidi arrived in Pune, she was given the name of Ma Prem Heidi, which translates into Mother Love Heidi, two titles that all the female disciples coming would receive. For the first few days, she did not go to see Osho, who could be seen talking every day in the grand Buddha Hall of the ashram, as she was too anxious. In the beginning, the Buddha Hall had bars to hold the ceiling up. But because he wanted to be able to see each and every single person in the room, Osho ordered a special tent from Switzerland that held itself up only with tension — now there was no more hiding from his piercing eyes. Life at the Ashram took its course and days were filled with meditation and therapy of all different kinds and daily assemblies at the Buddha Hall in which the guru would read and answer his closest disciples’ questions to anyone who listened. However, when Heidi arrived in his presence for the first time, Osho had just stopped talking, so the time in the Buddha Hall was spent in complete silence, with the guru just ‘sending out


his energy’ into the room. Western-style group therapies at the ashram were a way to make money, led by experienced disciples, not by the guru himself, they would take up a lot of the days. There was a lot of dancing and celebrating especially on special holidays such as the guru’s birthday, and at night Heidi and some of her friends would sometimes sneak out of the ashram to grab a beer served in coffee pots, as alcohol was strictly forbidden. Osho’s daily talks would happen in English for one month and in Hindi for the next. “I always still went when he would speak in Hindi, because of that atmosphere. It was kind of like after an orgasm, like floating in the air,” Heidi recalls. The guru would sit on a chair in the front of the room, while, thousands of orange and red dressed disciples would sit barefoot in absolute silence and absorb his words and ‘energy’. When he left, he would say “Namaste” and go out. The music would go on playing, and everyone would dance around the hall. “I was always such a nice little thing. I never knew how much power I had inside

me until then,” recalls Heidi. The goal in Pune was to find oneself, says Heidi. “I learned that everything is inside of us”, she explains. Osho was of the opinion that this could only be learned through meditation. “You have to come out from underneath all the thinking we do. If you really want to live, you can only live in the here and now.” Heidi says that she learned to love herself for who she is in Pune, that everything she had been looking for was already inside her. Then again, she says, Osho contradicted himself every single day, that is, Heidi explains, because he did not take himself too seriously, he was of the opinion that opinions could change every day. “Rajneesh’s teachings were full of intentional lies and unintentional falsehoods, which were born out of his own ignorance, gullibility, and Indian cultural conditioning. His psychic presence, however, was 100 per cent real and extremely powerful,” writes Christopher Calder, another former disciple, in his testimony of the time. Whenever Heidi ran out of money in India, she would go back to 67


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Germany to work until she could afford another trip, though there were reports of others that made money in prostitution and smuggling to stay in the Ashram longer. Back in Munich, there was now a Bhagwan Ashram, as the movement was spreading, and after a few times in India, she started working there as a disciple. None of the employees were paid, but rewarded with shelter, food and care. She then left to open the Rajneesh beauty salon in Munich together with hairdresser Sandesh, where she hung a big picture of Osho up on the wall, a common practice of Sannyasis. In 1981 Osho moved from Pune to the US to handle the poor state of his health, which had collapsed in his thirties, and to escape paying an Indian income tax bill that was coming his way. Collecting funds from his Sannyasins all over the world, his ‘right hand’ Ma Anand Sheela in 1982 bought the terrain of the big muddy ranch on the outskirts of Antelope, a village in the county of Oregon, as well as a couple of houses inside the town. The Sannyasins started building a new ashram the size of a city, fully equipped with a school, airport, hospital, and transport system; they also joined Antelope’s council. “It was the most amazing place on earth,” says Heidi who visited Oregon and decided to finally accept the Indian name of Bhavya. In 1984, through a vote and too much protest of Antelope’s residents, the city was renamed Rajneeshpuram, and by 1985, 7,000 Sannyasins had made the permanent move. During this time Osho headlined through the commune in Oregon as well as his lavish lifestyle and habits. With more than 90 Rolls Royce cars, diamond watches, expensive shades and gowns, he cost the commune millions of dollars. “As most human beings who are treated as kings, Rajneesh (Osho) lost touch with the world of the common man,” writes Calder. Osho did not only look like the guru of the rich, he was rich. People that had all the money and material in the world and that still were not able to feel fulfilment came to see the eccentric Osho, looking for something more in life. Many of those people also gave money to Osho and the commune, though it is not clear under exactly what circumstances. Heidi, says that she once gave two precious rings to the commune, and thought about it more as ‘her contribution’ than anything else. “All the religions together have made man as poor as possible. They have condemned money so much, and praised poverty so much that as far as I am concerned, they are the greatest criminals the world has known,” writes Osho in From Death to Deathlessness. The 70s and 80s were a time when

many cults popped up, and people were afraid of them. Cults are often connected to power, but Heidi says no-one ever forced her to do or participate in anything. Everyone experienced Bhagwan differently, for her, being part of Bhagwan was a positive experience, but naturally, this does not apply to everyone. Some people did go mad inside the ashrams, and other former disciples have recounted crimes like prostitution, sterilisation, drug running and smuggling. However, the commune was not universally popular, and had many opponents in Oregon, who objected to the idea of an Indian commune with a reputation settling down amongst them. Heidi remembers that one year, the commune wanted to invite the homeless of the region for Christmas, but the nearby town of Salem stopped them. Cults are often associated with groups or individuals that have power over their members’ opinions, movement and religious freedom. Another prominent factor within cult communities at the time was violence. Events like the mass murder of Jonestown in 1978, naturally had people on edge and worried about groups that were hiving off, and being different. A salmonella attack, committed by members of Osho in 1984, eventually dragged the commune into bad light. 751 people in the city of The Dalles, got infected with salmonella which had been planted in salad bars around the city — it was the first bioterrorism attack of the US and was seemingly organised to incapacitate voters for the Wasco County elections. Ultimately Osho was arrested in 1985 due to apparent immigration offences. Rajneeshpuram ceased to exist without him, and the ranch in Oregon fairly quickly went back to its old state. Some of the wooden houses built by the commune in the 80s can still be found in the village of Antelope, where, according to 2016 records, only 48 people still live. After a short stay in jail, Osho had to leave the US and went on a world tour of unsuccessful attempts to be permitted residency in countries around the world until he eventually returned to Pune. Osho died there in 1990 at the young age of 58 with heart failure listed as the official cause of his death. With him died the Bhagwan commune as it existed. Sannyasins continue to live out their beliefs, but they do so mostly by themselves, though the Osho International Meditation Resort in Koregaon Park exists to this day. Heidi still has her Mala, it reminds of a time when a free-spirited guru helped her get to know herself and gave her what she refers to as the ‘best time of her life’. “After all,” she says, “all of our lives are a little bit of a joke, they are not to be taken too seriously.” b 69


