THIS WAY UP 1
This Way Up Editors Hannah Astill Emily Cotton Nicola Manuel Designer Piero Regnante Writers Hannah Astill Dimitra Gjica Hannah Kemp-Welch Nicola Manuel Olu Niyi-Awosusi Jessica Oliver Featuring Art School Disco Danny Aldred Darragh Casey Sarah Dimech Tom Jay David Keeping Lily Rossiter Robert Sae-Heng Cover Imagery by Ellie Geary & Nicola Manuel Published by Soapbox Press ÂŠ Soapbox Press 2013 firstname.lastname@example.org www.soapboxpress.co.uk No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission of Soapbox Press and its writers. 2
THIS WAY UP Soapbox is a year old. They say the first year is the biggest, the most important, a time when you learn the most and develop the furthest. One thing is for certain: the year has been a good one. Just in twelve months, Soapbox has pushed forward in leaps and bounds. Like proud parents, we’ve seen it grow and develop, getting better and stronger in a relatively short period of time. We’ve seen lots of changes, endless possibilities and the most unbelievable of opportunities stem from an initial idea. And we’ve got so much further yet to go. Our website, in particular, has expanded and improved. Content is uploaded on a three-day cycle, ensuring the work is fresh, ever changing and relevant. We have more writers than ever before, ranging the entire globe and creating work in every genre. Expansion-wise, the team has also grown bigger in the last year. In August 2012, we welcomed our latest team member, Hannah, to join Emily, Piero and Nicola at Soapbox HQ as Editor. The team are constantly learning and developing their publishing skills, most notably so in the process of creating Soapbox’s debut book, The Winchester Journals.
A particular highlight of Soapbox’s year has, of course, been the introduction of our newest section, ‘Visualisation’. A vague title, perhaps, but with a very clear aim: to mix image and illustration, with words and text. Too often are the two mediums segregated, but Soapbox recognises the power of both in unity - and the success of our visualisation section is proof of this. So, that’s settled. The year has been wonderful. And every birthday deserves a celebration, doesn’t it? We thought so, and wanted to commemorate our first year by creating a book to be browsed and enjoyed. Featuring highlights of our articles, interviews, reviews and visualisations, we’ve crammed a little bit of everything we do into the following pages of our second book, This Way Up. We also realised, however, that as much as we’ve loved reflecting on our first year, it is just as exciting looking forward. With future collaborations and new projects ever on the horizon, Soapbox is eager for the second year of its little life to begin and much further beyond that too. So, happy first birthday to us! Enjoy the read. Soapbox 5
CONTENTS Look out! Thereâ€™s a Tiger in the Gallery By Hannah Kemp-Welch [pg 10] When Art gets out By Dimitra Gjica [pg 12] I Cleaned my face with Honey By Olu Niyi-Awosusi [pg 14] Does a picture really tell a thousand words? By Hannah Astill [pg 16] Danny Aldred Interview [pg 20] Darragh Casey Interview [pg 24] Sarah Dimech Interview [pg 28] Robert Sae-heng Interview [pg 32] NW: Zadie Smith By Jessica Oliver [pg 38] Rebecca: Daphne Du Maurier By Nicola Manuel [pg 39] Art School Disco [pg 42] Tom Jay [pg 43] David Keeping [pg 44] Lily Rossiter [pg 45]
Without wanting to brag, our article section is an impressive assortment. Spanning countries (in the last year alone, our writers have written about experiences in Canada, L.A, Sicily and London), and spanning genres (anything from dyslexia to creative processes, to the political and those issues experienced by every twentysomething), the articles have provided an endless supply of fresh content. The brief given to potential writers is simple: 500-600 words. Thatâ€™s it. Whatever is chosen to fill those several hundreds of words is devoid of boundary. And this is exactly why the variety of Soapbox articles is so large, the extent of content is so extreme, and the range so interesting. An article might provide an insight into a life, a dive into one aspect of the creative industry, an issue burning away in a writerâ€™s imagination or a global matter made personal.
We now introduce four highlights from our article section over the last year. Olu Niyi-Awosusi (currently studying philosophy at Southampton; enjoys mulling over ethics, Nietzsche and everything else) writes about living as an ecotarian; Hannah Kemp-Welch (having studied Sound at UCL, now works in the Learning Department at Tate) notes the trend of using live animals in art exhibitions; Hannah Astill (English Literature graduate, currently working in publishing) attempts to balance the love of image with the love of text; and Dimitra Gjica (a recent graduate from Panteion University in Greece, and looking forward to continuing her studies at Goldsmiths) notes the power of art when it leaves the gallery walls and seeps into the outside arena.
