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Cressida Peever - firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIGO 3 F EATURES
We look at the street art scene in our historic student city
4 & 5 MUSIC
An eclectic mix of music this week, featuing Newton Faulkner, Foals, St Vincent and Mikill Pane 6 & 7 FASHION
We get front-row seats at London Fashion Week, and bring you the best looks from Durham’s students 8 & 9 V ISUAL ARTS
Our visit to a student art initiative and a review of Durham’s Norman Chapel’s new installation 1 0 & 11 BOOKS
A look at books that have made the leap from paper to screen 1 2 F O OD & DRINK We debate the ethics of halal and kosher meat 1 3 FILM & TV
We look over the winners and losers at the Oscars 1 4 STAGE
A recipe for the perfect play in seven easy steps 1 5 TRAVEL
We plunge into the sights and smells of Istanbul
For more arts and lifestyle articles please visit www.palatinate.org.uk
March is officially Women’s History Month, which seeks to highlight the contribution that women have made to contemporary society, culture and history. In addition, last Saturday (8th) was International Women’s Day, which, this year, was given the theme ‘Inspiring Change’. Therefore, we asked our readers to draw pictures of the women who have inspired them to feature on the cover of this week’s Indigo. My own contribution is a sketch of Jane Austen, whose books I have always loved. Her biting irony and extraordinary social commentary are just a few of the reasons that her books have remained so appealing to later generations. Her own remarkable achievements, as well as those of her heroines, can be inspiring to anyone, regardless of gender. Looking at the strong women to feature together on the cover, I can’t help but imagine them all discussing what it means to be female today and how this has changed. It is undeniable that we would be living in a very different world without the cultural influence that they have brought from their respective fields. Admiration can easily make one feel as if someone else’s achievements are unattainable. However, it is likely that many of our generation’s most influential figures will come from Durham University, and will be inspirational figures for generations to come. So as you’re chained to your library desk, bemoaning the anguish of summative essays, you can take comfort in the idea that perhaps in the not-so-distant future there will be a dreamy undergraduate sketching a picture of you to represent who they most admire. Cressida
Aphorisms by Shreyas Murali Thottuvai “The simple act of keeping secrets is the fine dividing line between individualism and collectivism.” “Try converting poverty into a style statement. People will buy that too.”
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Give us your feedback! Think something about Indigo needs changing? Take our questinnaire online at palatinate.org.uk and let your opinion change the face of the paper. INDIGO EDITOR Cressida Peever BOOKS EDITOR Kate Wilkinson FASHION EDITORS Isobel Buckingham Katie Shuff FEATURES EDITOR Francesca Jaworska FILM & TV EDITOR Aalok Vora FOOD & DRINK EDITOR Diana Grant-Davie MUSIC EDITORS Sophia Smith Galer Jack Collins Anastasia Symecko (deputy) STAGE EDITOR Emma Dawson TRAVEL EDITOR Philip Whitehead VISUAL ARTS EDITOR Frances Marsh
Elliot Humphrey Alice Meekins Rory McInnes-Gibbons Oliver Stephenson Katie Shuff Frances Marsh Stephanie Lam James Hudson Diana Vonnak Alexandra Fitzgerald Sandy Thin Chloe Treasure Veronica Guranda Iona Napier PHOTOGRAPHY / ILLUSTRATION Harriet-Jade Harrow Cressida Peever Jack Hodsoll Iona Napier
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Francesca Jaworska - email@example.com
F EAT U R E S
where ‘art’ thou?
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We’ve got plenty of buskers; now Elliot Humphrey looks at Durham’s street art scene Banksy, C215, Shepard Fairey…
ing encouraged and emphasized enough. This is particularly evident at a college level, with most art being produced purely for formal events. Art doesn’t appear to be shared between colleges, creating ‘bubbles’ that limits collaboration and the potential for inter college exhibitions.
admit, these names will mean nothing to most people reading this. A few art conscientious students, however, will recognize that they are all prominent characters within the street art scene. Their styles are unique and representative, ranging from satirical stencils to serious political art that can be seen across the world, on the streets or in prestigious galleries. These pioneers of the modern street art era have inspired a new generation of street artists in locations across the world… yet Durham remains untouched. This makes me ask the question: where is all the street art? While I cannot say that I possess any artistic flare myself, I would like to consider myself an ‘enthusiast’ of street art, therefore I’ll try my best to put this particular form of art into context. The street art movement initially began as a form of text-based graffiti predominantly applied to public walls which aimed to convey political protest or social commentary. The graffiti boom of the 1980s saw a shift from text based slogans to visually appealing graffiti sprayed on a variety of mediums ranging from streets walls to subway carriages. The ideals of visual based art, which aimed to be challenging and thought provoking, gradually matured to form modern day street art. Street art is synonymous
with a spray can, however as the movement has maturated various techniques are used such as wheat paste posters and stencils. Street art tends to be a ‘love it or hate it’ affair, described as artistic or mindless vandalism
depending on an individual’s personal tastes. Personally, I feel a piece can be considered street art if it’s tasteful to the environment in which it is displayed (legally) as well as being thought-provoking for the viewer. Since street art paints a picture (pun intended) of social and political commentary, what does the lack of street art say about the changes within the city and university?
Despite writing about Durham’s absence of street art, we have in fact hosted an international street artist: Amsterdam-based artist Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman. Commissioned to produce art for the Lindisfarne Gospel exhibition last summer, ‘Shoe’ operated out of a temporary studio based in a vacant shopping centre unit in Durham. From here, he created six pieces using a style called calligraffiti (combining aspects of both calligraphy and graffiti) which were displayed at Newcastle upon Tyne’s Castle Keep. Surely hosting an artist with an international reputation should have boosted Durham’s interest in street art? Sadly, this has not been the case.
