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Welcome to the latest issue of Artefact and the first from the class of 2018-19, on the theme of preservation. What does preservation mean to you? Although this concept is not usually associated with family, health or politics, when we began thinking hard about this issue we realised there is much more to it than we had realised. Often we talk about preserving the planet, our home. We preserve what we think is important. So should we not also be thinking about families that are falling apart, people who are losing their religious beliefs and questioning their identities? There are things in life whose importance we only come to recognise, as we are losing them. These are the things that we need to preserve. In the magazine, Nina Schmidt looks at how individuals’ political views are triggering bitter rifts between family members in the article Politics in Brazil: Dividing families. Debating the political crisis in Brazil seems to have become more important than preserving family ties. In the same vein, Arri Grewal discusses honour-related family abuse of members of the Pakistani LGBTQ+ community. The common practice is again affecting families and people’s identities. In Millennials are going to save the planet, Gabriella Laporte-Virot writes about how young people are taking on the responsibility of caring for and preserving the environment. She debates the importance for us to stop procrastinating in taking action to mitigate the damaging impacts of global warming. Irene Chirita examines on Defrocking the Father, how Christians are losing their religious beliefs due to clerical sexual abuse and the lack of sufficient punishment of offenders. This issue has caused a rift with the younger generation, diminishing the power of the religious culture. So how can Christians preserve their faith when the institution fails to meet its pledge? In the culture section, Sophie Hall discusses social media’s role in promoting an unhealthy body image in #Fitspo and #Thinspo. This article points out how social media can negatively influence users from young ages and also highlights how vital it is to preserve both mental and physical health. Mariana Jaureguilorda Beltran explains the intricacies of Greenland’s current attempt to achieve full political independence from Denmark and the mixed feelings that come with it. The article touches on the difficulties and benefits that this decision would bring to the Greenlanders. This topic covers the notion of the identity of a community that has to be preserved. Natalie Munro also raises the conflict in maintaining the identity of a society by discussing the change in creative director of the French luxury brand Celine in her article Simane vs. Celine. The cover illustrates preservation through the vulnerable species, underwater anemones. This preservation issue, our biggest yet, was written and produced by final-year students on the BA Journalism course at London College of Communication. We hope you appreciate our selection of articles.
Front cover: Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 85: Ascidiacea. Ernst Haeckel.
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CONTENTS CURRENT AFFAIRS 05 CULTURE 43 LIFESTYLE 67 ENTERTAINMENT 97
THE PRESERVATION ISSUE
Contributors Magazine Gigi Alhegelan, Lucy Arup, Fatima Batool, Recka Begum, Tayla-Eunice Brade, Irene Chirita, Hannah Dardis, Kezia Farnham, Neve Fear-Smith, Arri Grewal, Mariana Jaureguilorda-Beltran, Maha Khan, Gabriella Laporte-Virot, Aimee Luton, Sophia Mallett, Tania Nana, Poppy Power, Zillah Rauter, Nina Schmidt, Stephanie Soteriades, Beth Thomas. Social media Kyle Arthur, Asher-Nicole Bourke, Sinead Carroll, Rheia Chand, Daisy Dalgliesh, Rebecca De Souza, Sophie Hall, Issy MacLennan, Dwayne Maxwell, Natalie Munro, HW Reynolds, Xavier-Guillaume Singh, Lucy St John, Connor Taylor-Parton, Lydia Tsiouva, Katie Webb. Website Richard Bari, Izzy Blatry, Marcus Brown, Elle Burnett, Georgia Casey, Jordan Griffith, Rachel Hagan, Nour Hassaine, Jimmy Ioannou, Laura Kaspar, Dominika Kostialikova, Tayla Kruger, Beatriz Martins Reina Romao, Aymen Nadeem, Elliott Nielson, Brittany Oâ€™Neill, Eloise Reader, Jennifer Revell, Anastasia Turkina, Beatriz Vasques. Tutors Simon Hinde (magazine) Sophie Morris (social media) Russell Merryman (website) Art Direction & Design Oswin Tickler, Smallfury
Adultery: 07 decriminalised in India Politics in Brazil
Millenials are going to save 10 the planet The impact of street 12 harassment in 2018 Greenland's long road 14 to independence Commemorating the martyr Stress during exam 22 season is expected The woman behind Stacey 26 Dooley on Isis's frontline Why don't young people 32 go to church Putting your life on the line 36 for the truth Why sexual harassment 37 needs to stop Reopen the darkroom There is no â€˜honourâ€™ 40 in honour killings
Adultery: Decriminalised in India India has struck down its 150 year-old adultery law, but what does it mean?
Words : Nour Hassaine
“It’s just insignificant, in my opinion, which is sad,” says 20 year-old Vaishnavi Pandey, from Mumbai, when asked on her thoughts about the impact of the removal of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised adultery. She was unaware of the existence of the law. Until September 2018, a man could be sentenced up to five years in prison for sleeping with another man’s wife. Dr Mayur Suresh, marital lawyer explains that the law only applied to men and that a woman’s consent is irrelevant. "So man A sleeps with man B’s wife, the logic being in this section, that the woman is the property of man B’s wife. So, man A is kind of trespassing so to speak, to use a bad metaphor.” Unlike criminal law cases, only one person could legitimately prosecute someone for the crime of adultery which was the husband of the wife. “Even the wife couldn’t complain that her husband was being adulterous with someone else,” says Suresh. Drafted in 1837 and instated in 1860, Suresh explains how “the aim for the British at the time was to think of how they could civilise the colonies and also rationalise their own laws. They almost choose the colonies as experiments, legal experiments on how you do law.”Criminal adultery law was part of the laws still in instated from British colonial times such as Section 377 which made same-sex marriage illegal. In September 2018, both laws were abolished. In the case of abolishing the adultery law, the constitution was challenged. Suresh explains the process of striking down such a law: “A person is going to court saying please declare this section going against certain fundamental rights. The court, in that case, will say ‘OK, it goes against certain fundamental rights, therefore, we will strike it down. We will hold it inapplicable, it doesn’t exist anymore’.”Joseph Shine, a “happily-married” Indian businessman, constitutionally challenged Section 497 in a 45-page long petition. In an interview with Livemint, Shine says that he challenged the law because he wanted to save Indian men from vindictive women or their husbands. Poonam Joshi founded Indian Ladies UK (ILUK) in 2015, to support Indian women. Domestic violence and spousal abandonment are prominent issues approximately 2,000 cases of abuse, domestic violence and abandonment related matters have been dealt with. Based on her work with Indian women in the UK, Joshi believes that adultery remains the most common reason behind the breakdown of marriages. She explains and shares different scenarios she witnessed, which all lead to adultery. The tradition of arranged marriages is very prominent in Indian families.“A man who has lived and worked in the UK for a long
time decides to get married to a girl from India. They are often pressured into such unions by family or by social conventions. Equally often, the couples have no time for courtship or any way of developing any connection—emotional, intellectual or otherwise,” Joshi told us. She witnessed cases where men living in the UK, have found a new partner. In these cases, the founder of the ILUK explains how “they will go to India, have the lavish wedding and return back to the UK with his new bride and then return to the arms of their mistress. Or, the new bride is left behind and the man returns to what he considers is his ‘real’ family.” The adulterous act or the threat of it can be used as a control mechanism. In sinister cases, married men will “start looking outside, overtly register themselves on matrimonial websites or register on dating or meet-up apps just to let their wives know that they have ‘options’ unless they are willing to ‘toe the line’,” says Joshi. Suresh explains “there is a deeply ingrained idea that if a woman is married to her family, she has to work for her family.” Very often, women won’t take the necessary measures against their husbands for a lot of reasons, the majority of them being how they will be perceived in their society. Poonam Joshi explains how Indian culture is very much about “Until Death Do Us Part, at all costs, where a woman may be expected to accept their partners even though she may be suffering domestic violence or marital rape or any other type of abuse.” Wives are unaware of the adulterous acts their husband commit or if they do, they stay quiet. Vaishnavi Pandey shares why she believes women don’t always take the necessary measures against their husbands. “Getting a divorce is not only putting a bad name on the girl’s family, but it’s also ruining their reputation. It’s about being a single mother. It’s about being unmarried at the age of 30 or 25.” Pandey comes from a middle-class family with university-educated parents. Her mother was 21 years-old and her father was 28 when they got married. By changing this law, India’s society is starting to move forward, but the actual impact of it in society will have to be proven. "I think this will have a big impact,” says Suresh. The positive aspect of a change in a law is undeniable but a social and cultural mindset change will take much longer for both men and women. Joshi agrees that “this will give individuals the freedom to decide what they want without, for instance, being stuck in an unhappy relationship in fear of the consequences.”“I’m proud to be Indian, but I don’t see all of this changing in my lifetime. It remains to be seen whether she will be able to witness a societal change in her lifetime. 7
Brazil's divided families The country’s political crisis is causing bitter feuds among relatives
Words: Nina Schmidt 8
Brazil is still coming to terms with one of the most controversial presidential elections in the country’s democratic history. The battle between Fernando Haddad and Jair Bolsonaro saw the right-winger, Bolsonaro, securing 55.1% of the votes and becoming the 38th president of Brazil. But the election highlighted a deep-rooted polarisation of the country which has been festering for years and has led to many divisions among families. The newly-elected president is a farright member of the PSL (Social Liberal Party), a retired military officer who has been serving in the Brazilian National Congress for 27 years. A significant proportion of his votes came from a campaign promising to tackle crime, corruption and create economic growth. Bolsonaro’s popularity also built on widespread disapproval of the leftist Workers’ Party which has been accused of corruption over many years. His opponents call him homophobic, fascist and gave him the nickname “The Trump of the Tropics” for his extreme discourse, and his victory speech even sounded Trumpian with a promise to be a “defender of the Constitution, democracy and freedom." Fernando Haddad is São Paulo’s former mayor and minister of education under the presidencies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, he carried the torch for the Workers’ Party, and his supporters come mostly from Lula’s devotees who firmly believe him to be a good substitute for the former president. Others were supporters who are simply against Bolsonaro’s more extreme policies. His critics argued that he was an incompetent mayor and was only Lula’s puppet. Haddad was the first mayor of São Paulo to not reach the election’s second round for a second mandate and according to the Datafolha, his approval rate as mayor came down to 14% in 2016. Many believe that Bolsonaro’s victory is only a result of the electorate’s strong displeasure with the former government and that in another political situation would never happen. The Workers’ Party (PT) is a left-wing democratic socialist political party which had the presidential seat for more than 13 years. Elected in 2002, Lula has been the main figure of the party for years. Arrested early in 2018 for corruption and money laundering he was given a twelve-year sentence, but despite being in prison, Lula was still campaigning for the presidency until early September, when the Higher Electoral Court denied his candidacy registration. He then appointed Fernando Haddad as his substitute. His successor in office, Dilma, was impeached in 2016 during her second mandate for violating budgetary laws,
leaving the presidency with an unemployment rate hitting its record of 13.7. ‘Operation Car Wash’ investigated around 230 people, of which 80 were politicians, amid allegations of corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras. This serious polarisation of Brazil brought to light many conflicts for the country and a pattern of disagreement and even breakage between family members and friends. Political debates started to get heated up quicker and quicker in bars, Whatsapp groups and family dinners. Families and long-term friendships started to rupture. All for politics. Although it might seem an absurd decision in most countries, this has been happening all around the country. But creating family breakage is not Bolsonaro vs Haddad’s exclusivity. The opening of Dilma’s impeachment process also added a climate of political instability: on one side, a part of the population defended the opening of the case against the president, while on the other, many saw in the movement an attempt to coup d’état. Alexandre Costa mentions on Medium that his mother refused to spend lunch with him after a family disagreement on Facebook. Alexandre’s mother commented that she was "ashamed" and no longer trusted him because of his political views. "Initially I thought it was a misunderstanding, [however] I called her and she said she was not coming because of my ‘misbehaviour’," says Alexandre. Pedro was still young when he noticed that politics became an unpleasant topic whenever he visited his family. A significant part of his family is strongly in favour of the Workers’ Party. When the corruption scandals started to appear and the ex-president was impeached and a part of Pedro’s family wouldn’t accept the turn of events, an unspoken rule was created: no talk of politics near specific aunts and uncles. Nevertheless, this rule didn’t fully prevent arguments. “Once, one of my uncles started to talk on the phone with a friend about a PT candidate and without him wanting to, his brother heard the whole conversation, which ended up on them fighting and not being on speaking terms for months.” Although it was rare for the topic to be mentioned, Pedro sensed that a space was created between his family members. “I find it odd that people talk about politics as if there is a right and wrong side, when in fact no politician represents you 100%. He has defects like every human being, and parties are defective like every other institution, so I don’t see any sense in compromising yourself for someone or something like that, not to mention being unable to simply have a discussion about it.”
“I find it odd that people talk about politics as if there is a right and wrong side, when in fact no politician represents you 100 %.”
In an interview for Doctum TV, Rodrigo Luís Sousa Silva justified why it becomes so easy to be “attached” to a certain candidate without question. "Placing an extreme trust in a candidate is to take some of the responsibility as a social subject. How much will you hold them accountable for their promises, to what extent will you put that person up there and take away your responsibility as a social subject that makes a difference." Helena’s first political conflict was with her father when he attempted to coerce her vote. After the first round, she started sharing her political opinions on Facebook on a daily basis, with the main objective of instigating people to respect, democracy and peace. “In a few posts (two at most), I admit had something offensive or unnecessary, but most did not have that content. My uncle began to question me publicly about what I stood for, the faith of my parents (who have faith in Christianity, like him and my parents), questioned the art and the colour of the party and ignored many of my inquiries.” As the personal attacks continued, she privately asked her uncle to stop. Although he did stop publishing comments, he still kept trying to change her mind. Even with the end of the arguments between them, Helena still feels separated from the family. “I am in a dilemma with my entire family, I am no longer considered normal for being the only Seventh-day Adventist and being an ovo-lacto-pesco-vegetarian, and now I will also be billed as a communist.” According to Jorge Broide, a psychoanalyst and teacher at University of São Paulo (USP), in many cases, aggression creates “with the mass, individuals function much more like children and are directed by their affections, much less for thought.” Many arguments arise because of the way people share their political opinions online. Even unintentionally, as with Helena, users are driven by emotion and tend to lead nowhere.
For Amaury Pontieri, a journalism graduate from the USP and a school’s director in the south of Brazil, debates should happen in a face-to-face conversation.“I consider social media excellent for a number of activities, but when considering debates on overly contentious issues is definitely not the case. In fact, I find them to be endless and fruitless, because of the gradients of intellectual and emotional maturity that exist there, as well as the high circulating amount of fake news, irrational content and secondhand ideas passed without any criterion.” Opened posts like Helena’s tend to instigate even more heated discussions, and in many situations, the facts presented are misleading information. Before Pontieri decided to leave Facebook until the end of the elections, he witnessed a typical argument over fake news. “A candidate for an elective post appeared in a videotape in a demonstration in Bahia, dressed in character, and the associated fake news stated that he was participating in a religious ritual, when in fact he was only receiving support from a well-known local carnival block. This was the subject of a violent discussion in the virtual group, to the point that some people even cut relationships with others.” Melissa is a twenty-year-old university student and currently lives and depends on her parents. On several occasions, they have argued about politics for having distinct views. “I defend the idea of a political renewal and they believe in a ‘hero’ who will supposedly save the country.” The most serious of their discussions was during the first round. Her parents asked her to vote for a state deputy candidate. But when it came to analysing the options and choosing the best choice for the country’s improvement, she voted for someone else. At the time, she was unaware that the candidate they asked her to vote for was originally from their city. She and her family voted in different moments, but soon after, on the way of a lunch at an aunt’s house, she was asked about her vote. Her answer left them extremely angry. “They said I did not respect them anymore, that I did not obey and did not listen to what they told me and so they would punish me.” When she questioned the reason why she was being punished for voting someone who was not of their appointment, they told her it had nothing to do with politics. Melissa later discovered that the deputy was elected and a relative was appointed to work with him. “This just proved my point that the politics should be renewed, but they will never admit it. Even after the second round, our relationship didn’t go back to the way it was. Things got tense here at home simply because I disagree and doubt ideas.”
Broide explains this “hero” ideal as a “childlike fantasy that someone will solve [everything].” This comes back to Freud’s idea of masses where “the mass gives the leader this paternal role who knows the way and who will solve the question.” Alice has been living with her grandparents for five years and their relationship was strong and open. In the past year, she discovered herself as a homosexual and has since then trying to understand where she stands. In a conversation over dinner, discussing Bolsonaro and his statements over the Gay Kit (A material created by the National Development Fund for Education in 2011, with the intention of addressing issues related to gender and sexuality, but that was widely seen as being responsible for "stimulating homosexuality and promiscuity), Alice’s grandfather said: “I don’t believe that children should be taught to be gay.” His statement came harshly to her, making her speechless, so the discussion didn’t come to an end that day. “I don’t think that their strategy is the right, but he used the word gay in a pejorative way, and after all, I am gay.” She noticed that as the days went by, she spent less time at home. This anguish made her have a long conversation with her family explaining how she felt about their choice, the impacts it would have on her life and her feelings about the situation. “I think it was the final straw for our misunderstanding, but not the core of the problem”. For Broide, cases like Alice’s only exist because there is a strong family bond that allows this civilized discussion to take place. “These conflicts do not come out of nowhere. It arises from family relationships and family history, and the history of each subject in the family. This is what Freud used to describe as the triggering factor.” In his view, these issues affect the person much more than it might seem. “We have a view that politics affects the person only up to a certain point, and it is not true. It affects the life of the subject as a whole. The person is not talking about a single part of his life. These social issues run very deep in the way we feel about the world. So people feel deeply involved and the conflict is therefore much stronger.” So in fact, the bottom of these disagreements and breakages aren’t truly about politics. They are mostly about issues between family members that were already there, hidden and unresolved, and were “forced” to be brought up because of politics. On that account, politics is unable to trigger any misunderstandings if there are free conversations and respect. * the interviewees’ names were changed in order to preserve their identity. 9
Can millennials save the planet? It falls to our generation to lead the fight against global warming
Words: Gabriella Laporte-Virot Photos: Emmet/Pexels.com
For many young people, global warming has been a hot topic for longer than we can remember. We learnt about it in school and saw the endless news reports before we were really old enough to understand it all. The National Centre of Social Research released a report on British people’s thoughts on global warming. Between 90-94% of people in all age groups, agreed that global warming is “definitely or probably” happening. However, that’s the only place where the similarities lay—31% of 18-34 year-olds are “very or extremely” worried about climate change, while only 19% of people over 65 are concerned. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report detailing the severity of the effects of climate change at its current rate. They highlight that huge changes will need to be made within the next twelve years in an attempt to reduce the severe consequences of global warming.
but by the youth of today. Taking all of this into consideration, how concerned are young people about global warming and what, if anything, are they doing to combat it? Young people are often derided for their trends and fads, but what if these are what will actually save the planet? One trend that lasted through recent years is a change in young people’s diets. According to a study commissioned by The Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled between 2014 and 2018. Similarly, Just Eat, the online food delivery service, claimed that in 2017, they had a 987% increase in demand for vegetarian food. Poppy Marriot, 21, is a freelance photographer who made the decision to become vegan; she says that climate change is “an incredibly important issue to me, it was a big trigger in me continuing my veganism because lowering our meat and dairy intake is one of the best things you can do for global warming. I want to do
Young people don’t remember a world without climate change. Global warming is something many of us haven’t acknowledged and could be a defining factor in how the world around us develops. “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report, is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, CoChair of IPCC Working Group I. Within their report, the IPCC examines the benefits of limiting global warming by 1.5ºC rather than 2ºC. If no changes were to be put into place, coral reefs would be virtually extinct while global sea levels would rise 10cm higher. Irreversible and catastrophic environmental changes are potentially only twelve years away. With this in mind, the consequences of global warming won’t just be felt by the generations to come,
“Globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world's transportation systems combined.”
whatever I can to make a change.” Poppy became vegetarian at 17, and vegan at 20: “People think you need to be living completely zero waste, but just eating meat twice a week instead of every night, or buying a reusable coffee cup or water bottle and not using plastic straws makes such a difference. We don’t all have to be vegans to make a change! Little things go a long way.” In contrast, Paul Surrey, a life long meat eater at 52, has different views on his lifestyle choices: “Growing up not eating meat wasn’t a serious option, there weren’t any alternatives.” He continued on to explain that although climate change was an issue that concerned him, “particularly for younger generations”, he wasn’t aware of the impact animal agriculture had on our environment. “I’ve been eating less meat for health and animal welfare reasons, but knowing it will help with climate change, I’ll definitely make more of an effort,” he continued. The campaign group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), claims that “globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined”. They also claim that rearing animals as food uses vast amounts of resources, including land, water, energy and food. Making a lifestyle choice to eat less meat and animal products reduces our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. It is also considered, by many scientists, a vital effort in combatting the worst effects of climate change. According to a report in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, if we all went vegan by 2050, emissions from food production would drop by 70%, we could make economic savings of around £440 billion and there would be 8.1 million fewer deaths per year. The Department for Transport released data on driving habits outlining that “only around 6% of miles driven in cars, in Great Britain in 2012, were driven by a young car drivers.” We see fewer young drivers on our streets every year, although much of this is due to the rising costs that are associated with driving including insurance, fuel and MOTs. However, the numbers of electric cars on our streets are rising. With the government taking the initiative to install more public charging points, owning an electric car is
becoming a more viable choice for those concerned about sustainability. The AA (Automobile Association) recent reports showed that young drivers are most likely to own an electric vehicle. Although initially a more expensive investment, electric vehicles are much cheaper in the as they use a renewable energy source and produce no exhaust fumes. Even brands catering to younger consumers are taking their concerns into consideration and making changes. H&M, Lush and Starbucks all have reward schemes for customers who return or reduce their waste products that would otherwise find their way into the bin. Selfridges’ Project Ocean campaign bans staff from bringing used-plastic bottles into the store and instead sells glass bottles. The importance of their campaign is highlighted during staff inductions and is an example of the type of larger efforts that are vital if we want to start making a positive impact on the environment. Figures collected by The Guardian showed that 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world and less than 7% of them were recycled into new bottles. However, new and eco-friendly innovations are hitting the market. Young star, Jaden Smith, recently launched his own brand of bottled water called ‘Just Water’. The packaging consists of a paper-based bottle and sugarcane cap. Water is ethically sourced in a sustainable manner and carbon emissions are reduced in the production process. Adding options like these to the market are vital for improving our habits as consumers. The IPCC is a division of the United Nations. It gathers scientific data from around the world to create in-depth reports on climate change. These reports are used by governments in the development of new climate policies. Young people are clearly beginning to take these warnings seriously, seeing that it will affect not only their children, but also themselves. With changes in the habits of not only consumers, but also larger brands, it’s clear that at least some changes are being made to benefit our environment. However, the IPCC’s report shows that a lot more needs to be done if we want to make an effective impact on the rate of climate change. 11
The fight against street harassment It's time we took all forms of sexual aggression seriously
Words: Zillah Rauter Image: Chris JL/Flickr.com
Kate was 15 when she first became a victim of sexual harassment. She was on the tube when an older man grabbed her by the waist and thrust his boner up against her. She tried moving carriages on the Bakerloo line train, showing the man that his unwanted attention was making her uncomfortable. This tactic didn’t work and the man remained persistent until she threatened him, telling him she would report him to the police. Eventually, the man left her alone, jumping off the carriage in fear of her given ultimatum. Once she was off the tube, Kate spotted some policemen outside the station and told them what had happened. “The case was taken extremely seriously, and my information regarding the individual’s age, appearance and location helped to track him down and fill in the missing pieces to thirteen other counts of assault he had done” recalls Kate. In retrospect, Kate doesn’t think she would have reported the crime if the police hadn’t been so accessible at that moment in time. Neglecting the seriousness of such cases happens all the time but it was because of her that the police tied up the ends to a much bigger case. Kate's is not an isolated case. Plan International UK released figures showing that two out of three girls in the UK have been sexually harassed in public, 35% of girls in the UK wearing school uniforms have been sexually harassed and 15% of girls in the UK are touched, groped and grabbed every month. “That’s why we have launched our #ISayItsNotOk campaign, to call this behaviour out because every girl has a right to move freely on the street and in public, without the fear of being intimidated and harassed”, Plan International UK’s Senior Media Officer, Hannah Gurney explains. Gurney tell’s Artefact that girls believe that street harassment happens because there is an imbalance of power between boys and girls. This is why street harassment isn’t taken more seriously and is often trivialised. “These are not one-off incidents, this is a relentless attack on girls’ sense of safety” she explains. Girls are feeling so unsafe that they have resorted to changing their daily routines to avoid certain public places and forms of transport, “we can no longer excuse the so-called harmless behaviour such as catcalling and wolf-whistling” An additional issue Gurney men-
has worked as a labourer and has been exposed to this type of behaviour, yet he says he personally hasn’t seen an immense amount of street harassing going on. Joe says that from his experience there are fewer men actively doing anything when they witness other men victimising woman this way than actually doing it themselves. “People will feel under pressure to get along with their colleagues. This may result in them agreeing to or ignoring things their colleagues say or do that they might not otherwise.” Joe also says that he doesn’t believe it always comes from a malicious place. He affirms that it does not excuse this type of behaviour but some men are simply unaware, saying they might “see it as a harmless laugh and that women don’t really mind”. He adds that men act to impress each other and to make each other laugh, “However I wouldn’t say it completely explains it because just as many men, if not more, judge guys negatively for behaving this way than positively.” Catcalls of London is a campaign mainly ran through social media set up by Farah Benis. She was going through a difficult time and discovered @catcallsofnyc which had a profound impact on her and she decided to join forces, creating London’s own campaign. Farah began getting catcalled from a young age and went through different phases of how it made her feel, but recalls one particular moment that really scared her. She was 11, in her school uniform, when two grown men in a van slowed down alongside her and shouted "obscenities" at her until she ran into a shop. These are the types of stories that young girls approach her with every day since starting the campaign. “Many of the submissions I receive are form young girls between the ages of 12-16 and more often than not, the aggressors are grown men.” Farah speaks about ‘getaway behaviour’. She explains how humans naturally push to see how far they can go, seeing what it is possible to get away with. “If a man can get away with groping a girl, or rubbing himself against her on the tube, what is to say he won’t see how much further he can go the next time?” she says. As a possible solution, Farah believes one way of helping the situation is to end aggressive behaviour at the very staring point: forcing unwanted conversations and comments on to someone.
tions is that girls are getting the message that it is their fault and that they should accept it or change their own behaviour. “These are not one-off incidents, this is a relentless attack on girls’ sense of safety.” Education is key in changing such behaviours, Gurney proclaims. “Young people need comprehensive relationships and sex education” and, “boys need education on gender roles and masculinity that addresses respect, consent, and the nature of gender-based violence in both intimate relationships and interactions with strangers.” Gurney explains that time should be spent helping young people understand the impact of sexual harassment in public spaces. Women being harassed in the street is a worldwide problem which has been brought to the media’s attention recently following the past few year’s movements such as #MeToo and #NoWomanEver. This summer a young French activist named Marine Laguerre was attacked outside a Parisian cafe following her rebuttal when a by-passer commented on her appearence. The CCTV footage caused an outrage which started a large online campaign, #BalanceTonPorc, meaning "Expose your pig", fighting against street harassment. As a result of this, France passed a new law in August criminalising street harassers with on-the-spot fines of up to 750 euros. In September the first fine was imposed to a man on a bus just outside of Paris who slapped a woman’s derrière and commented on her appearance. The man then received a 300 euro fine. This is not to say this preventative method will always be effective, as Marine Laguerres’ attacker has still not been identified. But why do men behave like this? Joe is a twenty-three-year-old man who
“These are not oneoff incidents, this is a relentless attack on girls’ sense of safety.”
Words: Mariana Jaureguilorda Beltran Images: Greenland Travel/Terry Feuerborn/ Mads Phil-Visit Greenland/Flickr.com 14
GREENLAND’S LONG ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE The biggest island in the world is gathering forces to leave historic ties behind and achieve full independence from Denmark
Rising temperatures are shape-shifting Greenland’s landscape, uncovering an immense wealth of minerals, attracting more fish and making the summer season longer; all of which can generate more revenue for a more prosperous and developed economy, potentially Greenland’s key to independence. However, will Greenland ever become independent? Greenland is the biggest island in the world with a territory that covers 836,330 square miles. Roughly 80% of it is covered by ice, making it impossible to use that land commercially. The island’s GDP is not large enough for its 56,000 inhabitants: “Denmark contributes a yearly grant of £400 million,” explains Ana Luis Andrade, Nordic Analyst for The Economist.However, with rising temperatures and rapid melting of the ice sheets, new ways of life are, raising concerns about whether Greenland can tap into its wealth of natural resources without environmental and political consequences? Throughout the 17th century, Danish explorers arrived in Greenland; the Dan-
ish and Norwegian crown quickly claimed sovereignty, but by 1814, due to Norway’s weak status, Greenland became entirely Danish and was integrated to the crown under the constitution of 1953. As an official Danish province, it became part of the EU in 1973, and six years later Greenland was granted limited self-government and their own parliament. In 1985, Greenlanders voted to leave the EU due to the disputes over fishing rights, and in 2008, a self-government act was passed, to transfer more power from the Danish crown to their own politicians. Since then “Greenland has been gradually assuming responsibility for their domestic policies; however, Denmark still administers Greenland’s defence, foreign and monetary policy,” explains Andrade. This makes it nearly impossible for Greenland to survive without Denmark. In October 2018, politicians reached a coalition agreement to form a new government, sparked by the left-wing pro-independence party, Naleraq, quitting the previous coalition formed by the social 15
democratic party, Siumut. The division was caused by the disagreement over the funding of an upgrade for Greenland’s airport. The Naleraq party, pro-independence, stands against Denmark’s financial participation in the airport project. Kim Kielsen, Greenland’s prime minister, stated that the new coalition formed with the liberal-conservative and the separative parties stands stronger than ever and has put fishing and mining of raw materials at the top of the agenda. “Siumut and Kim Kielsen are trying to signal investors that they are committed to their pro-business, pro-mining and pro-uranium platform,” Mikaa Mered, arctic expert, and professor at the Ileri Institute in Paris told Reuters. This leaves talks of independence off of the priority list. Denmark’s support will ensure no Chinese interference in the project, which seems to be a long-standing fear for the Danish government as it could affect Danish-American relations. Nic Craig, energy, climate change and policy initiative lead for the Kingdom of Denmark at Polar Research and Policy Initiative, believes that Greenland still needs Denmark: “Copenhagen props up the Greenlandic economy with a block grant each year and provides crucial security, search and rescue capabilities in Greenland.” He believes that Denmark benefits from Greenland, as without it, it loses its Arctic identity, which directly affects the chances of sitting around the Arctic council table with superpowers like the US, Russia and Canada.“Greenland is particularly important for Danish-American relations, as it is of strategic importance for NATO and the US military, which operates on Greenland. It is rumoured that this is how Denmark often gets away with paying less than 2% NATO contribution,”
Craig says. But that’s another story. The current political climate seems to be working well for both countries, as they both gain from the relationship, however, is it an equal benefit? “Greenland is free to become independent whenever it wishes to do so but knows that this would mean the end of the block grant and security and SAR arrangements,” explains Craig. Most political parties agree on independence, and there is only a minority proposing an actual date by which the country should become independent. It seems that it’s not a question of whether to be independent or not, but how. With a brittle economy, huge territory, small population, and a hostile climate, how can Greenland exploit all its natural resources and consequently divorce from Denmark? The answer relies on strengthening the economy, and this can be done by focusing on fishing and mining, and that is where climate change is critical. When it comes to fishing, warmer waters are welcoming new species of fish to the area, like tuna, herring, and mackerel as well as the usual cod and halibut, positioning Greenland as an attractive exporter. “Fishing is a significant pillar of the Greenlandic economy and forms 92% of Greenland’s exports,” says Craig. However, Greenland’s largest catch; prawns, are moving further north seeking colder waters. Even if the fishing possibilities are increasing, the lack of manpower is limiting as there is not a big enough local workforce to get the job done. In 2017, Royal Greenland, one of the country’s largest companies, was forced to import migrant labour from China. With an unemployment rate of roughly 10%, the state-owned company’s decision to import foreign labour was met with
disagreements, exposing another challenge Greenland is facing: Greenlandic workers are thought to be unreliable. Royal Greenland has released comments that detail their struggle to motivate employees to show up to work during the spring and summer season as the days are long and their ‘fishing to survive’ culture is too ingrained in their identity. Meaning that many accept the job only until they make enough money to finance their hunting and fishing trips. This ambiguity between wanting to modernise the country is met with mixed feelings. Some indigenous population are happy with their traditional ways and isn’t ready to balance between wage work and subsistence practices. With ice cover retreating, breathtaking landscapes are being uncovered, revealing better farming possibilities and what’s perhaps most attractive economically—an immense wealth of uranium, zinc, iron and gold. With a combination of a virgin and geologically fertile environment with valuable deposits, the potential for mining is clear. “The government’s 2014-18 Oil and Mineral Strategy, set a high ambition for growth in the sector, which has not come to fruition, with only a handful of small mines in operation in the country at present,” explains Craig. Polar connection records show that the industry has run at a loss every year between 2012-16 and whilst the new government is committed to expanding the mining industry, some aspects must be considered first. Due to the lack of workforce, large-scale mining is most likely to be led by foreign companies, which would result in tax revenues and limited local jobs for Greenlanders. The lack of infrastructure means the costs of exploration, and operation would be costly. Mining will also have an impact
“I hope that we can put aside the focus on independence for now and focus instead on what kind of society we dream of in Greenland.”
on the environment which is a concern as Greenland relies on its natural resources and ecosystem to become a stronger and more independent country. On top of that, “mines have limited lifetime, which means the potential to benefit the economy in a long-term economically sustainable way must be questioned,” says Craig. Greenland Minerals, and Energy, in co-operation with China’s Shenghe Resources, is ticking boxes for its Kvanefjeld proposal. It is a project for an open-pit mine for rare earth minerals with the potential of becoming one of the largest mines in the world but also to potentially poison south Greenland’s environment with foreign meddling, radioactive waste, and a considerable footprint. The Kvanefjeld project has more than one billion tonnes of mineral resources, making it an extremely tempting deal for the Greenlandic government. Assessments are being made to identify and eliminate the negative environmental impacts throughout the length of the pro-
ject, currently set to last 37 years. However, no clear information as to whether the impact is more significant than the benefit has been released yet. Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann, a local researcher at the Institute of Health Science at the University of Greenland expressed her concern: “Large-scale mining or uranium is a great example of how we will need to compromise environmental concerns if we insist on independence any time soon. I am very much against it. “I hope that we can put aside the focus on independence for now and focus instead on what kind of society we dream of in Greenland.” It’s clear that the consequences that mining could have on the environment haven’t been fully explored, and not doing so could create serious long-term problems for the country. According to a report published by the committee for Greenlandic mineral resources to the benefit of society at the University of Copenhagen, if mineral resources are to become the key element to
Greenland’s economic boost, it will be on a completely different scale. Regardless of how the potential projects are managed, they will have both positive and negative effects. No matter the level of income produced, increased mining activities provide an opportunity for change, not to preserve society as it is today. And change must happen gradually. The traditional Inuit lifestyle is being threatened by warmer temperatures as hunting possibilities are reduced. Less snow and ice means polar bears and seals are moving north seeking colder weather. Greenland and ice go hand-in-hand, so what will happen when there’s no more ? “Greenlandic communities are noticing changing availability of marine mammals, particularly an increase in narwhals but fewer whales of many other species. Thinner sea ice makes it more difficult to hunt seals. Traditional livelihoods and subsistence are affected with the usefulness of traditional knowledge being undermined,” explains Dr Ilan Kelman, Reader in Risk, Disasters, and Global Health jointly appointed between IRDR and Institute for Global Health, IRDR Graduate Advisor. However, some locals see climate change as having some benefits for Greenland: “The environmental changes mean that children can play in the streets without gloves. In western Greenland, the sun will return earlier in the spring as the glacier to the east melts and so diminishes in height. Conversely, less snow and earlier melting leads to garbage being visible in the streets, which is not good for visitors. More crevasses appear in melting glaciers which is dangerous for tourists,” says Kelman. The impact on Greenlanders’ livelihoods is seen by some as having some positives, particularly when it comes to the increase of tourism opportunities. “Many Greenlanders suggest that climate change will have little impact on 17
their day-to-day business, mainly because they trust in their own adaptiveness and ability to innovate. In contrast, others worry that the lethargy and lack of initiative regarding livelihoods in many places will be compounded if current businesses fail due to climate change or if people cannot adjust—including being unable to adjust to higher incomes that comes with increasing tourism. Additionally, traditional knowledge will become less relevant. Irrespective of climate change, one main concern around Greenland is the brain drain from smaller to larger communities and away from Greenland,” says Kelman whose colleagues have collected stories from Greenlanders on the website Many Strong Voices. Agriculturally, Greenland is seeing new possibilities. Being highly dependent on food imports, increased agricultural land means Greenland will slowly be able to produce its own food, mostly in the south, where potato and sheep farming are growing slowly but steadily. Longer summers mean more tourists. However, tourism still represents a minor part of Greenland’s economy. Access to Greenland involves flight and ship, making it expensive . “With the reduction in sea ice cover, the cruise industry proliferated in the last decade, and the first new york to Greenland cruise was recently announced,” says Craig. However, cruise tourists sleep and eat on board and only come ashore to experience Greenland’s natural beauty. “Greenland’s economic gain is limited to the collected port fees. With airport expansion on the horizon for Nuuk and Ilulissat, there’s a good promise of a growing tourism industry in Greenland,” With a large territory, small population and a long list of domestic problems, Greenland need a stable economy to provide for its people and stop social ills, such as their high rates of alcoholism, domestic abuse, and abortion. Climate change is precipitating an array of changes that will have a direct effect in Greenlandic culture, and the country is not ready to face them. The need for a self-balanced economy is urgent but it seems that breaking away from it so suddenly will not be of much help. “It is problematic that we have reached a point in our union with Denmark that everyone seems to assume that Greenland will one day be independent. This is not something I think we are in any economic or otherwise position to assume,” says Hauptmann. She believes rethinking and creating a Greenlandic society not built on Danish standards, would be the first step. It seems that the road to independence is not paved by large-scale mining but a change in the way society works. “If we become independent any time soon, we will be more than occupied
with trying to get the basics of a society to run and we will have to compromise culture and environment. There will be no resources to look into the many exciting and sustainable opportunities that Greenland has such as biotech, ecotourism.” Denmark is still actively protecting its interests through Greenland. When the Chinese company, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), expressed interest in investing in Greenland’s airport project, Denmark trembled. As they have the final say on national security matters, Denmark objected. Elsewhere, prime minister Kim Nielsen has recently outlined plans to replace Danish with English as the second language taught in schools. Opposition party, IA, which is pro-independence backs this stance. The PM believes that introducing English will bring more opportunities to the population. However, the proposal has created mixed feelings. “I do not know any English-speaking countries that will accept Greenlandic students for free. I know very few families who will be able to pay for education,” says Hauptmann. She believes the decision is simple, Greenlanders benefit from speaking Danish as by doing so, they have access to free education in Denmark. Even with Danish, Greenlandic students experience severe cultural shock when they move to Denmark. This results in high rates of dropout. Hauptman believes that eliminating Danish will only make it harder for Greenlanders to take advantage of the benefits. Even though Greenlandic became Greenland’s official language in 2009, Danish is widely spoken, especially amongst the older generation and remains essential in sectors like the government, commerce, and education.“I worry that the proposal to replace Danish is driven by a political want to move away from Denmark rather than a logical conclusion that it will be better for Greenlanders to speak English,” The Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen stated that “Denmark is open, wide open, for all young people from Greenland who want to make something of their lives. But, they must be able to speak Danish.” Hauptmann suggests that even if English represent better chances in the global community, education is first, and without Danish, Greenland is giving-up the benefit of high-quality and free education, something most countries don’t have. The proposal is yet to be put in practice but highlights Greenland’s on-going dilemma Greenland’s road to independence seems to be a long one. There are clear societal issues that need to be handled before worrying about a full divorce, and as Greenland was built on Danish foundations, an abrupt removal could result in serious damage to their society. 19
Commemorating the Martyr Muslims across the world unite in the memory of the Prophet’s grandson Imam Hussain (a.s.)
