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FRED BUTLER MENTORS FOR SOMEWHERE_TO

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_ saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer READ MORE...
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NET-A-SPORTER LAUNCHES 7-DAY BODY REBOOT

NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote READ MORE...
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WeSC & ALTEWAI SAOME LAUNCH HIGH END STREETWEAR

Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome READ MORE...
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MADE LONDON RETURNS TO MARYLEBONE

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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SEA LIFE COMES TO TORONTO AT RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM

It's called Ripley's Aquarium of Canada (as opposed to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto which would follow the format for their US locations), which is not helping the general READ MORE...
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BOOK REVIEW: LAND/SEA VOL.1

I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
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LC:M BACKSTAGE AT MATTHEW MILLER WITH TONI & GUY

Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
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September 09, 2014

#UnlockArt Film Series Ends on a Humorous Note

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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll.  It was a lighthearted end (though humour was present in each narrative) to a series that achieved exactly what it set out to do. Sharp-witted writers, charismatic presenters we all know, first class production and astute directors addressed topics such as How to Buy Art, Where are the Women? and Pop Art, making high art easy to understand and enjoyable. 

Clearly, I'm a huge fan of the series, I really can't say enough about it. I spent four years in university studying art and art history, and I thought performance art was, well, kind of rubbish to be honest. Misguided weirdos wanting attention and calling it art. That's how I saw it because I didn't understand it. Usually I take the attitude that something shouldn't be dismissed unless you do your part in trying to wrap your head around it, but in this case I felt my assertion was valid. It so happened that the debut film in the series addressed this very subject, and in a matter of five minutes I finally understood what I hadn't been able to get my head around for years. Performance art still isn't my thing, but I get it now, I've made friends with it, and I can appreciate its cultural influence and the place it holds in art history. What a great way to begin. 

And here is the room where the #UnlockArt series officially wrapped up, in Le Meridien's opulent, violet-tinged, Adams Room where all eight films ran on a loop on the wall, providing the backdrop to a fantastic, #UnlockArt-themed dinner, created by Chef de Cuisne Michael Dutnall:

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Franz served up his delicious cocktails, some of the molecular variety: 

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LM-8Le Meridien's Chef de Cuisine Michael Dutnall 

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Our sorbet palate cleansers (in this case it could be palette as well?) were served in mini shopping bags marked SOLD to tie in with the film How to Buy Art. 

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Dessert was served in a themed box, mine being...can you guess? Pop Art, of course.

KAPOW! to my glucose levels indeed, look what was inside:  

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I was too full to even think about dessert (I left out a couple courses in the photos because sweets and tiny food present a lot nicer than meat), but there was no way I was leaving it behind, so this box of goodies came back to my room and I got into it when I woke up. 

Want to know more about Humour in Art? Let's take the last of the tours that art historian and author Linda Bolton (how we will miss her!) designed to explore works associated with the film topic. Here's a selection from the works we saw at Tate Modern earlier that day, which illustrate how humour comes in many different forms, in Linda's words:

Niki de Saint Phalle – Shooting picture, 1961

She did what? Shoot stuff? That was her thing. Niki de St Phalle said she was angry. In her zip fronted white leather cat suit and hard attitude, she told everyone in her sexy French accent that she was angry with everyone and everything. She wanted to shoot everything and everyone. Niki made shooting paintings: she put liquid paint in a bag, sealed the bag, pinned it to the canvas and covered it in plaster. Plaster dried, she shot the plaster, punctured the bag below and the colour bled down the picture. 

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Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads, 2006

Hirschhorn is known for his sculptures and installations made from everyday materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper, bound together with brown packing tape. This work was originally part of an exhibition called Concretions, a term from geology and medicine that suggests the gradual growth of a solid mass. Hirschhorn related the theme to a broader social and spiritual petrification. Here the faces of mannequins seem to be emerging from – or submerged into – larger biomorphic forms.

Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads 2006

(I have to admit that every time I see this work I feel crampy. I don't need to explain why, do I?)

