INTERVIEW WITH BLANC HOMEWARE
BY DEVON HARVEY
What made you chose to go into homeware?
Blanc Homeware was originally started by myself (Harry) as I had always been into homeware, as I love how a space can be transformed with a few home decor pieces. The first item released was the Form Trio Candle Set. Before releasing it, I was finding it difficult to find affordable, 100% Vegan Soy Wax candles in sculptural shapes. Hence what led to the start of Blanc Homeware.
Can you talk us through a day at Blanc Homeware?
My partner (James) and myself now run Blanc full-time together from our little studio in the Brecon Beacons, Wales! Part of what we love about running a small business is everyday is different! We usually start the day fulfilling any orders we have. We then put on a large batch of candles in the shades and scents that need replenishment. We try and update our social media everyday if we can so getting content for that is also a big priority. Then we could be doing anything from Designing new prints to planning future collections!
What inspires your aesthetic as a brand?
We take a lot of inspiration from travelling. Just before the Pandemic, we both visited Stockholm and fell in love with the Minimal, Scandinavian style. We used this as well as the Danish Pastel design trend to influence the direction of the Brand. We also draw inspiration from abstract natural forms. We think all these elements work together to create the minimal, elevated, yet playful aesthetic that Blanc was born with.
What is your most popular product?
Of all time, our “Lovers Set” of two body candles has been our best seller! Having it featured in Glamour Magazine as ‘the best body candle set’ really helped people to discover Blanc.
And finally, if you could a pick the best part of being a business owner, what would it be?
Being able to have full creative control is huge for us as we have a clear vision of what we want Blanc to be. Also the joy we get every single time we get an order and knowing our products will be inside of someone’s home brings us so much happiness! We are so excited for the future of Blanc and expanding to create more unique, beautiful products.
I am heavily inspired by the forms of the landscape around me and seek to translate these into 2D space, exploring how they can be interpreted using colour and shape. I am also fascinated by the relationship between the figure and the landscape, how one influences the other and the ways in which they co-exist. Reducing forms to their most basic elements and utilising colour to inject life and atmosphere helps me to create bold, exciting and playful visual solutions that engage the viewer. I often work with large areas of flat colour, building imagery by ‘carving’ shapes into these blocks, meaning every element is very much ‘created’ by the shapes surrounding it.
I recently graduated from Falmouth University with First Class honours in BA Illustration. Whilst studying, I largely applied my work in the context of editorial illustration, but I would love to expand my practice to encompass a broad range of applications, particularly exploring surface pattern design.
MOHAMMED OMER SHABBIR
CRISIS OF DESIGN
The nation is fragile.
Since the forced union of states.
The federation attempts to fight back.
Adaptation of ideas, which may change.
Against all odds, lingers on.
Built on weak foundations.
A constitution of lies.
Red verse blue.
Designed with division in mind.
A war of words is all that survived.
Half the nation hates the design.
Inequality the only fire that burns.
The only fire that keeps them alive.
Liberty used as propaganda.
With agendas written on every wall.
Secretly plotting to take back choice.
Textile designer studying at Bath Spa University with a keen interest in illustration and character creation. I’m drawn to bright and unusual colour combinations, particularly oranges, pinks, and blues! My creative process consists of paintings, ink drawings, and digital manipulation. Any of my prints can be ordered in A4 and A5 upon request via Instagram - emiliarose_prints, or email - firstname.lastname@example.org🍊
ENTERTAINMENT SNIPPET - 5 MUST-SEE MOVIES AND SHOWS IN SEPTEMBER
BY HARRY MEMBREY
Summer will soon be behind us, as it turns to Autumn and the ‘Blockbuster’ season draws to a close. Though it must be said, not many films busted any blocks. In fact, in August there was very little to draw people to cinemas. Just this week, I was in a theatre (kind of) enjoying Reminiscence, Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy’s directorial debut, joined by a whopping 4 other people.
To think, the highest grossing movie of 2021 so far in UK cinemas is… Peter Rabbit 2. And that’s only just over half of Peter Rabbit 1’s earnings in 2018. What has happened to cinema?
Well the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere in a hurry and, understandably, people still aren’t taking that extra risk. In fact, many distributors have contingencies in place for the continuation of this trend, with movies like Venom: Let There Be Carnage considering pushing back to 2022. With streaming services upping their game of late and providing every entertainment necessity from home, why should you risk it?
So here are a few movie-going choices in September which may draw you back to the big screen experience. But there’s also plenty to enjoy from the comfort of home.
