There’s a lot going on in our world…
That’s why the cover of Artefact’s 20th issue is a collection of themes, ideas, words and pictures; how can we put the spotlight on just one topic when so many things are going on? Our cover is inspired by more than just the world at large; it’s a reflection of the individuality and diverse tones of voice of the students from UAL’s BA Journalism class of 2019/20. Inside you’ll find a plethora of stories deserving of your attention; from new angles on newsworthy affairs to entertaining reports with a distinct human element. As the latest edition heads to the printers we find ourselves on the brink of a general election. It’s an unsettling time and division is the issue of the moment. Artefact attempts to provide a platform that gives the youth of today a voice, fed up of feeling unheard or underrepresented by our media. Our journalism mirrors the collective interests and concerns we truly feel are important. Topics of conversation include the pressing climate crisis and its cultural effects in the UK and beyond. Fergus Matheson speaks to the student who traded her degree for full-time activism (page 24), whilst Liza Neziri meets the man saving sea creatures and battling plastic waste in the Bahamas (page 77). Mental health is also a theme that resonates with our writers. The link between cannabis use and mental health is examined by Tess Belgrove (page 14), who discusses the overlooked negative side to getting high. Maggie Scaife talks to the relatives of those affected by hoarding disorder (page 80),
exploring the complexities of the misunderstood mental illness. We divided this issue into three sections — People, Culture and Places — but it’s not all about politics. We’ve got up close with everyone from drag kings (page 42) to dreamers (page 47). We take you to disaster zones (page 64), dog shelters (page 70) and dark corners of the internet (page 16). Giampietro Vianello speaks to two emerging talents in the UK rap scene. Isaiah Dreads (page 52) and Danny Trash (page 62) have wildly different sounds but a shared desire to make themselves heard with messages in their music that challenge the norms of the genre. BAFTA nominated TV and film coiffure Loz Schiavo sat down with Sapphi Littleton (page 34) to discuss her work on some of the screen’s most memorable haircuts, including a behind the scenes look at the artistic process behind Peaky Blinders’ cut-throat trims. Anežka Turek sheds light on Endometriosis (page 30), a disease considered amongst the most painful a person can suffer from that goes largely unrecognised despite affecting 10% of women worldwide. In the male dominated comedy world, Cree Brown investigates why women have to work twice as hard to prove their hilarity (page 26), speaking to female comedians who share their at times distressing accounts of mistreatment on stage. The conversation continues online and on social media.
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PEOPLE 05 CULTURE 33 PLACES 69
Contributors Magazine Sadia Ali, Cherie Anderson, Lara Anisere, Cree Brown, Oliver Jameson, Fergus Matheson, Liza Neziri, Maggie Scaife, Anezka Turek Social media Georgia Boyle, Aaron Gonzalez, George Janes, Megan Lily Large, Sapphi Littleton, Harry Myles, Carlotta Proietti, Oliver Goodwin, Freya Starr, Giampietro Vianello D Website Emil Brierley, Kesia Evans, Aaliyah Facey, Tess Belgrove, Hannah Blissett, Rebekah Brookes, Connor Davidson, Oliwia Dworakowska, Franziska Eberlein, Hiba Hassan, Bella Hope, Emma Jepsen, Holly Johns, Livia Likurti, Mischa Manser, Emilio Molave, Laura Scheepers, Maarten Van Brakel Garcia-Cos, Sanja Vedel Tutors Simon Hinde (magazine) Russell Merryman (website) Art Direction & Design Oswin Tickler, Smallfury
Wilfrid Wood: from Spitting Image to Instagram 10 Cannabis crisis, or let the good times roll? 14 Paying for porn? 16 Under the roof of a hoarder 18 The Earth matters more than my degree 24
Games, goals and being gay 6
The psychology of graffiti 25 Women arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t funny 26 The gender pain gap 30 The ready-meal revolution 32
Words and Images: Oliver Goodwin
LGBT clubs are helping make football a friendlier, more inclusive sport Football is an unforgiving game; from grassroots right up to the Premier League, it’s savage and as a young player, I learnt this the hard way. My first game of Sunday League was a baptism of fire. The lads in my village were short in numbers and on a disgusting Sunday morning in March, I got the call-up. Off I went, starry-eyed, looking forward to my first game of real-life adult football. I was ready to complete my transformation from the under-17s average right-back to a rampaging right-winger. I thought they’d be slower. I thought they’d be older. Most importantly I thought they definitely wouldn’t want to win as much as I did. Jesus Christ was I wrong. In the next 45 minutes, 16-year-old me was subjected to some of the most aggressive and downright dirty things I’d ever heard. I remember at half time, hoping my Mum would whisk me home, wrap me up in a blanket and make me a cup of something warm. She never came. Looking back, I’ve seen and heard far worse on a football pitch since that fateful day. 6
There’s something about getting up at the weekend that can drive men to the very brink. We didn’t win. I didn’t score and I spent most of the 90 minutes praying the ball wouldn’t come my way, which might have given their left-back a chance to follow through on his promise to “break my fucking legs”. Once you step out across the white line onto the pitch, the rules of the real world just seem to melt away. Neither the pitch, nor the conversation surrounding it are safe spaces for discussing the big issues. But what if things were different? What if football clubs, with all the passion and camaraderie they bring, were a place to go to feel comfortable, accepted and free from judgement? Britain’s LGBT football clubs have created that space. Up and down the country, they offer a place for people from all walks of life to indulge in their love of the beautiful game, all while working to provide a strong sense of community and change perceptions about what it means to be a ‘footballer’ in today’s game. “I think the fact that there aren’t
any openly gay players in football is a sports wide issue. Obviously they are based around a traditionally masculine environment, traditionally team sports as well, but I think there are a lot of people who can be doing more around how we create safe spaces within team sports, and how we can increase that representation,” Jay Lemonius told me. Jay is captain of Stonewall FC, and I had headed down to Barn Elms where they play their home games. During my research this name kept popping up. Stonewall FC this, Stonewall FC that; and that’s not for no reason. They’ve been tearing up the LGBT football scene since they formed in 1991. Four times Gay Games champions, six times Eurogames champions. Impressive right? What’s more impressive is that this lot has won the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association trophy nine times, even winning the trophy three years on the trot from 2008 to 2010. “We’ve had a couple of challenging issues, but I think what’s important and what’s been awesome is the league has
been able to work with the club to correct some of those issues and process those complaints,” Jay told me. They also work very closely with the pride campaign to raise the representation of LGBT people everywhere and challenge negative stereotypes. This led to a game at Wembley last year, playing under a rainbow coloured Wembley arch to mark the partnership the pride campaign within football. I felt slightly intrusive. Mike Sholly, who runs the social media, and the team were very welcoming, but it was game day. Throughout our chat before the game Jay kept getting anxious looks from his manager, Eric, to hurry up. They ply their trade in the Middlesex County Premier League. Chatting to me wasn’t the concern of the day. The FA does a lot to help clubs like Stonewall feel appreciated but also provides them with support. “We’ve come a long way, but it’s definitely been a step change, over the years we’ve had our challenges, but we’ve always had a secure level of support from the league in terms of processing 7
“The FA does all it can to try and challenge negative stereotypes within the game. A few years ago the rainbow laces campaign was set up—something most football clubs up and down the country could get on board with” any challenging issues that might have happened,” Jay said. At this point, I’d kept him too long: he was summoned by the gaffer Eric and ran off into the changing room. They were playing Pitshanger Dynamo FC who sat third in the table, so I can’t blame Eric for hurrying us along. The FA does all it can to try and challenge negative stereotypes within the game. A few years ago the rainbow laces campaign was set up—something most football clubs up and down the country could get on board with. It’s pretty self-explanatory; you all wear rainbow laces. It is a show of solidarity with gay footballers that it’s an environment where they are welcome, safe and can be involved with teams whether they are LGBT or mainstream; what’s not to like? “We’ve got a fantastic relationship with the FA which has been cultivated over many years, you know, the FA comes under a lot of criticism but it does a hell of a lot of good work, whether it’s to do with racism or homophobia,” Eric had managed to creep away from the warmup with about 10 minutes until kick-off. He told me about the sort of stuff they do down at Stonewall. “I joined Stonewall football club in 2001 as a player, and then became a manager in 2006.” You could tell Eric knew his football. He knew what it was all about. “As time has gone on the feel around the club has generally become more and more positive, certainly when I first joined the club there was a lot more 8
curiosity, there was more discrimination in the game that we played.” By the sound of it, the football club, along with the pride movement, has come on leaps and bounds. But one thing that was made very clear and that I could see from the quality of the football is they wanted to prove that no matter what your sexuality, football puts us all on the same level. “There are obviously players who played in the 90s who can tell you some real horror stories, but from my time there was just the odd team who were just a little bit baffled by a gay football team and expected an easy game and were surprised when it wasn’t. As time goes on you build up a reputation and you build up a respect and that’s why we are where we are today.” The FA's rainbow laces campaign has already resulted in positive change. Football is a more accepting space than half a decade ago. But that’s not why these guys do it. Obviously the work they do off the pitch is quality, but they play football too. They are more than just ‘the LGBT team’; they are here to win. “We pride ourselves on what we achieve on the pitch. I think with Stonewall FC obviously there’s the off-field stuff, but what we’re doing on a daily basis is challenging stereotypes amongst the fans
and the people we play against. We are saying ‘you know what? Gay men play football and play just as well and exactly in the same way as heterosexual men’,” Eric said. The game neared kick-off. Eric was watching the team warm-up and the intensity had gone up a level. Both teams looked fired up and to be totally honest, I was glad that I wasn’t about to go out onto the pitch. Football is a lot friendlier than it has been for a long time. But clubs like Stonewall are important. They challenge these negative ideas. “The difference between us and other football clubs when you get out onto the white lines? There’s no difference. Once you’re out on a football pitch race, religion, background, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter,” Eric added. The game kicked off and it was a good match. Stonewall took the lead early doors with a nice passing move, only to have Pitshanger equalise with a goal moments later. It was a fast and physical game and a good advert for non-league footy. “If you came to watch a Stonewall game and you turn up five minutes late, you’re not going to know who the gay team is and who is the heterosexual team because there’s nothing that sets us apart.” Eric was spot on.
After getting in touch with Stonewall, Titans FC, another LGBT club, got in touch and invited me down to one of their Wednesday night sessions. When I got there Terry, the club chairman, asked: “You bought your boots?” Not sure he knew I was here to talk about the club, and I hadn’t come expecting to play, but they welcomed me in to get involved. “We’ve got around 60-65 members. Some people just play five-a-side because that’s what they are comfortable with, but some prefer 11-a-side,” Terry explained. “I’ve been here for twelve years now. The good thing about that is you make friends all over the country. I met Jim when I was playing for a team in Leicester, and he used to play for a team in Leeds. Over the years we’ve come down to London. It’s a really good way for people to go, ‘well actually you know I identify as LGBT, I like football, this is actually a good way of socialising and having a community,’ most of my network is through the club.” As the round-robin of games went on, Terry took to the field in rainy west London and I managed to get to chat with Jim, who looks after the Titans’ social media. “The Rainbow laces campaign is important, it gets bigger and better every year and it’s making people more aware.
You’ll get the people that say ‘oh we don’t care,’ but having that sort of visibility is important. Because if we didn’t have those visual and physical things then LGBT people wouldn’t know you could play LGBT football.” Jim said. He continued: “If you just shove things down people’s throats then they are just not going to be receptive, but if it’s little by little. Yeah, we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.” It’s all about making small changes but these guys are making a difference one game at a time. “I think at the grassroots level there is plenty being done, and I think it will take one or two people to actually come out that will do so much more,” Jim said. It’s great to see the LGBT football community thriving. A stereotypically masculine game that’s being rightly challenged by grassroots clubs like the Titans and Stonewall. But there are also plenty of other supporter groups of big clubs out there providing safe spaces where people feel welcome within football. So next time a centre back wearing rainbow laces tells me he’s gonna “kill me,” I’ll be happy. Happy in the knowledge we’re spreading a positive message. Happy knowing that on those white lines we’re all equally unsafe.
: D O O W D I WFROMISLPFITTRING IMAGE TO INSTAGRAM
g the many faces Sculpting and sketchin e online we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t often get to se
Words: Maggie Scaife Images: Maggie Scaife and Luke Stephenson 10
Central Saint Martins alumnus, 50-yearold Wilfrid Wood from Hackney worked as a latex ‘headbuilder’ for two years on ITV’s successful puppetry satire Spitting Image—which eventually got cut in 1996. The programme proved popular with leftists—pushing an anti-establishment narrative by mocking the powers that be at the time. Favourite ‘targets’ included Thatcher and the royal family, characters faced over-exaggerated facial features and body language, being portrayed in an unforgiving light and even being animalised along to renditions of popular songs and well-versed sketches. With news of a reboot airing soon, featuring figures such as Megan Markle and Putin, it felt timely to chat with Wilfrid about the impact the programme had on his career after moving on to freelance sculpting and sketching portraits. Asked why he is not involved in the new series; he says a group reminiscing session took place but that he’s “ploughing his own furrow” now. “In other words, I’m a prima donna” he laughs, confessing to a slight fear of missing out. “I imagine it will be received very well, there’s certainly no shortage of material!” The lasting cultural impact Spitting Image would have for years to come never really crossed his mind while working for them between 1994 and 1996, “I am surprised how many young people have heard of it, though they weren’t born at the time.” Wilfrid goes on to describe the team there as a complete juxtaposition to his previous employment at a “boring” publishers—“Spits gave me the idea that it was possible to have fun at work and get paid for it. For some reason I had been under the daft impression that work had to be some form of purgatory” You get a sense that his time spent there rubbed off on him, in all the best ways. His aesthetic nods towards those featured on screen for many years but with an ounce more subtlety—“the
Spitting Image heads are full on crude caricatures, which is definitely not what I want to do now. Please God!” Attitude-wise, similarly his most well-liked pieces tend to depict the faces of politicians and celebrities, a key element of what connected so strongly with Spitting Image audiences, but he claims to not be “overtly political or savage”, insisting he is sympathetic towards whoever he portrays, even Simon Cowell. Having never received any form of acknowledgment from a celebrity he’s sculpted Wilfrid sighs, “they probably think it’s better not to get involved with someone who might be a pain in the arse.” “Faces are the most fascinating objects in the universe” he states with assurance, “I tried to draw a plant the other day and got bored after five minutes.” Describing other people as both fascinating and worrying he says how his anxiety takes shape in the opinions of others. His eye for faces extends to all boroughs of London but primarily Hackney where he’s based, “I’m intensely curious about individuals on the street. I stare at people on the tube.” He has recently appointed a potential ‘talent spotter’ who has agreed to give interesting passers by a special card with his contact details on, after fears of coming across as too creepy scouting himself. Luckily for Wilfrid, portraiture particularly lends itself to the social media landscape, the territory of narcissism and comparison. He acknowledges that although he’d happily attempt anyone’s face, ‘some are more interesting than others.’ Wilfrid is also introduced to new faces via his Instagram DMs or feed on a daily basis: “All sorts of people message me; I can’t believe my luck!” Drawing people means he owns a piece of them, or controls them, or some other faintly “unpleasant motivation” that he can’t quite comprehend. He’s attempting to reveal something about each one of his subjects’
character, via their physical appearance. Wilfrid questions the famous Coco Chanel quote “nature gives you the face you have at 20. Life shapes the face you have at 30. But at 50 you get the face you deserve.” He argues “well do you? If a serial killer walked past in the street would you notice anything peculiar? The real truth is that you can get nasty people with beautiful faces and lovely people who look like the rear end of a wild boar.” Instagram overexposes us to filtered faces so much so that Spark AR, the company who devised the app’s face filter feature, is set to ban facial surgery filters in an attempt to eliminate the dysmorphia users are facing. However, scrolling past one of Wilfrid’s sculptures or sketches offers an alternative notion of beauty. Allowing room for imperfection, the female subjects he depicts are often makeup-less, ‘normal’ faces—somehow made much more valid or ‘beautiful’ through a life in plasticine. “I like to think I do my bit for inclusivity by celebrating wonky faces. I love it when someone turns up with a whopping great big nose or a double chin.” People’s insecurities and flaws thrill Wilfrid. He hopes if they feel his enthusiasm it will lessen their self-consciousness. He also considers models nowadays to be more varied and interesting than in his youth when Elle
‘The Body’ Macpherson and Cindy Crawford were in demand. He’s impacted the fashion and beauty industry, collaborating with brands such as Nike. Makeup artist Bea Sweet describes him as a “badass” and “anti-fashion”. Crowning him the easiest person ever to collaborate with, she explains “sometimes projects are really special, this became one of those moments”. Bea says she likes Wilfrid’s “brutal, no frills honesty” and that he “highlights what he sees, he doesn’t filter it to flatter.” She respects him as a sincere artist and now considers him a “dear friend.” Wilfrid is frank about being terribly frustrated when “a miraculous living human being has generously sat and given themselves patiently to me for a couple of hours and I do a bad drawing of them.” But perhaps the ‘hit or miss’ nature of his work is what makes it a success—even when he deems it a failure. I question whether his primary aim is to entertain his audience and he replies “I’ve thought about this question for ages, because if I say yes it might sound superficial, but I’m going to say YES. All the best art is supremely entertaining.” He lists examples of his inspirations; David Bowie, Alice Neel, Raymond Carver. Intellectual art exercises bore him to tears. A friend of his told him his work makes you
“The truth is that you can get nasty people with beautiful faces and lovely people who look like the rear end of a wild boar”
want to look at it. “Duh! Obviously! Why would anyone produce art that you didn’t want to look at?” “My life has been changed twice, first by Spitting Image, then by Instagram” says Wilfrid. For someone who just a few years ago couldn’t see the value in it, his page has seen fast growth in numbers racking up 71,800 followers, in a short space of time, after keen encouragement from his agent. “It turned out to be fun. My posts add up to a constantly enlarging portfolio”. He sets clear boundaries for his content avoiding posts including food, holidays and himself in Lycra. He firmly believes that the app is “revolutionary for artists” as it completely bypasses the gallery system. “It’s highly democratic compared to the snobbish arse-licking that goes on in the art world” he says with disdain. While some would feel social pressure, Wilfrid is encouraged by his many followers and being verified. He thinks he owes this to spending years in semi-isolation. “Having some interest has kept me going through what otherwise would have been a mid-life crisis” he confesses. “I do hope Instagram doesn’t affect the way I work but I bet it does subconsciously. You can’t help but lap up the likes.” Some of his followers may assume that being a lover of nudity would mean he feels Instagram’s regulations like the ‘nipple ban’ are restricting for artists. But quite on the contrary, Wilfrid deems them as really good rules, “if they didn’t have them Instagram would become a sea of pornography in minutes. I don’t know why people complain about it. Isn’t there enough porn on the internet already?” As an experienced artist he feels compelled to ensure his work is connected to contemporary life “even if figurative, sculpting and drawing are ancient activities” he concurs. So, in light of the climate crisis he explains how the environment crosses his mind as he works… Taking a peek inside his cupboard full of old heads that are due to be squashed back down, the impermanent, reusable nature of his material choice deserves praise. “I used to use resin which is awful for lungs and the environment. Now I use plasticine, made from petroleum jelly, a by-product of the oil industry.” He also owns up to flying for talks he speaks at abroad, acknowledging how this combination of actions aren't healthy choices for the planet. However, he does state “the one thing I don’t have is children, which is presumably the second-best thing you can do for the environment apart from killing yourself” although his humour is dark, he speaks the truth. Give Wilfrid a follow on Instagram @wilfridwoodsculptor
Cannabis crisis, or let the good times roll? Many young people use marijuana but it can cause mental health problems.
Words: Tess Belgrave Image: Henry Gordon
Experiencing drugs for the first time at university to some people is considered a rite of passage. The freedom that comes with living independently can present temptations. Peer pressure and the need to fit in can encourage students to try new things. Many young people will smoke or consume marijuana at some stage in their lifetime while others will have started at a young age. Cannabis is currently a Class B drug, it is illegal to possess, give away or sell. Despite the classification, there is a relaxed attitude around smoking cannabis with many people using it as casually as smoking a cigarette. For many in society, it has become an accessible and socially acceptable habit. Cannabis use was once a subculture but has moved more into the mainstream. Mainstream cinema is no stranger to the character of an endearing and functional (occasionally haphazard) stoner. Films charting this legacy from the original smoker duo ‘Cheech and Chong’; the loveable Saul from ‘Pineapple Express’ and the more contemporary pair of Harold and Kumar. These comedic portrayals effectively glamorise cannabis smoking and never show the serious side effects which may be present. The relaxed attitude around cannabis consumption overshadows the negative effects of cannabis use, the effects it can have on adolescent brains especially can be devastating—many people see marijuana as being a ‘safe’ drug but if used over a long period of time there is evidence that suggests it is corrosive to mental and physical health. In particularly bad cases smoking or using cannabis can cause psychosis. Psychosis is a severe mental illness which insights paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. For a first episode of psychosis, these phenomena can be extremely frightening. Psychosis is more common than you would think, as many as 3 in 100 people will have an episode at some point in their lives. Tom, from Brighton, has been struggling with a close friend of his that has been experiencing extreme paranoia and hallucinations. "It’s really hard because none of us knows how to deal with it. Smoking weed is something we all like to do and it’s mostly what we do when we all hang out. At first, we would laugh at him for feeling
duced or not. The length of this process depends on the individual it can be a matter of days and in some cases months or years.” There are many anti-drug and educational campaigns that are trying to help people with their drug-related issues. Talk to Frank is the longest-running drug helpline in the UK which was launched in 2003 by the Department of Health and the Home Office of the British Government. Talk to Frank offers a friendly helpline which people can use to contact with their questions or fears surrounding drugs. It offers therapy, counselling and support throughout the U.K. whilst also being an educational platform with the main goal of informing young people on the risks of drugs. When contacting Talk to Frank to get advice on what to do if you are experiencing cannabis psychosis, they offer a service where you are able to talk over the phone to a representative. They explain that in most cases of cannabis psychosis the symptoms should lessen or go away when the person has stopped smoking it. However, in many cases, some effects can be long-lasting and can cause other mental health issues such as schizophrenia as using cannabis can trigger underlying mental health conditions. The representatives are helpful, offering establishments in local areas that help with people battling psychosis. In these cases, it is vital that the person affected has a good support system from their family and friends, sadly it is common for many people suffering from psychosis to isolate themselves. Dr Niall Campbell a Consultant adult general psychiatrist spoke on the subject of cannabis psychosis. “I am seeing an increasing number of young adults with paranoid psychosis—a Schizophrenia—like illness and depression, which has developed from marijuana use. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to cannabis because of their brain development. The brain is still developing in the teenage years up to the age of around 20. We know the chances of developing mental illness from using cannabis are greatly increased depending on how young you are when you start smoking it, the younger you are the greater long-lasting effect it has on your brain.” A tweet from the Priory Group talk-
paranoid, we knew it was because he was smoking too much and thought it would stop as soon as he stopped smoking it. But it hasn’t and if anything, it’s getting worse, he’s so anxious, he told me he feels like people are watching him constantly and he’s especially anxious about using his phone.” “He deleted all of his social media and has his phone turned off because he’s so paranoid about people listening to his conversations, it’s not normal, as a bunch of boys, we don’t know how to act, he gets angry and confused and it’s becoming hard for us to see him truthfully. I know it’s affecting all his relationships, it’s really sad.” Tom explained to me that his friend had only recently been experiencing these symptoms and that he thought of him as being “not the type of person to have a mental illness”. According to the NHS 25% of paranoid psychosis cases are caused by the use of cannabis. A leading addictions expert based at the priory’s hospital in South London has issued a strong warning about the use of marijuana by young adults and its links to paranoid psychosis. The figures show Cannabis has caused more than 125,000 NHS hospital admissions in the last five years, 15,000 of those cases involved are under the age of 25. These figures are startlingly high—it makes you wonder why cannabis isn’t considered to be a harmful high-risk drug. In some cases, people are admitted to mental health units because of the nature and degree of the psychosis where they are in danger to themselves or others. A mental health nurse who has worked in acute mental health hospitals for the NHS for a number of years about how people are helped when someone is admitted to a mental health unit for psychosis. “Firstly, they go through a period of assessment part of which is a urine drug screen, this may be with or without prescribed drugs depending on their behaviour and whether they are acting on their psychotic beliefs. If they present themselves as a danger to others, they would be given prescribed medication to calm them down. However, if they are calm and are engaging with the period of assessment, they will go through drug free. The main purpose of this is to assess whether or not the psychosis is drug-in-
“I am seeing an increasing number of young adults with paranoid psychosis — a Schizophrenia-like illness and depression, which has developed from marijuana use” ing about psychosis in young adults. This statement shows that smoking cannabis can affect your brain—like the stereotypes people are said to be slower and somewhat less able and motivated when smoking cannabis compared to someone who has not. Of course, this depends on the person—most commonly those who are affected by cannabis psychosis are men between the ages of 16-25. Another factor increasing the number of cases of psychosis each year is that the chemical profile of cannabis
has changed. An article published by Live Science stated that cannabis is ‘Up to 100 times stronger than substances around in the 1960’s’ people are chemically enhancing cannabis with stronger THC’s, which is the main psychoactive part of cannabis. It is the THC in the cannabis which causes the feelings of paranoia, anxiety and psychotic episodes. In the 1960s when smoking cannabis was extremely popular with many groups the levels of THC were lower—the negative side effects were not as dominant as they are
now in 2019. To look at cannabis consumption from different perspectives it’s difficult to form a definitive opinion, especially with the good PR that surrounds marijuana in the popular media. But to look deeper and talk to people who have seen the negative effects of this easily obtainable substance it is startling to think that consumption is accepted and somewhat encouraged by large sections of society when the returns on this investment of time and money can end in terrifying and debilitating mental conditions. If you are struggling with symptoms of psychosis, there are many organisations that can help. Most importantly having a strong supportive network of friends and family is vital in getting better. You must not feel afraid or embarrassed about expressing your concerns about the side effects of using drugs. 15
Paying for porn? A new web platform allows influencers to make money from explicit content
Words: Harry Myles Images: Kelsey Leigh
When Onlyfans launched in 2016 it was virtually unheard of. Fast-forward three years and it is not uncommon to find headlines such as, ‘Woman makes £3,000 per month from selling her selfies online’ to ‘Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson posts naked videos of herself online for £15 a month.’ In both instances, the subscription-based website Onlyfans has been the platform of choice being used to sell explicit content. Onlyfans works as a social media platform. It mimics the layout of Twitter and in order to view content that users have posted, or to interact with others who are already signed up, you have to pay a monthly fee for each user decided by them. This fee can range from five to twenty-plus dollars a month, though there is no capped fee. In the wake of the ‘YouTube Adpocalypse’ starting in 2017, adverts were only featured on ‘family-friendly’ content channels, causing controversy within the YouTube community as many channels were no longer able to obtain ad revenuefrom their videos. As a result, some YouTube content creators who do not produce ‘family-friendly’ content would set-up accounts on services such as Patreon, providing early or exclusive content for paying fans. Even though Onlyfans and Patreon both provide a platform for fans to have to pay for content, it is Onlyfans that has increased in popularity with users selling explicit content. With a lack of monetisation available on most social media platforms, this has led particularly female, influencers, creators and those-alike towards these platforms. It is important to note while anyone can create an Onlyfans account, it is aimed at influencers who already have an existing fan base on social media or online. Influencers include YouTube content creators, Instagram models, photographers, personal trainers, reality TV show contestants and more. They’ll upload more exclusive content which typically is not available for fans on free-to-view platforms. While superfans may sign up to their favourite influencer’s Onlyfans regardless, it’s a supposed incentive for their whole fan base to sign up. This kind of exclusive content is stated by Onlyfans as: “extended tutorials for training and workouts, exclusive images and video…and even personalised
good quality.” “There are some girls that post really explicit content and they have a much higher subscriber count. I don’t post stuff that is too explicit, but I charge more. I have a lot less fans but I make more per person. I feel like if you put out content too explicit then people will just join, see what they want and then just leave. Whereas I kind of keep my content creative and teasing, which keeps people around and continue to subscribe,” Kelsey says. Kelsey also runs a YouTube channel where she shares her passion for modified cars. She started her channel in order to provide tutorial videos for other girls within the modified car community as well as posting vlogs: “When I posted videos on YouTube, to begin with, I gained a lot of subscribers very quickly.” Kelsey hopes by growing her influence through YouTube, as well as promotion through Instagram, will help to bolster her Onlyfans following. Promotion, including posing in lingerie and other teasing content, which—as long as it does not go against Instagram’s community guidelines for posting nudity—along with being active on Instagram including replying to all comments on her posts, helps drive new subscribers over to her Onlyfans account. Channel 4’s recent documentary Generation Porn reinforces the fact that pornography sites are free and easily accessible. So why are people willing to pay for explicit content on Onlyfans when there is a lot of it free online? One reason being, subscribers are able to have a direct personal interaction with the user they have opted to subscribe to. Kelsey interacts with many of her subscribers on a daily basis: “I’ve got fans who have messaged me for months and they just really enjoy chatting and getting to know me. They stay there because they like me as a person.” Kelsey mentions many people subscribe to her anonymously through random usernames: “Most people sign up out of curiosity. But for those who re-subscribe with me every month, I think they just like the personal experience. They can talk to me and ask what they want.” “People do chat with me and do tell me what they do with their job. I get to know a lot of people. But I don’t necessarily know who they are.”