Is 20 too young to become a parent? We look at the arguments about the right age to start a family

Words: Anna Dolgova Image: Pixabay via Pexels

Back in the 90s, when my parents were young and had just finished high school, there was a tendency to have children at a very young age. My mom gave birth to me when she was only 20 and my father was 21. If nowadays, this age seems a bit too young to give birth or even get married, back then it was quite common. Furthermore, a girl aged twenty-five would often experience elderly neighbours prophesying her a lonely life without a husband and kids. Nowadays, people of my age worry more about their career and who they wish to become in the future. When I ask my male friends how many children they wish to have, they often get lost and confused and say something like: “I haven’t thought about it yet.” Well, what can you actually discuss here if there is rarely anyone who would

my age think on this subject, I decided to make a questionnaire for my followers on Instagram. The results of the questionnaire revealed that 57 per cent of my friends have parents aged 40-45, which supports this view. The other 43 per cent of my friends claim that their parents are older than that. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that 73 per cent of my friends would like to become parents aged between 20 and 30. Most of my followers on Instagram, 77 per cent, would not want to become a parent until 35-40 years. As we can see, today, we will see more people aged 20 with their parents still being very young at 40. That feeling when you are already a grown-up, but your parents are still young, play sports with you and drink wine with you and your friends late into the night? People on the street would even say that my mom

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be willing to start a serious relationship? What can possibly explain this phenomenon of the modern world? One could assume that the children of 1990’s and 2000’s, tend to mature more slowly than their parents did. My father started to earn money from the age of 16 and is still working. By the age of 16 most of us were still in the high school, so one would ask how could we possibly become financially independent by then? Some people will probably aim to get a decent salary before the age of 30, but combining work hours with parenting is most likely to be impossible for the majority. In my opinion, it is a choice each one of us has to make. Traditional family values have grown less important through the time, but historically people would more often choose happiness and welfare of their family over their personal ambitions. In order to see what people of


and I are sisters, and each time I heard these words, they made me smile. Of course, there were times when me and my mother, like every parent and a child, quarrelled and did not talk for days because of a piercing or any tattoos that I had done without asking permission. Or times when she was upset with me because of my behaviour at school. But with such a noisy, naughty and unruly child, as I was, I could not wish for a better mother. Now you would probably say that it is more about one’s character than age group, but I would certainly say that my relationship with my parents could be much worse if they were ten or twenty years older when they gave birth to me. I believe that the lesser is the age difference between you and your child, the closer you are. One time there was an incident where my parents had to sign a form at school and instead of asking them to do it, I did it myself (copying my mom’s signature). When an angry teacher at my school called my mom to say that I misbehaved one more time, instead of punishing me, my mom would ask: “What present do you want, Anna, for being creative?” I asked my mom then if she was sarcastic, but she said: “Not at all. I just find you very creative and see that you are able to solve any problem without involving your parents. That is a great quality of yours, but please next time do not do it in front your teachers.” I still remember how shocked I was, but I still could not avoid asking for a present and finally received Justin Timberlake’s 2006 album FutureSex/ LoveSounds. At that time, I was ten years old and it was the time of Timberlake and Rihanna’s greatest hits. As you can imagine, my mom was 30 and could not hesitate to dance and sing with me to the top hits of that time. So, I guess only due to the fact that my parents were young and still had an easy attitude towards serious things that we got on so well and managed to avoid so many conflicts when my behaviour was not ideal. My parents would often laugh at me when they heard stories such as the time when I poured water into the socket. Of course, they punished me for that and told me that it wasn’t safe, but we still had a good laugh. Now I look at the 40 and 50 some-

thing peers of my parents and there are more and more of them who decide to give birth to their children now. Without any doubt, it is their own choice, and I am not in a position to judge their choices. But one thing is for sure: they will never be as young again and so with a greater age difference with their children they are more likely not to understand one another. Yes, modern technologies and advancements in the field of medicine can allow anyone to have children, even at the age of 45 or 50 years old. No matter if you chose extracorporeal insemination or services of a surrogate mother, nobody can stop you from having children when your body stops helping you due to the ageing process. But would it be the same to be a parent at 20 and at 40 years old? I do not have children myself, but my father became a parent when he was

“I would certainly say that my relationship with my parents could be much worse if they were ten or twenty years older.” my age, and a parent of my youngest brother when he was 40. Without any doubt, he loves us equally, but unfortunately, due to the life that he lives with lots of responsibilities for his family and businesses, he has aged very quickly. As he was a young man when I was born, he could afford to not sleep at night, singing me a lullaby when I would cry in my sleep, and wake up every hour to calm me down. Now, however, he barely gets to see his children. When he comes home from work, if it is before 10:00pm, which rarely happens, he is often very tired and just eats and sits in front of the TV. It’s not