LOOK OUT! THERE’S A TIGER IN THE GALLERY! By Hannah Kemp-Welch soapboxpress.co.uk/look-out
movement and silent slithering enticing me to lean in close and gaze intently at the alien creatures. These exhibitions are decidedly tame when compared to those further afield. In Beijing, a tiger guards the exhibition entrance, the audience members ushered through its cage steering clear of this powerful beast feet away from them. Horses, whose swishing tails are dipped in paint decorate the walls at an exhibit in Argentina. Are our British curators tamer, or are insurance policies and health and safety rules diluting experiential art? It occurred to me I hadn’t seen a collection of live animals in a long time. Children seem to be the target audience of every zoo, and living in London provides few opportunities for encounters with the more exotic animals. Artists are bringing bits of life to us, which makes me wonder – have we become content to experience the wonders of the world exclusively within the frame of the TV? At an instinctive level, I prefer art as an experience. The shock devised by the unexpected context for such an encounter gives me a shot of excitement I rarely get whilst trawling through rooms of static paintings. Have exhibitions such as this changed me in any way? I wish I could say I have felt enthused to seek out experiences with wildlife ever since. Although I haven’t taken direct action as a result, I feel the distance between nature and myself more keenly; the longing for long green grass with frogs hopping across my path, with a horizon stretching further than the next tower block. 11
Article / Look Out! Theres a Tiger in the Gallery!
Last year, a menagerie of insects invaded London galleries. A room at Tate Modern became a boarding house for butterflies, and the Hayward hosted a space for silk worms. Previous years saw birds at the Barbican, and a free-roaming fox at the National Gallery. Ethics aside, what are exhibitions such as this saying about art audiences? And how do we feel when confronted with all manner of beasts in the expected serenity of the gallery space? Artists in the 1960s framed art as an experience, an unrepeatable moment, which cannot be bought or sold. Joseph Beuys spent a week with a coyote, and Fluxus artists wrote music to be enacted by butterflies and trees. Art where live animals constitute the performers is indebted to this, yet the experience offered seems to be framed in three categories: the beautiful, the disgusting, or the frightening. In Damien Hirst’s butterfly room, I experienced an excited flutter in my stomach. The delicacy and variety of these magical creatures, intensified by the sheer volume of colourful wings, created great energy in the space. Fleeting memories of school trips to the butterfly house in Oxford’s botanical gardens filled me with nostalgia. The sounds of thousands of wings beating, composing a percussive movement in the air, as though we had been transported to the tropics. The darkness of the Hayward Gallery’s silkworm den was a very different experience, though equally alluring. Glowing worms oozed over each other slickly, their small size, slow
When ART GETS OUT By Dimitra Gjica soapboxpress.co.uk/whenartgetsout
Art is definitely a means of communication, and visual image the strongest and most effective of all. And in the contemporary world of art where curators, art directors and big museum managers hold influence over the criteria that defines what should be received as innovative art, artists must make greater effort to “communicate” and exhibit their work. With the first avant-garde movements, the image of the lonely artist – as presented in Courbet’s painting L’ Atelier du peintre with the divine Muse as his inspiration and only companion – was swiftly left behind. Instead public art, outdoor exhibitions, the use of the ready-made and the rise of interactive artistic projects mark the turn art has made towards audience-awareness, and brought to the surface the importance of the ‘viewer’. Because even if the curators are those who construct meanings and affect the way a piece of art is being apprehended, still the audience remains the final receiver; the other pole of the communication system. Claes Oldenburg – one of the most inspiring public-installation artists – once said that painting and generally art, “which has slept so long in its gold crypts, in its glass graves, (has now been) asked to go for a swim, is given a cigarette, a 12
bottle of beer, its hair rumpled, is given a shove and tripped, is taught to laugh, is given clothes of all kinds, goes for a ride on a bike, goes flying, goes driving at 100 mph”. In fewer words, art is fast moving away from the confines of the gallery space. Streets, squares, parks and every corner of towns and cities work as hosts for a piece of art, even turning themselves into art. In this way, public art can express all the ambivalence of the contemporary art world, as it slowly becomes the “major arena in which democratic ideas and aesthetic elitism attempt to come to terms with each other”1. The artistic interference of the city occurring in public art, not only transfers art into the public domain and brings it closer to the audience, but also forces it to become part of urban daily life. However, what can we really define as “public art”? Can the first mural paintings and mosaics in churches and other worship places be considered public art? Surely all art is on display to the public anyway, because museums and galleries are open to anyone. Indeed, the majority of museums are striving for greater communication with their visitors by introducing educational programmes or interactive exhibitions, with some offering online platforms
In other words, it is striving to be different. Public art does not just want to represent or picture something, but aspires instead to pose questions, to examine the mechanism of viewing and to put its audience into the practice of thinking. Public artists address some interesting questions: can a city or public space turn into a “thought factory”? Can art reflect all social excogitations and fermentations? Well, in a world that is constantly changing, the only thing we can be sure of is that artists will always improve dialogues with their social reality. According to Michel de Certeau, “walking makes the city itself an immense social experience.”3 It is public art that offers this urban experience a very unique value. Janet Kardon, Introduction to catalogue of “Urban Encounters”, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania 1980. 2 Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthétique relationnelle, Les Presses du Réel, 1998. 3 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, Berkeley 1984. 1
Article / When Art gets out
through which the public are able to access images of artworks. This argument indicates we have to realise public art is not in terms of location, but rather an attempt by artists to change art itself and its influence on the audience. During the 1960’s, public art became a way in which artists could express opposition to the strict academic movements of formalism and abstraction. The fact that the audience rarely visited museums or galleries led artists to demonstrate how art and the artistic creation was part of society and its many complications – that artists were also part of the crowd. The quest for new forms and systems of art practice were connected with the urge to develop a contemporary independent art, which would be both scrutable to the audience. To create an art not able to be manipulated or commercialised. Whether an enormous, surrealistic ice-cream melting on top of a building (Claes Oldenburg); a gigantic mirror reflecting the city-scape and the viewers (Anish Kapoor); the big Maman (Louise Bourgeois); or mural paintings and graffiti (Banksy); when art goes out to the streets, it is taking a conscious “polemic position towards the mass culture that denies to be assimilated by the general process that homogenises the behaviours”2.