content based on fan requests.” While there may be a few influencers who do not partake, a large majority of the uploaded content is explicit. Content which is deemed too racy for platforms like Instagram, which as a result goes against their community guidelines. Kelsey Leigh, a British photography graduate and influencer with over 5,000 followers on Instagram, had found it quite difficult to build a reputation as a fashion photographer since graduating: “I had my own photography studio as I’m also a professional fashion photographer, which I still do now and then.” She was introduced to Onlyfans through a friend on the platform that used to do online webcamming. After Kelsey decided to create an account too, it soon became lucrative to the point where it was now her main source of income: “I just do Onlyfans now. I used to have my own photography studio a couple of months ago, but I don’t have it anymore. It [Onlyfans] is hard work. It takes a lot of your time. I used to work as well as do Onlyfans but it got to a point where I just didn’t have enough time for both,” Kelsey says. Kelsey says her partner’s support was fundamental: “It was my partner at the time that influenced me to start it. He helps me a lot and sometimes takes photos of me.” Photos involving explicit content are uploaded onto her Onlyfans as regularly as possible to keep her subscribers satisfied. Kelsey says it is not an issue that affects her relationship: “It’s work for me you know, I don’t see it as something other than that…it’s just a job. All of my friends and family know about my work and they’re pretty supportive of it. My mum is not that interested in it, she doesn’t generally talk to me about it but she knows what I do. I think she’s more bothered about other people’s opinions.” In Kelsey’s case, her subscribers pay a monthly fee of $15.99, typically more than what most Onlyfans users charge. She states she has just over 150 subscribers at the moment, which returns her a four-figure sum per month: “It’s hard to keep on top subscribers since I’ve started. Some people stay for six months, some will just stay for one month, but it changes constantly. It’s really up and down but it’s quite low at the moment. My content is generally quite
THE R O O R F E D UN OF
behind n e t f o e uma ar a r t ndition d o n c a f d e o i to Gr unders e l t t i l this
A HOARDER As we sift through stacks of dusty crime novels and rummage through mountains of unwanted clothing, ranging from size 6 to size 22, my ex-librarian Grandma, an inspiration for this article opens up to me about why she believes she hoards. “I think it’s because when we were young in Yorkshire, we hardly had owt, I had one dress, one pair of shoes and everything we bought was through the ‘Tallymen’”. A new word to add to my vocabulary, my google search clarifies that tallymen sold everything from clothing to furniture to groceries with instalment payments, he kept tabs on how much you owed week to week and would trade to the whole community, directly on the doorstep. “Miss Wise the spinster was ever so posh, but she was so lovely to us. Never mean” she says, providing me with a window into post-wartime, working-class Britain. From a young age, she observed that society consists of the haves and the have-nots. As a have-not, potentially hoarding is a way of her feeling less working class. Having everything she could ever want strewn across every surface means she’s never hard done by. In a world where a bargain is always immediately attainable, unlike the items the tallyman could offer, purchases from charity shops and car boot sales may provide my grandma with satisfaction too tempting for her inner child to shake.
Words: Maggie Scaife Images: Yuting Zhang
Jo Cooke specialises in hoarding. At 55, she is the Director of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC, owner of decluttering business Tapioca Tidy and author of ‘Understanding Hoarding’, so she’s certainly qualified. Based in Berkshire, her role involves running 3 support groups and delivering hoarding awareness training across the UK. She explains to me that “hoarding acts as emotional insulation, a comfort blanket. It provides a sense of control and fills a void. Trauma, bereavement, any sense of loss and grief contribute to hoarding behaviours.” Hoarding is on the rise; Jo concludes while complaining that little research has been conducted in the UK. She believes “hoarding is an anxiety-based disorder and we are living in anxious times. We can’t control what is happening in our world, in our neighbourhood, in Europe but we can control our own environment.” She estimates that between 2—6 % of the population are affected by hoarding but cannot be totally sure this is accurate, due to the secretive nature of hoarders, many could be in hiding or in denial of associating with the label. Jo’s father had hoarding issues and after his death, she ‘project managed’ organising probate, liaising with her siblings about selling the house and dividing up his belongings: “I realised I was quite good at it” she says, recognising an unusual talent, she felt compelled to start 19
up her own company. But in order to help other people successfully “a great deal of research” was required. In which, Jo discovered APDO (the association of professional declutterers and organisers) and soon after opted for voluntary redundancy then her career change commenced. Believing that “it’s about the person, not the stuff,” Jo tells me the character traits necessary to do her job are: • patience • compassion • a good listener • a keen organiser • come without judgement • empathetic • most importantly a sense of humour Over her career Jo has found that every experience of hoarding is entirely individual, “it’s a complex issue and each person’s hoard is unique, as to are their reasons.” Jo’s father, for example, had hoarding tendencies towards food and frugality. “He hated waste, especially food waste. We had to eat every grain of rice on our plate. Mealtimes could be quite stressful” she expresses. As for frugality “he hated any frivolous items being bought and concentrated on essentials.” In her lifetime she has gone through both a divorce and a house flooding, meaning that many of her possessions were damaged, taken or discarded. These experiences mean she finds it easy to totally disconnect from the idea of materialism: “I no longer consider items important to me and nor do I form a particular attachment to anything” she elaborates. Approached by her publisher to write “Understanding Hoarding”, Jo’s book went to print in 2017. “Having had so many clients, my case studies lent well to writing the content. But even now I learn from the clients that I work with or from those who attend support groups.” The book aims to reduce the stigma around hoarding, help family members and professionals but also those who have hoarding difficulties themselves. She wants it to be “a go to manual, to provide insight and help raise awareness that hoarding is a mental health disorder and not a lifestyle choice.” There does seem to be this notion of no resolution, but Jo thinks that over time behaviours can be managed. “The person with the hoarding problem needs to want to reclaim their space and needs to want to change. Change is scary, so they need to feel supported through change” she says, highlighting how key support groups are. She also suggests asking the family member what their version of help looks like, working slowly and gently to “empower rather than take over.” She proposes that a combination of something such as CBT (cognitive behavioural 20
“It was m my wors y biggest secre might fint dread that somt, it was d out ab e out it” one therapy) and counselling paired with practical, hands-on help can potentially encourage motivation and change a hoarder’s mindset. According to Jo, the representation of hoarding in mainstream media is unfair. She questions whether popular TV programmes are to blame—“unfortunately, many people perceive a hoarder as someone who is dirty and lazy. It’s far more complicated than that.” Instead of treating hoarders as entertainment she suggests that perhaps we should look to support them “with compassion and kindness, not punishment.” Much like we would with other mental health illnesses. TV presenter Jasmine Harmen, from Hackney allowed the nation into a part of her life that she’d never before exposed. ‘My Hoarder Mum and Me’ aired eight years ago, so I called her to reflect on its impact both personally and culturally. Describing her decision to go ahead with filming as transformational, she says “it was my biggest secret, it was my worst dread that someone might find out about it but actually speaking about it openly, I received so much more support than I could ever have dreamed of.” She begins to explain that back in 2011 hoarding wasn’t actually recognised as a mental health problem at the time. “It was seen as a symptom of OCD, but there’s a big difference between OCD hoarders and people who are suffering from hoarding disorder.” This BBC documentary was the first of this new breed of broadcasting that acknowledged the severity of the issue, “I think the programme changed everything.” She goes on to reference ‘How Clean Is Your House?’ with Kim and Aggie. They would go inside people’s homes and dramatise the dirt without any thought that it might be due to a psychological problem, something that in hindsight is pretty problematic. As a result, Jasmine’s mum Vasoulla received a media award from the charity Mind for being one of the first people in the UK to publicly address the subject of hoarding as a mental health issue. “It showed hoarding as a serious problem, which it really is a serious problem, so I think it was important” Jasmine declares. Vasoulla felt her portrayal was realistic and fair. “It was very raw for us at the
time, but it was very human. It showed that we’re not infallible, that we all have our problems” Jasmine vindicates. After the programme, Jasmine received contact from thousands of viewers who could relate in some way—“they all thought they were the only one, so it really brought it out into the light.” Noticing a demand, she created the website helpforhoarders—“I couldn’t help everybody individually, but I thought maybe I can help them help each other by connecting people through providing a forum to share resources and stories. We have a lovely online community, it’s really great.” Without a doubt, Jasmine admits her childhood was impacted by Vasoulla’s hoarding. “The first time I remember being aware of something being wrong was when we had a social worker come to the house to help mum with the laundry because there was a pile that was practically
nd u o r s s, end i n r f e e d t a te rh a l e v y e e m n m I i n “ t I . e s l ' t m lit my muto spend as I tried as possible” up to the ceiling.” Nostalgically, but with there a knowing, painful laugh she describes climbing up and sliding down the pile
“like it was a fixture in the house”. Her mum got really upset with the social worker “who came to help (in inverted commas)”. Her and her siblings quickly learned that their mum’s hoarding was something that they shouldn’t mention “otherwise we’d end up with social workers coming into our lives.” The fear of interference had transferred onto them. As she grew up, she paints a picture filled with severe embarrassment, shame, fear of someone finding out and the secrecy that surrounded hoarding. An unexpected knock at the door meant hiding and pretending to be out the house. “I never had friends round my mum’s. In my late teens, I tried to spend as little time there as possible.” Jasmine says that “the most important thing is to let a hoarding relative know that you support them, that you love them, and that you’re there to help.” However, in some cases she recommends distancing from the hoarding and seeing the relative just as another person. “For me it was much harder when I was living at home and when I left the hoarding got worse but my need to try and fix it got less, because I wasn’t having to live with it” she confesses. Contrary to what you’d initially assume, she thinks that decluttering should
be the final stage of recovery, “there is no point clearing everything out without dealing with why the stuff has built up in the first place.” As with any coping mechanism, taking it away without providing an alternative can make matters worse. “It’s very hard, you can do a lot of damage by forcing someone with a mental health problem to get rid of the one thing that helps them to cope. Try and support them to process these reasons, the problems why their hoarding is occurring.” Whilst stressing the importance of seeking psychological treatment, Jasmine suggests that alongside this if you feel the desire to help inside a relative’s home then ask to do the small things. “Ask if they’d like you to do the laundry or the washing up, because daily chores get left behind, as clearing is so overwhelming. These things are on their terms, they can make up their own rules.” Unlike a lot of hoarders, Vasoulla is mentally very aware of why she hoards, and she no longer suffers with depression or suicidal thoughts, which is a positive step forward that’s helping her to acquire less. “My mum’s still a hoarder, it’s not gone away, but she’s working on managing it all the time. Her house is still the same, but she has to do it herself.” Jasmine has come to accept that she can’t declutter anymore. She would much rather avoid ruining their relationship, spending hours arguing, fighting and upset just to clear one carrier bag full of rubbish. “At the end of the day it’s a drop in the ocean that can be refilled within minutes, there’s no point” she claims. She has made the choice not to step foot inside her mum’s house anymore, “we see each other elsewhere. We go out or she’ll come to mine because there is literally no way that I can feel comfortable there. But I want to keep my relationship with her” she assures me with integrity. Describing the filming process as beneficial, she says that their relationship has evolved now so that hoarding is not the primary focus anymore. “We might spend a whole week together and not even mention it, so it’s nice to have a relationship with her that doesn’t always revolve around hoarding issues.” Sounding positive, Jasmine is confident that they have a much better understanding of each other now. There is more respect, forgiveness and willingness to listen to one another without it turning into an argument. They are “less confrontational and in many ways a lot more relaxed.” As an outsider you can only admire Jasmine’s personal growth, high level of patience and empathy. Her future energy will be well spent investing in herself and her happiness as an individual that is able to simultaneously support her family from a distance. A healthy balance. 23
The Earth matters more than my degree A Glasgow student explains why she abandoned university to focus on the climate crisis
Lauren MacDonald has just dropped out of university to become a full-time activist. She says: “I went to one class [after the protest] and thought I couldn’t go back to my normal life after that. It’s such an emergency that I have to do everything I can.” Lauren, from Glasgow, is just 20. She was studying a Masters in French and Spanish at university. But now wants to make a difference along with many others who have dropped everything to join Extinction Rebellion (XR). “I’m not the only one who has dropped out of uni for this, I’ve found lots of people who have made similar changes.” We met at the October XR protests in London. Lauren tells me she first went vegan about two years ago: “It felt like an awakening” she said. Through social media and information available online Lauren educated herself in animal rights issues and researched how much the industrial use of animals contributes to the warming of the Earth. Over the next year or so she started learning more and interacting with other vegans and activists online. Lauren tells me that “even from a couple of years ago [she has] noticed a change in people’s attitudes,” with more of her friends making the change to cut out or reduce their consumption animal products and overall greater awareness that people have of the facts surrounding the topic. It was with this newfound confidence Lauren went on her first climate march in May 2019, and ended up speaking from the stage. She met the Glasgow Youth Strike Team (of which she is now a part) who organised the march, and she was added to their WhatsApp group to help get involved with new action. Later that day some of the members asked in the chat who it was that gave the veganism speech and how they could find out more. “Even on the front lines of the climate crisis,” Lauren says, “there are people who still weren’t aware of the impact their food has on the planet.” Extinction Rebellion was set up in 2018 and describe themselves as “an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse.” They have taken action across numerous cities such as Brussels, London, New York, Paris, and Sydney to name a few. The atmosphere 24
at the protest in October is very uplifting, it feels like a small festival and with an appearance from critically acclaimed duo Orbital, it certainly sounds like one. There is, however sense of fear and a lot of emotion hanging over Trafalgar Square. Lauren tells me that through the new contacts made on the climate march she found out that a new group was being set up, Animal Rebellion (AR). “That was the biggest turning point for me, the biggest for my activism. It’s really important we have climate justice for all species.” One of the founders of AR asked Lauren if she would like to be their co-ordinator for Scotland. She was invited down to London for the animal rights march in August and after that set up AR Glasgow, “There’s about 40 of us in Glasgow and that just from being active for a month.” She organises meetings, talks and helps to bring together Scotland’s response to any climate walks or protests. Through her work, she has been able to meet many of those influencers who inspired her to get involved in the cause two years ago. One of those was Earthling Ed who Lauren has met at numerous events: “Every time I met him it reminds me how much he’s changed my life and made activism seems so accessible.” Lauren sayst her time spent with AR has changed her outlook, “It has made me realise that they’re just people who want justice and I can do that too. Activism isn’t something that’s unreachable; anyone can do it by joining a march, protest or just spreading the word.”
Words and image: Fergus Matheson
And her advice to anyone wanting to get involved? “Come to a strike or a protest, meeting like-minded people is the best thing to do. Even if you don’t know anyone it’s a really welcoming environment.” “For me, doing this, it’s a moral obligation. Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. We are really strong together and these are the people that remind me I’m not the only one fighting.” More recently the protests have taken a much more heated turn. The Metropolitan Police issued a city-wide protest ban on October 14, this contradicting their original designation of Trafalgar Square as a demonstration area. Over the phone, I caught up with Lauren who tells me this sets a dangerous precedent for people's right to protest: “It's making people scared to stand up for their rights and to join the protest.” There was more contention on the Monday when a group of protesters dressed as various fruit and vegetables protested at Oxford Circus, this led to viral images of protestors dressed as broccoli and pod of peas getting cuffed and stuffed into a van. “It’s ridiculous,” Lauren says, “Having fun and trying to spread the message, how can you get arrested for being dressed as a pea?” Lauren has two years if she wants to resume her studies at Glasgow University. The question is will enough have been done in that time to stop the oceans rising and food running out?
The psychology of graffiti An inside perspective on London’s growing graffiti scene
Words and image: Emilio Molave
Graffiti is a misunderstood art form. A simple ‘tag’ or ‘throw up’ of a person’s pseudonym is more than just a senseless act of vandalism but a language in itself, telling a story for the urban masses to read on the streets. However, many of these young artists are risking criminal charges and sometimes their lives to get their names up on a wall. To understand this underground world, tapping into the minds of artists is where the true story unfolds. The question reignited debate after three young graffiti artists Jack Gilbert, 23, Harrison Scott-Hood, 23, and Alberto Carrasco, 19, were found dead in the early hours of the morning on June 18, 2018 on the tracks between Denmark Hill and Loughborough Junction stations. They suffered fatal injuries after a train hit them while they were painting track walls. Since then, the British Transport Police (BTP) have implemented measures to reduce the crime being committed. The BTP claim that £10 million is spent on the London Underground and Network Rail claim that £5 million is spent on all other rail lines across the country to clean up graffiti vandalism. Those who are caught will be faced with a fine or jail sentence. A young writer known as Testa, from south-east London told Artefact why he risks his personal and professional life in the name of graffiti. Testa started doing graffiti at a young age, seeing tags at his local skatepark. Like many artists, skateboarding was his gateway to the scene. Both sub-cultures draw similar parallels
fellow writers work. Following the rules earns you more respect on the underground scene. There are links with an artists ego and graffiti. Testa says he is “showing the world I’m here” and that his self-esteem is boosted when he sees his tag around London. The aerosol scene in London fully took off by 1986, coming from New York. Crews like the Chrome Angelz pioneered graffiti writing and from then names such as Ink 27, Cast, Caos, Set 3 and Tilt carved way for the unclean and chaotic style of Subway Art. “I like my graffiti centred around trains but it’s hard to paint trains now,” Testa said. Writing trackside and street walls, by nature, has rough lines and scribbled shading. “I like it when the paint drips and the lines aren’t super sharp but scruffy instead.” “We got caught in Shoreditch, which is a silly place for [the police] to care about graffiti.” The police searched Testa and a group of graffiti artists and issued a warning for the artists once they found spray cans and etching tools. Painting a train track for most graffiti artists is the ideal place. For Testa, “they are usually peaceful, even though there is so much danger of getting hit a by train.” Graffiti writers are less likely to be caught by the police on train tracks but, in turn, insist on putting their lives at risk, scaling the busy London train lines in the middle of the night. Testa adds: “you’re both relaxed and on edge at the same time.” Ultimately, Testa does graffiti as a form of therapy. Some people go to the gym, read a book or go out with mates. But for Testa, he seeks the solitude of the tracks in the twilight hour, not in zones 1-6, but in his own microcosm of London’s trains. Testa says that he becomes a “distant franchise,” from the hectic turbulence of London. For an entire sub-culture to exist the way graffiti does, is a phenomenon that is far and few between. There appears to be nothing that will stop the hardcore writers from doing what they love. The complexity of the art form is something that only those who risk life and limb for their art can truly understand, the fact that the law can not control the creative rebels is the celestial beauty of the urban underground scene is evidence enough.
of adrenaline, fear and creativity. Testa conducts late-night missions on both the streets and trackside to cover London with his name. Fully aware of the precarious nature of graffiti, the illegality of the art is what “makes graffiti, graffiti”. There are 358 ‘legal walls’ in the UK and 35 of them are in London. These are spaces where artists can practise their art without running the risk of being arrested. Testa refuses to use them and says: “the lack of danger and fear gives me no rush.” Painting on legal walls for Testa is too neat, whereas he prefers the rough and rushed look of a street wall. There is a huge debate about the difference between graffiti and street art. Typically street art is done on legal walls or commissioned on street walls, although Bansky, a street artist, goes against this norm and his work is still illegal. Areas in London, like Shoreditch and Hackney Wick, are famous for street art, which is pushing the more covert culture of graffiti tagging further underground. Testa explains that the reason why he expresses himself illegally is a sense of achievement once he has painted a spot. Once a spot has been taken, usually one which is visible to passers-by, the spot is gone permanently. One would think that artists could go over another’s work leaving the security of their art at jeopardy. But there are unwritten rules and strict etiquette on the streets. Even Testa had to redesign his tag halfway through to avoid blasting over a
What’s it like to be a female comedian? Inside the fight for equal opportunity to make us laugh
Words and Images: Cree Brown 26
In a world where only six countries have equal working rights for both men and women, the gender gap is still substantial in most career fields and vocations, even in the world of comedy. The patriarchal bias of the entertainment industry is no secret, with economists determining that male Hollywood stars earn on average $1.1 million (£850,000) more than their female equivalents — a colossal 56% pay gap. Forbes’ Highest Earning Stand Up Comedians of 2019 further hammers the nail into the coffin of inequality, as only one out of the ten comedians featured is female; she is American stand-up comedian and actor Amy Schumer, who despite earning $21 million (£16.3m) this year, is
no stranger to online social media trolls. Whether you are a fan of Schumer or not, the social media comments she receives could be classed as a form of 21st century hate speech, with most being directed at her gender and appearance. An Instagram posted by Amy Schumer captioned ‘Feeling strong and beautiful today’ depicted her in underwear with pregnancy bump, received comments such as ‘Ur even more foul in underwear’ and ‘I’m vomiting’. Hate comments geared toward female comedians are not exclusive to famous stars. A wide variety of these comments are directed at the general female population, with most claiming that female biology automatically corresponds
with how humorous (or un-humorous) an individual is. When searching ‘females in comedy’ on YouTube, the first video generated is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a male opinion on female comedians entitled ‘Joe Rogan on Women in Comedy.’ Scrolling through the comment section on such videos epitomises the hostile environment women are faced with when choosing to pursue a career in comedy. One comment with 102 likes declares “Sexist or not, men are naturally funnier. It’s a big part of attracting women. Men have it in their DNA from thousands of years of evolution” and another with 166 likes simply states: “Women aren’t as funny as men.”