Stanley Spencer – The Centurion’s Servant, 1914

As we looked at this painting, Linda told us the humorous story (to us, but surely not him) of how Spencer fell in love with a lady called Patricia Preece, married her, yet took his ex-wife Hilda Carline on honeymoon with him. Preece began to manage Spencer’s finances and slowly duped him of his money, even though she refused to consummate their marriage. Stan really didn't play that one right. Find out more here.

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David Shrigley – I’m Dead

David Shrigley's art is almost always humorous. His Leisure Centre is a funny play on words and concept, as is his I'm Dead placard-holding taxidermy dog.

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Bruce Nauman – Run from fear fun from rear, 1941

Bruce Nauman makes a fun word play in his neon work. It's a bright, post-pop shout-out for irreverent fun.

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Roy Lichtenstein – Mustard on White, 1963

Roy Lichtenstein makes an art joke in his Mustard on White. The great pop artist makes fun of the American abstract expressionists here. The pairing of colours sounds like the title of an abstract work and at the same time jokingly refers to a condiment on white bread.

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And before we go, here's something I found kind of funny from one of Franz's magic molecular demonstrations at the Terrace Grill and Bar - when he lifted the cloche after scent-infusing the cocktails, his head seemed to disappear into a delicious-smelling iquid nitrogen cloud:

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TheSwelleLife-Le-Meridien-Franz-fog (1 of 1)Photos © Dave Watts unless otherwise credited

A huge thank you to Le Meridien for providing what is hands down the most fun and exciting learning experience I have ever had. Sure beats university! (At least the one I went to.) If you want to see posts on the preceding films scroll down here, and to view the entire series of films you can visit the Unlock Art site

Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists. It furthers this commitment through its Unlock Art™ Programme, which offers Le Méridien guests complimentary access to forward thinking cultural institutions around the world. These partnerships allow guests to explore a local, inspiring cultural experience, simply by presenting the Unlock Art™ room key. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art™ partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain

Tate is a family of four galleries: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.  Tate is responsible for the National Collection of British art from 1500 and international modern and contemporary art from 1900. Tate's Collection of over 66,000 works of art embraces all media from painting, drawing, sculpture and prints, to photography, video and film, installation and performance.  The Collection is displayed at Tate's four galleries and through loans to temporary national and international exhibitions and long loans. 

September 07, 2014

Fred Butler Mentors Young Designers at Somewhereto_ Festival

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_  saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer and consultant, who has had pieces commissioned by Lady Gaga, Nike, Swatch and Selfridges, to act as mentor  for the Summer of somewhereto_ Festival. Fred donated her time to do workshops and provide one-to-one mentoring to young designers Kay Davis and Shireeka Devlin. Watch the film above to see the exciting things they got up to this summer. (Email subscribers please click the title to view the film on the blog.)

The UK-wide project is delivered by Livity and funded by a £7m grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its expansion to 2016. somewhereto_ is a free nationwide location finding service which helps 16-25 year olds access free spaces in their communities. 

Whether young people are interested in music, fashion, art, tech, starting an enterprise or participating in urban sport, somewhereto_ offers an incredible opportunity for young people to realise their potential, kick start ideas, sell their products or services, showcase creative concepts and boost their skills.

You can learn more about the initiative at the somewhereto_ website and explore Fred Butler's wonderful world here

September 06, 2014

'Net-a-Sporter' Introduces 7-Day Body Reboot

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NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote their Women's Training Collection of workout wear and motivating us to actually use it once it arrives. Second, it packages innovative and challenging fitness routines into short demonstrations, lead by Nike Master Trainer Josyln Thompson, so you can learn the proper form then do your reps in your own time, followed by a healthy recipe that you will actually want to eat, created by respected nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson. 

Right now they're on Day 6, but you can start at the beginning of the program by clicking on Day 1 which focusses on Strength Building. Each day has its own agenda which is great for keeping things varied and interesting, and the series also offers a 7-Day Meal Plan to complement each day's unique workout.  A bonus was that it delivered what I look for in a new regimen; I want to learn something new and until now I was not familiar with the 'Turkish Get Up' (it's not easy and that's a good thing). I try to do something every day and have a trainer come by once a week, but it's a challenge to stay motivated so this is a perfect little package. We can get a lot of mileage out of this one program, but I hope they introduce new ones every so often; we're always looking for new inspiration to keep us on track, aren't we? 

