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Rise up and shine! Coming of age awakenings Shopping in your PJs issue34 36£5 £5 issue

Open your eyes What makes you feel alive? This issue we explore rest and unrest; our true nature emerging from slumber.

oh comely 36: awake



contents Stories



12 A bunch of florists Four budding businesses getting creative with flowers

20 What we're reading Coming of age books

10 Spring things Products that celebrate a new season

23 The Oh Comely book club Your thoughts on Homegoing and we meet its author, Yaa Gyasi

40 Eureka moments Tales of invention and discovery

27 Sleep Story #1: Kayak angst 28 Awakenings Five writers share the experiences that opened their eyes 54 A dirty habit Lucy Purdy makes gardening gold from urban waste 56 One big family The interconnected artists of an east London community 63 Sleep Story #2: Ice babies 81 Sleep Story #3: Huddle up 96 Sounds like teen spirit Team Oh Comely revisit their first gigs

42 Pearl Mackie Meet Doctor Who's new companion 66 Weekend shopper Fashion too cosy to change out of 100 Alice Birch We chat to the playwright turned screenwriter about her new film 112 A curator's eye Brittany Natale introduces us to New York's up-and-coming artists 118 Iris Gold The singer tells us about the importance of not blending in

46 Unlikely uprisings Six strange examples of people power 130 Quiz: sleeping positions What does yours say about you?

In every issue 48 Three questions We spend some time with Victoria, a green-loving city dweller 64 Women who changed the world Lillian Moller Gilbreth 76 Subscribe Treat yourself to a year of Oh Comely

100 Weekends away Visiting the hometowns of your friends

120 Playlist Great first songs on debut albums

105 Sleep Story #4: Longyearbyen

121 Stockists Where to pick up your favourite mag

108 Seeing things in the dark Jason Ward reflects on sleeplessness 122 Bread, for starters Understanding the mysteries of baking

128 Contributors Some of the lovely people who made this issue

Ideas 78 It's good to talk A conversation about conversations 83 Why we march Speaking to participants of London's women's march 102 A thing of beauty is a joy forever We explore the role and meaning of conservation

Cover portrait of Molly by Laura Allard-Fleischl. Molly wears pink Colorado T-shirt from Beyond Retro, styled by Alice Burnfield with make up and hair by Alice Oliver. Pages four and five feature work by Australian photographer, Gabi Mulder. "This photo was taken at about 8am after staying over at my friend Daijah's place in Melbourne," she says. "The previous night, we'd sorted through her magazine collection, so we had piles upon piles of books and magazines unintentionally thrown all across the floor. We spent the morning basking in the sunlight on her bed, reading and eating peanut butter toast." See another of Gabi's images on pages 126-127. Portrait of Pearl Mackie (left) by Liz Seabrook – see page 42. Monkey illustration by Jess Wheeler, naked lady by Liv and Dom, butterfly box illustration by Rose Wong.


“I love watching how people behave around nature. Flowers are for everyone”

Serendipity Botanist Ltd “I didn’t expect that flowers would introduce me to so many naked people!” says Amulet Li, who has just told me about a couple of her clients — a Gentleman’s Club that orders weekly bouquets for its dancers, and a couple whose wedding reception involved a burlesque artist. Granted, that’s the more unusual side of Serendipity’s business. Amulet usually spends her time creating bouquets with British flowers, supporting local businesses and the environment, shunning the air miles, unregulated labour and the excessive pesticide use that comes with mass flower importation. Floristy started for Amulet when she went home to Hong Kong after a stay in London. “I went to the market and bought a lot of flowers on a whim to make some small bouquets for friends,” she remembers. “One of them had just gotten engaged and she asked me if I wanted to do her wedding flowers. I thought — how hard can it be?!”

Skip forward a couple of months and Amulet became aware that the venue was Hong Kong’s rather grand Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and there was going to be up to 500 guests. “I came straight back to London. I had a year to work as a junior florist so I could learn the ropes.” Thankfully, Amulet learns quickly and delivered a successfully styled wedding. Since then it’s been all about working with nature. Amulet noticed that so many of the flowers she was using initially were imported. “I wondered what British flowers looked like,” she says. “Turns out, they’re generally wild, true to nature and actually smell like flowers too!” Most memorable job apart from the reception with the naked dancer? “Oh the first wedding I did in London, I totally undercharged for. I worked so hard, I gave myself hayfever!”


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Photo credits: First row, left to right @wildandgizzly, @photosbyrosie, @jollygoodstudio; Second row: @AlbertineSarah, @alexandracwebb, @Notoriouslvc; Third row: @thenameisangharad, @nataliethomaspoetry, @chloerosewhitmore

Molly (far left) wears green slip, Beyond Retro; Printed cotton t-shirt, Herculie; Converse trainers, Rokit. Nicole (left) wears Pink oversized cotton hoodie, Natasha Zinko; Grey cotton shorts, Stitch & Pieces; White trainers with pom poms, Minna Parikka; Socks, Falke.

