Death Drawing (the new incarnation of the Swallows and Amazons drawing salons we have bigged up so heartily in the past) is back after its January debut with an artistic alternative to all the Clintons cards cutesy-ness that’s going on at the moment. So, if you’re London based, love-lorn and of an artistic nature, then this is most likely your perfect way to spit in the face of Saint Valentine!
Death Drawing aims to bring ‘a lethal injection of theatricality, curiosity and the macabre’ to the traditional life-drawing salon, and this month’s anti-valentine’s themed session is no exception. Taking place on the 15th of February at East London’s Victoria pub, the event promises participants a very bloody Valentine’s with plenty of broken hearts to inspire their scribblings. Guests are even invited to exorcise their heartache by bringing along old love letters and unwanted Valentine’s cards to add to a shrine to romance.
The salon starts at 8pm and costs £8, with all art materials provided for you – Just make sure you reserve a place because it’s bound to be packed! All the details are handily laid out for your perusal on this here Facebook Event Page. Lovely.
Okay, okay… so December the 25th is still, technically, a while off yet. Even so, there’s no escaping the imminent approach of the festive season; Already you can’t set foot in a shop without being aurally accosted by Noddy Holder’s yule-tide yelping. So, here it is ‘Merry Christmas!’ Which begs the question; Have you bought your presents yet?
If you are still stressing about about your Secret Santa, or wondering what to get for the girl who has everything, then maybe this Sunday’s Bust Christmas Craftacular has the answer?! Taking place from 12 to 6pm at York Hall, East London, the Craftacular will host over 70 stalls boasting the hottest in handmade goodies. Not only will you be able to peruse the creations of others but there’s also a chance to get crafty yourself with workshops in DIY couture, pom-pom making and even moustache-crocheting!
Even if you aren’t able to tick off all the lucky present-recipients on your ‘nice’ list, there’s still plenty to entertain yourself with; There’s a tea room on all day, plus a raffle, goodie bags and DJs providing the tunes. At only £2 to get in, this is one seasonal spectacle not to be sniffed at - Be there with jingle-bells on!
Anti Sex-Slavery campaigner Anuradha Koirala (pictured above) was yesterday named as CNN’s ‘Hero of the Year’. Koirala – who, with her organisation Maiti Nepal, has helped rescue more than 12,000 women and girls from sex-slavery – was presented with the title (and the grand total of $125,000 to further her work) at a star-studded, filmed event.
Selecting from 10 finalists, the US public were asked to vote for the hero who most inspired them on the CNN website. The voter’s hearts were won over by the work of Koirala and Maiti Nepal – work which includes patrolling the India-Nepal border, raiding brothels and rescuing girls from being sold into the sex trade. Those girls and young women, who would have otherwise been enslaved by the trade and forced to endure rape and torture, are instead provided shelter and offered education.
Speaking out against sex-trafficking, Koirala said; ‘We have to end this heinous crime, please join hands with me to end this crime.’
Huge congratulations to the much deserving Koirala… and long may her work continue!
Learn more about Maiti Nepal’s vital work here, and watch the inspirational Anuradha Koirala accepting her award here.
The thing I love about Ladyfest is, no matter how long it’s been since your last foray into feminist festivities, once you hand over your ticket and enter the venue, that’s it; You’re home. You could talk about ’safe-spaces’ or ’sisterhood’ but, whatever it is, there’s no denying that joyous feeling of belonging. You’re surounded by people who share a common goal and so it’s easy to slip into instant camaraderie.
What made this weekend’s Ladyfest Ten festival so special was that it was, of course, celebrating ten years of Ladyfests. It’s an astounding achievement, especially considering that the whole thing is essentially a grassroots movement that survives purely because women want to put on a show, DIY style, and push things forward for feminist arts.
Sadly, because I was working all weekend, I could only make a short trip to the land of Ladyfest… but I chose wisely and bought my ticket to Saturday night’s music line-up at The Garage. Whilst I was sad to miss out on the workshops (always my favourite part of Ladyfests, geek that I am) there was no way that I was going to miss the mighty MEN playing in a Ladyfest setting! They were awesome when they played in Soho earlier this year so, this time around, I had sky-high expectations of JD Samson et al.