that he loves my younger brothers less, but he has less energy to play tennis with them or even to talk to them about music or girls, not to mention more serious issues. If you would ask me now, I would certainly choose to have my child when I am 20-30 years old. There are people like George Clooney who have had their children at the age of 55. By the age of 55, my parents would most likely be grandparents for my children and I believe that it is how it should be. When the Clooney twins reach the age of ten, their father will already be 65. I really doubt that at that age he will have all the energy to play football with them for hours. Just as every human being, at 55 George Clooney is already an aged person, and with time he will not get any younger. No matter what your social status is, or what you have managed to achieve in your life, I believe that there are laws of nature that we should follow. At the age of 20 you are full of energy and ready to give birth to healthy children, but after you reach the age of 35–40 years old, for most women it becomes harder to get pregnant. Even if you get pregnant or become a father of a child, you still have another 18 years to put into their upbringing. Yes, if you have always dreamt of becoming a parent but could not meet your partner at a young age, there is nothing wrong with doing it after you turn 35. But I believe, it is better not to take your time, but act on time. No matter in what kind of circumstances you are, you should still aim to start family planning at a young age so that later on you would not be ashamed of being the oldest parent on the parents’ meetings at school. I would like to sum up my article with a story of my favourite actor, Keanu Reeves. When asked whether he would like to settle down, Keanu answered that he thought it was too late. “I’m 52. I’m not going to have any kids,” said Keanu. I have to admit that I have a huge respect towards the actor, as he proved not to be egoistic and self-centred. Yes, it is impossible to feel what Keanu felt when he lost his only daughter without ever becoming a parent again. But if Keanu Reeves is not afraid of the truth and the fact that it is a bit late to become a parent at 52 than he is an awfully wise and honest with himself man. b 71


YouTube’s content crisis In the wake of the Logan Paul scandal, can YouTube banish unsuitable content from its platform?

YouTube users watch about a billion hours of content per day. In the time, it takes you to read this sentence, roughly 50 hours of content will have been uploaded. According to Pex.com founder, Rastey Turek, it would take around 28,539 years to watch every video on YouTube. This begs the question, how does YouTube manage all of that content, and more importantly, how does it find the videos that should not be there? Only recently has the question of content curation and review been asked by the public; in the wake of YouTube’s biggest creator-based scandal, the ‘Logan Paul Suicide Forest’ video. But this was just the tip of a very large iceberg, the problem of content review in general, and YouTube has a delicate task on its hands. Not only must YouTube somehow make sure that no videos that are uploaded are in violation of its terms of service and community guidelines, but they must also ensure that all monetised videos are matched with appropriate adverts to keep advertisers happy. In December 2017, YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said in an online statement: “Since June, our trust and safety teams have manually reviewed nearly two million videos, for violent extremist content, helping train our machine-learning technology to identify similar videos in the future.” Wojcicki went on to say that there are plans to increase “the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000 in 2018.” It is essential to appreciate the scale of the problem. Roughly 300,000 videos get uploaded to YouTube every day, so it’s pretty safe to assume that the company stopped individually reviewing everything uploaded to their site not long after the company launched, if in fact that ever was the case. YouTube relies upon algorithms to find videos in violation of their terms of service and community guidelines, which are reviewed manually. This, of course, has its flaws, which allowed terror-related videos to not only be uploaded but also have adverts shown on them. Had it not been for the nature of the Logan Paul video, it is difficult to tell whether we would even be having this debate. The video highlighted the fact that there were flaws within the company’s safeguards, which allowed a video 72

containing footage of a dead body to be released in the first place, let alone by a high-level personality that featured in YouTube’s annual ‘Rewind’ video. These flaws in the content review process cannot just be resolved by increasing the number of staff reviewing content because there is way too much content to possibly review manually. So, why is YouTube taking content management so seriously all of the sudden? Well, that’s partially down to the fact that some of YouTube’s biggest advertising clients were removing their add spend or boycotting YouTube entirely. According to the Financial Times a month before Wojcicki’s statement: “Diageo, Mars, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Mondelez were among brands to pull advertising from YouTube and its owner Google after campaigns appeared alongside videos featuring children and sexualised comments.” YouTube has addressed these issues in a blog post which said; “Since we started using machine learning to flag violent and extremist content in June, the technology has reviewed and flagged content that would have taken 180,000 people

Words: Jamie Hilferty Images: David Livingston/Getty Images

working 40 hours a week to assess.” Advertisers are the backbone of YouTube's business model, and without them, the platform would shrivel and die. In a bid to try and solve this, YouTube over-hauled their content review software and added a new ‘demonetization’ feature, that removes adverts on videos in violation of YouTube’s terms of service or community guidelines. This has been criticised by YouTube creators who claimed that the algorithm was repeatedly demonetising content that was not actually in violation of any of the rules. The most notable example of this was Casey Neistat’s video trying to raise money for victims of the Las Vegas shooting tragedy, which was demonetised, even though he stated he would be donating all AdSense money to charity. YouTube said it is their policy not to allow adverts on videos about tragedy, despite the fact that they still allowed adverts to be shown on other content related to the Las Vegas shooting tragedy uploaded by endorsed channels that are backed by TV networks. Jake from JDZ Media, a growing YouTube channel that has been championing urban music, told Artefact how


their channel has been impacted as a result of these new rules: “Quite a lot of videos got demonetised, we were able to get a lot of them back although it was a long process appealing each one separately and some still remain demonetised which did cause a loss in revenue,” he said. “I think it is more difficult to earn money from YouTube in general now as advertisers seem to be paying less.” Preferential treatment of large companies seems to be an increasing part of YouTube’s business practices, with schemes such as Google Preferred, ensuring that advertisers will “get access to among the top five per cent of content on YouTube” as well as “reach the highly coveted 10-34-year-old audience”. Google describes this as aggregating YouTube’s “top content…into easy-to-buy packages for brand advertisers”. Adweek wrote in 2014 that YouTube had “an even more premium tier to the platform, letting brands pay extra to run ads against only the top one per cent of YouTube videos.” Many YouTubers have been asking who is more important to the brand: creators or advertisers. It seems advertisers won, with YouTube bending over to ensure that their biggest advertisers continue to advertise on the platform. In the wake of the Logan Paul scandal, advertisers are concerned about where their adverts are shown, so Artefact asked Jake how he thought YouTube should manage content to ensure that channels like JDZ are not affected: “It is understandable that advertisers would not want to be associated with content like that,” he told us, adding that YouTube should change the rules so that “specific partners are allowed advertising, and remove partnership from anyone whose content is unacceptable.” We asked Jake if JDZ had any ‘in-house’ rules on what content they would consider inappropriate, and if they have ever had a video of theirs removed as a result of its content. “There are no specific rules on what is inappropriate, but each track is judged first to see if it’s suitable for our audience. As far as I can remember no videos have ever been taken down due to the content.” Jake also mentioned that the changes to YouTube have led them to look into alternative platforms to host their channel. Artefact also spoke to Enea Tanku, co-founder of urban music platform