September 05, 2014

Anthony Head: Ahead of the Game

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As a huge Buffy fan, I bring you an interview with 'Giles', Anthony Head, who hasn't been short of meaty roles since the show ended eleven years ago. 

With his designer stubble, razor-sharp style and pearly-white grin, Anthony Head’s outward appearance belies his 60 years, but as far as new projects go, this is an actor who feels as youthful as ever.

First impressions of Anthony Head are that of the quintessential English gent, not far removed from Head’s fictional – and much lauded - role as tea quaffing librarian Giles, in cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Behind the scenes, Head’s Englishness spills over into his undying passion for bucolic Somerset, a place he calls “one of the most beautiful counties in England.”

“When I used to come back from LA, we’d be driving somewhere along the A46 and there’d be a point when I’d just wind down my window and breathe in the Somerset air,” he gushes. “It just loves all weathers and there’s something about the Mendips – the rolling Mendips – that is so stunning. There’s a real peace.”

Head and his partner Sarah bought a farm near Bath six years ago with some money left to them by “a dear friend of Sarah’s.” They now have twelve horses, a few donkeys and Sarah teaches, rides and sees clients at the farm.

Anthony mucks in too though. In fact, on returning home from San Diego’s Comic-Con just last month - which he quips was “insane” - the first thing he did was to tend to the donkeys’ needs.

“On the way back from the airport, the driver said very sweetly ‘Well, Mr. Head, are you going to spend a couple of days putting your feet up and getting over the jetlag?’ I went and did quite the opposite! That afternoon I was down the stables mucking out the donkeys, because actors do need to be grounded. We need to shift the odd pile of poo just to remember who we are.”

Born in Camden Town in 1954, Anthony Stewart Head was educated at Sunbury Grammar School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before earning his first acting role in the musical Godspell. He carved out his early notoriety from appearing in a series of twelve Nescafe commercials, before treading the boards in various stage shows and finally landing his famed role as Giles in Buffy back in 1997.

An industrious actor who clearly lacks the propensity to sit still, Head’s career is glittered with myriad small screen and big screen gigs, from playing Geoffrey Howe in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady, to Will’s dad in The Inbetweeners, King Uther Pendragon in Merlin and the PM in Little Britain.

As a multi-faceted actor, he is forever turning his hand to new roles but for this latest one took on CGI, providing the voice for avaricious, egomaniacal footballer Flash in Juan Jose Campanella’s family foosball parable The Unbeatables. These days, his roles seem to be taking a darker turn…

 “I seem to be playing a few baddies at the moment!” he laughs. “What I normally try and do to enrich the role is think about why he’s bad, what makes him bad, what drives him. Because no one really gets out of bed and thinks ‘I’m going to be bad today’, it’s something that people become and there’s a reason they become that way; nothing is that two-dimensional or that black and white.

“You sort of look at people in middle age and think ‘what on earth got you to this point? How did you become, so angry, or so embittered?’ Quite often it’s something very small, right at an early age, that just pushed them. It may have started off as a little acorn but it’s grown into this massive oak tree. So that’s me playing bad people. And I enjoy it, because I like the challenge of making them interesting.”

So would he ever give it all up for a life toiling the land?

“The thing about acting is that I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do but I do it because I’m passionate about it,” says Head, with a glint in his eye. “I just think that if it was missing from my life, I might get a little boring…”

The Unbeatables is in cinemas now.

August 30, 2014

WeSC and Altewai Saome Launch High End Streetwear

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Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome. The 12-piece womenswear capsule collection of Neoprene, wool blend, jersey and fleece, would be welcome in my wardrobe; it's cool and comfy. You can move in it. Friends who never dress that way will ask to borrow your jacket. During my first visit to Stockholm I noticed that the people in the street just looked good. Their clothes didn't scream out for attention but they always looked well put together and without any fuss, as if they couldn't look any other way. Obviously they care, but it seems knowing how to dress is just in their DNA or something. As is design. Like that peachy skin they all somehow have. I'd like to wear the skate ramp logo dress around Östermalm and see if I blend. 

The collection is now available at wesc.com

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