Whilst most people do not take YouTube comment sections as scripture, you cannot help but feel comments such as these reflect the general consensus when it comes to addressing female comedians. Thanks to the antagonistic nature of comment sections and social media trolling, many budding female comedians have created groups which act as ‘safe spaces’ for females and non-binary individuals. Lasses in Comedy or LinC are one of Facebook’s many female-based comedy networking support groups, describing themselves as a place to ‘have a healthy whinge about being the only woman on the bill or being introduced by an MC (master of ceramonies) as ‘a girl’, AGAIN?!’ “If you are a young, attractive woman, people don’t think you can be funny.” The creator of LinC, 36-year-old UK-based comedian, known by her stage name Lucy Bee, “just wanted to create a safe, social media space for ‘all things comedy’ for women specifically. It’s good to have a space to vent if needed, as well as for people to advertise for female-only comedy events.” Even in the non-professional world of comedy, the gender gap is still sadly prevalent: “There are still far too many incidents of both acts and audience members telling female acts, ‘I don’t usually find women funny, but you were actually alright,’ as though that’s something to be grateful for!” She continues, “there’s definitely a pervasive sense that you have more to prove as a female act, and male acts and audience members will think nothing of telling you how to be ‘better’.” Male acts and audience members ordaining the idea that they have authority to ‘better’ female acts is not only demoralising, as Lucy says, but can also be viewed as borderline threatening, creating an unsafe atmosphere throughout unisex comedy shows. Whether it be physical or verbal acts of sexual assault, women are more likely to be sexualised on-stage, compared to their male counterparts. One member of LinC, 54-year-old Derya Yildirim agrees with Lucy, and feels the sexualisation of women on stage hinders their performance: “If you are a young, attractive woman, people don’t think you can be funny. I was at a King Gong show and someone from the audience called one female comedian ‘a bitch’.” Many comedians claim that on-stage is where they feel most comfortable, however this can be a very different experience for women who have been heckled, particularly for their gender or appearance. Heckling often damages their self-confidence and shatters the so-called ‘safe space’ they have created on-stage.
Derya sums this up: “Abuse [onstage] is the projection of the wider gender violence issue in society”. According to GOV.UK, it is estimated that 3.1% of women (510,000) aged 16-59 experienced some form of sexual assault in the last year; a dark statistic that can unfortunately be reflected in the world of comedy. After performing a set at last summer’s comedy event of the year, the Edinburgh Fringe festival, Dutch comedian Micky Overman was informed that a male audience member had been masturbating through her set, an experience that she says left her feeling ‘violated’ and ‘worried that he’d come back.’ Micky describes the distressing event with an air of wit that would only be expected from a comedian, however as she said in her article in The Guardian: “it really hasn’t helped me with my sense of self, and it certainly hasn’t helped me find my way back to thinking about comedy as a space where I can safely express myself”’ Fortunately, Micky has turned the ordeal on its head, reflecting it straight back at the patriarchal control the ‘literal wanker’, as she so subtly describes him, tried to take away from her. “As a way of putting it to bed this year, I’m bluntly addressing it in my show. That way, if Mr Wankypants does come back, he might feel as much shame as I did.” However, Micky was and is not alone in this ordeal, as she explains she was made aware of two more performers who experienced the same thing at the Edinburgh Fringe that year, alongside reports that other female performers were also being sexually harassed and assaulted. A BBC article reported that many women performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe felt pressure to ‘laugh off harassment’ due to wanting a successful set. This harassment went as far as physical assault, with one woman telling the BBC that a man “pretended to brush something off my thigh and then moved his hand, quite forcefully, up my skirt.” The issue of a female comedian’s sense of security on-stage is often not only dismantled by male audience members, but male MCs have too been known to play a part in belittling female comedians. As Lucy Bee says, being introduced as ‘girl’ or anything other than the rightful title of comedian, can really throw off a set, but does it make a difference when the MC is a ‘girl’? In a dimly lit corner of Camden Wetherspoons, the quietest place possible for an interview on a rainy Thursday afternoon, Steph Aritone, 27, sips a half pint of ale whilst opening up about her experiences of being a female MC. Born in London, but raised by her Polish mother and Italian father, Steph 27
has an interesting perspective of the world and, as she proves with her regular Monday night slot at The Cavendish Arms in Stockwell, this frequently aids her in her comedic choices. ‘The MC sets the tone of the night,” Steph says as she relaxes into the booth and sums up the atmosphere on-stage as a female MC. ‘The vibe is different when I’m MC-ing, it’s not flirting culture and it’s not ego culture, it’s just you do ‘you’, it’s your time on stage. I will always get a few women commenting on the fact that I’m a female MC, saying ‘Oh I love it when there’s a woman MC’.’ Although Steph is clearly confident and comfortable in her own skin, finding her voice after just two years of performing, she admits it hasn’t always been this way: “I always do get a sense when I go onstage the audience tends to tense up a little bit and I still feel that to some extent, they just put trust in what they know more and what they know is a man on stage, delivering lines in a very Americanised way.” She continues with her hands up, a physical acknowledgement of her past faults: “I think I’ve even tried to emulate that very subconsciously; I don’t want to, I’m trying to get away from it, but it was like ‘how do I get accepted? OK, try and be more like them” “When you’re starting out as a ‘girl’ you feel like you have to be better, you feel like you have to prove it for your people and it means that you take less risks and [male comedians] are getting much better because they’re the taking risks." Steph feels the contrast in male and female socialisation means it can be harder for women to come back from failure: “People judge women harsher if they fail, and I kind of did myself because I didn’t realise that when you fail, that’s when you learn.” However, she wants to encourage women to embrace this and gives her subtle advice to any new comics: “Fuck it, fail!” Neglecting her drink due to her passion for the subject, Steph says that in order to break the stigma there needs to be more female MCs: ‘There’s a big drive to recruit and grow female MCs, realising that everyone has to start somewhere and not all MCs have MC experience.’ Steph understands it’s difficult to gather this sense of confidence when there’s only one woman on the bill, “[Female comedians are] trying to be one thing for everyone, for example trying to be maternal, trying to be caring, trying to be good looking, just having to overthink everything.” She says male comedians have less pressure: “Men will just find their voice and won’t think twice about it.” As Steph concludes, with more female MC representation, slowly but 28
“When you‘re starting out as a ‘girl’ you feel like you have to be better, you feel like you have to prove it for your people”
surely the tough patriarchal exterior surrounding comedy will crack, and to helping to speed up this process are all-female comedy events. The Big Mouth comedy event, a monthly evening allowing only female and non-binary performers, describe themselves as a way to ‘create an inviting, open and supportive space for comedians to test out new material, recycle the old or give stand-up a shot for the first time ever!’ A cosy vegan café in Bethnal Green with fairy lights dusting every inch of the stage provides the backdrop for Big Mouth’s October monthly event. MC for the evening, Chloe Green, opens the show with delight, realising that it is, in fact, an all-female audience to accompany the all-female line-up. Post show, after lots of laughter and amusement, the penultimate act, Ellen Lilley, 25, discusses feeling unsafe whilst performing at a unisex event, greatly contrasting the atmosphere of this evening: “I do feel with male audiences they’re so much more stony, even if you’re giving it so much energy you can physically see them going ‘come on then, what you got?” Reflecting on an experience where a male audience member caused her discomfort, Ellen tells us: “I had a man come up to me at the end of one of my shows and he pointed in my face and said ‘you are not funny’. Everyone was kind of dispersing from the gig and he really came right up into my face whilst I was packing my bag and it just felt really personal and I had to explain that it was a joke.” Unfortunately, this sense of having to explain yourself as a female comedian is not uncommon, especially when feeling threatened by a male-dominated audience. The opening act, Alex Bertulis-Fernandes, 25, has additional insight being a female of colour in comedy; her opening line addresses just that: “I’m half-Indian, quarter-English, quarter-German
and 100% fetishised.” Her sarcastic tone creating roars of laughter filling the space, as she continues “brown enough to meet your diversity quota—but white enough to never call you out on it.” “Often times, male promoters tend to pay us less, cancel last minute to accommodate a man or promote that you are at a show that you haven’t agreed to.” Tokenisation of minorities to fit the bill is a common theme throughout the entertainment industry: “Sometimes I feel like I hit two diversity boxes and its difficult when I’m left wondering is it because they just need to look more diverse? I’ve been on some line-ups where it’s been all white males and me as a brown woman.” Despite some comedy nights feeling this way, Alex explains why she prefers all-female line-ups and audiences: “I feel like I’m at a disadvantage even before I’ve opened my mouth, I’m working harder get to that level, whilst at a night like this I don’t feel that.” Alex also mentions the females of colour comedy night, FOC It Up. Started in 2018 by comedian Kemah Bob, the night is used as a space to ‘celebrate and centre the perspectives of comedians of
colour that identify as women, trans or non-binary. Check your privilege at the door!’ Alex explains why she feels more comfortable in spaces such as these: “A lot of my jokes are to do with race and do a lot better with people of colour.” Another comedian who has also performed at FOC It Up is Thanyia Moore, who has been performing comedy since 2012 and was crowned ‘Funny Woman Champion’ in 2017, as well as hosting her own night, Moore Laughter. Like Alex, Thanyia represents both females and females of colour within the comedy circuit. Even though now an experienced comic, with her hour-long performance of 'Bully' booked for Edinburgh Fringe 2020, Thanyia still experiences the hardships of being a female comedian: “Often times, male promoters tend to pay us less, cancel last minute to accommodate a man or promote that you are at a show that you haven’t agreed to.” Although, she agrees that with experience you are able to build up a strength that perhaps women who are first starting out will not have achieved yet: "Most females are scared of standing up to people like that. If a man mistreats
me, I’ll highlight it to other females and never work with him again. Others don’t do that.” She continues: “They take bookings from these people and just deal with the bad behaviour. Which to me, is very, very sad. It’s a testament to women not knowing their worth and feeling powerless to do anything.” Comedy is a complicated place for women attempting to break through. It seems as though they have to wave their hands a little higher and shout a little louder to be able to prove their worth in this male-monopolised climate. The world of comedy could be described as a microcosm of society reflecting the larger injustices women face within the entertainment industry and everyday life. According to Women and Hollywood, only 31.1% of speaking or named characters in 2017-18’s top-grossing films were female and only eleven films featured a girl/woman of colour in the leading or co-star role. These figures emphasise why all-female comedy nights, female MCs and female audiences are vital for changing the face of the entertainment industry.
The gender pain gap: life with endometriosis It affects 10% of women in the UK and is considered 'one of the most painful conditions'. But why have so many people never heard of it?
Words: Anezka Turek Image: Nerosunero, flickr.com
“When I’m having an endometriosis flare up, the pain is debilitating and paralyses me. I can’t leave my bed. It feels like there are a hundred sharp blades inside of me, slowly cutting me up, stabbing me and twisting all of my organs together. It’s not just a bad period. It’s a hundred times worse than that.” For many women, getting a period once a month is nothing more than a standard 3-7 day long inconvenience. A part of the territory that comes with being assigned female at birth, something that becomes normal after the pre teen angst of patiently awaiting your first. Others; however, are not so lucky. Endometriosis is a condition which affects one in every ten women throughout the United Kingdom, and around 10% of women worldwide. Despite this, the condition is still relatively unheard of by many. Often characterised by excruciating pain during menstruation and sex, difficulty getting pregnant, heavy periods and back ache to name a few, endometriosis has found itself ranked in the top 20 most painful conditions according to the NHS. Caused by tissue similar to that of womb lining forming in places such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries, there is no cure for the chronic condition. Many of those suffering face a long and difficult journey in an attempt to get diagnosed. “It takes on average between 7-15 years for a woman to be successfully diagnosed with endometriosis.” 32-year-old Daniah Abu-Qaoud, known to many by her Instagram handle of @pina_patootie began showing symptoms of endometriosis at the age of 12. Despite this, she was not diagnosed by a medical professional until just six years ago, during an operation for a misdiagnosis of a burst appendix. This actually turned out to be a ruptured cyst caused by stage four endometriosis, the most severe and widespread. “It takes on average between 7-15 years for a woman to be successfully diagnosed with endometriosis,” Daniah explains, reflecting on her own experience. “The pain not only effects my stomach and pelvic area but also my back, I get so much back pain. It’s painful to sit up, it’s painful to urinate and I feel extremely dizzy and am constantly vomiting. I also experience severe migraines and a large ‘endo belly’ that can make me look up to
laugh at me in the emergency room when I went in thinking that my appendix had burst. I heard a couple of them saying that it was nothing but constipation and that I was over-exaggerating the pain.” she recalls. A recent documentary by the BBC exploring the topic of endometriosis made reference to “a gender pain gap,” a term used to describe the possibility within both the medical world and society in general, that women’s pain does not get taken as seriously as men’s. As Janice Rymer, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at King’s College London said a common denominator for many women suffering from the condition is pain during mensuration. “It is hard to differentiate between painful periods and painful periods that are due to endometriosis,” she explains. “Only way to really make the diagnosis is by laparoscopy [a surgical procedure that allows access to the abdomen or pelvis] which means referral to a gynaecologist and then an operation.” “I don’t think some doctors understand the pain of not being able to able have a baby and the impact that can have on one’s life and career.” After struggling to get pregnant for five years combined with various fertility treatments, Lucy Durman, now 59, was first diagnosed with endometriosis at 24. “I had painful periods for many years before my diagnosis,” Lucy explains. “Like many women I just thought this was my lot and I just put up with it.” Statistically 30 to 50% of those suffering with endometriosis are infertile and unable to conceive naturally. “I did come across some insensitivity about my fertility,” Lucy reflects. “I don’t think some doctors understand the pain of not being able to able have a baby and the impact that can have on ones life and career. You really put your life on hold, waiting for the elusive pregnancy. “I think I would say that the gender pain gap does exist to a certain extent,” Lucy continues. Women are sort of expected to put up with pain. It’s a cliché, but if men had to have periods, there would be more research into making them less painful and I’m sure more understanding in the work place.” There’s no doubt that societal pressures are placed upon both genders starting from childhood. For many wom-
six months pregnant, which will randomly come and go.” Despite her physical struggle, with a follower count of nearly 70,000 on Instagram, Daniah finds a creative release through her Instagram page, which acts as a realistic snapshot-style glimpse of life with the condition. “I first started my Instagram account when I was discriminated against at law school due to having stage four Endometriosis. I was in my final year and was removed from the course due to absences because of this illness,” she explains. “Having lead a busy life until that point, I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. I decided to start an Instagram account to raise awareness for this disease as well as documenting my travels with my fiancé in hopes that it would inspire other women in the same position as me to not give up on life.” Having connected with hundreds of women across the world sharing stories of similar experiences, Daniah highlights the strength and resilience that has become second nature for those within the community. “A lot of women I’ve spoken to online have mentioned how this illness really affects their relationships with their partners. Some partners are not so understanding, especially when it comes to sex and how painful it can be for some women with Endo. It can cause tension in the relationship which has broken a lot of couples up,” she explains. “It’s the same with friendships. Many women I’ve encountered online have told me that they sometimes have to cancel meet-ups at the last minute due to a flare up. Again, some friends are understanding in the beginning perhaps, but when it keeps happening, friendships can break.” Many of those suffering with endometriosis see lack of awareness leading to the normalisation of symptoms such as heavy periods and menstrual cramps. This can often lead to tension amongst health care provider and patient in the months and years leading up to a diagnosis. “The lady I spoke to over the phone when I dialled 111 told me to quieten down, stop crying and over-reacting when I was in excruciating and debilitating pain,” Daniah recalls. “I’ve had nurses
en suffering with endometriosis the social expectation to have children and succeed at work or in education, with high attendance intact, is a constant reminder. This combined with a lengthy diagnosis process and the struggles of suffering with long-term pain makes for a daily uphill battle. A recent survey carried out by the BBC involving 13,500 endometriosis sufferers in the UK, found that more than half had contemplated suicide due to the condition. A harsh, yet eye-opening insight into life with a chronic illness. One individual, familiar with the concept of female related struggles, is Lynn Enright, author of Vagina: A Re-education, and journalist at The Guardian: “I was working as head of news and content at The Pool, a women’s website, which has since sadly closed, when I began writing Vagina: A Re-education, Lynn explains. “I could sense and see from the data, that whenever we wrote or commissioned
work about women’s sexual and reproductive health, it resonated.” Later it was awarded Hearst Big Book Awards, 2019, Women’s Health Book of the Year, it’s clear to see that these statistics resonated with readers too. With an entire chapter dedicated to the topic of female pain, the book itself aims to rid the stigma and taboo around the female body, examining themes of women’s sexual health, period poverty and infertility amongst many more. “I definitely think women’s pain is more likely to be overlooked than men’s,” Lynn explains. “There has been a lack of research into conditions that only affect women, like endometriosis, and this has had huge ramifications, leading to delayed diagnoses and a lack of medication and expertise." “I think it’s especially true when it comes to pain associated with sexual or reproductive function. There is, I think, a sense that being a woman involves pain— menstruation and childbirth, for exam-
ple—and we are expected to just put up with it.” As Daniah explains and in the words of an endometriosis sufferer themselves, “One phrase that millions of women from the endo community hear on an almost daily basis is: ‘but you don’t look sick', Not all disabilities look the same. Many are invisible to the human eye. One thing to remember is that doesn’t mean we’re not going through severe, debilitating pain every other day.” Endometriosis today is a condition that effects 176 million women worldwide. Although varying in different degrees of severity, the lack of one set cure means that more than likely, this disorder is bound to have some level of negative impact on the life of those suffering. The medical world for those fighting endometriosis remains a complex place, although the most advanced it has ever been, theres no doubt that inequalities still exist in the industry, particularly for those women searching for a diagnosis. 31
The ready meal revolution Have microwave dinners changed society for better or worse?
Words and image: Laura Scheepers
With today’s culture being dominated by speed, it is no surprise that with our concentration and patience at an all-time low, this has fed into our food. In a bustling city such as London, many people simply cannot find enough hours in the day to prepare food from scratch. Around 79 million ready meals and 22 million takeaways are consumed by adults in the UK every week, and it has changed our culture of eating together. Eating a meal with others is ingrained in our psyche. As humans we enjoy being with other people, and sharing a meal with them, this is the most natural way to do so. The Mental Health Foundation found that not only can regular mealtimes create a routine and a sense of community, but the social aspects of eating together allows children to develop social skills. However, home-cooked meals and slow dining are no longer a central part of the day. Parents and siblings set the examples for children, and when there is simply no time to prepare a meal and a child grows up surrounded by ready meals, they are likely to, as adults, continue this pattern of behaviour. Dietician Dr Brian Power says that ready meals are not bad for your health, if you are aware of what to look for on the nutrition labels. Traffic light signposting aids in that process, where you are able to see what value is in the red “danger” zone and to avoid that. He suggests that the most important parts of a nutrition label to look at is the saturates, sugar and salt. It is easy to get carried away when the choices are tempting. “You would look over the course of the day how many foods have red in the saturated fat, five different foods, four of them have the red in saturated fat and that means they’re high in that particular aspect. So you would cut down to one or two.” The European Food Safety Authority governs the healthiness of ready-made meals. With rigorous checks and the threat of fines, companies have no choice but to abide by them, but this does not mean that food companies are producing completely nutritious and healthy meals. With its beginnings originating from the 19th century, according to Wiltshire farm foods, ready meals have been on the rise ever since. What became the classic American 'TV dinner' in the 1950s, and then onto the 'microwave dinner' in the
You are in charge of your diet and can control what goes into a meal, particularly how much sugar and salt is used. Cooking a meal for others and then eating together is psychologically beneficial as well, as you feel a sense of worth and belonging within a community, which are strong factors in improving mental health. However, if ready meals are your best option, at the end of the day you are going to pick what tastes the best. Choosing something bland because it’s healthy simply is not a logical option, so if any change is going to occur to have a future of dominantly nutrient-dense and healthy ready meals, putting pressure on food companies is where change will happen on a large scale. Dr Power suggests reform, such as taxing companies, is the most impactful way to allow the health of the consumers to stay a priority. “If food companies don’t decide to reformulate, people generally will seek out another alternative product because the price is a strong influence on what people purchase.” If there are taxes on the unhealthiest ingredients, companies will be forced to find a healthier alternative that produces the same taste, thus benefiting the consumer and the company as well. Ready-meals make it possible to continue the culture of social eating, just in a different way than before. Whether our grandparents’ generation would be happy about it is a different matter.
1970s, the 21st century has seen a total explosion in the quality and variety of ready-made meals. Money talks and ready meals have presented themselves as a cost-effective opportunity for people to try something new without buying a long list of ingredients, that may never be touched again, or going out to a restaurant and spending twice the amount. This is a budget-friendly way of experimenting with taste palettes, however, Dr Power suggests that: “If somebody has the time, and the resources, then the ideal scenario is that you’re better off cooking from scratch.” Eating a ready meal could potentially inspire home cooking, where if you enjoyed a certain ready meal then you would be prepared to buy the ingredients that are needed to cook it and adjust according to what you enjoyed about the ready meal and what you would change. It opens up ways to entice people to cook at home, perhaps inspiring them to create meals for their friends and families, or even meal prepping on the weekend so as to eat more nutrient-dense meals while saving money as well. Cooking from scratch benefits you in ways that ready meals simply canno., It is proven that those who create their own meals from the chopping stage to the plating stage, get a boost of confidence and self esteem knowing that they created their own meal, culinary art therapist Julie Ohana told the Huffington Post.
Driver to drone 38 Bridget Riley: Queen of Op Art 39 Streaming services are reinventing music 40 ‘Masculinity doesn’t belong to men’ 42 PTSD: are universities doing enough? 44
TV’s most iconic haircut 34
Exploring the paracosm 46 Makeup ban: individuality or rebellion? 50 Putting Dorset on the musical map 52 Bauhaus at 100 54 The true cost of university finance 60 The Big Sleep-Out 61 The off-centre sound of Danny Trash 62 Creating hope from crisis 64 33
Meet hair and makeup artist Loz Schivao who talks about her past, her design process and creating the iconic Peaky cut Words: Sapphi Littleton Images: Loz Schivao and Robert Viglasky 34
Chances are, you’re probably one of the 6.2 million people who tuned in to BBC One this summer to watch the permiere of the latest series of Peaky Blinders. At some point during a nail-biting moment of violence between the Peaky boys and one of their many enemies, it is also likely you thought “now that’s a good haircut.” Whether you made it through those arduous scenes or recognise the cut from the side of a bus stop, it’s fair to say the Peaky look is iconic. Loz Schiavo is the hair and make-up designer for the hit TV drama and the brains behind the famous cut. Having worked on all five series of the award-winning show—and being nominated for three Baftas herself—Loz is in very high demand, telling me “work has been mad busy”. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Loz’s training began with a four-year apprenticeship in hairdressing, followed by a short makeup course. “I’ve always loved male grooming,” she tells me. “During my apprenticeship they trained me so thoroughly—you need to master a man’s cut before you can go on to learning women’s hair.” Once qualified in both fields, she soon found work as a hair and makeup artist on the set of Good Morning Australia. During her early TV career, Loz also worked on various sports shows on Australia’s Channel 10 and did the hair and makeup for the Neighbours publicity events—a far cry from the creative role she yearned for. “After a few years of working for Channel 10 in Australia, I came to Europe on a backpacking trip. I decided to try and find work in the hair and make-up industry while I was here. It was a really hard slog. I worked for shit money in salons and did hair shows for fun, but I eventually found myself back in the TV and film world.” When refelcting on her expansive CV, Loz tells us: “Once you get on a roll with a career in this field it’s hard to get off. It’s pretty addictive.” Having worked in television and film for over 25 years, Peaky Blinders is by far her biggest project to date. The show is set in post-WWI Birmingham where, to begin with, make-up was limited and the spirit of the war was still reflected in the brutal haircuts of men. The series spans the majority of the 20s with the first episode set in November 1919, just months after the end of the war. The final series ends on December 7, 1929, the morning after a rally led by soon-to-be fascist leader Oswald Mosely and the episodes in between cover a multitude of monumental historical moments. The show follows the lives of the Shelby family: a working-class clan of Gypsy heritage from the West Midlands, otherwise known as the Peaky Blinders. Amongst fighting and illegal activity, the Blinders gang were famous (both then and now) for their tailored suits, razor-laden flat caps and the sharp haircuts that lay beneath. Throughout the production, the family’s barely legal betting business expands, and their newfound wealth is illustrated in the way they look: the women start wearing more make-up and the men’s hair becomes more polished. And this is all portrayed thanks to Loz’s designs. According to research from the BBC, 1920s Birmingham was home to some of the most “violent and notorious gangs”. Extreme poverty, overcrowding and lack of work meant that there were daily riots,
thefts and murders on the streets of the city; all key elements of the Peaky Blinders tale. Exactly 100 years since the first episode of Peaky Blinders was set, Loz explains how she used the rich history of gang-ridden Birmingham mixed with contemporary male grooming when creating the cut. “The Peaky cut is definitely NOT an undercut” Loz explains, “It’s basically a disconnected haircut, with a solid outline and a heavy textured interior.” “It’s definitely not an accurate haircut of the period. What makes it different is that I’ve gone off-piste and designed something in between what we have now and what we would have had then.” With her contemporary training at the core of the cuts, Loz also used Crooks Like Us – a book written by Peter Doyle which uncovers the stories behind old police records and photographs in Australia—as a key historical reference. Describing it as her “bible” for the series, she used photographs of real people to directly inspire her designs. This includes Arthur Shelby’s floppy on top and barely-there on the sides style, which was originally a hairstyle worn by a convict in the book. “My thought behind the Peaky cut was that when the guys wear the iconic flat cap style hats, all you see is skin, and when they take the hats off, you can see the individual haircuts I designed for each one of them.” It is this mix of old and new that really encapsulates Loz’s artistry. By making sure the haircuts were both partly historically accurate and also attractive for a modern audience, she’s invented a whole new style and it is this creativity that got her the job. Loz landed the Peaky gig through the recommendation of a friend who knew her aptitude for male grooming would make her a perfect fit. “In the interview, I was asked to design the cuts for the Peaky Blinders. The director said he didn’t want anything about the cuts to be ‘normal’ and I instantly thought, ‘yep that’s me’.” “I brought along a mood board showing pictures of what the Peaky cut would look like and they were impressed.” And this is still how she works today. The hair and make-up design processes are a close collaboration between Loz, the costume department, the writers and even the actors, that all comes to a head with a visual plan. “When I design the hair and make-up looks, I read the scripts and break them down into who is in
that particular episode and what they are doing in it. I then make a mood board which consists of my drawings and other relevant images I find and I create the final hair and makeup look from that.” “We [Loz and the actors] enjoy collaborating together once we know which direction their characters are heading in the upcoming episodes. Once I have a fair idea of where we’re going, I then have an ongoing conversation with the costume designer regarding costume colour, shape and those kinds of things. The looks are a continual collaboration with me, the costume designer and the actors, and I love it.” We can see this in the design of the classic Peaky cut that Loz constructs differently Blinder to Blinder, to showcase their contrasting personalities and evolving storylines. “On Season one, I started with Joe Cole [John Shelby]. I sat him down and cut and coloured his hair into a very strong peaky cut, which I have to say looked amazing. This showed all the boys what to expect. When it came to cutting Cill’s hair [Thomas Shelby], we did it in stages. From a normal 1920s cut, it gradually got shorter. I put my twist into it and boom he had a peaky cut.” “I usually clipper Cill’s hair every second morning to make sure there was continuity to his hair episode to episode.” Cillian Murphy starts off with a fairly severe cut. Loz utilised a neat short back and sides cut to illustrate his authoritative character. Yet as the series goes on, his hair gets longer and loses its rigid shape which, as she explained to me, is to show him growing up. In fact, all members of the gang had to go through some pretty big changes when it came to their hair and to begin with, they were not all happy. “For the first couple of seasons, the guys would insist “I’m not getting a Peaky cut next year”, but guess what, they always ended up with a Peaky cut. Now, after five series of haircuts, they’re used to having the harsh style and have grown to tolerate it.” “They do make sure they all carry a hat with them once the show starts though. The guys can get away with being themselves in the streets but as soon as they get their classic peaky cuts, they become highly recognisable.” Transformation of the character’s looks is a key part of Loz’s job. Whether it’s a grown-out hair cut or a smudged black eyeliner, the techniques Loz uses to alter their appearances means that the way the actors look speaks way louder than any script. Throughout the series, all of the characters looks change quite a bit. Tommy goes from clean cut to grown out and grown-up; Arthur’s long on top moves to long all over and then cut off altogether; Polly, the matriarch, goes through all kinds of emotional turmoil and her hair does the same. From long to curly, straight to messy, Polly’s mane turns into a 20s-appropriate pixie cut and ends up in soft curls. It’s not just Polly whose hair goes through a noticeable change, as the styling and length of all the female characters hairstyles seem to get shorter and neater every episode. According to Rosie Findlay, fashion theorist and academic at the London College of Fashion, it was a trend for women in the 20s and 30s to cut their hair short. This was because “shorter hairstyles reflected what was more broadly in fashion in the decorative and fine arts, a sense of embracing youth, looking forward to the future and away from the past,” a theme 36
“Once you get on a roll with a career in this field, it's hard to get off. It's pretty addictive.”