their styles range from satirical stencils to serious political art Durham is a small city so we could understand if there weren’t any free spaces in venues to showcase such art, yet this isn’t the case. Durham is lucky enough to boast multiple art venues such as the Wolfson Gallery at Palace Green, in addition to an abundance of available wall space across many of the university buildings. Current exhibitions being held seem to orientate around 20th century art, which the university likes to show off since it possess the largest collection in the UK, appealing to the tourists and older demographic in the city. Whilst these types of exhibitions add to the overall quaintness of Durham, it appears to neglect the interest of students. This means that the University and Students Union are the only bodies which would have the ability to stimulate a demand for art orientated at a younger target audience. Student art is predominantly produced through the Art Society which, according to the University’s website, does boast hosting student art exhibitions. However, this isn’t be-
Photographs: thisisdurham.com So what can we do? I definitely don’t encourage anyone to take to the streets with a spray can trying to ‘make their mark’ on the world, however it would be nice to see more people interested in street art within the University. A target for the future may even be Durham’s first ever street art exhibition, allowing collaboration between both distant and local budding street artists. Will Durham be host to the next Banksy? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Story by Elliot Humphrey
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4 Photograph by Alice Meakin
newton faulkner// 13.2.14
Newton Faulkner is perhaps best known for his 2007 hit ‘Dream Catch Me’, but there is so much more to this ginger-dreadlocked guitarist. His current tour follows the release of Newton’s fourth album, Studio Zoo last summer. Newton creates beautiful music, but he is certainly an experimental artist; his acoustic cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Like I Love You’, for example, caused a real stir amongst the audience in Newcastle. There is no doubt that Newton is a supremely talented musician; his great vocals are enhanced by his amazing finger-tapping percussive sequences on the guitar, which add another dimension to his solo performances. Newton delighted the crowd with songs from all four albums, from old favourites like ‘Teardrop’, to newer hits such as ‘Clouds’ and
“there is no doubt that Newton is a supremely talented musician” ‘Plastic Hearts’. The diverse audience was clearly full of long-time Faulkner fans, and although it was overall quite tame, Newton knew how to liven things up when the song called for it. Audience participation is certainly his forte, inviting parts of the crowd to sing different rounds during ‘Soon’, and getting them all literally bouncing with excitement to ‘Write it on Your Skin’. We also enjoyed a small dialogue about the debatable ‘manliness’ of his new mug cosy, for the cup of tea he quirkily poured himself between songs. For the first time in years, according to the man himself, Newton is joined on stage for the current tour by other musicians: a cellist and two background vocalists. Rather touchingly, one of these vocalists was Newton’s brother, Toby, who is also a singer-songwriter. The trio was completed by Sam Brookes, who was also Newton’s support act for the evening. It was easy to see why Sam was playing alongside Newton, as he shared the ‘folk rock’ style which Mr Faulkner plays so well. Sam Brookes has a powerful voice, strikingly emphasised by the few unaccompanied lines with which he opened the show. Some might expect support acts to include some covers in their set, but Sam played only his own music, and the audience did not suffer the unfamiliarity, but enjoyed his talent for its own merits. He may not be widely known, but Sam Brookes has a second album coming out soon, and he is certainly worth a listen. He is also touring in March this year, though unfortunately he has not confirmed any dates in Newcastle yet. To anyone who is already a fan of the folksy music of artists like Ben Howard, for instance, I would thoroughly recommend both Newton Faulkner and Sam Brookes. For a taste of Newton’s slightly more quirky music try ‘Gone in the Morn-
Sophia Smith Galer & Jack Collins - firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSIC ing’, ‘Lipstick Jungle’, or ‘Badman’. The Newcastle concert was a night full of feel-good music, and whether you are an old fan, or new to his music, Newton is at his best when performing live, and definitely worth making the effort to see! Story by Alice Meekins Photo Credit: Alice Meekins
foals// 12.2.14 “A little horse that still needs milk”. The words with which Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC’s enigmatic manager, recently rebutted a question posed on his side’s championship hopes this season. Lactose-deprived Foals were this band during second album Total Life Forever, threatened by the world and in a state of permanent dissatisfaction resulting in a solitude complex permeating throughout the album. They sought refuge, brilliantly encapsulated in the lyrics of ‘Spanish Sahara’, still their single greatest achievement to date. Tonight, the “little horse” has evaporated and in its place Foals.2 is born. Gone is the naïve mathrock to make young indies dance and in its place a machismo assault at the heavier end of the spectrum. For a band labelled Afrobeat in their early years this is not some Metal Afro fusion, rather a slightly distorted combination of the two which to a large degree ignites in the live setting. The band enter as befits a genuine headliner, having cut their teeth with immense success at last summer’s Latitude, amidst a hypnotic spectacle of green lasers, eventually emitting the vest dressed guitarist, Jimmy Smith, who casually plucks the opening to Holy Fire’s ‘Prelude’. This is a song of far too epic proportion for the smaller crowd tonight and is clearly designed with the arena stage in mind to rival the opening throbs of Arctic Monkeys’ already iconic ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ Devoid of Yannis Philippakis’ grovelling howl
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night ‘My Number’ reverberates around the bouncing bobs of the dance floor, before ushering in the tender beauty of Total Life Forever opener ‘Blue Blood’. Alongside the staggeringly transcendent ‘Spanish Sahara’, these tracks are the emotional zenith of the night and a personal highlight because they both display the diversity of Foals as a complex art rock vanity project, ‘Blue Blood’, and the bare essense of this formula, ‘Spanish Sahara’. Disappointingly, the performance omits the equally brilliant ‘Black Gold’ or ‘Afterglow’ and instead of the free percussive dexterity of their earlier material, we are subjected
“i’m an animal just like you” to brainless and endless heavy freak outs on the underwhelming ‘Providence’ as Yannis sneers “I’m an animal just like you”, a lazy shadow of the potential this band has to carve a niche with their unique intellectual diversity. On the other hand, the laser show pulls the spectacle through and the red lasers on ‘Providence’ and blue haze to accompany ‘Spanish Sahara’ sparse splendour blend with the music to embellish it further. Though the scourge of the modern gig, the blanket phone coverage, obscures and undermines the whole attempt to concoct an immersive show. Yannis has his moment as he bombs into the crowd and materialises on the bar during the encore’s stomping ‘Two Steps, Twice’ to give the arena filling material the intimate feel and frantic energy of an early bar gig. The arena material is at its best on the main set closing, jaw dropping magnificence of Afro Metal staple ‘Inhaler’ which truly displays the apex of heavy Foals to make the impossible possible and redefine their art/alt rock on a heavier platform. The connection between Philippakis and this generation is palpable as the ‘young fans of Yannis’ or ‘Fannies’ echo ‘Late Night’s refrain: “Oh now Mama, do you hear me, calling out your name?” The band can still deal in emotional gravity. It is now peeping out from a hollow mainstream pleasing Holy Fire faster, louder framework devoid of the deep profundity of Total Life Forever. Still, on the whole it is a tight and diverse set with which to assault the UK circuit, though perhaps not a total reflection of Foals’ championship hopes. Story by Rory McInnes-Gibbons
“gone is the naïve math rock to make young indies dance ” ‘Prelude’ lacks the sonic dislocation which distinguishes it and is a protracted and overwrought jam sliding into two breezier numbers, ‘Hummer’ and ‘Olympic Airways’, to the manifest delight of the majority sub twenty audience. This delight reaches an ecstatic crescendo as the captivatingly catchy and most mainstream pop of the
Foals performing at Latitude Festival in 2013 Photograph by Cressida Peever
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Sophia Smith Galer & Jack Collins - email@example.com
mikill pane// interview
“I went to Riverside. Mental.”
