New Music for a New Catwalk

What could make a catwalk for everyone even more original? How about live music from a vibrant youth orchestra?

On Saturday, 3 September, audiences and catwalkers alike were treated to live music by the Chineke! Juniors orchestra to accompany the People’s Catwalk in Africa Utopia 2016.

For Dual Magazine, a fashion publication produced by the students of the Fashion Journalism Course in Africa Utopia 2016, course journalist Wilfred Clarke spoke to the young musicians of Chineke! Juniors about their fashion on and off the concert stage.

Young Players Orchestrating their Chineke Moments

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The Chineke Juniors walking the catwalk after their performance.

The Fashion Undressed event at Southbank Centre was a sight to behold due to its boundary breaking effects.

On Saturday 3 September, there were two categories of fashion shows, the People’s Catwalk which allowed non models to strut their personal stuff on the runway, and the #AfricanSquad show, which comprises professional models and voguers.

As with each and every traditional catwalk, it comes with music. But the multimillion festival question then becomes what type of music was played and who provided it?

During the People’s Catwalk, the music was provided by an ensemble of 35 young adults making up the Chineke Junior Orchestra.

They all did exceptionally well, so interviewing Ayesha, the only lady who was playing the double base, was cool. “I like to defy the odds by playing an instrument that a woman wouldn’t play. This is why I got a full scholarship to Wells Catholic School by beating over one hundred and fifty students.”

18 year old Braimah who could not hide his inspirations added, “I think the main thing that inspires me is playing with other young players from the diaspora.” This is especially inspiring in context of the wider Africa Utopia Festival.

Sheku plays the Cello and when asked where he got his discipline from, playing in front of such an audience at the festival, he said: “It kind of great feeling sharing the music I love with other people.” We couldn’t agree more.

Read more about the fashion of Africa Utopia 2016 and find out more about the Africa Utopia Fashion Journalism course in Issue One of Dual Magazine.

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Dual: Issue One of The Africa Utopia Fashion Magazine

If you missed any of the varied fashion activity in this year’s Africa Utopia Festival, never fear, Dual is here! Dual, the first ever Fashion Magazine produced as part of the Africa Utopia Festival, was created by a team of talented creatives who took part in the Africa Utopia Fashion Journalism course.

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Download your copy of DUAL issue one

For four weeks leading up to the festival, the Dual journalists met together to develop their writing and reporting skills in practical workshops, one-to-one tutoring sessions, and lectures from leading fashion journalists, and on the weekend of Africa Utopia, they hit the streets to report on all the fashion activity taking place in the festival. On the Saturday of the festival, the journalists ran all over the Southbank Centre site interviewing, reporting, and gathering content for the magazine and bringing it back to the makeshift headquarters to write it all up and submit it for editing.

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Dual HQ on Saturday 3 September

In features, news pieces, trend reports, and more, they explored their personal heritage and festival programme to bring you the varied pieces you’ll read, from the streets to the catwalk and everywhere in between.

We hope that you enjoy this first issue of Dual, our first ever fashion magazine created and produced at Southbank Centre. Download your copy of DUAL issue one.

Barbershop Banter Exclusive

Just for this blog, we bring you some exclusive extended content. To complement our ‘Barbershop Banter’ piece on page 25 of Dual, we let the ladies say their piece, as well, with a few ‘Tales from the Salon’ by Adelina Adjei.

What really goes down in the salon? 
Other than braids, perms and close fades, we ask people what they think (and talk) about when in the salon

Lindsey Hughes salon, Hertfordshire 
What I think about:  
Aimee: “I sit and think: I don’t want to look like a wet dog, I hope they don’t blow out my curls!”

Lightheaded, Hammersmith 
What I think about: 
Natalie: “What do I think about when in the salon? Why do I need to do a full shift with the hairdresser? Eight hours for a wash, cut, blowdry and trim. Really? Really. What would the world look like if it was two hours for a whole treatment and trim. Should I be writing a novel? Why is there no free wifi? Is now the time for colour?”

The Dual Magazine Team

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The Team of Dual Magazine, from left to right, Marie, Kieran, Helen, Wilfred, Sharon, Kruti, Adelina, Natalie, Carinya, Hannah.

 

Adelina Adjei (@adsdiaspora) is an evolving blogger, merging her interests in topics pertinent to the African diaspora, including fashion, beauty, culture and the legacy of black people in the diaspora.

