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the power of dreams ‘Impossible’ is a meaningless word. It means whatever you want it to mean. Some people let impossible stand in their way – they see obstacles, challenges and reasons to turn back. Others see a monster they’d like to one day slay. Only that day is always tomorrow, and never today. Then there are the people who like what they see. They stare that monster straight in the eye. They overcome that obstacle, take on that challenge and trample impossible into the ground. People like this are few and far between, but it’s this handful of innovators who have the power to shape our world. They’re musicians, artists, social entrepreneurs – pioneering individuals who are cultivating culture from the grassroots up, enhancing their communities and the world beyond with good design, a social conscience and an ability to have fun. These are our Cultural Engineers – inspirational individuals who don’t just dream, they do. Honda’s CR-Z, the world’s first sporty hybrid coupé, is proof of what can happen when we all believe in dreams. What follows is a tribute to those people who, by sharing in that conviction, make impossible things happen every day. Welcome to The Dream Factory – a place where impossible stories can be told.
The Dream Factory's 20 Cultural Engineers were nominated by a panel of Cultural Leaders, six influential figureheads from the worlds of publishing, design, film, fashion, engineering, social enterprise and beyond.
As a former advertising executive, filmmaker and producer, King Adz has more recently made a name for himself as a writer immersed in the underbelly of street culture. His latest offering, The Urban Cookbook: Creative Recipes for the Graffiti Generation, was a top-selling hit, while his forthcoming book, Street Knowledge, is a veritable encyclopedia of urban youth culture – past, present and future.
Eugenie Harvey believes ordinary people can change the world. So in 2004 she teamed up with Community Links founder David Robinson and launched We Are What We Do – a global movement that encourages people to start social initiatives. As director of 10:10, Eugenie’s doing her fair share, by encouraging organisations and individuals to cut their carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 2010.
Described by The Independent as 'the veritable patron saint of fashionable East London,' Mandi Lennard recently made the British Fashion Council’s ‘The Power 25’ list of top players. She recently re-launched her company as brand consultancy Mandi’s Basement, and continues to champion emerging designers like Gareth Pugh alongside larger clients such as LOVE Magazine (Condé Nast) and Barbie (Mattel).
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Designer and entrepreneur Danny Miller created issue zero of film magazine Little White Lies as a final-year university project. Dissatisfied with the lack of creativity in the market place, LWLies represented a radical alternative, uniting cuttingedge illustration and editorial in a singular offering. Guided by Danny’s reckless vision, the magazine has evolved into The Church Of London, a fully-fledged creative agency in East London.
Norio Tomobe joined Honda almost forty years ago as a plucky teen engineer with a passion for motorbikes. After working in the Engine Emission Development group, he received promotion after promotion to become the chief project leader of the world’s first sporty hybrid, the CR-Z. As the man responsible for the first ever Ultra Low Emission Standard rated car in the USA, Tomobe’s work benefits us all.
When Shane Walter founded the digital arts organisation onedotzero in 1996, film was a relatively exclusive medium. But with digitalisation the film industry was democratised, and the producer-director decided to help others engage with the process. Today, Shane continues to nurture the digital community through workshops, short-film distribution and the onedotzero_adventures in motion festival.
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10 Agents of Change ||| ART COLLECTIVE 14 Nihal Arthanayake ||| Radio dj 18 Simon Berry ||| ColaLife 22 Paulina Bozek ||| Game Director 26 Cath Le Couteur ||| Shooting People 30 KatY DAWE & Oliver Hemsley ||| Art Against Knives 34 Ian Francis & Pip McKnight ||| Flatpack festival 38 John Grant ||| Greenormal 44 Kevin Harman ||| ARTIST 48 David & clare Hieatt ||| The Do Lectures 52 Dicken Marshall ||| Rafiki Records 56 Bridget Nicholls ||| Pestival 60 Tom Podkolinski ||| Finisterre 66 James Priestley ||| SecretSundaZE and CAMP 70 Benedict Radcliffe ||| ARTIST 74 Ben Ramsden ||| Pants To Poverty 78 Richard Reynolds ||| Guerilla Gardener 82 Fabien Riggall ||| Future Shorts AND Secret Cinema 86 Chris Wheeler ||| The Heritage Orchestra 90 Tina Ziegler ||| Hunt & Gather
Photography by Sam Christmas
Worldwide | Art Collective
A change is brewing in the graffiti world, spearheaded by a collective of artists who are breaking all the rules.
Don’t bother asking Agents Of Change for the location of their revolutionary Ghostvillage Project, because they couldn’t tell you even if they wanted to. “You mustn’t go there,” says the amiable Timid, his face clouding with concern. “We can’t advertise it or tell anyone where it is because it’s such a dangerous place. There are maybe 15 different ways to die – broken glass everywhere, 15-foot potholes, dead sheep and asbestos and metal poles that will poke your eye out.”
A quick Google search reveals much of what the Agents themselves won’t or can’t reveal about the deserted Scottish town of Polphail. Once a fishing village and minor holiday destination, the area changed beyond all recognition in the 1970s with the construction of a series of concrete housing blocks to accommodate 500 workers from the planned oil rig at nearby Portavadie. The rig never materialised, the workers never arrived, and the brutal, half completed structures of Polphail were left to the whims of wild animals, the eroding powers of weeds and offshore
“We quickly got bored of conforming to other people’s preconceived ideas, so we started experimenting with approaches to art that didn’t fit into that whole plan.” winds, and the loathing of locals who saw it as little more than a grand eyesore. Such attitudes weighed heavily on the minds of the Agents when they first came up with the idea of turning the derelict village into an enormous art installation. They travelled to Polphail in October 2009 armed with ladders and helmets, spray cans and spotlights, and over the course of three days blasted surfaces with a wealth of crazed characters and abstract designs. What they left behind them was an ephemeral art gallery on a site that finally existed with a purpose, albeit not the one first intended. Without meaning to, Agents Of Change had created the work that best defined their beliefs regarding the transformative power of temporary art. A loose group of artists based everywhere from Brighton and Birmingham to Paris, Perth and Portland, Oregon, the Agents evolved from graffiti crew Iconoclast in the early 1990s, and their street roots still influence the way they approach a project. “What we bring from graffiti,” says the thoughtful, softly spoken System, “apart from aesthetics and the notion of
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strength in numbers, is the idea that you have to learn to adapt immediately, that art has to be reactive. You might plan a piece only to come across the wall and find it’s the wrong shape or texture, or that there’s a guard dog chained to a nearby fence. As Agents Of Change we spend a lot of time coming up with plans, only to then alter them at the last minute, and I think our background in graffiti helps make that a lot easier.” At the same time, there’s been a conscious evolution within Agents Of Change from the fundamental laws that founding member Remi sees as limiting graffiti’s ability to expand. “A lot of graffiti culture is steeped in nostalgia, and for a rebellious art form there are a huge number of rules. Most people get into graffiti in the first place because they hate rules, because they wanted to step outside the bounds of society and make a creative statement about modern culture. Then the graffiti artists start telling each other what they can and can’t do. We quickly got bored of conforming to other people’s preconceived ideas, so we started experimenting with approaches to art that didn’t fit into that whole plan, and that’s as true of the canvases we choose as the technology we use to cover them.”
As such, Agents Of Change are a long way from the traditional image of hooded teenagers stalking along suburban rail tracks under cover of dark, backpacks clinking with spray cans. None seem keen to define what it is that they stand for – a fear, perhaps, of creating a set of rules like those they spent so long escaping – but all agree that if there’s a formula at work, then it’s one as fluid and flexible as the art itself, constantly changing and adapting to the surfaces and situations that present themselves. “We’re still learning,” says Timid. “Every new piece is a part of understanding what it is that we’re capable of as a group. But at the end of the day we abide by a sense of democracy among our members, and a respect for art above individual identities. We strive to create work that elevates the form above our egos, and that’s a giant leap from the graffiti world.” Yet one element of graffiti culture the group remains guided by is an innate sense of mischief, and their faces light up with boyish glee when asked to describe their perfect projects. For Remi it would be a pop-up Soho art gallery, with road markings leading pedestrians on
a walking tour between walls bombed with overnight artworks. Timid has a series of increasingly fantastic ideas, from painting the Australian salt flats or the tunnels under Las Vegas to a derelict island off Japan once used to house immigrants. And System, arguably the Agent most at the mercy of his graffiti background, giggles as he lays out a dream to turn Buckingham Palace into one giant artwork – a subject that soon draws the others into discussing the possibility of painting the Queen’s London residence with beams of coloured light. And so another potential project is born, offering an insight into a creative process that is equal parts democracy, determination and cojones the size of demolition balls. “That’s another thing you learn from graffiti,” says Remi. “You ask, they say no, and you wrangle a way of doing it anyway: mock up a letter from the council saying that you’ve got permission, or stick on a yellow jacket to make it look legal. At the end of the day, confidence will get you anywhere in this game. You just need to have the ideas to back it up.” Cyrus Shahrad
London | Radio DJ
From playground rap battles to the BBC, DJ Nihal is taking Asian music to brand new heights. “Fundamentally, I love the emotion and energy that music gives you,” says Nihal, his soft Essex accent flowing with rhythm. “I love the interest that artists take in their creativity and I love feeding off their energy.”
the past 20 years, as a DJ, performer, journalist, publicist, broadcaster, curator and club promoter. It’s through these numerous incarnations that Nihal has risen as a leading exponent of, and authority on, modern Asian music.
It’s a rainy spring afternoon and Nihal has arrived at a club in Notting Hill having just finished his phonein talk show on the BBC Asian Network, one of three shows he currently hosts for the BBC. The dark crescents hanging under his large, radiant white eyes speak of a man who’s been working very hard. But despite the 38-year-old’s obvious fatigue, he still evokes a warm aura, enthusiastically making plans for the evening with acquaintances, but admitting that he may need to catch an hour’s sleep beforehand. Around his neck sit a pair of bright green – notably expensive – headphones; a symbol of just how much he has invested in his love of music – a love that has been articulated in many different forms over
Nihal Arthanayake was born in Harlow, Essex, in 1971 to Sri Lankan parents. First influenced by his mother’s love of poetry, he began rapping at the age of 12 and soon became engulfed in hip hop culture, battle-rapping in the school playground. “It gave me a real grounding in music and a sense of belonging as a little Asian kid who grew up in a predominantly white area,” he remembers fondly. “Hip hop just crushed all that colour difference. You were either down or you weren’t. It was simple. My plan was to be down.” It was this desire to ‘be down’ that led Nihal to launch his own club night, Revival of Rap, in his hometown when he was just 15, very much going against the trend of rave culture at the time.
“I’m not sure impatience is a virtue. but I’m not sure patience is a virtue either. You have to know when things are just not working and find a way around that.”
Describing his goal in life as “being around artists and getting a sense of sharing in the music,” he took up performing with his rap collective Collapsed Lung. After limited success, Nihal chose to depart before the group went onto record the famous ‘Eat My Goal’ football theme. “At that time, no one wanted to hear British hip hop,” he reflects. “I could spend my whole life plugging away or use the contacts I’d made to try something else. I’m not sure impatience is a virtue. But I’m not sure patience is a virtue either. You have to know when things are just not working and find a way around that.” With such pragmatism and an easy charm, Nihal soon found work as a DJ, music journalist and publicist for big name artists as diverse as Mos Def and Elton John. But Nihal was not content on the business side of music and made a conscious decision to get out. In 2002, he joined BBC Radio One after being tipped off that they were auditioning for hosts for a new Asian Beats show. The last of 20 to audition, Nihal was teamed up on
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air with Bobby Friction and this unique coupling spent the next three years showcasing new Asian music, changing mainstream perceptions and helping people appreciate that Asian music was “not just Bollywood and Bhangra”. Though he and Bobby Friction parted ways in 2005, Nihal has remained on Radio One, hosting both mainstream and specialist Asian music shows. His motivation is simple. “I don’t feel like I’ve heard the best music yet,” he explains. But even dream jobs are not without their challenges and Nihal is quick to recognise the responsibility that comes with such far-reaching and influential broadcasting. “It’s like someone saying, ‘Here’s Old Trafford, here’s a ball – every week, score,’” explains Nihal, about the responsibility he feels to deliver new music to his audience, while nurturing the talent he discovers along the way. “I’ve got 100 per cent responsibility to give people a realistic idea of who they are and what they are doing. I want to make sure artists are given the right amount of respect and advice. Artists don’t have a right
to be supported for the rest of their life just because they’ve made good music in the past. Sometimes they need to be told if they aren’t working hard enough,” he says with a professional honestly. “It’s my duty to provide constructive, artistic criticism from my point of view. It comes from having listened to a lot of music.” Outside of broadcasting, Nihal has also become synonymous with his hip hop fusion night, Bombay Bronx. Launched in May 2004 at the Notting Hill Arts Club, the night aims to “put an electric surge through people”. Says Nihal: “It was me trying to create a South Asian version of what I envisaged happened in the 1970s in NYC. When the uptown and downtown crowds came together through hip hop. The fashionistas and the rude boys.” Such aural cross-pollination can provoke a backlash from traditionalists yet Nihal remains unfazed by any potential criticism: “I just don’t care. I’m not there to please vested interests. I’m there to do what I want. If you come, then brilliant, if you don’t, who cares?” Such confidence paid
off and the hugely oversubscribed night became a regular platform for leading artists like Raghav, Swami and Jay Sean. But when Bombay Bronx became “a victim of its own success,” Nihal decided to close the night in August 2009 – though he has plans to resurrect it this summer. Not one to slow down and take it easy, Nihal has extended his work beyond music to become a Board Member for the British Council and this year he is helping to set up offices in Zimbabwe. Something he describes wryly as “interesting”. Ultimately, Nihal seems to have used his love of music as a vehicle in life and his ambition to succeed goes even higher. “I would like to get into a position where I have some influence over the way the world is,” he says earnestly. “It comes from within. That feeling that you need to be somebody and facilitate a change somehow. There are always obstacles. There are always people who don’t want to help you out and don’t believe in you. It’s up to you whether you allow them to grind you down or just see them as part of the course.” Ed Andrews
Rugby | ColaLife
What would happen if the simplest medicines were as readily available as a bottle of Coke? Simon Berry knows it would probably change the world. In his 12 years as a development worker in some of the world’s poorest countries, Simon Berry has found himself in a fair number of out-of-the-way places. On the road for weeks at a time while visiting local communities across Zambia, his life was far removed from the nine-to-five humdrum most of us take for granted. “It was really remote,” Berry recalls. “I’ve never worked in places as remote as those.” There was, however, one constant he knew he could rely on. “No matter where you pitched up, you could always get a Coca-Cola.” And that started him thinking.