I CLEANED MY FACE WITH HONEY By Olu Niyi-Awosusi
further. I’m sure you agree this would be the more preferable option. Also, it isn’t stressful. I enjoy the trials and tribulations of trying vinegar as a clothes softener; the occasional heart-stopping jumps in price that stop me from purchasing some ethical items (‘fair trade olive oil costs how much?’); the little inconsistencies that give other people pause (‘didn’t she just say she cared about the environment? What’s eco about olive oil?’); ethical consumerism (I shan’t apologise for liking to shop. I’m working on my horrible addiction by buying things used and buying things ethically) and many further reasons. Actually, your barn bacon may (I stress the may) be the most environmental option, but bacon is no longer my kryptonite, and more importantly, that poor piggy definitely did not have a good time in the process. So enjoy it, but I will only have a bite, if that. To return to the title, honey was my first experiment with a homemade face wash. It was nice not having to worry about getting it in my eyes, and it really seemed to work. However, recent concerns over the treatment of bees have led me to abandon honey –weep – but I will still be experimenting. The latest? I’m going to try adding baking soda to shampoo to give it a little more panache. I’m using a very cheap one free of chemicals chemicals are either harsh (I have afro hair and as such have to treat it like a queen), or some people have apparent cause to believe cause cancer. I shall keep you posted. 15
Article / I cleaned my face with Honey
You’ve read the title and are probably wondering ‘what’s going on here then?’, or probably some less stereotypically British version of this. Well, in as few words as possible, I am an ecotarian. I’m guessing you’ve now probably furrowed your brow, scratched your head, and perhaps asked those nearby if ecotarians are the ones who eat fish or eggs. Ecotarians, however, are the ones who try to eat as sustainably, and with as little damage to the environment as possible. This – for me personally – does include trying to eat as few animal products as possible, but it needn’t if one goes about it in the right way. I chose this way out of simplicity, the relatively lower cost, possible health benefits and really disliking how cold chicken is when you cut it. Oh, and animal rights. As you would imagine, this is a life-pervading idea that isn’t simply reflected by my eating habits. It affects what I choose to wear, how I travel (how bad I feel about the prospect of travelling abroad) and myriad other aspects of my days and nights. Perhaps you think this unnecessary, and that I shouldn’t stress myself unduly. Perhaps you think I should just take another bite out of that barn-raised bacon sandwich. To you, I would say a few things: Unnecessary according to who? I am not here to preach, merely share an opinion, but global warming is happening and anything I can do to mitigate the apocalypse can only be a good thing. (If you are now murmuring that global warming is a myth, you’re wrong). By working to live a more eco-friendly existence, we might accidentally stumble on a way to make our world more sustainable and stretch our finite resources that bit
DOES A PICTURE REALLY TELL A THOUSAND WORDS? By Hannah Astill soapboxpress.co.uk/doesapicturetellathouseandwords
and plaster tiny walls with Testino, Knight or Bailey. The moral: in a degree overcome by words, my appetite for the image increased. This is understandable. I know the image is powerful. Society constantly invests in the very power of the image – advertising, fashion and marketing all covet it. Images make a much bigger, brighter, more immediate impact. They have the ability to catch a person’s eye, to take a breath away. They evoke an emotion, and create an effect. As such, words have become a little obsolete. If used in advertising, they serve only to provide something short, sharp and snappy – to create something that works with the image, and complement the picture. They are rarely used for their own worth. But the ‘slowness of words’ is their very beauty. The time it takes to read a passage of text is always time well spent. They say ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’, but for me, a page of words has the ability to create entire scenes – a living breathing landscape. Whether Bronte’s moors or Dickens’s Victorian London, Chaucer’s journey or Woolf’s unrelenting stream of consciousness – people, lives, entire worlds are created by the positioning of a series of words thrown together by a clever author. Indeed, a photograph will always remain static. However powerful its impact, however blown away we are by the latest advertisement or silky fashion shoot, it will always fall short against the living landscapes and imaginations conjured by a passage of powerful prose. 17
Article / Does a picture really tell a thousands words?
