Article by Sara Darling
THE BOOK OF BLACK
I am not somebody who would necessarily pick up a ‘book of black’ in a book store. Perhaps in my teen years when I was into The Cure and wearing purple lipstick and heavy eyeliner...but something in my later years has compelled me to have a look.
Possibly it’s because I have now expanded my horizons in the arts and literature world, and I don’t have to be into goth music to appreciate the dark side; And, it is a colour that grows on you as it is so complex.
Artists, authors, poets and photographers have put this base colour on a pedestal for centuries, and the Book of Black, compiled by Faye Dowling, is a collection of the images which represent the dark side at its best. Showcasing everything from fine art to street style which makes up the heart of today's alternative visual culture. Vampires and demons have become screen icons of the modern underworld.
Not just filled with images of skulls, which have always been a popular emblem of Gothic writers, tattoo artists and in design, the book is structured over three defining chapters (Gods & Monsters, The Kingdom of Darkness, and Dark Arts/Higher Power).
Of course, for some this narrative evokes an existential turmoil or fear of the supernatural, of what they don’t know. Mystical creatures are often used as rejection and reaction to the natural world, and are themes which crop up time and time again, but it’s not that we fear or dread the supernatural creature, but that we want to BE the supernatural creature.
Anyone who has experienced conflict or has an interest in popular culture will appreciate the seminal gothic artworks, which are juxtaposed alongside emerging artists of today.
And it is the perfect gift for Halloween, or just if you want to indulge in your own dark side.
The Book of Black by Faye Dowling is available from Laurence King RRP £12.99 from September 4th.
Buy it here
Article by Sara Darling
An exhibition entitled Sugarcoated makes my teeth hurt, is bound to get my attention....
After all, I am a self-confessed Candy Kween!
Taking place for one week only in Hoxton, London, ten artists from The Ilaka Project have created a confectionary heaven, taking inspiration from all things sweet.
The art on show will vary from 2D miniature works to 3D sculptures as well as interactive art installations. Whatever your guilty sweet pleasure, I'm pretty sure it will be covered!
With sherbet inspired sandpits, giant lollipops, gummy bears, giant bon bons and more, there will be enough sugar to keep you up all night!
All artists represented by The Ilaka Project are from Pakistan, with the aim to promote Pakistani art in an innovative and unusual format, using pop culture as its underlying theme. You can also peruse the art on the website, which provides the ideal platform of exposing eastern talent to the western market.
Don't forget your toothbrush!
Check it out for yourself at
Hoxton Basement, 12-18 Hoxton St, London, N1 6NG
7th – 14th September 2017
Children under 5 go free
Lights of Soho, a culture hub, gallery and Member’s club, operating as a social enterprise out of Soho’s Brewer St, London, is spearheading a campaign #NoArtistsNoArt, supported by local galleries, restaurants and bars around Soho that will remove or cover up every piece of art on their walls – a bleak intimation of what is happening because of the large rises in business rates, pushing out the independent operators.
Lights of Soho itself now needs to expand to create a self-funding, sustainable business, without which it too will struggle to survive. #NoArtistsNoArt is a local movement that serves as a way of gaining mass recognition of this ongoing struggle, raising awareness of the wider issue and their Kickstarter campaign to help keep Soho burning as London’s bright, neon beacon of creativity.
This mission is to support all creatives, including those in film, fashion, music, art, publishing and design, giving them a platform and venue to promote their work - for free. All profits from the bar, art sales and corporate events is put back into the venue, with the Directors and owners never taking a fee or wage in the two years of its operation.
The #NOARTISTSNOART campaign has been created in collaboration with M&C Saatchi and is supported by venues such as Soho House, Quo Vadis, Blacks, The Box, The London Cocktail Club, Cass Art, Balans, Randall & Aubin, Pix, Soho Radio, Save Soho and many others.
On Monday 19th June at 6.30pm Lights of Soho will be introducing all their venue partners and launching their Kickstarter campaign which culminates on Monday July 24th at an event where original artworks from the likes of Banksy and Antony Micallef will be raffled and auctioned, along with unique artworks drawn onto cocktail coasters.