Words and Images: Fatima Batool
The climate was warm, and the sun was as bright as the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s.)* as thousands of people marched from Najaf to Karbala in Iraq, in solidarity and peace. Meanwhile, hundreds of people also marched in London, from Marble Arch to Parliament Square on a day known as Arbaeen, which stands for justice and truth. “Arbaeen is a strong procession to stand up and raise our voices against tyrants who commit crimes against humanity. I think Imam Hussain (a.s.) had this call for all of us to carry on his mission of humanity. During the procession, I felt like I had a strong voice and we everyone at the procession were an unbreakable unit,” said Saher Rizvi, who attended the Arbaeen procession in London. Arbaeen stands for the number forty in Arabic and is the traditional period of mourning in Islam. The day marks forty days after the tenth day of the first Islamic month: Muharram. It is the day that the Prophet’s grandson and the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussain (a.s.) was martyred more than 1,300 years ago. For many Muslims, Hussain is a symbol of social justice, because he and his army were killed fighting against corruption and tyranny that was brought about by the leader of the Umayyad dynasty, Yazid, in the seventh century. Yazid was a corrupt and tyrannical leader who used to violate basic human rights against the people. Yazid wanted Hussain to pledge his allegiance to him, but Hussain’s morals could not allow him , and so he refused, causing him and his army of 72 to be killed by the opposing side’s army of 30,000. As a result, millions of Muslims pay homage to Hussain and what he did for Islam and the Muslim community by visiting his holy shrine each year in Iraq and other places around the world. Although Hussain was killed hundreds of years ago, his movement still lives on today. The day he was killed, Hussain’s family who survived the tragedies of Karbala on the tenth of Muharram were held captive by Yazid and publicly humiliated and treated cruelly by crowds of people whilst they were in chains walking on the streets of Damascus and Kufa. While being held captive, his family still spread what happened on the tenth of Muharram, and started the movement, by holding sermons in the places where they
go and do charity work, such as donating to orphans as well as doing the full 80km walk, ” Narjis said. Narjis also said that Muharram and Arbaeen are months of giving. During these months, Muslims and Shia Muslims, in particular, hold blood drives, and hand out lots of food and do acts of kindness. She loves the atmosphere of others handing out food and water. The two main sects in Islam are the Sunni and the Shia. Sunni Muslims, the majority sect, believe that after Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) died, it was Abu Bakr who was the rightful successor after him, and they also believe in the caliphate. However, Shia Muslims believe that the Prophet’s cousin, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was the rightful successor, and they believe in the Imamate, which consists of twelve Imams. Narjis and many Muslims go to annual gatherings for the first ten days of Muharram to hear about what happened on the day Hussain died. These gatherings happen every year and are held in many countries in all different areas. Usually, Muslim mosques and communities
were disrespected, to spread his truth about fighting for what is right and what you believe in. One woman who frequently visits Iraq every Arbaeen to do the 80km walk from Najaf to Karbala in remembrance of Hussain, and to pay tribute to his family is Narjis Jaffer, who lives in London, yet still goes to Karbala each year. “I feel that it is my moral duty as a believer of justice to not only walk from Najaf to Karbala, but also pay my respects to the holy Imam. Since I retired only a few years ago, I feel obligated to
“Although Hussain was killed hundreds of years ago, his movement still lives today.”
hold them, and each of the ten days is dedicated to one of Hussain’s most important companions, their lives and how they were killed fighting for what is right. There is usually a scholar speaking about the events and tragedies which occurred as well as other messages they wish to convey. The gatherings can be very emotional since the details of what happened to Hussain and his companions are heart-wrenching. Although some Sunni Muslims know about what happened to Hussain, the gatherings are usually attended by Shia Muslims. Then there is a procession on the tenth of Muharram, as well as one forty days after. Not only is there a march in Iraq, but there are also marches all over the world for people who cannot travel there. One of the places the procession takes place is in London. This procession has been taking place for the past thirty-seven years. There are also ones in Tooting and some smaller local ones for communities in other areas. In London, the wind was mellow, and the sky was thriving as the people gathered at Marble Arch were filled with energy. The event, which showed unity and solidarity, was filled with hundreds of people of all ethnicities walking together harmoniously for the same cause. One of the attendees of the march in London, Syeda Iftikhar, said: “I have been a part of Arbaeen since I was a child, so for me it is important that I go and carry
it on for further generations. It means a lot to me because I want the movement of Hussain to be passed down to the generations after me. If we all stopped going to the procession, then we wouldn’t be fulfilling our duties as Shia Muslims to keep the legacy going. ” Although this march has been happening for many years, there are still many non-Muslims who do not know about it, what it stands for and why it is necessary. “It is important for non-Muslims to know about Imam Hussain (a.s.)
because he sacrificed himself for humanity and fought against oppression that was in form of imperialism. His message is universal. It applies today as oppression has taken different forms and is prevalent more than ever, ” said Maulana (scholar) Syed Ali Rizvi, the President of Majlis-e Ulema-e-Shia, an organisation of Shia scholars and communities. “Imam Hussain’s (a.s.) message is for all ethnicities, ages, and genders because his supporters, who were very few in number, were diverse in their presence. There were Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Turks, women and children present in Karbala supporting Imam Hussain (a.s.). The role of women we see in Karbala is unique and unprecedented. The way they spoke openly against the tyrant rulers of the time and stood firm in their conviction is unmatched, ” Maulana (scholar) Syed Ali Rizvi said. There are organisations and activists who raise awareness of the day of Arbaeen. One of them is Who is Hussain, it continually makes merchandise and has a whole website dedicated to Imam Hussain (a.s.). They also hold blood drives and organise charitable events. To find out more visit www.whoishussain.org for more information. * Alayhis Salaam or (a.s.) may there be peace upon him— a term used to show respect to prominent figures in Islam. 21
STRESS DURING EXAM SEASON IS EXPECTED: SUICIDES
ARENâ€™T Over the past two years, the University of Bristol has lost 11 students to suspected suicides. University is supposed to be the time of your life. What is happening to our students?
Words: Aimee Luton Image: Jannis Tobias Werner/ Shutterstock.com
As soon as you start school, the idea of going to university is planted in your brain. Countless trips to university campuses, alongside your teacher’s seemingly random anecdotes about how much fun they had encouraged at least 411,000 students to start university in 2018. Of course, there are many other routes young people can take: apprenticeships, traineeships, or diving straight into work. While these have been increasing in popularity over the years (105,000+ people under the age of 19 started an apprenticeship during the 2017/18 academic year), university remains one of the most popular options. “It’s fun, isn’t it?” Says Jess, 22, a former student representative at Southampton. “You get three years to have the time of your life and mess around.” This appears to be a general consensus amongst most students I spoke to. 66% of those surveyed voted “The student experience” as the biggest influence on them going to university. Tanya, 20, a student in London, explains: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so uni seemed like the perfect solution. Three years of procrastinating life and having fun that I can look back when I’m older? Why would I do anything else?” While student life is infamous and a rite of passage for many, it’s not all fun and games. For most, going to university means moving to a new city and starting a new life. If you struggle to fit in or make friends, it can be a challenge. “The social aspect is so important, it completely changes your time at uni. If you don’t have a support system there, you’re going to struggle,” explains Rebecca, 33, a care professional at a top city university. “On top of that there’s the stress. The workloads are so difficult, and they’ve got to balance that with living alone for the first time.” It’s perhaps no surprise then, that uni life doesn’t live up to its expectations for some. Life at university can be far from the dream for a lot of students, resulting in mass dropouts and increasing mental health issues amongst student bodies. The University of Bristol has learned this the hard way. Over the past two years, 11 of its students are suspected to have taken their own life. The establishment has now become the focus of controversy surrounding its supposed failure
of student wellbeing. Both students and parents have joined forces to question the university on its pastoral programme, wanting to know what exactly is going wrong. Jonathan*, 22, recently graduated from Bristol. He joined hundreds of his fellow students on a march to demand better pastoral care for students. The march took place on May 25th 2018, shortly after three students are suspected to have taken their lives in the lead up to exam season. He said: “It was ridiculous. We kept hearing about these deaths then it was swept under the rug. The response they [the university] had to these things was almost laughable. We wanted better mental health services, not free ice cream.” Jonathan’s comments and the march itself are the perfect reflection of the rising tensions between the University of Bristol and its students. Not only is there a question as to whether there is adequate pastoral care available, but whether students who are struggling are being taken seriously. 80% of those surveyed said they were unimpressed by their school’s reaction to the mental health crisis, with one even labelling it "Embarrassing.” Of course, mental health problems in students is not new nor the university’s fault. Of the current students at Bristol I spoke to, 80% of them suffered from a mental health condition before starting at university. It would be irresponsible, or even idealistic, to assume that this is specifically an institutional issue. According to YouGov, approximately 1 in 4 students in the UK suffer with their mental health, suggesting that there is a bigger issue within our educational system. A spokesperson for the University of Bristol notes: “The scale of the challenge means that all universities, not just Bristol, are re-evaluating every aspect of their student and staff mental health and wellbeing support and provision.” Within the academic year of 16/17, the Office of National Statistics recorded 95 students whose deaths were ruled a suicide. Students taking their own life is, unfortunately, not such a rarity. Rebecca, has dealt with “countless” students suffering from suicidal thoughts. She explains: “University has changed in recent years. More people are going, which is fantastic, but it’s increasing compe23
“It was ridiculous, we kept hearing about these deaths then it was swept under the rug. The response they [Bristol University] had to these things was almost laughable. We wanted better health services, not free ice cream.”
tition. A university degree doesn’t hold the same value it used to, so students are under increased pressure to get even better grades or go even higher with their education.” Stress is a recurring theme in the conversation surrounding students and their mental health. In 2017, UniHealth released research which revealed 82% of students suffered from stress and anxiety. “Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take students seriously when they talk about stress. Obviously, everybody feels stressed sometimes, but it’s important to look at whether these workloads—whilst balancing part-time jobs and god knows what else—is having a detrimental effect on health,” adds Rebecca. 100% of the past and present Bristol university students I surveyed said they felt stressed whilst at university. 71% felt that the prestige of the university added to their stress. Alex*, 20, a current student, explains: “When I got into Bristol, it was amazing, I was flexing on Insta and everything ‘cause it’s such a good uni. I never thought I’d get in – and I don’t think my friends did either. I suppose that’s one reason why, when I started to struggle, I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t think I belonged there, so I didn’t want anyone to know how hard I was finding 24
the work.” “There is still a stigma surrounding mental health, even amongst young people. Sure, the younger generation might be accepting of others, but they’re surprisingly unforgiving to themselves and their mental health,” explains Dr. Aitkinson*, a psychology lecturer at a South West university. “Establishments with a highly regarded reputation are likely to have a higher number of students afraid to speak out. Nobody wants to be seen as an outcast.” Russell Group universities, generally, are seen as the top universities in the UK. With only 25% of students throughout the country admitting they would ask for help when needed, it’s easy to see why Bristol – a Russell Group institution ranked 15th on the 2019 league tables – may have students who are struggling. “I feel like, because it’s a Russell Group, they [Bristol university] don’t want to damage their reputation by admitting to the struggles of their students. Sure, they’d send out emails and stuff asking how we were doing, but it always seemed like the effort – and the care, actually – was barely there,” adds Jonathan. “People were taking their own lives because of the stress of exam season, and instead of teaching us to deal with stress, they gave us – like I said before – ice cream. Fucking ice cream.” Stress – and Bristol's response – is a cause for contempt for many. “Stress during exam season is expected, but not suicides,” says Alex. Nationally, only 25% of students say they would get help for stress and anxiety. With such a small amount willing to seek help, questions are raised regarding universities’ abilities to cope. “If they aren’t coping with a quarter of students, how could they possibly cope with the real scale of mental health issues?” asks Rebecca. “Bristol is, unfortunately, an incredible example of institutions failing their students." “I don’t want to blame the pastoral team for this,” says Lucy, 23, who recently graduated from Bristol. “I visited them when I had issues of my own. The counsellor I had was great, it just took a long time to get to her. The issue isn’t with the pastoral team – it’s with the funding. The big guys – it’s like they don’t see us as individuals, they see us as walking coins. They don’t care if we get sick, as long as we bring in the money.” Funding is a tense topic at Bristol’s main campus. The mere mention of the word is met with a chorus of sighs. Understandable, perhaps, given that the university pledged an extra £1 million on pastoral funding from Spring 2018. “That would be great if they weren’t throwing £300 million on a new campus,” says Grace, 19, a current student at Bristol. “It really goes to show how important our
lives are. They don’t care about current students, all they care about is getting more cattle through the door to fill their pockets – it doesn’t matter what happens to them when they’re here, though.” In response to questions surrounding their funding, a spokesperson for Bristol said: “The University commits approximately £7.4m annually to our core wellbeing support services,” and additional funding is due to “Committed monitoring and reviewing [of ] all our services and the resourcing levels.” George, 23, struggled with depression throughout his time at Bristol, and experienced the consequences of a lack of funding. “Things started off okay, but by the second term in first year I was struggling. I couldn’t bring myself to go to class most days and I started to fall behind. I wanted a fresh start at uni and didn’t want depression to get the better of me so I emailed the counselling services.” Even the automated response promising a delayed meeting didn’t deter him. “I was just proud of myself for making the first step. I’d never done that before,” he explains. 6 weeks later, however, and George was met with “Radio silence,”. “I tried again, but after that I was at a loss. I didn’t have the energy to keep pestering people, and I didn’t feel like it was important – if it was, someone would have spoken to me, you know?” Eventually, after weeks of no classes and no contact, George dropped out. It would be easy to look at George’s story alongside the students’ current anger and write off the University of Bristol as a failing institution. “In those first two years where nothing was done, sure,” says Jonathan. “My friends who are still there have said things are starting to change, though. About time.” The University of Bristol said: “We are addressing fundamental structural issues such as how we assess our degrees to identify opportunities for positive change, and we have been seeking feedback from students and staff, so we can shape our services to meet the needs of our community. We have [also] introduced wellbeing advisers in our academic schools to provide additional front-line support for students and early feedback indicates that this increased support has been well received by students.” Speaking to a range of past and present students, it does appear as though things are starting to change. 90% of students surveyed who graduated from Bristol before September 2018 said they didn’t know where to go if they needed urgent pastoral care. This is in comparison to only 60% of current students. Alex, who is currently in second year, has noticed a shift. She says, “My emails are getting flooded with wellbeing emails pretty much every week. Welcome week
was full of reminders that the staff was here for us—that sort of thing.” Rebecca explains how normalising asking for help is essential. She says, “It shakes off the taboo. If Bristol reinforces that help is available—and encouraged— students will eventually start to relax and open up. If done correctly, it should change the atmosphere of the campus altogether.” A changing atmosphere on campus would most likely be warmly welcomed. Perhaps it’s because it’s a Russell Group, or perhaps it’s the city-centre campus, but Bristol university has a reputation.
mental health problems. He describes the programme as “Hit or miss.” He explains, “Mostly you’d take time out or postpone your place, but in certain cases you’d have to leave the course. I had to leave.” Recently, though, this programme has been improved. “Funding can do a lot, funnily enough,” notes Alex. In September 2018, Bristol launched its most popular scheme yet: the opt-in system. 94% of students (both new and returning) opted into a system which allows their parents or guardians to be notified if they are struggling with their mental health. Not only does this give
“They’re boring,” says Thom, 24, a graduate from the University of the West of England. “When I was studying, my friends and I at UWE would work hard but have fun. Our Bristol mates disappeared into their books fast, and whenever we saw them they’d be stressed the fuck out.” With 57% of students saying there isn’t enough focus on the social side of university at Bristol, it seems as though Thom’s comments aren’t just down to old school rivalry between Bristol and UWE. Of course, nights out and emails aren't going to solve all of Bristol's problems. They've also introduced some bigger regulations to deal with their mental health crisis. Originally, they had their ‘fit to proceed' programme, which was met with a mixed response from the students I spoke to. Finn*, 20, left Bristol after a string of
parents the opportunity to step in if their child is suffering, but it gives staff greater pastoral power as they can step in when they see red flags in a student’s behaviour. “This is a huge step. Previously, staff were unable to get involved if they saw someone struggling – they had to wait for that person to come to them. Now, if things seem severe, there is a way for them to step in and help,” explains Rebecca. Out of the current students I spoke to, 100% of them decided to opt-in to the scheme. “It just seemed like the smart thing to do. I lost a friend last year – a lot of us have lost friends or classmates, so we know the damage these issues can do. It’s also great because it’s like us students are taking a stand and looking out for each other, there’s a certain companionship in opening up about mental health,”
notes Alex. Whilst improvements are being made, it’s clear the fight for student mental health is far from over. Over the 17/18 academic year, 94% of universities experienced an increase in the number of students contacting support services. To deal with this, more funding needs to be put into pastoral care. Bristol, a university which has had 11 deaths since 2016, have had many issues raised with their funding. “If they’re spending all that on a new campus, they’ve clearly got the money—it’s time to walk the walk,” argues Jonathan. “New ID cards and spam emails about wellbeing are nice and all, but they’ve got to actually care, not just make a big show of it.” Alongside funding, there are other changes that need to be made at Bristol. A more social approach to starting university is a change many students want to see made. “A better social rep team wouldn’t go amiss,” says Alex. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine at freshers’, but after that it all seems to die down. Yes, work is important, but university is a lonely place to be if you’ve got no one to hang out with.” For now, it seems as if Bristol is finally taking a step in the right direction. “The focus is on them, but every university needs to take note,” says Rebecca. “Students taking their own lives isn’t exclusive to Bristol, so we need to look at the bigger picture: the pressure we put our students under, the prospects upon graduating, or the culture of university itself. It all needs fixing.” In a statement, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “The increased use of mental health services at Bristol by our students over the past five years reflects a similar rise at universities nationally, and globally. Indeed, a recent survey conducted by Alterline of 14 UK universities (including Bristol) showed the issues we are facing here are no different to other similar institutions. Through the introduction of a University-wide approach, we are working with our students to help them build their life skills and resilience to cope with the pressures of modern life, and to identify vulnerable students as early as possible so that we can support them. We will continue to review our support and work with students to build a healthy community for all. This process is ongoing through consultation on the University’s new mental health and wellbeing strategies, one for students and one for staff.” *Names have been changed to protect identities. If you are struggling with mental health problems, you can find help at mind.org.uk 25
Words: Rachel Hagan Images: Stacey Dooley, Rachel Hagan and Alex K Ăźhni 26
THE WOMAN BEHIND STACEY DOOLEY ON ISIS'S FRONTLINE
Producer Helen Spooner talks about her experience in the most dangerous parts of the world
When watching a documentary, often you are encapsulated with the presenter who is informing you, telling you a story or teaching you something new – but while you’re focused on them, it often means that the work of the producer is being overlooked. Helen Spooner, at the age of just 26, has worked with Stacey Dooley in producing, Stacey Dooley: Face to Face with Isis and being the assistant producer on Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and Isis. Helen’s agreement to meet with Artefact was the first indication into just how busy her career is, with numerous e-mails exchanged and meetings cancelled, when eventually a date was fixed and promised not to be compromised again by her altogether hectic freelance working life. The quiet cafe in which we meet in White City, with multi-coloured tables and chairs and pop art adorning the walls, is a far cry from the city of Mosul in Iraq, which Helen visited shortly after its liberation from the so-called Islamic State in 2017. She visited many other parts of Iraq before that, spending weeks at a time researching and making documentaries. “I went to Oxford University to do Geography, I focused on the human side of the course, and I knew I was interested in the developing world, so, then I went to SOAS to do a masters in development studies.” Helen says she did not start
her career with a hands-on or practical film course but instead focused on doing what she loved, and she had to fund her master’s degree by “giving out popcorn to people on the street” while working for Propercorn as a brand ambassador. Having finished her masters and deciding that selling popcorn wasn’t the career for her; Helen knew she always had an interest in film and told Artefact that she feels it “is a really powerful medium to get people to change their minds and think about things differently.” Helen got an internship with Insight TWI and loved it, “and a one-month internship turned into a three-month internship, which turned into a job. And on my first day, there was a huge awards ceremony for freelance journalists across the world working in frontline or hostile environments, The Rory Peck Awards.” Helen was entirely new to the industry but got chatting to a guy at the awards, an independent filmmaker in Iraq, called Salem. “And we were just chatting, and he is pretty crazy, but he seemed really lovely albeit mad, and he said: ‘look, Helen, I have this access to a Yazidi-all-women-battalion, fighting Isis, but I don’t know how the media works over here what are we going to do with it’.” Helen and Salem teamed up, Helen wrote a pitch which they took to the BBC, who loved it. But, the BBC thought maybe it could be one for Stacey Dooley, who
Left: Helen Spooner with camera and Josh Baker, director to her right [Stacey Dooley]
Helen Spooner [Rachel Hagan]
Kurdish militant at the front nearer the isis occcupied city of Bashiqa [Alex K Ăźhni]
“It was so interesting and amazing to see this woman who is portrayed in the media as a victim to flip that on its head and be an empowered survivor.”
Mosul 2018, year after liberation [Alex K ühni]
had done war reporting before, but never in the frontline. Stacey Dooley, the girl-next-door, former perfume saleswoman from Luton, has appeared on our screens in recent years presenting a plethora of documentaries for BBC Three. Stacey’s brazen approach when addressing the issues presented in the films hasn’t always gone down well with viewers, her compassion to the protagonists is often read as naivety, paired with her fresh face and distinctive accent, she presents as a dichotomy to the traditionally male-dominated world of broadcasting. Her programmes cover everything from sexual abuse to children in the Philippines, drug cartels in Mexico, homelessness in Detroit, US prison boot camps and most recently, the less hard-hitting but still pertinent issue of fast fashion. Despite people’s preconceptions about Stacey, it is undeniable that she is providing a platform for the coverage of a plethora of critical issues, many of which have not been featured before. “Going into these unbelievable environments is a testament to how bright she is,” Helen tells me as we start to talk about Stacey. “I knew everything that had to be known because I had been working on the films for about six months before, and Stacey essentially had only one-anda-half meetings with us before we deployed. She hits the ground running and absorbs things like a sponge, it’s amazing. “It is strange going into an environment like that with someone who I thought wasn’t that prepared but turns out she was so prepared,” Helen says, as naturally, the preconceptions about Stacey come up in conversation. Helen now finds it entertaining watching her friend dance every week on Strictly Come Dancing, which couldn’t be further away from navigating the footprint of explosives left behind by Isis in the city where they were filming. “It’s so funny because she is like Marmite and so many people are like: ‘Oh goodness you are working with Stacey Dooley’. But as soon as you meet her, she is so lovely and so professional at the same time.” “She does ask the things we are probably too afraid to ask, and as a woman, it can be difficult to be outspoken, and you get labelled as ‘lippy’ and difficult but if you are a man you get labelled as confident, savvy and getting to the truth. It is difficult for women to negotiate that and Stacey does it well because she is so disarming when you meet her, she is like a little bomb; she is like I am not going to get angry I’m little Stace, but then I am going to kick you in balls and get the truth.” Girls, Guns and ISIS, the first film, investigates Yazidi women fighting in Iraq
in retribution against Islamic State fighters. Filmed when the Iraqi city of Mosul was still under occupation by Isis, the film takes us extraordinarily close to the frontline and into the lives of the women. The Yazidis are a religious and ethnic minority who practice faith with pre-Zoroastrian origins; Isis consider them to be infidels, and as a result, the group were subject to systematic rape and murder. A study by PLOS Medicine estimated that nearly 10,000 Yazidis were killed and kidnapped, in 2014; 50,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar to escape from Isis, with no food or water. More than 5,000 women were taken and used as sex slaves, and an estimated 3,000 are still missing, presumed to be in Isis captivity. Many of the women in the battalion have escaped the Islamic State and share their harrowing stories in some deeply emotional scenes, yet with sheer determination and resistance, they want to train as a group to rescue their sisters. Following on from the film, Helen tells me how the BBC commissioner felt it was a fantastic story and said: “‘we need the next part’.” So, tasked with finding the next story Helen set about using her connections to establish the next story to be told before heading back to Iraq. “When you are in a region like Iraq, there are loads of news reports coming out all the time, and it can be overwhelming. But the best source of information is always the people underground and your fixers, so, the fixers are the people who set up the access for you when you are there and the most unsung heroes of the industry, without them no one would be able to go and make documentaries abroad.” “Then one guy, Younes, messaged me and he said he said access to an Isis commander in prison and he is willing to talk – did I want access?” Laughing as she said this, as if to say, why on earth wouldn’t I want access! This was Helen’s launchpad into a bigger story. With this, Helen felt that giving the opportunity to a Yazidi woman to have a conversation with someone from Isis, would be powerful. As the weeks went by, she started to think this was not going to be wholly viable. Until another one of her fixers, Ibrahim found Shireen. Shireen, who is just 23, managed to escape from Isis, and along with Stacey, said she was seeking justice, revisiting where she was kept captive and where she managed to escape. Helen travelled to Dahuk, “a beautiful town”, in Northern Iraq on the way to Syria, to meet Shireen. Near Dahuk lies a desolate antithesis, Khanke, a refugee camp where 10,000 people live, During Helen’s time there the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum 29
was happening — where the result was a landslide of 92% of Iraqi Kurds voting in favour of independence. This resulting in Masoud Barzani, the then President of Iraqi Kurdistan, suspending all flights and Haider Al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, closing the border. Helen had 24 hours to get out of the country, nearly getting stuck and eventually having to board a flight in Istanbul, two days after she met Shireen. “Shireen is so defiant. She wasn’t bolshy she was just slowly and steadily really defiant,” Helen confirms to me that Shireen is as she appears on screen, speaking with so much passion about her. Shireen wished every woman in her position had the chance for a TV crew to help tell their story because it is so important; she wasn’t doing it for herself, she was doing it for the Yazidi women The production team had extensive meetings with psychologists, who had worked with women in similar positions before, as Helen’s biggest worry was re-traumatising the protagonist, but as soon as she met Shireen, she knew this would not be a problem. “The whole premise of the film is super controversial—what we proposed to do was take a survivor of sexual abuse, back to the place where she was sexually abused and confront the perpetrator of this awful abuse. On paper when we were first talking about it, I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is too much’.” While Younes, the fixer, had told Helen he had access to a prison and it wasn’t until the last minute that she knew who they would be meeting. Realising it was an Islamic state commander, Helen said she and Stacey were terrified. “As you see in the film, he comes with a hood on and sits down, and I am on the little camera on the side. Shireen is so calm, so collected, so confident and almost sassy; it was so interesting and amazing to see this woman who is portrayed in the media as a victim, to flip that on its head and be an empowered survivor.” In the film, we see five minutes of the conversation between Shireen, Stacey and Amar (the commander), unbeknownst to the viewer the conversation was 90 minutes long. “Shireen ranted at Amar for 20 minutes, and Stacey didn’t jump in. We hadn’t planned the conversation, and that is the beauty of documentaries. That wasn’t being translated to us, if Stacey had wanted to break the flow, she would have asked to translate, but you could see Shireen and Amar, having this interaction. Shireen was getting quite animated, but you could feel her confidence building.” Helen speaks of Shireen with such fondness and with so much pride, “she [Shireen] was just like a badass journalist. She was grilling him.” 30
Amar divulged that his motivations for killing close to 900 people and joining Isis, were for financial reasons. Once the team were back in England, the lengthy conversation was eventually translated, and it appeared that his Arabic was sloppy and slangy, which suggested he wasn’t a very well-educated guy, perhaps proving his motivations to be true and highlighting the banality of evil at times. Shireen, who is very bright, was asking things such as: “tell me at what part in the Quran does it say that this is okay,” and he didn’t have the answers. “So, when you have Shireen, someone who has been through enormous horror, essentially sitting down with her notepad being like, I am going to grill you. It was so amazing to see,” Helen tells me. Very few people have the opportunity to witness first-hand being in a country before and after its liberation from a large terrorist group However, even after the gunfire ceases “Isis don’t just disappear,” Helen explains. “They sink underground, and they shave their beards. These are still radicalised men and women who have feigned ignorance to Isis and pretend they are not.” Making a country which is now liberated, not so safe as you may think. Yet, “when there is a definitive frontline, it sounds so obvious, but it is like—do not cross that line,” Helen tells me. When they were shooting the second film, it was only two to three months after liberation, and they had to be “really aware of suicide bombers in Mosul. The day after we go back a bomb went off next to our fixer, and he was fine, but a couple of people were injured, and that is the scary reality of it. The markets get busy again, suicide bombers attack markets, they attack nightclubs they attack places where there are innocent civilians.” A report by Reuters suggested that people in Mosul will be living with unexploded bombs for a decade, endangering millions who wish to return to their homes. As well as, 11 million tonnes of debris and two-thirds of explosives under rubble. “You are going through in this armed vehicle, going through the streets and you see people’s kitchens, we are talking seven stories high, and you see huge craters in walls of where the Americans have dropped bombs. You see daily life—cutlery, tea towels and photos. The smell as well is very intense because of the number of dead bodies and I could have never been ready for that.” It is this destruction which was the most shocking part of the experience for Helen, explaining how no amount of pictures in the media can prepare you for actually witnessing the annihilation. The world has a long way to go with the progression of gender roles and the
“We cannot project our ideas of westernfeminism onto these different countries because everything is different in different places.”
Iraq 2016, Kurdish militants at the front near the ISIS occupied city of Bashiqa [Alex K ühni]
treatment of women. In particular, much more recently with the #metoo movement, it has highlighted that the western world may not be as progressive as we hope to be. However, it isn’t until you visit a country where the roles of men and women are much further apart, that you realise how privileged we are that women have even the most basic of rights. At one part in the film where they are in the old city of Mosul, Stacey starts to ask Shireen questions detailing the abuse she had suffered. In a perhaps shocking scene, the commander silences Shireen. However, Stacey asking the questions was contentious for a lot of reasons; because women shouldn’t speak about sex, it is a male’s honour.“He (the commander) was in an awkward position, he saw it as his responsibility to look after the women of Iraq and Shireen was taken and he might have felt like his ego was injured. But I think it annoyed Stacey because he was speaking over her so much.”Helen explains how culturally she felt it was an odd interaction to witness “because Stacey was trying to be tactile with him and reason with him and he was alarmed that this young white woman was the presenter.” When Helen had interacted with Kurds, she felt a lot more respect to
them, in comparison to her interactions with the Iraqi men. When they had to go to the frontlines and establish access, they would have to speak to the Generals. “I would be there as a female producer asking Kurdish General questions – he would look me in the eye, he would take me seriously he would shake my hand and be super respectful.” On the other hand, when she did this in Iraq she was met with the General listening to her and responding to her question, to her male counterpart, “and pretend I wasn’t there and I think that pissed us all off, but that is just how it is culturally.” “We cannot project our ideas of western feminism onto these different countries because everything is different in different places. But it was interesting to see that just over a border how the treatment differed.” Shireen and Helen remain in contact, upon leaving Iraq, Shireen said she was not going to leave Khanke, her refugee camp until she found or found what had happened to her sister. Having spent so much time in Iraq and previously with the Yazidi women battalion, with so many women still missing, Helen sadly felt unoptimistic for Shireen. “Just a month ago, I was checking in with Shireen, and what she was about to tell me next I could not possibly believe”, Helen explains that Shireen’s sister had
been in contact with her and she was still within Isis territory. Nearly a year after they had left Iraq for filming the second film, they never believed they would hear this news from Shireen.Shireen had organised with a smuggler to retrieve her sister out of Isis territory, Helen tells me she was amazed: “She got her back into Kurdistan, she was alive, terribly traumatised."The rest of Shireen and her sister’s family had previously fled to Germany, and this is where they wished to go too. But, given Merkel’s cap on refugee policy, which was put in place at the end of last year, this has not been possible. Two girls who have been through so much and yet they are still denied being able to live as a whole family. Helen cautiously tells me how she is currently working on, “another Stacey project, which I wish I could tell you more about I just don’t know how much I can say!”Leaving me to wonder if we will find out more of Shireen’s story, or, we will be seeing fresh but exciting new content from Helen. She tells me she is working on a documentary about porn, a far cry from the harrowing scenes of Mosul, but a welcome respite.Just like Stacey taking much needed time off from the challenging environment of her documentaries and embarking on Strictly.
WHY DON’T YOUNG PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH? For many Christian millennials, traditional religious institutions feel stuffy, out-of-touch or actively hostile Is there another way?