Unfortunately, London rapper Mikill Pane was not referring to the asylum that is Elvet Riverside, but rather the nightclub in Newcastle with which he partied at last year with Rizzle Kicks. In fact, I’m not even totally sure Mikill Pane knows where Durham is. However, one of his latest tracks ‘Good Feeling’ suggests he knows a bit about student life, with lyrics like, ‘Cause he’s not a landlord, he’s the lord of the friggin’ sift’. But what about student life up here? Sophia Smith Galer puts him to the test. 1.Three triples for.. a)£3 b)£5 c)£7 “Pardon? I’ll go for £5.” 2.Which is the only to song you should be ending a night out on? a)Wrecking Ball b)Common People c)That’s Amore “[Laughs] I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say...Wrecking Ball? 3.You want to bring the person you fancy a token of your love, do you bring them a)A traffic cone b)A bouquet c)A pot noodle “Hmm, so on a night out specifically?...I’m gonna go for a traffic cone.”
a)There is damp in your bedroom b)There is damp in your bedroom and your kitchen c)There is damp in every single room of your house “Bedroom and kitchen.” 5.The locals’ pub tonight is looking good and you head in. But...
a)You are identified by your cocky London swag as a Southerner and wake up two hours later with a black eye. b)You’re welcomed like a long lost son as you down pints of Newcastle Brown Ale. c)What!? You would never head into the locals’ pub, that’s suicide! “C...No, B!” Not even scoring a Desmond, Mikill has some revision to do; his answer to his last question hints at a particular health and safety issue in the event of his coming to Durham. Thankfullly, he knows a lot more about the music scene today, and in our conversation, he expresses himself well; he tells the story behind his collaboration with Ed Sheeran on ‘Little Lady’ sentimentally, walking back to Camden from Old Street, boozing and just talking about their music. A rap that he’d happened to write years ago clicked well with the imagery in Sheeran’s ‘The A Team‘ and the rest was history. Mikill approaches his rapping as collaborative, picking up not only from other people’s styles but from other people’s histories and backgrounds. He has another collaboration EP out now which is definitely worth a looking over, even if only to hear the dulcet tones of Katie Price a.k.a. Jordan which are featured on one of the tracks. It’s good-time music; nothing ground-breaking yet but light-hearted, indie rap in the same vein as Rizzle Kicks that’s bound to get you smiling.
Photograph by Mikill Pane
4.You’re complaining to your landlord because...
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music competition Write us 300 words entitled
‘My Most Memorable Live Music Experience’ for the chance to
win tickets to North East Live. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Weird? Yeah, just a bit. She talks about being chased naked by a serpent on ‘Rattlesnake’, about snorting up the Berlin Wall on ‘Prince Johnny’, and even questions the point of sleeping on ‘Digital Witness’. When listening to this record, ‘Birth in Reverse’ sounds like an edgier Katy Perry and many other tracks sound like what Gaga wanted out of Artpop. ‘Prince Johnny’ is along the same lines as her previous album’s ‘Cruel’, more atmospheric but less catchy; you get the idea that this is what Lana Del Rey can only dream about. A Hip hop beat and a fine demonstration of her vocal strength start off ‘Huey Newton’ before it all turns Kraftwerk-y, eventually evolving into a sludgy, grungy mess; what’s even stranger than some of the lyrics on this album is that it works. ‘I Prefer Your Love’ is perhaps the bum note, but even this has something to offer: cool sonic sounds playing the response to the “I prefer your love to Jesus” call. Even when she brings a ridiculous sounding choir into the frame on ‘Regret’, or structures a song around rhythm built by what sounds like two balloons being rubbed together on ‘Bring Me Your Loves’, you just throw your hands up in the air and admit that, somehow, it works. ‘Psychopath’ could be an 80s classic, albeit accompanied by an electronic wobble board. The “moaning robot” sound on ‘Every Tear Disappears’ works you into a groove; the ghostly whispers keep you interested. We end on ‘Severed Crossed Fingers’, a pseudo-Bowie piece that even quotes ‘Heroes’. St. Vincent channels her strangeness into making inventive music; straightforward melodies mixed with out-there lyrics, all glued together with wack-job rhythms, combine to produce something wonderful. It seems you can give Annie Clark anything and she’ll get a solid tune out of it. And I mean anything. Story by Oliver Stephenson Photograph by Pitchfork
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FASHION 6 London calling 1 4 M A R
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For the first time ever, Palatinate Fashion secures the golden ticket to London Fashion Week. Katie Shuff gives you the lowdown on the key trends for Autumn/ Winter 2014...
s if to usher in the new fashion season, the wind swirled incessantly around the grand courtyard of Somerset House, the opulent setting for the equally decadent London Fashion Week. Following on from New York only a few days prior, London was abuzz with eager anticipation as the fashion rat pack descended on Somerset House and the British Fashion Council Show Space, all decked out in the most extravagant and eccentric ensembles now synonymous with the London fashion scene. Never one to disappoint, this season’s offerings proved once again why London is at the heart of a burgeoning and innovative new sartorial wave, set to take the fashion industry by storm. Under the expert and distinguished support of several schemes, such as Newgen and Fashion East, sponsored by Topshop and the British Fashion Council respectively, up-and-coming designers have been given a much valued platform to showcase their inspiring work in the prestigious presentation spaces at Somerset House. Whilst remaining refreshingly unique, as with any season, certain trends captured the imagination of British designers, both young and old, transcending numerous catwalk collections and no doubt making their way in to your wardrobe in the not-too-distant future. This Autumn/Winter will see you sidling up to all and sundry as designers offer up a plethora of contrasting textures appealing to our more tactile nature. Think beautifully soft sheepskin and shearling gilets and jackets to snuggle into, as seen at Christopher Raeburn, inspired by the images of polar pioneers, a timely nod to the Polar Vortex perhaps. Equally warming treats came from 1205, who showcased an array of intricate weaves in nylon and mohair in their sophisticated selection of oversized jumpers, perfectly finished off with extra bobble detailing on the cuffs. Embracing the pick n’ mix vibe of London street style, the key to this season’s textile trend is mixing contrasting and unexpected textures with one another. Look to the likes of emerging designer, Martine Jarglaard, who teamed delightfully unique translucent plastic formal jackets and Perspex skirts with delicate lace blouses for that subtle subversion of feel, or fashion aficionado Christopher Kane, who mixed and matched luxe knitwear with PVC and dashes of nylon. At Lucas Nascimento, glimpses of rough woollen jumpers peeked out of sleek all-leather ensembles for that ultimate textile clash. Also appearing at Lucas Nascimento and several other London catwalk collections were knits intricately woven with thin wisps of glittery thread, glistening iridescently in the light and providing an extra dimension to this season’s contrasting textiles. Not just confined to outwear, tactile textures were equally prevalent amongst accessories. Handbag designer Sophia Beckford’s Caviar Ball Clutch, made of bespoke beaded detailing in a mix of pink and red embroidery embellishments, simply screamed ‘tactile luxe’. Similarly, the very name given to Stephen Jones’s latest collection ‘Garbo-Garbo’ alluded to this season’s juxtaposing trend, referencing the iconic Greta Garbo with the more obscure Russian sculptor, Naum Gabo. The result: a mix of sumptuous velvets and feathers teamed with more abstract wooden detailing. Continuing fashion’s current predilection for all things androgynous, London designers took the boy-meets-girl look one step further, fusing both masculine and feminine pieces into one gender-blending ensemble. Australian design team, Paven, subverted boxy and oversized