Sharon Banga (@STBanga) is freelance fashion designer, whose designs have been featured in Pride and FAB magazine. She has taken the opportunity to explore fashion journalism through the Africa Utopia festival.

Wilfred Clarke is a radio presenter, a Master of Ceremonies and a freelance journalist who writes for many Ghanaian news outlets and radio stations. He is also very conscious about fashion, hence the Africa Utopia initiative.

Kruti Patel is a journalism student who is passionate about writing and aspires to be a fashion journalist. She took the opportunity to write and help create this magazine for Africa Utopia 2016.

Natalie Vincent (@embracestyle) is a passionate and creative fashion blogger and freelance writer with a penchant for all things African. Whether that be food, travel, art, music or fashion.

Kieran Yates | Editor (@kieran_yates)

Helen Neville | Designer
Marie Ortinau | Course Manager (@marieonmac)
Hannah Azieb Pool | Course Creative Coordinator (@hannahpool)
Carinya Sharples | Sub-editor (@carinyasharples)

QEH Roof Garden – Spring Update

An update from one of our garden volunteers…

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Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden has now reopened, and visitors are returning. Among them are regular fans and first-timers who have never seen it before.

It’s always exciting to greet people when they arrive. Visitors are blown away to find a wildflower and vegetable garden growing peacefully at the top of the yellow staircase. They are amazed to hear the story of how this mature garden flourishes on what was once a bare concrete plateau. That story begins and ends with Grounded Ecotherapy: Recovery for people and places, which created and continue to run the garden.

Only two thirds of the garden are open to the public this year. Work overhead on the Hayward Gallery building means the shady woodland area over the bridge is temporarily out of bounds.

You might think our resident birds would have chosen to nest elsewhere in greater peace, but the blackbird is raising a brood (first clutch of eggs already hatched) in the pergola where the tiny yellow roses of rosa banksiae are already in full bloom. It’s lovely to hear the parent birds singing among the leaves, right beside people sitting and chatting at the tables.

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We also have hedge sparrows nesting, and the first butterflies and bees are returning. If it weren’t for the garden and the food and shelter it offers wildlife, then birdsong and the hum of bees would rarely be heard anywhere in the concrete canyons of Southbank Centre.

The popularity of the garden grows year on year, and last season was another hard one for the lawn. Coupled with a wet winter, the wear and tear of thousands of feet took their toll and the garden needed re-turfing while it was closed.

Once again, this hard task was made much easier for Grounded’s volunteer gardeners by the invaluable help of the GoodGym runners, who appear to positively relish the challenge of bringing the heavy rolls of turf up to the garden from the delivery area downstairs. No light task in any sense, and one for which we are extremely grateful.

The wildflower meadow is already lush and green, its many species of native wildflower each poised to break into full bloom at their appointed time. The trees are in leaf, and red campion, yellow charlock and the delicate white flowers of greater stitchwort are all out.

Despite a winter during which we often couldn’t get into the garden because of the renovation works, the vegetable boxes are now looking beautiful, having been prepared and given a layer of new compost. Onions, garlic, coriander, potatoes and some salads have been planted, with tomatoes, courgettes, pumpkins and many other crops to follow.

As well as our normal public visitors, on a sunny Friday 13 May Grounded Ecotherapy’s gardeners played host to part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of Us. This day allows Southbank Centre workers to choose from a huge list of activities and get a taste of something new.

Over 50 people chose to learn more about gardening from Grounded. Total beginners and greener fingers alike came in both the day’s two groups, and they all had a great time getting their hands dirty.

They learned how to make funky pots from recycled plastic food containers, and how to sow into them the tiny seeds of mixed salad leaves and oriental salads such as mizuna and mibuna. Afterwards, they were able to take home for their own windowsills a crop that can be eaten as microgreens. They also planted pea shoots to take home for later consumption as a delicious cut-and-come-again crop.

They helped the garden by planting all the sunflower seeds and runner bean seeds we saved from our plants last year. When they look out Royal Festival Hall’s windows this summer, or visit us, they will see the fruits of their work.

It was great to meet everyone, and they told us they’d had a brilliant time, which is our best reward. Thank you Southbankers, and a special thank you to the kind afternoon group for helping Grounded pack away our equipment, thus saving us many hard slogs to our store.

So the garden is poised to plunge into another Southbank Centre summer. As life seems to get ever more hectic, gardens are becoming less a luxury and more a vital necessity. Grounded are very proud that the roof garden has been able to remain open while the major renovation works carry on all around (and underneath) us. We hope the garden will once again provide a haven of quiet and beauty for many in the middle of the busy city.