Words: Brittany O’Neill Images: Gideon Chilton/Flickr.com 32
A few decades ago, the ‘day of rest’ would have been taken seriously by most young Christians in the UK. Communities would gather together wearing their “Sunday best” as they strolled down to their local church service for a morning of song and prayer, in worship of Jesus Christ. A study undertaken by Brierley Consultancy shows that church attendances in Britain have fallen from 11.8% in 1980, to only 5% of the population in 2015. Almost 6.5 million people attended church in 1980, but nowadays more than half of that figure are choosing not to attend. Instead of spending quality time with loved-ones over a Sunday feast, many 18-29 year olds find themselves spending Sunday working long shifts in retail or instead, devoting a day to surfing through Instagram and Twitter. According to a 2018 study by St Mary’s University, more than two-thirds of young people in the UK identify as having ‘no religion’. “There seems to be some sort of disconnect, if you like, in what young people are looking for and how it is they can read what the church has to offer,” Paul Zaphiriou, the vicar of Hope Church in Islington, North London. This raises questions around why younger generations in particular are feeling separated from the church. There are many reasons why this is happening but young people being made to feel uncomfortable about their own identity seems the most prominent. Some young people feel like areas of their culture, such as their sexuality, would not be accepted within the Christian community. Hans Rossbach, a 23-year-old gay actor from South West London has memories of attending church with his father throughout his childhood years. As he got older, he felt that areas of his sexuality were deemed as “wrong” because he doesn’t fall in love with the opposite sex. “I see the Bible as a sort of instruction manual of how to live your life and I feel that we are evolving past its norms and values.” Although Hans admits that not all parts of Christianity were judgmental of his sexuality, he prefers to have complete freedom over the choices he makes about how to live his life. Prejudice in the place of worship might sound familiar to the many people that once considered themselves as a Christian; until for whatever reason, they came to realise that it was no longer in their interests. Gus Gordon, a 22-year-old drama school graduate from Cornwall, couldn’t escape the homophobic comments being blared through a microphone on his daily commute through Brixton, South London. Although he does not consider himself as homosexual, it bothered him to witness Christians isolating the LGBT+ community by shouting in the streets:
“Being gay is tainted and is a sin. You must be saved!” “I was forced to go [to church] as a child to keep up with the family tradition of going on a Sunday, having a roast etc,” said Gus. “When I got to the age of 11 or 12, I refused to put myself through the torture. I found it a chore more than my actual beliefs.” Issues around alienating certain identities within the church seem to be the primary factor of why most young people are losing faith in Christianity. Some people in modern society believe it is used as a way of subjugating people of colour. Dorcas Onabanjo, a 24-year-old administrator is a dedicated churchgoer and considers herself as Christian. However, she felt that the colour of her skin was seen as a problem within the church. “As a black female, the church can be very white and it’s known that Christianity has been used as a tool to oppress black people,” Dorcas told us. In response to the statistics on young people who attend church in the UK, Dorcas blames the declining figures on parenting. “I was forced to go to church at a young age and became disillusioned with it. The way it was conducted and the blatant hypocrisy of the actions of the leaders and the words they were teaching.” It is refreshing to learn that a devoted churchgoer like Dorcas, can be openly critical of a culture she identifies herself with. “I have experienced it my whole life—people that are obnoxious and rude. Christians who would not accept me as a Christian because of my dress sense,” said Billie Sylvain, a graphic designer based in West London. During her time spent at a Catholic secondary school, Billie suffered a “tough” time when gothic-style clothing became part of her identity. Unless she changed the style of clothing she wore to meet the expectations of the mainstream church, she realised that she would always be ill-treated by that community. “It is no wonder that people think badly of Christians sometimes because they don’t always act in a Christ-like way,” she told us. Unsurprisingly, Billy became an atheist for a few years following verbal abuse, until one day she became determined not to let the hypocritical engagements of “so-called Christians” damage the relationship she longed to have with God. A few weeks later, Asylum was born. Billy had set up the Christianity group based in West London for subcultures that have not felt accepted in the mainstream church. Determined to tackle the misconceptions that exist around the church through discussion and music, Billie ensures that everyone is welcomed with open arms. “God says [in the Bible] that he doesn’t look at outward appearance—he looks at the heart.” Creating a 33
safe space for subcultures that have been affected by insensitive comments made by certain Christians has meant that young people can practise their relationship with God, without feeling judged. Dorcas expresses her awareness of wrongdoing in certain areas of the church, yet she still explains the motions of Christianity like an unconditional love story. “Church isn’t a private members club. It is about love and it’s about acceptance and if you believe that Jesus loves you and that he is your saviour then you should be able to go into His house, as it were, and spend time with Him.” She is extremely knowledgeable and honest when it come to sharing her views on Christianity. Her words could empower any young person in our society today—Christian or not. “Jesus said ‘before you talk about the speck in someone’s eye, take out the plank in your own’… church is [supposed to be] a place of love and acceptance”. It is clear that through Dorcas’s eyes, Christianity is far from untainted, yet like any relationship worthwhile; sometimes it needs work. “I’m a better person because of it. I’m more at peace, I strive to be better and I do it because of the immense love I know God has for me, a love that I didn’t earn, nor do I have to try," she says. Mental health and human rights campaigner Nikki Mattocks grew up in a church where she believed they were dismissive of issues that young people are more open to, like LGBTQ+ and sex. However, this was not enough to break her bond with Christ. “I enforce that above all Jesus tells us to love each other. And they can’t disagree.” Nikki decided to distance herself from the church attended as a child, and instead, she found one near her University that suited her better. “I have tried to take my own life a few times because I have suffered from trauma and mental illness… He [God] saved me when I shouldn’t have been here and I am grateful for that,” said Nikki. Following Christianity has given Nikki a sense of purpose that she felt was missing from her life, and she has gained lifelong friends through the church community. “People there are my family. I pray and my church family pray for me”. After 12 years as the vicar of Hope Church, Paul Zaphiriou admits that it is still a matter of “trial and error” when it comes to discovering what works best, so that everyone feels welcomed when going to practise at his Church. “I wonder whether young people feel that the model of church that they witness is not something that reflects them and therefore, they feel that they can’t easily belong there," said Paul. British best-selling historian and BBC documentary-maker Tom Holland 34
“I see the Bible as a sort of instruction manual of how to live your life and I feel that we are evolving past its norms and values.”
has recently undertaken extensive research around the history of Christianity to support the new book he is writing. Taking all of his findings into account, he believes that young people "need" Christianity, but it is education that is failing them. “Oddly, I think one of the main reasons why in Britain, people who are brought up with a religious background seem to lose any sense of faith at secondary school is because of the way that GCSE’s are structured,” said Tom. “I have two daughters, and within about three weeks of doing religious studies in secondary school, both of them just said ‘what’s the point?’. Instead of studying St John’s Gospel, you study what Muslims, Hindus, and Christians think about smoking or something.” Andy Scott-Evans, headteacher of Becket Keys Church of England secondary school said he felt “saddened” in response to the statistics that represent the decline in young people losing faith in the church. Andy confirms that religious studies covers both Christianity and Islam at his school. Nonetheless, he disagrees that teaching religion in schools is randomised; “I think that the new GCSE is excellent in giving students an excellent grounding in two of the world’s main religions, our staff enjoy teaching the
course and students rise to the challenge of it as well.” In 2010, Essex County Council warned the school that there was no longer any demand for Church of England schools, but Becket Keys say they are oversubscribed every year. Last year, Andy saw more than 600 applications pour in, yet they were restricted to only 150 places. “We avoid pushing students to believe that the Gospel requires them to be perfect or to live up to an unrealistic set of rules and regulations. It is not about attending church, singing hymns or saying certain words at particular times of the day. The Gospel is simple: love and acceptance,” said Andy. It is a struggle for young people when suddenly faced with life’s most complex questions and Andy is convinced that is where religion can play a relevant role in the lives of young people in the UK: “Where churches are doing what they did in the past they are dwindling and dying. Where churches are looking to the society around them and engaging with what they see, they are flourishing. Our school is a good example of this.” Reflective of this increasingly popular modern approach to teaching religion is how pastors of Hope Church educate the people whom attend their services: “Part of the vows and promises one makes before they become a priest is to bring the gospel of good news fresh to every generation”, said Paul. One way that Hope Church practise this is by getting teenagers off the streets and supporting young people who suffer from mental illness. They allow the charity Spear to use St David’s Church building as a place to provide young people with employment training and opportunities. “I think that the Church of England has massively lost confidence because they worry that Christianity has been hegemonic, but it’s been a tool of European power and they are worried that it might seem racist or that it might appear imperialist,” said Tom Holland. Expressing his views in such an honest, yet intellectual manner almost feels incredibly brave of him in our society that often feels as though we are becoming obsessed with political correctness. “For the Christian reason, they don’t force Christianity on people. There is a cultural assumption that it is bad form to force it on people. You would never get a Christian or a Muslim on Thought for the Day (a daily BBC Radio 4 segment and podcast) saying, ‘my way is correct’ or ‘my way is true’. But since you are a Christian or a Muslim, then that is what you think," Holland says. "You think ‘I am the way of the truth of life, there is no way to heaven but me’, that is the essence of Christianity, but nobody in Britain pushes that.” A problem-
atic “widening split” seems to be forming in Britain between people who know nothing at all about Christianity and those who are still living an “old Catholic dream.” Inevitably, the extending gap between these two extremes is creating tensions within the church. Our society is evidentially failing to educate the younger generations on the core understanding of Christianity. It is clear that conflicts around religion are rising, while numbers of young Christians are falling. “People on the street have less knowledge of Christianity than they did decades before. I don’t want to blame anyone because there is so much more material that is being taught now because of the multicultural nature of our country,” said Paul. One would imagine that a multi-cultural society is something worth celebrating. But for this to happen, it is crucial that schools, churches, and parents pay a duty to break down negative stigmas around what it means to follow Christianity. Speaking to a variety of Christians has disapproved the popular stereotypes amongst atheists; not all church-goers are judgmental and hypocritical. Unearthing the core issues behind why less young people are going to
church has shone a light on what the future holds for religion with generations to come. At the moment, life is so full of distractions and we are evolving into a consumerist society where everything is at the tip of our fingers and there are endless things to do. Therefore, the idea of going to church does not even enter the minds of many 18-29 year olds. “If you live in Britain, you need to have some knowledge of Christian culture, it is like having knowledge of Greek mythology or Shakespeare’s plays, it’s just fundamental understanding of the country,” said Tom Holland. He thinks that Christianity amongst young people will continue to decline.“I think that if it turns out that Christian values are unsustainable without Christian belief, then I would regret the decline of Christian belief very much.” When it comes to faith, it is impossible to know all of the answers—even for a priest: “Christianity is radical and young people are radical. Centuries ago those things used to come together but recently it doesn’t seem that way anymore. I am passionate and determined to see that happen again,” said Paul. “It is unfair to blame one area—If I knew all of the answers, I would be doing that.” 35
Putting your life on the line for the truth More than forty-five journalists has been killed since the start of this year
Words: Beatriz Romão 36
It has been a sombre year for journalism—according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) since the beginning of 2018, more than 45 journalists have been killed with motive confirmed, the majority of them murdered. It poses the question—what are the costs of uncovering the truth and, is seeking it more important than our lives and safety? In October, Viktoria Marinova was attacked and murdered, while she was conducting an anti-corruption investigation involving European Union (EU) funds. Marinova was raped, beaten and ultimately died of suffocation. The man suspected of carrying out the attack, Severin Krasimirov was arrested and has been indicted. She was supporting two investigative programs. According to the BBC, Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for European Commission, said that the commission expected “a swift and thorough investigation” that would “bring those responsible to justice and clarify whether this attack was linked to her work.” But, are governments doing enough in order to protect journalists? Should more laws be implemented in order to protect those who keep us informed and their sources? This year, the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, the organisation presented its third biennial Logan Symposium: Conspiracy, an event that gathers a community of investigative journalists, whistleblowers, hackers, artists and experts on the topic. Artefact decided to attend the event at the Goldsmiths University of London, in order to find out what challenges journalists face while they’re working nowadays, and ways to protect themselves and their sources while conducting important investigative work. Throughout two days of talks, journalists killed in 2018 were remembered, including Abadullah Hananzai (Afghanistan), Carlos Dominguez Rodriguez (Mexico), Jefferson Pureza Lopes (Brazil) and Ján Kuciak (Slovakia). An open debate was held to discuss whether journalists can protect their sources and how they should do it. With the evolution of technology, all emails or phone calls can be tapped/tracked by governments or other identities. The best way in Ian Cobain’s opinion—senior reporter of The Guardian—to communicate is to write letters. “This means there are no records of what we send,” he affirmed. Cobain also assumes that journalists should not trust everyone that seems to have important information for an investigation, “We should not get too close to the people we are investigating about, and we should not let them be too close
to us,” he continues. A journalist not only has the responsibility of uncovering the truth but also to protect their sources and their privacy— this is where the real challenge begins. As stated in the code of conduct of the National Union of Journalists, journalists have the duty to “protect the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.” Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept’ believes that journalists are effectively being regulated by the government. “What we have seen in the US is the technological capacity of the government to track down everything about journalists communicating with their sources and it is tough to keep sources in that environment,” she affirms. Crina Boros, an investigative reporter, supports the view that some aspects regarding security need to be taken into consideration once someone decides to conduct an investigation: “Once you have established that undercover reporting is necessary and acceptable, you can do a few things: Protect your computer’s IP address while conducting sensitive work; temporary social media accounts under a different name; a temporary phone number and disposable mobile phones,” she says when asked about how she protects her identity during an investigation. After writing for the BBC, Greenpeace, Investigate Europe and others, Boros admits that “there were moments when I had to take a week’s break because I could not see the forest from the trees. But a good way to advance a story, especially an investigation that takes a while, is to ask yourself: is this true constantly? If so, when? Why? And what proof can there be?” Once asked what journalists need to take in consideration when they decide to publish an investigative piece, Boros says: “In a nutshell: factual accuracy, right to comment, source protection and dissemination.” But, should journalists be afraid of doing their job without getting killed? Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist whose 1987 BBC series Secret Society was subjected to interference by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, agrees that journalists “are crap at protecting their identities and the identity of their sources” and it is definitely something journalists need to improve while they are working on an investigative piece.As journalists, we defend the principle of media freedom and the right to inform the public. As Pat Loughrey— a former BBC executive and journalist stated: “The truth is not an easy thing, but it is so worth fighting for.” And we will keep fighting for it.
Why sexual harassment needs to stop This woman kept her cool amongst unsolicited remarks at a work event
“Only 11% of cyber security professionals are female—a figure that has remained the same since 2013.”
Words: Xavier-Guillaume Singh
Based on a report published in 2017, UK based financial and related professional services employee 7.3% of the U.K.’s working population over 2.2 million people—two thirds of whom or outside London. One category of these financial related services includes ‘Cyber-security’ of all major banks in which London based professional ‘Aimee Mitchell’ (whom has been given a fake alias to protect her profession and identity) works as a Recruiting Consultant in her firm. Amongst managing candidates for her principal consultants, Mitchell has found herself in an extremely male-dominated industry; only 11% of Cyber-security professionals being female—a figure that has remained the same since 2013. Garnering a conversation with her in a local coffee shop situated not too far from her workplace, Mitchell has been kind enough to lend her time over a flatwhite—her preference of milk being soya. Dressed in formal wear head-totoe, Mitchell carries herself like a true businesswoman—and it immediately becomes evident that she hasn’t allowed any frugal attempts of harassment from her male peers get the best of her. Although the gender imbalance hasn’t personally affected her whilst working, she states: “I worked hard to prove my worth and gained the respect of my peers. I think it could have been a very different story if my colleagues weren’t as accepting of me, but I was welcomed into the company and felt as if I wasn’t looked upon any differently.” Mitchell continues to explain what her job role entails and flows the conversation naturally into a negative experience she once had alongside a female co-worker. She describes the fact that close to the beginning of her starting her new job, she had been placed with the task of attending monthly events, in which should be taken as an “opportunity to network with industry professionals, and try and get leads of new business, or to try and get candidates. ” Whilst a distressed look is nowhere to be found on Mitchell’s face, it’s clear to see that the rebuttal of this scenario isn’t exactly pleasing to her, if anything she had only been painted with annoyance. “There was always a lot of alcohol at these events, but that still doesn’t change what happened, nor make it acceptable. There was a very large group of security professionals standing by the entrance of the event location when I arrived. I smiled as I walked in to be polite but I could feel so many eyes looking me up and down. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, I went inside and found a female colleague from the marketing team. ”
She continues to tell her story; although unhesitant, Mitchell reminds herself that she has a coffee to drink and takes a quick sip. “A few hours past when, in the middle of a conversation, someone from behind me grabbed the collar of my top and pulled me towards them. It was one of the men who was standing by the entrance to the venue, and all his friends were surrounding us. I was inches away from his face when he said “you’re so lucky that I’ve got a wife and kid at home, otherwise you’d be mine.” Horrified, I pulled away and went to find my manager. As I was trying to locate him, my colleague from the marketing team came over looking equally as horrified and said that one of the same gentlemen from the group had suggested that they went to the toilets for a cuddle.” It was in that moment that Mitchell’s supposed professional experience would become an event of sexual harassment. She directs the conversation to one she had with a “global financial services provider.” Having found a packet of stickers, the gentleman had begun to stick them onto Mitchell and her colleague. “I could immediately tell that he had had a few too many to drink and was surprised that a man of his seniority had let himself get into this state at a professional event. What surprised me further is that this gentleman had found a pack of stickers and started sticking them on my colleague and myself. After ignoring our requests to stop, my colleague and I stood up from the table. As I was getting up and walking away from the table, the gentleman followed us, sticking stickers on our trousers. We speedily went into the female toilets and had to pick stickers off of our bottoms.” In results to the prior event, Mitchell confided in her manager, who now consults her after every event past that — to ensure everything was okay. Whilst Mitchell is one of the few to report her harassment, there are still thousands of men and women who don’t. The infamous question as to why women don’t report their experiences was answered by a report published by The Guardian in which confirms “about one in five women do report it. Their outcomes are poor: 80%, according to the TUC report, found that nothing changed; 16% said that the situation worsened afterwards.” Furthermore, a report published by law firm Slater and Gordon confirmed that “60% of women had experienced inappropriate behaviour and nearly half of respondents had been warned to expect problematic behaviour from a particular person when they arrived.” 37
Reopen the Darkroom!
LCC students are demanding that the college and students’ union reverse the closure of the university’s only student bar
Students at London College of Communication are campaigning to get their student bar, which was unexpectedly shut down earlier this year, reopened. The Darkroom bar at the college’s Elephant and Castle campus is run by the university’s students’ union and has been closed for the past two months. Mantenso Kotomah, a third-year student at LCC, has written a letter to the college to voice her view about the closure. She says the staff and herself are ‘extremely saddened’, ‘angered’ and ‘frankly embarrassed’ about the situation. The Darkroom is the only student bar the whole university and did employ some students that were struggling to find work elsewhere because of their studies. In addition to that Mantenso demands full clarity from the university on where the resources and money which the university is meant to invest in the improvement of student experience is going and why some of that is not used as funding for the Darkroom bar. “I always loved going to the bar,” Sarah, a first-year student, said. “It was a place where my friends and I could chill and hang out without having to spend a lot of money was amazing. I definitely want the bar back open.”The closure was a decision of the students’ union board of trustees at the university, who now intend to use the space for events. Students say they need a place such as the bar, where they can hang out with friends before, after and in-between lectures. Some students did not know about the bar until recently when all the campaigns to get back the bar open started. First-year illustration student Sam said, “it is the students’ union’s obligation to listen to what the student wants on whether we want the bar open or not” Alex a student from another UAL college said, “I always loved coming to LCC because of the bar and the fact that I could chill with my friends from the different colleges there without having to spend a lot of money was amazing. I definitely want the bar back open” First year illustration student Sam said ‘it is the student union’s obligation to listen to what the students want on whether we want the bar open or not’ The trustee board is made up of the four full time sabbatical officers: activities officer Annie Marie Akussah, welfare officer Katayoun Jalili, education officer Anita Israel and campaign officer Olivia Kellet. The eventual decision was to close the bar until further funding was received from either the university or the Students’ Union. The UAL students’ union is known to be one of the most underfunded in London, but they still manage to hold events for students, run commercial services and fund student projects according to the team. According to the trustee board the bar has been losing money for the past three years. Its opening and closing hours were not ideal for students. It would open at around noon, when students are likely to be in classes, and shut at the relatively early hour of 9.30 or 10 when the college closes in the evening. Secondly, it was difficult to promote the bar because of a university rule which does not allow posters promoting drinking. Anita Israel says: “Over the past two years we had a really low engagement with the bar from students” and as a result there has been a loss on their part financially.” She adds: “What we are putting in, we are not really getting out even though we are a charity. We need to make sure the money we do have is well spent on students’ experience.” Israel says she feels conflicted because on one hand as a trustee member she must do what is right and practical, by investing the funding into 38
societies and events that have a bigger impact on the student experience at the college than the bar. But on the other hand, she says, there is a big group of students who say they need the bar open instead of being in a society or a club. She adds: “We are four elected sabbatical officers who all have different opinion, beliefs, political beliefs and I am liberal, of the view that students deserve to have the right experience especially if you are paying a lot of money.” Many students agree. First-year Chelsea says: “If you are paying £9,000 a year for university, the least they can do is have a student bar and space to go chill out.” This bar by many students is considered a meeting point for many students; where they met their friends now or simply where they could hide when things got tough and feel comfortable and at home. Olivia, a recent graduate, said “I spent most of my three years in that bar than anywhere else in the college, everyone
“If you are paying £9,000 a year for university, the least we can do is have a student bar and a space to chill out.” was always friendly, and you could always count on meeting different types of people there. I made so many contacts and friends from just going to the bar.” The campaign to reopen the bar was launched by Israel herself because students kept contacting her about what had happened to it and how they could get it back open. As a result she decided to launch it in a bid to get UAL and the students’ union’s attention on the matter. A petition is being circulated to get 1,000 signatures to bring forward to UAL and there are regular meetings happening at LCC with students discussing ideas on how to campaign and get some funding. Israel says she would have preferred not to have started the campaign against the Students’ Union but says they still support it even though they decided to close down the bar. There has been of a protest, a banner drop and events around the college to protest and stand up for the bar. Nadia a third-year student said “the best way to get through to people is by going guerrilla, completely shaking things and using force to achieve what we want” . However, other students think using these tactics is not the right way to go about it. Eden, a recent graduate, said: “Protesting will get you nowhere. The best way to get through to people is by talking and listening to the right people. Violence will not solve anything.” The petition has caught the eye of UAL and the students’ union has been asked to put forward a proposal for the bar, which should include how much funding they need to re-vamp the it and give an estimate amount of how much they need from the university to get it back up. However at this point it is just a proposal and some students feel UAL might be using this as a way to calm things down without having intentions to actually help out.
Words and image: Tania Nana
Words: Arri Grewal
THERE IS NO ‘HONOUR’ IN HONOUR KILLINGS How LGBTQ+ men and women face violence or even death because of their sexuality
Droplets of sweat trickled down his cheek as he stood quivering helplessly in front of his brother. The air was suffocating him as he tried to breathe. His heart palpated faster by the second as he stared at his brother in disbelief. Was he really going to kill me? He thought to himself, as his brother firmly clenched the handgun pointed toward his head. In what he thought was the sparing last moments of his life, Shaf Khan, a gay Pakistani man on a visit back to his home country in 2011, knew his life would be snatched in an instant in the name of his family’s honour. Although honour killings are more frequent among women, men can also fall victim to the crime, predominantly men that are killed due to their sexuality. Pakistan has the highest number of documented and estimated honour killings in the world, and approximately 1,000 murders are committed each year. These murders stem from illiberal cultural norms that women and men are to act in an orderly way in society; a common belief system rooted in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. Women must obey their parents or their husband. Men must act like men. They are instilled with fear from a young age so they refrain from behaving in an immoral manner that could further embarrass their families.So what happens when they step out of line? Often, it leads to their death. Pakistan is one of 72 countries that prohibits same-sex relationships and can legally punish individuals with a prison sentence; there are 10 countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty. Primarily countries like Pakistan which function under Sharia Law have strong views on homosexuality, and the shame of having a gay family member pushes families to the extent of murdering their relatives to safeguard their reputation in society. It is considered that a gay Pakistani man does not meet with their religious or cultural ethics, and does not have value in a parochial society. If Shaf Khan’s mother had not intervened at the moment his brother tried to pull the trigger, he would have gone down as another statistic relating to honour-related killings in Pakistan. Seven years after his violent ordeal with his brother, Shaf lives a more liberated life in London as an openly-gay man. Meeting with Artefact in the luxury retailer Selfridges, Shaf wasn’t afraid of being expressive and flamboyant in his personality and fashion taste. Wearing tight fitted jeans and a florid low cut T-shirt, the strenuous days of wearing a shalwar
kameez (Pakistani clothing) to play the role of a patriotic Pakistani man were long behind him. “That was the first time I went back after migrating to the United Kingdom in 2006 and I am never returning,” Shaf said. His lively tone quickly became serious, “I thought I was about to lose my life. For being me. I can’t help who I am and it was frightening that my brother would kill me because of his honour.” Although Shaf never came out to his family, his sexuality was a pressing topic on his brother’s mind as he continuously doubted him. “In my town, there were many gay men that were beaten up because their families thought they were gay. I always heard in the southern part of Pakistan gay men were thrown off cliffs because they were caught having sex with another man. That put fear in me because I knew my family were capable of doing this.” Shaf said. “They used to beat me all the time. It was horrible. I always knew I was gay, in my house women and men were separate and I would always hang around with my femalecousins and learn to do make-up.
“I thought I was about to lose my life. For being me. I can't help who I am and it was frightening that my brother would kill me because of his honour.” I was more comfortable with them.” Migrating to a new country, full of unfamiliar faces and a foreign culture very different to the one he was exposed to was frightening, but for Shaf it was his sole option to escape Pakistan’s violent approach towards homosexuality. Alone and aged only 19, Shaf was finally given the opening to explore his sexuality in an open and secure environment. He immediately involved himself in the gay scene by going to gay clubs in London and meeting people he could relate too, as well as dating men outside his race. “I left my entire life behind for my freedom, so I am the happiest person at the moment. I have no one penalising [me for] the way I walk, or how I dress. I don’t have to be in that
controlling environment anymore.” Due to the negative stigma and threatening behaviour towards the LGBTQ+ community, Pakistani gay culture remains underground and constantly under threat. Thousands still live with the constant anxiety of being outed and perpetrated by society, but just like Shaf, they have the endless desire to explore their forbidden sexuality and express their true identity. One activist, who does not want to be named, uses Facebook as a means to connect with other members in the LGBTQ+ community. “I join groups so I am updated with news that normally doesn’t get spread on national news stations. They don’t care for us so they don’t want us to be heard. My family do not know I am a lesbian, and I’m scared to tell them, but I turn for my online friends for support.” In 2016, the Pakistani parliament unanimously passed legislation against honour killings after the numbers had continually risen. If prosecuted, the offender could face up to 25 years in prison, even if they are forgiven by their family, which in previous cases has saved offenders from punishment. The legislation however still does not protect members of the LGBTQ+ community from violence and murder. Regrettably for Shaf, returning to his home country is out of the question, whether they legalise same-sex relations or not. “You can be safe from the law but you won’t be safe from the people. Communities would still be objective to homosexuality so they will still be violent. I don’t believe there will ever be a law protecting us, especially in an Islamic country under Sharia Law.” When living in a progressively liberal nation such as the UK, it’s difficult to fathom the concept of honour-related killings or violence. It’s a thought that rarely seems to cross our minds. Would I kill my brother because he was born gay? Of course not. In an ever interconnected and globalised 21st century, the notion of upholding an honourable reputation in society is far from normal practice. No matter how offended parents are with their child’s sexuality, death has never been a reasonable consequence. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen in minority communities. Around 12 people from ethnic backgrounds are killed in the UK in an honour-related killing every year, and thousands of young boys and girls are living their lives in fear, despite merging themselves into British culture. Over the last 50 years, the UK has progressed to shield individuals 41
“I have lost too many friends to suicides as they're not allowed to be their authentic selves.” like Shaf from discrimination. Once, like Pakistan, the UK characterised homosexuality as a ‘sinful’ crime and punishable by death. However, today it has put laws in place legalising samesex relationships, going as far as to introduce laws to protect them from hate crimes. As a result, our streets hold parades with vocal members of the LGBTQ+ community each year as they colourfully march for equal rights and openly celebrate their sexuality. Although Shaf finally feels that he’s in a sheltered environment, it’s unfortunate that thousands are still suffering in silence under Britain’s protected policies. Tarek, whose last name cannot be revealed, leads a secretive life his parents are to never know of. Born into a converted Islamic household from Middle-Eastern descent, his parents uphold their reputation strongly in their community. For Tarek, this makes it difficult to come out to his parents as a gay Arab man. “I find it extremely difficult as I constantly have to live a double life. I am two completely different people when I am with my family and when I am with my close friends. ” Tarek said. “I go about it how any secretive son, daughter, would go about hiding anything. I make up fake stories to provide alibis for me, I’ve pretended my boyfriend is straight and is in a relationship with one of my female friends.”Several years ago, Tarek apprehensively came out to his parents after a series of abusive events that occurred with his ex-boyfriend. The impertinent response from his parents was not what he wanted. “My parents had kicked me out and sent me to therapy to see if I was sick or something. They let me back in if I promised not to utter a word about anything, and just go back to being straight. As long as I’m not breaking any rules or ruining anyone’s reputation or fully coming out, they’re content with me keeping my mouth shut.” Now aged 21, Tarek has weaved gay culture into his everyday life after years of being conflicted with his sexuality. In a world concealed from 42
his parents, he proudly recognises and introduces himself as a gay man, and shows off his current relationship on his social media, but in an ideal situation, he’d prefer not to hide from his parents. “I’d like to hope in a perfect world they’d embrace me with open arms but I’ve heard my parent’s talk absolute dirt about the LGBTQIA+ community, calling gays disgusting. I know they’ll disown me.”Karma Nirvana is one of the few organisations set up in the UK to support victims of honour-based abuse, and forced marriage. The organisation was founded in 1993 and has become established as an award-winning national charity, providing a helpline of direct support for victims and speaking on honour-based violence in public. Ambassador for Karma Nirvana and LGBTQ+ activist, Lucky Roy Singh from Manchester, explains the importance of the organisation and his involvement. “Karma Nirvana helps you with training on how to tell your story and what protocols laws and enforcement resources of help there are to tackle forced marriage and honour-based abuse—it’s a huge achievement to be an ambassador for Karma Nirvana and I’ve been able to help so many people.” With more than 30 thousand followers on Instagram, Lucky Roy Singh uses his social media as an unrestricted platform to exhibit his drag persona ‘Miss Lucky’, and be open about his arduous journey as a gay Indian man. His posts are full of his exuberant drag persona which he says “is no longer a woman in a scarf who is a wounded lifeless corpse, but a powerful woman who has reclaimed her life, her persona, and stands up for things she believes in.” In 2017, Lucky released an autobiography ‘Take a Walk in my Big Indian Heels’ detailing his account as a gay man dressed as a woman in order to marry his partner in a Sikh ceremony. He reluctantly committed to this role so his partner’s family could maintain their reputation in society, and was promised three months of dressing in drag, which later became ten. Without constraint, Lucky spoke about the mental and physical abuse he was subjected too from his mother-in-law, how his family had initially forsaken him when they learnt about his samesex marriage, and his suicide attempt in his book.“My story has helped young individuals to realise that your happiness is key and that there are bad times out there, but you have to live your true authentic self and try and push through. The most powerful thing for me is to witness my story in non-LGBTQ+ Muslim and Indian
community, supporting their LGBTQ+ friends in schools, by standing up for them and doing research into what help is available for their peers. The conversations my story has opened has been exceptional.” After Lucky’s suicide attempt, his family realised that Lucky’s contentment was more vital than the repressive cultural beliefs they were taught to follow. Their acceptance was a step forward in the LGBTQ+ Asian community, as it demonstrated that a parent’s perspective on an offensive subject can be reformed through education and enlightenment. “My family and my two siblings adore what I do, and are so happy with the great response I have had from the community and others around me. They are grateful that my story has helped so many people. My parents are my greatest fans and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” In June this year, a historic and revolutionary decision was made by India’s supreme court when they unanimously governed to decriminalise same-sex relations. It was a ground-breaking judgement for gay-rights and it’s further challenged other countries’ criminalisation of homosexuality. The conversation of being gay and being from an Asian or Middle Eastern background needs to be opened up on larger platforms, with more focus on how honour-related violence can shape one’s mental health. With Bollywood actor and activist Aamir Khan discussing LGBTQ+ issues on his television show in India, and soaps including same-sex relationships from ethnic backgrounds, it’s gradually becoming less taboo, and more openly articulated. Nonetheless, the practice of honour-related violence on the LGBTQ+ community has a long way to go as we need to broaden and educate minority communities in the UK, as well as in South Asian, and Middle Eastern countries. “Personally for me, the more conversations that happen around these subjects the better. I have lost too many friends to suicide as they’re not allowed to be their true authentic selves,” Lucky says. “There are still so many people suffering in silence who don’t have a voice, who don’t have a choice but if we change parents perspective on how you live or let your children live, and how it shouldn’t be affected by anyone’s opinions, then can we save lives.”
Missing but not Forgotten
#FITSPO just as harmful 46 as #THINSPO? Revealing the Colour 48 of Madness Young Creatives
Slimane vs Celine
A Christian in Pakistan
Defrocking the father
Redressing the planet
Autism and Mental Health
The speed of 60 Tottenhamâ€™s Sound Exploitation on the runway Santorini by day: 64 Mykonos by night Tateâ€™s crying room
Missing but not forgotten: the mothers of May Square With many still missing after Argentina’s military dictatorship, a photographer captures families' fight for answers
Words: Rheia Chand Image: Maria Horton
Each photo Maria Horton, an Argentinean photographer who lives in Buenos Aires, takes explores and highlights the issue of the 3,000 who were stolen during her country’s military dictatorship. “Through my photography, my ultimate aim is to try and raise awareness, trying to show the world what happened in Argentina and ultimately ‘to hold the memory of the lost 3,000 citizens,” says Horton. Horton has tried to work through her own personal family trauma with her artwork and exhibits photographs via social media and galleries in Argentina. Her grandmother, Julieta Horton, was a victim of the dictatorship. Julieta lost one of her children—stolen by Jorge Rafael Videla’s army. One evening they were all asleep; someone knocked at the door and asked for her son to get changed, then the police took him. His name was Miguel Angel Horton, aged 17. He has been missing since 30th June 1977. Maria’s grandmother died, never finding her son or getting the answers she deserved. “If we don’t, who will? Our sons and daughters will forever be forgotten. Without our memories and fight, their identities will be lost with them,” says Isabella Alberto, a 66-year-old mother who
people in the 70s and 80s with little sensitivity. Diminishing the facts, “lowering” the number of deaths or missing people (30,000 people disappeared or got imprisoned or tortured or died. Macri once said there were 8,000....)”. “In much of my work, you will see women marching with white scarves over their heads. In 1977, people were not allowed to gather and demonstrate, or show opposition to the dictatorship. So, they just went walking with their white cloth nappies tied across their heads” explains Horton. Mothers today wear their white scarves, covered in the names of the missing people along with candles and pictures of the missing. Julieta Horton was one of the first hundred women to march—she died without answers. Whether her son is alive is a mystery. Maria marches every Thursday documenting the search. Her grandmother was “never able to move on, she lived in the hope that one day, Miguel would walk through the very same front door that he was taken from.” Maria goes on to say on behalf of the Madres: “They are waiting for you, if you have any doubts about your identity, please come forward. They are running out of time”
is yet to be reunited with her son. . During the late 70s Argentina was governed by a military dictatorship. From 1977-1983, it is estimated up to 30,000 people, many of them young infants went missing according to the official report by the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. Since 1977, an organisation called ‘Madres de Plaza de Mayo’ (Mothers of May Square) have been searching for the children stolen and illegally adopted during Argentina’s socalled ‘dirty war.’ The mothers gathered to demand answers for their missing children. The first ever march was a group of around 14 mothers and grandmothers. Today, hundreds now meet every Thursday around the square, demanding to know the fates of their children. There are DNA banks scattered around the country trying to reunite families. Approximatley 20% of families have reunited. Situations in Argentina are not getting any better. Bereaved families do not feel like they are given the respect or acknowledgement that they deserve. In July 2017 there was an uproar with the current government. Mauricio Macri, the president of Argentina, refuses to express his views and opinions. One resident said “Macri has spoken about the missing
Is #FITSPO just as harmful as #THINSPO? Social media is promoting an unhealthy body image
Words: Sophie Hall Photos: Ichigo121212 /Pixabay.com
Dance graduate Sasha-Louise Szymczak used to restrict her diet to just 300 calories a day, mainly consisting of black coffee for breakfast, a chicken breast for dinner, and two litres of Diet Coke to suppress her appetite. The bullying she received after her father’s death when she was 10-years-old was a catalyst for her eating disorder. Sasha-Louise would look to ‘thinspiration’ to control her intake, as well as setting up her own “rituals and rules” from unregulated diet and fitness plans. Her exercise was also in excess as she forced herself to complete multiple gym sessions a day, as well as doing situps and star jumps before bed. The 21-year-old’s weight dropped to 7st 8lbs (48kg), until she was diagnosed with anorexia in 2016, she didn’t think of herself as someone with anorexia. Using social media is now a large part of many people’s daily routine, with our phones allowing us to check how much time we spend on them, we’re more likely to look at sites like Instagram than read a book. ‘Thinspiration’ websites are hives of activity for those with eating disorders and have found their place on social media. Instagram has been strongly criticised for its lack of regulation on ‘thinspiration’ as a whole, which prompted the site to enforce a “Can we help?” pop up that asks users if they need support when a word or tag relating to eating disorders is searched. Artefact contacted Instagram about the issue, they said: “We care deeply about the wellbeing of the people who use Instagram and do not tolerate content that encourages eating disorders. We urge people who see this kind of content to use our in-app reporting tools so we can swiftly review it and we prioritize all reports related to eating disorders.”. The spokesperson carried on to say: “We also recognise this is a complex issue and we want people struggling with their mental health to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it. We therefore, go beyond simply removing content and hashtags and take a holistic approach by offering users looking at or posting certain content the option to access tips and support, talk to a friend or reach out directly to Papyrus UK or the Samaritans. Experts we work with tell us that communi-
products that are research-based and have some benefits represents a minority. “Things like skinny detox teas and coffees, as well as weight loss pills, can mess up the hormonal balance in our bodies, the microflora of our gut, our body’s hydration, impact on nutrient absorption, and lead to relapse and weight gain after they have been stopped,” Stavridis told us. A proportion of social media accounts claiming to be ‘clean eating’ or ‘health’ based, actually give advice that is similar to someone with an eating disorder. Mantras like “No Pain, No Gain” and “No Excuses” often lead to feelings of guilt for not exercising or eating a nutritionally dense meal. The lifestyle of being slim, physically fit and eating clean as promoted by some bloggers is now a societal and arguably unattainable ideal. Personal Trainer, Dan Price, told Artefact that more than 90% of his clients “are primarily after an aesthetic change”. But being physically fit does not equate to being psychologically fit. Jules is 19, from South Carolina, USA, and is currently in recovery from anorexia. She told Artefact whenever she wanted to eat she would use ‘thinspiration’ websites to read tips and compare her BMI to the underweight girls featured on these sites. However, these ‘tips’ were effectively encouraging starvation. Viewing them became motivational: “I only spoke about it with my best friend and boyfriend at the time because I didn’t want anyone to stop my behaviour and keep me from losing weight,” she said. Social media has over complicated the term ‘healthy’. “It has scrutinised every dietary aspect, every food,” says Kristen Stavridis. Szymczak adds to this, saying “I think #thinspo is something that will always be around, it’s so glorified by sick people, I stand by the fact that both hashtags are as dangerous as one another. Both have unrealistic expectations of people.” Falling into the trap of using #fitspo and #thinspo as a method of comparison does not discriminate to just young adults. In ChildLine’s 2016/2017 annual review, children’s attitudes about their bodies were a concern about why young people contacted the counselling service.