CANDYMAN - 27TH AUGUST - CINEMA
Candyman is out now, and offers a luring choice for those that may be tempted back to the cinema for a slice of terror over the next month. Get Out’s Jordan Peele is producing a fresh new take on the classic urban legend, a ghostly killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by simply repeating his name five times into a mirror.
Critics have gone mad for Candyman, going crazy for its apparent mix of derision, disdain and danger. The film follows Anthony, a down-on-his-luck artist who follows the story of The Candyman in the hope of uncovering not only an age-old urban legend but a sense of fresh perspective on his journey to success. Of course, this kind of risk must have consequences...
WORTH - 3RD SEPTEMBER - NETFLIX
Set during the devastating aftermath of the 9/11 disaster, Worth is a biographical drama starring Michael Keaton as the person who must determine how to compensate families that suffered incalculable losses and must attribute value to the lives that have been lost.
Opposite Keaton is Stanley Tucci, recently starring in Supernova and the soon-to-be-released The King’s Man. Here he is Charles Wolf, a man hell bent on opposing Keaton’s Ken Feinberg and questioning his every move. As a story based on truth, it’s bound to be a compelling piece of drama and maybe a genuine insight into the aftermath of an event that still shakes the world.
SEX EDUCATION - 17TH SEPTEMBER - NETFLIX
It’s back, baby. Sex Education returns for the third time on the 17th September and, this time, there’s a school uniform. If you haven’t got around to watching the first two seasons then now is your time, with a perfect two-week gap to lead you into the third series.
The series is all about Otis, a socially awkward high school student played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo) who doesn’t have a lot of experience with sex, but knows exactly how to talk about it. That’s mostly down to his mother, a sex therapist played immaculately by Gillian Anderson. As he and Maeve go on a mission to give the entire school sex therapy, they constantly unearth all the skeletons from students and teachers’ closets alike.
MIDNIGHT MASS - 24TH SEPTEMBER - NETFLIX
Set on a mysterious island where things go awkwardly awry, Mike Flanagan of The Haunting of Hill House returns to Netflix with a new series: Midnight Mass. The official synopsis describes the series as a small isolated island’s community being driven apart by the arrival of a charismatic priest and unexplained miraculous events. With the island driven into religious impulse, what will this new arrival cost the town?
Like Hill House and Bly Manor before it, this series promises intrigue and depth but, above else, fascinating horror. With a seven-episode run and returning character-actors from his previous work, Flanagan presents us with his “favourite project so far”.
NO TIME TO DIE - 30TH SEPTEMBER - CINEMAS
The final choice on this list was only ever going to be one thing. No Time To Die, the movie that was meant to be released over 18 months ago and has basically been the face of the film industry since March 2020 is finally being released. According to producers, it’s been postponed not only by a pandemic but because it’s too damn good to miss in cinemas. Now the wait is over, and we can make that judgement for ourselves...
In Daniel Craig’s final outing as the quintessentially British 007, the film sees Bond look to rescue a kidnapped scientist before the end of the world as we know it. The stakes are high (again), but the cast is bigger. Joining Craig in his final outing is Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rami Malek and more. It promises to be quite the send off…
I’m Cora O’Gorman (aka @merrylemontree) and I’m an artist/illustrator based in Manchester, UK. Starting in September 2021, I will be a student at MMU doing an Art Foundation course! I tend to gravitate towards watercolours and digital art, but I also like to experiment with other media like pencil and gouache. One of my favourite pieces from this year is a fantasy style landscape (see below) which was commissioned by the lovely people at Rhythm Lab Records! <3
You can email me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram @merrylemontree for information about commissions or prints for sale. :D
INTERVIEW WITH ART HOLE
BY DEVON HARVEY
What inspired you both to get into illustrating? Has it always been a passion?
Drawing is something both of us have always been doing, really. I guess we both ended up naturally swinging towards illustration as we went through college to university as a way of making it a more applicable and versatile approach to making art our livelihoods. We come from more Graphic Design and Fine Art backgrounds in our personal work, so we've ended up shifting quite a bit over the years, but certainly not gunna question it!
Would you say you have a particular aesthetic? If so, what are your inspirations?
We like to describe our aesthetic as wonky. It came from a very loose, quick drawing of a goose that Kay did in the bath once. We do a lot of the visual and conceptual work for ArtHole in a very reactive, snappy way; creating images that are as loose and off the cuff as possible. Illustration as a medium needs to be accessible and relatable, and we think it's important that people can easily see and connect with the thought process that goes into our work. I'm overthinking this answer a bit which totally contradicts the point I'm trying to make! We're inspired by funny and irreverent stuff in our day to day, and hope people can tell that we really aren't taking it too seriously!
As a duo, what is your favourite part about working together?