Through his job, Berry saw first hand the human effects of poverty. One statistic shocked him above all others: that in the most impoverished communities, one in five children died before the age of five from preventable diseases like diarrhoea. The treatment – sachets containing little more than salt and sugar – were cheap and effective, but the shelves of health centres lay empty. Aid agencies and NGOs simply didn’t have the capacity to distribute the drugs. And so, by the dusty Zambian roadside, it dawned on him. Sachets of rehydration salts aren’t large or heavy – if only
they could hitch a ride with the soft drink deliveries. Then, Berry realised, the networks which made Coke the world’s most successful beverage could be used to bring life-saving medicines to those who really needed them. A doer not a follower, Berry was determined to tell the world about his idea. But his awareness-raising intentions were scuppered by the technology around him. “We had no phone, no Internet, no postal service. This was rural Zambia in 1988 we’re talking about here. All we had was a telex machine. I just couldn’t get any traction going.” Consumed by the immediate requirements of work, the idea was put on hold. Energetic and outgoing, Berry, now in his fifties, is hardly the epitome of a computer geek. But it was his interest in IT that led, in 2008, to the rebirth of the Coke distribution concept. Fascinated by blogging, Berry was sent a link to a conference on business social responsibility that was running a live blog on their website. “I was watching this live blog, which I thought was technically very interesting. And then I read that someone from Coca-Cola had begun to speak.” Twenty years after the idea first hit him, brimming
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with excitement, Berry realised his chance had arrived. “I thought, ‘Wow!’ I very quickly registered and posted the idea. And that was it – I was off then.” But getting even the best ideas off the ground is hard work. “Naively, I thought that if I could just get the idea in front of someone from Coca-Cola it would just happen.” It wasn’t that simple, but Berry had no intention of giving up. In spite of developments in health and technology, looking at today’s figures he was saddened to see that child mortality rates had remained steady, still one in five before the age of five. Media savvy, Berry began blogging, shrewdly started a Facebook group and put the idea before journalists on Radio 4’s influential iPM programme. Weeks later he was interviewed on air, and within three months he’d scored a meeting with Salvatore Gabola, Coke’s European public affairs representative. ColaLife, as the project is called, was now definitively off the ground. Ever the gentleman, Berry’s description of what, by any measure, is really quite a coup is modest and matter of fact. Pressed into reflection, he concedes that “it’s amazing what we achieved,” but self-congratulation is evidently not
“if you open up ideas you get challenged. you have to make the idea better, or give up.” his style. And while he might be the campaign’s instigator and front man, he knows he’s not the only one rooting for its success. Having mobilised so many people online, Berry felt the pressure to make progress in his meeting with Coke. “It helped me focus,” he says. “I realised I really needed to bring something back.” And it’s not just messages of support he’s received, from product designers to other aid workers, his idea has been influenced by people from across the world. When the concept was first conceived, Berry imagined modifying the crates in which the Coke bottles are carried. Now it’s all changed. Instead he foresees that social products requested by local development workers will be transported in Aid Pods, packages inserted in the top of the crates between the necks of bottles. Of course such a development wouldn’t have come about without the sharing of ideas. Rather than top secret planning, Berry declares himself a huge fan of what he calls ‘open innovation’. “If you open up ideas you get challenged. You have to make the idea better, or give up.” It’s a model he’d encourage others to follow. “Using the
Internet, anyone can convince a load of people, if, that is, they’ve got something decent to say. If you have an idea, just get it out there. See what people think.” The ColaLife concept may now be more than one man’s vision, but there’s still lots to do to get it into everyday use. Seeing real potential, Berry is soon to give up full-time work and divert all his energies to the project. He wants to get more people involved by recruiting a team of interns. And, this summer, he plans to head back to Africa on a fact-finding mission which will see him talking to everyone from health organisations to workers in Coke factories and distributors. As Berry notes, “the devil is in the detail, and it’s all up for grabs.” Every step needs to be meticulously thought through, before even contemplating a full trial. But he remains optimistic. With nods of approval from Coca-Cola’s top brass, it’s an exciting time. But the real driving force is people. The phrase ‘one in five by the age of five’ underpins everything he does. They’re numbers Berry wants to see changed oLLy ZanEtti
London | Game Developer
With a healthy dose of risk-taking verve, Paulina Bozek opened up the niche world of gaming to every kid, grandma and hipster with a voice. “Growing up, there was always some kind of games system in the house but it tended to be my younger brother’s,” says Paulina Bozek. “At the time, videogames were something of a boy’s toy.” The fact that gaming’s place in the cultural landscape has changed so dramatically in the last 10 years is thanks in no small part to the work of Paulina Bozek. If it sounds surprising that she would describe herself as a non-gamer, in fact, it’s that very outsider status that is the secret to her success. As Bozek says: “I make games for people who don’t play games.”
After gaining a BA in Cultural Studies at Quebec’s McGill University, Bozek accepted a job as a games industry PR. But she soon realised that she wanted to be on the other side of the fence. “I found that games were really interesting because they were a mix of entertainment, imagination and technology,” she explains. She went back to school, completing an MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, and then “very quickly moved into actual creative development.” In 2003, Bozek joined Sony PlayStation as an Associate Producer. The Japanese electronics giant came late to
“Not everything you do is going to be a huge success but the point is that you have to keep pushing yourself and you have to keep trying. You can’t be afraid to fail.”
the gaming scene, but by the time Bozek arrived, the PlayStation had established itself as the dominant force in the industry, easily outstripping Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube.
opportunity it presented. “We looked at it and we distilled it down to the pure singing experience. We decided that what it could become was this very, very fun party game for everyone.”
But far from resting on its laurels, the company was keen to break new ground, and Bozek, aged just 26, was the person to make it happen. “I was fortunate enough to be at a place where risk-taking was valued,” she says. “If you’re in a place where risk-taking isn’t valued then it’s difficult to come up with ideas that haven’t been done before.”
At a time when the market was dominated by firstperson shooters and racing simulators – with their onus on cutting-edge graphics and hardcore appeal – the idea of making a game for everybody flew in the face of industry wisdom. But Bozek pushed on. She realised that what people wanted was a game that didn’t look like a game; they wanted to star in their own version of MTV. Dispensing with fancy graphics, the team licensed actual music videos from stars like Beyoncé and Britney Spears, creating something “cool and youthful and aspirational”. They called it Singstar.
By anybody’s standards, though, what Bozek did next represented a step into the unknown. PlayStation’s developers had been tinkering with a piece of software that allowed users to control a game with their voice. Prototypes had been developed and discarded, including a sing-along safari game and a concept called Song Lines, in which a young princess brought a fantasy world to life with her voice. Bozek was put in charge of a small team charged with making the technology work, and immediately set about bringing her particular perspective to bear. “I am pop culture, mass market, I’m very much in between music, games and media,” Bozek explains. She realised that the key element wasn’t the technology itself but the unique
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In addition, recognising that many people were inhibited by the thought of singing in front of an audience, they packaged the game with two microphones. Instantly, Singstar became about what was going on in your living room rather than what was happening on screen. As the game neared launch in May 2004, Bozek was still nervous. “It was novel, it was different, it was, like, ‘Are people going to want to do this? Are people going to want to sing? I think so!’” she laughs.
Over the course of the following year, the sales figures spoke for themselves. Singstar was a phenomenon. “People really loved it. The whole mix of things clicked.” But there’s more to the game’s success than that. Bozek is perfectly in sync with her audience – she understands them because she is them. “I think innovation isn’t always the most obvious step,” she says. “To me, you have to be really in touch with your audience. You have to innovate in a way that is what they want, or what they didn’t know they wanted but they love it.” Singstar was a worldwide success with over 100 versions clocking up millions of sales in a plethora of languages. Then Bozek took an even riskier decision: in 2008 she walked away from the game. “I left at a point where it wasn’t over or anything but I just thought, ‘Okay, I’ve been doing this for nearly six years and I need to push myself to do something different,’” she says. “Not everything you do is going to be a huge success but the point is that you have to keep pushing yourself and you have to keep trying,” she adds. “You can’t be afraid to fail.“ After 15 months at Atari, Bozek once again sensed a change in the wind and started her own company focused on the convergent point between games, the web and social networking. This, she says, is the future of gaming. “Right now most of the big publishers are
looking at social gaming on Facebook, for example, and going, ‘What is going on here?’” she says. “iPhones are becoming the de facto game-playing mobile device. That’s new. And that’s not the space of the big publishers, that’s the space of the totally new, fresh, creative and innovative developers. There’s a whole wave of much smaller studios with fresh ideas and that’s the area I’m really excited about.” When Bozek first started in the industry, her friends thought it was little more than a hobby. Today, “it has established itself as a really powerful, influential cultural medium,” she enthuses. “I don’t think we’re on a par yet with the other ‘serious’ cultural mediums but I think that people recognise that it’s not just a boy’s toy any more. A whole generation has grown up with games. They may not make you who you are but they are a pop cultural influence – they shape you in some way.” Bozek, perhaps, is not so much a cultural engineer, then, as a sculptress, whittling away in the interstitial spaces between technologies. Her new team includes a bioinformatics boffin and she is collaborating with an advertising executive and music industry suit. “In my head,” she says, “it’s like an International Entertainment Super Company.” Whatever you call it, it’s a far cry from Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom Matt Bochenski
London | Shooting People
inDEpEnDEnT FilMMAkERs HAvE A plACE TO COllAbORATE AnD COnnECT, THAnks TO An AusTRAliAn in lOnDOn AnD HER glObAl iDEA.
“It was March 1995, I was 24, and I arrived in London from Sydney on a one-way ticket to find fame and fortune,” recalls Cath Le Couteur, a smile spreading across her face as she sorts through a pile of documents from the production of her latest film. “Neither of which has happened.” Revered filmmaker in her own right, and founder of one of the biggest film communities in the world, Cath Le Couteur takes a seat at her table as the sun slants through the glass wall of her flat. Outside, scenesters stroll languidly along Old Street. In the middle distance stand the curved intersections of the Gherkin, framed by the uprights of the City and the blue sky beyond.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I had some friends experimenting online in Australia. I went to Cyberia, the first Internet café in the world, just to keep in touch with them – and I ended up getting a job there as their communications director. I was curious and also lucky, I got a very early hands-on education on the potential of the net.” Soon afterwards Cath met her partner Jess Search at Cyberia. Within a few months of meeting, they’d decided to make a film together. “It was a short called 174, which is the number of people who are perfect for you in London. We were both single, clearly.
“fundamentally, independent film is aWays about collaboration, sharing ideas, exchanging, helping each other, getting advice from peer to peer. that is hoW culture flourishes.” We’d done some ridiculous mathematical equation. It was a short, it was full of mistakes, and it was a fantastic learning experience. It was a one hundred per cent, complete learning curve, and it was in the process of making that film that both of us realised the information we could get was not coming from organisations or state bodies, it was through meeting other people that were trying to do, or had already done, what we were doing. Shooting People started out with about 20 or 30 mates we’d met on our first film, so at first it was held together with sticky tape, and occasionally glue.” Thus launched Shooting People – or Shooters, as it’s affectionately known – a social networking site and blossoming online community that began to emerge at a time when many people were still getting to grips with email and the only way to watch a movie was to go to the cinema, or buy a DVD. Thanks to Shooters, people began to realise the tall walls of the film world were not insurmountable – that new films by different people could be funded, made, distributed and seen. Run independently from day one, Shooting People remains a model for social entrepreneurship. Thanks to Shooters, aspiring filmmakers are given a platform through which to collaborate, share resources and showcase their work. From 20 or 30 mates, it now has over 37,000 subscribers, a dedicated tech team and offices in London, New York and San Francisco. Shooting People boasts luminaries like Mike Figgis, Morgan
Spurlock, Werner Herzog, Sally Potter and Ted Hope as members, who all actively contribute to the community. But it hasn’t always been plain sailing. Cath and Jess were on 80-hour weeks, holding down nine-to-five jobs, and keeping Shooters running at night. For Cath, the whole project has been a labour of love fueled by the absolute belief in the principles of collaboration, progression and innovation. “For a long while we were piggy-backing off servers around London Bridge and we were busting favours from various people,” she says. “We never had any advertising or marketing budget because we were just running it from our bedrooms at home on top of a full time job. We did that for four years.” As the registered users continued to grow, the work required to administer Shooters became unsustainable. They applied, unsuccessfully, to the UK Film Council before pursuing some more unusual funding avenues. “Of course, we were tremendously excited but at the same time we recognised that in order to really do it properly, we had to do something dramatic. So, along with the bank, it turned out two 90-year-old grannies were the ones who saw the future. We invested about £30,000 and we built a much stronger infrastructure and introduced the subscription.