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CGI? They Just Do It With Computers, Don’t They?

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Artist Alan Warburton, whose latest work Soft Crash is a computer generated exploration of the mechanics of financial corruption, discusses the use of CGI in films and art.

In 2014, the boss of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, surprised many when – as one of the most revered traditional animators in the world – he failed to condemn the CGI-heavy films of recent years. His assertion that “there’s nothing inherently wrong or right about a method, whether it be pencil drawings or 3-D CG” must have disappointed many purists who see Miyazaki as a stalwart of traditional craft film-making. Similarly, crafty British ceramicist Grayson Perry in his BBC Reith Lecture championed the use of digital tools – CGI especially – and the possibilities it affords a new generation of artists.

Why is this so surprising? Well, for a long time, CGI has symbolised all that’s wrong with the digital, an industrial light and magic show beloved by advertising and commercial film but despised by traditional artists who think it soulless, film technicians who resent it’s perceived lack of craft, and film audiences who grow tired of the endless destruction porn in CGI blockbusters. As consumers we resent the onslaught of addictively perfect images in a world where our cars, houses and food – even our bodies – can’t quite live up to the eerily glossy shots on buses, billboards or Instagram.

Maybe it’s the pervasiveness of the CGI image that irks us. Or maybe it’s because the digital has displaced so many analogue practices. In his 2013 book Software Takes Command, artist and digital theorist Lev Manovich argued that software has absorbed and reconfigured techniques from cinema, animation, photography, sculpture and painting, synthesising them into a powerful new software “metamedium”. If that’s true, no wonder so many traditional craftspeople resent CGI.

Or perhaps it’s that CGI images are inherently slippery: they masquerade as photographic, yet underneath their glossy, seamless surface are wireframe shells, hollow and insubstantial. CGI doesn’t age and acquire the patina of a Rembrandt and it has none of the traces of economical brushwork. You can’t see the ingenious joinery as you might with a beautiful piece of furniture. There’s no evidence of labour. It’s all illusion, all spectacle, a little like table magic: if you can’t see the labour – the joins – you assume it’s a pretty cheap trick. Well, it’s not.That’s the thread that I like to pull on as an artist working with software. I want to expose the trick, not simply to demonstrate that The Wizard of Oz is just a frail old man with a loudspeaker, but because CGI is the most complex and ideologically persuasive medium that has ever existed. It’s exactly because we can’t see the joins between a photograph and the digital mirage that it has such power. When something is both powerful and invisible, it’s up to artists to expose the apparatus.

Unlike the code that software is made of, the effects of software are not binary – it doesn’t just work or not work, and that’s why many contemporary artists have moved past simplistic notion of “glitch” to an infinitely more interesting and sophisticated mode of investigation. Software is a spidery, ambiguous apparatus that reaches through society and culture at all levels to shape our behaviours, practices and beliefs. CGI itself is complex, expensive, time-consuming and difficult to master. The impenetrable CG image masks a complex reality of representational bias, human-computer collaboration, software politics, soft power tax incentives, 24/7 render farms, international trade deals, mineral extraction, gender imbalances, bankruptcy and wage fixing. It’s far more than nerds clicking buttons, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry whose influence continues to proliferate.

Contemporary digital artists tend to look past the tech-liberation hyperbole of software “enabling creativity” and try to understand how certain functions and features are prioritised and optimised over others. It’s easier to blow up a CGI building with presets, for example, than it is to create a realistic tree. Or, as I discovered on a recent project working with digitally-generated crowds, CGI hordes are really good at marching in legions toward a grisly death, and not so good at representing anything that doesn’t involve mass conflict. It was during the research phase of this crowd simulation project (an ENCAC residency at French theatre humainTrophumain) I came across an online library of motion capture data with categories like “Women’s Movements” and “Gay”. That’s right, just “Gay”. In 2016. You don’t have to look very hard to discover that software is political. The scary thing is that software is as much a creative tool as it is a machine for reproducing ideology. Investigating the overlaps is where it gets interesting.

So to hear respected craft-based artists championing CGI is refreshing and unusual, especially in the midst of a Western obsession with nostalgia for simpler, more authentic times. For a long time, CGI has been a symbol of industrial depersonalisation, a heavyweight tool reserved for specialists: engineers, researchers, film studios and geeks. But as independent artists embrace technology and CGI starts to expand into more avant-garde and difficult-to-classify practices, we might start to see the naïve idea of software as an apolitical creative tool start to disappear. The risk is that if artists can’t keep up with the 21st centuries greatest magic trick, we’ll quickly lose something valuable in our relationship to images and truth.