Link Up TV, who have amassed over a billion views since they started uploading content to YouTube in 2008. “About 30 per cent of our videos get automatically demonetised,” Enea told Artefact, explaining that it depends on the title of the video and its content, but much of their content gets covered under YouTube’s “blanket rules”, which do not differentiate between any of the videos the algorithm has detected which may be in breach of YouTube’s community guidelines. Enea also suggested that YouTube might improve their demonetisation appeals process by allowing the review of multiple videos at once instead of requiring a new appeal for every video. On January 16, 2018, Google announced yet another revision to their monetisation feature on YouTube; The changes make it harder to become eligible to apply to the YouTube Partner Program, which is a less exclusive version of the Google Preferred program. You must be a partner before you can access certain features, such as “end screens and cards that link to associated websites, crowdfunding, or merchandise sites,” according to the Google support page. The announcement also said that; “Previously, channels had to reach 10,000 total views to be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).” and that “It’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads.” Now, they say that “new channels will need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months to be eligible for ads.” It will now become harder to reach the top echelon of Google’s channel preference structure and harder for new YouTubers to make a living out of the platform. This will reduce the amount of content that must be manually reviewed, based on the fact that fewer channels will now be able to host adverts. These changes will hopefully reduce the likelihood that any of YouTube’s most famous stars will be able to upload inappropriate videos without YouTube noticing, as well as make it harder for inappropriate videos to host adverts in general. In terms of the general reduction and prevention of extremist or violent content, YouTube must rely upon the improvement of what they call ‘Machine

Learning’, which means that it will learn from every mistake it makes, which reduces the chance of a mistake happening in the future: some predict that the algorithms and systems will become efficient enough to not require any human reviewing at all. An advocate of the battle against violent and extremist content online is Eric Feinberg, owner of GIPEC (Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Centre) which has developed systems used for tracking down instances where adverts are being shown on violent and extremist content, particularly videos that are linked or promoting terror groups. GIPEC owns a technology patent described as a ‘computerised system and method for detecting fraudulent or malicious enterprises’ which is something that GIPEC are very interested in licencing to Google, saying it would help them manage and reduce the distribution of harmful content. Of course, this would help the consumers of online content on the platform but arguably would benefit YouTube more with their efforts to keep advertisers happy. It would seem that there are in fact two battles being fought; The first is the battle to protect the advertisers and their investments into YouTube. The second is developing systems advanced enough to sieve through an endless torrent of content to prevent the platform from playing host to countless unsavoury videos. While it is a shame that these improvements have been born out of the protection of advertising, rather than consumers, the results are still largely the same in the long run. One of the areas it seems YouTube must look into is the effect that these new rules are having on their core rule-abiding community. Demonetisation has already begun affecting small and medium-sized channels, and the people who will be hit the worst are those who have built not only lives around YouTube, but also businesses. This is why so many channels, Link Up TV and JDZ Media included, are looking for ways to branch out from YouTube and lower their reliance on the platform. YouTube must, however, remember that it was the community of content producers and consumers that saw the company rise to such dominant heights. It is that same community that has advertisers queuing round the block. b 73


Fighting structural discrimination Despite attacks in the right-wing press, CAGE continues to fight for victims of the war on terror

Author: Anjuman Rahman Inages: stevekeiretsu via Flickr

CAGE is an independent advocacy organisation operating to empower communities who are impacted by legislation of the international campaign Global War on Terrorism. It is a non-governmental institution which caused controversy, for many, because of its bold views and empirical work since its establishment in 2004. The Daily Mail brands them as a “poisonous organisation” while the Daily Telegraph condemns them as a “network of extremists” and Boris Johnson called them out for “acting as apologists for terrorists.” Speaking directly with Asim Qureshi, the research director of CAGE, provides an eye-opening insight to the practical ways they resist the backlash they face. “For a start, we have to understand that states traditionally don’t take very well to criticism, it is not something they are able to handle, they don’t like it, they see it as people being ‘uppity’ — you can’t have a policy like the War on Terror for 16 years and make things dramatically worse than they were when the issue first arose and then expect that people won’t hold you to their account for that.” Qureshi comes from a civil liberties and human rights background, attributes such as transparency and accountability are obliged, therefore, the same strict behaviour is conducted in his working environment. He says CAGE tries to practise accountability on a regular basis even if it does not work in their favour, a trait he regards as “remarkable”. “It is about being open enough about holding yourself to account, I think as Muslims, we’ve spoken for decades in our activism about mosques not being accountable, and community organisations not being accountable. I think it is important for any Muslim organisations that talks about the due process in particular like we do, to be able to hold ourselves to account. CAGE tries to do that both internally and externally.” Qureshi spends most of his day consulting for legal teams around the world who have Muslim clients facing various forms of detention and lack of due process. As he deals with international investigative affairs, his job inevitably requires him to travel abroad regularly. He tells us there is a certain degree of abnormality that comes with the nature of his work especially as he has children of his own. “It is difficult to explain it to children —

place, because nobody understands our communities like we do, nobody understands the needs of our communities like we do. There are layers to Islamophobia and structural discrimination that other people might simply not see or get, like they do not get why reporting a child who has got the name Abu Bakr on the back and being confused assuming it is support for Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi rather than Abu Bakr Al Siddiq might be a problem, for them it is like a non-issue right? But for us, these are big things.” On November 20, 2016, Mohammed Rabbani, the international director of CAGE, was held and detained under ‘Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000’, at Heathrow Airport. The detention came as he was returning from the Middle East after meeting a man in Qatar who claimed he had been tortured by US agencies for twelve years and had contacted CAGE for justice and accountability. Mr Rabbani was familiar with being stopped and searched and says it has happened more than twenty times. However, this time, they refused to let him go free until he shared the passwords to his devices. The 36-year-old told the court the devices contained confidential information and evidence regarding the case so that he could pass it onto British lawyers, and that sharing it would breach “personal and professional” privacy. Similarly, on December 11, 2017, Hani, a young Somalian girl, took to Twitter to express her distressing experience at the Luton airport. She was detained under the same legislation on her way to holiday to Rome. Along with the tweet, she also uploaded a video in which she states, “Islamophobia is rife and very real.” Once the final results of Mohamed Rabbani’s court case came through Qureshi described the office atmosphere as one of a ‘party’ and ‘joyous.’ They were proud he did the principled thing as his response was ultimately the right thing to do so. “He was convicted of a crime that should never have been a crime in the first place. That is in the tradition of the Martin Luther King’s and the people of this world who went to prison for the sake of standing up against something that was unconscionable.” What CAGE and its representatives try to make clear is that no-one should have to be a victim to the overarching securitisation, there is