“We don’t make any money now, we earn enough to grow it and to run it and everything we earn goes back into it. We do struggle, without a doubt, but I think we’re getting smarter. It wasn’t just that we needed a solution to let the organisation grow, we believed in the value of it. There is an absolute value.” But what is the value? What makes Shooting People different from the contenders, competitors and pretenders? “We were good in the way we exploited technology to be enabling. We were always very clear about this. There is no single way to make a film and we didn’t want to be a place that claimed to teach you exactly how. Our aim was very simple: to facilitate the exchange of ideas, skills and diverse knowledge between filmmakers and after 11 years we’ve still been very true to that. I think it’s this principle that has kept us at the cutting edge, able to adapt to a constantly changing indie film landscape. “Fundamentally, independent film is always about collaboration, sharing ideas, exchanging, helping each other, getting advice from peer to peer. That is how culture flourishes.” The stats back her up. Shooting People had 57 films playing at the recent London Film Festival, and eight members of the community had features selected at the Sundance Film Festival. The yes men Fix the world, by Shooters Mike
Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, won the Audience award at the last Berlin Film Festival. With the continuing advent of social media and the harnessing of digitalisation, myriad ways of filmmaking and watching are emerging. Cath Le Couteur intends to stay right on the cusp, and is using the clout she has gained wisely. Shooting People helps to crew 200 films a week and Cath and her team are currently lobbying the Government to ensure minimum wage legislation does not prevent people to choose to work for free on each other’s films. “The need for collaboration is greater than ever,” she says. “The reality is that very few filmmakers are able to do everything by themselves. In order to get films finished and to take greater and more effective control over the distribution and marketing of independent work, filmmakers need strong partners and new kinds of collaborators. We’re deeply committed to this: to building new distribution tools, facilitating innovative approaches and to building strategic partnerships that will help mobilise audiences for independent film. We believe there are audiences who want to see different kinds of stories. It’s up to us to find innovative ways to open the door for those audiences. And, as we do, the independent film sector can only grow stronger.” tom SEymour
London | art against knives
TwO YOung FRiEnDs HAvE TuRnED THE TRAgEDY OF kniFE CRiME inTO A pOsiTivE CAll TO ARMs, bREAking DOwn bARRiERs bETwEEn COMMuniTiEs THAT sHOulD bE living siDE bY siDE.
Oliver Hemsley and Katy Dawe look at the world in a unique way. After an event that would have left most people embittered and prejudiced, the two young friends saw hope and opportunity for change. On August 28 2008, Hemsley was stabbed in the back at least eight times in an unprovoked daylight attack in Arnold Circus, Shoreditch. Hemsley’s heart and respiratory system stopped upon arrival at the Royal London Hospital, and despite being successfully resuscitated he spent the next six months in hospital fighting for his life. Dawe, one of his best friends during their time studying art foundation at Central St Martins the year before, spent the six months by his side. She remembers: “It’s weird for me when I look back, because there was a time when it was so bad it didn’t seem like anything would ever be okay again… And now it’s just normal
that every day is an exciting day. It’s kind of bizarre.” But their current busy lifestyle running non-profit organisation Art Against Knives was not accidental; it sprang from a desire to rise up against the circumstances of Hemsley’s attack. “I remember thinking, ‘I really want to do something that Oliver can be involved in and if I’m going to do it, he has to help me!’” laughs Dawe. “But one of the reasons we did what we did – an exhibition that turned into an auction – is because everyone was so shocked by what happened and wanted to show their support.” Hemsley adds: “The whole knife crime thing had not been accessible previously, because people, including me, were just like, ‘Oh no, so many youths and their gangs are involved in crime’. I think it kind of shocked everyone because I knew a lot of people in the creative community and they were, like, ‘Wow, this is happening on our doorstep’. So everyone kind of jumped onboard.”
“It’s just amazing to see children doing creative things in the most creative part of London, which is kind of lost to the people who actually live there.”
What Dawe had originally planned as a party for friends to show support for Hemsley developed organically into an exhibition with people donating work, and then eventually into an auction. “It seemed such a shame that the artwork was going to be there and the public weren’t able to see it,” says Dawe. “So we got the venue, Shoreditch Town Hall, for one day at the end of May 2009 and everyone from the people we went to university with to people that we knew or didn’t know, all the local artists in the area, big names, everybody stopped by… Everyone just kind of pulled in and helped out.” The truth is, the support of the art and fashion community at large came as something of a surprise to the two undergrads, who had previously existed peripherally to both these worlds. “I’ve really changed my opinions on the whole entire art and fashion community. They are actually amazing,” counters Hemsley at the suggestion they can be exclusive and elitist. “The fact this community came together for my benefit and now for the benefit of Shoreditch and Greater London – I wouldn’t have expected it. You think it’s so superficial and you think it’s just ridiculous, but its not. That’s the one thing I was most surprised by, the unity among this crowd of people that you think just like shopping or something.”
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Everyone from Rankin to Christopher Kane donated or created commissioned artwork for the initial exhibition and it became important to Hemsley and Dawe that people could contribute in ways that didn’t include giving money. Says Dawe: “I’m not in the position myself to be handing out money to support a cause, so it’s important that people can physically do something, even if it’s small, and still feel like they’re making a difference and helping.” After the success of the event, Dawe and Hemsley realised they were in a position to make an impact on a larger, more permanent scale. So they collaborated with organisations like Open Shoreditch – a coalition of local businesses and residents – and influential lobbyists Panopticon to try and engage a previously apathetic demographic with a huge social problem. “We found a different audience that we could access because of this that hadn’t thought about it before,” says Hemsley, sitting in the large window of Leagas Delaney, an advertising agency that has let Art Against Knives set up camp in their central London studio. He continues: “And they have money and contacts that we can utilise, which is obviously very important. It was a great thing that this boundary was broken down because another thing we’re
looking at in the project is pissed off people in East London, with the creative community coming in and taking over and completely putting up barriers, barriers that shouldn’t exist.” Hemsley’s attitude is extraordinary. Despite being out of hospital less than a year and adjusting to life confined to a wheelchair, the 22-year-old possesses a sophisticated level of empathy that is totally humbling. But he rejects praise, modestly saying, “Anybody would do the same.” He simply feels that with all the publicity generated it’s his duty to channel it constructively. “When I was in hospital trying to comprehend what had gone on, I could just put it down to me being very privileged in comparison to some people, and them not having opportunities and not having support and that kind of thing,” shrugs Hemsley. As well as collaborating with CoutureLab in the future, hosting events like Broken Biscuits – a workshop with concept chef Caroline Hobkinson – and board meetings with local authorities to help represent the interests of young people in the area, Hemsley and Dawe have been working on a community project closer to their hearts. Slap bang in the middle of Shoreditch, literally a stone’s throw from where
Hemsley was attacked, the project, temporarily called ‘Our Space’, is simply a space for young people in the area to design, run and use as they please. Art Against Knives will fund the project but that’s it. They don’t want press attention and they don’t want credit. “We’ve just been exploring how to turn this into something that’s not about me,” asserts Hemsley, and the first workshop was a huge success. He explains: “Looking at photos of these chalk drawings done by the kids, they’re so cute, and it’s just amazing to see children doing creative things in the most creative part of London, which is kind of lost to the people who actually live there most of the time.” Both Dawe and Hemsley will return to Central St Martin’s in September to finish their degrees in the subject that motivates and inspires them the most: art. But they will continue to oversee Art Against Knives with a determination to help improve the future for young people in East London, a future that was so nearly stolen from Oliver Hemsley just two years ago. Looking at the pair laugh and finish each other’s sentences they seem like any other students; resilient, enthusiastic, without a care in the world Shelley Jones
birmingham | Flatpack Festival
biRMingHAM’s AbAnDOnED CORnERs ARE spRinging bACk TO liFE, THAnks TO An inDEpEnDEnT FilM FEsTivAl THAT sETs up CinEMA in AnY wEiRD AnD wOnDERFul spACE. Plenty of people have sat in the pub and grumbled that their local cinema isn’t up to scratch, but Birminghambased husband and wife Ian Francis and Pip McKnight took it a step further. They brought the cinema to the pub. “There were a few cinemas showing arthouse, but in terms of shorts, which is where a lot of the creativity is, there was very little,” explains Francis. “This was in 2003 and short film was exploding on the Internet, but you wouldn’t have known it in Birmingham cinemas.” Inspired by the city’s music scene, the pair borrowed a fast-fold screen and a projector, bundled them down to their local and set up Seven Inch Cinema, a film night
that took “a mix-tape approach” to shorts, showing films alongside live acts, DJs and slide shows. The West Midlands had never seen anything like it, and Seven Inch Cinema began popping up at gigs and in the city’s many abandoned industrial buildings, turning Birmingham into an improvised multiplex and building a loyal following of short film fans that would park themselves in front of the screen wherever it was set up. Francis had worked in the past for film festivals, spending “quite a lot of time banging [his] head against the wall with distributors and getting frustrated with the traditional film festival setup”. But he and McKnight saw the opportunity to do something different with Seven Inch, and in 2006
Birmingham City Council agreed to find £5,000 so that they could turn their film night into Flatpack, a fullyfledged film festival. Shorts still formed the heart of the festival, but there was also a “natural progression” into features – “Seven Inch is all about finding stuff that will blow your mind, and that you wouldn’t normally see around here, and Flatpack expands on that.” Based out of their attic and working entirely for free, Francis and McKnight pulled off a hugely successful festival, mixing their beloved shorts with longer features, arts events and live shows. Flatpack became an annual fixture on Birmingham’s cultural calendar, and at the end of 2008 the UK Film Council came calling, making Flatpack one of its seven key national events and delivering a chunk of money, “which has paid a lot of bills”. But just because they’ve got more money to play with these days doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten where they came from. Flatpack is still renowned for screening a varied programme of shorts and features in unusual venues across the city. They still play in pubs and clubs, but the festival has also taken over car parks, disused warehouses, shops and office blocks, giving Flatpack
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a unique appeal and ensuring that it remains closely tied to the fabric of the city. “You could never do this in London,” says McKnight, “because all these industrial buildings have been torn down and built over or turned into yuppie flats or something else. There’s no untouched area of London or Manchester or Edinburgh any more, so we use Birmingham’s late development as a selling point and an opportunity to do interesting stuff. Part of us would love to have a great cinema complex like FACT in Liverpool or the BFI in London. That would make our lives so much easier, but then that’s also the thing that makes Flatpack unique because these are places that you’d never expect to find films in.” With the unusual venues comes a more varied audience – the sort of people who wouldn’t normally pay to sit in a darkened room and watch weird stuff. Around a third of this year’s screenings and events were free, encouraging people to take a punt on something they might otherwise ignore, and it’s this engagement with the wider public that Peter Buckingham, Head of Distribution and Exhibition at the UK Film Council, finds so exciting.
“When you put art and culture in unusual places people encounter it and enjoy it and begin participating with it.”
“As technology becomes more and more accessible, people are able to come across film in lots of different ways, but there aren’t many film festivals that are doing that. When you put art and culture in unusual places people encounter it and enjoy it and begin participating with it, so with Flatpack you find there are people who might not ordinarily go and watch ‘art’ cinema coming across it and getting something out of it,” he says.
“One never knows where something like this might end up. When you have an embryonic festival like Flatpack, which is taking this very new and different stance, and you have a city like Birmingham, which is looking at itself and promoting itself as a true twenty-first-century city, you look at this rather exciting partnership and think, ‘Well this could get interesting’.” But for Francis and McKnight, size is not the only measure of success. Last year’s festival attracted just under 5,000 admissions, and this year they’re expecting something closer to 7,000, but they know that it’s not about packing people in. With their more intimate venues and the opportunity for exploring the city’s lesser-known areas, they need to keep a balance between raising the festival’s profile and making sure that it remains a special experience. “I travel to a lot of film festivals,” says Francis, “and the ones I really enjoy are the ones that keep that personal touch.”
But it’s not just the films that Flatpack’s audiences discover. The festival is based around Digbeth, a creative hub that has taken root among the broken factories and padlocked goods yards of the city’s Eastside. It’s a familiar story – the city’s manufacturing industry collapsed in the 1980s, leaving behind it empty buildings and cheap rents. Artists started sniffing around the area in the late 1990s, and now the workshops and warehouses are thriving once again with an ambitious creative community. “It’s very close to Birmingham’s city centre,” explains Francis, “but Digbeth remains a strange and foreign land to a lot of people. They’re not aware of what there is beyond the main shopping drag, and part of what we’re trying to do is encourage people down here.”
You get the feeling that, no matter how big Flatpack gets, the pair will always be happiest gaffer-taping a projector to a bar stool for a night of weird films in the pub steve Watson
Again, Buckingham is full of praise for the pair’s ambition:
London | The Green Marketing Manifesto / Greenormal
Green marketing crusader John Grant is helping big business find its social conscience. It’s a crowded creative world out there. Identities blend and meld into one another. Passionate about something? Then go create. Angry about something? Then go campaign. The tools are at your fingertips. But at the heart of this techdriven renaissance is creativity. Without that difficult-todefine spark of an innovative vision, all that’s left is simply hardware dancing to randomised music of zeros and ones. John Grant is a perfect example of the sort of cultural engineer who roams wide and free, using the new technology as a multi-purpose tool in a rattle bag of methods to make things happen. He writes books on marketing. He blogs on ‘greenwash’. He proselytises professionally on creative co-operation. An evangelist of
green marketing, he advises corporate entities on doing things differently. But these tags of convenience fail to capture the true reach of the man’s interests. “When I was about seven I wanted to be a forestry commissioner, or something to do with insects,” he tells me. “I also devoured books and would have been very happy if someone told me that writing books would be an option.” Whilst pursuing the more prosaic aspects of teenage life, his intellectual interests moved on to things like Eastern mysticism, psychology, art and philosophy. The constant thread through his early life was an addiction to finding stuff out. And, crucially, acting upon that newfound knowledge.
“I believe you don’t learn much unless you are driven by a need to know – by frustrations, goals, deadlines, shortcomings.” 40 THE DREAM FACTORY
“I am more than anything a learning junky. What I absolutely did not dream of becoming when I was a kid, though, was a scientist, but that’s the education track I pursued, partly because my dad was an engineer. I spend most of my time to this day learning, whether it's on client projects, hobbies or just walking around.” By early adulthood Grant had discovered politics, and volunteered for charity War on Want amongst other causes. “I had the vague idea that I would pick up relevant skills in advertising to take into a job at an NGO or similar. The books, blogs and the rest of what I do give a drive for learning. I believe you don’t learn much unless you are driven by a need to know – by frustrations, goals, deadlines, shortcomings. I’m convinced that innovation is more than anything about the amount or richness of information that you take in, combine, digest, reformulate. It’s not necessarily about book learning, but more about trying something, getting stuck and figuring out ways through.” Graduating eventually with a physics degree from Cambridge, he found himself on a graduate trainee scheme in an ad agency. Soon, the creativity kicked in and he abstracted the practice from the theory. Fast-forward 15 years and five books later, and John Grant is wandering free and applying this lifetime of learning to countless real-world applications.