So, CGI. They just do it with computers, don’t they? Actually, it’s not that simple.

Soft Crash is at Southbank Centre from Sat 25 Jun – Sun 3 Jul as part of Power of Power festival.

Oh What A Guy!

Becca Di Francesco reviews a ‘ravishing’ set by the Meltdown curator himself

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Guy Garvey took to the stage on Friday night to perform a ravishing set from his solo album Courting the Squall. It is a testament to the strength of his solo album (and Garvey’s dynamic performance) that he didn’t rely on any Elbow songs, grounding himself firmly as a solo singer. The psychedelic “Angela’s Eyes” challenged any preconceptions that this was merely an Elbow concert.

The support, Jesca Hoop, returned for the jazzy duet “Electricity” with Garvey, complete with a wistful slow dance during the suave saxophone solos. This wasn’t the only choreography of the lively evening: perhaps it was the excitement of performing at a festival that he had curated or rather the romance of seeing his new bride singing along in the audience that put a spring in his step. Either way, always one to get the crowds involved, he ditched the stage for “Belly of a Whale” to dance up and down the stalls with members of the audience.  Judging by his moves, he could have just been warming up to take to the dancefloor at the Northern Soul event later that evening.

GuyGarvey-jessica hoopThe encore had the only Courting The Squall song and before that was a charming cover of “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” by The Ink Spots with Guy and his two guitarists huddled around a single mic stand. One of them was Pete Jobson from I am Kloot, who, earlier in the night, had teased us with a couple of comedic songs of his own, spun with tales of drunken escapades and Clint Eastwood that had the crowd roaring. His towering figure was bent over the piano, and if his voice had been an octave lower he could have been Nick Cave, with a sense of humour.

The finale was a dazzling performance of “Broken Bottles and Chandeliers”. Live, the song had a magnitude to it that can’t be captured on the album. It proved to be the perfect finale: it showed off the ability of his impressive band, the energetic audience participation was at a level usually seen at festivals, and it left us with a simple refrain to hum to ourselves as we left.

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It’s his showmanship that makes a Garvey gig so distinctive. He’s as talented as he is amiable and his Meltdown performance proves it.  One of the festival themes was bringing the North South and he was certainly at home on stage last night.



Becca Di Francesco is an English teacher who is more often than not either listening to, writing about, or daydreaming about music. As long as it’s something she can dance to she’s happy. Follow her on twitter @Becca_hi

Connan Mockasin—‘I’m not gonna try and make a big career or be famous or anything’

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Credit: Victor Frankowski

Connan Mockasin tells Jack Apollo George that if he could wake up anywhere it would be back home in New Zealand, then brunch in LA and then at night, he’d party in London with his friends. 

“I don’t really like festivals that much.”

Connan Mockasin is about to headline the sixth night of Guy Garvey’s Meltdown festival on the Southbank. We’re sat in the cozy artist’s bar round some labyrinthine corridors on the fourth floor. Connan’s wine glass is almost empty. We don’t know it, but he’s about to play a rapturous show that includes a stage invasion, James Blake cameoing on keyboard and young men in underwear as pre-encore entertainment.

But he doesn’t like festivals that much.

“I’ve never been to one never, except to play.”

He thinks its nicer and more relaxed, more European to be playing a concert in an urban environment where people aren’t contained by mud, and fields and stress, a combination he terms “annoying.”

But he’s looking forward to playing Meltdown, his friends tell him it’s“neat”. And the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall is already his favourite venue in the world. And London is his favourite crowd.

Now it would be easy to laugh off such claims as trite diplomacy but Mockasin comes across as a deeply honest man, who at every turn wants to do justice to whatever idea, question or joke he comes up against. Later, when crowded out by revellers near the end of the night, his equipment and personal space equally at risk, he keeps calm. The security guards do their job and the show goes on.

Mockasin exudes comfort—from his woollen-heart-emblazoned jumper to the way he offers me snacks from the dressing room should I get hungry. He is caring, profound in a way that the seductive eccentricities of his music cannot express. But he hasn’t played regular shows for a while. He hasn’t given to his fans in a while.