When it came to Saturday night’s festivities, I actually hardly noticed the fact I was missing learning about self-defence and erotica (don’t worry, guys, those were two seperate workshops!), because the music was just as mind-expanding. The first group I witnessed were The Hysterical Injury (above), an utterly melodramatic metallic pop duo whose singer made all the short-haired girls in the audience wish for head-bang-worthy hair. The sound was completely immersive, at times dreamy and melodic and at others ground-shakingly severe.
Veronica Falls (above) were all sweetness and light in comparison… but their twee gorgeousness still couldn’t hide the edge that was present within their tunes. Out of all my musical discoveries from Saturday’s offerings, this is one I will definitely be going back to for more.
Whilst Veronica Falls were deliciously palatable, queer trash peddler Nicky Click (above) was more of an aquired taste. She was messy and sensual and grimy (and not in the Dizzee Rascal kinda way), singing rude dittys to make your Grandma blush. Her gyrating performance was really something to behold, since Click (who we all thought had been slightly mis-named) was dressed in a smeared bra and leggings accessorised with only a glorious wig and a horse-like tail.
Being a fan of dirty-sexy Peaches and oddball electro-artist Leslie Hall I, of course, lapped it up
Which all brought me (rather drunkenly by this point, which explains the above blurred image!) to the wonderful MEN. Who were, obviously, fantastic. Off Our Backs and Credit Card Babies were the inevitable crowd pleasers, but the audience also got over-excited when JD donned a cardboard donkey hat, complete with dangling carrot. Most exciting of all was when MEN announced that an album is underway and expected to drop in the Spring.
I left Ladyfest not only with the fuzzy happiness of having caught up with old friends and having made new ones, but also with that glowing realisation that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it (even breaking through my I’ve-got-a-new-job induced writer’s block!). Every woman who has ever helped out/performed/spoken at a Ladyfest is a glorious testament to this fact, and I’m so glad we’ve made it this far down the line.
Whilst, this Friday, most of the UK’s population will be remember-remembering the failure of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament, the organisers of Ladyfest Ten are putting on an explosive shindig of their own. Girl Fawkes, taking place at London’s Southbank Centre on the 5th, sees the Ladyfesters warming up for the actual Ladyfest Ten event (from the 12th) with a night of poetry, story telling and craft… as well as live music from the very lovely Lulu and the Lampshades.
I caught up with Luisa from the Lampshades to find out what we can expect from them on Friday. After a month off from making music (Luisa has recently been on a cycling excursion from Berlin to Istanbul!), Luisa is excited to get back on stage and play with the group… and we’re excited to see them!
Talk us through the Lampshades; Who is who and who does what…?
Me and Heloise went to school together but we didn’t start playing and singing together until a lot later… now it feels obvious and natural. Heloise is adept at anything she puts her hand to, and we switch around a lot, depending on how the song has evolved.
We swiped Dan from another band and he makes very ethereal music with lots of reverb and interesting percussion. He’s also got a good voice and we’re trying to get him to use it more. Jemma was a stroke of luck, we asked her to play with us (pre-drummer) at an open mic and realized we’d struck gold because she can pretty much play anything you can think of on bass or guitar. Plus, she manages a Salvation Army shop and comes across all sorts of treasures!
I’m just lucky to have found them. I always harbored a secret desire to play in a band but I didn’t know anyone to play in a band with and I hadn’t really performed till we started playing together. Gush!
All the Lampshades seem to be masters of multiple instruments, as well as instruments that can’t really be classed as such (cups clip-clopping, pans rattling, feet stamping)… Are you guys just thirsty for new sounds?
I guess we all like the idea of using an everyday object for something entirely different from what it’s designed for. But that’s nothing new; I just recently watched a film about The Magnetic Fields, and Stephin Merritt had a set of dearly cherished whisks that had definitely never seen an egg white! Lots of silly ideas never make it beyond practices, mostly because we could never carry it all… bicycle wheels, clock parts, a tea-chest box-bass that Heloise made with the help of her gran.