But how does a polymath continue to motivate himself? Is there a dream job waiting? “I think I may already have my dream job. I’d love to have more influence sometimes, like being in a really important sounding job in business and government where you’d have huge budgets and freedom. But most people I’ve seen in those sorts of jobs are quite hemmed in by political and commercial realities. I’d love to train to be a Jungian analyst when I am older and less restless and chatty and also to write a really long, crafted novel. But both of these are not things that will happen unless I have a dramatic change in lifestyle or fortunes – as they require years of ‘not working’ or at least quite a bit more ‘spare time’.”
It’s not difficult to spot an evangelistic aspect to this friendly version of cooperative collaboration. Could there be a spiritual dimension to his vision of ethical business, even though it is a vision rooted in logic, the most secular of disciplines?
The book for which John has received most recognition is his Green Marketing Manifesto, in which he replaced the classical ‘Four Ps’ (product, place, price and promotion) with his own ‘Four Is’ (ideas, intent, interaction, innovation). It’s a definitive look at how real collaborative cooperation in business can lead to truly good things happening.
But this fascination with ways of doing things in other places and other cultural moments is for John Grant rooted firmly in the here and now.
“The hard-edge of ‘traditional’ business is born out of an inhumane idea,” he points out, “namely that society somehow could or should function like a ‘machine’. It’s often daft and counterproductive to work in this way, but you can see why it would be self-perpetuating. I’m much more a fan of modern enlightened business – with a focus on values, culture, innovation and so on. This is part of a broader alternative metaphor of society as being like a co-operative ‘village’.”
“I’m fascinated by religions, and their role in social change,” he seems to confirm, “looking back to things like cargo cults, guilds and the co-operative movement. I’ve often drawn from revitalisation movements and gift economies. I’m interested in how rituals and customs form symbolic images. I guess I am basically a closet anthropologist.”
“I think there is something spooky and alchemical about the combinations of creativity and groups. It’s like our brains aren’t really quite as bounded and separate as we think they are. We seem to absorb parts of other people, whether moods, thought styles or even their IQ. If there is any spiritual side to my work it’s more about being more fully human, freer – rather than any noble calling or morality. A lot of the ethical side of it is about a common sense view, about stripping out the selfdeception that goes with vested interests.” Michael Fordham
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Edinburgh | Artist
Outsider artist Kevin Harman is putting a brick through the window of the establishment. Literally. Edinburgh is a schizophrenic city. Beneath its ancient cobbles, courtyards and stairwells there is resident darkness. It tarnishes the chocolate box veneer of the city’s surface. Twenty-eight-year-old artist Kevin Harman, the third son of a second-generation butcher from the housing schemes, grew up in Wester Hailes, one of the estates that surround the city. Contrary to the situation in most English conurbations, the wealthy folk of Edinburgh live smack bang in the middle of town; everyone else is left out in the blighted borderlands. They meet up at the weekend, so the cliché goes, to drink and rage and spill out of the late night bars and fight and eat deep-fried food. After the revelry they go back to where their roar is safely contained. Harman’s work is rooted deeply on this so-called dark side of Edinburgh’s duality.
“I am like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” he says, mentioning the work of Robert Louis Stevenson, that other twisted Scot. “It tears me apart. On the one hand I’m out there as an artist intervening in people’s lives, talking to people, getting my hands dirty creating real stuff in the real world that people have a genuine relationship with. On the other hand I’m exhibiting little drawings in the National Gallery of Scotland.” There is a masculine, visceral thread through Harman’s drawings and sculptures. Golf clubs spill from dumpsters. A quiver of knives is thrust deeply into the rusted steel of a digger’s claw. A plunger is stuffed into the face of a motorbike helmet and floats eerily in space. Raw fish explode from a plastic container.
“my Work is not just about giving people a shock or even about giving them pleasure. it’s about opening up people’s eyes and filling them With an aWareness of the inherent beauty of things.” “I root around in car boot sales, flea markets. I look in skips and tips and dig things out that are relevant to what I’m interested in. I think I’m trying to solve a problem, the problem of being an unrepressed young male and how he should or shouldn’t behave,” Harman explains. So is that it? A working-class kid from the council estate dreams up a brawny art, juxtaposing found elements from a city of lost things? “Putting these discarded things together releases some sort of energy, and that’s where my art happens.” But there’s more to the work than the Surrealist chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table. For his 2008 piece ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ Harman set about collecting each of his neighbours’ doormats. Then he posted them a letter to the effect that if they were wondering where the doormats had got to, they should ask the people next door. Eventually, one of the neighbours was informed that the doormats were going to form part of an art exhibition, and that they should come down to the gallery for the opening to get it back. As well as the strange intimacy that was apparent at the gathering of what may appear to be trivial, meaningless artefacts, what emerged was that many of Harman’s neighbours had a very strong relationship with their doormats and, ultimately, with one another. “When everyone got together, there were amazing discussions, an amazing vibe that brought art to life,” Harman says. “Neighbours were sharing stories and swapping notes about each other’s lives as well as the doormats themselves. It proved to me that the art not only appeared as a living thing within the gallery, but that it also reached back into the centre of their lives. Sometimes,” he continues, “my work is just about creating a small, common crisis.” Harman gained a particular kind of notoriety late last year when he decided to smash the window of Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery. “I’d started to think about this fence I was sitting on, between real art and art as it is consumed,
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as a literal object,” he recalls. “‘You know what?’ I thought, ‘I’m just going to smash the fence down.’” The Collective is Edinburgh’s ‘cutting-edge’ art space, one that sees itself as reflecting the most relevant contemporary art. The perfect arena, you would think, for a bit of transgressive destruction. “The process was really important. I composed a letter that said that I had selected the Collective Gallery as my partner in the creation of my art work entitled ‘Brick’,” Harman explains. “I told them I was going to be putting a brick through the window at a certain time on a certain date, and that I would be replacing the window immediately, and at my own cost.” Artist intervenes. Engages in pseudo-legal dialogue. Shines a light on the hollowness of the sacred arena of art ‘at the cutting-edge’. “So on the day of the piece, I get a phone call in the morning and they say, ‘Kevin, there’s a glazer here, making measurements of our window!’ So I go, ‘Well, he’s early!’” As it turned out, the artist chose a handy short scaffold pole to bust through the barrier of established art. “I discovered another obscure Scottish law, this time that once someone has made a complaint to the police in Scotland, you can’t retract it. So I was fined. I’ve got a criminal record and everything!” He seems pleased with the criminal record. It’s like the work’s official stamp of approval – establishment validation of his status as an outsider artist. “My work is not just about giving people a shock or even about giving them pleasure. I think it’s about opening up people’s eyes and filling them with an awareness of the inherent beauty of things. It’s a beauty that you can access without the excess that is the art system, the galleries, and the hierarchies within that. It’s about making the world an art space, a global space where art can be made of anything.” Kevin Harman is a happy, creative hooligan. And you know what? That’s all right miChaEL Fordham
Cardigan, Wales | The DO Lectures
From pioneering organic clothing to inspiring the next generation of thinkers, David and Clare Hieatt are proof of the maxim that those who can, DO. As Dick Dastardly once said to his cartoon sidekick Muttley: “Don’t just stand there, do something!” For David and Clare Hieatt that something is the DO Lectures, an event they set up in 2008 with the hope that ‘the people who Do things can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too.’ The recipe for the DO Lectures is simple: invite a bunch of doers to come and tell a dedicated audience what they do and how they do it, mix speakers and listeners in a big tent with their stories, give them a regular supply of good
food and strong tea, simmer over a campfire for four days, throw in a few workshops and a pinch of live music then watch ideas grow. The combination works so well that the DO Lectures are now an annual event that has hosted some of the most encouraging speakers on the planet, including graphic designer and illustrator Geoff McFetridge, inventor of the wind-up radio Trevor Baylis, and Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment in Wales.
The motivation to hold the event came from a “sharing of knowledge we grew up with,” explain David and Clare. Born into a hardworking coal mining community in the Welsh valleys, they found themselves enthused by the provision of libraries for miners, which got them wondering whether a company could exist “in order to make people think”. After starting out in advertising they left London and moved back to Wales where they set up organic clothing company howies. Howies’ success provided the funding for the first DO Lectures, but the two projects have been kept largely separate. David stepped away from howies in 2009 to focus full time on DO. Clare still manages howies as well as working on the DO Lectures, and somehow they both find the time to raise two kids and a flock of chickens. “We’d always been in love with the idea behind the DO Lectures, but there comes a time when you have to actually go do the things you say you want to do,” they explain. And so, with some inspiration from the clothing company Patagonia, the DO Lectures emerged from the Little Big Voice Lectures, which David describes as a “boot camp of talks” that was held at Fforest Farm campsite in 2007. There is nothing else out there quite like it. “Other lecture events are like a Polo mint,” David explains. “You go along, present a lecture or listen and then leave, but there is a gap left in the middle where speakers and the audience don’t have the chance to converse. We like to think that at the DO Lectures that hole is filled.” Nestled in the stunning landscape of Cardigan, West Wales, Fforest Farm is an idyllic location where “speakers and their audience spend four days and four nights talking and listening together, eating together, drinking together, jumping into the river together and sitting round a campfire sharing stories and philosophies together,” David and Clare explain. What’s more, everything is conducted with an emphasis on low environmental impact. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? But that magic is not something that’s easy to create. “There are always barriers to entry,” explains David. “Like anything, the biggest obstacle is starting. Most businesses fail because of one reason: they don’t start. I’m sure everybody laughed at Honda when they first entered the TT race and failed. But
50 THE DREAM FACTORY
then one day they won. You’ve always got barriers. Maybe that’s what the talks are about – giving people the tools they need to help break down their own barriers so they can change the things they care about.” Of course, like so many things, it often comes down to money, and at £1000 a ticket, the DO Lectures are not cheap to fund or attend, especially during an economic downturn. But it only sounds steep until you realise what you’re getting for the money. As David and Clare put it: “Imagine cramming all the most inspiring lectures you had during four years of university into four days. Every penny you pay for your ticket is spent on getting the speakers to you and supplying great accommodation, all food and drink, live music and workshops. No one gets paid,” they add, including themselves. And if you’re still not convinced, just ask the sceptics that have attended in the past only to proclaim that it was the best weekend they’ve ever had. The third set of DO Lectures sounds as inspirational as ever, with speakers including Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Internet, and Craig Mod, who will talk about the future of the book in the iPad era. Their presentations will be listened to, questioned, talked about and mulled over from September 16-19, 2010. All lectures are made available to view and download online after the event. Not resting on their laurels, David and Clare are about to start the DO publishing company, which will produce inspirational guides from Do Solar to Do Chickens. Additional, twice yearly lectures are on their to do list, as is taking the DO Lectures international. They’ve already been putting on Wee DO Lectures in London and Bristol over the past 12 months, but what really excites them is the thought of a DO Lectures New York or a DO Lectures India. Coming back to the more immediate future, David explains that “our job for this year is just to try and make the DO Lectures as good as they can be and hope one year – and it hasn’t happened yet – that there’s actually sunshine. But regardless of the weather, it’s a brilliant thing. We just have to hope we keep it brilliant.” ruth CarruthErS
â€œthere comes a time When you have to actually go do the things you say you Want to do.â€?
Brighton | Rafiki Records
Rwandan musicians are finally getting a fair deal, thanks to a guy from Sussex and his master plan. Heard the one about the band that spent its own money making an album, had the tapes stolen, then spent a load more money trying to get them back? It’s not the most heart-wrenching story to emerge from the predatory music business; or it wouldn’t be, were it not for the identity of the band. The Solace Gospel Choir is comprised of Rwandan orphans; victims – but survivors – of the most notorious act of genocide since the Second World War.
concerts in churches in Lewes and Haywards Heath in Sussex, swiftly raising £15,000. With equipment supplied either free or at discount, he built a studio in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and with the money left over bought instruments and made a promo film for the charity, Solace, which was founded in 1996 to help those widowed and orphaned by the 1994 massacres, and after which the studio is named.
Dicken Marshall, a 29-year-old musician, producer and composer from Brighton, heard about the choir’s dilemma and decided to do something about it. Calculating that with the money Solace Gospel Choir had spent they could have assembled their own studio, he staged a few
He might have stopped there, but it soon dawned on Marshall that the Choir’s misfortunes were less individual than structural. “I went back to finish the recording and realised there was no sustainable income for Rwandan artists,” he says. “I was asking the Choir where the Rwandan
“The idea is to create sustainable careers in music… It’s about getting our musicians working every day.” musicians were and they were saying there are none. I think they were saying that because they wanted us to record it, it’s a trust thing.” But it revealed a deeper truth: that Rwandan musicians don’t know each other because there is no professional circuit. “A lot of the poets and musicians were soldiers, and the traditions were around the royal family and court, the dancing was for the king,” Marshall continues. “Then when colonialism happened and the Christians came in, you got a weird mix, a lot of choirs and people singing English or German or French Christian songs.” Performances are rare, copyright law has only just come into existence and Rwandan musicians tend to work in isolation. Marshall cites the example of Jean Bosco, “a young rapper and traditional artist by trade, amazing dancer and singer, but he barely scrapes by, his family are chucked out of their home every month. There’s prestige in it, but no money.” Bosco is now experimenting with beats, loops and samples, and is one of the artists under the wing of Marshall’s Rafiki Records label, formed to release the re-recorded album by Solace Gospel Choir last year. “The idea is to create sustainable careers in music,” Marshall explains, puffing on a roll-up and sipping his coffee outside a Borough Market restaurant. He’s in London for a memorial service at nearby Southwark Cathedral, commemorating the genocide in which up to one million Tutsis were murdered by Hutus in little more than 100 days. Dicken was invited by the Rwandan Embassy, with whom he now deals a lot of the time ( just as our conversation ends, he spies a handful of embassy officials at a neighbouring table and goes over to say hello), along with the British Foreign Office. He frequently ducks behind the measured tones of the diplomat. Asked if the current government is Tutsi-dominated, he responds, “I don’t get political in interviews, just because of the nature of what I do.” Later he explains that “even using the words ‘Tutsi’, ‘Hutu’ and ‘Twa’ [who form one per cent of the population, and are traditionally the king’s courtiers] isn’t done in Rwanda.” Some elephants in the room are best left unmentioned. What was intended to be a project that stretched over a few weeks has now blossomed into something nearer
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full-time work for Marshall, himself a musician with one album soundtrack (British action thriller Travellers) to his name. He spent much of 2009 in Rwanda and will soon return for another six-month stint. “It’s about getting our musicians working every day,” Marshall explains. “We’ve just built a new studio for them to be able to work every day, to create that hub. The idea is to get them working together and trying new things, not just traditional music but how it relates to other music too. First we document what they do, then we look at what they want to do next and how we can incorporate it. So it’s preserving what’s there, but also [forging] associations with Western artists.” This is an important part of the Marshall plan. Although the just-released Rafiki Sampler seems relatively traditional in scope – with the mesmerising inanga playing of Sophie Nzayisenja, tribal drumming of EAC Troop and African reggae of Jah Doves – Marshall dislikes the preservedin-aspic element of – and even the very term – ‘world music’. Nzayisenja has already worked with New York jazz musicians, and Marshall is eyeing up Western festivals as a means to spread the word. But with the record industry in meltdown in developed territories, he’s under no illusions about the riches to be found in Rwanda. “The way things are going it’s not going to be hugely lucrative anyway, but we’re doing 50-50 deals after costs,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is get the word out, set the standard, even get some competition. We’re looking at management now, putting the roots down over there, but there are certain artists that are applicable for bringing over for the Western market. “Initially we’re looking at sync – TV rights, publishing, film, advertising – that’s a growing industry in Africa,” Marshall adds. “We’re in a unique position in that we can deliver content that we can create to a bespoke brief, deliver all of the publishing and cover the artists for their publishing rights. We want to be a bridge to great African music for other brands in the Western world and the US. It’s something ethical as well, so the brands or creative agencies will go, ‘Oh, look at that’.”