The creative comunity of SOHO ask people to donate at www.kickstarter.com/profile/noartistsnoart and to become an active member of the campaign by taking pictures of the covered canvas’ around Soho, sharing the photos on the social handles on @lightsofsoho and @noartistsnoart with the hashtag #noartistsnoart
With your support, we can protect the essence of Soho that makes it so iconic worldwide.
Photo-journalist Marilyn Stafford was born in Cleveland Ohio, in 1925 and now lives in West Sussex.
Her photographic career began in New York in 1948 when she was asked to photograph Albert Einstein for friends who were making a documentary about him.
In December 1948 Marilyn moved to Paris here she met Edith Piaf and also became friends with Robert Capa and during this period she was also introduced to Henri Cartier-Bresson who encouraged her photographic career.
Marilyn photographed the neighbourhoods of the Bastille and Boulogne-Billancourt and her images of children from Cité Lesage-Bullourde near the Place de la Bastille are a very rare insight into the street children living in one of the city's notorious slums.
In 1958 Marilyn Stafford travelled to Tunisia to document the Algerian refugees fleeing France's 'Scorched Earth' attacks.
In the mid-sixties Marilyn Stafford settled in London, where, along with Fay Godwin, Sally Soames, and Jane Bown she helped pave the way for future female photographers working on Fleet Street.
Marilyn Staffords commitment to supporting female documentary photographers continues today with the launch of the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award Launched in Spring 2017 in Association with FotoDocument.
Some of the negatives have been lost, but thanks to modern technology Robin Bell the renowned darkroom printer has created new negs and printed these historically important images for the first time in 67 years, creating an edition of silver gelatin prints.
The exhibition also features Marilyn’s pioneering photographs, where, for the first time, she took models out of the studio and chic salons into the streets of Paris, using a photo-documentary style to her fashion shots.
Stories in Pictures
27 June - 8 July
Art Bermondsey Project Space
183-185 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3UW
Article: Christopher George
In a world seemingly gone crazy, it’s become a chore to remain 'strong and stable' and see many items with clarity. We have emerged, in the flick of an eye, into times of extreme leadership - to the point of a ‘virtual’ dictator-ism.
What we thought was over there, is actually hovering uncomfortably over here. And unless we take swift decisive action, as a populace collectively, we are in circumstances that could allow the freedom that we have taken so long to achieve, rapidly disappear.
Since Brexit has been triggered, and a potential trade deal looming between the USA and UK, our independence seems uncertain. The National Grid has been flogged off already with speculation the NHS will be sold to the highest bidder. Are we in danger of becoming just another suburb of America, ironically when we have just stepped out of being a suburb of Europe?
Our leaders and governing bodies have increasingly adopted the identity of Queens and Kings, with apparently no reality checks on themselves or their courtiers. It’s all become rather ‘Monty Python’ in a medieval way. Political figure’s ability to spin agendas and lies, is out of control, and then just not face the music; With a stream of fabrications, U turns, fake and biased news being delivered from behind hollowed eyes and no responsibility assumed. It’s enough to leave any mildly sane person in disbelief.
The window of opportunity is diminishing – and at this point in history we are in need to resume more control as the people, with less unconditional control for society’s assassins.
See more articles and this issue of 55pages magazine
At the same time as Coco Chanel and Hubert de Givenchy were making sophisticated fashions for the well to do woman, Cristobal Balenciaga was experimenting with pattern cutting and pioneered a new wave in design during the latter part of the twentieth century.
Credited as creating clothes which were both modern and cutting edge, his passion was for highly structured garments, strong silhouettes and minimalist couture. Particularly working with corsetry, which from the outside looks sleek, but was actually a feat of engineering under the layers of fabric.
Iconic fashion silhouettes such as the trapeze, empire line and baby-doll were all invented by Balenciaga, along with the envelope dress and raglan sleeve. When Christian Dior declared, "haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga. We other couturiers are the musicians and we follow the direction he gives." It gave the reclusive designer recognition and even more kudos than he already had.