‘A picture speaks a thousand words’, or so we’re told. Here’s my trouble. I’m both a former English literature student and a photography-lover; both an avid reader and an avid viewer; a person with a love of text but an equal love for picture. In short, I’m obsessed with both the word and the image - and I can’t settle my mind as to which is my preference, or the more powerful. Further difficulty arises when you place the dilemma in the context of a society, which (I believe) honours the image as the superior medium. An example of the situation forces time to turn back a few years to my first year at University. Studying for an English degree – books covering my tiny room, constant visits made to the library, chats about literature in dusty seminar rooms whose walls were covered in classics – for the first time in my life, my entire attention was given to the reading, the love of and the study of books. No science or maths were allowed to interrupt. Instead, metaphors, similes and Wordsworth made up my day. However, still I craved the image. Halfway through first term, deep in the midst of modules covering Shakespeare and medieval literature, I caved and chose to spend the majority of one student loan instalment on a huge and ridiculously heavy coffee-table book plastered in Tim Walker photography. Ethereal images covered each crevice of the pages – it remains one of the most beautiful things in my possession. Likewise, my purchasing of fashion magazines increased tenfold – aiding a need to rip out abundant photography
Since the beginning of Soapbox Press, interviews have been key. They allow creatives to discuss their work vocally, instead of just written words on a quiet piece of paper. It’s a bustling conversation, a chat and an exchange, the chance to discuss, a chance to learn firsthand from the mouth of the artist themselves. In creating the interviews, we wanted them to be as insightful as possible. So no, we didn’t want to ask the questions so regularly regurgitated by interviewers, Why do you want this job? What does the future hold for you? There was just too many alternative topics that we needed to ask, and they needed to answer.
As such, we’ve spent the last year learning a lot about the creative sector and the people within it. By asking the right questions, in getting to speak to all kinds of people, the interview section has granted our readers and ourselves an insight into all areas of the arts world. Being allowed the chance to hear who exactly these people are and what they do, by the artists themselves, has proven to be inspiring and interesting in equal parts. From Darragh Casey (graduate and tutor), Sarah Dimech (a recent graduate), Robert Sae-Heng (graduate), and Danny Aldred (otherwise known as Mr. Books), the four featured in our interview highlights are a dream read. Find out what they have to say. 19
DANNY ALDRED @danny_aldred dannyaldred.com soapboxpress.co.uk/danny-aldred
We all love books, whether a picture journal or the beautiful novel once obtained from a second hand bookshop, complete with the smells that muster up their glorious histories. Danny Aldred, Winchester School of Art’s very own ‘Mr Books’, and lecturer for the Graphic Arts pathway, fuels the belief that a book goes far beyond the words written on pages, instead fascinated by the wear and tear of the physical book itself.
Every fold, scuff and mark completes the aesthetic of what a book should be, creating a catalogue of times past with every imperfection. Through his knowledge of this type of art, Danny has created a graphic language that goes further into contemporary art practice. I took some time to speak to Danny about his work, books and his future.
Interviews / Danny Aldred
Wildlife conservation yearbook (1984)
The nude male: a new perspective (1978)
The moon and the planets (1963)
Nicola Manuel: Sum up your work in three words. Danny Aldred: I would say Transformation, Absence - as my work deals with the present and the absent, and Revealing – as I reveal something that may not have been noticed before and make it apparent. This all sounds, perhaps, a little serious and it’s important to say there is always a sense of ‘play’ within my work. It has to be fun.
own self-published editions of photographs and collages. I enjoy working through a sequence of pages and spaces, and filling them with my own content or transforming existing work. It has been a natural progression for me to use the book in these different ways; both the commercial and personal work feed one another. As a child, books actually made me feel anxious because I had real difficulties understanding text due to being dyslexic. Unfortunately, dyslexia was off the radar at my school. I’d create my own fantasies and imagine journeys based on my visual experience of the book.
NM: Why do you choose the book form to direct your work? DA: Books are obviously loaded with many meanings for different people. They transform and alter our perception of ourselves and other people. We can carry a story with us long after we close the book – I am interested in all of these things. I also see the book as a container to communicate beyond the printed word. I like it when an artist can twist and subvert the known meaning of a book and its contents. For over a decade, I designed publications and books for other people – crafting a ‘container’ of content for a specific audience, usually of little interest to me other than achieving the best results for the client. At this time, I started to create my 22
NM: Who are your greatest influences? DA: There’s so many! Ian Hamilton Finlay, because of his use of language to subvert the meaning of things. The Icelandic book artist Dieter Roth has definitely been a huge influence as he was so incredibly prolific – I loved his printed croissants and his polka-dot children’s books. Also, Wolfgang Tillman’s use of the real image and different forms of showing the work, and Sigmor Polke’s graphic language and use of dot. I find these artists inspiring because they have
this amazing energy to constantly create new work. It’s like they’ve broken into another level and reached a ‘formula’ for creating work. Nick Cave has inspired me for these reasons too; we lived near him once and I would often see him out. The work just constantly trickles out of him. NM: If I were to say ‘book’, you’d say… DA: Look! NM: What would you say to a budding book artist? DA: I would say keep it integral, be honest about what you are doing, and don’t be influenced by what someone else has done with the same piece of content or idea.
NM: Do you have any aspirations for the future that you would still like to pursue? DA: Yes, I have loads! There are educational ideas and seminars that I’m working on at present with Tate Education and Winchester School of Art for World Book Day. There are collaborative opportunities with international artists I want to pursue, and I’m also setting up a press. So if you are ever around Winchester, perhaps studying the book format, or simply interested to meet Danny, then please do go up and say hello to the city’s very own Mr. Books.