Fair Trade music – it’s about time www.rafikirecords.com
London | Pestival
wiTH HER uniQuE AppROACH TO CROss-CulTuRAl AnD inTER-spECiEs COMMuniCATiOn, bRiDgET niCHOlls HAs EsTAblisHED THE COunTRY’s MOsT unlikElY insECT-FRiEnDlY FEsTivAl. “You know more than you think you do,” says Bridget Nicholls, naturalist and founder of Pestival – ‘a festival celebrating insects in art and the art of being an insect’. For Nicholls, it’s all about communication. Her mission is “to help as many people as possible engage with the wonder of the natural world,” and she uses her passion for art and science to achieve this. Brought up on an animal sanctuary in Sussex, Nicholls was used to feeding owls before she went to school in the morning. But despite feeling a close connection to nature,
insects weren’t her first love. “I used to go on camping holidays with my parents in Scotland, and I was the one the midges always got. I would have to sit in the car with my coat done up to the top so they couldn’t get me any more and I remember thinking how much I really disliked them,” she recalls. After an unintentionally amusing appearance in a serious musical at the Edinburgh Festival, Nicholls got into comedy during the final year of her drama degree. Soon after that she started touring with comedians and wrote television
comedy for 10 years. Despite getting sidetracked, however, she never lost sight of the natural world. “When we went on tour I was always found bird watching or at the local zoo when everyone else was in drinking dens,” she explains. It was on one such occasion in 2004 that Nicholls found herself inspired by a (now defunct) insect film festival, FIFI, in the Pyrenees. It was here that she came up with the idea for Pestival. While admiring this community festival where children ran around in homemade insect costumes, Nicholls realised that “insects are an international language. Even if you don’t have a garden, everyone has flies and ants in their house, forming an integral part of your immediate ecosystem.” And after 300 million years on this planet, insects are not only significant historically; they are ever-present in popular culture too, depicted on everything from skateboards to jewellery. Everyone identifies with them, whether they realise it or not. Deciding that London needed its own insect festival, Nicholls returned home prepared to start a dialogue with entomologists. Fortunately, the first person she ran her leftfield idea past was Ed Baxter of arts radio station Resonance FM, where Nicholls was presenting a nature
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show called Creature Curious. As she describes it, Pestival was “a drunken conversation that turned into reality.” And so in 2006 the first Pestival was born; a week-long event held at the London Wetlands Centre with over 10,000 people in attendance. But it wasn’t without its obstacles. “Because it was such a new and different way of approaching conservation, getting the first funder on board was a major challenge,” Nicholls explains. Luckily, the Wellcome Trust gave Nicholls and her small team of enthusiasts their first large chunk of money, which encouraged other investors to follow suit. “We also had to figure out how we were going to present this to the science community and shift the perception of what science is. Then it was trying to enlighten members of the public who aren’t into insects or the natural world and give them an understanding of it,” she continues. Pestival’s approach is to be a determinedly hands-on, interactive and visual festival that presents a new form of science communication, or, as Nicholls likes to call it, “cultural communication”. Building on the success of the inaugural event, the second Pestival became a 21-acre insect utopia held across the Southbank Centre in London in September 2009. It attracted
“It’s about getting people to change their ideas about the world in which we live.” an audience of 200,000 people, and was crammed with insect-inspired talks, debates, architecture, comedy, music, walks, workshops, art and experiments. All of which helped the public see how unavoidably connected we are to insects. Pestival is now established as a biennial event, with the next one scheduled for May 2012. Like the metamorphosing insects it promotes, it aims to change location and structure every time while always providing an “intergenerational learning context that’s funny, imaginative, original and doesn’t take itself too seriously – a bit like The Muppets,” Nicholls jokes. With a string of offshoot events organised between now and May 2012 (including a residence at London Zoo to develop a sustainable arts programme), Nicholls also plans to take things international. In the long run “it’s about getting people to change their ideas about the world in which we live.” Beyond Pestival, Nicholls has worked with the likes of Radio 4 and The Ecologist magazine, and has created interspecies events with the Serpentine Gallery and Artangel, with whom she staged a ‘sonic bat and moth opera’. Moreover, Nicholls has recently been awarded the first Zoo Arts Fellowship from the Zoological Society of London,
and has been voted one of the ‘Top 50 Women To Watch In Culture’ by the Cultural Leadership Programme. It’s difficult to pigeonhole Nicholl’s work though, and specifically Pestival. Instead of separating the likes of art, science, music and comedy into their separate entities, she combines them in holistic cultural events – something she believes will become more normal in the next five to 10 years. It’s the ultimate test of her skills as a communicator; as Nicholls herself says, “there isn’t ever a pathway with things like this.” It’s sheer enthusiasm for the natural world that has brought her to where she is today. When she was younger Nicholls was inspired by Spike Milligan, T.E. Lawrence and American novelist Martha Gellhorn “because they crossed boundaries and did things their own way.” Likewise, there’s no one out there doing exactly what she’s doing, but it’s something Nicholls doesn’t want to do on her own either. “It’s about establishing and supporting a community that wants to do something different,” she explains. There are plenty of people thinking along similar lines. What’s great is that Nicholls has created an event through which they can all come together Ruth Carruthers
Cornwall | Finisterre
From ethical surfwear to eco-friendly nappies, Tom Podkolinski channels his love for nature into everything he does.
When Salisbury-born Tom Podkolinski was eight years old, there was only one thing that gave him the right to stay up past bedtime: a David Attenborough documentary. His father, a doctor and explorer, and his mother, a nurse, would wake Podkolinski up to watch the epic narratives in the hope that he would be inspired by the stories of the natural world and grow up to think pragmatically about his environment. But they had no idea just how much impact these curfewbusting documentaries would have on their creative son. As co-founder of ethical surfwear company Finisterre, and with a plethora of projects underway that include an eco-nappy and an ornithological picture book, Tom Podkolinski is one motivated individual. He isn’t just using his design skills to build upon the Attenborough message – he’s creating one of his own.
“I remember there was a statistic at the end of one documentary,” says Podkolinski looking back. “It said, ‘An area the size of Wales is being chopped down in the Amazon rainforest every year’, and this was back in the 1980s. Wales was pretty much the biggest place ever to me… so I couldn’t comprehend the size of the Amazon – that just blew my mind. But it scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t understand the destruction of this thing that was so amazing.” His concern for the rainforest quickly turned into anger at the way it was being managed. “I think very young I got into constantly challenging the authority of things that just didn’t make sense to me,” says the 27-yearold entrepreneur. “The idea that my kids might grow up in a world where the sight of a tiger chasing down its prey in the wild doesn’t exist… It’s because these moments exist we feel inspired and create. It goes with that quest for knowledge,
seeing things we haven’t seen and experiencing things we haven’t experienced.” Podkolinski’s reluctance to accept authority nearly led him down a very different path. After his dream of a professional rugby career was dashed by a shoulder injury in 2003 he re-engaged with art and enrolled for a fashion degree at Kingston University. But the structured approach to creativity didn’t suit his headstrong attitude – “They try and manage the creative process into boxes that can be ticked and that seems totally counter-intuitive” – and he was failing the course when he received a call-toaction email from Tom Kay – TK to friends. TK, who was selling a prototype fleece from his bedroom at the time, wanted a designer to join him in launching an eco-friendly surfwear company that put surfers’ needs first, but not at the expense of the environment. After a 20-minute phone call the two visionaries started planning business ventures five years down the line and Finisterre – Latin for land’s end – was born. Says Podkolinski: “For the first year I did jobs like waiting tables, working in shops, stuff like that, while we built the collection. But after the first year we could afford to pay ourselves a salary so I moved straight down to Cornwall.” That was five years ago and success has seen Finisterre expand in numbers and outreach ever since. As for how he has adapted to life on the Celtic tail: “It took a year of surfing everyday for me to actually think I was a surfer,” he laughs. “I can’t think
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of many sports where it’s like that… I mean everybody can get on a board but to actually get to your feet at the crest of a wave and make the drop-in and then be on the wave pumping – it’s only then I think, ‘Oh, if somebody from the beach was to see me they could almost confuse me with a surfer!’” Podkolinski now spends his days developing textiles and fabrics for new garments in something he refers to as “kitchen sink science” – always maintaining the utmost respect for nature in a practice similar to that of biomimetics. “With the waterproofs, I was looking into insulation and it hadn’t really been resolved in the market,” he says. “I was like, ‘Where can I find the inspiration?’ and actually animals have to deal with environments we strive to be in and they deal with them much, much better. So I thought, ‘What are their physiological keys to being able to survive these conditions?’ I remember when the penny dropped it was such an amazing period of my life, because my childhood passions had been art, sport and natural history, and in Finisterre I had found a way to express myself through all three. When it all came together it felt like such a testament to my stubbornness, arrogance, ego, whatever it had been that made me go, ‘This is how I’m going to do it’. That was a great moment and I haven’t looked back since.” From committing to buy locally sourced wool produced by the last flock of Bowmont sheep in the UK, to becoming savvier at the business side of things, Finisterre is continuing to grow intuitively and sustainably, giving Podkolinski the platform to explore other creative issues important to him.
“My childhood passions had been art, sport and natural history and in Finisterre I had found a way to express myself through all three.”
As well as co-running a performance sportswear course at Falmouth University, Podkolinski is broaching the slightly less glamorous issue of nappy production. “Eight million disposable nappies are thrown into landfill everyday,” he says incredulously. “A local nappy company called Lollipop wanted someone with textile expertise to work with them developing a new eco-nappy, and I was like, ‘Actually as a technical garment, the nappy is pretty amazing’. And that got me. It’s difficult not to engage the brain when there’s a design challenge as unresolved as this.” But Podkolinski also sees himself moving away from textile-related endeavours in the future. He explains: “I’m writing and producing a project with the photographer Spencer Murphy, where we’re photographing birds of prey. For me, if I had a dream it would be to pick up where Mr. Attenborough left off. I think he did an amazing job but I think as technology gets better, narratives are getting duller and duller. There’s so much more potential in terms of how we can engage with these wild narratives on a much broader level and make them far more universally acceptable and inspiring. And I think if I can do it with a book where I can get children, adults, enthusiasts, all engaged for whatever reason, that’s the skill isn’t it?”
And with his endless motivation and passion the charismatic young pioneer has the skill to make a real difference indeed Shelley Jones www.finisterreuk.com
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London | dJ and Club Promoter
builDing A COMMuniTY THROugH MusiC, DJ JAMEs pRiEsTlEY is REinvigORATing THE EAsT lOnDOn sCEnE.
Sitting back in his chair, James Priestley takes a sip of beer and glances around the City Arts & Music Project he founded. A former Chinese restaurant, CAMP encapsulates the creativity of London’s East End, morphing from a café by day into a club by night.
One of the most sought after DJs in London for the best part of a decade, and co-creator of the legendary Secretsundaze parties, Priestley has an army of dedicated followers and a reputation as a musician with innovative business acumen and a serious attention to detail.
Contemporary art and installations line the walls, deep house throbs below the gentle murmur of drinkers, decks lie waiting for the later hours. Priestley seems satisfied with his creation, if not sated.
“I actually didn’t play here for the first six months,” he explains. “I really wanted to make sure that everybody else’s experience of playing here or drinking here or whatever was right first. There’s so many things to think about when you take on something like this, particularly if you haven’t done it before. You want to make sure you get it right before thinking about the process of performing yourself. Obviously, when you go into a venue as a promoter, there’s only so much that you can change in terms of the production of it or how it feels,” he adds. “With your own place you have more control over what you do and over other people’s experience. So it wasn’t actually until January this year that I did my first night here. Playing in my own place was really nice.”
“It was a natural, logical step for me to do something like this, something I wanted to do for a while. I’m enjoying it definitely. It’s really challenging and I’m learning a lot. The other side of what I do – DJing, making music and promoting parties – is always a challenge. There’s always next steps you can take with it. But I was ready for a new challenge, to learn new skills and apply the skills I already had from years of doing other projects.”