cation is key in order to create awareness and that coming together for support and facilitating recovery is important.” Despite this, users of these accounts are finding cunning ways around the restrictions such as misspelling a word, for example, ‘pro-anaa’ instead of ‘pro-ana’. However, this pop-up is not in effect with ‘healthy’ accounts that can post content on a similar wavelength. But can #fitspo be just as harmful as #thinspo? Nearly 300 million posts have the hashtag ‘#fitness’, fitness Instagrammers
“Black coffee for breakfast, chicken breast for dinner, and two litres of Diet Coke to suppress appetite.“ have some of the most popular content. Similar to #healthyeating, which currently has nearly 27 million posts using the hashtag. Fitness bloggers share information about the meals they consume, their gym regime, to more personal aspects of their lives, all at an advantage for other users as their content is free. Yet with any tendency comes disadvantages. I find myself frequently sitting with friends scrolling through our phones, subconsciously comparing ourselves with the lives and bodies of strangers we see online. Comparison— the thief of all joy—is one of many things that makes each of us utter the question: “Why can’t I look like that?” Educated in one of Scotland’s top universities, nutritionist Kristen Stavridis told Artefact that the title of a nutritionist is “currently unprotected”; therefore anyone can call themselves one. Meaning that some fitness bloggers lack any relevant formal training in fitness or nutrition. Other fitness bloggers can abuse their platform to promote fad products or endorse brands. The proportion of these
This concern of mental and emotional health was ranked first place, with more than 63,000 counselling sessions relating to the topic recorded. With platforms making their content easily accessible to children as young as 13, the question of whether social media sites can be regulated any further is one that needs to be answered. We put that question to the health professionals. Stavridis suggested an “approval or regulation step of those with large followings and the advice they are giving out could be beneficial.” For now, professionals like Stavridis and Dan Price use their social media platform to provide myth-busting content. She says, “Nearly every day I post and call out the fads I see and explain why they do not work on a scientific basis or why they are a waste of money.” Price also recommends to “follow accounts that make you happy rather than insecure.” Despite social media being an influence in some people’s eating disorders, some users choose to share their journey
“Goals and positive social media influencers help your fitness journey, however when comparisons are being made to the point of obsession, this behaviour becomes harmful.” back to developing a healthy relationship with food and exercise. After being in an eating disorder unit, Sasha-Louise Szymczak is now in recovery and shares meal plans and her inner thoughts with her 10,000+ Instagram followers. While she is keen on using Instagram to document her recovery, Szymczak details that she does feel pressure to do well and a lot of people, including those she knows personally, see it as her “holding onto the illness”. The Department of Health and Social Care said in a recent news story that
it is “halfway through a major programme to improve access to specialist NHS services,” with £1.4 billion of funding. It also vows that in 2019, the Department will pair with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to “launch an online awareness campaign” and “tools for parents on limiting their children’s screen time.” While it is unlikely that people will stop creating adverse content, it is possible that effects it causes can be lessened by educating the public as a whole on health and wellbeing, before it’s too late. 47
The colour of madness Exploring mental health issues in the BAME community
Ph.D student Rianna Walcott was giving a talk on mental health to the creative industries in Edinburgh, when a woman approached her with an idea for a project around the mental health issues in the Black, Asian and ethnic minorities. There was only one problem: the woman was white: “You’re going to need a black or brown woman to go ahead with this project and I think I know the one for you,” said Walcott, who was interested in the idea. She was thinking of her school friend Dr Samara Linton, a Jamaican-born medical doctor. Walcott’s interest in the idea was so great, she decided to co-edit the book The Colour of Madness: Exploring BAME mental health in the UK, that came out of the study. Recent NHS figures showed that in 2017-18, the known rates of detention for the ‘Black or Black British’ group (288.7 per 100,000 population) were more than four times greater than those of the White group (71.8 per 100,000 population). This has increased in both groups compared to the previous year, when the statistics were 272.1 to 67.0 (per 100,000 population). There are a growing number of support systems in the UK, so why isn’t the BAME community gaining as much as others from that support? Rianna is a doctoral candidate at King’s College London; the book she co-edited features poems, fiction, essays, memoirs and art by people who are a part of the Black, Asian and Ethnic minority community who have suffered, or are still suffering with, mental health problems. The first challenge was to portray such a wide community: “We have tried really hard to get a representative from a cross section of BAME people—various ages, races, religions, classes. That’s been a huge focus in the way we have done the book, in editing lightly enough that their voices are still very true to who they are.” Published in September 2018, the book has already proven to be a huge success. The initial print run of 300 sold out almost immediately, and it’s already on its third print run in the first month, strong evidence of how vital it is to share the voices of those who are otherwise suffering in silence. Figures from the 2014 Adults Psychiatric Morbidity Survey found that Black adults were found to have the lowest treatment rate of any ethnic group, at 6.2% (compared to 13.3% in the white 48
British group). This is a problem that has been around for a significant amount of time now and is one of the many things that pushed these two young editors to start putting together this incredibly strong and powerful collection of inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. As the topic of mental health has always been highly sensitive, it would be difficult to find people to open up about their problems. However, the authors found it surprisingly easy to identify people willing to open up about their personal experiences. “People were very forthcoming and incredibly open about sharing moments that are incredibly vulnerable,” Walcott told us. “We do have a few people who are anonymous in the book, because it might still be taboo in their culture to talk about it or they’re discussing incredibly difficult concepts like self-harm, but for the most part everyone was really glad to have the opportunity to speak,” Walcott explains. “I think a lot of people have been holding onto this stuff for a long time and not had a venue, and I know for myself it’s been incredibly freeing to be able to talk openly about stuff like this.” Looking at social media, it is clear that there is much more awareness and a bigger conversation surrounding mental
Words: Sinead Caroll Images: Rianna Walcott
health, with hashtags including #mentalhealthmondays #suicideprevention #selfcare etc. While it only goes so far as to help bring awareness, it is something that has increasingly helped to start the conversation around these problems. Walcott uses her 19-year-old sister as an example: “Things inside the BAME community and outside of it are changing. I think as a conversation it’s being led by young people. As an example, the way my sister’s generation talk about mental health is so different to the way that I did when we were growing up and I think that has to be born out of a new confidence on social media. Things like Tumblr awareness, whatever you think about it or not, is definitely meaning that these conversations are more accessible.” Looking back at the detention statistics release by NHS Digital, there are many issues about the number of detentions in the BAME community, specifically those who are in the Black and Black British community.The figures are far higher than the White British community and Walcott says, “I think a large part of it’s because the services that are intended to help us are not really suitable for BAME people.” “My own experience inside healthcare has been pretty shit and I’m one
of the most privileged categories of BAME people,” Walcott says. “I’m a black woman sure, but I’m educated and I’ve been exposed to it through the university healthcare services and still had a shitty time, so then what happens when you’re BAME working class, not university-educated and you’re trying to access these services? They’re going to vilify you.” “I’m particularly thinking about how disproportionate the figures are for black men who are institutionalised and medicated against their own will and seen as a danger to themselves and others” Walcott explains. “The fact is we have higher incidences of mental health problems like schizophrenia and things that could’ve been treated earlier, but then go unchecked and then develop into more serious conditions.” With these problems not gaining enough attention from the BAME community, where should we start in trying to tackle these mental health issues that are being pushed aside as they wait for them to get worse? Linton and Walcott have many plans for this anthology and with the amount of attention it has already received by the public, those plans can be and have been achieved much quicker than expected. “Samara’s ward ordered copies and there are places that are putting it on their required reading lists,” Walcott explains. “It’s getting into the hands of practitioners and policy makers, which is important. We also want to get it into community centres where BAME people are frequent, because there is no point in putting it in therapist’s office, because not a lot of people can afford therapy. The point is to get it into religious centres for BAME people, community spaces etc. Get it on reading lists for practitioners and policy makers and then also making sure it gets into the hands of people who are maybe suffering in silence. We’re not receiving the ground level healthcare.” “I didn’t know that therapy could even be for me until two years ago,” Walcott says. “I always just thought of therapy as something that white middle class people did. Now I think of therapy as something that is as necessary as going to the dentist or the doctor. It’s a part of my health that I need to work on and maintain the same way I would with any other part of my health.” University is the first port of call
for students seeking help and it is vital that a university’s support systems offer the right amount of help and support. However, in June earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics released the estimates of suicide among higher education students between the years of 2001 to 2017. The figures show that the suicide death rates of undergraduate students are significantly higher between the ages of under 20 to 24 in comparison to the ages of 25 to 30 and above. Though there is a difference between the ages, the figures are still fairly high and continue to raise concern for the mental wellbeing of students in the UK. Looking into the BAME community, this help may not be as accessible and Walcott explains as she says, “All university healthcare that I’ve been to, have been massively overstressed. I think in that case, we need to look at the culture in Universities around mental health, because at the moment, they’re just putting a Band-Aid on the problem. The culture of stress and the culture of achievement
at most academic institutions is all wrong and people feel that if they’re not depressed, then they’re not doing it right. That’s the first port of call for making things like that better,” Walcott explains. “I also think that University health services need more BAME counsellors, because depending on where you go, myself being up in Edinburgh, there weren’t any and the care that I got was bad as a result.” “We also need to look at the ranking of them as well, because it tends to be that when you have a BAME person they’re just healthcare advisors, they’re not counsellors,” Walcott says. “So, the chance of reaching a BAME psychotherapist is slim. There are not enough people in that field so we have to look at recruitment and things like that too.”
The Colour of Madness expresses these raw emotions and turns them into forms of art, in a time where it is very much needed. In doing so, it brings more people wanting to contribute and wanting to share their own stories and experiences. In a time where awareness is growing rapidly, it is vital that all people gain from that conversation. “My own experience inside healthcare has been pretty shit and I’m one of the most privileged categories of BAME people” Walcott expresses her gratitude for the amount of love and attention the book has seen since its release: “I’m glad that it is sparking a discussion. It’s very flattering to see how well it’s doing because It tells me how much this was needed and we have talked about having these books back in the Caribbean and different African countries.” “There’s also an interest in an American version, because when we first started finding contributors, we had a lot of American BAME contributors, but the book is obviously focused on UK mental health so we didn’t want to put them together because they have a whole other system, so we didn’t want to tangle the two,” Walcott admits. “We’ve also talked about a youth version because we think that an area that is definitely overlooked is the fact that these issues do often start in your teens. They think it’s because of hormones and puberty and it’s like no, sometimes it can be a lot deeper. There are a lot of plans, but nothing set as of now.” Alongside finishing her Ph.D in digital humanities exploring black digital communities, Walcott is also running a project called Myopia, which is about “decolonizing and diversifying university spaces like education status.” With the book, her Ph.D and her projects being around BAME culture, mental health and community, Walcott is highly passionate and believes that this area of activism is where she truly belongs. As the topic of this book is something that hasn’t been written before, just looking at nearly 1,000 copies already sold in the first month, it is something that was very much needed. Not only for the BAME community, but also for practitioners and the general public — to educate them on these current issues that people are still facing in the 21st century. 49
Do you need a degree? Is it possible to succeed in the creative industries without going to university?
Words: Neve Fear-Smith Images: Callum Inskip
With businesses in the creative industry accounting for 11.8% of all businesses in the UK, it’s to no surprise that according to the Creative Industries Federation, creative industries are growing in every region of the UK every year. The majority of this growth has been in the North of the country, where businesses in the creative industry grew by 47% in 2016. The CIF also state how 35% of workers in the growing creative sector are self-employed, compared with 15% across the UK’s general workforce, with freelancers making up a large amount of this percentage. Annie Lydford, Head of Communications and Marketing for the Creative Industries Federation says, “The amazing growth of the UK’s creative industries relies on that mix of creative skills with business, financial and technological acumen.” With the majority of jobs within the industry coming from small businesses and freelance workers, the benefits of taking time to study a creative degree could be debated. Students put themselves at risk of potentially racking up £44,000 of debt over the average three years of degree level study, to work in an industry that doesn’t require intensive exams on how to perfectly insert a cannula in order to keep a human alive, or knowing the difference between removing a tumour and removing someone’s whole brain entirely. Career paths such as doctors, lawyers and vets require years of meticulous, compulsory study, putting it brutally, to make sure that people aren’t getting killed left, right and center. Whereas in comparison, we have creatives earning big money just from setting up an Instagram account and sharing their work with others in the creative field. Although, it is apparent that having a degree isn’t just about having knowledge in the chosen subject, but the wider transferable skills such as timekeeping, commitment, and a strong work ethic. The number of students applying for art and design degree courses in the UK in 2017 fell by 14,000 compared to the applications in 2016. In 2016 there were 273,870 applicants for courses such as fine art, design, music, drama, dance, cinema and photography, crafts and creative writing, compared to significantly less in 2017 with 259,600 applicants. Fashion photography student, Callum Inskip, is in his third year of study at London College of Fashion. Alongside his
ing put in a student category often leads to him being taken less seriously, in some situations he sees this as somewhat of a safety net which lessens the professional pressure, he adds “People often think you don’t know anything because you’re young, but actually, age doesn’t have anything to do with it. I know more than some people that are 25, but if they go on set and they look older, people will generally give them the benefit of the doubt in what they’re doing.” Another issue that Callum faces when getting commissioned as a job as a student photographer and photography assistant is falling to the bottom of the payroll, which is a negative of photographers not yet being a unionised group in the Trade Union. In Callum’s opinion, he says, “It makes it hard to even break into the industry unless you have a big bankroll behind you. You’ll see a lot of photographers who aren’t actually that good, but because they don’t have to worry about cash, you’ll see them progressing quicker because the issue is generally with invoices not getting paid that will hold you back.” Callum believes that when it comes to deciding whether to study a creative subject as a degree, each individual should do whatever they believe they are ready for, in Callum’s case, studying fashion photography as a degree and using it as a stepping stone to move to London affordably has provided him with opportunities not only just to study but to work. He closes by saying, “You should do whatever gives you the access to be in the position, for my colleague, the photographer came to where he was, and I went to where the photographers were. It’s a process and the main thing is making yourself as available as possible for the right time when it does arise.” Annie’s opinion is similar to Callum’s in terms of each individual doing what is right and beneficial for them when it comes down to choosing to study a degree or not, she says, “Whether it’s a pre-existing network and contacts, financial support, a lucky break or intersecting areas of privilege, it is only by talking about these openly that we will be able to identify where the greatest challenges actually are for people wanting to enter the sector. A degree can be an absolutely fantastic option for some people—a chance to study a subject in depth, to
course he works as a photography studio assistant and freelance photographer. Callum took a risk by choosing to study photography at A-Level and throughout the two-year course, he decided he didn’t enjoy taking photographs of plants and landscapes, so saw fashion photography as the natural progression. It became apparent to Callum that to get a job in fashion photography, he would have to be in London. He says, “I couldn’t move to London without a student loan. There are next to no other jobs in the UK in fashion photography that aren’t in London.” As well as studying fashion photography at degree level, Callum works in a professional photography studio in London where he is able to see the comparison between studying a photography degree and working in the industry where many of his fellow colleagues do not have a degree. Callum says, “There’s a lot of pros and cons to having one [a degree] and not having one, personally, I’m happy I’m going to get one because if I ever don’t want to do photography then I’ll have an option. Having a degree is just good generally if you’re applying for any job. But, in terms of actually progressing as a photographer, I don’t think you need a degree.” It is constantly drilled into students at A-Level and college that attending university will be beneficial, not just because of knowledge in the chosen subject, but because of the transferable skills, a student will gain from studying a degree such as commitment, time-keeping and willingness to work hard. Annie has experienced working with creatives with and without degrees, she says, “It can’t be stressed strongly enough that there are numerous possible routes into the creative industries. The skills and experience you have; your passion for the work you’re doing; the creativity, new perspectives and big ideas you can bring and more are all also really important for roles in this sector.” In terms of the negatives of being a student photographer trying to gain experience in the professional fashion photography alongside studying, Callum notices discrimination in terms of the respect he receives in comparison to his older colleagues who have been working in the industry for years. Although Callum feels as though be-
develop skills, to widen knowledge and understanding and more. For others, it simply isn’t the best option and there are plenty of other routes that can be equally beneficial.” Samantha Jefferys, a sales executive for a screen printing firm in Wiltshire, is an example of someone who has gained success by obtaining a degree in a creative subject, Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design. Although Samantha is one of only three people in the firm who does have a degree, she believes that having her degree behind her works in her favour, she says, “My degree was 9-4, Monday to Friday so I am used to a working week and routine, also being punctual due to being punished when late to uni and lecture attendance.” Studying a degree in a creative subject did, however, subject Samantha to some negative responses. She says how people often think a creative degree or job is easy because they may not understand what is fully involved in the study and the learning process. In spite of the fact that Samantha doesn’t feel it’s definitely essential to have a degree in her line of work, in particular, the fact that the degree allowed her to learn new skills and of course secure the job that she has now, displays the benefits of her studies. Samantha’s colleague, Mia, works in the company as a screen printer. Mia doesn’t have a degree, to get to where she is now, she studied a two-year course in Creative Media. Following the two-year course, Mia decided not to enter into degree level study but instead, to find an apprenticeship in the creative industry. She worked as an apprentice for print and design at a company that prints canvas tote bags and paper bags and she is still working there now. Mia has noticed that the colleagues she works with who studied a degree before working in the company have taken on the more managerial roles, suggesting that the skills they learned at university we not restricted just to the subject matter, but also allowed them to have the knowledge and capability to take on a higher role in their chosen job. Personally, Mia believes that it is not necessary to study a degree in a creative subject, she says, “The best thing to do is to keep practicing your skill in your own time as well as in work time and chose something you’re passionate about so
you don’t lose interest and can build on your talents over time.” Mia is glad that she dove straight into the industry as it’s given her a head start into the working world, compared to those who have chosen to continue non-compulsory studies. For those who decide that studying a degree in the creative isn’t of interest of necessary for the growth of their career, industries such as the Creative Industries Federation work with those employed or looking to become employed in a creative career to utilise their talents. The basic things that are put in place by the CIF team cover areas such as making sure that people are appropriately compensated for their work, that they are paid on time, that the pitching process isn’t excessively time-consuming and oth-
er logistical areas. Annie says, “Taking the time to look outside your usual network for creatives is vital—we need a whole mix of different perspectives and ideas to keep our work feeling fresh and exciting.” Annie closes by announcing that the Creative Industries Federation is launching a major creative careers programme next year that she will aim to showcase the huge variety of creative careers to around 600,000 young people alongside working with industry employers to help them to acknowledge alternative routes into the creative industries. “It’s important that we dramatically increase the diversity of people working in our sector, and a major part of that will be showing that there is more than one route to beginning your career.” 51
Slimane vs Celine A new creative director ruffles feathers at a famous fashion brand
Words: Natalie Munro Image: Anne-Christine Poujoulat
The reflective walls illuminated much of the dimly lit catwalk at Celine’s Spring 2019 Paris Fashion Week show. Much like his obsession with dressing the youth, Hedi Slimanes brand debut caused controversy before the first model had had the chance to place her leather covered, buckle strapped foot into the runway. Best known for his menswear collections and his love of suits, skinny ties and short, sequined dresses, his appointment at one of the most widely loved female-focused fashion houses, last directed by Phoebe Philo, has ruffled the stylish feathers of the brand’s devoted followers. Though both designers are talented, their styles are different. Philo produced garments to be worn effortlessly by busy women. Notably her Spring 2017 Ready to Wear show had a sound track of traffic, street noise and children’s voices mimicking the school drop off or morning commute. Vogue praised her for clothing that intended to ‘make everyday life a little easier and more beautiful for lots of women’ adding her pieces were ‘simple guidelines for lives which are already burdened with complications’. By contrast, Slimane just one year earlier produced a collection for Saint Laurent labeled perfect for ‘Glastonbury with Courtney and Kate’. Clearly two different target audiences. When two very distinctive designers hold the same position at the same company, it raises the question of what’s more important: the brand’s legacy or the creative director’s vision? Should a designer stick to their guns and design the clothing they feel most connected to, or follow in the tracks of their predecessor and the legacy of the brand? Historically the pendulum has swung both ways. Karl Lagerfield acquired Chanel and found a way to develop the brand that flattered Gabriella Chanel’s vision and personal style, whilst adhering to the demands of the modern woman. Thirty-five years later and the collections remain elegant and timeless with a strong brand identity and Lagerfield has secured somewhat of a tenure. Whereas Julian McDonald’s two year run at Givenchy saw waves of criticism and was critcised by Vogue Runway for “ignoring the houses former reputation”. From an interview Slimane gave to French magazine Le Figaro prior to his Celine debut and translated by The Busi-
in the London Head Office, Suzi Lee told Artefact that “I feel like Phoebe really made the brand what it is today and formed the whole legacy of the Celine woman. She also ingrained the strongest design signature for the house. Hedi taking over the brand and pushing it into his own direction by designing what he always does is a real step back for Celine and pretty much the death of the brand. He is designing for his own brand and nothing more.” Though the uproar indicates otherwise, what’s going on with Celine is nothing new to the fashion industry. As trends change season to season, it’s important that fashion houses adapt to, and embraces this pace both on the catwalk and within their design teams. So where should this leave Hedi? His signature style is iconic, and having doubled the sales for Saint Laurent during his time there, it is clearly in demand. His position in the fashion industry as a Creative Director is deserved, however potentially more fitting for another fashion house, or even his own brand. With only one collection down, he still has time to prove himself. Maybe he’ll find the balance between his style and the houses legacy or maybe there will be another swift turn over. The next few seasons will reveal all. Good luck Slimane, you’ve got a very chic pair of boots to fill.
ness of Fashion, Slimane seemed to argue that the answer was somewhere in the middle. “You don’t enter a fashion house to interpret the work of your predecessor, much less take over the essence of their work, their codes, and elements of their language. The goal is not to go in the opposite way either. It would be a misinterpretation. Respect is to preserve the integrity of everyone, to recognize things belong to another person with honesty and discernment. It also means starting a new chapter. You arrive with a story, a culture, a personal language that is different from those of the house. You have to be yourself, against all odds.” And be himself he did. However, a new chapter in the same book cannot deviate from the main storyline too much? Authority on all things fashion, the Man Repeller team weighed in on the topic and released a conversation between Leandra Cohen and Harling Ross that began with Cohen’s unfiltered and realistic statement “Celine. Is. Not. Celine. It’s Saint Laurent. And that customer is already being satisfied.” Fan of the ‘Old Céline’ Tereasa Kaprinski tweeted “Celine was a powerhouse for women and it was heartbreaking to see half naked waify thin preadolescents walk the runway last night.” Former employee of the brand based
A Christian in Pakistan The Asia Bibi case has highlighted discrimination faced by non-Muslims. What is life really like for Christians in an Islamic Republic?
In 1947 British India was divided into two independent states of India, a majority Hindu country, and Pakistan, an Islamic Republic. Though that this was uplifting news for Hindus and Muslims it started a war between the two countries that continues to this day. Today, the population of Pakistan is 197 million which consists of 96% Muslims, 1.85% Hindus, 1.59% Christians and 0.61% other. The country remained calm and at peace with its minorities until the introduction of martial law in 1977 which caused fundamentalism to propagate and religious minorities began to be targeted for having different beliefs. In 2010 Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and sentenced to death by hanging. Her case caused outrage both in liberals who believed that she deserved justice and in fundamentalists who agreed with the court's decision. After eight long years, in 2018 November, Asia Bibi was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and released. There have been many cases highlighting the discrimination minorities face. To gain a better perspective I met Atiya Basheer, who was born in a Christian family in a small village in Pakistan to discuss about growing up as a non-Muslim in a Muslim country.
at the house refused to eat it as I was a Christian. That was the first time I was looked down upon but I still handled it well. I left the job two months later as I did not get along with any other workers.
What was it like while you were growing up? I lived in a small village two hours from Lahore with my parents and my older brother. My father used to work in a tire shop and my mother used to work in a rice field. Our house only consisted of one room where we all slept but we were grateful. I remember there was this one time when our neighbours barged in late at night and accused my mother of stealing her money because “morals” did not exist in Christians. From that point onward, we simply minded our own business and proceeded with our lives.
How did you come to terms with being mistreated and disrespected? After my first job did not work out I did various things. I was a cashier for a while and then I worked as a receptionist. These jobs required only minimum social contact which worked better for me. Three years ago I found a job at a parlour. I started off by cleaning the workplace, organizing the shelves and just domestic work. When I had free time I would try learning how to blow-dry, thread, wax etc. The other girls working at the parlour were friendly and some of them were Christians too. It was the first time I saw different religions under one roof coming together and slowly becoming a family. There was no discrimination, no hatred — there was a sense of respect and discipline. After work, we would all sit and have dinner while indulging in stories about families and the world in general.
Did you ever feel like you did not belong in Pakistan? When I was 16 my mother had sent me to Lahore (a city in Pakistan) to find work and earn money for my family. I found a job with the help of my uncle at a house where I had to take care of a young girl. Everything went well until one day I was asked to cook food and the chauffeur
How do you remain positive when you see news or hear anything upsetting about minorities? I have my beliefs but I am not a practising Christian and majority of the people in Pakistan that have harsh views are usually the ones that do everything themselves but point the finger at someone else because it's easier. It is just hypocri-
Words and image: Aymen Nadeem
sy. Your religion doesn’t determine if you are a bad person or a good person. I have gotten love and warmth from Muslims yet I have additionally gotten disdain from Christians. Pakistan is a conservative country and the extremists are the ones that make it worse. There have been occasions where I have lied and said I am Muslim to feel safer but now no one really cares. It upsets me equally whether the news is about non-Muslims or Muslims. Have you seen change happening in Pakistan in recent years? I have seen people become more tolerant and open-minded. The government is progressing gradually with the leadership of Imran Khan (current President of Pakistan). The country will only move forward if its citizen is willing too. I sometimes visit the church now and I am learning to be more comfortable in my own skin. We Christians often find ourselves struggling to access basic needs such as health and education. Let's just say we are waiting for better days ahead. Pakistan has seen some difficult times in recent years, however, with justice being served to Asia Bibi; there is newly found hope that the country could benefit from the new leadership. The minorities deserve to be protected and have basic human rights just like other citizens. There might be a long way to go until that is achievable as Pakistan remains a conservative nation but it is fair to say that it's never too late to change. 53
Defrocking the Father The story behind clerical sexual abuse allegations has raised question on punishment for paedophilia
Words: Irene Chirita Image: ctj71081/ Flickr.com (adapted)
În numele Tatălui, şi al Fiului, şi al Sfântului Duh…I pray, signing my body with a hand gesture and three crossed unified fingers: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And I do this, three times. On top of a small hill in Romania’s southern countryside, the church of the monastery looked intimidating to my eight-year-old eyes. In the form of a cross, it had an open porch, which, supported by eight columns of white stone, seemed like it was about to devour my body. The path from the entrance to the main church was wide, and long as if my whole family was about to enter the afterlife. But again, this is how it looked to my eight-year-old eyes. My grandmother, proud and young was our tour guide for the day. She would come here frequently, but mostly after her son died in his early thirties before I could have had a slight memory of him. She was leading the way with her eyes closed—different from myself, my eyes wide open with curiosity. Behind her, my uncle, bold and fit, was telling us a story he remembered from his childhood. It was something about running around wild fields and getting lost into woods similar to the ones we could see from a distance. And then there was I, holding my mother’s hand on one side, and my father’s on the other. At the top of the stairs, a nun was waiting. From what I’ve learned after the visit, she was the abbess of the monastery, blessing us with her guidance and presence, as a courtesy to my grandmother. Leaving her birth name behind, the nun went by Maria those days. She had a kind smile and soft hands, which I felt when she caressed my cheek before letting me enter the confessional. And so, standing by the massive oak carved door, I silently waited for my turn. Confessing sins was not unusual to me, as my grandmother would take me to the local church every Sunday. After having an argument with a friend, I was ready to confess and let go of that anger. It is not how you see it in films, or probably, it wasn’t this time. There was no wooden box or stall. It was just a simple white room, with a low ceiling, dense walls, and only two dark wooden chairs in the middle;this is where I met the monk. We were alone, and as the abbess shut the heavy door behind me, I felt my blonde hair fly and a chilly breeze travel-
The scandal goes back a long way. Stories dating from the early eighties have been coming out since 2009. They have been raising questions about the authority of the Catholic Church ever since. Knowing that their aggressor has always denied any wrongdoing and escaped civilian justice because of the statute of limitations in the country, has brought people immense suffering, not only to the victims and their families, but believers too, the people devoted to the church. It was as far back as 1983, when James Hamilton was honoured with a divine invitation. At that time only a teenager, the boy could finally join 300 young people who would gather once a week for a Mass to listen to Father Karadima talk about “sainthood” and “obedience and humbleness”. Coming from a very religious family, as his mother attended a Catholic school for girls, his days were light and routine was built upon religious traditions. So as he joined the priest’s parish, he “felt like [he] was being chased by God.” But is God supposed to touch your genitals, kiss your mouth, play all sorts of games with your sexuality and insecurities? This is what the Father was chasing Hamilton for in the name of that God. Now 54, then 17, Juan Carlos Cruz was another silent victim. After losing his father at the time, Cruz found in Karadima not only the spiritual figure but also the parental figure he was looking for. But when the teenage boy confessed to being confused about his sexuality, Father Karadima took advantage of that knowledge to keep Cruz’s silence on a most monstrous matter: the fact that the abuse James Hamilton was going through, Juan Carlos Cruz was too. I wasn’t able to look the monk in the eyes as the confession continued as if I was the one asking these obscene questions. I kept looking down at the irregularly ripped piece of paper—which he gave me, with notes on what I should work on, like my temper. He was probably referring to the fact that I did not reply to the question he last asked. And then he told me I could go. There was no touch, no looks, just words. And still, it affected me. I would not say that I stopped having faith at that moment, but my faith in whoever I believed was entitled to ask certain questions was definitely lost. It left a slight
ling down my bare legs. He was already sitting when I entered. He had a long grey beard and was wearing ecclesiastic clothing—a black cassock adorned by an epanokamelavkion, a jewelled cloth veil. Holding a squared pages notebook in his lap, he talked softly. “He must be very old, I thought.” He asked me to take off my red coat, as “the colour was confusing” him. And so, I did, even if it was the end of November and inside the temperature felt lower than outside. Left in my pale pink kneelength dress, I silently sat, after I kissed his hand, his golden cross and bible, a gesture I was also familiar with. “Are you a good or bad girl?” I remember him asking. Impulsively, I admitted being good, but he didn’t seem to believe that. I didn’t believe myself either since I was still caught up in my anger about the fight with my friend. Which I was about to tell him when he asked: “Have you ever had any sexual thoughts about any of your friends?” That was not something I was familiar with. When, at the end of September, the Vatican released the statement about the defrocking of Rev Fernando Karadima, now 88 years old. Following an investigation from 2011, which found the Chilean priest guilty of sexually abusing teenage boys over many years, memories from that day came back to me. Defined by Al Jazeera as “Chile’s most notorious paedophile priest”, Karadima is believed to have an abusive past since 1984, but the accusers were not considered credible until years later. In 2010, when more people came forward, and the charges went public, the Vatican started investigating. However, while Karadima was found guilty, on Sunday, January 16, 2011, the Vatican issued its ruling quietly. The press, in fact, were not informed until weeks later. And the punishment? The former priest was supposed to live a life of an all-expenses-paid retirement of “penance and prayer” away from his parish and believers. But if a man is capable of raping and molesting so many children, do you think he still has faith to believe that the punishment you gave him is the right one? Is the prayer you impose him still a true one? His mouth can recite the words with his body kneeled, but his mind can be elsewhere.
“One man’s words always won against hundreds of others.”
crack open for many other questions to arise in my young head. And if one question made an eightyear-old doubt the truth she lived with all those years, you could only imagine what Karadima’s victims went through. Silencing, intimidating, forcing one into submission in the name of God. And these are only two cases, while another eighteen were identified in 2011. And yet, Rev Fernando Karadima has only been given a sort of silent exile, leaving a convicted paedophile at large with only penance and prayers. But the victims never gave up; they fought until Pope Francis
had new evidence, which led to the deprivation of Karadima’s ecclesiastical status. While evidence always seemed to be lacking and judges dropped the case or closed it abruptly, always ruling in Karadima’s favour, the country was crying over its abused children. As the— now—former priest has never pleaded guilty to this day, one man’s word always won against hundreds of others, and Karadima is still freely walking impeccably dressed with perfectly groomed nails, hiding what’s underneath the cassock. And now even if it seems like justice, as defrocking is seen as the clergy’s equivalence of the death penalty, why is this man still able to walk freely while other paedophiles and sexual abusers are imprisoned? A study conducted by university professor and researcher Gabriela Culda, along with Codruţa Rîndaşu, a university student in Psychology at UBB University in Cluj, Romania, has looked at how Romanians see paedophilia and how they think it should be punished. It started with a simple online survey, shared on social media, completed by 1,081 people. Culda said that “the study showed that the majority (742 respondents, 68.7% in per cent) perceive paedophilia as a disease and that just over half (551) feel that paedophiles cannot control their sexual intercourse.” Interestingly, the researcher adds, “that regardless of whether respondents perceive paedophiles as having or not control of behaviour, they ask for the same punishment,” which is chemical castration. However, 5.6% said that they would also consider the death penalty. And we shouldn’t be surprised, in Germany, citizens think that “28% of interviewees think that “paedophiles should die even if they have never committed a crime,” says the research by authors Sara Jahnke, Roland Imhoff and Juergen Hoyer in 2014, “Stigmatisation of People with Pedophilia: Two Comparative Surveys”. Speculations and arguments are many, as it is our nature as humans to give opinions, and engage in matters affecting not just us, but an entire community. In this case, the believers, the ones who follow a path and kneel at sacred paintings in church, and pray in God’s name as they feel lost, or happy, and kiss the priest’s hand as they enter the room, were affected and scarred, forever…Amen. 55
Redressing the planet An LCC alumna is helping fashion go become more environmentally friendly
As Asia’s largest environmental NGO celebrates its 10th birthday, we speak with the founder Christina Dean about her highlights over the decade and on what’s next for Christina. She greets me with a hug in Marylebone station as if we are old friends. As the founder of Redress, Asia’s largest environmental NGO, she is always keen to meet anyone interested in her determination to clean up the fashion industry, her fresh face radiates with an eagerness to chat. Perfectly dressed in clean lines that show her “capsule wardrobe” style, it is hard to believe that this 39 year-old woman has been rushing between Hong Kong, London, and her “official” home in Tunbridge Wells for the past three days. We head to a nearby coffee shop. While we walk she tells me about her “crazy” few days of meetings, networking events, panel discussions and spending time with her four children at home. Clearly a woman in demand, she has been juggling meetings all day. We order our green tea. “In a mug please!” Christina says, as the barista 56
leans toward a disposable cup. She begins to tell me about the talk she attended the previous evening at The Conduit Membership Club on the ‘Fabric of Life’: “It’s always great to meet new, smaller-scale designers,” she yells as we search for a seat in the crowded station café. She is a regular speaker at sustainability talks around the world including at her own TEDTalk You are what you wear, in 2014. We find two wobbly stools in the corner of the room and perch ourselves down as she says, “I have always and will always do these for free, people need to be informed.The consumer has more power than the industry.” Educating the world about the effects of the fashion industry on the planet and people, is how Christina has spent the last decade. But this has not been her only career. After growing up in South Africa and the UK, she followed her parents and trained as a dentist. However, after a few years of work, it was clear that dentistry was not a good fit. Finding a love of writing, she went back into education at London College
Words: Jennifer Revell Images: Kris Atomic/unsplash.com and Lucinda van der Hart
of Communication to study Journalism. While pursuing her new career in Hong Kong she mainly wrote about environmental topics. This is where she really engaged with issues of pollution in fashion. “It’s hard to ignore the pollution in Hong Kong,” Christina says. Hong Kong is one of the most polluted cities on earth and throws away a total of 340 tonnes of textile waste daily. In the face of this, Christina launched Redress, which has grown to become Asia’s largest environmental NGO. Since its launch, Redress has undertaken a number of projects to raise maximum awareness of the fashion industry’s effect on climate change. The Eco-Chic fashion shows, launched in 2008, quickly became popular with designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg as a way of showing cutting-edge sustainable designs. In 2010, Redress partnered with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on a sustainable fashion show, seminar, and exhibition; a display of solutions for fashions pollution habit. In 2011, the first Eco-Chic Design
Award was offered to emerging fashion designers with sustainable solutions. These solutions vary between reworking ‘dumped’ fabrics and creating designs using environmentally-friendly materials. “Not only does this encourage emerging designers to make sustainable designs but it was a way of showing consumers that sustainability is stylish,” Christina tells me. The first award-winner went on to make a recycled collection with Esprit. “I felt so proud that our work had entered the mass market, that high street consumers could purchase something less harmful to the environment.” Christina says as she reflects on her company’s achievements. Christina marks 2013 as one of the highlights of her career, where she “put the problem of the fashion Industry on her own back”, by wearing only clothes headed to landfill for 365 days. Christina explains that so many things are thrown away because they have been poorly made. “We are all walking around in rags,” she says. This is because we demand clothes to be made at such speed and at such low prices that we can only expect poor quality. They are not made to last and can break within a year of purchasing: “People don’t bother repairing buttons or sewing up holes when they paid less than £10 to buy it.” The “dumped clothes” challenge she gave herself only made her excited to do it again. “Although it’s a tragic issue, I’ve had so much fun!” Her positivity is infectious. Christina is looking forward to a similar project but on much a bigger scale, which is coming this year. While scribbling on her notebook: drawing diagrams and circling buzzwords, she tells me of her future plans. Redress wants to make a short film where the team goes directly to textile waste collection sites and take randomly chosen bags of dumped clothes. They will then style them and create different looks. “I hope this will make people see their clothes in a different way,” she says. These clothes have been thrown away without much thought, so Christina suggests that we try to re-style them, revive them, give them a second life. This project aims to raise awareness of the huge number of perfectly good clothes that are
thrown away on a daily basis. With such passion for sustainable clothing, Redress created their own clothing line in 2017, The ‘R-collective’. Collaborating with the winners of the Redress Design Award, such as Lia Kassif (2017 Redress Design Award), the brand works the best emerging sustainable fashion designers to make beautiful clothes from luxury recycled fabrics. It functions as an
“You need an emotional bond with your clothes.”
option for ‘the conscious shopper’ to find well-made, impactful clothing.. You need an emotional bond with your clothes.” After being featured alongside sustainable fashion advocates Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Safia Minney in The True Cost documentary in 2015, Christina saw the impact that film could make on changing the mindsets of the public. Redress released Fashion Frontline, a documentary that celebrates emerging sustainable fashion designers by creating a recycled design competition—this was quickly followed by Fashion Frontline 2. Those who participate in the competitions come from across the globe for a chance at first prize; the Redress Design Award. They all have their own creative ways to rework used clothing and prevent more textile waste. Christina speaks proudly of the young designers she has worked with
in the past: “They are all such interesting people to work with and they have opened my eyes to the possibilities that lie in textile waste.” Clearly catching the bug for documentary film-making, which builds i=on her journalistic training, Christina is now developing a series of short films that she hopes to release next year. She says it’s an exciting project: “I want to break it down, to look at each step of the supply chain, getting in there myself.” The series will include a day in the life of a tannery worker; someone who works with toxic chemicals that are used to turn cow skin into leather. I ask Christina about the dangers of filming amongst this kind of work. “Children are working with these chemicals every day, I can at least spare one of [my days] to share their story.” Her determination is clear: bringing the realities to light is imperative to Christina’s work. Redress focuses on the textile industries effect on climate change, but now aims to take it further by looking at the social justice and animal welfare issues that have always surrounded fashion. She shakes her head and holds my arm as she tells me: “There are so many elements that need to be brought into the spotlight, for example, exotic skins is of real interest to me.” Many designers in the industry use snakes and crocodiles in their garments and the process of acquiring the skins is harrowing. Although the past ten years have seen huge changes in the fashion industry, Christina’s core messages stay the same: Through education and raising awareness of the reality of fashions production line, Christina encourages consumers to buy things with thought; things that they really love. “Clothes have the power to change the way we feel and act.” By purchasing something with little thought, it’s unlikely that it will be the perfect fit, last forever and you will not love it enough to repair it. “You need an emotional bond with your clothes,” she believes. Christina urges the consumer to vote with their money. “The consumer has more power than the industry,” she tells me. She hopes to activate change in those she engages with. It’s time for Christina to rush off. She gives me a hug and I am left inspired and hopeful for the future of fashion. 57
A difference, not a deficit How one charity is raising awareness about mental health in autistic people and providing the tools to help
How do you start your day? A quick rush out the door, toast in hand, with your only real worry being how late you could end up being if the 9:39 train doesn’t arrive. Now imagine doing that routine and struggling to even step out of the door. You reach the station and it’s crowded—you instantly panic and feel anxious. Trying to buy a ticket you flub your speech and struggle to make eye contact. Conscious to how others around you may be reacting, you dwell on the moment for hours, maybe even days. These behavioural aspects correlate with a diagnosis of autism, and when paired with depression, it only becomes amplified and sometimes even scarier. I was four when, following several follow ups and tests that I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and since then it has impacted my life consistently, for better and for worse. You will never hear me say that I wished I wasn’t autistic, though I would like it if some aspects of life were easier and that there were more lifelines in place for young adults currently feeling anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with depression in 2014, though it had started festering long before then, and when we had Mental Health Awareness day recently it was
“You’ll never hear me say that I wished I wasn't autistic.”