Interviews / Danny Aldred
NM: Who would win in a survival of the fittesta book or computer? And why? DA: Well, I’ve got to say book. Books are always going to exist in physical form and can be read without any software or connection issues! Only recently I failed to open a file produced eight years ago – OSX couldn’t read the format. So for me, accessibility always wins. I also like the fact a book leaves a trace or map of where it’s been. 23
DArragh Casey @darraghkc darraghcaseydesign.com soapboxpress.co.uk/darragh-casey
We all have day-to-day habits, don’t we? From a fixed routine in the mornings, to the way we drink our tea. No sugar, little milk thanks. Darragh Casey - a maker, designer, artist and educator who combats the norm - seeks ways to adapt these habits. Darragh’s work has been featured on Soapbox Press in the Visualisation section, in particular showcasing his recent project ‘Shelving the Body’. Having chosen to meet in a bustling London café, we immediately begin talking about ‘Shelving the Body’ and its inspirations.
So where did it begin? It began with an observation Darragh made of his father making shelves whenever bored - a long running joke of the family, which became integrated into his design work. Using people in shelf portraits started from one image of his mother on a seesaw. It was an experimentation of photographing people interacting with one another, and an attempt to show the physical act of balancing. Casey’s use of the people he knows is a conscious effort to maintain the value of ‘the personal’ within his work. 25
Interviews / Darragh Casey
Shelving the Body
Shelving the Body
The project was pursued during his MA in 2010, which he finished last year. It is clear that during the course of his studies boundaries and elements were pushed, particularly in playing with the idea of objects as shelves. He notes however, “Humour plays a key role to feed it! It started as a humorous project, as my background isn’t a designer but a teacher.” He happily admits that through the development of his own practices, these soon showed his “sense of humour could be inappropriate at times”.
but things seemed to take their place quite comfortably after a while. “I became aware of how I would learn best. I teach in different ways and learn in different ways.” It’s clear that Darragh knows how to take risks, and this is exactly what ‘Shelving the Body’ is about.
Were you teaching before your MA? He had been teaching Art, Craft and Design at secondary school for two years previously. Through this time, he constantly tested ideas on the students. It seemed natural for the next step beyond this to be testing these ideas as an independent designer.
How would you describe shelving the body in three words? Casey notes it really only comes down to one word. That word? Subversion. It’s a subversion of the way we look at furniture and its use - subverting norms of habits, looking at the everyday as to what seems right and then changing it. One of the main purposes was to go against practicality – this being something vital in the requirements for a shelf! “You may just be a physical object on the shelf, or be surrounded.”
What’s the main difference between working in a school and then adapting into your own processes? Casey notes how the teacher’s perspective seemed to carry over automatically. It was nerve- wracking starting the course from having a teaching background rather than a designer’s background,
Do you position the human form yourself or is it up to the independent person to decide? Darragh explains how the shelves are actually designed for a certain person. Through their physical persona he adapts it, and applies personalilty to the shelves they are placed on.
Where would you like to see this going? It is certain the work will go places, and already someone has picked it to use within their company. But what else? A music video! This seems surprising at first but thinking about it more, it really would work. The first series of images were taken on a time lapse so there is huge potential for a performance piece, just “as long as I keep having fun.”
Describe your practice in a sentence. “Instead of adapting to mass markets, it’s about designing - designing something to show personality.” To finish this lovely chat, and referencing your interest in day-to-day norms, do you have any bad habits yourself? “No, I’m perfect” But digging a little deeper, we come to the conclusion that fidgeting and indecision are the two bad habits he has. We’ll allow that. Darragh Casey. A brilliant designer, who will certainly go far. For more of Darragh’s work and to see the project ‘Shelving the Body’ in full, visit the Soapbox website. Remember milk, no sugar. Thanks.
Interviews / Darragh Casey
Of course, he takes responsibility for their positioning, especially on one request that someone was to be placed upside down! He then notes how there is a particular image depicting his grandma on a set of shelves with her own objects surrounding her. It started with a letter written by Darragh to his grandmother - no emails in sight - asking for her permission. Her response? “Oh that’s fine, as long as you don’t take snaps.” Well snaps were used, and in my eyes, it is by far one of the strongest images in the set from his project. “The layout and composition of the shelves tells one story, but the objects are there to depict the person’s life and generation.”
SARAH DIMECH @svpdimech svpdimech.com soapboxpress.co.uk/sarah-dimech
Young Typographic Collective Memory
Nicola Manuel: Hello Sarah! Congratulations on exhibiting your work along with fellow students in Brick Lane. How did it feel to be exhibiting in that location? Sarah Dimech: Hello! Thank you, it was pretty exciting. The Truman Brewery was a great location for the Medium Rare show, which added a bit of pressure, but in a good way. It didn’t come without its hiccups though! NM: What were the pieces you exhibited and the main reasons for showing them? SD: The pieces I exhibited were three paper cuts for a project about Imaginary Worlds. I had collected, drawn, collaged, photographed - but it turned out that a paper cut was the best way I could create a ‘world’ with everything I had. I wanted to show these works in particular because it was the first project I completed. 29
Interviews / Sarah Demech
Ready-mades and found objects. Oh, the beauty of manipulating what has already been created. Through transforming the found and using it as a style, it has become its own form of artwork in today’s society. Artists from Marcel Duchamp to John Stezaker have made their own adaptations on existing objects (you may have heard of the Fountain, a renowned icon of 21st century art). A ‘found’ piece can be manipulated in ways that give a lease of life to something new, or in reference to an existing piece. Sarah Dimech creates her own style of illustration through the use of old photos (personal and found), drawings and books. Having seen Sarah’s work at the LCC Medium Rare exhibition a while back, I thought it’d be a good idea to chat a little more about her work.