Aw man this is a hard one to answer without sounding really cringe! It's been a while, but when we both have a full day together in our little studio, the atmosphere is great! We bounce off each other very well, and it makes for a fun and productive environment to create stuff in! Hanging out with music, tea and drawing stuff- it's the dream innit?
Finally, can you tell us more about your work at art fairs and pop-ups?
ArtHole originated as a pop up illustration fair in Cardiff. We haven't been able to pursue that this year unfortunately, which has been a real blow, as it's our whole thing! We aim to give upcoming artists in Wales a chance to start selling their work, as well as create a real sense of community among young creatives in Cardiff. The emphasis is very much about making friends and new connections as opposed to selling lots and making loads of money. Illustrators (including ourselves) are generally quite an introverted lot, so this is very important to us. Since starting out, we've had the absolute honour of meeting and working alongside illustrators and events organisers we really respect, so have also been lucky to stall at a bunch of art fairs with our own work too. We had a lot more lined up that regrettably all got cancelled last year, so had to focus on other ways of bringing together artists, like with the ArtHole magazine and such. Very fun, but we're itching to get back to events soon. We've had some conversations recently so the future is looking bright!
My name is Lucy Wooding, I am 22 and live in Chichester, West Sussex.
My journey into creating art started during the pandemic.
When the first lockdown hit in the UK, I was racking my brains on how to occupy my time. After watching Grayson's Art Club- an art programme brought about by the lockdown, and hosted by British artist Grayson Perry- I was inspired to start creating art to fill my time.
Off I went accumulating old art supplies found in cupboards or discarded under my bed. I opened up my sketchpad and played around with acrylic paint. The end result was a painting of a block of flats. It didn't look AMAZING, but what I enjoyed most was the therapeutic nature of creating art and appreciating the process- it became my form of meditation and I was HOOKED!
Soon enough, I was making art EVERYDAY and improving bit by bit. Even after the lockdown lifted, I was still creating!
Months passed and I discovered I had a flare for creating colourful, funky, psychedelic art pieces. I started researching ways to share and sell my art, as my passion blossomed.
Quickly after, I found myself with a brand new iPad, equipped with Procreate. I started teaching myself how to use Procreate and how to turn digital art into physical art. I then opened my Etsy shop- LucyWoodingArt, which I've had for 2 and a bit months now and love running!
My long term goal is to expand my small business and turn it into a full time occupation, because being an artist is what I'm good at most.
Art has made me appreciate life more, giving me a purpose. I am truly proud of what I've achieved so far, and will continue creating.
IN LOVE WITH LONDON
BY ANGELA ZAHER
August 27, 2021
As summer 2021 draws to a close, I am reflecting on how it has been compared to past summers. The words “unprecedented” and “like no other” have become a cliché over the last 18 months, I can barely stand hearing them. I am aware how privileged I am when I say that it’s our first summer in as many that we have not jetted off to the airport armed with too much luggage for a fortnight somewhere exotic, “exotic” here means with a guaranteed dose of summer sun. As disappointing as it has been not to feel the warmth of the sun on my bare skin, swim under bright blue skies and dry off within minutes after, gorge on peaches and tomatoes that have soaked up the Mediterranean sun and not lost any flavour through travel (this last I found the hardest to cope with), it has also been rather lovely. I have instead renewed my love affair with London.
Anyone who reads my weekly blog on Instagram about food and life but mainly food, will be aware that I am deeply, unashamedly in love with London where I have lived for over 20 years. I did not grow up in this city but moved here for study and work after I graduated from university in Wales. I instantly fell in love with its energy, its buzz and bustle. I could go to the Edgware Road and order my food in Arabic, my mother tongue. I could walk around the streets of Holland Park and Kensington and gape in awe at the mansions sitting side by side with council housing and end up on the Portobello Road where stalls might be selling antique furniture for hundreds and thousands of pounds next to bric and brac 99p ones. London felt alien but intrinsically familiar, vast but cosy. It drew me in and I wanted to know more, to explore its wide streets and narrow alleys. I have been exploring ever since.
Despite the many years I have lived here, and the extensive effort I have put into getting to know London, I feel I have only just scratched the surface. One lifetime is nowhere near enough to go much further than that. London consists of 32 boroughs and is currently home to a population of just under 10 million. It has a long and engaging history which has been most beautifully documented in Peter Ackroyd’s “London: The Biography”. I have been listening to this being read out by the rich, resonant voice of Simon Callow (if his voice was a smell it would be melted chocolate). But it’s not just the history of London that I find so entrancing, it's how it keeps on changing, there is always something new and exciting to discover. And it is full of delightful surprises.