Words: HW Reynolds Image: Pexels CC 58
amazing how many turned in their support and shared their personal experiences. However, I feel that the demographic of young adults with mental health issues who are also autistic wasn’t represented enough. A recent study conducted by Dheeraj Rai of the University of Bristol found that depression affects 20% of young adults with Autism. When I discussed the study with Rebecca Sterry, the senior communications manager for Autistica, they told me how their own research had shown that 79% of autistic adults have had a mental health problem. It was a stark contrast as their study showed that the number was almost four times higher, and Sterry’s explanation gave some clear reasons why: “Anxiety and depression are extremely common and sadly we now know that suicide rates in autistic people are nine times higher than in the general population. Much more needs to be done to understand and treat mental health problems in autistic people.” I couldn’t say that this surprised me, as I had a history of self-harm and suicidal thoughts that almost led to taking my own life. At the time I had become disillusioned and detached from the world around me, but not in a way that people would really have guessed—I was pretty adept at hiding it. It was only when a teacher noticed the self-harm that my parents were made aware. I ended up being taken to a doctor and diagnosed with depression. Two years of anti-depressants later and I was in a better place, but only because my environment was healthier and I was comfortable with the friends I had made. I also stopped taking the medication, as I no longer needed it—I learnt how to control and manage my depression. However, even now several years
later, I think on how different things could have been if that teacher hadn’t noticed, if I never conveyed my depression and anxiety to those around me. Based on the statistics above, those in similar situations to me felt that they didn’t have a lifeline and that suicide was the only option, and I almost ended up traversing the same path. Because of this I wanted to know more on how Autistica assists and supports those with Autism, and what sort of help they have in place, should an autistic young adult express signs of distress correlating with depression and other mental health issues. “As a research charity we work closely with service charities who support autistic people. We want all services and support that the NHS, charities or independent professionals provide to be based on the latest evidence, and to be as personalised to the person as possible,” Sterry explained. The idea of personalisation is a key one, as forming a bond of trust is vital to ensure that an autistic person doesn’t feel alone or isolated. Not one size In 2017, Autistica ran a campaign called ‘Not One Size’—Sterry explained that the idea behind the campaign was to “highlight the need for autism-specific services, because what works for the general population, doesn’t necessarily work for autistic people.” This involved people calling upon their MPs to debate the topic of mental health and suicide in the autistic community, which they did on November 30. There was a unanimous decision from all sides calling for the Government and the NHS to “work closely with the autism community to develop effective and research-based mental health pathways.” The Minister for Care and Mental Health and now also Government Minister for Suicide Prevention, Jackie Doyle-Price, said at the time that the government would “ensure progress is made,” but she admitted that “we still need to do much more to support people with autism, and particularly to ensure that they can access appropriate mental health services.” Doyle-Princes’ role as Government Minister for Suicide Prevention in Parliament was only confirmed on October 10, 2018, a positive sign that the research by charities such as Autistica is making a difference where it matters most. As of May 2018, Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy had confirmed that a review of these pathways is going ahead and would look at mental health support for autistic children and adults. The campaign is on-going, and in September for World Suicide Prevention Day, details were shared stating that
“Autism brings a different way of thinking we can all benefit from.”
Autistica is, “funding researchers to work with people who have lost autistic loved ones to suicide to explore the circumstances around those deaths.” They are working with autistic people to determine the top research and policy priorities for preventing suicide in our community. This vital project will begin with Autistica representatives talking with autistic people and bereaved families about their priorities, which will be discussed at a collaborative workshop in Spring 2019. Communication and molehill mountain In a world built on communication, it’s important to remember that one-in-four autistic adults speak few or no words and that the diagnosis of mental health problems in this group is particularly difficult. Autistica is carrying out research at the University of Birmingham to develop a diagnostic tool so that healthcare professionals can understand a person’s behaviour and understand whether it is a sign of that person being anxious or depressed. They are also working with the Samaritans to help them develop a more autism-friendly alternative to calling their helpline. I thought this was a brilliant idea, as my experiences with these kinds of phone calls tended to be rather negative—it can be very anxiety-inducing for someone with autism and mental health issues to talk with someone over the phone about their problems. “Many find going to the doctor difficult, they may struggle to express how they are feeling, or may not be able to self-identify their feelings as mental health related. We are looking at ways to empower autistic people to understand and self-manage their own mental health problems—we’ve developed an app which aims to help autistic people manage anxiety—Molehill Mountain.” I decided to download and try out the app, using it for my daily commute from Hertfordshire to Elephant and Castle for three days. It offers users a chance to catalogue aspects of everyday
life that cause anxiety and write them into bubbles, which can be popped in an interactive game designed to help reflect and capture worries. I had a difficult time dealing with a particularly crowded Victoria Line, so I entered “Crowds” into the bubble and spent 30 seconds popping them and it calmed me down and along with my pre-existing coping mechanism, music, made me feel less anxious. Dos and don’ts Autistica’s website features a useful section titled the “Media communications Guide” which covers a plethora of dos and don’ts regarding the correct terminology and representing autism properly and sensitively as a journalist. “The language around autism is always evolving and it’s important to be sensitive to a person’s personal preferences. It is good to talk about autism as a neurological difference, not a deficit. Yes, alongside autism there can be many challenges, but autism brings a different way of thinking that we can all benefit from,” Sterry told me. “We would never talk about autism being mild or severe as it’s not a helpful distinction. Someone may be very able intellectually but may struggle with day to day tasks that mean they require a lot of support. Again, with both language and support, it all comes down to understanding a person’s individual needs and preferences,” Sterry added. The core theme of identifying individuality is expressed once again here, and this is exactly what more news reporters and corporations need to make the public aware of, the individual needs of those with mental health problems who are also autistic. We regularly get exposed to the various issues that people with depression go through, but the focus also needs to continue to go deeper, to a demographic who are being fundamentally under-looked and deserve a voice, support, and awareness from the public. I know I wish there was such an awareness when I was growing up, so I want young adults to be provided the opportunity today. Now imagine doing that routine and struggling to even step out of the door. You reach the station and it’s crowded—you instantly panic and feel anxious. Luckily, you have your phone on hand and login to Molehill Mountain. After 30 seconds or so you’ve calmed down and feel less anxious, and the waves of worry that wash over you feel less intense. Such a simple but brilliant idea is made possible by research charities such as Autistica, and if you want to get updates on the latest research and opportunities to take part in studies, join Autistica’s research network 59
The speed of Tottenham’s sound A north London studio’s noise has won them a design award
Words: Elliot Neilson Image: ten87studios.com
Over in Tottenham’s warehouse district, heavy rubble clunks inside steel trucks and the sound of power saws chopping timber sear the air. Whilst men in highvis jackets organise their bacon rolls around the morning traffic, the only thing seemingly silent is Ten87 Studios. For the past four years, Ten87 studios has been providing some of London’s greatest music producers with the tools to make as much noise as possible, although for now, the names of musicians, some award-winning, have to remain undisclosed. On October 11, 2018, Ten87 Studios and architects KVIST Ltd. were praised for their contribution to industry and community, receiving the award for creating the best non-residential building at the Haringey Design Awards 2018. The Ten87 Studios complex comprises 45 studios spread over three warehouses. The award is for the second warehouse, which also includes the latest addition to London’s surviving club roster—Five Miles, which also has a restaurant and micro-brewery. Five Miles has had a successful first year and is set to be at the heart of a creative colony growing in Seven Sisters.
moments we were all tearing our hair out, but it’s been a real pleasure to work on, you get to challenge what your standard response would be, it really did force us to think outside the box and think things out as a team”. The building was also nominated for the award best regeneration and best construction. They even beat Haringey’s own project, Blue House Yard—a jazzy, beach-hut-like set of pop-up shops by Wood Green station which, although aesthetically pleasing against the towering office blocks, lacked the pioneering vision of the creative community on Markfield Road. Burn explains: “Business is often done outside of the studio, that’s why it’s so important to have the centralised location here at Five Miles.” When deciding who to share the second site with, Rob asked former owners of Dalston-club, The Alibi, if they wanted to build a cafe. After a promising chat with the council and one of the four owners of Five Miles, Mark Hislop, they negotiated they create a club space. Mark, as-well having a love for clubs, is a fan of Tottenham’s growing brewery scene, wanted to start a micro-brewery
The Haringey Design Awards are a bi-annual recognition of the efforts made by architects and property developers across the borough. Founder and Director of Ten87, Rob Burn, told Artefact: “it’s really nice to be acknowledged for something that you’ve spent such a long time on, executing and planning this has been a big chunk of our lives”. Christine Skarr, Director at KVIST Design Ltd said, “we worked really closely with the council on the project so for them to recognise our contribution to the area is brilliant, because we want to do good projects for good clients, that have a good impact and I think that’s what the buildings achieved”. Skarr points out the project was “like being back at university”, collaborating with passionate acoustic experts over coffee and cake crediting Peter Rodgers from Sustainable Acoustics, Mark Ringshall from Green Door Building Control, Atelier 10 M&E, and Jonathan Parks structures. It was unlike any project KVIST had encountered, Skarr adds, “there was a tight budget from the outset and the building leaked; it’s got an asbestos roof, single-glazing, so we had to come up with out of the box solutions. There were
in a shipping container behind the club. Co-owner and DJ, Deano Jo told Culture Trip in April: “We’re talking about getting another shipping container so we can make more beer but, apart from that, we are stretched to our absolute limit.” It’s clear that without the passions of the four co-owners, Five Miles would never have made the impact it’s had so far. In Rob’s words: “Five Miles have put a huge of effort, time and money to make this happen, they are at the heart of the building, so a big props to them.” During the day Five Miles has the welcoming atmosphere of a micro-brewery warmed by the smell of carrot soup, with lo-fi hip-hop filling the gaps of creative conversations. By night, the carefully designed club room makes it an immersive experience any lover of electronic music needs to witness — making it into the Evening Standard’s best small clubs. “The tricky bit was designing the studio space around that, but they’re able to operate whilst the club is going on, which was a real design and acoustic nightmare” Rob backtracks. Lots of concrete separates the club and studios/work spaces above, yet they are seamlessly connected through the subtle design and minimalistic openness. It is Ten87’s encouragement on collaboration that is key to their ambition for this corner in North London. Rapper and producer OthaSoul, who just moved into the new third site, said: “there’ll be a good community up here now, people helping each other out, don’t get that often.” Ten87 has also hosted community pop-up studio ‘Record Shop’, in collaboration with Red Bull for ‘Tottenham Creates’ towards the end of this summer. Rob and friend Steph Smith found it impossible to find well-soundproofed studios four years ago, so they had to build their own. “There was a real need for it, that’s why we put our musical careers on hold and built the first space,” says Rob, in reference to the initial site. Rob humbly puts it down to luck, not their business plan, that funding for the project eventually came from the London Small Business Centre—an EU development fund. The Centre plus the mentor that came with that, Jeff Gilbert, then convinced The Arts Council to help fund the plan for Ten87 Studios, and within little time Grammy-nominated producers were leasing out the studios.
“It’s got an asbestos roof, single-glazing, so we had to come up with out of the box solutions.”
Haringey’s Opportunity Investment Fund also supported their move onto the second site; they received a second OIF loan which has helped the recent move onto their third site. According to Music News, culture and the creative industries contribute £47 billion to London’s economy every year and account for one-in-six jobs in the capital. The music business, as with any other industry, has seen unpredictable change over the last few years. Reduced costs in recording equipment and computer software, now available via torrenting sites, has afforded a tsunami of musicians to flood stream-
ing sites with waves of sound. However, these influential changes along with the increasing cost of owning space in London has caused most traditional studios to close their doors. Last year Sadiq Khan said: “Grassroots venues are the foundation of the capital’s successful music industry—they are the places where the stars of tomorrow hone their talent and build their reputation.” The Haringey Design awards overall winner was the Theatre at Alexander Palace, London’s oldest new Theatre, which after 80 years of being closed to the public. Councillor Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council, said: “We were very lucky to have so many good examples of exciting and innovative design to choose from. Creativity in Haringey is something to be celebrated and all these projects have had a positive impact on our borough.” Rob says, “as long as electronic music is being made, we will be making studios, we’re planning to put storage container studios in the car park.” It pains Rob to turn away musicians but it happens, every day. He was born in October 1987, 10/87. 1087 is also the speed of sound in feet per second. He is much more invested in this than just from a business perspective. Ten87 won the award not just for their innovative raised-bed studios but their creation of a space for creators to collaborate in the oasis where the River Lea meets the Walthamstow Reservoir. 61
Exploitation on the runway How young models are mistreated
Words: Sophie Hall Image: Pexels/Pixabay.com
Money. Travelling for work. A ‘good’ body. These are all qualities often associated with the lifestyles of models. Not forgetting having an internationally recognisable face, being a household name, or wearing some of fashion’s most expensive clothes for your job. While their livelihood is envied by many, any job comes with negatives. Where the occupation of modelling is concerned, this negative is exploitation. Alyssa Daugherty was scouted for modelling after winning a competition at the age of 17. One of her first jobs was a trip to Athens to build her portfolio. Speaking to Artefact from her New York City home, she said that the photographer not only suggested taking pictures at the beach while it was getting dark, but also that Alyssa should pose topless. She agreed to the photographer’s request but now describes the decision as ‘foolish’. Daugherty has still never seen these photos of herself. After returning to the US from Athens, she repeatedly contacted the photographer for them but had no response. That was until two years after the trip, where herself and a friend bumped into the photographer at a model networking event in New York. When confronted about the missing photos, the photographer told Daugherty his studio had flooded and insisted the photographs were water damaged. “You question whether to speak up or not, we’re people-pleasers by nature, our job is to not complain, that’s how you’re successful,” she said. The reality of being a model is more difficult than the glamour social media suggests it has. “Many think that a model’s job is just about sitting in hair and make-up and posing for the camera,” says fashion model Kaye Li Taylor, who has featured in Porter magazine. “Physical appearance is what determines whether or not we book a job and that takes a toll on your self-esteem, your ideas, your perceptions.” Agencies are also known to use social media for scouting and linger around spaces that young people typically visit. Gisele Bundchen, one of the world’s highest paid models, walked her first runway at 17 years-old after being discovered while shopping in Sao Paulo. Chelsea based agency Storm Models scouted for fresh faces at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival, as well as Boardmasters
Feeling unsafe on photoshoots came up in conversation with Alyssa Daugherty. She said that being on set “disregards” your identity as a human: “They will give you clothes and no place to change, they speak of your body, not you as a person.” Models are sexualised, objectified and empathy is rare. #MeToo has provided a support system for the models affected and reassures that they should not silence their experiences. Although there is more work to be done, Kaye Li Taylor tells Artefact that “change is coming and is in the works.” Taylor is a part of several groups encouraging change. Model Mafia—Model Activist has played a vital role in bringing stories of abuse and exploitation to the forefront by grabbing the attention of industry executives, magazine publications and more. Another group is the Model Alliance, a research, advocacy and policy group for the global fashion industry. Earlier this year, the Model Alliance introduced the “Respect Program” #Time4Respect; an open letter to the fashion industry encouraging systemic change and reaffirming respect for victims of sexual harassment. In October, the Model Alliance promoted a Californian law, the Talent Protections Act. Coming into effect in January 2019, the law states that agencies must provide resources relating to nutrition and eating disorders to models and entertainers. The group hopes that New York City will be next on their list to enforce the Act. A similar law was also passed in France, which requires models to present a medical certificate confirming that
festival in Cornwall. The fashion industry has always had an arguably peculiar taste for youth. It has been cultivated both as a runway and editorial norm. Actress and model Brooke Shields, had one of her first “pinch me” moments modelling for the February cover of Vogue in 1980. Dressed as an adult, the cover was controversial as Shields was just three months short of her 15th birthday. Designers manufacture their clothes based from slender-figured fashion illustrations, and who fits into these tiny samples? Children, as well as a supply of fatigued and malnourished models. Alyssa Daugherty told Artefact her own experience of weight loss pressure. She says she was given specific hip measurements by her agency to adhere to, equivalent to that of a 12-year-old girl. She adds that when agencies order models to lose weight, they are not provided with any nutritional advice on how to do it safely. Although unrealistic, the goal weight is expected as other models are at that size whether they achieved it healthily or not. As body measurements decrease, wages do too. Daugherty recalls featuring in a London-based make-up campaign but not receiving any money for the usage of the images. She repeatedly contacted her agency asking when she would earn the money, but her request was ignored. When Alyssa finally heard from the agency, it was to say that her feature in the campaign was taken down due to her complaints. “There’s no transparency with payments, they (the agencies) give it to the model when it suits them,” she said. With more young people being exploited in the industry, Artefact asked both models if modelling should be an 18+ profession, both in editorial and on the runway. Kaye Li Taylor said yes, telling us that modelling will “devour” anyone immature and naive. With her first job being at the age of 16, Taylor said it took her two years to become more aware of her mind, body and voice. Daugherty agreed, describing modelling as a ‘people pleasing industry’. The “people pleasing industry” has not been excluded from #MeToo. The movement has shifted from the sexual aggression of Hollywood to behind the scenes of editorial shoots and catwalks.
“Physical appearance is what determines whether or not we book a job.”
their body mass index is not classed as ‘underweight’. Owners of some of the country’s top haute couture brands have banned models under 16 years-old from taking part in fashion shows, as well as demanding that 16-18 year-olds do not work overnight into the early hours of a morning. Alyssa Daugherty said she is ‘hopeful’ and looks to technology for change such as the app, Swipecast, which is like Tinder but for modelling. On there, models are booked more ethically as professionals swipe through the profiles of models instead of going through an agency. “Models need to wake up to that opportunity (technology), the easiest way to get it is by uniting in a genuine way,” Daugherty adds. However, using a hashtag only goes so far. In order to prevent exploitation further, agencies have introduced strict codes of conduct. Wilhelmina, a modelling and talent agency headquartered in New York City, has nine sub-sections regarding model care and safety in their
Terms and Conditions. It includes information such as scantily-clad or nude photography requiring written approval, ensuring that models take regular refreshment and rest breaks, that adequate insurance levels are met too, and that models are provided with appropriate changing and dressing areas to maintain privacy. Artefact spoke to a model signed with Wilhelmina, who only wanted to be known as ‘T’. Before she was signed, ‘T’ went to a shoot for a Manchester-based womenswear brand, “It was in a horrible warehouse where they packaged the clothing, full of men that were staring as I was having the photos taken.” As she was keen to help the company, ‘T’ completed the shoot quickly and was authorised to leave early, only to find out the day after that the brand paid her less due to her early exit. Apart from that instance, ‘T’ says her experience has been up to scratch, “In modelling I thought I’d have to lose weight, they (Wilhelmina) didn’t push me
to be bigger or smaller, they don’t try and change you so that you’re good for the job, they find jobs good for you.” The future for modelling depends on moving forward and uniting against problems caused in the current climate. To any person, of any age, thinking of making modelling their occupation, Alyssa Daugherty gives you some advice—“Modelling should never be your end goal, a much healthier approach is that it’s a resource.” Although it can get you into the good books of famous companies and decision makers, there should be more of a purpose than personal gain. Learning the business of fashion, being kind and knowing, “your worth and your power to break barriers”, is what Kaye Li Taylor advises, and adds that it is something she is telling herself. You can follow Alyssa Daugherty on Instagram: @lysdaugherty, Kaye Li Taylor on Instagram: @kayelitaylor, or visit her website: www.kayelitaylor.com
“Santorini by day: Mykonos by night” The Greek island of Ios is not as well known as its neighbours but it offers something for everyone
Words: Aymen Nadeem Images: Matt Bauer / Flickr.com
Greece is known for its postcard-perfect views, clear beaches, and endless partying. Santorini and Mykonos are two of the most famous islands in the Cyclades, a group of 220 islands in the Aegean Sea, and are visited by millions every year. Just 45 km (28 miles) from Santorini to the North, lies a smaller island which is the perfect balance of both leisure and partying. With a population of only 2,100 people, Ios remains obscure to most travellers; since Ios does not have an airport of its own, it has to be reached by ferry from either of its two, more well-known, neighbours Ios has more than 30 small beaches; Mylopotas is the busiest, as it is close to the port, and has a few hotels nearby that are reasonably cheap. Far Out Village happens to be the ideal package for a few days here. The hostel is cheap and located in the heart of the island, offering tour guides, water sports and day trips around the Mediterranean. It does not take long before you
sines. By the time you finish your meal, you will be delighted with the quality of food on this small island; however, the walk down will give you a good leg workout and leave you hungry once again. There are around 27 bars in Chora that compliment all kinds of music. From Latin to house; hip-hop to jazz, there is something for everyone. If bars are not your cup of tea, then you can head down to Far Out beach club. This is where the real party happens that lasts till after sunrise “Santorini by day and Mykonos by night” is a phrase often used by the locals to describe Ios. If you are a history lover, then you might be disappointed to learn that Ios does not offer much historically. Yet, the few historic sites that you can visit include the ancient settlement of Skarkos that dates to 2800 BC.. The remains of well-constructed houses of Skarkos lie in the hills of Ios today. They utilised this island for import/export, as it’s the largest port in the Cyclades. Another known site
find yourself sipping on few mojitos and treating yourself in the clear blue water. Since the Island has a limited transportation system, getting around is either by walking, or taking a taxi. However, unlike any other islands, there is a third option, which is cheaper and highly recommended. As the laws in Ios are not as strict as in Santorini, you can rent an ATV (All-terrain vehicle) for a whole day for only 20 euros (£17.42), as long as you’re over 18. The adrenaline of driving an ATV on the landscapes of Ios is an experience in itself as it gives you an opportunity to see the island on your terms. From the lowest point on the island to the highest peak, the journey can be completed in only 22 minutes. The main village in Ios is called Chora; built centuries ago, it consists of extremely narrow pathways and many uneven stairs, which makes it inaccessible for cars and bikes. The restaurants are situated right on the top of the village and consists of local and several other cui-
“This tiny island is the perfect balance between leisure and partying.”
is the tomb of the famous author Homer. His poems; Iliad and Odyssey remain the leading works of ancient Greek literature. Odysseas Elytis Theatre opened in Ios in 1997, named after the protagonist of the Odyssey. Standing at the Kastro peak (the highest point in Ios), I am overwhelmed by the beauty of my surroundings. The blue Mediterranean Sea extending in every direction, the town of Chora beneath me is shrouded in whitewashed houses, and the sun is gradually setting on the horizon beyond. The endless colours in the sky make it a remarkable sight to see for all the people, who hiked to the top for a picnic or an ideal Instagram picture. One of the best experiences in Ios
has to be the day trip to smaller islands that have little to no population. Meltemi Watersports is a British-owned company that offers a wide range of activities on the Mylopotas beach. Matt Hartnett, Owner of Meltemi Watersports, told us: “the pinnacle time for this island is the summers that are the point at which we are the busiest. Depending on your comfort level you can choose either a private boat tour that costs 55 euros (£48) per person or public that is fairly cheaper.” The private boat tour starts with visiting the caves nearby. Since the boat cannot go inside the cave, you have to swim and make your way towards the entrance. As you move inside the pitch black cave, you are introduced to an underwater world of colour and coral. The
walls of the cave are low, so you have to watch your head at all times. The next stop on the tour is a site that was discovered a few decades ago, after a massive storm hit Ios and closer inhabitant islands. A boat that was carrying six people collided in the storm and sank. Though everyone survived; the shipwreck still lies on the floor of the ocean and can be seen while snorkelling. According to Matt, the Mediterranean Sea is one of the safest in the world and makes exploring easier. The last stop on the boat tour is 25 minutes from Ios on a remote island that comprises of three little shorelines spread out on an equal distance. The shade of the water is precious stone blue as there is no pollution and the sand is dirt-free. You can sit on this beach for hours and explore the surroundings and not get drained. In the coming years as tourism is developing in Greece, this underrated Island will probably end up swarming and costly. If you find yourself planning your next summer holiday in the Mediterranean, consider Ios and let it show you all that it has to offer. If there are two things that Greece does not disappoint in, it’s the sunsets and the beer. 65
Tate's crying room Tania Brugruera wanted to create an experience that was targeted at provoking your senses
Step into the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, and about a hundred metres in front of you is Tania Bruguera’s new installation dedicated to the topic of Migration. At first glance it does not seem like there is much happening, however, beneath the surface this two-part installation presents a very impactful message. When museum-goers enter this exhibition they will see a large grey surface with the sign ‘Please remove your shoes’. Visitors are invited to lay down together on the large surface that covers most the room. Bruguera has said that if enough people lay down together on this surface, their collective body heat will activate a horizontal mural of a Syrian boy, named Yousef, who came to the U.K to escape the war in Syria. According to the Tate, Bruguera deliberately chose Yousef to be the mural for this exhibition because his story relates so closely to her work on Migration. As the Tate explains ‘On moving to London Yousef found emotional and practical support through a local charity. He is now studying biomedical science and working for the NHS’. Bruguera has explained she choose this method to activate the mural because she wanted the installation to be an experience that brings a group of people together. As the Tate explains, ‘Rather than look at art from a distance, Bruguera invites us to get closer. She sees this image as a horizontal mural that is made visible through collective action’. As you walk to the left of the large grey surface you will see people lining up to enter the crying room, yes you read that correctly, an area targeted at bringing tears to visitors’ eyes. The small white room is tucked away to the left of the horizontal mural. As visitors stand in a line waiting to enter the room, they will receive a red stamp on their hand. This stamp shows a number, and this number changes every day. As the Tate explains ‘The title of this project is an ever-increasing figure: the number of people who migrated from one country to another last year, plus the number of migrant deaths recorded between the start of the project and today’. This feature is just another attempt made by Bruguera in this installation to try to make the visitor look more at the human factor of this ever-growing issue. 66
As you enter the lit room you will immediately feel the chemical agent start to tug at your eyes. Before you enter the crying room you may think Bruguera has somehow managed to integrate the smell of chopped onions or something of the sort to get the visitor to cry, but the aroma is much lighter than that. This sensory experience can only be compared to having an entire room filled with vapour rub close to your eyes. It may even make visitors nostalgic of their childhood, as it is a popular remedy to cure children of blocked sinuses. Visitors of the exhibition had a generally positive impression. Gwen Fitzmaurice, from Ireland, said “I really enjoyed the entire exhibition. I have never experienced anything like the crying room, so that was the part that interested me the most”. Alison Loftus, another visitor from North London says “I have never been to something like this, it is definitely a creative way to talk about Migration.
Words: Hannah Dardis Image: Acme / Flickr.com
The crying room was my favourite part because it was so out of the ordinary.” Overall from attending this exhibition several times since the opening at the beginning of October, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bruguera opted to create an experience that from the exterior seems quite basic and simplistic, but as you leave the installation you begin to realise that she was effective in what she set out to do. She wanted to strip back all the malarkey of Migration that may come from social media and certain news outlets. She wanted to create an experience targeted at provoking your senses. She wanted a large group of people to sit together to activate the mural, she wanted the visitor to tap into their vulnerable side and cry. She wanted to temporarily erase all the news headlines about Migration, and return to the fact that no matter where you come from or what race you are, we are all humans, who have emotions and feelings.
“When I look in the mirror, 70 I see a mutilated alien” The dark side of social media
Could you live the zero waste 74 lifestyle? Life in the new Vauxhall
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‘My child save me from abuse’ War on the roads
Redefining the Designer
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Plastic surgery in the 92 'snap' generation The charity changing lives one 94 race at a time Alternative living
“WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR, I SEE A MUTILATED ALIEN.” Living in constant fear of your reflection is a harsh reality for those suffering from Acne Dysmorphic Disorder
Words: Aimee Luton Images: Diana Barta 69
Everyone has bad days when it comes to the mirror. Too fat, too thin, weird hairlines, wide shoulders… there’s a lot that we (and Regina George) can find wrong with our bodies. Unfortunately for those with body dysmorphia, these bad days are often the norm. The NHS defines Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) as “a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.” Jane Wilkinson, 58, a former mental health nurse, says. “When most people hear about it [BDD] they think it’s an eating disorder, but it’s not. There’s so many people suffering from body dysmorphia right now, but they’ll never think to get help because they’re not worried about weight.” To put it into perspective, only around 12% of those with BDD also have an eating disorder (ED). Because the ED misconception is so common, few people realise BDD is actually an anxiety disorder — often leading to a fixation on one specific body part. Even fewer realise one of its most common forms is Acne Dysmorphic Disorder (ADD). Yep, seeing a ‘mutilated alien,’ when you look in the mirror is thanks to an anxiety disorder, not too many horror films and too little sleep. When I met Anna Cuthby, 21, in a quaint coffee shop tucked-away somewhere in South London, I must say I was disappointed there was no trace of alien nor mutilation in her face — she insisted there would be. Instead, I was met with a perfectly pleasant young woman, apologising profusely for her lateness. Of course, I knew she’d be late, she warned me she’s always late — she has to check her appearance “at least fifty times,” before leaving the safety of her room. It may sound excessive, but for someone who’d “rather die than go into the kitchen without makeup on,” it’s pretty reasonable. Body image has always played a big part in Cuthby’s life. “I remember when I was 7 or 8, I got anxious because we had fast food twice in one week,” she says. These thoughts didn’t go away, and by the time she was 14, she was hospitalised with Anorexia Nervosa. Whilst she was treated for this, she says she was “diagnosed at a time when body dysmorphia wasn’t really seen as ‘a thing’,” meaning that these dysmorphic thoughts were left to develop as she grew older. As ADD is almost unknown, it took Cuthby even longer to realise what was behind certain behaviours and intrusive thoughts. “It wasn’t until my friend — who was done with me always flaking and refusing to leave the house because my makeup wasn’t perfect — did some research.” Her friend explained Acne Dysmorphic Disorder to her, a subset of 70
BDD where the sufferer over estimates and obsesses over any imperfections they view as acne, even though they go unnoticed by everyone else. “When I realised it was a thing, everything started to make sense. It doesn’t stop me being irrational, though. I still feel disgusting every single day.” Over the course of my time with Cuthby, it became obvious that, sadly, this was no exaggeration. Acne dysmorphia had a major impact on the way she lived her life. “God help my parents if it was windy, though, they’d have to push me out the front door,” For Cuthby, there’s no identifiable trigger for her disorder. “I suffered with
“Make up is cheap compared to some ways people are dealing with it. Around 15% of people undergoing plastic surgery suffer with BDD.”
teenage acne early on, and from then I was super self-conscious about my skin. I had my fringe cut in when I was 15 to try to hide my face, and I became obsessed with it covering my forehead at all times.” This obsession served as a foundation for the manifestation of disordered thoughts. “I’d be too scared to go outside in case the wind would blow it up — I’d check the weather every night. God help my parents if it was windy, though, my mum would have to push me out of the front door to get me to go to school.” Wilkinson explains that obsession is another aspect of body dysmorphia, “In
my experience, BDD and OCD are more common than BDD and EDs. The body part they fixate on, plus their coping mechanisms overtake their lives.” By the time Cuthby was 18, her skin had cleared up and she was able to live a normal teenage life. However, a diagnosis of cystic acne was all it took for her to develop a new obsession: makeup. Sure, young women love makeup (or so we’re told). However, there’s a big difference between creative expression and a rigid routine performed as a desperate grasp at self-confidence. “Look around,” she says, gesturing to the flurry of coffee drinkers surrounding us, “There’s no one here with acne. You’ll say, ‘oh they’re wearing makeup,’ but I know when people aren’t wearing makeup — even concealer — because I’m so obsessed with clear skin”. It’s clear that constant comparison is a huge part of Cuthby’s life — something she admits has gotten worse as she’s grown older. “When I was younger, others might have had teenage acne, but theirs cleared up. Mine didn’t.” This has only served as fuel for an obsessive makeup routine. What is an obsessive makeup routine? Well, it goes something like this: 1. First up, you’ll need to transform into an early bird. “People can get up, you know, 10 minutes before class and roll in with no care in the world. I need to start getting ready at least an hour and a half before I have to leave." 2. Next, you’ve got to work up the courage to walk into the bathroom and face your reflection. “I stand there and I’m like, why? I must have one of the best skincare routines going, how can I have new spots? They flare up overnight for no reason, and I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this." 3. Once you’ve conquered that emotional turmoil, it’s time to wash your face. “Obviously this is to cleanse my skin, but also, it’s so oily, I need to clear it off my face because I’d rather die than have my makeup sink into my pores before my day’s even fucking begun.” 4. Oil dealt with, it’s time to prime. “I put way more on than most people, because in my head it acts as a barrier and stops my makeup sinking through and becoming cakey.” 5. Once primed, it’s time for foundation. “I actually have a different routine for my nose. My pores are huge there, so it’s tinted moisturiser before the foundation. Oh, and I use my hands, not a blender. It’s more delicate and it won’t cause my makeup to sink into my pores.”
6. Remember: This routine isn’t about expression. There’s no need for contour, highlight, liner, or lipstick — just perfect skin. So, the finale starts with a finishing powder, and ends with a setting spray “Way, way too much. I have an exact number of sprays for perfect coverage, but that’s a secret.” Sounds fun, right? Maybe the first 60 times. Oh, and don’t forget—it’s also incredibly expensive. £50 on foundation and setting spray each month is enough to make anyone sweat, let alone a student. Okay, maybe if makeup is your thing, you’d be happy to splurge, but for Cuthby, it’s her disorder doing the spending, not her. “I hate putting on makeup, I hate wearing makeup. If I could be barefaced every day, I would.” Makeup is relatively cheap compared to some of the methods people are employing to deal with their body dysmorphia, though. An estimated 15% of people undergoing plastic surgery suffer with body dysmorphia. “These people will come in and spend a lot of money on procedures,” explains Dr. M, a private surgeon who has asked to remain anonymous. “The problem is, they’re never happy with the results, so they keep coming back and end up ruining their faces. The worst thing is, they usually have nothing wrong with their features in the first place.” Unfortunately, everyday comments are all it may take for dysmorphia to take hold. For Cuthby, her disorder developed thanks to years of bullying at an exclusive boarding school. “The comments they made were so matter of fact, I assumed it was true what they were saying. I still do.”Everyday when she’s applying her makeup, Cuthby remembers their taunts. “They drew so much attention to certain areas of my face, i’m terrified of anyone seeing them to this day.” The dynamics of an all-girls boarding school would be a minefield for anyone, let alone someone suffering from depression, social anxiety, anorexia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder. Isolated, it’s no wonder Cuthby began to focus on the one thing she received compliments for—her weight. “I thought if I had more control, people would like me more,” she says. “I thought if I was skinnier, I’d fit in.” Unfortunately, this created a pathway to her eating disorder, which then led to body dysmorphic disorder, eventually leading to acne dysmorphic disorder— something which has changed her life forever. You see, Cuthby isn’t in control of her life. Acne dysmorphic disorder is. “I wish I could go to the beach, I wish I could feel the sun on my face, I wish I could wear backless dresses in the Summer, I wish I could be outside, carefree,
for more than three hours, I wish I could get public transport without worrying about the harsh overhead lighting, I wish I had more pictures, more memories. But I don’t, and I can’t.” It’s not just living in the now, either. “I worry about the future. How will I find a boyfriend whilst I look like this? Whilst I hate the way I look? How can I find a job with no self-confidence? I’ve read about people unable to get jobs because they have cystic acne. How much longer can I carry on with my daily routine? I can’t be 70 and doing this every-day.” Unfortunately, it appears that BDD isn’t taken seriously enough in our society for much to be done. A disorder which has such a devastating impact on self-esteem and daily routines should be treated with respect, but for Cuthby it’s often a case of “Get on with it,”. Wilkinson, who spent 28 years working with young people on their mental health, explains: “Unfortunately, body dysmorphia isn’t one of the ‘big ones’. The waiting list for mental health treatment is so long, disorders with physical side effects take priority. It’s sad, seeing how much dysmorphia effects young people, but that’s the way it is, unfortunately. And that’s just body dysmorphia, I’d only ever come across two cases of acne dysmorphia in my career — it just goes untreated and undiagnosed.” With BDD still lacking in support, ADD doesn’t stand much of a chance. As a result, Cuthby’s future remains uncertain, and she’s “Pretty fucking pessimistic about it.”
The dark side of social media How other people’s ‘perfect’ lives can trigger mental health problems
Words: Kyle Arthur Image: Clem Onojeghuo/Pexels.com
Over the past few years, the stigma surrounding mental health issues has been challenged, but while the acceptance and acknowledgement of these issues improved, there are many that still struggle with their mental health on a daily basis. James* is one of those people. Living at home with his mum and younger brother Louis, James is 20 and works as an administrative apprentice. “It’s almost strange to think that six months ago I was facing one of the most challenging periods in my life,” he says. He felt anxious and isolated after hours of scrolling through his friends' seemingly perfect lives on social media. One day things got so bad that James tried to take his own life, saved only by the intervention of his family. In early 2017, 39 million people were users of social media, according to figures from Statista. This number equates to around 58% of the population and has likely increased further in recent months as social media apps have become even more accessible. John McGuirk, an accredited therapist working at Bristol-based mental health charity Off the Record, defines mental health issues as by-products of “distress”: “Society fails to give its members the skills to cope with distress effectively. In the face of that, young people fall back on what they can in order to cope: addiction, self-harm, withdrawing, and avoidance,” he says. The causes of distress that originate from social media vary depending on the platform. For some users, Instagram may be a catalyst for body image issues, and it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out if friends are posting things you’re not included in, which leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation. On Facebook, it can be easy to feel a lack of fulfilment when comparing your own life to the personal and professional lives of others. “Sometimes I look at what other people are doing with their lives and feel shame for not being in the same position myself,” says James, reflecting on days spent feeling insignificant compared to others on his feed. The impact of this often results in the development of mental health issues. In extreme cases, this can mean months or even years of struggle, with some of the most vulnerable people turning to suicide as a means of ending their suffering.In 2015, there were a total of 6,639 suicides in the UK, and while not
his adolescence. The emphasis on personal relationships and communication is important in tackling mental health issues, especially when young people may be feeling isolated and, perhaps ironically, disconnected from the world as a result of using social media. Family and friends can often act as a front line for emotional support, and can subsequently use that position to help young people directly. “In my experience, you can’t help yourself on your own. It’s only with the support of others you can help yourself,” says James, who spoke to his best friends and his mum when he was at his worst. “Talking can solve everything, even being able to get problems off of your chest can help to no end,” he adds. McGuirk says that “active listening skills build better, closer relationships,” an approach that can help young people discuss their distress constructively in a non-judgmental environment. In addition to this, simply doing more and trying to face your fears is also a great way to combat some of the mental health issues that may be influenced by social media. “Avoidance maintains anxiety,” McGuirk says, emphasising the importance of not only trying new things but also the seriousness of acknowledging emotions instead of retreating from them. “Finding a way to gradually expose ourselves to our fears helps us to overcome them,” he adds. James found that talking about his struggles with friends and family and taking time away from social media helped him manage his distress. Refocusing on his passion for gaming, he was able to escape his worries and reflect of how his mental health has impacted his life. “In some ways, it’s made me a stronger person,” he says. “But ultimately people shouldn’t have to experience all that negativity, it eats you up inside. I would just say talk to people about the way you feel, take some time away from whatever it might be that’s bringing you down and remember that even the problems and mindsets that seem the hardest to face can be tackled.”
all of these were related to social media usage, this figure suggests far too many are experiencing mental health issues in some of their most extreme forms. Of the social media sites frequently visited by young people, Instagram was reported as the “worst for mental health,” according to a study by the NHS. McGuirk refers to the damaging actions people take in response to their mental health issues as “negative coping mechanisms,” however extreme these may be. He states that mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are perhaps more simply “different names we give to coping strategies young people deploy,” suggesting that young people impacted by mental health issues are simply doing what they can to cope. McGuirk adds that “doing more of what we enjoy, or what gives us a sense of purpose or achievement, can give our lives meaning again.” For people impacted by the negatives of social media consumption, this might mean taking a break from their accounts and focusing on a hobby or seeking out other ways to spend their time. This helps break the “negative feedback loop,” in which young people might find themselves trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behaviour. James found that spending time doing what he enjoys helped him cope with his mental health. “Video games are a form of escapism for me, they pull you from reality temporarily and can help people relax.” It’s less common for young men to reach out when dealing with distress, with Off the Record claiming to have “around a 70:30 ratio of women to men in the service,” which can perhaps be explained by the stigma around emotion and what it means to be a man. Coping with distress healthily and teaching young people not to be afraid to ask for help, regardless of gender, seems to be the key in combatting what has been referred to in the media as a “mental health epidemic.” McGuirk adds that “most mental health issues are rooted in a lack of real, intimate relationships in our lives,” going on to say that “connecting with people as authentically as you can and learning how to do that courageously, respectfully and deeply” is the key to building better and more trusting relationships, and that this has also been a “life-long journey” for him after having experienced suicidal thoughts himself in
Those with mental health issues can contact the Samaritans at samaritans.org or by phone on 116 123 (freephone). *Some names have been changed.
