Page 1

stories / culture / curiosities / makers / ideas

Dreams that open our eyes Feminist porn • Travels with your cat A love letter to Pre-Raphaelite women issue 45  £6

What we’re loving A curated selection of what’s in our diaries, shopping baskets and on our minds this issue words frances ambler, bre graham and alice snape

Art-tee party ArtGirlRising’s range of tees is inspired by the #5WomenArtists project, which asks if you could name five women artists. There are five inspiring designs to pick from. £35,

Women and their demons Artist Polly Nor is exhibiting her work for the third time in London: ‘Airing My Dirty Laundry In Public’ is on from 12 to 17 October at Protein Studios. Polly’s work shows women with their devil counterparts. Follow her on Insta @pollynor and visit to find out more about the exhibition

From a collection by independent jewellers Milk Tooth London, each pair of earrings comes with its own specially designed tarot card. Destiny earrings, £56,

Not waiting for you…

But we have all the time in the world for this fantastic print by British illustrator Florence Given. £25,

Fancy pants Fancier than your granny pants. THINX period pants can be worn as a replacement to pads and tampons – or with them for extra protection. And yep, they really work. Oh, and they’re so clever they don’t stain: just rinse them and pop them in your washing machine. Available from SODA in

3 Dumplings

Selfridges, visit

WARNING – this podcast will


make you hungry. This podcast is about what it means to be an Asian woman in 2018 and

Photo: Frances Davison

is hosted by fashion blogger Peony Lim, writer Hannah Rose Yee and photographer Kit Lee. They discuss everything from the influence of Crazy Rich Asians and mental health to dumplings – of course. Find the first season on iTunes



The great beyond It needn’t be mysterious, these five women working work with death tell us about their day-to-day reality and why it’s so important to talk about dying and grief

portraits james stittle interviews katie antoniou, aimee-lee abraham, alice snape

Hasina Zaman, funeral director I set up Compassionate Funerals in 2002, having spent most of my life as an artist and teacher. I was at a point in my life where I realised I needed to do something that would make a difference. This is something people need; death isn’t going out of fashion. There’s no typical day. Last week we had one funeral where everyone was wearing football shirts so didn’t want us to be too formal, another where we were in full funeral attire and one that was an eco funeral where we had flowers in our hair. We’re privileged to work with people from so many different backgrounds, we get to learn about their cultures and how they express grief. My team and I help families with preparing their loved ones; washing and dressing them and spending time with them. I am fully trained to apply make-up.

I want to make the person who has died look natural and beautiful. On the day of the funeral, we’re present to make sure everything runs smoothly. People, of course, feel sad, but often there’s also a real sense of celebration and pride in the life the person has led. My personal belief is that we are here to live optimally, to have a great time and to serve with the gifts that we are born with and die with peace and no regrets. We often experience steep learning curves on the job. We recently dealt with the death of the grand sheikh of Nigeria who needed repatriating. The family called me to the hospital in his final hours and I remember it was just me and so many men; all his sons and bodyguards. Usually we only meet with one or two members of family but there were about 15 of them.

There are times when I get emotional, but I try to stay in the zone otherwise I can’t be of service; I have to be fully present so I can support people who are feeling numb or in shock. We use techniques like ‘reminiscence’, which is getting people to talk about their loved ones’ pasts to improve their own psychological wellbeing. Grief-struck people sometimes can’t think or make decisions but if you ask them to tell you where they met their husband, their complete physiology changes in a second and they light up. It’s beautiful to watch. The internet has changed everything. People want to be empowered and hands on. We had a gay funeral recently where they didn’t want anything traditional at all, just lots of personalisation, art and creativity. Funeral directors have to get on board and embrace this change. 