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like how do you tell very young children that your representing torture victims, how do you talk about the child that you just met who was abused by a security agent and so forth, for them to understand and conceive why it is important to do this work.” It is a role largely based on trying to understand the different phenomenon that rises out of the war and terror military campaigns launched by the Bush administration. He collects data around them to understand what is happening, which helps him issue responses. Since research began, in 2004, he and his associates discovered the presence of a whole degree of British government complicity in people being sent to Guantanamo, resulting in their first report being published. “Our first report was very much this kind of investigative work and the research role was really kind of focused on that for many years, so yeah it is a lot of reading and doing analysis work in hopefully trying to write reports to better educate our communities around what the war and terror means from an empirical perspective.” Despite the criticism they receive relentlessly, Qureshi insists CAGE is a necessity as Muslims are primarily the focal point of the War on Terror. CAGE serves as representatives of empowerment and resilience for the Muslim community as it shows willingness and solidarity from the people of their society. “You need a Muslim-centred response to what is taking

“CAGE serves as representatives of empowerment and resilience for the Muslim community as it shows solidarity from the people of their society.”


an agency in responding to this excess of the governmental scrutiny. Diving deeper, he explores the numerous factors which reinforce the concept of Islamophobia, “It is important things like the hijab and beard which all intersect with the existence of Islamophobia, they intersect with securitisation, all of these overlapping layers of which our community is the only one that really understands the full complexity of them and the reason why we do, is because it is a lived experience for us.” An attribute Qureshi has emphasised heavily is the responsibility of principal, a quality he praises in human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce, who “defends people who have been accused of the worst possible crimes, but she still defends them, and why? Because Gareth believes in principal, and that is what it comes down to on every single occasion.” It is the same simple equation CAGE also follows, and for each case asked whether it is in the context of war and terror, and whether there is a due process element missing? This approach could be identified in the case of Anjem Choudary, a man Qureshi affirms he has “no time in the day for”; although they did not represent him directly, it was a case they were obliged to take as it involved terrorism legislation. In regards to the types of cases CAGE arbitrate, Qureshi explains, in using the example of one of the first terrorist plots in the UK, “Operation Crevice”, which was a police investigation into a terrorist cell in Southern England. “The reason we didn’t intervene in ‘Operation Crevice’ is because the police did their job, they found the plot, they found the explosives, they prosecuted these men under the criminal justice system, there wasn’t any terrorism legislation involved, there was no aspect for us to be able to intervene into the case. So, it is not about representing terrorists for the sake of representing them, it is about what is the principal position in relation to this.” The portrayal of Muslims as a problematic community is a common stereotype many concede to. Although this is a perception Qureshi wholeheartedly disagrees with. He points to research conducted by a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer, Professor Marc Sageman, and his book Misunderstanding

Terrorism in which he does an analysis of the risks posed by Muslims by the method of reduction. Sageman took a ten-year cycle of political violence in the Western world, and looked at the number of acts of terrorism, which he boils down to 66 plots, involving about 220 individuals, over a 10-year period, from 2001 to 2011. The results showed 0.02 per cent of Muslims in the West were involved in acts of political violence. In other words, 99.98 per cent of Muslims are not involved in any type of violence. To justify his observation of a skewing towards Muslims solely based on fear, he revealed how it is significantly lower than any other type of violence that there is, with alcohol-related incidents which account for eight per cent of violent crimes each year. He does, however, acknowledge the scale of devastation caused by a single act of terrorism is terrible, proven by the Westminster Bridge attack, and Manchester attack, although, like Marc

Sageman, Asim Qureshi declares the extreme degree of surveillance that has been instituted against the community as unjustifiable. Faith is a crucial factor for Qureshi, notably the way he measures the element of success for his work. He feels a sense of accomplishment when someone is released due to a legal argument and advice he puts forward. “Success can’t be measured by what you achieve materialistically, it’s about being present, about fulfilling an obligation, about being in that moment doing what you’re supposed to do despite the difficulties it might bring to your life.” In addition, he clarifies the influence of his faith using the term Qadr (a notion of the divine decree), which is the belief that nobody can be imprisoned, nor, released without the will of God involved in the process. And if that sense is absent, then it would change the optics about what you view success as which, conclusively, honours him by feeling privileged for the position as a research director at CAGE. b 75


Who are Humans of The Sesh? The social media meme-makers are connoisseurs of cans, ket and good craic

Words: Luisa Rossi Image: Wackystuff via Flickr

An air of mystery surrounds Humans of The Sesh, the Facebook parody of Humans of New York, where instead of telling stories of life, love and loss, they discuss cans, ket and the sad demise of 12.5g Amber Leaf boxes. The meme-makers are private about their personal lives due to the heavily drug-influenced nature of their posts. Other than the fact that they are from Ireland, very little is known about the admins of the page, who go by the pseudonyms Brown Sauce and Grand Feen. Having amassed almost 600,000 likes since 2015, Grand Feen and Brown Sauce have brought like-minded individuals together in a way that was not possible before social media. “We didn’t realise we had tapped into something,” Brown Sauce explains. “Grand Feen and I were both at a Sesh two years ago, nothing mad, just having a few drinks in a gaff. We started writing things about people in the room and it just went from there.” The pair have come a long way from simply having a couple of cans in their friend’s house. Last year, they were flown over from Ireland by VICE UK for a meeting at their London studio. “Even though VICE has yet to publish the interview we did with them, we still went on this mad long journey,” says Brown Sauce. During their time in London, they were invited by “a lad called Neems” to his warehouse and made plans to come back to the UK to do some DJ gigs. “I won’t go into details on that night [at the warehouse] but it was fairly ridiculous,” he says. In October, Brown Sauce and Grand Feen travelled back to do the gigs that they had planned on the trip, where they hosted their very own Humans of The Sesh nights in both Bristol and London, which was on Halloween. These opportunities can be accredited to those who have liked the page and go out on the sesh themselves. But what exactly is the sesh? Brown Sauce defines a good sesh simply as when “I’m not thinking I’d rather be in my cosy warm bed smoking a joint and playing PS4.” However, everyone has a different definition of what the sesh is, and more so what actually makes a good one. For some, it is going to a student night every week, trying — and failing — to shuffle to House Every Weekend after half a pill