A big believer in 'listening to the fabric', was what kept him apart from his contemporaries, and he was not scared to take risks. Nevertheless the shapes and patterns which were completely unique at the time, have influenced designers to this day, and the latest summer blockbuster at the V&A Museum in London celebrates this genius, with a show that focuses on the creative era in 50s /60s.
For inspiration on how fashion history has affected fashion present is a mammoth task, and choosing some of the most well known and sought-after pieces, curator Cassie Davies-Strodder had her work cut out.
The result is 100 pieces and 20 hats from Balenciaga's later Parisian career. Also on show is video footage, sketch books and private collector's archives, as well as a pioneering collaboration with X-Ray artist Nick Veasey who worked from a mobile x-ray unit built specifically for use within the museum's archives. The x-rays, which include images of a 1954 balloon hem dress and a 1967 cape dress,of the drape dress, where you can see the meticulous metal work which goes on underneath the fabric.
Moving upstairs, the gallery opens out to 21st century designers who have been inspired by Balenciaga's inventive way of working including Simone Rocha, Iris Van Herpen, Azzedine Alaia, Issey Miyake, Gareth Pugh and Roksanda Ilinčić.
There is also an interesting array of images of images from high profile magazine shoots, along with numerous items from the designer himself, and you can even model the skirt/cape should you wish!
This exhibition was conceived to mark the centenary of Cristobal Balenciaga's first fashion house, and the 80th anniversary of his Paris salon.
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion runs until 18 February 2018 and is well worth a visit.
For details, visit vam.ac.uk/balenciaga
Article: Jonathan Bright
Illustration: Jaswant Bhachu
As an aside, I would like to remember and pay respect to those souls that needlessly lost their lives in the Westminster attack of Wednesday 22 March 2017 and the Manchester bombing on Monday the 22 May 2017. It's unfortunate that in doing so, I can’t help but recall the words of the vile Katie Hopkins and the re-tweet of the bilge by the equally detestable Nigel Farage.
According to these self-serving wastes of good oxygen, London and Manchester are divided by fear and has cowed to terrorism. Sure, whatever gets you back in the headlines.
I could say 'go screw yourself', but that would infer that they possess the requisite human genitalia to do so. I could say Hopkins is the personification of clickbait, but that rather dehumanises the abstract concept of clickbait. Mind you, Hopkins did get done for libel so we should really encourage her to spout some other attention-grabbing piece of unfounded garbage and bankrupt herself.
Meanwhile, with Article 50 now signed and Brexit sadly being realised, we have to face reality that we are leaving the EU. It is a point to mention here that in some boroughs of London, over 70% voted to remain. And the majority was 59% of Londoners across all boroughs voted remain. But with the overdue collapse of UKIP, things are not all bad. However, this being said- has UKIP just relocated its ‘supporters’ over to the right wing swaying Conservative party? The mind boggles does it not?
As cities, we are not divided. We will never, ever be bullied or be disheartened by any form of terrorism, and we are not scared of coming to or being in these great city’s.
I got on the Victoria Line at Vauxhall to cross town about half an hour after the Westminster attack, and the only person I saw anxiously rocking back and forth was the guy still up from the night before at the Fire Club! Life goes on as usual.
The only thing that divides London is the River Thames. You want to see division? Try telling someone from Walthamstow there's a party in Peckham. Suddenly a marathon of re-runs on Dave seems overly appealing.
Try as it might even a Tube strike won't shut London down. We'll still queue patiently for an overcrowded bus rather than sit at home feeling like we've somehow been held to ransom.
London’s diversity is legendary for outnumbering any bigotry you may read in the tabloids. We have in this special city, a culture that is coveted from around the globe. So anyone who protests there is a fear within the locals does not know London. What keeps this great city’s heart thumping is a collective unity of acceptance and acknowledgment, even if most of the inhabitants are not actually from London.
You know what actually prevents people coming into London? The property ladder, £6 pints, and Southern Rail.
Read more for 55pages magazine
Taking to the streets, 55 captures some of the identities roaming London's East this week end.