NM: As I introduced you through the means of found objects, it would be silly to avoid that subject. What is it about found objects you find so appealing? Have you been working with them for very long? SD: I’ve always been surrounded by objects that have had a life longer than mine. When I work with old photos, I enjoy their physicality and their history – they have a soul and a story. To me it has more power. I got into collage and using found ephemera at college, which is about 6 years ago. NM: What are the pros and cons of using found imagery and what is it you look for when sourcing your imagery? SD: Pros are that I can work with them using my hands, their physicality, history and different textures. These are all so important to my working practice. The timely nature of the processes I use blends well with the histories of the objects. It’s also great to be conscious of limited resources creating a new piece of art out of what has been discarded by someone else is a nice thought, but completely exclusive and one-off. The cons are that there are also times when you are scared to use an image because you’re attached to it. Although this becomes not such a big deal when your collection grows, and you produce more work. There are also times when you have an image in mind, but you instead have to work with what’s in front of you. I don’t stop at just imagery when looking for ephemera; you never know when or where inspiration will come from. Paper is my favourite 30
thing. My collection started when I was around 10, when my dad’s friend gave me two full books of stamps - I don’t know why he thought I would like them. Then it grew: I collected photos, buttons, magazines, maps, more stamps, fabric, envelopes, books… anything that caught my eye with their colours or layout, that kind of thing. I still have around 50 job application letters sent by the same woman that I have no idea how I will use, but they are great and will come in handy in the future. I remember being so excited that I started rifling through my parent’s and grandparent’s possessions looking for bits and pieces to claim as my own. Sometimes the thrill of buying 2000 odd photos for a tenner overrides the thought of how you’ll sort, store and use them all! NM: What does using found imagery mean to you, and what does the meaning behind your work consist of? SD: Our imaginations are filled with ‘alreadyexisting’ things and images, so it is actually quite appropriate to use ephemera, recombining them as the imagination does naturally. A lot of my work involves the idea of memory and history whether it is in nature, stories (both individual or collective) or through traditional processes. In ancient India, there is the idea that ‘everything already exists’. Thus, nothing can be created or invented, just rediscovered - this is what I do. I think my work also shows a glimpse of a future for our own redundant image, buried in digital archives.
NM: You’ve just recently finished university and have had the launch of Young’s Type Collective publication, could you explain what this collective is and how you got involved? SD: YTC is a group of multidisciplinary creatives that produce work inspired by a theme. Each publication we produce has it’s own theme, our first was memory. The collective was formed earlier this in memory of Joe Young, a designer and typographer who had an idea to keep a sense of community after we graduate, to inspire & encourage. This is why for each issue sold we
donate £1.50 to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity very close to our cause, the rest simply goes back into printing. I personally got involved through, Miranda Foxx co-founder of YTC, and who also happens to be on the same course as me at London College of Communication. What else can I say she liked my style! NM: If you could have created one piece of artwork already in existence, which would it be and why? SD: The Sistine chapel. The skill, scale and time it took to create a work of art like that astounds me. Quick round questions! If I were to say the following words to you, you’d say which word in response? Collage? Scalpel Surrealism? 1920’s Teaching? Debatable Future? Embrace Computer? Pacman! “Everything already exists’, thus nothing can be created or invented, just rediscovered.” Sarah Dimech, a practising illustrator with an exciting few months ahead. Keep up to date with Sarah through these various means… Twitter, website & blog. You could even send a cheeky email to say hello. She’s a lovely girl!
Interviews / Sarah Demech
NM: Who are your main influences within the creative world? SD: Oh, that old favourite question! I could write an enormous list of all the artists I admire, love and who inspire me. To pick a few off the top of my head, there are of course the classics like Schwitters and Rauschenberg who were a large influence in my school days. Then there are tattoo artists, writers, directors, photographers, illustrators and image-makers like Duke Riley, Kim Rense, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Hemingway, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, John Stezaker, Charles Burns, Damian and Delaine Lebas, Natasha Bowdoin, Beatrice Coron, Dusty Signs, Andy Altmann, Mark Lazenby, Jessica Dance, Christian Northeast, Adolf Wolfli. There are so many more. However, I also think my family, who have so many great stories, experiences and interests, inspire me just as much as my talented friends do.
ROBert Sae-heng @mrrubbertoes robertsae-heng.co.uk soapboxpress.co.uk/robert-sae-heng
The Walk in Pitch Dar
Nicola Manuel: Hello you. Let’s get a bit of an introduction going on to explain who you are and what you do… What kind of illustrator are you and what’s your favourite type of food? Robert Sae- Heng: I’m not trying to be any kind of illustrator; I’m just trying to leave my mark in the world. As for the food, I’m always looking for the best burrito in town. NM: Tell us three facts about you that set you aside from everyone else. RH : Number 1 is that I’ve had an interesting upbringing, having been brought up in various places throughout the world such as Mexico, California and Thailand before moving to London. 2: I was mute and deaf till a late age, which lead to drawing becoming a form of communication - a friend I could return to everytime. 33
Interviews / Robert Sae-Heng
As a recent graduate, you are faced with an exciting but tough world. Jobs appear to be open at every angle, with places seemingly on the lookout for new talent. But where do you go and what do you do? Do you go with what your degree taught you? Do you even go into what you took as a degree? More often than not, a degree opens up boundless options within the subject you studied. Whether physics, mathematics or the arts, you have the chance to veer from the main routes and expectations of your initial choice. However, one chap who has stuck with what he graduated in is Robert Sae- Heng. Having graduated from illustration, Robert is now promoting his degree loud and clear through commissions and amazing designs for companies. So what happened between coming out of university and now? Let’s get chatting!