friends. With a quick browse of their Facebook, it is clear to see why their humour translates so well to this young British and Irish demographic. “It’s weird that when I think of crusty white lads with dreadlocks and Kristal ket snots around the rim of their nose I’m filled with a warm sense of nostalgia,” one fake anecdote on the page reads. “My friend Neems told me they all live in Bristol… They congregate in large warehouses and listen to psytrance, aligning their chakras waiting for the festival season to return.” The post has more than 2,400 likes and 280 comments and, whilst the story is a work of fiction by the page admins, the comments wholeheartedly agree that, yes, this kind of person does indeed live in Bristol. “On my walk to the offy I go past at least 8 vans full of them,” says one comment. “In their mum’s houses rather than vans,” reads another. Throughout their time as admins of the page, Brown Sauce and Grand Feen have become connoisseurs of The Great British Sesh, with even their false anecdotes hitting the nail on the head and more importantly, remaining relatable for their audience. “We’re just trying to make posts as if we were still writing them for the lads,” Brown Sauce states. “We do try to keep the fact that there is a bit of a community in mind when we are writing though.” Both Brown Sauce and Grand Feen want to stay focused on what the page has always been about, which is making people laugh, and not trying to pander to what they know their audience necessarily want to see. “I don’t think you write very interesting posts when you are trying to please other people,” he adds. Despite Humans of The Sesh’s quest to stay relevant and humorous, their main talking point is the sesh and with that comes the consumption of illicit substances and all of their dangers. Both Grand Feen and Brown Sauce are their own bosses and they explain that for a page of its size, it is quite rare not to have outside influence. “Myself and Grand Feen can be pretty unfiltered and take a more extreme and pragmatic approach to drug safety,” explains Brown Sauce. “We’re very lucky not to be owned by a larger company, we have the ability to be very critical and make opinionated statements,” he adds.

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and a few too many £2.50 vodka and mixers then being sick all over themselves in the Uber home. For others, it’s a weekend-long cocktail of substances starting with a few cans on Friday night and ending by sinking into a stranger’s sofa on Sunday morning, having lost their mind along with half of their possessions. As sunlight filters through the curtains, they sit and dig around an empty baggie with a set of house keys and come to the realisation that all of their drugs are now gone. Half empty cans and Nos canisters litter the floor as they stumble around to see if anybody else has anything to put up their nose, but everyone is in the same position. One of the after-party hosts remembers that they have a stray bag of a mystery substance upstairs and they start racking up lines on a smashed

“It is going to a student night every week, trying and failing to shuffle to House Every Weekend after half a pill and a few too many £2.50 vodka and mixers, then being sick all over themselves in the Uber home.” iPhone. By this point, it is creeping up to nine in the morning. “No,” says the rational part of their brain, “it’s over.” The sesh is complete. It is time to leave. Similar scenes take place in the living rooms of student houses every weekend and these are the very same people who will find themselves caught in an endless scroll on Humans of The Sesh, liking and sharing posts with their


People are going to take drugs no matter what dangers come with them and Humans of The Sesh are aware of this. “We can almost rely on the assumption that 99 per cent of the people who like our page probably have taken or know people who take drugs,” Brown Sauce states. “So, with that knowledge, we take a harm reduction approach with the information we give rather than the total abstinence approach.” This being said, their approach to drug safety is potentially more realistic than other influential outlets. “We definitely feel obliged to give information that might be too touchy for large pages and magazines to give,” he explains. He adds that whilst VICE tries to release informative and progressive things on drug safety, they are still a corporation and have to be careful about how their content is

received by an audience so as it doesn’t seem like they are condoning the use of illicit substances. There are more dangers to drugs than simply the physical side effects, Brown Sauce adds, but doesn’t believe that the Sesh is the issue itself. “I suppose that if you go on the Sesh to run away from other obligations in your life, that’s when it becomes an issue,” he says. “The Sesh is usually a by-product or a symptom of a deeper problem, such as poor mental health.” In their home country of Ireland, the price of cans is increasing and clubs are closing before two, which is the Irish government’s attempt at keeping drug and drinking sessions under control. “Unfortunately, the real reason people go on mad drinking sessions is that they probably feel unfulfilled in a society where it’s harder and harder to even get on the first

rung of the ladder of what we culturally consider to be a success,” he concludes. But when it comes down to it, Brown Sauce considers the sesh to be an education in itself for young people. “You don’t get a diploma and you can’t put any of it on your CV, but the things you learn when your brain feels like a slapped jambon can stay with you for the rest of your life,” he surmises. “You would be fucking surprised at the amount I have learned about myself, other people and the world we inhabit by being fucked up at seven in the morning chatting the head off some fella I only met five minutes ago.” “Who the fuck actually cares if you have an English or Fine Arts degree? I just want to know if you’re sound and are down to saving the mother-fucking bees!” b

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Shame on you, Canada Goose Investigating the ethical issues of using real and fake fur for fashion