COULD YOU LIVE THE ZERØ WASTE LIFESTYLE?
From recycled materials for a wedding dress, freezing compost or swapping single-use plastics waste free alternatives — this is a new way of living
Words: Kezia Farnham Images: Adrien Taylor/Unsplash.com, @Graceelizphoto
“Excuse me,” asked an elderly lady with an inquisitive tone, “are you going to reuse that coffee cup?” Her non-judgemental tone did not ease my guilt. Over 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year. Ironically, I was en route to interview Charlie Bannocks about her zero waste lifestyle. London has seen numerous businesses convert to biodegradable straws, September welcomed the annual international zero waste week and the launch of London’s first zero waste market and now, Green Forest’s (East London) first zero waste grocery shop has opened. This wave of chatter sparked an interest within me to discover what the zero waste lifestyle is really all about. Charlie arranged to meet me at her local environmentally conscious grocery shop, Planet Organic. We found a quiet spot in the cafe, away from the hustle and bustle. The background music, wooden benches and birds-eye view of the industrial supermarket made a perfect spot for friends, readers and families alike. Charlie is a bubbly 27 year-old lady, full of charisma and charm. Pale skin, rosy cheeks, contagious smile and ginger fly-away hair, tied down behind each ear. Charlie’s denim dungarees comfortably sat on a white t-shirt, hidden by an orange cardigan and adorned with a light blue wolf head necklace. Everything was second hand. “My wedding dress was made out of recycled materials,” Charlie tells me, “which I was very proud of.” She showed me a photograph of her wedding day. “It was made by a dressmaker called Jada Dreaming. The skirt was an old net curtain, the corset was an old corset that she had found. The only new part was thread.”Charlie, at 21 years old, turned vegan and started looking for alternative cosmetic products. Lush supplied many vegan options. Yet, it also triggered environmental questions. “They are really into this ‘zero waste thing’ and ‘package free.” With time,Charlie’s zero waste questions turned into purchases. From buying “the common things that people are talking about,” to choosing her recycled wedding dress in 2017. Yet, Charlie still wasn’t getting into the habit of the zero waste lifestyle. That is, until she was hospitalised. Perhaps, you are also asking, “what is zero waste?” Put simply, the zero waste lifestyle seeks to eliminate the amount of rubbish generated. The 5-R hierarchy sums up the intentions of many living the zero waste lifestyle; refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and finally, rot. Charlie discovered that recycling isn’t the ultimate solution for our environment. There is a limited number of times an item can be recycled. According
to the Auckland Council in New Zealand, plastic can only be recycled 7-9 times before it is passed on to landfill. At this point, the plastic is left to decompose in a hole in the ground. Yet, this is not a fast process. Plastic bags can take from 400 to 1000 years. Not all of the plastic ends up in landfill, some is released into the ocean or sent abroad. In February 2018, Charlie found herself in hospital. She recalled that people were screaming, there was constant noise and long days with nothing to do. Thus, the internet quickly became her escape. “I watched this video,” she said, “that was explaining that everything that goes to landfill is covered up. Then they plant trees on top of it. The rubbish leaks out this poisonous gas into the environment.” “It suddenly dawned on me, is one of the reasons that I got ill because I’m absorbing these things we shouldn’t be absorbing?” Charlie’s voice slowed down. “We’re sending a lot of our rubbish abroad. That’s impacting other people. That’s not a good thing or a nice thing to do.” “I have the power to do something about this, so I’m going to do something. Since then, there has not been a day I have left the house without my cup,” she said, pointing to her reusable cup and metal straw. Charlie showed me the daily alternatives she uses. Her shampoo bar had a couple strands of hair clinging on from the mornings shower. Charlie’s alternative solution to cling film is a wax wrap. As she opened it, you could hear the crackling of the wax paper. Inside, she had preserved onion bhajis from last night’s dinner. Zero waste shops, such as Cups & Jars in Forest Gate, are not located close enough for everyone. Charlie has access to Planet Organic but her shopping doesn’t come without a price tag. She saves money on her razors, 100 blades for only £10. Yet, she spends nearly £8 pounds on one bag of pasta. Yet, Charlie is not the only individual to have one of these light bulb moments. She is part of a whole community of individuals living this way. I wanted to investigate this further. Stav Freed, a marine biologist and conservationist, witnessed masses of waste being disposed of into the planet on a daily basis. Four years ago, she was preparing to move to the Philippines, the world’s third worst producer of plastic. At this point, Stav asked herself, “how can I be a bigger part of the solution?” Now, the zero waste concept is ‘entwined’ into Stav’s daily life. “I am conscious of packaging when it comes to any products,” she explains. “I prefer to buy second hand, as I’d rather give something 75
a second life than buy something new.” Alternatives to plastic saturate Stav’s home, from bedroom to bathroom and kitchen to dining room. “When it comes to toiletries and bath products,” Stav, just like Charlie, also uses “shampoo and body bars, a stainless steel razor, a bamboo toothbrush and plastic-free toothpaste.” Stav doesn’t restrict her new habits to the home. “When I know I’m going out for a few hours, I always bring reusable cloth bags a set of silverware, package-free snacks and water bottle or metal cup for drinking.” Her cloth bag is used for snacks which she may buy during her day. Lilly-Anne is a part time researcher from Canada. She recently moved to the UK and is learning to embrace new habits to fit her ‘low impact’ lifestyle. “I don’t think anybody is really zero waste. I think that concept can be misleading,” Lilly-Anne explains. “I’m just trying to be zero waste. But I know that I can’t be.”I tell people, “I’m trying to be low-impact.” Unfortunately, for Lilly-Anne, this lifestyle doesn’t come easy. For example, the Brent council will not provide a compost bin. “What I’m doing right now is I’m freezing my compost.” Lilly-Anne explains. She will then cycle for half an hour to the recycling plan to disposes the frozen compost herself, as suggested by the council. However, she is still on the lookout for an alternative option. “I’m actually going to write a letter to my neighbour because I saw that they have their compost bins flipped over and that they never use them. So I’m going to see if I can use them.” To make things worse, Lilly-Anne’s building manager has suggested the recycling collection may be discontinued. When residents place non-recyclable items inside a recycling bin, the rubbish becomes contaminated. As a result, contaminated recycling is rejected. It overflows and everything is sent to landfill. This is exactly what is happening at Lilly-Anne’s apartment. Businesses face the same issue. “Based on my experience of working with businesses, it is dry mixed recycling bins that get contaminated most frequently,” explained Sarah Craddock, Project Development Manager within Commercial Recycling from Resource London. “Different waste collectors can process different items, so all sorts of things find their way into the recycling which shouldn’t be there.” “Some materials are really complex,” Sarah noted, “for example, most recycling bins can have plastic bottles put in them but not plastic wrapping. Ordinary paper can be recycled, but hand towels can’t.” Whilst they are technically paper, hand 76
towels have reached the end of their life. Sarah explained that hand towels, “have come from paper that has already been recycled a number of times. Each time paper is recycled the fibres get shorter and so by the time good quality paper becomes a hand towel the fibres are too short to be recycled any further.” “For me,” Sarah said, “it’s fascinating to understand the lifecycle of a product and just how vast an impact everyday materials can have on such an array of individuals and communities.”
“It’s sometimes overwhelming but I keep going on, one step at a time”
“Commitments to change are great, but alone they aren’t enough. We need to ensure that we actually follow through on commitments, which means we have to ensure that they are achievable.” Change, according to Sarah, goes beyond ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ of the latest issue highlighted in media. Sarah stresses the importance of ensuring ‘the full impact of change is reviewed before being implemented.’ There is a lot London could do. Sarah waits in anticipation, “I am looking forward to the Resources & Waste Strategy being published by DEFRA to see what the UK is committing to.” “In our organisation,” Sarah initiated, referencing Recycle London, “we want to accelerate the change to a circular economy in London. We would see waste volumes being dramatically less than they are now A lot of waste would be designed out much earlier in the process.” Resource London was formed by the London Waste and Recycling Board to work toward initiated change in London. Sarah indicated just how much change is possible, “We believe that London’s waste could be reduced by up to 60% by 2030 if all the measures we’re promoting in our Circular Economy Route Map are
implemented.” “Everyone needs to take responsibility. We all have a part to play whether we produce the material that will one day become waste, whether we are users of that material or if we collect and dispose of it.” “Anyone and everyone can make a difference: opting for re-usable over disposable, shopping smarter and planning to reduce food waste, sharing resources and taking the time to repair or donate items instead of throwing them away.” For many Londoners, it starts with those little things. For example, Charlie saving leftovers in wax paper rather than cling film. Or Stav’s decision to buy a stainless steel razor to cut down on plastic. It’s Lilly-Ann’s determination to compost her food waste. Thesechoices add up. Lilly-Anne mentioned a challenge with one of the zero waste alternatives, “Initially it was really hard to change my toothpaste because the toothpaste was so salty. I think I actually vomited in my mouth the first time. You can brush with just baking soda. It’s gross. It’s really salty but it’s possible.” “My dentist told me that baking soda is really abrasive, so it’s good to dilute it with something. You can make a mixture with coconut oil.” Lilly-Anne now alternates between tooth tabs and her homemade toothpaste. Despite these challenges, Lilly-Anne keeps a positive outlook. For her, creating alternative products is a hobby. From homemade toothpaste to her cookie recipe, which replaced the granola bars she once loved. “If it’s your hobby, it doesn’t bother you.” “It’s really time consuming to live zero waste. Either you have to make your products or you have to go really far to get your products.” Lilly-Anne explained. Finding a suitable supermarket can be a challenge. Cost and distance were recurring challenges among many of the individuals I interviewed. Emily Walker-Smith is 25 years old and based in Hackney, London. “My passion for the planet has been growing all year,” she said. “It all started when I was on holiday in Mexico and visited a baby sea turtle rescue camp.” A shallow pool catered for roughly 50 baby turtles which were saved from poachers. “They go out and dig up the fresh laid turtle eggs and bury them back in the sand in camp to keep them safe.” She told me that a couple days after the turtles are born, it is time for them to be released. “My mum and I were the only people there at the time, so it was a really moving experience. We got two each and carried them down to the sea edge. You hold them high in the air so they
can smell the sea and then down to the ground to smell the sand they will need to return to when they have eggs to lay!” “Then you put them down and they race to the sea. One of mine went a bit off course so I worried about him and how long he’ll last out there. The thought that all of them might not survive their first year because of plastic and predators hit me.” Emily tried out plastic free July and made the lifestyle her New Year’s resolution. “After moving to plastic free it would have been difficult to go back to using plastic so I’ve carried it on and it has changed my life. I walk into supermarkets now and all I see is plastic.” Lilly-Anne told me she aimed to pay Waitrose a visit, to see if they sold any zero waste products or package free produce. With zero waste grocery shops scattered sparsely around London, finding an environmentally friendly supermarket can be a challenge. I contacted Waitrose to find out what they are doing to reduce single-use plastics. Laura Blumenthal, from Waitrose’s press department, wrote, “Reducing our impact on the environment is really important to us and we know it is to our customers too.” Laura said, “We fully support the UK Plastics Pact which aims to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by making all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.” Waitrose didn’t appear ‘all talk’. Since 2009, the supermarket has reduced their overall packaging by nearly 50 percent. Waitrose
will no longer offer takeaway disposable cups from Autumn 2018. This decision will save 52 million cups from being thrown out every single year. “From March 2019 we will no longer offer 5p plastic carrier bags and by Spring 2019 we will remove loose fruit and vegetable plastic bags. The move will save 134 million plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.” Laura finished by saying, “we’re always looking to innovate with non-plastic packaging.” I contacted Tesco, to see what the ‘average priced’ supermarkets were doing about this issue, yet I received no response. Maud Oustalet is a 35 year-old textile artist and mother of two ‘mini eco warriors’. “I have always worked around upcycling fabric or using sustainable materials.” Yet three years ago, she began ‘consciously’ reducing her waste. It all started with “saying no to plastic bags.” Now, Maud creates all of her own cleaning products. She owns a wormery on her balcony and buys second hand clothes. “There is so much I could do,” Maud says, “it’s sometimes overwhelming but I keep going on, one step at a time. The nice thing is that a lot of my friends and family are getting into it too,”. “I find that buying food plastic-free is a nightmare, particularly in the UK. I'm from France where there's better access to unpackaged food from markets or small independent businesses.”Maud aims to provide an alternative option within her own area. “I am part of a project to create a bulk dry goods co-op in
Tower Hamlets which hopefully will help with avoiding the supermarket packaged option.” However, Maud thinks the government is responsible for real change. “I really believe that unless the UK government starts taxing plastic packaging there can’t really be a change, people are becoming more conscious but only a change in the law can stop this issue. Plastic is used because it is practical and cheap. If it isn’t cheap then industrials will have to find alternatives.” At the start of 2018, a proposed 25p taxation on disposable cups was recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee. The UK has seen an 85% decrease in the usage of plastic bags since 2015, when a 5p fee was first introduced. Whilst this ‘latte levy’ doesn’t tax all plastic, it would be a starting point. On March 13th 2018, Green MP Caroline Lucas addressed this issue in the House of Commons, saying, “the levels of hypocrisy from this government is quite extraordinary.” She went on to address air pollution, then the ‘plastic crisis.’ Caroline’s tone was steadfast, “How can he say that the plastic crisis is urgent and then propose a deadline for the elimination of plastics in a quarter of a centuries time?” “Where is the latte levy? Where is the deposit scheme scheme? Where is the urgency from this action? Why is there such a gulf between government action and the words?” There were no cheers,
only the sound of shuffling papers and people rising from their chairs. Philip Hammond simply responded to Caroline’s concerns about his building project and the impact it would have on air pollution. Yet, he did not comment on the latte levy. Nor did he address the plastic crisis as a whole. However, the Autumn Budget 2018 announced a new tax on plastic packaging. The tax will be implemented from 2022 on all plastic that doesn’t contain at least 30% recyclable materials. London’s first vegan zero waste market took place in September 2018. The turnout was impressive, 750 people. The market featured numerous zero waste alternatives and vegan items. However, the event was primarily ‘a chance to raise awareness’ about environmental issues. Abigail Penny and James Morgan, co-founders of Zero Mkt, said: “climate change is on everybody’s lips right now and it’s no wonder. Animal agriculture, fast fashion, plastic, and waste in landfills are devastating our planet.” They explained to me that they felt ‘compelled’ to take action. Individuals gathered around stalls to explore the zero waste alternatives, products ranged from bamboo toothbrushes to make-up. Recycled jewellery, upcycled bags and eco-friendly wallets. Fairtrade toys, gifts and original art. Independent businesses promoted their merchandise and shed light on this alternative lifestyle.
“Cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by 73%,” Abi and James explained. “Around 100,000 sea creatures die from plastic annually, becoming entangled or through ingesting plastic toxic chemicals, and 92 million tonnes of fabric waste ends up dumped in landfills annually.” For individuals such as Martina Heinrichova, who had no prior knowledge of the zero waste concept, all it took was a podcast. Martina recalled listening to Lauren Singer chat about the concept. “I just thought it made so much sense and decided to attempt the same principles to my life.” Every Saturday, Martina can be found at the Farmers Market collecting her weekly veggies. “I am very lucky that the area where I live has lots of options that make zero waste lifestyle so much easier.” Of course, the lifestyle did throw a few surprises her way. “The most shocking discovery for me was that tea bags have plastic in them, but replacing them was easy.” “There are many, many things that need to change. I’m sure big corporations need more plastics restrictions,” Martina says, “However, I think the most important thing is to educate people, especially young people and children, on the problems of waste, plastic pollution, environmental change and how all our actions are connected.” Martina paused. “For me, everything starts with education.” Considering that Martina dramatically changed her lifestyle based on a podcast, it is not surprising that she values environmental education as part of the wider solution for the UK. As the saying goes, ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know.’ Everyone I spoke with had reached a point in which they couldn’t turn back. Charlie couldn’t forget the images she saw online from her hospital bed. For Emily, it was the baby sea turtles which she released into the ocean. Stav witnessed waste being disposed every day, she couldn’t ignore it. After realising the impact that rubbish causes to our environment, many expressed the feeling of being ‘overwhelmed.’ Yet, it takes a special strength to do something, knowing you can’t change everything. Simply adjusting one aspect of your life at a time, little by little. Having followed up with Lilly-Anne to see how her compost dilemma worked out, she said, “I did end up writing a letter to my neighbour. Turns out they have two compost bins and don’t need both. She kindly wrote me an email back and offered us her second compost bin.” Luckily for Lilly-Anne, her neighbour’s generosity means that she doesn't have to cycle all the way to the recycle centre. “She left it out near the street last night and I put my frozen compost in.”
Life in the new Vauxhall Gentrification has been controversial but some local residents are fully behind the changes
Until 2012, the Vauxhall/Nine Elms area of London was mainly industrial. Driving through Nine Elms Lane, you would pass by a few older residential brick buildings with the tops covered in vines and fenced construction sites until you reached the iconic Battersea Power Station. And that was pretty much it. Now, it is home to the new US embassy and the world’s richest real estate investors. The area is almost brand new, or it is said that it will be by 2020. According to the Mayor of London's Office, the regeneration zone “spans across central London on the South Bank of the Thames and extends from Lambeth Bridge in the north, to Chelsea Bridge in the south, covering the Albert Embankment, Vauxhall and a large slice of North Battersea.” This regeneration will bring 20,000 new homes and generate 25,000 jobs, according to the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea (VNEB) opportunity area project proposal document in 2012. Many are opposed to gentrification arguing that it harms local communities by driving up property prices and making the area unaffordable to those who have lived there for years. However, others argue that there are many social and economic benefits to regeneration. Not only for them in the few coming years, but also for their children and the generations to come. “Back then [in] this part of the area especially, I wouldn’t be allowed to come down here. It was a rough area, so crime was high, anti-social behaviour was high,” said Liam Washington, 38, Night Building Manager at the Riverlight residential development in Nine Elms. If he wanted to go to Battersea Park, he would have to go with an adult, even at fourteen or fifteen years-old. He said, “It was well known then for being quite rough, but now it’s very strange. It looks lovely. Everything looks brand new and transport is better.” Washington said Battersea Power Station is “the hub of the area and if there’s gonna be a community it will be based around the Power Station. It’s an iconic feature of London. You’ll get all sorts of Londoners going there and they’ll travel to get there as well.” Public transport has come a long way in the VNEB area. It is not that well connected, with only buses and just three underground stations in the area. However, for those who have invested in
real estate in either one of the residential developments, there will be two new underground stations on a new extension to the Northern Line. This will make getting around the area easier, as well as getting to places in the rest of the city. “The Northern line extension (NLE) will improve transport links and public spaces in the area and is essential to support the transformation of Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea, a designated regeneration area on the South Bank,” according to TFL. Ongoing infrastructure changes in the regeneration zone include in Northern Line extension from Kennington to Battersea through Nine Elms which due for completion in 2020. “After a long time, doing that ride on the bus everyday to school, I was shocked. I was like wow. Such a short time and it’s changed in a major way,” said Yousef Darrat, 22, an Oil and Gas Management student at Greenwich University. He used to go to Battersea Park School in the VNEB area in 2011, just before the projects started. There were 23 schools and colleges in the area back then. Now there are 30, and Darrat says
Words: Aljohara Alhegelan Image: Mark Towning / Flickr.com
he feels like it seems much safer and nicer to just walk around. The area has huge potential to make a significant contribution to London’s economy. “There are people who own their council flats here and now they’re worth more because of developments like this,” Washington told us. Also, since the regeneration projects have started, the older properties’ value in the area has increased 34% to 45% on average, according to a property valuation service called Check My Street. There are other economic benefits to these projects for the locals. Garages and petrol stations get more business, as there are more locals who own at least one car. Some residents also move around with an entourage of supercars. Many are opposed to gentrification because it tears apart communities and replaces them with a cluster of tall modern buildings. However, this project is combining two communities by placing the regeneration between them. All with the outcome of building a larger community that brings money from outside the country into the local businesses, improving the local economy. 79
GET TING THROUGH WITH Most people thrive from having their voices heard. Some stand confidently with all eyes on them, their hearts steady. Others stand unfazed and calm as they present their ideas and speak their minds — they speak fluently, open and clear. However, not everyone has this experience when standing up to talk in front of people. Some people hide. They hide from the idea of standing up, front and centre, even if this is to introduce themselves. Their heart races, they stand fazed and anxious. Tasks, such as ordering food or a drink become daunting. Answering the phone or making a phone call can become nerve-wracking. All these tasks seem like an easy everyday routine for most people, but this is the opposite of what stammerers feel like. A stammer or stutter is when there is a blocking of speech— this can cause repetition of words and letters. Some can stutter through childhood, but can also overcome it. Nonetheless, there are people who can't overcome it and will continue to live with the speech disorder 80
into adulthood. Approximately 500,000 adults have a stammer in the UK, this is about 1% of the adult population. More men are said to stammer than women, with a ratio of about 3.5 to 4 stammering men for every woman who stammers. Rory Sheridan is a graduate of BA (Hons) Photography. He too is acquainted with struggles of having a stammer when in university. Nonetheless, he has used his stammer for good, using it to help him towards his work. His final major project was called: The Open Mouth That Offers Up Nothing. “Stammering did hold me back at UAL. I would struggle to contribute in group discussions and tutorials.” Rory explains. “My friendship group and connections were somewhat limited.” said Rory, “I perhaps didn’t make the most of the support and advice of tutors and technicians to really ensure that I explored all methods of making and processes.” Although Rory describes his stammer as a limitation when making friends, he was lucky to meet someone on his
course with a stammer. “It’s really exciting when you find someone who is going through the same thing as you are” Even though a stammer can be seen as something which can hold you back and make your life difficult. meeting people who suffer from the same things you do can help you see the positives and help you understand how other people deal with it. When asked about how his stammer affected his experience at university, Rory said, “stammer did have both positive and negative effects on my university experience. Positively, about a year and a half into my course, I found that my stammer and the individuality it brought me was actually a really positive influence on my university experience.” He explained how this has lead him to make his artwork about his own and others stammering experiences, such as his final major project. Rory has tried to get help multiple times. Firstly, he got therapy at the amazing Michael
Words: Katie Webb
UN I VER SITY STA M MER An insight into the struggles of being at university with a stammer and how one student dealt with the issue
Palin Centre for Stammering Children in Islington. Rory described how he went on an intensive course for two weeks: “It was an inspiring experience, allowing me to accept myself for who I am and what my stammer is—as well as a technique for managing it better. This was an intense, emotional two weeks of my life, changing my stammering journey for the better.” Rory went on to discuss the recent help he got, “I have attended an intensive course again. This allowed me to identify what I do in a moment of stammering, become less sensitive to this then put steps in place to modify what I do.” Like many, his stammer has the most effect on him when he is tasked to meet new people and is around people that he does not know very well. “Just try to be yourself. Stammering exhibits so many positive traits, granted, it is sometimes tricky to see these for yourself. But, acknowledge these, and try to maintain a positive mental attitude. It will do you wonders,” he continues.
I never realised that I had a stammer until I was made to leave school early once a week to attend a speech therapy session, I was 7 years old at the time. The condition never truly bothered me until I was in secondary school. This is where the staring and the laughing every-time I tried to say “Good Morning” when my name was called began. During my first year of secondary school, I kept my head down. I avoided questions and speaking in general. One thing I dreaded almost as much as presentations were supply teachers, the teachers that covered a lesson when the teacher was ill or away. This is because they didn’t know about my stammer. They didn’t know that I was the last person in the classroom who needed to read out loud. Similar to Rory’s experience with his stammer, my stammer has also held me back and affected my experience at university. In secondary school, I struggled with how people reacted to my stammer but it wasn’t until I started university
that my stammer really got in the way. There are some days where I wished I never chose to study journalism, as it is all about communication, this can be with the readers, people you’re interviewing or those you work within your journalism career. I knew that the course featured a large amount of communication, written form and verbally, however, it was the confidence within the classroom which brought out my stammer the most. Watching people confidently talk about their ideas and watch how they would easily interview people during exercises made me more anxious about myself. I wanted to be able to walk up to someone and ask them questions without the fear of not getting through the questions before my stammer made an appearance. As a 22 year-old, I am looking to overcome my stammer. Like Rory, I am researching into the idea of attending speech therapy again or joining a support group. I’d like to overcome my stammer and not let it define me anymore. 81
Dead men do tell tales “There is very little difference between the historian and the journalist.”
Words: Jimmy Ioannou Images: Richard Caldeira, British Library 82
Hidden within the crowded streets, numerous takeaways and run-down bars scattered across the London boroughs, are the stories that people tell. From the overflowing stations such as Kings Cross St Pancras and Euston, most commuters begin their journeys for the day. Camden is one of the tourist-filled boroughs, the complete opposite to many other areas in London. Upon the alcohol-soaked floors of the local late-night pubs, you can find a variety of unique individuals. Sitting at the bar in The Elephant’s Head was Richard Caldeira, formerly a journalist from South Africa, Richard, or Ricky for short, was enjoying a night out with friends but was eager to start up a conversation. The happy drunks around us danced to Madness as the sound of Baggy Trousers echoed around the room. Ready to tell his story, he spoke of his life as a journalist from South Africa, as those around listened attentively. His descent into, “professional purgatory,” began in 2004. Starting off like many of us, Ricky had no idea of which direction to take in his life. As a self-described idealist, he turned to one philosophy: “Study those subjects for which you have a burning passion and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” This led to an almost obsessive interest in news and current affairs, spending hours on end soaking up all the knowledge he could from multiple news outlets. Ricky studied at the University of Pretoria in 2006, gaining his first commission as a music journalist for his university publication, Perdeby. Having close contacts in the music scene, he regarded this opportunity as a match made in heaven, the experience turned him to other publications, tripling his workload to triple the amount. “I’ll never forget being physically given a stack of albums to review by one of those editors whilst still lying in a hospital bed, recovering from an attack of my Crohn’s disease.” Ricky’s most ambitious project while studying was his attempt to establish a new music-based arts magazine, The Commoner. “The idea was to produce our own platform with which to shine a light on arts and youth culture in the city and by doing so, stimulate further growth. Not only was The Commoner founded by my friends and me, but it was personally financed by us as well.” His team threw launch parties in attempts to finance their work, however, the lack of serious advertising saw the publication fall apart before it had time to flourish. “Sadly, while the parties briefly became famous and wove us into local folklore for 10 minutes, we were not able to secure enough serious advertisements and therefore income for the project to survive too long.”
His first trip to the UK came in 2009, looking for a fresh start, “If I could sum up the year before I came, horrendous break-up and nervous breakdown would be a good start.” Searching for a way to really kickstart his journalistic career, Ricky managed to secure an unpaid internship at The Financial Times Weekend Magazine. “Fuck knows how!” He had won the internship due to his self-described, “gonzo style of writing”. However, after spending a year in the UK with relatively little-to-no income, the reality of his economic situation hit harder than imagined, forcing him back to South Africa. This situation did not improve after moving back, stating the lack of job opportunities back home. “Reality though is a bitch and, having returned in 2010, I discovered that open positions in journalism were a near extinct species.” Pushing himself to work for the family business, in order to retain some semblance of an adult life, he discovered the harsh realities involved when working with those you love. Luckily, he got out of this situation, thanks to a friend he had met while studying. This later led to a job offer in 2011 from Brooke Pattrick Publications, a South African publisher with numerous business and trade magazines. “Not glamorous, but it was a job and, more importantly, a job necessitating writing.” At this point in our conversation, the bar in Camden was only getting busier. As the night went on, it became a lot harder to talk, so we took the conversation outside. We only spoke for a while longer, as we waited for the late night London buses to arrive, continuing our later conversations over email. However, some stories he told before the night ended really put our lives here, in the safety of the UK, in perspective. Something he mentioned little of late, was an experience he had at one point in his life living within South Africa. Nobody can imagine what it’s truly like to be kidnapped unless they’ve lived it. We didn’t speak much on the topic, he just considered himself lucky to even be here right now. In this twisted world we live in, you could be living your dream until it all spirals out of control and you find yourself in a life or death situation. With a gun to your head, do you accept what comes next, or call them on their bullshit. “The reason I’m still here is because I called their bluff.” He painted a picture of a broken South Africa, whether through his own experiences or others. “Thanks to Apartheid, the clear majority of South Africans are not only desperately poor, but they’re unskilled as well.” He went on to talk at length about the state of the country, referring to problems involving the state government and racism itself. “As you
know, the country was only freed from the horrors of state-sponsored racism in 1994.” Feeling lost in a country so divided and in need of change, he looked to the future. After leaving his job at Brooke Pattrick Publications, he left the world of journalism for good to pursue something new. However, his health started to worsen, which put a damper on his plans. He thrived on the rush of adrenaline that came with being a journalist and trying to meet deadlines, but that same rush was harming him. “I also have an autoimmune condition, called Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease, depending on which doctor you talk to, and it had begun to cause me serious problems,” he told us. Despite the excitement he felt within the profession, the stress was getting to him, forcing him out in order to save his life: “Put bluntly, the stress of the job was killing me and so I had to quit.” To say his next move would be unique is an understatement. Not many would decide to follow the path of studying the likes of demonology, angelology, and medieval magic, but history was his
“Put bluntly, the stress of the job was killing me and so I had to quit.”
particular passion. He acknowledged the similarities and differences between this path and journalism, “My first love and passion has always been history, there is very little difference between the historian and the journalist. I prefer to be a historian as most of the people I’d need to interview are already dead.” Realising that dead men tell more tales then they let on, Ricky dived head first into the world of the Crusades, backed by his passion for history. The Reconquista period of history was a specific focus of his early studies. This period of crusades and war held a special place in his heart, due to the tales he heard from his grandmother. “Why medieval history? My maternal grandmother really. She also loved history and really encouraged it in me. She happened to live in Portugal and would regale me with tales of the Reconquista and founding of the nation,” he explained. The period itself lasted from 722 AD to January 2nd 1492, and focused on the crusades between the Christian and Muslim kingdoms, focused on the Iberian Peninsula (now Spain and Portugal). While South Africa was still lacking in opportunities, England came calling once again. Being overworked and underpaid in a fairly toxic environment pushed him away from the journalism life, but led him towards studying medieval history at Cambridge University in 2014. “As you can imagine, I accepted immediately and found myself there at the end of September 2014. The rest, as they say, was history.” While his first year saw him focus on topics involving England and Portugal during the Crusades, his second year saw him delve into the world of the supernatural, focusing on demonology, magic and medieval ghost stories. These studies
eventually led him to write a book on demonology. The book, while fictional, uses what he’s learnt over the years to build a solid concept that makes use of actual myths and legends to construct a narrative that is both educational and entertaining to audiences. When describing this undertaking, he compares it to other known writers’ work, “Think Anne Rice, Aliette de Bodard and any other number of supernatural fiction authors, and no, absolutely NOT Twilight.” Writing a fictional novel is something very new to him, as a former journalist who is used to writing about reality, this new scenario has brought to light with something he refers to as ‘Impostor Syndrome’, which makes a person doubt their own abilities or lack confidence in what they do. Ricky hopes for success on this book, which would surely be life-changing. His dream has been to work in this field, and despite his struggles through life, he’d managed to achieve that. We had reached the end of our wait outside, the night grew darker, but the streets were still as busy as ever. At almost 2:00am, the cold breeze of winter crept down our spines, while many around smoked and drank the time away. As the buses approached, Ricky left with a final thought, “This last point is important, not just for me, but to everybody, as without dreams then what are we? Mindless automatons who literally shuffle through life via routine and feel only tedium? Or are we more, the sum of everything we wish to be and the drive that spurs us forward in our quest to improve our lives and by doing so, others as well? I’d like to hope it’s the latter for without dreams we are nothing.”
‘My child saved me from abuse’ How a mother escaped a life of victimisation
Words: Connor Taylor-Parton Images: Steve Walser / flickr.com
“You can’t have friends because they’re hoes, and a flock of birds fly together,” Chad said to Sophie. In the beginning, it was subtle abuse, accusations of cheating, controlling her social life by determining who she could and couldn’t see. But little did Sophie know what was coming. Abuse in relationships can come in many forms such as emotional, physical or financial. Domestic abuse will affect one in four women and one in six men. It’s a growing problem in society and causes two women each week to be murdered by a current or former partner. During the time of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, 6,488 soldiers were killed at war. By comparison, 11,766 women were killed as a result of domestic violence. Sophie, a 21 year-old was born and raised in a small village, Lake Nebagamon, north of Wisconsin, near Minnesota with a population of fewer than two thousand people. At the age of five, her father passed away and her mother went on to find a new partner. Sophie had helped raise her three siblings and then three more children from the mother’s new partner. “I was often known as the one with a heart of gold, or a second mother to my siblings,” said Sophie. She was always recognised to be good with children. After graduating high school and completing her first year of college, at 19, Sophie moved out. She met her boyfriend at the time, Mike, who worked a city job in Saint Paul, the state capital of Minnesota. She originally moved there to live with him, however, his job put a strain on his mental health and the relationship. Mike would self-harm regularly, she recalls him threatening her in moments of outburst that if she were to ever leave him he would “end it”, referring to his life. Sophie decided to put an end to this toxicity and find a home of her own, a place where she could “feel safe and not on edge.” She found herself a rundown trailer, a place that she could work on as a little project. There was no running water or heating connected to the trailer, so she relied on her neighbours to be able to take showers and do laundry in their home. Her neighbours were married with two children. Sophie, having a loving personality, found herself babysitting them. It kept her bills paid so she could remain independent until she could get herself
there for too long. During a heated argument, Chad begged Sophie to get an abortion or to make herself miscarry to prevent him from having a child. He said the child would be better off because she would be a terrible mother, Sophie broke into tears to which Chad yelled, “Shut the fuck up!” Abid, an organisation producing reports on the subject of psychological and sexual abuse, says that victims of sexual or physical abuse are twice as likely to get an abortion. “I have flashbacks of the nights I cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t leave the house other than for work,” said Sophie with a slight crack in her voice. One day, things got out of control. At work, Sophie made good friends with a colleague, who happened to be male. When Chad found out, he rushed home drunk and high. He couldn’t get in the house because
back on her feet and in a comfortable situation. A few months later, her neighbours had someone move in, a boy named Chad. Sophie described him as “the sweetest, most caring guy I’ve ever encountered, he promised to give me the world, and we talked about having children and getting married all the time.” She didn’t think she would find herself in a similar situation as she did with Mike. After turning 20, she began to experience symptoms of pregnancy. Chad didn’t believe her. He thought she was faking nausea, headaches, cramps and the lack of sex drive, making her feel guilty for saying no to sexual interaction which resulted in her being pressured to avoid being yelled at. So she decided to take a pregnancy test. It was positive, and she was seven weeks on. When Sophie announced the pregnancy to Chad, his response was “well you are the one that wanted it, right?” and walked away. They made the collective decision for Chad to move in, but since then, he was never the same man again. WomensAid state that 25% of women are abused for the first time when they are pregnant. Chad insisted that he always had to be informed of Sophie’s whereabouts, she must have headed home straight from her retail job, and if she were late, she would have had a storm of questions being thrown at her. Every time she would go to her neighbours to take a shower Chad implied she was sleeping with the neighbour’s husband because she was
“I have flashbacks of the nights I cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t leave the house other than for work.”
he lost his keys so kicked the door until it opened. He ran into the bedroom that Sophie was sleeping in and started yelling. He clenched his fists, went bright red and started punching holes into the walls and then quickly disappeared from the scene, but soon returned. This time he reached for her arm, pulled her into the living room and called her all the names under the sun. He brought up the neighbour’s husband again and started yelling out the window to the house opposite theirs. The neighbour’s wife rushed into their home and confronted Chad, but Chad started acting like there wasn’t an issue. He apologised and left yet again. Sophie was unnerved, she couldn’t sleep. He returned yet again then went into her room, grabbed her mobile phone and left. Sophie chased him to get the phone back but he shoved her onto the bed and threatened “If you get up again, you will
regret it.” He repeatedly smashed her phone until it was no longer working. Later that evening he fell asleep on the sofa in the living room. The next morning, she overheard one of Chad’s friends come into the trailer and take him to work. The second she heard him leave she searched the trailer for the iPad and ran down the street to find Wi-Fi. “I phoned my friend from home, she jumped straight into her car and drove three hours to pick me up and took me to her place.” She fled the toxic environment, removing herself and her unborn child from the abusive relationship. Ten million children are exposed to domestic violence every year. If a child is exposed to it, they are 10 -20% more likely to commit abuse in their future relationships and less likely to succeed at school, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Months from the altercation, Sophie
found out Chad has moved on to a new relationship. His girlfriend is often seen with bruises which she tries to cover up. “My daughter is my life saver. If I wouldn’t have been pregnant I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave. I left because I wanted to protect my unborn child. And now I have a beautiful almost four-month-old daughter. That’s my story. That’s why I left, I didn’t ‘flee’ with his child. I left. For my safety and for hers.” Almost a year after the episode with Chad. Their daughter and Sophie are “as happy as ever”, however, she states “I still struggle with the trauma that my ex put me through.” She has now moved on to a new relationship with someone she has known for a few years. Her new partner has stepped up to be an amazing father for her daughter, “I’m giving my daughter the best life I can give her and that makes me happy,” Sophie says contently.
War on the roads Why is hostility between cyclists and motorists on the rise?