that is clear in the show. “The post-war feeling among young people in England, especially in London and other city centres, after WWI, as in other places in continental Europe, was energetic and hopeful, celebrating living for the moment and youthfulness.” Rosie tells us. “This spirit was influenced by other factors besides the war, such as the changes wrought by industrialisation in the 19th century and the rise of cities, and it saw young people (especially women) adopting new styles that marked their bodies as visually distinct from tradition: bobbed hair, either worn straight and glossy or in finger waves rather than elaborate curled hairstyles.” As well as the plot following the second industrial revolution, Loz managed to capture the spirit of hope and move to a more modern look in the female characters. By ditching her trademark mix of old and new, she created a fairly accurate representation of women in the 20s. Ada Shelby, proud feminist thinker and sister of the gang members, is a good example of how Loz has done this. For her character, Loz created a thin, arching eyebrow, a purposefully placed rosy cheek, a red lip with an emphasised cupid’s bow and a pin curled wig. This transitioned Ada from a young communist rebel to an elegant 1920s lady, imagine a slightly watered-down version of Jean Arthur or Joan Crawford. Loz tells me, “This season we’ve turned the 20s style beauty and sexiness up a few notches, which they’ve all loved.” Even though Loz’s first love is male grooming, she uses new techniques to keep the styling of the women fresh and innovative: “All of the female characters wear wigs as the hairstyles of the 1920s have a particularly strong look, so working with the actress’s own hair cut can be pretty difficult. We also use wigs because they’re so much more time-efficient as we pre dress them and pop them on the actors at the last minute.” Wigs aren’t the only tool she uses to create a specific look for the characters. Loz applies special effects make-up to the characters to emphasise particular storylines, adding drama to an otherwise flat look. “Alfie Solomons is a key character and Tom [Hardy] had a strong idea of how he wanted his character to come across. We worked together on his overall look and decided to create psoriasis all over his face
to imitate what the conditions from being down in the cellar in his rum production company would have done to his skin.” Loz uses Attagel, a thickening agent, mixed with Blue Marble concentrate to change the appearance of Tom’s skin: “He loved the idea of creating psoriasis to add to his character and tell his story using make-up.” By layering the two products and placing coloured makeup on top to add life and texture to the look, the result is highly realistic. As well as Tom Hardy’s faux psoriasis, Loz collaborated with a temporary tattoo company to create fake ink for many of the male characters. “The tattoos on the guys are all individually designed for their character and what they have been through in their lives.” For Luca Changretta, a mafia mob leader played by Adrien Brody, Loz wanted to emphasise his past prison days, so she laid the tattoos on pretty thick: a cross on his neck to reflect his Italian Catholic heritage and a black hand—a symbol of warning—on his wrist. “In the 1920s, tattoos were definitely not in season like they are now. Not everyone had them, but they were definitely seen. I’ve always used a company called Tattooed Now. The guys who work there are tattoo artists in Belgrade.” As well as designing new tattoos, Loz also had to cover some up. In the case of Alfie Solomons—a Jewish businessman played by Tom Hardy—she used high coverage make-up to mask his already heavily tattooed arms, adding back in a few small hand tattoos to replicate what a man of his background may have had. Loz’s hair and make-up creations have clearly
had a positive impact as over the five series, the TV drama has racked up a very loyal (and impressionable) audience. Viewing figures have almost doubled, from 3.3 million in series four to 6.2 million in series five. Reports from retailer John Lewis show that after the airing of series three, flat cap sales peaked at 83% up on the previous year, with celebrities such as Idris Elba and David Beckham sporting the style. And if that wasn’t enough, just last month, thousands of fans gathered in Digbeth, the old stomping ground of the real Peaky gang, to enjoy the first-ever Peaky Blinders festival, where Loz gave live lessons and cut the hair of wannabe Tommy Shelbys. Asking Loz how she felt about creating the most iconic haircut on TV, she very modestly answered, “the Peaky cut has become popular because of the success of the show and how well the guys wear it.” “I made a point of making the guys look sharp and wanted to highlight how fantastic men can look when they are groomed, hence bringing back classic barbering and making it cool and exciting again.” In true Loz fashion, the hair and make-up whizz is currently working on season two of Discovery of Witches; a show that only reinforces her quintessentially English repertoire. With a bit more prodding, she reveals that after this, she will start prepping the next Peaky Blinders series, but out of fear of spoilers, that is all the news I am getting. Looking further into the future, Loz reflects, “I still have so much more I want to do in my career, I just need to take it as it comes. It would be fun to go back to my roots and get back into doing hair shows, maybe a travelling Peaky show!” Watch this space. 37
Driver to drone: Are flying taxis the next big thing? German tech company “Volocopter” has successfully started trials of its brand new drone-like flying taxis
The ‘Volocopter’ is a state-of-the art electronic and battery-operated flying taxi that promises swift and effective private transport to and from intra-city destinations at speeds of 63 mph (101 kph), easing traffic congestion and pollution by the time they are fully operational in 2021. Singapore’s skyline was the first to be greeted by the sight of the Volocopter in action. Although airborne for only two-and-a-half minutes and pilot-operated, Volocopter expects these flying taxis to be fully automated once ready for commercial service. The hover taxis can fit two passengers with ample room for luggage, and serves as a prime strategy to get around quick, for a fraction of the cost. Volocopter sees this as an opportunity to inject greener, more eco-friendly alternatives to conventional cab-hailing platforms in the near future, as roads around the globe (especially in south-east Asia) are highly congested, with air-cleanliness indexes having ranked them as among the most polluted in the world. In a tech conference in 2018, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and representatives of other car-hailing apps were quick to jump on the airborne bandwagon, seeking to expand their repertoire to include driverless and airborne taxis. This swift technological shift does not come free of skepticism however, as many a tech researcher would be quick to point out that this could signal death knells for a whopping 89% of drivers in the industry. Tom Flack, Editor-in-Chief at MoneySuperMarket suggests that a shift toward driverless vehicles would impact “those who drive for a living” before anyone else, and that “if businesses see an opportunity to save money by making drivers redundant, they are likely to grab it”, “that’s the nature of competition” he adds. This echoes the broader sentiments of many workers in the UK, who could see their jobs consumed whole or completely transformed by an increasingly digitised workforce. MoneySuperMarket claims that in a bid to cut costs and optimise profits, automation could remove £24bn worth of annual wages from the economy as driverless vehicles and flying taxis stand to take centre stage in our commercial commutes. However, Nivesh Mikulash, a part-time Uber driver staring down the barrel of automation, says that he is skep38
“Driverless taxis do not have the human intuition and sense to actually drive” tical of flying taxis being able to take over the profession in the next few years. “Driverless taxis do not have the human intuition and sense to actually drive,” he says and that “flying taxis will inevitably have to go through many trials and bug fixes first”. When asked about whether he was apprehensive about his position in future of the industry, he mentioned that “flying taxis will not replace drivers entirely, people still prefer people over machines.” As much as Volocopter’s flying-taxi trials in the past few years have been met with substantial fanfare, there are still several roadblocks in the way of achieving full automation, let alone a complete domination of the industry.
Words: Words: Shaan Sippy Image: Nikolay Kazakov
Volocopter’s latest test flights took place at a newly erected “Voloport”, a specially designed takeoff and landing hub and passenger terminal which houses battery-replacement stations and maintenance tools, necessary in the routine inspections of the aircraft following each flight. When addressing speculations that Volocopter would eradicate the need for human labour, company spokesperson Duncan Walker said that the infrastructural needs of their flying taxis are numerous, and would mean equipping each city with multiple ports, “staffing them with humans that can perform maintenance duties,” as well as regulatory checks on the drones. So, it is possible that this shift toward automation may seek to “create many more jobs for skilled workers than the contrary,” added Walker. It is clear that in the pursuit for a fully automated ride-hailing industry, many of the ‘cogs in the machine’, do still require a tactful human eye to get the job done, and may in fact be the launchpad (pun intended) for evolving careers in the realm of aviation.
Bridget Riley: Queen of op art Riley's third solo show opens at the Hayward Gallery, 48 years after her first
The exhibition, which runs until January 26, 2020, is Riley’s third solo exhibition at the Southbank Centre, having previously shown in 1971 and also 1992. Coming from the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh to the Hayward in London, the exhibition is her largest retrospective show yet. The exhibition includes more than 200 of her iconic works, which date back over 70 years to the start of her career. The pieces include some of her earliest drawings from when she was an art student in the 1940s to paintings completed in the last year, at the age of 88. Dubbed by the gallery as “one of the most distinguished and internationally renowned artists working today”, Riley first made a name for herself in the 1970s. Known for her Op Art style, the British artist’s approach to painting involves intricate pattern making and colour balancing, which, when added together, create a vibrant and engaging spectacle for the viewer. Speaking to one exhibition goer, Frances Mann, it’s clear that art fans in
London are excited for Riley’s return to the Hayward: “I actually saw Bridget Riley’s exhibition at this gallery in the 90s. It’s amazing to come back and see some of the original pieces that made her famous then but also the new paintings she’s done since then.” Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Bridget Riley back to Hayward Gallery with an exhibition that will offer visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience works from the full span of her brilliant career." "Her paintings transform the act of seeing into a festive occasion, something at once riveting and revelatory. Engaging every viewer in new acts of discovery, her work is not just vision-enhancing but life-enhancing. These are paintings that make you feel more alive as they reaffirm the link between seeing and thinking,” he added. The Hayward Gallery, which was built in 1968 by Higgs and Hill, is renowned for presenting some of the world’s most innovative and creative
Words: Sapphi Littleton Image: Hayward Gallery
“These are paintings that make you feel more alive as they reaffirm the link between seeing and thinking.” artists. Its major solo exhibitions have included renowned names such as Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon. Along with the exhibition, there are many public events happening within the next few months inspired by Riley’s work. These include a panel discussion about Colour and Rhythm on November 27, at the Royal Festival Hall. Tickets and further information can be found at: www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Streaming services are reinventing music As music becomes more widely accessible, is our need for speed causing a shift in the way we consume music?
The Temptations’ sensational single Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone was a perfect representation of hopelessness in 1972. Regarded as one of the greatest Motown songs in history, it secured the group three Grammys and a spot at the top of the charts. The songs tense, build-up of an introduction brings a new song element with every four bars, growing with every second. By the end of the introduction, it’s clocked in at just under two minutes. If that seems slightly disproportionate for a song intro, you can take away two things. The first, you probably don’t enjoy Pink Floyd. The second, that in today’s terms, two minutes is a long time for an intro. In fact, it’s a really long time. Today, music sounds slightly different. Due to the fact that music streaming services refuse to pay out unless 30 seconds or more of the song has been played, the average length of a song introduction has decreased from over 20 seconds in the 1980s, to less than five seconds today. This is a big jump from then and has transformed the fundamentals of a single. Deezer’s Global Pop Editor Dom Wallace told us this isn’t the first time songs have been short and it may just be the start of this trend: “When The Beatles started out over 50 years ago, the aim was to create short snappy two minute tracks to get the listener hooked quickly. Tracks like Old Town Road by Lil Nas X have since reintroduced that trend into pop music. More artists are also creating shorter tracks to suit the short attention spans of streamers.” Shorter introductions and songs are just one of the many ways streaming services are adjusting the way we listen to music and more importantly, the way that music is made. Nevertheless, various individuals and news outlets have dubbed streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer the industry’s ‘saviour’, after all, it generated over 75% of music industry revenue in 2018 and is set to keep growing, despite resurgences from older formats such as tape and vinyl. But are these streaming services a good thing for the average music fan? There are clear cases for both sides. While it’s the most convenient way to listen, these streaming services set limitations on the music that is currently being produced. We explore whether tailored 40
playlists really are biased, the paradox of choice and what the “Spotify sound” really means. Today, the release of an album often means that the listener will already have listened to a bunch of carefully selected singles, which are rolled out over a period of time. Coined the “the waterfall strategy”, this can start up to a year in advance from the chosen release date. Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, is one of the best examples of a modern-day album rollout. The first and lead single, Bodak Yellow, was released on June 16, 2017 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Later, she released another two singles, and then a further two more after the album’s release on April 6, 2018, almost a year after the first single came out. Peter Doggett, music journalist and author of Electric Shock: 125 Years of Pop Music, which looks at the transition into the digital age of pop. “[It’s] no longer just about music, the way it was in the pre-MTV age. It’s a collage of music, video, social media, fashion, film, games, all those things and more,” he said. “All of those things change together and impact each other, rather than acting in isolation. So streaming is only part of the game: it’s almost like a soundtrack to all this other social media madness around us.” From rapper 21 Savage to a sample from 1960s boogaloo musician Pete Rodriguez, throughout Invasion Of Privacy, an array of guest artists, samples and hooks inspired by different genres run rife. Doggett said this struck him whilst writing Electric Shock, “everything became about mixing and matching different styles and genres, so that every track needed about five adjectives to describe it, ‘techno-Latin-metal-drill-indie fusion’… Everything seems to get broken down into smaller and smaller categories.” It has now become increasingly common for the song to feature these hooks and samples in the first seconds of the track. This has been coined the “Spotify sound”—take any modern pop song and chances are it’s probably pretty short (due to the 30-second payout rule) and there is something in the first few seconds to keep you interested for the entirety of the track. Today’s data suggests we are far less likely to skip a song if we’ve heard it before, this means from the first listen
Words: Megan Lily Large Image: Patrik Michalicka, unsplash.com
“More artists are creating shorter tracks to suit the short attention spans of streamers” — Dom Wallace, Deezer
the artist and producers are tasked with trying to capture the listener’s attention. This may explain some of the phenomenon behind Camila Cabello’s breakout single Havana. Dubbed by some as the 2017 song of the summer (which continued well into 2018’s summer), it uses not only an ad-lib from rapper Young Thug but additionally the main hook taken from the chorus, all within the first ten seconds. Phil Ek, mastermind producer behind Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes and The Shins spoke to us about how hard this task really is, “people try and make every little part of the song have some sort of ‘wow’ factor to grab people’s attention, which for the most part isn’t making the song a better song, it’s just making it… more. “The music business has always been about singles, but since there’s so much more access to so much more music via streaming, the single has become even more of a commodity.”
The Spotify sound isn’t the only way Havana reached a platinum level. In 2017, the platform recommended more than 30% of overall listening across the streaming service. This is up from 20% in 2015. The platform holds a power that record labels, PR and managers can only dream of. Although Spotify advise artists to go through their editors on Spotify Artists, they have previously come out and said “no one can pay to be added to one of the editorial playlists”, but there is something called “playlist pitching”, which Fortune magazine talks about in their article, The Murky Business of Spotify. Playlist pitching doesn’t guarantee the artist a place in a playlist, but it does up the chances, and it costs: Depending on where you go to, submitting your song to one of the many ‘curators’ (someone that has a playlist on a streaming service with lots of followers) could set you back more than £350, depending on which
service a musician goes to. Playlist Push may be the most infamous of them all and can cost over £1,000 depending on which genres you match with. Many artists have noted it has not worked in the way they had previously thought, with a study citing some of these playlists had been buying their followers. It is arguable that these streaming services are in complete control of what we listen to and the way we experiment with music genres. In a Stanford study from 2018, they analysed the data of consumers who were new to Spotify. During this time, they noted in the first week of joining the streaming service the number of songs played by new converts to streaming increased by 132%, meaning the listener is exposed to more artists and a bigger variety through the platform. The number of unique artists heard also jumped by a staggering 62%—backing up the point that they help us to experiment with a wider range of artists. They also noted how Spotify really does broaden our music tastes. So if it has so much control over us, what are the consequences of this? As there are 40,000 new songs uploaded to the platform daily and the ability to stream any millions of songs at the click of a button, is too much choice a bad thing? Psychologist Barry Schwartz seems to think so. In his book, The Paradox of Choice, he argues that as a consumers level of choice goes up, their levels of engagement and satisfaction go down. If this is the case for streaming services, Spotify are trying to battle this with one of their most esteemed features, Discover Weekly. Thirty songs, once a week that are recommended to you based on your previous listening. Easy enough for people who revel in one genre, but unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly hold up for people with eclectic music tastes. Continuously over the years, the format has reinvented not only the way we listen, but the way music is made. Whilst on paper, these streaming services could seem like any music lover’s dream, it doesn’t necessarily mean it works for everyone or even the artist. But whether these streaming services are set to revolutionise the industry or be its ultimate downfall is still unknown. 41
'Masculinity doesn’t belong to men' Inside the gender-blurring world of South London Drag King, Beau Jangles
“Summarise your drag in three words?” “Big Dick Energy.” It is 11:00am inside a coffee shop in Peckham, an escape from the outside drizzle of a wet Friday morning. Quite the contrast from the bright lights and stage floor 24-year-old Madi, known to many by her Drag king persona of Beau Jangles, is used to. Described in ‘Man Up’s Drag King’ competition as ‘a sharp dressing, whisky-swilling, womanising jazz singer from the 1940’s’, Beau’s throwback style is certainly finding its relevancy in the drag scene of 2019. Not only as a solo performer but a member of the Family Jewels Drag collective, a group of kings with performances at Vault festival, The Southbank Centre and DIY Space already under their belts. “I always like to listen to music when I’m getting ready,” Madi tells me over the generic radio sound echoing through the café’s speaker. Neo-soul and old school throwback tracks are the goto sounds whilst transforming into the character of Beau. As for pre-show rituals, it seems a good track isn’t the only thing that helps Madi get into character. “I like to have a little bit of whisky, just a tiny bit, sometimes even one sip and I’m good because that just sort of clicks everything into place,” she tells me, sipping now from a slightly weaker drink of choice, a latte stands on the table in front of us. “I don’t fully feel like Beau till I have got everything on and a sock in my pants and I’m like, OK, good to go!” It’s no secret that generally speaking the drag scene is pretty dominated by the stereotypical concept of hyper-femininity. Bold make-up, painfully tall heels, cinched waists and loud dresses to name just a few. But what happens when the crown is on a different head? “Whenever you’re any kind of minority, be that a woman or anyone assigned female at birth, a person of colour, a drag king, you get the message that to do half as well, you have to work twice as hard,” Madi tells me. The controversy sparked by recent organiser attempts to cut down Drag King stage time to make room for more queens at events such as ‘Drag World’ highlight just one inequality within the industry. This has left many kings feeling as though they need to shout a little loud42
"I dont fully feel like beau till I have got everything on and a sock in my pants"
Words: Anezka Turek Images: Bruce Wang, Lyla Johnston, Katherine Falk
er to be heard. Alongside this, October marks the launch of the UK edition of the world-renowned RuPaul’s Drag Race on BBC Three. A show highlighting the talent of all things outfit-making and lip sinking, with just a touch of reality-style drama on the side. Yet despite this transatlantic switch over, to this day a Drag King is yet to feature in a single one of the 145 episodes. “There’s a misconception that patriarchy stops where queer culture begins,” Madi tells me in reference to Drag Race. “There are a lot of great drag queens who are allies. If you [a Drag King] can get a gig with a drag queen, you’re kinda the
token. They might make jokes about how short you are because they’re so tall, but at the same time that’s where a lot of the big money and exposure is.” Height differences aside, the notable similarities in performance style between Kings and Queens often feels incomparable and in ‘different streams’ in terms of public perception in the words of Madi herself. History tells of a golden age for Drag Kings existing many decades preBeau’s 1940s rise. Historically known as ‘male impersonators’ at the dawn of the Victorian music hall in the 1800s, female performers often dressed up in a top hat and full three-piece suit. Paired with a parody of typical ‘male’ mannerisms, this criteria would have been typical for that of a traditional Victorian gentleman. Despite this, for many today, the concept of Drag as a king remains an unfamiliar one. “I think quite a few kings have had problems with people yelling stuff like ‘What are you?'” Madi tells me, reflecting on time spent out in public whilst in full drag attire. An activity she largely chooses to avoid where possible, for fear of safety. She recalls one incident: “I think the closest I’ve had was when I was walking home after a show at 3:00am in the dark, and these two huge guys are whispering to each other and nudging and pointing at me. I’m like ‘Oh shit! I’m going to get beaten up!’ But then they were just like ‘Hey mate, nice moustache!’ Perhaps paying homage to the age-old saying that ‘men are from Venus, women are from Mars’ is 23-year-old Mark O’Sullivan, or more frequently known in the drag world as Mars, who has been performing in drag for almost
“It's nonsense to suggest that a female performer, a transperson as a non-binary individual has nothing to contribute to this art form” three years, although his interest for ‘dressing up’ began long before then. Swapping traditional royal life on the throne for DJing at high profile cubs in London, Mars is no stranger to the drag industry and offers a perspective from a different angle, that of a Drag Queen. “It’s nonsense to suggest that a female performer, a trans person or a non-binary individual has nothing to contribute to this art form,” Mars tells me in reference to the performing scene. “Drag Kings are not taken as seriously or listened to as much. I think that often it’s because of the more dramatic appearance of queens. A sky-high barbie in sequins is sometimes more eye-catching than the doc martin, flannel shirt clad drag king beside them.” Scouring the internet for any previous research-based statistics comparing the success rate or participation of Drag Kings compared to queens within the industry turns up very little. From this it can be assumed in many ways Drag kings are too niche of a group, or perhaps too little heard of for any formal results to be concluded. “I have seen a lot of shit drag queens but I’ve genuinely never seen a drag king do a bad performance,” Mars tells me, reflecting honestly on past encounters. “They have so much fire. Sadly, I think some of that comes from the need they feel to prove themselves so that their message doesn’t fall on deaf ears
just because it’s not wrapped in sequins.” Despite the obvious inequalities within the industry noted by many queens and kings alike, to this day the act of drag, regardless of gender, provides a strong social message for many. The short time spent with Madi learning more about Beau Jangles, left me enlightened, particularly in regards to one of the deeper messages at her character’s core. “There is a lot of issues within black masculinity. That all comes from somewhere and I wanted to critique it as someone who is thinking about it a bit more cerebrally. As someone who is in that community. I wanted to do an old school thing because you can really hold up a mirror to how we view things today just by emphasising what it was like back then. It really hasn’t changed much.” For this reason, amongst many others, Drag Kings arguably hold an extremely important role within the performance industry. It is down the responsibility of those both within the community and out to keep these kings on the throne. This could be as simple as attending cabaret nights, supporting local groups such as The Family Jewels Drag collective, or acknowledging the fact that drag is by no means limited to just one single gender. After all, in the words of Madi: “Masculinity doesn’t belong to men.” It’s plain to see that drag can exist without a dress. 43
PTSD: are universities doing enough? A Manchester student opens up about her experience with post-traumatic stress disorder
Words: Oliwia Dworakowska Image: Haley Lawrence, unsplash.com
Mental health issues amongst the young people are no longer taboo subjects; society is learning that these problems can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, or social status. More and more people that suffer from mental health disorders are opening up about it and it is this progress that allows us to acknowledge the fact that the pain of the victims is real and can affect their everyday life. Living with an illness such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be difficult and the victims usually cannot recover without special support. In the UK, mental health support systems have been through a massive change in the past few years, and today every University and health facility offers help to students in need and tries to raise awareness on the problem. The question remains: is the mental health counselling provided by universities effective? On the 28th November 2018, a woman was hit by a lorry on one of Manchester’s biggest junctions while she was cycling to university. 20-year-old student, Emilia Koziel, was knocked off her bike and trapped underneath the vehicle with her leg stuck beneath the tire for 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived. The paramedics said that she was conscious but had suffered foot and pelvic injuries. Emilia is now 21 and just started her second year in Film and History at Manchester University. “The day of the accident was honestly the worst and most traumatic day of my life, I felt anxiety and stress I have never experienced before.” She was taken to the Manchester hospital and treated for 12 days. Fortunately, while the diagnosis confirmed foot and pelvic injuries, there was no other physical damage. However, while the injuries to her body have been treated, Emilia continues to suffer from PTSD since her accident; this is a complex anxiety disorder caused by being involved in, or witnessing traumatic events, and the most common symptoms are nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, depression and insomnia. According to NHS, PTSD is estimated to affect one in three people who have suffered a traumatic experience, but it is not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not. PTSD can develop immediately after someone
signed to me explained that there are two options in my case. I can either get help from the University or try the NHS. She clarified that the wait for NHS therapy could take up to three or four months,” Emilia said. “I decided to try The University Consulting Service that offered two types of treatment: Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), a therapy that treats anxiety, depression and sometimes PTSD or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), a psychological therapy that treats traumatic memories.” On 21st February 2019, Emilia attempted suicide. She was found barely conscious in her apartment by two of her friends, Rick and Betty. “I remember that we all went out that night but Emilia decided to stay home as she was not feeling well. At around 1:00am, we decided to check on her because she wasn’t picking up her phone. We found her on the ground, not moving and called an ambulance,” Rick said. Emilia had overdosed sleeping pills but fortunately, she received help soon enough. “The University Consulting Service was a joke,” Emilia said. “After trying to contact them, they said that I would need to wait for therapy and that they were overbooked and couldn’t help me. Hailey, my assigned psychologist, was sick for a couple of weeks and there was no one else to give me support. “I remember I was crying on the phone and said that I want to talk to someone, but the receptionist said that it was not in her power to do anything. I felt ignored and alone. The Consulting Service didn’t provide me with any information about other institutions or support groups that could help me during that time.” After Emilia’s suicide attempt and her stay in the hospital, she was given help from the Home Treatment Team. “They gave me a list of helpline phone numbers and a session with a psychologist in the hospital. A couple of days later, I contacted The Manchester University Consulting Service and explained what happened. They were very apologetic and I received treatment immediately,” Emilia said. “I was assigned to a mental nurse that had an appointment with me every
experiences a disturbing event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. “The first time I heard about PTSD in the hospital after the accident. One of my friends mentioned it to me. A few days after that, a hospital psychologist came to talk to me about how I feel after what happened. She asked me if I have had any flashbacks, anxiety attacks, nightmares etc. I remember I was crying a lot and felt extremely distressed during that time,” Emilia told us. “Everyone said it was a miracle that I’m alive or have no severe brain injury after such a serious accident. I was grateful to be alive.” “The psychologist gave me some breathing exercises to help me calm down and explained what PTSD was, but she said that’s all she can advise for now as the disorder takes a couple of weeks to develop and the feeling of anxiety is normal after such a serious accident.” After Emilia left the hospital, she decided to go back home to Poland for some time and see her friends and family. “When I was back home, I was depressed, I suffered from flashbacks, dissociation and insomnia. I couldn’t handle it. My mom sent me to the psychologist in Krakow. She diagnosed me with complex PTSD and advised to contact a specialist back in Manchester.” After Emilia came back to England, she contacted Mental Health Consulting Services at the University of Manchester. She received an appointment the same day she called the institution. “The psychologist who was as-
“I struggled to find happiness and I was constantly comparing my life before and after the accident, and I detested the one after.”