male inspired tailoring with classical female floral bouclé detailing in sumptuous hues of cherry and tangerine for that perfect ambisexual look. Boxy jackets with sloping shoulders proved to be a catwalk staple this season, as seen at J.JS Lee. With a collection inspired by an ‘off-road lifestyle’, models skulked down the runway in heavy and dramatic full length coats, flung haphazardly over elegant and ethereal floor length evening gowns. Crisp, clean silhouettes, accentuated by navy piping, merged with more whimsical A-line skirts complete with pleated waists and mermaid hemlines, as the elegant feminine shape of the fifties was offset by geometric sculpted structures. Similarly, the womenswear collection at Burberry Prorsum was full of subtle references to its menswear equivalent staged in Kensington Gardens just a few weeks prior. Artistic references evident at the men’s collection featured on the womenswear catwalk also, with ethereal scarves painted with leaf and floral detailing fluttering delicately as models shimmied down the runway. Delicate chiffons were toughened up with heavy shearling and suede coats and trenches, providing that perfect nod to gender-fusing fashion. Ending the show, just as he had with the men’s collection, Christopher Bailey sent the models down in monogrammed picnic blanket inspired shawls. Masculine tailoring has never looked so feminine. Never one to shy away from colour, the standout shade this season with London designers was most definitely blue. Whether it be a more refined navy or an iridescent cobalt, splashes of such an accessible hue worked its way into several designer collections. At Marios Schwab, glamorous navy dresses were sophisticatedly seductive in simple sixties inspired A-line shapes. More striking primary blues permeated Roksanda Ilincic’s futuristic offerings, providing an oh-so-simple update to this season’s fashion staples. Expecting the unexpected is what counts this Autumn/ Winter. Whether subverting colours, textures and shape, this season is about taking risks and breaking free from those ever so tiresome fashion rules.
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Katie Shuff & Isobel Buckingham - firstname.lastname@example.org
Black tie with a twist
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Indigo looks at how the audience members at St Cuthbertâ€™s Society Fashion Show made a statement with their outfits.
striking shoes backless beauties & cut-out queens
Photographs: Cressida Peever
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Frances Marsh - email@example.com
V I S UA L A RT S
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cooper studios in the spotlight Frances Marsh visits the successful pilot project of a fresh new student art initiative
“this is definitely something people have been wanting”
ooper Studios, an inspiring new Durham student art initiative, recently completed their pilot project in Empty Shop to film a promotional video. The social enterprise was set up by third year Hatfield student Christian Cooper Ellinas along with assistant manager Sofia Greaves, a second year at St Aidan’s. Cooper Studios aims to provide Durham students with the necessary space, materials and exhibition opportunities to pursue their aspirations in visual art. When I visit, the light of a perfect Durham morning fills the spacious room in Empty Shop above The Gates. The blank walls are covered in large-scale pieces of art ranging from imposing portraits and figurative images to intricately patterned masks and neat compositions of sprawling doodles. A portrait of a man in loose and dynamic brushstrokes has an energy that projects itself beyond the wall. On the adjacent wall, an ornately patterned elephant has a similar effect of walking out of the wall itself, though the approach here is meticulously crisp. The sheer scope of subject matter and technical approaches is spectacular but the distinctive pieces are not sporadic or disunited. The monochrome palette using black and white paint and charcoal unifies the sequence of impressive student art. The accomplished art is being used in a promotional video which aims to raise the profile of Cooper Studios and encourage sponsorship. Any sponsors who give over £100 will be given a section of the roll of paper that runs its way around the room. This snippet of the students’ artwork will act as a concrete expression of their gratitude. Sofia comments, “this is definitely something that people have been wanting.” According to Christian, there has been more engagement than first anticipated. Around 30 students have registered their interest and sixteen people turned up to the pilot project to fill the walls with their artistic endeavours which show an exciting diversity of styles. Since its inception in October 2013, the initiative has thrived, despite Durham University not offering any creative degree courses. In fact, it seems that interest has flourished because of the fact that Durham offers little opportunity for students to continue to practically pursue their interest in visual arts. Sofia explains that the majority
of the scheme’s members had wanted to undertake creative art courses after leaving school. She would have done just that, but felt that a more academic foundation to fall back on would be necessary. In her second year of a classics degree, Sofia laughs, “it’s tempting not to go to lectures sometimes.” Christian, too, jokes that his degree in crim-
the sheer scope of subject matter and technical approaches is spectacular but the distinctive pieces are not disunited; the monochrome palette unifies the sequence inology has suffered, with a dissertation deadline looming on the horizon. But for Sofia, the project has been a mood-booster, transforming her time here. It is clear that Cooper Studios is where their passion lies and their momentum seems unstoppable. Although the initiative is ostensibly one which, for the membership price of £257, simply provides space, materials and opportunity for exhibition to Durham University students, the community aspect of this social enterprise is undeniable. It also aims to provide local art students with the chance to build their portfolio and get into art school. Charity exhibitions are also proposed, alongside the termly exhibitions which will give members the opportunity to display and promote their own work. Cooper Studios plans to be self-sufficient within two years. Christian intends to stay in Durham for a year after he graduates to support the initiative but the running of the project will then be handed over to its members. He seems optimistic about the potential of the scheme, with thoughts of spreading the concept to other universities. But for the mean time in Durham, the project demonstrates that despite not offering any practical creative courses, the visual arts at this University still flourishes.
Photographs: members of Cooper Studios
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Frances Marsh - firstname.lastname@example.org
V I S UA L A RT S
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‘the grey lady galatea’
Stephanie Lam enjoys a new contemporary installation in Durham’s historic Norman Chapel
The Grey Lady Galatea successfully manoeuvres the tricky business of displaying contemporary art in historic spaces The Grey Lady Galatea was commissioned by Hazel Donkin, lecturer in the University and SCR Arts Secretary of University College, as the first of a series of commissions designed to “highlight the potential of this building [the Castle] for the display of contemporary art.” The installation is the result of a collaboration between Ben Jeans Houghton, a contemporary artist based in Newcastle and Diva Dompe, an LA based ‘intergalactic healer’ who wrote and recorded the narrative that plays as part of the artwork. The main, visible parts of the sculpture include a rectangular mat in a corner of the Chapel and standing on the mat there is a speaker, a stand holding a microphone, and two bottles of water, creating the illusion of a speaker standing there in the corner. This illusory aspect of the sculpture is deceptively simplistic; the casual mess of wires that hang down from the microphone are in fact steel structures forged by the artist at 1,300 degrees celsius. The other aspect of the installation, audible even to passers by outside the Chapel, is Diva’s
the casual mess of wires that hang down from the microphone are in fact steel structures forged by the artist at 1300 degrees Celsius. voice that narrates a ‘guided meditation’. The seven minute reflection proceeds like a yoga-class meditation that blends features of the Norman Chapel such as the swirls and carvings of its its pillars into the record.