“I just got bored of touring. I like hanging out with my friends. I think it’s important to live a life. I just wanna make stuff when I feel like doing it. I really love that people like the music that I’m making—that’s really nice. And I’ll do that when I feel like it but I’m not gonna try and make a big career or be famous or anything.”

Hold on. Does he not think he’s famous?

“No, like, for a certain type of person [he is famous].”

How would he describe that person?

“Mostly really nice actually. Yeah, of course in every large city you’re gonna have people come up and recognize you. I think its really sweet, I think they’re really brave—I wouldn’t do it.”

He is grateful that his fans have liked him enough for him to have money and  be able to “do stuff” . He humbly recognizes that he’s lucky in that way.

“The reason you release music is you want people to hear it. I’d rather have a small and nice audience than a big annoying audience. I like that I actually get on with most of the people who come to the shows. I can’t imagine having like millions of fans that are like brain-dead robots. What’s the point?”

But there’s going to be a big audience that night, but it’s okay because he’s back in his second home. What is it that’s so special about England for him?

“I lived here for 10 years, I’m a British citizen. I get on with the people here. I was just saying yesterday, actually, that my best friends are either from England or New Zealand. I click with people from England more, I think. I’ve got friends in LA but not close friends. We hang out mostly at the Playboy mansion, so they’re not close friends.”

On his perfect day, he first said he’d go back home to New Zealand to sleep but quickly corrected himself. He has an incredible bed in LA, intimidating beyond description, but, most importantly “a good snuggle.”

Jack Apollo George is a Londoner who is really really uncomfortable writing about himself in the third person. His website is jackapollo.com and Twitter @jackapollo1

Eagerly awaiting Guy

Jai Jethwa looks forward to a headline set from the charismatic curator of Meltdown2016

The curators at each year’s Meltdown festival are almost like ringleaders of the magic of Meltdown, guides to take us through the dazzling attractions that make up each year’s lineup. So far this week visitors to the Southbank Centre have been treated to – amongst others – a hypnotizing performance by The Staves; a bittersweet celebration of I am Kloot’s understated The Sky at Night and a rip-roaring introduction to Afrobeat from Femi Kuti. There’s only one man who can top it all off. All eyes are now on Guy Garvey himself, who is due to bring his Mancunian charm to the Royal Festival Hall tomorrow evening for a solo enactment of his debut Courting The Squall.

For fans of Elbow, Garvey’s debut solo offering is a welcome and familiar one, walking in the same well-trodden shoes of longing and euphoria that his Manchester band have become known for. Things are given a bit of a shake up with some new instrumentalists; Garvey’s friends Pete Jobson, Alex Reeves and Nathan Sudders bring a distinct richness to tracks ‘Angela’s Eyes’ and ‘Open The Door’, whilst still giving space to Garvey’s trademark forlorn vocals, such as in the achingly gorgeous title track.

However, as Guy Garvey told an audience of budding music journalists the week prior to the festival, Meltdown is also about celebration and making sure that all patrons have a damn good night out. His endearing and amiable nature should be enough to ensure that everyone has a good time, but Garvey’s latest record shows he has the songs to back up his reputation.

In a week where musicianship and arms-around-your-shoulders amity have been the overarching themes, Garvey’s performance on a Friday night should be a spectacular show, for both fans and newcomers. An essential concert for all Meltdown and South Bank enthusiasts!

Jai Jethwa works in communications consultancy and spends a lot of time in meetings that may or may not have a discernible purpose. He enjoys music and spends too much money on gig tickets. Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Jai_Jethwa

The Last Word from Alex Warlow

I had such a great time hanging out with the Evidently poets on Wednesday that I’m almost inclined to get on a Megabus and make it up to the Eagle in Salford to see where the night originated.

Some of the regulars at the open mic spot braved the journey down especially for the show and were more than happy to chat to me during the intervals and afterwards too where a fair few pints got discussion really going.

Joining them for the first time was renowned spoken word poet Deanna Rodger who spoke to me at length about some of the complex topics her poetry tackles as well as the reality of living in her native London today.

By bringing such a strong locally centred event to the centre of London’s cultural hub Guy Garvey has here managed to highlight the contrasting but complementary voices of protest and celebration from across the country.

It  was the coming together of the voices of two cities in many ways. What follows is a (hastily compiled) podcast collage of sorts containing a snapshot of some of our conversation.

Alex Warlow is part wise-cracking barmaid part journalism MA student with a love for bands featuring charming men and raucous girls. In her spare time she is extremely interested in food.