What is the most satisfying ‘instrument’ you’ve come across so far?
My personal favorite is our type-writer; It’s a Royal – that’s good in type-writer land – so it’s a shame we’re destroying it! It’s probably easy to get carried away. At the centre of it I’d like just to make good songs, the rest is all commentary.
How would you describe your sound? Who, or what, influences you?
It’s hard to pin down what influences us – Our tastes are pretty different but I think that’s a good thing! We’re all influenced by so many different things and then we meet and reign each other in somewhere in the middle. Lampshade songs tend to have lots of hmmms and ahhhhs and harmonies and percussion.
In terms of my influences – because that’s all I can really vouch for – I’ve gone through a series of obsessions that mostly seem to be of the female singer variety… when Tune Yards came along she made my constant soundtrack for months. I’ve also jumped on the Warpaint bandwagon in a big way, they’re so good live and you can tell they’ve been playing together for ages. Now that it’s getting wintery so I’m listening to lots of Otis Redding and the like, and I’ve been listening to lots of Gospel music like Bessie Jones and Willis Proctor.
Girl Fawkes looks set to be a pretty great gig, with poetry, craft and story telling as well as your good selves… Have you done any other particulary memorable gigs lately?
At this year’s Bestival we were all bit glum from a long and rainy journey, and before we played the tent was completely empty… but then people started showing up and suddenly it was packed. We had a power cut in the middle (lampshade explosion, apparently she was lucky to be wearing wellies), and did an accapela cups, and afterwards everyone got really into it and danced lots. It was the perfect way to end the summer.
What does the future hold for Lulu and The Lampshades?
We’ve been playing together casually for about two years now, and in that time we’ve just been getting used to each other and to playing in a band. Now I think we’re more ready to record. We’ve just recorded our first ep, Cold Water, which will be out late January or early Feb.
It takes some time before the concept of ‘The Band’ comes together to feel like the sound you’re making is a combination of everyone involved… and I think that’s happened fairly recently, and in lots of ways is only just beginning. Hopefully an album is not so far off!
Thanks Luisa, we hope so too!
Girl Fawkes is a free event – all details are here.
Okay, so wanting to look attractive on a big night out is totally understandable (this stuff is supposed to be fun, after all!) but when hotness is the be-all and end-all of your costume then you’re really missing a trick. Why should men have all the fun by getting to look scary, ridiculous or all-round-awesome!? Personally, I love dressing up for Halloween; it’s a perfect excuse to geek out and celebrate your favourite bits of pop culture!
Spooky films are obviously a great place to go for Halloween inspiration, but delving back into the classics and cult end of the spectrum will mean you are far less likely to be bumping into someone else rocking the same get-up on Halloween night. So why not try becoming a Hitchcock heroine (like Tippi Hedren in The Birds, above right) or a super-scary Stepford Wife? A couple of years ago I had great fun going out dressed as Rosemary (above left), from my favourite scary movie, Rosemary’s Baby. If you have cropped hair to start with then all you need is an ashen face, baby bump and 60’s nightie!
Halloween is also a great opportunity to unleash your inner bad-ass, so why not dress up as one of your more unsavoury women icons? There are many murderous femmes to choose from in Kill Bill (like naughty-nurse-with-a-twist, Elle Driver, below centre), or you could dig a little deeper and find inspiration in the sexploitation movies that inspired it, such as Switchblade Sisters and Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill (below right). And then, of course, there’s always Ghost World’s wonderful Enid (below left) although everyone might be too stupid to get it.
If you are still stuck for ideas, take a look at this blog-post from Tara of Nothing Elegant; she’s collected together images of strong women icons (Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel…) and done a little break down of everything you’ll need to create each look! I love the idea of dressing up as Frida Kahlo (who wouldn’t want to try out a mascara-ed mono-brow and moustache combo for the evening?) but I think it’d be great to up the spookiness factor by incorporating some of her surrealist art into the mix… perhaps with a little face-painting, or by getting a friend involved?