Sleight of Hands
London: Self portrait with Stella Forever
3: I draw inspiration from my diverse backgrounds, and various art forms and mediums. Having taken an interest in street art many years ago, it has broadened my audience and creativity.
NM: Describe your style of illustration in a sentence.
NM: Having graduated from university in 2009 you’ve built great success for yourself to date. How was it coming out of university and how did you go about getting yourself to where you are now? RH: Like any graduate, it’s a real struggle to even find your feet! It took me a year or so after uni to even decide what my goals were in life. I had to hit rock bottom in order to gather and find the motivation I needed to push myself towards my goals. NM: You have the nickname ‘Rubbertoes’. Explain! RH: It’s from a really bad Mexican joke I’ve been saying throughout the years, which seems to have stuck. Bare in mind I’m half Mexican and my name is Robert: What do you call a Mexican with Rubbertoes? Roberto...
RH: My illustrations play on aspects of Mexican and Thai traditions, mixed with my own sense of energy and imagination to create the world you see in my artwork. NM: Your illustrations are really quite unique, with fantastic characters like pink unicorns, and intricate detailing entailing different places. What are your main intentions behind your illustrations? RH: In many ways, it’s a form of a diary. My characters are based on people I have encountered over the years. These characters have appeared numerous of times throughout my personal and commissioned pieces of work. NM: If you were to illustrate one thing in the world, what would it be and why? RH: I would love to paint alongside the New York ad-muralists, and maybe some day paint one of my pieces on the same scale as they do.
RH: The company already had a clear idea of what they were looking for. They found and wanted me because my style and themes matched their brief and the rest is history. NM: What is the best and worst thing about working on commission? RH: The best thing is that I get to work on briefs that I could never have thought of myself. The worse is when you have to illustrate something specific and it has to be realistically depicted. NM: With a successful branding identity under your belt, along with numerous other illustration goodies, your work is going from strength to strength and taking you right across the world. What do you aim to achieve within the next 10 years?
RH: Travelling the world illustrating for international companies and living in a giant tree house with a sneaky pet raccoon. Time for those almighty quick round questions… What/who is your favourite..? Illustrator: Dave McKean Place: It’s tricky to pinpoint a favourite place! I think mine would have to be Scotland! Everytime I go to Edinburgh, I go to ‘The Baked Potato Shop’ and order a small haggis with a cheeky potato. As I munch away, I sit on the only wee table they have, I get my sketchbook out and doodle away. Food: Burrito(es)! Joke: The rubbertoe joke as mentioned above, which lead me to literally get the word ‘rubbertoes’ tattooed on my toes! Memory: My favourite memory is probably from when I was a wee child. I lived in a small village 8 hours from Mexico City and used to chase the chickens and sit on the back of the pig and feed it apples. Those were the simple days
Interviews / Robert Louis Sae-Heng
NM: You have just completed the branding for Taqado’s Mexican Kitchen website (stunning may I add). When you were set the brief, how did you go about creating those initial ideas into reality?
Books never go out of fashion. Books can be read on a rainy day, on the sunniest of beaches, on the longest of journeys, or while tucked in the corner of a busy coffee shop with nothing but a hot drink for company. Books lie on a shelf in everyone’s house. Books are teachers, fantasists, storytellers – all wrapped up in a cover, a creased spine and a dog-eared first page. In short: Soapbox loves books. And these reasons are exactly the reasons as to why our book review section has expanded so much over the last year, and why we have so many writers bursting to reveal all about their latest bookshelf find. We’ve reviewed the classics, the latest crazes, those books that everyone-should-have-readbut-haven’t-got-round-to, philosophical novels,
romantic page turners, trilogies, factual guides, the greats and the obscure. Without wanting to use a cliché, but unable to avoid doing so, there has been something for everyone. We now bring together two of our reviews from our busy first year. Jess Oliver (English Literature and Contemporary Literature graduate, now working in academic editorial) praises the merits of Zadie Smith’s latest novel NW, while Nicola Manuel (a graphic arts/illustration graduate from Winchester School of Art, now working at the AOI) pays her respects to Daphne Du Maurier’s masterpiece Rebecca. Both books differ in age, style and genre. They span various generations, and several landscapes, yet the pleasure from reading/reviewing them remains the same. 37
NW: ZADIE SMITH By Jessica Oliver soapboxpress.co.uk/nw-zadiesmith
Zadie Smith’s fourth novel comes after a collection of essays (Changing my Mind), the editorship of a collection of short stories (The Book of Other People), countless columns and public appearances. Her business is voice: her own, of course, but most particularly, other peoples. She is one of the best living writers; one who plays so determinedly on polyphony, harmony and (at her best) discord. Her latest book is not just a reading experience – she forces you to sound out the voices for yourself, meaning it is as much an audial experience as a reading exercise. Returning to the Willesden area from a jaunt to the East Coast of the US (On Beauty), the book follows three protagonists born and raised – and still living – there. Among them are childhood best friends Leah Hanwell and Natalie Blake (nee Keisha). Leah is a philosophy graduate, who coasts in her job and is strangely ambivalent in a seemingly happy and passionate marriage. Natalie is a high-flying lawyer, who has ticked every box in her social and professional climb; she is brilliantly qualified, had great opportunities handed to her and has a rich husband. As you may expect, she is initially deeply unlikable. Another strand to the narrative follows Felix, whose attempts to leave behind a former life of petty crime and dealings proves complex. 38