week. I was seeing someone from the Home Treatment Team every couple of days as well, so I had good support at that time. They looked after me until I felt better which took around a month, I believe. A psychiatrist prescribed me medicine for sleep and anxiety and offered EMDR therapy for the second semester.” Healthline describes EMDR therapy as an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During EMDR therapy sessions, you relive traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. “My family was trying to be very supportive during my therapy, but it was difficult for them to understand my mental health issues, and where they came from. I feel like our parents don’t really get it, unfortunately. I think a lot of people can relate to that topic.” “The hardest thing about it all was that I felt so helpless most of the times, I couldn’t control my emotions; I became a different version of myself. I hated that version with all my heart. I struggled
to find happiness and I was constantly comparing my life before and after the accident, and I detested the one after." Emilia said. “When it comes to daily life, my untreated PTSD caused pretty bad depression, recurrent flashbacks, anxiety attacks, fear of big vehicles. I hated crossing the road, especially on the junction. I had a lot of trouble focusing, especially when it came to school work. “The tutors were quite understanding, and they advised me to take some time off. I could apply for extenuating circumstances, but the documents from the hospital only informed about my foot and pelvis injury and didn’t contain any pieces of information about the state of my mental health. Because of that, I got only four weeks of extra time to prepare for my essays and exams,” Emilia told us. “That was very little time for me and unfortunately, I failed my film exam. I was completely devastated and decided to explain my situation to the tutors. They offered me an extra week of preparation and an opportunity to have my lectures recorded.” “I think that they could have done
a better job and give me more support because my academic advisor was not helpful at all.” she concludes. Today, there are many people with mental health problems, especially in university, so it is understandable that counselling services receive a high volume of requests. Still, none of the situations should be ignored or overlooked. Artefact reached out to University’s Mental Health Service for an interview or a statement, but they have not responded. Even though Emilia is in the process of recovery and growing stronger, her experience with the PTSD and mental health support service was not easy. She claimed that if not for the life-threatening event that occurred, she probably would not get the help she needed to this day. The question arises, whether the universities’ services can do enough to keep all of their students safe? It is understandable that mental health institutions may have trouble providing help for everyone, but some kind of improvement is needed. Let us hope that in the future, we will be able to see the progress and development in practice. 45
EXPLORING THE PARACOSM Complex imaginary worlds dreamed up by children and adolescents are often the foundation for works of art, literature and music 46
Words: George Janes Images: Heng Hsu
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” Imagination is arguably the most powerful and influential aspect of consciousness that we all possess. All of human creation, every object, theory, process and concept has been born in part from the depths of human imagination, moulded into being through creativity and ingenuity. Throughout our evolution, our species has made extensive use of story-telling, initially to teach important survival skills, to develop and pass on a group's culture in our distant past, or to thrill and excite through novels, plays and movies in the modern age. Through the arts, we often find solace, a brief respite from the real world, and the pressures of our lives. Be it the seductive comfort of a novel or film, or the allure of artwork, stories and images can immerse the viewer in the creators world, to experience their emotions, thoughts, hopes and fears. Many individuals engage in world-building both for artistic pleasure, but also often to build a refuge, a haven against the storms of their personal lives. They create what, in recent times, has been termed a Paracosm. A Paracosm often leads to the creation of literature, art, or music. The term Paracosm was coined during a study in the mid-1970s undertaken by British psychiatrist Stephen A. MacKeith in partnership with Robert Silvey, and is now used to describe a complex and richly detailed imaginary world created by an individual, or group of individuals over the span of a number of years. Imaginary worlds can be found throughout the creative arts, with novels, film, poetry and classical art making use of detailed universes in which characters live, and the events of the story take place. Celebrated classics such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, and C.S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia are amongst the most well-cited examples. However, the mere existence of a fictional world is not enough to be classed as a Paracosm. The general agreement between psychologists and theorists regarding Paracosms is that the formation of the world must occur within childhood or early adolescence, and in many cases, continued on into adulthood. The relationship between the creator and their Paracosm is often extremely complex and deeply rooted, with aspects of the individual's real life being incorporated into the Paracosm itself. Extensive exploratory works are a common feature, with aspects such as geography, history, language, culture and religion being created as the world develops. Many individuals continue to devel-
op their Paracosm well into adulthood, either as a creative hobby, or developed into novels, artwork or other forms of media. In the case of C.S Lewis, his Narnia series was developed from the world of Boxen, which he developed as a child alongside his brother, Warren. For Tolkien, what began as a childhood creative endeavour in which he created complex languages began to take serious form in his early 20s, drawing heavily from his wartime experience whilst serving at the Somme during the First World War. I myself, continue to develop a Paracosm which I began to create from around the age of nine, a The Lord of The Rings inspired fantasy world which has evolved and matured as I have. My Paracosm does not come from a place of trauma, or a struggle to orientate myself in reality, but rather as a creative output, and a place to day-dream, or lose myself during a thunderstorm as a nine year old boy. My experiences as I grew up are entwined with the stories and characters throughout my Paracosm, good and bad. Much like video games, or movies, Paracosms offer a brief break from the pressures of life and a way to visit a reality filled with thunderous battles, forgotten kingdoms, grand adventure, or serene and pristine forests. When asking the question of why a Paracosm is created, the simple and often truthful answer is that they exist as a creative output, or a vehicle in which an individuals creative enterprise can be formed and presented to the world. There are cases, however, in which the creation of a Paracosm in childhood can be linked to trauma, emotional loss, or maladaptive conditions, acting as an outlet for emotion and a coping mechanism. Child psychologist Gwen Aben said: “When children experience trauma, they often fall back to a previous stage in their development, they return to a time they felt most safe. A Paracosm is similar, the goal being to step out of reality because it is too difficult to process. Sometimes these imaginary worlds interfere with reality, and they do not know what is real and what is not.”
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” 47
Whilst working with refugee children in The Netherlands, Gwen has observed and analysed paracosmic behaviour in both settled and unsettled refugees. A literary example of this can be found in the works of Emily Brontë, who created the worlds of Gondal, Angria, and Gaaldine following the deaths of her mother and two elder sisters, maintaining and developing her shared Paracosm into adulthood. This longing for a different reality than that in which she find herself is prevalent in children suffering from neglect, abuse or emotional trauma. American poet Maya Angelou summarises the impact of fantasy with her quote: “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” A far more extensive and well researched emotionally driven Paracosm is that of famed outsider artist Henry Darger, a reclusive and eccentric hospital janitor who, upon his death in 1973, was found to have dedicated much of his life to the writing and illustrating of an immense novel titled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. Between 1910 and 1938/1939, Darger compiled over 15,000 pages bound in a number of large volumes, complete with detailed illustrations consisting of collages and watercolours, depicting the events and characters during the fictional Glandeco-Angelinian war. Analysis of Darger's work has led to interpretations that the graphic and often disturbing imagery found in Realms of the Unreal was created by Darger in a form of self-expression, stemming from childhood sexual and emotional abuse, and the loss of his parents at a young age. Michael Bonesteel, a respected outsider art scholar, concluded; “It is highly likely, given statistics regarding institutional upbringing in the early 20th century, that he [Darger] was physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused. There is no proof that exists of this, but the loss of his mother and sister at the age of four, and the abandonment by his father at the age of twelve are enough in themselves to account for the trauma he experienced." Bonesteel adds: “The main theme is Darger’s struggles with God over unanswered prayers. Another is his rage and emotional violence resulting from a traumatised childhood, having been deprived of his mother and father at an early age, and being institutionalised." In Darger's case, the theory of a Paracosm being in part an emotional reaction and coping mechanism to childhood trauma appears to ring true. The subject 48
matter, and his placing of himself in the midst of his story displays his pining for a childhood lost, and his disorientation in the world in which he lived. His Paracosm also evolved and changed alongside his emotional state, with religion bearing heavily upon the overarching storyline. When Darger faced lapses in his religious faith, so did the fates change of characters within his works, seemingly in an affront to God. When these periods of anguish ended, the religious furore lessened within the pages of Realms of the Unreal. As Bonesteel states: “His artistic accomplishments transcend the definitions of outsider art and, for that matter, art itself. He
was world-building full time for decades and the separation between his real life and the Realms of the Unreal is fluid. He entered into his novel as many different characters and played roles that reflected his real-world concerns. The blurred lines of Darger’s real and imaginary life may have some basis in the relatively recent diagnosis of Maladaptive Daydreaming, a dissociative self absorption, in which the subject is fully immersed in vivid and excessive fantasy scenarios. Often, those who suffer from this dissociative condition do not function socially, often finding their experiences within the daydream more pleasurable than real life interaction. In this form of Paracosm, the created world exists purely within the individuals mind, often not being recorded or developed beyond their personal mind-wandering. As with other studies into paracosmic behaviour, a theorised cause for maladaptive daydreaming lies with a traumatic or distressing event,
either in childhood or adult life. Supporting this theory are the events of the 2018 film Welcome to Marwen, which portrays the story of Mark Hogencamp, who, after suffering from PTSD and brain damage stemming from being assaulted by a group of men in 2000, created and maintained the miniature town of Marwencol. Hogencamp was left unable to recall much of his previous life, and so populated a world war II era Belgian town with dolls, representing himself, his friends, associates and even his attackers. Marwencol was conceived by Hogencamp as a form of therapy. Hogencamp’s Paracosm is of particular interest due to it partly being accessible by anyone who visits the miniature town, but the events, stories and history conceived by Hogencamp remain out of bounds for most, other than those he has confided in. Of course, not all Paracosms are created as the result of childhood abuse or loss, but are formed through childhood and adolescent experiences which in turn provide inspiration and creativity. In their earliest forms,Paracosms can be schoolyard games such as sword fights with sticks, or adventure play in a back garden. They can be created by siblings, or childhood friends to brighten rainy autumnal afternoons, or solo, accompanied by the classic ‘imaginary friend’ whom so many of us have either forgotten or vaguely remember from our youth. This last phenomenon has been theorised to co-exist with imaginary play within children as a way to orientate themselves as their lives develop and change. Many Paracosms exist solely as a childhood phenomenon, often forgotten by their creators as they formed closer bonds with friends and the development of their social skills. “It has always been with me.” Communities exist in which individuals actively share details of their Paracosm, or offer advice and support to those attempting to flesh out and develop their worlds. On the popular website Reddit, r/ Paracosms is an active subreddit where the individuality of Paracosms is plain to see. “It’s a thing that has always been with me, that comes naturally. There’s not really an explanation,” one user of the subreddit tells me: “I had to concentrate all my imagination somewhere, and it happened to become a huge story. Sometimes I think that the fact I’m an only child played a role in all this.” It is true that only children, or those with a large age gap between themselves and their siblings are often thought to develop differently to those with siblings and relatives of comparable age.
When I ask whether they have plans to develop their story beyond their own thoughts and imagination, they reply; “I am not writing it down—mostly because writing is not my favourite hobby, but also because the story is constantly changing and evolving." They go on further. "I do dream about it very often, in the street, the bus, or in the car (when I am not driving!) I feel terrible if I forget my earphones because no music means no dreaming." Whilst not as severe as to be called maladaptive daydreaming, the connection
and vividness of their creation blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. “Sometimes the visions are so vivid, I get strong chills in my body and I forget the world around me. Sometimes I’ve crossed the road without paying attention or failed to notice people talking to me. But, overall it’s not too invasive in my daily life." Clearly, a Paracosm is most often an extremely personal and emotionally charged experience, both in early and adult life. A study undertaken by Michele Root-Bernstein indicates that Paracosmic play during childhood can be recognised
as an indicator of higher levels of creativity, which in turn indicates higher levels of intelligence. Studies indicate that fostering creativity during childhood is immensely beneficial, leading to positive development, whilst in adults, a creative outlet can lead to lower stress levels, higher confidence and lower levels of depression and anxiety. So, whether you choose to return to the Paracosm of your childhood, or dive into a new and virgin land of infinite and unrestrained creativity, just remember to come back. 49
Makeup ban: individuality or rebellion? Some schools forbid pupils to wear make-up but is this fair?
“I prefer the way I look with make-up on.” A sentiment expressed by 41% of the British public when being quizzed on why they bother investing time in applying make-up. Following on from that response 36% of people said, “I feel more professional and confident with make-up on.” A shocking 15% claimed that they “get more respect and attention when wearing makeup". As shocking and ultimately sad as this is, the public provides an honest thought to a seemingly sensitive topic. One could argue that makeup is an artistic statement, a type of art, whether it boosts your self-confidence or you simply enjoy what makeup can offer. Nowadays, the option to even consider wearing makeup has almost completely been removed. Many secondary schools have banned the wearing of makeup or dying hair any colour other than natural tones. This opens up for debate whether this is healthy for young makeup lovers. Gemma Williams, a makeup artist with MAC cosmetics, explains that “the concept of makeup should be introduced in schools in a positive way and not portrayed as negative.” Gemma passionately believes that introducing makeup will not be seen as “girls using it to impress boys” or that they are somehow being “fake if they wear makeup.” By normalising makeup and removing the negative connotations surrounding the topic, we can move further towards cosmetics being a form of self-expression, and the idea of it making way for a sense of individuality. Between the ages of 11 to 17 is when a young person is figuring out their own styles and looks and therefore it is an important period for experimentation. Gemma went on to say that she has a lot of clients coming to her for help as they are unsure of how to apply makeup. “It is quite sad when I see clients so eager and passionate about learning what type of makeup is good for them and what suits their face because you can tell they were held back in figuring out the beauty world when they were younger.” A recent graduate, Kadija, believes that certain rules that schools and workplaces enforce are also necessary. “I don’t think it hinders self-expression as it promotes naturalness and being comfortable in your own skin. Likewise, it sets professional boundaries in terms of looking presentable in social settings. 50
Words and image: Livia Lukurti
Most importantly in schools, I feel that the rules and guidelines are needed to break down social stereotypes in terms of what you should look like or using makeup to conform to the likeness of others. However, as long as the guidelines don’t discriminate against race or religion I feel like appropriate guidelines are needed”. The cosmetics industry is massive and ever-growing. The beauty industry is valued at an estimated $532 billion and is growing rapidly. Thanks to many social media platforms influencers are promoting what products to buy, making them available with just a click of a link. Being introduced to makeup at a young age makes you appreciate it more compared to someone who was not allowed to explore that world. Gemma says that “by appreciating makeup, I can go out without wearing makeup as I had already experimented whilst growing up. Now I see some girls who cannot even show their own partners their face without makeup.” Around 44% of American women tend not to leave their homes without makeup on. A research investigation shows that there are two primary reasons why women wear makeup: • Camouflage—women who are anxious and insecure about their appearance tend to use makeup to appear less noticeable. • Seduction—women who want to be noticeably more attractive tend to use makeup to be more confident and assertive. A sad but real 15% of Brits have openly admitted to waking up earlier in order to put makeup on before their partner wakes up. Another 41% of us can not even leave the house without wearing makeup, suggesting that 41% of us feel self-conscious without it. With social media at its core, makeup artists are constantly showing new beauty hacks and showing the new generation that makeup is positive and fun and that anyone can use it whether you are male, female, old or young. With the likes of celebs like James Charles and Jeffree Star using makeup have opened the market for boys to feel comfortable in makeup. Gemma did mention that her boyfriend might use her concealer when he has a blemish. Slowly but surely, it is becoming more widely accepted.
From an early age, we are left to explore our identities. School is inevitably the main driving force in enabling us to grow as individuals. But why are we banning the wearing makeup in schools? In a Sydenham High School, part of the Girls' Day School Trust, leaflets highlights that no makeup should be worn or “funky coloured hair.” During these important years of self-expression, why are they being hindered? Many teachers and parents at the Forest Hill school are worried that rivalry and comparison will arise as bullying can occur if someone doesn't have the latest makeup or style. However, by lifting the ban and allowing everyone to be free and experiment it allows makeup to become normalised and open for people to see it in the same way as wearing a uniform. Sophy MacDonnell, a parent of four, shared her views in disagreeing with
the ban of makeup in school. “Makeup is a personal choice and stopping young people expressing their individuality, at a time when they are evolving and experimenting, is counterproductive and ends up creating resentment and frustration. It's not a good frame of mind for learning/doing your job well. I also think that the British obsession with uniform and no make-up is fetishistic. It’s weird to impose restrictions on somebody’s appearance, why would adults be scrutinising skirt lengths and mascara on children.” Focusing on uniformity rather than education distracts from school’s main objective. The focus should be on helping with the learning process and making sure students are happy and healthy. Houria, a 17-year-old student from The Haberdashers' Askers Hatcham College said that she believes that “teachers are tending to focus more on our appearance
rather than our education. If they put the same amount of effort they do into our appearance as they did into our learning it might be a big improvement in attitude and grades.” The constant pressure on how your appearance is received is becoming unhealthy. There is a huge pressure to fulfil a ‘checklist’ at schools or some workplaces to look or dress a certain way. However, when asking a few students, they believed that if the pressure of having to wear makeup to impress was removed, the core concept of it can become more positive. They agreed they wear makeup because it gives them a level of confidence and happiness, it should not be seen in a sad or negative way but instead enhances people’s beauty and allows them to fully appreciate themselves, with maybe a bit of help.
A small up and coming makeup artist, @makeupbylliv, believes that there is more to makeup than people like to assume. She believes that some businesses should not discriminate, but “understand that many employees need to paint their personality on, and express themselves with their makeup in order to perform their absolute best in the workplace.” Adding that when she was working in retail, the days she would not wear makeup compared to the days she did, changed her attitude and mood. Finding a balance between how to encourage makeup and eliminate the negative connotations surrounding it has drastically changed over the years. From being seen that women in the 50s and 60s had to wear makeup for their partners and look pretty; to now, where the beauty industry has allowed people to become confident with their own style. 51
Putting Dorset on the musical map Rapper Isaiah Dreads says his upbringing in the South West helps make his music unique
Words: Giampetro Vianello Doretto Images: Isaiah Hamilton
Isaiah Hamilton, better known by his stage name, Isaiah Dreads, is not your typical British rapper. He has never cut his hair, except for trimming the sides of his head occasionally to be able to wear his favourite hats. He is also a die-hard fan of the Back to the Future trilogy. Unlike the majority of UK rap artists, the 21-year-old is not from London. He was born and raised in Dorchester, a market town in the South West of England. Isaiah’s outstanding lyrical talent and genre-defiant sound set him apart from the rest of the rap industry, projecting him into the exclusive circle of British music’s “next big things”. Having all eyes on him is something that Isaiah has had to cope with since he was 15-years-old. Having performed at festivals; Glastonbury and Wireless. However, the Dorset native swears that he never once felt the pressure of being dubbed a child prodigy; on the contrary, early fame prompted him to dive into music and to work towards his goals. Since recording his first song at the age of nine, Isaiah has received unconditional support from his mother, Amanda, whom he credits as having a big role in everything he has achieved. Amanda herself appears in the video for I Don't Wanna, the first track of the rapper’s latest project, No Ego, which was released on September 13. The video, which Isaiah co-directed, was shot in Dorchester. “My favourite places are in there: my house, the music store where I used to buy my equipment as a teenager and Maiden Castle, which is a really old place I go to when I want to have fun by myself,” he explains. “The places that we shot might not be the most recognisable but they’re the most meaningful to me.” The bond tying Isaiah to his hometown and its people is the backbone of No Ego, and when asked about what growing up in Dorchester was like, Isaiah has no hesitation: “I couldn’t have asked for anywhere nicer to grow up, I love it here.” Although coming from the countryside may be considered a drawback, especially given the “London-centrism” of the British rap industry, Isaiah thinks differently: “Not many rappers have experienced the same things I have. That’s part of the reason why the topics I bring into my music are different and refreshing in a way.”
Isaiah is inclined to open up about his struggle with depression. No Ego's final track, Still Alive, is a heart-rending autobiographical tale of restlessness, mental breakdowns and medical prescriptions. “It's the most important song I've ever written,” Isaiah says. “I made this song after coming out of a period where I was really down and didn’t want to make music anymore. I had put a lot into my work and I really didn’t feel happy.” At the root of the rapper’s depression was his relationship with social media. “The problem for me is that I go on social media like Instagram and find it so easy to compare myself and what I'm doing with other people. For example, others might be doing crazy stuff on Instagram and I kind of think ‘Why am I doing this? Why can’t I do that instead?’” Going back to Dorchester after living in London (he moved to the capital in 2017) played a major role in Isaiah’s recovery: “Saddest when I’m not home, you know I will not lie,” he raps on Info, stressing how important being close to his loved ones and to the places of his childhood is for his well-being. “I’m so thankful I come from a place like this. Sometimes, when I’m not in a good place mentally I just go for a long walk on Maiden Castle (an Iron Age hill fort south of Dorchester) and, when I’m up there and I look out, it is so beautiful that it puts everything into perspective. It just makes you realise that it’s all good.” In a project so heavily introspective, there is little room for upbeat tunes, Get Some being the only track breaking the down-tempo, self-reflective aura of the EP. With its funky vibe and heavy bass line, the song (courtesy of producers Z-Dot and Krunchie) is one of those irresistible tunes listeners cannot help but bob their heads to. In the track he takes shots at fellow rappers for selling their integrity in return for “diamonds and gold” and finds the time to contemplate his future: “It’s like I don’t want much when I’m 75. Gimme a house in the sun, big, the balcony type.” At the moment Isaiah seems to be focused on one thing: “First, I’ve gotta put the south west on the map”, he raps on Get Some, and judging by the reception No Ego has received (his track, 2am, has hit 100,000 streams on Spotify), he is not far from accomplishing that.