Ben explains that as an artist he has interests in the “resurgence of medieval ideas” and the “habitual momentum of perception,” and these concerns shine through in the viewers’ experience of the installation, which is full of curious contradictions. On the one hand, Dompe’s narrative feels oddly misplaced. Viewers confront the unexpectedness of listening to a Californian accent guiding them through yoga class-esque meditation in a dimly lit, medieval chapel. On the other hand however, the sculpture and narrative also feels strangely appropriate. Approached with an open mind, the soothing instructions of the speaker for us to “feel our breath,” to “taste the foliage,” to follow the lines of the “strong pillars” does indeed root us in the present moment, guiding us to contemplate the aesthetic and spiritual potential of the Chapel. The tricky business of displaying contemporary art in historic spaces such as the Norman Chapel is successfully manoeuvred by The Grey Lady Galatea. In its use of ‘new age’ methods tactfully adds to the atmosphere and dignity of the space. It does what the best contemporary sculptures do: to revitalize the site of the installation. Passing by the Chapel these two weeks then, you shouldn’t be too alarmed to hear a Californian woman’s voice booming from within. This exciting and worthwhile venture should whet our appetite for further art commissions in the Castle. They not only showcase the historic spaces in the Castle, but also brings to students a forward-looking and creative element to the traditional sites of Durham city centre.
Photograph: Ben Jeans Houghton
n exciting piece of site-specific contemporary installation art will be displayed in the Norman Chapel of Durham Castle until 14th March. More than just a passive viewing experience, the installation encourages viewers to engage with the historical and quasi-spiritual dimension of the Normal Chapel itself.
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from book to
the journey from page to screen James Hudson examines what makes a successful adaptation
From cellulose to silica. The journey from page to the screen. A cursory glance at a list of the highest grossing films of all times highlights the allure that “bookspawned” blockbusters such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings have exhibited, particularly in recent years. But what is the secret to a successful film adaptation that has allowed the Harry Potter film series to hoover up over seven billion dollars worldwide? Is the trick to remain as faithful as possible or merely to use the book as a base? The short-lived emergence of the Alex Rider series summed up this conundrum most aptly since many felt, and indeed the pre-empted plans suggested, that it had significant potential that it inevitably failed to realise. Its creator, Anthony Horowitz, attributed this to the book’s inability to “translate well” onto the screen. It is this issue of translation that has plagued creative teams attempting to replicate the appeal of the page on the big screen. One of the legendary books with which I am familiar that has defied cinematic interpretation is The 39 Steps. John Buchan’s acclaimed masterpiece exudes intrigue but also an integral internalised subtlety regarding behavioural “ticks” and recognition that would translate rather clumsily onto the big screen. However one cannot fault the film industry for a lack of enthusiasm in trying to reproduce it, for since its publication in 1915 there have been at
least four adaptations. Whilst each had their merits, they exhibited perhaps the fundamental issue with attempting to translate the more elusive and complex material; the failure to embrace the novel as a whole. Each adaptation seemed to focus and hone in on one aspect, be it the humour or the peril, to the apparent exclusion of all else in a manner that could be seen to emulate stage drama - perhaps a reason why the play The 39 Steps has become so popular in comparison. However, The Guardian’s reviewer of The Great Gatsby, Alan Yuhas, raises the argument that “fidelity” can cause the resulting adaptation to become “leaden by detail”. This was what caused some reviewers to condemn Chris Columbus’s Harry Potter films. Yet there are some glaring exceptions to the rule as was demonstrated by the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, which sought to create an overtly Cinderella-like rags to riches element in its portrayal of the Bennet family by having incontestably well-off members of the landed gentry chasing pigs through their kitchen. As an Austen enthusiast, and not an avid fan hell-bent to complete fidelity, I can say I agree with the opinion of Sarah Ailwood (of the “Jane Austen Society of North America”) that it served as an overly “romantic interpretation” that failed to tread the line between realism and romanticism present in the subtlety of the book. Sky Movies recently released a presentation depicting the best and worst film adaptations of books
review: Twelve Years a Slave Diana Vonnak insists that we don’t forget Solomon Northup’s story following the success of the film
and proposed, in the description of the flawed The Lovely Bones, that a common problem was stripping away the “fine details” in an attempt to make the resulting film more immediate and accessible for the viewer. It would seem that sometimes the refusal to grant the viewer a “quick fix” can serve as the portal to a deeper emotional connection. To go off on a brief but still largely relevant tangent, this desire to “simplify” seems an innate foe in many sections of the film industry, shown when American channels sought to show Downton Abbey but expressed a desire to omit the integral plot feature of the entail, for fear their audiences would not understand it. Perhaps, as is the case here, the key is to anticipate and play to the audiences’ intelligence rather than presume it to be lacking. This would seem to be evidenced in the success of the adapted To Kill a Mockingbird which was described by the author herself as “a work of art” which she felt could not be surpassed. In addition, Gone with the Wind was described as a film that managed to enrapture the audience whilst
Is the trick to remain as faithful as possible or merely to use the book as a base? only featuring “a small amount of material that wasn’t in the book”. This could be seen as another hole in the theory that fidelity breeds failure. From this brief selection one is able to see the enormous challenges that beset teams of writers attempting to convert words to images. Many reviews have seen overt deference to the sanctity of the book as a potent destructive force as is suggested by New York Times reviewer A. O. Scott’s statement that the book serves as a “lump of interesting material to be shaped according to the filmmaker’s will”. However, whilst one is compelled to accept the requirement of addition and creativity, it is important to remember that the demand for an adaptation inherently entails the desire to reproduce the subtleties and appeal of the original inspiration. Illustration by Harriet-Jade Harrow
It is quite unlikely that many people had heard about Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave before Steve McQueen’s recent movie adaptation. The mere fact that such a story could fall out from our cultural memory is almost ironically similar to the morale of the story: tragedies happen without being noticed, they melt into the everyday normalcy of those present and often only the most unexpected accidents can put an end to them. Solomon Northup was a freeborn black man, a trained carpenter and violinist and a father of three
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film children. He was abducted during a business trip to Washington, sold into slavery in Louisiana in the early 1840s to be rescued only after twelve years of menial work, deprivation and physical abuse. Upon his return home he wrote the book, a firstperson account of this misfortune, in eloquent, documentary-style prose. As his kidnappers did escape prosecution, this book remains Northup’s only option to fight the hidden industry working literally in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Twelve Years a Slave is an enormously powerful narrative, and not only because of its being an account of real events. It is powerful mostly because Northup does have his own voice to tell his story. Fictional narratives of slavery like Uncle Tom’s Cabin cannot always recreate the experience in a truthful way, while real stories are gone with the people who lived and died nameless, without being able to read and write, let alone articulate their experiences in a form we could engage with. Northup leaves behind a life not that different from what we are familiar with, so when he has to go through this odyssey of torment we can follow him without needing any explanations. Northup does not want to surprise us. Had the title not been