Lounging Read a book in your pants, throw on a cardi and have tea in the garden, there’s nothing we love more than a day chilling at home

photos and doodles eli beristain styling olivia snape assisted by river jade gibbs hair and make-up sophie cox using 3ina and ghd model jade hudson at models 1 location margate location house


Lounge dress, £190, Sleeper Body, £80, Dora Larsen



Welcome to the wonderful magical world of Alex Merry, whose fantastical folk art has weaved its creative spell across the realms of craft, Morris dancing, fashion and pet portraits...

words frances ambler photos katie-jane watson

Alex Merry crafts the stuff of fantasy. Otherworldly beasts. Fanciful portraits of pets. Her folk art-style illustrations for Italian fashion brand Gucci’s Décor range have been made into murals brightening cities all over the world. As Alex says herself, she likes to “come at things from a side angle”. All this is conjured up from a very downto-earth place: Alex’s desk in her home in Stroud. As she works, sounds from the high street drift up to her room – “it never feels too isolated”. It’s her “magical, imagination-led childhood” growing up in this Gloucestershire town, where her dad was a vicar, that’s the heart to her work. Alex’s desk is surrounded with books and she loves revisiting childhood favourites for inspiration: Kit Williams’ Masquerade, Rhymes without Reason by Mervyn Peake, the Australian book: The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek, pouring over the

illustrations as she did as a child: “It’s all the detail! I used to stare at them for ages”. Alex hasn’t always been based here – after graduating she worked in London, in the studio of Damien Hirst. Perhaps surprisingly, it was in the capital that her interest in folk was reawakened. She got really into the folk scene, even taking up Morris dancing. Increasingly, she felt as if her day job and her passions weren’t married up – and she wasn’t doing her own work. Moving “home” was partially economically driven, but it’s where everything finally clicked. She found herself in a hub of artists and makers, with the space “to create quite freely”. She even founded an all-female Morris dancing troop, Boss Morris, who in their metallics and day-glo give the tradition an inventive, exhilarating twist. “I feel so lucky”, she says. Boss Morris led to the birth of Alex’s first Beast. Boss Morris were due to perform 


Changing faces of beauty The beauty world, one of the only industries dominated and lead by powerful female figures. Women who have invented and shaped the products we all use today

illustrations hazel mason

Madam CJ Walker words frances ambler

“A big black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up in my hair… In a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had ever fallen out… I made up my mind to begin to sell it.” The cosmetics business of Madam CJ Walker began in such a dream, and one she followed with dogged determination. She moved to Denver, with only $1.50 to her name, to set up her business – little did she know then that it would help her become the first female selfmade millionaire in the United States. Working two days a week as a laundress, she spent the rest of her time selling her products door-to-door. Her “wonderful hair grower” and lotions were formulated for black women like her, their needs inadequately addressed by the white beauty industry. She expanded into mail order, a beauty school, parlour and a national network of saleswomen, promoting her “Walker method” for hair. As her wealth grew and grew, Walker lavished it on cars and houses, but also trained her staff in budgeting and financial independence. One agent wrote her thanks in 1913 for helping “hundreds of coloured women to make an honest and profitable living”, where they could “make as much in one week” as in a month in “any other position that a coloured woman can secure”. Donating generously to causes such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black YMCA, Madam CJ Walker enjoyed her wealth and success but lived for more: “I am in the business world, not for myself alone,” she said in 1912, “but to do all the good I can for the uplift of my race.”


Helena Rubinstein

Anita Roddick

“Beauty is power” said Helena Rubinstein – and it was for her, taking her from Australia via Poland to London, Paris and New York, conquering all with her products and treatments. She dressed in Schiaparelli, was painted by Salvador Dalí and sketched by Andy Warhol. She had long-running feuds with her rival Charles Revlon and “that woman” Elizabeth Arden. Rubinstein excelled in drama, and introducing that flair into beauty, she was able to conjure up an enticing and hugely profitable realm of luxurious fantasy. She told everyone that the ‘valaze’ beauty moisturising cream on which she established her name contained rare herbs from the Carpathian Mountains – in fact it was a blend of mainly plain old lanolin, wax and cheap scent mixed just down the road in Melbourne. Her beauty speak was peppered with a sprinkling of science – donning a lab coat to talk of “prescribing” beauty remedies, according to her “diagnosis”. Despite all her spin, there’s no doubt Rubinstein was devoted to her business, working into her nineties. She was responsible for a string of innovations: the first waterproof mascara, anti-ageing product, one of the first to market a product against sun damage. She also encouraged women to develop their own personal style at a time when wearing lipstick or nail varnish were still on the cusp of respectability. When it comes to her famous statement that “there are no ugly women, only lazy ones”, it’s less a criticism of our own sloth and more a plea for an inclusive vision of beauty, being voiced by a true individual.