Likewise, the thought that his “colouring outside the lines” might have already gained him the label of outsider does not seem to bother him in the slightest: “I don’t mind being a lone wolf: it’s a good thing,” he says confidently. Isaiah’s latest EP is the quintessential embodiment of his singularity as an artist. Through a sound that pulls away from the tempo of his 2018 Back to the Future mixtape and interlaces lo-fi, hiphop, R&B and funk, No Ego is a 19-minute-long guided tour of Isaiah’s psyche. Throughout six tracks, the artist bares his soul to the listener in a way that very few rappers have done before as he paints a vivid self-portrait, where his thoughts, feelings, flaws and virtues are shown unfiltered. “With this project, I really wanted people to know me better as a person, which is something I had never done before. I really wanted to put myself into the EP and that is why, for the first time in my career, I’ve also produced some of the songs.” In his latest work, Isaiah stripped his music of the confidence and self-congratulatory tone that had marked his previous works, hence the title No Ego, and courageously unveiled some of the most intimate sides of his personality to the public. Three of the leitmotifs of the project are misplaced trust, lack of love, and depression. In Clouds, the fourth track of the EP, Isaiah raps the following verses over a poignant piano: “I’m too jealous and I get attached I show love and most times I don’t get it back So numb ‘cause I put my trust in the wrong ones But I got a heart of gold that’ll take me far in the long run.” The sorrow caused by broken trust and one-sided love is there, laid across four verses of crystal-clear candour and only partially soothed by the rapper’s good nature, which he believes will take him further than his peers. When asked if those bars were inspired by a particular life event, Isaiah hesitates for a couple of seconds, then says: “I’ll just say that sometimes I can believe things when I really shouldn’t believe them, especially in relationships.” Although he might not yet be ready to discuss those relationships publicly,
S U A H U A B 100
Words: Ollie Jameson Images: The Pritchard papers UEA and Ollie jameson
ted a e r c who ed the e l oup nd help ny c d a e arri living a i Germ m nary odern lee Naz o i s e vi nt in m sters f h t f y o erime us ma r o t s a xp The dical e l Bauh a a ra fluenti in
On an early autumn day, the wind stirs the leaves of the poplar trees that neatly dot a length of Lawn Road. Otherwise, on this sleepy Hampstead backstreet a thirty minute stroll from the Regent’s Park, everything is silent and gentle. But long before the wash of leisurely quietness, this street was alive with energy; host to an explosive assembly of thinkers, writers, artists, inventors, architects and even spies. It all happened between the rose petal pink walls of 3 Lawn Road, also known as the Isokon flats. Even without its celebrated tenants, the feeling of significance given off by the building’s striking silhouette has not changed. The clean, towering forms that make up the block of 36 flats cut dramatically through Belsize Park’s rows of stately Victorian terraces; it is a contrast befitting of the radical vision for living it once represented. This was a vision set in motion in the freezing cold March of 1931. In the German town of Dessau, British furniture entrepreneur Jack Pritchard and Canadian expatriate architect Wells Coates stood in the shadow of the Bauhaus. They had made a pilgrimage to the second site of the influential art school, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. When they arrived, they discovered the pioneering construction of reinforced concrete and glass lay quiet and abandoned, pressured into such a state by local Nazi authorities. Regardless, the groundbreaking site left a deep impression on the two men, offering an exciting blueprint for the living 54
and working spaces of the future. 100 years have passed since the founding of the visionary school, of which the influence can be seen in almost every aspect of life; from levered door handles to the towering office blocks that make up city skylines. The Bauhaus brought a new way of thinking to how things could be made, blurring the lines between art and industry, whilst taking great care to address the fundamental human needs behind everyday objects and the spaces they inhabit. The Isokon flats, overwhelmingly shaped by the influence of the Bauhaus, continue to serve as a principal example of the realisation of these ideals in Britain. This influence was as largely philosophical as it was material. While they were both adamant that the engineering and use of material they had witnessed would fundamentally reform British attitudes to design, it was equally the modernist principals the Bauhaus represented that they sought to bring home with them. The ‘International Style’ the school championed had begun to spread throughout countries in central Europe throughout the early 20th century, with architects such as Gropius, Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto utilising the forward-thinking method in industrial and residential commissions. When Wells Coates was selected as the architect for an ambitious building project on a plot of land in Hampstead, north London three years prior, he had never before designed a building. But the clients had
faith in his vision; they were his close friends Jack Pritchard and his wife Molly, a bacteriologist, educator and fellow Cambridge graduate who shared her husband’s attitudes towards modern life. An initial proposal for a set of two connected homes to house the Pritchards alongside Coates’ family showed the high regard with which they viewed the architect, but the project would prove strenuous on their relationship as it began to evolve into something far beyond a simple residential space for two families. The visit to the Bauhaus would, in part, be the catalyst; whilst on the trip, stops at modernist residential projects across Europe introduced a new perspective on how the space could be used to accommodate a more modern style of living for a greater number of people. The design closely followed Gropius' concept of a “minimum dwelling”, a theory for a reduced living space that could accommodate a person’s basic needs whilst incorporating good design and affordable construction. Molly Pritchard had raised her own concerns as to the ethics of using a plot of land to construct only a single residence at a time when London faced a severe housing shortage. These three elements were enough to set in motion an entirely new direction for the project. While credit for the idea would go on to become a fiercely divisive matter between the Pritchards and Wells Coates, for now they were in agreement; the land would be used for a block of flats, prescribing to the minimum style. Molly Pritchard would conceptualise the layout of the apartments, shaped by her own vision of a modern lifestyle for young professionals; 24 studios and eight 56
one-bedroom flats, as well as facilities for staff. The flats were to be serviced, a popular style of residence in the 1920s, offering shoe-shining and laundry services within the building itself. In addition, a communal kitchen would provide meals each evening, delivered to the flats via dumbwaiter, offsetting the small size of each studio’s galley kitchens. Sliding doors concealed a compact dressing room and bathroom. “You have to be strict with what you bring home”, says Magnus Englund, director of the Isokon Gallery Trust, who since 2014 have operated a museum from the former garage space showcasing the building’s design legacy. “Hoarders, collectors and clutterers are not suitable tenants!”. The intended size of a minimum flat, as specified at the 1929 International Congress meeting, was only 25 metres squared. “Modern building regulations’ minimum size is 38 metres squared and for good reason; people have a lot more possessions nowadays”. The compressed layout of the flats were praised for their ingenuity. Certainly, they embodied the most advanced interpretation of Le Corbusier’s radical notion of the ‘machine for living’ at the time. Coates’ design for the building’s exterior was equally forward-thinking, inspired in the simplicity of its form by works such as Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, with additional references to the Gropius-designed student housing he had seen at the Bauhaus site in Dessau in its cantilevered balconies. The use of concrete reinforced with steel, now commonplace in construction, was then the earliest use of the material in an apartment building in Britain. Atop the four floors of studios was to be a resi-
dence for the Pritchards and their two sons. Bizarrely, the younger Pritchards would inhabit a studio flat of their own alongside a penthouse for Jack and Molly, equipped with a large reception room and roof terrace. “‘Penthouse’ [is] a very grand title for a 65 metres squared one bed flat, albeit very beautiful”, Englund notes. He would know, having spent several years living in the Pritchard’s former London home having taken up residence in 2013. His experiences living in the building, which today houses private tenants alongside public sector employees under the Key Worker rent scheme, are testament to Molly Pritchard’s resourceful and forward-thinking approach to planning. “They were great believers in things being planned, rational and efficient”, Englund spoke of the Pritchard’s approach, who believes it clear that the couple’s personalities shone through in the building’s design. Their sociable nature did much to influence the sense of community life in the block of flats so naturally fosters. “It’s built to a very nice scale, not too big, so most residents know each other,” Englund reflects. Progressives in far more than their views on architecture, Jack and Molly shared something of a radical disposition throughout their lives, having emerged amongst a generation of bohemian and self-indulgent ‘bright young things’ who challenged the pre-World War I attitudes of their parents. Their idiosyncrasies were as much sexual as they were social. Jack would unusually approve of an affair between his wife and Coates, noting the usefulness of her ability to relieve the strain of his difficult behaviour during the construction of the Lawn Road Flats. Molly would go as far as to write to her husband to thank him for his views on sexual freedom, having gracefully endured her husband fathering a child with her colleague, the educator Beatrix Tudor-Hart. The couple’s circle of friends, a similarly curious bunch of writers, artists, architects and academics, would largely make up the Lawn Road Flats’ earliest tenants after the building’s completion in 1934. Soon this stable of Hampstead intellectuals would be joined by three arrivals who unknowingly shared in a great connection to the building. In Dessau, Walter Gropius was under threat. He was short of architectural work and facing scrutiny from local police, who had accused him of being a Communist sympathiser. The Nazi Party, then amidst its rise to power, was quick to deem the radical design approach of Gropius and his Bauhaus colleagues as ‘degenerate’. Having presented an exhibition of his work in 1934 at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London to a strong reception, Gropius began to consider a move to the UK to avoid persecution. Faced with deep financial trouble, the promise of work upon his arrival would be a necessity. Ambitious and driven, Jack Pritchard sought to expand the principles championed by the Lawn Road flats through buildings in other parts of the UK. With relations with Coates now at an all-time low and a new architect a necessity to move the projects forward, who better to take forward his ideals than the very man who had inspired them. Corresponding with Pritchard and the architect Maxwell Fry, Gropius was offered the opportunity to work on what was proposed as ‘Isokon 2’, a second residential site in Manchester, as well as free lodging in the Lawn Road Flats for the duration of his stay. On October 18 1934, Gropius and his wife arrived in London and moved into Flat 15.
t a e r e g ings r e w in th y e “Th ievers ned, ient” bel ng plan d effic bei onal an rati In the subsequent years, Gropius would reach out to his Bauhaus colleagues, the architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer and the painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy. The pair had struggled to continue solo practice in Germany under the grip of the Nazis and, testifying to the good nature of his hosts, Gropius encouraged the pair to join him in London. Moholy-Nagy would join him in 1935, taking up Flat 16 next door to Gropius and his wife. Breuer soon followed later that year; he had renounced his Jewish faith several years prior, but faced pressure from growing anti-Semitic sentiment in Germany which hindered his ability to find architectural work. With three Bauhäuslers under his roof, Jack Pritchard’s trip to the Dessau school and all the ways in which it had influenced his attitude towards modern living could be seen as having come full circle. All three of the German refugees would find relative success close to the Isokon Building. Gropius and Breuer took up design positions at the newly formed Isokon Furniture Company, established by Jack Pritchard in 1935. Pritchard, who had worked for the plywood importer Venesta, had come to be known as a proponent of the material’s benefits in furniture design and promoted its use through furniture designs for the home. Breuer’s iconic Long Chair, initially formed in aluminium, would be redesigned in plywood under the Isokon name and is now considered one of the most important modern furniture pieces produced during the wartime period. This, along with later pieces such as Egon Riss’ 1939 Isokon Penguin Donkey, a low storage unit sized perfectly to contain the then recently introduced Penguin paperback books, are recognised for their ingenuity and still produced today under the Isokon Plus label. Breuer would find further Isokon work in 1937, designing a conversion of the Lawn Road flats’ communal kitchen space into a restaurant known as the Isobar. Functioning also as a social club, the restaurant would become something of a hub for the liberal artists and intelligentsia of 1930s North London, with the likes of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore noted as regulars. Phillip Harben, who took over as head chef in 1938, brought charisma as well as adventurous dishes to the building; Harben would later go on to become Britain’s first TV celebrity chef, hosting the BBC programme simply known as Cookery for six years. While Gropius’ primary desire upon his arrival was to establish an architectural firm, it would be his approach to education that would garner the attention 57
ing eal d l i u n id b e “Th vided a r the et pro ate fo e Sovi l clim s of th oncea spieon to c s” Uni mselve the of the British creative community. “The teachings at the Bauhaus have been widely accepted as a model for art and design education,” Englund explains. “Students can experiment rather than being told to copy [the] old masters’ work.” But this influence alone would not be enough to satisfy the ambitious Gropius. At a farewell dinner organised by Jack Pritchard, the architect spoke of his regret at an inability to further the modernist movement during his time in Britain. Plans to develop further Isokon sites in Manchester and Birmingham had fallen through, the Pritchards unable to secure the necessary funding to go forward with such ambitious projects during the wartime. And so, depressed by the British weather but grateful for the hospitality he had received, Gropius departed for the United States in 1937, marking the end of a brief and frustrating period in his career. The architect’s inability to establish an architectural practice as he had intended would be offset by the promise the US presented for the pursuit of his ideals, as well as a teaching position at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Massachusetts. At his encouragement, Marcel Breuer would join him later that year, unable to resist the prospect of setting up shop with his old friend and colleague. Later in the year, Moholy-Nagy would follow, establishing a new Bauhaus in Chicago that would go on to reshape art and design education in the US, much as the original school had done in Europe. The flats would attract attention of a different kind throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s. As a known hub of socialist thinkers in North London, the building provided an ideal climate for spies of the Soviet Union to conceal themselves. In particular, recruiter Arnold Deutsch moved in Flat 1 in 1935, working at the University of London whilst recruiting over twenty spies including the notorious double agent Kim Philby and his university colleagues who would go on to be known as the ‘Cambridge Five’. The building would be faced with heavy surveillance by MI5, with various residents considered worthy of investigation for their political or social alignments. Just as any of the tenants arriving from Europe who took up residence in the flat, they were welcomed as refugees and treated with great hospitality by the Pritchards. “Original tenants didn’t stay that long,” Englund notes. “Often just a year or two. Many were refugees from Nazi Europe and had arrived with only a suitcase 58
in hand.” As conflict broke out across the continent, the Lawn Road Flats would continue to offer such refuge to others displaced by the Second World War. Designers and architects such as Egon Riss and Naum Slutzky would flee to London and take up residence in Hampstead, escaping persecution and attempting to continue their creative work. The years that followed would see London devastated by German bombing that began in late 1940. To avoid serving as a navigation aid to German pilots, the pale pink exterior of the flats were coated in brown paint. In addition, Riss would work to construct a wall of sandbags around the Isobar, shielding the restaurant’s windows. Whilst damage to glass on the upper floor of the buildings was sustained during the Blitz, the innovative reinforced concrete construction allowed the structure to remain standing throughout the war. The Isobar would serve as an air raid shelter for the Pritchards and their friends, as well as residents who would opt to sleep on the restaurant’s floor in safety while bombs rained down from above. The prospect of living in one of the most structurally sound buildings in the area was irresistible to many and the Pritchards were inundated with interest in the apartments. One notable application came from crime writer Agatha Christie, who along with her archeologist husband would reside in the building for six years and during which produced some of her most acclaimed novels. In the post-war years, the modernists were faced with a great opportunity amidst the rubble of Europe. The rebuilding required would serve as catalyst for the kind of change they had dreamed of seeing in the ways people lived — and the space in which they did so. This period could perhaps be considered to have played host to the greatest effects of the Bauhäuslers stay in London. “The greatest influence was on the post-war welfare state period,” explains Englund. With the country faced with a desperate need for radical change in the living conditions of ordinary Britons, events such as the 1951 Festival of Britain would offer a window of opportunity for modernism to be seen as the way forward. “The Labour government adopted modernism as the face of their future ambitions.” But despite its highly significant role in establishing the movement in Britain, the Lawn Road flats would be faced with a period of disrepair. By the arrival of the 1960s, Jack and Molly Pritchard were spending more time away from London at a modern Suffolk residence, also named Isokon, designed by Jack’s daughter Jennifer. In 1969, they sold the Hampstead building to the New Statesman magazine, who converted the Isobar into additional flats and would proceed to sell the building on to Camden Council. Despite a Grade II listing in 1974, followed by an upgraded to Grade I in 1999, maintenance was scarce. Throughout the 90s the building was used to re-house alcoholics, homeless people and mentally ill patients. Living conditions were dire and Camden Council showed little interest in footing the bill for the significant structural repairs required. After three decades of decline, the council decided to sell. Particular emphasis would be put on finding a buyer dedicated to restoring the building in respect of its historical significance. In 2001, a £1.5 million offer was accepted from the Isokon Trust, working with the Notting Hill Housing Group and Avanti Architects. A
generous restoration was undertaken, restoring the building’s details down to replicating its subtle pink shade. Great attention was given to Coates’ original design, whilst considerations were taken in reconstructed kitchen and bathroom spaces to accommodate for modern appliances. In 2005, the building officially reopened. 25 of the 36 flats would be dedicated to housing key workers such as teachers and police, and the remaining 11 made available on the open market. In 2014, the building’s former garage was converted by Avanti along with the Isokon Gallery Trust, now hosting a permanent gallery that explores the stories of Isokon, the Pritchards and many of the building’s intriguing former residents so that future generations can come to
understand the significance of the modernist classic. 85 years ago, Jack and Molly Pritchard set out to change the way we live. To this day, their bold experiment continues; not just on Lawn Road, but in homes across Britain and the world. Their work, alongside the architect Wells Coates, showed foresight in portraying to Britain the promise of modernism as a way forward at a time where the concept was utterly alien. While the couple’s ideals may have since been surpassed, critiqued and iterated upon, it can be said that if they impressed not on the world at large, they did upon the many who passed through the flats and experienced their visionary design firsthand. Each tenant, visitor and friend of the Isokon has played their own small role in the building’s remarkable story. 59
The true cost of university finance More students than ever are struggling financially, with 79% worrying about making ends meet.
Words: Kesia Evans Image: Kunal Shah via Flickr
The Maintenance Loan is designed to give students enough money to live on but according to the NSMS, students receive an average of £504 per month, highlighting a £267 shortfall. In addition to this, 62% of students felt that the Maintenance Loan they received was not enough. Eleanor Dunn, a recent Criminology and Sociology graduate from the University of South Wales felt she “had no choice but to live at home during [her] first and second years of university.” Despite living in one of the UK’s lowest cost regions, with accommodation costing just £4,500 at the university’s Treforest campus, Eleanor’s loan fell short by over £1,000. This was because The Maintenance Loan in Wales was calculated on a means-tested basis in relation to her parent’s income at the start of Eleanor’s study in 2016. It is expected that higher-earning parents will make up the difference, however, this has been described by the NSMS surveyors as “naive at best”. The way in which finance is calculated has now changed for students from Wales with only the Welsh Government Learning Grant being means-tested, but those from England are still likely to face huge inconsistencies in the amount of finance they receive. The effect of this becomes apparent when considering a student’s living costs. Students now spend an average of £807 a month, a £37 increase from the previous year, and the biggest price change across all categories of living was in rent costs, with an increase on average of £25 per month. This price hike can be seen across the UK with Statisa reporting: “The average rent for a house in the United Kingdom (UK) increased in 11 of its 12 regions in February 2019.” The Maintenance Loan currently only awards students studying in London, whose average living costs are £900 a month, with a higher amount of finance. But, as shown in the findings of the NSMS, South East England and South West England follow closely with average living costs of £833 and £809 per month respectively. Danielle Chick, Human Geography student at UWE in Bristol discovered first-hand the financial constraints of this. She said that whilst she feels she received
who didn’t work did better at university and didn’t struggle with mental health problems. The issue is if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t have managed financially.” Similarly, working 16+ hours a week meant that Eleanor “often felt isolated from [her] peers,” and that “it was harder for me to fit in and I lost a lot of sleep due to falling behind in university; my employer was not supportive of me at all.” This had a snowball effect on Eleanor’s mental health and wellbeing. Her “mental health was terrible” and her “eczema worsened to the point of having to go to the doctors once a week.” It is clear that the current financial loan system for students in the UK places far too great a burden on the students and their parents alike, with many unable to make up the difference. In addition, the large number of students stretching themselves with part-time work alongside their studies are likely at a higher risk of mental health issues or suffering grades. Butler concluded: “Addressing the funding gap must be the highest priority for returning Universities Minister, Jo Johnson. Meanwhile, it’s more important than ever for students to be aware of the financial pressures from the outset, so they can plan and budget effectively.” It is important, now more than ever, for universities to combat the financial constraints that students face while studying. And with a General Election only days way, students will be hoping that these issues are high on the list of political parties’ priorities.
a “large amount” of finance, living in one of the most expensive places in the UK meant that her loan “did not stretch as far as it could have,” and added, “it is not fairly weighed up on the grounds of location.” This clear disparity makes it easy to understand why so many students are resorting to working around their studies. It is reported that two-thirds of students juggle a part-time job alongside their degree and half of those have said that their studies have suffered as a result. Danielle represents just one of many students: “Sometimes I would have to leave lectures early to attend work and I also found that it was difficult to get time off that I needed for exams and coursework.” She argued: “If we didn’t have the pressures of money then maybe we as a collective would put more time and effort into our studies.” But it’s not just the degree-work balance that students are struggling with. 57% of students said that worrying about money affected their mental health. Jake Butler, Save the Student’s money expert, commented: “This year we’ve seen a shocking jump in the number of students suffering from the stresses of rising living costs, especially surrounding mental health, socialising and academic performance.” Kimberley Corderoy, a recent Law graduate from Swansea, said she “was hospitalised with stress twice and suffered a burn out in the first year from working too much whilst trying to manage exams.” She also found that “people
Big Sleep Out: ‘It's a mandate for action’ Drawing attention to a growing global problem
There is no national figure that tells us exactly how many people are homeless in the UK. However, according to Government statistics, an estimated 4,677 slept rough across England on any given night in 2018 with 1,283 of those residing in London, a 12.8% increase in the capital on the previous year. Crisis, one of the UK’s leading homelessness charities, have suggested that Government figures only give a “snapshot of the national situation” and that as many as 8,000 people are sleeping rough at any given time. Variations in the way statistics are collated means that many people do not show up at all. Not all those who are homeless end up sleeping rough. In the first quarter of 2018, it was estimated that over 80,000 were living in some sort of temporary accommodation including B&B’s, hostels and local authority or social housing. Whilst many of these people have a roof over their head and may not be considered homeless by many, they too have no permanent form of residence. To be legally defined as homeless, you must either lack a secure place in which you are entitled to live or not reasonably be able to stay. Perhaps the biggest constraint of this is that many people in situations of homelessness are ‘hidden’ from official statistics. According to research conducted by Crisis, up to 62% of single, homeless people may be hidden from official statistics because “they are dealing with their situation informally.” The term ‘hidden’ refers to those who find a means of staying off the streets by staying with family and friends, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable housing such as squats and ‘beds in sheds’ situations. Homelessness affects people in every region across the world. The United Nations Human Settlement Programme estimates that 1.1 billion people live in inadequate housing and that more than 100 million people have no housing at all. Homelessness occurs for a number of reasons but the imbalance between supply and demand, overwhelming costs and the issues of poor quality housing are all at the forefront. Unlike other issues related to poverty and health, there has been no coordinated global response to tackle homelessness. But one man and his team are striving to change this. Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of
Scotland-based charity Social Bite, started this endeavour back in 2012. Starting with a small sandwich shop in Edinburgh, Social Bite offered free food and employment to the homeless. The enterprise quickly grew into a major charity and hosted visits from a number of A-List actors including George Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio. Social Bite has since built a bespoke village for people struggling with homelessness and developed a Housing First programme which has helped 830 people. In 2017, Social Bite hosted the world’s largest-ever Sleep Out in Edinburgh called Sleep in the Park. Over the years, this campaign has raised £8 million to help tackle homelessness in Scotland. Now Josh thinks it is time to take on the world. Run in partnership with The Institute of Global Homelessness, Unicef USA, Malala Fund and Social Bite, at least 50,000 people are expected to take part in The World’s Big Sleep Out on Saturday, December 7, 2019. The event aims to “create the world’s largest display of solidarity with and support of those experiencing homelessness and displacement. It’s an act of solidarity, to give you a tiny insight into this reality, and to raise the funds and awareness needed to help people who have no other choice.” The cost of the event is completely covered thanks to the support of corporate sponsors and other donors. As a result, 100% of the funds raised* will be invested in the plight to tackle homeless-
Words: Kesia Evans Image: Tom Parsons, Unsplash
ness worldwide. Half of the money will go towards helping the charities and those who are homeless in the towns and cities of those taking part and the other half will go to charities globally who help those who have lost their homes due to war, natural disaster or extreme poverty. In London, the event will be taking place at Trafalgar Square and The Kia Oval. On-stage performances will include a bed-time story read by Dame Helen Mirren and acoustic sets from Scottish rock band Travis and singer-songwriter Tom Walker. Local charity beneficiaries include ThamesReach, DePaul, Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Homeless Link and The Big Issue Foundation. In a statement, Josh said: “As well as raising money and investing in charities that make a difference, we want to send a message to the world’s political leaders to enact compassionate policy and find solutions for homelessness locally and the global refugee crisis that affects us all. “We are a small, interconnected world. By collectively sacrificing our beds for one cold night we can reach out a hand of compassion and solidarity with those who need it most—homeless people on our doorsteps and refugees internationally. Over 50,000 people sleeping out on a December night is a mandate for action. Please join the movement today.” To host or join a sleep out, visit www.bigsleepout.com 61
The off-centre sound of Danny Trash The South London musician and producer says he is ploughing his own furrow
Words: Giampietro Vianello Images: Harry Myles
A grimace of displeasure crossed Danny’s face when one of his friends informed him that he was not allowed to smoke in the studio. “It’s crazy,” he uttered, then let out a big sigh and rested his blunt behind his right year. The singer, songwriter and producer from South London had started rolling his joint shortly after entering the recording room. On our way there, he had told me: “I haven’t been to this studio in ages. I was banned from it and only now they’ve decided to let me back in.” The reason for the ban? Three years ago, two friends of his went wild after taking acid and he later took the brunt of it. The sight of the long-forbidden studio made him feel buzzed, for a good fifteen minutes he forgot I was there, absorbed by the music playing on his laptop and by the fat blunt that was gradually taking shape between his hands. When I finally got him to sit in front of my camera, I broke the ice by asking: “What is your real name and age?” Although reticence about one’s personal life is fairly widespread in the music industry, very few artists are willing to reveal their birth names. Well, Danny Trash is to be counted in that small circle. “My real name is Danny Trash and I’ll be 22 years old by the time this comes out,” he replied, letting out a self-amusing giggle. The artist came up with the stage name Danny Trash at the age of 16 and has run with it ever since. Speaking on the origin of his moniker, he cryptically said: “I wanted something that kind of represented a dark side of things. I don’t like relegating the dark side of ourselves to this other space which we never talk about. Everything is part of a whole and you have to harness all sides of yourself.” Embracing all facets of his personality and exploring his wildest, most twisted fantasies is something that Danny has wallowed in since the inception of his career in 2015. However, Danny’s fondness for song-writing largely predates his debut. He explained: “I’ve been writing lyrics for as long as I can remember.” “I grew up around music and I got into writing at a very young age,” he continued. Although it would have been the most predictable outcome for a lyricist as precocious as him, a career in music was not Danny’s first choice; on the contrary, fresh out of high school, he chose to
Over time, Danny sensed the need to become more hands-on and actively involved in the production process. “I wanted to be more holistic in my approach to music and, I wanted to be more tangible within the music I produced.” On the back of that, he bought his first guitar and started utilising his voice as an instrument. Danny has composed, produced and arranged all of his projects and also occasionally produced tracks for artists such as Keyah Blu, Bandanna Clips and Sam Wise. The latter, member of the popular UK rap collective House of Pharaohs, is featured in the last track off Danny’s latest release, Danielstonerocks EP. The inspiration for the title of the project came from, Danny explained: “On the journey from Brixton to Streatham there’s one particular bus stop, on the top of which somebody spray-painted Daniel Stone Rocks. Going past that, I always used to wonder who Daniel Stone Rocks was and what events had driven someone to spray-paint his name on top of a bus stop. Those questions stuck in my head for ages, so I thought I should call the EP Danielstonerocks.” The project, released 30th August, is a short anthology of titillating tales whose protagonist cannot help but indulge in the narration of steamy sexual encounters and inebriated all-nighters. Danielstonerocks feels like staggering drunkenly across a dimly lit parlour crowded with underdressed women. Whether the stories recounted in
go to college. Only later in time, thanks to the support of his parents, whom he described as: “the best and most loving parents a young black boy could be raised by,” he would muster up the confidence to drop out and follow his dreams. Danny’s first full-fledged project, Trash Jazz EP, was released in June 2016 at the end of a year-long gestation. Since then, he has released four more projects and a profusion of singles. When I asked Danny if he considers himself as a prolific artist, he said: “Not at all. I kind of feel like I should make more music to be honest.” He also admitted: “I go through stages. For three months I might make loads and loads of songs, like two songs a day. Then, for the following three months, I might not make anything at all. I’m literally just coming out of a period like that.” Regardless of what stage he might be going through, Danny aims to listen to “as much and as wide a range of music as possible,” on a daily basis. Doing that helps him greatly in his efforts as a producer. Danny’s interest in record production emerged during his high-school years, ignited by the work of Tyler the Creator, former leader of hip hop collective Odd Future. Speaking on the outset of his career as a producer, Danny said: “I started off by sampling songs. As a teenager, I was blown away by the idea of taking a track, chopping it up and creating something else out of it, so I did that for quite a while.”