Words and image: Maha Khan
Driving and cycling are both valid, efficient, and reasonable forms of transport. A two-wheeled manually powered vehicle is no better that a four-wheeled mechanically powered one. A bicycle offers benefits such as health, mobility, and fun while a car is comfortable, fast, and has a radio. Cyclists are exposed to the elements while drivers don’t have to worry about waterproof backpacks. Drivers in London pay an unreasonably high price for parking if they can find one, while bicycles can be parked almost anywhere. The list of pros and cons could go on. The list of grievances that the two major road-user groups have against each other does too. Many cyclists in London commute to work, as a form of built-in exercise, and for the enjoyment, speed, and savings, of not relying on public or private transport. There is also a feeling that there is motor-oriented mentality in Britain, where the two-wheeled driver is considered a second citizen. There are numerous cycling groups within London designed to share information ranging from preventing bicycle theft to organising rallies for die-ins. Stop Killing Cyclists and London Cycling are two of the largest Facebook groups for cyclists, with 7194 and 4984 members, respectively. A cyclist in London, Ed Spencer, a member of one of these groups, commutes thirty-forty miles to work every day. He experiences incidents with motorists about once a month, things such as close passes or aggression from drivers, saying that most of the time, it's just people being clumsy, sometimes deliberate, but he tries to ignore it. Ed started riding with a camera a few years ago after a particularly scary episode involving a bus driver throwing a bottle of coke at him which he couldn’t prove, but “black cab drivers are the absolute worst, almost daily I experience some form of abuse from them.” According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, in 2016: 18,477 road accidents cyclists were reported, 3,499 of which they were killed or seriously injured. The study, unsurprisingly, found that cyclist casualties had a higher chance of being serious or fatal injuries on higher speed roads. It is also interesting to note that almost 80 percent of collisions occurred during the day.
of space cyclists leave between themselves and the curb impacts how they are perceived by motorists. For example, a female cyclist may be given more space while passing. There is also an interesting study into helmets and whether they affect how motorists perceive cyclists without a helmet more cautiously and if cyclists themselves take less risks. I spoke to Tom Cohen, a behavioural psychologist professor from UCL, who specialises in transport behaviour change, to ask his opinion given his research into the issue. He felt that is was “unhelpful to have these categories, because they can reinforce perceived differences between groups of road users when ultimately we’re all actually just sharing a scarce resource”. Tom also felt that the perceived hostility between the two groups has been stoked by media reports and a “general intellectual laziness” which allows us to keep falling back on accusing cyclists and motorists of conforming to certain behaviours that they are associated with. It doesn’t help that the media broadcasts headlines such as: "Killer cyclists? Let’s not forget the real threat on our roads”,"Is the UK really menaced by reckless cyclists?", "Death by dangerous cycling' law considered" or "Pregnant cyclist killed by tipper truck driver’s error." In some cities, road users co-exist without the media’s interference into their daily commute. Cycling havens like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where many citizens are multi-modal. Undoubtedly, London does not have the best environment for cyclists and motorists to commute together. However, making generalisations about motorists and cyclists isn’t the best solution. Another possible factor of aggression is the fact that motorists are a homogeneous group with predictable behaviour who must pass a common test in order to be allowed on the road. They have a fixed space on the road and are more likely to be faced with penalty than a cyclist in a collision. Cyclists do not always have a fixed place in traffic and have to adapt to the infrastructure but without any formal training to conform to. There is a fundamental attribution error tendency in which we forget that the actions of others are greatly affected by their environment, and the less we sympathise with their situation the greater the bias against their assumed nature.
Many drivers and cyclists, such as Ed, have now taken to filming their journeys, for evidence and to post on social media. Fraser Moore feels the same way, but doesn’t think that all drivers are to blame: some leave enough space when passing and respect his right to the road. He finds that media coverage of cycling is not accurate and tends to “pick apart” every decision made, such as the cycle superhighway. David Reid echoes this sentiment too saying that: “the fallacies about road tax and the privilege that roads and drivers have and feel they have by right gives them a feeling that cyclists do not have a legitimate place in the road. Reading the comments section of newspapers is terrifying. The attitudes and visceral hate of cyclists is plain.” Mother of three, and a regular cyclist, Victoria Kirk Owal's, biggest complaint is car-dooring, which has made her feel unsafe on her bike. She feels that cyclists no matter how many, are always considered the “out group." Many motorists feel it is unfair that cyclists can get away with certain behaviours, an occurrence known the free-rider problem, an economic term for when people are allowed to use a common resource without paying for it. The road tax debate is an example of this. Many motorists have taken to social media platforms such as Twitter to voice their complaints about cyclists.The Licensed Taxi Driver Association (LTDA) have a history of criticising cycle infrastructure developments, such as the cycle superhighway, claiming that the segregated path causes serious disruption to traffic in the capital. Extreme comments have been made by Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA. In 2015, he compared cyclists to ISIS: “The loonies out there in the cycling world, they’re almost the sort of Isis of London. Their views and their politics—if you are not with them, and we are with the majority of it, then nothing is too bad for you. These people are unreal.” As of March this year, the LTDA changed their tune to a more positive attitude to promote their work with London Cycling Campaign, the organisations came up with a four-point plan to promote safer driving and safer cycling. According to a 2006 study by Ian Walker, appearance factors, such as gender and helmet use, and the amount
Redefining the designer Can fashion do good as well as looking good?
Words and image: Laura Kaspar
Completely biodegradable fabrics, a bio-garment that filters the air from pollutants, leather alternatives from pineapple fibres and a bag to fight water scarcity. Some designers are already trying to take a step in the right direction, contrary to the rest of the fashion industry which is still one of the main industrial polluters, second to oil. Despite this, climate change researchers, economic experts and designers themselves agree that in order to greenwash the image of this industry and counteract climate change, business people, creatives and consumers need to redefine their job description. In June 2018, the Environmental Audit Committee, part of the House of Commons that monitors the way the government is dealing with environmental protection and sustainability, published a Twitter post quoting Labour MP Mary Creagh: “Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact.” The fashion industry still demands both high human and environmental costs and while the global production of clothes as well as human population itself are constantly increasing, people are buying more and more, yet keep their clothes for a shorter amount of time. "Fashion has always been more about aesthetics rather than functionality, ethics or sustainability,” says Piero D’Angelo, fashion design student at the Royal College of Art and creator of a bio-fabric which filters pollutants from the air. “But then this university project came along which should challenge me and my colleagues to integrate biology into fashion and that’s when I started to ask myself a whole different range of questions. One of them eventually was ‘What if there was a bio-garment to filter our air?’ This would help fight climate change as well as improve people’s health.” Air pollution is one of the main climate change factors caused by industrial and household emissions. It damages not only the environment and biodiversity but also harms the human body. 91% of the world’s population live in places exceeding WHO guideline limits; one-innine deaths is caused by air pollution, 4.2 million deaths are due to the exposure to outdoor air pollution and 3.8 million are caused by the exposure to household
lichens and their characteristics for quite some time. So, eventually my idea was to combine the features of neurons and lichens. The role of the neuron would be to detect stress hormones which are released by the human body when exposed to pollutants and which would then transmit signals to the lichens to clean the air even more efficiently.” So far, Piero’s neuro-lichens-lace is still theoretical but he will continue to cooperate with the scientists to make his lace reality someday. The idea of wearing a garment that is not only about its aesthetics but is sustainable, even a fabric that interacts and improves one’s well-being is also a concept, New York-based fashion designer Suzanne Lee, is imagining. Lee is a senior research fellow at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Director of The BioCouture Research Project, and Chief Creative Officer at Modern Meadow in New York. She has already created a fabric grown from bacterial-cellulose which is 100% biodegradable. “You could literally eat your clothes,” Lee tells the insights platform LS:Nglobal. And yet, she thinks you could go even further and design something like a second skin that is able to respond to the body’s needs such as Piero’s theoretical idea of the neuro-lichens-lace. When it comes to future expectations on businesses of any industry, having an integrated approach by combining textile fabric design, science and fashion design, and at the same time neither harm bio diversity nor the climate is actually quite forward thinking. WWF advocacy Bernadette Fischler explains about the 2018 IPPC 1.5 Degrees report: “At the moment we are addressing climate change, biodiversity and the economy separately with three action plans, three budgets, with three everything. That’s not efficient. But if you have an integrated approach you are able to better manage trade-offs between, for example, bio-diversity and climate change. Tradeoffs which will always be there. It is foolish to think that if you just deal with climate change really well, it will also stop nature loss and we have a sustainable economy.” As an example she mentioned a community that was living off a mango forest but the mango forest had to be taken away because they needed to build a
smoke from dirty stoves and fuels. Even though this is a widespread problem, it is concentrated in big and densely-populated cities. London reached its air pollution limits on January 30 2018. This means that for the past nine months, every person living in London has been breathing air which fails to meet European Union quality rules. This was not the first time the British government did not comply with regulations. In May, Britain along with five other countries (Germany, France, Italy, Hungary and Romania) was taken to the European Commission for repeatedly breaching legally-binding air pollution regulations. Piero D’Angelo addressed this problem and decided to create a fabric to filter the air around us and reduce harmful pollutants. The main component of his fabric are lichens. He chose this particular bio-organism due to their specialised characteristics such as absorbing pollutants from the air and metabolising them into less or non-toxic compounds. “And then I thought, what if people could wear them and clean our air.” Eventually, Piero’s project lead to a collaboration with Japanese scientists from the Ikeuchi Lab of the University of Tokyo who were working on creating synthetic neurons. “When I first met with the scientists, I had been researching
“At this stage where resources are limited and the fashion industry is already damaging the environment, business and design need to work hand in hand and learn from each other because it’s not getting better”
concrete sea wall in order to protect them from rising sea levels, a consequence of climate change. Then the entire community had to go somewhere else and build another mango forest because they had no food anymore. “The purpose of business is increasingly recognised as needing to go far beyond the narrow definition of maximising returns to shareholders. A reframing of the imperative to operate as a responsible business will involve both understanding and measuring a wider set of concerns that reflect broader reflection of companies’ impacts on society and the environment,” according to the climate change
and resource scarcity trend-research team of the multinational professional services network PwC. Some companies, such as Piñatex, who design leather alternatives out of pineapple fibres, a by-product of existing agriculture, were inspired by the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard which examines the qualities of a product in six categories: material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. “You need to know the materials you’re using. There are no more excuses that you have no clue what you are dealing with.”
“The purpose of business is increasingly recognised as needing to go far beyond the narrow definition of maximising returns to shareholders.”
Almost all of the Cradle to Cradle categories imply that natural resources need to be saved and managed more efficiently because they are scarce. One of these resources is water. A study by the International Water Management Institute estimates that by 2025, 25% of the world population or 33% of the population in developing countries will be affected by severe water scarcity. The 2018 United Nations World Water Report also shows that “at present, an estimated 3.6 billion people (nearly half the global population) live in areas that are potentially water-scarce at least one month per year, and this population could increase to some 4.8–5.7 billion by 2050.” An exhibition called Future Bags organised at the Museum of Bags and Purses, set the task of designing “the bag of the future”, more specifically 2050, to a group of design students from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. They had to consider what materials will be available in 2050 and the needs and challenges society will be facing. In other words, they had to get away from the fashion industry’s “narrow definition” (PwC) of designing aesthetically-appealing or economically-profitable clothes. One group addressed the issue of water scarcity and presented the “Bag as a Home” as a solution. The bag can provide one’s daily drinking water supply by filtering human urine, which is 90% water—as the human body produces about 2000ml (3.5 pints) per day this amount would be sufficient to survive. Industries of any sector need to start rethinking the way they do business and manufacture their products from the ground up. “You need to know the materials you’re using. There are no more excuses that you have no clue what you are dealing with. And it doesn’t matter what your role in the fashion industry is, whether you’re a marketing or sales person or creative,” says Katarina Rimarcikova, Senior Lecturer in Fashion, Design, Media and Management at London College of Fashion. “At this stage where resources are limited and the fashion industry is already damaging the environment, business and design need to work hand in hand and learn from each other because it’s not getting better. We simply have to figure out how we can do it better together.” 89
What’s holding you back? How one man achieved his fitness goals
Words: Anastasia Turkina Image: Leon Martinez/Pexels.com
“This year, I will work hard and achieve the body of my dreams!” is a New Years resolution we all know too well, and one that somehow manages to slip into our list every...single...year. Recent reports have stated that the “spiralling rates of obesity is far bigger than just a health issue...obesity racks up a staggering bill—at least £5.1 billion to the NHS and tens of billions to UK society every year.” These health issues are leading us and the future generation to pay these bills through our already incredibly high taxes. Moreover with social media’s pressures today, there is more urgency than ever to get in shape and lead a healthy lifestyle. As appealing as it sounds, it’s a struggle many of us face. Artefact speaks to Sam Walker about his incredible fitness journey, as well as the founder and director of Harley Therapy, Dr. Sheri Jacobson, to explore what stands in the way of achieving our goals and what we can do in order to overcome those obstacles to benefit ourselves and society with a lean, mean body. In one year, 22 year-old Sam Walker transformed his body beyond his expectations. Having lost 70kg (154lb), he is gaining attention on Instagram and becoming an inspiration to those looking to begin their own transformation. “I always had some issues with body image and how I looked but I really let myself go since high school. I decided to go and do something about it,” said Walker.
fear.” However, those who have had easier childhoods might steer away of change due to their lack of experience with it. “They might also be used to ‘fitting in’, to being the normal, reliable type,” she shared. Other than fearing change, we discussed the possible fear of achieving our goals that may be holding us back. “Some people are afraid of success, some people thrive on it. If we were afraid of success it would generally be because we have hidden beliefs that we would suffer if we succeeded,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Life coaching suggests that for each thing we gain in life we must lose something.” This means we would for example lose friends due to their jealousy or becoming lonely due to our difference. In this case, she advises “identifying what each win means we stand to lose, and then getting comfortable with that, we make our path to success easier as we are less likely to sabotage. And if we decide we can’t face the price of the achievement, we can change our goal.”
Fear of change? “I was a depressed, overweight 160kg (353lb) man who was looking for change, I don’t remember fear being a part of it,” said Walker. “The human species hate change, but I don’t believe it’s a reasonable excuse.” Despite research stating that humans fear change, Walker’s fitness journey was an exception. Since September 2017, he has continued to move towards the goals he set out for himself from the very start, “I’m still, today, training for my original goals I set out 1 year ago. I’m my biggest critic and I suck at taking compliments.” Dr. Jacobson confirmed the fear and discomfort people may face with change, “It is true that our primal, ‘lizard’ brains are programmed for survival. And if a change is registered by this primal part of our brain as threatening, then we can 90
have a fear response, even if we logically don’t think it’s threatening.” However, despite having a ‘fear of change’, the personality of the person comes to play an important role in the process. Throughout her career she’s understood that some people “are driven and always seek change” whilst others “want things to stay the same because it makes us feel safe and comforted.” Walker relates himself to the former. Why the struggle? “Knowledge on training and nutrition, 100%,” exclaimed Walker, “a lot of people do one side of this equation really well, generally it’s the training side. Training gets addicting and it’s enjoyable, everybody loves the post session endorphins flowing through your body. But where The majority of people fail is nutrition.” Shawn M. Talbott, PhD and nutritional biochemist said that: “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise... on average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks.” Walker shares the same views, “I’m a strong believer that losing weight is around 70/30—80/20.” Sam began his fitness journey on an ‘8 Week Challenge’ at a gym called F45. Throughout the eight weeks, he was training in classes as well as following the meal plan provided, “I ate 100% meal plan for every challenge. Nothing but challenge approved food,” said Walker. Thanks to the guidance in nutrition today, he has gained understanding on the importance of it in the process of weight loss. In 2016, a study found that 26% of adults are obese and 35% are overweight in the United Kingdom. This highlights the fact that more than half of adults in United Kingdom are unaware of what and how much they should be consuming on a daily basis. Psychologically Dr. Jacobson says that “life experience creates the core beliefs that would affect how we relate to change.” She explains that our traumatic experiences can make us fear change, however she also goes on to say that: “those with traumatic childhoods can be accustomed to navigating the fear response. They have it more often, and develop strategies for handling
Moving forward “It’s fucking difficult staying strict,” says Walker, “the best advice I’d give is literally set goals and understand WHY you want them. If your ‘WHY’ is serious enough, and you believe in it, I 100% know you will be successful in your weight loss or any journey on that matter.” With time, our motivation naturally tends to slip away and we can easily begin to talk ourselves out of whatever we were planning on doing. By understanding what and who you are doing this for, you can keep yourself motivated by reminding yourself of why you began. Walker finishes off by saying: “Cut out the bullshit, hit your protein goal from the start and believe in yourself.” Life coach Tony Robbins, in his book “Awaken the Giant Within”, speaks about the importance of changing our association. He explains that we have to make our association of the discomfort and fear of not doing something to be greater than the fear and discomfort of doing it, in this case, that would be what we are eating and how often we exercise. If you, however, are struggling with body confidence that may be holding you back, Dr. Jacobson recommends shifting focus on what your body is capable of doing and enjoying it with sports or other
activities. She also talks about practicing mindfulness, saying:“It helps us be more in our skin, present with our bodies and what they do for us.” However she explains that: “if body confidence is a deeper issue related to things like poor parenting or childhood trauma, then it might mean working with a therapist to discover and process traumatic experiences and repressed emotions that are causing you to not like yourself.”
Now, with the New Year around the corner, how can you achieve the long awaited resolution and not face yourself putting it back on the list? 1. Establish if you have a fear of change holding you back. This tends to develop from a cause. Try and figure out yours before dealing with it. 2. Figure out why you want to start. Really dig into it until your answer gets your excited and motivated to start first thing tomorrow, or even right now. 3. Once you have your why, work on your association with that goal. Begin associating discomfort and fear with the idea of not doing it rather than the difficulties you will face by doing it. 4. Educate yourself on diet. Take the time to do the research and find the right people to talk to who are educated in the area. As we have established, it turns out that our discipline and motivation isn’t required for the early morning grinds at the gym as much as what we are putting into our mouths throughout the day. You’ll end up losing motivation due to lack of results and be back to where you started. 5. Practice mindfulness. Become more in touch with your body, it will help you appreciate your body and enjoy your process even more. 6. And lastly, follow Nikes wise words, “Just do it”. The first step can sometimes be the hardest. 91
Plastic surgery in the ‘snap’ generation “People always told me not to get it done, but when I did, they understood.”
Since the age of 13, Jade Toy had known she wanted plastic surgery on her nose. In 2017, after years of consideration and persuading her parents, Jade underwent a rhinoplasty surgery. Her first choice was to get lip fillers in an attempt to even out her profile, unfortunately, this didn’t give Jade the look she was hoping for. She decided the only option was to go through with a much riskier and permanent surgery to correct the shape of her nose. “I got mine done in Switzerland and I looked at the best surgeons in the world, because I knew that for my case it was going to be complicated.” She was happy with the results and for now, this is all the surgery she plans to get. In recent years, we have seen a more positive representation of plastic surgery in mainstream media.. An emotional Channel Four documentary looked at how Katie Piper's life changed following an acid attack and the numerous cosmetic surgeries that helped restore her confidence.“I think some people take it a bit far and I think that social media and filters on Snapchat, especially on younger audiences can be quite damaging,” Jade tells us. Despite having her own surgery, she realises that careful consideration should be taken before deciding to go through with a permanent procedure. The emergence of Instagram stories in 2016 meant that millions of users began creating their own content and ultimately, selfies. Many of us like the way Snapchat and Instagram filters make us look. So much so that a user’s entire feed can be filtered selfies. This enhanced version of ourselves online, that doesn’t exist in the real world. Instagram’s version of reality may have led us to want to bring our enhanced selves into the real world. Surgery provides this option at an increasingly affordable price. Dr Naveen Cavale of the Cadogan Clinic is one of many surgeons who have taken to social media to promote their business and educate consumers and practitioners: “I use social media to make people aware of the risks and the upsides and people are starting to listen to that now. People want to go with a proper plastic surgeon who is safe and ethical.” Jade confirmed this view: “I think it’s something that should be thought through for many years, I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly. My surgeon told me that one-in-three 92
people do get some abnormalities when it comes to healing.” The competitive environment to “be the best” that social media has created may be a positive outcome for the plastic surgery industry. Consumers are able to shop around and the quality of cosmetic procedures must be raised to meet customer’s demands. Popular surgeries come and go, often influenced by high profile celebrities, such as the Kardashian family and Iggy Azalea. This raises questions for individuals who undergo cosmetic procedures only to find it is no longer fashionable. In 2015 the Kylie Jenner lip challenge went viral—it involved sucking a bottle whilst pouting in order to achieve larger lips, similar to those of the reality television personality. Although this challenge didn’t involve physical surgery, it still sparked controversy as many young people, both male and female attempted it. The Washington Post was one of many news outlets that reported on the trend, titled, “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge: The dangers of plumping that pout.” Jenner released a statement via Twitter stating: “I’m not here to try and encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look.” The NHS website tells us that lip fillers in the UK can be bought for as little as £300, at this price, it’s no surprise that young women like Jade are choosing the treatment as an affordable way to improve their appearance. Fast forward to 2018 and Kylie Jenner has removed her lip fillers, much to the delight of her fans. With 117 million followers, Kylie Jenner is the seventh most-followed account on Instagram and her aesthetic choices have global implications for beauty trends. What about the trends here in the UK? The final of the reality TV show Love
Words: Marcus Brown
Island was watched by 36 million viewers around the world. Recent YouGov studies revealed that one-in-ten women who watch Love Island considered breast surgery. Dr Cavale told us: “I haven’t seen a whole rush of people coming to see me after watching Love Island.” Whilst more people are considering a change, this may not be representative of the actual number of people getting surgery. “Breast enlargement has always been popular and it’s steadily increasing in popularity. More and more people are having it because it’s becoming more affordable, it’s becoming a bit less taboo,” Dr Cavale added. A study carried out by Real Plastic Surgery confirmed that breast augmentation remains the most popular surgery for women in the UK. The report also found that the average age women were undergoing breast surgery in 2018 was 28, this challenges the stereotype that impressionable 18 year-olds are the largest category going under the knife. Whilst operations aren’t perfect, it’s clear that consumers are more aware of the risks and dangers than they previously were. This can only be thanks to the increased conversation online and a more honest approach from surgeons. Jade told us: “I would do it again if I had the choice.” The careful consideration before the surgery meant that she was happy with the outcome. For Jade, her operations have clearly had a positive impact on her life and her confidence. “My mum noticed that I would never want to be in pictures, I’d constantly delete them when she took them and wouldn’t let her post them,” Jade said. Excessive plastic surgery that follows trends is perhaps what’s responsible for the look we’ve come to know as “botched.” However, in moderation, it can give people a new found confidence.
“I use social media to make people aware of the risks and the upsides and people are starting to listen”
The charity changing lives one race at a time Track Academy, a charity that champions sport for social change, is mentoring and training young people within the community in order to help them develop other aspects of their lives
The London Borough of Brent is one of the most multicultural in the capital, yet it is plagued with many social inequalities that seem to be endemic in major cities around the world. One of the most recognised ways to literally level the playing field is sport, hence the creation of Connie Henry’s Track Academy—a charity that champions sport for social change. The aim of the academy is to create ‘positive leaders of tomorrow’ whilst claiming sporting achievements are only a by-product of what they are doing. The use of education and mentoring alongside training is unique to Track Academy, allowing them to develop other areas of young people’s lives in the community.Connie Henry created Track Academy in 2007 under the name Willesden Junior Athletic Squad. Now renamed as Track Academy, its name resonates among the athletic community both elite and amateur. In the 10 years it has been running, it has seen supporters such as Lord Sebastian Coe and Michael Johnson, former 200m and 400m world record holder, and has had Olympic coaches such as Tony Jarrett and Clarence Callender. Not only that but it has also churned out a large number of athletes who have gone on to compete at an international such as Amar Aichoun, Confidence Lawson and Annie Tagoe. Janice Zeniou, the Education and Mentoring Co-Ordinator at Track Academy, was able to give us a glance of Track Academy as a bigger picture. After first joining through a music inclusion programme in 2012, she decided the idea of giving student-athletes life skills that may not get anywhere else was something she really wanted to get involved with. Janice tells me her aim as Education and Mentoring Co-ordinator is “To ensure that all young people are supported not only in their athletics but also in their school life and home life; it is all about personal development.” She added that they try and mentor all kids that come through their doors, whether through one-to-one mentoring or group mentoring. “There is such a shortage of community projects which are affordable and take place in a safe place, Track Academy provides that a very subsidised rate, alongside the mentoring and the educational support, it is highly accessible for people in the area,” she told me. Janice also highlighted to me that Track Academy is giving young people a place to hang out other than the streets. Though many can afford to send their children to more expensive clubs such as gymnastics, there is still a huge number of parents that need something like Track Academy too. Within London, the borough of Brent has one of the top ten stop-and-search rates according to the Metropolitan Police crime dashboard. In the past two years, Brent has seen a plethora of stabbings and other violent crimes amongst youths and gangs. Most notably the stabbing of Quamari Barnes, a schoolboy killed yards away from his school gate on January 23, 2017. A killing that sent ripples through the community and highlighted the need for a charity such as this. According to a report released by Brent Council in 2013, the risk factors for young people susceptible to gang culture include; being young and male, family breakdown and dysfunction, lack of positive role models, poor educational attainment, living in an area with an established gang problem and more. These are the factors that Track Academy are trying to identify and tackle. Whilst at Track Academy, I was able to talk to two of the senior athletes, Venus Benjamin-Maclean and Amar Aichoun, that are now coaching the younger generation whilst training them94
selves. Talking to Venus she explained how inspired she was to join Track Academy in 2012, at the age of 14, because of the Olympics that were being held here in London. She confided in me that at the age of 14 she first found the education and mentoring side of Track Academy to be quite annoying, looking back she understands how important it is to have had more than just a ‘coach’. “It was a real 360 approach,” she added. “Help in our community is needed, young people need to know that gang culture is not the only route for them; there are other ways for them to spend their time.” Venus highlighted Connie Henry as one of her biggest mentors when she was a student-athlete at Track Academy, she commended her for taking the time to pull her aside and invest real time into her personal development. Amar described a similar experience of Track Academy, before joining in 2013 he had been quite successful at borough level competitions. Now, Amar is competing at an international level, and he most recently represented Great Britain in the Commonwealth Games.
“Within London, the borough of Brent has one of the top ten stop-and-search rates.” He emphasised how important Track Academy’s mentoring scheme is to him: “In Brent, I feel as though the youth need mentors, they need help because crime rates and gang rates are increasing,” he said. “Young people don’t know what they are getting themselves involved in.” Whilst talking to Amar he explained that he also did not have a mentor assigned to him but over the years he felt he was able to confide in his coach a lot of the time and this was a consensus within the majority of the training groups. “My most rewarding experience at Track Academy has been becoming a coach, working with the multi-skills athletes and even the older mainstream groups. It has helped me to identify, appreciate and understand a lot of characters, it has been one of the best experiences for me.” Sport is a huge factor in the social well-being and promotion of a healthy lifestyle among young people. According to an article in the European Physical Education Review, there are several factors as to why young people drop out of sports at a young age; lower household income, first language at home is non-English, lower parental education and the child is not taken to sporting events. In an attempt to make a difference in the statistics, for the last four years, Track Academy has been running an indoor and outdoor athletic competition. It is held at the community sports centre in Willesden, to get people in the community more involved in sports. They are planning their annual indoor sprint challenge on December 22, 2018.
Words Tayla Brade Images: Track Academy
Alternative Living The new way to live in the city
From the outside, the building could be any other abandoned warehouse in London that we pass by on our daily route, without a second thought as to what could be left inside. Yet for a growing number of people these disregarded locations are now shaping their way into homes for the open minded who desire an alternative way to live communally in the city. The spaces large and bright, there is a decorative freedom that lacks the rules and regulations of your standard London rental, with innovation encouraged amongst the residents. Disco balls hang from the ceilings, their light illuminating intricately detailed sculptures and pieces that were perhaps made for an exhibit, yet now act as a mantelpiece for the living area. Plants and greenery grace the walls, window sills and wherever else they can fit, adding an explosion of colour and life into spaces that were once neglected, monotonous factories. White walls present themselves as blank canvases for murals and artwork by the warehouses artistic residents, allowing everyone a shot at interior design. The warehouses themselves house a mixture of individuals from all walks of life who all share a strong focus on regaining a sense of community within society. Jess, 25, is a junior graphic designer and has lived in warehouses for two years and believes it is the best way to introduce yourself into a city that can be daunting. “London itself is one of the biggest cities for one of the smallest countries in the world and can be a lonely place when you’re new,” she says of her experience. For many, communal living can be a daunting prospect, especially when moving into smaller scale house shares with complete strangers. However, warehouse living opens up a window of social opportunity, paving the way for friendships that you may not have been exposed to otherwise in your everyday life. There are a range of options to suit every newcomer, whether you decide to choose a more intimate six-bedroom setup or decide to take the plunge and live with twenty other housemates. The cost of rent varies across the warehouses dependant on location, ranging between £500—£700 pcm, all bills inclusive. Unlike Live-in Guardians who do not accept individuals under the age of 21 who are 96
Words: Sophia Mallett Image: Nemone/Flickr.com
not in full time work, warehouse living is open to all, including students. It is made attainable by the lack of deposit (often it is just first and last month’s rent as an upfront payment) and freedom within your contract, which you are able to leave at any time. Although these communities are situated throughout London, they have grown in popularity in the north, occupying areas with a dominant focus on culture. There are a variety of events hosted throughout the year, including exhibitions, performances, open studios, workshops and markets, providing a platform for creative residents to share their work and network with other like-minded individuals. These also act as an opportunity for outsiders to be introduced to the concept of a potentially new way of living, or discover a new location for their creative ventures, with many of the communities offering work spaces and studios to rent alongside living areas. Sandip Brooks, 27, is a network engineer who attended the three-year running Green Fair this summer.
“Sun, laughter, conversation trinket stalls and live music” he reflects of the event, “vivid paint and clothing, welcoming faces and the smell of many aromas all aid to the community run event Green Fair, and all of this just outside on my move in day. I have yet to look back.” Unsurprisingly, there is a buzzing night scene at the heart of these communities, with each year bringing a calendar of parties and raves open to all who are in the know. Whether an up and coming DJ or someone who produces for fun, the sounds of techno, drum and bass, disco and more are blasted throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning to a carefree crowd of all ages, genders and sexualities. With the concept of giving back at the heart of the residents, these events are often successful fundraisers for charities such as Water Aid and Yellow Days Charity. Within this mini-series I will be diving into the lives of the eccentric and innovative, shining light on the residents who are engaging in unconventional careers and hobbies.
“You don’t live in warehouses for luxury, but you live there purely to meet new, cool people. There’s always someone around you, which I find you don’t get in a shared house.”
Black Friday Blues
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Black Friday Blues How retailers use subconscious cues to get us to buy stuff we don’t need
The contactless feature on credit cards allows for unconscious spending, particularly in the city. Think about it. From the moment you step outside your house; tap, tap tap. The bus, the underground, your morning coffee, breakfast, newspaper etc. You haven’t even arrived at your workplace. Imagine setting aside one day to spend absolutely nothing? This year, citizens from over 60 countries will be doing just that. Ironically, these individuals chose Black Friday to keep their bank accounts untouched. This intentional choice challenges Black Friday, which is known for competitive sales and enhanced consumerism. “During sales periods, such as Black Friday, retail outlets endeavour to create a sense of urgency,” explains Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer Psychologist at UCL. “This is an effective way of increasing sales as, when people feel as though they are under time pressure, they are more likely to complete their purchases as soon as possible.” “People are encouraged to buy without putting too much thought into whether they actually need the product or not,” Dr Tsivrikos explains, “the very essence of feeling rushed to make a decision negates any rational thinking.” Adding that Black Friday “directs us towards a zone of excessive consumerism, which can damage finances and put an unnecessary emotional strain on pleasing others.” However, for the anti-consumerism movement, Buy Nothing Day is the new Black Friday. A protest for some and detox for others. Retailers work endlessly to convince you to buy their products and services. But who has the final say? Studies within neuroscience have discovered that the majority of our choices are ‘subconscious and emotionally driven.’ Ninety-five per cent of decisions you make while shopping is subconscious, according to Gerald Zaltman, a professor at Harvard University. People ‘buy feelings not products,’ claims Zana Busby MSc, director of Retail Reflections. She agrees that retailers want you to feel ‘clever’ and ‘savvy’ while grabbing a bargain in the Black Friday sales. “When we get a bargain one of the first things we do is reflect in the success of it with our friends and family. However, the positive emotions such as the sense of achievement, excitement or joy about
grabbing a bargain are closely tied to pleasant shopping experiences with adequate customer service, so the retailers have to find ways to lock these together,” Zana added. “Shopping behaviour is influenced by the subconscious mind and emotions. Consumers often overspend without realising it. Fear of missing out seems to trigger mindless consumer spending, but also the feelings of regret and increased anxiety if you don’t have enough funds in your bank account to pay the bills next month,” Zana explained. As such, individuals who are trying to manage debt could find these sales particularly challenging. A recent survey suggests that money is the primary factor which contributes to stress within the British population. Over one-third of the 2,000 participants admitted that they are stressed for at least twenty-four hours on a weekly basis. According to Mind, stress has relayed severe repercussions on mental health throughout the UK. So, why should you be ‘mindful’ of what you spend.? For starters, it impacts your budget. Being a mindful consumer goes beyond financial compatibility. It affects your health too. Ben Champion, a 22-yearold musician and minimalist, noted that he found ‘moments of personal peace’ through resisting consumerism culture. Ben observed that the minimalist lifestyle provided the “benefit of having less stress from worrying about money.” “It’s a feeling I’d like to share with as
Words: Kezia Farnham
many people as possible,” he concluded. Ben told me that he would ‘definitely’ consider taking part in Buy Nothing Day. Claire Snedker, takes Buy Nothing Day to a whole new level. “I choose not to spend money once a week as I think it is so easy to spend in our current world. With online purchasing and tapping your card onto machines, it’s hard to be mindful about what you are actually spending on.” The psychological impact of choosing a regular purchase-free day would, according to Zana, “reset your mindset to be more intentional with your spending.” She explained that many people hold beliefs such as ‘keeping up with the Jones.' This viewpoint consistently drives people to match (or exceed) their peer’s possessions and social class. “This and other beliefs such as ‘I’ll feel happier if I get this now’ will start to lose intensity so you can take advantage of the delayed gratification to make better purchase decisions.” Zana concludes. These psychological effects couldn’t be more accurate for Claire, “For me, not spending flexes my ‘no-spending muscles,’ and I feel motivated knowing that I can go a day without spending." Could ‘mindful spending’ be the key to happiness? Claire stated, “I have eliminated most of the excess in my life from my house and schedule and am so much happier, I haven’t ever felt this free!” So what will you choose on November 23rd, Buy Nothing Day or Black Friday? 99
DJ Katie Cooper on China’s underground music scene In Shenzhen, a Guangdong province just 20 miles north of Hong Kong, grime and techno clubs are at their peak
China, a barren landscape for underground music scenes has just begun to grow its first crop. Grime, dub, techno and bass are unheard of in many of the cities across the country, but in Shenzhen, a Guangdong province just 20 miles north of Hong Kong, the ground is fertile, and amongst the super clubs and plush venues, the Oil Club is rooted. Behind a black unmarked door in the club, 26 year-old, Manchester-born blondie, Katie Cooper plays out grime and bass music to a large crowd of Chinese and international heads. China, 5,959 miles from the roots of DNB (Drum and Bass), bass and grime in a country where the underground scene is almost non-existent. “This is a culture where guys buy expensive bottles and invite pretty girls to the table, whilst listening to pounding EDM,” Cooper explains. Cooper packed her bags and moved to China in May 2016, after being made redundant from a job for the third time back in England. However, with the underground scene being hidden, it took her a few weeks before she found anywhere playing Grime, Tech, DNB, bass or dubstep. It was only when she was walking through a busy bar street of Shenzhen that she stumbled across a venue playing some techno which she says sounded, “pretty good.” She added the DJ from the event on China’s social media networking site ‘We Chat’ and after seeing that he was from London, she thought, “Hey, I think I know what I’m looking for.” The DJ, Daniel Powers, has been cultivating the cities nightlife for many years. He has his own record label Unchained and has been bringing in some of the biggest acts to Shenzhen such as DJ Zinc, Goth-trad, Makoto, Joe nice, Flava D and Stray. “Something special is happening in Shenzhen right now, he says, “two years ago we would have had about five people at some of our nights, now we have large crowds. We had 300 people attend the night with Zinc.” Cooper’s interest in DJ’ing actually began at 17, when she got some vinyl decks. It wasn’t until buying some CDJ’s (CD turntables) in 2017 that her profession began. She first played out in January this year and began putting on parties as “There wasn’t enough Grime in Shenzhen.” She now regularly plays grime, bass and garage music across the city, such as ‘Sector,’ where she says ‘all the underground kids hang out’ and the ‘Oil Club’, which opened its doors last November, and, according to Powers, has been a major game changer for Shenzhen. Grime was homegrown in Britain back in the 00’s, in the soil of 90’s garage and DNB. It was initially spread through pirate radio stations such as Rinse FM, but it was strictly underground. Now, the meaty, 140bpm tracks laced with sharp, choppy lyrics and on point flows finally entered the commercial limelight, and the winds have carried it across Europe and to the U.S, and now to Asian countries like Korea, Japan and China. “Grime & bass is big in Japan,” Cooper says. She has been touring in Japan, for the past few months, playing in well-known clubs in the scene such as ‘Circus’ in Tokyo, ‘Club Joule’ in Osaka and ‘Outer Kotchi’ in Kotchi, the capital city of the Japanese island of Shikoku. She says that China still does have a long way to go in terms of music. When she ventured out to play in some of the smaller cities, she found the crowd hadn’t even heard of grime, dubstep or garage musi before. “They were just used to hearing crazy EDM.”