“I was ready for a new challenge, to learn new skills and apply the skills I already had from years of doing other projects.” Priestley isn’t a man of half measures. CAMP has a superlative Martin Audio sound system and boasts a schedule of established and emerging talent that is mouth-watering to any electronica disciple. The music on offer is as broad and varied as Priestley’ own tastes, from the house, techno, disco and funk on which he has made his name, to nights dedicated to grime and hip hop as well as the jazz he was raised on. Encouraged by his father, a self-taught jazz drummer and businessman in his own right, Priestley played the saxophone, flute, guitar and piano to a high standard by the age of 10. An inherent musical polymath, the first record he bought was by Wham! but he moved quickly from jazz to indie and grunge to the prog-rock movement of the 1970s before he tapped into the emerging electronica movement. “I first heard it on the playground at school when people were handing round mix-tapes – guys like Jumping Jack Frost, LSD, Fabio and Grooverider,” Priestley recalls. “As soon as I discovered electronic music, I started to go out clubbing at really quite a young age, like 14 or 15 – coming down to London and going to illegal raves around Cambridge that were quite full on. “It was just so different and so fresh compared to the more traditional music,” he continues. “And the whole environment – hearing it blasting out in these raves and clubs, the whole culture that went with that. Dance and house still has a very strong community aspect that goes with it, but I think back then it was even more pronounced. It was newer to a lot of people whereas now it’s been embedded into mainstream society. It was totally addictive. I used to collect all the flyers and then make the mix-tapes and wrap the flyers around the mix-tapes. I’ve still got them at home, I haven’t unpacked them for years.” Raised before the Internet made everything instantly accessible, and without exposure to modern DIY mixing platforms and production software, his ability to make his own electronica was at first limited. “I tried to make my own stuff, but it was actually quite later in life that I really found out how this stuff was made. So I didn’t really grasp the concept of sampling until I was 17 or 18, even though I was trying to do it myself. I would be in my room with the tape player pressing stop, pause, stop, record, playing along with my saxophone and looping drumbeats. It was so primitive. It was literally a double tape recorder and a deck.”
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Priestley managed to buy himself some decks when he was 18, but it wasn’t until university that he found his feet. Reading industrial economics, he moved out of halls and into a house with other DJs he’d met within a few weeks of arriving. Within six months he was hosting his own events and gaining experience in production and promotions. “Even though I was a student, that became my thing very quickly. And it wasn’t long before I was putting on regular nights. I got my own party every month at a place called The Bomb in Nottingham. I worked in a record shop on Saturdays as well, and I got turned onto all different types of music and learnt how the industry worked from that retail perspective, how labelling and distribution worked. That was great.” After graduating, he managed to get a traineeship at London’s now defunct Timewarp record label while busily continuing his DJ career in venues around Brick Lane and Hoxton, often working a full week and DJing all weekend. After 18 months, he realised he could make the leap into full time DJing, jacked in his nine to five, and hasn’t looked back. His exclusive Secretsundaze daytime raves, first launched in 2001, have an unmatched status among the city’s revellers. Utilising numerous risqué and often open-air venues, Priestley oversaw some of the most colourful, exciting and innovative parties London has seen. It wasn’t long before Ibiza and the continent came calling. Priestley was a Shoreditch stalwart before it became the satirised home of the alternative scene; a post-industrial cityscape of cheap market stalls and salt-of-the-earth sensibilities with an underground creative movement simmering below the surface. That movement’s epitaph has long been written but CAMP, it is hoped, will provide some cultural oxygen to a gentrified place drowning in interlopers and opportunists. “Shoreditch was a super-cool, vibrant, creative place. Before, it was local creatives hanging out and there used to be very little else around. It was really quite desolate, quite scary coming up Old Street. One of the things I like about here is that we’re on the edge of Shoreditch, so it’s easy for the people living and working here and from around the area. These are people we want to come to maybe start it up again.” TOM SEYMOUR
London | Artist
In a dusty workshop off Brick Lane, Benedict Radcliffe is blurring the boundaries between industrial design and the world of fine art.
Benedict Radcliffe is a smiling and friendly man. He welcomes me into his amazing workshop and immediately disappears through a door to make tea. The chemical smell of paint, solder and metal is intoxicating – in a good way – and everything is in its place. “A tidy workshop, a tidy head, you know?” the affable Radcliffe says, reappearing with steaming mugs and smiling under his mop of fair hair. “It gets really messy here. There’s always a fine layer of metal dust from all the filing we do.“
Standing, imposing, right in the middle of the space on a raised platform is an unfinished wire frame sculpture of a Honda Goldwing motorbike – something that Radcliffe has been working on for many months now. Things keep getting in the way of finishing it: currently he’s putting together a new bike for his girlfriend, a wire sculpture of a rhythmic gymnast and a huge fixed gear bike frame out of scaffolding poles with his young, and first, intern Louis. “He’s been making it look much better, filing it down and adding body filler and stuff.”
“By doing all the hard, monotonous work, you’ll see what you’re working on turn into something lovely and beautiful. That’s what drives me.”
Radcliffe doesn’t know how to describe what he does, so he doesn’t bother. He knows that when his work is finished it will look good, but it can’t be called ‘art’ and although he uses industrial methods, his work isn’t industrial design. He’s famous for his intricate, full-size wire frame models of supercars; two rear ends of cars joined together seamlessly; an array of unique bikes; he even created a living, growing ‘Air Sculpture Garden’ for a sportswear company, complete with a giant, 3D wire shoe. Transport is a running theme within most of his work. “I’m not exactly obsessed with transport per se. I’m not that interested in buses and lorries and stuff like that,” he explains. “I love bikes, I love cars, I love motorbikes, but right now I’m doing a sculpture of a dancer, which is celebrating the human body in a really simple way. Obviously I do a lot of cars and bikes, but I’m also really interested in other things, like typography.” Originally from Kent, and the son of two teachers, Radcliffe initially followed in his parents’ footsteps. After his A-Levels, he combined teaching English for a year in Andalusia, Spain, with cycling for an amateur race team before returning to the UK for two years of teacher training. “I went to an innercity college in Coventry, which was a nightmare. It was awful,” he grimaces.
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After that, Radcliffe moved to Glasgow to study architecture at the Mackintosh-designed School of Art, “because it was sunny when I went to visit it,” he explains, “and also my car broke down and someone was really nice and helped me out so I went there to study.” But while he was living in the creative melting pot of Renfrew Street – among the fashion, ceramic and textile designers – it transpired that architecture was not for him. He had to repeat every year for three years until, despite finally passing the course, he left to start work at a fabricators. It was while working here that artists began asking him to make objects for their exhibitions, like inverted spiral staircases and a seven-person bike. From this came more work and a move to East London, where he’s been based for the last three years, living the feast and famine life that every artist endures. “I got a few jobs that meant I had to be down in London. I didn’t really know what it was going to be like so I came down to see what would happen. I’ve been in the same workshop ever since,” he says, looking around at the walls. It’s here that his most famous works have been crafted: the ongoing Goldwing project, the wire frame super car and the piece he’s most proud of – the ‘graffiti bike’. This marvellous invention features nine aerosol cans fitted in a mechanism
on the back of a bike, which can move up and down and spray, all from a control on the rider’s handlebar. “I met Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfont [authors of graffiti bible Subway Art] when I was in New York,” he explains, still a little star-struck. “They’d seen the graffiti bike and they loved it. I got them to sign a Blondie picture I’d bought and they wrote, ‘Man, love the work. Keep on spraying!’ I’ve never done any graffiti or spraying in my life. All I’ve done there is made a bike that sprays straight lines! But I just like to try to make new things.” Readily admitting that a lot of his success is down to things that have “fallen rather neatly into place”, Radcliffe is driven by an antipathy to laziness. It’s something he’s imparting onto Louis as they work together. “I’m getting Louis to file stuff down. Each time he asks if he’s finished I have to tell him he’s got another half an hour left to do on that one part. Then he’s got another part to do after that, and then another part,” he laughs. “By doing all the hard, monotonous work, you’ll see what you’re working on turn into something lovely and beautiful. That’s what drives me.” He might be mentoring Louis now, and there may be some workshops planned for the future, but full-time teaching
isn’t for Radcliffe. It does run in his blood, though, and his own studio actually isn’t that far from where his father used to teach in Hackney. Radcliffe senior shares his son’s love of tinkering – he would take apart cars, bikes and lawnmowers just to put them back together, and Radcliffe junior admits that part of his career is about emulating his father’s love for getting his hands dirty. Right now he’s looking forward to some more exciting projects. A friend recently asked him to build a wire frame Spitfire to go in his new office building, but to Radcliffe’s dismay the space isn’t big enough to fit a full size replica, so they’re going to think of something else. He’s off to California for two months for another project, but is there a pipe dream he’d really like to get his teeth into? “There’s a Honda ASIMO robot that I really want to make,” he says, pointing to a torn picture stuck up above a workbench. “I’m not that into animatronics, more like sculpture, I want to sculpt it out of clay, then a cast and then do it in polyester resin, but I want it in a very noble, citizenlike pose. It would be nice to have a few months to have a play around with that.” Josh Jones
London | Pants to Poverty
sOCiAl EnTREpREnEuR bEn RAMsDEn is sAYing pAnTs TO pOvERTY.
With his unruly hair and perfectly relaxed manner, you could be forgiven for thinking Ben Ramsden is just another hippie surfer who spends most of his time chasing waves. So it may come as a surprise to learn that the 33-year-old is actually a social entrepreneur who started his first business 15 years ago as a bright-eyed teen. After a lot of success in the telecom industry, it seemed like Ramsden was on track to become the next Alan Sugar, but a fateful trip to South America spurred him on a quest to rid the world of bad underwear – that is, underwear made from cotton contaminated with harmful pesticides and manufactured under unethical working conditions. It may seem like a drastic life-changing decision but it
was one Ramsden made without a moment’s hesitation. “I realised there were a lot of things wrong in the world and we needed to do something about it,” he reflects. “I got involved with Make Poverty History and from there Pants To Poverty was born in 2005.” Later that year Ramsden took his revolutionary pants to Glastonbury Festival and gained support from many celebrities including Joss Stone, Goldie Lookin Chain and Gail Porter. But the progression he’s made in the five years since is nothing short of extraordinary. Today, his ethical underwear is sold in over 20 countries, providing financial support to some of the most poverty-stricken parts of the world as well as influencing other major fashion brands to follow suit.
But that’s not all. The outspoken exhibitionist has used his love of getting his kit off to show support for Fair Trade and Trade Justice by organising large-scale ‘good pant flashes’ at influential institutions like the Houses of Parliament, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and the ICC in Birmingham. Trying to convey what it feels like to disrobe in public, Ramsden exclaims: “It is complete raw energy just seeing the transformation in people! People turn up and they’re fully dressed, then within a few minutes they are semi-naked wearing nothing but Pants To Poverty banners. We all meet in a pub basement and exchange bad underwear for good underwear. Then everyone strips down, we have a shot of whiskey and it culminates in a 15-minute frenzy of mass adrenaline.” The infamous good pant flashes even made it into the Guinness book of world Records a couple of years ago for the most amount of people gathered in just their underpants – 114 people in St Pancras International train station, November 13, 2008. “It was like walking into a media scrum,” says Ramsden with a laugh that suggests he enjoys being a bit of a public nuisance. “Not only were we Guinness World Record holders, our semi-naked bodies were being splashed around the media all over the world.” Ramsden is quick to assert, however, that while having a good time is important, there is always a deeper significance to these spectacles. “It’s a lot of fun but we’ve always done it so it has a powerful message,” he says, using a stern tone for the first time. It is not all halfnaked frolicking and grabbing headlines. Despite his world record-breaking success, Ramsden is the first to admit that establishing Pants To Poverty has not been without its difficulties. “Setting up a whole supply chain was the hardest part because it took a huge amount of work,” concedes the Worcester-born visionary. “It was tough turning it from a concept into a proper business.” Less than five years after the birth of the brand, Ramsden acknowledges that a lot of late nights still lie ahead but a relentless dedication emanates from his every response. “It is only going to get harder,” he admits, undeterred. “We have still got a long way to go.” But he is not giving up anytime soon. Ramsden is currently charging into uncharted territory with Pants to Poverty by
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supporting the Zameem Organic Farmers Organisation in India that represents 5000 farmers producing organic and Fair Trade cotton. In another initiative, Pants To Poverty will donate a pound from sales of every pair of their ‘Condom Pocket’ pants to the Treatment Action Campaign in Africa – an organisation fighting for the rights of people with HIV and AIDS. What’s more, Ramsden is also working closely with the Pesticide Action Network and the Environmental Justice Foundation to ban the use of Endosulphane, commonly believed to be one of the most harmful pesticides in the world. “We are trying to build a sustainable planet, but that is impossible unless we address the way that trade is done,” says the ethical pioneer who believes that tackling one side of the issue is simply not enough. “Unfair trade is the vehicle that is driving climate change and mass poverty around the world. I believe that if we can fix that it will be a catalyst to creating a sustainable planet.” Keen to encourage others to follow in his footsteps, Ramsden offers some advice to ethical fashion brands of the future. “If you are starting an ethical brand, you’re on the right track,” he says positively. “If ethical fashion is not there now it is going to be there in five years time. You need to make sure the product represents your values. You’ve got to make sure the way you do your business reflects your ethics. It needs to focus on quality, fashion and price.” And as if he hasn’t got enough on his proverbial plate, this year Ramsden will be working relentlessly to strengthen the impact of his cause. “We are setting up a new charity,” he announces matter-of-factly. “We are going to take all of our learning and build a golden supply chain so that other companies can have the supply chain we have. We are also going to continue to expand internationally and make it into a proper fashion brand.” Listening to Ramsden talk about Pants To Poverty and what he hopes to achieve in the future, you cannot help but be affected by his infectious enthusiasm. You start to find yourself agreeing with everything he says; perhaps proving that he’s always been a shrewd and gifted salesman. But more than that the motivated individual leaves the impression he really can improve the world we live in, one pair of pants at a time david mCnamara
â€œi realised there Were a lot of things Wrong in the World and We needed to do something about it.â€?
London | Guerrilla Gardener
Guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds is helping urban dwellers rediscover nature on their city’s streets.
There are very few activities – at least, ones that are socially acceptable – in which the practitioners will spend their evenings hanging around on dingy street corners. But it’s something 32-year-old Richard Reynolds would like to see more people doing. When venturing out from his base in a tenth floor flat in London’s Elephant and Castle, Reynolds always keeps an eye out for unloved patches of land. Where others see blight, he sees opportunity. As a guerrilla gardener, and self-declared tender of unloved public spaces, any scrap of bare earth speaks of possibility.