Kate Wilkinson - firstname.lastname@example.org
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Indigo looks at the often difficult relationship between the two media enough, he tells us the story in a nutshell in the introductory pages and he remains extremely cau-
Tragedies happen without being noticed tious not to present it as an adventure. He is almost too keen on being factual when describing the humiliations, explaining his motives when he hit the plantation overseer, making sure that the reader knows that there is no exaggeration whatsoever in his account. This directs the reader’s attention away from the raw details of physical pain to questions which seem to be more important to the narrator, such as the limits of law, the importance
of liberty and the moral dilemmas of slavery. A dilemma that is much more visible in the book than in the movie is whether or not a slave owner can be a good man. Master William Ford, Solomon’s first owner is a reasonably decent man, and although he never stops to think about the broader ethical questions of slavery, he treats his slaves with humanity and respect. Perhaps the most surprising and crucial passages of the book are where Northup stops to think about such issues and understands his master in almost sociological terms, finding his upbringing responsible rather than his personality. This tension between the extraordinary emotional
Northup and his story soon sank into the dustiest depths of archives and second-hand book shops pressure present in the described events and the detached, to-the-point tone often makes the book disturbing read. The calm analysis of being forced to punish other slaves, being punished for made-up reasons, witnessing families being torn apart is as expressive and meticulous as it can get, walking the reader hand in hand as if in a gallery, observing paintings of suffering. And although it is difficult to follow the old-fashioned eloquence of language at certain points, the overall impression is more of painful actuality of the book than merely a historical curiosity. Solomon Northup returned to his family to New York with the help of a Canadian carpenter and an attorney friend in 1853. What he spent his life doing after slavery, we can mostly only guess at. Northup and his story soon sank into the dustiest depths of archives and second-hand bookshops, so much so that even the year of his death remains uncertain. His story was rediscovered only as late as the 1960 by the historians Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, to be shown to Steve McQueen by his historian girlfriend. Though the book came to the centre of attention as a consequence of the success of the movie, it deserves much more than that. Everyone with sensitivity towards questions of inequality and exploitation should read it and remember that these silent and not dramatically presented dramas do persist in history. And this time we should not let it be forgotten again.
Illustration by Harriet-Jade Harrow ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ was published by Penguin on 20th November 2013
Above All Things was published 6th February 2014 by Penguin Photograph by Gunther Hagleitner via Flickr
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Diana Grant-Davie - email@example.com
FOOD & DRINK
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the ethics of halal and kosher meat
Alexandra Fitzgerald gives her take on the recent debate on animal slaughter very little effect on Jewish and Muslim communities. This questions whether the uproar is because of practical reasons, that is to say inability to keep up religious practices, or because Jewish and Muslim communities have had their religious rights stripped away and consequently feel discriminated against.
Photograph: Fabio Venni A new Danish regulation has effectively banned the production of halal and kosher meat, as it no longer exempts the Jewish and Muslim communities from not stunning the animal before slaughter. The Danish minister of agriculture declared that the ban is because ‘animal welfare takes precedence over religion’. This has been deemed antisemitic and Islamophobic and he has been criticised for stripping away the religious rights of Jews and Muslims.
Many Muslims claim that their methods are far more humane and quicker. In fact, a study conducted by Professor Wilhelm-Schulze and his colleague Dr Hazim at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hannover University in Germany indicated that animals feel less pain. They attached ECG recorder to the animals’ brains in order to record the condition of the brain. Whilst the Islamic method was being conducted, the brain activity indicated that the animal felt no pain at the moment of the incision and after six seconds the recorder zero leveled indicating no brain activity and therefore no pain. Despite the common conception that the stunning method reduces pain, the ECG recorder showed severe pain after the animal was stunned. The Islamic method appears more painful though as the animal convulses but this is merely a reflex reac-
Currently in the UK, The Welfare of Animals Regulations 1995 requires that all animals be stunned before slaughtered so as to reduce suffering. However, Muslim and Jewish communities have been exempt from this due to religious law that dictates that animals must be alive during slaughter and this is the right that the Danish government has taken away. There are very specific practices that must take place in order for meat to be considered halal. Before the animal is slaughtered, a practising Muslim must recite a blessing and he/she must perform the execution with a very sharp knife and importantly all blood must also be drained. The Qur’an teaches Muslim to respect animals as they are God’s creation and the killing method is meant to reduce pain as much as possible.
The stunning method, however, renders the animal effectively paralysed and therefore cannot demonstrate its pain, if it is indeed experiencing any. Some halal slaughterhouses in Egypt and other countries without strict meat production regulation have produced appalling reports of animals being killed with a blunt knife, abuse before killing and using other animals’ meat as feed, but these are not proper halal practices and should not be considered so. The practice of killing animals will never be a pleasant one and will normally incite guilt into those who are not desensitised to the practice. Contrary to many third world countries that are far more selfreliant when it comes to procuring their meat, we are generally not used to seeing animals being killed and therefore find almost any footage of it shocking and upsetting. It links back to the hypocrisy that many Westerners have when it comes to animal slaughter, we object to the way animals are killed yet refuse to perform the act ourselves. We do not want to feel the guilt that is inflicted after killing another living being and therefore criticise others for doing so but we will still eat the meat. Therefore, stunning will be considered a more popular slaughtering method as the animal does not appear to be in pain.
88% of all halal and kosher meat prepared in the UK is stunned before slaughter Some of the methods employed in factory farming, such as the removal of chicken’s beaks, should be considered completely inhumane and abhorrent. Yet, there has been little to no effort made by the Danish government to improve the conditions in factory farms. Dan Jorgenson, the current Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries pointed out that 25,000 piglets die a day in factory farms. Therefore, for them to claim that the ban is for ‘animal welfare’ is laughable.