Danielstonerocks are a faithful account of Danny’s personal experiences or just fervid fantasies fabricated by his own imagination, we might never know. “That’s the fun thing about art: you can do anything you want to,” Danny said. “There’s some stories where you don’t have to add a thing: they just write themselves. Then, there’s some stories where, for one reason or another, you might want to be a bit more liberal in terms of what's true and what's not. Personally, I’ve never cared about my stories being 100 per cent true.” Regardless of whether there actually is an autobiographical component in Danielstonerocks or not, Danny’s latest project reaches heights that the artist had never touched before. From the Plaiboi-Cartiesque hook of Manhattan to the ravishing guitar solo of Face Tats, through the unrelenting tenor sax of Pornstar, Danielstonerocks hardly shows any weak spot. Discussing the creative process that
led up to the creation of Danielstonerocks, Danny said: “For this project, I didn’t record my guitar or my piano directly in. Everything went through an amplifier, then the amp got mic’d up and finally those sounds were turned into something. There would literally be eight-hour sessions of me just playing or singing, running sounds, taking those sounds, processing them through my laptop and sampling them.” The outcome of such a process was the creation of a sound that currently has very few equals in the UK music scene. Danielstonerocks epitomises the final evolutionary stage of a style that eludes all attempts at categorisation by diluting jazz-infused alternative hip hop with sonic tinges reminiscent of electronic and trap music. When confronted with the idea that his off-centre sound might actually keep him from receiving recognition within UK hip hop, Danny said: “Well, that is only a problem if you want to be a part of UK
hip hop. The thing is that I don’t really want to be a part of it.” “To be completely honest, I’m more likely to align myself with underground jazz artists like Oscar Jerome, Shabaka Hutchins or Kamaal Williams, even though those guys are a bit more the virtuoso type.” Unwavering in his belief that his music does not belong in hip hop, for the time being Danny chooses not to worry too much about numbers and streams, and prefers to keep grinding away at promoting his music. He said: “Whenever I’m not making music, I'm just sending loads of emails back and forth or I'm putting together events, which I have been doing for the past two years now.” Having a busy schedule is something that Danny is not weighed down by. However, one particular thing seems to irk him slightly: “I don’t actually get a lot of time to watch anime, not anymore.” “When I was young, I used to rinse that out, man,” he said with a chuckle. 63
CREATING HOPE FROM CRISIS
Words: Freya Starr Images: Ivo Belohoubek
INTERVIEW WITH A DISASTER ZONE VIDEOGRAPHER Take a look behind the camera to find out what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like to capture the wrath of nature 64
When a natural disaster hits, an audience is struck by the visceral imagery and tales of survivors which reach us via news. Less often do we consider those who stand behind the camera bringing us the stories that affect us so deeply. One such figure is Ivo Belohoubek, videographer, cameraman and director of DoGood Films, a production company that specialises in making short films for non-profits, non-governmental organisations and charities. We meet in DoGood’s shared workspace in East London, just a week after his trip to the Bahamas to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Belohoubek sits behind a large screen, nursing a coffee while uploading the last of his footage of the islands. The B-roll shows the full extent of the destruction, once pristine residential roads now dumping grounds for rubble and flipped cars. “The landscape was unrecognisable. Just the day before this was a tropical paradise and now it looks like a set for a post-apocalyptic film”. He pulls up a series of time lapses he’s completed for the charity Splunk showing cars driving unsteadily along the roads as people do their level best to return to something like normal. Ivo’s trip to the Bahamas is a just one example of the work he does with his company, who fly into a disaster zone to document devastation caused. The mission is simple—to help launch appeals worldwide to fund aid for affected people. Over the past ten years, he has traversed the globe, covering some of the most widely reported natural disasters and humanitarian crises in history. The last two years alone has seen him travel from Palu, Indonesia following the devastating 2018 earthquake and tsunami to Colombia to help raise awareness of the ongoing Venezuelan migrant crisis among others. DoGood's blog covers the details of his trips in heartbreaking detail.
DoGood’s most recent work has been to chronicle the effects of Hurricane Dorian, now considered the worst natural disaster ever to hit the Bahamas. The Category 5 storm hit Grand Bahama—home to the country’s largest city Freeport- and Great Abaco Island with the greatest force. A Bloomberg report placed early damage estimates at a minimum of $7 billion. According to a recent situation report from the international medical corps the current death toll stands at 58 with over 600 missing, to say nothing of the thousands of displaced individuals forced to flee their homes with only the clothes on their back. Belhoubek was despatched to the island by Nethope, a charity who work to rebuild telecommunications lost in disasters. Like every job, he reveals, speed is integral to making an effective film. “Upon landing we hit the ground running. I followed aid workers as they began setting up temporary power lines but as always, I'm looking to produce stories. Stories need humans. I'm trying to find somebody who embodies the chaos that goes on around them.” “It quickly became apparent that the number of people left homeless without any of their belongings was enormous. People’s houses were literally flattened within the 27 hour period the cyclone hit. I talked to as many individuals possible about their experience in the Hurricane. Their emotions, losses. That's what make people stop and think.” Like many other videographers and photojournalists operating in disaster zones, Belohoubek admits his career path was neither easy nor planned: “There was nothing straightforward about it’ he smiles, ‘Lots of dead ends, empty pockets, frustration. But somehow I managed to make it work.” Born in what was then Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) during Soviet rule, he witnessed firsthand the fall of communism during the Velvet Revolution, which saw the end of 41 years one-party rule. 65
As the Iron Curtain was torn down, Ivo, who was 13 at the time ‘became a revolutionary’ in his own words. “I loved it, I loved the thrill of it”, he admits. “My generation was energised by revolution and then confused by globalisation. We came out of it with a mission to make the world a better place” He credits this time with instilling a risk-taking element within him and more importantly, a desire to try and make a difference. “I’m always looking to uncover the truth, above all.” After studying Sociology at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic the would-be campaigner began working with Czech President, Vaclav Havel, the leader who helped ended communism in his country He spent three years at the president’s Forum 2000 Foundation, a project that continues today. This brought together the unlikely mix of activists, stakeholders in global economic conflicts and senior politicians to discuss humanitarian issues across the world. “It was an aspirational venture. We went in with the mindset that conflicts could be discussed and improved through calm face to face discussion”, he says. Belohoubek also campaigned as a member of the Green Party, as an early adopter of climate change advocacy. His passion for climate change continues to feature heavily in the films he makes today. After completing an MA at the University of Arkansas and “almost falling into academia permanently” Ivo, feeling restless, felt the pull of international travel. Moving to London to try and work to save money for traveling around Europe, a chance meeting changed his life forever. “I stumbled across TV and visual media in London. I worked in a pub and bumped into an old friend who happened to be filming a documentary in Czech [Republic] but couldn’t speak a word of the language. So I ended up helping him translate it and I realised, wow, filming is like speaking in a different language.” “It’s such a visceral form of reporting that can transcend language and be understood by any nationality and education level. There’s a lack of snobbery I really appreciate.” Keen to garner all the skills needed to create his own films, Ivo stayed in London, finding work at the 66
CBS UK channels, working his way through production roles to learn as much as possible about filmmaking. The process paid off and armed with his camera, he sought work as a freelancer. “That’s when I started cold-calling everyone. I started emailing people and organisations and through a friend I got my first job—a series of short films about Somali refugees camps in Northern Kenya. And I was hooked.” Ivo has now worked for some of the world’s most recognisable charities and organisations including the UN, Save the Children, Unicef and the Clinton Foundation. Back in the present day Ivo documents his journey across the Bahamas. The breakneck winds of Dorian had brought down power lines and destroyed the islands’ infrastructure, making travel treacherous. “The after-effects of a storm like Dorian aren't always fully taken into account. Downed power lines for example, mean two things. One, people on the island cannot contact one another. Family members, friends, have no way of knowing if the other is alive or not. That’s a terrifying thought.” “Two, the risk of electrocution from wires and downed pylons mixed amongst rubble is high. Locals have to be so careful where they walk, particularly kids. That's why a non-profit like Nethope is so important.” “To add to this, the days after Dorian, there were wild fires raging across the Eastern part of Grand Bahama. First the weather then the fires scorched the land. This thick, dark smoke blanketed the drivable roads but our job was to interview people from all the worst hit areas. As a result, we drove blind through smoke to get to the other side with no vision ahead whatsoever.” It's hard to imagine that the kind of work Ivo takes on has no effect on him. “Yes, it does.” “It might make me sound like a cynic but it impacts me less than it did. With my first jobs I ended up taking everything with me. But then I realised that my job is not to crumble. My job is to tell a story so I kind of ended up coping by putting the camera
â&#x20AC;&#x153;My job is to tell a story so I kind of ended up coping by putting the camera between me and realityâ&#x20AC;?
between me and reality. I guess I kind of hide behind the camera a bit.” He thinks for a moment then reconsiders. There are times when faced with situations, he admits, he lets the personal run into professional and as a result, has butted heads with journalists. He recalls the aftermath of Cyclone Idai which hit Mozambique in March of this year. “I was there to film aid being given out. And we basically had to create a human chain to move 300 women and children across a river because they were rushing to get on buses to a new location and stop them falling into this filthy water. And that's where I clashed with journalists.” Ivo's views on reporters who bring a solely 'story-led' eye to their work are withering at best. “I was filming this distribution and I looked around and there clearly wasn't enough to go around for the amount of people who were queuing. So I started asking around—do you have enough writing and footage? These women have been standing around for hours in the blistering heat and you don't have enough? And this guy next to me says 'what do you care? It's good for us. If nothing we'll have a riot on our hands, makes for a better visual.” Ivo shakes his head in disbelief as he drains the last of his coffee, “that's why I realised I couldn't be a journalist. Because I couldn't have such a cynical approach to it.” DoGood Films is, as a result, an activist led company at heart. Founded in 2017, it as culmination of Ivo's solo work but continues to grow as he works. He has high aspirations for the young company. “I'd love to make the same but bigger, better. To employ producers, make it less of a one man band. But I love being on the ground, I can never leave that. It's what feeds my adrenaline starved soul.” As he sorts through his equipment, showing off
“I love being on the ground, I can never leave that, it's what feeds my adrenaline starved soul”
a new lens to be used specially to film interviews, Ivo ponders his future endeavours. “If I know anything for sure, there's going to be more stories for decades to come at least. We're living in climate change reality and there will be no shortage of human suffering to come.” A sombre note to end on, yet Ivo assures that it is this aspect that motivates him to go on telling these stories. “I'm stubborn and I'll keep at it. Because the human ability to keep going, to survive the worst of situations is astounding and will always need docutmenting in times to come.'
A collection of Ivo’s films are available on the DoGood films website and Instagram account.
The rise of dark tourism 74 Cairo's treasure of trash 76 Pollution in paradise 77 Losing Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s icons 78 Oslo: The high cost of beauty 80 Wigs and weaves: exposed 82
How Romaniaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strays became a brutal business 70
HOW ROMANIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S STRAYS BECAME A BRUTAL BUSINESS Smeura is the biggest animal shelter in the world, with over 6000 dogs. But Romanias strays have become a victim of populist, inhumane laws
Words: Franziska Eberlein Images: Huib Rutten 70
Located 120 kilometres (75 miles) from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, in the city of Pitești, lies Smeura; it is home to more than 6,000 rescue dogs, making it the largest animal shelter in the world. Smeura reflects not only Romania’s troubling past, but also how the country still struggles with the aftermath of that today. Thousands of strays have been brutally killed in an implausible attempt to battle overpopulation, sadly with no effect, as an estimated four million strays are still living on the country’s streets today. In Pitești, it is not unusual to see dogs left to die on the side of the road with broken limbs or having rocks and rubbish thrown at them. It is hard to comprehend the mentality behind such cruel acts towards innocent animals— perhaps it can be explained as the damaging result of a corrupt communist regime, the consequences of which remain deeply rooted in Romanian society today. During the rule of dictator Nikolae Ceausescu, from 1965 to 1989, people were forced to leave their homes and move into small apartments in the city. Their living standards were neglected, and they had no choice but to leave their pets behind, which ignited the evolution of an ever-growing population of stray dogs throughout the country. When Ceausescu’s regime collapsed after he was executed in 1989, the stray dogs became victims of his corrupt government for years to come. Smeura was founded in 2000 when Ute Langenkamp bought what had previously been a fox-fur farm which used to be owned by the communist regime. After the farm went out of business, Langenkamp witnessed how the government was simply killing thousands of street dogs. Truckloads of living dogs were thrown into deep pits, which were then
filled with water and eventually covered with dirt. There was no way Langenkamp could forget what she had seen, which is when she pleaded to the major of Pitești that she would take responsibility for all dogs in the town. The mayor agreed—without knowing how many dogs there were, and having no money or infrastructure, Langenkamp’s heroic act ignited the fight against animal cruelty and gave thousands of dogs hope for a better future. The killings stopped immediately. Matthias Schmidt has been managing the shelter since 2012 and is chairman of the German charity responsible for Smeura, Tierhilfe Hoffnung. Schmidt recalls arriving in Pitești with Langenkamp for the first time: “We were faced with catastrophic conditions. An abandoned old fox farm, with no water, electricity, employees or food, there was nothing. And it took us years to get everything running.” Years later, the charity has managed to construct a shelter housing thousands of dogs, with a well-functioning infrastructure and a strict feeding and medical routine to make sure the dogs receive the care they need. For the 92 full-time employees, the day starts at 8:00am, when they carry 2.7 tonnes of food through the 116-metre-long rows of paddocks with 140 to 180 dogs on each side. This is followed by a cleaning process that covers the whole 4.5-hectare compound, after which there is time to care for some of the dogs individually with activities such as medical examination, grooming and walking. In addition, there is separate housing for dogs in need of special medical care. The dogs that come in from the killing shelters have often had traumatic experiences from which they need weeks to recover. Alongside these is a heated complex for 776 puppies, as well as more sensitive older dogs. Due to the tremendous number of strays, the team’s initial goal was to castrate and chip the dogs and then bring them back to where they had been found, with a source of food and water that was refilled on a daily basis. Their strategy proved successful, with 35,000 strays castrated and chipped since the shelter opened in 2013. The ultimate goal was to castrate every stray in the country, which would eventually allow the population to decrease naturally. However, in 2013 there was a turn in events that meant a huge step backward for the fight against the overpopulation of strays, when a four-year-old boy was bitten to death by two dogs. The media portrayed the event as street dogs having attacked the boy on a public playground in the middle of the day. A few months later, it was revealed 71
that the boy had entered private property and was killed by private guard dogs. This, however, was not presented in the media and the case remained unclassified. Schmidt says the effects of this were swift and brutal: “Within a few days, or rather 72 hours, the government had implemented a perfectly thought-through law, legalising the killing of stray dogs. At this point, it had been passed by all courts and was declared effective immediately. Also, months before, an EU-supported animal shelter, or rather killing station, was built and was completed, long before the boy was killed.” Some have speculated that the reporting of the event may have been an orchestrated act to pass the killing law more swiftly. “There is more, that was not portrayed by the media—the doctor who treated the boy went to jail for an unofficial early release for a funeral, the two dogs were killed immediately without being examined, and the man who owned the private property was part of the government and left the country shortly after,” Schmidt states. There seems to be an increasing amount of evidence, that the event became the new gateway to re-start the brutal killing of dogs and turn this act into a form of business. The killing of strays became legal under the “Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law” and the EU and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) supported the opening of killing shelters, under the guidelines that dogs had to be kept for 14 days before they could be euthanised. However, the OIE’s lack of awareness about the execution of these guidelines, demonstrates a flaw in the system, as it can be manipulated easily. Rather than implementing an effective strategy (such as castration) to stop the population from growing, it has become more common that people are supporting the fraudulent business scheme of catching and killing. Financially, the EU provides up to €75 for the catching, 14-day holding and euthanising of a single dog. In reality, however, the money is lost to the pockets of criminals and as a result, the dogs suffer in inhumane conditions. They are often kept with no food, water or space, laying in their own excrements for days, until they are eventually brutally beaten to death. This raises the question—how can the World Organisation for Animal Health and the EU be seen to be supporting such a cruel system? Unlike the killing shelters, Smeura receives no financial support and is funded entirely by donations. As long as these schemes continue to exist, a future in which the stray dog population is controlled is hard to imagine. This is what remains the hardest 72
part of Schmidt’s job: “It’s very emotional and with time, this work does something to you. Something breaks in you. The solution is tangible, but we need to shut down this ineffective, brutal reality first.” Schmidt’s team has managed to negotiate with several killing shelters who have agreed for Smeura to take the dogs that are left after the statutory 14-day period. However, terms and conditions seem to vary, as cruel manoeuvres and sadistic games by the managers often lead to heated situations. “It’s hard to remain calm in some situations,” Schmidt says. “There are moments where it’s hard to control your rage. I have often thought about lashing out, that way I could potentially help myself, but this would in no way help the
“I have often thought about lashing out but this would in no way help the suffering dogs”
suffering dogs.” The introduction of the law has put an incredible strain on Smeura, as they can no longer release dogs back onto the streets safely and there is no way to rehome them within Romania. No doubt there are suitable homes in the country, but most people with an animal-friendly mentality already own several pets. Therefore, it remains unreasonable to re-home them here and the only way to secure a safe future for them is to take them out of the country. Over the years Tierhilfe Hoffnung has partnered with 90 shelters in Germany, and dogs are transported to them on a weekly basis—up to 3,000 leave Romania every year. The animals are given official EU pet passports, medical checks, identifying chips, castrations and behavioural assessments, and then embark on a long journey (of up to two days) that gives them a chance at a better life. Once they arrive in Germany, they are assessed and cared for during an acclimatisation period, during which they can build confidence and be checked more thoroughly on behaviour. While the staff at Smeura feel it is important to save as many dogs as possible from these horrendous conditions, they also want to implement a long-term solution to secure a change in the future. Another of their recent projects aims to tackle exactly that—the conversion
of two old hospital vans, equipped to castrate dogs more accessibly. “We travel to more remote areas on a weekly basis and castrate up to 20-30 dogs a week. We go from home to home and the people accept our help,” Schmidt told Artefact. Another focus is on engaging with local schools in the area. “We notice that children and young adults are open and interested in living differently. You can tell that parents have had dogs on chains for years and project that mentality onto their children,” says Schmidt. “Therefore, it is so important that we keep working on our school projects and enlightening programmes.” The Smeura team hope that the younger generation that will grow to have a healthier mentality towards the welfare of animals. The dogs have become victims of immoral human activity and are no different to the four-legged friends we have at home, wherever that home is in the world. It is important that we do not turn a blind eye only because it is happening beyond our horizon and help support international animal welfare for the sake of giving every dog the chance at a good life. Schmidt believes that: “Something will change in Romania. Politically, it will continue to be difficult. But I hope the day will come where more people realise that it’s not the right way. We will not give up.”
The rise of dark tourism Why are increasing numbers of people choosing to visit sites of disasters and massacres and other macabre destinations?
Words: Carlotta Proietti Images: Darmon Richter
Official figures have recently revealed a 1,200% spike in visitors to Chernobyl since 2016—according to The Independent since HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl and David Farrier’s Dark Tourist were released in May 2019, more than 87,000 people have visited Chernobyl, up from 72,000 in 2018. “We already feel an increase in demand, but we expect peak rises nevertheless next year,” says ChernobylTour, a licensed Tour Operator Agency since 2008. Although the city of Pripyat still displays much higher than the average levels of background radiations, the site has been opened to the public since 2011 and it is considered one of the world’s top Dark Tourism destinations. Dark Tourism is the act of visiting destinations that are strictly connected to death, disasters and tragic events both natural and man-made. Other significant sites of interest for a dark tourist include concentration camps, prisons, massacre sites, haunted houses, and battlefields. The term was first coined by Professor John Lennon in 1996, however, people have always been fascinated by these kinds of experiences, which offer the individual a strict connection with a feeling of both fear and satisfaction. The Roman amphitheatre—The Colosseum—is considered to be one of the
the realisation that there is far more to Chernobyl beyond the mainstream tourist experience. “While many tourists are drawn to the region to wade through the debris left in the wake of the 1986 disaster, I found that Chernobyl’s value extends far beyond that—the nature and time of its abandonment sets this place apart as a truly unique record of a way of life no longer practised in the world: visitors have the chance to explore model Soviet cities and villages, frozen as if preserved in amber. It’s like a Soviet Pompeii.” Richter considers dark tourism to be the most educational form that tourism can take, and as he says: “it often ends up tackling some of history’s hardest or most controversial questions.” Richter is not drawn to these places because he is fascinated by death, but rather because “events that involve large numbers of dramatic deaths, will invariably affect the course of human history in profound and interesting ways.” Other than the academic concept of Dark Tourism, there are many motivations and reasons which drive people to take such a form of travelling. Personal satisfaction, thrill-seeking, morbid fascination, and “death fetishism” (attributed by American philosopher Robert C. Solomon) are the most common adjectives
earliest forms of dark tourism. It was a place where people went to attend a show of brutal games in which slaves, condemned criminals, free Romans, Emperors, and animals fought with each other, often to the death, for entertainment. In his book Dark Tourism, John Lennon claims that the destinations of a dark tourist are places which convey a feeling of doubt, anxiety and possibly reflection regarding humanity and society’s capability in relation to the present condition. Such sites include Auschwitz in Poland, the Killing Fields in Cambodia where hundreds of mass murders were committed, Chernobyl, the National 9/11 memorial in New York, Kim Mausoleum in North Korea, Robben Island in South Africa, and the Totalitarian regime in Turkmenistan. These are only a few destinations that thousands of tourists visit every year. Darmon Richter, a student of history, a travel writer and self-proclaimed original ‘Dark Tourist’ has visited Chernobyl at least 20 times. The first time was in 2012. “That was definitely dark tourism as our group was led on a pre-planned itinerary through one artificially staged room after another, where gas masks and dolls had been arranged since the disaster to create ghoulishly photogenic dioramas.” What keeps him going back, though, is
“Dark tourism the act of visiting places that are connected to death, disasters and tragic events” attributed by the media to identify dark tourists differentiating themselves from others. Despite such compelling factors, the majority of the so-called dark tourists have educational and instructive purposes. “I began to find that the way people treated dark tourism destinations was sometimes just as interesting as the history itself. I found that ‘dark tourists’ mostly tended to be more thoughtful, philosophical, than the average travellers,” Richter said. In 2016, 30 years after the accident, the Chernobyl Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve was established in the exclusion zone by the Presidential Decree. Today, the reserve covers almost 227 thousand hectares; approximately twothirds of the exclusion zone territory.