His attempts to shake off the influence of his charismatic but feckless father, and a particularly well drawn ex-girlfriend Annie – a drug and booze addicted, wholly amoral predator with a trust fund – are doomed from his first appearance. The novel is divided into three strands following these characters, and each is stylistically distinct. For Felix, boxed in by his past, his neighbourhood is drawn by walls and corners – places to hide or conceal, voices to overhear or smother. Leah’s narrative is stark, precise, honest – lining up to Natalie/Keisha’s later account of her rebellious teenage years. Surprisingly, it is Natalie herself whose voice lingers on after the book is finished. Initially a well-poised ice queen, with whom Leah struggles to find common ground, she emerges as a deeply conflicted character. Her prose breaks down from an organised, notational approach – accounting for her rise from a contained life between her council house and local church to the law offices of Chancery Lane – to a tangled mess. Her self-deceit and compelling detachment from life are both chilling and endearing. Zadie Smith has once again proved her mastery of voice. Returning to a place that is so familiar, but so frightening – the place you grew up – she shows the most enthralling stories are often closest to home.
REBECCA: DAPHNE DU MAURIER “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” What an opening line. No matter how many times I read it, it never gets old. In fact, it excites me every time. Why? Because I know I have the wonderful novel of ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier ahead of me, spilling through the many glorious pages of the as-yet enclosed book. The front cover dances out, a clear insight as to what the book may hold. If, like me, you love classics, a hearty read with a “gosh, I did not see that coming” vibe, then I highly recommend this as a read. Class has always been a conscious issue in our society. Though treated favourably in Daphne’s writing, a sharp divide is achingly present between the two classes - working and upper. In particular, Du Maurier voices the issues raised when class becomes mixed due to marriage. This is evident when we learn about the marriage of the new young wife of the brooding Maxim de Winter, owner of Manderley. But who is Rebecca? The title character is the first wife of Maxim de Winter. Through the opening passage, you are allowed to step into a dream. This dream leads to the introduction of
characters and place. You read the book as though walking in the shoes of Winter’s second wife, a timid character who is never given a name. Though eternally anonymous, she becomes a figure of utmost importance – seeking acceptance in a quest to outshadow the living ghost of her husband’s dead wife, and thereby achieve a sort of happiness. She remains unnamed for the duration of the novel. Such a lack of identity would seem to suggest weakness, but ‘she’ defies every barrier thrown in her way: the lingering presence of Winter’s first wife, the overbearing Mrs Danvers, housekeeper and devoted servant to the original Mrs De Winter, and the complete isolation and initial loneliness of Manderley. Many note the similarities with the wonderful Jane Eyre: the mysterious first marriage, a fire, an aloof male protagonist. But aside from simply content, Du Maurier shares Charlotte Bronte’s strength of writing, character construction, sense of place and the complete lack of fear at being provocative, dark and unfeminine in style. It is a masterpiece, and nothing short of a must-read. 39
Books Reviews / NW / Rebecca
By Nicola Manuel soapboxpress.co.uk/rebecca-daphnedumaurier
Text can so significantly alter an image’s meaning. It may be true that without text, there are no limits to the conclusions drawn from the image – as your mind isn’t relying on any other guidance than the picture itself – but placing both text and image together makes for an intense collaboration. Through the years, imagery and text have often been placed together, whether in collage, photography, media or advertisements. Where there is an image, text follows. Or quite possibly the other way round. Our visualisation section stemmed from the need to create a genre where word and picture
could easily be connected, because we realised the power of the two in cohesion. Neither is more reliant on the other, neither is less engaging. Ultimately, both work together to create something bigger than their separate parts. As such, we would like to introduce the visual creatives who work with both imagery and text to make the images seen in our visualisation section. They are Tom Jay (recent illustration graduate), David Keeping (freelance artist), Art School Disco (a collective of skilled illustrators) and Lily Rossiter (freelance illustrator). Let’s leave their work to do the talking. 41
ART SCHOOL DISCO @artschooldisco artschooldisco.tumblr.com soapboxpress.co.uk/artschooldisco-visualisation
Visualisation / Art School Disco / Tom Jay
@tomjay_illo www.tomjay.com soapboxpress.co.uk/tomjay-visualisation
DAvid Keeping soapboxpress.co.uk/davidkeeping-visualisation
Visualisation / David Keeping / Lily Rossiter
@too-lilyish www. soapboxpress.co.uk/lilyrossiter-visualisation