Stunning is undesirable as it may kill the animal before its throat is cut and also causes the heart to stop more quickly, meaning that blood stays in the body, which is considered unhygienic. The Food Standards Agency conducted a survey in September 2011 and reported that 88% of all halal and kosher meat prepared in the UK is stunned before slaughter. This includes the meat supplied to the University, more specifically St Mary’s and St Aidan’s colleges. This meat should not strictly be considered halal, as the animal is not conscious. Moreover, the practice of the slaughter being conducted by a practising Muslim has been abandoned. Nevertheless, many Muslims and Jews alike still consider stunned meat permissible. Furthermore, when Poland banned the production of halal and kosher meat, Jewish and Muslim communities simply turned to imported meat. The majority of halal and kosher meat is actually already imported into Denmark, as demand is so low. This ban will consequently have
tion of the spinal cord.
Photograph: Cressida Peever
It is of far more ethical importance for animals to be treated well throughout their lives than for them to appear to suffer during their final, religious demise, which is what the Qur’an advocates, as it requires Muslims to treat animals with respect and love as they are God’s creation. This should then be seen as an infringement on Muslims and Jews in Denmark. If they genuinely desired to take animal welfare seriously as they said the minister of agriculture appears to want to, they should also be condemning secular animal cruelty as well. It is for this reason that this ban should be considered antisemitic and Islamophobic because there has been no action taken to combat crueller animal practices that are not carried out under the name of God.
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Aalok Vora - firstname.lastname@example.org
F I L M & TV
a love - hate relationship
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Arguments for and against the Oscars: do we love or hate them?
or film lovers across the world, awards season represents a culmination of all the excitement, joy and wonder found on the silver screen over the past 12 months, the pinnacle of which is undoubtedly the Oscars, which were held on the 2nd March in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood. The Academy Awards represent the gold standard for acting, writing and filmmaking, but they are far more than that – they are a celebration of film and a way of rewarding the best of the industry. This year’s nominees see a continuation of the trend away from box office hits, with only one of the top 10 grossing films of the year, Gravity, featuring in the Best Picture category. Indeed, the highest grossing film of 2013, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($422.5m) failed to receive a single nomination. This begs the question – how do we evaluate the success of a film? Until fairly recently, there was a basic correlation between what did well at the box office and what did well at the Oscars, but now, in an industry saturated with endless sequels, unnec-
essary remakes and far too much Vince Vaughan, the correlation is just no longer there – and that is what makes the award season so vital to the film industry. Unquestionably, show business is an industry driven by money, but without recognition from awards films such as Her or Nebraska, both nominated for Best Picture this year, may cease to be made. These films made comparatively little money, neither featuring in even the top 100 grossing films of 2013, and that which they do make is often largely thanks to talk of awards surrounding the pictures. One criticism leveled at the awards is that they tend towards a certain type of film, and it is true that in certain categories, mainly acting, you often see the same actors and actresses coming up year on year – at the age of 23, Jennifer Lawrence has already racked up three acting nominations, still some way behind Meryl Streep who has been nominated 18 times, winning three awards. However, across the board it is hard to argue that the academy is discriminatory in its selections – films such as Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger can
now be described as Oscar nominees, due to their nominations for Best Hairstyling and Makeup. Indeed, even the Best Picture nominees this year show great range, from the emotionally harrowing story of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave to the raw debauchery and 522 instances of the ‘f word’ found in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. And with acting nominations going from Jennifer Lawrence (23) up to June Squibb (84), the awards can prove either a springboard for a young actors’ career or a rewarding end for an old hand. The drama, glamour and tension of awards season is a big part of what makes show business show business, and without it we would surely see a very industry to the one we know and love. Whether or not you agree with the winners – or even the nominations – you have to accept that, as film lovers, we need the Oscars. Article by Sandy Thin
hate The winners...
fter only just celebrating the birth of the son of God we are bombarded with the celebration of the so called ‘God’ of all award ceremonies: The Oscars. God dammit.
essentially what we tune in to see. Actors are forced to watch as the victor struts onstage, valiantly grabbing their gold statue of success and violently waving it in the air, signalling the end of their bitter contest.. Perhaps we should just abandon such fake civility and embrace the underlying competitive nature of the awards…Hunger Games style! Films and actors may as well have been reaped arbitrarily when nominations like Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love take home the prize. I can see it now, Meryl Streep poised with her bow and arrow, ready to obliterate any candidate that enters into the Best Actress arena whilst the Academy maintains the thin veil of hope with the refrain: ‘May the odds be ever in your favour. Oh, but not you Leonardo DiCaprio. They are never in your favour.’
masterpieces like Amélie, Pans Labyrinth and Das Boot were not even considered for this category; The Artist managed to transcend this dismissal, as the members of the Academy were not forced to endure the agonising ordeal of…reading the subtitles. Oh just think of the torture! So instead the spectrum of brilliance that world cinema produces is ignored in favour of formulaic Hollywood films. There is only one solution: cast Meryl Streep.
Yet this is the harsh reality; Leonardo DiCaprio’s refined performances have been consistently snubbed by the Academy for years, much like foreign films. Simply because these films are not intelligible to the Hollywood elite, their presence in the Best Picture category is omitted. Notable
Pictures courtesy of: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, Magnolia Pictures and Universal Pictures .
Hollywood, is it not possible to reward yourself in less than 217 minutes or is every awards ceremony trying to outrun a James Cameron film? The sheer length of the speeches where winners spout banal drivel is intolerable. It seems once the awards commence and the statues are in sight, we never know what is going to happen as people…and limbs – yes Angelina Jolie’s right leg, I am talking to you – seem to develop a mind of their own, which unfortunately for us results in three hours of speeches, awkward pauses and cringe-worthy presenting.
Even the actors are turning on the very institution that is dedicated to their celebration. Joaquin Phoenix, despite several Academy award nominations stated, ‘Pitting people against each other. It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world.’ Yet that is
I’ll leave you to ponder Stephen Colbert’s astute perspective on the Awards, describing it as ‘the one day of the year where you give a crap about what a sound editor does.’ Case in point. Article by Chloe Treasure
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Emma Dawson - email@example.com
the perfect play
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Veronica Guranda shares her seven step recipe for creating the perfect play.
any would say that there is no such thing as the perfect play. It is almost impossible to make an audience laugh, cry, be frightened, and experience memories all the way from childhood. You must convey thoughts with a unique profundity, yet not bore them to death, be succinct but not too succinct, and be dramatic (it is, after all, called drama), but not overly dramatic so that your
p l a y appears fake (even though it’s not real life, it has to appear somewhat honest and natural.) And after considering the never-ending list of the things that would make the perfect play, who would even attempt to write one? Probably not many would have the courage. However, I will take the great risk of you disagreeing with me and state loud and clear that there is such a thing as the perfect play! After being delighted by many plays, but also falling asleep during some and being enraged by others, I have pondered greatly on this topic, resulting in these seven conclusions.