Staying in London this summer means that I have once again been able to delve into its cavern of treasures. Some of these require some effort in seeking out, hunting down and perhaps, getting lost in order to stumble upon a lucky find (i.e. resist looking at your phone). Inspired by Lara Maiklem’s “Mudlarking”, I went to visit Eel Pie Island in Twickenham. Its name was enough to get me hooked and I had to see it for myself. In the 1960’s, it was the site of an inn which housed a club that was a major venue for jazz and blues. It is now a private island with artist studios, housing, watersports centre and a boat yard. Whilst there, I wandered along the accompanying stretch of river as I have found that the whole character of the river changes depending on where you are along it. I was intrigued by the sound of gushing water and followed the path round to see where it came from. I turned a corner and was blown away by what I saw. There in front of me was a large fountain with life size statues of winged horses and sea nymphs (known locally as “the naked ladies”). It was a surreal moment. I stood there blinking trying to take it all in. The statues were carved from the Italian white marble Carrara and it was thanks to a group of residents, headed by a spirited lady called Elizabeth Bell-Wright who in the late 1980’s raised sufficient funds to lovingly restore them to their full glory. In that little story lies the heart of London. The majority of people who live here take great pride in the city, we look after it so that it can look after us.
The Thames itself has been a major attraction for me this summer, in fact, it’s a constant in my life. It’s only a fifteen minute walk away before I can enjoy the restorative effect seeing it has on me. There is something about being close to the river, it puts me in a happy place instantly, in fact it’s almost a physical need. If I have gone for two days without catching a glimpse of it, I get fidgety. There is so much life to see on the river as it flows by. The ducks bobbing up and down keeping a close eye on their ducklings, the geese who love moving in straight lines whether they are in the air or water, the herons on the look out for a poor eel for their next meal, the cormorants diving into the water for an unnaturally long time, leaving me to second guess if, when and where they might reappear. In my opinion, the Thames symbolises all life in London, our great melting pot, everyone busily going about their own business but happily co-existing, at least most of the time.
For a deeper immersion in nature, I have been going to my nearest common which is Wimbledon Common. There are over a hundred registered commons in London ranging in size, when you combine these with the parks, heaths and communal garden squares (I can’t think of a garden square without that scene in “Notting Hill”of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant clambering over the high fence coming to mind), Londoners have a bounty of green spaces. The pandemic has meant that many of us have rediscovered them and sought out solace there as well as perhaps achieved a strengthening of family and friendship ties. For me, walking in the common, admiring other people’s dogs (wondering if one day I might take the plunge myself), the wildlife, flora and fauna is a reviving and life affirming activity. I have also had some of the best conversations when walking with a friend or family in the wide open space that a common affords. I suspect it’s the lack of eye to eye to contact and the fresh air that seems to facilitate this openness and soul searching. London has a big reputation for being glamorous and glitzy and it is all that in places but it’s also down to earth and offers an abundance of simple pleasures.
Finally, the one single event that prompted me to write this love letter to London, was going to an open air (free) concert held in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 15 August by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) directed by Simon Rattle. Whereas I am not a classical music afficionado, when I spotted a billboard advertising it a few days earlier, I realised how long it has been since I have listened to live music and felt compelled to attend. I am so glad I did. We were treated to the debut live performance with the LSO of the 14 year old British-Chinese violinist Leia Zhu. Her extraordinary talent and the emotion she brought to a piece by Saint-Saëns wowed the stunned crowd. It was also the first performance to a live audience of the LSO East London Academy (ELA); a group of young musicians aged between 11-18 who come from backgrounds under represented in professional orchestras. Accompanied by the LSO, they played a world exclusive called DreamCity by Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Ayanna was inspired to compose this piece by conversations she had had with the young members of the ELA on their experiences of lockdown in 2020. She states that “we are all linked through our experiences of living in one of the world’s most active and engaging cities…”. Listening to it played in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by other Londoners and tourists from all backgrounds, families, groups of friends, people who planned to be there and others who happened to be in the area and were lured by the beautiful music, the piece really communicated the energy of this city and I could tell from the faces of everyone around me, that we were all just so happy and privileged to be there to witness it. As I walked away from the square, somewhat suspended in a dream-like state thinking of how unifying this emotional and joyful performance was, I felt truly honoured and grateful to have spent my summer in London. I am not blind to its flaws but like with any other lover, its spirit and heart have won me over and I am smitten.
Angela Zaher is a freelance Lebanese- British food and fiction writer. She was born in Beirut, Lebanon but has lived in Brussels and in Hong Kong making her home in London for over 20 years. Her two passions are food and writing and she has been dedicated to both since leaving the legal profession. She believes that you can eat your way to good physical and mental health.
To follow on Instagram: @angela_zaher