Billy Tempest-Radford, 20 I felt it my duty as a woman to be here. I wanted to show that I care. As an equalist I believe that everyone deserves opportunities, whatever their gender or race. Above all emotions, I feel extremely proud: proud of everyone at the march, proud of using my voice and proud of being a woman. This march will be a reminder for myself and others that if you care about something, you should stand up for it! ďƒ’


Sounds like teen spirit Team Oh Comely revisit their very first gigs photo paul edmonson

That initial live experience. The mosh pit, eardrums vibrating to a level that tickles the inside of your head, the utterly overwhelming, over-riding, unignorable force of it. It’s a milestone that leaves its mark, imprints itself onto memory, nostalgia forever ringing in our ears. Do you remember the first time? How did it make you feel?

Jason Ward

Aimee-lee Abraham

The Offspring Wembley Arena, 20th January 2001

Evanescence Cardiff International Arena, Nov 2nd 2003

The experience Let this sink in for a moment: not only was my first gig The Offspring, but I actually travelled to another country to see them. Yep. The weekend-long expedition was conceived by my friend Eamonn, whose father kindly drove a carload of us from Pontypridd and was our chaperone for the night. I liked The Offspring well enough, but really it could have been any of the shouty pop-punk bands we enjoyed back then. What I recall most vividly, other than my friend Stephen losing a shoe, was entering the arena and feeling the bass from the support act vibrate up through my feet, right into my chest. I know there’s nothing remotely cool about The Offspring, and never has been, but it was thrilling. The noise, the darkness of the room, the heaving bodies, the intoxicating energy of it all: I was 14 and I’d never felt so alive.

The experience I planned for this gig with the feverous anticipation of a (zombie) Bridezilla. I counted down the days on our family calendar, told anyone who would listen and spent my pocket money on fishnet gloves and white face paint from Blue Banana — the only shop serving the Goth demographic of my sleepy South Walian town. My friend and fellow Princess of Darkness, Amelia, came with me, and so did my Dad, who kept his promise to stand at least eight feet away. When we arrived we saw a serene older girl lying among the dirt and spilt beer, her arms draped across her chest as if lying in a coffin. We got down on the floor and copied her, a row of Ophelias in studs and stripy tights. My throat was so sore the next day that I stayed off school.

Listening to them again I can’t think of the circumstances where I’d reach for The Offspring today. If I angered a trickster spirit and switched bodies with my younger self, perhaps? Many of the songs now sound almost identical to one another, but there’s an undeniable energy at work. I found myself excited for three minutes, then thoroughly exhausted.


Listening to them again There’s a fondness for this album that will never die, but I’m baffled by what 10-year old Aimee-lee could have found relatable about Amy Lee. I wince when I play back the lyric, “pouring Crimson regret and betrayal”, but then I remember that current me is a word snob, and 10-year-old me self-published a poem featuring the line “The man next door is a man called Stan. If you need something done, he’s the man that can.” 



A thing of beauty is a joy forever Or so wrote John Keats. But how can we make sure our things of beauty last forever? We explore the role and meaning of conservation words frances ambler illustration rose wong

When I worked in a museum, I used to purposefully detour my walk to the canteen past the windows of the conservation studio. In amongst the scientific gleam of the white lab, I’d sometimes catch a glimpse of an object peeking out from under its protective tissue paper more exciting than the thousands out on display. I often consider those clever workers who dust away the dirty paw prints of time. Or the Cutty Sark ship, minutes away from where I live, proudly reborn after the 2007 fire. The accumulated grime of centuries being cleaned away to reveal the bold colours of a painting. And who could forget the man who tripped over his shoelaces to smash three Ming vases? They’re now back on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, painstakingly rebuilt by conservators. However, look a little closer at the work of conservators and you’ll discover that these grand scale, fix it up jobs don't make up the majority of the work these every day magicians do. Their spells, instead, are the thousands of acts of prevention and intervention that help preserve the object against the ravages of time. It’s a relatively

new concept — in the 1850s, Michael Faraday gave evidence about how coal smoke, gas lighting and humidity were causing the paintings in the National Gallery to deteriorate, but it was well into the 20th century before such ideas really took hold. To preserve and to protect reveals faith in the importance of an object, and the belief that having it in this world is worthwhile — perhaps to help us achieve greater understanding, perhaps to challenge history or to help us see the world a bit differently. Perhaps simply because of its beauty. What if we started looking at our objects through the eyes of a conservator? For starters, not everything is conserved. Even in our homes, it’s the objects we particularly love or use that we give extra care and attention. So, even just the picking out and preserving of an object gives it a special value, as does putting it on display, whether that’s in your own home or a museum. It shows that object is meaningful to someone or to the world more generally. The conservator, then, sees themselves as secondary to the object. Their aim isn’t to make their mark — in fact, one 