Saving up my pocket money to buy lip balms, mascara and gorgeously creamy body butters from The Body Shop is a defining memory from my teenage years, my first brush with cosmetics. I remember even back then – in the ’90s – that The Body Shop were different, they cared about what went into the products and where they came from. And I still use that body butter, one of their most iconic products. And Anita Roddick is the woman behind it all. She launched The Body Shop in 1976. More than just a shrewd business woman, she was a human rights activist and environmental campaigner, she changed the whole face of consumer beauty and its ethics. The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries, which has paved the way, long before it was seen as the norm. An extract from her autobiography/manifesto, Business as Unusual, articulated what The Body Shop set out to do. “There is no more powerful institution in society than business, which is why I believe it is now more important than ever before for business to assume a moral leadership. The business of business should not be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.” Aged 64, she suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2007 and died. A tragic loss for the beauty world, but her memory will certainly live on in natural beauty products that are never, ever tested on animals. 

words frances ambler

words alice snape


Spells and potions Channel your inner witch and get mixing up something magical

words semra haksever illustrations nes vuckovic Thousands of years ago, witches were known as healers; they were looked upon as the wise women of the community, carrying a deep knowledge of magical and medicinal components of plants and possessing a strong connection to animals. They were the medical practitioners of their time, working with nature’s cycles and honouring the changing of seasons. Rituals were practised for healing, protection, warding off evil, reversing curses and attracting good fortune and love. If you went to see a witch for an illness they would prepare for you a healing blend of herbs to improve your health, as well as write you a spell to go with it for protection, to prevent further sickness. It is interesting to see that many of the plants and herbs that were recorded as being used to cure illnesses by these witches were also noted as being used to banish negative energy. You may think some of these ingredients would be hard to come by, but the essential website for the modern witch will magic them direct to your door. 


Moon phases I have added a moon phase icon along with each spell, so you know which time of the month will be the most powerful for each spell and potion. Although it must be said, if you need to perform a banishing spell when there happens to be a new moon, don’t let it stop you. Sometimes things can’t wait and urgent spell work is required.






what we’re making


Her story in recipes When Kate Hamilton discovered a book written by her great grandmother, she realised they shared more than just a name words kate hamilton photos charlotte may

I’ve inherited a handful of things from my great grandmother. Rather than physical objects, they are quirks and character traits which, though I never got to meet her, seem to fix us in a common time. There’s a favourite flower (freesia), a favourite colour (blue) and a name (both Kate, but never Katherine). There’s also a love of reading and writing – she authored books on the animals around her Derbyshire home, while I now put pen to paper almost every day. Recently, however, something more tangible has come into my care. I would call it a cookery book but that doesn’t really cut it. Matters of Housewifery is a portrait of life in the 1920s and ’30s, captured through a series of recipes and advice on caring for children and looking after a home. It is laden with stories. A recipe for bran bread is rooted in a game of cricket; a formula for crème brûlée in the sighting of a ghost; a lesson on dusting a desk in the story of a war horse called Jerry. There’s even a passage on unrealistic beauty standards, which segues into advice for turning domestic tasks into physical work: “Rubbing and scrubbing,” apparently “is bodily drill and mental relaxation combined”. When the book first landed with me I spent a day  120

what we’re eating


#onegoodthing The precise time of year when the leaves are turning red and gold

Oh Comely 45 autumn  

Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid you’re convinced it’s real? This issue has been inspired by dreams, both the ones that happen w...

Oh Comely 45 autumn  

Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid you’re convinced it’s real? This issue has been inspired by dreams, both the ones that happen w...