Words: Elana Dickson Image: Elana Dickson, Tom Driggers

A crowd of hundreds of animal rights activists have staged a protest outside the Regent Street store of popular brand Canada Goose. The protest was led by PETA, one of the world’s leading animal rights groups, after Canada Goose opened their flagship store in London. The crowd chanted ‘shame on you Canada Goose’ whilst showing gruesome videos of geese being slaughtering on their iPads and laptops, and handing out flyers to rally support from Saturday shoppers passing by. Protesters held up posters reading “Would you wear a cat or a dog?” and “Fur is worn by beautiful animals and very ugly people”. The demonstration took place in the wake of PETA’s release of an exposé of one of Canada Goose’s down suppliers; a shocking video of geese being crammed together and violently manhandled while being transported to slaughter. Shoppers stopped to take pictures of the commotion, picked up leaflets and some joined the crowd in support. Other shoppers walked casually into the store unfazed. Canada Goose use geese feathers for the insulation in their coats and a range of their coats and jackets also have an animal fur trim which comes from the fur of wild coyotes. The use of real animal fur in designer fashion brands has been at the forefront of animal rights protests for decades. It is unclear whether the overwhelming presence of activism surrounding the fur industry is the sole reason for its decline in recent years, but Austrian and UK governments have banned fur farming in their countries. The magazine Scientific American concluded that the number of mink farms in the US has fallen from 1,027 in 1988 to less than 300 today. Leading designer brands such as Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Tommy Hilfiger have banned the use of real fur in their collections in an effort to become more ethical. Most recently, Gucci’s designer Alessandro Michele gave into the pressure of animal rights activism and banned fur from the brand. Animal fur and leather have been a key ‘fashionable’ element in clothing and many celebrities such as Kate Moss, Kim Kardashian and Stormzy have been publically slammed for wearing fur garments as a fashion statement at the expense of

many people are unaware or just disinterested in where their clothes are made, how they’re made and if they have been the product of animal cruelty. Animal protestors may not actually be changing the mind of fur wearers, like Rebecca and James, but instead just making them feel guilt, or fear of judgement, for a split second whilst putting their fur coat on. In a survey conducted by Artefact, 93 per cent of respondents said they disagree with clothing brands that use real animal fur, however, 53 per cent of them also said they purchase real leather goods such as bags and shoes. The truth is, most people prefer to be blissfully unaware of any ethical issues in the production of the clothes they are wearing; 93 per cent of our survey said they don’t consider where their clothes come from. One thing animal rights protestors have proven to be successful at is bursting people’s bubble and forcing them to listen to their protest, but failing to convince them to join the protest. The survey also showed that two thirds of people support PETA only on specific issues and half of them disagree with protests being held outside the clothing store. The anti-fur campaigns have attracted support from social media savvy young people, which has been helpful to their cause. It’s trendy right now to be vegan; Instagram is riddled with pictures of acai bowls and vegan cupcakes with a caption that explains why everyone else should join them be vegan. Vegan’s have become the product of memes and veganism has literally become a popular social trend and therefore the conversation of animal cruelty has become louder over social media. Molly Davies, 18, has been a vegetarian since she was 14 and has “supported the anti-ivory trade campaign for years”. She believes there isn’t as much of a market for fur trade anymore due to this #crueltyfree social trend but she questions “whether the sincerity of their veganism is down to their beliefs or just copying the Jenners I don’t know, but it´s a start I suppose”. Davies disagrees with Canada Goose using down and fur for their garments. “I think members of the public dismissing the deplorable nature of this brand are simply choosing to turn a blind eye to unnecessary animal

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animals. Although PETAs efforts have been successful in their attempts to make designer brands, and the celebrities who wear them, respect animals, their attacks are also ignored. Jennifer Lawrence, when asked if the squirrel that she skinned in the movie ‘Winter’s Bone’ was real she replied, “I should say that it wasn’t real, for PETA. But, screw PETA.” Like anything, this just proves you can shout the loudest to get others to have the same opinion as you, but they can still choose to disagree. Rebecca Raymond, 21-year-old fashion journalism student, lover and owner of real and faux fur coats says: “If you want to wear it, wear it. I wear real fur, fuck it”. However, she mentioned that she is reluctant to wear real fur out in public as she knows that people may judge her. “Fur has been part of fashion culture for decades, nothing is ethical nowadays.” “I just see it as hypocritical that the people protesting don’t do it outside Clarks. Leather is the waste product of an animal which has been killed to make meat, what’s the ethical difference between a cow and a coyote or a goose?” says James Underdown, 20, part-time model and student. “The production of fake fur has a huge environmental impact, which is probably equal to the environmental impact of using real fur. Also, the quality of real fur speaks for itself — I prefer the comfort of a feather or down filling in a coat.” There is growing support and recognition for campaigns that are trying to make fashion more ethical, however,

“The anti-fur campaigns have attracted support from social media savvy young people, which has been helpful to their cause.”


cruelty”. The International Fur Federation (IFF) recently put out a campaign claiming that “even during the economic slowdown the fur industry has performed strongly.” The IFF says that in countries such as Russia and Denmark the fur industry is an important contributor to their national economies. Fur is an essential component of Russian culture due to their climate. This raises the question of cruelty versus culture — fur has been engrained in the heritage of colder countries and it is argued that faux fur doesn’t give the insulation that real fur can. Possibly,

the same reasoning for wearing real fur cannot be said for American and British citizens; it is more for the purpose of fashion, many people simply prefer the look and feel of real fur (especially those who have the money to spend on the luxury). People who actively choose to wear faux fur, as a political statement against animal cruelty at the expense of consumerism, are representative of the growing gluten-free cruelty-free artisanal lifestyle. However, faux fur can be environmentally harmful in a different way. Acrylic, the main fiber in faux fur was ranked the 39th most harmful fabric

to the environment by the US Sustainable Apparel Coalition. So, does the alternative to animal slaughtering for fashion and warmth have an equally, or even bigger, carbon footprint? The bigger question to ask may actually be: animal cruelty versus earth cruelty. The protests outside Canada Goose are just one part of a large scale animal rights battle against fur for fashion. In an effort for fashion brands to become more ethical, through the use of faux fur, another environmental problem has appeared. Can fashion really become completely cruelty free, or in fact completely ethical? b 79


Vox Pops

What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? We asked UAL students and staff what pops into their minds when thinking of the theme of this issue of Artefact

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Tom, BA Photography student I see a photographer who is usually tired. I don’t really see the past or the future, I’m tired but quite happy with who I am in the present. I see that things are all right.

Valentina, BA Journalism student Sometimes when I look in the mirror I think of what I have achieved, how I have changed... I see how I change: I know I’m gonna look different in a year, in a few days or maybe even in a few hours. Sometimes I look in the mirror in the morning and then in the evening I see a different person.