The reaction from the crowds hearing grime for the first time has been really positive, “I remember one person describing the music I play as beautiful in Mandarin,” she says. Powers explains that a lot of the local kids have not been exposed to music at all, and while big cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong have been doing cool stuff for a while, in most other cities in China this type of music is not existent. “It’s still almost a blank canvas so to speak,” he says. He wants to push awareness for “the music we all love” and believes this will make a huge impact on China’s music scene. After only one year of DJ’ing professionally, Cooper now runs her own night called Vextra in Shenzhen, where she mixes tracks produced by both U.K producers and Chines such as Kelvin T and Zean. Grime is still a very male-dominated genre, even more so in China, where Cooper explains that there are practically no women involved in grime, and while there are a couple of female DJ’s in Hong Kong who mix in some grime with other genres, they aren’t recognised as grime DJ’s. Back in Britain, the scene has been gaining more women in recent times—Shiesty and Lady Fury were female MC’s back when grime first started— but now, an influx of female grime DJs such as AJ the DJ, Julie Adenuga and Alia Loren are shaping the music in new ways. Cooper says she loves being part of this and hopes to influence more women in Asia to follow suit. “I’m lucky to have already met and know some of the most amazing women in underground music both here and back in the UK,” she says, she will continue to support them so they can “keep on shining.” By day, Cooper financially supports her DJ career by working as an English teacher, “Monday to Friday in the mornings I teach English to kids aged five to six." Cooper quickly adds, "they’re my little sweethearts.” When asked if she stands out with her ‘Jiang’ (blonde) locks, she laughs and says that people take photos of her, and with her, almost every day. “My friends have even noticed how much I get stared at when they’re with me," Cooper paused, "but you have to laugh and smile and shake it off or make a joke about it with them.” “The locals here are just curious but never hostile!” Despite her love for China, with no plans to return to the UK, and her disappearing Manchester accent, Katie says she still feels very much like a Manchester girl. “That will never change, I promise.” Even her music tastes show her Manchester roots, “Thanks to Mum and Dad, I grew up as a kid listening to Manchester music like The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and New Order.” It wasn’t until her mid-teens that she discovered Drum & Bass and went down the electronic music rabbit hole from there to Dubstep and Grime. For her future, she says she aims to play in New York or Los Angeles next year and it would be her dream to play at Outlook in Croatia. I’m also very keen to visit and play in some other countries in Asia like South Korea or Singapore.” She adds that for anyone thinking about moving to Asia, in this exciting time of up and coming musicians too, “Just do it! No excuses, just book the flight and go, it’s such a fun place to live.” And for anyone that wants to start DJ’ing, she simply says to “get mixing.”
Words: Asher-Nicole Bourke Images: Samantha Milligan, Sky Gidger, Outer Kotchi 101
THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF LUCHA BRITANNIA Enter the world of Lucha Britannia. A London based wrestling promotion, where traditional Mexican wrestling meets cabaret 102
Words and images: Lucy Arup
It’s Friday night, I’m in Bethnal Green walking down a long, dark, brick-lined alleyway. London’s overground trains are chugging away above me. I’m feeling like I know something others don’t. Like I’m ‘in’, on a secret. That ‘here we go’ feeling when you’re not sure what life is about to throw at you is creeping up inside of me. We arrive at our destination. By ‘we’, I mean me and Claire, who is taking me by the hand and showing me this highly-anticipated thing that awaits at the end of this alleyway. You will get to know Claire soon. I promise. We arrive at the entrance of a very unassuming building, which, during the day I’m sure it looks like a storage unit or chiropractor’s office. But tonight, there’s a man in a black suit and bowler hat taking names. He’s also wearing a mask with vertical black and white stripes. A zipper runs up the middle of it. He looks like a fetish gimp enigma. Claire knows him, she says a cool “She’s with me” type of thing and then we’re in. I walk through a black curtain. Then almost on cue, Bang your head by Quite Riot drops on the speakers and now I’m really ‘in.’ I’ve entered the intoxicating world of Lucha Britannia. Lucha Libre is Mexican wrestling, a variant of the sport where those who participate wear a mask that conceals their true identity, one that famously features high flying moves and flashy personas. Lucha Britannia is that too but injected with cabaret intervals and a British sense of humour. The guy who runs it has described the scene as “Monty Python meets Benny Hill meets wrestling.” A monthly extravaganza where wrestlers and those training to be wrestlers get to showcase their moves and well-crafted personas to an audience that is pretty much down for anything. There is a slight whiff of fetish about this scene too, which is a touch on the money, as this space doubles as a fetish club on other nights.
So let’s rewind about an hour or so, when Claire Heafford and I sat down for tea at a bar around the corner. Claire is a wrestler for Lucha Britannia and has been for the last two years, but tonight, she won’t be performing as she’s heavily pregnant. I wanted to know what brought her to the world of lucha. Claire tells me that she was a gifted gymnast for most of her childhood. This meant she’d had to endure gruelling training sessions with a Russian gymnastics teacher, but then gave it up when she was 15 to concentrate on athletics. By the time she was an adult, she’d left behind her competitive sports background for a career in the arts. However, she missed using her body, missed the chance to express herself and to compete. She was soon looking for activities to fill this void. She tried adult gymnastics class and circus school, none of which really fit. By chance, she met a woman during circus training who told her about a school where you can learn to wrestle. Claire was intrigued: “I looked it up, I came to see the show and it was just, I felt like my whole life had come to this point, and was like, ‘OK, I don’t know what this is, but I have to learn wrestling and get on this show.” Claire doesn’t exactly know what it is about wrestling that she loves: “I had never watched WWE, I have no desire to be in the WWE, but there’s something about wrestling that I was immediately like, ‘OK, I love it’, because it’s this weird mixture of gymnastics, martial arts; It’s kind of like rugby, it’s about collision, it’s bodies colliding, I really liked the Mexican style because it was masked.” I asked her about her first performance, which was by chance at the famous York Hall venue around the corner. “I guess I just inhabited the ten-year-old gymnast inside of me who loved doing dance routines and performing.” She tells me about her wrestling character and 103
how that ties into her performance. “Weirdly the character I do is a doll. When I immediately went out, the movements that I made were very like a Russian doll, like I had been taught to do as a ten-year-old kid,” she laughs. “So I did this weird entrance as a doll, walked down the stairs, and there was this big mental carpet in the run-up to the ring, I was like ‘OK, I better do something’, so I did a cartwheel, backflip, summersault and just kept doing that around the ring; the crowd went crazy.” Claire met her partner, Tom, at Lucha Britannia, who is also a wrestler. She remembers the first live wrestling show she watched was Tom vs Will Ospreay (a now famous wrestler who works in Japan.) She found the show inspiring as Will is known as a high flyer, a person who can do flashy, acrobatic moves. It reminded Claire of her own gymnastic training, “I watched what he was doing and was like ‘I can do that, I
kind of works like that.” The array of characters that come out from behind the curtain are crazy, colourful and wonderful. There is Monito Alludo, a monkey character who swings off the beams of the building’s foundations and walks on all fours. There is El Piranha, a ‘heel’ (a wrestling term for a bad guy). He comes out with an aggressive stride while the audience is screaming, ‘fuck you’ and giving him the finger. And he’s giving it right back to them. Next, there’s Disco Diablo. Wearing a white fur jacket covered in colourful fairy lights, wild curly hair tumbling over his silver mask. He’s doing the whole Saturday Night Fever dance. The crowd loves him. Then there is Miguel Jackson. In case the name didn’t give it away, he’s a Michael Jackson impersonator. I’m not sure if this is a one-off, special Halloween theme, but he is owning it. He is wearing the red leather Thriller costume with
“There is an unspoken rule not to identify a wrestler’s persona to their real-life identity. And I have to say, I enjoyed the mystery of it all.” can summersault like that, I’m going to get in the ring and learn to do it.” But she realised wrestling entailed a lot more than flashy acrobatics. “I then quickly found out that wrestling is fucking hard, so while I can summersault, learning to wrestle and make it look real, that’s a whole other thing, that’s going to take another six years” Back to the present, and an MC in a black suit covered in diamanté flames stalks around the ring. The word ‘Louche’ is spelled across his jacket. Three women flank him, they are dressed in skin-tight latex, one has the persona of a crazed nurse, the other two are slightly milder, in the sense that their latex is just branded with the Lucha Britannia logo. I look around the venue, the room is small and dark. A wrestling ring is erected in one corner, and a cash-only bar at the other. The place is full, a lot of energy, a lot of heat, but the vibe is friendly. The crowd is a mix of hipsters, wrestling geeks (and I say that with love) and people just down to have a good time. Claire and I are standing halfway up the stairs. She tells me this is the place for the best view. She warns me that the wrestlers regularly spill out onto the crowd, you stand by the ring at your own risk. The first match is a chaos match, Claire explains: “In dance you would use the word ‘canon’. There is action, someone else does something mad and someone else does something mad, it 104
ghoulish make-up. When he comes out, the whole room is bathed in red light. Everyone in the ring gets zombified. Miguel leads the way, hypnotising the other wrestlers to join him in the Thriller dance. Soon, all the wrestlers are doing the zombie shuffle behind Miguel. He finishes the dance with some flashy moonwalk attempts. The audience is screaming ‘shamone motherfucker’. The song ends. The lights come up. The chaos begins. The match is exactly how Claire describes, people jumping around, skillfully executing crazy high flying moves. Crashing out into the audience, landing and toppling over crowd members, creating a knot of limbs and sweaty faces. The commentators are adding colour to the fray, “I think you would agree with me, that was a side order of fucking hell.” Miguel Jackson is the winner of this match. His finishing move is standing on top of one of the ring corners. He puts on a fedora hat, and does the Smooth Criminal lean, falling in a perfect diagonal line onto the stomach of one the bodies lying on the ring canvas. The bell rings and he twists, turns, and moonwalks out of there. I assume most people know that wrestling is sort of fake, as in the moves or ‘spots’ in wrestling talk (planned action in the ring) are discussed beforehand. It’s choreographed. A performance. “The way that it works is that there are promotions, which is like the equivalent of theatre companies. A person runs the
promotion and then they book the wrestlers. I see them as artists. They turn up with their own agenda, their own ideas, things they’ve been thinking of all week that they want to do, or storylines they want to perform. And then they collaborate together, they will be told what match they’re in, but then it’s up to the individual wrestlers to come up with the story they are going to tell on the stage,” Claire explains. Lucha Libre is a type of freestyle wrestling, which dates back to the 1800s. At that time, Mexican wrestler Enrique Ugartechea developed lucha style wrestling by adding to and tweaking the traditional Greco-Roman style of wrestling. In the decades that followed Ugartechea’s experiment with traditional-style wrestling, Lucha libre grew in popularity. With the arrival of television and the emergence of a lucha wrestling icon, El Santo, it entered the mainstream
consciousness and was cemented as a popular form of entertainment. The art of Lucha Libre is based on tradition. The storyline the wrestlers follow is one of good trying to overcome evil. Técnicos (good guys) and rudos (bad guys) fight it out to win the attention of the audience. It is black and white, técnicos elicit cheers and rudos boos. Lucha Libre differs from other forms of professional wrestling such as British wrestling, which is seen as more technical and has a strong focus on grappling; or Puroresu, a Japanese style of wrestling which features mixed martial arts moves, such as realistic-looking and sounding strikes. Lucha libreis flashy and high-flying, with exaggerated gestures. One will find lucha wrestlers routinely climbing on top of the ring turnbuckles, back-flipping on their opponents. The masks used in lucha wrestling are more than just a tool to conceal the
identities of practitioners. The mask is also more than just a character. The mask represents the warrior spirit of the wrestler, almost like a mythical identity. In some high-profile matches, a wrestler will bet his mask for a win, with the loser having to forfeit their mask, thus revealing their true identity. In lucha-verse this is a big deal, as no-one in the business reveals a luchadore’s true identity. Now for a cabaret act, a woman in a thong, heels and striking make-up saunters into the ring. Her name is Mynxie Monroe. She announces that she is going to sing some punk rock. The opening bars of Hole’s Celebrity Skin start. She proceeds to do a karaoke version of the song. A bad karaoke version of the song. Claire looks at me, shocked. She promises me the cabaret acts are usually very good. I tell her it’s fine, I’m actually quite enjoying the bizarreness of it all. Claire is not impressed, and muses on
ways in which this act could be saved, and comes to the conclusion that it would be cool if she had a penis, “If she doesn’t have a dick, I’m going to be so disappointed.” Mynxie Monroe doesn’t have a dick, to our knowledge, and Claire was left disappointed. The next wrestler out is Pavo Real. His persona is that of a Russian ballet dancer. He comes out to the Swan Lake theme. White and black paint covers his face. He wraps himself up in a metallic cape, almost channeling a Phantom of the Opera feel of a mad, reclusive, genius. He tenderly reaches his hand to members of the audience, to caress their faces, but pulls away at the last minute. Until he finds a man whose face fits what he’s looking for. He grabs it, shaking it as if he’s electrified by the energy within this man’s skull. Pavo then runs to the corner, ready for the final crescendo of Tchaikovsky’s theme. The musical climax comes, and he opens his metallic wings, patterned with a peacock design, balancing on the tip of his toes like a ballerina on pointe. The crowd hates him by the way. Or I should say they love to hate him. Pavo Real is graced with the chants ‘Swan prick’ and ‘ugly duckling.’ But he doesn’t care, because at this moment he is Pavo Real and Pavo Real has no time for haters. Pavo Real is in a tag team partnership with Santeria, a voodoo Priest character. They are facing Team Horny, who are made up of a man called Cassius and a woman called La Diablesa Rosa. Team Horny enter the ring dancing to the Mousse T song I’m Horny, it’s clear they are a fan favourite. Cassius is deliciously camp, wearing devil horns and little shiny red wings, woo-hooing and fist-pumping the air as if he is a club rep on a night out in Ibiza. The energy they radiate is contagious, but Santeria sucker punches them during his entrance and the match begins. This match was one of the many highlights of the night. All wrestlers involved are amazingly skilled. In one instance La Diablesa Rosa picks up Santeria (who is a very big man) and body slams him in the middle of the ring. The crowd roar. Unfortunately for Team Horny, Santeria soon gets the pin for the three counts. And Pavo Real and Santeria win the match. Claire and I step outside for some air. It’s chilly outside but refreshing. Some of the wrestlers who performed are already there, hanging around with their friends. Disco Diablo is casually talking to a group of people, topless underneath his white fur jacket and still wearing his silver lucha mask. Another guy with long sweaty hair and an athletic build approaches Claire to say hey. He’s a nice guy, with a bright smile, good energy. It’s clear he is one of
the wrestlers who performed earlier. But there is an unspoken rule not to identify a lucha wrestler’s persona to their real-life identity. So I do not know who this man is, and no-one was going to tell me. But I have to say I enjoyed the mystery of it all. We talk about Pavo Real’s performance, I mention that I found his performance amazing and hilarious, it was clear he was very committed to his character. Earlier on in the night, Claire gave me a very interesting account of the idea of masculinity in wrestling, she generously expanded this idea: “The reasons I enjoy going around the country and watching wrestling is that it’s a community of working-class men predominantly and it’s a kind of truly working-class art form in which men perform masculinity.” Claire pinpoints Pavo Real’s experience, “For him, he is really exploring the idea that from the working-class male background that he comes from, it was not OK for him to be interested in dance as a teenager. His Dad didn’t approve. He got picked on at school for being gay, he’s not gay, only because he liked to dance. “For him, this character is very meaningful, he gets to perform as someone who is being theatrical and is borrowing from these elements of opera and ballet. He gets to mix it with violence and all of the stuff he loves in wrestling and make it masculine and sexy. The brutality and beauty next to each other. “It’s just so funny how each of the wrestlers chooses to develop a character, and depict it on stage, it’s usually very autobiographical. It is expressing something they are not able to express in their masculinity in daily life.” On my way to catch the night tube home, I realised that I’m smiling to myself, I’ve been completely charmed by this weird and wonderful world of Lucha Britannia. I think of Claire’s journey to the ring, Pavo’s Real’s quest for true expression and the amount to joy the audience had whilst watching the show. It feels like everyone involved in this wrestling promotion have found a place where they can show off the things that set them apart from their friends or backgrounds and be embraced for it. I have to say it was intoxicating. On my way out I grabbed what I thought was a flyer for the show, the enigma gimp guy stops me and enthusiastically says, “It’s every Monday, oh and Wednesdays too.” I don’t really understand what he is referring to, I assume it’s the next show. I smile; enthusiastically nodding my head. Trying to make eye-contact with the masked figure, I respond, “yes, yes for sure I will be there.” I walked out and looked down at what was in my hands. I realised I was holding a flyer for the Lucha wrestling school, a sick thrill filled my body. “Maybe, ” I think, “maybe.” 107
Drone Music in London I met drone musician Zeyn Mroueh on a fairly sunny Saturday afternoon at Flat Iron Square. With the flea market on site bustling with people looking through various stalls of trinkets, books, and artwork. The 26-year-old from Cyprus had much to tell about his family, hometown and music Drone music is more about making sequences of noises and telling a story through that format. The layered heavy sounds that Zeyn creates are chilling and thoughtful, using an electric guitar and strumming motions or even using a bow to create varied sounds. As well as the instruments, he uses a plethora of pedals for his guitar and incorporates samples into his music too. Zeyn has previously released one album independently, which is available on his Bandcamp page. We spoke about his music and sampling in his songs. He told me a story about a sample he personally used in his live shows, but is currently phasing it out as his next album is “more personal”. Zeyn told me about a time when he lived in a squat in Tottenham and they would Airbnb one of the rooms. An American woman who was a writer came and used their room, and her story was that she wrote an essay on policy and class structures in the US and it had been posted on a famous website that ended up making her go viral. After this, she received a book deal and had written her first book. She was in England researching for her second book on British class structures. The unnamed woman had been in Ferguson during the riots of 2014, where she interviewed people on the street who were involved in the riots and the chaos that was ensuing at the time. In return for Zeyn cleaning up the audio on one of her samples he was able to use some in his music, one, in particular, is of a “sample of this kid just talking about how fucked his day's been.” He went on to tell me how the kid in the sample had been maced and his friend had been shot with a rubber bullet. “That sample was dear to my heart because of how intense it is and how amazing it sounds and how good it is in the live shows because people stop and actually listen to what he’s saying.” Mroueh has created his own samples for his music, sampling his dog barking and Victoria Park. The musician has lived in a few different houses around Victoria park in his time in London, “I sampled people just having picnics and kids playing and dogs running around in Victoria Park, that was an interesting part of my life at the time it was a nice relief, and my dog is a huge part of that. I’ve sampled her a lot.” Writing and performing music is Zeyn’s “favourite thing in the entire world to do; it’s my meditation.” Not believing in fate, but still getting the feeling that if there was such a thing it would be his fate to be on stage “spilling my guts” to people is like therapy to the musician, “it fixes every problem, and it fixes every mistake”. Enthusiastically describing the process of performing as “picking the fruits of your labour” due to all the hard work and preparation that comes with planning a live show. I asked Zeyn about his writing process and he told me he prefers to “let the process start organically” because he’s “not trying to force myself to write anything.” Writing his music on the guitar, sometimes just playing until he has found a sound he likes and runs with it to write a song, “if I have found the ‘in’ to the music then I will be a bit more militant although I would say I’m not hugely prolific I don’t write tons of music and discard a lot of it. I only write what I’m going to release.” Growing up in Cyprus there isn’t much for an 18-year-old to do. Military service is mandatory for able-bodied males both from the Republic of Cyprus, and any male non-citizens born of a parent of Greek Cypriot descent lasting from the age of 18 until they turn 50. Zeyn had described himself as a pacifist, and he tried going to join the army when it was mandatory for him. 108
He only lasted two days and quickly realising it was not what he wanted to do with his life. He spoke of his family’s life and how it influenced his decision to leave the army. His parents “come directly from war zone they were refugees and my grandparents were refugees from Palestine” he continues “the notion of war and this weird twisted nationalism was really abhorrent to me.” Family has been a big influence on him starting out in music, “there was a piano in the house when I was quite young” as his mum played the piano. When he was around 10 or 11 his two older brothers started playing music. The eldest brother got a guitar for Christmas which was eventually handed down to Zeyn after his brother lost interest in the instrument. Later that year he embarked in taking guitar lessons but he quickly got over them due to him making the realisation that he didn’t want to be regimented. “My guitar teacher at the time was awesome and he was this virtuoso classical guitar guy whereas I always knew that wasn’t for me I just wanted to experiment” singing the praises of his old guitar teacher. Mroueh was always interested in how sound and music relate to each other and how they’re different. “I think it ties into how I first started to make music”, he continues on how he “started to learn to make music more traditionally by learning how to play other people’s songs and whatever the tune of the day was at the time.” At 16 years old he started his first proper band with some of his schoolmates called Isaacs cellos, he describes it is a “psychedelic rock band” and it is “one of the fondest memories of music that I have as a younger person.” The band went on to get signed by a local record label in Cyprus at the age 18, by the time Zeyn was 19 the album was released and they began writing and recording a second album. Ultimately the band broke up during this process, leaving music left on the back burner, untouched and unheard. Once the band had split he told me he was at a “loose end.”. “I wanted to make music and the interest in sound and noise and drone come up for me and I loved the idea.” Moving to England seemed a “logical step at the time”, as his brother already lived in London and he knew he wouldn’t have to worry about the hassle of getting a visa. He saved money to help the move by doing various gigs. Although London was not as he thought it was once he was here, after envisioning an “artistic utopia where everyone can do what they want”. As he told me, he did that anyway, discovering drugs, and being alone left to your own devices. “I was a little bit unhinged, but I never went off the rails”, after this freedom and lack of responsibility he eventually began working various little jobs and started going to university at the age of 22, “I think it’s nice to punctuate a section of my life like that.” As for Zeyn plans for his future in music he told me he wants the album to be done by December this year. However, the musician is still unsure on a release date yet, “I want to release it with an indie label this time I don’t want to do it all myself again because that was very expensive and very difficult”, he says chuckling. “I don’t really have any desire to do anything else than just keep writing music and just keep releasing it” he continued with “all I really want to do is go to different cities and play. That’s like my bread and butter. All I really want to do is perform, that’s where I get my kicks that’s the high I get off making music.”
Words and image: Bethany Thomas
On the road with The Transformer Remembering Lou Reed with stories from his 1975 tour
Words and image: Richard Bari
“We done the European tour and we were coming back to England to do the Hammersmith Odeon, which is now the Apollo,” said Colin. “We were getting the ferry from Belgium to here, and a lot of Lou’s roadies were chopping up lines on the table, you know, it was all going on… Drinking and causing fucking mayhem. Anyway, the crew... What the crew had done, they spiked the food, we found out later, with bicarbonate soda. So, a lot of the guys were ill, puking everywhere. It was really bad. But, when we got to Dover, there were about thirty customs guys waiting for us. They took every stitch of gear that we had. Everybody’s equipment, speaker cabinets, everything. Stripped them all, looking for dope. They put us into three different sections; us, Lou Reed’s band and the crew. So we all had different areas. They came up to us and goes, ‘Who’s Kim Beacon?’ and our singer answers. ‘Right, you sit there. Who’s Colin Fairley? You sit there.’ Then they started questioning us about drugs. ‘Have you got any drugs?’ we’re like ‘No we don’t have any fucking drugs!’ We smoked a bit of weed every now and then but, ‘We don’t have any drugs. To come in here… We’d be stupid!’. The guy says ‘Lou Reed has loads of drugs, we know he has. We just need to find them’. So, we tell him that we’ve never seen any drugs. ‘What about on the boat? There was guys chopping up lines’, ‘Where? We never saw anything!’. Anyway, they did not find a fucking seed! Not one seed, not one package or powder, not one pill. We arrived at Dover at nine in the morning, and we arrived at the Odeon at seven o’clock at night. The doors were due to open at eight. So, we ALL had to pile in to help unload the gear and put everything up. Even Lou was involved! When the doors opened, we were still setting up, and we just had to start playing. Fucking hell, it was a nightmare… To this day I don’t know who stashed it, and where they stashed it all, but it was a party afterwards!” October 27, marks the fifth year since the passing of the legendary musician, Lou Reed. The King of New York was a force of nature. Ever since the early days with the Velvet Underground, he’s been considered to be one of the coolest and most alluring cats in Rock and Roll history. During his five-decade long career, he kick-started the punk move-
of his audience every night. You could have been in Berlin every night in a lot of ways. You know, transvestites, dopers, everything went.” So as expected, sometimes all hell broke loose. “There was a lot of fascists in Italy at the time. They would set out to disrupt any public gatherings like football matches or rock concerts, to bring attention to their cause. When we got to Milan, we were in a circular stadium, so part of the audience was behind us. We saw this crowd of people all dressed in black, wearing black bandanas. Anyway, they started chucking stuff onto the stage, bottles and stones. I got my head cut open too, all that kind of thing. The riot police came in and there was a big fight, tear gas everywhere; we got hustled off the stage. Two hours later, when it cleared up and Lou came on, the same thing happened. So, they wrecked the concert. We got on the bus to go to the hotel and we arrive at this posh hotel in the centre of Milan, and Lou cause he was pissed off, kicked the main glass door, this 6 metre entrance door and the whole thing shattered. Of course, we got thrown out. We had to find somewhere in the middle of the bloody night, but that was Lou. We had the same problems in Rome, where the riot police came in cause they started a fire right at the back of the auditorium and it all spilled down, so the crowd come running on the stage. It was mayhem, fucking Mayhem!” Despite occasional nuisances, nothing could stop the Transformer from driving his fans wild. Building his whole image around transsexuality, heroin use and violence, the man had a reputation that preceded him by miles. Amongst artists, junkies and queers he was a king; a spokesman for the wicked. However, despite the depressing nature of everything he represented, his undeniable cool could make being strung out look desirable. At the time in 1975, he had a transvestite girlfriend called Rachel Humphreys, who was immortalised on the back cover of Sally Can’t Dance album. “I’ll never forget when we were doing our first European gig, and we were at the stadium doing a soundcheck, and this girl comes walking up to us. Me and the guitar player are looking at her and I say ‘Andy, look at this chick, she’s cool’. Then she got closer and closer and said ‘Andy, its a guy man, its a guy!’. She had
ment, inspired musicians like Bowie, and became a giant cultural and underground icon for the decadent and depraved. Just in time for All Saints’ Day, what better way is there to remember the Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal than through the stories of someone who toured with the man himself. Colin Fairley was only 24 years old when the band he drummed for, String Driven Thing, was invited to support Lou Reed on his 1975 Sally Can’t Dance Tour. At the time, they were signed to Charisma Records, a prestige label which also had Genesis and Hawkwind under their belt. A guy from the William Morris Agency had come down to the Charisma offices and someone dragged him along to one of their gigs. “He said ‘They’re perfect for Lou Reed’ and that was that!” When asked whether he thought they were perfect for him, Colin said, “Some gigs yeah, some gigs maybe not.” The Scottish folk-rock band had a very distinctive sound thanks to Graham Smith’s electric violin, a unique similarity to The Velvet Underground. The odd lineup gave the band a left field tinge which cut across the whole genre, something that Lou Reed liked. While talking about the seventies music scene, Colin recalled how audiences reacted to seeing Lou. Touring the US for the first time, he remembers the vibe being incredible and playing sold out shows every night. Not knowing American audiences, they were surprised when the stage curtains opened and whole theatre rooms smelt of grass. “The audiences were intense in America, but not as intense as European audiences. Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, Spain. Particularly Scandinavia. They went crazy for Reed. They couldn’t wait for him to play Heroin and get the tube on his arm, the whole drama of it all. Consequently, the gigs were much more intense and better.” Everything about Lou reached his audience, who in turn wanted to see him pushing the whole nine yards to the limit. Which he did. “If you think of the Berlin period, it was really dark and bohemian. Lou Reed encapsulated all of that, it really was his thing. It was his era really, and he transferred that everywhere he went. So, the kinda people that he pulled in were these bohemian audiences, as well as students, there was a lot of students. But, there was a whole bohemian part
a 7 o’clock shadow and tits. Afterwards, we got introduced to her and we got on really well. She used to cut our hair and everything. She was great.” Reed spent half of his life looking at everything through dark shades, instilling the heroin-chic look that has been imitated ever since. From sporting a bleached blonde buzz cut to wearing black nail polish and tight leather, he created the self-proclaimed Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal persona. Coupled with the NYC tough guy attitude and the unforgiving street talk, he became archetype punk icon. “He’s a character, no two ways about it. And he’s a great character. He wasn’t your normal geezer at all. He was very New York for a start, so it was always, ‘Hey, motherfucker!’, you know, it was pretty full on. He pushed me in a swimming pool once. I was fully clothed on my way to the gig. He was a good guy but, he was out-there, definitely out-there. And you had to talk on a certain level. Doesn’t suffer fools gladly, you know? You talked hit, he’d tell you you talk shit. That’s the main thing that comes across with him, he’s very cool. Nothing bothered him. He’d do his thing, and he was good at it. “The amazing fallacy about Lou
Reed is that everybody assumed that he was totally smacked out when he went on stage. Well on that tour, I never saw him out of it once. Not once. He’d be standing at the side of the stage watching us and when we’d come off he’d go ‘Great show, man’ etc, etc. Minutes after he would be ready to go on with his assistants and they’d lead him onto the stage as though he needed help, you know? I’d be talking to him five minutes before and he was totally sober. He used to really play up to it, he’d really drive the crowd mad and he’d tease them and tease them. So you know, there was all that side to Lou Reed. What he had done though, is he took it to another level. A lot of guys were using at the time but he kinda brought it to the fore. I mean, nobody had ever taken a rubber tube, put it round their arm, pump up the blood up, get a needle and jam it in. But he did. It was pretend but, it was severe watching it live. Pretty full on. And what you would get is the audience baiting him when he had the needle by his arm. They’d shout ‘do it, do it, do it’, with all seriousness. He really knew how to hold a crowd. An expert at it.” Touring with Lou Reed was one of the highlights of Colin’s career. To play
sold out shows with someone who’s up there with the likes of Dylan and Burroughs was an unmissable opportunity. After leaving String Driven Thing, he became a record producer and worked with the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. His observation as a record producer was that Reed had made a stamp on nearly every rock musician that came after him. Whether that was musically, lyrically or with his raw and stripped down recording approach. Attempting to sum up Reed’s influence or legacy is not the goal. He’s had an enormous effect on every aspect of contemporary culture, whether that be music, poetry, art, fashion or even drug culture. That’s a fact. What stories like Colin’s can do, is help us get closer to our idols, especially the ones as elusive as Lou. If there is anything worth to be learnt from the man, it’s to always stay true to ourselves and to never take shit from anyone. Metal Machine Music style. “The legacy he left is Perfect Day. Cause that’s how he used to live, every day was a perfect day for Lou Reed.” Thank you Colin for sharing your memories from the tour and thanks Uncle Lou for being the man. 111
IS HOLLYWOOD REDEFINING ASIAN-AMERICAN REPRESENTATION?
Words: Isaine Blatry Images: Diandra Elmira
After years and years of whitewashing and yellowface, is 2018 the year in which Hollywood changes its bad habits? The much-anticipated movie Crazy Rich Asians was promised to be a new movement for representation for Asian people in Hollywood. Asian-Americans make up 6% of the population in America in 2018, however, according to a study of USC Annenberg, only 1 out of 20 speaking roles go to an Asian and 1% of the lead roles in Hollywood go to Asians, yet, 78.2% of white people are lead characters. For years, Hollywood has projected this idea of Asian-Americans being the nerdy character or the sidekick. They are never portrayed as the romantic lead or the superhero of the movie. And the real questions is, why? According to USC, Asian-American characters made up only 4.8% of speaking characters in Hollywood films last year. In 2017 only four Asian leads made it to the 100 top-grossing films: Kumail Nanjiani in the Big Sick, Jackie Chan in The Foreigner, Ali Fazal in Victoria and Abdul, and Steven Yeun in the animated The Star. Hollywood has bad blood with Asian-Americans when it comes to representing them, between yellow face and whitewashing it hasn’t always been easy. Looking at a timeline of representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood, the movie, The Good Earth—which was released in 1937 and based on the 1931 Pearl S. Buck novel, the two lead characters were interpreted by white actors, wearing makeup and wings to appear Asian. Anna May Wong a Chinese-American actress starred in a silent movie in 1920’s. She expressed her desire to be cast in the movie but was only considered to play the mistress. Actress Louise Reiner got the role and later won an Oscar for her portrayal of the Chinese woman. Whitewashing was and still is a big debate. Many roles that were intended for Asian characters are played by white actors (different from being ‘yellow-face’ as they are not trying to appear Asian), in the movie Short Circuit 2, 21, Aloha, Dragonball: Evolution, Dr. Strange, just to name a few. A recent example, Ghost in the Shell (2017), which was adapted from the Japanese manga of the same name,
where Scarlett Johansson played Motoko Kusanagi, the Japanese protagonist. It seems like a bad habit for Hollywood and they can’t help themselves but do it. They tend to cast an Asian actor in any Asian’s role: Chinese can portray Japanese characters and vice versa. This is exactly what happened with the 2005 movie Memoirs of a Geisha, where a Chinese actress played the role of a Japanese character; a really poor choice knowing the two countries’ history. MJ Noh a South Korean shoe designer based in London explained how she doesn’t relate to the Asian characters she saw in western media growing up, “it’s hard to relate to characters when they have completely unrealistic representation. For me, if I want to watch Asian actors in a movie I can watch films produced in Korea or Japan.” Growing up a lot of Asians didn’t consume western movies or TV shows where Asian-American people were portrayed. Because the reflection sent back to them wasn’t something they were aspiring to be. As it was, most of the time degrading or too stereotypical. Most of the time as Noh explained, they will turn themselves to the media of their own country as they are represented in a more culturally accurate way. The West seems more involved in the debate of whitewashing than the East. A Japanese fan of the movie Ghost in the Shell told the Hollywood Reporter, “would that be okay if she was Asian or Asian-American? Honestly, that would be worse, someone from another Asian country pretending to be Japanese.” Explaining that it is better to have a white character playing Motoko Kusanagi rather than someone who is not Japanese. Turning itself towards movies where Asians were represented more culturally accurate, might have made Hollywood think twice and realise that it is time for a change. A new wave of movies has emerged to counterattack the catch 22 it has created: The audience has no Asian superstars to relate to because Hollywood made the choice that they are not bankable actors. Moreover, there cannot 113
be any bankable Asian actor if there are no opportunities for them to become superstars, with no role opportunities. The last movie with an entirely Asian cast was back in 1993, Joy Luck Club and was the last cultural touch for Asian-Americans in the last 25 years. Until the movie, Crazy Rich Asians came around the corner and shook things up. The movie is the first modern movie with an all Asian cast, depicted as a modern Cinderella love story based on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) a professor of economics and game theory at New York University, is flying to Singapore with her boyfriend of two years Nick Young (Henry Golding) to meet his family. The only detail Nick forgot to mention; his family is one of the richest family's in Singapore, welcome to his crazy rich Asian family. For many, the movie is synonymous with hope and is seen as a new start for Asian-American actors. The director Jon M. Chu has said its aim with Crazy Rich Asians is to create a greater movement for representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood. The challenge was difficult but successfully achieved in some ways. Nigel Chin, a Malaysian actor and model was an extra on the set of Crazy Rich Asians, he explained how there is a shift of change in the industry, “without a doubt Asians are slowly making a bigger appearance and are represented based on the suited roles/characters they play. That is something to be happy about, similar to Marvel’s Black Panther. If you ask me, it could probably be due to globalisation.” Being himself, like Rachel Chu in the movie and being refers to a “banana” a common word to many when describing an Asian who cannot speak Chinese (yellow on the outside, white in the inside), “I am not very Chinese myself despite having a mum and dad who were raised within a traditional Chinese family and district. I do not speak Chinese fluently.” This can also impact the way Asian-Americans see themselves growing up in the West. Sabrina Wei a Chinese-Canadian explains how growing up, as a Chinese-Canadian, she was in a sense, forced to tone down the Asian side of her, “I would not speak Chinese and only speak English. There are a lot of Asians in Toronto, but the ones born there, we would never really speak Chinese to each other, and some don’t even know how to speak it. They would also bully the ones who just came from China and not talk to them because they are not westernised enough.” The movie has been criticised because it wasn’t authentically representing all Asians and was mainly about East-Asia and that Singapore wasn’t only about wealth and expensive designer clothes. Perhaps authenticity in such 114
instances means more than just an Asian cast and story, wrote Tessa Wong in an article for BBC NEWS. Daryl Ho, a Singaporean based in London explained that “we are making slow and steady progress with representation, but it’s really all about the context of representation. After all, it is a Hollywood production, so the original source material was adapted in an approach that was accessible for a mass audience. Yes, I can somewhat agree that the movie was a good milestone for Asian—American representation, but it’s by far a poor representation of the racial and social diversity of Singapore.”
According to the datagov, Singapore’s main ethical representation is made up of 76.2% Chinese, 15% Malays, and 7.4% ethnic Indians who are making up the majority of the population. It is true that not every Asian has this level of wealth. Not every mother-in-law is evil. These are all valid statements. But the point which the people who are criticising the movie, are missing, is the fact that one film can never be the ultimate representation of all Asian or Asian American’s lives. Besides these movies there are noticeable examples which have Asians character as lead characters, such as Korean-American actor John Cho being the first Asian-American actor to play a romantic lead in the TV series Selfie and the lead role in the acclaimed thriller Searching; Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto in the Netflix show The Good Place and Sandra Oh in the acclaimed TV thriller Killing Eve. “For those who don’t feel seen I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have
the same story.” — Constance Wu The 2018 Netflix movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one example, adapted from the novel of Jenny Han, the movie is a classic teen romance. The story centres around Lara Jean (Lana Condor) who find herself caught up in a love story after her love letters have been mailed accidentally. What differs from any of the other Netflix teen romance? The protagonist and main love interest is Asian-American. Compare to the movie Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has a more subtle approach of the Asian-American representation in Hollywood; they are not trying to create a movement. Lara Jean’s character isn’t only based on the fact she is half Korean. On the contrary, only a few references are made towards her race, such as the supermarket they shop at and the Korean cooking her dad is making. Lara Jean becomes our regular heroine and not a character dictated by her race. Jenny Han revealed that almost every film production company that was interested in adapting her book into a movie asked to turn Lara Jean character into a white one. “I ended up deciding to work with the only production company that agreed the main character would be played by an Asian actress,” Han wrote. “No one else was willing to do it. Still, I was holding my breath all the way up until shooting began because I was scared they would change their minds. They didn’t.” The evolution is here, Hollywood finally took into consideration the audiences’ desire for diversity. However Hollywood shouldn’t use the success of one movie as a pretext to create more. In an interview for CNN Awkwafina one of the actresses of Crazy Rich Asians explained, “At the end of the day, the success of this film should not determine whether there should be stories of people of colour.” Representation, even when it is done correctly, will never be unbiased, there will always be something to criticise or improve. The most important thing to remember is, representation of Asians will cease to matter when they can interpret lead characters on a regular basis. When stories about them are just as diverseas in reality when they can represent just themselves, like what characters. Daryl Ho explained that there isn’t such a thing as “truthful” representation, let alone respectful representation, “there really isn’t one ‘true’ or ‘authentic’ way to represent a culture; instead of speaking for someone, we should be speaking alongside them instead. Also, giving Asians/Asian-Americans more creative control, funding, resources, and latitude to develop their craft and perform more dynamic roles, instead of portraying the same vanilla archetypes and stereotypes.”
The Preservation Issue