Reynolds first donned his gardening gloves for a guerrilla action in 2003. Exasperated by the state of the municipal flowerbeds around his block, and with no space for his own window box, he crept out late at night with a few plants he’d picked up from the garden centre, surreptitiously put them in the soil, and beat a hasty retreat. Having grown up in rural Devon, the outdoors was in his blood: “I’ve gardened since I was a kid. My parents had a big garden, we lived in the country, it was just something we did.” And for all that urban living offered, something was missing. “I was a frustrated gardener,” Reynolds explains.
“iT’s in MY nATuRE TO spREAD An iDEA AnD gET pEOplE DOing iT. i wAnT TO EnCOuRAgE OTHERs TO gET invOlvED AnD EnJOY THE bEnEFiTs i’vE ExpERiEnCED.” In the beginning, his decision to garden guerrilla-style was nothing other than pragmatic. “The gardens immediately in the vicinity of the building were in a very neglected state, clearly nobody was looking after them. However, with the bureaucracy as it was, I wasn’t very optimistic that I’d have been given permission even if I’d asked for it. I decided I was just going to do it and face the consequences if necessary.” When no consequences materialised, Reynolds cast aside the clandestine approach and set his sights on land a little further a field – the roadside planters in nearby streets. Encouraged by his success, he set up a website and began to blog about his activities. “I have an advertising background and that’s what I like to do: build websites, get into projects, tell my friends about things.” Thinking he’d invented it, he coined the term ‘guerrilla gardening’ to describe what he was up to. On the back of his blog, Reynolds’ activities received a fair amount of attention. “I became guerrilla gardening’s accidental evangelist,” he recalls. As interest grew, he began to research the movements in whose footsteps he was, by chance, following. The community gardens of 1970s New York City seemed the most obvious antecedent. Here, city blocks left abandoned as the economy crumbled offered space for those remaining in the city to get back in touch with nature and their community. While some gardens were used for growing vegetables, others became public parks with flower gardens, lawns and benches – a godsend in a city where open space has always been at a premium. Sadly, as the economy picked up, that part of the city’s history was drowned under layers of concrete. Though many landowners were tolerant of the gardens when the land had no value, most of the greenery was replaced by apartment buildings when the boom-times returned. Not all has been lost, however. On the corner of Bowery and Houston Streets in downtown Manhattan, the garden of community activist Liz Christy remains. The more he learnt, and the more guerrilla gardening he did, the less ‘accidental’ Reynolds’ evangelism became. “Now it’s quite deliberate,” he observes. “It’s in my nature to spread an idea and get people doing it. I want to encourage others to get involved and enjoy the benefits
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I’ve experienced.” His website and blog, which have seen a lot of work since their inception, are just the starting point. In 2009, his book on Guerrilla Gardening was published. He’s given interviews and talks to audiences the world over. And he’s been involved in projects across the gardening spectrum, from presenting an exhibit of recycled plants at gardening establishment mainstay The Chelsea Flower Show, to gardening with residents and activists in Sipson, the village due to be demolished should a third runway at Heathrow airport ever be constructed. Aware that large-scale community gardening projects are difficult to bring about, Reynolds’ latest idea, which he calls Pimp Your Pavement, could be the perfect alternative for budding guerrilla gardeners. A tiny area – the patch of earth around a street tree, perhaps – could be the perfect place for a quick, cheap, solo guerrilla gardening mission. As Reynolds comments, bulbs, annuals like pansies or – if you’re lucky enough to have something they can climb through – sweet peas, are ideal, but really the only limit is your imagination. This ‘micro-local gardening,’ as he calls it, is also a great way to meet people in your area. Ten minutes digging near Reynolds’ home turf in Elephant and Castle proves him right, as a bus driver chats to us through his window while waiting at the lights. For Reynolds, guerrilla gardening is more than just a hobby with a bit of novelty. He sees it as a way everyone can be involved in reinvigorating our cities. Though some might see the word ‘guerrilla’ as little more than a way to make urban gardening sound edgy and exciting, it’s worth thinking about its true meaning – describing the tactics of small, independent social movements. Should we really be sitting back, demanding councils care for our local areas, when money is tight and communities are more fragmented than ever? Reynolds thinks not. For every barren tree pit or unloved roadside planter, there’s a potential guerrilla with a spare few minutes to sort it out.
So get your gardening gloves and seed bombs at the ready, because a revolution is in the air oLLy ZannEti www.GUeRRIllaGaRDenInG.oRG
London | Future Shorts & Secret Cinema
Makers and lovers of all things film have a new way to appreciate the medium, thanks to FabiEn Riggall. After witnessing first-hand the waning affluence of the independent film industry, Fabien Riggall decided to take action. Launching Future Shorts in 2003, Riggall shifted the emphasis of an entire industry in one fell swoop, working a pipe-dream into an ever-evolving, organic enterprise that would become the world’s largest short film network. As a cutting-edge short film label and festival, Future Shorts provides filmmakers with a much-needed platform to showcase their work to the wider world. “Before we launched Future Shorts, short film was only really shown in one sort of way,” says Riggall. “I was seeing a lot of films that were extremely powerful in their own right but that weren’t getting out there in the world.
Something had to be done to bring these films to a wider audience and over the years that has always been our primary objective.” Seven years on, Riggall continues to push boundaries and set precedents, honing his passion through an array of unique initiatives and events aimed at enriching the global film community. It’s that community – filmmakers and audiences from every walk of life – which Riggall asserts remain at the centre of everything he does. “Future Shorts began as an uncompromising vision, not just as an arena for short films from all over the world, but as a social event that would bring a diverse range of people together to talk about these films.”
the gaming scene, but by the time Bozek arrived, the PlayStation had established itself as the dominant force in the industry, easily outstripping Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube. Riggall’s strength lies in his sure-mindedness and determination to enliven the culture surrounding the But far from resting laurels, theRiggall company was keen to medium of film. It isonaits culture that knows all too break new and shortfalls, Bozek, agedbut justone 26, was the always person well for itsground, flaws and he has to make itgreat happen. “I was retained belief in. fortunate enough to be at a place where risk taking was valued,” she says. “If you’re in a place where risk isn’t valued then it’s come up “This is a taking world-wide community butdifficult at the to moment it with that haven’t been done feels ideas like we’re not all fighting onbefore.” the same front,” avows Riggall. “There’s the old-school way of thinking, and By anybody’s though,for what next that’s fine, but standards, it’s so important newBozek ideas did to come represented a step the unknown. PlayStation’s through and be taken into seriously. The way things work at developers tinkering with a piece of software the momenthad canbeen be quite restrictive, and we’re trying that allowed users control game with voice. to make things a lottoeasier for aeveryone.” Hetheir continues, Prototypes been developed discarded, including “We’ve got had some amazing talentand in this country, I see it aevery sing-along safari game and aamount conceptof called Song Lines, day; there’s a massive people getting in young princess a fantasy world to life outwhich there aand doing a lot ofbrought good things, but independent with herisvoice. cinema tough at the moment, what with the repressive dominance of mainstream cinema.” Bozek was put in charge of a small team charged with making the technology and immediately set about In championing petit work, cinema, Riggall’s impact has bringing her particular to bear. am pop been far-reaching. Now, perspective having reshaped the “I landscape culture, mass market, I’m very much between music, of independent cinema around theinworld, Riggall’s games and media,” Bozek explains. She with realised the community spirit has come full circle the that launch of Secret Cinema – a monthly, pop-up film screening
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key element wasn’t the technology itself but the unique opportunity it presented. “We looked at it and we distilled it down to the pure singing experience. We decided that what could become was this very, becomes very fun party game whereit the ever-changing location part of the for everyone.” cinematic experience. Epitomising Riggall’s inclusive, inimitable vision, Secret Cinema fuses mystery and At a time with whenthetheraw market was dominated by Since firstspectacle wonderment of cinema. person shooters and racing simulators with their launching the interactive event in 2008,–Riggall has onus seen on cutting-edge graphics and hardcore appealto–hard the its popularity skyrocket, a triumph he attributes idea making a game fortoeverybody flew or in two. the face of workof and his willingness take a gamble industry wisdom. But Bozek pushed on. She realised that what people wanted a game that didn’t “Secret Cinema was awas natural progression forlook us inlike thata game; they and wanted startointake their of MTV. we wanted, weretoable, theown ideaversion of engagement Dispensing fancy licensed actual and bring itwith to the nextgraphics, level. Butthe it team was also a level that music from stars Beyoncé and Britney before,” Spears, wasn’t videos really being donelike – hadn’t been achieved creating something youthful and aspirational”. he explains. “I’m not “cool afraidand of taking risks and just getting They calledand it Singstar. out there doing it, and so far that’s seen [Secret Cinema] flourish. There needs to be more people going In recognising that many people were inhibited outaddition, there and doing it, and it is happening, but people by thetothought singing in front an audience, need realise of that they have the of power to make they that packaged the game with two microphones. Instantly, shift happen.” Singstar became about what was going on in your living room than happening screen.a London Secretrather Cinema haswhat comewas a long way sinceonturning Bridge archway into a projection space for Gus Van Sant’s As the game May 2004, was still Paranoid Park.neared With launch its tenthinevent set to Bozek take place this nervous. “It wasreflects novel,on it what was he different, was,the like, ‘Are summer, Riggall believesitkeeps crowds flocking to the hottest underground film club around.
“We’ve got some amazing talent in this country, I see it everY day; there’s a massive amount of people getting out there and doing a lot of good things.” people going to want to do this? Are people going to want to sing? I think so!’” she laughs. Over the course of the following year, the sales figures “It’s thefor notion of seeing something that ayou didn’t know spoke themselves. Singstar was phenomenon. you liked; of sharing otherclicked.” people “People really loved it. an Theexperience whole mix with of things But but there’s having more a totally to thedifferent game’s success responsethan to the that.person Bozek is sitting perfectly next in to sync you,”with saysher Riggall. audience “It’s –amazing she understands to watch people’s reactions; pretty nerve-wracking in always a way, them because she is it’s them. “I think innovation isn’t especially when we try she something leftfield. the most obvious step,” says. “Tocompletely me, you have to be But that’s whatwith it’s your all about, and You that’s really how we really in touch audience. have to innovate bring in that different audiences, is something in a way is what they want,which or what they didn’t that’s know very wanted important. they but We theywant love to it.” keep it a surprise but also to keep that element of surprise from our point of view: to challenge each time and something that Singstar was ourselves a worldwide success withdo over 100 versions people won’t be expecting.” clocking up millions of sales in a plethora of languages. Then Bozek took an even riskier decision: in 2008 she A willingness to flirtthe with the unexpected so where far paid walked away from game. “I left at a has point it wasn’t dividends, over but or anything Riggall but is well I justaware thought, of ‘Okay, the dangers I’ve been in keeping things hush six hush. “Sometimes you’ll see people doing this for nearly years and I need to push myself to walk doout,” something he says,different,’” “and that’sshe finesays. because “Notit’severything all about the individual wea know not everyone theissame you do is goingand to be huge success but thehas point that you taste.have Butto because keep pushing it’s suchyourself a different and you event have each to time, keep that person might find they have ato totally trying,” she adds. “You can’t be afraid fail.“ different experience next time.” He continues, “Ultimately each After event has 15 months the potential at Atari, to bring Bozek a completely once againdifferent sensed aaudience change to in it. theThat’s wind something and startedwehercontinue own company to see results from and it’s what makes my job so exciting.”
focused on the convergent point between games, the web and social networking. This, she says, is the future of gaming. “Right now most of the big publishers are With theatpotential of Secret Cinema coming to fruition looking social gaming on Facebook, for example, and over the last is18going months, Riggallshe might rest are on going, ‘What on here?’” says.easily “iPhones his laurels. the But de in facto humble recognition mobile of his position becoming game-playing device. of responsibility within hisspace community, Riggall is That’s new. And that’s not the of the big publishers, unwavering in hisofgo-guerrilla As creative he suggests, that’s the space the totally attitude. new, fresh, and this is only developers. the beginning. innovative There’s a whole wave of much smaller studios with fresh ideas and that’s the area I’m “So farexcited thingsabout.” are going to plan, but I want to take it really to the next level; get local cinemas involved and create a real community transcends film. We need to get When Bozek first that started in the industry, her friends people talking films the multiplex. thought it was and littlewatching more than a outside hobby. Today, “it has We’re goingitself to beaslaunching bigger events in different established a really powerful, influential cultural countries she andenthuses. live-link “Iscreenings different cities medium,” don’t thinkin we’re on a par yet on the We’re also mediums going to do with thesame othernight. ‘serious’ cultural butlonger I think runs that and hopefully getthat ourit’s own we toy canany maintain people recognise notspace just aso boy’s more. a freedom in what we do.” A whole generation has grown up with games. They may not make you who you are but they are a pop cultural While his– desire to become “the Glastonbury of film” influence they shape you in some way.” burns strong, the sky really is the limit for Riggall. For now,perhaps, the secret is well truly out: the engineer, future of Bozek, is not so and much a cultural independent cinema iswhittling in safe hands then, as a sculptress, away in the interstitial Adam Woodward spaces between technologies. Her new team includes a www.futureshorts.com bioinformatics boffin and she is collaborating with an
brighton | the heritage orchestra
THE HERiTAgE ORCHEsTRA is pulling insTRuMEnTAl MusiC inTO A RAuCOus FuTuRE, AnD CHRis wHEElER is HElping TO lEAD THE wAY.
Brighton’s waterfront is awash with visitors savouring some rare early summer sun. In the distance, the pier stirs from hibernation, ill-prepared for the sudden onslaught of attention. Fairground sounds loop and mingle with seaside scents; the intoxicating smell of a salty breeze and fish ‘n’ chips fills the air. “There’s going to be an impressive sunset tonight,” remarks Chris Wheeler, artistic director and producer for The Heritage Orchestra, a collaborative ensemble that’s reinventing instrumental music for today’s zeitgeist. Wheeler has recently moved here and, on an evening like
this, it’s easy to see why. But it’s not just a penchant for carousels and chip butties that drove him to set up coastal camp. The city is an artistic haven, with new acts and movements oozing out of every crevasse. The south coast is also home to De La Warr Pavilion, the venue where Wheeler’s orchestra are resident artists for an on-going programme of commissions and performances. Nestled between Eastbourne and Hastings, the Pavilion’s home in Bexhill-on-Sea is an area perhaps better known for its retirement homes than a pumping arts scene. But the centre has long been a supporter of quirky innovation, exemplified by Heritage Orchestra’s recent full-house launch with vocalpercussive guru Beardyman.