Ella, BA Public Relations student I see a youthful face. When I look at the mirror I quite often think that I’m a happy person and that I’m fortunate to be like that. Even when I’m feeling sad I think ‘I’m gonna get over this.’

Nathan, security guard I see different shades of me, characters, depending on how I feel and on my environment. I like my working character. I always got to keep it professional and nothing can get me down: always smiling. Genuinely smiling because I’m happy. I like the creativity here, it keeps me going.


Interviewer: Teresa Gottein Images: Teresa Gottein

Theresa, Head of Academic Support ‘Oh my god, who’s that person?’, because I still think of myself as being twenty-five and then I look in the mirror and see that I’m not.

Lilly, MA Interaction Design Communication student Sometimes I see an outspoken person, sometimes I see someone for whom it’s harder so socialise... And I use the mirror to put makeup on depending on how I feel.

Marie, MA Fine Art student I see a brunette with glasses or without glasses, without makeup most of the times. I’m someone that’s quite chilled and you can see that in the mirror. I haven’t changed in ages and I’ve got used to how I look. In a year time, for example, I’ll just look a bit older. A few details will have changed, but I’ll still be the same.

Bill, MA Interaction Design Communication student I see stress and I hope to see more stress in the future because I feel like stress and pressure is the only way you can improve as an artist.

Don, BA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography student I see a very tired, overworked, young person because I live in London and you have to work a lot to live in London. I see someone who is doing what they need to do at the moment to try and fulfil happiness. I’m young and learning to prioritise.

Anna, BA Journalism student I have recently started to see that I can be beautiful without makeup. When I was younger I always pretended to be a different person and now I try to feel comfortable with who I am. It is important what light you bring to this world. You are beautiful not because of your features but because there is something interesting inside of you. 81


Clean air in the square Protesters took to Trafalgar Square calling for action to limit pollution in London

The London Clean Air Coalition (LCAC) have been organising demonstrations in Trafalgar Square to protest about the state of pollution in the capital. LCAC is a semi-formal alliance of anti-air pollution groups across London formed in the run-up to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s pollution consultation at the end of February. Members of Stop Killing Londoners, Our Air, Our Health (OAOH) and London Car Free Day were present. Protesters wrote ‘clean air’ on the floor with daffodils, distributed flowers to passers-by and had an air quality monitor to show the public the levels of pollution on the day. Helena, spokesperson for OAOH, told Artefact: “The point of ‘clean air in the square’ was to have a family-oriented peaceful demonstration to raise awareness about air pollution in London. We believe that breathing is a right. The government is not taking bold enough action to tackle air pollution and protect citizens. “Several reports show that children are particularly vulnerable to the negative health impact of air pollution,” Helena said. “We see air pollution as a social injustice as people from underprivileged backgrounds, who most often do not own a car, are disproportionately exposed to higher levels of air pollution. "We believe that it is in the common interest of all Londoners to reduce levels of air pollution. This is a matter of public health and social justice.” As many as 9,400 people are estimated to die due to pollution-related illnesses annually in Greater London. The Mayor’s response to this crisis has been to propose a toxicity charge (T-charge) and ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). The T-charge is a £10 charge for older, more polluting vehicles that don not meet the minimum emission standards to drive into central London. The ULEZ will mean that petrol vehicles that don not meet ‘Euro-4’ standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet ‘Euro-6’ standards will have to pay a daily fee to drive in the zone. A report from the Commission on the Future of London’s Roads and Streets has argued the mayor must do much more to tackle this pollution crisis. They have suggested methods such as prioritising greener transport, developing a pan London pre-pay smart road pricing scheme and creating incentives to encourage people to give up their parking 82

permits such as Oyster card credit. ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ member Roger told Artefact: “There’s quite a lot of community groups in London who are concerned about air pollution in their neighbourhoods, around schools and walking along the streets, it’s 400 per cent over the legal minimum. The idea is to get those groups to work together at public events like (this) and try to get Sadiq Khan to have a meeting, which he’s refused to do so far. “They’ve brought in lots of symbolic things which actually have zero or minimal impact on actual air pollution. It’s a bit of a PR exercise like at the moment where they’re charging £10 to come into London if you have a diesel vehicle, but you look at the small print it’s like five per cent of diesel vehicles. What the public wants to know is how much is pollution going to come down in London, and the letter we got back recently which was signed by Sadiq Khan said that they only intend to bring pollution down by 40 per cent by 2030. That’s an average of still having 80 per cent of present pollution for the next 13 years (…) that’s hardly ambitious, is it?” Stop Killing Londoners have taken a more aggressive approach to protesting with several members arrested for spray painting City Hall. They often blockade roads in busy central London areas and are planning to blockade Tower Bridge. One anti-pollution group, Mums For Lungs, has started a petition to ask the Mayor to bring emission levels to within

Words: Josie Collins Image: David Holt via Flickr

safer limits by 2020 which has reached 1,800 signatures. The group have stated that: “Some of us were shocked to be told our own lungs were dangerously full of NOx and particulate matter during our pregnancies, others have been appalled to discover that our children are suffering from recurrent breathing difficulties and lingering coughs”. NGO Client Earth has taken legal action against the government. Following their third win, their lawyer Anna Heslop said: “The judge ruled that the government’s plans were seriously lacking and has ordered urgent and additional measures. In addition, the court has made an exceptional ruling which will allow us to return immediately to court if the government’s next plan is not good enough.” The government had faced a lot of scrutiny over its air quality policies. A report prepared by the UN by special rapporteur Baskut Tuncak last September argued the government is “flouting” its duty to protect citizens from mounting air pollution. On the 14th anniversary of the Congestion Charge, the Mayor told the Independent: “As Mayor, I will continue to do everything in my power to address and tackle this public health emergency, but it’s not something I can do alone.” Citizens of London, whether mums, lawyers or environmental groups have expressed their concern over the air quality in London and are pressuring the government to take the issue more seriously and introduce more effective tactics. b


Artefact #17 – Mar 2018  

The Reflection Issue

Artefact #17 – Mar 2018  

The Reflection Issue

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