As ChernobylTour’s website says: “Similar reserves exist in the world: in the Ural and in Belarus, but for Ukraine it is unique and the largest in the country.” There is great diversity on its territory: 23 terrestrial and seven water photosystems, five different landscapes, 303 vertebrate species, 1,256 species of higher plants, 120 species of lichens and 200 species of mosses. Recently the Ukranian government has opted for new measures to turn the place to a more touristic-friendly destination. President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree that aims to create ‘green corridors’ for the visitors, walking trails and waterways. Also, existing checkpoints will be modernised and the ban on video recording will be removed. In this scenario of progress, the concept of dark tourism is likely to extend to a different direction losing its initial educative motive and be substituted by a mainstream perspective. Having said that, dark tourists will still exist but a large number of others will probably follow in their footsteps, and the ‘dark’ atmosphere the dark tourist looks for will perhaps be replaced by a disinterested travellers. “That’s not dark tourism at all, it’s a warped and ghoulish Disneyland, created for the benefit of people who think they’re trying dark tourism for themselves,
having likely first discovered it through Netflix,” Richter argues. Indeed, the enormous amount of information and material that has gone viral has spread the fascinating concept of Dark Tourism and has persuaded more and more people to visit these places just to tick off another destination from their bucket list. Instagram and Facebook influencers are already using Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant as a background for their best shots, posing for their followers half-naked or in hazard suits pulling the trigger to a new wave of insensitive pictures. “Of course, it would be wrong to blame all of this on a TV series. There was already a sensationalist streak within the Chernobyl tourism industry—as illustrated by the souvenir stalls that opened at the entry checkpoint a few years ago, selling branded Chernobyl T-shirts, mugs, and even glow-in-the-dark ‘Chernobyl condoms’,” Richter says. President Zelensky’s decision is, in fact, a perfect example of both attempting to improve the reputation of the place itself, but also encouraging consumption. On one hand, the economy of remote dark destinations could surely benefit from a mainstream wave of tourists; on the other, how will embracing such tourism affect a country’s reputation? 75
Cairo's treasure of trash An insight into Cairo's "garbage city" and the families who run it
Words: Sanja Vedel Image: Hermes Rivera, Unsplash
With a population of 18 million, Cairo is one of the largest cities in the Middle East and Africa, but it has no city-wide waste disposal system. What they do have is an army of people known as the Zabbaleens located in Mokattam, Manshiet Nasser. This is the largest garbage village in Cairo. Mokattam is a Coptic Christian area where the Zabbaleens saw trash as an economic opportunity. For generations, the residents of Cairo have depended on the Zabbaleens to pick up their trash. More than 60,000 people living in Garbage Cities earn a living from recycling materials that they collect. They go to the city and pick up garbage from the street and from households and then bring it back to Manshiet Nasser, where they divide plastic, metal cans, clothes, materials and clean it so they can sell it to recycling companies both in Egypt and to other factories in the world. Men and boys go to collect the trash, and women, girls and the young boys stay at home to sort it. Every family has their own type of business and specialises in a type of material; for example, plastic bottles. “I grew up in Mokattam and went to school there when I was six years old but I had to leave school after two years to help my family financially,” said Adham El Sharkawy who is now 32 years old. “I collected recyclable materials from Heliopolis and Bab Alsharia for almost a year and worked in a factory for about six years. After that I started my own business by buying recyclable materials from the garbage collectors to sell it to traders in the community.” Despite the fact that the Zabbaleen community has created one of the most efficient recycling systems in the world, their Christian beliefs sill separate them from the Muslim majority of Egypt. In 2003, the Egyptian government sold annual contracts to international companies to collect and deal with Cairo’s waste. This was a threat to the Zabbaleen community’s socio-economic sustainability. In 2009 they faced a further threat when the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry ordered the culling of all pigs because of the possible spread of influenza H1N1a virus—pigs are essential to their recycling system as they eat all the organic waste. “We are really good at what we are doing. We have recycled for so long,
Adham finished his learning at school and got a certificate; at the same time a documentary filmmaker was filming the documentary Garbage Dreams, and Adham was one of the main characters. After making the film, he was nominated to go to Wales for a two weeks exchange to learn about recycling abroad. Adham later took off to America where he studied English and following this, he moved back to Manshiyat Nasser. Adham decided to start up his own business as a Freelance Coordinator and Translator. He tells me that he still has dreams about going abroad to study either English or Technology. And whilst he is still currently working with SOY, this is no longer his only endeavour. Many children in Manshiyat Nasser work with their parents from the age of four or five years old and do not have the same dream as Adham because there is a lack of belief in education. Dreaming of leaving the Garbage City is rare because they cannot comprehend life outside of the area where they grew up. However the Zabbaleen community believes Cairo needs them. They have recycled for so long and educated each other how to do it efficiently. “I believe the focus on recycle your garbage or bring it to a recycling place, buying things that are made from recycled material and so on is a growing interest globally,” Malek Danial said.“Hence why the Garbage City will be recycling many more years and I don’t see how anyone should be able to takeover recycling in a city like Cairo.”
generation after generation; my father taught me and his father taught him. The international recycling companies only recycle 20% of the waste where we recycle at least 80% of the trash we pick up. All their leftovers are being dumped somewhere in the desert,” explained Adham. In 2009, the documentary Garbage Dreams showed how much of the trash picked up by the international companies was just being driven to the desert where they dumped it instead of recycling it. The Spirit of Youth Association (SOY) was founded in 2004 in Manshiyat Nasser, and they work closely with the residents of the Zabbaleen. “The youth growing up in the Zabbaleen need education and learning opportunities. Especially after the appearance of the international trash companies, we need to help educate the youth of the Zabbaleen in relation to sustainable entrepreneurial recycling businesses,” said Malek Danial, executive director for SOY. The NGO received various funding grants for different projects over the years including support from Unicef, the Bill Gates Foundation, UNESCO, Hands on the Nile Foundation and the African Star Foundation.“I accidentally came across SOY when I was about 12 years old,” said Adham. “At SOY Learning School, I was taught Arabic, Drama and we also had instructions about health when working in garbage. My dad didn’t want me to join but I had this dream to go abroad and study so I went to the lessons and he accepted that in the end.”
Pollution in paradise David Weinberg is on a mission to save the turtles
The Bahamas is a nation of many islands, forming an archipelago in the eastern Caribbean, just a stone’s throw away from Miami. Its crystal-clear, turquoise water and shallow, sandy beaches, make it one of American’s top Caribbean destinations. The pristine, bright appearance of these island's beaches have played a big role in the desirability of the Bahamas, with many tourists eager to take the perfect picture for Instagram. Yet what many don't see behind the illusion of paradise is a growing plastic crisis forming along the shorelines, polluting the beaches and harming the array of animals that call these exquisite islands home. David Weinberg, founder of the organisation Cure for Earth, has made it his life goal to help reduce the plastic waste found on beaches in Florida and the Bahamas. After cruising the southern Bahamian islands, he was overcome by the sight of plastic littering the beaches and damaging the ecosystems in such a biodiverse area of the world. “I have two kids who are going to inherit the earth...and I have to be a part of the solution to the plastics crisis”. David uses his social media following to share and inform his viewers of his conservation work. This will often include shocking photos of piles of rubbish or animal remains with stomachs full of plastic. According to the Bahamas Plastic Movement, 100,000 sea creatures die every year due to plastic entanglement, with 2/3 of the world's fish stock suffering from plastic ingestion. David will often remove as much plastic as he can from a beach to find that more plastic has returned the next day. He describes an encounter he had with a guest at a nearby resort, where he regularly scouts the beach for anything that doesn't belong there. The guest approached him, referring to him as a “garbage collector” and left him their waste for him to collect. “I was taken aback and felt like some people really don't care about looking after this beautiful place... They just come here and go home, and don't think about what they have left behind”. The tourism industry around the world has become a huge economic catalyst in recent years, funnelling money and jobs into communities that otherwise would have to be reliant on their own resources and trade. This is something
that can certainly be seen in the Bahamas, where 6.6 million people visited in 2018, which has risen up by 7.9% since 2017. Furthermore, the lack of agriculture and farming due to the harsh landscape, means many of the Bahamian people have come to rely on the tourism industry as a source of income. While it may sound exploitative, there is a general feeling of mutual respect and large resorts such as Sandals provide living accommodation for their staff and pay them good living wages. However, as is frequently the case with tourist hotspots, the economy benefits and the environment suffers. With tourism accounting for 60% of the country's GDP and estimated to be producing around 300,000 tonnes of waste every year, it is of critical concern that the fight against the plastic crisis in the Bahamas should focus on hotels, resorts and excursions. But it is the question of what to do with all the waste that the cause is troubled by. Landfills take up and ruin precious land on these small islands and exporting waste is highly expensive. After relying on landfills for years, David is now focussing on new creative ways of tackling this issue. “Right now, we are taking all this
Words and image: Liza Neziri
plastic to the landfills here in the Bahamas and we're developing solutions with the local people on the islands to utilise a lot of these plastics by creating art and selling souvenirs to the tourists here”. David's love and admiration for his children and their determination to pick up plastic has inspired him to work closely with more children, due to the fact that they are more “open to helping” and “haven't acquired the bad habits of the generation before,” which has led to him staging a beach clean-up with 100 local school children. The recent horrors of Hurricane Dorian has only encouraged David to continue his mission, predominantly in the Bahamas, where he often sends help from Florida. Thanks to his foundation, David was able to raise enough to hire $5000–$6000 aeroplanes with supplies to fly out to families in need. He continues to do his early morning 9am beach pick-ups, regardless of the situation and encourages everyone to help in any way that they can. Whilst the rise of tourism has, in the past, contributed to the pollution of the beaches, it has now become necessary for the tourism industry to continue fuelling the economy. 77
Losing London's icons Could all-pervasive advertising be changing the face of the city for the worse?
Words: Mischa Manser Images: Media Agency Group
London is a land of iconography. The London Underground roundel has become an internationally recognised symbol of London, the design for the latest Route Master bus gripped the attention of the capital in 2012 and every non-London native has a picture of themselves standing in or next to a big red phone box. Of course, 30 million people do not visit London every year just to look at a black cab, but these little things, so emblematic of the city, create the London experience for visitors and Londoners alike. But what if these iconic shapes and colours were at risk of disappearing from our daily lives and on our regular city travels we became bombarded with information about what to watch, what to buy and what drugs you need to be happy? Outdoor advertising on public transport pumped £151.12 million into our public transport system in 2017/18 according to Transport for London’s (TfL) advertising report from that year. That is more than the total revenue taken from bus fares this year. This form of advertising is so profitable, that TfL has invested
account a duty of care they have to the people,” Jade Evans, an Account Manager from Media Agency Group said about TfL's HFSS food ban. But even these stringent measures let some fish slip through the net and the result can be disastrous. In March, the Michael Jackson Innocent Project, a group that aims to clear late pop singer's name of sexual abuse accusations against children, began a crowdfunding project for adverts that proclaimed the singer’s innocence. The ads used hashtags such as “#MJINNOCENT” and the slogan “FACTS DON’T LIE. PEOPLE DO”. Charities that aim to protect victims of sexual abuse reached out to TfL, expressing concern that the ads were insensitive and were at odds with TfL’s own impartiality regulations. The ads were released in response to the Channel 4 documentary, Leaving Neverland. Stephen Spence, head of BA Advertising at the University of Arts London says it is: “purely because of the sheer amount of advertising that goes on and
£82.9 million into an advertising estate upgrade on public transport routes. TfL and the DfT (Department for Transport) claim that these revenues go into keeping fares low and supporting transport infrastructure across London, the payoff is that we are faced with more advertising on our daily commute. TfL, however, has recognised the influence advertising can have on our lives and introduced stricter measures on what can be advertised on the buses, tubes and cabs that make their way through the capital every day. The first proposal was the London Food Strategy released by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, which outlined regulation on how fast food companies are able to advertise on public transport. This led to new legislation passing on February 25 “to ban advertisements for food or drink that is regarded as HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar),” according to the TfL London advertising report. “They know that advertising works, they know that it influences people and complete generations. So, they take into
especially seeing as it is only one bus, it is different if it’s a campaign,” adding that he believes: “they probably didn’t even look at it, and if they did, they would have been like whatever, its only the one thing.” The campaign was incredibly successful, immediately making headlines within the first day of the advert’s release. According to Exterion Media, a trusted partner of TfL’s advertising department, bus ads are the most successful form of outdoor marketing in London. Exterion claims that 91% of Londoners can spontaneously recall a bus advertisement and the average Route Master bus spends 70% of its time in central London. This combined with more than 700 bus routes in the city and 2.2 billion passenger journeys a year, and the simple fact that around 85% of us actually prefer buses with advertising on them, means that we are highly exposed to outdoor advertising. “I think a majority of people see it more as a welcome distraction to their daily commute. When people are commuting, they are in more of a mindset to take in new messages. They want new inspiration; they want to know what is hot on the market right now,” Evans claims. The big question is: are we going to lose the iconic big red bus and should we be worried about losing a big part of London's identity as advertising spreads its way through the capital? “I think it is part of the landscape,” says Spence, “if you didn’t have it, it would look strange, if you took it away people would probably want it back. It is visually stimulating and every now and then you get something that is absolutely beautiful.” Evans agrees, saying that: “user experience is always at the heart of every development. I have 100% faith in TfL and their media partners to act appropriately within these environments.” If we got to a point that the advertising market was so over-saturated that it begins to become a problem it is likely that we would see a return of the big red bus. But it would be on the advertiser's terms. Spence's prediction is that: “somebody will go back to the old fashioned red bus just to stand out if the market becomes over-saturated. If they do, it will be market-driven instead of being anything altruistic.” He also believes that this is not a reality we need to worry about: “ultimately it is not in the brands
”I think a majority of people say it is a welcome distraction to their daily commute“
best interest to irritate the consumer by advert bombing them.” There have been times however where TfL's outdoor advertising has been used as a cause for good. In the wake of the Grenfell tower fire, the tube station roundel was adapted and turned into a heart shape with Grenfell reading across its centre. The design was created by local designer Charlie Crocket, to raise money for the survivor’s trust Love for Grenfell. The design was later used at a memorial for those who lost their lives in the fire. The roundel again played its part as a united banner for Londoners to stand under together against adversity. TfL had every right to take up a legal challenge against the adapted roundel design but wisely chose not in this case and have allowed the designers to raise money for survivors groups. On a similar note, during the 2016 World Cup, Southgate station, a Grade II-listed site, briefly had its name changed to Gareth Southgate Station to show support for the team that made the semi-finals that year. Again, during this year's pride celebrations, TfL came out in support of the event by installing rainbow-themed roundel's in central London
stations and changing staff uniforms. The TfL commissioner's report states: “Dressed in the colours of the rainbow and equipped with rainbow roundels, our staff sent the very clear message that London is open and welcomes you, regardless of background, religion, race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.” Companies such as Exterion Media and Media Agency Group are trusted partners of TfL and so are held to a high level of accountability. For this reason, outdoor advertising is considered a trusted medium for advertising due to the level of legislation written around outdoor advertising. “People will trust outdoor advertising, that is why you see lots of finance and banking businesses use heavy outdoor advertising because trust is so important to them.” Evans also added that Facebook made use of an intensive outdoor advertising campaign after the Cambridge Analytica scandal during which Facebook came under fire for misusing user data, losing the faith of their consumer base as a result. Ideally, we would see advertising companies only working with socially and environmentally minded companies but as Evans puts it: “businesses make far too much money from oil and petrol companies and the like, it is a nice thought for all companies to be green and to be for the good of everyone, but you can’t please everyone. Businesses are there to make money.” Media Agency Group has worked on advertising projects ranging from the World Avacado Organisation, a campaign that outlined the health benefits of eating avocados, with Tesco; to Jet, a fuel company that offered the chance to win £1,000 worth of free petrol. For younger people, advertising has always been there, it is part of the fabric of city life and a majority of us are equipped to protect ourselves by reserving some logic when we make decisions based on the advertising we see. Advertising is a by-product of life in a capitalist and democratic society. For some, it is a small price to pay for freedom. For others, it is evidence that we are racing towards a dystopian future where global corporations control our minds. Either way, it is something that we should all be conscious of, take the time to admire and be sceptical of. 79
Oslo: The high cost of beauty A picture-perfect Scandinavian holiday destination — but it comes at a price
Words and images: Georgia Boyle
The Scandinavian countries are largely known for one thing; being pricey. Travelling to most places in Europe is incredibly cheap (mostly thanks to the bittersweet novelty that is RyanAir) but whilst the flights may be cheap, we always hope for similar prices at our destination. The climate in all Scandinavian countries is very similar to that of Eastern Europe, so why would you go to a more expensive place when you can go somewhere comparable for less? The city of Oslo has high prices for one main reason: Scandinavian employees have higher incomes, meaning that production costs are higher. This stems from taxation being high, with VAT at 25% and personal income tax hitting the 55% mark. Although this may seem like a burden for those working in Oslo, most see it as a benefit as every resident is covered by the welfare system. There is little inequality between classes in Norway, making society a friendly and happier place to be a part of as people feel safe and secure. This has led to Norway being ranked the third happiest country in the world in 2019 according to the World Happiness report. An atmosphere of happiness resonates throughout every person, shop and street in Oslo, making it hard to feel down in this beaming city. According to Talor, from Talormade Doughnuts (a must stop for breakfast and a coffee whilst staying in the city), “the happiness of locals comes from surrounding themselves with friends and food” and “exploring the pretty architecture of the city with the suburbs not too far away.” Oslo is one of the less-visited Nordic cities, its non-touristy element gives the city a laid back feeling, something that is hard to find in Europe and a quality that entices ‘off the beaten track’ travellers. Oslo is graced with ever-changing seasons, making it desirable for every kind of holiday. In the winter, wake up in the city and by the afternoon, be on the mountain strapped into a pair of skis before ending the day in a sauna. In summer, swim in the fjords and hike the snowy slopes, ready for a relaxing evening stroll through the city parks and a delicious dinner at a metropolitan restaurants. A city blanketed in snow is always picture perfect. Speak to any Londoner
The most relaxing part of winter in Oslo is becoming immersed in the Nordic sauna culture. The sauna began in Finland but was quickly adopted in Norway as a way of relaxing on a cold day. The culture in Oslo has boomed with the introduction of floating saunas, which explore the fjord for the day, giving the ability to sit in the warmth and jump straight into the freezing cold water. The largest sauna in the world, SALT, has taken a more nomadic approach by making the sauna culture one of community. Here, visitors can partake in cultural rituals, ice-cold baths, and even enjoy a nice beer in the sauna with other enthusiasts. At 150 Krone (£12.61) for a few hours, it’s the perfect way to stay warm in the chilly winter months. With the warmth of summer comes the greenery of mother nature, which bursts throughout Norway. Temperatures don’t tend to hit above 20ºC so whilst this may not be the perfect place to relax and catch a tan, it’s a perfect place to walk and explore. The city itself is not all that big so walking is recommended and makes it easier to see more of the city sites. With the introduction of Lime Scooters, getting around the city has never been so easy. Wander through the Vigeland Sculpture park to find more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, or stroll along the fjord front to look out over the distant
or New Yorker and they’ll express hate for their cities in the snow as most of the time, it’s all slush, grit and ice. In Oslo, every day gets a fresh sprinkle, painting the city a pearly white throughout winter. The natural winter beauty of Oslo is breathtaking, but it comes at a price. The city is so cold that a five-minute walk is only just bearable before having to dip into a cafe for a warming drink. This makes exploring the city extremely difficult, resulting in a bill of 300 Krone (£25) just for a brief dip of warmth. The struggle to find boots that’ll keep your feet toasty but supported is a real challenge and similarly expensive, this is also a big added cost. Add a big coat and a couple more thick jumpers, that will lighten your wallet. However, winter activities are cheap and cheerful. The fountains in the city freeze over, making them free to skate on for everyone; skates are available for hire for 120 Krone (£10) or for a more rustic option, head to the surrounding lakes in the forest suburbs which are picture-perfect just in time for Christmas. You can head further out of the city, to the end of the metro line, to the neighbourhood of Frognerseteren, where sledges are available for hire next to an antique Viking chalet. Warm-up with a hot cup of cocoa before heading down the sledge run on vintage wooden sleds, costing around 100 Krone (£8.40) for the day.
”An average main meal costs at least 150 Krone (£12.61) and to have a beer in any restaurant will knock you back around 70 Krone (£5.88)“ islands. Walk to the top of the Opera House to look out over the colourful city, or discover an abundance of Nordic knits in downtown vintage stores. The city in summer enables tourists to get the best out of the city just by walking, which is always free.
Oslo Fjord is beautiful to explore in the summer season, with boat trips leaving from the central harbour every 15 minutes. These trips cost around 70 Krone (£5.88) for a return ticket and being out on the open water gives a stunning view of the city, contrasting with its suburban islands. These islands are mostly residential so there is not much to see or do, but the boat trip is worth taking just to be out on the open water. It is also worth taking the metro up to Frognerseteren again. The chalet is still open for business and has a dining terrace looking out of the city. The food is pricey due to the location and view but is worth tucking into. Then retrace the sledge run in the sunshine, winding down a woodland path alongside a running stream. About 2.2km down the walk, hop back onto the metro at Midtstuen and ride back to the city centre. For foodies, Oslo is the place to visit come winter or summer. With multiple indoor food markets like Vippa, Mathallen and Oslo Street Food, there are almost
too many options. All of the food vendors in these markets are similarly priced to fast food restaurants in the UK and the atmosphere and delicacies combined lead to a far more enjoyable experience. Eating out in Oslo is uncommon for residents and this is where the expense comes from. An average main meal costs at least 150 Krone (£12.61) and to have a beer in any restaurant will knock you back around 70 Krone (£5.88), not much more than in London but certainly more than other cities in the UK. Food markets are definitely the places to eat on the cheap, but two firm favourites for fine dining are FYR Bistronomi and Girotondo. Oslo is a year-round city to visit, so it could be said that there is no “best time” to visit this wonderful place. But, if wanting to indulge fully in the city while keeping to a budget, summer is the season to go. The trick to Oslo? To spend the week or week-end as a local would. Explore, indulge and enjoy. 81
Wigs and weaves: exposed Hair extensions are growing in popularity but do customers know where they come from?
Wigs, weaves and hair extensions have become a global top commodity. As social media grows the ideas to look perfect and fit into beauty standards and physicality qualms extenuates. The majority of women from multiple backgrounds and age groups blindly support the high demand for hair. This is by giving zero thought into where their wigs, weaves and extensions come from. So where does this hair come from? Hair origin is dependent on whether the consumer wants their wig to be made from human hair or synthetic. However, the most bought or asked for is human hair. The majority of human hair comes from India, China and Pakistan. It is also possible that some hair can be taken from corpses. Meanwhile, this particular practice is not talked about as frequently. This is because most women are not comfortable with knowing their new lace frontal has been plucked off of a dead body. The collection of hair can be carried out through multiple ventures. Some hoax companies collect hair from shop floors, mould it, combine it with other fibres such as dog hair and then dye it and repackage it. Again this process is almost never discussed within hair promotional events or even mentioned by stylists for safety and practicality reasons. Unfortunately, some consumers are unable to highlight some of the symptoms and poor quality control signs their hair extensions may have. This then leads to unorthodox hair companies profiting from the mishap of their clients and distributors. These types of quick money making scandals could be causing serious harm for all their customers. There are also companies who do not extort women such as Bloomsbury wigs UK and Wigs and Wonders. This is evident as the countries which distributors choose to consistently purchase from are usually developing countries. A lot of these women see their hair as their identity. It is possible that this could be due to religious or ethnological beliefs. Pilgrimages are a common place where people from religious backgrounds gather to seek spiritual awareness, some practice shaving their heads as an act of devotion to their religion. 82
In the Guardian, Homa Khaleeli said “Hair is more than just a symbol: it is big business. From India to Peru, the human hair trade has spread across the globe”. Many customers believe that wearing hair extensions and wigs accentuates their beauty. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are key ways of purchasing hair. There are thousands of hairstylists online who offer celebrity standard hair technology. With this level of access to hair for customers, it is inevitable that sales and production will increase. Social media accounts such as @avaluxurywigs and @luxurywigsxoxo showcase a number of different wig colours and styles that are usually seen on celebrities. The purpose of making wigs of this nature is to sell the idea that customers can be as ‘beautiful’ as those they look up to. Wigs and weaves were mainly dominated by women in the black community. Reality stars and online socialites such as Kylie Jenner who is an American white woman, has had a massive impact on the wig industry. Sales have skyrocketed since the star announced she was wearing wigs in some of her Instagram posts, snapchat videos and event appearances. @Clevver posted a YouTube video displaying Jenner’s Glam room where she shows off her extravagant wig collection. This has caused an influx as now white women have started to buy wigs and extensions alongside black women.
Words: Hannah Blissett Image: Henry Gordon
The heritage behind why black women initially wore wigs, was due to the European hegemonic state. Over time black women were told that their hair did not fit the standards for most if not all institutions. In an interview with Sharon Wallace a North London Hair Technician, she was asked if she was aware of hair globalisation? She said, “No, I don’t know what that means but I am very interested to know if it affects me”. She was asked if she knew where wigs and weave came from? She said “Yeah it depends on if they are wanting human hair or fake. I believe the human hair comes from Asian and the fake is just nylon”. She was finally asked what she thinks the high demand for hair in the beauty industry is? She said “I think it is reality tv, young people want to look like YouTubers and reality stars.” We are of course dominated by the European culture. In the workplace, women were not given jobs if they had locks. This happened to me in person, I was told I would not get a job. A lot of the women just want to fit in with their peers without their bosses feeling offended by their natural hair”. Overall, the wig and extensions community continues to grow and create more profit. Whilst still leaving those who are selling their hair without an even share of the money generated.