Conclusion 3: The Perfect Play will always contain a lot of snappy, powerful lines that people will feel the urge to quote. Lines so moving that their force and relevance will continue, even when your wonderful play has been performed by almost every theatre company in existence. Conclusion 4: Action is always effective, though it must not reach the level seen in any film starring Chuck Norris. You don’t want your audience to leave with vertigo and a migraine.
Conclusion 7: Even if you have all of the above elements, you absolutely cannot have the perfect play without a talented cast, all actors embodying their role ideally, with a passion that thrills the audience. To keep your audience happy and focused, the actors need to be able to oscillate their
llustration: Jack Hodsoll
Conclusion 5: Characterisation is crucial. Profile your characters, so that you know them intimately. Imagine them as characters with a 3D personality, fully explored and dissected on stage through the performance of the actors. Yo u r
Conclusion 1: Spice it up (even if in doubt.) Yes, you read that right. No one wants to land at a funeral when going to a play (even if it the play is touches upon such morbid mortal preoccupations.) It is mandatory to slip in a joke, a witty one-liner even better. Though be aware that an excess of jokes might cause your audience to be unable to stop laughing manically. WARNING: people don’t necessarily need to leave the theatre in a happy mood; there’s nothing wrong with urging your audience to meditate, just give them a little hope for the future! Conclusion 2: A play that has no deeper meaning isn’t worth wasting your time on. The perfect play says something pertinent to humanity about humanity. They explore themes such as human nature, love, death, etc. (I could continue for at least a page.)
characters must have a strong urge or desire that will further the action. And avoid idealising.
Conclusion 6: The thing that makes the perfect play stand up is the props and the special effects. Without all that the talent of the actors would have to be quite extraordinary in order to ensure full entertainment for the night. And since we are such impressionable creatures we take delight in all ‘stage magic.’ However, don’t over smoke your audience or blind them with thousands of bright lights as there is no need to scar them for life. Excess is not the way forward, as it will only tire your audience.
voices, work their facial muscles, and gesticulate away with elegance and charm, steering well away from appearing like a policeman directing traffic. Then the audience will quiver with emotion and you will sit smugly in the audience, knowing that you have put on the perfect play.
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Philip Whitehead - firstname.lastname@example.org
15 kind hearts and minarets
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T RAV E L
Iona Napier is won over by the sights and smells of Istanbul
he aeroplane swoops haphazardly across the dulling skyline, narrowly missing craggy islands that jut out of the indigo Bosphorus Sea. A tedious babble of unfamiliar voices dwindles to silence as we begin our descent. Somehow, upon departing the aeroplane, it doesn’t feel like this tempestuous short-haul flight has brought us to Europe. The atmosphere of this metropolis, an impossibly vibrant fusion of old and new, of colours and scents, is altogether alien to the early morning smog of London City Airport. Three days later, I lie, practically nude and inconceivably vulnerable, on what can only be described as a stone altar in the middle of Cağaloğlu Hamam, being pummelled by an enormous Turkish woman. Her capacious black swimming costume only just covers her generously-endowed frame, and as she speaks unintelligibly to her colleague, who is manhandling an equally naive tourist, I stare up at her through the steamy haze of the baths trying to identify whether she has a moustache or not. The sensation of being in a totally different country waves luxuriously over me for a second time. After being dismissed from my ‘massage’, I stagger back into the main atrium, which is full of women frolicking in the waters, most of them naked. Having prudishly opted for bikini bottoms, I immediately catch myself regretting it in an acutely British way. Scrubbed clean with shiny hair and face, having got dressed in one of the red velvet, lamp-lit dressing rooms of the authentic Ottoman building, which look out on to an inner courtyard where fresh mint tea is served, it takes around half an hour for this traumatic experience to transmogrify itself into one of the most wonderful memories I have of Istanbul. Rewind to our arrival. Still wide-eyed, Rough Guide in hand, we hop on to the rickety metro serv-
Photograph by Iona Napier
ice which will spit us out into the heart of the city, passing through higgledy-piggledy suburbs full of colourful shops and men in tunics conversing animatedly, cigarette in mouth, the younger ones dodging erratically-driven buses. The jumble of lively people creating a steady hustle and bustle will not relent until we are back on British soil. Sultanahmet, the historical and perhaps most picturesque part of town, is where I am based. The charming hostel manager, complete with toothless smile and pidgin English, is far more preoccupied with a combination of Facebook and nurturing his newly born litter of kittens, yet kindly allows us to come and go as we please. A magnificent roof terrace covered with sumptuous fabric throws, cush-
The jumble of lively people creating a steady hustle and bustle is relentless ions and low tables redeems this run-down establishment. Multi-coloured shisha bottles are strewn around, candles in bell jars and a small yet functional bar make for a space that comes alive at night; Britpop with an ethnic twist takes centre stage like never before. Rooftop bars tend to be a well-kept secret in this city, yet numerous establishments have them and the mind-blowing views over the Bosphorus straits are not to be missed. When we aren’t guzzling tzatziki, tabbouleh, falafel, dirt cheap chicken casseroles baked in earthenware dishes or picking up spinach pies from extroverted street sellers, we wander down to the port for fresh fish, barbecued before our eyes in half
an oil drum, and sprinkled with coriander, fresh tomatoes and squeezed into a flatbread. At under a pound a pop, it’s heaven in a bap. The fish market down by the water is not for the faint-hearted; streams of blood line the footpath, lascivious sellers scream their wares. Aside from the food, an engagement with Istanbul’s sights is imperative. It is a personal foible of mine to seek a point of elevation in any city and the Galata Tower provides far-reaching views of the urban sprawl. The Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, the ancient Basilica Cistern (underground waterworks) and Topkapi Palace constitute four other architectural marvels. Bedtime stories of 1001 Arabian nights are viscerally dramatized in the harem of the Palace and the fusion of East, West, history and modernity are nowhere displayed better than in the makeup of this city. Women, beware: attire is pivotal in Istanbul to avoid unwarranted attention and adhering to the obligatory dress code of modesty in the religious spaces is a question of respect. Engage with mini skirts and crop-tops at your politically incorrect peril. When browsing the Grand Bazaar, you become a target very quickly. Usually enjoying relative anonymity in the streets of this cosmopolitan city, upon entering the largest covered market in the world, ‘tourist’ may as well be etched upon your forehead. Sellers shout themselves hoarse, guessing your nationality and consequentially crying out platitudes in Swedish or French. No physical or gastronomic element of this city can compare with the warm, welcoming reception of the people. Whether for a spa weekend, culture vulture excursion, stag-do or shopping trip, vibrant Istanbul can be adapted to virtually any budget with winning results.
by Hannah Ladds
by Cressida Peever
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Sylvia Plath by SarahDawn Ennaceur
Helen Bamber by Sarah-Dawn Ennaceur