New Art: The view from New York Curator Brittany Natale shows us her pick of emerging talent and shares her thoughts on the importance of art words brittany natale portrait maren morstad

I recently went to the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, a fabulous show focusing on a strong artist who tied her sense of identity into all she did — from the way she painted, to how she dressed, to the places she lived. I had visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum a few months prior in Santa Fe, New Mexico; her paintings against the backdrop of the orange-hued sands of New Mexico just as striking as her work hung in the towering rooms of an NYC museum. Each piece a reminder of an artist not only aware of her surroundings and her experiences, but also of her self. After leaving the museum I walk down Eastern Parkway, which is in the Prospect Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, a community known not only for its cultural diversity but also for its tree-lined streets. I pass Grand Army Plaza, large statues and sculptures dancing in the sun’s spring glow, and for a moment I feel as if I am in Europe.

Brittany Natale is an NYC-based curator, producer, writer and artist who puts on issue-focused art shows and programming. She’s recently collaborated with Topshop and Amanda de Cadenet and Girlgaze Collective’s Curatorial Committee for their LA show. See what she’s up to next on Instagram at @brittanynatale


I go underground to enter the #2 Subway Line, the station’s halls and mezzanine lined with 78 terracotta artifacts and glass mosaics salvaged from buildings long since demolished – a gentle reminder that art is immortal, that even in the afterwards there is an always. A young man gets on the train, singing along to his portable radio — reggae singer Beres Hammond’s ‘Double Trouble’ wafts through the train car and everything is illuminated. An older man wistfully exclaims how he listened to that song “that summer in Brooklyn”; a group of college kids begin harmonising down the aisle, and for a

moment it’s just too much — I put down my book and meditate instead on all these varied details that act as the different notes in the song, making this moment in this city. And all at once, I am Georgia, I am the designer of those destroyed buildings, I am Beres singing through heartbreak, I am that man reliving that memorable summer — I can feel it all. Growing up in NYC, there was never a shortage of art – whether it was spending the weekends at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, watching a group of street performers dance along 1st Avenue, or visiting Carnegie Hall for a music performance. From a young age, art has put up a strong (and successful) fight in showing me that it is as necessary as breathing — that the only way to truly awaken certain facets of myself is through creative expression. This is because art allows us to express and to feel emotions that we, for whatever reason, cannot express otherwise; it allows us to recall memories usually not readily recalled. Art shows us what makes us, us. It allows each ache, each joy, each struggle, to be transmuted into something beautiful. For it is the canvas that gives us the platform, and the paint that gives us the voice. And most importantly, art is a reminder that we’re all human, all connected. Each of us creating under the same sun and under the same night sky. Take a look at Brittany’s favourite new artists on the theme of Awake, over the next five pages.

Untitled by Dana Nguyen A 16-year-old photographer from the Bay Area of California. Dana Nguyen has been making photos since she was 12 and mainly shoots portraits. Part of being an artist, for her, is about self discovery and connection. Find her on Instagram: @da__na ďƒ’


Issue 36 playlist Artists' first songs from their first albums

words marta bausells

First times are often idealised — but they can also be tremendously awkward, disappointing or just weird. We're not going to go into clichés about first loves, but will instead invite you to cherish first songs in all their glory and imperfection. For musicians, the first track of the first album is like their cover letter to all of us — these songs are not always the best in the albums they sit in, but they play the very tricky role of setting the mood. These 24 tracks once introduced artists we now cherish to millions of listeners. They were at the same level as anyone starting

Intro - The XX

My Name is Jonas - Weezer

Dogs Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine

Ghosts - Laura Marling

Falling - HAIM

Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town Talking Heads

Bella Donna - Stevie Nicks

Wannabe - Spice Girls

The State I'm In - Belle & Sebastian

Rhymin & Stealin - Beastie Boys

Absentee - Emmy the Great

All I Really Want - Alanis Morissette

Lucky Star - Madonna

Caring is Creepy - The Shins

X Offender - Blondie

Genie in a Bottle - Christina Aguilera

Formed a Band - Art Brut Safe From Harm - Massive Attack


Faith - George Michael Turn the Page - The Streets

See No Evil - Television

The Heat - Jungle

Push It - Salt-N-Pepa

A.M. - Joywave

out: they could go on to become stars, respected musicians, girl bands that would influence a generation; or they could just flop. From Blondie to Haim, via Alanis, Weezer, Christina Aguilera and more, we loved going back and listening to these artists as they first presented themselves to the world. Whatever they went on to do later, these songs are little time capsules of the 00s, 90s and 80s. What must it have felt like to scratch Madonna's first record? Join us in imagining. Listen to the playlist at stories/playlist36


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Oh Comely 36  

Open your eyes. What makes you feel alive? Join us as we explore awakenings, find our true selves and emerge from slumber. Our Awake issue f...

Oh Comely 36  

Open your eyes. What makes you feel alive? Join us as we explore awakenings, find our true selves and emerge from slumber. Our Awake issue f...