Street Style in London by Roy Hilton.
Article: Ross Pollard
This will be a defining fight, perhaps the biggest political battle since the Thatcher years. A fight against austerity affecting the many, while the conservatives protect the elites donors who finance them.
Tory wishes for further privatisation are what lie at the heart of this government. A rank opportunism that will return to selective rule, a government agenda that revolves around greed, power and holding no concern of the effects on the population in a capitalist & corporations first vision.
Theresa May came out to the podium on Downing Street, and framed this election as being about the mandate for Brexit negotiations. This was a lie and Brexit is being used as a distraction from the real aims. The Tory Party see's a moment to consolidate power and to fend off the forces that oppose them.
May's Britain is one that she will project as the H.E. Bates novel, ‘TheDarling Buds of May’. A pastiche 1950’s style of rose tinted longing. The reality is, those who care about decency & values need to unite together in a tactical vote against Tory rule, otherwise many will be driven into a darker horror of exclusion, poverty and destruction, increasing the growth of the gap between rich and poor even more than the last seven years have seen. They will continue to turn working class people against each other in a war over social welfare as a way to eviscerate the social security net they hate passionately
This election is not just about Brexit, it's also about the NHS, social welfare and the influence of big business. But most of all, it's about young people and a society that will be handed over to them. A society with limited education, housing, opportunities and medical options under a Tory government. We are at a point that the next generation could be sent in to oblivion, and quoted as pushing us back to the Victorian period. They say Labour will tack us back to the 1970's, but they will drive us back to the 1870's.
Another driving force behind this opportunism that May has focused on is the post-Brexit referendum agenda. UKIP has disintegrated and this could tip many marginal seats to blue. UKIP support spread across many areas and political leanings; and it was not entirely or exclusively former Tory voters. But by framing this election around Brexit and an anti-Europe ideology, Theresa May could win these voters over to her banner. Those that believe the mantra of "Brexit means Brexit" or “Strong and Stable” could be swayed to the Tory party and deliver a conservative victory.
But they can be stopped, and it is by tactical voting.
Usually I'm opposed to tactical voting as I think you should find a party you believe in. But here we have an opportunity to make a difference with unity around the progressive politics so many believe in.
My view is the left is a festival of tents, and we should come together as often as possible. From a personal perspective, at no point in my lifetime has this seemed more critical. You need to research into the available candidates that will be on the ballot paper on the 8th of June. To win seats an alliance need’s to happen so we can disassemble the huge and damaging mandate May is trying to cheat her way to, this also applies to defending marginal seats.
Some candidates are standing aside for the greater good, and concerned voters should look at this way to do the same. If the conservative mandate isn't stopped, it will then take another generation to fix the damage if at all possible, that May and the Tory party will force upon us.
Register to Vote, then do it, like Luke Skywalker, it's our only hope.
To read more from all the 55 contributors download our latest edition here
The Excursionist A Novel by JD Sumner
Article by Sara Darling
This book will make you laugh out loud.
It will make you wince. It may even result in you letting out an involuntary wee! So take precautions on where you read it! I would highly recommend on a sun lounger, behind an oversized pair of sunglasses!
Whatever you make of it, you cannot help but guffaw at Jack Kaganagh’s adventures around the stunning if undiscovered, and not entirely appealing in the book, Coronation Islands.
You might not be familiar with his choice of countries that make up the final three on his tick list (it is his aim to get to 100 countries before his pivotal birthday so he can join the mysterious ‘Travelers’ Century Club’).
However, the narrative and description of the characters he encounters on his trip, make them seem larger than life, and Jack, twice as geeky.
Anally collecting pins for his Tilley hat en route, and battling paranoia, this is the first time the narrator has done a lone trip, and author JD Sumner has created a likeable klutz` of a character who you want to succeed, but is he really worthy..?
If you are anywhere near your 45th birthday or have ever been travelling, this is a must read, and I dare you to not recognise a teeny bit of yourself!
Pick up a copy here
Reporting on cultural and creative events along with a broad view of social issues.
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