Speaking of arty costumes, this post at PW Style has some great ideas (Roy Lichtenstein cart0on girl, anyone?), and they’ve also done round-ups of nostalgia and nerdy reference costumes too. So now there’s really no excuse to end up dressed as ‘a mouse, duh‘ come Saturday night! Happy Halloween everyone!
So, beauty pageants aren’t usually the kind of thing that get feminists excited(not in a good way, anyway)… but in Nottingham city, what would usually be unthinkable is actually happening; women of a feminist persuasion are ironing their silk sashes, polishing up their tiaras and rehearsing speeches on how they will make the world a better place ‘for the children’. The crucial difference here is that these beauty queens will also be a gruesome shade of green, dripping in blood and murmuring about brains.
The Drop Dead Gore-geous zombie beauty pageant/talent contest is the brain-child (mmmmbraaains) of the Ladyfest Nottingham team (hence the feminist link) and will be occurring, of course, on All Hallow’s Eve. Taking place at the marvellously named Spanky van Dykes, the night will consist of zombie contestants showcasing their talents (singing, dancing, fire breathing,whatever!) to win a cash prize and a professional photo-shoot… Although one assumes they don’t have to be zombified for the photo-shoot.
Perhaps I’m easily swayed by the presence of zombies (the addition of zombies to anything always cranks up the awesome-ness factor, IMHO) but I’m really enjoying the subversive twist on the beauty pageant theme. Let’s hope the zombies have fun displaying their more outlandish, gory talents and get to play around with the usual pageant formalities; “So, Miss Zombie Nottingham, why can’t a fifth humans locate America on a map?” “Because I ate their braaaains!”
All event details are here, so get yourself down there if you can. If I was in Nottingham, rather than donning a purple wig, tartan mini skirt and swearing profusely (can you guess who it is yet?) at some London based Halloween shindig, then I’d definitely be going along to see who will be crowned queen of the undead!
The 3 day long ‘carnival’ (part conference, part festival) is set to take place in March 2011 at the University of York but, in the meantime, the organisers are keen to enlist all sorts of voices to take part in the event itself and discuss what feminist art can do for society. So, if you are an academic, an artist, an activist, all of these or none at all, and you have an opinion that you want to share on how creative culture can address issues of power and gender then these Feminist Cultural Activists want to hear from you!
Perhaps you have an idea for a presentation, a performance, an exhibition or a workshop… whatever it is, get in touch with the event organisers and share your thoughts.
Deadline for all proposals is the 31st of October, so you’d better get a wiggle on if you want to get involved! All the info you will need on how to submit can be found here.
Although the content for this carnival is still being collected together, I’m already pencilling the dates into my diary, such is my excitement around the theme! Registration for the event won’t be open until the 20th of November, but the organisers have already published the prices for early bird tickets, so start saving up now to make sure you don’t miss out! All other details can be found on the Feminist Cultural Activism website and also on their Facebook event page.
Since reading her autobiography, Hungry, I’ve become a bit fanatical about the (so-called) ‘plus sized’ model Crystal Renn, so I’m rather embarrassed to admit that her shoot for Vogue Paris’ October issue passed me by. Luckily it was brought to my attention by Fernando of L’ Art Noir blog and, boy, am I grateful. Why? Because there’s a lot going on in there. The food for thought is just as excessive and messy as the spaghetti lustily piled on Renn’s plate.
First off, the shoot is immediately arresting because it’s so at odds with the usual high fashion imagery we have become accustomed to; There’s no whimsical flights of fancy here, this editorial is coarse, garish and downright dirty. But that’s to be expected when you get enfant terrible Terry Richardson on board as your photographer – it doesn’t matter whether he’s working for Vice or Vogue, Richardson is still going to serve up a salacious slice of TerryWorld. So, this is quite a brave move on the part of French Vogue, allowing luxury items (in this case, jewellery) to be promoted in such a left-field manner.