“Cultural references can be modern and that will become heritage in the future. Heritage Orchestra makes people think about what their cultural inheritance is, because often it isn’t Brahms and Beethoven; it’s something more recent.” The concoction of genre-defying sonic art and workaday venue is characteristic of Wheeler and Heritage Orchestra’s work. Characteristic, yet not typical; there’s nothing runof-the-mill about this 30-year-old director and his band of merry men and women. Formed in 2004 as part of a burgeoning alternative club scene, Heritage Orchestra developed into an in-demand ensemble that was quick to prove it had something different to offer. It happened, Wheeler reveals, “very organically and naturally.” “[Heritage Orchestra] wasn’t a planned development,” he muses, sipping his pint thoughtfully. “Initially it was a oneoff event that sparked something in our minds. We were all filled with post-college idealism – we thought we could do anything. We were very reactive to everything. I’m not saying that still isn’t there, but it was the underlying [impetus] to what we were doing back then.” The ‘we’ Wheeler refers to describes himself and Jules Buckley, chief conductor and orchestrator. Disillusioned with the current state of the classical world, Buckley and Wheeler sought to establish a group that would transcend styles, break boundaries and shatter stereotypes about modern instrumental music. “We saw potential from a very flippant start,” Wheeler continues. “Initially we had throwaway, almost stupid ideas, like having a massive orchestra in a club, with a stage so big that you couldn’t fit any punters in.
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Since then we have had to become more serious. There’s been a struggle between the post-college ‘fun’ orchestra – a scratch orchestra – to holding our own on the professional stages.” Having collaborated with the likes of Massive Attack, and with acts like Bat for Lashes cropping up in future plans, Heritage Orchestra has more than made its mark. “Our infrastructure is more established and expectation is growing,” explains Wheeler. “We’re now able to command a certain amount of clout – but we still like to rock out. It’s not like we suddenly want to be a ‘proper’ orchestra, we love playing ridiculously raucous sets but we’ve been able to improve, really working as an orchestra should.” The semantics surrounding the group’s name is often called into question. If they represent something of a twenty-firstcentury soundclash then why choose a name that seems shackled to a retrospective golden age? Much like their title, the collective’s forward-thinking approach, Wheeler explains, is open to misinterpretation. “We’re not a contemporary classical orchestra and we’re not a symphonic orchestra or a chamber orchestra,” he says. “I suppose we’re like a beats orchestra – a lot of our stuff tends to be based around beats, whether they’re electronic or instrumental. But then, I don’t really like describing us as that either… A lot of the stuff is groove-based, but that doesn’t sit well with the guys in the normal classical orchestras and it doesn’t sit well with the experimental, avant-garde orchestras, both of which we admire.
“At face value, someone would think that we are a traditional orchestra, playing traditional music. However, in the bigger picture, heritage isn’t just about old stuff, heritage can be created. Cultural references can be modern and that will become heritage in the future. Heritage Orchestra makes people think about what their cultural inheritance is, because often it isn’t Brahms and Beethoven; it’s something more recent. Younger audiences don’t always feel connected to that so to them, listening to an orchestra that has the word ‘heritage’ in it and that’s playing something relevant to them perhaps gives it more depth.” Dressed in jeans and a multi-coloured anorak, Wheeler is an unassuming innovator. But he and his comrades have exerted an influence on orchestral music that perhaps they themselves aren’t even aware of. In recent years alt-orchestras are becoming more commonplace. There’s the London Breakbeat Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra, a young ensemble that predominately focuses on contemporary classical works. But still, there’s nothing quite like The Heritage Orchestra – perhaps, Wheeler quips, “because it’s logistically an absolute nightmare!” But what about the future? Is enough being done to foster opportunities for people wanting to follow in Heritage Orchestra’s footsteps? Modestly, Wheeler mentions that he is aware of a couple of similar groups forming in music conservatoires. But, he explains, the as-yet undefinable classical/contemporary/instrumental/electronica movement is niche and the community is “not yet fully fledged; the groups are still developing”.
“The people that do this are very individual, so it goes against their natural individuality to become a homogenous group that are all Facebook friends and that all subscribe to something. These people don’t subscribe so it’s probably a flawed direction to try and force it,” he adds. However, the situation is positive. “There are all these core disparate groups that will never be joined, but if we keep doing things really well, [there will continue to be] a dedicated public.” This summer, Heritage Orchestra will treat the public to a performance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival as well as a gig at De La Warr Pavilion; featuring a further collaboration with electro-experimental act UNKLE. Wheeler also hints that there may be a repeat of their recent outing with Velvet Underground’s John Cale. As well as managing Heritage Orchestra, Wheeler works on electro-acoustic composition and produces orchestral shows. The interest in his work is snowballing; he’s recently set up a company called Flying Giant to “get big orchestral ideas off the ground” and export the Heritage Orchestra ethos to other countries. “I’m not protective about other orchestras doing beats and collaborations,” Wheeler smiles. “The more the merrier – if we can spread this idea of new repertoire being built by collaboration then bring it on.” Claire Jackson
London | Curator
bEYOnD THE pARAMETERs OF THE sTuFFY gAllERY wORlD, TinA ziEglER is builDing A HOME FOR THE ART THAT sHE lOvEs.
Tina Ziegler does not exactly fit the art industry stereotype. She’s young, self-taught and completely down to earth. In fact, as she welcomes us to her airy warehouse space in West London she exudes a warmth and friendliness that is not just rare in the art world, but downright extraordinary. Then again, even as curator of the London Miles Gallery, Ziegler doesn’t consider herself part of the ‘art world’ anyway. “I love all kinds of art,” she gushes enthusiastically. “But I don’t really care about the artist’s name or when it was
made, I just love looking at the technique and the types of paint they’ve used. The bigger picture of the art world, I know nothing about. People come [to the gallery] with an art history degree and I’m, like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’. I’ve never studied it. I know everything there is to know about the art movement that I’m promoting and interested in – I mean, I’m addicted to it. But if it comes to modern art or abstract art or anything like that, I’m clueless. I enjoy it. Which, to me, is all that matters.” With no agenda other than to promote the art she loves,
“Everybody can make something happen they just have to go out there and do it.” Ziegler has spent the last 11 years curating, designing and putting on events to generate exposure and appreciation for a genre that is now loosely referred to as ‘pop surrealism’, ‘lowbrow’ or ‘contemporary new art’. “I wouldn’t classify it anywhere near street art, or urban art. I try to give it a very vague description,” she says cryptically. “In the States people have coined it as lowbrow, which is fine – we need to describe it in some way. But within that title, there are so many different genres. It’s kind of like graffiti. You have this massive word ‘graffiti’ that describes a whole underground art movement but within that you have street art, stencil art, wheat-pasting, bombs, tags – like, so many different things. If you spoke to a wheat-paste artist and a bomber they’d be, like, ‘We don’t do the same thing’ and I think it’s the same thing with what I’m dealing with.” Ziegler started documenting artists of her personal taste on her blog, Hunt & Gather, and after three years she realised she had enough information to create an artbook. So she sourced pictures, interviewed artists, learnt InDesign and made three copies to send to publishers. Seven months later she had a call from New York and a deal was struck. “If you want to do something, you just go and do it,” she says matter-of-factly. “If you don’t know how, then teach yourself. Don’t use the excuse, ‘Oh, but I don’t know how to do it’. You can do it. Everybody can
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make something happen; they just have to go out there and do it. If you don’t have the confidence call somebody up who might. Or call me up. I’ll talk to you. I’ll help you do it. I just think you have to go out there and push yourself. Start small. Do whatever.” Ziegler’s selection of artists on Hunt & Gather helped define the ‘new art’ movement further and created a common platform for these artists to then market themselves. “I’m not an artist myself, I can’t draw or anything,” laughs Ziegler modestly. “Most artists don’t have a business sense or the ability to market themselves, and that’s why they’re creative. They need to stay in their studios and work because that’s what they’re good at. I love what they’re doing and it’s for people like me to go out and promote them, and push them to create more. That’s always been my mission.” And there is a definite thread to the art that the 25-yearold is drawn to. Whether it’s anime-inspired, cartoon or comic-book-style, the art Ziegler loves is almost always a product of an unschooled, natural desire to create. She explains: “The main difference with the art we show is that you can come in, see it and either you like it, or you don’t. You don’t need to read the description because there is no description. The artist doesn’t paint for
you to work out what it means. Most of these guys are, like, covered in tattoos and have very little art training. They’re just painting because they like to paint, and it’s a way for them to express themselves. That’s why this movement has such a community, because it’s just a bunch of kids that probably didn’t go to art school, but maybe got into tattoo, or comic books, or hot rod culture. They got together and started painting and realised, ‘Oh wow, I really like this’. And that’s pretty much it. There’s nothing more conceptual or deep about it.” The truth is, Ziegler’s own story is equally as intuitive as that of her artists. The Santa Barbara-native started her own business – a fashion company called Lucid Gear Clothing for which she designed the clothes and her graffiti artist brother provided the graphics – at 13 and, deciding that her fashion career happened “too easily,” she dropped everything and moved to Barcelona to immerse herself in European culture. “I literally just had this realisation, ‘I can’t take this place anymore’, America in general,” she remembers. “I bought a oneway ticket to Barcelona with a backpack. I sold my car and my collections, and left.” After four years, Ziegler found herself getting frustrated with the laid-back attitude and, just as she was thinking about relocating back to the States, she got a call from Phil Coleman, the
founder of London Miles Gallery, who had seen her blog. After a brief phone interview she was hired as manager and curator. “It’s been like a match made in heaven really,” smiles Ziegler. “He has so much business experience and is so clear-headed about everything and then there’s me with my chaotic, curatorial experience, it just really works.” But Ziegler isn’t about to get comfortable. Despite her hectic schedule she has another book in the pipeline, this time focused on people in the art industry, and various exhibitions and events including a show in Asia in 2011. She also hopes to share her experiences and encourage others to follow their dreams in workshops like the one she recently set up with comic-book artist Scott Campbell. “I love teaching,” she says passionately. “I just think it’s so awesome. It’s so fulfilling and I find that interaction amazing. You have an hour, you teach somebody something, they walk away and you can see the look on their face. It’s super gratifying.”
But anyone lucky enough to meet or be taught by the infectious young Californian would agree, the pleasure belongs to them Shelley Jones www.huntandgatherart.com
o� london The Dream Factory annual was edited, designed and published by The Church Of London, makers of Huck and Little White Lies magazines. www.TheChURChoFlonDon.Com
Ed Andrews is a writer, skater and snowboarder whose work for huck magazine has taken him from Moroccan mountains to the deserts of Utah, following the diverse currents of contemporary culture.
Co-founder and editor of independent movie magazine little white lies, and editorial director of creative agency The Church Of London, Matt Bochenski’s job is to facilitate the creation of great magazines that stamp their imprint on the cultural landscape.
A British Council Ambassador for Climate Change, Ruth Carruthers seeks out stories that need to be told and uses her unique voice to communicate their urgency to the world. As huck magazine's green correspondent, she is making serious environmental issues accessible to all.
Sam Christmas is one of the UK’s leading portrait photographers whose meticulous eye for detail invests his subjects with unparalleled personality and a timeless, classic quality.
Michael Fordham is committed to the old-school of magazine journalism. He reported from war-torn Sarajevo as features editor of Dazed & Confused in the late ’90s, before launching legendary surf, skate and snow magazine adrenalin. His elegiac prose now enlivens many titles.
muso editor Claire Jackson’s mission is to prove that classical and contemporary music need not be elitist and exclusionary, but inspiring, engaging and evolving. She has also written for the Guardian, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and This Is The order.
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Freelance journalist Josh Jones is UK editor of ’SUP, features editor for le cool London, cofounder and editor of international street art ’zine Pavement Licker, columnist for Clash Magazine and managing editor of Nike’s 1948 magazine.
Shelley Jones explores her passion for underground culture, community and the environment through writing for publications like Huck magazine and National Geographic Green, as well as self-publishing ’zines and contributing to blogs.
In addition to being Huck magazine's resident Moby lookalike, David McNamara also contributes to Amelia's Magazine, The List, The Skinny and Be-Mag. When he's not penning articles, David can be found in skate parks, sweaty nightclubs, festivals and public spaces, getting to grips with capricious youth.
Tom Seymour is a reviewer, reporter and comment writer for Little White Lies. He studied at Warwick University before training at Cardiff Journalism School, and worked both as an assistant for a regional film producer and as a freelance arts journalist.
Journalist, novelist, DJ and skater Cyrus Shahrad is often to be found reporting from the frontline of emerging youth cultures, living the stories that he chronicles.
Magazine editor Steve Watson had a very simple idea: why not find the best independent magazines in the world and bundle them together for a discerning audience under a single subscription. He called the result Stack, and re-energised the indie publishing scene.
An integral member of the Little White Lies creative team, Adam Woodward is fast making a name for himself as an original thinker and compelling writer, having crossed swords with the likes of Tilda Swinton and Neil LaBute.
Steve Yates began writing about music in the late ’90s when, after many years selling the stuff in the record shop he managed, he decided to start writing about it as well. He is now a regular contributor of reviews, features and op-ed columns for The Word. His work has also appeared in Dazed & Confused, Rip & Burn, and on websites such as BBC Collective and Tunetribe.
Olly Zanetti is a writer and PhD student whose work explores the boundaries between commercial reality and civic responsibility. An impassioned columnist and eco-activist, he is dedicated to turning apathy into action.
The Dream Factory would like to thank all our Cultural Engineers and Leaders, Steve Kirk, Richard Leonard, Joanne Coaker, Danny Miller, Rob Longworth and Andrea Kurland for their incredible time and effort to make this a reality. 95
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