So, let’s talk about sex. Because, this being a Terry Richardson shoot, of course it’s about sex. Here’s Renn wetting two fingers in her mouth… now she’s letting slimy squid tentacles slide down her throat… and now she’s stabbing a juicy cutlet of meat held between her thighs… and here she is sucking hungrily on a bone (arf) whilst locking eyes with the viewer. It’s all pretty hot stuff, but it’s gross too – there’s something a bit ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’ about it in that we are presented with a woman putting yucky stuff in her mouth for the sexual gratification of the viewer. Although Renn looks like she’s rather enjoying herself, and she talks a lot in Hungry about her love of food, this editorial doesn’t feel quite right as a depiction of a woman finding pleasure in eating. Perhaps if it was dribbling cheesy slices of pizza on her plate, or bushels of apples, rather than raw sea creatures it would be different – but, as it is, that particular message seems a little hard to swallow.
To my mind, this editorial is, at heart, a comment on excess. The copious cocktail rings that are being featured are piled on to Renn’s fingers, she wears chunky bangles, over-sized earrings, weighty necklaces (sometimes two at a time)… and what’s more, she wears them all at once. Of course, this is the norm for jewellery features, but here Richardson ridicules this excess by presenting the woman in his story as an all-round greedy pig, gorging on food in a most unashamed and grotesque fashion. But, obviously, this isn’t just any ‘woman’, this is Crystal Renn… and that’s where the whole thing gets interesting.
As Renn’s agency, Ford, themselves say; “She doesn’t so much acknowledge the elephant in the room as she devours it.” Whilst everyone is getting excited about the ‘plus-size’ revolution, in reality, Crystal Renn is pretty much our only large sized super-model. As such, she is the poster girl for curves, the go-to gal for larger than life shoots… which is all well and good, but it has hardly opened up the modelling landscape to a whole variety of ages, sizes and races like some would have hoped it might. Instead, we have the same base group of waif-like, young, mostly white models… and the token Crystal Renn.
And so, on top of all this, the way in which the plus-sized Renn is being presented here is a worry. The whole thing smacks of the creators gleefully shouting ‘Look! The only model who can eat as much as she likes is eating! For your entertainment!’ I doubt very much that Richardson would have gone down this gluttonous route if he had been working with any other model. It comes across as a bit of a freak show and, sadly, it feels like Renn could be alienating herself (and any other hopeful plus-size models) from main-stream editorials as a result.
That being said, Hungry proved Renn to be a fantastically intelligent, grounded, and driven individual who is very much aware of what she is doing with her career. Her attitude towards modelling is overtly artistic and she is enthusiastic about working with focussed creatives in order to realise their visions to their full potential. With this in mind, you can be sure that Renn must have put a lot of thought into this shoot and concluded that, rather than reducing her into ‘the model who eats’, she would get some great shots, break a few taboos and, ultimately, further her influence. Personally, I think she was right on the ‘great shots’ part – these images are aesthetically fabulous – let’s just hope she’s right about the rest.
See the entire editorial here and, if you fancy seeing a further commentary on eating, excess and consumerism, take a little look at the Ace Norton directed video for ‘Hustler’ by Simian Mobile Disco.
(Images from Ford Models Blog. Credits: Photographer, Terry Richardson; Fashion editor, Carine Roitfeld. Image source, Noir Façade.)
Certain campaigns that aim to change the world for the better can often sound like one of those ‘Big Asks’ that business people like to talk so much about; A task that seems so mammoth that, depressingly, the outcome feels unreachable. But mammoth tasks somehow seem all the more maneagable when everyone gets involved – which is why Say No-Unite need you to get on board and say no to violence against women!
This global campaign, launched in November 2009, aims to make violence against women a top priority worldwide through social action and engagement;
Actions can range from reaching out to students at schools, to volunteering at local shelters, advocating for legislation or donating funds towards programmes that protect women and girls from violence. Every action will be counted to showcase the global groundswell of engagement that exists on the issue.
Prosecute those who command and/or commit sexual violence and exclude them from armies and police forces after conflict.
Ensure that women participate in peace negotiations and all post-conflict decision-making institutions.
Increase the number of women in troops, police forces and civilians within international peacekeeping efforts.
There’s now less than one week left to add your name to the petition, so get a move on! Read more here, follow the campaign on twitter, learn more from the video below… and help the world to ‘realise a vision that is ambitious, but must never be impossible.’